Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A post on Elm Café

I've been to Elm Café quite a few times since they opened last summer. Surprisingly enough I've never really posted on any of their creations. So when a co-worker and I grabbed a sandwich last week I made sure I had the camera ready.

As per most days I've been there was a choice between a cold sandwich and two hot sandwiches. Of the latter, one with bacon, chevre, roasted beets, arugula and pesto sounded amazing, but by the time we arrived (around 1pm) they had sold out. So both of us went for the falafel sandwich with cucumber salsa, tahini, yogurt and greens wrapped in pita.

We took our sandwiches back to the office to continue our computer bound afternoon and later convened to discuss the excellence of Elm's take on falafel. The falafels and tahini combined to make and incredibly creamy, well spiced filling, while radishes and cucumber salsa provided a fresh bite.

In addition to our sandwiches we each grabbed a blondie muffin. Really the fillings (nuts, caramel, white chocolate) led us each to refer to them as dessert (ie. cake), but the batter itself was all muffin - not too sweet, lovely and airy and crisp on the top. Whatever their classification, they were excellent and propelled us through a lengthy Friday afternoon.

I'm looking forward to many more sandwich creations this summer, hopefully followed by more cake-muffins.

Elm Café
#100, 10140 117 Street
Daily sandwich creations (and muffin flavours) for both breakfast and lunch can be found on Twitter.
Elm Café on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 27, 2011

Folk Fest 2011 - And it begins...

On Wednesday we announced the performer lineup and I can't wait. I'm particularly looking forward to some good dancing Thursday whilst Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros take main stage.

You can find the entire lineup here on the new website. Tickets go on sale June 1st at 9am.

We've also got some great food happenings this year. Homefire Grill is back with tasty bison breakfast sandwiches and Numchok Wilai is back with their excellent Thai offerings. As per usual Fat Franks, 'Kettle Korn' and Mini Donuts will be present.

New this year is a pretty exciting little area where stage four was previously located. Filistix, Eva Sweet Waffles and Elm Café sandwiches will all be available here, and a possible vendor with fresh, local produce is also in the works.

Hope to see you there!

Bicycles + Breakfast

What could be better than bicycles and breakfast at Elm Café? As part of Bike Month, Elm Café will be hosting breakfast next Friday June 3rd from 7-9am for those cycling to work, play, etc.

Paris and I will be there...

 This is my amazing commute...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Birthday Brunch + Fort Edmonton Park

It's my dad's birthday today and in celebration, we decided to vary things up a bit from our usual tea and cake, settling on a long weekend brunch. Charles and I headed over Sunday morning with our panniers full of eggs, asparagus and potato salad.

I used this recipe from Epicurious for the Hollandaise (my first ever), and it turned out well. We took the advice of several reviewers and cut down the butter to 2/3 of a cup. Though I likely will next time, I didn't melt the butter beforehand, and my brother ended up cutting it into tablespoon sized pats adding them one at a time to the egg and cream mixture. Although we thought the eggs had scrambled, the sauce came out lemony, smooth and buttery and there were rave reviews around the table.

For the 'potato salad' I roasted some German Butter Potatoes found at the City Market, as well as some red and yellow peppers, tossed them together with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano, and voilà, a potato salad fit for brunch.

After gift opening we decided to hop on our bikes and head down to Fort Edmonton Park for opening weekend. Not much has changed since our last visit, save the addition of a theatre (in progress) next to the Selkirk Hotel.  But as always, the wander through was enjoyed.

The 'little' brother

We left covered in mosquito bites, and just as we got up the hill into Belgravia the skies opened up, but overall, it was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday.

Hope you had a lovely long weekend!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Brunch at Culina Muttart

Vowing to return after visiting Culina Muttart back in February, Charles and I finally rode our bikes down for brunch this past Sunday. Aiming to get there right at 11am, we were foiled by an unmarked construction fence that stopped us on the north side of the river. Thus by the time we pedaled back to go around it, our arrival time was pushed to 11:30.

Though the wind was generally aggressive, the concrete walled patio seemed to shelter outdoor diners from most of the heavy gusts. Nevertheless, after being windswept on our way into the valley, we opted for the table for two available indoors.

Lots of natural light

As expected the place was packed, and shortly after our arrival a small lineup began to form, with some people opting for take out items to enjoy outdoors. The rush had the servers seeming slightly ragged, but for the most part the three taking care of both indoor and outdoor tables were friendly and let us take our time in the casual space.

I was hoping the 'bacon and eggs' found at other Culina locations would be available, however the shorter menu offered more casual options, many in sandwich form (maybe they just didn't have bacon and eggs the day we went?). In the end I chose the bacon, egg and cheese panini with the house salad ($11) along with a glass of their lemonade ($3.5), whilst Charles, not into cheese or eggs, went for a bowl of the day's soup - tomato broth with bacon and potato ($7) - and a latte.

I think drinks often go unconsidered at brunch; unenjoyable mimosas, watery glasses of orange juice or bitter coffees are often present. But Culina has the drink situation down, with a wide selection of Cally's Teas (like their other locations), French presses, smooth espresso beverages and a glorious lemonade - sparkly, tart and full of fresh mint. Not surprising, our food took a little time to come out, but happily this gave us time to read over the 'Best of Edmonton' in See and check out the 'winners' of the 2011 Golden Fork Awards in Vue.

Our food arrived at the table in sizeable portions, with a large salad atop my plate alongside a hot sandwich. I had enjoyed the salad at the opening back in February, and it lived up to my memories here with dried cherries, quinoa, chickpeas and gouda mixing well with the spinach and Mighty Trio's canola-tamari dressing. My sandwich also hit the spot. The scrambled eggs were soft and full of green onion and cheese, and the smoky bacon was exactly what I was looking forward to as I hopped on my bike that morning. Charles also reported his soup to be perfect for breakfast, with bits of bacon throughout, and buttery slices of sweet potato bread on the side.

Content but feeling like a dessert, we decided to share a slice of the flourless chocolate cake ($6). A dense slice came out quickly and within minutes we had cleared the plate.

The location and atmosphere at Culina Muttart is incredibly enjoyable, and combined with a solid menu and drink list, and the possibility of a post-brunch stroll through the greenery, we can't wait to head back. In February one of the partners with the restaurant suggested that they are working with the City to get the place open for dinner - that's certainly an evening I look forward to.

Culina Muttart
9626 96A Avenue
Hours: M-F (10am - 5pm) Sa-Su (11am - 5pm)
Reservations for parties of 12 or more only
Culina at the Muttart on Urbanspoon

Tourist shots!

Plant sale 


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bistecca for lunch

As I walked out of class early Wednesday afternoon, my dad called to ask if I wanted to go for lunch. At first he suggested the Brewsters down at Century Park, but upon arrival he decided it would be nice to try Bistecca, and thus we did.

I'd been to Bistecca for dinner once prior for the Kerstin's Chocolates staff party. Though everything wasn't a hit, their steak tartare (aka Carne cruda alla piemontese) was definitely memorable, as were most of the pasta dishes had around the table. Also notable, is that Bistecca, like other Sorrentino's Restaurants, offers half sized options for their pasta dishes at both lunch and dinner, which I generally greatly appreciated. That said pasta didn't seem to be an option for either myself or my father at lunch that day (and sadly there was no "Carne cruda alla piemontese" on the lunch menu).

Ultimately I ended up with the Italian Club Panini - shaved chicken breast, pancetta, fontina, avocado and truffle oil ($12) - along with a 'baby greens salad' (an additional $1). My dad went for the fish special, which, as the server noted, was more 'surf and turf' that day - steak topped with prawns and herb butter, served with potato salad and mushrooms ($20).

Given that we arrived at the very end of the lunch rush - around 1:30pm - our orders didn't take long at all to come out. Though my green salad was a little plain, the dressing was enjoyable as were the sweet-sharp red onion slices. I also liked the combination of avocado, chicken and pancetta in the panini, though ultimately, I wouldn't trek all the way down to Century Park for it. My dad seemed to enjoy his steak and shrimp, and luckily for me, he wasn't enjoying the potato salad that I thought was incredible - the potatoes were still warm with lots of olive oil, roasted pepper, broccolini and parsley.

Overall we had a solid lunch at Bistecca, though I think the room itself as well as the location lend the restaurant more to dinner than anything else. While Bistecca certainly won't be a regular spot for us, here's hoping dinner complete with Carne cruda alla piemontese is in the cards soon.

2345 111 Street
Reservations recommended
Bistecca Italian Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

As we left I noticed this place in progress... anyone know anything about it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

V Sandwiches

A few months ago Cathy posted on V Sandwiches, and more specifically on their Signature Sandwiches - 9" toasty baguettes topped with pickled carrots, lettuce, cucumber, onion, cilantro, house mayo and your choice of various preparations of chicken, beef or pork. I made a mental note to check the place out and proceeded to forget about it.

Last Wednesday though, things fell into place. I neglected to pack a lunch and decided to take the walk up Bellamy Hill from the office to grab a cup of Soul Soup. On the way I (re)found V Sandwiches.

By the time I arrived last Wednesday around 1pm they were sold out of chicken and beef options, so I went for the BBQ Pork. A few minutes after ordering the warm sandwich was wrapped in parchment, an elastic was placed around it and I was off.

Without a doubt the walk up the hill was worth it. As Cathy noted the balance of flavours and textures is incredibly satisfying - rich pork, toasty bread, tangy carrots, savory mayo and the perfect amount of cilantro. I raved about the sandwich to Charles that evening and we decided a dinner stop at some point this week was necessary.

So last night I pre-ordered a half-dozen sandwiches for Charles, myself and some of the other office staff, and we indulged before a box office crew meeting. When I called around 2pm yesterday we had our choice of the entire menu, nevertheless there ended up being four Lemongrass Chicken and two Sate Beef.

Once again the subs hit the spot. There were many raves about the crusty bread, the mayo and the overall enjoyment of the sandwich. The price was also very agreeable, with Signature Sandwiches ranging from $6.75 (chicken and pork) to $6.95 (beef). Though I ordered a Lemongrass Chicken last night, I think my go-to will definitely be the Sate Beef - the slight spiciness is excellent with the cooling cucumber, cilantro and tangy carrots.

With a sandwich like that at the end, the trudge up Bellamy Hill or even the stair climb is made much more enjoyable. And there will surely be more of these enjoyed around the office as the summer progresses.

V Sandwiches
10135 100A Street
Hours: M-F (11am - 6pm), Sa (11am - 5pm), Closed Sundays
V Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

*If you can't eat your sandwich straight away, have no fear. Just unwrap and place in the oven/toaster oven for a few minutes and you're good to go. The office toaster oven allowed for some much enjoyed leftovers for lunch today.

The view on the way back down to the office. Just two and a half months and there will be a Festival where that snow is!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beer + Coffee

During the past few weeks Charles and I have found ourselves at Sugarbowl, Transcend and Da Capo more often than we'd like to admit. While the latter two both provide great spaces for studying or writing, Sugarbowl is the answer when these aspects of my life need to be left behind for an evening. Either way, here are a few shots from our more recent stopovers.


Da Capo


These shots come from two evenings at Sugarbowl a couple weeks ago. During one we were lucky enough to find Jason Foster present with samples from Half Pints Brewing Co. Of the IPA, stout and amber ale we tried, the latter was definitely the favourite. It was caramel-y, sort of nutty and for some reason I kept smelling buttermilk. I had a full glass a couple evenings ago and it really is a great one, especially alongside a plate of warm cookies...

The very next evening happened to be cask night. I made it to one cask night back in October and since then have been foiled by assignments due the next morning or by the large line that forms around 5pm just as the keg is about to be tapped. This time though, Brenna finished her last exam (congrats, lady!) and got there just in time to snag us a window seat. Thus a few pints of the Maibock were ours!


Me and Rachel