Food Notes for April 27, 2015

Hi everyone, Mack here! Sharon is still in Boston on her vacation so I’m guest blogging her food notes this week. You can check out some of her adventures on Instagram. I haven’t run out of food yet but if Sharon doesn’t make it home soon I might be in trouble. Kidding!

The Tonight Dough

  • Here’s another one from Sharon’s adventures in the USA – Utz Chips!

Utz Chips

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

Food Notes for February 24, 2014

Hi everyone, Mack here. Sharon is feeling a little under the weather still, so I’m guest blogging food notes this week!

Delicious Pho
Delicious PHO’

  • Sharon and I went to the second HWKRS MRKT on Saturday night at Vacancy Hall in the basement of the Mercer Warehouse (the next one has already been scheduled for April 12). She’ll write more about that later, but I wanted to highlight the chicken and waffles from Parts & Service, a new food truck slated to open this spring. The verdict? Winner winner chicken dinner!

HWKRS MRKT
Chicken & Waffles

  • Oh how the tables have turned. You’re used to seeing lots of photos of me on this blog, but now I get to post one of Sharon! I snapped this photo at Tavern 1903 a few weeks ago. Her review is forthcoming so stay tuned!

Tavern 1903
Sharon at Tavern 1903

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

Food Notes for April 29, 2013

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

Sharon is in Toronto with her Mum this week, so I’m on food note duty! Here are this week’s food notes:

The Cavern

The Cavern
Tempting pastries at The Cavern!

  • I know how much Sharon loves pho, so I had to take a photo of this V Sandwiches sign the other day – pho is now available!

V Sandwiches has Pho!

Everybody Loves Sandwiches: Drift Mobile Eatery

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

There is a distinct lack of good, interesting eateries between Sharon’s office and my office, so it takes something pretty special for us to get together for lunch. Like today’s launch of Drift Mobile Eatery, for instance! This morning we saw the tweet we had long been waiting for, and decided to walk over to 108 Street just south of Jasper Avenue to check it out. First a quick disclosure – we know Kara and Nevin, the duo behind Drift, and they volunteered for us at What The Truck?! last month. It’s safe to say that we have been looking forward to their truck for quite some time now, and as huge fans of the local food truck scene, we hope they succeed.

Drift Mobile Eatery

We arrived right around noon and saw a good lineup of people eager to try the sandwiches. The truck, built by Pizza Trucks of Canada, looks great with its teal green color scheme and big bold lettering. I love that they use 100% biodegradable packaging and had a recycle box next to the garbage can. Their menu was displayed on a chalk board complete with three little plants, as if to reinforce the green aspect of the truck!

Drift Mobile Eatery Drift Mobile Eatery

They had two lineups going, one for orders (cash only) and one for pickups. We waited a few minutes while previous orders were fulfilled and then placed our order. I chose the Back Bacon sandwich, which features brie cheese, roasted apple & cucumber, and of course delicious bacon. Sharon went with the Duck Confit, which features port soaked cranberries and cabbage. All their sandwiches come on ciabatta buns and cost $7.50. We also ordered the spiced drift style fries with house tomato sauce ($3.00).

Drift Mobile Eatery

It took about ten minutes to get our order which, all things considered, is pretty good for the first day. They’ll try to cut that down by at least half as they streamline things. A couple of napkins inside the bag would have been good too.

So, how did it taste?

Drift Mobile Eatery

I am a big fan of sandwiches, and I was definitely pleased with mine. The bacon (from Irvings) was delicious as expected, and I like the choice of ciabatta. But really, how can you go wrong with bacon and cheese? Sharon loved that they are served warm, and as she and Jerry said while we were waiting, where else can you get duck from a truck? She thought there was a nice range of textures, and commented that the sweetness of the cranberries balanced it well. The sandwich choices (there are currently 9) all seem pretty healthy, so I was a little surprised to see fries on the menu. They were good, but I must admit I was not a fan of the fennel seed. The house tomato sauce was delicious, however.

Drift Mobile Eatery

Back Bacon

Drift Mobile Eatery

Duck Confit

Drift’s location downtown is a good one in terms of access to customers, but it would be nice if they were located next a seating area (not their fault…they’ve discovered the “joy” of working with the City). Just walk by Beaver Hills House Park at lunch time – if there are seats available, people will come out of the office towers to use them. It’s ridiculous that only one vendor at a time can be at a location like that park. That’s where we went to enjoy our sandwiches.

Beaver Hills House Park

Drift Mobile Eatery

Congrats to Kara and Nevin on bringing another unique food truck to Edmonton! If you’re looking for something new to try for lunch, go check out Drift Mobile Eatery! You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates. You can see a few more pictures here.

One Sweet Road Trip: Jelly Modern Doughnuts

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

Last month, I spent a day down in Calgary at mesh west. It was a very quick down-in-the-morning and back-in-the-evening kind of trip, but I was under strict orders from Sharon to stop at Jelly Modern Doughnuts before coming home (especially appropriate as National Doughnut Day had just passed). I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it before they closed, but fortunately we had scored an introduction just a week earlier at the TMAC Alberta social media workshop to founder Rita Tripathy. I emailed Rita and she graciously agreed to set aside a dozen doughnuts for me, so that I’d be allowed back into the house 😉

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

It was fairly late in the day when I arrived, but there was still a steady stream of people visiting the shop, located at 1414 8 Street SW. You can’t miss it as you pass by – the bright pink signage brightens up the otherwise dull corner (though I hear there’s an awesome coffee shop kitty-corner, Kawa). The space used to house real estate developer The Eden Group of Companies, and while I can’t say I had seen the previous interior, I can say the Jelly Modern Doughnuts space is beautiful. A white bar with clear stools lines one side of the shop, while wooden seats with pink pillows fills the other corner. You can’t miss the large display case, right near the centre of the store.

Jelly Modern Doughnuts Jelly Modern Doughnuts

Unfortunately Rita wasn’t there when I arrived, but I did get to spend some time chatting with her husband and business partner Murray, and Chef Grayson Sherman. They told me about the doughnuts that were on display, some regulars on the menu and some special. The “seasonal” menu features a different special each month – when I was there in June, it was Chocolate Espresso. They also had a “Vancouver Canucks” donut to celebrate the cup run.

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

I left with a dozen doughnuts and a cinnamon bun for the road, all on the house thanks to Murray’s refusal to let me pay. Needless to say, Sharon was pretty excited when I finally walked in the door that night (for the doughnuts, that is), exclaiming “it looks like a box of flowers!” We wasted no time digging in!

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

Funky flavours like maple bacon and s’mores aren’t the only reason these doughnuts are unique. The “hole” in the centre isn’t really a hole! It’s more like a well, ready to be filled with peanut butter, jelly, lemon, etc. This means you get to see everything that you’re about to eat, and it also makes for a less messy treat. Additionally, Jelly Modern Doughnuts uses local, organic ingredients, as explained by Julie.

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

While I did enjoy the maple bacon, my favorite was probably the classic jelly (though I quite liked the coconut as well). Sharon liked the vanilla with sprinkles and the peanut butter cup best. I’m usually not a fan of sweets but I did enjoy the doughnuts, perhaps because the dough itself wasn’t overly sweet (which explains why Chef Sherman was thinking of making sandwiches with it). The cinnamon bun I ate on the way home really hit the spot as well!

Will Edmonton move beyond cupcakes someday as well? If we do, I hope we end up with something like Jelly Modern Doughnuts! In the meantime, follow @JellyModern on Twitter and stop by when you’re in Calgary!

Jelly Modern Doughnuts
100, 1414 8 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 453-2053
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 7:00pm, Saturday 8:00am – 6:00pm, Sunday 9:00am – 6:00pm

Downtown Expansion: Transcend Jasper Avenue

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

Tonight Transcend Coffee held a friends and family soft launch at its new downtown location at 10349 Jasper Avenue. I stopped by to check out the new space, formerly occupied by Axis Café. The space is largely the same, though it did receive a new paint job and some Transcend-specific touches such as the lovely artwork. The new fireplace on the second level is a welcome addition too.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
Entering the café.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
Looking down from the second level.

The new location offers a similar drinks menu to other Transcend locations, but will also feature “a small selection of remarkable beer and wine” beginning this spring. Transcend Jasper will also introduce an expanded hot food menu at that time, featuring made-in-house South American street food created by Chad Moss, who is a Red Seal chef.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
The boardroom upstairs.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
The basement space.

The boardroom that was available at Axis remains open for rental at Transcend after receiving some upgrades. It contains a large board table, a high-resolution projector and screen, and flip chart paper and other resources. Rates start at $20 per hour or $100 for the day. Transcend Jasper also has a great space in the basement – they are exploring various concepts for it, including a live-music program. Stay tuned for details on that.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
Yum, Transcend-roasted coffee beans!

Transcend Jasper Avenue
Putting up the sign outside!

The crew pictured above was putting up the sign as a I left the space tonight around 6pm, so like all good openings Transcend Jasper was down to the wire! It’ll be open for regular business starting tomorrow morning at 7:30am. You can follow the new location on Twitter at @TranscendJasper. You can see a few more photos of the space here.

Join me in welcoming Transcend to Edmonton’s new coffee district!

Preview: Flavours of BC’s Naramata Bench Wine Tasting & Auction

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to check out a preview of the Flavours of BC’s Naramata Bench Wine Tasting & Auction. The 3rd annual fundraiser for the Winspear Centre and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra takes place on January 28, and features the sounds of Sandro Dominelli performing smooth jazz plus more than three dozen wines. At the preview, we got to taste nine of them.

Flavours of BC's Naramata Bench Wine TastingFlavours of BC's Naramata Bench Wine Tasting

We tasted wines from four different wineries: Kettle Valley, La Frenz, Lake Breeze, and Laughing Stock Vineyards. I enjoy wine, but I am definitely not a connoisseur. Usually I am more than happy to select a bottle from the shelf based on just the name or label. Fortunately for me, there was a little of both at the preview!

David and Cynthia Enns both had established careers in the investment business when they purchased Laughing Stock in 2003. The name is a play on the risk of launching a winery, and the financial references don’t end there. When they released their first wines, they called the event Laughing Stock’s Initial Public Offering (IPO). And they have some of the most unique bottles I’ve seen – instead of traditional sticker labels, they feature information printed directly on the glass. The bottle says “LFNG”, the would-be stock symbol for Laughing Stock, and features the date and a variety of stock prices from that day printed in the style of a stock ticker tape. It’s eye catching!

Flavours of BC's Naramata Bench Wine Tasting

We tasted three wines from Laughing Stock: Portfolio 2007, Blind Trust Red 2008, and Chardonnay 2009. Portfolio (the winery’s flagship) is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, and retails for around $40. Blind Trust Red is a blend of Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and retails for around $29. The Chardonnay is aged in larger format French oak barrels, and goes for about $26. Of the three, I enjoyed the Portfolio most.

Flavours of BC's Naramata Bench Wine Tasting

La Frenz was started by Jeff Martin, known for spearheading Quails’ Gate in Kelowna. Their bottles feature a QR code on the back, which is still fairly unique, but something I expect more wineries will adopt in the future. We tried two of their wines: Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Semillon, which sells for about $28, is blended with 10% Sauvignon Blanc and had a nice citrus flavor. The Cabernet Sauvignon sells for about $37 and had great color. Among other awards, it won Double Gold and Best Over $25 at the All Canadian Wine Championship last year.

We tasted two wines from Kettle Valley, which features the Kettle Valley Railway on its labels: Merlot and Pinot Noir. The Merlot, which sells for about $26, was one of my favorites of the night. The Pinot Noir, which sells for about $36, was good as well, with earthy tones. Both are multi-sourced wines, fermented in French oak.

Flavours of BC's Naramata Bench Wine Tasting

We also tasted two wines from Lake Breeze: Seven Poplars Sauvignon Blanc and Seven Poplars Merlot. Seven Poplars denotes the winery’s premium wines, created from select barrels and select vineyards. The Sauvignon Blanc, which sells for about $27, was sweeter than I prefer, which made me think that Sharon would really have enjoyed it. The Merlot, which sells for about $37, was my favorite of the evening. It was full bodied and very flavorful.

If the wines at the preview were any indication, the fundraiser later this month will be an enjoyable affair. Tickets are $90 per person for the main event, or $150 if you’d like to sample the VIP tasting, which gives you access to exclusive library wines and the chance to learn from the winemakers themselves. For more information, including a list of the featured wineries, check out the Winspear Centre’s website.

I couldn’t drive by: Peters’ Drive-In

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

Is there any better way to end a trip to Calgary than by making a stop at Peters’ Drive-In? I don’t think so – the historic drive-in is a must-visit for anyone passing through our neighbour to the south. Sharon and I stopped at Peters’ for a late lunch before making the drive back to Edmonton.

We each ordered a cheeseburger ($3.60) and decided to share an order of fries. I asked for a large, but was warned that it could feed 4-5 people! I think I make that mistake every time I visit Peters’. We went with the small fries ($3.00) though it was still almost too big for the two of us. Sharon ordered a Coke, while I couldn’t resist a banana milkshake ($4.50). Our order was called out to the very busy kitchen, and though it seemed as though no one paid any attention, we only had to wait a few minutes.

It was a beautiful assortment of fast food:

Mack @ Peter's

Don’t let the “fast food” scare you, though. Peters’ boasts fresh, flame-broiled burgers made with 100% Canadian grade “A” ground chuck, fries cooked in cholesterol free, trans-fat free, 100% pure canola oil, and milkshakes made with real ice cream and real fruit. Their trivia card says they peel more than 35,000 pounds of fresh bananas each year!

The long line-up of cars and people can seem daunting, but don’t let that sway you – plan a stop at Peters’ on your next trip to Calgary. You won’t be disappointed!

Peters’ Drive-In
219 – 16th Avenue NE (map)
Calgary, AB
(403) 277-2747
Open 9am – Midnight, every day

Brunch with Gassy Jack: Chill Winston

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

My friend Megan and I were without our trip planner extraordinaire (Sharon) for our trip to Vancouver a few weeks ago, so we didn’t have a plan for where to go or what to eat. After much indecision on Sunday morning, we eventually hopped on the bus from UBC and made our way toward Gastown. We wandered around for a bit and eventually decided on Chill Winston for brunch. I had walked past it on previous trips to the area, but had never ventured inside.

chill winstonchill winston

We quickly scanned the menu and decided to stay. The interior definitely fit the description of a “restaurant lounge”. I loved the big, comfy chairs and the nice big windows (you can see the statue of Gassy Jack just across the street). Had Sharon been with us, I know she would have gushed about the exposed brick along inside. The most memorable feature for me was the washrooms, however. Instead of your traditional, completely separated men’s and women’s rooms, chill winston has a big room with a giant tap in the middle, and lots of individual stalls. Unique and kind of interesting.

chill winston

The brunch menu is new apparently, and is described as a “winter brunch menu”. It also points out that Winston only uses eggs from organically-fed free-range chickens. I ordered the Eggs Benedict ($11) – two soft poached eggs and ham on a toasted English muffin topped with citrus tarragon hollandaise. I thought it was really tasty, and combined with the potatoes, it definitely hit the spot.

chill winston

Megan opted for the Ham, Cheese, and Tomato Omelette ($14) – three eggs, grilled ham, tomato concasse, and Gruyere. I expected the omelette to be bigger, but Megan seemed to enjoy it all the same. The fruit was a nice addition to both plates as well, despite being out of season.

We hung around for quite a while after our meals, not in any hurry. The restaurant wasn’t very busy, but it was still nice to not feel rushed – the staff cleared our plates but didn’t try to push us out the door.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stop in Gastown for a drink or something to eat, consider checking out Chill Winston. And for the locals – you can preorder lunch for take-out online! Very cool.

Chill Winston 
3 Alexander Street
Vancouver, BC, V6A 1B2
604.288.9575
open everyday, 11 AM to 1 AM

Nice Packaging, Small Portion: d’Lish

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

A little over a month ago, Sharon and I were in need of a relatively quick dinner before heading out into the cold for the Winter Light 2009 opening ceremonies. Fortunately she’s a better planner than I am and had picked up a prepared meal from d’Lish, Edmonton’s newest meal assembly studio (Sharon wrote about them in Vue Weekly). We decided to give it a shot.

Our meal was called “Don’t You Wanna Enchilada” – enchiladas with Cumin Crème fraiche ($19). All of the items on the menu have clever names. My favorite this month is “Fantabulous Flatbread Pizza – BBQ Beef-tastic”. I thought the plastic bag and ribbon was a nice touch on the packaging.

After preheating the oven to 375 F, we stuck them in for the prescribed 20-25 minutes and waited. Though they came out nice and hot, I have to admit the enchiladas didn’t look incredibly appetizing.

The enchiladas, which contained potato, beans, and corn, tasted pretty good even without the cumin crème sauce (Sharon liked it more than I did). They weren’t as crisp as I’d have liked however, and that made them quite messy to eat.

I think my least favorite part about the meal was the portion size. I wasn’t really full after eating my half of the dinner. Perhaps it’s not a fair comparison, but I kept thinking about Mucho Burrito – much more food for about the same price. Buying local and organic (which d’Lish prides itself on) has its price, I guess (and probably the packaging too).

I’d be willing to give d’Lish another shot, but I think I’d go the meal assembly route instead of trying another prepared meal.

d’Lish
10418 124 Street NW
(780) 482-2242