Friday, November 30, 2012

Some state of chocolate

Nearly eight months after Kerstin's Chocolates closed its doors, I'm happy to see such great things going on chocolate wise around the city. Well known by now, Kerstin's sister, Angie, has picked up the Kerstin's house brand, Chocophilia, and you can find bars, Caviar and drinking chocolate and other treats at farmers' markets and events around the city. Locals and dates are shared here. And of course, Jacek Chocolate opened their first boutique in Sherwood Park a couple months ago.

That said, there are some other great things happening that I thought were worth mentioning too.

The Jones Chocolate Company

First off, we have our very first bean-to-bar manufacturer in Edmonton. Curtis Jones launched The Jones Chocolate Company in early October. He sources cocoa beans from farmers around the world, paying more than fair trade prices. The roasting, winnowing and conching of the beans happens right here in Edmonton, and beautiful bars of single origin chocolate are the result.

*Photo from their website

I ordered a couple bars from the first batch - a 70% dark chocolate made with beans from the Dominican Republic. The chocolate had a beautiful balance of smoky, tobacco like flavours, along with fruit notes to finish. Definitely impressive. At Make It, I picked up a 60% dark milk bar made from Dominican beans, along with a 70% bar made from Venezuela beans - I haven't cracked them yet but am certainly looking forward to it.

You can find the full collection of bars online here.

The Violet Chocolate Company

You might recognize Rebecca Grant from Kerstin's, where she made bars and confections for a little more than two years. She's now launched her own venture, The Violet Chocolate Company, which features her amazing hand made confections and flavoured bars. She changes up the confections each month, and will be doing a feature bar in addition to her regular line up (it's currently a salted caramel pecan... If you find it, grab it!).

Currently the bar line up includes flavours like Clover Honey and Rosemary in a 49% dark-milk chocolate, Caramel Toasted Coconut with Valrhona's decadent Carmelia chocolate and Toasted Sesame and Ginger. You can check out all her flavours here.

Rebecca (aka. Becca) can be found at events around the city, and you can currently find her line of bars at Evoolution on 104 Street. Make sure you keep an eye on her Facebook page for further details.

Provisions by Duchess

Hopefully you've had a chance to swing by Provisions, next door to Duchess Bake Shop. They carry amazing preserves, spices and other baking additions, flours and grains, butter and loads of books and baking gear.

You can also find shelves full of Theo Chocolate's bars (Phinney and otherwise) and salted caramels, as well as bars from François Pralus, Amedei, Bonnat (if you haven't had any of their dark-milk bars, you're missing out) and my favourite, Patric. These bars are perfect stocking stuffers, with shelf lives from 6 (milk chocolate) to 18 (dark chocolate) months, so make sure you get there early.

So there you have it. Lot's of exciting options chocolate wise this year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Clever Rabbit Vegetarian Café

The Clever Rabbit opened its doors way back in March, and sadly, I just couldn't make my schedule align to check out their brunch and lunch offerings. Last week though, with just a half shift making up my Wednesday, I made my way to the vegetarian café for some post work lunch.

At 1:30 in the afternoon I was the only table in the bright space save a couple finishing lunch towards the back of the restaurant. I ended up choosing a spot next to the window to observe the blustery day outside whilst enjoying a glass of unpasteurized apple juice. I have to say I was there for the lentil loaf, a veggie dish that is one of my favourites at Blue Plate Diner. But with the last slice sold earlier during the lunch rush, I opted instead for the Walnut Chickpea Burger along with a side of cream of tomato soup ($12).

Everything arrived about 15 minutes later. The burger was piled high with toppings and I could see a slathering of nut butter beneath the walnut-chickpea patty; the soup arrived hidden inside an adorable rabbit-topped cocotte. Along with the nut butter and groceries, the burger was fantastic, with a lovely nutty flavour and a creaminess that was amplified by the toppings. My only complaint was that the bun was cold, however that's something easily remedied.

The soup didn't fare quite as well. While I appreciated its brightness, the creaminess didn't come through and I never came around to enjoying the texture. Thankfully though, the soup changes daily.

Since this visit I've also stopped in for a smoothie - a super thick mixture of tofu and yogurt that I enjoyed in its peach incarnation - on my break, as well as a vegan cinnamon bun. And I will definitely be returning for some of those donuts.

The Clever Rabbit's tidy selection of vegetarian brunch and lunch items are just what 124th Street needed. I'm looking forward to my next visit... and a piece of lentil loaf.

The Clever Rabbit Vegetarian Café
10724 124 Street
Hours: Tues-Sun (9am - 4:30pm)
The Clever Rabbit Vegetarian Cafe on Urbanspoon

You can also check out reviews from Sharon and Liv.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Notes on Berlin.

It took awhile (including a bout with a cold), but here are my thoughts on Berlin. London to follow shortly.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I arrived back in Edmonton a couple days ago and I'm slowly putting together posts on both Berlin and London. For now though, I leave you with some photos from my adventures.


 3 Schwestern in Mariannenplatz.

Sanssouci Palace

Berlin Zoo

Orangery Gardens 


Victoria Sponge at BB Bakery. 

Borough Market 

Kimchi Cult at Camden Town Brewery 

Street Feast in Islington 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Where did July go?

Once again I've let things slide a bit blog wise as the Festival approaches. We're just a couple days away which means it's crazy 12-hour-day time at the office for me, and long days on site for Charles.

I was hoping to get some posts up, but truthfully, we haven't really eaten out nor have we eaten at home in the past month. Instead, we've been fed by the Site Kitchen, a wonderful group of volunteers who prepare breakfast lunch and dinner during the build and teardown of site.

By far my favourite meal is Christmas in July, a celebratory meal that happens the day after we take over Gallagher Park. This year I volunteered to help cook Christmas dinner (instead of just showing up to eat) and Andrew (the Site Kitchen Coordinator) left me in charge of the vegetarian main.

I had quinoa and portobello mushrooms to work with, and ended up roasting the mushrooms then stuffing them with a mixture of quinoa, dried cranberries, pecans and garlic. I also snuck some chèvre in the centre of the mushrooms before topping them with the quinoa mixture. Combined with potatoes, stuffing, gravy and fantastic people the meal was memorable as per usual.

Waiting to serve the hungry masses

The Festival menu sounds great this year and I'm hoping to get in there with the camera a bit more this time around to capture baby kale salad and Bulgogi beef ribs, amongst other dishes. If you're around the Festival this weekend make sure you say 'Hi'!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Berlin. London.

Right after Folk Fest I'll be heading to Berlin and then to London for a couple weeks. Charles will here in Edmonton holding down the fort before spending some time in Toronto later in the fall. Now that flights and accommodations are booked (I'll be in Kreuzberg in Berlin and Brixton in London) I'm busy pouring over blogs and seeking out travel advice for both cities.

Berlin: Certainly the more manageable of the two spots, I feel nine days will be enough time to trek around the city. Here's what I've got so far.

London: As you can see from our previous vacation posts, we've visited comparatively small cities that I felt I could get a handle on prior to arrival. London, of course, is proving to be much more difficult.

I've tracked down some spots I'd like to check out - recommendations from friends and family and from Orangette and Messy Little Cook. Other than that I'm at a slight loss, other than knowing I'd like to keep it mid-range or less. I'm planning to splurge on one lunch at NOPI - Downstairs on the Monday before I fly home. Here's what's on the agenda.

If you have suggestions, comments, etc., please leave them below or on the pages themselves. I really appreciate any help!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Street Fest

Since I usually post after these sorts of events, I figured I'd do a quick Street Fest post since there's an entire week left to check things out.

We stopped by on both Friday and Saturday evening and had a great time. So far our favourite performers are Grant Goldie, who's show includes miming, juggling and other cool, classy things, and The Adventurers Explorers League Club, two guys who roam the show with either backpacks or the fantastic canoes below.

Grant Goldie

The Adventurers Explorers League Club

Pancho Libre

Street Fest is on in Churchill Square up to and including next Sunday, July 15th. Performers are on from 11:30am-11pm. Make sure you check it out!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cask Day

It's sort of amazing that at our very first Edmonton Beer Geeks Anonymous meeting in April, they announced that along with Wunderbar Hofbrauhaus, they would be hosting a Cask Day on the afternoon of June 23rd. Thankfully we purchased our admission tickets for $15 a piece right on the spot - the event sold out in under 24 hours.

Last Saturday afternoon felt much like today - hot and sunny - and beer fans packed the patio at Wunderbar whilst enjoying casked conditioned ales from Phillips, Yukon, Alley Kat, Amber's and Jasper Brewing Co.

We enjoyed all the beer on offer and savoured the luxury of having so many great local-ish microbrews to choose from. I loved Ambers' Ginger Lemongrass beer - it was perfect in the heat and had some great flavours going on that didn't overpower the base beer too much. Charles went the opposite way and chose Yukon's Mr. Monk's Stout as the winner for the day.

The favourites.

We also won this lovely door prize signed by everyone who contributed casks that day:

This was a fantastic event and we're glad to have made it out. Thanks and congratulations to everyone involved in the planning and to all the volunteers. Can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Naughty {Buckwheat} Rhubarb Scones

That's right, Naughty Rhubarb Scones. Why? Apparently the 2/3 - 3/4 cups of cream that help make up twelve of these creamy, palm sized scones originally posted on Food 52.

And the buckwheat part? A few people noted in the comments that they successfully swapped up to half the AP flour with whole wheat. But with all the cream in these scones, I could tell this recipe was calling for a little buckwheat flour (not only that, but buckwheat is in the rhubarb family, so this recipe was meant to be). The first time round I used one cup of buckwheat flour and 1 + 1/2 cups AP, and I've been doing the same since (I'm now on batch three).

One of my favourite things about this recipe is the ease with which it comes together. There's no rolling required, and while they suggest using the food processor to blend everything, I did it by hand in no time at all.

The buckwheat flour gives these scones a beautiful colour, and its fruity, wine like flavour compliments the rhubarb well. I took the first two batches to work and they disappeared instantly. The second time around we munched on them with some of this nectarine jam one of our volunteers gave me.

If you've got some rhubarb hanging around (and really, who doesn't in Edmonton?), I'd definitely suggest saving a few stalks for these scones.

The recipe is posted here on Food 52, however, I did change a few things. I didn't have vanilla sugar, so I added some vanilla bean paste to the rhubarb-sugar mixture. About a tablespoon of Kirsch went in with the rhubarb as well. As mentioned above, I swapped one cup of the AP flour with buckwheat. I added three stalks of rhubarb to my first batch of scones as directed by the recipe, and I didn't think it was enough. So this last time I doubled the amount of rhubarb and liked the extra tart punch that came with each bite (the stalks I used were on the smaller side though).

I ended up using more than the 2/3 cup of cream because it's quite dry here, but the amount varied between the two different times I made the recipe. Both times, I had more than enough cream left to brush the tops of the scones before they went into the oven (the recipe doesn't call for this). Enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cally's Teas

I'm one of many people happy to see Cally's Teas open again. The new location is beautiful, with fun wall paper, comfy chairs and pretty paper lanterns (you can purchase the latter at the shop), and of course, an entire wall full of tea.

New this time around, is the addition of baked goods and a solid high tea. We stopped a few weeks ago and filled up on fresh, warm scones with raspberry butter and cream, in addition to soft, pillowy brioche alongside a pot of single estate Darjeeling.

Along with Tanya and Tom, we managed to make it over last Saturday evening for the grand opening party. Cally, Laurel (the baker) and Trevor (the designer) were all on hand to greet guests and answer questions as we enjoyed a fruity, summery tea, scones with strawberries and cream and more of their brioche, this time studded with currants.

Cally and Trevor


Congratulations to Cally, Laurel and all the staff at Cally's! I can't wait until my next visit.

Cally's Teas
10151 82 Avenue

*Check out other posts on the new local:

Girls and Bicycles
City and Dale
Blue Butterfly Blissful Bites

Sunday, June 17, 2012

High Tea at Devonian Gardens

Last Sunday Charles and I ventured out to Devonian Gardens for high tea with friends. The weather was only sort of cooperative, with rain showers creeping up throughout the afternoon. That said, it was lovely to enjoy tea and snacks under the shelter of the 'Pine Pavillion', and the gardens looked beautiful and green after all the rain.

We'll be back out at the gardens this Friday evening for the Edmonton Opera's third edition of Opera al Fresco. They've changed up the formatting since our first year, and we're anxious to see what improvements have been made. Some fantastic music is a given, but here's hoping for sunny weather.