Bakery · Dessert · French · Restaurants

Le Picquenic and Peasant Cheese – Valentine’s Day

I told L I was taking care of our Valentine’s Day plans. He looked suspiciously skeptical and I knew he thought I was tricking him again. I swear, give your spouse a test the occasional time and he’ll never forget his lesson. I actually didn’t have any sinister plans. Quite the opposite. I felt that after 10 years of taking me out for Valentine’s Day, I could do something he liked. For this post, let’s listen to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Franki Valli.

I ordered L a Valentine’s Tea Box ($34 per set) because I thought it would appeal to his British sensibilities. I was impressed with Le Picquenic special touches, like the card, ribbon, and flowers on the box.

The Kyoto cherry rose tea was lovely. The tea smelled sweet and fragrant. You could taste and smell the roses and what I thought was almond.

The cucumbers in my heart shaped sandwich were thinly sliced. I thought I could taste a hint of dill and perhaps cream cheese.

The egg salad was a classic high noon tea sandwich. The filling was creamy and eggy, pressed between two slices of soft white bread.

L enjoyed the turkey and cucumber croissant. He thought it was a delicate bite. I found the croissant sweet.

The prosciutto and brie canapé was tasty. There was a lot of prosciutto in one bite and I enjoyed the saltiness from the meat.

The blueberry scone was baked just the way I like it – a little dry and crumbly. I like that texture because the butter tastes creamier against a crustier surface. The jam added a smidge of sweetness to the savoury scone.

The cream puff was my favourite of the bunch. The whipped cream inside the pastry was puffy and cloud-like.

For dinner, I ordered a Valentine’s Cheese Platter ($50) from Peasant Cheese. For this occasion, Peasant Cheese added macarons and cannelé from the French bakery Yann Boutique. What a spread! The presentation, quality of cheeses and assortment of condiments and crackers is bar none. In the dozen or so times I’ve ordered from Peasant Cheese, I’ve always been impressed.

I’ve ordered the mixed cheese plates before and I usually get olives, pickles and other sour and tart accompaniments. This time around, we were treated to dried fruit like apricots, figs, and other candied treats. I loved the radish slices and pea shoots. I wrapped each radish slice with brie and ate it like a wrap.

There was so much food on this platter, we only managed to eat a third of it. We left the remaining amount to be snacked on in the following days. I know that recently, people are building their own cheese plates. Personally, I cannot make one as pretty as Peasant Cheese. Food also tastes better when you don’t make it. Hitting the Sauce gives Peasant Cheese two fat thumbs up.

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants

Wine Bar Kensington – Baller Wine List

I’ve been to Wine Bar Kensington multiple of times – for my own stag, girls’ night, Sunday half price wine night, and impromptu meetings.  It’s a beloved bar for locals, particularly those who live in the hood. Which is why I’m surprised to see this is my first post for Wine Bar.

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On Monday, Wine Bar celebrated its 10th anniversary with DJ Jon Yumol, magnum wines and a half price baller wine list. I thought that was funny because a true baller can afford to pay full price, so by buying a half price bottle, I’m just a wanna be baller.

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That’s okay with me, because I’m perfectly secure in knowing I’m a small potato.  For this post, let’s listen to Puff Daddy, “It’s all about the benjamins”. Oh god, I can’t believe how bad the lyrics are:

Now, what y’all wanna do?
Wanna be ballers, shot callers, brawlers
Who be dippin’ in the Benz with the spoilers
On the low from the Jake in the Taurus
Tryin’ to get my hands on some Grants like Horace
Yeah, livin’ the raw deal
Three course meals: spaghetti, fettuccine, and veal
But still, everything’s real in the field

I would argue that spaghetti, fettuccine, and veal are not a three-course meal. A three-course meal consists of three parts served one after the other. What Puff Daddy is rapping about is having three mains as one meal.

Our server Tess offered excellent recommendations. Outside of Bar Von Der Fels, she’s the only other person in Calgary that can nail down what type of wine I like. I learned from Bar von der Fels that I like full-bodied wines. That’s what I told Tess I liked.

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The first and my favourite baller wine of night was Ehret Cabernet Sauvignon ($110, half price $55). Smooth, gentle weight on the tongue, and just enjoyable wine to sip away. Excellent.

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L did all the food ordering because I had a stomach ache and I wasn’t planning on eating. Of course he ordered the Meat + Cheese platter – the chef’s selection of five ($42). I tried the 12-month aged prosciutto and the flavour was fantastic. I couldn’t taste the white, fatty part of the meat like I do some prosciutto.

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The second wine we tried was Farina – Amarone della Valpolicella ($105, half price $52.50) This was L’s favourite wine. Tessa said it if we liked the first wine, we would enjoy this one even though it was different. Lighter than first bottle, silky and I thought it had a nice balance of acidity.

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The Spinach, Goats Feta and Beet Salad ($17) was well-seasoned. The dressing was sweet and tart. I really liked the addition of the olives and nuts.

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I ate most of the Coconut Curried Lentil Dip ($16.75) because L and Bottlenick thought it was too spicy. I can handle my spice so I loved this dish. The flatbread was warm and crisp but still soft inside. Scrumptious.

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The brussel sprouts was a standout dish. I was getting quite tipsy at this point and I stopped taking notes. I just know that anything that taste that good isn’t healthy for you. Best sprouts in the city. I was really impressed with the food.

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I spotted my old neighbour – I’ll call him Wine Wizard. It turns out Bottlenick went to one of Wine Wizard’s events. At this event, Bottlenick picked up three bottles of Il Rosso Degugnano Dei Barbi and gave me a bottle to try. I should have known that Bottlenick bought this from Wine Wizard. The Wine Wizard is super serious with his wines. He even wears a special pair of glasses to better analyze his bottles. I tried on his glasses that night and it did enhance my ability to think more deeply about what I was drinking.

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I asked Wine Wizard what he would drink. He pointed at what he was drinking that night – a $200 dollar bottle. The small potato in me came out and I balked at him. He then pointed to another bottle – Sor Ugo Superiore Cab Sauv/Merlot/Franc ($110, half price $55). That’s better.

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I had to put my thinking cap on because Wine Wizard took back his glasses. I liked his pick but I couldn’t describe what I was tasting. I think it was beyond my vocabulary.

I had a lot of fun at Wine Bar’s anniversary party. It was a treat to try some truly delicious wines at a price that’s more akin to my lifestyle. Thanks for the enjoyable company L, Bottlenick and Wine Wizard.

Winebar Kensington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurants

Peasant Cheese Shop

9:20 a.m. on a Friday morning and I was already thinking about dinner. I didn’t want to go out or cook. I thought I would be considerate for once and do something I know L would enjoy. At 10:00 a.m., I called Peasant Cheese Shop to order a mixed cheese and meat platter ($25). For this post, let’s listen to Bus-ta Rhymes “Gimme Some More”.

The Mélange a Trois ($25) platter includes two cheeses, one meat, crackers and garnishes. When I called to place my order, I was informed that the store requests customers order 24 hours in advance. The male on the phone said he could prepare me a plate by that afternoon, but he would have to use a disposable tray instead of a wooden platter

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L said that Peasant Cheese’s rules doesn’t leave much for spontaneity, and a cheese shop should know a thing or two about romance. I told L that this popular cheese shop is too busy for procrastinators. When I arrived at 3:00 p.m., the shop was packed.

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I decided to save some money by taking transit back home. On the first train, I stood by several hungry U of C students. A young Asian man looked particularly impressed and eyed my platter.

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I wanted to tell him that this was nothing – Peasant Cheese offers much more elaborate spreads and if pre-orders, he can get it on a nice wooden tray.

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The second train wasn’t as busy. I got a seat this time but my arms were getting tired and I was starting to wish I splurged $15 for an Uber.

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It started to get really windy and I was clutching the plastic cover to prevent the platter from blowing away. Luckily, L came and picked me up so I didn’t have to walk another 11 minutes.

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The garnishes made the two cheeses and one meat into a meal. The platter included green olives, figs, currents, physalis, tart cornichons and what tasted like a white wine jelly.

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The capocollo was thinly sliced and not overly fatty. If you eat a lot of charcuterie, you’ll know what I mean. Some meats taste so oily. Not this one. L could detect some heat. I couldn’t detect any spice.

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The Chateau de Bourgogne was ripe, creamy and buttery. The currents paired well with the cheese, as it gave it more flavour. I think this cheese would go well with champagne because it left no aftertaste. I enjoyed eating the rind.

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L liked the hard cheese – Lindsay. The texture was firm and crumbly. The flavour was earthy and nutty. I did not enjoy eating the rind. The only thing I didn’t care for was the wine jelly. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t drinking, but the smell was off-putting.

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It would have cost me more than $25 to buy all the crackers, cheese and garnishes from a store. You have to pay a deposit for the wood platter, but I would recommend it. Cutting into the cheese on a plastic platter took away from the experience.  I could have rearranged it on our larch wood platter from Knifewear but I was feeling too lazy. I would order from Peasant Cheese again in a heartbeat. Hitting the Sauce gives this Kensington gem two fat thumbs up.

Peasant Cheese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burgers · Sandwiches · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Charcut – What’s Up Hamsup Bday Lunch

My office crew and I often eat at Charcut for birthday lunches. The $15 lunch special is consistently value-packed and most importantly, delicious. We can also get in and out relatively quickly, which is essential to me. Despite the recession, Charcut was packed full of customers.

Kudos to Mike M, one of the best servers we’ve ever had at Charcut. He was always refilling our glasses and good-naturedly joking around with us even when Office Dad got his weird on. The last time we were here, Office Dad startled our server with his eccentric manners. Sometimes he will break out in a terrible British accent, pretending he’s not from Canada. This time around, he was pretending to be Australian. Mike took it all very well. When we asked if he would mind taking our picture, he offered to move the dishes first, so the photo would look better. He also warned us that he already added the gratuity for our large party, so that we wouldn’t overpay.

The $15 special included duck fat fried fries, sausage and potato soup, pork loin sandwich and two homemade chocolate chip cookies in a bag. There’s always a pickled cucumber or carrot on the side.

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The soup was salty, but served piping hot with generous chunks of sausage. The pork was juicy and nicely marbled with fat. I liked the addition of juicy tomatoes, crisp spinach and pop of the grainy mustard. Office Dad asked Asian Persuasion what part of the pig was the loin. She gestured with her hands toward her crotch.

The gravy ($4) is delicious, creamy with a subtle taste of truffle. One order is another for three people. The fries were crispy even after taking a hot gravy bath.

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Happy birthday What’s up Hamsup. Hope you enjoyed your personalized birthday card. You better stop eating at Oiishi lest you ruin your killer bod.

View my food journey on Zomato!