Cheap Eats · Japanese · Restaurants

Shimizu Kitchen

I met Chikko for lunch at Shimizu Kitchen, a little gem in the Killarney / Rosscarrock area. I’ve only been here once before, but I recalled enjoying the miso ramen. Let’s listen to “First Taste” by Fiona Apple.

I chose the Salmon Don ($13.90) because I’m trying to eat healthier. I recommended Chikko to get the Shimizu Ramen ($13.90), and we shared an order of Gyoza ($5.50). While we waited for our food, we heard a loud boom, boom, boom! Similar in noise level to what you hear at a construction site. I figured the chef was pounding on a piece of pork since they serve tonkatsu. The hammering lasted about 10 seconds and would intermittently startup.

When our gyoza arrived, Chikko and I admired the design lacing the dumplings together. No sauce was provided or needed because each gyoza was so juicy, almost like soup dumplings.

When Chikko’s miso ramen arrived, I instantly got buyer’s remorse. The bowl was brimming with steaming hot noodles, sprouts, pork belly and half a gooey egg. I asked him to do a noodle pull for my blog. He looked confused, so I explained he had to lift the noodles with his chopsticks so I could take a visually appealing picture. He looked unenthused and pulled up two strands. I shook my head and told him to forget it. No one likes a weak noodle pull.

When Chikko bit into the pork belly, I could see how the meat easily tore apart. He closed his eyes as he ate and mentioned it was worth the noise. He said it was better than his usual ramen joint, and very authentic.

My rice bowl was a daintier size than the ramen, perfect for someone trying to make healthier food choices. The yuzu wasabi was light and bright. The rice was warm, which increased the temperature of the raw slices of salmon.

I have to take L back here for the ramen. Shimizu is a neighbourhood gem for something hot, tasty and homemade. Hitting the Sauce gives our local ramen joint two phat thumbs up.

Restaurants · Wine tasting

Business & Pleasure

On my way to my hair appointment at Good Salon, I received a text from my stylist asking me to come half an hour later as she was running behind. I was already over half an hour early, so I decided to make the best of it and check out Business & Pleasure, a wine bar in Inglewood. Let’s listen to “The Paris Match” by The Style Council.

It’s a tricky bar to find. First, you head over to the Plant Shop and walk between the building to the back, then turn left. The front of the bar is non-descript, but once you open the door, you get transported to a place that’s really grape. The clientele was all female and the vibe was just loving life. The record player crooned song after song while the warm light from the lanterns provided a soft glow.

Caitlin greeted me warmly asked me if I had visited before. When I responded no, she said she could have sworn she recognized me. I never remember or recognize anyone. My counterpart at work recently theorized I have face blindness, otherwise known as prosopagnosia. I looked it up this condition and there is no cure.

I recognized Maloof Pet Net on the daily wine-by-the-glass menu and asked if she had anything else from Juice Imports. Indeed, she did, a bottle of Elementis. She gave me a sample of the Pet Net and Elementis, and I decided to have both consecutively but not simultaneously.

The sparkling Pet Net ($16) was just what I needed after walking around in the wildfire-induced smoky air. The wine was cold and bubbly, with a clean, juicy aftertaste. I also appreciated that Caitlin was constantly refilling my water glass, as I was parched from my walk.

As I was sitting at the bar, I could smell the citrus from the lime Caitlin was cutting for a cocktail. Her customers took a sip and cooed that her cocktails were exquisite. This place is such a chick magnet.

Caitlin described Elementis ($16) as a unique skin-contact full-bodied wine. I know from Juice Imports’ wine tastings that skin-contact wine means white wine that is orange due to the juice macerating from the grape skins in the wine production process. As Caitlin and I chatted about Erik and Mark from Juice Imports, we realized how we knew each other. Caitlin attends their Sunday sessions!

When I settled up my tab, Caitlin offered me a taste of her new favourite wine, Tomato Wheels. She loved that it wasn’t too sweet and mentioned an earthiness you don’t typically find in a Lambrusco.

When Bar Von Der Fels closed and headed over to greener pastures, they left a hole in the city. So I’m glad to report Business & Pleasure has created a new space for wine lovers in bigger digs and something that speaks to the women who are not old, rather just aged to perfection and full-bodied. Hitting the Sauce gives this wine bar two phat thumbs up and puts it on her list of best restaurants in Calgary.

Restaurants · Wine tasting

Keys to the Natural Cellar – Vine Arts

I attended Juice Import‘s Keys to the Natural Cellar ($35) event on Sunday at Vine Arts on 17th Ave SW. I was looking forward to this particular event because Erik featured natural wines that showcase an ability to age gracefully, which I need to learn to do. For this post, let’s listen to “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M.

When we arrived, a staffer gallantly poured us a flute of prosecco to sip as we looked around. The whimsical setup of the shop reminded me of the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter. After a few minutes, we were escorted upstairs to the tasting. Lululemon was pumped to attend as she thinks Erik is one of the fascinating wine gurus in town. She asked him if he would host a wine tasting at her office. We discovered he does; the cost is only the wine purchased for the tasting.

Erik began with a question. Can natural wine age? The first wine we tried was 21 years old, almost as old as me.

The 2002 Tarlant l’Etincelante Champagne Brut Nature from Champagne, France tasted softer and cleaner than its initial prominent scent. He noted that people often drink prosecco regularly and champagne on special occasions, which makes it even more pronounced how different they are from each other. One is young and fruity, while the other has yeasty characteristics and not as bubbly. Erik found the champagne satisfying, full of umami. At around $275, it was a treat for everyone at the table to try a champagne from a winery with such stringent standards for fermentation. The owners refuse to release any wine unless it is fully mature.

Next was the 2018 Domaine Marnes Blanches Savagnin Sous Voile from Jura, France ($75). Marnes Blanches is one of my favourite wineries; their wine is always a hit at my parties, as it is so easy to pair with melted Comte cheese. Lululemon could smell maple. While it smelled sweet, Erik described notes of camomile and fresh, dried and bruised apple. We learned this wine comes from 45+-year-old vines grown on marl and limestone. I loved this one so much that I bought a bottle, as did my friend. Erik recommended pairing this cuvee with something fatty and raunchy, like salty almonds or raw clams.

Our third tasting was a 2015 white wine, Domaine Garreliere Chenin Blanc “Coulée Douce” ($45), from Loire Valley, France. This wine smelled bright and floral, and the texture was much lighter than the previous wine. Erik described the notes of stonefruit and pointed out the green tinge of colour. We liked this one so much that we bought a bottle as well. Erik recommended pairing this wine with mushrooms, morels, or gorgonzola. There was a cheese master in the room, and he recommended a gouda, such as a Dutch Grasskass.

Erik described the next wine, the 2014 Pacina Rosso from Tuscany, Italy, as a classic old Italian wine that tastes just as the winemakers intended. Pacina seldom releases their vintages consecutively as they wait for the wine to reach optimal maturity. I found the scent pretty, but my favourite red wine was the next one.

The 2018 Franz Weninger Saybritz Blaufrankisch from Burgenland, Austria, was bright and delicious. We admired the violet and red plum hue. I asked Erik about sentiment and why some wines have it, and others do not. He informed us that sediment comes from many things, such as skins, yeast, and colour. Leaving the sediment in (unfiltered) provides texture and quality as the natural tannins act as filters. In commercial wines, filtering wines provides that sterileness that some people have come to think as standard.

The dessert wine was a 2017 Cantina Marilina Gocce d’Autunno Passito from Sicily, Italy. Erik noted the “rapturous sunlight from Sicily” wine was baked under the sun for 10 to 15 days, and it is a bottle you could keep for a couple of decades.

I’ve been to a few tastings, and this might have been one of my favourite events because of all the neat things I learned. Thanks, Erik, for hosting these informative seminars and teaching us about natural wines.

Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Caesar’s Steakhouse – Lunch

I took Friday off from work to take my father-in-law out for lunch at Caesar’s Steakhouse. I choose this restaurant because he often reminisces about his old oil and gas days and the deals he use to make there. Let’s listen to “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers for this post.

We started with a Caesar ($11). Bobbino asked me if I enjoyed my cocktail. I told him that he makes a better Caesar. I thought the proportion of Clamato to vodka was off, as it needed more booze to balance the potency of the mix.

The cheese bread ($10) was soft, salty and piled high with powdered cheese. I prefer Hy’s cheese bread, which is laden with hot cheese so rich you can feel it increase your blood cholesterol. I did enjoy my cup of onion soup, which was served steaming hot. Each sip was a soul-warming experience, filled with caramelized onions and croutons saturated with rich broth.

Bobbino and I ordered a Ribeye ($47), a medium-rare for myself and a medium for him. The steaks arrived sizzling with a gorgeous, crusty, charbroiled exterior. Our server came with sour cream, green onions and bacon crumbles for our double-stuffed potato.

My favourite part of the steak was the edges encrusted with crispy fat, which I ate as slowly as possible. For Bobbino’s first few bites, he would close his eyes. I ate all the delicious fat on my steak, nibbled on the stuffed potato, and left the rest for L’s dinner. These past two weeks have been restaurant overkill, especially since I started hanging out with the sales team, so I have to cut down on my portions.

I wasn’t impressed with the two recommended red wines by the glass we tried. Perhaps they should get some advice from the owner of Cassis Bistro on selecting wines that pair well with their steak. Pro-tip, order by the bottle and not by the glass, so you’ll have more options other than drinkable and bad.

When the room filled, Bobbino observed I was the only female customer. I nodded and retorted I was also the only one without an expense account. I asked to be seated in the lounge, as I thought it would be more lively. Halfway through our meal, it got so loud I could barely hear Bobbino. The room is small, and it just takes one loud talker to instigate a room full of yelling. I gave up in the end and just began bellowing as well, and to be honest, it was fun to shout.

The company was excellent, the service was attentive, and we enjoyed our meal at Caesar’s Steakhouse. Next on my list to try is Longview Steakhouse, which I hear is stellar but challenging to snag a reservation.


Bakery · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Van Express

Miss K told me to pick the venue for our monthly corporate lunch. Our office typically orders from Skip the Dishes or DoorDash, but I wanted to support the small businesses near our office. When trolling the +15 for potential options, I spotted Viet Express, a Vietnamese restaurant with a mile-long lineup. For this post, let’s listen to “Anti-Hero” by Taylor Swift.

I offered to pick up a cake to celebrate several staff members’ past birthdays. I chose Sauce Italian Kitchen & Market so I could grab the cake on the way to work. While waiting for my train at Westbrook Station, I clutched the box lest someone try to rob me of my precious cargo.

I could have requested delivery for our lunch, but I was worried the food would take too long or the delivery person couldn’t find our office. So I asked Compass, M, and Office Guardian if they would take a quick walk and help me carry the food back to the office. Thankfully, I have colleagues who are always willing to help. When we arrived, I heard a wok hissing loudly in the kitchen. At 11:30 am, there was already a lineup. The owner remained relaxed and jolly despite the orders rolling in. He even asked us where we worked and if we needed help carrying the food to our office.

I ordered the Combo Vermicelli ($14.28) with spring rolls, chicken, beef and pork patty. Van Express uses good-quality vermicelli. The noodles were springy and weren’t soggy, even hours later. The portion was so huge! My takeout box overflowed with food. The fish sauce could be more potent, as I like my dipping sauce extra lively. However, I realize that most customers in downtown Calgary would prefer a more subtle dipping sauce.

Miss K’s Pork Banh Mi ($8.81) was the size of a Subway foot long sub. She asked for no sate sauce. She stated her banh mi was yummy with some heat to it.

The CEO and CFO stopped by before their lunch appointment. They told me not to order them anything to eat, but Miss K arranged for appetizers in case they changed their minds. Large and fresh, the salad rolls ($6.67) were packed with crunchy bean sprouts, lettuce, noodles and shrimp. I would get the salad rolls again. Everyone said the pork and vegetarian spring rolls ($6.67) were tasty.

Video ordered the Beef Pad Thai ($13.33), but she meant to request Beef Fried Rice ($13.33). She pouted as she ate and only nibbled on her food. When she complained that she wanted a rice dish, Office Guardian sternly told her to eat what was on her plate. I pushed Video to eat more Pork Spring Rolls ($6.67) and dessert, which she enjoyed. In turn, Video encouraged me to eat the rest of her food. I did and enjoyed the tangy flavour of tamarind in the noodles.

The Skor Cake ($70) was a hit! Even Ms. D took an extra piece to freeze at home. Office Guardian liked the cake wasn’t too sweet. Miss K noted the cake was moist, while Compass enjoyed the buttercream. When Compass and M shared that they had never tried Skor chocolate before, Miss K laughed and said they were so young and such babies. I retorted that Miss K looks as youthful as our co-op students, so I was surprised she knew about Skor bars. She smiled mysteriously and noted that she was older than she appeared.

Miss K is unbeatable as a social event organizer. She even brought in decorations and personalized goodie bags. I asked her where she bought the bags, as they looked so artisanal. She told us she made it herself and not to look a the bottom of the bag. So, of course, we looked and could see she crafted the bag herself.

I returned to the fridge in the afternoon and ate the leftover salad rolls. I shared the remains of my lunch with L for dinner. He was impressed with the wok hei in the beef, and I was pleased to see the food still held up, despite being refrigerated and reheated.

Next, I want to try the pho, stir-fries, and subs at Van Express. I’ll have to bring Compass along, as I always need help finding this gem in the +15. Pro-tip, if you are a fan of wok hei, I recommend you try the teriyaki beef. Hitting the Sauce gives Van Express two phat thumbs up.

French · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Cassis Bistro

On Friday, L had plans that didn’t involve me, as none of his friends were bringing out their old broads. Boys’ night out is not only gender-unfriendly but is also the bane of my social life. To quell my displeasure, he promised we would go somewhere nice for dinner on Saturday. I wish I could say I am exaggerating that I subsequently spent hours debating between River Cafe and Cassis Bistro, but I’m dead serious. Did I want to go somewhere scenic and romantic? Or should I go somewhere close and charming? Cassis won in the end because the wines are more to my taste, and the latest Google reviews are consistently excellent. For this post, let’s listen to “Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son” by France Gall.

Unlike Rea’s Italian Cucina, which is packed at 6:00 pm and empties out by 8:30 pm, the guests at Cassis Bistro dine much later in the evening. When we arrived at 6:00 pm, only a quarter of the restaurant was full. However, when we left at 7:30 pm, it was starting to bustle with customers.

L started off with a beer ($8), I picked a glass of Sauvignon Blanc ($12), and we shared the Foie Gras Torchon ($24). The sauvignon blanc was delightfully cold, with bright acidity and green notes. I remarked to L that the temperature was optimal, as I like my wines cool and crisp.

I told L I was surprised he wanted foie gras, as he doesn’t usually eat rich foods. He responded that Cassis’s version is the best in the city, and he still remembers when we last tried it over a year ago. The texture of the foie gras was light and buttery. The thin ginger crisp was sweet and crunchy, accentuating the delicate savouriness of the liver. The portion was so large, so we added a side of French bread to mop up the last smear.
Oh my gawd, the bread was terrific, crusty on the outside with soft, silky innards. Even the butter was sublime, creamy and grassy, unlike the waxy version I eat at home.

We ate slowly to make each morsel last as long as possible. As we tenderly shared the last piece of bread, I felt like I was in the spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp. At this point, I was getting excited for our main courses. L picked White Cream Veal ($44) for his main dish, and I ordered the BC Spring Salmon ($42).

The owner of Cassis recommended pairing our dishes with an oaky Novellum Chardonnay ($14). Pro-tip, always get the recommended wine pairing for each course, as this is the second time at Cassis that the wine and food pairing blew me away. Even L raved about the wine pairing. Again, my wine was served delightfully chilly – colder than my fridge can achieve.

The veal was firm but tender, and while the meat tasted clean and mild, the white cream was deliciously boozy. The side of potato gratin was piping hot and fluffy. The lentils were my favourite – lusciously seasoned and slippery smooth.

I typically order the mussels at Cassis, but I’m glad I ordered the salmon. The large flakes effortlessly fell apart when I took my fork to the salmon, which soaked up the rich, satiny smooth lobster sauce. I loved the fatty, fresh flavour of the salmon. This dish was so stellar that L was envious of my choice.

We shared Marquise ($14), a chilled dark chocolate bomb so damn good that I cleaned the plate. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so it has to be excellent for me to eat dessert.

This meal was so good I proclaimed that I would die happy if I died that night. When we woke up alive the next morning, L said that was one of the best meals he’s eaten all year. I concur. If you haven’t been to Cassis, I would highly recommend it.

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Pubs · Restaurants

Waterloo Kitchen & Bar – Best Burger in #YYC

For Five Stars’ last meal in Calgary, he wanted either eggs benedict or a burger. I checked around and all the hot spots, such as Maven and OEB, had a waitlist of 90-120 minutes. I suggested we go to Waterloo Pub, as I heard their burgers are top-notch. For this post, let’s listen to “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas.

I wanted to walk to the pub, but Five Stars doesn’t like to exert any more energy than is absolutely necessary, so L drove us. L complained he was all gluttoned out so he didn’t come inside to eat with us.

Five Stars and I were the only ones in the restaurant when we walked around noon. However, within 10 minutes, another couple pulled up at the bar, and then a large group slowly trickled in. The men wore colourful clothes, like shiny red vests and metallic blue ties. I asked our server if it was a wedding because their clothes were so flashy. She replied it was a regular church group that comes every Sunday.

I ordered the Marda Loop Brewing Big Juice ($9, HH $6) and a coke for Five Stars ($3.95). For food, we shared the Bacon Cheddar Burger ($21) with a Caesar Salad, Duck Confit Eggs Benny ($17) and Side Fries ($6).

Hands down, Waterloo Pub makes one of the best burgers in the city. The patty was warm and juicy pink, soft and yielding against the crispness of the bacon. The best part of the burger was the flavour of the ground brisket and chuck. The meat was mouthwatering, and unlike some other pubs, the patty tasted like good quality beef and not a meat puck. I liked how the cheddar cheese was soft and melty, while the tomato and pickle were chilled and crunchy. The fresh butter lettuce was the crowning touch. I told Five Stars that Waterloo makes a better burger than Gordon Ramsey’s pub in Vegas. Never ever have I enjoyed such a burger.

The romaine in the salad was cold and crisp, slippery with a garlicky dressing, punctuated with real crumbled bacon and shaved parmesan. This is one of the better caesar salads I’ve had in a while. Our side of fries was blazing hot and perfectly salted. Of course, I had to make this meal more fattening by adding a side of mayonnaise.

Five Stars and I were impressed with the generous amount of confit duck in the eggs benny. The yolk in the poached eggs was bright orange. Five Stars wished more of that house-made hollandaise, as that’s his favourite part. We ignored the side of the fruit and left it to dry out. I reminded Five Stars how our older brother used to nickname me Scurvy because I didn’t eat vegetables or fruit as a child.

As this is my third time eating at Waterloo Pub, I can say with some authority that whoever is cooking back there truly cares about how their food tastes. Hitting the Sauce is so impressed that she’s putting this underrated pub on her list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

Italian · Restaurants · Seafood

Rea’s Italian Cucina

I wanted to take my brother Five Stars (formerly known as Jacuzzi) out for Italian food. I picked Rea’s Italian Cucina, a restaurant I’ve heard from acquaintances who swear the food at Rea’s reminds their nonna’s cooking. Let’s listen to the “Pasta Song” La Famiglia for this post.

When we arrived, I noticed most of the customers appeared to be of Italian heritage, which I considered an excellent indicator of what was to come. L commented he liked the old-school vibe, dark furniture, prominent paintings, and curtained windows. Five Stars said he was surprised every table was filled by 6:35 pm. L informed him that Calgarians prefer to eat early.

Our server, Dante, greeted L as he recognized him. It turns out that Dante is the owners’ son and a Haskayne School of Business student. What a small world.

For drinks, I ordered a glass of Ripassa (9 oz, $19), L picked a glass of Peroni ($8.50), while Five Stars chose an Orangina ($4.50). For food, I ordered the Calamari ($17), Salsiccia Casa Sausage ($17), Linguine Mare ($31), Fusilli Ferraro ($23), and a medium pizza, the Sandro Special ($24).

I recommend ordering appetizers, as the two we tried kicked some serious ass. The sausage had a spicy kick with a generous fat-lean ratio. What stood out for me was the chewy texture and unique seasoning. The tomato basil sauce was just beautiful, robust with a vibrant tomato flavour. All sausages should aspire to be Rea’s sausage. L and Five Stars said this was their favourite appetizer.

Five Stars noticed that I handed my phone to L to take pictures of the food and asked him if he usually took photos. With a long-suffering sigh, L rolled his eyes and confided that he had always taken the pictures but never received any credit. I retorted that L has a better eye for photography than I do, and I also make Five Stars take photos for me. I thought but did not say it was lovely they could bond over a common complaint.

I preferred the calamari wasn’t deep-fried because you could enjoy the satiny texture, and L mentioned it was cooked perfectly. The ringlets were silky smooth, and tender. We both loved the tangy sauce. L pointed out the big difference between the sausage’s tomato sauce and the calamari. I tried the two side-by-side and thought the tomato sauce in the calamari tasted more like olive oil. I would get the calamari again.

After a suitable amount of time, our mains arrived. The pizza dough was homemade and in between a Greek-style and Neapolitan crust. Covered in molten cheese, I could detect a pleasingly strong smoky flavour. The olives, prosciutto and cheese tasted extra good to me.

The fusilli was my favourite because of the pure decadence of the rose sauce. The creamy sauce was so smooth and luscious that I cleaned the plate. Five Stars mentioned he liked the texture of the fusilli. Slick with a slippery sauce, the surface still had a slight chew.

The linguine mare is one of Rea’s signature dishes. There was almost as much sauce as noodles, which I loved because the tomato sauce was so thick, fresh and balanced. L and Five Stars were surprised there was so much seafood. The ratio of clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp and calamari to noodles was even. The flavour of all the shellfish was prominent, though the brightness of the tomato sauce cut through some of it. I dig the cheeses Rea uses in the pasta and pizza – it’s more flavourful and tastes better than the one I use at home.

I would come back. I’d order everything again, but I want to try the veal tortellini for variation, and L said he wants to try the chicken parmesan. We shared everything, so the amount of food we ordered was perfect. We only had half a pizza left over. Five Stars declared this was his favourite meal in Calgary. He asked how we found it. L gestured to me, and I explained I’d heard about this restaurant for over a decade now, as it has a reputation for homestyle Italian food. Hitting the Sauce gives Rea’s two phat thumbs up.

Bakery · Brunch · Italian · Restaurants

Lina’s Italian Market – Inglewood

Before our wine-tasting event at Bricks Wine Co, Sunflower generously treated me to brunch. She initially suggested Deane House, but I remembered Lina’s Italian Market opened a new location in Inglewood, which I wanted to check out. For this post, let’s listen to “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus.

We wandered over to the kitchen side of the store and learned there is a cafeteria-like area where you can pick what you want to eat and a cafe section. Sunflower commented on the pretty green wallpaper and the cozy and quaint-looking booths. I’d typically order a coffee at an Italian cafe, but I was jonesing to celebrate and opted for a glass of white wine ($13) instead. Sunflower ordered a Bellini ($15). We shared the Deluxe Mushroom Calzone ($16) and the Potato Apple Smoked Caciocavallo Frico ($18).

Our server picked a lovely white wine for me – it wasn’t the rough table wine that some markets serve. I would order the wine again, however, it was Sunflower’s bellini that kicked some serious ass. The flavour was so freaking delicious, floral and refreshing. This drink was so superb; it made Milestone / Cactus Club bellini taste like a 7/11 slushy.

Evenly browned throughout and freshly baked, the calzone’s crust was light and thin. The filling consisted of bocconcini and what looked like Beech mushrooms. The ragu was bold and intensely tomatoey, with a hint of rosemary.

Sunflower’s dish was so good! The potato pancake was lacey and delicate, with a toasty crunch. Sunflower thought the smoked cheese tasted similar to bacon. I loved the onions’ deep flavour and the creaminess of the orange-yellow yolk.

Lina’s has warm vibes. The staff are friendly and happy to chat about their products. Someone stopped by our table to offer us a sample of Italian beer you can only buy at Lina’s. Our server showed us the white peach puree they use and sell in the store.

After we ate, Sunflower and I marvelled at the imported goods and selection of cheeses. She bought some dried mushrooms, and I picked up some bread, fresh basil, dill and mint leaves. We also bought four bottles of the white peach puree to make bellinis at home. Lina’s is a welcome addition to Inglewood and will be a frequent stop for me.

Bakery · Cheap Eats · Restaurants

Erina Bakery

I discovered a new gem in my neighbourhood. Erina is a Balkan bakery specializing in eastern European treats, such as Burek ($6), Albanian Bread ($4.50), and my absolute favourite – Pitalka ($1.50). For this post, let’s listen to “Other Side of Town” by Sam Doores and Alynda Segarra.

Burek is a baked phyllo pastry with either spinach, potato, meat or cheese. I’ve tried the meat and cheese version. Of the two, I prefer the latter, as it reminds me of a grilled cheese sandwich. The thin tissues of the dough are chewy, while the crisp nut-brown exterior crackles when you bite into the pastry. L mentioned the cheese burek evoked memories of the breakfast pastries we ate in Greece. I prefer the end pieces because I enjoy the delightfully fragile crunchiness.

The size of a small plate, one single pitalka is large enough for two large sandwiches or four mini snacks. I love the sensation of cutting into the bread and seeing the voluminous air bubbles inside. The texture is soft yet chewy, as there’s a resistance when you try to tear a piece off. The smell reminds me of pizza crust baked in an authentic Italian fire oven. Bread like this is a wondrous miracle.

To date, I’ve tried Erina’s sourdough, baguette and Albanian bread. Of the three, I prefer the Albanian loaf, as the tissue is soft yet toothsome. The sourdough and baguette are good, but I like bread with a supple and yielding texture. On my next visit, I plan to try the potato bread.

Erina also sells desserts, ćevapi (minced sausage), bread sticks, cheese bread, and Nutella buns. You can buy the burek and ćevapi frozen to bake at home. Check them out, and you won’t be disappointed. Hitting the Sauce gives Erina two phat thumbs up.