OK, well this is Lake Louise, but no one needs to know… and it’s only 2 hours west of Calgary.
This is going to be a different type of post. I don’t have a recipe today, but I wanted to talk about the food scene on my trip to Calgary. Whenever I travel, I’m always looking for the trendiest or even hole in the wall restaurants that provide the best quality food. I am no expert or critic, but I know flavours and trying new places is always an adventure, even in my own city. I may not be super adventurous with food, but I like to try anything once. Plus, it gives me more inspiration to create new dishes!
Although I had many family dinners and get togethers, (and let’s not forget the wedding food), I was able to try some pretty cool restaurants…and I was impressed!
One of the first restaurants I tried was at Chinook Mall, called Double Zero. It’s a pizzeria with Napoli style pizza. Nothing in my eyes will ever beat pizza from Naples, something I will forever dream after my trip to Italy last summer. We started out with a traditional Roasted Cauliflower dish. I’ve had better, but it was good. We also had meatballs in marinara sauce. The meatballs were a house blend of natural pork and beef, and it melted in your mouth. The marinara? To die for. It had the perfect balance between acidic, sweet, and spice. It’s definitely going to serve as an inspiration the next time I make marinara. We also had arancini, which is deep fried risotto balls — delicious and one of my favourite dishes there. On a second visit, we also had tuna crudo — ahi tuna crusted in fennel, with roasted tomato relish and arugula. I loved this appetizer the best.
Pizza wise, it was not bad. Usual choices were available, and it wasn’t anything special, but still decent enough. For dessert, we tried ordered: vanilla panna cotta with grapefruit creme, another apple/custard based dessert, and tiramisu. The panna cotta tasted delicious, as well as the tiramisu. The apple/custard dessert was a little too sweet, but still good. If you’re in town and shopping at the mall, this is a place you want to end your shopping spree at.
On our next foodie outing, we dropped by Anju, a modern take on Korean food. It’s a bit of a trendy, upscale restaurant and a bit on the pricier side, but worth checking out. My cousin knew the owner of the place and raved about how great the food was. When we got there, we noticed that their Korean Fried Chicken signature dish needed to be ordered 48 hours in advance. Fortunately, our waitress told us there was still one order left, presumably cancelled by someone who didn’t make their reservation. We immediately jumped on the order. Let me tell you – Best. Chicken. Ever. It came with a side of corn bread, on which a fried egg and a side of maple sauce was served. The chicken itself was the perfect combination of spicy with a little bit of sweetness. It was tender, crispy, and oh so good. We also ordered spicy salmon tacos. My sister is also a foodie and a big fan of fish tacos; she’ll really get excited about big flavours. When she tried this, she teared up. Last time she did this was when she had eggs benedict at the vegetarian restaurant I took my family too on my birthday. My cousins all made fun of her, but they were good fish tacos! We had some crispy tofu dish and wagyu beef, which was SO tender and melted in your mouth. Overall, a great place to check out!
On another night, I had Thai food at Khao San Thai Kitchen. 17th Ave in Calgary is like the place to go to when you’re visiting. It’s the main strip with bars, clubs, restaurants alike. The Thai food here was pretty decent for what we order. The appetizers (grilled octopus, and soup) was definitely the highlight, although the pad thai was also good. Still, it was not up to par like my favourite Thai place in Vancouver, but then I’m being biased. Apparently the place to go is White Elephant, which I did not get to visit, especially since they were opened for a few hours for dinner each day!
I wanted to visit a vegetarian place as well. The Coup + Meet Lounge was the place to go. I went for lunch here, and we started off with a carrot, sunflower seed, and seaweed pate served with tortilla chips. The combination of the three tasted really good together, definitely a recipe I will have to replicate. For my main course, I had a falafel quesadilla, which was delicious. The house made tzatziki and the stuffing in the quesadilla (which included sundried tomatoes, hummus, banana peppers) was delicious. I ordered the side soup of the day, which was curried broccoli. It wasn’t what I expected at all! It was a tomato based curry broth with broccoli, and again the flavours were spot on. I was impressed. For dessert, we had a vegan coconut creme brûlée and an ice cream sandwich with vegan vanilla ice cream sandwiched between 2 beet cookies. Best vegan desserts!
Because I am also a brunch person, I needed to check out a place for brunch. Unfortunately, the highly rated OEB was out of the question due to extremely long lines apparently, so I checked out a small self-serve place called Holy Grill. This place was quaint, almost laid out like a cafeteria. You’re greeted by the chef, who I assumed to be the owner. From the fried yam & beet chips to the avocado egg sandwich I had, and the friendly staff, I couldn’t have had a better brunch meal.
Food wise, I have to say that I enjoyed it in Calgary; I definitely had some good food adventures. I still missed out on some others, so I definitely have to make the return trip back…. and to visit family too 😉 Overall, my trip turned out to be better than I expected, because I got to explore the city in a way that I couldn’t whenever we made family trips as a child. If you are making your way out there, or are a local yourself and haven’t yet tried this places, please do! You won’t be disappointed 🙂
Oh, and don’t forget to order a Caesar somewhere — Calgary was the birthplace (and for those of you who don’t know what that is, think of a Bloody Mary, but with Clamato Juice)!