Saturday, September 15, 2018

Thoughts on tinned sardines

After three years of blank space here, I thought I’d reflect on something more recently near-and-dear to my heart – tinned sardines. There have, so far, been very interesting reactions when I either discuss sardines or crack open a tin (at work for instance):

“What is that!?”

“Sardines are so oily!”

And possibly my favourite…

“Are you an 80 year old man?” (Side note – I absolutely am in spirit.)

Having never eaten any sort of sardine in my life, did I just randomly pick up a tin? No. The influence comes via my roommate and long time friend, Rachel. When I was in Paris in 2015, she asked that I bring her back a tin of sardines. I trust Rachel’s food instincts and knowledge more than anyone I know, so naturally I also picked up one for myself.

Two years later, in a hangry moment, I found them. Even though the situation may sound sad, I can assure you it wasn’t. Along with some very good toasted bread, a generous swath of butter, parsley, and a squeeze of lemon, those sardines were a small, much appreciated luxury. Further, the plate was made up of several key factors that contribute to my decisions about what to “cook” – fast, inexpensive, made up of fewer than five ingredients. Perfect.

Now, I’ve since discovered that all sardines are not the delicate Breton type I first encountered. What I’ve come across in Edmonton - in the Italian Centre’s section of tinned fish - are varieties from Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Since sampling a few of the brands (and also boneless, skinless, different oils, etc.), my preference is the skinless and boneless variety from Sabor do Mar. They are from Portugal, packed in sunflower oil (not olive, but c'est la vie) and have the added benefit of being sustainably fished. If anyone has a line on the Matiz brand here in Edmonton, do let me know.

Rachel recently traveled to Toronto and spent too much money on “luxury” sardines and mackerel (also, very good French butter). I came home one evening in August to a thoughtful table of tinned fish, four varieties of butter, a generous salad, and a million condiments (no exaggeration).

So there you have it. A small glimpse at the life of a 30-year-old woman from Edmonton, happily enjoying sardines on toast at least one evening a week. Next up, some ramblings regarding soft scrambled eggs.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


After sitting around my apartment for a couple months straight {thanks to a broken ankle}, I'm anxious to get out and enjoy Edmonton. At exactly the right time, Jason Foster posted about the 'Brew-Curious' tour, put on by the Edmonton City as Museum Project. My boss and I picked up a couple tickets and boarded an ETS bus last Saturday for a tour of Edmonton's beer history.

It was great to see tour tickets sold out for two full buses, and the group of people on the tour {or in our earlier group, at least} seemed to be interestingly split between those who may be involved in the Edmonton Heritage Council or City history, and those, like us, who arrived via Edmonton's present beer culture. The group boarded the bus at Brewsters, or to be more exact, at the #1988 bus stop. After introductions from Meredith {our chaperone, if you will} and Terry {our historian and tour guide} we set off towards our first stop at Yellowhead Brewing.

I think it's pretty easy to find Yellowhead around town, but it was interesting to find out exactly how their lager {now the only one in Edmonton} is made. A combination of malt from Alberta, Germany and the Czech Republic go into their beer, along with hops, water and yeast. From start to finish, a batch of their lager takes eight weeks to produce. Also notable, is that 'Yellowhead' has been the name of at least one other brewery, and several beers, in Edmonton's past.

From there we circled back to the 'Molson' site... After the tour, I hesitate to call it that. The German-style castle was designed by Bernard Barthel at the direction of Edmonton Brewing & Malting Co. owner, William Henry Sheppard {also the mayor of Strathcona at the time}. From 1913-1927, he produced, amongst other brews, Yellowhead Beer, before selling the company and building to Sick's Brewing from Lethbridge. In 1958 Molson took over the site, eventually closing down their operation in 2007. And well, we know the rest.

Next up, Alley Kat. I love visiting the brewery, and this time was no different; They are always generous and eager to share their brews and love of beer {as a side note, this year's summer beer, the Lemon Hefeweizen, is delicious}. One of the highlights of the tour promised to be a sample of a beer made just for us, a stout after a British recipe from the 1800s that they aptly named 'Girder Bender'.

The beer was brewed by Neil Herbst {Alley Kat co-owner}, Jason Foster {} and Shane Groendahl {EBGA}, so needless to say it was delicious. I believe they said they made the malt themselves at home, which means, much to our dismay, it's too labour intensive to produce again.

Our next stop was the City Archives! It's not open to the public, so this was a pretty incredible chance to view some Edmonton specific artifacts up close. Beer related items from Edmonton were pulled to share, then we were taken on a short tour of the upstairs portion of the archives, where this sign was pulled out:

The second last stop before heading back to Brewster's was the original location of the Edmonton Brewing & Malting Co. The building was in use until Sheppard decided to build the castle in Oliver. After all, it was expensive to hall beer up the steep river valley bank on a FUNICULAR.

Once we arrived at Brewster's, the assistant brewer led us on a tour of their space where they brew the raspberry and blueberry ales, and the rotational tap {currently a Hefeweizen for the summer}, then we sat down for a pint and chat with our fellow tour goers before heading out.

A pretty amazing day of discovery. It's not surprising that we have a rich brewing history in Edmonton just below the surface. While they might do this one again, our tour guide was pretty clear that they can't really get into beer tours alone. So if anyone picks up something similar, please let me know!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chocolate Salami

The small, meaningful Christmas gift is certainly the most difficult of all gifts to give. Last year I successfully made and gave chocolate granola, and thus began my search for a similarly non-difficult, doesn't expire too quickly, chocolatey recipe. Eventually I remembered my past Christmas obsession with chocolate salami from the previous year.

So that's what I made. Saucisson au Chocolat from Olympic Provisions. The bits I snuck from the bottom of the bowl were delicious - Slightly sweet, a little boozy, with perfect crunch from the nuts, seeds and bits of potato chips. I also got a little 'Martha Stewart' with the packaging. You know, Christmas and all.

No pigs were harmed in the making of this salami!

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Oreos" & Gnocchi

{As per usual, an excuse for my absence. Work was a little really crazy this spring, but I think I've got a short lull, so here's hoping for a few posts. I'm off to Vancouver for a few days, so any recommendations are appreciated since I've never really been... I know! What!?}

Earlier in May I made a couple items that I considered of note. Firstly, "Oreos". With both of us on the brink of colds, Claire suggested we tackle the project. I had read about them on Smitten Kitchen some time ago, but passed since I don't really have a particular attachment to the cookie. At any rate, it was fun and they were delicious.

Next time I would lean toward a T.K.O. (Thomas Keller Oreo) with white chocolate ganache instead of icing, but none-the-less, the flavour of these was great, and I'm sure a little mint oil would add a new level.

And gnocchi. This one has been on my list for years. Years. I don't know why it took me so long, but it's incredibly simple. The only thing left to tackle is the perfect fork-tine-roll.

As an aside, I had the best burger I've ever eaten ( Edmonton) at Sugarbowl earlier in the week. A perfectly cooked Four Whistle Farms beef, simply topped with pickles, mayo and lettuce. Delicious. Can't wait until that special roles around again...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I don't want to jinx it or anything, but the warm weather, patios and length of my workdays has been increasing. It must almost be spring. That means saying a temporary goodbye to the rich, brown sipping liquids of the winter, and hello to my very favourite - gin. While browsing Food 52 last week, I came across this lovely looking thing.

I enjoyed citrus throughout the winter (this lemony corpse reviver, for instance), so the mint makes for a fresh transition. Not only that, but the ingredients - gin, simple syrup, lime and mint - are easy enough to keep on hand, and come together quickly. I'm looking forward to a couple slices of cucumber a little later in the season for an Eastside.

A little note on the hipster cocktail shaker there. Yes. A belated birthday gift from a friend {believe me, he saw this and loved the irony... Hipster}. I didn't have a cocktail shaker before, so this worked out well, and just in time for the summer when drinks want to be shaken.

Anyways, I've been on the hunt for a while, and after reading a whole lot of reviews, seriously considered this one. Just look at it. I couldn't do it. While the mason jar thing has certainly run its course, this shaker did not leak, and it holds a lot of boos. The two main items on my list. My only complaint is that the un-insulated glass vessel can be a little chilly on the hands. I guess that's what those hand knit cozies are for...

From Erik Lombardo of Food 52

2oz gin (I used Victoria)
1oz lime juice
3/4oz simple syrup
4-6 mint leaves

Place ingredients in a shaker and shake. Strain into your glass of choice.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Beer Revolution

We found ourselves at Beer Revolution Monday evening, perfect since I realized I hadn't posted on the spot. Since opening last summer, we've probably stopped by at least a dozen times - The beer menu changes lots, and there are almost always seats, particularly important at the end of a long summer day of EFMF set up.

Considering the recent addition of beer focused spots to Edmonton (MKT, Underground and Craft Beer Market), Beer Revolution is easily my favourite. While I'm not particularly drawn to the food at any of these places (the nachos at BR are notable), I'm consistently impressed with the beer selection at Beer Revolution. Fewer taps mean the board is constantly rotating, though familiar brews from the likes of Granville Island and Brewsters are always around just in case. There is also no Bud, Coors, Molson, etc. masquerading as 'craft beer', something I've had issue with at MKT, Public House (which is apparently now closed) and most recently, Craft Beer Market.

Since Beer Revolution is Calgary based (owned by Brewsters), there's almost always something from Wildrose or Village, though it is consistently matched by a brew from Alley Kat. And almost anytime I've had something from Hog's Head on tap, it's been at Beer Revolution. So kudos for keeping the locals in rotation. On Monday evening we enjoyed the Natural Born Keller from Wildrose, alongside Hog's Head's Hop Slayer IPA, and Fallentimber's Hopped Mead; Incredibly impressed to see the latter on tap.

And a moment of appreciation for those beer boards. While they can be a bit of a pain depending where you're seated, it allows them to change a keg and let you know right away (they added two or three during our visit). It also tells you when the keg was tapped, and about how much is left, and makes it easy to tell which beer are on special. As you can see, they also give you the option of an 8oz size, which I love when I want to try a few different brews.

Food wise Charles and I decided to share the Chopped Salad ($13) along side the Furious Pete ($19) pizza. The pizza was as expected - Lots of toppings served on a crust my dad likes to refer to as 'cracker crust' (super hard and crispy). Okay, definitely not great. The salad, however, was pretty solid. A little sweet thanks to a maple vinaigrette, but balanced well by tart green apple, smoked gouda and a little bacon. I definitely wouldn't hesitate to order it again, save the bread/croutons served with.

While I'm still holding out for a small tap room, with hard to find beer, good snacks and a killer atmosphere, cozy and not-corporate-feeling, with solid music, beer-geek staff and growler fills (hey, I can dream), I'm happy that Beer Revolution is keeping things interesting, on the beer end at least.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Eggs

Earlier in the month some of the Provisions ladies got together for an Easter egg dyeing party, with the hope they'd turn out well enough to use in our window display. That they did.

We used this oil technique to achieve the marbleized look, and kept it classic and pastel like for the rest. Not the most involved thing ever, but crafty enough for most of us at the table that evening. Happy Easter, everyone!