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.

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Pizza with “Permissible” Meats

SPU - Best Pizza in Town

SPU – Best Pizza in Town

If you’re looking for halal meat on a pizza then this is the place to call for pizza. SPU is located at the corner of Patterson Drive and Coach Hill in the SW. It shares the strip with 7-Eleven, Shell and Treasures of Saigon. Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.” In terms of pizza toppings, it can never be pork and the meat was obtained from an animal that was slaughtered under strict Islamic guidelines.

I have to admit, it wasn’t the ‘halal’ that attracted me in. Instead it was their street sign that promised ‘unlimited toppings’. For as little as $11.99 for a medium 12 inch pizza, you get all the toppings you want for free. There’s quite a selection of toppings too such as the regular stuff like mushrooms, green peppers, red peppers, ham, bacon, pepperoni, sausage and tomatoes but there are some premium toppings like shrimp, feta cheese and tandori chicken. I think I saw donair meat too.

Their regular pizza dough format is thick but if you want thin crusted, be sure to ask for it when ordering. I inquired about thin crust at the till when I 0rdered my pizza but I got a thick crusted pizza when I got home and opened the box. Next time, I’ll have to order it instead of asking whether they can make it thin.

On the wall reads ‘SPU – Best Pizza in Town”. With that in mind, I was anxious to get home and sink my teeth into.

The crust was fair to good. It’s nothing like my favourite (ie. Pizza Bank) but it’s comparable to Pizza 73. I was a little disappointed with how the toppings were placed. Most of the toppings were placed around the center of the pizza with no topping near the edges. When you get about 2-3 inches from the crust, all you get is cheese and a very light coating of the tomato pizza sauce.

For $11.99 (medium), $13.99 (large), $15.99 (x-large) and $19.99 (giant) with unlimited toppings, it’s awesome and worth a second try. It doesn’t come close to my absolute favourite which is still Pizza Bank at Glenmore Landing so I disagree with their claim that it’s the best pizza in town.

Timmy’s Chili Knockoff

Tim Horton's Chili (Knockoff)

Tim Horton’s Chili (Knockoff)

Now that the ‘Rollup the Rim to Win’ contest is over, it’s time to get my coffee elsewhere. I was getting tired of lining up at those ridiculous lines every morning for a chance to win a new Rav or one of those cool BBQ’s. But this year, nada. I managed to win the odd latte or free donut but that’s about it. I think this year, Tim produced more cups that read ‘Play Again’ because every time I rolled up the rim, I kept reading this phrase over and over again.

Just to get even with Mr. Tim Horton, I scoured the internet for a Tim Horton’s Chili Recipe knock-off and plan to make my own instead of shelling out more money to Tim. In my opinion, I think the Tim Horton corporation has enough of my money.

 

The trick to Tim Horton’s chili is not to use tomato sauce, but tomato soup. Instead of pouring a can of Heinz tomato sauce into the mixture, pour two cans of Campbell’s tomato soup but don’t add water to dilute it.

Here’s the recipe for his chili, compliments of Food.com.

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.

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

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.

 

Awesome Meat Pies

Village Pita Bakery

Village Pita Bakery

Since the first introduction to a pita pie, I’ve consumed thousands of these tasty morsels and introduced many people to this awesome bakery called the Village Pita Bakery in the NE. When  it opens in the morning, there’s already a trickle of people coming in and ordering the famed pita pie. I’ve been there as early as 10am and had to line up for a fresh meat pie.

The original meat pie is a flat pita bread with ground beef, tomato and herb mixture spread on it and baked. To eat it, drizzle lemon juice on it and eat away. Fiery eaters would want to try their homemade hot sauce which is great on the meat pies. When ordering, tell them you plan to eat in and they will serve you up a bowl of fresh olives with your meal.

Village Pita Bakery on Urbanspoon

Other tasty treats include the cheese pie which uses a variety of cheeses, baked on the flat pita bread dough. When fresh out of the oven, the dough is crispy. They will fold it in half and serve it to you. Watch out for the drippings because they come out juicy and hot. If you’re eating with your spouse or a coworker, order 6 and get a break on price. Better yet, order 12 to share it with your family and save some money too.

Complement your meal with a baklava and drink and you’re good for the day. Once you’ve tasted this, you’ll be back for more and hopefully, you’ll bring your family and your friends too.

Fatayers – My New Craving

Little Lebanon

Little Lebanon

I have a new craving and I’m off to the Little Lebanon for lunch! Last week when we visited this awesome eatery, we noticed a fresh supply of Fatayers on these wooden racks. Fatayers are triangular pastries that contain tasty stuffing such as chicken, beef, potato and donair meat. When you arrive late, most of the fatayers are bagged and stored in the fridge. They’re ok when heated but they’re not as good as when they are fresh out of the oven.

For fatayer lovers, they are cooked everyday at 10am. I would urge you to go there early to pick up a dozen or two. I recommend the chicken because they’re the best tasting treat. The spinach ones aren’t that good but for vegetarians, they do contain a nice healthy portion of spinach in them.

My wife loves packing them for lunch. She takes three to four of them to work, heat them up in the microwave and devours them. I could eat half a dozen easy but I rather combine it with a shwarma, meat pie or a donair for lunch.

Next time you’re in the neighbourhood (south of Westbrook Mall), drop in, say hello, have a baklava and some fatayers.

 

Peking Garden has Peking Duck

Peking Duck

Peking Duck

Have you ever been in a Chinese restaurant and watched the table next to you chow down duck skin wrapped in a pancake filled with a slice of cucumber and a stalk of green onions? If so, it was us. I have to admit that I love the Peking Duck dish but if my doctor knew, he would give me a lecture of my life. He would tell me that it is very high in cholesterol and fat and how bad it is for my arteries.

The Peking Duck dish usually is served in three meals. The dish you see here is the main course. You’re given steamed pancakes to use as a wrap. You start by smearing hoisin sauce on your pancake. Next you take a slice of duck skin and place it in the middle of the pancake. Before you wrap it up, you put a slice of cucumber and a stalk of green onions in it. Wrap it together and enjoy.

After carving the duck, they throw the duck carcass into a hot pot of water for soup. This is the second meal. Any meat left over from the carve is tossed into noodles making it the third meal. Other restaurants will use the meat in a fried rice mixture.

At Peking Garden in the NW, just north of Market Mall, you can order the Peking Duck dish. There’s not a lot of restaurants that offer this exotic dish so if you get a chance, order it and enjoy. Btw, this is considered a banquet dish that is served at weddings and special occasions. To us, every day is a special occasion.

Peking Garden on Urbanspoon

Thai Boat – a real Thai Restaurant

Devil's Kiss

Devil’s Kiss

Bring your own fire extinguisher and thank me for the tip if you are going to order the Devil Kiss at Thai Boat in the NE. My wife and I love Thai food and don’t get enough of it in Calgary. One of the reasons is that Thai food can be really expensive here if you don’t know where to go. But at Thai Boat, you can leave with a smile on your face because your taste buds and wallet will thank you for the meal.

The Devil’s Kiss dish uses ground pork, mixed with hot Thai chilis and a special sauce. It’s delicious between dousing your tongue with iced water and waving your hand frantically for the waiter to keep the water coming. The dish comes with iceberg lettuce and sliced carrots which helps dampen the heat of the dish.

Another great dish is the Beef Salad which is mostly beef slices with a little bit of salad. It is tasty as usual but it lacks the lime and cilantro taste that I usually remember about this dish. Also with the lack of salad, you might want to use this as an entree.

Service is fast and dishes arrive promptly. It’s definitely one of our favourite Thai restaurants whenever we are in the Northeast.

Thai Boat on Urbanspoon