I love Calgary, I really do, but sometimes a quick trip to the mountains can clear your head and provide you with that feeling that is so rare to find in the hecticness that is downtown life: Relaxation.
Last month, Casel Marché and Cassis Bistro graciously hosted a Monday night potluck event for us last month, they also created a little contest to go along with the food. The group voted for their favourite dish of the evening and the creator of that dish would win a weekend stay in Canmore. Sweet! Sadly, I did not win, but luckily, the winner, Chelsea K., invited some of us to come enjoy the weekend in Canmore with her!
Since so many of us are used to hectic night lives, we decided to keep things low key, just staying in, talking, occasionally frequently laughing and playing board games.
One of the board games in particular, Settlers of Catan, which Mitchell brought, was new to most of the group. I could tell they were skeptical, Mike especially, about the game and how nerdy it might be, but everyone was soon paired up, plotting and strategizing against each other. Yes, it soon became a board game blood bath between teams of nerds.
On Saturday morning we went for brunch at Chez Francois, which was not the tastiest breakfast food I’ve ever had, but provided us with some much needed greasy fried goodness.
Next, we headed over to Communitea, which is probably the cutest little cafe that I’ve seen in a long time (sorry Higher Ground, I still love you too!).
They had a staggering selection of teas, about eighty I believe, and a food menu that was gluten-free and vegan friendly. Hippies rejoice!
Jokes aside, it was a really adorable space and I will definitely be making a point of coming back here next time I’m in Canmore. And, yes, this picture below is of myself, wearing a tea cozy…and Lori’s glasses…in Communitea…and, no, I had not been drinking.
I know, right? Nice moustache…
Once we’d had our caffeine fix, we strolled the main street, popping in and out of shops with names like ‘Arty Farty‘ and ‘Gingerella‘, but as charming as these places were, nothing could compare to a run-in with Santa Claus and his motorcycle.
Apparently the reindeer were too hungover to make a public appearance this weekend, so Santa was out buzzing around town on a two-wheeler. He graciously posed for a picture with Lori, then went on his merry way.
After heading back to the condo, we took a quick dip in the hot tub, did some yoga (lesson courtesy of Jacinthe) and went to buy some groceries for supper.
Jacinthe and I prepared dinner in the kitchen, while Chelsea K., Sarah, Mike and Jacqueline built a gingerbread house for dessert. It was a kit with instructions, so I knew they’d be fine unsupervised.
I have been on a few mountain getaway weekends before and I know that though the kitchens are generally well equipped with tools, they lack spices, oils, etc…that help make a great meal. Unlike my regular city self, I planned ahead and packed up a bag full of miscellaneous spices, vinegars, etc…to aid us in creating a feast fit for Sasquatch.
For starters, we dished out some lemon and white wine risotto topped with garlic butter shrimp.
For the main course, we served a simple roasted chicken (seasoned with Charcut’s top secret Alley Burger spice mix! Yes!), confit rutabagas, rosemary roasted butternut squash, braised kale and zucchini. A very rustic, hearty mountain feast indeed.
Following dinner, and demolition of freshly built gingerbread house (dessert), we busted out the board games for another night in. That evening’s game of Settlers of Catan took closer to three hours to complete. I think by the time winner had conquered, we were all too mentally exhausted to do anything else and just went to bed.
Sunday came so quickly and it was time to pack up and head back to Calgary. Feeling relaxed and refreshed, we grabbed one more drink to go from Communitea and got onto the highway. Every single time I drive away from the mountains I also think to myself that I don’t come visit them nearly enough as I should. This year, that shall change!
For now, I’m refuelled and ready to face another busy week. Can’t wait for the holiday parties to start, how about you?
(Note: All photos, aside from Lori with Santa, are courtesy of Mitchell and Chelsea K. Thank you both for capturing some great moments throughout the weekend!)
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Ok, I just have to sneak these two shots in. If you can guess which ladies these are, you win a fantastic prize pack. (prize pack still TBD)
For the fifth installment of Monday Night Supper Club, we decided to head down to Sandy Beach Park for a potluck dinner. Sandy Beach Park is definitely a nice space, but I do have one mild bone to pick with it (listen up Nenshi!). It does not have any sand, nor a beach, which is generally comprised of sand. Nonetheless, ‘Sandy’ ‘Beach’ Park proved to be a great destination for our Monday night gathering. We’ve really been lucking out with the weather over the past few weeks (knock on wood) and this Monday was no different. There was nothing but sun in the sky!
We staked territory over a group of picnic tables and grills, then got to work unpacked and setting up all the food. As our dinner club has been growing in size, there’s always new individuals attending each week, so it’s always interesting to see how everyone interacts with each other. (Tammy, Jacinthe and Sarah pictured to the left)
Luckily, thus far, everyone seems to be getting along quite well, but I’m hoping for a massive Gossip Girl-esque cat fight soon. Nothing says ‘life of the party’ like some good old fashioned drama! Hopefully between the two Chelseas…Fingers crossed!
The dishes were nothing short of amazing tonight. Newcomer Mike (of Mike’s Bloggity Blog) brought some vodka soaked tomatoes (I liked to call them ‘deconstructed caesars’) and a balsamic watermelon and mint salad to the table. Funnily enough, I assumed I would also bring a watermelon and feta bites with a balsamic blueberry reduction, so we kind of had a watermelon overload on the table, but at least they weren’t exactly the same thing.
Continuing on the salad side of things, Jacinthe made an absolutely breathtaking salad using edible flowers, different greens and herbs all from her own home garden. The flowers, and their petals, were a little peppery and reminiscent of arugula. Her home-made vinaigrette was equally as impressive as the garden salad.
I just need to say salad a few more times…Sarah brought a green bean and potato salad, then Tym and Tammy both brought quinoa salads. Now the salad chapter of this story can finally come to a close.
For the main course offerings, Jacqueline brought some souvlaki chicken skewers, pitas, and appropriate toppings while Rob W barbecued some salmon. Although not pictured, Rob W seems to be growing a beard. He looked quite rugged and manly on this particular Monday.
The ‘gold star’ of the main dishes, would probably have to go to Mealan. She brought an array of sausages from a European meat shop near her home, as well as a platter of mustards, pickles, and sauces to accompany them. If the extensive lay-out of this wasn’t enough, she also made labels for each item on the tray. How Martha Stewart. I won’t lie, there may of been some phallic references/jokes happening during the barbecuing of these sausages, but that’s par for the course, right?
For desserts, Wendy (from Yelp!) brought some nanaimo bars, eclairs, and cream puffs. You know, healthy desserts! Rob M was too preoccupied ensuring that he had enough different colours of frisbees to make anything for the dinner, so he brought a pie from Safeway. Priorities Rob, priorities…
His pie was quickly put to shame, by Adria’s yogurt fruit cups made with baked wonton wrappers, and then, again, by Stephanie (fellow food blogger @globaldish) who created what was probably the most beautiful tart I have ever seen. Her blueberry buttermilk tart was really a work of art. I think everyone felt bad slicing into it, but it was equally as delicious, and simply had to be eaten. We should probably take a moment to look at it…
Amidst the prepping, grilling, eating, laughing, and talking, it seemed that we hardly noticed the sun swiftly disappearing from the sky. It’s funny, when summer begins there are so many long days, where the light lasts until after 10PM, but this Monday it was pretty much full-blown night by 9PM. Sigh, that means fall is approaching…So what do you do in the dark besides make s’mores (courtesy of Jacqueline)…No, not that! You play glow in the dark frisbee, of course!
Or maybe those are UFOs?
Here are some more pictures from our potluck night…
Digging into the food!
Sarah’s green bean and potato salad.
Mike’s vodka soaked tomatoes. I am trying this at home soon.
I’m pretty sure I told Jamie and Adria to pose casually…
Stephanie snapping a shot of the food. What can I say? It’s what we do.
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When we decided to start this Monday Night Supper Club, the point of it was not only for us to find a suitable life partners for Chelsea K and Alex, but also to seek out some great dining destinations in our city. It never ceases to amaze me the sheer number of fantastic establishments there are in Calgary, and I’m excited that these regular dining adventures are allowing us to have some delicious experiences week after week. This particular week of the supper club brought us to the restaurant Anju. Being tucked away on the corner of 5th Ave and 10th st SW, it is definitely a little off the radar. That being said, many of us had heard that this place boasted some of the best Korean fusion dishes in town. Anju actually means tapas or a dish eaten with alcohol. So, it was finally time to taste, drink and find out for ourselves!
(On a side note, we’re trying to decide on a supper club graphic, pictured above, which Chelsea K has been working on. Which one do you like? Let me know!)
For this dinner, we were offered a chef’s tasting menu to be cooked up by the chef/owner Roy Oh, so everything would be a surprise. I’m always cool with surprises, unless it’s a crazy man dressed up as a clown jumping out of my closet. That kind of surprise is not ok…
Anyway, the first dish that was brought out to us was some lobster sashimi. This was my (and I’m pretty sure everyone else’s) first time having raw lobster and it was interesting. Very fresh tasting, and seasoned nicely with a bit of after-heat.
Next, the table was served a plate of fried soft tofu bites with green onions and a tangy sauce. Oddly enough, this was one of the highlights of the dinner for me. It always manage to impress me when you can have tofu and actually enjoy it. I know you’re nodding your head in agreement.
Another great moment happened for us during the dinner when we were served some platters of chicken wings. For a moment, each person looked around the table, not knowing exactly what to think. I mean, this was a chef’s tasting after all, we thought we were being all ‘fancy‘. It was then that we were informed that these delicious wings were there only to serve as a reminder that ‘this was not fine dining’. Laughter ensued. I mean, who doesn’t like a good chicken wing? They were awesome.
Now, the time had come for the main course. We fought over pieces of marinated flat iron steak, a whole roasted Broek Acres pork shoulder (which had been brined, then slow-roasted), and also a mackeral dish. That one we left mostly for Chelsea K, since she’s the only pesco-vegetarian in the group. The meat was accompanied by butter lettuce, kimchi, and oyster kimchi so we could all make our own lettuce wraps (bo ssam in Korean)! Fun! As you can probably imagine, we all had our fair share of these. The pork was fall apart tender and I always like the heat from a good batch of kimchi.
Once we reached a point where we could eat no more, we were then served dessert. Unfortunately, my photo quality had been questionable at best throughout the night, and by the time this sweet (literally) asian pear pie with vanilla ice cream came around I was no longer the very average photographer I pride myself on being. In addition to sipping on my beloved Steam Whistle Pilsner (a beer which I will actually marry one day), the table was also served a korean drink called Soju. We had two versions, lychee flavoured and yogurt flavoured. They were refreshing and went down quite easily. I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to help myself to the Soju quite so freely…anyway…
The best part of dining Korean tapas style here at Anju was that it encouraged sharing, and conversation between everyone. This was the largest Monday Night Supper Club to date, where about half of the group did not know each other. Coupled with sitting in a comfortable atmosphere, it truly was an evening of great conversation, good jokes, and, perhaps, a couple inappropriate ones too! There’s nothing like breaking the ice over some Soju! Am I right people?
Want to join in on one of these Monday adventures? Send us a tweet!
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Last week, we had been really lucky. Monday had boasted some amazing weather, which ended up being perfect for our second Monday Night Supper Club outing to Home Tasting Room. While we sat there in the early evening sun, the group decided that the following week’s dinner would simply have to involve a patio as well. Being moderately proud of my own patio, I suggested that we have the meal at my house, barbeque some pizzas, and have a grand ol’ time.
I have the bad habit of having people over for dinner parties and then trying out recipes that I have either a) never used before or b) am just experimenting with. For the most part, all ends well on the plate, but on my end, the majority of the afternoon is spent stressing out about everything and wondering why I chose to, more or less, wing it for the supper.
Luckily, my BBQ pizza potluck portion was limited to pizza sauces and the dough itself, so I didn’t go too crazy. I just threw some red wine and lemon zest into one of the sauces, because it’s summer-time and lemon zest makes everything taste better…except gravy…Except gravy.
Since this week’s potluck had a BBQ-ed pizza focus, most people brought various ingredients to serve as toppings. Tomatoes, zucchini, shrimp, arugula, basil, roasted peppers, carmelized onions, and more…oh, and different cheeses too (obviously)! Four of the group brought some appetizers to precede the pizzas.
Jacqueline brought a chilled vegetable flatbread (eaten too quickly to be photographed), Rob Waye made the women swoon with asparagus spears wrapped with brie and prosciutto…Oh Rob, you heart throb! Victoria made a nice, light carrot and radish salad with a fresh mint and honey dressing. The fourth appetizer came from Rob M. (yes, there were two Robs AND two Chelseas this night…oh my…) who was new to the Monday Night Supper Club experience. He brought a pretty solid macaroni salad. Let’s get real here, it’s not a true outdoor potluck without some macaroni salad!
So, as you would imagine, personalized pizza creation ensued. We weren’t being all too fancy this evening, so the pizza presentation was less ‘Una‘ and more ‘Hey Brie, did a six year old assemble your pizza?‘. Nonetheless, every combination that we grilled was delicious and fun was had by all! So far, everything was a success. Even the sky, which was teasing us with some dark rain clouds, decided not to rain on our
parade dinner party.
Yes, it appeared that nothing would go array on this Monday evening! That was, until someone tried to BBQ a calzone. I don’t want to name names or anything, so I’ll scramble up the letters of their (his) name and let you figure it out: ORB M.
The original goal was to make a pizza (like the one pictured). So, the calzone did start out harmless enough, but soon turned into a massive, doughy mistake. Ok, so maybe ‘massive, doughy mistake’ is a little harsh. Maybe it would be best to take a look for yourself and decide what you think of the…err…situation.
At least he ate it all…
Brie, Rachele, Chelsea K and, surprisingly, Jamie brought the desserts. Brie made a nice fruit salad with some greek yogurt, Rachele brought some tasty cheesecake squares (the kind of thing you know you shouldn’t really even eat one, but end up eating two), and Chelsea K brought an impressive fruit pie. Finally, Jamie made some chocolate cupcakes. He might look scary, but he’s really just a big, tattooed teddy bear!
Chelsea K’s pie, half-eaten.
Not to be left unmentioned, the majority of the pizza toppings were brought by Sarah, Adam, Chelsea W and Chelsea K. Without their contributions, our pizzas would of been just some cooked dough, tomato sauce, and a wish. So, I thank them for helping make that wish come true…
Thus, ends our third week of Monday Night Supper Club! For next week’s adventure, we’re headed to Anju for a chef’s table tasting menu. I have heard amazing things about this restaurant from friends, critics, food bloggers…Basically everyone in Calgary has told me that there is an amazing meal to be had there! Monday can’t come fast enough!
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It seems like it was only yesterday I was having dinner at Chelsea K‘s house, marveling at the 8000 pound salmon she had bought and cooked for our inaugural Monday Night Supper Club. Ok, maybe not 8000 pounds, but it was so large in fact that she had mentioned bringing leftovers to our next outing. Of course, I politely told her ‘No‘.
Moving on, given the ‘one week in, one week out’ mantra of this supper club, it was time to ‘go out’ this time around and I knew exactly where we should go: Home Tasting Room.
It was a warm, beautiful Monday evening when we headed down to the restaurant. Actually, it was the hottest day of Calgary’s summer thus far and you have to soak up the nice weather while it’s around since it can be, well, fleeting. So, it was clear that sitting on the patio was the only reasonable thing to do. It seemed like many others shared our same sentiment, as all Stephen Avenue patios seemed to be exceptionally populated. Executive Chef Geoff Rogers had recently updated his menu for more of a summer feel, and we were definitely up for a taste.
Our group was split down the middle, about half of us had dined at Home Tasting Room before and the other half were eating here for the first time. Gentle nurturing and menu guidance ensued from the non-virginal half (in the context of dining there, of course…).
My main point of recommendation for the table was the bison tartar. Accompanied by crostini brushed with truffle aioli, it is one of my favourite things to order. It’s a never-fail.
Chelsea W opted for Home’s tomato soup with lavender oil and parmesan crisps. Summer in a bowl? I think so! My friend Adam, a newcomer to the Monday Night Supper Club movement, went for the ricotta gnocchi. If Chelsea W’s soup was ‘summer in a bowl’, then this was definitely summer on a plate. Look at it!
Normally, I reserve gnocchi for those cold winter nights (as opposed to those summer nights) when you need something comforting and potato-y, but this plate looked as light and fresh as the breeze outside.
New to the menu was Chef Rogers’ pacific octopus dish. Joined with chorizo, clams, and some baguette pieces to soak up the juices, this was another table favourite. Several of us opted for this dish on Monday. The octopus was cooked perfectly. Sometimes it can get overdone and be pretty chewy (like bad calamari), but this was awesome.
As always, the best part of the evening, aside from the great food, was the conversation. Sarah (pictured, right, beside Chelsea K and Peter) had just returned from a five day trip to New York city and told us all about her awesome experiences there. In addition to eating at some fantastic New York restaurants, Sarah and her husband happened to pass by a food truck where Todd English was spending the day working. How sweet is that? That’s certainly more exciting than anything that happened to me, so my stories of last week paled in comparison, but at least I told a few good jokes during dinner…or at least I think that I did? Just let me think that I did.
I ended my dinner with Chef Rogers’ dessert du jour, a berry orange crumble. Not to be confused with a very orange crumble…they’re berry different…It was berry delicious…Ok, no more berry puns, I promise. This dessert was not listed under ‘sharing plates’, so I didn’t share.
Next Monday, we’re flipping back to the potluck side of things and I’m hosting the dinner. I’ll be manning the grill and BBQ-ing some pizza. I’ve never done it before, so hopefully first time is the charm? As previously mentioned, we’re always looking for great individuals to join us on one of our Monday Night Supper Club outings. Do you like food? Send us a message, we’d love to have you!
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As I mentioned in my Top Chef Canada piece, I have come to really enjoy Mondays. The same goes for my friends, who frequently Charcut with me over the past few months. With the first season of Top Chef Canada now over, however, we didn’t know what to do…
Would we all go back to hating Mondays? How were we to fill the void?
So many painful questions that each of us were afraid to answer. Finally, we came to a solution. Why don’t we just keep having dinner together on Monday nights? Bam! It was that simple!
In an effort to be a tad more, well, fiscally responsible, we all agreed to follow a schedule of one week dining in and one week dining out. For our first week, we decided to stay in, and have a potluck at Chelsea’s house. There were no real restrictions on what we could bring as a dish (aside from my severe allergy to rhino meat, of course), so it was time to let kitchen creativity run its course.
Due to summer holiday plans and Calgary Stampede-ing obligations from some of the group, it was a smaller dinner, just six of us. That was ok with me because that meant less competition over the wine, as that is not a competition I like to lose. It was nice spending time together and having dinner in a casual home environment. More importantly, it was fun to cook (it’s always fun to cook) and it’s always more fun to cook and eat with friends.
Chelsea K. (we have two Chelseas, just in case things start sounding too Chelsea this, Chelsea that) bought what I think was the largest fresh salmon I had ever seen, and proceded to salt crust it, then let it roast in the oven. It smelt amazing the second I walked in the door.
Chelsea W. (pictured) prepared a nice salad with some fresh market greens, goat cheese, and, my current summer fling, fennel. Yes, things were shaping up to be quite delicious. Once Rob Waye arrived, he whipped together a couscous dish with yogurt and dill. Simple and fresh. One of Chelsea K’s friends, Kathryn, joined us for dinner as well. She brought some fresh linguine, that she had made from scratch. There are many keys to my heart, one being home-made pasta. I definitely had more than my fair share of this, I actually could not stop eating it.
Once all for food was prepped and plated, it was time to eat!
Rad table settings, as laid out by Chelsea K. I think Sarah would of been impressed had she been there!
Finally, time to eat…but first, a friendly ‘Cheers!’ before digging into the food. Yes, it seemed like the first official Monday Night Supper Club was going to be a success. The only thing that could go wrong now was dessert…
So, that’s where I came in. I had offered to bring the sweet course for the evening. Not being much of a baker, I don’t really know why I signed myself up for this one. That being said, I do make a mean pie. Well, not a pie that’s rude or anything…I mean a relatively tasty pie.
Since I like to be odd and put tea in many different dishes, I opted for an Apple Blackberry Rooibos Pie. The rooibos tea that I used had some lavendar in it, so I played that up a bit by adding some fresh lavendar, taken from my fledgling herb garden (it will get there…).
It definitely hit the spot at the end of my meal, and, much to my relief, my friends enjoyed it too. A good pie never let anyone down now did it? That being said, since I’m more or less a one trick pie pony kind of a guy, I think I’ll leave the dessert to someone else next time around! Oh, if you’ve been counting, I’ve only named five out of the six people in attendance. My friend Drew came along as well, she brought the wine. Bless her little heart.
And that folks, is the end of our inaugural Monday Night Supper Club! Next Monday, we are hitting the town and heading down to Home Tasting Room for some delicious fare. Executive chef Geoff Rogers has just updated the menu for the summer season, so we’re all super excited to see what he has in-store for us!
Not to get all ‘social media’ on you or anything, but our Monday Night Supper Club crew, and friendships within, blossomed via Twitter. We appreciate the fact that there are a lot of fantastic people out there, so we’re always looking for great individuals to come along for one of these dinner adventures, whether it’s at one of our houses, or out dining at one of the many amazing restaurants Calgary has to offer! Send one of us a tweet. Let’s do dinner!
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- Avenue Magazine: Restaurant Round up for the Fall
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