Los Mariachis Found

IMG_6284Summer is coming and it is almost time to sit out on the patio with a Corona and have good Mexican food. Too bad Los Mariachis don’t have a patio but then, who wants to sit out on the parking lot facing busy Macleod Trail? Instead come inside to a rustic cantina and explore the menu that have a bit of everything Mexican. There is fajita, tacos, enchiladas, burritos and even horchata on the drink menu. And if you have room afterwards, there is the caramel flan for dessert. (We never got that far but that would be my choice).

I had the El Trio which had a chile relleno, enchilada and chimichanga. I never stopped to ask but the chimichanga tasted a lot like the enchilada. Both had beef in it and both were wrapped with a soft tortilla. The only different was the sauce on top. For some reason, I thought the chimichanga was fried but then, I could have been mistaken. The chili relleno was tender and tasty.

My wife had the snapper and it came with green peppers and olives topped. The fish was firm and hard to tell whether it was previously frozen or not. (We should have asked but we didn’t). Both dishes came with some rice and refried beans.

When the bill came, we were surprised to find that the chips and salsa wasn’t complimentary like it is at many Mexican restaurants. After taking our order, the waiter thanked us then asked if we wanted chips and salsa to start and we (foolishly) said ‘Of course’. The chips and salsa is an appetizer here and sells for $10. As an appetizer, it comes with chips, salsa, guacamole and some pickled vegetables.

Would we return? Probably not right away but when we do, we have to be careful to not say ‘Of course’.

 

 

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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

Best Muffler Service

Calgary Mufflers

Calgary Muffler

If you need an honest opinion about something underneath your car or truck, head over to Calgary Muffler at 58th Ave and Macleod Trail. Like a medical clinic, you don’t need an appointment. You simply show up with your vehicle and they will jack it up and assess your situation. 

These guys are honest and are AMA approved. Before dropping by, I called Canadian Tire and asked them about replacing my muffler. They couldn’t help me. They said they were not familiar with a Land Rover and if they could find the part, it would be well over $500. I sure didn’t feel assured.

I called Calgary Muffler next and asked the same questions. They said they would replace it for about $250 but they had to see the vehicle. With a loose muffler, I took care in driving down to Chinook where Calgary Muffler is. 

Once they had an empty slot, they motioned me and I drove into the bay. They hoisted my Land Rover up in the air and they went underneath it. They pointed out that my muffler was completely rusted and it was about to fall off. They said they would put a brand new tailpipe in for under $258.

I told them to go ahead. After an hour, my truck was ready to go. These guys rock!

Cora’s for Fruity Magic

Fruity Breakfast at Cora's

Fruity Breakfast at Cora’s

Many of us don’t have enough fruits and veggies a day, including myself. And maybe that is why our friends, Bruce and Lise insisted that we meet at Cora’s for breakfast.

After a year, I can now thank them for introducing Cora’s to us. Before then, I was not a huge fruit lover but now, I enjoy having fruit with my bacon and eggs.

That’s the trick here at Cora’s. You can still have your traditional bacon and eggs, waffle or crepe type breakfasts but you will also get a good serving of fruits too.

Cora's Breakfast & Lunch on Urbanspoon

It’s a popular place for breakfast and lunch. If you don’t get there early, prepare to wait in line for about an hour. Most Cora’s can accomodate big families and the turnaround is pretty good. They will have people turn around pretty fast and have you seated in no time.

What’s my favourite? Hmmm, it’s hard to say. Their menu is huge and there are a lot of choices. Just look to the next table and see what your neighbours are having. That’s the only way you can see what the popular dishes are. If you are looking for something light, try the Fruit Magic or the Samira Wake-up. Both of these are a light serving of fruit. Something interesting would be to try their crepe omelette combination. I’ve not had this yet but it looks pretty filling.

In YYC, I know there are 3 Cora’s. If I’m wrong, please add a comment and tell me where there is more. The downtown one is in the Bow Valley Square. The NW location is in Northlands Mall and the SE location is on 130 Ave.

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.

Buy Groceries at Sobey’s and Fly Business Class

Sobey's at Strathcona

Sobey’s at Strathcona

One of the best ways to fly internationally is in business class. There you are invited to the front of the plane where individual pods are assigned to travellers like you. It’s nice on a long trip to be treated like royalty or you can adjust your seat and convert it to a bed. You can either sit up and watch your personal entertainment device or lie back and sleep the miles away. Have I convinced you to fly business class? If so, sign up.

The place to sign up is at Sobey’s in their club Sobeys program. Every time you shop there, you can earn Aeroplan points. The thing I like about shopping at Sobey’s is when they have promotional days such as their Dollar Days. I have to admit, I hate broccoli, however for a buck a bag, I can stomach that. It’s actually pretty good in Chinese dishes like Beef and Broccoli or a hotpot with chicken, tofu, celery, green onions, carrots and mushrooms.

Many times a week, Sobey’s will have sale days where they will encourage some bulk buying on your part. As a reward, they will give you additional points. Last week for instance, I purchased two bottles of salsa verde (to make chili verde with pork). From that purchase, I earned 25 points. If you like tea, they were giving you 100 points if you bought 4 boxes. My pantry is full of tea and coffee so I skipped this deal. Bottom line is that everyone needs groceries and a vacation. It makes perfect sense to shop for groceries, earn your Aeroplan points to fly business class on your vacation.

Scavenging Road Kill

Black billed magpie

Black billed magpie

Since coming back from California, I’ve seen a lot of Black Billed Magpies around. They seem to be circling my yard. And out on the road, they seem to be bolder than ever, swooping down where there’s road kill. Cars go around them because (considerate) drivers don’t want them to be the next road kill.

When I moved to Calgary, someone told me that magpies are like vultures. They appear when something is dead. In other words, they are scavengers and they eat dead things like dead rats, gophers, mice, birds (ie. roadkill).

I see them waiting at street corners so that when the coast is clear, they fly in and eat. When a car gets near, they hop around instead of getting out of the way. They are quite the pedestrian.

And as scavengers, they help clean up the roads and our yards. Without them, we would have carcasses all over the place. Magpies, keep up the good work!

No Drips – Irvine Pumbing and Heating

Business Card

Business Card

This weekend, I wanted to wash our cars. I went down to the basement and turned on the water so that the outside faucets would work and water started sprinkling down on my head. The faucet had sprung a leak and there was no way to stop it from dripping. I knew this required a plumber.

I had the pleasure to meet Caleb Irvine of Irvine Plumbing and Heating. Caleb is a master plumber and master gasfitter. Caleb charges $39 for a service call which is very reasonable. Basically, it pays for his time to assess the situation and provide you an estimate for the fix. Before starting the work, Caleb will show you a chart that he has devised. Starting from the bottom of the page, he will tell you the level of complexity of the work required of him to perform. The more complex, the more money he has to charge. Caleb notes that the homeowner is always uneasy about what the work will cost, so he came up with this system that eases the homeowners’ mind. Frankly speaking, I wish all trades would follow Caleb’s chart.

To qualify for the WaterSense government grant of $50 per toilet, Caleb recommended the Toto-Drake toilet. He provided a very good quote to remove the toilets in the house and replace them with brand new Toto-Drakes. I can’t say enough about his recommendations and his work. It really speaks for itself. These toilets are quiet, efficient and the lids don’t slam when you accidentally drop them.

Today, he came and replaced the faulty faucet downstairs with a new unit for $99 (btw, he waived the $39 service call). It’s spanking new and looks great. On top of that, he asked if I drain my water line in the winter and I said no. He recommended a three step plan for me to take in the fall, showing me how to unscrew the drain plug and telling me to drain the line before winter. If there was a homeowner’s manual, Caleb would have written the chapter on plumbing. His advice is free and it will save homeowners like me, costly repairs in the future.

This is why I trust and recommend Caleb Irvine at Irvine Plumbing and Heating. He is fair, dependable, honest, upfront and very professional.