Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Brunch ~ Rosso Pizzeria

{Are you a food or drink blogger in Edmonton? Come to The Common on March 4th and meet up with fellow food bloggers from our fair city! Details here.}

Oh brunch in Edmonton. Since visiting cities like Portland and New York, where going for brunch is a given, I'm always trying to find solid versions of the meal here at home. Giant lines twist outside of casual spots like Sugarbowl, High Level Diner and Urban Diner throughout the weekend, and my favourite homes to weekend brunch - Manor BistroUnder the High Wheel and Next Act - can be just as busy. Fingers crossed Elm Café will one day add some sort of permanent brunch to their lineup on 118th Ave, 'cause the brunch offered during Deep Freeze was too delicious to just be a pop-up.

When we lived in Garneau, we regularly enjoyed large glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and fluffy frittatas offered at then DaCapo. With that in mind, we met up with friends at Rosso to check out their weekend brunch situation earlier in February.

As assumed, patrons were lined up outside other spots at the intersection, but when I arrived at Rosso around 10:30 (a half hour before our scheduled meeting time, just in case), I had my pick of tables. I still miss the café style ordering system from DaCapo, but someone stopped by soon enough with a menu, and to take my latte order. It took a while for the latte to come out (at least 10 minutes), but their super milky version is wonderful. Sadly, the juice machine is no longer there, which means there is no orange juice on offer.

Other than the granola, all the dishes on the menu are savoury, and the general theme is, 'Put an egg on it'. Charles selected the Canadese pizza (sans the egg) whilst I went with the Calabrese pizza. Our friends opted for the granola and a 'breakfast skillet' of sorts.

I loved the topping combination on my pizza, with the bitter rapini and fennel sausage playing well. Unfortunately, the eggs on top suffered from the heat of the wood fired oven and weren't in a good state by the time they reached the table. Next time, I'll likely opt for a side of poached eggs and add them afterward.

A moment of praise, though, for the pizza crust. When I visited just after the DaCapo-Rosso changeover, I didn't notice much improvement pizza wise, but it seems they now know exactly what they're doing. Crispy, chewy, slightly charred - Hands down the best in the city.

The Canadese pizza - with potato, bacon, rosemary and olive oil - hit the spot, especially with that latte on the side.

They aren't kidding when they say 'large cup' of granola. It's really a gigantic goblet. The granola and fruit were very good, but what makes it is a generous layer of their house made ricotta. Very creamy and fresh.

And finally the 'skillet' (Patate arrostite con salsiccia e peperoni) - Probably the favourite of the table. Perfectly poached eggs, with their rich tomato sauce, potatoes, fennel sausage, peppers and some of their homemade bread on the side.

We wouldn't hesitate to head over for brunch again, especially with brunch lineups in the area being what they are. They lose points for lack of orange juice (and breakfast specific beverages), but they easily overcome that negative with those lattes, and pizza for breakfast.

The brunch menu is available from 10am-3pm on weekends and holidays.

Rosso Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 20, 2014

An almost Manhattan

{Are you a food or drink blogger in Edmonton? Come to The Common on March 4th and meet up with fellow food bloggers from our fair city! Details here.}

Just before Christmas, I wandered over to Plum and found a whole bunch of preserves from Mojo Jojo Preserves. Although I was tempted to walk away with everything, I limited it to a jar of Drunken (Brandied) Cherries. Eventually I plan to make the black forest cupcakes in the Mast Brothers book and use them as toppers, but for now, they are very pleasant in a Manhattan.

I should mention that I have yet to invest in a bottle of rye or bourbon (for shame), so out came my bottle of whiskey from Breuckelen Distilling, which seemed to work well enough. And although a classic Manhattan contains only Angostura bitters, I like a recipe from Bitters that suggests using half Angostura/aromatic and half orange bitters - A perfect mix of bitter and sweet.

A Manhattan made with whiskey from Brooklyn and cherries from Edmonton
Adapted from Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons

2oz Whiskey (really though, it should be rye or bourbon)
1oz Sweet vermouth (again that Vya one)
1 dash aromatic or Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Garnish - Drunken Cherry (or amarena cherry or lemon twist)

Fill a mixing glass about half way with ice and add everything but the garnish. Stir thoroughly until chilled then strain into a coupe or other glass. Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Café. Walk. Café. Walk.

{Are you a food or drink blogger in Edmonton? Come to The Common on March 4th and meet up with fellow food bloggers from our fair city! Details here.}

Just before I went to Berlin a couple summers ago, Isabelle introduced me to Sandra Juto's blog, and I still look at it daily. She walks and drinks coffee (and enjoys her city) like nobody's business. So when I found myself without work commitments a couple Saturdays ago, I decided to do the same.

Stop one - A short walk to a Kashmiri chai with almond milk at Remedy downtown.

Construction, construction, construction in our city right now. Not without its drawbacks (mostly blocked sidewalks and other pedestrian routes, on my end at least), but nevertheless exciting. It sounds like the promenade outside the old federal building on 108 Street, and some of the meeting spaces inside, will be lovely.
It was about -11 or so that day, with a little wind. At the start of every winter, I forget about the icy breeze that blows across the bridge, and right across your cheeks. Nothing a solid hood can't help. Time for stop two - A cappuccino at Transcend Garneau.

I saw this horse and buggy going down Whyte earlier in the day and was happy to see it again across from the market (I know the Old Strathcona Business Association was doing buggy rides leading up to Christmas, but I didn't know it was still happening Saturdays). Afterward I wandered over to Under the High Wheel for a croque monsieur, and then hopped the number 7 back downtown. And that was my über luxurious day off.

Hope your weekend (regular or long) was wonderful!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Oaken Gin Negroni

{Are you a food or drink blogger in Edmonton? Come to The Common on March 4th and meet up with fellow food bloggers from our fair city! Details here.}

A few years ago I picked up bottle of Oaken Gin made by Victoria Spirits. I already loved their gin - Complex with juniper and delicate spicing. Aged in oak barrels giving it a rich caramel like layer as well? I'm there.

Then it sat on my shelf for awhile. I tried it straight a few times (sometimes a girl just needs her gin), and then put it back on the shelf, all the while still drinking my favourite Negroni. Finally I swapped out the called for gin for the oaken gin. Success. It lends a more interesting sweetness, and slight smokiness, to the bitter-sweet-spice combo that makes this cocktail so well loved. This recipe also reminds me - just a bit - of the barrel aged version of the drink I enjoyed at Clyde Common back in 2011. I've noted my preferred recipe below.

Oaken Gin Negroni
Adapted from Michael Rhulman

1 1/2 oz Victoria Oaken Gin (I don't like ice here, so the extra gin seems to make all the difference)
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth (I like this Vya version)
Orange peel for garnish

Place some ice in a measuring glass of your choice. Combine the gin, Campari and vermouth. Stir for about 90 seconds and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

Happy Valentine's Day! We'll be drinking these rosy red things and watching House of Cards.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Coconut Toast

{Are you a food or drink blogger in Edmonton? Come to The Common on March 4th and meet up with fellow food bloggers from our fair city! Details here.}

Last year, about this time, I made Coconut Bread (from Smitten Kitchen... via The Wednesday Chef via the NY Times via Bills breakfast menu) and basically said nothing about it. Except that I made it. It deserves more than that, especially since you can make it into coconut toast with maple syrup a la Lavish Habit in Balham, London.

Lavish Habit is small-ish, rustic cafe with lovely cakes set casually on the counter, Monmouth Coffee, and a vintage store in the basement. Very fun and super cozy. When I was in London a couple summers ago, I made sure to stop at the cafe whenever I could, since it was on the way to my closest underground stop.

So, they have coconut toast. A lightly sweetened loaf that is thickly sliced, toasted, dusted with a little powdered sugar (which I decided against below), then served with a dish of salted butter and, this is key, a small jug of maple syrup. I'm not sure I've ever had coconut and maple so beautifully paired together.

The recipe calls for sweetened shredded coconut, but I only had unsweetened, toasted coconut ribbon on hand. The sweetness was perfect here (because you'll want to put that maple syrup on there...), however, the texture of the loaf would certainly benefit from the more delicate shredded coconut. I also upped the cinnamon to 1.5 tsp... 'Cause it's cold out there.

As per my baking mo, this loaf comes together fast (and even in one bowl if you skip the browned butter part and aren't super particular about the wet-dry ingredient thing). It's in the oven for an hour or so, and will make your apartment/house smell amazing. And every time you make a slice of 'toast', it'll impart that nutty-cinnamony aroma all over again.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Edmonton Food Blogger Meet-up!

Thanks to everyone who came out (20 blogs were represented), and to The Common for hosting! You can check out tweets and photos from the evening using the hashtag #yegfoodblogs
A couple years ago Maki and I decided it was time to start planning the next Edmonton food blogger meet up. Here we are in 2014, actually doing it.

Are you a food or drink blogger in this fair city? Do you read your fellow bloggers' blogs or pass by them at events, but haven't actually met them or been able to chat? Now's your chance!

{9910 109 Street}
Tuesday, March 4th

The Common has provided the use of their south room for the evening (thank you, thank you!) so we can easily mingle, and come and go as needed (**). Come for drinks, a snack, dinner - It's your choice - Just make sure you come! And please help us spread the word!

In order to firm up numbers for the restaurant reservation, please let us know if you are able to attend, and if you will be bringing a plus one. We would also like to keep a running list of attendees so that we can get to know you and your blog before we meet you. Here's what we need...

Your name, blog link and number of people attending
in email to
Marianne: loosenyourbeltblog {at} gmail {dot} com AND/OR Maki: oomelement {at} gmail {dot} com

**The Common will be taking orders from the regular food and drink menu, so there will be no shortage of options. You are responsible for paying for your own food and drink, peeps! They will be charging an automatic 18% gratuity on orders. Must be 18+ to attend.

YEG Food/Drink Bloggers in Attendance
{Updated March 4th}

Marianne - Loosen Your Belt
Phil - Baconhound
Linda - Linda Hoang dot com
Brittney - Gastropost Edmonton
Liv - Dine and Write
Cindy - Let's Om Nom
Shannon - Whole, Fresh, Delicious
Cathy - Walsh Cooks
Jacquie - Parkallen Home Kitchen
Sharman - Passion For Pork
Jackie & Steph - Meat Vs Veg Edmonton
Caroline - CarolineYEG
Carla - YEG Food Club
Lindsay - Will Cook For Cocktails
Sharon - Only Here for the Food
Evonne - Undercover Gourmet
Lillian - Beyond Umami
Michelle - The Tiffin Box
Salma - Green Onion Cakes
Karlynn - The Kitchen Magpie
Lindsay - The Edible Woman
Eva - Mr. Moo's Adventures

 Catch them at the next one!
Isabelle - The Little Red Kitchen
Elyse - Life Without Lemons
Kevin - Kevin Kossowan
Chris - Eating is the Hard Part
Robyn - Life is Better Red
Courtenay - Messy Little Cook
Jason - On

We'll update these lists regularly as emails come in. Looking forward to meeting you!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Corpse Reviver

{Are you a food or drink blogger in Edmonton? Come to The Common on March 4th and meet up with fellow food bloggers from our fair city! Details here.}

I picked up 'An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails' at the library last week and have been trying my best to make some cocktails I wouldn't ordinarily pull together at home (I continue to default to the bitter-sweet-spice and ease of the Negroni). First up, the Corpse Reviver, and my first opportunity to use a little bottle of absinthe I acquired over the holidays.

This one is easy enough to bring together, with non-neon-green absinthe the only sometimes hard to find item (I've seen plenty of these little St. George Spirit's bottles around town though). Place the ingredients, along with ice, into a shaker (or in my case, an old thermos, because I'm classy like that) and shake. Then strain into a coupe or whatever glass you want to use.

The 'guide' notes that this drink was created as a hangover cure... Yeah, this is a potent punch. Delicious, although I would dial back the lemon to just a 1/2 oz in the future, especially with this particular (heavily spiced) absinthe.

As for the book in general, I can't recommend it enough. It has fun illustrations all the way through (who doesn't love a book with many, many pictures!?), and tall tales about the beginnings of classic cocktails. Plus, it's available at the library.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winefest Ticket Giveaway - CLOSED

{Are you a food or drink blogger in Edmonton? Come to The Common on March 4th and meet up with fellow food bloggers from our fair city! Details here.}

{Update: February 9} Thanks for entering the giveaway everyone! This was the first one on this blog. The winner of the two tickets to Winefest is Suzanne! Hope you enjoy!


Winefest is celebrating its 6th year at the Shaw Conference Centre February 14-15th, and I've got two tickets to the Saturday afternoon tasting session (2-5pm) to give away. Here's the info -

"Wine novices and seasoned vino lovers will enjoy a decadent... afternoon of all-inclusive wine tasting alongside delicious hors d'oeuvres... Celebrate and sample from 247 wines from the world's most renowned wine regions!"

How to win - In the comments below, leave your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win). I'll select a random winner and contact them on Sunday, February 9th. Good luck!

*Please note that you need to be 18 to attend the festival. You will need to show valid photo ID to pick up your tickets.