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

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.

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.

$20 for $40 worth of food?

Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki

I had a coupon to use up at Fuji Yama’s on 17th Avenue and 8th Avenue before it expired at the end of February. You know the type, pay $20 to get $40 worth of food. With this coupon, I had to give it to the hostess when I checked in. You also had to make reservations but I figured it was a good idea for a Friday night.

I have to admit that I’m always wary about giving up the coupon before ordering my food. How can I trust the restaurant? With a coupon at hand, would they cut back on my dish?

I ordered my usual which was the chicken teriyaki entree and a soft shell crab roll. My wife chose the salmon teriyaki and a sashimi salad. In my opinion, the teriyaki’s were worth the $13 – $15 price they charged. They were both tasty and satisfying.

The dinner  bill came out to a little over $50 for the two of us. With the $40 coupon, we paid $20 and walked out happy and stuffed. If you’re in the neighbourhood, call first and ask if they have any $20 for $40 gift cards left. If so, I would highly recommend that you buy them.
Fuji Yama on 17th on Urbanspoon

Home Buying Watchdog Service

Unobstructed View

Unobstructed View

One thing I’ve noticed is that more and more people in YYC are buying homes to tear down and rebuild. One area that seems to be popular is the Altadore neighbourhood. To get there from downtown, head up on 14th Street[south] until 33rd Avenue. Turn right and head towards Marda Loop. Turn left on 17th or 18th street and you’re there…in the middle of Altadore.

I visited several Open Houses last weekend and noticed that all of them were brand new homes. Most of the older homes in the neighbourhoods are one level, bungalow styled homes. The new rebuilts are at least two levels and some stretch as high as 4 levels.

The one particular open house that caught my eye was the one at 3907 – 16a Street SW. This home has a nice view of the city from the second or third level window. The view is what I call ‘unobstructed’ because to see the cityscape, you look at the park situated kitty corner from this home. The view will never change as long as the city maintains the park.

I ran into some folks that were rating the home. They assigned a move-in score of 3.9* to it and I was curious to why it was rated so low. They told me the home had a few issues and the builder (Hazkar Homes) has to correct them before a higher score can be assigned. I like that. A home buyer watchdog service that is keeping builders and realtors honest. If you’re interested in finding out more about them, check out their website at RateOpenHouses.com

I’m Tongue Thai’d

Basil Chicken

Basil Chicken

I’m just 14 days away from getting on a plane and visiting Thailand for the first time. Last year when I when booked the trip, I promised myself I was going to visit countries that I enjoy the cuisine from. And so, I feel like sharing another restaurant with you that I really like. At Juree’s Thai Place, I like every dish they serve there. My favourite dish is the Fried Fish with special sauce but the Basil Chicken is exceptional too. The food is usually delicious with just the right amount of spice.

Unlike a lot of Thai restaurants in YYC that seem to bring a small bowl of the Tom Yum soup, Juree’s serves it to you in a large bowl that can be shared among the 2, 3 or 4 of you. I’m yet to find a Thai restaurant in town that still serves soup in the traditional slow cooker with a propane flame at the bottom. Please share a comment if you know of a Thai place in YYC that gives you an abundance of soup.

The one thing I really enjoy at Juree’s is the waitresses. They wear traditional Thai dresses that seem to make me feel like I was in Thailand already. They seem to speak Thai which is a good indication that the cook is Thai. Don’t you hate it when you hear Mexican in a Thai kitchen or Chinese in a Japanese sushi bar?
Juree's Thai Place on Urbanspoon

Disney Out? Disney In

Jack Singer Hall

Jack Singer Hall

The quickest way to get some culture in you is to attend a concert at the Jack Singer Hall. Last week, I got free tickets to see Disney in Concert performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (or CPO). I would have easily skipped the event because after living in Anaheim for a year and going to Disneyland almost every other week, you can say I was Disney’d out.

The tickets I received were pretty good. It was dead centre and in the orchestra section in Row O. From where I was sitting, I had a commanding view of the entire orchestra and stage. I felt sorry for the people in Row A and B because they were too close to the stage. If it was Celine Dion then they would have had an advantage over me but for the Disney Concert, I think I had the best seats in the house.

There’s something magical about the Jack Singer Hall. First of, it’s cozy and intimate versus the Jubilee Auditorium which is too large for this kind of venue. Second, the sound is incredible in the Jack Singer Hall. Everything sounds so natural and real. You could hear every instrument in its clarity and tone. And that’s why the CPO plays here and not at the Jubilee.

When the concert started, I was amazed at myself. I was actually enjoying the tunes and singing along too. They played all the favourites including Colour of the Wind from Pocahontas, Circle of Life from Lion King and A Whole New World from Aladdin. Along with the CPO, there were four vocalists that sung their hearts out. And they were good too.

The vocalists were Candice Nicole, Whitney Kaufman, Aaron Phillips and Andrew Johnson. One of them used to work for Disney and I can tell you, she played the part of Belle in the Beauty and the Beast and Ariel in the Little Mermaid very well.