Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We'll be back really soon...

Wow. It's been really quiet around here, but I promise we'll be back soon.

We successfully moved into East Oliver/Downtown yesterday, and I've got some posts lined up as soon as some boxes are un-packed and we get a solid internet connection. Until then, we wish you a very belated Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

By the way, is anyone else off to check out "Metropolis" on Saturday evening? We're hoping for great things after some disappointment on the square last year...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Around Garneau

After a busy week at the shop, Charles and I were able to wander around Whyte Ave and 109th Street for the day, taking in the Antique Mall, the 'Return of the Magic' windows and, of course, some beer, coffee and treats. Here's what we discovered:

Firstly, it looks like Cally's Teas is setting up a "pop up shoppe" in their soon to be permanent local (10151 82 Avenue). Apparently her tea will be available this coming Wednesday for Christmas enjoyment.

The new layout 

After the Antique Mall, we decided to head over to Sugarbowl. We've been a few times since they released their new menu containing 44 new beer. That's right - 44. In addition to all the feature draught and bottles, there's much to choose from. While Charles went for a brown ale that I can't remember the name of, I went with a current favourite, the London Porter from Saskatoon's Paddock Wood Brewing. Ultra smooth and rich, it's perfect for cool days.

And no, the name of Charles' beer is not the one on the glass... Just in case you were thinking it, like I was.

On the way home we decided to drop into DaCapo to check out some recent renovations. The beer case is gone (don't worry, their excellent selection is lined up on the glass shelf above), and in its place is a new shelf currently holding many tins of panettone. Even more exciting is the recent addition of St-Viateur Bagels to their food line up. Bagels are brought in from Montréal once a week to be enjoyed in house or at home by the dozen. Charles was pretty ecstatic as he walked home munching on a sesame bagel.

So there you have it. A small Garneau update on an otherwise quiet blog. Hopefully we'll be back soon with some new food posts!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Well, here we are three years later, and this little project is still happening (although posts have been admittedly sparse lately do to a diet consisting mostly of chocolate...). I don't have anything new to add or to reflect on this year vs. last, however, since so many of my posts have been related to school, I thought I'd post this picture:

Photo by Maki B.

Thanks to everyone out there for reading (and for your support through school - this side project made that experience so much better). Here's to another year.

Noorish: Conscious Eatery and Superfood Elixir Bar

I was pretty skeptical of Noorish - "Really!? Superfood!?" - as we observed their sign going up a few blocks from our apartment earlier this fall. The health claims, marketing strategies and general use of the word "superfood" remain confusing on my end, but who am I to turn down an excellent veggie burger? Twyla over at "It's a Weird, Wild and Wonderful Life" visited the spot earlier in November, and we followed suit the very next week.

Although we were expecting casual, café style service a la DaCapo, when we arrived for a Tuesday evening meal we ran into a sign that said, "Please wait to be seated." A few minutes later we were greeted at the door and led to a table in the middle of the busy restaurant. Water was provided quickly, as was coffee for Charles and a chai tea for me. Food wise, the Bodhi Tree Burger ($17) was undoubtedly coming my way, and eventually Charles decided on the Laughing Buddha's Belly Bowl ($16).

Our food arrived at the table relatively quickly, though I had just enough time to browse their 'grocery' collection of bagged 'superfoods', spreads and gift totes from The Chocolate Doctors and raw-vegan books amongst other health food style items.

The portions at Noorish may appear small, but we struggled to finish our entrees. My burger was packed with chickpeas, walnut-basil pesto, cashew cream and avocado - an entire meal in itself. And it was one impressive veggie burger, with a soft interior and wonderfully crisp exterior. Combined with accompanying salad of kale, sprouts, seeds, beets and carrots, I was plenty full by the end (though not full enough to skip the dessert menu, of course). Charles ended up enjoying his bowl of quinoa and Thai green curry quite a bit, and now that I look at their menu again, it seems that it would be easy enough to re-create at home on a cool winter evening.

Charles had been eyeing the Walnut Brownie ($8) since we arrived, and we ended up sharing one prior to leaving. It was dense and certainly chocolate-y, and the cashew cream and cocoa nibs sprinkled on top provided nicely contrasting textures.

We also picked up four confections from The Chocolate Doctors ($10) to go. Since my current employment situation makes me slightly really biased, I'll just say that their confection style offerings are all available at Noorish.

While I remain skeptical about 'superfoods' and some of the general lifestyle prescriptions Noorish puts forward, their veggie burger is excellent, and if for nothing else, I would certainly return for another.

Noorish: Conscious Eatery and Superfood Elixir Bar
8440 109th Street
Noorish on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Leaving the familiar for Padmanadi

That's what we've been doing a lot of lately - the familiar. Transcend, DaCapo, Sugarbowl, repeat. We're trying to make the most of Garneau, since we'll be moving out of the neighbourhood, across the creek and into downtown/Oliver at the end of the year. Simultaneously sad and exciting.

Tonight, however, we ventured away from our regular hangouts to head to Padmanadi with Tanya after some puppy sitting. Neither Charles or I had visited the spot in sometime (although Charles mentioned just last week that he would like to swing by). The food is as good as ever, and the atmosphere is eternally friendly and welcoming. The three of us indulged in some favourites:

Bean curd "drumsticks"

The famed Curry "chicken"

Ginger "beef"

Shanghai Baby Bok Choy

Creamy rice pudding with coconut milk and cinnamon

We also swooned over their cups. Charles got a heart shaped cup and saucer full of coffee, while Tanya and I received our Jasmine tea in a couple green beauties.

I always forget just how comforting a trip to Padmanadi is. Here's hoping for many more visits throughout the cooler months.

10740 101 Street

P.S. Here is said puppy - Willow - who recently came home with Tanya. How could you turn down a request to look after her for a couple hours?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oodle Noodle: Jasper Avenue

I remember my first trip to Oodle Noodle - I had stopped at the Whyte Avenue location with my dad after my very first semester at U of A. The noodle boxes were tasty and the crazy strobe lights and singing and dancing employees were even better.

Since then they've expanded incredibly, with four franchised locations throughout the City and a 'Downtown 2' location in the works. Due to a last minute call into work on Sunday, Charles and I found ourselves at the Jasper Ave location for some quick eats.

Generally, I pass straight by a packed Oodle Noodle during weekday lunch hours and head the half block over to Drift for a sandwich (sadly they're now closed for the winter... there's catering, though!). On Sunday though, the place was quiet and our orders came up quickly - two lemongrass boxes, one with tofu for me, and one with beef for Charles.

As in the past, the noodles seemed slightly oily, but in general I found some improvement at this location compared to my last few encounters at their Whyte Ave local. The 'seasonal' vegetables - broccoli, carrot and cabbage - were still crunchy, and although I would have appreciated some more flavour via the sauce, Sriracha livened things up a bit. Charles consumed his noodles in no time, so I'll assume he concurs with most of my thoughts...

Although I can't necessarily see myself waiting in line for one of their boxes at lunch, evening and weekend visits are certainly in the cards. And actually, Rachel and I found ourselves there again on Thursday evening for a quick and in the end, satisfying, pre-chocolate tasting bite. The guy at the wok was even dancing.

Oodle Noodle - Downtown
10842 Jasper Avenue
Hours: Su - Th 11am-10pm, F-Sa 11am-11pm
Oodle Noodle (Downtown) on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Because Smitten Kitchen knows: Pumpkin Cupcakes

I haven't carved a pumpkin in years, but today, in the spirit of Halloween, my friend Claire invited me to a pumpkin carving party. Whatever my contribution to the event would be, it had to be laced with pumpkin. And thus these Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (that have been on my list for some time) would do perfectly.

As mentioned a couple posts ago, Deb's recipes are nearly always excellent. My only complaint here would be that the frosting wasn't really maple-y, but that's simply ratios that can be adjusted next time this one comes around. Whatever my thoughts, a dozen of these beauties were consumed by the time I ducked out for the evening, and I'll take that as sign of a successful recipe.

Once again - well done Smitten Kitchen, well done.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Because Smitten Kitchen Knows: Grape Focaccia with Rosemary

Although there may be countless steps and copious amounts of butter, it's generally easy to follow Deb's instructions with complete trust. She's never steered me wrong - from pumpkin cupcakes, to squash and caramelized onion galette, and now this focaccia.

I must have pulled the ultra tiny seeds from half a pound of Okanagan concord grapes (found at Sunterra) for about an hour. Thankfully this bread is seriously worth it. It's beautifully crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, and after baking the grapes become incredibly sweet. Some extra sugar and salt on the top provide a lovely sweet-salty contrast.

Best of all, this focaccia seems to freeze well. It's been excellent for quick lunches, along with some chèvre I've been keeping in the fridge at work. Needless to say, once concord grapes appear again next fall, this recipe will be on the list.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Portland chocolate breakdown

As you may have noticed a few posts back, a lot of chocolate made it to Edmonton via my suitcase. Well, I've finally managed to sample all the bars made by Portland chocolatiers (with the help of Charles, and some of the staff at the shop). Thoughts and a few more details can be found here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Symphony Under the Sky and Ochsner's Porter

*This post got stuck in my drafts back in early September, so please read it with cool-ish evenings and ever so slightly changing leaves in mind.*

Like most September long weekends during the past few years, Charles and I found ourselves at Symphony Under the Sky. This year a weekend pass picked up at the 104th Street 'Al Fresco' block party meant we attended five concerts throughout the four day event.

Charles suggested his favourite concert over the weekend was Sunday afternoon's Rhapsody in Blue, which featured George Gershwin's American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue, and of course Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture complete with live canon shots. I preferred the Saturday evening concert led by Ian Tyson, which could have definitely has something to do with a Folk Fest related love of Four Strong Winds...

Beyond the music there was the usual food to be enjoyed, namely Fat Franks covered in mustard, pickles and sauerkraut, and warm, cinnamon-y mini donuts. Always the last indulgence of either for the year, I particularly enjoy these treats at Symphony Under the Sky - they signal the end of the best of the summer.

To balance out the Fat Franks...

A much welcome addition to this year's ESO concession was Ochsner's 1905 Alberta Porter, another brew by the Alley Kat/Sherbrooke team. Here's a little bit on the brew from the program:
Ochsner's 1905 Alberta Porter is named after Robert Ochsner, one of the earliest known brewers in Alberta. It was first brewed in 2010 to mark the 105th anniversary of Alberta becoming a Province. It is also the third in a series of beers sponsored by Sherbrooke Liquor Store and Alley Kat Brewing Company to recognize the winning Homebrewer of the Year at the Edmonton Home Brewing Guilds' Aurora Brewing Challenge. In 2010, the winning team of Patrick Doyle and Ray Duperron won gold... in competitions across Canada.

This porter was a treat to sip throughout the weekend. A serious departure from the usual big name lagers and IPAs, it was smooth and rich with a nice bite and a beautiful coffee aroma. With all those rich flavours it was lovely on both the cool, rainy Friday evening and the warm, bright Sunday afternoon.

Can't wait for next year's line up.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Three days in Seattle

After such an excellent week in Oregon, we found it a little difficult to settle into Seattle. Thankfully, our Capitol Hill apartment rental was well located, with tons of shops, cafés and restaurants nearby, and it was just a short 30 minute walk downtown. We thought we were "food-ed" out, but the eating kept happening in Seattle. Here's what we enjoyed, in no particular order:

Quinn's Pub - This 'pub' was just a few blocks away from our apartment, which made it perfect for dinner on our first day in town. I wasn't as wowed by the beer list as I had hoped, BUT, they made the best burger either Charles or I had ever tasted. Simple toppings gave way to a perfectly cooked, medium rare patty, and we certainly would have returned for another if we had time.

Poppy - Another spot just minutes from our front door. We loved everything about this place - a great cocktail menu, a short, well chosen beer list featuring Washington brews, and the thalis... especially the dessert one. I can definitely see why Sugar put this on her packing list.

Baguette Box - Thanks to Andre who suggested the Baguette Box. It was directly on our way downtown, and their Drunken Chicken sandwich was fantastic - crispy chicken, caramelized onions, cilantro. Need I say more?

Brouwer's - I don't know what to say about this place - it was amazing. 64 brews on tap plus over 300 bottles. And, it was right across the street from Theo Chocolate.

Theo Chocolate - I'm happy we made it out to tour Theo. It was great to see the 'chocolate making' process up close. I posted about it here.

Molly Moon's Ice Cream - Another one from Sugar's Seattle packing list, we enjoyed scoops of maple walnut and earl grey tea on our last night in town.

The Walrus and the Carpenter - I'm glad Charles was willing to make the trek to this place, even though most of the items on the menu weren't really his thing. We happened to step in during their happy hour, which meant $1 oysters and $7 cocktails. I went with one of each of their six oysters and a 'porch swing' which featured gin and Pimm's - two of my favourites. Charles chose a glass of Hale's Kolsch and a dish of serrano ham, cantaloupe, lemon basil and ricotta.

Marie and Frères - It was fantastic meeting Marie. She's incredibly passionate about chocolate, and in particular, chocolate made with Forastero beans right where the beans are grown. We walked away with the most amazing macaron and a bar of her chocolate studded with candied orange.

Lark - This was our final meal in town. Though we were originally hoping for something a little more laid back (and with a beer list), the food at Lark was lovely, and we wouldn't hesitate to return... particularly for the pork belly and salmon...

Café Presse - An excellent magazine collection, well done coffee and a casual menu (baguettes with butter, olives, salads, charcuterie, etc.).

Salumi - This seemed like the perfect way to end out trip. We did start with a porchetta sandwich back at The Peoples' Pig after all. We happened to arrive just when the line shortened a bit, and were out the door with messy, delicious porchetta and meatball sandwiches.

One spot we particularly enjoyed in Seattle was the Olympic Sculpture Park. It was quiet and the views were beautiful.

So there you have it. Our 2011 vacation. That little corner of the NW is really a gem and we certainly recommend checking it out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Corvallis, the Oregon coast and the Columbia Gorge

I was glad we got the chance to head out to Corvallis for the weekend to visit relatives, and in retrospect, more time spent in the area would have been a good idea. It's right in the middle of breweries, wineries and farms, and it's just a short 1.5 hour trip to the coast. Furthermore, we left just before their "Beer Week" began.

If you happen to be in the area, there are a couple things not to be missed. Firstly, their farmers' market is beautiful, and full of Oregon specialties like hazelnuts and wine, in addition to all the produce Oregon's rich soil and temperate climate allow for. I picked up some sweet-tart green grapes, in addition to some lovely fresh figs and hazelnuts.

Block 15 Brew Pub - I was in love with this place as soon as we walked in. A giant chalkboard held their regular brews and seasonal varieties, and also tantalized us with up coming brews that we are missing right now. We had to try as many as possible, and thus two tasting boards were ordered. By far the best glass on the tray contained their "Nebula, Naked Oat Stout." It was super smooth and creamy, with all the coffee and chocolate notes that make stouts lovely. I wish I would have picked up a bottle of this to bring home.

On a beer note, the best selection we found at any grocery store was at Corvallis' Market of Choice. A four sided cooler held an unimaginable amount of micro-brews from the area, and we picked up half a dozen different bottles to tote home. Besides the Nebula Stout, we fell hard for many of the brews from Pelican Brewery, particularly their Belgian style ale - Ankle-Buster - and their award winning IPA (India Pelican Ale). Both came home with us.

The Oregon Coast

Our hosts for the weekend - John and Janie - also took us out to the nearby coast for an evening. Though it was pretty cold, I'm incredibly glad we made it out to the water, and that we got to catch this sunset from their friends' beach house balcony...

We also stopped at a crab shack on the way home for fresh crab sandwiches and fish and chips.

The Columbia Gorge

One of our favourite activities in Oregon was biking the Columbia Gorge. We went with Pedal Bike Tours, and our Tuesday morning tour ended up being a private one - just us and the guide. Whilst we biked the gentle slopes of the road, our guide drove the vehicle, meeting us at each waterfall to give us a quick run-down of history, etc. From there we hiked down (or up) to check things out while he stayed with the bikes.