Fusion · Italian · Japanese · Restaurants

Carino – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Cheese Pull called and wanted to meet for dinner. She asked me to bring L but he declined as he dislikes being the only dude out with a group of chicks. For this post, let’s listen to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt.

Cheese Pull and I wanted to check out Carino, specifically for the gyozagna – a fusion blend of gyoza and lasagna. Carino has moved a couple of doors down the street into spacier, fancier digs. The room is filled with natural light and has a fresh, airy feel to it.

I asked our server for a glass of wine that would pair with the lasagna. He recommended the Barbera ($11). Cheese Pull doesn’t drink. I noticed that kids nowadays don’t consume alcohol, perhaps because they have better coping skills than my generation did.

For my appetizer, I choose Chicken Karaage ($8). Each piece of chicken was bite-sized and juicy, with a light, soft batter. The taste of basil in the mayonnaise was prominent. Cheese Pull commented the batter wasn’t as crunchy as Sukiyaki House‘s karaage.

The Gyozagna ($24) was so good that Cheese Pull let out a low growling sound as she ate. If that isn’t a compliment, I don’t know what is. Each dumpling was so plump, stuffed with a pork filling that burst with its hot juices. The wagyu meat sauce was so rich and heavy it just melded into the lava of melted mozzarella.

I enjoyed everything about this dish. From the delicate dumpling wrapper to the fresh flavour of the tomato sauce to the crunchy bits of caramelized cheese that crusted onto the top corners of the dish. The portion was also very filling.

Cheese Pull packed half her pasta away while I ate my entire serving. I was planning on bringing L half my pasta but it was so decadent I couldn’t stop eating. Cheese Pull said it was his fault for not coming. Our server was surprised I crushed my plate.

 

I was too full for dessert but Cheese Pull ordered the Hassun ($12) – a trio of sweets. Cheese Pull said the lemon flavouring in the shooter glass was subtle with a consistency like apple sauce. Her favourite of the trio was the creme brûlée. I could hear her tap on the sugar until it broke. She described her creme brûlée as a fancy pudding. The tiramisu was deconstructed – with the bottom layer tasting strongly of espresso.

I plan to return and get L to order the gyozagna so I can order the Alberta Beef Tenderloin with Seared Foie Gras Ravioli ($49.99). If you haven’t been, you have to check Carino out. The food is unique and delicious. Hitting the Sauce gives this Japanese Italian fusion gem two fat thumbs up.

Beer · Burgers · Happy Hour · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants · Seafood

Roof Top Bar @ Simmons – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Lovegastrogirl and I met up for girls’ night. Finding a restaurant for her is tricky. Based on her Instagram photos, the emerging themes are: a) spectacular view b) photogenic cocktails c) pretty plates of food. I picked the Roof Top Bar at Simmons for the view and because I wanted to try Connie and John’s pizza. For this post, let’s listen to “7 rings” by Ariana Grande.

Getting to the Roof Top Bar was a trial. I walked from my house, which is 7 km away. I’ve walked much further before without any issue, but this time I wore shoes without stockings. By the time I reached Chinatown, my ankles and the arch of my foot were raw and bloody. I limped into Chuen May and cried out, “Theresa, I’m not here for dim sum. I’m bleeding. Could I buy some band-aids from you?”

Theresa told me I was silly for offering to pay her. She and her sisters brought out a first aid kit and offered me five different types of band-aids, a disinfectant wipe and Polysporin. She even offered me extra ones to take with me. I thanked her profusely and told her I’d be back for my dim sum refill. Patched up, I was ready to go and made it just in time for my reservation.

Lovegastrogirl started off with a cocktail and I ordered a glass of white wine. She likes to snack and try a lot of dishes. I am not listing all the prices because Lovegastrogirl treated me out and some of the dishes she ordered were not on the website menu.

I am a fan of the nachos. The chips arrived blistering hot. Lovegastrogirl noted that the cheese was layered throughout the nachos and just not on the top. I liked the unique dipping sauce of dill and the hot heat from the hot peppers.

For my second beverage, I tried Connie and John’s pilsner ($10). I thought this was a sweet and easy to drinking beer. I knew I would like this beer since it’s from my favourite brewery – The Dandy Brewing Company.

Lovegastrogirl was craving oysters. The fresh oysters we received were thin and salty. If I had to guess, I would say these were an east coast variety. The oysters were accompanied with lime slices and hot sauce.

Lovegastrogirl likes her spuds and wanted to try the Greek Spiced Roasted Potato Wedges ($9). She enjoyed how the fries were poofy on the inside and crisp on the outside. Again, we got more of that lovely creamy dill sauce.

My favourite snack of the night was the featured Meaty Pizza By the Slice ($6.95). I loved the thick, melty layer of cheese. The crust was thin, crunchy and flavourful. Lovegastrogirl thought extra cheese was added to our slice because of the lacy cheese bubbles over the edges.

The view up here is something else and not something you can find easily in Calgary. Lovegastrogirl thought the vibe was very Vancouver. I would return for the view and the pizza in a heartbeat.

Thanks Lovegastrogirl for treating me out. I have a couple of ideas of where I can take you on our next date. There will be a clear view of me, and I promise the food, cocktails and ambience will deliver.

 

Burgers · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Charbar – COVID dine-in edition

Aga visited me last Wednesday from Lethbridge. She told me that she’s been unlucky when it comes to dining out in her new city, particularly for Vietnamese or Chinese cuisine. I felt sorry for her and let her pick the restaurant for our dinner date. As this beautiful bout of summer weather always makes me feel frisky, let’s listen to “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley.

Aga picked Charbar in East Village. We were lucky to get a patio table, with a view of Bow River. Since COVID-19, the menu is more limited but it still has the old favourites, like the Charbar burger, steaks, and seafood.

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We both started off with a glass of Sacrifice Rosé ($11). We enjoyed our rosé – it was dry with a tartness that reminded me of raspberries.

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I contacted Miss Foodie the night before to ask for her recommendations. She suggested the cabbage salad, the burger, and the ceviche. The night after I ate at Charbar, I had a dream about Miss Foodie, a person I’ve never met.

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In my dream, Miss Foodie and I were living in a student residence and she just came back from a dinner. She put her leftover prawns in a pot on the stove but she had to leave after taking an urgent phone call. I didn’t bother to reheat the food and just ate it out of the pot.

I asked my friend Karplop if she thought I was weird for dreaming about eating Miss Foodie’s leftovers. Karplop laughed and said no, I was normal and I probably had that dream because Miss Foodie has been posting about BC spotted prawns on her Instagram account.

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Aga and I shared the Eggplant Milanese Chips ($14), Charred Napa Cabbage Salad ($18), Tableside Ceviche ($19), and the Double Stacked Gaucho Burger ($19). Aga was initially hesitant to try ceviche because she has never tried marinaded raw seafood but she figured she would put on a brave face since she was with me. Thankfully, she was a fan.

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Each piece of shrimp, mussel, clam, and baby squid was squeaky clean. The lime marinade was zesty and refreshing. I liked the addition of the toasted popcorn – it provided a fluffy crunch followed by a nice chew. My favourite piece of seafood was the squid – it was glossy white, with a satiny texture and tender to the tooth. The ceviche tasted even fresher than I’ve experienced in coastal cities, such as Cabo San Lucas.

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Our server recommended ordering the eggplant chips to go with ceviche. The chips went well with seafood as it provided a crunchy, salty vessel to the seafood.

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I’m not a salad person, but there are four restaurants in Calgary that make one worth eating – Pure Modern Asian Kitchen & Bar, Una Pizza + Wine, Cotto Italian Comfort Food, and Charbar. The charred cabbage tasted like the yakitori I ate in Japan. The avocado was creamy with a texture similar to chilled butter. Aga raved about the freshness of the mint and the bright citrus dressing. My favourite element of the salad is the lentils – it tasted like fresh peas but with the watery texture of raw bean sprouts.

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I’ve said repeatedly that Charbar makes one of the best burgers in the city. The double patties are well-seasoned and juicy. I didn’t find the burger as saucy as previous visits but I think I prefer it this way so I could taste more of flavour of the beef. Aga liked the avocado topping in the burger. I’m partial to the beef fat fries – the interior was soft and mealy and the exterior shell was ultra crunchy.

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I chatted with out server and asked him if he thought their customers adhere to the new safety precautions. He said staff keep a close eye on everything – from sanitation standards they had in place before COVID-19 to ensuring customers follow procedures when entering the restaurant. He mentioned that Shoppers Drug Mart offers free testing, so after his shift ends on Sunday, he gets tested and finds out the result before his first shift starts on Wednesday.

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Dining out has its risks, much like grocery shopping, working, and any social outing. Since the pandemic, I’ve been making an effort to pick restaurants that are upfront, fully transparent and put in precautionary measures to better protect everyone’s health and safety. Personally, I felt safe eating at Charbar. Hitting the Sauce gives Charbar two fat thumbs up.

Charbar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fast Food · Fusion · Hawaiian · Restaurants · Seafood

Pacific Poke – COVID-19 edition

On Tuesday, I wanted a break from cooking. I was yearning for something different, like Ethiopian from Yegna Restaurant on International Avenue. However, a little voice inside my head asked me, “Is it wise to travel so far? What would Dr. Hinshaw say?” I pictured Dr. Hinshaw’s kind face and I could hear her soft-spoken voice telling me to order delivery or pick up food from a restaurant closer to home. I guess I’m feeling pretty lonely if I’m having imaginary conversations with my medical hero. For this post, let’s listen to “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

I was still craving something out of the ordinary, so I called Pacific Poke  for pick up. L and I both ordered a large build your own poke bowl ($16), which included three proteins and four toppings. When I carried the food back into the house, I was surprised by the weight of the bowls. Pacific Poke doesn’t skimp on the portions.

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We both chose traditional sushi rice, ahi tuna, wild salmon and crab. L topped his bowl with a double order of seaweed salad, sesame miso hummus, ginger jicama, avocado nori (+$1.50) and masago (+$1.50). I picked a double order of seaweed salad, cucumber kimchi, ginger jicama, and masago (+$1.50).

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Posted without permission from Pacific Poke.

Pacific Poke serves sustainable seafood. The cubed salmon was a bright orange colour, richly flavoured and smooth in texture. The crab was creamy and when I poked at the mixture, it came apart in fluffy strands. The ahi tuna was firm and fresh. L and I were both impressed with the fish. The masago was worth the extra charge – the fish roe provided a salty pop of the sea.

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L and I thought we could detect a spicy heat in the house ponzu sauce. The amount of sauce was just enough to bind all the toppings to the seafood and rice. The white rice was firm, slightly warm, with a pronounced hint of vinegar. We were both surprised the rice was so good, considering Pacific Poke isn’t a traditional Japanese restaurant. I’m curious to see if the brown rice is as well-made as the sushi rice.

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I liked all the toppings I picked. The seaweed was crunchy and tangy. The jicama tasted like a Korean pear and added a sweet, refreshing crunch. I took a bite of L’s avocado nori and hummus. The avocado was smooth and tart, the seasoning reminded me of guacamole. I think the hummus he chose would have paired well with the more non-traditional ingredients, like quinoa, corn salsa, chicken or vegetarian proteins. One issue with making your own bowl is that unless you know what you are doing, some of your choices may not pair as well as Pacific Poke’s chef inspired bowls.

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I haven’t tried all the poke restaurants in Calgary, but so far Pacific Poke is my favourite. The quality is superb and the ratio of protein to rice to topping is proportional. When we return, I’d like to try a dish off the chef inspired menu, such as The Main or The Cali. Hitting the Sauce gives Pacific Poke two fat thumbs up.

Pacific Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Sushi · Vancouver/Richmond

Richmond – Sushi Hachi – L’s birthday dinner

I booked L’s birthday dinner at Sushi Hachi Japanese Restaurant. Run by a husband and wife team, Sushi Hachi is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Reservations are required, as the small restaurant is perpetually booked.

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I invited N and Beep Beep to L’s dinner. N asked if she could bring her new gentleman friend A-OK. When I spoke to the owner to request an extra seat, I confided to the owner that I was excited to dine at his restaurant. He sounded pleased, but cautiously mentioned that he only serves sushi and sashimi. There is no teriyaki or tempura on the menu. I told him that was fine with me, as I’ve been to Japan before and I’m aware of the difference between real sushi and the North American version. He sounded worried and humbly stated that he didn’t want to get my my hopes up, as his sushi is not as good as what you can get in Japan. For this post, let’s listen to “Saw You in a Dream” by The Japanese House.

When we were seated, L commented that he knew Sushi Hachi was a good restaurant based on the tantalizing smells wafting from the kitchen and sushi bar. Unfortunately, the description of the food we ate won’t be as detailed as I would have preferred. Beep Beep and I were too busy sizing up A-OK. I usually hate the guys N dates, but A-OK was a refreshing break from the norm.

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A-OK and I shared a bottle of cold sake – Hakutsuru Nigori ($17). The flavour was floral, lush and milky in texture. L, Beep Beep and N refrained from drinking alcohol. Beep Beep was driving. L wanted a good sleep. N just came back from her second ayahuasca trip in Peru. Her shaman said she could eat seafood again, but not alcohol, meat or soy sauce. I asked A-OK if the next time, he could slip the shaman an extra twenty bucks so N could eat meat again.

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The Miso Soup ($2) was subtly different from the norm. I read in other reviews that the female owner makes her fish miso in small batches. Each bowl contained a collarbone.

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I ordered four Chef’s Special ($120) – a selection of ten pieces of nigiri and tuna maki. We were given a description of each fish, but I didn’t have time to write any of the names of the fish down.

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The balance of vinegar and sugar in the rice was perfect. The temperature of the rice was neither cool or warm. I noticed the rice was a bit softer than I’m used to. L and I liked the proportion of fish to rice.

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My favourite piece was the bright white glossy piece – it was both crunchy and creamy. The simplicity of garnishes on the nigiri still let the freshness of the seafood shine through.

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The scallops were tender and sweet. My favourite version was the chopped scallop. There’s just something so winning about the combination of delicate scallops and the rich egg flavor of velvety Kewpie mayonnaise.

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I enjoyed crunching into the raw prawn ($3.50). Cold, sweet and with a texture that was both gooey and crunchy. The uni ($4.00) was the most buttery and briniest I’ve ever had. I’d order this again.  L ordered an extra piece of his favourite sushi –  tako ($2.50).

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L noted he’s never tried so many pieces of white fish, each with its own unique flavour. All the seafood tasted pure and clean. 

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A-OK and N ordered a plate of Toro ($18) and Sockeye Salmon ($14). No comment as we didn’t try any of it.

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A-OK also ordered the Grilled Squid ($10.50).  The squid was tender and the juices were reminiscent of charcoal. This dish was simple and delicious.

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N ordered a Tempura Roll ($6) because she was still hungry. She took one piece and announced she was full.  I ate a couple of pieces.  The roll was crunchy and warm from the tempura, made even tastier with a generous slathering of mayonnaise.

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N mentioned that while she can eat fish, she only wants to eat white fish. She felt that the fish with a pink tinge was closer to meat. I disagreed but didn’t feel the urge to argue with her. I’m not a hot shot shaman.

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My favourite part of the night was when L thanked the sushi chef. In Japan, locals go crazy over my husband’s enunciation while I am generally frowned upon for breaking protocol. After L broke out his perfect Japanese, the  chef’s expression didn’t change and he simply nodded to L.  When I went to thank the sushi chef in English, he beamed and bestowed me with a big grin. Take that L.

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Sushi Hachi is a gem. Now that L and I are no longer going on our annual trip to Japan, we can look forward to dining at Sushi Hachi. I’m eager to try more of the adventurous seafood on their sushi menu. Hitting the Sauce gives Sushi Hachi two fat thumbs up.

Sushi Hachi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy Hour · Restaurants · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Fanny Bay & Oyster Bar

L asked me what I wanted to do on our free afternoon. Walk along the seawall! As we strolled over to English Bay, he complained that I walk too fast and said that I was going to blow out my hip. You don’t have to worry about me L, I have strong child bearing hips.

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When we arrived at our destination, he wanted to rest on the bench. L mentioned he felt like oysters and if we left now, we could make it in time for happy hour. I could tell Old Man L was tired, so I sat and admired the water for a moment more before we turned around and headed over to Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market . For this post, let’s listen to “Sweet About Me by Gabriella Cilmi.

Happy hour is daily from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Select wines are $7, house beer is $5, and featured oysters are $1.50 or $2.25. The west coast oyster was the Sun Seeker (Floating Bag – 18 months old, Okeover, BC) and the east coast oyster was Totten Virginia (Beach Grown – 3 years old, Totten Inlet, WA).

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I wish I got the name of our server – a young man that spun our plate of oysters around in a circle and said it reminded him of the Game of Thrones introduction. His energy and attentive service, paired with the sublimely fresh oysters, made this visit exceptional.

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I tried a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc (Open Estates, Okanagan) and for $7 it was fine. However, I preferred the sparkling Pinot Grigio ($10, Most Wanted, Hungary) as it was simple, light and refreshing.

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Each oyster was perfectly shucked – there was no grit or shell in it. When you pulled the oyster out of the shell, it made the sound a cork makes when you pull it out of a wine bottle. 

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L and I prefer west coast oysters, but we enjoyed the Totten Virginia ($2.25). The oyster tasted a bit like celery. Compared to the Summit Seeker, the east coast oyster was cleaner with a crunchier texture.

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The Sun Seeker ($1.50) was firm and sweet, with a salty finish. The center of the oyster was cool on my tongue. These were chubby, creamy oysters. I was ecstatic.

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The oyster was so big, I had to use my oyster fork to pull it out of the shell. Holding the oyster on the fork reminded me of a poached egg. The flavor was so good, I didn’t feel the need for anything but a little lemon and horseradish. The fresh horseradish was feathery soft – it added a bit of heat and chew to the oyster. I ate as slowly as possibly to enjoy the flavor as long as possible.

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The oysters were so enjoyable, I would be happy to return for non-happy hour prices ($3.50 each, Shuckers’ Dozen $39). I plan on visiting my parents again in November. I’ll definitely come by again to get my oyster fix. Hitting the Sauce gives Fanny Bay Oyster Bar two fat thumbs up.

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Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Restaurants · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Lupo

For our first night in Vancouver, L and I went our separate ways. He went on a bicycle and brewery tour with Moody and Cuz, while I took Beep Beep and N out for dinner. I’ve asked L before to set up N with his single friends, but he said she’ll eat them alive. When I told N, she agreed with L. Unlike me, she doesn’t like nice guys. In honour of N, let’s listen to “Bad Guy by Billie Eilish.

N recommended we dine at Lupo Restaurant & Vinoteca, an Italian restaurant in Yaletown. Beep Beep and N suggested that I pick all the dishes and wine. I chose a bottle of Burrowing Owl ($96, Cabernet Sauvignon 2016). I found the wine full-bodied, intense but still fresh enough to sip on a warm summer night.

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We shared the Bufala Mozzarella ($20), Parmigiana Custard ($20), Ricotta Gnocchi ($28), Taglierini ($28), and an order of Focaccia Bread ($7.00). A server accidentally brought over a plate of Octopus Mosaic ($20). When he realized his mistake, he told us to enjoy the octopus appetizer on the house.

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We all thought the burrata was excellent. The cheese was creamy and smooth. The tomatoes were ripe and sweet. The organic greens were crisp and the basil noticeably fragrant. This dish rivaled the caprese salad at Cotto Italian in Calgary.

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I wasn’t as crazy about the Parmigiana Custard. The texture was smooth and rich, and I enjoyed the cheesy custard-like texture, but it didn’t stand out like the other dishes.

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We all loved the focaccia bread – it was ultra light with a crusty, airy exterior. The toppings of cheese, olive oil, cooked tomatoes and mushrooms made it almost pizza-like. The texture and flavour of Lupo’s bread is far superior to my homemade focaccia. I would order this again.

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If you are into tomatoes, you must order the ricotta gnocchi. The gnocchi was soft, warm and gooey. Beep Beep said she could taste the fresh tomatoes in the sauce. I liked the addition of the eggplant. This was Beep Beep’s favourite dish. N was tipsy at this point and didn’t comment on the food, except to say it was good.

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My favourite dish was the linguini with wild mushrooms. I enjoyed the sensation of crunching into the delicate earthy mushrooms. I found the chili and garlic oil downright decadent. I would order this again.

N informed me that Lupo is one of her go-to restaurants because of the excellent food, professional service, and the fact it’s a hidden gem in Vancouver. I enjoyed the food and company immensely. Hitting the Sauce gives Lupo two fat thumbs up.

Lupo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Dessert · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Canmore – Trough Dining Co.

Scary Sherry organized a surprise birthday party in Canmore for Veronica’s 50th birthday party. There was a total of seven in our group. L was worried for me as the team consists of all-star alphas. I told him I would be fine. I grew up in a household of strong-willed women. For this post, let’s listen to “You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore.

Scary rented a three-bedroom penthouse suite at Solara Spa and Resort. She ordered two charcuterie boards from Table Food + Drink. We all brought bottles of champagne. Scary also spoiled us with grab bags filled with toiletries, fancy treats, after party supplements, birthday paraphernalia and a $10 gift certificate to McDonald’s.

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The plan was when Veronica came inside the room, I was to pop open a bottle of champagne. However, for some freak reason, the wiring on the cork got stuck. I frantically twisted and turned the wiring as Veronica open the door and walked inside. Just when I saw her shocked face, I managed to pry open the cork.

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For dinner, we picked Trough Dining Co. The restaurant itself is small and quaint. We started off with a round of cocktails. I found my Kir Royale ($12) a little flat and didn’t finish it. Everyone else raved about their drink. Shiv mentioned her Bloody Caesar ($12) was awesome.

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I was designated to pick the wine. I asked for something full-bodied and selected a Cabernet Sauvignon ($109, Knights Valley, Beringer, 2015). I’d order this wine again. It was soft and jammy with a hint of dryness. Everyone enjoyed my selection and asked me which winery it was from. BR corrected my pronunciation as I used a hard g instead of Beh-rin-djer. Veronica didn’t like that and told BR not to make fun of me.  I didn’t think BR was making fun of me, but I stayed quiet because I didn’t want to provoke anyone.

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Veronica and Scary ordered the Wild Mushroom Truffle Soup ($10). I don’t normally go crazy for a soup, but this one was phenomenal.  Flavourful and earthy, you could tell the soup was prepared with local ingredients.

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Mandy ordered the Frisee Salad ($14) and Mussels with Frites ($15). I tried a mussel – the shellfish was small, covered in a roasted fennel tomato broth that reminded me of tomato bruschetta.

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Veronica thought the salad was unexpectedly fresh and crisp, with bursts of flavour from the sharp, silky pieces of blue cheese.

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I took a bite out of Swedish’s entrée of Flank Steak and Herb Gnocchi ($36). I found the steak quite lean. Veronica said her taste of the beef was heavenly – literally like butter. I enjoyed the soft pillow-like gnocchi.

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I ordered the Wild Snapper ($32) with Potato Gratin. I think all the charcuterie and champagne I ate and drank beforehand dulled my taste buds. I thought my fish looked lovely but I couldn’t really taste much other than the tomato relish. Besides all the charcuterie, I had also eaten salt and vinegar chips.

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Dessert stood out for everyone, both in presentation and taste. We shared the Sticky Toffee Pudding ($10) and Cheesecake ($10). The pudding was warm and not overly sweet, despite the salted caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream.

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The cheesecake was my favourite dish of the night. The smoothness of the cream cheese reminded me of cold goat cheese. The white and dark chocolate was rich and decadent. The blueberry compote and  dark chocolate wafer cookie added to the richness of the cake. Next time, I’m ordering my own slice because it was that good.

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Happy birthday Veronica! Thanks Scary for all the treats and organizing the Canmore retreat. It was a pleasure and privilege to celebrate Veronica’s birthday with the all-star alphas.

Trough Dining Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cabos San Lucas · Cheap Eats · Restaurants

Los Cabos 2018 – Part Two

I was counting down the hours until N arrived. Unfortunately, her flight was delayed and she could only get a flight out the next day. I can only imagine the earful the customer representative received. If anyone can get compensation from an airline service, it would be N. For this post, let’s listen to Consuelo Velasquez – Besame Mucho.

On the way to our Airbnb, our driver recommended Las Guacamayas. He said locals dine there and the molten seafood cheese molcajetes are delicious. When N’s flight was delayed, I cancelled our reservations at Roasted Grill and Bar and we went to Las Guacamayas instead. The restaurant itself is pretty neat – there are two and a half levels. Throughout the evening, there was live music and dancers.

L and I shared an order of Molcajetes ($18 CAN). The lava bowl was searing hot – filled with octopus, prawns, avocado, asparagus and covered in a mushroom cheese sauce. The tortillas were too dry and cracked when we put the cheese and seafood inside it. The asparagus was overcooked. The mushroom sauce would have benefited from seasoning. I couldn’t ask our server for fresh tortillas because they were short-staffed. I didn’t mind – the ambience and music made up for it. I thought the food was fair for the price.

After dinner, we walked around and admired an art gallery with a rock formation behind the store. An artist came out and asked us if we would like to attend the party behind the gallery. The exhibition consisted of 11 new artists and to celebrate the full moon, there was live music, poetry readings, and complimentary wine. He said to walk to the back and to follow our hearts to find the party. What a romantic! The curved stairs lead us to the top of the hill.

I was surprised that I enjoyed the wine – so much that I went over to take a picture of the label. I looked up the price and it’s around $9 US. I wish pubs in Calgary would serve Nicolas Merlot for their happy hour selection. There was nothing offensive about it – fruity, light with no after taste.

We walked around and enjoyed the view of the city. When the live performances were finished, we checked out the art exhibition. Our favourite painting was created by the artist that pulled us into the studio. He refurbishes old paintings and recycles it by adding his own story. We asked him how much his painting was and he looked shocked. He quickly said $500 US then admitted to us that he just made up the number. He brought over the gallery director who told us she didn’t have a way to ship the framed painting to us. I was tipsy so I told L we should take a look at the painting the next morning.

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The next evening, we ate at El Peregrino . We skipped appetizers because we didn’t want to overeat. L ordered the ribs that were on special that night for only $12 US. The meat was tender, though there was one piece that was too fatty. The fries were nice – thin and crispy like Earl’s version in Canada.

I loved my octopus dish ($15 US). The sauce tasted like olive oil, garlic and butter. The octopus itself was toothsome with no chew to it. I’d order this dish again. Best octopus I’ve ever eaten. I enjoyed our meal so much, I made reservations for when N arrived on Saturday. However, the pinot grigio tasted like tart apple juice.

The selection of wines here are good for a restaurant in Mexico and well-priced. The next visit, I found a bottle by the glass of red that I enjoyed with my steak – Montepuliano d’Abruzzo.

We returned with N on Saturday. I made sure that all the restaurants we took N to were vegetarian friendly. She asked for a cheese and mushroom dish.

L and I ordered the steak special ($15) – a large Argentinian cut. I gave about a third of my steak to L as it was too much meat for me. L raved about his dish. The beef was lean, which is probably one reason L enjoyed his steak so much. My salad had a fantastic balsamic vinaigrette and the mashed potatoes were smooth, buttery and perfectly salted. I’d return again for the octopus and the octopus ceviche, which I read was just as delicious. I noticed a lot of regulars chatting with the staff and customers having birthday parties.

After dinner, we stopped by my favourite bar in Cabos – Monkey Business. The open air bar seats about 10 people. I always order the pineapple margarita because it’s not that sweet. L ordered a strawberry while N wanted a traditional margarita. I watched as our bartender painstakingly blended fresh pineapple, slice and squeezed limes, add tequila and rim the glass with spices.

Monkey Bar use to have underwear and bras hanging up all over the ceiling. N’s 2016 drawing of a pair of panties was also absent. I asked what happened. The bartender said he took it home to wear. N asked him if he was  wearing a pair now.

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For dessert, we bought churros from a street vendor ($1 US). The pastry wasn’t hot from the fryer, resulting in a pretty tasting average pastry. N said we should have insisted on waiting for a fresh churro. Next time.

Highlights include N visiting, my octopus entree and getting a spontaneous invite to an art gallery. Lowlight was N missing a whole day and night in Cabos.