Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The past couple weeks...

Zed and I got a bit caught up with the warm weather last week, and in hindsight I'm glad we did... yesterday's frost warning and the recent bit of snow is definitely depressing. Luckily though, we are off to Victoria on Wednesday evening for what we hope will be some more stable weather.

Last Monday was Zed's birthday, and unlike mine where I decided on something new, Zed chose places that were guaranteed to be good - Blue Plate and Da Capo. We hadn't been to Blue Plate in awhile, but it was as good as ever. As for Da Capo, it was incredibly nice to be enjoying our gelato outdoors.

Birthday Boy's Steak Sandwich

My Pemmican (Bison) Burger (made in house with lots of sage... mmm!)

Pistachio on the left; mint on the right

I picked up David Lebovitz' new book - The Sweet Life in Paris - last weekend. It's a fantastic read... 269 pages of humorous, embarrassing and fun stories detailing David's past 6 years in Paris, each providing some insider's advice to all us North Americans. Each story is concluded with a sweet and savory recipe, or both, and a list of resources as well as Parisian shops are included at the end of the book.

We picked up our Indulgence tickets last week from the Junior League. All the participants look great and it'll be a great treat to get the summer season rolling. I also noticed on the Slow Food website that they are holding their 4th Annual Wild Boar and Beer BBQ at Alley Kat Breweries on July 12th... BBQ and beer tasting is exactly what we need before permanently spending all our available time at Fest.

I stopped at Bulgogi House last Thursday with a friend for lunch. I haven't been there in over a year, but nothing has really changed - still the 70's wood paneling and generally out dated space, but the food definitely makes up for it.

Mae-Woon-Tang (Beef, shrimp, fish, tofu and vegetable soup)

O-Jing-Uh-Bock-Kum (Fried squid with beef and vegetables)

Jap-Chae (Fried, soft clear noodles with black mushrooms and vegetables)

I was working my last ever shift at Sobeys this past Saturday morning and unfortunately couldn't make it to the opening of the City Centre Market, but luckily Zed got to go and pick up a few things for our half-week. I have to say the biggest score was some Montreal-style Bagels. They are definitely some of the best we've had in Edmonton, but since the guy is making them out of his residential oven, they are still lacking (he uses some liquid smoke to try to replicate a bit of the wood oven taste). We tried poppy and sesame seed versions but have yet to try the whole wheat.

Entrance from Jasper

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1, 2, 3 Bite Brownies from Wild Earth

A friend and I decided to stop in for a cup of tea at Wild Earth Bakery and Cafe early this afternoon. I was surprised by all the bread and baked goods everywhere, usually I don't get there before 5 and those types of goodies are gone and we are left (sigh) with squares and tarts and the like.

I spotted these 1, 2, 3 Bite Brownies and had to get them for Zed.

They are obviously a play on the "Homestyle Two-bite Brownies" available in various grocery stores around the city. The Wild Earth versions were definitely more soft and fresh, and because they weren't nearly as sweet the chocolate popped.

On another bakery note, Planet Organic on the south side is carrying a variety of whole grain loaves of bread from both Prairie Mill Bread Co. and Buns and Roses (maybe they were before renos and we just didn't notice). We tried a multi-grain loaf of the latter yesterday and it was definitely satisfying with a nice crust and rich centre.

Wild Earth Bakery and Cafe
8902 99 Street

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pizza at home and the beginnings of dough testing

Zed and I were frequenting Da Capo a little too much a few weeks ago - I had exams and Zed was working hard to sell his condo. They have amazing pizzas and I'm sure we went through the list, but heading there a few nights a week was a little more than our wallets could handle.

So with exams over and condo showings over, we decided to create our own pizzas at home. I used Jamie Oliver's Pizza Dough recipe. I've used it before and it definitely comes together quickly, although I found after making it a couple times lately, that the flavour is far better after leaving it in the fridge over night to ferment. The yield for the recipe is about 6-8 medium pizzas, but I quartered it giving us two thin-crusted "individual" sized pizzas.

Our first attempt was alright - we used some chorizo, caramelized onion, mushrooms and basil and pureed tomatoes for the sauce. The crust was a little too dense, but nice and crispy none the less.

Attempt #1

The second attempt went better for the most part - I let the crust sit overnight and brushed it with olive oil after shaping, making it far more flavourful and airy when cooked. I think our topping combinations were more satisfying too - I tried to make a Da Capo inspired pizza - the Di Mario - with mushrooms, ham (I think they used Serrano but I used Prosciutto), bocconcini (I spoiled myself with a piece of imported buffalo mozzarella from the Italian Centre) and basil, while Zed just piled on everything he loves - red and green pepper, red onion, Ukranian sausage and bocconcini. The downfall was that I didn't flour our transfer tool (a baking sheet) enough, and we had to pull the crust off, tossling the toppings and stretching it out, just to get it into the oven.

My second attempt - "Di Mario"

Zed's very mangled #2

Like Jamie's recipe says, it is definitely a reliable, everyday crust. It also makes a nice loaf of bread that you can mix anything into (ie. olives, cheese, etc.). But the other day I was watching David Rocco's Dolce Vita where he featured a pizza dough recipe that included a bit of white wine (Nona Giulia's Pizza Dough)... definitely a bit more exciting and something I'm hoping to test soon.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tasty Tom's on Whyte is open...

A few months ago a board was created on Chowhound to discuss Edmonton's recent restaurant closures, and I was surprised to see Tasty Tom's pop up. Zed and I hadn't been for awhile, but they are such a staple on Whyte that we really couldn't see this happening.

We decided to head over one Tuesday evening with friends and discovered that their rather limited hours were probably why people began to think they may have shut down - closed Mondays and Tuesdays, open until 8 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, until 9 on Fridays and Saturdays, and just until 3 on Sundays - these hours are definitely rare for and 82 Ave local. This past Friday evening though, I managed to get the night off of work so Zed and I decided to head over for dinner.

Around 7pm the line up was around 20 minutes deep, but we decided to wait along with the others - the servers and patrons of the "bistro" are incredibly friendly, so waiting was no real hardship. In truth, we headed there hoping the patio would be open, but no, I suppose it was too windy and slightly cool so we were seated at a table indoors underneath the lattice and grape decorated ceiling.

We were provided with menus and quickly brought drinks - Zed an Alexander Keith's and I a "Charlie Flint's Original Lager." Tasty Tom's menu is quite large with pizza's, an array of burger's and different entree items influenced by German and Thai cuisine among others. That night though, I was in for a burger and went for the Roasted Red Pepper burger (~$13), with brie and their Yaki Yaki sauce (a slightly spicy concoction made with chili and basil) along with home fries. Zed was having trouble with all the choices on the menu and in the end decided to play it safe with a steak sandwich (~$16).

We were surprised when our entrees arrived 10-15 minutes after ordering, considering the amount of patrons occupying each table of the restaurant. Either way everything looked and smelled wonderful - my burger was piled high with pickles and red peppers and brie was oozing off the sandwich. It was messy to eat but sometimes that is just the mark of a great burger. Zed's steak was pretty large and that was all he got through of his giant plate filled with sides of fries and salad. In general though, the plates definitely seem to be larger than found at many of the other restaurants on Whyte.

Red Pepper Burger with home fries

Steak Sandwich with fries and house salad

I couldn't finish writing this without mentioning Tasty Tom's ketchup - it's satisfyingly smoky, spicy and a little tangy all at once, accompanying fries and burgers well. Bottles of ketchup are available to buy and take home, which is definitely a nice offer from a local restaurant.

We skipped dessert that evening, and considering the size of our plates (and my 23oz beer) it was necessary. Hopefully their patio will open soon - although our meals were perfectly enjoyable indoors, Tasty Tom's burgers and beer are definitely best enjoyed on their patio, just behind the hustle and bustle of Whyte.