Lava not Flowing

Lava Souffle

Lava Souffle

It’s no comparison between Joey’s at Barlow and Roy’s Restaurant when it comes to their lava souffle. The one at Joey’s, is like an upside down cupcake that tastes like a brownie. It is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis but it’s nowhere near the quality and taste of the Lava Cake at Roy’s.

When you poke your spoon into Roy’s Lava Cake, the chocolate (lava) oozes out. Not here at Joey’s.

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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.

Getting Prickly

Meat of Prickly Pears

Meat of Prickly Pears

I am on my way out to Superstore to pick up more of these prickly pears. Have you tried them yet? If not, I urge you to read a blog on squidoo about the prickly pear. I did and look at me, I am hoarding them wherever I see them because they are good.

At Superstore, they sell them for 58 cents each or 50 cents each if you buy them in multiples. After reading this post on Squidoo, I decided to try it.

The sound of watermelon and bubble gum had me excited so I decided to pick some up. With a glove and knife, I peeled back the skin and the red fruit appeared. It had the texture of a pear but colour of a really sweet watermelon.

I cut it up into pieces and tried one. Interesting. It was like biting into a pear but it tasted like a watermelon. It would be been better if they came seedless because the seeds are a pain in the you-know-what. They say you can swallow the seeds but they do get in the way.

I sliced open a second one, hoping to find a way to remove the seeds. It was tough but possible. Another variation is to juice it. Put the whole thing in a juicer and extract the juice which will dye your clothes if you’re not careful. It can even dye your hands if you’re not wearing gloves. The juice is nice and light and reminds me of a watermelon slush. And strangely enough, the bubble gum taste is there too.

Mt Snow

Mountain of Snow

Mountain of Snow

It was the perfect setting for a Himalayan restaurant, a mountain of snow, the size of Mt. Everest. Lucky for the sign, we would have easily drove past it.

Don’t be like us and arrive without reservations. We were lucky to beat the rush and was seated next to tables and tables with ‘Reserve’ signs on them. Ok, it’s a popular place on Friday nights and everyone who eats here is a regular.

We started off with the traditional appetizer, the Vegetarian Momo.

Vegetarian Momo

Vegetarian Momo

They came shaped as leaves with a curry-like dipping sauce. The contents reminded my wife,  of Taiwanese buns with strands of vermicelli and slices of vegetables. The mozarella cheese also made the momo’s less doughy.

Next came the house special, pappadums served with a yogurt mixture with mint and a sweet chutney.

We decided to order two dishes and share them among us. My wife wanted to try the lamb but was worried that it would be too gamey. The waiter assured us that they grill the lamb first before cooking it in the tomato based sauce. I wanted something to ward off vampires so I ordered the Himalayan Garlic dish with chicken.

Lamb on the Left,Chicken on the Right

Lamb on the Left,Chicken on the Right

When the entrees were served, they came on individual serving dishes with a scoop of saffron rice and a small salad. The saffron rice was slightly yellow and the salad was tossed with a light yogurt dressing. Both entrees came with a thick sauce with a few chunks of meat in them. Imo, the entrees were too small to be shared. With 5-6 pieces of lamb and the same for the chicken, it was barely enough for one.

Because we shared the dishes, we were tempted to order another entree but decided against it. Somehow after eating the rice and flatbread that is served with the entrees, the food started expanding in our stomachs and we found ourselves quite full.

The Himalayan on Urbanspoon

To top off the night, we ordered the Himalayan Cake which topped off a great evening. It was made with cassava root and coconut. It was served warm and was quite dense. We both enjoyed it very much along with our choice of entrees and appetizer. It’s a definite thumbs up for us.

Himalayan Cake

Himalayan Cake

Awesome Dutch Pancakes

Dutch Pancake

Dutch Pancake

I vote for Dutch Pancakes to be served all over Calgary on Stampede week. And lets give it to Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus for their awesome salty or sweet and savoury pancakes.

I’ve been visiting this southwest gem since they opened in 1997. Today, their menu contains over 40 different flavours, some sweet and some salty. Some of the sweet ones are really decadent and serve well as desserts or late afternoon treats.

Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus on Urbanspoon

A lot of people (including myself) have ordered these sweet pancakes for breakfast or anytime. They are so delicious, especially the ones that have warm fruit and ice cream. My favourite is the one with warm blueberries and ice cream. Others like the banana with coconut flakes and drizzled with chocolate fudge syrup. The salty ones are still my absolute favourites for breakfast and lunch. I like the ham with mushrooms or bacon with mushrooms. If you don’t see a pancake with a special combination of vegetables or meat, you can build your own.

Dutch pancakes are not like the North American pancakes because they have toppings cooked right in the batter. The Dutch also likes to make them thin and large too. It’s almost a cross between an omelette and a pizza.

Next time you’re on Crowchild Trail near Mount Royal, be sure to drop by. Mornings are busy but a late lunch will guarantee you a table.

Coco Karamel

Choco Caramel

Coco Caramel

Aljores is the name of an Argentian dessert that you have to try when you visit the Kingsland Farmer’s Market. Or as we have learned, are now available at Sunterra Markets. Aljores looks like shortbread cookies sandwiched and feathered with coconut flakes. The filling is actually dulce de leche, a creamy, sweet decadent treat.

You can buy one or a pack of 6, mix and match different flavours but the traditional one is the best.

Kingsland Farmer’s Market

Kingsland Farmer's Market

Kingsland Farmer’s Market

If you’re looking for a good walk on a Saturday morning, head over to Kingsland Farmer’s Market on Macleod Trail before Heritage Drive. There’s plenty of parking and lots to buy and samples to try. Twenty years ago, it used to be a Buick dealer. The reason I know that is because I used to live in the apartment block just north of the market and I almost bought a Buick from there. Now it’s converted to a farmer’s market that is open only on weekends.

The market is organized in open stalls, selling fresh vegetables from local farms, handmade chocolates, pastries, desserts, wines and butcher cuts of meat.

The Community Natural Store has a stall that sells popular books, along with a selection of goods from their Chinook and downtown 10th Avenue stores.

Watch for some future blogs on specific vendors that we encountered and enjoy.

Chinese Festival

Lion Dance

Lion Dance

After attending the Chinese Festival on Saturday in Chinatown, I have to admit that it was better organized than the first year. My day started at the James Short parking structure with a nice surprise – free parking. That was very nice of the City to provide that to alleviate parking woes in Chinatown.

We were greeted by the dragon or at least the kung fu master who was holding the dragon’s head. He said we had some time before they started the dragon dance so we decided to wonder and browse the kiosks selling knick knacks.

There were the usual stalls that were selling iPod cases for $5, $10 and $15 for the premium cases. One stall sold Angry Birds slippers, Angry Birds pillows and Angry Birds keychains. There was even t-shirts that read Save the Birds – not sure if that was a play on the Angry Birds franchise.

Our friends from Asia Snacks were setup, but not selling our favourite egg puffs. They were too busy with taking orders for their Vietnamese sandwiches, to fire up the waffle-like maker so they kept telling us to come back later. We ran out of patience and ended up at the Dessert House for the egg puffs which were excellent. The mini doughnuts van was out and so was the Noodle Truck, both were very popular. TD Canada Trust were giving out personalized zodiac pins, ZipCar was promoting their new hourly car rental service in downtown Calgary and GlobalFest was selling tickets at their booth. There was something for everyone that attended the festival. Too bad it was only for one day, August 11th but I’m glad they ran it from 10am to 8pm.

 

Fresh Rambutans available

Rambutan

Rambutan

I love summer across Canada because of all the available fruit. Among the local fruits, I enjoy shopping at T&T in the NE for exotic fruit. This week, people are scrambling and loading up on rambutan.

Rambutans are from Thailand and are hairy looking fruit. To eat it, you have to peel away a shell to reveal a white skinned fruit. It’s a lot like lychees, another exotic fruit but from China. The rambutans are more firm and less sweet. Some people rather have rambutans than lychees but I think it’s close.

This time of year, we are lucky to have these fruits flown in fresh. Most of the time, they are only available frozen. It’s not bad eating rambutans that way but fresh is always better.

 

 

Field Stone Winery – Fruity wines

Field Stone Wines

Field Stone Wines

On our first visit to the Kingsland Farmer’s Market on Macleod Trail south, we discovered an Alberta winery that specializes in making fruit wines. Field Stone is the first business who was granted a licence under Alberta’s new cottage winery regulations.  When asked about their location, they said they were situated near Strathmore. All their wines are made from 100% Alberta fruit. Almost 90% of the fruit are grown on the orchards near Strathmore.

Head out to the Kingsland Farmers Market from Thursday to Sunday and try out their wines. Try their fruit wines which ranges from dry to sweet. Or if you have sweet palate, try their dessert wines, especially the blackcurrant and raspberry.

Last week, they had a special where if you buy the Raspberry Fruit Wine at the regular price, you can buy the second bottle for 20% off. We asked about the dessert wines and they said the offer will be for the dessert wines. They will alternate throughout the summer with the different fruits, so here’s your chance to stock up on some delicious wines that are made locally.

We’re stocking up for Christmas stocking stuffers. I know it’s a long time from now but I think they will age nicely.