A La Saj and Skip The Dishes

This is the first Syrian restaurant that I’ve seen in Calgary. I love trying new things so this was right down my alley.  I love falafel and I think it’s a fair standard to judge a restaurant by. The falafal was packed with veggies; rich and flavorful. I really like pickled turnips.

I tried their Italian Uno, which is wrapped in Saj bread, which is used to make the sandwiches. Saj is common in Lebanon and Syria. This is an example of one of their fusion offerings. It’s a neat idea, and if you were less hungry, this would do the trick.

For dessert, I decided to be adventurous and order the Halawet El Gibin which is a sweetened cheese dessert. Unlike the last pudding I had, which was overwhelming with the flavour of rose water, this was more subtle. I generally don’t like floral notes in my food, but this was just enough to announce it’s presence, but not like an overpowering perfume. The dessert itself was chewy and the texture reminds me of Chinese glutinous rice balls.

I decided to try SkipTheDishes, a new food delivery service in Calgary.  I’ll have to admit,  my only previous online ordering experience was with Panago Pizza.

SkipTheDishes will take your order online, for a variety of restaurants and deliver the food. They are a Canadian company; based out of the Prairies. Calgary is new territory for them.  They work with  over 75 restaurants in Calgary. Most of their restaurants don’t have the capacity to take online orders or drivers to deliver. They hire SkipTheDishes to handle this part of their business. Their target market is Central Calgary at the moment, so you might be out of luck if you live in suburbia.

Their website is nicely done and easy to use.  There is no charge for the costumer. The food arrived at an appropriate temperature, and at the estimated time. If my favorite restaurants are on their list, I would definitely use their service again.

I order delivery around a couple times month. I do like the model of online ordering as in the past I’ve had issues with accents and English proficiency over the phone.

I  was asked to review their service by the company. As most of the readers of this blog will know, I am honest and upfront with my views and my opinions are not influenced by requests for reviews.

 

Uno / The Italian Our take on a bresaola sandwich with fresh rucola, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil and balsamic reduction   and Falafel
Uno / The Italian
Our take on a bresaola sandwich with fresh rucola, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil and balsamic reduction
and Falafel
Halawet El Gibin
Halawet El Gibin

skipthedishes

A La Saj on Urbanspoon

Vero Bistro Moderne

We decided to go to Vero after seeing the lineup out the door at Lido Cafe last weekend. It’s been on my wishlist for some time; and I’m glad that I’ve finally gotten around to visiting.

By mistake, we were given the dinner menus to order from. Our server sort of did a double take on our order, when she realized we had the wrong menus. I ordered a glass of their freshly squeezed orange juice. I settle on the eggs benny with burger.  The bread was a crisp brioche that paired well with the veal meatballs and runny vita egg. I like my eggs orange and full of omega-3s.  Hubby enjoyed his Vero Traditional. I had my eye on that as well, but decided we shouldn’t have the same dish.

The food is interesting; as they advertise it, a fusion of French and Italian. They source from local suppliers as well. The service was pleasant and not obtrusive. It is a combination that works well for them.

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Eggs Benedict with Burger and Balsamic
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Vero Traditional

Vero Bistro Moderne on Urbanspoon

Cedars Deli

After a day of skiing in the mountains, I was famished with nothing in the cupboard and hunger to tame. Hubby had to go to the mall so we visited the food court in Market Mall and I found Cedars Deli. I have been on a Mediterranean kick of late, with making my own pitas and falafel.  Even thought this restaurant is in a food court; it is a local, made in Calgary chain. I was looking for something fresh and healthy, and this fit the bill.

I ordered the Mediterranean plate which had: two falafel, three vine leaves (dolmades),one kibbeh ball, a generous spoonful of hummus, tabouli, tahini and a large whole wheat pita. Everything was tasty and there was more than enough to satisfy my hunger. Don’t let the food court facade fool you. This is healthy, good tasting local food.

Cedars Deli on Urbanspoon

The Bison

If there is one restaurant in Banff that I will come back to, time and time again; it’s The Bison. Well crafted, rustic and hearty food. Suitable for an après-ski dinner.

I was in the mood for some hot soup. The oxtail was fall-off-the-bone and flavorful. The crispy bacon hit the spot. The broth tasted like it was cooking for days.

BRAISED OXTAIL SOUP poached egg, grilled focaccia, root  vegetables, bacon
BRAISED OXTAIL SOUP
poached egg, grilled focaccia, root
vegetables, bacon

The bison ribs also tasted like they were stewed for days with the same fall-off-the-bone tenderness. The dish stayed hot throughout the meal thanks to the cast iron. The portion sizes are definitely on the larger size, considering we were hungry skiers and split dessert. I had enough for lunch the next day.

CARMEN CREEK BISON SHORT RIBS baby potatoes, carrots, turnips, mushrooms, bacon
CARMEN CREEK BISON SHORT RIBS
baby potatoes, carrots, turnips, mushrooms, bacon

The crème brûlée was heavenly. There were chunks of apple underneath the caramelized topping. The gingersnap twirl was a nice touch.

CREME BRULEE apple cinnamon spiced, gingersnap palmiers
CREME BRULEE
apple cinnamon spiced, gingersnap palmiers

Service was good, although slower towards the end of the meal. Reservations highly recommended, especially on a Saturday night.

The Bison on Urbanspoon

Dairy Lane Cafe

Ahhh.. Dairy Lane. I’ve been going there for years, since its in the ‘hood. On this particularly chilly night, we decided to make the short drive. All three of us were in the mood for the classic Dairy Lane Burger, with different toppings and sides. I had mine straight up, with the yam fries. My dining companions choose the bacon, cheese and fries. The burger was juicy and the fries were crisp and well seasoned. All of us ordered our own chocolate shake. Perhaps we should have shared. Be forewarned: you get the shake and half the metal container. I would say, almost a liter of shake. Why chocolate shakes on a chilly night? Not sure, but according to our server, it’s not uncommon. The portions are huge and they support local producers. ‘Nuff said.

If you don’t like waiting in lineups, go on a chilly, snowy weeknight. One of the best diners in town.

Dairy Lane Burger with Yam Fries and spicy mayo
Dairy Lane Burger with Yam Fries and spicy mayo

Dairy Lane Cafe on Urbanspoon

Eating In The Okanagan – Road Trip

I went to  Kelowna last week.  The main reason was to run in the Okanagan Marathon Race Weekend, but also to rock climb, and of course eat. I wonder if fall is the best time to visit this area. We didn’t go by any wineries; I’ve done that in past visits. Kelowna is the kind of place where you have a subdivision, and right next to it; the cows are grazing and the fruit is growing in the orchards. Farms in the city, got to like that.

I was in search of some dessert for some dinners we would be having. My Aunt discovered that the grocery store she frequents makes homemade pie.  I was looking for an alternative to Log Barn, which was up the road in Enderby.  Their business practices are less then stellar; so I have heard. Back to the pie.  Quality Greens Farm Market (not to be confused with Quality Foods) is a local produce store in the Okanagan. They sell local and imported produce, as well as organic grocery items. They also have a deli counter where they serve food, and pies. I pre-ordered an apple and a pumpkin pie. They were so good! The 10 inch pies were $9.99 +tax. The apple was chunky and not too sweet or mushy. The pumpkin was just good. I ordered two more of each for the trip home.

Apple Pie
Apple Pie

It’s also apple and pear season. My Aunt gave me some ripe Bartletts and some Boscs. The Bartletts were overripe by the time I finished them, and the Boscs ripened nicely. The Ambrosia apples were delicious! I love fruit that is local and fresh.

We were also looking for ice cream a couple of nights after dinner. I was rather disappointed that the Okanagan Fudge and Sundae Company were closed during the week, even though they advertised being open for the latter part of the week. They were open on Thanksgiving weekend, when the races were on. The other shop, Moo-Lix was closed as well.

On our way back to Alberta, we stopped in Sicamous. We found D Dutchmen Dairy just off the highway. They are the real deal. They sell ice cream and dairy products. The cows are right next to the store; we could definitely smell them. They had a good selection of flavours. I had the “above average” which was two scoops. The “mammoth” was three. The pumpkin pie was really good and I also had the chocolate cheesecake.  They even sell their milk in glass bottles. Definitely worth a stop while passing through town.

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We arrived in Golden looking for a coffee shop and a place to stretch our legs. We decided to go into town to the Big Bend Cafe, rather then stop at the commercial strip off the highway. It was around 2pm and they were closed. We walked further down the street noting most of the places were closed, on a Friday afternoon. We found the Golden Bakery and Deli. It is run by a local family; a no frills bakery and diner. I had the soup of the day, which was cream of asparagus and a homemade brown roll. My friend had a pizza bun, which was nice and soft. I like supporting local business.

D Dutchmen Dairy on Urbanspoon

CSA Delivery #12

This week, we have: celery, leek, potatoes, carrots, peppers, garlic, onions, dragon tongue beans and yellow beans, and flowers. Looks a like a roasted root vegetable and soup kind of a week. Still have parsnips, potatoes and beets from previous deliveries.

 

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Sheraton Wall Centre Event Catering

I went to a gala dinner at the Sheraton Wall Centre last night. I was not optimistic about the food, given the less than stellar reviews on Urbanspoon about room service and Cafe One restaurant.

The event started off with cocktails, where servers walked around with hot canapes. These were really good. I sampled a vegetarian samosa, arancini, chicken meatballs with teriyaki sauce, and sundried tomato bruschetta.

For dinner, we had a Butter Lettuce Salad  with Sun-Dried Blueberries, Orange and Grapefruit Segments, Shaved Radicchio and Slivered Pistachios and White Balsamic Tarragon Dressing. I found it unremarkable.  For dinner, we had Grilled Queen Charlotte Halibut Fillet with Sweet Potato Puree, Wilted Greens, Seasonal Baby Vegetables and Smoked Vine-Ripened Tomato Coulis. The halibut was a good portion and flavorful, but a little dry. The vegetables were done to a turn.

For dessert, we had Mango Mousse Layered with Raspberry and Almond Sponge Cake served with Coconut Ice-Cream. That was delicious. Service was good, as I would expect from these type of events. Having been to the coffee shop downstairs in the hotel, and talking to others that have eaten at the restaurant, I conclude that the Sheraton serves good food. But, I suspect their service is lacking in the restaurant.

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Mango Mousse

Halibut
Halibut

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