Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ZINC for Lunch

I finally finished exams yesterday, and to celebrate, Charles and I headed to the AGA for one final look at the Cardiff/Miller installations before they head out May 9th. We also stopped again at the Degas exhibit, however I can't say it was as enjoyable this time, as I had just spent the morning writing about Degas and the little dancer cast in my art history exam. We were also hoping to check out the Terrace Cafe for lunch, but thought we needed something more substantial than a wrap or sandwich. So instead we decided to head to Zinc and give it another try.

The restaurant was empty when we arrived around 2pm, but we were greeted promptly by the hostess. She happened to lead us to the same table as our previous visit.

Our server appeared right away to fill water glasses and to let us know about the specials - a blue cheese mac and cheese with flank steak, and a leek and potato soup. After that however, we were left for quite awhile to peruse the page long menu. We had long decided our orders by the time she returned - an Innis & Gunn with the Fish and Chips for Charles, and the "Un-Burger" with the soup of the day and an Amber's Chocolate Stout for me.

Chocolate Stout


Bread plate

I wasn't expecting the fresh brioche during lunch, but about 10 minutes after our order two pieces appeared along with their Thyme butter. Unfortunately we didn't get to indulge in the extra carbs, as our server returned straight away with our mains.

As with our last visit, we were in awe over the plating designs. They are beautiful - clean lines and simple, functional plates and bowls (both of us are also in love with their cutlery!). Charles enjoyed his fish and chips, particularly the Alberta White fish they had chosen, however he thought the batter on the fish could have been more crisp. He also didn't care for the 'Saki Soaked Nori Aioli', and I can't say I did either after trying it with a bite of fish; it seemed oily, and it overpowered the flavour of the fish completely. However we both agreed that the root vegetable chips made up of thinly sliced beets, potatoes and yam, and the red cabbage slaw with black sesame seeds were fantastic.

Fish and Chips - Alberta White Fish, Root Vegetable Chips, Red Cabbage Slaw & Sake soaked Nori Aioli ($19)

My "un-burger"was great. The elk and caribou patty was rich, flavourful and moist, and I loved the sweetness of the honey caramelized onions. The Saskatoon berry aioli also provided a nice brightness that cut through the rich brioche bun and the burger itself well. I have to say the burger was incredibly large with all the toppings, so Charles helped me finish it... he thought he would definitely go for that on our next visit. The leek and potato soup was also good - rich and creamy and perfect for yesterday afternoon, which turned out to be a bit rainy and cold.

Alberta's Finest Un-burger - Homemade Ground Caribou and Elk, Honey Caramelized Onions, Saskatoon Berry Aioli, Sautéed Mushrooms ($17)

w/ Leek and Potato Soup

Our server came back to fill water glasses, clear our plates (she did not come back while we were eating to ask how our food was, etc.) and inquire about dessert. She came back with a dessert menu, also telling us that she didn't know if the kitchen was still open or if they had shut down to prepare for dinner service. It turned out that although they were shutting down, the kitchen 'would do dessert for us', and we ended up sharing the crème brulée, the same dessert Charles had during our last visit for dinner.

Vanilla Espresso Crème Brulée - Praline Hazelnut Gelato, Strawberry Foam ($12)

Crème Brulée detail

Neither of us thought the dessert was as good as last time, but couldn't place our finger on anything specific. Maybe it was the confusion over the kitchen and the way the menu was presented to us...

As with our last visit, we enjoyed the food, but found the service still lacking. Once again our server was friendly, but overall service was nowhere near polished. Hopefully Zinc will find their stride soon!

2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Zinc on Urbanspoon

**I meant to post more on our visit last month for dinner, but instead I've added prices to that post. Since it's been so long, I'm not sure I can accurately reflect on the evening. Hopefully this will serve as a bit of an update to accompany the post from our last visit.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eat Local First Order #1

We received our first order from Eat Local First today just after 12pm. Since I'm at home studying today, the delivery to our apartment building worked out well. However, I'm not sure how it would be if we were both out for the day... the website says that if they can't get into your building, they will leave it in the entry way.

Everything was packed away nicely with two ice packs in the cooler. Next time we order, we can just swap out this cooler for the next one. Delivery was $8, plus a $40 deposit on this cooler that we will get back when it's picked up or returned.

Here's what we got:

Bacon ($9.38)

Ham (1.5-2lb; $15)

Mushrooms ($8.75 for 50g)... this one hurt the wallet a little

Beans ($4.38)

Fiddleheads ($12.5)

Since many of the items for order overlap with markets (Irvings pork, Ocean Odyssey Inland's fish) and even grocery stores (Bles-Wold yogurt, Prairie Mill Bread), I'm not sure how much we will be utilizing this service, especially during the summer with the City Market on Saturdays.

As far as I understand, this initial Eat Local First service is sort of separate from the Good Food Box part of things. The actual Good Food Box will start up mid June, with a weekly delivery to members of 10-12 local, seasonal items... I'm editing this because I received the Good Food Box newsletter today, which explained this further (I guess others were confused too). Last year they just did the Good Food Box with a 6-8 week delivery program of 10-12 local items per week. This year they have expanded to include both the original Good Food Box program, and the online grocery store portion.

They are also now offering pick up at their warehouse (5032 129 Ave) on Thursdays from 1-7pm, so you can still order if you are not in the postal code delivery zones yet. Orders for food delivery or pick up for the next week must be in by Saturday at noon.

*I referenced the Good Food Box and Eat Local First projects in my Anthro of Food paper, so more thoughts on this topic to come after exams!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Spring Farmers' Market

I went to the Strathcona Farmers' Market for the first time in a couple months today... Charles has been going since I usually work on Saturdays. What a great day to head over - most of the vegetable and fruit vendors are back out, and there are flowers and herbs everywhere. Still, I can't wait until the City Market opens mid-May. It's my favourite.
We decided on these tulips today... I have them sitting on my desk to remind me of the warm weather outside as I study. I hope you are getting to soak up the sun today!
Also, we ordered some things from Eat Local First this past Thursday - bacon, a ham, fiddle heads, green beans and some dried, 'Alberta Blend' mushrooms. The delivery date for our area is Thursday, so pictures and a report to come!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lunch at Tokyo Noodle Shop

I met up with Charles and our Folk Fest warehouse manager for lunch today at Tokyo Noodle Shop (10736 82 Avenue).
We had been once before and didn't have the best experience as far as food and service goes, but of course, the location is ideal. And I have to say, their windows are ideal for people watching...
People (and dog) watching

Unlike our previous visit, the sashimi ($25.95 for 24 pieces) was great, especially my favourite, the squid. And both the shitake maki ($4 for 6 rolls) and toro sushi ($4.75 for two pieces) were also really good. I liked the bit of green onion on top of the toro - it gave it a nice punch, while still letting the fatty flavour of the tuna through. Charles ordered the same noodle dish as he did during our previous visit - the chicken udon ($9.25); I'm sad to say that he didn't find any improvement.
Service, we all agreed, wasn't the best. Short and to the point... maybe it was because we came in at the end of the lunch rush? Who knows.
Fantastic tea cups
Chicken Udon
on a fish shaped plate
Toro sushi
Shitake maki
Tokyo Noodle Shop
10736 82 Avenue
Hours: M-Th (11:30am - 9:30pm); F-S (11:30am - 10:30pm); Su (Noon - 9pm)
Tokyo Noodle Shop on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 11, 2010

19 Days and Counting

We had a lovely break on Vancouver Island last May, and I'm happy to say that we are heading back at the end of April/beginning of May, for a short break - school will be over, and the craziness of Folk Fest will not hit until mid-May (I hope)... theoretically perfect timing.

While we enjoyed Brentwood Bay Lodge immensely last year, we decided to stay right in Victoria this time - mostly because of transit, and that we want to explore Victoria some more this year, but also because the amazing two for one deal we got last year isn't on offer.

View from our room's balcony... so serene

I realized that I didn't write up any of our our food stops in Victoria last year, except for our breakfast at the hotel, and our restaurant stop in Brentwood Bay itself. We also went to Brasserie L'école (1715 Government St) in Victoria, and it was completely amazing! This is one of those times I'm glad to be a Chowhound addict... thanks to all those Victoria foodies for such great recommendations!

Brasserie L'école had the best beer selection I had ever seen - it was as big and complex as the wine list, and I was immediately won over. On top of that, both the food and service were amazing, and the prices were definitely reasonable (for two of us, with a few beers each, a shared appetizer, entrees, desserts and coffee, we got out around $90). We are going to try and head back this year (I'm determined to get pictures this time), although I see they are no longer accepting reservations, so we'll see if we can get a table.

The other spot we made it to, that is certainly on the list again this year, is Red Fish Blue Fish (1006 Wharf Street). It's right on the inner harbour, and seems to be a spot for both locals and tourists (it's worth the line up... stick it out). They use a light tempura batter for their fish, and best of all, the fish is sustainably caught, there's lots of local stuff, and it's all certified through the Ocean Wise program. Everything we had was so good... especially the scallop 'tacone'.

Halibut ($11)

BBQ Qualicum Bay Scallop Tacones ($7)

Cod ($10)

I can't wait to head out again... the ocean is so alluring. 19 Days and counting.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Carrot Dip and Carbs

My partner and I got through our presentation on the organic and local food movements this past Tuesday unscathed. Presentations are the worst for me... I get nervous days in advance, so I was glad this one went off without a hitch. We're finishing up our paper on the topic this weekend, so eventually (likely after exams), I'm going to try and summarize some of our findings here.

We had to bring food for our classmates that went along with our topic, so we decided on the Carrot Spread from "We Eat Together," and a loaf of organic bread from Tree Stone to go along with it. Everyone seemed to like it, but luckily there was some left for me to snack on today. I have to say, the carrot spread was better the second day, once the cumin and vinegar had a bit of a chance to mellow.

Leftovers for me!

Charles very nicely went to Tree Stone to pick up the bread Tuesday morning, and we did a fantastic hand off as I ran from my History of Modern Art class, down HUB, to Anthro of Food. Yvan was testing out bagel recipes that morning, and gave Charles two versions to try, asking him to report back in a couple days with thoughts. Since he's still working things out, I won't comment here on taste, texture, etc., but I will say that we ate them this morning with Maple Honey... yum!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter and Almost Chocolate

While I was hoping to get some free time this weekend, as mentioned in the post below, I'm still in essay mode, and I've also been working on a 'creative academic poster' most of the weekend. My Prof. does not want us to have the thing printed, nor does she want us to pay much for the materials... she basically said to break out the glue stick and get crafty, so I stuck chocolate bar wrappers all over it, and used pictures of cacao beans from Amano's website.

I know this isn't quite like getting real chocolate for Easter, but this project is on cacao, so there's got to be a link in there somewhere. Have a Happy Easter weekend, and I hope you did get some actual chocolate to munch on!