Dinner Unplugged

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.

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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.

 

Japanese Pub Experience

Here in land locked Alberta most everyones idea of Japanese food consists of Sushi or Edo but if you look around a little and are willing to open yourself up to a new experience you can find an amazing little spot located along the very popular 4th street in Calgary that goes by the name of Shokunin.

Shokunin loosely translated to english means craftsman and here in this well put together but small restaurant you will truly find a craftsman in Chef Darren Maclean. He is bringing together a fabulously unique Japanese pub experience with adventurous, delicious sharing dishes and drinks. Everything in this great space has been well thought out from the modern decor with a hit of Japanese art to the dishes that the chef spent days with a local artisan searching out just the right clays and glazes for. At first glance the menu is a little intimidating using many traditions japanese words and descriptors so we thought that our best chance at checking things out would be to try the Omakase, a 5 course chefs menu ($65) that highlights the best of what they do here.

We picked seats at the “chefs bar” with nothing but a clear piece of glass between us and the authentic japanese grill (where they cook most everything over a Japanese White Oak that the chef brings in directly from japan)

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and where we could watch the chef and his team do their magic.

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Our first course was a beautiful Hamachi nigri with fresh wasabi. The hamachi (the fattiest part of the tuna belly) was thinly sliced and then lightly seared with a torch just to bring out the fat and flavour. I loved seeing the fresh wasabi as I have only seen the processed version and this is the only place in Calgary that you will find the fresh real thing. It is similar looking to a ginger root however it is green and much much harder according to the chef who was wonderful enough to listen to our chatter and answer all of our questions. The wasabi was fresh ground on a wooden board and added to the top of our hamachi. This was a delicious one bite starter. The hamachi melted in my mouth and the fresh wasabi was the perfect amount of freshness and spice combined. It even disappeared before I was able to grab a snap shot of it!

Our next course was a Duck Tataki with foie snow. Thinly sliced cured duck with an amazing vinaigrette. The care of spice and “umami” that is added to the dish had us both wanting to lick the plates at the end.

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Our third course was the special of the day, local asparagus tempura with kimzu (a beautiful egg based sauce that is created similarly to a buerre blanc sauce with egg yolks and japanese vinaigrette instead of butter) and sautéed chantrelle mushrooms. The tempura was light and crisp and I really loved the sharpness that the vinaigrette added to the sauce.

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Now it was time to head on to the Yakatori. Yakatori consists of a variety of skewered items cooked on the grill with different seasonings and sauces. Along with the skewers came a side bowl of rice, a selection of house japanese style pickled accompaniments including carrot and egg plant and a soy egg dip (the egg yolk is added whole to the soy and spices and when you are ready, you mix it together to form a delicious creamy dip for your Yakatori).

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We enjoyed the shiitaki mushroom that had a great savoury and smoky flavour from the grill and spices,

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the chicken hearts (which were very flavourful and much like perfectly cooked beef),

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chicken tail (also known as the popes nose or the chicken butt as I like to call it) they were wonderfully crispy and juicy,

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and the chicken thigh with a teriyaki sauce.

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Our dinner ended with a dessert of miso and yuzu creme brûlée. The addition of the miso to the dessert was excellent, it made the dessert less sweet and added a nice savoury quality to it that both of us really enjoyed. The sugar on top was perfectly browned and crisp and was the perfect way to  end this great dinner adventure.

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With so much more on the menu to discover we couldn’t resist trying several of the craft cocktails including one served in a smoked sphere and several of the sakes that are served at the restaurant (many of which are exclusive to Shokunin). You can even add the Sake pairings to your chefs menu dinner for $40.

We also couldn’t resist getting one more of the specialties and ordered the Scallop Isoyaki. A large bay scallop grilled directly in its shell with soy and butter then topped with bonito flakes (dried, cured and paper thin slices of tuna) which is then presented at your table on its own mini grill. This was an amazing treat, sweet and salty with a bit of smoke from the grill. Similar to but so much better than a scallop and bacon dish!

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Overall I would highly recommend that you adventure out of your comfort zone and try everything on the menu here. If you don’t know what the menu means don’t be afraid to ask or be intimidated as Chef Darren has created an environment that is open, inviting and completely unpretentious. Wander in and belly up to the bar  or cozy into a table for an amazing Japanese pub experience!

Enjoying a little corner of Japan in the city, I am Your Everyday Foodie!

 

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.