Italian At Home

I’m sure that there are more italian foods that you can make at home than pizza but this week that was our mission.

We have recently discovered the Italian Centre Shop in Calgary located on the corner of Fairmount Drive and Southland Drive SE. Having three locations in Edmonton the Calgary location is still a secret little gem.

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A full service shop, it has an amazing selection of everything Italian you could imagine mixed together with a wonderful selection of local and Canadian products. Along with the regular groceries there is a beautiful bakery, full service cafe, hot food take out section and an amazing deli (my photos don’t even do it justice as you would need to do full panoramic shots to get it all in).

A stop at the meat side of the deli counter to pick out some meats for our pizza, I selected thinly sliced Speck (a smoked cured ham), hot Capicola and a flavourful Porchetta.

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Around the corner to the cheese case and the almost overwhelming selection of cheeses available. My husband has a lactose intolerance so I am always looking for a good selection of lactose free cheese. There was a huge selection for me to choose from and they were patient enough to let me taste a few before making a decision. They were also nice enough to provide me a with a two page list of the lactose free cheeses that they carry.

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The last section of the deli that I headed for was the fresh cheeses, mozzarella, feta and boccacini along with a great selection of olives, bruchetta and other brined goods. Here you can also find one of our favourites, fresh buffalo mozzarella.

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Just a few more stops, the fresh vegetable section for tomatoes, portobello mushrooms and fresh basil. The amazing tomato sauce isle where among the many selections I found a cherry tomato sauce then down to the cooler section where you can pick up fresh pizza dough by the ball for only $1.98.

With all of our ingredients bought I headed home to prep. We were told by one of the friendly employees to re-work the pizza dough with a little soda water and let it rise  to make it fluffier and crisper. Time to chop the vegetables and herbs and break up the meats and cheeses.

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Somewhere along the way we discovered that we had given away or lost our pizza stone so we decided to line a baking sheet with parchment and do a rustic style flat bread. One thing I discovered here was not to oil the parchment paper as it makes the pizza dough very hard to stretch out. On our second try we stretched the dough out on dry parchment paper and away we went.

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Not much of a meat pizza person myself we made two pizzas, one had a little bit of Speck, bruschetta, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella.

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The second had Speck, hot Capicola, herbed Porchetta, portobello mushrooms fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, a lactose free cheese and some buffalo mozzarella.

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We baked our pizzas at 450 degrees with the convection fan on for 20 minutes. The pizzas came out with a fluffy crust and a beautifully crisp bottom.

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I have to say that after the flavours and perfect crust of these home made pizzas it is going to be hard for us to return to ordering pizza again. The total cost for our pizzas was about $25 and we were able to make them with some amazing fresh ingredients.

If you haven’t made a visit to the Italian Centre Shops I would highly recommend it. The staff are friendly and helpful and the selection is amazing. Everything from gluten free pasta and local meats to lactose free cheeses and everything in between. This will definitely become a regular shopping visit for us.

Enjoying Italian at Home, I am Your Everyday Foodie!

 

 

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Authentic Mexico in the City

This week I had a friend visiting from out of town and she left the dinner plans to me. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful evening so what better to do than head down for some amazing Mexican food down on 4th Street.

Anejo is the spanish word for aged and this beautiful restaurant located in the historic Fourth Street Rose building is paying homage to traditional authentic Mexican cuisine.

Even on a Thursday night the place was buzzing and although we didn’t have a reservation we managed to snag a table on beautiful patio. The Tequila list at Anjeo is at the very least amazing, spanning two and a half pages there is sure to be something to please any Tequila lover. We however decided on fresh made margaritas, the selection of margaritas is a little outside the normal so we decided on the Chili Coconut with habernero, the Strawberry Rhubarb and the Cucumber Cilantro to try. All three were delicious but be warned the chili coconut has a pretty big kick . On any hot day I would definitely recommend the cucumber cilantro as it is amazingly cool and refreshing. One of the other things that caught our eye was the large bottle that water is served in at the table, if you go make sure to read all sides of the bottle while you are there!

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We decided to order several dishes for sharing and started with the Guacamole ($14) served with fresh chips it comes to the table deconstructed in a large volcanic stone pestle and is then mixed fresh table side.

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By far one of the best guacamoles that I have ever tasted, it had just the right amount of everything. Don’t panic when they dump in what looks like a large amount of jalepeno right at the end, without the seeds it just added an amazing flavour without the burning heat.

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We also ordered the Ceviche Tasting ($20) which is a trio of seasonal cevichie made in the traditional method from the mexican province of Jalisco. Being that it is a seasonal dish, what is in your trio will change regularly but tonight our trio had snapper, salmon and scallop civiche. The salmon was by far the most flavourful and unique where as the snapper tasted more of the citrus than anything else.

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To finish filling our bellies we decided on the 6 taco combination ($26) and we chose the crispy snapper, the wild boar and the beef short rib tacos. The tacos are the perfect size and are filled with your selected protein and a mixture of pickled cabbage, onion, cilantro, avocado mousse and a touch of chili. Hot sauces come on the side which gives you a chance to be as brave as you dare with the heat and the added flavours. You can also ask for fresh pico and other accompaniments on the side.

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Overall this was a great experience and I am looking forward to going back soon to try more of the amazing menu. You can also order many of the menu items as gluten free (corn tortillas), lactose free and vegetarian so bring all your friends! This is a buzzing little location so I would recommend making a reservation to ensure you can get a spot to try some of the amazing traditional mexican fare that they are creating here.

Enjoying authentic mexican in the city, I am Your Everyday Foodie.

Dinning at the Ranche

An official historical site, this original ranch house has now become the site for The Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant.  Nestled in the quiet of Fish Creek Park the restaurant has set themselves apart serving a menu of seasonal locally grown ingredients that include sustainable seafood and an ever changing menu of local game meats.

The Ranche is a  casual fine dining atmosphere with wood through out the house, antler chandeliers and a huge stone fire place. The main dining room is surrounded by windows and lets you enjoy the nature of fish creek as you dine. On the Saturday night that we were dining there was a live musician playing in a corner of the dining room adding to the already welcoming atmosphere.

Shortly after being shown to our table and ordering our drinks a selection of fresh made breads and whipped butter arrived at the table along with a beautiful amuse-bouche of beef tartar. The beef tartar was very flavourful with excellent seasoning. We even managed to get the non-adventurous addition to our table for the night to join in and give it a try.

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Tonight we started our dinner with the Charcuterie Board ($26) filled with an assortment of local and house made dried cured meats including anise cured salami and two types of game meat.

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We also ordered the Spicy Glazed Wild Boar Belly. Both items were very tasty. The Charcuterie board is more than enough for a starter for two or three however we can just never resist ordering any sort of pork belly when we see it. The Pork belly was sweet, spicy, perfectly crispy and hard to share only because it was so good.

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For our main courses we ordered the Pan-Seared Scallop  with house made ink squid pasta ($38),

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the Alberta Sungold Lamb Shank with horseradish mash and ratatouille ($42)

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and the Rougei Duck Breast with confit duck potato croquets ($39).

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All of the main courses were delicious and perfectly cooked. The lamb shank pulled right off the bone and was moist and full of flavour. The duck breast was a perfect medium rare and the crispy confit croquets and the carrot pasta were the perfect match. The show stopper of the night however was the scallop dish, it is almost a show with your dinner as the bento flakes on top dance in the steam as the dish is served. The squid ink pasta was flavourful but not fishy and had just the right amount of sauce.

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For desert we ordered the soufflé of the day. The mango soufflé was beautifully cooked and presented. The perfect puffy crisp dessert that is like eating a flavoured cloud. Once again the spoons were clashing as we fought to share this wonderful sweet end to our night.

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The Bow Valley Ranche is a beautiful restaurant where you can enjoy a sunday brunch, an afternoon tea, a casual lunch or a lush romantic dinner. They hold several dinner events through out the year (we are hoping to attend one soon) so keep an eye on their web site so you can buy tickets early as they often sell out.  Also the perfect place for an event with the many private rooms placed through out the beautiful historic setting. Their menu changes seasonally and they are just about to move into their fresh spring menu which will warrant another visit sometime soon. I would recommend taking the chance to escape the bustle of the city and enjoy a wonderful meal here anytime.

Dinning in the beauty of nature in the city, I am Your Everyday Foodie.

 

 

 

Weekend Uncorked

Canmore Uncorked is a week long food and drink event that showcases the best restaurants and drinks that Canmore has to offer and has been voted Canada’s Event of the Year through the Canadian Tourism Awards. The festival includes several signature events such as a long table dinner, bistro tours, progressive dinners, and beer, wine, whisky and spirit festivals. Over the week many of the restaurants offer set price menus for lunches and dinners that range from $12 to $40. At the beginning of the festival or at any time you can pick up a festival passport and collect stamps at each venue you visit. If you are not there to eat there were also several set price experiences where you could try samples of vinegar and oils, chocolate and meats rather than having a full meal.

We decided to spend the weekend and enjoy several of the festival offerings. On our way from Calgary our first stop was Mad Dog Cafe at Dead Mans Flats. Their Canmore Uncorked offering was their signature spicy candied bacon cinnamon roll with a coffee for $5. This was an amazing way to start our day and after taking a look around they also have an amazing offering of meals that includes a huge array of curries. This will definitely be a regular stop for us any time we are heading into the mountains.

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Back on the highway our next stop was at Valbella Gourmet Foods. Just off highway 1A in Canmore this little meat shop offers not only a vast array of fresh and cured meats but also has a little deli and offers freshly baked breads and buns. Their Canmore Uncorked offering was a charcuterie salami and a package of Bundnerfleisch (a cured thinly sliced cured beef) for $10. Although we did find it hard to leave without purchasing a few extra treats including house made bacon onion jam and a huge bag of beef jerky.

We then headed towards main street Canmore. With plenty of free parking and lots of shops and restaurants to explore it makes for a great day in the sunshine wandering from shop to shop in a beautiful environment. Here we tasted vinegars and oils at Evooloution, explored many shops and eventually stopped for lunch at The Wood Restaurant. The $12 sandwich of the day was amazing, a Montreal smoked meat wrap with fresh vegetables and sweet potato fries. Another stamp added to our passport we headed to the Coast Hotel to participate in the Wine Festival.

The wine festival at Canmore Uncorked was sponsored by Culinaire magazine and had a  $45 per ticket price that included all of your wine tastings from an option of over 90 wines. Food was also available at an additional cost of $5 per plate. For three hours we tasted our way through wine after wine and were lucky enough to find several wines that we hadn’t tried before and then found several that we decided to purchase. Luckily they had an on site store where you could purchase your wines at a discount of 15% from the retail price.

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With our purchases stored away in our hotel room we had some time to enjoy before our 8:00 dinner reservation so we headed out to the patio at Table Food and Drink which is the restaurant attached to the Coast Hotel. Here we enjoyed basking in the sun taking in the beauty of our surroundings and enjoyed another glass of wine and a delicious charcuterie board.

From the Coast hotel it was just a short walk through Canmore to main street where we had decided on the $40 fixe price menu at Murrieta’s Bar and Grill. The dinner had several choices including a choice of appetizer, several main dishes and a choice of desserts. We started our dinner with the cherry coke cocktail and enjoyed a perfectly seasoned and cooked dinner that included crab cakes with a smoky spicy sauce, Brome Lake Duck breast with pomegranate gastrique, braised lamb shank with red wine and cherry jus and for dessert Callebaut chocolate mousse and banana crepes with salted caramel sauce. Overall the dinner was amazing and we would recommend visiting there if you are in the area.

To finish off our Canmore Uncorked weekend we attended the Big Brunch event sponsored by Avenue Magazine. Tickets were $35 each and the event was billed as allowing you to try brunch dishes made by several of Canmore’s favourite brunch spots. Each person was given 8 tickets that would allow you to try at least one sample from each of the 8 stations. We tasted ribs from Iron Goat Pub and Grill, french toast with orange and candied pecans from the Georgetown Pub, chorizo hash in potato skins with fresh salsa and guacamole from Habitat, scrambled eggs with bacon from Table Food and Drink and an amazing breakfast samosa with sweet chutney and curried chicken skewers from Mad Dog Cafe.  And of course for dessert we had amazing cupcakes from Kake Canmore.

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With our bellies full we turned in our stamped passports with hopes of winning the grand prize of 15 gift cards to various restaurants in Canmore and reluctantly headed home. Canmore has an amazing and diverse food scene that I would encourage everyone to explore in the beauty of the rocky mountains. We are looking forward to heading back soon and are thankful to Canmore Uncorked for the chance to see just what Canmore has to offer. Keep your eyes out for next years festival and make the time to head west and participate in this amazing event.

Small Space Big View

In the beautiful mountain town of Canmore, down along main street there is an unassuming looking 1960’s era double decker bus that sits on a lot nestled between shops. From the outside you would never guess the amazing culinary delights that await you within.

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We found this gem when we were exploring the web site for Canmore Uncorked which is a week long food and drink festival that highlights many of the best restaurants in Canmore. On the website for Canmore Uncorked the dinner at PD3 Blake was described as a unique dinning experience so we were intrigued from the start.

PD3 Blake is a food truck by day and a casual fine dining experience by night. This very cool modified bus hosts the kitchen and walk up food window on the main floor but follow the narrow spiral staircase upstairs and you find a charming and romantic mini dining room that seats an intimate 16 diners per seating.

This tiny space has been well imagined and they have found several ingenious ways to save space. Take for instance the wine glasses that also double as the beer glass, cocktail glass and flip it over and you have a martini glass. Although small, the clear chairs and open sprawling view of the mountains make the space feel spacious and inviting.

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Our dinner tonight was a  five course $79 prix fixe dinner that included a glass of Prosecco when you arrive.  Expecting a set chefs menu we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of choices we were given. The first course and  fifth course dessert were set selections however for each other course there were several choices.

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Enjoying the view with our bottle of wine and our menu decisions made, amazing smells started wafting up the stairway and filling the dinning room which set our tastebuds flowing.

Course one was described as Local Miners Coal and the Olive and the Peanut. The coal was actually an onion coal milk bun which had an amazing flavour that had our mouths watering and the conversation buzzing about what might be coming next.  Accompanying the coal was a bowl of green olives and spanish peanuts with smoked paprika. This combination will be a new must at any home gathering where we put out olives!

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For course two we each picked a separate dish. The Ricotta Burrata with peas and mint and the Leche De Tigre which was actually a “ceviche” with hearts of palm and macadamia nut milk. This course was wonderfully fresh and flavourful with just the right amount of spice.

Third course consisted of Snob Toast described as prawn, foie and caviar and the Pork Belly Is A Candy dish with egg yolk and curried pop.  The dishes both surprised us when they arrived as the chef here has an amazing ability to take the ingredients that you think you know and change them to increase the flavour of every bite.

For course four we chose the PD3 (which seemed like the smartest choice considering where we were) which was a dish of pork done 3 ways including tenderloin, saigon pork belly and wild boar pate. Our other choice for this course was the Fat Scallop with shrimp grits, corn and smoke. This course was not only a feast for our tastebuds but a joy for our eyes especially when the scallop arrived and was presented in a smoke dome.

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Finally the fifth course was dessert. Burnt Toast which was a plate with ice cream, raspberry jam, sweet butter and toast. Who would have ever thought that ice cream on toast would make a wonderful dessert! The perfect sweet ending to this amazing dinner.

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The chef and his team here at PD3 Blake have a great passion that shows through in the meals that they produce, the environment they work in and the service they provide. I would highly recommend that if you are in Canmore or are planning a trip to the area, that you check out their web site and make a reservation for dinner and experience this amazing small space with the big view and amazing food.

If you are planning on attending your first tasting menu here are a few notes to keep in mind.

The portions may look small but if you savour each bite and let the amazing tastes and flavours envelop you, at the end of the meal your belly will be happily satisfied. Now the hard part, to somehow silence the voice in your head that is telling you that there is no way you have had enough to eat. Fight the voice and enjoy your tasting experience.

When you are eating your way through a tasting menu make sure to get a bit of everything from the plate on your fork for each bite. You will be amazed at how one item on the plate may not be amazing on its own but matched with everything else the flavours will all enhance each other and make your tastebuds dance.

If you have the chance take a look at Canmore Uncorked, take a drive into the mountains and enjoy a day, days or weekend exploring the culinary scene and all that Canmore has to offer. It’s not just the views that will amaze you!

Discovering culinary experiences big and small, I am Your Everyday Foodie.

 

 

 

 

Culinary Treasure Hunt

This weekend we participated in Culinaire Magazines second annual Treasure hunt. Set up as a race across Calgary to various foodie locations that included restaurants, culinary shops and liquor stores. The race portion meant that the teams had a set amount of time to visit the locations, complete your tasks and get back to the finish line with a full race passport. The treasure hunt portion had us collecting all sorts of swag from each location to take home.

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Early morning at the market, ready to go!

 

Going all in we decided to dress in our best steampunk apparel and named our team the Culinairy Cogs. Arriving at the starting line of the Calgary Farmers market the teams were registered, handed a passport and a clue list of 30 possible locations to figure out. Here’s where the competition really began. Teams huddled in at their tables with their coffee and tablets or phones in hand and started figuring their way through the clue list. With only one hour to solve your clues and start planning your route through the city the game was afoot.

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Ready at the starting line!

At 10:00am the race was on. The list was as vast as the city is big with locations in almost every quadrant. We started with the few locations that we thought were there at the Calgary Farmers market and soon discovered that not all of our clue guesses were correct! Not deterred we continued on and headed out into the city.

One of our first stops was a visit to Oyster Tribe, a supplier to many of the big locations in the city we learned to shuck oysters. As a reward for shucking our oysters perfectly the first time we each received our own shucking knife to take home. Now that we had an idea of what we were in for our excitement level amped up to full.

A few more stops along the way and we were headed into the core of the city to mark off a few more locations. Here we visited a few of Calgary’s best restaurants and completed a blind tasting of bourbon and scotch at One18Empire and had some amazing lamb meatballs at Murietta’s.

Heading north of the river some of the locations we visited had us filling Cannoli at SCOPA, and sorting steaks at Modern Steak.

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As we continued through the day we sorted wines based on their taste descriptions, hand painted truffles at Hotel Arts,  learned how to properly froth a shaving brush at Kent of Inglewood, shucked more oysters and had many delicious food samples.

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Our journey through the core, the beltline and Inglewood complete and with what we thought were quite a few stamps in our passport we decided to head south from the core. Along the Mcleod Trail corridor we dressed as Gauchos at Gaucho Brazillian BBQ, sorted cheese by taste at the Itallian Centre Shop, explored and visited 5 locations at the Market on McLeod, sorted through cheeses at Springbank Cheese, cut pasta at Soffritto Oil & Vinegar Bar in the deep south and played dress up at The Selkirk Grille in Heritage Park.

With time almost up we headed for the finish line at the Crossroads market. We were happy at 4:30pm to turn in our passport with 24 out of the 30 locations visited, put up our feet and enjoy some treats provided by some of the vendors at the market.

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Feet up at the finish line

At the end of the day everyone that participated was a winner. There were enough prizes that every team was able to receive one even after the big winners prizes were handed out. Just taking home all of the experiences, finding so many new locations that we didn’t know about and all of the swag that we brought home made this a great experience.

At $50 plus tax for an entire day of adventure for a team of two people, I would recommend watching for this race to happen again next year. Get your data plan ready to search out the clues around the city, fill your gas tank and take a really big bag along to collect all of the swag. Get together a team of two or put together several sets of people to make a larger team and enjoy the hunt!

Hunting here there and everywhere, I am Your Everyday Foodie.

 

Taste Around Town

The sun was shining, the temperatures were warm and the setting was beautiful. The perfect night to head west of the city and attend The Taste of Bragg Creek.

This year the event ran a little different than normal. Usually held in the Bragg Creek community centre as a one stop sampling event, this year due to a problem with the centre the event was turned into a mini walking tour of the town. Upon arrival you were handed a map that showed the locations of the participating vendors along with what they were sampling and you were on your way.

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We started off the evening at the Wild Texan BBQ Company with samples of pulled pork sliders with cole slaw and smoked BBQ ribs with potato salad. Tonight the samples were matched up with two different beer samples from Wild Rose brewery. A tasty way to start, this BBQ joint has been open for just over a year and is run by a great local husband and wife team who used to have booths at several Edmonton area farmers markets and sold out of their product weekly. I would confidently recommend visiting this resturant for a bite of BBQ as their samples made our mouths water and their homade sauce is finger licking sticky and well with the short drive.

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From there we headed down the plaza to Creekers Bistro. Tonight you could sample a red Grenache wine or a white Chardonay wine along with crab cakes and Turkey tacos. As the weather was so nice we found a great little spot on the patio and enjoyed the most amazing and flavourful Turkey taco we have ever tasted and a great fresh crab cake. After sampling the wares here we have decided that we will also be returning here for a full meal, especially after seeing that they have $4 Tuesday taco nights.

A short walk to the next shopping plaza and we found Roast Coffee & Tea Company sampling their delicious pour over coffee. The owners of this little roastary and coffe house are wonderful and although they were busy they made the time to chat with us and teach us the do’s and dont’s of coffee. Located in west Bragg Creek, I would recommend a visit as they roast all of their own coffee beans and also provide a free delivery service once you have chosen your favorite bean.

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Continuing on we found Mountain Bistro and Pizzeria where they were sampling a Margherita pizza and Garlic sticks. With a root beer to wash everything down with we settled in on their patio. The Margherita pizza was full of fresh flavours and their crust is the perfect crispy crunchy delight. The real star here however were the garlic sticks. Smothered in garlic, bacon, cheese and the most surprising sweet sauce! We even returned at the end of the night to order a full order of the garlic sticks with the sweet and mysterious east coast sauce to take home. Providing great pizza in a beautiful location I would recommend a stop here anytime.

Having made our way around the plaza and tasting many samples that included everything from liquor samples to sausage, cheese and pickles we decided to take a stroll through town to the Bavarian Inn. Here you could sample several wines, a duo of seared scallops with kale salad and a Portuguese sausage with spicy aioli or a sample plate of desserts with traditional Black Forest cake, mini apple strudel and an orange Portuguese flan. This is a resturant that we can’t wait to come back to and try a full meal.

This was a great event overall, we really enjoyed the chance to walk around the hamlet and explore all of the resturants and shops. With the beautiful weather it was fairly busy and there were small lineups at several of the locations however the lines did move fairly quickly. The one dissapointment of the evening was that we were not able to taste the samplings at the Italian Farm House as the resturant was full and had a waiting lineup each time we stopped in.

I would recommend that everyone take the short drive west and discover some of the gems located in the beautiful hamlet of Bragg Creek!

Discovering resturant gems everywhere, I am Your Everyday Foodie.