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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Maple Cinnamon Granola and Start From Scratch

Homemade granola recipe

Now that it’s back-to-school season, my Start From Scratch program is only a few weeks away from starting up. We cook a ton of recipes throughout the 10-week course, but this one for a simple homemade granola that I made originally for Chopped Canada Mystery Solved on is one of the first that we tackle. Granola always makes for a great start to a day, either by the handful straight to the mouth or on top of a generous serving of greek yogurt topped with a bit of honey.

I’m going to be on Global Calgary this Saturday morning talking a bit about the free cooking program for post secondary students and assembling this granola, so tune in if you’re up!

Click here for more information about Start From Scratch and how you (as long as you’re a post-secondary student in Calgary or Saskatoon) can apply!

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Culinaire Soup Recipe Round Up and Start From Scratch!

Tomato and Roasted Poblano Gazpacho

When August rolls around, I’m always scrambling to make the most of the last few weeks of summer before ‘back to school’ mode kicks in. This month has been ladden with road trips to Saskatoon, Kelowna and Edmonton and I’m about to take off to Vancouver for a few days as of tomorrow.

While I do have a parrot, I do not have any children, nor do I attend university, but I do run the cooking program Start From Scratch, so that’s how the ‘back to school’ feeling creeps into my life.

If you haven’t heard of the program before, Start From Scratch is a free 10 week cooking course for post secondary students in Calgary (MRU, U of C or SAIT) and Saskatoon (U of S). We take 30 participants in Calgary each semester and 15 in Saskatoon.

Start From Scratch Calgary (Start From Scratch alumni getting ready for service in the kitchen with Chefs Paul McGreevy and Dilan Draper.)

Now in our fourth year, the program is still a ton of fun. Just this week, we had a pop-up dinner in collaboration with Test Kitchen YYC where we brought some of our awesome alumni participants into the restaurant space to help cook and serve a coursed dinner to a full dining room. Was it scary? Of course! But, we pulled it off!

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Swiss Chard Stem and Shallot ‘Salsa’

Swiss chard stems

Now that summer is at its peak, you’ll be hard-pressed to walk past a community garden or glance into someone’s backyard (not in a creepy way!) and not see this vegetable growing strong and tall. While the hearty green leaves are great in a variety of ways – steaming, sautéing, left raw and thinly sliced – the stems can throw people for a loop.

I spent the August long weekend in Kelowna with some friends. In exchange for a comfy bed to sleep in, my friend Kerry Bennett and I, cooked our awesome hosts a big dinner on the Friday night. We served up a big platter of barbecued chicken, which I topped off with this fresh-tasting ‘salsa’.

When chard stems are sliced thin they give a nice crunch and add a brightness, not to mention some nice colour if you are lucky enough to have a handful of the rainbow variety. Anyway, enough from me! Try whipping this up some time this week!

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Grilled Romaine and Chorizo Salad

Grilled romaine salad

I’m not going to lie. I took this picture with my cellphone – blasphemous, I know. Sometimes, you just cook things for the sake of enjoying a meal with your friends and leave your DSLR on the sidelines. I occasionally have to remind myself that there is nothing wrong with that. Just breath, Dan. Just breath.

Anyway, back to the salad! Grilling romaine gives it a more robust taste and makes for a perfect summer dish. I think we can all agree that no matter how much we all love kale. It is definitely overused in the standard salad these days, so let’s give the green, curly guy a break this week, shall we?

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Chipotle, Cranberry and Walnut Romesco Sauce

Author Dan    Category Mains, Recipes     Tags

Chipotle romesco sauce

When it’s prime summer weather and you’ve got a patio with a barbecue, there is no excuse not to be outside grilling up more than a few meals throughout the week and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately.

Romesco sauce is amazing with grilled vegetables. So, the other night I bought a pile of vegetables (scallions, cauliflower, tomatoes and some zucchini), invited some friends over and ate to our hearts’ stomachs’ content. A nice, healthy dinner in the middle of The Calgary Stampede – which, I assure you, most Calgarians can attest is a rarity – so my mother should be quite proud.

This spin on romesco is a little on the spicy side. If you’re not a fan of heat, add-in less of the chipotle and a bit more roasted red peppers for a sauce that’s more mellow with just a touch of that sweet and spicy smokiness.

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