Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alley Kat Loaded Goat Maibock Launch + U of A Design Grad Show

Just a quick note that Alley Kat is launching the second beer in its Big Bottle Series tomorrow evening (April 28th from 5-8pm at the brewery): the Loaded Goat Maibock.

A couple friends and I managed to grab a table at Sugarbowl's cask night last Thursday and each got a pint of the cask aged version of this beer. It was incredible and none of us could quite place a finger on the flavours, but it was beautifully smooth and perfect for spring patio enjoyment.

And if you're looking for something to check out afterward, the U of A Bachelor of Design grad show opens tomorrow evening at 7pm at the FAB gallery on campus. Entrance is free but the purchase of a program is appreciated. And Da Capo will be catering...

Alley Kat Brewery
9929 60 Avenue

FAB Gallery
1-1 Fine Arts Building

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Portland on the horizon

I know it's awhile away, but Charles and I booked a trip to Portland, OR for mid-September that we're really looking forward to. We're still not completely sure how we ended up with Portland as our destination (to be perfectly honest I'm blaming the Chow Tour of Portland), but the seat sale incredible seat price and killer deal on a vacation rental sure helped out. Here are some things we're looking forward to post Folk Fest craziness...

*Edited: April 23, 2011

Food Possibilities
Other things we hope to check out
I'm clearly one of those crazy itinerary people, though we've got a week so I'm going to leave some 'random' time and meals in there as well. That said, if anyone has further suggestions (and anything is very much appreciated!), please let me know and I shall add them to the list.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Continental Treat

I've lost count of the number of times we've walked past Continental Treat. Though I had been for lunch about four years ago - and have always had fond memories of their Dill Pickle Soup - we always discounted the place for some reason. When Jason Foster mentioned the restaurant a couple weeks ago, we decided to grab a reservation for this past Friday evening in celebration of the end of essay season.

We arrived a little late for our 8:30pm reservation, but were greeted right away, told not to worry and our coats were hung by the front door. Happily we were led to the window seat on the 'lounge' side of things, as requested when we made our Open Table reservation.

As water, a half loaf of rye bread and butter were set in front of us, we contemplated the lengthy beer list. Our server told us they had about 60 on the list currently (heavy on European and Trappist), but the next goal is to get to 100. They are also getting a Trappist on tap at the end of the month and are the first in Edmonton to do so. As Jason reported, the restaurant is also focusing on beer and food pairings (Yay!), and they are slowly re-working the beer list to make it more presentable. In the end, Charles chose a Zywiec while I went for my beloved Rochefort 8 which I hadn't had in some time.

Rochefort 8 in appropriate glassware

Food wise I decided on a cup of Dill Pick Soup ($4.95) along with the Lamb Chops ($30.95), and Charles couldn't resist a bowl of French Onion Soup ($8.95) with the Polish Cutlet ($23.95) as his main.

Though service was friendly throughout, this place definitely doesn't focus on speed. Ultimately this allowed us to have a long, lingering evening (we were the last to leave the restaurant), but we were also happy to see each course on its way to our table.

The soup: the Dill Pickle soup was as remembered - creamy with chunks of potato and pickle throughout, and the perfect vinegar dill combo that sets the entire bowl off so nicely. I think many people have experienced a sad French Onion soup in a restaurant before, but thankfully this version was incredibly well done. A rich, earthy mushroom broth was filled with caramelized onions and topped with cheese and bread.

 The Dill Pickle

French Onion

Mains: Charles really enjoyed his main - breaded veal with dill cream sauce. It was rich and comforting and I think there was little nostalgia happening. The lamb was admittedly a let down. Though parts were tender, I also hit quite a few tough spots, and considering the cost of the dish more consistency would have been appreciated. The burgundy sauce served alongside was too peppery, though eating it with a forkful of spaetzle certainly toned things down a bit. The pickled beets, carrots and cabbage (aka the 'vegetable medley') that came with the plate were great, and ultimately I enjoyed them more than anything else.

Polish Cutlet with pan-fried potatoes and vegetable 'medley'

Lamb Chops with burgundy sauce, spaetzle and vegetable 'medley'

By the time we finished our mains the space had begun to clear out. After waiting for a bit, we were offered dessert and in the end decided to share the Napoleon ($9.95) - the flavours were enjoyed here but we both agreed flakier pastry would have been ideal.

Though my main was a let down, I would certainly return to Continental Treat. The soup was great, Charles enjoyed his main and there is no denying that their beer list is amazing. We also quite enjoyed the space - it, along with the menu, decidedly characterized classic 80s Edmonton. And though the service came with positives and negatives, we had an enjoyable, relaxing evening overall. Ultimately, I think our next visit will be for lunch - a Ruben and a bowl of Dill Pickle soup with a glass of the Trappist on tap alongside sounds like an excellent way to enjoy an afternoon.

Continental Treat Fine Bistro
10560 82 Avenue
Hours: Every day of the week from 11am to 10pm
Continental Treat on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pizza + Tosca

As I mentioned in the latest Meal Planning Saga post, this week has been disastrous plan wise. But on Tuesday evening we had to pull things together. For Christmas we had invited Charles' mom to come for dinner and to the final opera of the season - Tosca.

Charles managed to pull Peter Reinhart's pizza dough together on Monday evening and grabbed some topping on his way home from work Tuesday. Maybe I've forgotten other pizzas, but right now I'm going to venture out there and say that this version had the most glorious topping combo ever - tomato sauce, mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese and plenty of black pepper. Thankfully I have a few jars of artichokes in the pantry - this one will make its way around again soon.

We certainly enjoyed each opera of our first ever season, but of course we each had our favourites. While Charles went for the humorous Abduction from the Seraglio, I was all about Tosca - dramatic, emotional and completely capable of transporting me out of paper writing mode for a few hours. As the Journal mentioned, the costumes were beautiful, as was the set, and Yannick-Muriel Noah brought the house down. The Edmonton Opera has already released their 2011/2012 season, and we can't wait to head out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Winter 2011 'Brain Food' Potluck

So, we've set a date for the exam version of our study potluck. Details can be found here for any of you students that need an evening of good food and good study.

Hope to see you there!

Meal Planning Saga: Week Thirteen

Well, I'm not sure what to say. The meal planning isn't really lasting through 'essay season'. Though we managed to get a few recipes in last week, this week has started badly - we're both tired, my nose is permanently in a book or in front of the computer and Charles' boss is away this week making for long days.

At any rate, I'm hoping to get things back on track as I enter exams, which I don't find nearly as involved time wise as papers. Fingers crossed of course...

On to the previous week (aka. Week Thirteen)!

Sunday - After spending the day in the library, I met Charles at Sugarbowl. I did the jerk chicken and avocado burger with Edelweiss whilst Charles did steak frites and Anchor Steam.

Sugarbowl on a Sunday with a tired Charles

Monday - Charles made mushroom soup from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything. This was a great way to utilize the pound of mushrooms Charles grabbed at the market Saturday, though we both agreed it would have been extra great as a cream soup, which Bittman notes just below is easy enough to create.

Tuesday - Pulled Pork Sandwiches. We put a pork shoulder in the crock pot Monday night and let it go for about 8 hours. Charles stopped on the way home from work and grabbed some bbq sauce to throw in, along with buns and a few salads from the PO deli.

This sauce had a great salty-sweet flavour, though it wasn't nearly thick enough for pulled pork. Next time, molasses based, and hopefully, made at home.

Planet Organic deli salads - the yam salad was by far the best, with pecans throughout.

Charles also stopped and grabbed four cupcakes from Crave. The red velvet versions had cream cheese icing on them, which for some reason wasn't working for me. The chocolate, however, was excellent.

Wednesday - Leftover pulled pork sandwiches.

Thursday - Charles had grabbed some cod from Ocean Odyssey on Saturday, and pan fried it along with some steamed spinach for a late evening meal.

Friday - Steak with caramelized mushrooms and onions and leftover PO salads. I think I've sort-of mastered the steak grilling situation, which is great news for this summer!

Saturday - Charles was off to do some volunteering for a friend's work benefit, while I went to my parents, munched on a couple pieces of their Royal Pizza and worked on a paper.

As a small note, my application for graduation was approved today! Just nine more weeks and goodbye undergrad!

Enjoy the week everyone!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meal Planning Saga: Week Twelve

Last week Kasia asked me how long the 'saga' will go on for. I realized I hadn't even considered the length of this project. Perusing meal planning sites, the goal usually seems to be 6 months, a year, etc. On Saturday morning Charles and I chatted and decided we will absolutely continue 'planning' until June 17th - the day I finish school (can you tell I'm counting the days?) - and after that we'll see what we think. I imagine myself having more time to cook this summer, and with all the unexpected items to be found at the market each week, I'm not sure planning before we shop will be as useful. I see more experimentation with this in our immediate future.

We ended up going to 'Beyond the Supermarket' a few weeks ago on Alberta Ave. Though a friend is urging me to grab a community garden plot (I am very jealous of his $28 seeds and the vegetables to come), it's not that easy. Like many people around town we are currently trying to get on a lengthy waiting list for the garden in our own neighbourhood, and a plot will likely not be available until the 2012 season (small update: I got an e-mail from the garden saying there may be a plot available for this season. At any rate we are on the waiting list). There are gardens further from our apartment, but with ETS or bicycle as our transport choices, we know we need (and would like) a local closer to home to make it functional. This is a long way of saying that we are leaning strongly towards the Green Eggs and Ham 'Futures' plan this year. So updates on that as the spring/summer moves along.

On to this past week's dishes!

Sunday - As per other weeks a roast chicken. This time though, I used some of the caramelized goodness at the bottom of the pan and made a quick gravy. It took our Sunday evening chicken to a whole new level.

Monday - Another familiar - risotto with mushrooms. The creaminess was right on that day, I have to say.

Tuesday - Charles was off to his mom's for dinner whilst I snack and worked on a book review.

Wednesday - We met up with Charles' mom, sister and nieces at Da Capo for pizza, salad and gelato (they've increased the number of flavours again for spring!). Excellent as usual.

A scoop of cinnamon

Thursday - Cold noodles with peanut sauce from David Lebovitz. Along with some roasted vegetables and leftover roast chicken, this was a quick, flavourful meal to throw together. Plus we've got some extra peanut sauce in the freezer for later days.

Jill (aka Sugar of Cream and Sugar) and I must be thinking on some similar wave length. Right after I scheduled this recipe I found she had posted on it. And yesterday she posted on the slow cooker butter chicken too. Their new website looks fantastic as well - good job ladies!

Friday - Lentil Loaf from We Eat Together. I really enjoyed the flavour here, but I think the lentils need to be broken down a bit more, which would hopefully keep the crumbly slices together as well. Next time I'll try to purée some of the lentils and see where we end up.

 Sobey's College Plaza has a nice array of Willow Creek products from Saskatchewan

Saturday - Lamb meatballs inspired by the Frankies'. We didn't have pine nuts this time (and Charles has a strong aversion to raisins so those will never make it in), but we did add sunflower seeds here which provided a similar softened crunch. Everything else was the same and these came out incredibly moist and flavourful. I made some tomato sauce while they were in the oven and steamed some spinach and we were good to go.

Action shot! Look at the grip.

Also, I was quite proud of my lunch on Saturday afternoon. Charles had brought home bagels and eggs from the market, and I used some frozen spinach up as well.

That was number twelve. I hope everyone is enjoying the warm weather! We took our bicycles in on Saturday for tune ups, and as soon as essays are through in a couple weeks I'm planning to break free from the library and live some sort of romantic lifestyle on my bicycle in between exams. Any similar plans?