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

Advertisements

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.

Misato’s for Lunch

Lunch Box at Misato's

Lunch Box at Misato’s

We used to go to Misato’s in Signal Hill a lot more but after their renovation last summer, we found they had jacked up their prices and hired more waitresses. When we used to go as often as we did, we started getting to know some of the servers but I can safely say, I don’t recognize any of them now. The sushi chefs behind the sushi bar are all familiar so I guess they kept the owners.

Misato’s serves very high quality sushi but you won’t find the exotic stuff here such as Uni (sea urchin), Bluefin Tuna, Belly Tuna or Blowfish. I don’t even know if I’ve seen Hamachi or Quail eggs on their menu.

Their signature roll here is the Calgary roll but I heard it’s over $22 now. I remembered it to be around $16 once upon a time. But as a signature roll, I guess they have the right to raise the price on us.

They are totally into presentation and not quantity. So if you’re looking for more quality and less quantity then Misato’s is your place. Pictured here is their lunch box. It’s very pretty but it’s more of an appetizer than a lunch meal. Luckily dinner was around the corner for me but if I had to go back to work, I would probably need something to tie me over. The tempura batter was nice and light. Salad with ginger dressing was nice. A few strands of edamame was a treat and a few slices of sashimi were excellent. A few more slices of teriyaki chicken would have nice or instead of bean sprouts, a bed of rice would had worked better. And the miso soup was not salty like a lot around town.
Misato Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

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.

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.

 

 

Joe’s Crab Shack in Old Sacramento

Bucket of Seafood at Joe's Crab Shack

Bucket of Seafood at Joe’s Crab Shack

After waiting for our friends from Reno to arrive at the car rental facility south of the airport in Sacramento, we took both cars and navigated down down to Old Sacramento for some cajun / creole seafood. Located right on the river was Joe’s Crab Shack. The menus weren’t thick but there were a lot of choices. When our drinks arrived, we had made up our mind.

My wife and decided to order a bucket each. Our friends from Reno ordered a larger bucket to share. My wife ordered Joe’s Classic Steampot and it came with tasty dungeness crab, snow crab, boiled shrimp and smoked sausage. My taste buds were up for some crawfish so I ordered the Orleans which came with a pound of crawfish, 12 shrimps and an Andouille sausage.

The waitress came by to put a bib on each of us. It’s hilarious wearing this bib but I can tell you, it helps when you’re trying to get the meat out of the claws. Too bad they don’t give you gloves because I had to visit the little boy’s room to wash my hands. Eating crawfish is not for the squeamish. You need to grab the tail with one hand and the body with the other hand then you twist in opposite directions. The shell falls off the tail portion and that’s the part you eat.
Joe's Crab Shack on Urbanspoon

For the best deals in travel, be sure to visit Squidoo.

Misato – Bigger and Better

Misato new sushi bar

Misato new sushi bar

If you live near the Signal Hill area then you’re in luck. You too, can make Misato your second kitchen like us. Misato Japanese restaurant is one of the best on the hill, serving both sushi and teriyaki dishes. Recently renovated, Misato expanded their sushi bar and restaurant space to accommodate more guests.

Signature dishes include the infamous Calgary Roll which is huge and can serve as a hearty meal. It’s an inside out roll with lots of fish in it including salmon, tuna, crab meat, tobiko, shrimp and sea stick.  Avocado usually gets wrapped up inside but being I’m allergic to it so I ask for a cucumber substitute which they don’t mind replacing.

For the health conscious, ask for the low sodium soya sauce which they have behind the counter if you ask. Also, I recommend asking for a knife so that you can cut the Calgary Roll pieces in half for easier handling. It’s either that or you end up taking apart your roll and eating each fish separately. Our friend, Wayne ordered the fried smelt from the whiteboard menu but found it a bit fishy. He plans to avoid that next time. I ordered the Agedashi Tofu that came in a broth of its own, tasty and delicious. The dinner boxes are of great value and comes with tempura, miso soup, salad and ice cream. If you’re not that hungry, order the teriyaki chicken or beef from the la carte menu. They come with miso soup and a bowl of rice. The chicken or beef is served on top of a bed of sprouts.

Misato Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

There’s a lot of take-outs and reserved seating. They recommend reservations, especially on Friday nights and on the weekends. Misato is becoming the favourite place to eat on the hill.

Cleanse your wallet

Community Natural Foods

Community Natural Foods

If you need another reason to clean out your wallet, go shop at the Community Natural Foods. Don’t get me wrong, I love organic and natural foods but I think we pay too much money for it here in Canada.

One of the aisles that I love shopping at is dried fruit and nuts aisle. Recently I found a tasty treat that I have been stocking up on. Dried persimmons are interesting and addictive. They have sliced the persimmon from top to bottom then dehydrated the slices. Coming from a natural food store, there are no preservatives, no added sugars, etc. Even the skins are intact. The persimmons sell for $2.49 per kg. and each container averages from mid $2 range to high $5 range. Each container contains about 1-2 persimmons at the most. Fresh persimmons sell for $1 for 3 at Superstore, so dried persimmons are sold at a premium this time of year.

Another tasty treat are dried mangos from Mexico. These consists of slices from ripe mangoes. Again, no preservatives, no added sugars, etc. I found the mangos to be a little on the roughage side. Some slices are of great dietary fiber so they’re good for you in other ways. These mangos sell for $2.99 per kg. whereas the fresh mangos sell for as little as $7 per box (of 6 large mangos). Again, these are sold at a premium.

There are a number of healthy cereals on the shelves, ranging from $5 to $12. I personally think that’s too much to spend on cereal, no matter how organic or natural it is. That’s outrageous at $12 per box.

Persimmons at Superstore

'Jiro' Persimmons

‘Jiro’ Persimmons

I’ve learned that some people have never eaten a persimmon. But then again, a lot of us haven’t eaten a durian including myself. Persimmons on the other hand are more popular with the asians but I’ve also learned that persimmons are now grown in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, Middle East and in the US. Originally, persimmons were cultivated in Japan then in China. When persimmons are ripe, they are very high in glucose content.

The ‘jiro’ persimmon can be eaten at any time but are not as sweet as the ‘hachiya’ persimmon. The meat of the ‘jiro’ persimmon is more firm like a green apple. It is slightly sweet and quite pleasant. The other persimmon is only sweet when the fruit is ripe. A ripe persimmon is one with a clear almost cracking skin.

Persimmons are not popular until October when they can be purchased for as low as 50 cents per pound. They are at its premium at the moment, sold per unit. But for persimmons lovers, the ‘jiro’ variety are available at Superstore for 88 cents each when bought in pairs, otherwise $1.28 each.

Buddha’s Veggie

Sweet and Sour (Mock) Pork

Sweet and Sour (Mock) Pork

If you’re a carnivore then Buddha’s Veggie is not for you unless you want to pay the same as your meat dishes. I can’t understand how the non-meat version of Ginger Beef can cost as much as the real thing but at Buddha’s Veggie, it is. In the past, I used to take my vegetarian friends here and feast on popular meat dishes such as Sweet and Sour Pork or Ginger Beef.

As a meat eater, I can tell you that the taste is there but when you bite into the mock pork pieces, all you get is fried gluten. There’s no substance inside for you to chew on like the real thing. For the price they are charging, they should put something inside such as crumbled up dollar bills. At least you don’t feel ripped off when you eat a whole plate of dough.

The Ginger Beef is the same. The taste resembles the real dish but the fried sticks are so crispy, there’s no fun chewing on them. As a veggie restaurant, I wanted more authentic vegetarian dishes with fried tofu or bean curd. Instead, they are into making counterfeit vegetarian food.

We were also disappointed to be charged $1.50 for a pot of hot water. We complained but the waitress just shrugged her shoulders. I just took it out of their tip.

Buddha's Veggie on Urbanspoon