February 28, 2011

Transcend Coffee Garneau & Eva Sweets - Eating Out

Transcend Coffee

I really want spring to get here!

1 - for obvious reason, it's cold and blustery and the snow just won't stop and I'm done with it all. Did I mention I'm done with it all.

2: We're planning another renovation this spring.

The hubby and I, we just can't keep still. We've lived in our home for about 10 years and we've changed so much to it. We're reno junkies and we can't stop.

It started that we need new shingles on our roof. My hubby decided that he'd like to extend the eaves for proper overhangs (we have an old wartime home with no roof overhangs). Since our massive +50 year old tree fell, making the front of our home visible to the street, we didn't like what we saw, so it's only natural that if you are already doing roof renos that it would be a good time to change the exterior look of the house. We'll be adding a porch to the front, to overlook the lovely pond the hubby put in.

Which then led to me asking to have the dining room pushed out 5 feet since we are already changing the roof line and planning the front porch. I love entertaining and would love a large dining room. Of course, a "simple" shingle replacement job turned into a whole lot more but this is how we roll. Like I said, we're reno junkies and we can't stop :)

One of the things I REALLY want for my dining room is a wall entirely of brick. And this, my friends, is where Transcend Coffee, Garneau location, comes in.

I went in a couple weeks back with the hubby and I was giddy with the decor. BRICK!!! White walls, big beautiful windows and I loved the hanging pendant white lights. I also love the white eames eiffel chairs. A modernist's delight in decor.

Cappucino & waffle

My hubby ordered the Eva Sweets waffle with his cappucino. Great combo and a great price at $6. I sat and enjoyed my delicious mocha, which was made with really good quality chocolate, and got excited with all our upcoming reno plans. The sun was shining and the coffee and waffle were a perfect touch to a lovely setting.

Come on spring. Hurry it on up! I want my dining room!!!


February 26, 2011

Lazy Saturday - Weekly Photos

Vase of Tulips

I've been having a lazy day. Very relaxing though.

My day has consisted of watching my saturday morning shows in my pajamas, while I make some salad dressing from scratch, a large dish of berry crisp and then clean my kitchen

Followed by a nap and now I'm going to make some supper. Then I shall kick back on the couch to chat with family while I sip a glass or two of wine.

Tulip love


I could really have this kind of Saturday every week.

February 22, 2011

Top Chef Tuesdays: S08 E08

Join me on my blog for Top Chef Tuesdays, as I recap each episode. I'm aware that Top Chef All Stars has already been airing in the US and we Canadians are a couple (*ahem - maybe more than a couple) episodes behind. So please, all you folks who are ahead of the watching, please, no spoilers. I'm recaping in my own personal opinion and it is all in good fun. Please join me in the comments.

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Anyone else bored with this episode? I'm having a hard time wanting to do a write up. So, uneventful. So very yawn.

It's fashion week in New York and Isaac Mizrahi is... wait a second? Am I watching Project Runway? What the heck? No, no. There's Padma and the chefs. weird.

The chefs need to make a plate that will be judged solely on presentation and aesthetics for their quickfire. There will be no eating of the dishes.

This is where I am shocked. Why are people working SO hard cooking stuff? Presentation, presentation, presentation! Make something that will make me want to eat your food. Food P0rn. What is the matter with them?

Angelo's plastic bag full of squished food totally had me in disbelief. What? Who in their right mind would want to eat that? I think Fabi'oh' had it correct in calling it a bag of vomit. Tre and Dale had a plate of abstract & graffiti "art" which didn't entice me to eat but instead made me think of painting. They were the bottom three at judging.

Carla had a visually pleasing cucumber filled borscht dish. Fabi'oh' was on an "acid trip" when he concocted his dish complete with story of a woman with an umbrella who was getting rained on. His dish did look nice, complete with a written script on the plate, but when he started squeezing a lemon to have "acid rain", I was really embarrassed for him. It was Richard's black ice cream dish that won the quickfire because as Isaac said he "would love to eat it."

And onto the Elimination Challenge where a 3 pack of "mafioso-looking men" walk into the room. Franki "No", Franki Jr. and Dino, the chef from Rao's Italian family restaurant, come to tell the chefs they are to each create an Italian dish inspired by their 114 yr old restaurant which is all about family and tradition. Simplified food that reminds them of home.

We hear stories of the Italians of the group: Fabi'oh', Mike, Angelo and Antonia but it was Tre who made me laugh out loud with his statement that people call him a "Black Italian". He sure looks like a black "Italian Stallion" to me. And Tiffany is sure she has a good shot keeping up with the Italians since she worked at an Italian restaurant for 5 years.

Our judges are the usual brat pack: Tom (who is Italian), Padma, Tony Bourdain (who is also Italian) alongside the Rao's family and guest judge Lorraine Bracco, who make me miss The Soprano's.

The top 4 are Carla, Tiffani,Fabi'oh' and Antonia. The judges thought Carla's dish was good but not great, Tiffani's sausage and polenta were great and but Fabi'oh's polenta and caccitori was more "old world" to them in comparison. Antonia took the prize for her simplified mussels, which spoke for itself, and was served family-style creating the all around perfect comfort dish.

Mike embarrassed his Italian jersey-shore roots by serving undercooked fresh pasta with calamari. Even though he was told boxed pasta was perfectly fine to use, he went and made hard fresh pasta. Oh mama mia, what a stubborn Italian.

Dale made the same dish he served his girlfried for a romantic dinner, a homemade pasta with brussel sprouts. His dish was undercooked, bland and didn't have enough sauce. Lorraine Bracco stated that if she was his girlfriend, he would not be getting laid after a dish like that! HA!

Tre's risotto failed to impress as it was not creamy but firm and did not even spread in the dish and he buried it with garnish. The "Black Italian" was wacked. Too bad, I'll miss his muscles.

I'm hoping next week's episode is more entertaining. Later peeps.

February 18, 2011

Wedding Cake & a Box of Chocolates

Cake1

I have a friend who is currently enrolled in the baking & pastry program at NAIT. She's the same friend who helped me out at with buying all my Christmas baking too. In my food-obsessed world, I guess she'd be considered a "friend with benefits"! haha.

I thought I'd share some of her projects with you. Her recent work includes decorating wedding cakes! How fun but also stressful that you will be marked on every little curly-cue, scallop or border. I can't believe each flower was handmade too. Amazing. She did a beautiful job didn't she?

ChocoBox1

I'm also in awe of the chocolate box. She made it for her Valentine! Lucky guy. Completely made out of white chocolate with an stunning edible transfer paper design on top. All the individual chocolates, inside the box, were made and filled by her too in a 3 step process. Talk about a lot of work.

Just too pretty to eat. I'd probably allow a day to admire it and then devour it in no time. As the saying goes, take a picture - it lasts longer :)

February 17, 2011

Eating Out: Khazana

Indian food at Khazana's

We went out to dinner on Saturday to Khazana. I've spoken about my memories of indian food cravings walking past Khazana before. I love all sorts of ethnic food and we have been yearning for butter chicken for some time.

And did Khazana deliver. That is damn good butter chicken.

In a new dress and large-fangled earrings, we dropped off the kids and I was all giddy, being out with the hubby. A date for two doesn't happen often! I love the interior filled with wood and beams. It's my type of decor. I was pretty excited to see fireplace aflame. Ahhh ... fantastic ambiance.

We arrived at our table to have a whole family to our left, complete with baby crying. Followed up 15 minutes later with the musician, testing out the sound, with screeching coming out of his speakers to my right. Romance in the air, I'd say not. The hubby and I kept making jokes that it was no Date Night either.

But, I loved watching the chef's pat and stretch out the naan bread before sticking it to the side of the tandoori oven. I ate more than my share of naan. Chickpeas, lentils, korma, you name it, it was all satisfying.

And as a side, don't take a handful of that after dinner "potpourri" stuff on the way out. We were laughing at ourselves, thinking maybe it was really just for show and indeed potpourri and the folks at Khazana's were probably shaking their heads, side to side, thinking "silly white folks who have no clue". We were digging that stuff out of our teeth the rest of the night.

Thank goodness for that butter chicken. Totally worth it.

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Khazana
10177 107 St
Edmonton, AB

February 16, 2011

Top Chef Tuesdays Wednesday: S08 E07

Join me on my blog for Top Chef Tuesdays, as I recap each episode. I'm aware that Top Chef All Stars has already been airing in the US and we Canadians are a couple (*ahem - maybe more than a couple) episodes behind. So please, all you folks who are ahead of the watching, please, no spoilers. I'm recaping in my own personal opinion and it is all in good fun. Please join me in the comments.

...

Sorry, under the weather. So lets make this a quick one!

QUICKFIRE! Portion 1 cod and fluke fish.

After the chefs watch Justo Thomas cut and portion 2 fish in under 8 minutes, they are given 2 extra minutes to do the same. Justo made it look SO easy. Fabi'oh' cuts his finger, Tiffani, who is a chef at a SEAFOOD restaurant, portioned it the wrong way and Antonia just apologized before they even looked at it. ha!

Marcel, Mike, Dale and Richard are the top 4 and are given the challenge to make a dish in 45 minutes for immunity. Richard is feeling lucky since he used to be the prestigious fish cook at McD's but it is Dale who wins the challenge with his 2 dishes.

RESTAURANT WARS!

Dale won immunity earlier so he is a team captain and he gets the honor in choosing who the team captain will be for the other team. He absolutely does not want Marcel on his team so he chose him as a captain. Good strategy! The teams get assembled and restaurants get named:

Etch: Marcel, Mike, Antonia, Angelo, Tiffani
Bodega: Dale, Richard, Tre, Fabi'oh', Carla

Just looking at the teams, I'm sure you can get a pretty good idea which team is the superior in terms of working together. As Fabi'oh' put it, his team is the marathon team where Etch are the sprinters. And it starts out with all sorts of trouble.

No one is listening to team captain Marcel but then I wouldn't either since he has no idea how to speak to people. Etch looks like a 2 cats caught in a hail storm, at odds, constant chaos and disorganized. Mike and Marcel squabbling like 2 children at recess doesn't help.

Head on over to Bodega where it so quiet you can hear a pin drop. Did you catch the ghost town music? I think I saw the tumbleweed next to the refrigerator.

Is there any doubt that Fabi'oh' can shmooze and entertain the front of the house? Not only that, he impressed the judges with the way he handled and commanded all his servers too. It was poetic! On the other hand, poor Tiffani, she just did not have a chance. She may be southern but hospitality isn't her shtick, you know what I'm talking about, y'all?

Bodega overwhelming gets the prize with about 80% of the diners preferring their restaurant. I loved the tuna in a can, great styling! Judge Anthony Bourdain called Dale's egg dish "stoner food at it's finest" and Fabi'oh's blueberry pie rocked it. However, Richard won the challenge and I all could think was that he was that annoying kid after an exam in school thinking he failed but then finds out he got 98% or something like that. roll my eyes.

That was the good, now for the bad and ugly. Etch is brought in and the fighting between Mike and Marcel starts up again. The judges thought their team was the perfect storm. They didn't think Tiffani worked well as front of the house, Angelo was as quiet as a mouse and didn't step in to help out his team and Marcel's fish was mushy and the dessert with foam was disliked by everyone.

The showdown at high noon had Marcel packing his knives before his 10 paces. Sorry cowboy. Better luck nextime.

February 11, 2011

Very Oniony Okra Fritters

Onion & Okra Fritters

We have this rule in our home in regards to our kidlets trying new foods, you can't say you don't like it until you've actually tried it. Just one bite, is what we say and they always comply.

There are times when we offer them something new, like the above fritters, fully knowing that they will not like them. My daughter hates onions. My son doesn't like green foods in his meals. But, they both took a bite and chewed. My son chewed and gulped it down with a "I don't like it".

My daughter, well, she hardly even made it through one chew before she spat it out. This is when I looked the other way not to let my kids see that I was laughing. See, my hubby more than doubled the amount of onions in this recipe. It was almost entirely onions. And he didn't mince them up in small pieces either. Before she even took a bite, her eyes bugged wide as she asked "is that onions in there?" and I responded with a "I don't think so".

It's the little ways of getting back at my kids that sort of evens out our little universe here. hahaha.

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My hubby grew okra, alongside his tomatoes, in his hydroponic shop in the basement. It was harvest time and he wanted to enjoy them without their slimey-ness so he found this Okra Cornmeal Fritters recipe.

However, the above picture isn't a great representation of the actual recipe as he didn't have the bacon, had only 1/2 the amount of cornmeal and he more than doubled the amount of onions. I think he changed other things too. This is why I don't usually post recipes my hubby attempts. Who heck knows what he did to the recipe. But, I have to give it to him, they turned out pretty well, considering, but we both agreed, too much onion.

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Nifty appetizer idea: if you do decide to make the recipe as instructed, they make great appetizers. Bought these cute little shot glasses which make perfect vesicles. Put a little salsa at the bottom, pack a fritter in each and there you go, easy entertaining.

Have a great weekend!

February 8, 2011

Top Chef Tuesdays: S08 E06

Join me on my blog for Top Chef Tuesdays, as I recap each episode. I'm aware that Top Chef All Stars has already been airing in the US and we Canadians are a couple (*ahem - maybe more than a couple) episodes behind. So please, all you folks who are ahead of the watching, please, no spoilers. I'm recaping in my own personal opinion and it is all in good fun. Please join me in the comments.

...

I knew I wouldn't be able to watch Top Chef so I set the PVR. Went to turn it on later and there was no sound (my kids must have turned off the speakers). I was watching what looked like Marcel rapping. "Wiggity, wiggity, whack" Then the sound came on... oh no, he's not rapping. Dale is one step away from knocking Marcel's marshmallow for brains out, but thanks to his "anger management" courses, he walks away and Tre confirms that Marcel is indeed a drunk a$$hole.

Gosh, we're getting off to a good start.

The chefs enter the kitchen with Padma nowhere in sight (Yo mama's so skinny, she turned sideways and disappeared!) only to find a card stating they were heading to Montauk for Fishing!!! There will be no quickfire challenge but a DOUBLE elimination. Suh-weet! The chefs will be broken up into 4 teams of 3 and will have to catch and cook for a beach party later that evening.

Dale is the first one to haul out a fish, right after we are shown a clip of him telling us that his father was an angler and he wants to make him proud. Can you hear the feel good music... oh, that is good editing.

Speaking of editing... did you see the SIZE of Tre's arms? Oh.My.Word. I don't think it's possible that someone could have arms that big!

Fabi'oh, Marcel and Richard are basically listening to chirping crickets at sea. They have not caught one fish while others, like Antonia, are screaming "like a 4th grader" with every catch. But, lady luck finally comes their way and then we have Richard telling us that they found a new fangled way of reeling fish in, which entails Richard in Marcel's lap, holding his "rod". Have I mentioned that I just love this show. haha.

While I ponder how perfectly Mike represents a blowfish, Tre a bottom feeder and Angelo as a mermaid, the chefs are planning and executing their dishes. Tre's annoyed with Jamie's constant whining and complaining (she's worse than my kids!) and Fabi'oh's bro-mance with Richard is cast aside like a cheap h00ker. (Poor used and abused Fabi'oh')

All of the dishes look amazing and I watch, wishing that I could be a guest judge or diner, at this wonderful beach party.

Judges table brings in two top teams and it was Cosmic Carla's lettuce-wrapped tuna that beat out Dale's fish taco. I'm sure Dale doesn't feel the need to win since his true prize was catching the massive barracuda he "birthed", as one of the chefs put it. Though, I very much doubt that.

The other two teams are brought in. Marcel, Fabi'oh and Richard only make one dish, a fish succotash that had too many elements, bad texture and unneccessary components like the concord gastrique? (what?) and foam. Fabi'oh' was right with his strategic move of being prep man and agreeing with only making one dish, as the judges would have a hard time sending a specific person home. That must of been the reason he let Richard constantly ride him during prep and cooking. Ya mule, ya!

Jamie, Tiffany and Antonia each made their own dishes which put them up as easy targets. Antonia was safe, as Tom pointed out that if she wasn't on the losing team, she would have won the trip to Amsterdam. Burn. Which leaves both Jamie and Tiffany cast out to sea as fish fodder.

Bon voyage ladies.


February 7, 2011

City of Edmonton and Culina Partnership Launch at Muttart Conservatory

I recently had the pleasure of attending the new partnership launch between The City of Edmonton and Culina Restaurant Group at the Muttart Conservatory

Culina & City Edmonton Partnership Launch at Muttart Conservatory5

I have to admit, I'm a lucky gal. For those of you who did not receive an invitation, here is your chance to feast with your eyes.

Culina & City Edmonton Partnership Launch at Muttart Conservatory4

Culina and it's local suppliers showcased their quality products.

Culina & City Edmonton Partnership Launch at Muttart Conservatory 1

I noshed.

Culina & City Edmonton Partnership Launch at Muttart Conservatory3

And imbibed.

Culina & City Edmonton Partnership Launch at Muttart Conservatory2

And spoke with many wonderful people. People who work very hard and proudly stand behind their products. As they should.

So go on. Now that your eyeballs are full: go for yourself and feast, raise a few glasses and go to market. And, don't forget to bring a friend or two.

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Please check out some of Culina's local suppliers too:


February 4, 2011

Key Lime Mousse

Lime Mousse Dessert Recipe

Key lime reminds me of the infamous key lime pie, known in Key West. The hubby and I went on a cruise, several years ago, and one of our ports of call was Key West, Florida. It was humid and hot. We absolutely fell in love with the place, even though we were only there for a couple of hours. Though it was touristy in certain parts, we ventured off the beaten path and loved how there were so many restaurants, cafes and bistros to stop and get together with people. Must of been something in the air but it was the best part of our cruise, by far.

I usually have lemon and lime concentrate juices in my fridge. But every once in a while, I go and buy a few fresh limes to zest the lovely outsides or juice to make a dressing. The concentrates are not the same as freshly juiced but they work when I need some for baking.

Lime Mousse Dessert

This time around, I had 2-3 limes in my fridge and I really wanted a citrus-y dessert. I stumbled upon the key lime mousse recipe and thought it would be perfect way to bring some tropical and warm thoughts into the current dreary, wintry days.

Not the same as being in Florida, enjoying key lime pie, but it'll have to do.

February 1, 2011

Top Chef Tuesdays: S08 E05

Join me on my blog for Top Chef Tuesdays, as I recap each episode. I'm aware that Top Chef All Stars has already been airing in the US and we Canadians are a couple (*ahem - maybe more than a couple) episodes behind. So please, all you folks who are ahead of the watching, please, no spoilers. I'm recaping in my own personal opinion and it is all in good fun. Please join me in the comments.

...

Padma explains that the Quick Fire is to test the chefs speed against one of the nation's top chefs. So many fantastic top chefs, who can it be? Did anyone else get a big smile on their face watching Tom Colicchio confidently walk in? I couldn't help myself!

The timer starts and Tom is cool, calm, organized and collected. He makes it look so easy prepping and cooking his black sea bass in 8 minutes and 37 seconds. 8:37! I can't even make a salad in that time! I laughed out loud when he threw the fish and nearly hit Padma.

Seeing the chefs make a run for the fridge made me think of my kids playing soccer. One ball and the entire team, collectively running after it. Smarty-pants Marcel took Tom's leftover sea bass therefore bypassing the congestion in the kitchen.

It was obvious that 8m 37s was not enough time for most of the chefs. Padma and Tom's least favorite dishes were Dale's embarrassing 2 noodles on the plate (didn't it look so sad?), Jamie's lonely clam and Angelo's raw dish. Oh dear Angelo, when Tom specifically says to cook a dish and you ignore it and still serve a raw dish, you are an idiot.

Richard's foie gras is delicous, Marcel's fish is great but ultimately, Jersey Mike's great flavored branzino fish wins him a Toyota Prius and immunity. Marcel does a fantastic jersey impression of Mike in his new car... "fist-pumping in Jersey asking for a quarter coffee". haha. What a crackpot.

The chefs are told of their Elimination challenge of taking over a dim sum restaurant lunch rush in Chinatown before they head home for the night to plan. Fabi'oh' is worried because making Chinese food for him is "like nightmare on elm street". People are amazed Jamie wants to do 2 dishes since she is so slow and hasn't been cooking much throughout this season. As the evening continues, the hijinks start, except, it's the ladies drunkenly laughing nonstop and taking off their bras to scare the men away. Woman can hold their own in the silly department too. Fun times.

The next day, the chefs attend a chinese supermarket. Very much like my own visits to the local T&T Supermarket or Lucky 97, the chefs wander around trying to decipher what it is they are buying since everything is written in chinese and aimlessly trying to find someone who speaks english.

Mark my words: I predict that the turtle will be the new "it"animal, replacing the Hollywood desperate housewife chihuahua lapdog. When Fabi'oh' sees the turtles in the aquarium, he's upset and we are shown a clip of him walking his pet turtle on a leash. I just didn't think I could love Fabi'oh' more, but gosh darn it, am I a total sucker. Dear Fabi'oh': please consider, like the sister wives, you and my hubby can be my brother hubby's, my door is open, send me a tweet!!!

Maybe it was too much drinking the night before but the chefs in the chinese dim sum restaurant kitchen are not remotely close to the zen-like movement and graceful speed depicted in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. They know they are totally failing, well before the customers are getting impatient and walking out, angry over "caucasium dim sum". Even Tom has to go down to the kitchen and lay some smack on the chefs. Can you say embarrassing?

Susur Lee is the guest judge (he's NAIT's Hokanson chef-in-residence this year and I just got tickets to his Element of Taste luncheon - super excited!) Tiffany D's pork bun makes the top 4 as does Angelo's spring rolls and Fabi'oh's ribs, which the judges were impressed with especially since he has no experience with chinese food. But, really, was it any doubt that Dale's modern take of sticky rice was going to win? The dude grew up eating and preparing this type of food!

Carla winced at Susur's comment that her dish was cooked with her eyes instead of her stomach. Antonia and Jamie's disastrous green beens were the least favorite, as well as Tre's liquidy "hospital food" dessert and Casey's undercooked chicken feet and "heavy like lead" pancake.

At this point, I was so certain Jamie was going home. Even Jamie herself was sure she was going home and gasped out loud when they announced Casey's name. Sorry Casey, I guess you really "Dim sum and lose some".


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