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Avenue Magazine: Restaurant Round Up For The Summer

Author Dan    Category Thoughts     Tags

It’s a little scary to think that September is already half over. As much as I hate saying goodbye to my shorts and tank tops, I do always appreciate a little bit of layering in my outfits, so autumn isn’t all bad.

Anyway, here are some of the restaurant features I’ve done over the past few months for Avenue Magazine. As per usual, Calgary has no shortage of new dining destinations popping up and there’s certainly a lot more on the way in the coming months. Keeping me in a job, I like it!

The Block

The Block Calgary

When Michael Noble opened Notable in 2010, he was really taking a gamble. An arguably obscure location in a residential area where many people were unsure if they’d be willing to drive to for a dining experience? Granted, Bowness isn’t that far to drive, but you know us inner-city folks…

Noble not only bucked the trend of making refined dining available only in the downtown core, but he also set the stage for other restaurateurs to do so too. Since 2010, we’ve seen indepentant establishments opening up in areas like Aspen (Diner Deluxe), Signal Hill (Bistro Rouge) and even all the way down in Seton with the soon-to-open Starbelly.

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Chopped Canada Mystery Solved: February Recipe Round Up

Chopped Canada ingredients

It’s hard to believe my ‘Chopped Canada Mystery Solved‘ blog series has already been going for eight weeks. I guess time flies when you’re trying to be creative with regular ingredients (or approachable with strange ones) in the kitchen. From kitchen staples like peanut butter and sriracha to the floral love-it-or-hate-it of rose water, here are the Chopped Canada-related recipes I came up with this month for Food Network Canada online.

Sriracha Chicken Wings recipe

Lime, Coconut and Sriracha Chicken Wings

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Chopped Canada Mystery Solved: January Recipe Round Up

Author Dan    Category Thoughts     Tags

Chopped Canada pantry

Every year , I have a blast doing my ‘Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home‘ blog series for Food Network Canada online. When the finishing touches were being put on the inaugural season of Chopped Canada, I was lucky enough to get set to do corresponding series with the new hit show as well.

While I am slightly dreading the weeks where Chopped Canada will overlap with Top Chef Canada and I’ll be cooking twice weekly with some more unusual ingredients and combinations for Food Network Canada online, it will be good chance to spend some more time in the kitchen; something that I didn’t quite do enough of this fall.

What’s different with this current series of pieces as opposed to the Top Chef Canada-focused ones are the fact that it’s meant to make different basket items from episodes slightly more approachable (read: less bizarre) to the home cook. Trust me, there’s definitely a learning curve taking place for myself as well!

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The Canadian Food Experience Project: A resolution

Tate Modern

(Strolling through the Tate Modern in London)

This is part of The Canadian Food Experience Project, initiated by A Canadian Foodie, the monthly blog series encourages Canadian food writers and bloggers to embrace the Canadian culinary elements in their lives that make our country as delicious as it is!

It’s no secret that I travel a lot. I’m often away for 7-10 days of the month. Viewing from Twitter or Instagram, there’s often a misleading ‘playboy’ kind of lifestyle that I promote. My life is certainly not one big vacation. I just don’t post selfies of me getting writing done first thing in the morning, or transiting around to different chef/culinary professional interviews during the day. I mean, where’s the fun in that, right?

Like Alexandra Gill mentioned in my interview with her earlier this year, everyone’s palate gets tired. She was referring to something more short term, but nonetheless, whether it’s a week long trip where you’re hosted by a media board or have a string of events to go to, sometimes you just don’t want or care about having another bite.

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Roasted Scallion and Kielbasa Crostini

What you’ll need…

1 baguette (1/4″ sliced)

1 bunch scallions (ends trimmed, halved)

1 bunch spinach (blanched, loosely chopped)

1 head raddichio (shredded)

1/2 cup sauerkraut (loosely chopped)

1 lemon (zest and juice)

1 TSP sugar

1/2 pound kielbasa sausage (tihnly sliced)

1 TBSP grainy dijon mustard

salt and pepper

olive oil

So, I’ve been doing a series of events with Holt Renfrew in Calgary this month, highlighting some of the different gourmet preserves they have for the holiday season and using them in some simple, but delicious (obviously!) appetizer recipes. This past weekend, I used some of their specialty mustard with a crostini consisting of a little wilted greens salad, kielbasa sausage and roasted scallions.

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Monday Night Supper Club: Our 2nd Annual Clambake

Wow, it has been forever since I wrote up a little recap of our Monday Night Supper Club get-togethers. This past Monday, we all congregated at my friend Michelle’s house to have our second annual clambake. Last August, a mountain of seafood was feasted on by about fourteen of us and I’ve been craving a round two ever since.


We don’t have a traditional clambake, but, rather, use a one pot cooking method (last year’s clambake, pictured left).

Bon Appetit magazine rocks my life, so when I saw this amazing recipe for a one pot clambake in an issue last summer, I called my supper club friends and said: “That’s it! We’re going to have a god damn clambake!”

This recipe is super simple, it just involves layering the ingredients in a massive, leaving various lengths of cooking time in-between and within 45 minutes, you have the most gigantic seafood feast. Fit even for a king, perhaps…

My friend, Eric Giesbrecht, runs Meta4Foods which supplies top notch seafood to most of Calgary’s top restaurants, so I knew he could set me up with all of the shellfish I required.

I got ahold of some handsome looking oysters, mussels and manila clams from Eric. Since he flies most of his seafood in fresh the day of (thumbs up!), I was not lucky enough to land on one of his lobster delivery days so I grabbed a handful of lively lobsters from Boyd’s Seafood the afternoon of the clambake instead.

Once people started arriving for the dinner, I made everyone learn to shuck an oyster or two. I mean, I love my friends, but I don’t love them enough to shuck thirty six oysters all by myself! Does that make me a shucking asshole? Get it? I couldn’t help myself…

I also made a quick, mildly spicy mignonette made of balsamic vinegar, minced red onions and sambal oleok to top the oysters with which went over nicely.

When I’m serving oysters for a dinner party or gathering, I like to get a decent layer of ice in a large serving platter, then sprinkle some salt all over the ice to make it extra cool (like temperature-wise, not social status), then lay the shucked oysters on top.


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