Lunching at Calgary's Shiki Menya!

Photo 8-18-2014, 8 44 47 PMA few days back in Calgary and it’s time to take advantage of what it has to offer. - milk it for what it’s worth!We take for granted the amount of ethnic food there is in the Calgary's 'landscape of food'.  When I say ethnic I don’t have a particular ‘authenticity’ or food-type in mind, just that it hosts a lot of different cultures and I know it holds pretty true to a lot of them.   The thing about food is that it is evolving; our traditions and perceptions evolve so the korean/italian/japanese etc.. food of the last generation will naturally and hopefully, be a little different from the last.

Food like all things follows trends, and obviously I don’t need to tell you that.  But the cool part about ethnic food is that it has certain flavours and typical ideologies that it maintains, but in time ingredients change and so do techniques.

-Enough rambling.

The beauty of Calgary is that we can have contemporary Japanese & Korean food all in one day! You’re thinking, what’s the big deal.  Well, it’s a big deal when you are deprived of it and suddenly it is so accessible.  I appreciate it now!

So I lunched with the absolutely bonkers amazing, DQ & Cheungitos at Shiki Menya where we sampled selections from the 'Classic' & 'New School' ramens.  I like that the menu is casual & current, they make it fun and source from local business!

Just look, you can get Phil & Sebastian cold brew, and the most exciting to me, is the cold Ocha!  Come now, speciality tea is the new speciality coffee.  The tea menu includes a Genmai Cha with matcha powder - which means it's a super green looking cup of tea with the traditional roasted brown rice kernels.  OR choose from the Premium Houjicha. Houjicha is my new love.

We had the Tonkotso Classic (soft tomago, menma, charsiu, noodles) & Tonkotsu Black (the previous option with corn, black garlic oil, and squid ink garlic thrown into the mix).

One thing to note is there are only 150 bowls of noodle each day, so make sure they get enjoyed, go eat early! It creates this sense of urgency or hype that there are limited bowls but it's how they do in a lot of places in Asia too.  My one and only complaint is you have to pay an extra $1 for any additional toppings, that includes green onion!  But sure, someone had to cut it up - and as S says "got to Pay to Play" boys and girls!

Overall, worthy bowl of tasty noodles.  I enjoyed the cafe/bistro atmosphere.  go Calgary!

Next Up:  Dinner at  the NEW ANJU restaurant!

PHOTO CREDITS: DQ, thanks for providing the fab images you are my soulmates on so many levels. so much <3 & respect.

Photo 8-18-2014, 7 48 31 PM photo 2b photo 4Photo 8-18-2014, 9 24 12 PM Shiki Menya on Urbanspoon

PART I: Hawaii Honeymoons, Hunnies & Hot eat-your-face-off-tips!

So recently, a friend of mine Flo messaged me and asked for our food recommendations in Maui, Hawaii.  It was Sean's role to plan the food-part of the Honeymoon - among other things.  Here is the down-low: we stayed in Wailea. PRE Tips - Get a car, you will need to drive

TIP 1: Eat at your resort ($$$ but hell, it's your honeymoon nice luxuries are made for this; so splurge)

Firstly, on your resort stay I would have n to say the first goal is to indulge & rightly so - we did on brunch.  We sampled a few brunches in the area, but resorted back to our own.  I apologize for the terrible photo, and half eaten food - but when you plate it yourself it just isn't the same.  There is a strong underlying japanese influence in Maui, which is reflected in the food offerings.  Our brunch had anything from sticky buns, eggs benedict to dim sum items & japanese miso soup with oshinko pickles on sushi rice!  Did i mention that there is a daily fresh squeezed fruit juice?

One of the mornings, we rode our bikes over to the next hotel to try their brunch.  Greedy, greedy… they had an equally abundant selection, but we just found we didn't feel at home. Hokey, but it was plenty fancy.  We did enjoy the fresh made smoothy of your choice, upon request.  The Fairmont staff were just so accommodating and we felt the quality of selection at the Kea Lani surpassed the next door - Four seasons.  There is so much fresh tropical fruit at the buffets, it was delightful!

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Tip 2: If your hotel does in-house cookies and made to order ice cream sandwiches - DO IT. So exhilarating you feel like a kid!


Tip 3: Experience Fish Trucks

We rode our bikes in search of the 'secret beach' & the reefs in the protected Ahihi state park to go snorkelling.  As we passed the Big beach, there were several fish trucks offering various types of fish tacos.  I have no objective view on how good these are, I just felt like it put us, generally in the hawaii-mood of spontaneity.  If you feel like fish tacos, you should have fish tacos... because this is YOUR Honeymoon.  I should also mention that I went flying off a speed bump and lost my water bottle on the landing. Glorious.



Tip 4: Whatever you do, Do not miss the PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN cake

At the Pineapple grill, they are known for their award winning Pineapple Upsidedown cake.  It is absolutely divine.  The other food pales in comparison; the almost perfectly-done egg on the Huevos Rancheros & Make your own soft tacos; seriously woman, can I bring attention back to the pineapple cake.  It had a candy crisp top with carmelized sugar and tasted like a sticky toffee pudding pumped up with cooked pineapple.  Ooey, sweet, sticky- goodness.  Let's just say I had a moment with this cake.

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One of the meals we had at the Fairmont included the Nick's Fishmarket, an independently owned restaurant in the hotel. I was learning here that Hawaii, originally a deserted island, had no indiginous foods until imported. Therefore, eating a 'local cuisine' meant trying foods imported from other cultures. They do cultivate pineapples and papaya but hawaiian cuisine is a true amalgamation of cultures. The flavours of my ponzu pineapple noodle dish were interesting, the savoury and acidic mash-up was tied together with a tangy sweet pineapple. Always end with dessert, I was on a lemon curd kick - so obvious choice, lemon curd tart. Collage 2

Now that you've reached the end of the 'more than helpful' first part, I promise the the second will hit some high traffic go-to's!. ALOHA!

BIG BAND is ALiVE Tonight!

Ok, time for a non-food post. I don't know how much people out there really care about live music, but I LOVE-love and 'live for' live music.

This evening's CPO presentation of Calgary's Prime Time Big Band and Trumpet talents Allen Vizzutti & Jens Lindemann was an awesome, toe-tapping, seat-dancing musical exploration. They filled the Jack Singer hall on a tuesday night and boy, I was blown away. Not to mention they are hilarious and entertaining on stage, just chilling stage presence.

I was taken on a musical journey. Often, in life I seek new experiences that grow your interest and take your breath away. Tonight was an example of both, I have never experienced trumpet playing like this! Lively and upbeat big band jazz as expected, but also romantic, smooth, rich, elegant playing that makes you want to just be taken away! - Please, take me away.

CPO did a great thing tonight. It was a totally different experience from the usual classical concerts. They had the audience sitting in pitch dark, lit the stage with cool-blue coloured lights, and the orchestra was dressed in white jackets. (Duh?! it's time for a good time!)  Such a throw back to big band era that I could see the whole crowd, young and old, bobbing their heads and tapping along to the drive of the swing beat. Trust me, it gives Michael Bublé's version of big band a run for his money- although I enjoyed that too.

Thanks for enriching our city with music and experiences to just feel the emotions & good times of life. I never knew trumpet could be.... like how it was tonight.

If you are looking for a new experience, for the price of a movie you can get rush tickets or join the CPO's youth program CPOSSIBILITIES and get $15 tickets.


Cork & Canvas - Propose a Toast to your Orchestra

[slideshow] Last night saw the kick-off of the annual Cork & Canvas Festival- a month of wine, drink, and art.  Pick your poison, whether it be wine, beer, whisky, or tea, there is something catered to stimulate senses and support local live music.  The festival is filled with enjoyment of the finer things, but also incorporates love of all styles of music- including, yes... the Barenaked Ladies.

The crowd was lively and spirits were high last night.  As we worked our way around the room, the tasting stations were spread out with wines from various regions and food stations.  I will let most of the photos do the talking.  With each event that I attend, I try to take notes on what I'm tasting and eating, but I'm really starting to gain an appreciation for how difficult it is to keep track of everything.

Great Events Catering offered:

Moroccan Lamb Tajine - black sesame cone topped with bamboo rice fritters.

Ahi tuna Fish Tacos with wasabi aioli, soy reduction and pickled ginger - I felt like this was the Alberta special, the ahi tuna trend that is often the card played as the crowd pleaser.

Basil Marinated Scallops breaded with panko and served with a sake injection shot- Now THIS, was an interesting experience!

Hotel Arts served:

Beet root Cured Sokeye salmon with Fairwinds goat cheeese and house-grown micro greens- Delicious cured salmon was the bed for the surprisingly flavour rich goat cheese.  Chef Duncan Ly topped this dish with smoked Maldon salt, what an interesting dimension!

Belgo's team plated:

Pan Seared Scallop with lentil salad, truffle culiflower purree, port caramel, and crispy smoked bacon - this was a very sweet dish with the predictable but a nice contrast to the wine.

The evening wouldn't complete without the serenading and folk sounds of Cellist, Morag Northey- creatively strumming her cello like a guitar and singing rhythmic lyrics, she created a mood of alluring exploration and expression.   I should add that each time she played, she was introduced by the clanging of a large gong.

The silent and live auctions were varied in cultural adventures and vintage wines and ports.  I missed out on bidding as I was too busy tasting and honing the palate- and failing.  Honestly, who wouldn't want to bid on a 7-nights accommodation in France including a wine tour?  Folk fest tickets anyone? How about a meet and greet with the Barenaked Ladies? or an Urban getaway, in my backyard at Hotel Arts.  It all came to an abrupt end, way too fast, and before you knew, there was money all over the floor! - kaput!

What an evening! - even ran in to some unexpected friends :)

UPCOMING events for Cork & Canvas: [click for tickets]

“Beer is the New Wine” on Mar. 8 @ 7 p.m. at Willow Park Wines & Spirits.  Craft beers with top local restaurants, check.

High Tea at the Fairmont Palliser. Mar. 10 @ 2 p.m. The event will feature specialty blended teas, pastries and sandwiches, and a live classical serenade ** there may even be TWO quartets!

Four-course luncheon at La Chaumiere restaurant.  Mar. 14 @ 12 p.m. The meal will feature vintage wines and a live auction

The Art of Whisky through 100 of the world’s finest whiskies Mar. 21 @ 7 p.m. at Willow Park Wines & Spirits

Winemaker’s Dinner on Mar. 31 at 6:30 pm


Fire Kirin - Contemporary Asian Cuisine

Buried deep in Southeast Calgary, you wouldn't think this is the place to get great Chinese food. I'll admit that at first glance, the menu seems like a fusion-styled blend of several Asian cuisines. I had the luxury of not ordering as my punctuality failed me again! But honestly, I can't say I mind... the best is when you don't have to order! This is not your typical Chinese restaurant though. Its modern interior is refreshing. When my friend J mentioned that it's a family-owned restaurant with hand-pulled noodles, I was pretty stoked to check it out! I didn't even know we had something like that in Calgary. Vancouver yes, but Calgary? Heads up: you do have to order the noodles in advance so they can prepare it. Here is what our Szechuan meal consisted of tonight.

Hot and Sour Seafood Soup

The fusion between hot and sour with seafood egg drop soup is delightful; Often one of our favourites, actually. The soup had pieces of scallop and shrimp, bit of chili oil and cilantro to top it off!

Zha Jang Mien- "JJ Mien"

This popular Northern Chinese dish, direcly translated"fried sauce" noodles, is similar to the Korean version "Jajangmyeon". The savoury & spicy meat sauce sat on a bed of hand-pulled noodles topped with sliced cool cucumbers to balance the dish. Yup, appropriately saucy. Hand made noodles are a definite treat.

Malaysian Fried Rice

We returned for some lunch and went looking for something new and exciting to try. This dish is a new take on the traditional fried rice- Delicate egg-wrapped fried rice full of shrimp, scallop, and tobiko/masago(fish roe). This flavourful dish, was visually appealing with the bright pops of colour. Definitely comparable to some of the best in Vancouver.

Kirin's Special Malaysian Laksa

This is a truly authentic experience. The spicy malaysian soup with a peanut base, coconut milk, and chilis. Apparently, a signature dish!

Both meals were wrapped up nicely with fruit and a dessert, just as asian meals are supposed to end. Cool off the tastebuds. On one occasion we had an in-house made black sesame ice cream, the other time we tried the chinese herbal "Osmanthus Jelly" that is flavoured with floral notes similar to jasmine. I am pleasantly surprised that this restaurant is family owned and yet, offers so many selections.

Highlights: fairly priced, awesome fried rice, jj mien was my favourite

Service: warm and friendly

Likelihood to return: will be taking my family to enjoy a feast, let you know how it goes - family approved!

Food/Coffee: love spice, hunny! food was authentic and soul warming! At -30, you need the heat. No coffee, but the iced jasmine tea was refreshing balance to the spicy food.

chillness: 3.85 chill chairs

Fire Kirin Contemporary Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon  

Char Pop Here we come!

Last night was amazing. I have few words to describe the atmosphere of the last night at CharPop. The small store-front and commercial kitchen of Sidewalk Citizen Bakery was transformed into a restaurant, seating 60, with a bustling kitchen open to the crowd. The shouted orders, "service", and ... the odd Sweet bread on the fly, made it pretty intimate. When dinner service was nearly finished, the dinner crowd of the last night of Char pop rose to a standing ovation. We had almost everything on the menu, and the sweetbread that was accidentally dropped at our table, turned out to be the perfect mistake! - More FOOD! I'm not even embarrassed to say that gluttony was the least of our concerns. (I'll work out tomorrow, and I pre-worked out for this!) I had a Pinot Noir but the Shiraz was so popular they sold out.

The concept of a limited availability, time sensitive, highly creative collaboration between industry innovators like Charcut's Connie DeSousa, John Jackson, Grant Van Gameren, and Aviv Fried owner and mastercraft of Sidewalk Citizen's was a smashing success. In conversation, it was mentioned that thousands of emails were received within 2 minutes of reservations being made available. Although there is much talk about the heightened demand created here, I think the hype is real and the marketing seems to be working just fine. I was a bit skeptical of the excitement, I mean, it's good food but would it be as good as the hype? Let's just say they didn't disappoint, the flavours were spectacular. (See Menu below)

Glass Bottled Milk, I think I'm in Love

I absolutely, cannot deny myself the guilty pleasure of milk in a Glass bottle.  It makes me giddy in anticipation when I take a bottle of milk home - thinking how good it's going to taste.

To my knowledge, there are two producers available in Calgary; both originating in BC. They are D Dutchmen, SICAMOUS BC and Avalon Dairies, VANCOUVER BC. This is my second bottle in two weeks, but I've found my new delight in "old fashion standard".  This means that the milk has not been Homogenized.

Oh the joys of shaking up your milk and the taste of creamy full fat goodness.  Milk is a liquid emulsion of tiny micro molecules of fat suspended in liquid.  As a mixed homogenous liquid (appearing to be one) it is unstable.  Naturally, it will separate as fat is hydrophobic and like, oil and vinegar, will always separate.   However, the process of homogenization passes the milk through a high force that separates the milk into micro sized molecules that will no longer separate.  99% of milk sold seems to be homogenized, there are different schools of thought about health effects and inflammation, but I will leave that for another day.  All you need to know, is that this week, the milk formed a fat puck on the top of the jug that I could not shake out.  Frustrated, I thought could the whole bottle be solidified?  I poked it with a chopstick (being the asian I am) and used so much force that it spilled milk everywhere!   Not to worry, no tears were shed.   I was just really embarrassed.