Rich Italian Food

Seafood PescatoreFriends of ours took us to Villa Firenze for dinner a few weeks back then they headed out to Maui the next day. Lucky dogs! But I’ll be heading to the Big Island very soon too. Parking at the villa is great. They have ample parking in the rear and there is parking after hours in the lot adjacent to the restaurant. Walking into Villa Firenze is like walking into a house. I was told by our friends that it is a typical house in Bridgeland. Converted to a restaurant, it is cozy yet roomy inside. I like how the foyer of the house is the reception and the living spaces converted to dining areas. Stairs leading downstairs from the foyer takes you to the washrooms.

They have coat check but it was cold out so we held on to our coats. Everyone was dressed business casual so I can only guess that a lot of business lunches and dinners are held here. The owner came and greeted us at our table which was situated near the front of the restaurant. Where I sat, I had a commanding look at their wine selection. Instead of a wine cellar, they have all their wine bottles in the restaurant. My guess is that there were ample red wine in the house because these bottles were not chilled.

Our host decided to order the signature appetizer for us to try. The Portabello mushroom, oven baked with lots of garlic, bits of bacon and parmesan cheese(?) was delicious. A meal in itself. Next came our entrees. I chose to go with a simple spaghetti with marinara and it was delicious. My wife chose the Seafood Pescatore pasta. It looked great but I’m sensitive to mussels. I prefer the green mussels from Australia rather than the sea mussels that grow under piers. These were definitely sea mussels as you can still taste the sea in them. The rest of the dishes looked scrumptious. The veal dishes were nicely presented but I’m used to paying a few euros for them in Italy, rather than $20+ here in Calgary.

Overall food quality was excellent. I’ll give them awesome ratings on the Portabello and the pasta sauce. I didn’t pay for dinner but from the way the owner treated us, it must have cost a mint. We’ll be back for good Italian cooking when we’re downtown and feeling a bit rich.

Honest Shoe Repair

Shoe Store

Shoe Store

Here’s one blog I should have written a long time ago. Thanks to Joe at his Westbrook Shoe Repair shop on 17th Avenue SW, my Keen shoes were spared from the big dumpster. I love my Keen shoes and at $90 for a new pair, I sure didn’t want to throw it out just because of a few loose threads.

One day as I was having lunch at the Little Lebanon, I went for a stroll and found Joe’s shop. I walked in with a hole in my shoe and asked what it would cost to mend it. He took a quick look at it and quoted me $8.

I almost left my shoe behind for him to work on it but it was wet out and I didn’t want to limp back to my car. I decided to come back and pay Joe a visit. His shop is a bit of a mess with shoes, purses and stuff on shelves. But I guess he’s doing well because these shoes and purses belong to customers. I don’t think it was decorations.

Anyways, I returned with my shoe and my wife’s purse. She had bought it from a street fair in Italy for $10 but the zipper came loose after just one use. Joe estimated it would cost $10 to fix so I went for it. After 5 days, I returned to pick up my goods and Joe was standing behind the counter waiting for me. My shoe looked new again. It was perfect and will last another 2 years or more. The purse looked great too with working zipper.

His shop only takes debit cards and cash. He is fast, honest and thoughtful. He told me he’s been in business for 30 years – awesome!

Wonder What?

Wonderland

Wonderland

If you drive by the Bow, you are likely going to see a work of art but what is it?

From the streets, it looks like a wireframe object like something out of the Tron movie or the Wizard of Oz.

I’m told by a passerby that the artist isĀ Jaume Plensa and he is world famous. The artist is from Barcelona, Spain and you might be familiar with some of his work but unfortunately, I’m not. The steel mesh in front of the Bow will be 12-metre tall and that of a little girl. It’s called Wonderland. I wonder why he called it that? If I heard the name, I would have looked out for a globe or something that depicts what the name suggests.

I’m not sure why the city chose this to be in front of Encana’s Bow building. But someone had an idea, but who? I was expecting something more Oil and Gas like a oil derrick or a huge Bellagio style fountain. Now that would have been a sight. In the summer, they could blast the water as high as the building and in the winter, it can be one giant icicle. We could have called it ‘Wonder of Water.’

I’m not knocking Plensa’s work. I’m sure it’s going to look spectacular here in YYC. Other works of art that Plensa has created include the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millenium Park. Maybe I shared a thought with Plensa…hmmm.

Fishing for Chips

Joey's Seafood, Westhills

Joey’s Seafood, Westhills

Some people refused to eat seafood in Calgary because Calgary is an inland city and far away from any ocean. On top of that, Calgary is known for its Alberta Beef but with the latest scare of E. Coli breakouts and XL Foods, people are favouring other kinds of food.

When I’m in the mood for fish and chips, I like to go to Joey’s Seafood.

Joey's Seafood Restaurants on Urbanspoon

Joey’s Seafood has been around forever. Since moving here to Calgary in 1985, I was first introduced to it by my sister and loved it since. On Tuesdays, Joey’s has their All-U-Can-Eat fish and chip special. Their battered fish is nicely fried. Mostly fish and little batter is what I like to see. If you don’t like North Pacific Cod then go for the North Atlantic Haddock. I honestly can’t tell the difference, can you? I’ve heard for the true fish and chip lovers that halibut is the fish of choice. Again, I can’t tell the difference.

My wife enjoys the salmon dishes at Joey’s but if you’re not into fish, there is rotisserie chicken, ribs, sandwiches and wraps too. Their menu has everything from salad and soup to fish and chicken, so try it out for lunch or dinner.