Going out for breakfast/brunch is really popular in Calgary and I'm definitely on board with the trend.
This past Sunday I ended up at Roni's Kitchen - a new Middle Eastern fusion breakfast/brunch pop-up that uses the Koi restaurant space solely on weekends between 9:00 am to 2:00 pm for filling patron's appetites with an all vegetarian/vegan menu that amazed our group of five friends.
I started off with a Cardamom Mud Coffee - which I was told was a traditional-style of coffee as it had murky coffee grounds which settled on the bottom of the small mason jar cup (making it "muddy") and it was flavoured with deliciously fragrant cardamom. It was a tad more bitter than I prefer so added a bit of sugar and really enjoyed it.
First from the menu - the Full-on Hummus appetizer we shared! When the dish arrived it definitely was not what I expected but something slightly different and totally delicious. With cucumber and pita to dip and scoop the hummus with we all got in to it pretty quickly and had to order more pita for the large amount of hummus served. The dip was unlike any that I'd had before where I've been use to a thicker paste consistency this was more soupy and had some whole chickpeas as well as mushrooms and small bunches of parsley as a topper that quickly was mixed in throughout. Nonetheless - it was amazing and I would certainly order it again.
For my main - I ordered the Burekas and chose the vegan option filling of almond-feta, eggplant, mint & za'tar. Also, chose the quinoa salad as the side. Un-fricken-believable. The presentation was beautiful (although my photos aren't the best at showing this... weird morning angle lighting and all) and the additional sides of house-made pickles, tahini and Schug (a Yemeni hot sauce! Whoa.) really sets this place apart from the rest of the great breakfast places this city has to offer.
Lastly, and of course, we had to have dessert... it was brunch after all and chose the feature popsicle (!) of the weekend - Apricot Nectarine. I didn't get a picture as they were again house-made and had no preservatives to slow the melting process on a warm late-Sunday morning. The only thing I would critique about these would be that the popsicle sticks be a bit longer or just not frozen in to the mixture so deeply leaving maybe an inch to hold on to while enjoying this treat which made it a bit awkward. That's the only thing I could possibly complain about... and I'd still order these again.
Seriously - if you like a variety of Middle Eastern food, going out for weekend brunch and trying something deliciously different get yourself and your friends to Roni's Kitchen as soon as you can. I suspect this may become a very popular place due to it's great menu, super friendly staff and excellent location. Can't wait to visit again and try more of the menu!
I've been jonesing for some Malaysian Laksa soup for months. The first time I tried this delicious concoction was in Vancouver last September at the Banana Leaf on Denman. For some reason it took me until last night to start my informal tour of Malaysian/Indosian restaurants in Calgary in search of the best laksa in Calgary! Turning to Zomato (formerly Urbanspoon) I found that there was a handful of local restaurants that fit the bill and the closest to me was Indonesian Kitchen on 17th Avenue SE (aka International Avenue). I read the mixed reviews and figured it was worth giving it a shot.
Ordering take-out I asked for laksa and was told that they don't have it on the menu (the Zomato listing needs to be updated...) but the young lady at the front of house said it shouldn't be a problem and would ask the kitchen if it could be made. Less than 30 seconds later another lady comes out from the kitchen asking if I liked laksa with seafood! This gets me all sorts of excited, I say yes and additionally ordered vegetable egg rolls, cassava fries and a pineapple juice. Yes - I was really hungry. Then, after just a few minutes the pineapple juice arrived and it was so fresh and delicious! I perused through the small grocery-style store front and was excited to find lots of sabal spice pastes and sauces. I will definitely be back to stock up on these!
When the order was nearly done the lady from the kitchen came out with a sample of some spiced pulled beef which was amazing as well as a sample of the laksa soup she had whipped up for me! It was not the same as I'd had in Vancouver but nonetheless amazingly tasty! She was worried that it was too spicy for me but it was completely on point and the heat would surely make whatever cold virus is currently going around my work office beat it out of my immune system!
As we got chatting I learn that the lady from the kitchen, Kartini, is not only a wizard in the kitchen but also holds cooking classes in the restaurant and just opened new location downtown near the Harry Hays building (you can bet that I'll be checking out this place soon too)! She offers yet another pre-dinner snack, cassava coated peanuts, while explaining which spice pastes to use for a variety of Indonesian dishes as well as mentioning that there is a food tour on International Avenue! However, there's a wait list for the package so I'm thinking I'll just have to create my own ;)
Finally after offering thanks and much gratitude for her knowledge and special laksa creation I head home to Netflix (High Fidelity!) and proceeded to stuff my belly to the max. I am so impressed with this little gem that I will certainly be back along with a restocking of much needed spice pastes!!
A few weeks ago, while perusing the Twittersphere, I stumbled upon a mention of a fish market in town called Billingsgate Market. What?!? There's an over 100 year old family run fish market in Calgary? How did I not know this information for the past 9 years of living here? So obviously I had to check it out as soon as possible. That day finally came yesterday and it was well worth the wait!
My lovely friend Lindy joined me for this foodie adventure and we decided to bike to their location in the Stadium Shopping Centre at the intersection of 16th Ave and 29th St NW (by the Foothills Hospital). As it turns out we were able to bike there entirely on bike lanes/paths! Very convenient for cycling folks like myself and I personally like to attempt to pre-burn the calories I'm about to intake... especially when it's deliciously deep-fried. Ha! They do not, however, have any bike racks which was easily solved by locking up on a parking lot sign post that was just outside the market.
We walked in to a much larger store front area than I expected. Billingsgate has a wide selection of frozen and fresh seafood as well as a variety of canned and packaged goods for every whim of a seafood craving anyone could possibly have. Amazing... but we were here for lunch so we tried to focus on the restaurant side of the market. Next time I'm bringing a different pannier bag that doubles as a cooler to bring home some treats from the sea though!
Both of us had pre-checked out the menu online but when the time came to order it was still tough to choose. One item that was not hard to choose was what to drink as they are licensed and carry a few options from Village Brewery! We ended up going all in and ordered a lot more food than two people should eat but justified it by biking there... that's logical, right?
First up was some candied salmon! Oh my - if you're a fan of this stuff this place is where you should be getting your fix. It's like butter with sweetness and has a fantastically soft salmon taste. Paired with the Blacksmith ale... so good!
Only a few minutes passed before all our food made it to our table... and it was quite the spread.
Here's our lunch breakdown:
I had the Panko Fried Oyster Burger and Crispy Clam Strips while Lindy chose the Great Grandpa Bertie's Famous 2-piece Fish & Chips and Homemade Crab Cakes.
We tucked in and everything was cooked perfectly and although deep fried it didn't taste greasy by any means. These folks know what they're doing here!
The fish and chips were hefty portions of halibut with a light batter while my panko oysters were quickly fried to keep the centres soft and I tasted a bit of the sea in there (aka yum!). The clam strips were great with the traditional seafood sauce (could've used a bit more sauce though) and the crab cakes were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and had a bit of a spicy kick to them that was a tasty surprise.
Long story short - we loved it all and am looking forward to my next visit! Buck-a-Shuck Sunday... and it's Lobster season... I foresee a Sunday visit soon!
For the May long weekend a lot of people, including myself for a number of years, go camping, cook meat on sticks, drink lots of beers and shoot off fireworks in the late at night celebrating the start of summer. It usually rains or snows (or both) which can dampen the fun when a lot of energy is expended just in effort to keep dry and warm. This year I had a different experience... at this gem in the woods of Blaeberry (about 20 minutes north of Golden, B.C.) called Pioneer Cabin.
This trip was not only to get away for the long weekend but as part of a birthday present for my roomie, Ryan. We kind of tricked him and brought him to the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre for a private photo session with a pair of wolves and their caretakers, Casey and Shelley Black, the operators of the centre. And what an experience it was! These animals are magical and have a wonderful wild presence about them.
Knowing B.C and the oh so common long weekend weather patterns to bring on the rain I made sure to buy some new boots before leaving the city. As it turned out, finding boots that I liked and fit was a more of a task than expected. Apparently, I was too late in the season to have much of a selection - which is ridiculous but so is the fashion industry so I rolled with it... all the way to Gravity Pope and found me some of the best (handmade!) rubber boots I could have ever purchased. These cute Miss Juliette Bottillon boots in Carmen/Red are like wearing form fitting slippers with legit grip on mossy tree stumped trails. Inadvertently ended up wearing them for a nearly 10km walk/hike and had no rubbing spots or discomfort throughout the trek. I wouldn't wear them on any technical trails or for any altitude gain (no ankle support) but for pretty much everything else where puddles can be played in you'll find me with these cuties on.
The hike destination was to find Thompson Falls. Since the road was partially washed out just over a kilometre on the forest service road we ended walking much further than websites describe the trail... and happily so! Stumbled upon an unmarked trailhead not far past the two kilometre marker and figured it would be fun to find out where it went. Oh my - the nature was spectacular. The air was fresh, the trees were towering and the sound of the river was vibrating through the forest. The trail eventually led us to the falls after many stops to soak up the sights, smells and sounds of everything around us. And what a great falls it was!
Finally, a long weekend tucked away in the mountains with a fully equipped kitchen wouldn't be complete unless I cooked up some seriously good grub for my favourite peeps... so that's just what I did!! To top off the kitchen supplies the house owner/builder also has a Weber BBQ on the riverside deck and let's just say I like to dabble in the realm of outdoor cooking especially with a beast like this. I didn't keep track of all that I made (lesson learned for future adventures in cooking) but have some pics below of the goods.
The moral of this story (if there needs to be one?) for me boils down to a few things after these few days to contemplate what is important to me. So here it goes:
1 - get out of the city more often.
2 - unplug from the everyday.
3 - reconnect with nature.
4 - sleep in and eat lots of good food.
5 - read Rumi.
Now for just a few more pictures...
Today marked the last day of YYC Burger Week and I really wanted to try out Naina's stuffed burger entry - luckily by lady friend, Dee, also wanted to participate so off we went after a morning of dealing with my iPhone replacement and shopping at Chinook.
Naina's Kitchen is located off the exit ramp from Ogden Road on to Blackfoot in a small strip mall with a few other businesses and near the Crossroads Market. Before we even got inside we could smell what we were about to partake in. We placed our order and luckily there was a table available in the small restaurant because the eclectic crowd of families, friends and multiple generations made it totally worth the stay.
Our order was brought over to the table - me with Naina's entry in to the competition this year - a pepper steak burger stuffed with sautéed onions and peppers and a gooey combination of Stilton and mozzarella on a bun with horseradish mayo slathered on with a side of fries. Dee got the Naina's Burger which lists BBQ sauce, bacon, ham and cheddar on it with a side of poutine. Both of us were impressed at first sight and then it was game on.
Here's the order breakdown:
Fries - mine were hot, salty and crispy. Delicious. Dee's fries were smothered in delicious flavourful gravy and plenty of cheese curds too!
Burgers - where to start on mine. Each flavour component complimented each other and I finished the whole damn thing. Then most of my fries. I really gave Naina's all of my appetite. Dee was as committed to the challenge and wins extra kudos for the solid effort on the poutine.
Conclusion - I will most certainly be a repeat customer of this place. Maybe so much so that I will have to really ramp up Fondo and half-marathon training just to stave off the impending heart attack. The menu looks promising with a number of options I've already lined up for next visit's potential candidates: eggs benedict poutine, 5 cheese mac & cheese and an unlimited variety of stuffed items to choose from for when a burger is what will do the trick.
Looking forward to next time Naina!