December 2009

General25 Dec 2009 09:29 am

Merry Christmas! I hope your hearts are as full as your stomachs today.


Food: Edmonton and work (kinda)24 Dec 2009 11:01 am

After working at the Journal for a few Christmas seasons, I can tell you it has always been a challenge finding a restaurant for our department to have Christmas lunch at.

First, there are a number of palates to please. The Journal has 11 staff photographers, plus many freelancers and desk staff. It can be hard to find a place to suit everyone, in terms of taste and budget. Second, the photographers are educated eaters. They get to photograph and visit many restaurants on the job, know the hot spots, and can be trusted for their restaurant expertise if you need a place to go. Lastly, it’s hard to find good places near the office, which is our preference due to a crazy busy schedule. Last year we ate at The Hat. I suggested Hardware for lunch, but no one bit. ūüôĀ

This year for the Christmas lunch we went with the old reliable: an Indian buffet. Karma Bistro has been in the space formerly occupied by La Tapa for some time now. Based on previous visits I can say their a la carte menu is strong, and it is a reasonably priced choice for Indian food in the downtown core.

karma indian, edmonton

Ryan and Candace fill up their plates.

karma indian, edmonton

The buffet was fresh when we arrived at 11:30, with a large variety of dishes. I saw fish amritsari, pakoras, butter chicken, daal bukhara, eggplant, two kinds of rice and a few other dishes, roughly 10 in total. Naan is delivered to the table (unbuttered, though) and there are various chutneys and desserts available.

I found the buffet items to be above average quality, even if some curries (the daal) were a bit thin. Nothing was too spicy, so don’t expect a sweat inducing, authentically Indian meal. The lamb was a bit fatty and cut haphazardly, but flavourful and tender. Vegetables were crisp and well spiced. Service has always been good there, I find. For $14.99, I think all 17 of us came away happy and with a full stomach.

It is a busy place at lunch, so I suggest reservations.

karma indian, edmonton

Afterwards, we looked at photos from the past year, naturally.

Karma Indian Bistro
10523 99 Avenue
(780) 498-2992

Food: Home Cookin'22 Dec 2009 11:14 am

For every new dish I try and blog about, there are five familiar old meals I consistently crank out. Some favourites include macaroni and cheese, tostadas, and veggie sandwiches. I will never say I get tired of them – because why else would I make them so often? – but sometimes they do need a bit of livening up.

One of the things I occasionally make is gremolata to zing up mac and cheese. It brightens and lightens the rich cheesy dish, and uses up some stuff I always seem to have in the kitchen: lemons, garlic and parsley. On this occasion I also had some cooked bacon, so I tossed that in too.
bacon gremolata

This recipe is dead simple.

Bacon Gremolata

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons bacon, crumbled

That’s it. Most times, I do not even measure. Mix together, sprinkle. You can omit the bacon, and add more or less of anything to appeal to your taste buds. It is great on pastas, risotto, on meat and fish or even sprinkled on salads.

Food: Edmonton21 Dec 2009 02:35 pm

I debated visiting many restaurants for my birthday, even thinking as far afield as a return to Las Vegas. However, in the end practicality won out, and I stayed in Edmonton. While I considered old favourites Zaika, Habesha and Culina Highlands for dinner, I wanted to use the occasion to try someplace new. In the end, I settled on Hardware Grill.

When there is a discussion of good food in Edmonton, it is inevitable Hardware Grill pops up in the conversation. This long standing member of the Edmonton food scene has always been a front runner in cuisine in our city. However, until this month, I had never eaten there.

The restaurant opened in 1996 in one of Edmonton’s historic buildings, so named as it is in the location formerly occupied by the W.W. Arcade hardware store and Imperial Lumber store. The building, the Goodridge Block, opened in 1912. I had a very vivid memory of buying a copy of the game Jenga as a child at the location, which I thought was an Army & Navy. However, that seems to not be the case. Perhaps I just remember buying it up the street.

History aside, we arrived just on time to a busy restaurant for our Monday reservation in very cold weather and received a warm, casual greeting. Our table was in a private corner, just near enough to a large party of eight to feel included.

Initially I found the decor cozy, with a definite early 90s feel. Something about the colours and “loft” look, I think. After we had been sitting a while, I thought the decor was showing its age, however. Thinning carpets and squeaky chairs were evident. I enjoyed being able to see Jasper Avenue through the mesh blinds. Even at such frigid temperatures that day, there were still people scurrying about.

hardware grill tasting menu
Hardware Tasting Menu for the week of December 14, 2009

Mike and I decided on the tasting menu, which changes weekly and riffs off their a la carte menu. Our server left a copy of the tasting menu so we could know what was up next. I am accustomed to dishes being announced as they arrive, so this pleased me. Sometimes I forget the intricacies of dishes for when it comes to blogging.

As it was a special occasion, I also indulged in the wine pairing. I will admit to being a complete blank slate when it comes to wine. Champagne, I know. Wine, I do not. However I enjoy the wine pairing ritual and the decadence of a new glass with every course.

Mike got a pint of the $8 exclusive-to-Hardware Howe Sound Nut Brown Rail Ale. It is a beer from Squamish, B.C. It was nice, but a little thin tasting for such a cold winter evening.

Our server returned with a simple basket of some warm sourdough bread. I am not sure what to say about the service, since I think my issues with it can be chalked up to a personality clash. Generally, I  found it good, and well paced. I guess it was just not at the level for what I expected for one of the finest restaurants in Edmonton, but that is very subjective. Some people wish to be entertained at dinner, I do not.

I should clarify there were no huge issues or problems, it was simply something that rubbed me the wrong way. However when I think back, I remember the food, which is what matters the most I think.

The amuse (no photo) was a delectably fatty, salty, smokey duck prosciutto. With just four slices I was left wanting more…just as a good amuse bouche should do.

hardware grill edmonton
First course was butternut squash-mascarpone cheese tortelloni with chanterelle mushrooms. There were also cipollini onions, which appeared often in later dishes. Composing bites of tender pasta with a sliver of mushroom and parmesan cheese was wonderful, and rewarding. The warm creamy filling made this dish perfect for winter.

hardware grill edmonton
The salad was goat cheese fritters on top of greens with dates hazelnuts and striped beets. The fritters were creamy and warm, balanced by a perfectly pomegranate vinaigrette dressed salad.

Sweetbreads followed (no photo), which was the only disappointing course, in my opinion. They were wrapped in prosciutto, resting on a roasted portobello mushroom with onion jam, potato crispies and wine reduction. The potato slivers were very crispy indeed and awkward to eat. They reminded me of the bottom of a bag of chips, actually. They kept going all over the plate. I finally just rolled the slightly touch, slightly overdone sweetbreads in them.

hardware grill edmonton
Confession: I often order lamb because it looks beautiful when presented and is fun to eat. Hardware’s rendition did not disappoint. It came on a huge pillow of pea ravioli, which complemented the lamb perfectly.

hardware grill edmonton
Before dessert, I visited the ladies room which is in the basement. There you might peer into the private dining room, which is a richly coloured room full of wine. Hardware probably has the largest wine list in the city (the book was close to 20 pages) and so it makes sense to make it part of the decor.

hardware grill edmonton

We ended on a sweet note, a Glenlivet butterscotch pudding, with a cornflake crusted bread pudding, made to dip into the pudding. It was hard to tell, but I think our server tried to tell us that he had sent our desserts flying off the plate on his first attempt to deliver them. It was not surprising, the presentation was quite wacky. I will admit that I am not a fan of butterscotch, but this was a good dessert. I could not simply finish my bread pudding though. It was too rich, and I was too full.

The food was incredible, save for the slightly off sweetbreads course. A well paced two and a half hour dinner left me feeling satisfied. The service, however, made me feel awkward and might be enough to keep me away for a while. Perhaps I’ll give the lunch menu a try sometime soon.

Hardware Grill
9698 Jasper Avenue

Food: Home Cookin'20 Dec 2009 07:02 pm

I have a confession. I have never made a classic roast chicken. I’m not sure why: something about the time it takes? The oddness of handling a whole chicken carcass? I found the whole process very intimidating. However, on one of the coldest days of this year, I trekked out to get a chicken.

Safeway did not have any fresh whole chicken (frozen, either) so I ended up walking to the downtown Planet Organic. There, one last (large, organic) chicken. I nearly fell over when I saw the price: $26 and change, but I didn’t have a lot of choice. There was a lot of snow on the roads and I did not want to get stuck driving around for a bird.

roast chicken

At home, I had a roasting pan, herbs, lemons, garlic and a thermometer ready to go.

Where to start? I rinsed it off, and patted it dry. This is supposed to ensure crispy skin. I peeked in the cavity to see if there were any giblets or kidneys, which would need removing. This was probably the worst part about prepping the chicken. It wasn’t necessarily clear what was to come out, but the cavity seemed¬† pretty empty with nothing jumping out at me, so I think it was clean. There was a neck, which I oiled and salted, and placed in the pan. My mom always enjoys turkey neck, so I thought it would be nice to have some chicken neck. It was a delicious snack later on.

roast chicken

This kind of reminds me of an episode of Friends where someone got a turkey stuck on their head.


I cut up some lemons and garlic, and made a rub of three kinds of paprika, salt, pepper, ancho chile powder and olive oil. Into the bird went some garlic, thyme, rosemary and thyme. I peeled the skin away from the bird, and pushed herbs, lemon slices and garlic up under there too. I rubbed down the chicken (front and back) with the spice mix, and turned it over onto its breast. Some people say this ensures juicy meat.

roast chicken

Into a 475 degree F oven it went for 20 minutes. I dropped the temperature to 350 and cooked an hour and a bit, until a thermometer shoved into the deep meat of the thigh read 180 degrees. Looking back, I was very nervous and anxious at this point. The chicken wasn’t cheap, and I didn’t want to ruin my first bird by¬† making it dry, or under cooking it. Now that I’ve made two more, it’s smooth sailing, though.

roast chicken

roast chicken

Carving it posed more challenges. My favourite thing to eat in Thailand is fried “chain saw” chicken. Named as such for it is hacked and cut up so haphazardly. But I did not want to to eat bits of cartilage and bone, and wanted to save all precious bone parts for the stock I wanted to make.

The chicken was really good. It was juicy and meaty and flavourful. A total success, and I bragged for days about how I finally made a roast chicken at home.

Day 1: We ate it with spaetzle and braised red cabbage.


Pan fried spaetzle.

Day 2: For lunch,chicken chunks in pita with baba ganoush Mike had made, all toasted and warm.

Day 3: Then in Duchess croissants, with guyere. This was a favourite: I plated it into a sort of French inspired bento box, with dill pickle soup, an apple, braised red cabbage and a hearty French ale. Although I suppose a French bento might have wine instead of beer.


Then I started to run out of chicken. With just a carcass left, I decided to make chicken stock. And let me tell you, if roasting a chicken is easy, making chicken stock is nearly child’s play. Most of the work is done if you have already roasted the chicken, so you just need a large enough pot, some vegetables for the mirepoix, water, spices and time.

Roasted chicken will impart a deeper colour and flavour to the stock, but is not necessary.

We have a huge stock pot. I’m not even completely sure how large, but I need to use the foot stool to properly administer the stock within.

chicken stock

chicken stock

My mirepoix was chunky celery, onions and carrots, with parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme with juniper berries, peppercorns, cloves and star anise. To this, 16 or so cups of water. I let this simmer very slowly with the chicken bones for several hours.

chicken stock

The cold weather really helped, as the stock pot would have been too large to cool in the fridge. Instead, the patio became my fridge. I skimmed off the fat on top. Since this was not turning into a consomme or fine soup, it was okay if it wasn’t precise and a bit cloudy. After skimming, I returned it to the stove to reduce and condense it. I ended up with 12 cups of stock. It was very flavourful, as the anise and cloves imparted a strong spicy taste.

chicken stock

Some vegetables (carrots, leeks, onions, celery), some chicken and some egg noodles made a satisfying soup. I probably made too much, as we were eating soup for another week after that. But, I can safely say my chicken experiment turned out well, and I added another item to my cooking roster.


Food: Las Vegas19 Dec 2009 03:10 am

This started as a list of ridiculously expensive items in Las Vegas, but that seemed too boring after a time, since the pricey shit all features gold leaf. So here is a mix of otherworldly expensive items and just plain ridiculous “Only in Vegas” edible items.

10. Decadence D’Or


This cupcake (which is a bit non-traditional as you can see) is all over food and Vegas blogs this week. Coincidentally, the shop selling it, Sweet Surrender in Palazzo, just opened (*cough*PRstunt*cough*)

At $750 this dessert costs about the same as 5 nights at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, or 600 macarons from Duchess.

So, I hear you asking: what the hell?

Well, if you want the rigamarole, here it is. It’s made of a special Palmira Single Estate chocolate, from the Porcelana cocoa bean. (This chocolate is available in Calgary at Choklat). There’s a little Tahitian Gold vanilla “caviar” from the Vanilla tahitensis plant, topped with exclusive Louis XIII de Remy Martin Cognac, with some gold flakes hand placed on top. As opposed to a robot doing it, I suppose. I’d pay more if a parrot did it though. They should look into that.

Interesting fact: search “Tahitian Gold vanilla caviar” and nearly ever Google hit is about this damned cupcake. You know what vanilla caviar actually is? It’s the seeds of the vanilla bean. That’s right, the seeds (sorry, “caviar”), are those things you have probably scraped out yourself if you’ve used a vanilla bean. The press release says that it is “the world’s most labour intensive” fruit. This is because any type of vanilla fruit is crazy and takes a long time to ripen and is hard to pollinate.

9. Off the menu deals



These aren’t so much ridiculous as awesome. At Mr Lucky’s 24-7 Cafe at the Hard Rock, they have two off menu specials. One is the Gambler’s Special. It’s an 8 oz. steak, shrimp and mashed potatoes for $7.77, available all day and all night. The other is $9.99, available 4pm to 4am and it is all you can eat prime rib, with baked potato and veggies, plus a soup or salad. But you know the buffet drill to fill up on the good stuff, right? Meat and King crab legs only! Screw the veg!

8. Golden Opulence Sundae


This gilded pile of poop is the $1000 Golden Opulence Sundae, sold by Serendipity 3 at Caesar’s Palace. It is perhaps best known for being incredibly overpriced, but also for its cameo in an episode of 30 Rock.

I guess I could give a run down of what is in this thing like the other shit I posted about, but it bores the hell out of me. Basically this has gold foil and caviar, and you get to keep this crappy classy goblet it comes in. Serendipity 3 also came out with a $25,000 “Frrrozen Haute Chocolate”. Google it, okay?

7. 6 pound NASCAR Cafe burrito bomb

credit: VegasRex

credit: VegasRex

Okay, so I have blogged about this before. It’s a 6 lb. burrito available at the NASCAR Cafe at the Sahara hotel. I think the most ridiculous thing about it though is that they give you two free tickets to the Sahara roller coaster if you eat the whole thing. SERIOUSLY? Maybe it’s just good marketing. I know after I yak, the first thing I want to do is eat again. (For real!)

Better get this $19.95 deal before the Sahara shuts down though. They’ve recently shuttered two of their three hotel room towers, and closed their buffet. Maybe because this thing has been feeding entire families since its launch.

6.  Ménage a Trois

$3000 cocktail

This is the Ménage a Trois, available at Tryst at the Wynn. In addition to gold syrup and high end liquors such as Hennessy Ellipse cognac, Cristal rose champagne and a special Grand Marnier, you also get a souvenir. This time, not a tacky glass, but something sure to come in handy: a gold straw with a diamond embedded in it.

Well, handy if it was the 80s, and you knew Stevie Nicks.

5. Krug Tasting Menu

krug guy savoy vegas

This past summer, as people were losing their houses and jobs all over the world, Guy Savoy in Las Vegas opened their Krug Room. The specially decorated room (the first in North America) pairs a six course seasonal tasting menu with six Krug champagnes from 1985 through 1995.

I’ll admit that the room looks a bit like a boardroom in this photo, but is actually warm and cozy in person. I guess it is the gastronomic version of a fashionista gaining access to Vogue’s wardrobe stores…or something like that. The meal will set you back $750. But that’s not the worst part. There is a minimum of six people. So it’s really $4500. Awesome for a small wedding party if you ask me…

Moving on:

4. UFO (Unidentifed Frozen Object)


credit: EatingLasVegas

RM Seafood does a 4x4x2 ice cream challenge: a plate of 16 kinds of ice cream in a grid. Diners are encouraged to guess what is what and get the dessert for free if they get them correct. Flavours of the past have included lobster roe, rhubarb and white pepper, as well as more pedestrian mango and strawberry.

3. 80 oz. margarita guitar drink



This thing makes me shudder. It is also so awesome, I must post both a photo and a video of it. I think of sweet syrupy “margaritas” and salmonella, at the same time. I hope they all make it home with the tourist who purchased them, where they are whipped out at big parties. I don’t even know how much they are: any one know? My guess is $50, based on how much the long yards of margaritas are.

2. 777 Burger

777 burger

This the monsterous 777 Burger from Le Burger Brasserie at Paris Las Vegas. It’s a Kobe Beef and Maine Lobster Burger, topped with caramelized onions, Brie, crispy prosciutto and 100-year aged balsamic vinegar, served with a bottle of vintage Rose Dom Perignon champagne. The cost? $777 of course. No word if it brings you any luck at the table.

1. Dinner in the Sky

This looks 'shopped. I can tell by the pixels and from seeing quite a few 'shops in my time

This looks 'shopped. I can tell by the pixels and from seeing quite a few 'shops in my time.

In recent years I have had probably five truly terrible meals. I’m being quite broad here though: usually the food was bad, but sometimes the company was bad, sometimes the restaurant was gimmicky, sometimes generous dollop of all three with a dash of bad service.

Dinner in the Sky just seems like a bad idea. Kind of like those cheesy “dark” restaurants from a few years ago. I had to admit I’ve never eaten DINNER IN THE SKY! though, so maybe I’m mistaken. The premise is such: you’re on a platform in the sky (ahem, sorry, Sky Table) 170 feet in the air, eating “fine food” from “Sky Chefs.” Is this an episode of the g.d. Jetsons? At least the view will be amazing.

In addition to barely finding anyone online who mentioned the food itself, it also concerns me the Dinner in the Sky site spends more time talking about what happens before and after the meal:

Each guest receives the VIP treatment. We offer pick up and drop off at your hotel, a red carpet reception, complimentary photography and access to our Sky Lounge, a fun and festive place to party down or just relax before and after your flight!

Bottoms up! Or…maybe not.

Honourable Mention:

Couture lollipops from Sugar Factory at the Mirage

there's a sucker born every minute

there's a sucker born every minute

A piece of candy to match my outfit? Man, it’s almost like I’m a raver again. The colour-coordinated lolly (seen here, the Kim Kardashian special) with matching, interchangeable bedazzled handle, and protective enclosure (to save it for your future daughter, I guess) runs $25. Getting it stuck in your hair while puking at the club? Priceless.

Food and Food: Edmonton and Food: Home Cookin'16 Dec 2009 12:12 am

I’ve been crazy for gingerbread this year, and have been experimenting with different gingerbread recipes for a month.



The best has been one that is molasses-y but not too much so, kind of crumby yet moist and very spicy, with both ginger powder and freshly grated ginger root. I’m about to make another batch tomorrow, this time with ginger chunks from Bulk Barn.

This opened the flood gates and I started obsessing over ginger flavours. Before I knew it, I was trying anything remotely ginger related. Gingerbread lattes at Starbucks (ho hum, kind of thin). Gingerbread snap cookies (meh.) Then, finally a break through:

Real ginger beer by Crabbie’s

crabbies ginger beer

Summer? We drank this the day it was -46C in Edmonton. No ice though.

crabbies ginger beer

This is an awesome alcoholic beverage by the way. I got it at Sherbrooke Liquor, when they were out of the newest obsession in the house, a beer called Route Des √Čpices (Ale Rousse Au Poivre) by Quebec’s Dieu Du Ciel (it’s spicy. VERY spicy.) $6 for a reasonable serving, and this was tart, spicy and light. It’s 4%.

Then, because it was so cold I wanted to find a way to keep warm. I made hot chocolate from scratch. That is to say…

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

I attended a Christmas party a number of years ago where I remember exactly three things: we watched a Lord of the Ring marathon, we had souffles but the host was perturbed they fell, and there was some wicked home made hot chocolate with Screech in it.

What’s Screech? Why it’s a rum endemic to Newfoundland. Mike’s mom brought some back when she visited the east coast a few months ago. I’ve been dying to use it.

gingerbread screech hot chocolate
Real cinnamon reserved for special occasions

gingerbread screech hot chocolate
Chocolate “paste”

gingerbread screech hot chocolate
(This pot is my Gran’s. It is great for heating milk in, as it never burns, and stays hot a long time. She made it for making cream of wheat in.)

gingerbread screech hot chocolate

I edited my dad’s recipe for hot chocolate and came up with an awesome Gingerbread modification.

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 2 portions of 1/4 cup heavy cream (i.e., whipping cream. My dad uses evaporated milk)
  • 1.5 tablespoons of good-quality, unsweetened cocoa powder (I have started using Ghirardelli, but Valrhona or even Fry’s are good)
  • 1.5 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 0.5-1 ounce Screech (or any rum. Can also be omitted entirely.)
  • stalk of ginger root, peeled and cut into slices
  • half stick of cinnamon
  • dash of ginger powder and cinnamon
  • whole cloves or nutmeg, if you have them

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat, pour in milk and 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Add ginger root, cinnamon and any other spices you desire, such as cloves and nutmeg. Let just come to a simmer, and drop heat until milk gets very hot and steeps in spices, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cocoa, sugar, dash of ginger powder and cinnamon, vanilla, rum and 1/4 cup of whipping cream with a whisk. It will get very pasty, so add milk or water to thin slightly and incorporate.

When milk has steeped, whisk in chocolate mixture until it has dissolved. Strain into a cup, over marshmallows or with fresh whipped cream on top.

This recipe is not too sweet, very spicy and highly drinkable. I don’t know how well it scales up, as I have only made two servings at a time of it. It’s quite rich.

Finally, at Duchess last week I saw one of their seasonal items:

Gingerbread macarons.

duchess gingerbread macaron

I have nothing to say other than: they’re great. Just like everything else they make.

Finally, at work a few weeks ago, we had to photograph some products from local business Beardog Cafe. One of their products smelled so good it was all I could do to not scarf it down as I shot it: Raven’s Gingerbread.

However, it’s for your four-legged friend. All-natural, and some pretty cute packaging, too.

gingerbread dog treats beardog cafe
Do you have any favourite ginger treats?

General14 Dec 2009 03:17 am


Colleague and friend Ryan Jackson took this series of portraits of me at work a few weeks ago on his Yashica-D. I suppose that makes this the face of 29 years and 2 weeks, but I’ll just say thirty.

I guess it is only natural to look back on your birthday, especially when it falls so close to the end of the year. I always meant to make a list of “Thirty Things (to do) Before Thirty”, but before I knew it I turned thirty. It is probably really easy to critique all the negatives and “shoulda-couldas” in my life, and trust me, there are many. But I’m already too critical and hard on myself, so instead, here are thirty great things I’m proud to have done, experienced and made happen before I was 30. Kind of a retrospective bucket list. And who doesn’t love lists?

  1. I became the first member of my immediate and extended family to earn a university degree. Kelly Zee, B.Sc.!
  2. …That degree took me twelve years to earn. That’s right. Fans of Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers were born the same year I started university.
  3. I have visited nearly 20 countries and lived in five.
  4. Learned how to scuba dive, even though I am afraid of fish. Learned to rock climb, even though I am afraid of heights. Learned to ski, even though I am afraid of yetis.snowy
  5. Went through a long application and interview process for a job with the United Nations. They didn’t receive funding for their next year of operation, though. So, no job.
  6. Camped on a beach in Thailand, for two weeks.
  7. Learned how to drive a golf ball. Still can’t putt very well, though.
  8. Became a tarantula and scorpion keeper.
  9. Always been a fashionista.midkaz
  10. Turns out I am pretty adept at understanding geology, parasitology and pharmacology. Math and astrophysics? Not so much.
  11. Learned how to speak French, Thai and Arabic…to varying levels of skill. Have yet to master English. (Its/it’s gets me every time)
  12. Started a fire with a single match. But only once.
  13. Proposed to my boyfriend. (He said yes!)
  14. Hosted a crazy party at my parent’s house. (Sorry mom and dad!)
  15. Swam with turtles in Hawaii.
  16. After 16 years of a bruised butt, ego and broken teeth, I quit figure skating at 19.
  17. Became, and stayed (so far!) a winning poker player.
  18. Have yet to join Facebook.
  19. Went on a three month long solo trip through Southeast Asia.
  20. Maintained a blog in some form or another for a decade.
  21. Saw a chevrotain, in the wild!
  22. Snuck into a New York City club while underage.
  23. Changed a flat tire by myself.
  24. Rode a cow…for about 10 seconds. He wasn’t happy with me.
  25. Got over my fear of cutting my hair and went short. khair
  26. I was into internet dating before it was cool.
  27. Gave the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral.
  28. I have still not seen The Godfather, or any of the James Bond films. (Is that an accomplishment, or a tragedy?)
  29. I still get excited every time I ride the elevator at the Journal up to the newsroom, where I work.
  30. I am a published writer. And not just in those poetry books advertised in National Enquirers.

I’m not sure what some things I want to do before I am 40 are, but I’ve been pretty happy with the other three decades of my life, so I’ll just let it run its course.

Picture 2


At my dad’s request, I am sipping something “really good” while I type this. El Tesoro Aniversario tequila, in my “Z” monogrammed glass.


Food and Travels07 Dec 2009 01:09 pm

Our second night in Calgary, we visited Janice Beaton’s FARM. FARM is a casual restaurant serving mostly local meats and cheeses. The food is simple, but also simply well done. The decision on where to eat was easily made when we saw it was free corkage Mondays. We just so happened to have a bottle of champagne to drink.

FARM is cozy, outfitted with chandeliers and tea-cupped candles, rustic sideboards and tables, and mismatched, yet quaint cutlery. It’s farm-chic, I suppose. It’s kind of like eating at a friend’s house.

We started with a charcuterie board of three meats and three cheeses. They sell many of the cheese at their on site deli, but unfortunately they do not sell their¬†housemade p√Ęt√©. We would have purchased some of their rillettes which were meaty and tender. The mousse-like liverwurst from Old Country Sausage was very good as well.

farm, calgary

farm, calgary

farm, calgary

farm, calgary

Grilled cheese with tomato relish, pickles and slaw.

We each ordered a main dish, with a small dish of macaroni and cheese to share. The housemade pickles were crisp, but a little sweet for my tastes. I found the macaroni and cheese slightly thin in the sauce, but I couldn’t stop eating it.

farm, calgary

farm, calgary

farm, calgary

Although comparable in flavour to Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver, prices were slightly higher, and portions slightly smaller. Such is Calgary! However, I will definitely return to FARM…especially for their brunch.

dave jenn poster

Dave & Jenn were commissioned to create the Christmas vignette at Livingstone & Cavell Extraordinary Toys in Kensington. They made this large poster on vellum, featuring some of the wind-up toys for sale in the shop. They had just picked the poster up when we arrived in Calgary, so we did not get to see the final Christmas display.


I managed to stop in at the new Holt Renfrew in downtown Calgary. Three floors of madness! I was really digging the Yves Saint Laurent shoes on the right.

The store reminds me of Barney’s, actually. There are many displays and curious to peer at all over if you are just a tourist like me.

Before we left, we ate at Delicious Thai in Kensington. They had Chang beer!

The dishes were well spiced and comforting on a cold night. The duck curry we got had rambutan floating around in it, cutting through the heat of the chilis. This restaurant was excellent, and is a definite eat again on the next visit.

Although it may be a bit of time before we are able to see Dave & Jenn again (they are busy folks!) I look forward to it.

Food and Travels06 Dec 2009 07:43 pm

It has been far too long since I visited Calgary. Nearly a year, in fact.

I’m a big fan of the city. Friends Dave + Jenn live in a great area, Kensington, and love to indulge my eating out when we visit, although we do stay in and cook from time to time. Last visit, Jenn made the richest, most savoury oxtail soup. Bravo!

monogrammed cake

This trip, they made their famous decadent, super-deluxe flourless chocolate cake for me. Three ingredients: butter, chocolate and eggs. Also, embracing a trend appearing in cakes at the moment: monograms! (They ARE artists, after all) It was a weekend of cakes, as I also brought some miniatures from Duchess Bake Shop.

las tortillas calgary

las tortillas calgary

We returned to Las Tortillas, where I bought four kilos of tortillas. They also offer tacos now, three kinds on weekdays (after noon) and four on weekends. At $3 a pop, they weren’t inexpensive, but they were delicious. Pork, beef and chicken were sampled, and the men liked the beef best. Jenn and I just got pork, but also curious Inca Kola. It’s produced by Coca Cola, but is very different. It’s a yellowish colour and tastes of cream soda. Very strange indeed. The grocery is also better stocked now, with selections of masa flour and various canned beans and chiles.

savour, calgary

In Inglewood, the snow started to fall. We visited Savour, a small gourmet food and kitchenware shop.

savour, calgary

savour, calgary

Pollens, sugars and salts. There were lots of speciality items, including several kinds of popcorn.

choklat, calgary
Bonus: next door is Choklat. They’re a tiny chocolate purveyor who make their own chocolate. This may seem odd, but consider that many large chocolatiers import their cocoa. At Choklat, they select the cocoa beans and make everything themselves. I grabbed a few bars of chocolate, including the rare Porcelana. They also make boxed truffles to order, while you wait.

choklat, calgary
choklat, calgary

Six kinds of drinking chocolate? I had to indulge. The snow was coming down, and although the chocolate river smell of Choklat kind of turned my stomach. Seriously, it smelled like this looked:

wonka river

The drinking chocolate was spicy, smooth and rich. It was almost syrupy it was so thick. I got the Orient Express with six spices, topped with a swirl of whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon.

choklat, calgary

The spoon comes in handy!

The last stop was The Cookbook Company. This speciality food store offers a wide selection of cookbooks, ingredients and wine but also arrange food tours, catering and cooking classes at their on site kitchen. I’d only been at their small outpost at the Currie Barracks Farmers Market, and was overwhelmed with their store.

cookbook company, calgary

Not enough chocolate at Choklat? There’s more at Cookbook Co., including Prestat, Vosges, and Valrhona.

cookbook company, calgary

Many kinds of olive oils and vinegars.

cookbook company, calgary

The prices were extremely high ($3-5 higher on similar products at grocery stores or even the Italian Centre), but I found many things that have been hard to find in Alberta thus far. Not a place to do your everyday shopping, but an easy one stop shop for special things.

Up next, FARM, Thai food and shopping downtown Calgary.

Crafts etc and Food and General03 Dec 2009 11:27 pm

Be still my beating heart! A gift that combines three things I love: cooking, letterpress and tiny things.

A coworker saw this little book “Cooks, on Food, Eating and Cooking” at Notables and thought of me (so sweet!) so she gifted it to me. It’s a mini book, about 3 inches by 2 inches, letterpressed. Inside, quotes from chefs about the nature of food, cooking and eating. Perhaps a fun, whimsical gift for the food lover in your life?

cooks on food, eating and cooking letterpress