Sunday, April 22, 2012

Smitten Kitchen's Whole Lemon Tart

While my mum committed to cooking a ham, scalloped potatoes and other necessary dishes for Easter dinner, I assured everyone that I would take care of dessert. I waffled between a few items - coconut cream tart, something chocolate-y, madeleines and ice cream. But crunched for time, I pulled up Smitten Kitchen's Whole Lemon Tart from a long list of bookmarked dessert recipes and got to work.

The base of the tart was 'The great unshrinkable sweet tart shell'. While it worked well and tasted great, I would definitely recommend rolling or at least using less of the dough. At 1am on Sunday morning the dough went into the tart shell right after processing. The resulting crust was a little too thick for my liking, and the edge of the tart became a bit of a shortbread cookie instead of a crust you could cut with a fork. As promised, though, the shell held its shape beautifully.

The lemon filling was easy to prepare. It took about 10 minutes on Sunday morning to slice the Meyer lemons, pick out the seeds and process everything for a minute or so until it was smooth. After 40 minutes or so in the oven, the tart came out to cool and was then chilled in the fridge until we were ready to go.

Everyone enjoyed the tart, particularly the extra punch of lemon. My only complaint was the texture of the filling. Unlike a silky lemon curd, I found the filling a little heavy and almost starchy. I'm guessing the texture would have been better had I allowed the butter and eggs to come to room temperature... So with a couple alterations, this tart is definitely on the list next time dessert is on order and time is short.

Monday, April 16, 2012

And they open - Three Boars Eatery

Saturday was a long day that followed a very long month, and so after closing the shop door one last time, I could think of no better way to wind down than indulging in a brand new spot - Three Boars Eatery (109 Street and 84 Ave).

I was pretty anxious for this place to open. Mostly because we've walked by hundreds of times, wondering what the former pizza spot would turn into. But then there was lots of buzz on Twitter and Facebook too in recent weeks. Although Saturday was just their second day of operation, they were ready. The staff knew what they were doing (we recognized many of them from Sugarbowl), both out front and in the kitchen. And by the end of the evening we agreed our expectations had been far surpassed.

I chose a Negroni from the tidy cocktail list that also included a Sazerac, Old Fashioned and beer cocktails amongst other items, while Charles chose a pint of Alley Kat's Black Dragon IIPA from their all local draught list (edit: Just wanted to clarify that their draught list rotates often and includes local and imported craft beer). We happily enjoyed our drinks at the bar, confirming with the bar tender that we did in fact all recognize each other from Sugarbowl, while waiting for a table in the upstairs dining room.

Food wise, we resisted all four items from the "Bar Snacks" section, opting for a few things from the "Sharesies" area - Buckwheat honey glazed Brussel sprouts, Wild boar terrine with beer mustard and pickled cippolini onions, Oxtail poutine and Marsala lamb neck with potatoes, kale and olives. Plates came out one by one in no particular order and were placed in the middle of the table to share. Charles' favourite dish was the poutine - super soft oxtail, rich gravy and squeaky cheese curds topped crisp, roasted fingerling potatoes. I found myself leaning towards the lamb dish, loving the balance of flavours and textures.

We finished things off with a warm, slightly sweet pear upside down cake topped with a bit of whipped cream.

We thought they did a great job maximizing seating in the tiny space, and we enjoyed the simply decorated space of wood, white walls, industrial lights and mirrors. The downstairs kitchen/bar service and upstairs bathroom/dining area split seemed to work well too. To top things off there's a bike rack sitting out front, and we're sure there will be drinks on the patio as soon as the weather warms a bit more.

The single page menu changes often so that local ingredients can be used as much as possible. And dessert changes nearly every day. One of our favourite things though, is the price point. Nothing (on this particular menu at least) costs more than $16, and we found one smaller item - like the Brussel sprouts ($5) - along with 2-3 larger dishes - the poutine ($8) and lamb (~$11.5) for instance - were filling enough along with a couple beer... and dessert of course.

I met up with Brenna and Catherine this evening, and we decided to head over for drinks and snacks. We munched on more Brussel sprouts and this time duck rillette, and chatted to the couple sitting at the upstairs communal table with us. Warm apple tarts were gobbled up easily.

It looks like they'll be changing up the menu tomorrow, and we're certainly hoping to swing by for a drink and more eats later in the week. I promise I'll bring along the camera next time! But for now, I leave you with this one terrible Instagram photo of the lights above their upstairs communal table, that I took because I was attempting to explain Instagram. And the link to their website where you can find many more photos.

Three Boars Eatery
8424 109 Street
Open everyday, 4pm until late.
Reservations for 6 or more.
Three Boars Eatery on Urbanspoon

*Update May 21 - Finally went back with the camera. You can find some photos here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Under the High Wheel {at Roots on Whyte}

My birthday passed a couple Saturdays ago, and although I got spoiled with dinner at Bua Thai and Sunday lunch at Continental Treat (complete with a couple tasty bottles of beer), I wasn't going to turn down Brenna's invitation to a belated birthday brunch. The decision of where to go was easy - she and Catherine live a block or two away from the new Roots on Whyte {Community Building} and I had a meeting nearby that afternoon. So Under the High Wheel it was.

After being seated by the window, both Catherine and I quickly decided on a buckwheat crepe filled with spinach and feta cheese, topped with pumpkin seeds ($12; $2 extra to add a free range egg). There was also a lightly dressed salad served alongside that was full of fresh pea shoots and greens, perfect beside the savoury crepe. Brenna went for a sweeter breakfast option, choosing a waffle topped with fresh berries and chantilly cream (~$10). Finally, we all shared a fruit salad topped with yogurt and hemp seeds (~$5). Between the two different mains on the table, we couldn't choose a favourite; both were perfectly enjoyable in their own right.

To finish things off, Brenna ordered a cappuccino that came in a DaCapo cup, in anticipation of the caffe opening next door. Currently there appears to be a temporary wall dividing the two spaces as construction continues in the new DaCapo space. And although we didn't confirm with any of the staff, we're guessing the two will eventually be connected - DaCapo providing the espresso and Under the High Wheel the food.

Finally, we took a walk through Blush Lane Organic Market, just across the hall. My walk through was pretty brief, but for the most part products looks similar to those found at Planet Organic; however, there's no doubt the new space is impressive. One staff member was even charged with walking around the store, offering up apples to customers as they complete their shopping. I ended up with a pound of Saxby Creamery's butter (which I thought was a pretty good deal at just over $4) and my free Granny Smith apple before heading out.

The few tenants we visited in the building were still figuring things out; understandable since the place just opened a couple weeks ago. Nevertheless our experience at Under the High Wheel was fantastic. We were impressed with the bright space, full of contrasting woods and concrete (and of course I'm in love with the bicycle theme), and although our server had just started the day before, she did a great job fielding our questions and explaining the menu.

I'm sure summer will bring great things for the space. In particular the wide sidewalk near the entrance is calling for excellent patio seating and bicycle parking. But whether or not those things are part of the plan, we'll be back soon for more coffee and casual plates.

at Roots on Whyte
8135 102 Street