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Piment d’Espelette

You can buy it at L'Epicerie on 1st Street SE (the little strip with the Callebaut factory and Manuel Latrowe patisserie). Have a foie gras bagette while you're there. In fact, all of the baguettes from L'Epicerie are delicious.

Szechuan restaurant (old Cheung's Garden) - Calgary

They were (somewhat randomly) closed on Wednesday. Not sure if that's the usual state of affairs. Will try again next year.

Szechuan restaurant (old Cheung's Garden) - Calgary

Fantabulous! Thank you!

Mi Tierra Tu Taqueria-Calgary

+1 to what everyone else said.

The enchilada verde is sensational, with the green chile sauce having a proper spicy kick. Now, some of the other stuff we ordered wasn’t quite as good; the chiles rellenos were a bit flabby and a lacked sparkle, all of the rice was a bit lack-lustre, but who doesn’t love refried beans?

OK, so it’s a long way to go for one great dish, but I am sure that a further exploration of this menu will show up some more superstars. Oh, and the décor really is a bit fast-food joint, so don’t go expecting a fine dining experience.

I blogged about it at (in case anyone's interested :-)

Szechuan restaurant (old Cheung's Garden) - Calgary

I believe it's at 414 16th Avenue NW. Does anyone have a number? I want to call and make a reservation but googling Szechuan Restaurant isn't helping. And, of course, the old Cheung's Garden number hasn't been taken over by them. I'd really like to order the fish for tomorrow night, so a number would be great.

Kensington Riverside Inn

What a small world! You weren't with the dentists, were you????

I just checked the menu and it does say chorizo on that. I was just so sure it was pancetta that I didn't even query it. The waiter told me it was a take on cassoulet, with pancetta and beans. Bet the menu is just a typo as you wouldn't make cassoulet with chorizo.

Kensington Riverside Inn

Executive Chef Theo Yeaman has cooked in some interesting-sounding places I have never eaten at in Canada and has done a stage at the Fat Duck in Bray, where I have. His restaurant, Chef’s Table at the Kensington Riverside Inn, was just named the fourth best new restaurant in Canada by AirCanada’s enRoute magazine. It would appear I get all my best tips from airline magazines these days.

Let’s get the quibbles out of the way first. The table was booked for 8.15pm, but I wasn’t seated until 9pm. There are two dining rooms, one with a fabulous open kitchen, the other with a fabulous…open fireplace. I was sat in the latter. Now, I recognize that being dateless in Calgary on a Saturday night is probably reason enough to throw yourself in the Bow River, but the restaurant staff didn’t help matters by seating me, back to the rest of the room, next to the fire. Talk about being a social pariah. Luckily I was moved, without having to ask, when I took out my camera.

The service was a bit wonky all night. I like informal; I don’t like being asked how my food is tasting when I have a mouthful of it or trying to give some feedback on a dish and being asked if I have eaten monkfish before. But I know I can be a right old grumpy-pants at times, and these are minor compared to some delicious, bold pairings and flavours that made up most of my meal and service that is friendly and warm.

First up, an amuse bouche of a teeny two-bite Forme D’Ambert tart, just warm from the oven and formed from deliciously short pastry. Next, an earthy turnip and apple soup, with perky texture and sweetness from some candied walnuts. Yes, they called it a veloutè and yes, it’s not 1998 anymore, but who cares about menu anachronisms when the food’s this good?

A Queen Charlotte scallop with blood orange foam, edamame, salmon roe and orange segments really shouldn’t have worked, but did. The Heidi Schrock Weissburgunder which paired it showed the skills of the sommelier and a wine service and kitchen that are working well together. Yeaman’s food uses striking flavours and it’s good to see that the wine service is up to the task.

The fish course was the only bum note of the evening. The preparation was interesting; roasted Atlantic monkfish with beef jus and a take on cassoulet with some cannellini beans and pancetta, but the fish was mealy and poorly cooked. It’s a shame that the quality of the fish and the execution let the dish down, because I’m often bored to death by the fish course on a tasting menu and this was genuinely interesting.

Then, deep breath, an “intermezzo” of blood peach sorbet with a dash of prosecco. I was ready to be all scathing (seriously, when was the last time you were served a sorbet in the middle of the meal? Were you wearing legwarmers at the time?) but the sorbet had bags of flavour and I liked the deconstructed Bellini thing that was going on. So I stopped complaining and embraced my inner Irene Cara.

Next up, Ewenique farm lamb saddle with panella, roasted eggplant and a thyme jus. Served with a 2005 Poggio di Sotto Rosso di Montalcino, this was Italy on a plate. I’d never heard of panella before (and my interweb research suggests that it’s traditionally a Sicilian chickpea fritter, rather than the chickpea and polenta purée I was served) but how lovely when you learn something new from a menu. Especially when it tastes this delicious. The lamb was just fab, although any pun as good as Ewenique is going to get me on-side from the get-go.

Finally, some doughnuts with a compote and an exceptional custard. I would have lingered over the lingonberries, but the table of dentists next to me were getting kind of graphic, so I brushed off offers of a cappuccino (a cappuccino? At 11pm? Do I look like a hairdresser?) and made off into the night.

Best meal I’ve had in Calgary? By a long shot. Good enough for me to go back soon. The tasting menu changes fortnightly. This could be the beginning of a beautiful thing.

FARM (Calgary)

This is my new favourite place in Calgary :-) I blogged about it at But here's the jist...

I’m a sucker for those casual places that source great ingredients and just let them speak for themselves. I love cutsey, often mis-matched plates. Really, really fine wine glasses. Menus written on chalk-boards. A bar where you can dine alone. Small-plate menus that are made for sharing. Wait staff with piercings.

I was getting slightly depressed by the lack of these kinds of places in Calgary. But one just opened. And I *heart* it.

Janice Beaton has been a bit of culinary lighthouse for me over the past couple of months. Her cheese stores (Janice Beaton’s Fine Cheese) on 17th Ave and in Kensington prove that the restorative powers of a brie de meaux cannot go underestimated.

So the opening of her first restaurant is a big deal. Some say it’s based on Salt in Vancouver, but as I chatted to Janice, it’s clear that this place is all about her passion. Her passion for cheese and for bringing people together over food.

The format is simple. One list of 28g serves of cheese and meats, served on boards with a compliment. So your 3 year old Canadian cheddar is paired with a beautiful tomato relish. A chalkboard of daily muses, offers up the “specials” which generally include a soup, a salad and a couple of other dishes. The roasted tomato soup was sensational; creamy (although it contained no cream) with a hint of spice and a sludge of onions. The trout salad, served with a lemon-chevre mousse, caperberries and baguette croutons, was a very grown-up, deconstructed take on a smoked salmon bagel. These might not be here when you go, but there will surely be something equally delicious to tempt you.

What I can be sure of is that even without the specials, the short little menu has enough to capture your interest. Order the mac and cheese. Get the large one and fantasise about bathing in the mustardy, cheesy sauce and exfoliating with the crumb topping. The JBFC goat cheese fritter is also worthy of investigation, but you don’t need me to wax lyrical about the virtues of fried cheese. The confit duck salad, with arugala and spinach, is lifted to the sublime by some toasty hazelnuts and dried apple chips. The kitchen really knows how to get the most of their, often local, ingredients by adding in texture. This is simple food, with no superfluous flavours.

The drinks list including sherry, port, stickies, international and local beers, ciders and bubbles. The wine list has a really good selection by the glass and some which even come in even tinier tasting pours. I can’t move on from the pouilly fumè at the moment, but they have a couple of vinho verde which I need to try.

As we sat, munching, on Friday night, I turned to my expat friend and said “Tonto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” This restaurant is what Calgary needs and it really raises the bar here. It would flourish in any major city. There would be a line round the block if this opened in London. It’s modern, sexy, cosy, delicious and I want to live here. The only problem is that they don’t take reservations, and if they keep up the good work, it’s going to be impossible to get a table very soon.

Thredbo- eating options

Am off to Thredbo tomorrow. Have done no research at all but was wondering if anyone can recommend any "not to be missed" places (fine dining or casual, am there for a week so lots of options would be good) I guess Perisher's not too far either. Anything any good there?


Melbourne's Best vs Sydney's Best

Yep, me too (and I live in Sydney)

It's odd though. I got a table really easily at Vdm without any of the hassle you write about Simon. What are others' experiences? Should I plan my next trip rather than calling the day before? What's the standard waiting time for a table here?

Moving to Sydney. Best Place to Live?

We really didn't look at many other places to be honest. Balmain is really lovely and it's perfectly placed for food. We're close to Leichard for Italian (great butcher too) and close to the fish market too.

I would really recommend it, but I do also think that the North Shore has lots to offer.

Sydney CBD Lunchtime Chowhounding

So, after one day in my job, I need some lunchtime hints, because I will have to leave the country if I have another meal as insipid as the one I had in Australia Square today.

I noticed a food hall on Hunter, at Wynyard Station I believe, with lots of Asian food places upstairs. There was pho, sushi and salads (and a branch of Michel's patisserie) Can anyone recommend anywhere in here?

Am also keen to hear about good places for sushi rolls, salads, soup and sandwiches. I tend to just run out for lunch and eat at my desk so takeaway options are preferred to eat in, although they're welcome too.

Any ideas?

Chocolate in Bulk for baking/candy

Paul A Young Fine Chocolate stocks big bars of Valhrona and smaller Amedei bars. It's on Camden Passage in N1. Not sure where you live so that might not be conveniet.

You can also get Valhrona online at the Chocolate Society website. I'm a big Valhrona fan so tend to just use that. I think that Harvey Nicks may also stock a range of the larger Valhrona bars, not too sure on their other range though.

Apr 01, 2007
Suzi Edwards in U.K./Ireland

Threey days in Liverpool

If you want highend you could also try Fraiche restaurant, in the Wirral. Michelin made it an espoir restaurant in the last guide and Chef Marc Williamson is really committed and passionate about what he's doing.

Service can be a bit weird, it's in an odd spot to hire experienced high end staff. That let it down a wee bit on my visit.

Apr 01, 2007
Suzi Edwards in U.K./Ireland

Made some London choices, please weigh in

I'm not an expert on afternoon tea but I have heard good things about Browns. You might also want to think about the Wolseley on Piccadilly for afternoon tea and strike two things off your list! More about vienoisserie (sp?) than afternoon tea, but a lovely room. I'd also lobby for Sketch, with patisserie by Pierre Gagnaire, but it has been about six months since I was last there.

Canteen was just named best restaurant by OFM but I just don't rate it. It's a personal opinion thing, but I would suggest going somewhere else.

Narrow is very new but seems to be being well received.

Lounge Lover is fab. More centrally, I really got into the Polo Lounge at the Westbury before I left. It's a bit like being in a Ralf Lauren advert and the cheese nibbles are amazing.

Providores seems like a slightly odd choice. I'm not sure where you're travelling from or what gap Providores is filling. I can think of 10 better small plates/tapas restaurants. Make that 20.

I'd go for Tayyabs over Bombay Brasserie, and then I'd go for Lahore Karahi in Tooting over Tayyabs. Really good, meaty lamb chops and the bitter gourd with mutton curry is one of my favourite dishes in London.

Hope this helps and sorry if you're Peter Gordon's cousin and that's why you want to eat there!

Mar 31, 2007
Suzi Edwards in U.K./Ireland

Tetsuya's - Sydney

I think the thing with Tetsuya's is that his style of food has been so copied that going there is a bit of an anti-climax. I really enjoyed my meal, but probably more because it was my boyfriend's first high end meal and I enjoyed watching his reaction.

It was all amazing to him, but for me it was less exciting. The confit salmon is good, but you can easily make that at home!

Moving to Sydney. Best Place to Live?

Well, we've just got a place and it's in Balmain. We went for the Rozelle end so that we have more food foraging choices. Thing I noticed is that many of the western suburbs are really small. so the difference between say, Rozelle, Birchgrove and Balmain is pretty minimal. We did find that the estate agents were a bit strange. I'd just recommend having lots of ID and documentation before you go!

Thanks for all the help and ideas.

Chocolate in Sydney (or perhaps wider)

I'm really passionate about chocolate and have been trying to understand what the chocolate shops in Sydney are like. Having been helping my friend Paul (Paul A Young Fine Chocolate) in his shop recently I've been really spoilt. I was wondering if there is a chocolate scene (yes, I know that makes me sound like an idiot) in Sydney, but it's really thriving in London and I can't think of a better way to describe. Interest in beans, plantations and vintages is growing. Is this the case in Oz at all?

Feel free to tell me about Melbourne if that's the chocolate centre on Australia.

Where to go for japanese food in Wiltshire??

Welcome to the UK! I hate to say this, but asking for decent Japanese food in Wiltshire is a bit like asking for great Sushi in Alice Springs.

I have a vague recollection of seeing bubble tea in Tooting. Might be a worth a google...I found a couple of places in London that way Oriental City in the Edgeware Road and Feng Shui Inn in Soho. My sense is that bubble tea hasn't taken off here yet.

Mar 10, 2007
Suzi Edwards in U.K./Ireland

Moving to Sydney. Best Place to Live?

Thanks for the suggestions. This is really good advice and I'd definitly like to take you up on the offer of meeting up at the market. I was really lucky and got to meet some really lovely people via foodboards in the past, but my sense is that this doesn't seem to be so prelevant in Oz (people meeting up I mean, not people not being lovely). Am in right?

Moving to Sydney. Best Place to Live?

Thanks for that, it's really helpful. I guess we're off soon so I can start trawling the suburbs!

Moving to Sydney. Best Place to Live?

I'm moving to Sydney in March and we're still unsure of where to live. We're going to be spending four weeks in corporate accomodation before we decide where to rent (in the short term) I was wondering if people could help me narrow down my search...

Proximity to the CBD is really important to us and we've already ruled out Manley (an early favourite) because of the commute. Balmain is currently a front runner because of the frequent ferry service. Glebe, Cremoyne and Kirribilli I think are going to be worth a look too.

What my guidebooks don't tell me is what the food purchasing options are like in these areas. I currently live in Islington, chosen mainly because there are two very good butchers, one great fishmonger (and one less good one), a branch of the best cheese shop in London and a weekly farmers market. I'm not a big fan of supermarkets and prefer to buy local produce frequently, rather than do a weekly supermarket run. Are there any areas that you would especially recommend as being good locations to procure good produce? Any shops, markets or stores you'd recommend? Is there one especially food-oriented suburb that sticks out for you?

Would really love any advice and look forward to sharing my experiences of moving to Sydney with you.