Will Volunteer for Food

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!

 

 

A PERi-PERi Adventure

Everyone has a favourite chicken joint be it take out or dine in, fried, baked, rotisserie, BBQ, smoked….the options go on and on.

The other day we were invited to attend the pre-opening, sneak-peek of a restaurant that is not only fairly new to many in Calgary, but was opening a brand new location on the famed 17th Avenue this weekend. I had heard of Nando’s in passing and had even come across the one location in the NE end of the city recently but since I didn’t know a lot about it I passed on by.

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As I now know, Nando’s is a mix of a take out and eat in, partial table service restaurant that offers a unique blend of african spices mixed with Portuguese style open flame grilling. Having originally started in South Africa in 1987 they now have over 1200 locations through out the world. Peri-Peri means African Bird’s Eye Chili which is the exact thing that gives Nando’s its special flavour. After sourcing their authentic Peri-Peri chili’s, Nando’s now has a breed of the chili that is specifically theirs (which is why they spell theirs PERi-PERi instead of the traditional way) and they continue to support its sustainable growth and harvest in South Africa. The chicken is marinated for a minimum of 24 hours then grilled to perfection over open flame with your choice of spicy heat creating a unique Afro-Portugese flavour.

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As we arrived, the line up of invited guests gathering on the street and the live DJ on the small patio pumping out the tunes was inviting a lot of buzz and attention. As soon as you enter you can see that this location will be a star on the famous 17th avenue strip. From the beautiful artwork above the bar commissioned and completed by a South African artist (as is all of the art in the Nando’s locations)

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to the clean lines, great lighting and open patio.

We snagged a table and were introduced to the PERi-PERi experience by one of the staff.

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We explored the sauce bar (an amazing selection of sauces of varying heats that you can take to your table to add any sort of spice you like),

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the futuristic looking pop machine that has a choice of over 100 drinks to choose from and the rest of the restaurant that includes an upstairs seating section and a hand washing station right in the main dining room to avoid any possible accidental spicy eye rubbing incidents!

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Shortly there after, with a glass of sangria in hand (by they way they have sangria on tap, we were already off to a great start) the food started to arrive.

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We had hummus with PERi-PERi drizzle and roasted red pepper dip with pita slices,

 

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marinated mixed olives and PERi-PERi nuts,

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Portugese garlic bread (that I could eat order after order of), and PERi-PERi sliders which were amazing with a sweet tasting sauce that mixed great with a bit of the spicy sauce.

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All of that was followed with PERi-PERi fries (with a spicy salt and aioli), chicken skewers

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and finally the amazing chicken. The chicken lived up to every thing we had expected and more. Perfectly grilled it was the juiciest and most flavourful chicken we have had anywhere.

With just a little room left we indulged in dessert, a Natas which is a Portuguese custard tart. The pastry was amazing, crunchy and chewy and the filling was thick, creamy and not too sweet. It held up beautifully to being eaten by hand and I had to give my husband the stink eye to keep him away from mine.

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Overall I think that we have found a new favourite chicken joint. Not only is it a healthier grilled version instead of fried but we can’t wait to try the multitude of spices and flavours from mild to super spicy that you can add to any chicken. A quick look at the menu shows prices that will be hard to beat anywhere else and we are already planning our next trip back. If you have a Nando’s in your city and you have been avoiding it because you were not sure what it was I highly suggest you visit soon!

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Exploring a new addiction to PERi-PERi, I am Your Everyday Foodie!

Just a note, although we were invited to attend this event all comments and reviews are my own and have not been solicited.

 

 

Foodie Fridays

Calgary is a city that despite the short season, is ingrained in the sport of Golf. Almost every community has a golf course in it or near by.From city run public courses to community private courses and everything in between the options are vast.

Located on the southern outskirts of Calgary just off of Dunbow Road in DeWinton is the beautiful gem of Heritage Pointe.

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Heritage Pointe is a quiet lake community and nestled in the centre is the Heritage Point Golf Club. An amazing golf course that offers 27 beautiful and scenic holes one of which was included in the Calgary Heralds Best Calgary Golf holes list. Not only is this course some of the best public golfing but also has one of the best restaurants that should be on any foodies destination list.

Here Executive chef Heather Clark and the team in the clubhouse restaurant has put together a variety of dining experiences that is beyond compare.  The regular menu boasts everything from Tuna Poke Tostadas and Beer & BBQ Duck wings to the Exotic Elk burger and traditional Fish and Chips.

My favourite thing about Heritage Pointe however is the multitude of special foodie nights and events that they hold over the year. Here you can enjoy everything from a romantic multi-course valentine dinner by the fireplace to a family Christmas Brunch. Beyond the amazing choices and events is the fact that you do not have to be a member to either golf or indulge in everything they have to offer.

Tonight we enjoyed the Foodie Friday, Wine Night Out event. A a three course menu selection for $35 per person and accompanied by $20 bottles of wine. There was a great selection from 6 bottles of white or 6 bottle of red wine to choose to accompany our dinner.

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For our appetizer there was a choice of Bison Carpaccio with fried capers and  Dijon balsamic drizzle or a Lobster Bisque with avocado herb creme fresh. We both ordered the Bison which came not only beautifully presented but wonderfully balanced. The fried capers provided just the right amount of umami to the smoked dried bison.

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Luckily we somehow also managed to steal a bowl of the lobster bisque. This was a soup that I would pay for by the bucket full. Even without the chunks of lobster the broth was rich and creamy, so full of lobster flavour that I was wondering if there might be lobsters swimming around somewhere in the bottom of a big pot in the kitchen with chef Heather singing to them (alla Cinderella). My brain cant think out any other way to coax out such full rich lobster flavour in a broth than that.

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For the main course there was a choice of Grilled Lamb Sirloin or Chicken Supreme. Although a tough choice with our bottle of red wine both of us fell into the trap of the grilled lamb with Alberta wild mushroom ragu, sweet potato puree and baby bock choy. We were presented with a huge portion of grilled lamb that was perfectly cooked to medium rare and paired with the wild mushroom ragu it made for a very quiet main course as we savoured every bite.

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Finally for dessert we were presented with a choice of a house made chocolate plate with truffles and a jalapeño peanut brittle

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or a summer fruit topped bread pudding finished with a salted caramel sauce.

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Not only is the food at Heritage Pointe amazing and the scenery is beautiful but the service is attentive over and above. I highly recommend you head out to any of their foodie nights, for under a hundred dollars including a bottle of wine and taxes we enjoyed an amazing night out.

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View from the patio

Every Friday through the summer is pasta night but coming up on September 16 is their Street Food Junkie night where for an amazing night you can sample an all you can eat selection of fresh made street foods from around the world. We cant wait to head back for that and will be making our reservations soon.

Looking forward to many foodie experiences in a beautiful setting, I am Your Everyday Foodie.

 

Smoking -101.4, Ribs

Ribs….the golden standard of grill masters everywhere and the word that makes the mouths of most BBQ fans water. I couldn’t wait to try them out so as our next smoking adventure I loaded up.

I purchased a package of pork ribs with memphis season already on them from Costco. The package was about $27 and had what looked like 2 large racks of ribs in it. I purchased the pre-seasoned ribs as it was already half way through the day and I thought this would speed up the process.

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This time we switched over to maple wood pellets. According to the package they are good for smoking pork and beef and should impart a sweeter smoky flavour.  I should also mention here that the the smoker we have comes with a convenient door at the back of the pellet hopper that opens up so you can change out the wood pellets with ease.

I picked a recipe from the Traeger site for competition ribs as it looked pretty simple. Since I had the pre-seasoned ribs,  I skipped over the rib preparation and seasoning portion and moved right to the cooking. The recipe says to smoke (on the smoke setting) the ribs for 2 hours so on they went.

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(again I noticed that the smoke setting seemed to be running high at 220 degrees so I called the Taeger help line through their 1-800 number to get some advice. They were very helpful and were able to walk me through the steps to lower the factory settings so that we could smoke at a lower temperature.)

After the two hours on smoke the next step was to remove them from the grill,

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sprinkle with dark brown sugar, butter and honey then wrap tightly in tin foil and return to the smoker at a higher setting of 225 degrees for another 2 hours meat side down.

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After a painstaking 4 hours Cook time we were almost there! I took the ribs out of their juice filled foil and put them directly on the grill to start the saucing.

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They do provide many options for sauces but I just grabbed a bottle of one of our favourites from the pantry and forged ahead. The recipe suggests this final grilling takes anywhere between 20 minutes and one hour depending on how tender your ribs are when they come out of the foil. Our ribs were fairly tender so I grilled them for another half an hour basting generously in sauce before taking them off.

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At this point I have to admit that it was pretty much impossible not to steal a bit of the crispy edge off for a taste but try to hold off and Leave them to rest for 15 minutes. This lets them rest the juices back into the meat and firm them up enough to cut. Finally we happily and greedily dug in!

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I have to say that these were by far the best ribs I have ever had. They were tender enough that you could easily bite through them and they would pull right off the bone with a great smoky flavour. Overall they were tender and juicy, sweet and sticky the perfect rib. Even the leftovers the next day served cold were moist and delicious.

A little in love with home smoked ribs, I am Your Everyday Foodie.

 

Sip ‘N Slurp

Oysters…there are a few different thought processes on them, you have tried them and love them, you have tried them and hate them or they are too slimy and scary to try so you have never tried them. I am from thought process number one, I have tried them in many different ways and love them.

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Now that we have tried Oysters in all their glory came the trouble of what do you pair with oysters for drinks. Beer? Cocktails? Wine? With those questions rattling around in our heads we came across the perfect solution, an Oyster and Wine pairings event held by Co-op Wine and Spirits in conjunction with Rodneys Oyster House. Here is what we learned in this glorious evening of sipping and slurping….

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Oysters, oysters, oysters, there are so many varieties and types! Every oyster looks a bit different from the outside and although they look very similar inside each oyster has its own texture and flavour. Tonight we were eating our oysters raw with just a bit of fresh lemon and fresh grated horse radish to pick up the true taste of the oysters. After learning a bit about oysters our first lesson of the night was how to taste the wine with the oyster. First sip the juice known as the “liquor” then take a sip of your wine, from there go ahead and slurp down the oyster and make sure to follow it up with more wine! Something to note is that if you are using sauces for your oysters you should pair your wines to the sauces instead of the oyster.

When having or serving oysters and you are not sure what to have, go with a bubbly. As with most things you can never go wrong opening a bottle of bubbly and tonight we matched beautiful real Champagne with the beautiful small and delicate “Savage Blonde” oyster. We had the Pol Roger Champagne Brut which was just sweet enough to cut through brine of the oyster. This was a pairing I would go back to again and again!

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Next we tried a bit of a bigger meatier oyster. The Duxbury Prime oyster was a little meatier than our first oyster and paired beautifully with the Chateau St. Michelle Reisling.

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Our next oyster was the cadillac of oysters. Considered the steak of oysters the Cotuit oyster really was big and meaty with a bit of a mushroom taste and a much stronger brine taste to it. Wonderfully delicious, it paired excellently with the J. Moreau Et Fils Chablis (a great white wine made with Chardonnay grapes but completely unoaked). The fresh citrus base of this wine was a perfect accompaniment to this meaty beast of an oyster. With this wine pairing we also had the Lameque Verte oyster, still a meaty selection but the brine was much less salty and had a bit of a sweeter end that again matched perfectly with the Chablis.

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Our only Pacific coast oyster of the night was the Fanny Bay oyster. A special treat due to the breeding issues that BC coast oysters are having. This can be a two bite oyster depending on which one you get. Another big meaty oyster but with a sweet taste it was one of the favourites of the night. It paired excellently with the big and bold Jolivet “Attitude” Saviognon Blanc.

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Through the night we also paired a Village Bay oyster with a dry Sherry, the biggest shrimp cocktail I have ever seen with a dry rosè “Fragile” by Orin Swift and finished off the night with a great smoked salmon and cream cheese pancake matched up with a 50th Parallel Pinot Noir.  (Somehow those managed to get eaten before I could snap any pictures!)

The overall learnings for us were that there are more Oyster varieties than you can ever imagine and they cover everything from light and delicate to big and meaty. Fresh grated horse radish is not near as sharp or spicy as its processed counterpart, try is out and you might find that you enjoy the light peppery flavour! When you are pairing a wine to these look to pair acid with acid, pick fresh whites with a citrus base to cut the brine and bring up the sweetness. If you are using sauces, pair to the sauces and if you are using a hot sauce stick to a sweeter wine to cut the heat. Overall this was a great night of fun and education for us and we are looking forward to a lot of shucking in our future!

Learning the art of sipping and slurping, 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.