Pizza Week is upon us here in Calgary, ten days that will make any pizza lovers heart dance with joy. When it comes to pizza the options are endless and whether you are a pizza “traditionalist” or a pizza “adventurist” there is something for everyone. There are entries in thick crust, think crust, gluten free and even a unique category.
Put together by Calgary foodie Wanda Baker, YYC Pizza Week gives Calgary restaurants a chance to stretch their pizza making muscles while supporting an amazing Calgary charity Meals on Wheels. Now in its fourth year, Pizza Week has raised more than $28,000.00 for charity and boasts over 8,700 pizzas being served.
The Calabrese Cowboy from Pulcinella
The Great Plains Bison Pizza from Trolly 5
This year over 40 local Calgary restaurants have entered and the offerings prove that pizza really is the most versatile food category there is. There are pizzas with a lot of heat or a lot of sweet, pizzas with eggs and pizzas with broccoli. With the unique entries there are pizzas shaped like waffles and pizza stuffed burgers that use mini pizzas for the buns. Seems like the gangs all here!
Kendall’s All Day Breaky Pizza from Browns Social House
The Frutti Di Mare from PZA Parlour
Pepperoni Pizza Waffles from Roosevelt
As an additional bit of fun there is even a bloggers pizza challenge where local bloggers are given a set of mystery ingredients sponsored by local shops and are challenged to put together a competitive pizza recipe for the public to vote on. Although I was not brave enough to participate in that this year you can check out the entries here.
The Manzer Pie from Posto Pizzeria
The Pulled Pork Pizza from Windsor Pizza Co.
With so many options and over 40 to try I appreciate the fact that it is the fall season and stretchy pants are back in style as I head out to explore more of my cities amazing restaurants and decide ….. does a taco shell filled with pizza ingredients really count as a pizza? The jury may still be out on that but I plan to find out!
Exploring pizzas of every shape and kind while supporting charity, I am Your Everyday Foodie!
Stampede is upon us here in Calgary, 10 days of everything western that takes over pretty much every aspect of the city. Along with all of this western hospitality comes food, from pancakes to beef right through everything fried, you can find food everywhere all day long. Tonight we had the pinnacle western dinner centred around our famous Alberta Beef.
Modern Steak is just as it sounds, a beautifully appointed modern steak house located just out of downtown that is well known for its use of ranch specific Alberta beef. If you are a beef lover you will most likely know that 28 days is the typical minimum aging process to provide that flavourful tender steak we all love. Now take that number and multiply it by 5 and thats what we had last night.
In a collaboration with Jack Daniels, Modern Steak threw down the gauntlet and hosted a 150 day Jack Daniels aged beef dinner and yes it is exactly like it sounds. They took their prime Tomahawk steak and instead of a straight dry age they wrapped it in cheese cloth and soaked it each day in Jack Daniels. This process not only reduced the average 2% loss from dry aging beef to 1% but infused and tenderized the meat like nothing else you have ever tasted and this is only the second time it has ever been offered up!
Our four course dinner was accompanied not by wine pairings as you may assume but amazing Jack Daniels cocktails that were created and matched to each course by the head bartender at Modern Steak. I am not normally a Jack Daniels drinker but admit that I was pleasantly surprised by our welcome drink the “Jack Palmer”, Jack Daniels with peach schnapps, thyme green tea and lemon was fresh and summery and would be the perfect summer deck drink .
The first offering of our four course dinner was the ever popular (and for good reason) Modern Tartar and house made chips paired with the “JD Tea”. Yet another refreshing cocktail pitting JD with honey ginger infused earl grey, lemon and lavender bitters. While each was excellent separately, paired together it was an amazing combination. I would have never thought to pair cocktails with dinner!
The “JD Tea” cocktail
First course, Modern Tartar
Our second course paired the “Honey and Smoke” cocktail with a beautiful mushroom risotto braised beef rillete. A rillete is meat that is cooked similarly to a pate but in this case was offered up as a pulled beef that combined perfectly into the mushroom risotto. The real surprise in this course however was the cocktail that contained liquid smoke. If you have ever used liquid smoke you know that it can very quickly go from a nice additive to turning everything into tasting like you have licked the BBQ grill. Once again the bartender at Modern Steak hit the nail on the head with this cocktail, it was sweet and smoky and surprisingly smooth considering it contained both JD Tennessee Honey and Ardbeg Scotch! This combo garnered many smiles around the table and many of us were wondering how to get our hands on another one.
“Smoke and Honey” Cocktail
Mushroom risotto braised beef rillete
Finally the third course and the one we have all been waiting for! Here we were presented with a Tomahawk selection of 40, 60 and 150 day Jack Daniel aged beef paired with the “JDOF” cocktail. Although not my favourite cocktail of the night as it had a bit of that traditional JD burn that most of us are familiar with, it held up beautifully to the aged beef and brought out the flavour that all of the “barrel dipping” gave to the beef. Now the beef, the 40 day aged was tender and flavourful and for me really had the biggest flavour from the Jack Daniels. The 60 day aged almost melted in your mouth but that 150 day aged beef was the star. Here is where the full and authentic flavour of beef hits you right where your tastebuds matter. It melted in your mouth but with a flavour so big and bold that it made all of the time, effort and planning well worth every hour of care that is put into this 6 month process.
The “JDOF” cocktail
Tomahawk selection of 40, 60 & 150 day Jack Daniels Aged beef
Finally we ended the night with a Rhubarb and Fennel Tart paired with the “7th Place” cocktail made with Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, chilled espresso and vanilla. This was the prefect end to the night of rich flavourful beef dishes. Light and sweet with an absolutely amazing tart crust that I’m pretty sure I would fill with anything and love matched with the perfectly balanced dessert cocktail that would land much closer than 7th place in my rankings.
The “7th Place” cocktail
Rhubarb and Fennel Tart
After all is said and done I would highly recommend that if you get a chance to try out a once in a lifetime event like this to do it. Take the chance on cocktails you might not love and you might find a new favourite (I admit I may be a Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey convert) and get in on the amazing extra long aged beef (even if it may forever change your beef tastebuds) you wont regret it!
Stampeding my way through amazing food events I am Your Everyday Foodie!
There are 7 days every year here in Calgary when you can indulge in your poutine passion guilt free! This year from April 21st through April 29th everyone is encouraged to explore their inner poutine lover and with over 60 poutines available from participating restaurants across the city there is sure to be something for everyone.
What you may wonder, makes the poutines eaten over this 7 days guilt free? Well it is officially Poutine Week where every participating poutine sold provides a meal to the amazing charity Mealshare. So its pretty easy, you eat a poutine and provide a meal for a local youth in need. Let the poutine indulging commence!
As an official “Poutine Pusher” this year I committed to sampling the poutines from a minimum of 5 participating restaurants and here are the delicious results!
My first stop was at The Guild right off of Steven Avenue mall downtown. A meat-centric restaurant with 6 poutine offerings I gathered up a small team to take with me so we could try all 6!
We started with the Maple Brisket poutine,
this poutine was loaded with a sweet pull apart brisket, a ton of melty gooey cheese curds and amazing chicken gravy with a nice topping of “crunchy stuff” which is fried shallots & onion that made for the perfect textural addition. The perfect amount of sweet and savoury and loaded with meat I would say this is the perfect man poutine big and hearty!
Next up the Smoked Duck Kimchi poutine,
not only was this a beautiful plate to look at but the flavour was amazing. The fries were sauced enough and the cheese curds melted so perfectly that even without the traditional gravy this plate easily passes for a poutine. The maple gochujang sauce added that hit of sweet so that when you got a crunch of the spicy homemade kimchi your mouth danced with joy. This one was one of my favourites as it seemed a bit lighter than the traditional Poutine but packed full of flavour. Even the spice-phobic in our group enjoyed this one!
Onto the next offering of Chili-glazed Pork Belly poutine,
it was such a pleasant surprise to see all of the vegetables on this poutine. Even with all the beautiful arugula, tomatoes and radishes this easily passed for poutine smothered in an amazing chili caramel that made it sweet and savoury right down to the last plate lick. This poutine is a definite recommendation and would please anyone on the group looking for a lighter poutine option.
Going right outside the traditional poutine box, next up was the Onion Bhaji poutine,
beautiful onion chickpea fritters adorn this flavourful vegetarian option. The coconut curry sauce was luscious and fresh and when melded with the melty cheese curds made the perfect pair. The addition of house pickled red onion made for a fantastic crunchy and flavourful textural element. This is a poutine that hits you with a kick of flavour so good that you will hardly notice that its vegetarian.
Powering through with only 2 more to go we had The Frenchie poutine,
getting closer to the traditional poutine this was drenched in amazing chicken gravy and loaded with tender fall apart chicken chunks, cheese curds, house cured bacon and peas. I loved the crunch of fresh cabbage on top and the pop of peas through out provided not only texture but a bit of spring freshness. This one is on the more traditional poutine end of the scale but with a few great additions. An excellent choice if you want to try a poutine that adds a little more than just curds & gravy.
Last up of the six (and very glad of stretchy pants at this point) we had the Le Classic,
here we have the poutine purists dream, loaded with melty gooey cheese curds and drenched in flavourful chicken gravy. If you are looking for that textural crunch not to worry because there is a healthy spattering of “crunchy stuff” adorning this masterful creation!
The final word on the Poutine Week offerings from the Guild is go, gather up all your friends and head down here. the flavours are amazing, the portions are huge and well worth the $18 price tag. There is a poutine that is sure to please everyone in your group and remember this is all Poutine with Purpose and every one you buy provides a meal for someone in need!
Located in the SE edge of Calgary just off of International Avenue is Jane Bond BBQ. Tucked away in a small strip mall you will find this small but mighty southern style, home smoked BBQ joint. Trading up their well known onion ring poutine they have created a special Poutine Week offering aptly named The Dirty South,
this shareable offering is piled high with pulled pork and includes a generous spattering of dill pickle and beans n corn mix. The big star here however is the amazing smoky pig gravy that has just enough of a smoky punch to remind you where you are. Topped off with a big pile of their house made creamy slaw and a piece of fried alligator this poutine is full of flavour and textural elements that will be well remembered. Well worth the $15 price tag. Bring a friend and head on over to indulge in some Poutine With Purpose!
Modern Steak is a well known and popular steak house in Calgary where the classic steak house meets the trendy curve then excels. All of the beef in their restaurant is sourced from local Alberta farms where it is grass fed and grain finished then both wet and dry aged providing an amazing flavour and texture. This year they have three amazing Poutine Week offerings.
We started our night with the Dry Aged Short Rib poutine,
this dish really is the classic steak and frites dinner elevated and made into a poutine. This beautiful looking dish was diabolically delicious as it looked unassuming but really punched us in the taste buds. Instead of a traditional gravy, this dish is finished with a beautiful craft beer based demi then pickled mushrooms which add a fantastic texture and flavour to the overall dish. At $17 I would return again and again for this dish!
Next up was the Lobster Poutine,
everything about the fries here at Modern Steak is fantastic. They are crisp, perfectly salted and make the perfect carrying vessel for this rich and creamy poutine. The intense lobster bisque used as the “gravy” and generous chunks of lobster made me awfully glad that this is all for charity because that makes it guilt and calorie free right?
And last but in no way the least offering of the night was the “Chili” Cheese Poutine,
which is in no way shape or form your run of the mill chili-cheese fries. With a large portion of house made Wagyu bolognese and cheese curds smothered in a truffle cheese sauce this plate was everything you could ask for and more in a poutine! An elevated dish with a side of fun that at $17 is a great way to get your fix and provide a meal for someone in need.
Final thought on Modern Steak is that if you are looking for a great place to head and try a couple of fantastic poutine offerings all in one sitting head on down to Kensington and settle into a booth where the music is pumping and the poutines are amazing!
Tucked into a busy section of the popular 4th street restaurant row in a charming little place with gilded ceilings and crystal chandeliers you will find Aida’s Bistro. A long standing family run shop providing Lebanese cuisine to Calgary since 2000. I love the fact that they have stepped in to participate in Poutine Week with a couple of offerings that you won’t find anywhere else!
Offering number one is the Tajen poutine,
a beautiful vegetarian dish with crispy garlic roasted potatoes and a beautiful onion tahini infused sauce. Topped off with Halloum cheese melted to perfection this dish is a beautiful light Lebanese version of poutine.
Their second offering is a Shawarma poutine,
covered with an amazingly spiced shawarma tenderloin this dish was the hit to the tastebuds that you would expect from a Lebanese dish. Topped with tomato, onion and Halloum cheese that added the perfect amount of salt, this dish was so easy to eat that I was almost disappointed that I had to share it.
The final thought on Aida’s Bistro, if you are anywhere along the busy 4th street stretch stop in and take a break where you can watch the hectic world go by while you enjoy flavourful home made Lebanese creations. For only $8 each these poutine creations are the perfect size to be an accompanying side dish to many of the other great looking menu items here.
Spot On Kitchen and Bar located in Garrison Green (not too far from Mount Royal University) is the new sister to the popular 4th Spot Kitchen and Bar. This year they jumped into Poutine week with an amazing entry a Chicken and Waffle poutine,
with a large selection of poutines on the regular menu they pulled out all the stops for this creation. A large portion of crispy fries is drenched in a specially made (not on the regular menu) chicken bacon gravy loaded with cheese curds then topped with tender chicken crisp chunks, fresh waffle bits and maple syrup. I went in not sure how I would feel about this outside the box creation but found myself falling in love with it. The waffle pieces were crisp, tender and full of flavour that when combined with the chicken tenders and maple syrup came up the perfect sweet and savoury bite.
If you aren’t sure that you will like this one I highly suggest that you go and give it a try, not only adult friendly but kid friendly too I think this will please everyone at the table. At $15 this poutine is the perfect meal size for one or shareable appetizer for two and remember, enjoying this perfect creation is guilt free while you support Poutine week!
With all 5 restaurants under my belt and a few extras thrown in for good measure it looks like it is time to go back to some salads and hit the treadmill. Every belt notch loosened and pound gained in the name of charity was worth it and I can’t wait for next year to see all of the amazing creations that Calgary can come up with.
Indulging in the gift of stretchy pants throughout Poutine Week I am Your Everyday Foodie!
We were recently able to snag an exclusive invite to an event in town called the Secret Supper. A mysterious event that I stumbled across on the twitter feed of the inner YYC foodie scene.
If you are a foodie in Calgary you have likely come across the name Forage Foods, a great little space located in Marda Loop that provides locally sourced sustainable take home meals and baked goods with an ever rotating menu.
What you may not know is that Infuse Catering located right next door is also owned by Wade Sirois who has been operating in the catering business for 25 years.
The secret supper is a new event held by Infuse Catering and the mysterious invite comes by email with several rules but not many details. You must be willing to be adventurous with your pallet, be open to sharing a meal with strangers and the big one is to be phone and internet free for the night. This meal is meant to bring people together and remember what sharing food is really about. Trusting the chef to present you with what they do best (after all this is their passion) and enjoying a meal in the social manner in which it was meant to be.
We were presented with a long table in an intimate setting with candles and great music where we introduced ourselves to other guests and just enjoyed each others company, conversation and then of course the amazing food offerings from the chefs at Infuse. This night reminded us that every dish you are presented with has a great story behind it and that amazing collaboration of flavours we enjoy all come from someones heart and soul especially when made from farm to fork. Every dish we shared tonight was a fantastic journey of flavours and although I really want to keep it a secret the whole point to tonight was sharing so, I highly recommend any event you have that you consider an amazing local business like this.
I won’t share much more as to keep this a truly secret event but I will encourage everyone to find an event like this one. A local company that supports local vendors and encourages us to remember what breaking bread is really about.
Reminding you to get out there, be adventurous and remember to savour the moment and not the picture, I am Your Everyday Foodie.
It’s the season for treats and there’s not anything better than great flavourful and creamy chocolate. There are so many options out there but do you really know what goes into making great quality chocolate? Have you ever wondered is all chocolate made the same? Is coco powder real chocolate? Why does only some chocolate melt in your hand?
We recently had the chance to attend a chocolate making class with one of Calgary’s premier chocolatiers, the one and only Bernard Callebaut. From big business to farmers market booths Bernard has covered them all but the most striking thing about him is his love and passion for what he does.
Anything you ever wanted to know about chocolate you can learn from this master. He answered all of our questions from the beginning right to the end product.
Did you know that you will not see a forest of coco trees? They are actually most often planted near mature banana trees because they need the shade and not the sun to grow in their early years. The coco bean in its raw state is almost tasteless, and once it is dried, roasted and turned into coco nibs the taste is still almost nothing with a touch of bitterness. Once it’s pressed the nibs become the purest form of chocolate which is still not a flavour that most people would enjoy. This pure form of chocolate is referred to as the chocolate liquor and can be pressed out to separate the coco butter (yep the same thing that is fought over by the beauty companies to put in our creams) and coco powder. The content of coco butter in the finished chocolate is actually what gives it that smooth and melty texture.
Raw coco bean pods
Raw coco bean pods, raw coco nibs and pure chocolate liquor
Pure chocolate liquor and pure coco butter
Bernard’s enthusiasm is contagious and I could go on and on about everything that we learned but lets get to the tasty stuff. We tasted the chocolate in all of its forms while learning all there is to learn and trying hard not to dip our fingers into the huge vats of melted chocolate nestled on the edges of the surprisingly small but intimate work room.
Bernard’s milk chocolate
Bernard’s 70% dark chocolate
After our chocolate lesson, it was time to get our hands “dirty”, a delicious creamy chocolaty dirty. Bernard generously filled up large bowls of the melted chocolate of our choice (milk or dark) and took us through the proper process of tempering. Tempering chocolate is not actually the process of melting but the cooling down and aligning of the crystals within the chocolate before you start working with it. This process simply boils down to patience.
After the long process of tempering it was time to start filling moulds. With the hard work done, this is where the fun really kicked up. We filled moulds for solid chocolate bars then chocolate suckers and shapes from hearts to snowflakes.
Bernard shows us the ropes of filling moulds
Our finished moulded
Next Bernard demonstrated how to make filled chocolates. With the surprisingly easy three step process we all made amazing trays of Bernard’s famous salted caramel filled chocolates.
first fill the shells
then drain the shells
and fill with salted caramel
At the end of a three and a half hour night we un-moulded all of our chocolate creations and the ever generous and patient Bernard gave us boxes to take home all of our amazing creations. It has been a couple of weeks now and we are still enjoying all of those creations and talking about the amazing experience.
The finished salted caramels
Boxes of handmade by us treats to take home!
So what makes Bernards chocolates worth the extra cost? He puts love and passion into making and selling his craft chocolates (you will often find him manning the booths at the Calgary Farmers Market or one of the other many craft fairs). Each of his chocolate blends are unique since he blends all of his chocolate by hand using years of family recipes to make each blend special. All of the fillings are made from quality locally sourced ingredients and he uses coco from sustainable fair trade practices. All of that combined with his generosity is enough to make me a customer for life and makes what seems like a little bit more expensive product worth every penny. You can find Bernard’s products at Master Chocolate Bernard and Sons (now five generations) and various farmers and craft markets around Calgary.
Here are a few tips that we learned if you want to do some chocolate work at home:
Start with a high quality chocolate
Chop your solid chocolate as small as possible before melting it
Melt your chocolate in a double boiler, bring the water to a boil but take it off the heat before you put your chocolate bowl on top to melt
Don’t melt all of your solid chocolate, save some for the tempering process
Once your chocolate is melted ,check the temperature with a digital thermometer you are aiming to bring it back down to about 32 degrees celsius before you start checking to see if its tempered
Keep your melted chocolate over a pot of hot tap water (but not touching the bottom of the bowl) while you are tempering it and add in small amounts of your leftover hard chocolate a little at the time then stir till smooth to help bring the temperature down
Keep stirring! Patience and lots of it is the key ingredient now
Once you hit the right temperature start checking your chocolate by smearing a little bit on a piece of parchment paper, if it doesn’t harden within a minute or so with a consistent shine its not ready so keep going!
A properly tempered chocolate will harden quickly and have a beautiful consistent shine, it will shrink up to 9% when it cools making it easy to get out of the moulds and will have a crisp snap to it
Highly addicted to the art of chocolate making using high quality local products, I am Your Everyday Foodie!
I love smoked salmon in all of its variety and couldn’t pass up the chance to try out some of the many recipes at home.
The first recipe had an interesting twist as you created a marinade of vodka, brown sugar and salt. It said that using the vodka would takeout or neutralize some of the fishy flavour in the salmon. I did have a bit of trouble with the marinade though as it called for 1 cup vodka, 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup coarse salt. I mixed everything together but had a hard time getting everything to dissolve even after whisking for a good 15 minutes. I finally gave up and strained out the extra chunks of salt so that I could start the marinading process.
I put the fresh filet of wild salmon (bought from Costco for $15) in a large zip lock bag, poured in the marinade, gently massaged the mixture into the salmon and left it to marinate for 2 hours. With the salmon ready I heated up the smoker and put the salmon directly on the grill skin side down for its 30 minute smoke. After the initial smoke the temperature gets turned up and it happily finishes its cook for another 45 minutes.
This recipe had a nice light smoke flavour in the fish but had a bit of a boozy flavour at the thinner edges. I was hoping for a stronger smoke and a bit more sweetness but overall it was not bad for a first try. As a quick side note, I was feeling like it needed a little something to boost up the flavour so I whipped up a quick jar of home made pickled onion (I didn’t have any red onion so I used a sweet white onion that I had in the pantry). The pickled onion combined with a few capers made this a great dish that I will be making in the future for any events that we might have.
A few weeks later I also decided to try my hand at candied salmon. Again the recipe calls for a good dosing of liquor but this time it was for Gin.
Again I purchased a large fillet of wild salmon from the local Costco, I sliced it into what I though twas about 1 inch pieces as the recipe calls for 2oz chunks. Interestingly enough the recipe didn’t call for me to take the skin off so I followed along and left it on which most likely aided in keeping the salmon chunks from falling apart.
I mixed up the brine of gin, maple syrup, kosher salt, brown sugar and pepper and dropped in the salmon. It needs to soak in the brine for at least 24 hours before you start the cooking process so make sure to plan for this well in advance.
After a 24 hour soak in the brine I laid the salmon chunks out on a sheet of foil and set in on the smoker for a long slow 4 hour smoke. Something to note here is how the texture of the salmon had changed quite a bit after its overnight bath, becoming much firmer kind of like the difference between squeezing fresh bread and english muffins.
After a long 4 hour smoke on the lowest setting and using maple wood pellets I pulled the salmon off the smoker and set it to cool. I was pleasantly surprised when the chunks didn’t stick to the foil even after I had forgotten to spray it with oil.
After cooling the end product was slightly chewy with a great smoky flavour. I was surprised that it wasn’t as candied as I had hoped and it as a bit satlty but I think just a few tweaks to the brine recipe and we will be able to create exactly what we are looking for!
I will continue to try to find the perfect smoked salmon recipes so follow along in the upcoming smoking diaries!
Smoking a bit of everything, I am Your Everyday Foodie.
Have you ever wanted to attend a food event in your area but just weren’t able to find the funds for the tickets? Well in this economy that may be happening more and more so here’s a little twist that we came across the other day.
The Brewery and the Beast meat festival was coming to Calgary and had sold out but was looking for volunteers. I excitedly signed us up for a shift that ran the morning of the festival where we were able to help load in all of the vendors that were going to be participating in this amazing event.
This was a great chance to see how an event comes together as well as an opportunity to see how everything happens behind the scenes. Not only did we get to “meat” all of the chefs and their teams as they entered the site but we had an early chance to peruse all of the food offerings that were going to be presented.
With a little bit of sweat equity we bought ourselves full entry to the festival including all the food and drinks we could handle, some great relationships and even each scored a festival shirt.
I think that after this kind of behind the scenes experience I will be looking for more volunteer opportunities like this. After all, everything tastes a little better when you know you have worked off all the calories prior to enjoying all the indulgences. Your wallet will also appreciate the break!
Searching out foodie volunteer experiences everywhere, I am Your Everyday Foodie!