Mangosteens at 60,000 VND

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

On the topic of fruit, I tend to like ‘exotic’ fruits more than our local varieties. If given a choice, I would prefer pineapples over oranges, mangosteens over plums, purple passion fruit over apricots and lychees over cherries. Unfortunately, shopping for exotic fruits can get expensive in YYC.

On my recent trip to Vietnam, I had the opportunity to shop at a few farmers’ markets. In Ha Long Bay for example, I had 20 minutes to shop at a huge local market. Vendors inside sold everything from stove elements to nuts and bolts, souvenirs and dried food, silk embroidery and wood carvings. Vendors on the outside sold fresh meats, fruits and vegetables.

 

When I came upon this stand, I was interested in one particular fruit. I had promised myself to look for this fruit in Thailand but there was no opportunity to stop and shop. Mangosteens are sold at the T&T Chinese , market in Calgary but at $5.99 per pound. For that price, you can buy about 4 of them. At this market in Vietnam, I pointed at the mangosteens and she spoke something in Vietnamese that I could not understand. I took out my wad of money and she picked out 60,000 dongs. She took a shopping bag and started filling it up with mangosteens. There was more than a dozen of fruit in the bag and it weighed about 5 pounds. Using a Dong to CDN converter, that came out to $3.18 Canadian.

Next time I have a craving for mangosteens, you know where I will be flying off to.

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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.

Best Bakery in Bowness

Apple Ring

Apple Ring

We are coming to an end of era, 22 years to be exact. The owners of Dell’s Cafe in Bowness are selling their cafe and retiring. Their friends say “Finally, it is well deserved.”, but their customers disagree because they have served the community with great food for so long. It will be hard to say good bye and so long. People who know them personally have been dropping by at Dell’s Cafe to have their last favourite meal before they close shop on May 11th. Some of their favourites include the dry ribs, the chicken chow mein or the burgers and fries. Everything is good!

Next to Dell’s is the Sweet Home Bakery that I enjoy very much. I think I have written a post before but here it goes again. The one and only bakery I know in YYC that bakes an apple ring is here. If you haven’t had one then I urge you to go down early and get one. It’s in very limited supply because they go as fast as they can make it.

The apple ring sells for $9.95 and is large enough to share. When we have it, we eat it for breakfast and dessert and it lasts over a week for the two of us. With ice cream, it’s decadent. But on its own, it’s delicious with coffee or tea. It is like an apple pie but without the pastry shell. It is like an apple streudel but without the sprinkled sugar on it. It’s almost a sweet roll with apple pieces.

Take Sarcee Trail north, pass the turn-off to Banff then at the three-way stop, turn left. Follow the road until you’re in Bowness. Take a left turn at the gas station and a quick right into the parking lot. The bakery is right next to Dell Cafe.

Sweet Home Bakery on Urbanspoon

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.

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.

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.

 

 

Glamorgan Dollar Store – Best Value

Dollar Store

Dollar Store

Other than today, we have been enjoying a pretty good summer in Calgary. I’ve been running out of suntan lotion and mosquito repellent because I hate being sunburned and being eaten alive.

Here’s a tip that I wanted to share with you. I shop at the Dollar Store in Glamorgan a lot because I like the owners and they seem to stock some interesting items that you won’t  find anywhere else.

My latest find is a tube of Banana Boat Kid’s Suntan lotion with a 50 SPF. At this Dollar Store, I bought it for $5. If you went down the block to London Drugs, you would easily pay $10 or $12 for it so there’s a saving for you.

My last tube was purchased at Liquidation World, south of the Chinook mall for $5. Same price but not the same size. I’ve included a photo of the two tubes for you to compare. Which tube do you prefer? The larger one or the smaller one for the same price? Clearly, there’s more value at the Dollar Store.

Other items of interest include Crocs-like shoes. I found a pair for less than $10 that I use when I’m gardening. It’s a great shoe for casual wear and when you need to clean it, you can spray it down with the garden hose. Next time you’re on Richmond Road and 37th Avenue SW, be sure to drop into the Dollar Store. It’s in the same strip mall as Safeway , Momoyama’s Japanese Restaurant, Glamorgan Bakery (where they sell the awesome cheese buns) and the bowling alley.

Comparison Shopping

Comparison Shopping