Gourmet Croissant – Canmore, AB


Gourmet Croissant
101-1205 Bow Valley Tr.
Canmore, AB
(403) 609-4410

I often dream of moving to the mountains, especially to the gorgeous town of Canmore.  I am one of those people who will go out of my way to extend any trip home from Calgary with a jaunt through the Icefields parkway.  Usually it is to take in the serenity of the views, or to make time for a quick hike, but on this particular trip – we made the trip out to Canmore specifically for a Gourmet Croissant.

I first visited this cafe a few years ago while on vacation.  Luckily, we found it early in the week – and made it part of our daily routine while in town.

It has since changed hands, but thankfully there was no noticeable change in quality.  On this particular visit – we noticed a ‘for sale’ sign (best-wishes to the current owners, but my fingers are crossed that it remains the same).  There also seems to be a few other vacancies in the building since our last visit – but we didn’t inquire, assuming the current economy isn’t boding well for tourism worldwide.

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Torarenbo – Richmond, BC


Torarenbo Japanese Restaurant
Richmond Centre, 8191 Park Rd
Richmond, BC
(604) 214-1402

Escaping the madness of people flowing out of the Richmond Oval after an afternoon Olympics competition, and navigating along some very unfamiliar territory looking for someplace quick to eat, we found our way to a place known as Richmond Centre.  Essentially its a strip mall with some limited parking and thus I drove right into one of the reserved (likely for staff?) stalls right in front of Torarenbo.  Rules be damned, I was hungry.

With these random, shotgun approach dining adventures, I never know what I’m going to get.  The partly covered window coverings further created a shroud of  mystery about this place as I could not really see inside and know if in fact there was anyone eating inside.  Alas, once I got through the front door on the side, I did see some people having meals and a few empty tables.  After being asked if I had reservations (“for a place like this and on a weekday?”, I thought) and replying “no”, we were given one of the empty spots along the glass wall.  In hindsight, I’d suggest you ask for a table deeper into the restaurant as whenever the front door opened, a brisk gust of cold wind would hit us, as well people who wandered in waiting to be greeted would linger not far from our table.

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Smoqe BBQ – Aptos, CA


Smoqe BBQ
10110 Soquel Dr
Aptos, CA 95003
(831) 662-2227

Sometimes, things are tougher than they seem.

At least, I figure it must be this way, since there are many things that should be pretty easy, and yet, are usually poorly executed. Hamburgers are a perfect example. It doesn’t take much to make a good hamburger. Some nice meat, decent bun, nice fresh condiments and cheese. Yet, so many places fail. It must be more complex than I make it out to be. I feel the same way about BBQ.

In the tiny village of Aptos, just outside Santa Cruz, CA, there already exists a BBQ shop, Aptos BBQ, that serves up good ol fashioned smoked BBQ. Yet, in an embarrassment of riches, on December 9, 2009, a second BBQ shop opened up. Smoqe BBQ.

The Smoqe BBQ philosophy is simple – cooked on 100% wood, dry rubbed and slow smoked for hours. Sounds simply perfect. They pride themselves on their pizza as well – time consuming dough, all organic ingredients, wood fired oven. They’ve taken some very simple dishes, and put in the time and effort to make them as perfect as possible.

When you first walk in, the order counter sits at the front. A fairly simple, yet extensive menu is available. Some fantastic selection of beers on tap, including Leffe, Black Butte Porter, and one of my favorite IPA’s ever, Racer 5 from Bear Republic. You order from the gentleman at the front, who may or may not greet you, grab a number, and take a seat.

In terms of the interior, everything is clean and minimalistic. There is quite a bit of distance between tables – which is usually nice for privacy, but definitely kills a bit of the atmosphere.

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Pizzeria Bianco – Phoenix, AZ


Pizzeria Bianco
623 E Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 258-8300

Before we get into my pizza trip to Phoenix, let me introduce myself.

I’m currently a barista in Alberta and finished a Bachelor of Arts last spring. I’ve been working in the food industry for the last 11 years, but only started appreciating real food when I began working in the specialty coffee industry three-and-a-half years ago. Being a part of the coffee industry has been an excellent opportunity for palate training: there are over 1,000 chemicals in roasted coffee, making for a very complex and diverse drink. No two cups of coffee or two pulls of espresso are the same; the quest for the perfect extraction lead many baristi to lose sleep, become over-caffeinated and obsessive.  One major upside is that any good barista will become concerned about everything she consumes. It is through this process that I really began to care about the food I eat. By no means do I claim to be a culinary expert; I’m just a food-lover, like every other contributor on foodosophy. I care about where my food comes from and hope that the person who prepared it cares even more. I also believe that when someone focuses on one thing and decides to put everything he or she has into it, the results will come through. This is obviously true in the food industry and I intend to experience as much of that passion around the world as I possibly can.

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Lost in the 50’s Drive-in – Burnaby, BC


Lost in the 50’s Drive-in
7741 Edmonds Street
Burnaby, BC
(604) 521-2813

December 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

Lost in the 50’s, indeed.  That was my initial thought as I zipped past this lot that housed what appeared to be – in a brief, nonchalant sideways glance out of my moving car – an old school diner.  Without giving it any much thought, I continued on my way out of town and didn’t really think about it again until I came across it this week while out in the area again, now several months later.  In actuality I passed it completely, despite the fact that this time I actually concentrated on locating a visible sign for the business.  As I made my way further northeast and began heading down eastward into New Westminster, I was positive it couldn’t have been this far down Edmonds Street and made a swift u-turn.  As I slowed down to the intersection at Canada Way, this is what I saw (coming from the other direction of course)….

Exactly.  I know what you’re thinking – no more sign!  Or was there one to begin with?  And was this place even open?  A small commercial neon OPEN sign suggested it was still truly in business, and I pulled into the nearby parking lot, albeit from the wrong direction (I think I drove right into the ‘going out’ side of their drive-in lane).  Lucky for me, I was the only customer. 🙂

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Estea Beverage Club – Burnaby, BC


Estea Beverage Club
6401 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 438-0186

Finding a good, well balanced menu between food and beverages in a place that specializes more on their liquids is often a problem that I encounter (most izakaya in Japan being the exception).  Here in North America, I experience this phenomena primarily in bars, public houses, as well as in bubble tea shops.  Located virtually across the street from Posh, Burnaby’s Estea Beverage Club has taken on this challenge of jacking up their food options despite being more of a drink-oriented place.  Places like Pearl Fever Tea House come to mind when I think of BBT places that don’t serve any hot food at all.

Alas on this weekday evening when we were seated at one of the four-top tables along the east side of the space, nestled in tightly among many young Asian teenagers making me keenly feel the generation gap, I quickly decided to order one of their fruity slushies sans pearls.  I’m not quite sure if its a trend but lately I’ve discovered that these ice cold drinks taste so much better when I have them inside, rather than when they are scooped up into a plastic to-go cup.  This passionfruit slushie was no exception – sweet and silky smooth but a thicker consistency unlike those terrible liquidy 7-11 Slurpees.  I am quite sure they make this from fresh juices as it had none of that awful powdery consistency hidden inside.  Aside from a pair of horrific head rushes the deep cold of the drink gave me, I really enjoyed it!

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Famoso – Edmonton, AB


Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
Downtown: 11750 Jasper Ave
Magrath: 14123 – 23 Ave
South Common: 1437 – 99 St
[All outlets visited on separate visits; photos from Magrath location]
Edmonton, AB

Caputo ’00’ flour from Italy, tomatoes from the Campania region of Southern Italy, fior-di-latte mozzarella ,fresh herbs, and 900F – does make for very good pizza.  The ‘Famoso Story’ tells of their training with the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana but like others in Canada (i.e. Pizza Prima Strada), they have not registered with the VPN.  For Famoso, this could possibly be difficult due to the franchise structure of this organization.

Entering any one of their establishments – first find yourself a table.  Peruse the full menu of salads, flatbread, pagniotielli sandwiches, pizza, gelato and tiramisu imported from Italy.  When you’re ready, proceed to the counter and place your order (remember your table number).

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