Sunday, November 30, 2008

Padmanadi - Vegetarian goodness

Z and I were first introduced to Padmanadi's food at the set up for the Heart of the City Festival, as a large tray of Veggie Curry Chicken and Potatoes along with rice is graciously delivered to the volunteers each year... it has now become a habit to stop over at Padmanadi a couple times a month. Tonight we headed over with four others from Folk Fest's Site Crew, to enjoy the great food and atmosphere.

We made our reservation for 7PM and arrived to a fairly full restaurant a little late. All of us sat down and, as always, we were each promptly brought a cup of tea and menus. One of our friends suggested we each pick a dish, beyond the must haves of Veggie Curry Chicken with Potatoes ($9.99) and a double order of Spring Rolls ($4.99 for 6). In the end we settled on the Sweet and Sour Pork ($9.99), Mushroom Deluxe ($9.99), Veggie Stir-Fried Mutton with Ginger ($9.99), Shanghai Bok Choy with Mushroom ($9.99), Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice, $7.99) and Bakmi Goreng (Noodles with Mushrooms and veggies, $7.99).

Followed by the quick delivery of a dozen crispy spring rolls, the rest of our dishes followed promplty. Everything was great: the Curried Chicken was slightly spicy with the coconut shining through and all the veggies were perfectly cooked, still slightly crispy. The coconut rice added a nice flavour to all the dishes as did the addition of ginger in some others, while the mushrooms found in the majority of our order added a nice chewy texture along with the veggie meat.

Although we believed we ordered far too much food upon its arrival, we happely kept spinning the lazy susan, gobbeling up everything placed on it. As our dishes were cleared and we were provided with more water and tea, we all decided it would be necessary to have dessert. Three of us went for the Rice Pudding, two for the Chocolate Mousse, and one for some Mango Ice Cream. The rice pudding reminded me of my moms - light, sweet and delicate. Z commented that the mousse was thoroughly chocolately and creamy, which I confirmed with my own small bite of it as well. I must also comment on the spectacular presentation of our desserts - the rice pudding was laced with bright yellow and reddish-pink sauces (mango and raspberry?), with bits of sliced apple fanned out on the top, while a scoop of the chocolate mousse sat on top of a square plate, beautifully decorated with the same sauces and a few slices of apple. Our single ice cream order was presented in a clear triangular cocktail glass, with two neat scoops of ice cream placed inside. These were the perfect end to a great meal.

All our dishes were cleared and we were left to sit and chat in a now empty restaurant, except for one other table of two. Full and content with our freshly consumed meal, our surroundings and company, I was glad, as always, that we made the trek slightly out of our immediate stomping grounds to enjoy the ever satisfying Padmanadi.

Padmanadi's Vegetarian Restaurant
10626 - 97 Street
Tuesday - Sunday (4-10PM) M (Closed)

Just a quick note: About two and a half years ago I decided that I would change my eating habits to include only fish and veggies. If you are veggie (and even if your not!), the vast selection of an entire menu of meat free options is always a treat.

Tony's Pizza Palace - Great food, but get it to go

I've heard great things about Tony's Pizza on 96th and 111th, and having it mentioned by a co-worker again last week, Z and I thought we would check it out on Saturday night after a long day of flooring the bedroom and hemming curtains.

I invited my mom to come out with us, so the three of us headed over about 8PM. We were seated at a table directly in front of the open kitchen, with a great visual of the hand tossing of pizza dough. There were pictures hanging around the dingy restaurant describing the beginnings of Tony's in New York, and I was looking forward to what was described as an authentic New York pizza. After much too long of a wait our server finally appeared to take our drink orders, but although our menus were already closed, she walked away without getting our food order. She came back in good time with our drinks and got our orders - my mom and I decided to share a large pizza alla Pescatore ($21.75 - 14", guaranteeing leftovers) with shrimp, clams and anchovies, while Z, not a big pizza person, ordered the Lasagna al Forno ($11).

Our food took a little while, however we new the freshly tossed pizza would make it well worth the wait. It didn't disappoint - the homemade sauce was fresh and savory, and the clams, shrimp and anchovies were encased under a nice layer of mozzarella cheese. The crust was also fantastic, not thick and doughy like most, but thin, crispy and cooked through. Z thought the lasagna was one of the better ones he's had, not too heavy on the pasta, but with lots of cheese, beef and sauce.

After delivering our food, our server never reappeared at our table and two others stopped by to see if we needed more drinks and to pack up our food. As we waited for our bill, we noticed someone, possibly the owner or manager, glad handing and having an espresso with some regulars. For some reason, I always find it annoying when restaurant managers or employees shmooze with the regulars, not noticing any other customers - it seems to put all other patrons somewhere outside the restaurant.

In the end, all the three of us enjoyed the food at Tony's, but all agreed that we would not go out of our way to get there. Z and I would definitely encourage a trip to Tony's for some good pizza and pasta, but would encourage ordering takeout to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Tony's Pizza Palace
9605 - 111 Avenue
780.424.8777 or 780.424.8769
M-T (11:30 - 2:30; 4:30 - 10) F (11:30 - 2:30; 4:30 - 12) S (2:30 -12) Su (4:30 - 10:30)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kerstin's Chocolates: Caviar, Mocha Meltaways and Drinking Chocolate

I first discovered Kerstin's Chocophilia bars at Leva Cafe, and have enjoyed watching and eating as they have popped up at more locations around Edmonton.

Upon a chance visit to Kerstin's website, I was glad to make the discovery that in February of this year she opened up her own store at 10139-112 Street. So, counting on the website's promise of fresh, homemade drinking chocolate the Mayan way, Z and I ventured to the store last Saturday.

Walking in we were greeted by a small space, covered with chocolate bars and other treats to take home. We both ordered a drinking chocolate to go (Z got the vanilla, while I opted for the Chili), and tasted a Mocha Meltaway that was put out to sample. The Meltaways were amazing - the coffee heightened the chocolate beautifully, and as the name implies, they melted fantastically on our tongues. We had to take some of these home with us (about a dozen small Meltaways $9.95). We perused the store as we waited for our drinks and decided to pick up some cocoa powder, then we came upon the Chocolate Caviar. It was described as cocoa nibs, dipped in dark chocolate then rolled in cocoa powder - this stuff did its name justice (50g aluminum tin $5.95).

Satisfied with our purchases, we picked up our drinking chocolates and headed out. On the cold, windy Saturday, these drinks were perfect - the vanilla chocolate was smooth and sweet, while the chili chocolate finished with a sharp kick at the end of each sip.

The Cocoa Room was definitely worth the trip - a warm, comforting bit of chocolate on a cold day, and some lovely indulgences to last us through the week ahead.

The Cocoa Room by Kerstin's Chocolates
10139 - 112 Street

T-W, S (10-5) Th - F (10-7) Closed Sun, M

The Cocoa Room also offers monthly chocolate tastings as well as chocolate making classes. Tickets are available at the website.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wild Tangerine - East meets West...

On our way home from work this evening we decided to stop at Wild Tangerine, a newish restaurant located at 10383 - 112 Street. Not only was it near our immediate locale, but it was also another Original Fare restaurant that we had not yet sampled.

Although neither of us had ever been, I have always noticed the Wild Tangerine Smart Car motoring around Edmonton, and had come to associate the restaurant with take-out, or "mobile cuisine" as they have conveniently named it. I was therefore expecting a large take-out bar, with maybe a few small tables. Upon entering however, we were greeted by a very contemporary setting, and an inquiry as to whether or not we had made reservations. In the end, a reservation didn't seem to matter, and we were seated at a table near the door.

Our server quickly brought us menus and glasses of water, along with a wine bottle filled with enough water to keep us happy throughout our meal - a practice I wish more restaurants would add to their service routine.

We settled on the featured appetizer of veggie samosas ($6), Z ordered the Pineapple Chicken Stir-Fry with Steamed Organic Wild Rice ($14), while I went for the Most memorable Red Curry Mussels with Linguini ($23).

Our samosas arrived promptly. They were more delicate than a "traditional" samosa: made with phyllo dough and a curious concoction of something I'm sure was vegetables and spices, with what was obviously peas running throughout. We both enjoyed their lightness, most likely attributed to the baking of them as opposed to frying.

Our mains arrived about five minutes later. Z was slightly disappointed: there was a mountain of green beans on his plate (their inclusion not mentioned on the menu), one of the few vegetables he dislikes. Beyond the beans, he decided his dish was just okay, but nothing memorable. My bowl looked great - the red curry sauce made everything a lovely pink colour, and the mussels were piled high in the bowl atop linguine noodles. The mussles satisfied my seafood craving perfectly, and the noodles soaked up the spicy, creamy curry sauce that tickled the back of my throat (as someone who does not handle spicy foods very well, the sauce was perfect).

We decided to head on through to dessert, as we most often do. The Chocolate from the East; with coconut, lychee and cashew nuts ($6) was tied closely with the Tiramisu with Barolo Reduction ($7), however upon learning they were out of Tiramisu, we decided to share the first. The dessert looked gorgeous - a nice silky looking chocolate tart on a coconut and cashew crust, with a nice big dollop of wip cream and pommegranate seeds (not lychees as stated on the menu, but...) sitting close by. The pomegranate seeds were a great addition, with their slight sourness cutting through the richness of the rest.

For a stop to grab a bite to eat, it turned out to be a great meal - an esthetically pleasing restaurant, friendly and promt service and good food - we couldn't have asked for anything more.

Wild Tangerine
10383 - 112 Street
Hours: M-T (11:30-10) F (11:30-11:30) S (5-11:30) Sun (Closed)

P.S. They also have an express restaurant on the lower floor of Manulife Place next to Zenari's.

Our New Blog

Sitting at Wild Tangerine this evening, we decided we would begin writing about all the restaurants we've been to around Edmonton (and hopefully a few other cities as well). During any rather rare times when we do eat at home, we will make an effort to share some of the meals that we feel are worthy of being written about. I ("M") also enjoy baking and creating other sweet confections to satisfy all of our sweet teeth, and am hoping our writings will make my baking adventures more frequent.

At the moment, we will definitely be heavier on the eating out side while we finish renovating our condo. Currently, we our admiring our freshly tiled bathroom.

We hope our posts are enjoyed, however frequent (or not) they become, and that anyone who may stumble on our food thoughts bare with us as we work at creating our very first blog.


M & Z