Big Taste 2015

Modern Steak

I was looking forward to this outing the whole week. As the Muse owner’s new concept I was sure it would be a win. Perhaps my expectations were set too high because it was a rather disappointing meal. The atmosphere was decent, exactly what you would expect from a modern steakhouse– dark lighting with contemporary décor in whites and dark woods. I have to say, however, I have never been a fan of the dim lighting. Our table was in a corner as well and lit by a lone bulb placed directly above the middle of the table. I do love the truffle popcorn as an appetizer while you peruse the menu, though perusing the menu requires some crafty angling to catch any shafts of illumination.

  • Course 1: Mini Lobster Poutine – Nova Scotia Lobster, ‘Lobster Gravy’, White Gold Fior De Latte: It’s hard to say which ingredient exactly failed in this endeavour but the whole thing was so over-salted I couldn’t even finish my fries. And I love fries.
  • Course 2: 5oz Brant Lake Waygu Hanger Steak, Mashed Potato, Garlicky Green Beans, Jus: Steak was seared perfectly and was delicious; the mashed potatoes were, again, oversalted and the green beans were decent. There was nothing beyond your basic meat and potatoes, and I have to say I was expecting a little bit of flair.
  • Course 3: Callebaut Chocolate Mousse: Amazing– the best part of the meal. A creamy, pillowy light concoction with small bits of chocolate that melted in your mouth drizzled with raspberry coulis.

Modern Steak

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New York, New York!

I arrived in the Big Apple on a rainy, blustery New York evening. Navigating the cracked sidewalks with luggage in tow, it was a balancing act trying to keep the whole lot from crashing to the ground at each jagged break in the pavement. For some reason that escapes me just now, I decided to visit my sister, who has the most ridiculous wardrobe I have ever known, and lives in the middle of Manhattan shopping haven, with a full suitcase– “just in case I want options”. A gal can never have too many clothes, right? So they say.

Finally arriving at my sister’s apartment, the fabulous aromas of a southern skillet greet my tired senses—along with this adorable, lovable and ever so delighted face:

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Briggs

20130727_195932Briggs has taken over the previous Cannery Row space on 10th Avenue and 3rd street SW. Never having been to Cannery Row I can’t speak to what improvements have been made, but the current space is a modern industrial tribute. Bare bulbs hang over the tables and the unfinished ceiling is snaked with black piping. The lounge is situated along the front wall of windows, bright and welcoming. The restaurant has an open kitchen concept where one can get a good look at the Josper ovens, the restaurant’s signature piece. Briggs is only the second restaurant in Canada to use this unique oven. Fueled by coal, they produce high temperatures and infuse the food with delicious smoky flavours. Briggs encourages the family style of dining, and we ordered several dishes off the shared plates section.
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Post Hotel, Lake Louise

20130616_213431My mom turned 60! To celebrate we took a girls weekend to Lake Louise where we stayed, played and dined at the world famous Post Hotel. Our room was situated creekside, though you couldn’t quite see the river, its soft babbling filtered through our open door into the rustic lodge-style room. After a relaxing dip in the hot tub and pool, we three headed to the dining room for a celebratory dinner.

The dining room is a bright space with fresh flowers on every table. Wooden rafters and walls evoke a charming mountain lodge atmosphere.  For dinner we started with:

  • Seared scallops with sweet potato puree and mango and chive flower: I didn’t know you could eat cseared scallopshives as flowers, but you can, and they are delicious! The scallops were perfectly seared, garlicked and salted. Pairing with the sweetness of the sweet potato and mango was fantastic.
  • King crab leg salad with spinach and beets: Chunks of king crab leg are mixed with a simple salad of diced beets and spinach.
  • Green salad: Your basic green salad.

For the mains my mom and I both ordered the beef stroganoff with egg tagliatelle: served with a small dish of spinach sautéed with shallots. A generous serving of beef is served with the noodles on the side. The stroganoff sauce was a tad on the mangoessalty side but was quite nice. I admit I’m not sure how stroganoff is supposed to taste, but it was good and satisfying.

  • Duck breast with figs and snap peas: Duck breast was perfectly cooked to a tender medium rare, and paired very well with the dried figs. The snap peas on the side were completely soggy, which was disappointing.

For dessert we shared the

  • mango trio: mango layer cake, mango sorbet, and diced mango slaw and peppermint teas all around.

After dinner we took a short walk around the river, taking in some of the fantastic scenery and fresh mountain air.

Ending with a nightcap in the cozy, fireside lounge, we chatted with some other guests under the watchful gaze of this elegant creature:elk head


Carino

20130516_193627 3My big sis and her hubby stopped in for a visit from fabulous NYC, so we thought we’d have a family dinner somewhere a little more special. We had been hearing some buzz about Carino, a Japanese bistro with Italian cuisine influences, and decided to give it a try. Located on Edmonton Trail and 7th Avenue NE, it’s an intimate space with a beautiful pressed-tin ceiling. We were captivated by their unusual wine carafes. The one at our table was impressed with two faces, and beside us, coiled like a clear glass snake. With my clumsy tendencies, it made me a little nervous having this towering glass item within elbow-knocking reach.

We elected to order several dishes and share family style. We started with:

  • ramen salad: cold ramen noodles, cherry tomatoes, bocconcini and greens. This concept sounded odd to me, but it was actually quite delicious. The noodles gave this light salad some great texture, and though there was very little dressing, the tomatoes gave this a great refreshing flavour.
  • pork belly ceasar salad: romaine lettuce with pear croutons, pork belly, and cheese. This salad was tasty, with a Japanese/ceasar dressing drizzle, and the pear croutons lending a nice sweetness. However, it was definitely on the skimpy side–there were four leaves of lettuce to share between the five of us.

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Kuzina

Kuzina, a new Greek restaurant, opened on 17th ave and 11th street about a month ago, putting an end to the string of unsuccessful sports bars. I love Greek food and Greek culture so have been anticipating this opening since I first saw the banner announcing its arrival.

Walking in to the bright open space it was like being transported back to the Cyclades Islands. The white-washed walls echo those of Santorini and are apparently made of the same material. Along the walls are framed idols from the Cyclades Islands, silent sentinels bearing good wishes from the Aegean.

To start:

  • complimentary house-made olive bread dipped in olive oil and oregano: served warm and pleasantly crispy on the outside and sweetly soft on the inside.
  • Melizanosalata: eggplant and garlic dip, served with toasted pita chips; so fresh and just garlicky enough without overpowering the smoothness of the eggplant.

All the mains looked delicious and we had a tough time deciding. We finally settled on two choices with the intent of sharing, family style:
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Birthday Bonanza: Part 2

high teaOn Saturday, I put on a day-appropriate cocktail dress and headed out for Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Palliser with my best gals. Just to sit and admire the gleaming lobby was an experience of itself, but to dine beneath those dazzling chandeliers and impressive arches was divine. The meal begins with selecting a tea from their many choices, and I began with a pineapple mango tea from Hawaii. We then moved on to a fruit cocktail with Grand Marnier syrup, and then, the piece de resistance, a tower of handcrafted pastries and sandwiches, each a miniature work of art:
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