Free Stampede Breakfast

Pancake Breakfast

Pancake Breakfast

I hope everyone of you enjoy Stampede! And the best way to kick it off is to attend a free breakfast in town. Look for listings in the Calgary Sun newspaper or drive around and watch for signs.

I was up in the Coach Hill/ Patterson area this morning and went to the community’s Stampede Breakfast. It started at 8:30 and tapered off around 11:30am. They had it at the Coach Hill Plaza, just in front of the 7-11 and behind the Shell station. The parking lot was roped off and they had a live band playing in front of Schooner’s Bar.

It was a typical breakfast with flap jacks (or pancakes), sausage patties, Tim Horton’s coffee and Sun Rype juices. In all, it was a great turn out and it was a good opportunity for neighbours to meet neighbours. Parking wasn’t too bad because you could park anywhere on the streets unlike certain neighbours where event parkers would be ticketed without a resident pass.

 

 

Personal is Tiny, Small is Small

Small Pizza

Small Pizza

I drove a friend to the University of Calgary clinic last week in the NW and while waiting for his tests, I stopped at Gus’ Pizza for lunch. It was half full when I walked in at 11:30am. By noon, the kitchen was filling takeout orders from people who worked in the Professional Building but luckily, I had my meal in front of me.

I decided to try the Small Pepperoni and Mushroom pizza and a can of Coke. When the pizza came, I was a little shocked at the size of it. I felt like asking the waitress if she had mistakenly dropped off a personal size pizza instead of a small but when she served the table next to me, I realized the personal size was tiny compared to my small.

If you’re hungry then order the Medium or something else on the menu. The Small pizza was disappointing for $12 because it was the size of my iPad with 6 slices. For the price, I expected a larger size pizza that I could have shared with a friend.

One thing good about the pizza was the crust. I like pizzas with crispy crusts (like Pizza Bank in the SW) and cheese that is baked right in. The cheese here was thick and acted like a canopy. As soon as you bite into it, the cheese would fall off the pizza like a topping.

There were plenty of pepperoni and mushrooms which was nice and hearty. Aside from the size, it was a relatively good tasting pizza. Anything that tastes this good should be large enough for you to enjoy there in the restaurant and for you to take home. Too bad I couldn’t do the latter because I ate it up in one sitting.

Next time, if you’re in or near the Foothills Professional Building just off the Foothills Hospital, drop in for lunch or a light snack. It’s worth another visit and review but I’m going to try their pasta next.

Gus's Cafe & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

A little Cajun in Elbow Valley

Cajun Burger

Cajun Burger

If you want to burn your mouth off then you have to try the new Cajun burger at the Elbow Springs Golf Clubhouse. Actually, it wasn’t that hot but I have to admit, it was scary when they served it to me. The first thing to see is all the jalapeno pepper slices on top and very little of anything else.

The menu at the clubhouse has changed for the better. There are more items on the menu and there is a clear distinction between lunch items and dinner items. Gone is the steak sandwich served over garlic bread and replaced with 3 new steak dinners in the $25 to $30 range.

From the new menu, the Cajun burger is worth trying. It is 100% Alberta beef and is served with a good dose of homemade chili and topped with fresh jalapeno peppers (as pictured). Instead of the usual relish, they use guacamole on the bottom side of the bun. This makes it really messy to eat but then, that’s what you expect from a burger of this size.

With the burger, you get a choice of sides that range from soup of the day to yam fries. I recommend the soup, salad or regular fries but for the yam fries, I think they slice it too thin. I felt like chewing into cardboard for some reason.

I hope you get a chance to play here and try out the new menu. Even if you don’t play golf, come out and try this burger. If you like spicy then it is worth the drive here.

 

Not Surf and Turf but Reef N Beef

Prime Rib and Pork Ribs Dinner

Prime Rib and Pork Ribs Dinner

I’m cutting back on red meat but I found myself ordering the Prime Rib and Port Rib dinner at the Reef N Beef restaurant in the NE. We wouldn’t have chosen this restaurant to go to but having a fantastic coupon from TeamBuy certainly helps.

From Monday to Thursday, there are a lot of locals that come in for a nice sit down dinner at this snazzy restaurant because of their Steak and Lobster special. At $29.95, the price can’t be beat.

Because we used a coupon, the daily special was not available to us so we had to order something from the menu. It’s a pretty decent menu with lots of good dishes to order. Being both a seafood and steak restaurant, you can expect to see a variety of dishes from the sea to the turf.

After serving drinks, the waitress brought a basket of garlic bread which helped calmed the hungry nerves. Next came our salads which had a fresh head of iceberg with tomato and cucumbers. Soup followed and we had both chose the French Onion soup. Surprisingly, it didn’t have the cheese baked on but instead, the waitress came and sprinkled it on.

My dinner arrived along with more garlic bread. The prime rib was good, not fatty like I’m used to but it was a little more cooked than medium rare. It was a nice generous serving and tender as expected. The pork ribs were good too, almost fall off the bone tender but I’m glad it didn’t. I chose a baked potato but there were also rice pilaf, stuffed potato or french fries. The carrots and broccoli were nicely steamed and seasoned.

Does it warrant a next time? Most definitely and the next time, we’ll try the Steak and Lobster special.

Reef 'n Beef on Urbanspoon

Up the Creek

Apple Creek Golf Course

Apple Creek Golf Course

The day started out nice but when we were into our round at Apple Creek Golf Course, the weather started changing. Clouds moved in and before you know it, the sky opened up and it rained. Luckily, we didn’t get too wet. We didn’t even reach for our rain pants as we normally do. Somehow we knew, it was going to blow over.

If you haven’t played Apple Creek Golf Course before then you owe yourself a short drive out of Calgary for an experience you won’t forget. Take the Deerfoot towards Airdrie and take the last exit onto 567 or Veterans Blvd. You want to go west on 567 until Main Street then hang a right. Follow the road for about 5 km and turn left on Range Road 275. There’s a big Apple Creek sign on your left that advertises weekend golf for only $45 plus cart.

It was our first time here and definitely not our last. The course has four tee boxes: black, blue, white and red. There is some elevation to the course and a lot of environmental areas that are roped off. Before you cast this aside, I urge you to try it. The course is not terribly long except one hole which is over 643 yards from the blue tees.

I ended up losing a sleeve of balls because of the water hazards and environmental areas. After hitting a good drive on par 4′s, your second shot requires good iron play to a small green that is guarded by long fescue and creeks. If you’re lucky, your ball will land softly on the green but if you’re unlucky, your ball will either roll off the green or be up the creek.

 

Italian Cafeteria

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

To all Via Cibo fans, sorry about the title of my post but I mean it in a good way because I think the owners of it has it right. The pasta is delicious and fast. Who says good food has to take a long time to prepare?

At Via Cibo, join the line at the front door and choose from a menu up high. There are pasta dishes, sandwiches, pizza, salads, drinks and gelato.

I wanted something extra spicy so I ordered the Broccolini and Sausage pasta. There is a milder version but if you want some heat, make sure you ask for ‘extra spice’. You get a choice of penne or linguini so I chose the linguini. The broccolini was chopped up into small pieces, almost unrecognizable small. I forgot for a moment what the green stuff was and thought they were green onions. The sausage was firm and was told it was homemade.

The pizza looked good and authentic. It is like Wolfgang Puck’s pizza, flat and crusty. There’s also a kid’s menu which are smaller versions of the big adult’s menu. The kid sized pizza is a little larger than a DVD and the adult size is more like a frisbee.

Pasta is served with a slice of bread and if you ask, they will accompany your meal with a free glass of iced water. They also serve still and mineral water if you wish.
Via Cibo on Urbanspoon

Koreans Serving Pho

Spicy Squid on Rice

Spicy Squid on Rice

I haven’t seen Huong for a long, long time. He used to visit our table on a frequent basis when we dined at the ‘Pho Huong Viet’ restaurant on Bow Trail but when he moved to 17th Avenue, we no longer ran into him. I think his family is running it for him so if you see him, tell him I said ‘Hi’.

His brother used to run the second location, next to the 7-11 on 37th Street between 16th and 17th Ave where I would see him in the kitchen sometimes.

But there was a time last year when they ran out of the soup stock. That went on for a number of weeks and I couldn’t really understand that. They were serving everything else but the bread and butter which for a Vietnamese restaurant, was the PHO.

Now in 2014, it is under new management. The first thing you will notice when you walk in, is the new expanded menu. The same noodle dishes and subs are available on the right side of the menu but now, there are Korean dishes. We ordered two dishes, Spicy Squid on Rice (pictured) and Sate Beef Noodle in Soup. The Spicy Squid was delicious and very Korean. However, I was disappointed with the Sate Beef Noodle in Soup. I found it to be more Korean than Vietnamese because it lacked the cardamon/ cinammon flavoured beef soup that usually comes with Pho. Also, the pho was replaced with very thin vermicelli instead of the flat thin noodles that I have grown accustom to liking.

Lucky in May

Golf Courses Opened?

Golf Courses Opened?

Here’s something to be envied about. I received an email from the SilverRock Resort in La Quinta, CA informing me that the green fees in April will be reduced by 35%. If you have played there before then you would know that this is quite a saving because the regular green fees are $185 per person. It’s a nice course to play on and it has some history too. Back when Bob Hope was around, SilverRock was home to the Bob Hope Invitational golf tournament. After Bob Hope passed away, the tournament was renamed to the Humana Golf Challenge and the tournament was moved to PGA West and the La Quinta Resort courses.

I am envious that SilverRock can afford to reduce the rates when our local golf courses haven’t even opened yet. If we are lucky, driving ranges will be open in April but I have a sneaky feeling that the courses won’t open until after the long weekend in May. By then, SilverRock would reduce the rates further to 50% off.

Mangosteens at 60,000 VND

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

On the topic of fruit, I tend to like ‘exotic’ fruits more than our local varieties. If given a choice, I would prefer pineapples over oranges, mangosteens over plums, purple passion fruit over apricots and lychees over cherries. Unfortunately, shopping for exotic fruits can get expensive in YYC.

On my recent trip to Vietnam, I had the opportunity to shop at a few farmers’ markets. In Ha Long Bay for example, I had 20 minutes to shop at a huge local market. Vendors inside sold everything from stove elements to nuts and bolts, souvenirs and dried food, silk embroidery and wood carvings. Vendors on the outside sold fresh meats, fruits and vegetables.

 

When I came upon this stand, I was interested in one particular fruit. I had promised myself to look for this fruit in Thailand but there was no opportunity to stop and shop. Mangosteens are sold at the T&T Chinese , market in Calgary but at $5.99 per pound. For that price, you can buy about 4 of them. At this market in Vietnam, I pointed at the mangosteens and she spoke something in Vietnamese that I could not understand. I took out my wad of money and she picked out 60,000 dongs. She took a shopping bag and started filling it up with mangosteens. There was more than a dozen of fruit in the bag and it weighed about 5 pounds. Using a Dong to CDN converter, that came out to $3.18 Canadian.

Next time I have a craving for mangosteens, you know where I will be flying off to.

Exotic Fruits

Exotic Fruits

Exotic Fruits

I’m glad to report that some exotic fruits have made it passed customs and into our supermarkets. Exotic fruits that I have tried in my travels and have fallen deeply in love with. They include a long list such as mangosteens, rambutans, yellow pitaya, passion fruit, pomelo, cherimoya, atamoya and creamy apple. If you haven’t heard about them yet, stay tuned.

The two fruits that seem to be available now are the yellow pitaya and purple passionfruit. The yellow pitaya looks like a thorny mini football with a soft skin. The skin actually looks rubbery. If you see any green leaves protruding from the top, beware. The leaves can be quite sharp because the fruit comes from a cactus like plant. I’ve heard farmers’ stories about how workers have had their arms cut off when picking these fruits.

The other fruit is a purple passion fruit. If you’ve been to Kauai or the Big Island Hawaii then you might have seen yellow passion fruit they call ‘lilikoi’. The yellow variety is more sour or tart. The purple ones are the sweetest varieties but less juicy. The yellow ones from Hawaii are more juicier but less round.

To eat either one of these fruits, take a knife and slice them in half. With the yellow pitaya, take a spoon and scoop out the flesh. It’s like eating a kiwi fruit. Both flesh and seed are edible. With the passion fruit, take a spoon and scoop out the seeds that are encapsulated with flesh. Again, both are edible. When eating the passion fruit, don’t worry about the seeds. Ignore them and try to enjoy the flavour. It is like eating pomegranates but you will find the flesh of the passion fruit is more pleasant and tastier.

Both fruits can be found at your local Superstore. Thanks to Superstore, they have imported both of these fruits from Columbia which I heard are available year round. The yellow pitaya’s sell for $4.98 each and the purple passion fruits are for $1.48 each. They are certainly pricey but if you are in ‘exotic’, I really recommend you try it. But one thing, don’t buy them all.