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Banff recommendations?

I agree, the lounge at the Banff Springs is a great place for a drink just for the view. Also try having cheese fondue in the Grapes Wine Bar.

I can't recommend Maple Leaf (one bad meal and several first-hand bad meal reports). I avoid Magpie and Stump too. Coyote Grill is usually fantastic, I recommend a seat at the bar so you can watch the chefs.

If you can, take her to Canmore for dinner. Better restaurants overall.

Aug 26, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Long report of Calgary, Moose Jaw, Gimli, Winnipeg

First time I've heard anything positive about Maple Leaf in Banff. Thanks for the report.

Aug 25, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Best Authentic Thai & Chinese in Calgary

Everyone always orders the green beans at Hans. They are to die for. Usually when I go there are a few staff in the back trimming green beans, so it's definitely popular.

Aug 25, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Western Canada's best bakeries lets make a list

Saw this post and decided to check out "The Gourmet Croissant" in Canmore at 11:40 this morning. They had no croissants at all, in fact they had virtually nothing. When I asked why they had no product, they seemed very surprised and taken aback that I would ask such a question, then they answered that they had had "a busy morning". They are apparently open until 3:00, not sure what they were planning on doing for the rest of the day, just hanging out and getting paid for nothing maybe?

I wasn't impressed, I suppose maybe their baker works in the early morning, then goes home. Maybe this is normal for a french-style bakery, but if a restaurant is open until 3 I don't expect them to be completely sold out of everything by 11:40.

I suppose I'll try them again some other day, earlier in the morning.

An Okanagan Summer, 2009

Wish I had this post two weeks ago! Maybe next year I'll hit some of these.

Can you sort these North to South? It would make planning easier. Last week I was mostly in the south.

Osoyoos/Penticton

To complete the Osoyoos report:

Smitties for lunch: good peach waffle special, excellent borscht, prompt service, everyone happy, my expectations were vastly exceeded. Ok patio, also about the only place open downtown on Sunday.

Dolci Deli on main http://www.dolcideli.com/ good lattes and capuccino beverages, lunch specials looked good (didn't try them). Also italian specialty groceries, like our grape thickened balsamic reduction, for cheaper than Mountain Mercato in Canmore. If you crave real espresso beverages this is a good place to go.

Speaking of espresso, the Tim Horton's in this area seem to have a super-automatic espresso maker that makes real espresso! Good in a pinch. I don't think we have these at the Tim Horton's in Calgary yet.

East Indian Meat Shop "10475 Highway # 97 (just north of the Husky) Osoyoos" will sell you tikka chicken that you can cook on your bbq or fire pit, along with fresh naan and some boil-n-bag or canned vegetable dishes. Bring along a hibachi or portable grill (like a grilliput http://www.grilliput.com/) and feast like a king at a park. Highly recommended.

Walnut Beach resort: we only had a few appetizers here, but they were good and the tableside service was friendly and prompt. (Poolside service not so prompt, walk up to the bar to order.

)

Fresh fruit and vegetables: this time of year I suppose it's obvious, but hit the fruit stands, not the grocery stores.

Osoyoos/Penticton

We actually went to Spirit Ridge yesterday for lunch. We are a group of 14 people with a rotating 16 hr flu, so some people came, then left sick, others showed up late and tired. They were very professional and friendly but suffice it to say they could have been just a bit more tolerant of the sick and tired kids. Maybe not the best place for a tired and sick large extended family with young kids.

The food was excellent. We ordered the three "platters" which serve two people each -- the charcutterie platter, the cheese-and-fruit platter, and the signature platter. Great selections on all. We had the mussels, and the onion tart. All very good. Definitely recommended.

There was a problem with wasps, which didn't help the situation with the tired and sick children.

We were on the patio by the wine tasting room. I think there might be another section, or maybe another whole restaurant, in the next building over.

Backpacking food

I've decided to try to compile a few more backpacking recipes or food ideas. These are foods consisting mostly of dried items (a small can of something as flavor is ok), and entirely of non-perishable items (a few semi-perishable items like pita bread or root vegatables are ok, and there are sausages and cheeses that will last an entire week). I usually try to get above 3 calories per gram of weight (including the ziplock bags I use for packaging). Field preparation/assembly should be simple, at-home prep could be more complex but simple is still better.

Here are my current favorites:

<b>Pasta with sundried tomatoes, bacon and parmesan.</b>In one pot (on one stove) prepare pasta. In another pot (on another stove) cover sundried tomatoes with water and simmer. Add diced hot red pepper (dried or fresh), oregeno, salt, pepper and some dried onion flakes. Dice pre-cooked packaged bacon slices (the ones that don't need refrigeration), when the pasta is done use that stove to heat the bacon. Drain the pasta, pour olive oil on it, serve it with the sauce, the diced bacon, and pre-grated parmesan.

<b>Cheese Bannock</b> Add water to your pre-mixed basic quick-bread flour mix (flour, baking powder, salt). Add crumbled old white cheddar. Kneed into a dough. Cook as flatbread in a pan, or on a fire wrapped around a stick, or in thin bunches wrapped in tinfoil. However you cook it, keep it thin or the crowd will grow impatient.

<b>Steamed Raisin Bread</b>Take one snack-sized pack of raisins (about 1/2 cup) and simmer it in just enough water to cover. Drain the raisins, save the water. Cool the water by adding extra water until you have enough volume to mix with your 3/4 c. prepared quick bread mix (flour, baking powder, salt). Add the water to the flour mix, kneed it into a dough. Add the raisins. Form it into a loaf in a small greased pot with a lid that nests in another pot with a lid. Add a bit of water to the outer pot, and cover them both, like a double boiler with lids. Cover the whole thing with a damp cloth, and simmer it for about 20 minutes. The bread will not brown and will still look raw, you need to poke it to see if it is done. If the appearance is unappetizing, cover it with some icing.

That's all I have for "recipes". For breakfasts we mostly use different oatmeal options, or peanut butter and jam on crackers. For lunch, it's all sorts of sausage, cheese, jams, or canned meats or fish on crackers or pita bread. I used to have some soup recipes but they seem to be lost, and never seemed to be concentrated enough to deliver the calories needed on a strenuous weekend. Chocolate and gorp complement most every meal.

Speaking of calories, we always bring lots of olive oil now. At 8.9 calories per gram, it's an effective addition to any meal.

Also I just noticed this old thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/402778 which has lots of ideas but not many recipes.

Aug 18, 2009
JAbraham in Home Cooking

Food Delivery for new moms?

For basic organic food delivery try spud.ca. Comes once a week. Generally not prepared meals, just ingredients, but saves the trip to the grocery store that's hard to fit in when you have a baby in the house.

Fresh produce in Calgary?

Produce in Calgary generally seems to suck (at least since I started making business trips to California's Central Valley, and this vacation to the okanagan.)

I recommend spud.ca for weekly deliveries. Their carrots and green beans are head and shoulders above anything I can pick up at a supermarket. Their other stuff is generally better quality than Safeway, but not always. For tomatoes, sometimes the Italian grocers can help out.

Before spud, I used to go to sunnyside market http://www.sunnysidemarket.ca/ and compare its produce with the safeway across the street.

Farmer's markets sadly don't fit into my schedule, but weekly delivery does.

Aug 18, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Alberta Food road trip!!!! :)))) Edmonton, Jasper, Banff and Calgary.

Best restaurant I've found in the Calgary area is The Trough in Canmore. Most consistent is Murrietta's in Canmore or Calgary. Other favorites at the higher end of the price range are River Cafe in Calgary and Big Fish in Calgary (haven't heard anything from Big Fish in a while, hopefully it's still good.) The Catch in Calgary still gets fantastic reviews from my out-of-town visitors, sadly I've never been.

A cheaper option is Han's in downtown Calgary (Tiawanese).

Cheaper options in Canmore include the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. Or Luna Blue Pasta. In Banff go to Coyotes Southwestern Grill, it's fantastic, but I think overall the Canmore restaurants are better than the Banff ones. If you must eat in Banff more than once, there are some places with good food but where the ambiance is really what draws: having cheese fondue in Grapes Wine Bar, a 1926 reading room in the Banff Springs Hotel, The Grizzly House fondue place on Banff Avenue (authentic 70's decor!), or the sushi-train (Sushi House Banff) restaurant.

Aug 18, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Osoyoos/Penticton

Wildfire Grill was pretty good. My wife said her Tuna Steak sandwich was absolutely fantastic. The tomato soup was also very very good. My blue cheese hamburger was good, nothing to write home about, but it's just a blue cheese burger so what's to write home about a blue cheese burger? The service was very friendly but a bit disjointed -- had to wait for them to change the keg on the beer, the bruschetta appy took a while (apparently the chef burnt the first incarnation), and my son's quesadilla got missed and came out in a hurry 5 minutes after everything else.

I would definitely recommend the Wildfire Grill. Friendly service and great food is more important than any minor mistakes.
Wildfire Grill
8526 Main St
Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V0, Canada

We'll probably hit Burrowing Owl for lunch tomorrow.

Osoyoos/Penticton

I'm in Osoyoos for a few days. Any suggestions? We're pretty open in terms of cuisine, but cheaper options that can accommodate large parties would be best.

We can drive as far as Penticton, I suppose, for lunch or dinner.

I love my Sodastream fizzy water machine

Absolutely.

Jul 20, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

What produce do you dry and how do you use it?

Thanks for the link to barryfarm.com, I think I'll order a few things.

I would buy or make a dehydrator. Yes you can dehydrate in the oven, but most ovens have 170degF as the minimum temp, and don't have a fan, and are not energy efficient at that low temperature.

None of the dehydrators I've found have stacking/nesting/folding trays, which is too bad. But since they tend to only come out in the fall, when the produce is best, you could buy it and keep it in the basement or the garage, instead of the overfull linen closet. They are a bit noisy and make the house smell like onions (or whatever you are drying) so once they are loaded up they might disappear into the basement or garage anyways, during the drying period.

You can also build your own dehydrator. The last plan I saw uses a lightbulb -- sort of like a Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven. It's just a frame and some screens, preferably a thermostat, a heat source, and a fan. You could probably make it fold up or stack. Or if you make it out of wood and window screen you could disguise it as a home improvement project and store it in the garage, instead of the linen closet.

My home-grown dried tomato slices are an essential staple, especially when backpacking. My dried fruits are also a hit, but buying pre-dried fruits is more economical than buying fresh fruits and drying them, at least up here where it's too cold to grow most fruit.

Jul 13, 2009
JAbraham in Home Cooking

Breadmaker recommendations / problems

I did a little bit of on-line and in-person shopping today, discovered that some of the Black and Decker ones have bad reviews, while the "convection" feature of one of the Cuisinart ones seems to help with crust consistency. Hmm.

Jul 13, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

I love my Sodastream fizzy water machine

Ok this is new, they've suspended any shipments, even to retailers, until they can get their CO2 cartridges recertified by Transport Canada. Supposedly they'll have that fixed in September.

Hopefully in September, they'll be able to ship to my house as well as to the retailer!

Jul 13, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

I love my Sodastream fizzy water machine

When I try to order on the website, it says delivery is not available in my area. I think they are trying to protect the Calgary retailer, which is 20-40 minutes away depending on traffic. The local retailer only carries the small CO2 cartridges.

Maybe I'll try to get it delivered to my vacation condo which isn't in Calgary.

Jul 08, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

Breadmaker recommendations / problems

I pulled out the old breadmaker to make pizza dough just now. I never use it for bread, because the bread is too crusty and hard.

I wonder why it never works well for baking? Could it be a thermostat problem (I've tried all the settings)? Or insulation? Venting too much/too little? Too low humidity in the air? Bad recipes?

Are there any breadmakers that actually make a decent loaf? This one is old enough that I could probably replace it in good conscience.

Why is it always better to make the dough in the breadmaker, than bake the bread in the oven? What is wrong with breadmakers? Do I just need a new model?

--
John

Jul 08, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

Surinam/West Indies (or Indonesian) in Calgary

There was a restaurant named Bali on 17th Ave SW for many years, in a strip mall near Sarcee Trail.

I just assumed they moved downtown recently, the logo looks the same to me.

May 04, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Surinam/West Indies (or Indonesian) in Calgary

What's amazing is that I never though to ask her what food was from her native Suriname, what was from British Guyana, and what was brought to her by my Grandfather via The Netherlands and Indonesia. (When my grandfather was alive he didn't let her into the kitchen too much -- he liked to cook his Dutch and Indonesian dishes.)

May 03, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Surinam/West Indies (or Indonesian) in Calgary

Well if we're going to eat at home, we could get take-away food! What about take-away Caribbean? There must be some takeaway Trinidad/Guyana places around, or we could slide over into Jamaican take-away and not tell anyone.

The easiest solution is probably to go to Bali. We might have even taken my step-grandmother there a couple of decades ago. If I remember correctly, it wasn't specifically Balinese, and there were lots of Dutch people dining there.

Or we could cook, which would also be fun, but then we'd have to figure out something else to do with the modest inheritance!

May 03, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Surinam/West Indies (or Indonesian) in Calgary

If the inheritance was larger flying to Toronto or The Netherlands would be under consideration! But they were poor immigrants, and she lived to 93. I think we need something in Calgary.

Restaurant Indonesia at 14th St and 16th Ave SW is still showing up on google, but the phone numbers that come up seem to be dead. Maybe I'll drive by and see if they're still there.

May 03, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Surinam/West Indies (or Indonesian) in Calgary

Fortunately, my step-grandmother was multi-cultural and multi-ethnic. What about Trinidad/Tobago sit-down places in Calgary?

May 02, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Surinam/West Indies (or Indonesian) in Calgary

My step-grandmother was from Suriname, and lived for a brief time in British Guyana. She married my grandfather, who was Dutch but was born in Indonesia. She spent most of her life in Alberta, but always loved her "spicy food".

We're now beginning to understand that her cooking was a fusion of her own cuisine from Suriname (which I now realize is itself a fusion of many cuisines, including Dutch, Indian, West African, Creole and Indonesian) and British Guyana, and the Dutch/Indonesian cuisine of my grandfather.

Anyway, she past away 2 years ago at a very old age with a modest estate divided into many small portions. The inheritance cheques have arrived, and we want to spend some of the money on a memorial dinner.

We could probably go to any Caribbean place or Indonesian place and toast her appropriately. It would have to be a sitdown place. I see Bali is still around, downtown now, is it any good? Is Restaurant Indonesia still around?

Any recommendations for sit-down Carribbean food?

Or, even better, are there any Guyanese or Surinamer places in Calgary?

May 02, 2009
JAbraham in Prairie Provinces

Pots and Pans for gas stove

To followup -- I ended up buying the Paderno Fusion 5 (5-ply stainless) set at The Bay for 50% off - so $500 instead of $1000 for an 11 piece set. Very happy with it so far. This set does NOT have the mounted disc bottom, and works wonderfully on the gas stoves. Also the handles are surprisingly cool.

Apr 09, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

Grinding Coffee Beans using Magic Bullet

I don't usually make pots of coffee, just 1-3 mugs at a time using my Aeropress. The Aeropress calls for a lot of coffee, about 1.5 tbsp per mug.

I think I used about 5 tbsp of beans the last time I made a pot in the drip machine. It took a long time to grind, and I was worried about them getting too hot. I think grinding two smaller batches might be better.

One of the reasons people like burr grinders is they don't heat the beans as much. The other reason is to get a consistent grind to get the pull time right when making espresso.

Apr 02, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

I love my Sodastream fizzy water machine

The instructions clearly warn you not to carbonate anything but water, and to add any flavorings afterwards. I have tried adding concentrated OJ to pre-carbonated water, but it fizzled all over the counter and didn't really work out. Maybe I'll try again with concentrated apple juice.

Apr 01, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

Miele Dishwasher decibel level

I also hate noise. When we renovated the kitchen and put the Bosch in I'd sometimes storm into the kitchen to yell at the dishwasher for making so much noise, only to find out that the noise was coming from the refrigerator! So it is very quiet. I also regularly touch the dishwasher to see if it is actually running. The "on" light on the front illuminates if someone puts it on time delay, so if the "on" light is on it could be running, or it could be just waiting to run. If I get very close and there is no backgound noise in the house I can sometimes hear the water swishing around, but it's easier just to touch it to see if it's vibrating.

So you should be happy with a good Bosch, just make sure you get a good one. I think they are making cheaper ones now that might not be as quiet.

All that being said, I've been told (by a salesman at the appliance store) that the Miele's are even quieter.

Spending more money on a dishwasher is about the best investment you can make, IMHO. Buy the best, you won't regret it. We got a slightly cheaper "Asko" for our vacation home, it is not as quiet as the Bosch at home. Good thing we don't use it as often.

Apr 01, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware

I love my Sodastream fizzy water machine

I love mine too! Carbonated water for 4 people at each meal and in between meals too! Good North-side Calgary Bow River carbonated water, not the silly imported european stuff or the cheap salty club soda stuff.

The syrups (for pop) aren't bad. The "regular" ones are half sucralose half sugar sweetened, so not as tasty as full-sugar pop but a lot less calories. The "diet" ones are all sucralose, no aspartame, so better tasting (IMHO) than most diet pop.

Mostly, I like not having to lug heavy containers from the store and the bulky containers back to the bottle depot.

My only complaint is that they won't ship me the syrups or the cartridges. I have to make a special trip to the one store in Calgary that is the regional dealer. As a person who mostly shops by bicycle, on foot, and on the internet, this is a royal PITA, (but not as much of a PITA as buying carbonated water on foot.) I have three CO2 cartridges on the go, and keep the empty ones in the car so I can refill them if I happen to be in that area of the city on a weekend.

I bought mine 6 months or so ago and it's definitely paid for itself two times over already.

I keep wanting to invent my own syrups, to make my own pop. I've googled around for some recipes, but haven't found anything particularly useful yet. I think the thing to do is to start with some aromatic bitters and some citrus juice.

Also, we keep limes and lemons in the fridge (ordered on the internet, of course, from spud.ca) and often squeeze a slice into a glass of water when serving.

Apr 01, 2009
JAbraham in Cookware