Bakery · Dessert · French · Restaurants

Yann Haute Patisserie

L and I started a new tradition. We go out to a restaurant to celebrate Valentine’s Day on any day other than February 14th. The reason is that most restaurants are far too busy to give us the experience we want. For this post, let’s listen to “White Wedding” by Billie Idol.

L picked up a lovely sake, a dozen long-stemmed red roses and he made my favourite dish, spam musubi. I, in turn, surprised him with desserts from Yann Haute Patisserie. I have to say that we both killed it this year. The roses were gorgeous, and the sweet sake and salty spam musubi pairing hit the spot. However, the star of the show was the desserts.

I ordered a set of Lovely Eclairs ($16), Paris-Calgary ($7.90), and Mille-Feuille ($7.90). The pair of eclairs came in chocolate and vanilla. The chocolate was intense – the glaze, the chocolate itself and the ganache filling. In comparison, the vanilla eclair was light, and the vanilla bean flavour filling was pronounced, but in a wholesome way, like an old-fashioned vanilla ice-cream cone. Of the two, I preferred the heavy, luxurious flavour bomb of the chocolate.

I let L eat the macaron that crowned the Paris-Calgary dessert. He said the macaron tasted terrific. The dessert itself was like a Ferrero Rocher but with high-quality, fresh ingredients. The center was piped with hazelnut praline and cream. The flavour reminded me of a chocolate hedgehog. L couldn’t believe how much work went into this dessert – the gooey center, crispy shortbread, cream and puff pastry.

The mille-feuille was made of beautiful crispy layers of caramelized puff pastry, oozing with thick, creamy Madagascar vanilla bean cream. L exclaimed that whoever made this dessert has mad culinary skill. I concur.

L loved that all the pastries weren’t too sweet. He said all the desserts were excellent yet different from each other. I’m not a sweets person, but I’m such a fan I plan to return to buy some more cakes. Honestly, I would be happy to make a meal out of these creations. The pastry chef at Yann Haute is so talented, I’m turning over a new leaf. Hitting the Sauce gives Yann Haute (and L) two phat thumbs up.

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.

Dessert

Palm Three Kitchen – Euphoria Cake

Due to a bunch of reasons, my birthday plans were postponed. Instead of ordering takeout, I opted to make a bolognese lasagna using a combination of Marcella Hazan’s recipe and Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. For this post, let’s listen to “In My Life” by the Beatles.

For dessert, I told L I would order my own cake as I feared if I left him to his own devices, he would buy me one from Dairy Queen. My friend Asian Persuasian reposted an Instagram story from Palm Three Kitchen that caught my eye. When I quizzed Asian Persuasian, she told me the owner is a pastry chef and not a home cook.

Photo credit: Palm Three Kitchen

The dessert I picked was the Euphoria Cake (6 inch, $20). When I ordered, I mentioned the cake was for my birthday and I wanted it delivered before dinner. Payment was contactless as I was able to e-transfer the money.

I was shocked that Palm Three Kitchen added a huge helium birthday balloon to my cake. I was so delighted and so excited that I wondered if I received enough attention as a child. A grown-ass woman should not be in hysterics upon receiving a balloon, no matter how awesome it is.

The Euphoria cake is perfect for my taste – decadent and not too sweet. The high quality dark chocolate made this dessert satiating, especially after a rich meal. Also, you don’t need a big portion because each bite is so satisfying. The 6 inch cake will feed between 4-5 servings.

Photo credit: Palm Three Kitchen

What I enjoyed about this cake is each of the five layers offered a different textural sensation. The base is made of a light chocolate cake, then topped with a rich ganache, chocolate goo, a thick chocolate shell, and a heavy dusting of cocoa powder.

My favourite layer was the hard chocolate shell. The chocolate reminded me of the Moritz icy squares I used to eat as a kid. The chocolate was cool and creamy and melted in my mouth.

Photo credit: Palm Three Kitchen

I thought the price was affordable enough that I would order on a regular basis. There’s also larger cakes available – like the Burnt Basque Cheesecake (10 inch, $40) and Two Layered Chocolate Cake (10 inch, $50). Keto and gluten-free options are available as well.

Photo credit: Palm Three Kitchen

Thanks Palm Three Kitchen for baking me a fantastic cake and for the birthday balloon. Your dessert takes the cake! Hitting the Sauce gives the Euphoria cake two fat thumbs up.

Bars/Lounges · Restaurants · Seafood · Steakhouse

Bar Von Der Fels

In the past two weeks, I’ve visited Bar Von Der Fels twice. I can’t help myself. The wine is divine and I’m a creature of habit. I really should branch out and try new restaurants, but Bar Von Der Fels hasn’t let me down yet. For this post, let’s listen to “I’m a Lady by Santigold.

L and I scored the best seats in the room, the table by the window. I sampled three bottles before I found a white wine I appreciated – La Croix Gratiot ($16). I found this wine fresh, light and crisp, with no lingering aftertaste. L tried OT and Bar Von Der Fel’s collaboration sour ($8) as well as a double IPA ($8).

L and I always order the House Made Bread and Homemade Cheese ($7). The toasted sesame seeds and salt balanced the softness of the bread and the fresh, mild cheese. I love the olive oil – it has a notable grassy flavour.

L and I shared the Raw Kingfish ($21) with hakurei turnip, yuzukoshi and crisp lettuce leaves. Our server told us their fish couldn’t get any fresher, it arrived that morning alive and well. The mayonnaise tied all the ingredients together. I could detect a sparkle of heat from a spice – I’m guessing cayenne.

My new favourite item on the menu is the Charcoal Grilled Broccoli ($15). The broccoli was crunchy with a heavenly smokey flavour. The sambal sauce and lime with the crispy shallots added an element of brightness and zing.

I like the slow pace in which our dishes were brought out. When we were pondering what else to get, our server brought over complimentary Alberta turnips with the silkiest, most wholesome tasting butter. The green end of the turnip had a spicy heat. I thought the simplicity of the turnips helped to showcase the quality of the butter.

L wanted dessert so I picked the Honey Semifreddo ($9). Holy dessert Batman! You’ll be hard pressed to find a better dessert than this. The white chocolate contained crunchy rice puffs, and the combination melted in my mouth. The strawberries were jam packed with sweetness. The dessert was large enough for a light meal.

Thank you Bar Von Der Fels for being such a consistent star in Calgary’s culinary scene. We look forward to our next visit.

Bar Von Der Fels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Beer · Restaurants

Sweet Relief

Last Friday I attended a Yelp Elite party. The event was called ‘Local Love’ because it was a partnership between Freehold Brewing Co. Sweet Relief, Dandy Brewery, Ol’ Beautiful and Outside the Shape.

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After browsing through the pretty merchandise at Outside the Shape, L and I walked upstairs to meet Matt, the one of the owners of Freehold Brewing Co. Matt showcased four beers and paired each beverage with treats from Sweet Relief, a bakery located in Victoria Park.

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The first beer was Big Chutes Lager. The lager was easy drinking, clean, with a hint of citrus. Matt referred to Big Chutes as a ‘patio crusher’ because you could easily spend an afternoon on a patio crushing this beer. I can see why. I found this lager refreshing and light. I liked the tiny bubbles foaming at the top. L said there was a lot of taste in the lager.

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Next we sampled Pegasus Pale Ale from Ol’ Beautiful Brewery. The ale was paired with a square that reminded me of a homemade Oh Henry chocolate bar. I enjoyed the buttery crust and the taste of the dry roasted unsalted peanuts, which contrasted with the sweet stickiness of the caramel.

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I could taste a bit of grapefruit and grassy floral hops in the Pegasus ale. I don’t normally like hoppy beers, but I found this ale easy to drink. I could crush this one on a patio too.

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The third beer we sampled was Lacy Saisy Saison. I could taste warm hints of cloves, ginger and orange. L and I have a hard time finding a beer that we both equally love. I think Matt did the unimaginable. He created a beer that both hard core and casual beer drinkers could enjoy. I think Matt may have saved our marriage. No more fights at the liquor store. L said this was the first saison he liked.

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Matt informed us that farmhouse ales or saisons as we know them, date back a long time ago in Belgium. Farmers would brew the beer, bury it in soil and then open it up in the summer for the weary workers as the water was undrinkable. Don’t quote me on that because I accidentally deleted my notes from the evening on my phone and I’m going by memory.

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The dessert pairing for the saison was a jam cookie. Two sugar cookies were pressed against a sticky, flavour packed jam. The cookie was chewy and soft, buttery and sweet. I plan to buy some of these jam cookies and the dessert bar for a future party. These treats are much better than I can bake at home.

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The fourth beer was Dandy in the Underworld Stout. I liked this beer. Bubbly and dark with rich coffee and chocolate notes. Matt said oyster shells are used in the process for  calcium carbonate. I wanted to ask Matt more questions about the stout and saison but other Yelpers kept dominating the conversation and having side chats so I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I was sitting at the front right across from him too.

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I hope Freehold Brewing Co. finds a new space for their brewery and restaurant. In the meantime, you can find Freehold beers at Nash, Notable, Craft, Beer Revolution, Bar von Fels and all the Nationals. Stores that sell Freehold include: Coop, Domestic Bottle, Kensington Wine Market, Highlander (Marda Loop), Liquor Depot (Killarney/Marda Loop) Vine Arts and Willow Park.

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Thanks to Miranda R for inviting me and allowing me to use her photos. If you want to get invited to future Yelp Elite events, sign up and start writing reviews. From there you ask a friend (me) to nominate you.

Sweet Relief Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato.