Avenue Magazine: 10th Annual Restaurant Awards

Author Dan Category Calgary & Area, Restaurants, Thoughts Tags Avenue magazine, calgary, Dan Clapson, eating out, Restaurants
Avenue Restaurant Awards Cover

March is always an exciting month for restauranteurs and food lovers in Calgary. It’s the month where Avenue Magazine celebrates our food community and hands out their annual Restaurant Awards. Like last year, I was excited and honoured to be on the judging panel with some of Calgary’s top culinary folks.

With all of the restaurants we have popping up lately, next year it’s going to be even more difficult to decide who takes the top spot in the various categories we argue over in a small room. Picture a heated Law and Order courtroom debate. Yes, it is that intense – ok, maybe not that intense.

In addition to the many categories we deliberated on, all contributors had the opportunity to put together some ‘Top 10′ lists to go along with the 10th anniversary of this particular issue. (You can check out all category winners and other content here)

A couple of the lists I wrote up were on food trends in Calgary. Food trends that I thought should be on their way out and trends that I’m happy are happening around town. Obviously, just like dining out, some things come down to a matter of taste. So, take a look at each of these lists. I’m curious to know if you agree or disagree with me.

Ten Calgary Food Trends We Wish Would Go Away

Cupcake Vodka

For example, I think ridiculously flavoured vodkas like this need to hit the road. What do you think? James Bond would be so unimpressed!

Ten Calgary Food Trends We Want To Stay

Craft Cocktail

On the flip side of things, I love a good cocktail and am so happy to see cocktail culture gaining momentum in Calgary.

So, what do you think?

Snooze: A Top Notch Brunch In San Diego
Author Dan Category Restaurants, United States Tags Brian Malarky, Dan Clapson, dining out, Restaurants, reviews, San Diego, searsucker, snooze eatery, The Hopping Pig
Snooze AM Eatery

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to visit San Diego twice in the past little while. Back in November, I spent some time there with friends, checking out the zoo, soaking up some sun in La Jolla and just enjoying the city in general.

Early Morning DanMy most recent jaunt there was just prior to flying out to Australia from L.A. My friend, Chez, and I took an early morning train (notice my tired, coffee-loving face pictured above) down from San Juan Capistrano for a quick overnight trip where we basically ate, strolled around, ate again and strolled around some more.

I’ve, more or less, fallen in love with San Diego. It’s a beautiful, vibrant city, extremely walkable and boasts some wicked food. I’ve had some great cocktails and small bites in the Gaslamp district at Searsucker (probably the best calamari I’ve ever tasted). The Hopping Pig is a great pub to stop by for lunch with some unique microbrews and quality menu, but out of all meal times of the day, my heart belongs to brunch.

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Australia Thus Far and a Recipe For Lamb Curry with Sweet Coconut Rice
Author Dan Category Mains, Recipes Tags Australia, Brisbane, Byron Bay, curry, lamb, New South Wales, Newcastle, recipes, slowcooked, stew, traveling, Tukka
Lamb and Chicken Curry

I’ve been in Australia for about a week and a half now. So far, our trip has been amazing, aside from the mostly rainy weather. The rain has cut in significantly to our beach time, which is a bit sad, but, that being said, rain and grey sky lend themselves well to the enjoyment of stews and curries.

So, even though I am escaping – geographically – the last few weeks of Canadian winter, I still find myself whipping up something I would happily it on a snowy winter’s evening. My travel companion, Chez, and I cooked this dinner for some of her family friends while we were spending the past weekend on the Sunshine Coast.

We were tight on spices in the vacation rental apartment, hence the odd addition of ketchup to the curry, but, trust me, it was awesome! Here’s the recipe…

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Avenue Magazine: Restaurant Round Up For The Winter
Author Dan Category Calgary & Area, Restaurants Tags Analog Cafe, calgary, Dan Clapson, deVille Cafe and Wine Bar, deVille Coffee, dining, Fratello Coffee Roasters, MARKET, Vin Room
I guess winter is not technically over yet, but we’ve had some nice days last week, so I’m pretending that it is on its way out and you should too! Here are a few restaurant pieces that I’ve done for Avenue Magazine over the past few months! Still so many great new places opening up here in Calgary. We are one lucky food scene, I’m telling you!

Our most recent addition to Calgary, MARKET, opened up this past Friday and I can’t wait to eat there once I’m back from my trip down under.


Vin Room West

Vin Room Interior

Suburban territory in Calgary has typically been left for the Moxie’s and Earl’s of the world, but now we’re starting to see some great local restaurateurs recognize the potential of these areas outside of the core. Just a few weeks ago, Vin Room opened a second location in Aspen Landing called Vin Room West.

Owner Phoebe Fung has always had a great thing going in Mission and now residents of one of Calgary’s far west neighbourhoods can have a taste of what she’s offering.

The new Vin Room has a beautiful interior. The floor-to-ceiling windows shed light on fantastic design accents like a 30-foot wine bottled wall, all full and drinkable and can be accessed by a library-esque ladder. There’s an upstairs private dining area, modern walnut bar chairs and a brightly coloured piece of artwork on one of the main floors that captures the eye…

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Top Chef Canada: Season Three Premiere and I’m ‘Taking The Challenge Home’ Again!
Author Dan Category Thoughts, Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home Tags Chris Shaften, Dan Clapson, Food Network Canada, Geoff Rogers, Nicole Kammerer, Top Chef Canada
Top Chef Canada

Finally, it’s back! Monday nights are about to get way more exciting once Top Chef Canada, Season Three kicks off on March 18th on Food Network Canada. This new season is especially exciting for myself, being a Calgarian, as our city has an extra strong contingent, with record number of three competitors on the show. Yeah, that’s right, look out Toronto!

First things first, I chatted with a couple of my favourite Top Chef Canada alumni to see what they were looking forward to seeing on the third season.

Trevor Bird, season two finalist, “I’m excited to see the challenges and what [this season’s] talent has to offer. I want to know what I’ll have to go up against in Top Chef Canada: All Stars! Ha, ha, ha.”

Dale McKay, season one winner, “I can’t wait to see all the new chefs and what kind of challenges and time restraints they will all be under this season. Let’s hope for some exciting guest judges in season three!”

Dan and Dale cookingThe return of show brings with it my coinciding Food Network Canada online series, Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home for a second round.

A quick refresher, after every episode of Top Chef Canada, viewers will be able to go to FoodNetwork.ca and vote in a poll to help decide which dish from that week’s episode I will have to recreate at home. Once the poll closes, I’ll have a few days to figure out how to assemble the dish, all on my own.

Chicken Noodle Soup TerrineLast year, people tended to vote for the weird stuff, so I had the pleasure of making duck liver ice cream, pig’s ear salad, chicken noodle soup terrine (pictured), among other delectables.

I can’t wait to see what people vote for this time around, so stay tuned for more details on when all the voting fun begins!

Anyway, back to the show…I’m excited to watch sixteen new cheftestants navigate their way through weeks of intense cook-offs and challenges and, it goes without saying, I’ll definitely be rooting for the Calgary folks! So, here they are…

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Wild Rice, Artichoke and Kale Salad
Author Dan Category Appetizers & Co., Recipes, Vegan/Vegetarian Tags artichokes, kale, quick and easy, recipes, salads, vegan, vegetarian

Even on the coldest days, a salad can be perfectly satisfying. I’m in California now, set to head off to Australia this Sunday and I have not quite obtained that amazing beach body I was looking to arrive down under with. Oh well, such is life! In a last ditch effort to get slim and trim for the warm weather, I’m sticking with salads for the rest of the week. Well…maybe not ALL week, but I shall try my best. Hm…maybe this is why my beach body never materialized…

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