October 2009


Food: Edmonton30 Oct 2009 06:02 pm

mocha marshmallows from duchess

A day or so after posting my marshmallow run down, I saw the little balls of fluff for sale at Duchess. I could hardly believe it, but I snatched up a batch and enjoyed fresh blood orange marshmallows. And let me tell you, they are real. This flavour in particular seem tailored to me (I had made blood orange macarons earlier in the year and it is a favourite citrus fruit), but they also sell strawberry and vanilla.

Today I picked up some “plain” vanilla ‘mallows, and enjoyed them with a somewhat too sweet mocha from Starbucks today at work. The marshmallows melted beautifully and were 10x better than any whip cream could ever be. I look forward to experimenting with the perfect cocoa combinations for homemade hot chocolate this fall, paired with the delectable fresh marshmallows from Duchess. Please Lord, do not let this honeymoon end. I’m in love.

mocha + marshmallows, duchess in edmonton

Food21 Oct 2009 06:37 pm

I’m holed up in bed, unable to eat as I’m not feeling top notch. That doesn’t mean I have to stop looking at gastronomic blogs, though.

four pounds flour banner

Right now I’m really into four pounds flour. On it, Sarah Lohman “retronovates” recipes from ancient texts and makes them, today. Basically that means she finds old recipes, decodes them and makes them. I suspect this appeals to me because for several years I scanned, photographed and archived pre-19th century texts for a project at the University of Alberta.

Her tagline is “rethinking historic cuisine” and I recommend you check it out.

Food: Edmonton16 Oct 2009 11:45 pm

Tonight, Mike and I brought our friend Connor to Zaika for the buffet. Earlier this week I brought my girlfriend Jolene to Zaika as well. Safe to say we like this place. (Read about the first visit, where we ordered off the menu.)

Seems many people do, though. The place was packed. It was a Friday night, and there was a birthday party, people watching the Oilers game on televisions in the bar and many buffet visitors.

The buffet is excellent, and worth the trip. Juicy tandoori chicken, wonderful lentil curries, fish, vegetables, desserts and naan cooked to order, brought to your table. The buffet items rotate daily. This and more for $17. Get Richard Helm’s take in Saturday’s Journal.

summerside asian market diwali tent

When we arrived at Zaika, there was a large tent in the parking lot, next to the Summerside Asian Market. One half of the husband/wife team that owns Zaika, Joti, told us that the kitchen gets their produce from Summerside Asian Market. S.A.M is run by a woman named Ashu and her husband…and Ashu is Joti’s sister.

I visited the market a while back, and enjoyed their selection of South Asian spices and dry goods, fresh dates and other produce and array of Indian sweets.

diwali sweets edmonton summerside

We wandered into the tent and were bowled over by the tray after tray of brightly coloured treats. Turns out, this was specially set up for Diwali, the festival of lights. There were boxes which were priced by weight, $6.95 for a mixed selection. There were several varieties of barfi, gulab jamun, jalebi, and various other mithai, or Indian desserts. And by several I mean dozens. On top of that, free pakora and samosas.

summerside asian market diwali sweets

summerside asian market diwali sweets

summerside asian market diwali sweets

summerside asian market diwali sweets

There were Diwali themed boxes available in many sizes for easy transport.

Indian sweets are incredibly rich and sweet, but also very addictive. Common flavours include coconut, pistachio, rose, almond and spices like cardamom and cloves. We came out with three boxes full of treats. I’m bringing some into work tomorrow, but the rest will be enjoyed for the next week.

While the tent is coming down tonight, Summerside Asian Market will still be selling their huge selection of sweets Saturday, October 17, inside the store.

You can see some gorgeous photos of Zaika and Summerside Asian Market on the Shandro Photo blog. Seriously, I mean gorgeous.

Zaika Indian Bistro & Bar
2303 Ellwood Drive SW, Ellerslie Crossroads
780 462 8722

Summerside Asian Market (next door to Zaika)
2307 Ellwood Drive SW, Ellerslie Crossroads
780 485 6116

Food: Edmonton and General and work (kinda)15 Oct 2009 06:10 pm

Reporters and editors watch the newsroom tvs intently as the balloon boy comes down. Well, as his balloon comes down, anyhow.

bubbleboy

Then, my friend Ben and I went out for lunch. I just wanted tea, but he promised a delicious wrap. So we went to Wrapture in City Centre mall. Although the mall is less than five minutes walk away, I have not eaten at that food court in over a decade. Wrapture might convert me to eating there again.

Wrapture started in Calgary, and offers wraps, smoothies, soups and healthier fast food. I jokingly called it a Chipotle knock off. Their typefaces, logo, branding, even their tinfoil wrapping and upsells (extra meat, chips and salsa) all remind me of Chipotle. The burrito I had (Baja Chicken) was pretty solid, if slightly under seasoned (odd for fast food!) I have to say I preferred it to Mucho Burrito.

Packed with rice, chicken, black beans, fresh salsa and cheese, at $7.95. Available in a bowl as well. Thanks for lunch, Ben.

wrap

On the way to Wrapture, we saw this mysterious birthday cake, perched on the side of a city garbage can. Ben took a photo with his Blackberry.

bdaycake

Naturally, all I could think of was throwing it to the ground, a la SNL’s and Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg.


i threw it on the ground
by noki86
Food13 Oct 2009 04:41 am

The Omni chain of hotels is really getting into the spooky side of Halloween. They have ghost stories from their properties up on their website, special ghosthunting packages in historic cities, and a selection of creepy cocktails at their bars. I’m loving them. They kind of make me want to have a halloween party!

spider martini

“Red Widow”

1.5 oz Skyy Infusions Citrus
1 oz Fresh lemon juice
1 oz Simple syrup

.5 oz DeKuyper Pomegranate

Combine all ingredients, except DeKuyper Pomegranate, in mixing glass.  Shake with ice and strain into martini glass.  Drizzle DeKuyper Pomegranate into drink allowing it to layer on the bottom. Garnish with Twizzler ropes, lemon wheel, candy corn.

bonds eye

“Bond’s Eye”

1.5 oz Plymouth Gin
.75 oz Ketel one Vodka
.5 oz Lillet (or Dry French Vermouth)

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into martini glass. Lychee “eyeball”, stuffed with a blueberry.

See the full list of cocktails and recipes here.

[via Kayak travel blog]

Food and Food: Home Cookin'12 Oct 2009 06:16 pm

When I went to Seattle earlier in the summer, I bought a lot of food. Spices, beer, masa harina corn flour…

And there was more.

In any case, one of the more interesting things I bought were fresh marshmallows. After trying the ones Recchiuti makes earlier in the year, I was hankering for more. They’re just so expensive! Luckily, Whole Foods had a variety to choose from.

There were the Whole Foods house brand. $5.99 US for 12, so $0.49 each.

whole foods marshmallows

There were also Vancouver’s own Butter Baked Goods marshmallows, which have been causing a stir on the west coast. These were significantly more in price at $7.95 US for 10, $0.80 each. The thing I like about Whole Foods is that they try to pull products from local companies, and I was eager to try these.

butter baked goods marshmallows

These come in many other flavours, including coconut, matcha, mint, raspberry and coffee. The packaging is quite pretty, non?

I wanted to give both marshmallows a fair chance, although I suspected (and hoped) the significantly more expensive mallows would be much better. However, as soon as I took them out of the package, the differences were already evident.

marshmallow comparison

marsh4

Whole Foods on the left, Butter on the right (in both photos). While the Whole Foods marshmallow is larger, it also appeared moister, denser and stickier than its friend. The Whole Foods marshmallows had no clear expiration date, but the Butter ones said to use within two weeks.

Upon tasting, the differences were evident as well. The Butter marshmallow had a lighter texture, with a more subtle flavour. While I enjoyed the Whole Foods one more than a regular store bought marshmallow (which are dry and tasteless), I still think the Butter was the clear winner. But, we had to be sure, so we did the oven test.

smore comparison

Again, Whole Foods on the left, Butter on the right. The Whole Foods marshmallow bubbled and melted before it started caramelizing. The Butter one gently swelled, caramelized on top and stayed fluffy.

smore comparison

The melting made things awkward when it came time to eat. Whole Foods got slippery and did not retain much marshmallow texture. Butter was a bit easier to handle and eat.

I have been waiting for cold weather to hit to try the marshmallows over a fire or in hot chocolate, so seems like now is finally the time as we already have snow in Edmonton.

So, although Butter sells it’s marshmallows for double the price (although the store sells them for $6.00 CDN a bag) I think they are worth the cost. I only wish a place here sold them, or any homemade marshmallows. I think it’s time for another home cooking experiment…

Food: Home Cookin'08 Oct 2009 12:31 pm

Mike is making a pâté this week, and for that, you need a terrine pan. Which brings me to one of the perils of aging no one tells you about.

Grey hair, okay. To be expected.
Eyes not as sharp? Sure.
Middle aged spread from eating too much? Yeah, it happens.
Collecting numerous pieces of cooking equipment specialized for one use only? My mom never mentioned that one.

We set off for Bosch Kitchen Centre on the southside. The clerk initially did not know what a terrine pan was, so we ended up in the springform pan section. These are not ideal, but will get the job done. (Terrine pans are normally earthen ware, rectangularly shaped.)

springform pan

springform pan

The tempting box photo of an unnamed dessert.

And so we contemplated. The “La Forme Quadro non-stick pan” was on sale for a whopping $70, which horrified me. I’ve been using hand me downs and gifted items for baking for years, and have not bought many new things. “For $70 this pan better clean itself,” I said to Mike.

On the box was a tantalizing image of a light fluffy souffle or cake of some kind. Mike said he hoped the recipe was inside the box. I recalled something I had said years earlier to a friend about box recipes: “Boxes are where recipes go to die.” I’m not a fan of “free” recipes. In my experience they aren’t that great.

However, we purchased the pan, and upon opening discovered there was indeed a recipe book, printed in six (!) languages. There, near the end: “MIX IT UP! Cheesecake” was stated as the recipe on the box.

I made a pumpkin loaf with cream cheese cinnamon icing first (from that delectable Vietnamese cinnamon from Pike Place Market in Seattle), then tried the cheesecake recipe. I modified it to be lemon.

springform pan

Newest kitchen tools: hammer and springform. (Okay, the hammer was for another use, but it came in handy for…)

springform pan

…Crushing graham crackers!

Turns out, it was the first “from the box” recipe I didn’t hate. I guess $70 does buy you something these days.

It came out a little flatter than I expected (probably from not cooling it long enough), but the flavour is great, and the pan is so easy to use!

mixituprecipebook

(click to zoom in on recipe)

The best thing?

The pan DOES clean itself. Almost.

Food and Food: Edmonton06 Oct 2009 12:09 pm

Driving down 124 Street on Sunday, scouting new hair salons, I spied something out of the corner of my eye. A new store, perhaps?  Black awning, letters spelling “bake shop” … it seemed a dream.

duchess bake shop edmonton

I pulled a u-turn, pulled to the side of the road and sat in front of the storefront, in shock. A new bakery. In MY neighbourhood! ADVERTISING MACARONS NO LESS.

I have been waiting for a French patisserie in Edmonton for some time. Don’t get me wrong, La Favorite is nice, but they really miss the huge array of sweet treats the French have to offer. I’ve been longing for a place like Nectar, in Calgary. Fresh meringues, madeleines and croissants. I’ve had even more dreams of opening such a place my self.

Well, my wait is over.

Duchess Bake Shop, “open four days,” according to the clerk, has arrived in Edmonton.

duchess bake shop edmonton

Duchess features a huge array of baked treats with French flavours and lovely branding and packaging. “We bake something between 60 and 70 varieties,” the clerk said when I asked how big of a baking roster they kept. 60 things are not baked every single day, mind you, but look for a rotating selection. They also serve up coffee and teas.

There were cherry pies, large and miniature, savoury and sweet shortbreads dressed in pistachios, lavender and almonds, pain au chocolat, croissants, and freshly made items coming out of the kitchen, even as I paid.

duchess bake shop edmonton

But the most exciting thing: macarons, in Edmonton. I sighed with pleasure.

They are a steep $1.25 each (and tiny, dainty little things they are indeed) but considering the labour (dear lord, the labour, as I found out when I made them) and high quality ingredients worth it, in my opinion. I would gladly fork over the dough for one of these over a slab of dry, gummy Starbucks loaf, and be far more satisfied.

Lavender, lemon and pistachio featured on this day.

duchess bake shop edmonton

duchess bake shop edmonton

And so, in the end, I came out with a golden box full of macarons (which are delectable; crispy, sweet and airy), a pain au chocolat, croissant and a bag of rosemary shortbread, which I shared around the office I was so excited about this place.

duchess bake shop edmonton

$1.50 for a slightly smaller than average croissant. But bursting with above average flakiness and flavour. Very buttery and tender.

duchess bake shop edmonton

duchess bake shop edmonton

$1.25 each for a macaron. I can’t say enough about how great these are. If you have never had one before, you should get thee to the Duchess bakery! Who knew something that was primarily egg white and icing sugar based would be this delicious?

Oh, that’s right. The French.

I hope they do a fennel one like the ones I ate at Guy Savoy.

duchess bake shop edmonton

The bag of rosemary shortbread, $4.95. Buttery, sweet and a little bit savoury from the rosemary. Perfect with tea. I’m also so into their packaging. Some consider it frivolous, but for things like this which make great gifts (even for yourself) I think it is important. After all, do we not eat with our eyes, first?

I was so excited I did not pause to photograph the hours (update: added hours below). But I will tomorrow, when I most certainly will return. I’m so pleased they have moved into the neighbourhood.

Duchess Bake Shop
10720-124 Street
New hours as of October 25, 2009
Monday + Tuesday, Holidays: Closed
Wednesday: 9-6
Thursday + Friday: 9-8
Saturday 10-6
Sunday 10-5

My advice: get there early.