Shanghai Morning Surprise

Dumplings with Chives

Dumplings with Chives

There are so many restaurants in Richmond and so little time to try them all. Today we tried a new Shanghai restaurant on Alexander Road in Richmond for breakfast and dim sum called Shanghai Morning. Like all Shanghai restaurants, they serve the famous Shanghai dumplings. When it was served, it was a steaming tower of not one but two containers of dumplings. The trick in eating it is to delicately pick it up with your chopsticks without puncturing the dumpling. If you do, the soup inside the dumpling will leak out and destroy the eating experience. If you have master the chopstick control, you can pick up the dumpling with the soup intact.

Now to eat it, you place it on a spoon and nibble at it. You bite a bit of the skin off and you sip the soup through the opening. If it is made right, the soup will be delicious. Once the soup is sipped out, put the whole dumpling into your mouth and chew. The dumpling has pork in it and the skin is a little thicker than the won ton wrapper.

Next came a steamer with green dumplings in it. These were made with chives and hence, gave the dumplings a nice green colour (pictured). These dumplings could be my next favourite because they were light and scrumptious. I have never had these but I will definitely order them again.

Lastly came the deep fried slice buns that are served with condensed milk. These are nice dessert items to round off the meal.

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Butcher’s Block in Chestermere

Butchers Block

Butchers Block

I like meals that you can share with a friend or with your spouse. On my last golf outing to Chestermere, we settled in for some dinner at the clubhouse at Lakeside Golf Course. It was a pleasant day for golf with some friends but after being rained on and bitten by mosquitos, it was time to chow down.

On tap, there’s always a nice selection of beer but I wanted Sapporo, a nice bodied beer from Japan. To complement it, I ordered the Butcher’s Block for $55. On Friday’s, the price comes down to under $50 and it is worth every penny of it. The meal comes with an ultra tender 8 oz steak, cut up in slices, a rack of ribs smothered with a bbq sauce and half a rotisserie chicken. You also have a pick of 2 sides which include a salad, sweet potato fries, regular fries, mushrooms or cooked vegetables.

I’ve ordered this meal twice this summer and both times, it was delicious. If you are in for an all-meat dinner then I would highly recommend it. The ribs are fall off tender and the chicken is nicely seasoned and cooked to perfection. My favourite is still the steak and I would eat that by itself if my wife didn’t beat me to it.

Tooloulou’s

Combo dish at Tooloulou's

Combo dish at Tooloulou’s

There aren’t any restaurants in Calgary that serve Louisiana cuisine like crawfish boil, etoufee, dirty rice, hush puppies and seafood gumbo. If you want that kind of meal then head west to Banff where you can find everything including alligator bites. The place is called Tooloulou’s and it is goooood.

My recommendation is to drive out in the morning, walk around Banff then around 2:00pm, sit down for a late lunch. They have 3 menus, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lunch menu is pretty much the same as the dinner menu except for a few dishes and is less money.

I had the combo dish that gave me a sampling of three dishes including gumbo, jambalaya and creole. I expected three separate dishes but they cram it all on one dish and add a piece of cornbread on the side. The gumbo was a bit on the dry side and the red jambalaya was tasty and it had a lot of shrimp but it needed more hot sauce which you can add to by visiting their ‘hot sauce shelf of pain’. There by the bar is a shelf full of hot sauce ranging from scotch bonnet to jalapeno sauce. Take your pick along with the jug of water to douse out any flame.

Next time I’m going to save room for the bread pudding dessert. Be sure to walk off the carb meal before driving back to Calgary.

 

 

 

Scout’s Honor

American Idol

American Idol

When it’s cold out, it’s nice to stay indoors and watch tv. And it looks like it’s time again for Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr and J. Lo to hear America sing and to choose a winner on American Idol. I just saw the trailer yesterday and I can’t wait.But again, there’s the Voice that still echoes in my ear from last night. Ryan Sill really did a nice job on Duran Duran’s Ordinary World, didn’t he? I hope America voted for him. I would.

Do you think you can be a judge? Show up and listen to someone sing? You hear a few bars then you give them your opinion. Maybe it’s a little harder than you think with no music training or an ear for good sound. But if you find yourself making comments and critiquing after every song then I think you’re up to it.

I’m gathering a list of people who are interested in listening to music and giving an honest opinion on the song, artist and arrangement. If you’re up for the challenge, please drop me an email and I will forward you to a music scout that will pay you for a review. There’s no obligation whatsoever nor any cost. There’s no limit to how many songs you have to listen to or set a quota. It’s all good and fun. Scout’s honor.

Anyone for Tako Poke?

Tako Poke Kim Chee Style

Tako Poke Kim Chee Style

Anyone who has been in Hawaii is familiar with ‘Poke’ and btw, you pronounce it as ‘Pokey’. Most of the time you run into ‘Ahi Poke’ which is a nice marinated mixture of ahi tuna with shoyu sauce and some green onions. Costco in Hawaii varies it up by adding wasabi to it or baby asparagus. Both are delicious but don’t eat too much if you have high blood pressure or a high cholesterol count.

On my last trip to the Big Island, I found a mixture of poke that I haven’t tried before. It was ‘Tako Poke Kim Chee style’ and it was GOOD. I found it at the KTA Supermarket for $11.99 lb but was on sale for $7.99 lb. Once I had a mouthful, I had to stock up. After falling in love with it, I had this breakfast, lunch, late afternoon snack and dinner. I would have continued if my wife didn’t remind me of the high cholesterol in octopus.

When I got back from the islands, I had to learn how to make it. I went down to E-mart on 17th Ave SW and bought all the ingredients. I mixed it up and let it marinate overnight. I found that the flavour was quite similar to what I had in Hawaii.

If you’re interested in the recipe, drop me your email and I would gladly share it with you.

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.
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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.