formerlyfingers's Profile

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Veal bone

Make friends with a chef worth his salt who makes veal stock. I know plenty who would happily throw you a bone. Sorry, had to say it...LOL

May 10, 2012
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Guanciale

The problem with Guanciale's availability is that the major meat distributors don't carry it or produce it because of the relative non-demand for the product. As it becomes more of an in demand item for chefs to use on their menu's, the meat suppliers will no doubt begin to list it. As it stands right now, there are strict federal laws governing the production of some products. Certain cuts of pork and beef, specifically specialty and offal products, as well as cuts that are close to the spine and brains of the animals simply are not produced in facilities that are federally inspected. There are some meat specialty suppliers who theoretically could carry and/or produce guanciale, because they are only subjected to Provincial inspection, but this of course comes back to the issue of demand for this relatively niche product.I do know however of no less than 4 restaurants in Calgary who are usung or have recently used guanciale. They are: Divino, Dolce Sapori, Charcut and Bonterra. All of these chefs are approchable individuals who would no doubt be helpful with suggestions. Charcut definitely makes their own guanciale, with the jowls being supplied by either Broek Pork acres or another local, small production pork producer. The others? Not sure....but hopefully this helps your search.

May 10, 2012
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Torontonian visiting Calgary....reccomendations, please?

In response to the "prairie" angle, might I suggest River Cafe. River would fit the bill for both prairie and high end dinner criteria, as you had mentioned you were interested in. Another place that seems to fly under the radar but is very much a top restaurant is Blink. The chef came from Whistler and Vancouver before that, working in top restaurants there, where the local / regional movement is firmly established in the restaurant scene. Highly recommended for both the regioanl and fine dining again. As far as experiencing our local scene and getting a snapshot of where Calgarians are going to eat at this moment, Ox and Angela, Una, Charcut and Model Milk are the main players. One note about River Cafe, they are closed for the month of January, so might be best to check the restaurant's website to find out exactly when they re-open and if this fits your travel schedule. Good luck.

Jan 20, 2012
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Model Milk - Calgary

The review from johnjohnson78 summed basically described my experience at Model Milk. I really like the design and feel of the room; felt it was a brilliant use of the old space. The appetizers we shared were great, especially the shrimp and grits. The smoked veal on toast with taleggio cheese however, was overly salty and the dish itself didn't make sense to me. Version of a beef dip? Not exactly sure of the intention of this dish. As mentioned by many others, Calamari Fricassee was excellent. The main courses, of which we tried 2, were disappointing. The chicken was prepared en sous vide, in an immersion cooker, which made the meat incredibly tender, but the skin was not crisped properly afterward, and the chicken lacked seasoning. The rest of the dish was a soggy mess, really. Limp mushrooms, bacon, chard or kale, and shredded meat of some kind....possibly chicken thigh meat? all pooled together on the bottom of the plate in a sauce that was watery and grey. The lamb was tasty but consensus was that too much was going on in this dish. Too many creamy elements, and a chickpea puree on the bottom...halfway through, all the sauces had basically melted together. The Q water on tap was warm. Service was great, and overall I enjoyed myself.

Jan 10, 2012
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Calgary: Restaurant or Venue that can seat and feed 140 people?

The Ranche in Fish Creek Park may fit the bill.

www.crmr.com

Sep 19, 2010
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Best Japanese/Sushi in Calgary?

In my opinion the best expression of authentic Japanese cuisine in Calgary is Sushi Bar Zipang on 1st Ave. in Bridgeland. I have had multiple great experiences there over the years. My only caution is the price; it is not cheap. But it is worth it.

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Sushi Bar Zipang
1010 1 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2E 7W7, CA

Apr 16, 2010
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Where in Calgary to rent pig roasting spit?

I had lunch yesterday at Spiros on 17th Ave...one of my fave spots for pizza...and they were roasting a whole lamb on the patio on a spit...looked delicious! You should go there and order a # 11 and ask them if they own it or where they got it.

Apr 05, 2010
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Where is Han's?

Embarrassed to ask this as I like to think I know the city very well, I drove around aimlessly last night looking for Han's. I saw U and Me, I saw Happy Valley and many others but alas...no Han's....

Help!

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Happy Valley Restaurant
100 3 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0B6, CA

Mar 26, 2010
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

BR& and WEST in YYC

Silly and confusing indeed. Clever and witty? Uuuuuhh... No.

My real issue though is with West. One of Canada's very best Restaurants, Vancouver's West is truly incredible and I can't believe the name is being replicated here.

Concorde Group no less? Wow quite a collection of places they are amassing. I hope the Toptable group is pissed.

Mar 16, 2010
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

tawah

There is an amazing selection of cast-iron cookware at (ahem) Army and Navy in the Northeast behind Franklin Mall.

Apr 27, 2009
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Moved To Winnipeg

OP here again.....great suggestions all....thanks so much. I have been busily eating my way through town...a few early favorites: Baked Expectations, Dairywip, 7 and a 1/4, Salisbury House!!! I know, it's not really nice or good for that matter, but I still have found myself there on numerous occasions when I want a cheap and cheerful breaky from nice people and I just want to sit and sip brewed coffee and read the Free Press. There. Do I sound local yet? LOL

Apr 24, 2009
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Moved To Winnipeg

Hello fellow hounds....I have recently moved to Winnipeg after living in Calgary for 15 years. Lots of great chowish memories from my time there, but life changes, and I am now a proud Winnipegger.

The best thing is that I have a new city to explore and TASTE. So......if there are any Winnipeg Chowhounds out there, please tell me your thoughts on this place...your faves, gems, musts, to be avoided spots, etc etc.

And while I am on the subject, I will make a pitch to all readers from The Peg....let's get this board rockin with posts about our city. I am excited to be here and I will be posting my discoveries. I hope there are some out there who will be reading them and dialoguing (sp.?) with me. Thanks!!

Apr 21, 2009
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Veal Bones in Calgary?

There are at least two industry suppliers that sell veal bones at a retail level if you know where to go. Western Quality Meats and Rocky Mountain Game Meats. If you call either of these and tell them you want to pick them up they should have no problem. Finally, make sure you specify "veal marrow bones" as these will be the very best for making proper veal stock with the kind of collagen rich consistency you want. Neither of these have a retail program per se, but I think they will accomodate you if you tell them that you have searched in vain. Be advised that the case will be about 20 - 25 kgs, which will yield at least 10 - 20 litres, depending on how far you reduce.

Nov 09, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

Something like Urban Fare in Calgary?

Hey Pants.....I drive through Marda Loop every day and I can't recall where Fresh is? Can you steer me in the right direction? Thanks!!

Nov 04, 2008
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Review of Lunch at Rush

We went to Rush last week for a staff lunch. 5 of us with a reso. Upon arrival promptly at noon we were greeted by hostess and manager. We were led by our server after a small delay to our table in the middle of the dining room. From the outset I was impressed with the effort the staff were making to elevate the service level. Jackets were taken and hung, hooks were brought to the table for handbags. Chairs were pulled out, etc etc. All of these subtle movements reminded me of fine dining meals I have had at the likes of Trotters, Lumiere etc. I think the restaurant is truly trying to be world class and on the level of these top tier kinds of places.

I was optimistic because of the beginning of the experience. Our server came and explained the water system.....bottled in house, free, still or sparkling - a nice touch to be sure. We ordered cocktails, asked for the wine list to be brought as we were thus far only offered a small by the glass list. At this time our server explained the food menu "works" - prix pixe with pricing for either 2 or 3 courses. The server seemed a little nervous. She was lacking in personality but she had all the right information. After some consultation with the sommelier - who also seemed a little uptight - we made our wine selections and after that ordered our food. I like the layout of the menu and I appreciate that there are not too many choices. This tells me that the chef and kitchen team should be able to execute the limited offerings nearly perfectly. A small menu is purposefully created to be able to do this. For lunch there are 5 first courses, 5 mains and 4 desserts. I ordered a vegetable salad, with the suspicion that there would be some interesting surprises in the dish. The dish was simply called "Vegetable Salad" with no details beyond that. My companions ordered the coconut pea bisque, the risotto and a goat cheese and beet tart. The chef Justin Laboe has an impressive background. He has worked at such culinary luminaries as The French Laundry, Inn at Little Washington and Accolade. Previously he had been a Hotel Chef in Bermuda. We trusted that with this wealth of world class experience surely we would be blown away.

An amuse bouche of cheese shortbread? was brought and it was tasty...really great cheese flavour. Bread service came next with no offer for more at any point in the meal. I like to be given the choice of more bread. The butter came out soft enough to spread, a good thing. There was a little bit of maldon salt on top. There was a little side dish brought and left on the table with salt and precrushed black pepper. The pepper looked dried out. This surprised me.

The first courses came out and from first glance we were impressed. My salad was underwhelming however, consisting of no more than simple, albeit impeccably fresh, greens, slices of carrot and parsnip, and some sunflower seeds in a light and barely tastable vinaigrette. This salad was disappointing to me. Good, yes. Interesting? Nope. The soup was interesting but I didn't really understand it. The combination didn't seem natural to me and I had to really bend my mind into making the connection between the coconut and pea. Smooth texture, simple presentation. Underwhelming was the general consensus. The risotto was very well made and of a high quality. It was tiny. Not more than 4 or 5 bites. Perfectly cooked and sauced with a beautifully reduced veal glace. I thought the addition of some extra virgin olive oil, maybe some sort of fresh green herb or even a shard or two of parmaggiano would have been nice to give a finished quality. The goat cheese and beet tart was pleasing to the eye but not really very technically innovative. A thin disk of filo or some sort of light pastry was spread with goat cheese, then topped with baby beet slices, orange segments and baby arugula leaves. This dish was the most detail oriented of the bunch. There were no surprises in the flavour. It tasted as it should.

Our plates sat for a long time before they were cleared. The server was at our table too often during the eating portion and not there for the clearing. I asked for a bottle of the water to be left on the table and I was answered awkwardly. The answer was no. Then I made it clear that I really did want the bottle to be left. The server said ok but that she would have to pour it first for everyone. What?? I think that the service team had been rigorously trained and thats great, but there must be room to allow for a customer to do their own thing according to preference. A memorable aspect of my best meals has been the service staff's ability to accomodate naturally and seamlessly the requests made of them. People are not all the same.

For our main course I had the St Canut Pig with apple and peas. This was a spectacular dish. Cooked sous vide with a little milk inside the vacuum packed bag, the pig was incredibly tender and hadn't lost any moisture. The flesh was pure white with a slight pink hue. The fat content was impressive and the fat itself was silken. I loved this piece of meat. On the plate were some slices of cooked pears in a veal reduction sauce. Superb. The menu indicated that it would be apples but they were in fact pears. The peas were fork crushed, barely cooked, with some fresh mint strewn in. This dish was a great big success all around. Also at the table was salmon with creamy grits and chorizo emulsion. The salmon was also prepared sous vide, finished in a pan to sear the flesh a bit. The chorizo flavour in the "emulsion" was negligible if noticable at all. There were some parisienne balled zucchini pieces on top. A well executed dish, but the chorizo component was certainly a disappointing non factor. There was a braised short rib dish with chive puree. The ribs were served boneless, which I prefer. They had a small amount of the braising liquid around them. The chive puree wasn't good. It tasted like powdered potatoes with a green color added. This did not complement the rib meat. The dish was amateurish seeming. Finally there was a garganelli pasta with mushrooms. This dish was tasty but perhaps a bit oversalted. The pasta was cooked properly and the mushrooms added depth, but the creamy sauce was too thin. Kind of an average dish was the thought shared by all.

Once again our plates sat for too long.

The decor is striking. There is no art on the walls at all. The room is beautiful but it feels soul-less. The service was efficient but felt similarly generic and lacking personality. Everyone was obviously trying hard.....perhaps a little too hard.

Desserts were good to average all around. The desserts were not on the same level as the brilliant desserts of St Germain at one time, which have become my measuring stick in Calgary. I don't know if the same pastry chef is still at St Germain but man, were they ever good at the beginning. The Pastry chef at Rush is Lisa Cheah, from Vintage and before that I think River Cafe. I had a citrus dessert that was simple but not memorable. It had a slightly sweet risotto arancini, some citrus sabayon, mandarin segments and a crumbled cookie thing. Decidedly average. There was an apricot crepe dish that had been browned way past the french standard of little to no color. I can't recall what the other desserts were. We had coffee when we asked for it after our desserts.

The bill was really high. Well over 450 dollars before tip etc. High prices are fine but in this case we felt that the value was not there for the price paid. I think Rush does a good job but they will need to figure out some kind of identity soon. They are certainly excellent for Calgary standards, but is that good enough to be considered truly world class? I could go on but this is long enough. Am I picky? You bet I am. When I am being cooked for by a chef that has the experience of this one, I expect to be wowed and blown away every time.

The bathrooms were a shocking let down for me, but that will have to wait for another day!

I plan to come back to Rush for Dinner to round out my experience here. Hope you enjoyed this review. Cheers!

Oct 18, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

The Strange Relic called The Brave Bull's House of Steaks --- Vancouver, pics

For what it's worth, I have had lunch at The Only half a dozen times and I return to the fried oysters and "Coney Island" clam chowder every time. The soup is served with a white bun and butter and it is absolutely one of the top two or three soups I have ever had.

I also look forward to another review from fmed.

Jun 02, 2008
formerlyfingers in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

The Strange Relic called The Brave Bull's House of Steaks --- Vancouver, pics

Yen. you clearly misunderstood me! I love the Blackfoot and in fact I go there quite often. My point was about the willingness to go to places that are tucked away, overlooked, misunderstood or different. And I am well aware of the reality of East Hastings; one of my regular stops in Vancouver is to the The Only for clam chowder, which is in a far more precarious location than the Brave Bull.

Incidentally, I agree with Bob, I didn't think the pictures of the meal above looked all that bad.

Jun 02, 2008
formerlyfingers in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

The Strange Relic called The Brave Bull's House of Steaks --- Vancouver, pics

fmed you are awesome!! I love that you post reviews of Fuel and BBHOS in the same day! You remind me of myself in Calgary, where any given week could range from Divino to The Blackfoot Truckstop and everywhere in between. Thanks for this post and keep up the diligent eating.

Jun 01, 2008
formerlyfingers in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Fiore Cantina

There are no Italians cooking in the kitchen of Fiore Cantina. It is owned by the Chianti group, which is really along the lines of Olive Garden. This is "pasta and red sawce" Italian American at best. If that is what you are after, fill your boots. It is cheap, tasty and completely un-Italian.

For a more authentic and charming experience just down the road, I would suggest Buon Giorno Ristorante. That is if moderately priced, casual Italian food is what you seek. If you are open to other types of food, list your criteria and this board can help you with more suggestions.

I would give Fiore a pass, though, personally.

May 27, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

Royal India

LOL .... I was more just commenting on the matter of fact and rather abrupt way your post sounded.

To answer your question, though, I didn't find the price high, personally. If I think about it, I guess it's on the higher side for Indian buffet. It prices alongside the likes of Rajdoot (just OK at best) and Tandoori Hut (better). But I must admit that I am not motivated by price in choosing my meals. I will always give a place a try and judge the overall experience afterwards, only then considering the price in the equation.

With that said, the experience I had lived up to the price. For a mere 3 or 4 dollars more than other places, I got a downtown experience in a nice room with efficient service and a diverse, fresh and well made spread.

"Expensive" then, is a completely relative term.

I once paid 5 bucks and change for a cup of clover coffee and although "expensive" to some, those who appreciate the process and the quality do not bat an eyelash at the price. Wink wink, nudge. nudge.

Clay oven = low overhead, scant selection, NE stripmall and very good.

Royal India = high overhead, prime DT real estate, massive selection and very good.

May 27, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

Royal India

Thank you for your insight.

May 27, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

Royal India

Had the day off and tripped around by foot in the Plus 15 network as I sometimes like to do. I ended up for lunch at Royal India, the space on 4th Ave that used to be Chutney.

$17.95 for the buffet, which was huge and well stocked. There were 4 different meats: lamb and beef curries as well as tandoori and butter chicken. 4 different cold salads and a good range of vegetable offerings. The usual East Indian Buffet fare I guess, but with everything at once, rather than just certain dishes rotated every few days.

The place is really large, with seating of well over 100 I would guess.

What struck me about the food was how fresh everything tasted. The meat dishes were excellent, but I found the vegetable items a bit bland across the board. Heat level was medium which I appreciated. The pakoras were excellent. Their raita was also great, which is of huge importance to me.

This will certainly be slotted into my rotation of Indian restos I frequent.

Overall it was a very good to excellent experience.

May 27, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

Indian Food in Calgary

Mtro.......I believe you are talking about Clay Oven.

May 26, 2008
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Philly hound coming to Calgary

If money is no issue, then cab rides aren't either. This person is coming from Philly, I think he/she knows about the realities of a big city, with all due respect.

May 20, 2008
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Philly hound coming to Calgary

In reading back over my original post, a small addition. I did not mean that there is a restaurant here called "Dim Sum"; instead I was speaking to the fact that are many dim sum options. I thought it read a little misleading and I am surprised other posters didn't point it out...........that's it. Thanks.

May 20, 2008
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

Philly hound coming to Calgary

I would recommend a trip to Sushi Bar Zipang for Calgary's best Japanese dining IMHO. More traditional as opposed to wildly creative. Very good food. Omakase dining here has always been inspired.

Others will no doubt point you in the direction of Dim Sum and other Chinese restos. We have a vibrant Chinese community in Calgary with many options downtown.

Tons of excellent Vietnamese options, esp. in the Northeast - an easy train ride away. My fave is Pho Que Hoang in the Pacific Place center off 36th street NE.

East Indian is done well here too, with numerous options. My favorites are Rajdoot and Surya for lunch buffet.

For regional offerings, there are a handful of better restaurants commited to local / regional / season driven cuisine. River Cafe, Muse, Teatro, Divino and Rouge are coming to mind.

Enjoy our city and let us know what you experience.

May 20, 2008
formerlyfingers in Prairie Provinces

They know about eggs too......

My friend and I rode motorcycles on a familiar route today - one that is also familiar to many CH's from this board; the hopscotch of small towns and their various foodish offerings to the South and Southwest of Calgary.

Highly touted are the likes of Route 40 and the Millarville Market, and others too, but I must report about the discovery we made in Turner Valley. There is a place there called The Chuckwagon. A down-home looking, barn shaped and Western memorobilia laden kind of place. They advertise "soups and pies" but as we soon found out, the naturally fed local beef was the star attraction here. We entered a nearly packed premises at the stroke of noon - locals mostly from what I could gather - and we were promptly greeted by two enthusiastic waitresses, one of whom advised us to grab a table wherever we could find one.

We were given menus very soon after, as well told of the specials. They all kind of revolved around the idea of the local beef : something they were obviously passionate about. After a chilly ride my friend and I both decided on coffee, of the brewed and poured tableside variety, of course, which hit the spot. We also both opted for a breakfasty item rather than the lunch choices. We ordered the 8 oz. ribeye steak and eggs. This was the very best version of this I have ever encountered. The staff are proud of their product and that pride extends to the kitchen as well. The steak was glorious! Tender where it should be tender, meltingly fatty where it should be, and cooked to a proper medium rare. I have had steaks from local Calgary butchers and high end steakhouses that don't come close to this one.

The potatoes were soft but not watery or mushy and had been seasoned then crisped on a griddle. They too were excellent. My eggs, ordered over-easy were perfect too. Some standard issue brown toast came on the side.

Like I said, this was "breakfast for lunch" and we were cold and hungry, but nonetheless this was superbly cooked food. Simply and professionally executed. We tipped way too much and got back on the bikes to head to Black Diamond and another, more familiar stop - the Bakery, for meat pies and cookies to go.

The Chuckwagon scored huge points in all categories with me and I most heartily recommend it next time you want a change of pace. They are likely very busy on the weekends, as we were there today (Monday) and as I said, it was packed.

It was nice to know that people still care about the basic elements of a good restaurant meal: food, service, professionalism, knowing your market and actually giving a damn. Sadly, I rarely see them combine in such a way in the city anymore. Hope you like it too.

May 05, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

Muse Restaurant - Calgary

Besides the decor, which I dislike , Muse has quietly been offering the best dining in the city for quite a while now. Thanks for your detailed post.

May 01, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

Help - Big First Date In Calgary

Divino would fit the bill.

Apr 26, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives

Calgary - Chinese food with Chinese guests

I am a pretty big fan of Sun Chiu Kee as well, as I have gotten to know the staff over the last few years. I always ask for their recomendations and I have never been disappointed. For a quick and inexpensive lunch I love the pork lunch special. Late night dining with groups has always been great too.

Apr 24, 2008
formerlyfingers in Western Canada Archives