Old Vines Restaurant
3303 Boucherie Road
Kelowna, BC V1Z2H3
Located on the stunning grounds of the Quails’ Gate Winery, is the Old Vines Restaurant. Having heard many good reviews from close friends, and finally had the chance to get out to Kelowna, we were excited for the chance to enjoy the sun & water, the local food & wine, and take-in the incredible views. Unfortunately due to some last-minute scheduling changes, we didn’t have a chance to book reservations and were “winging it” for most of our trip (which admittedly is my preferred method of travel).
After a lengthy stop in the wine shop to sample some (I should be honest – ALL) of their wines, and subsequently hauling boxes of my purchases to the vehicle, we peeked over at the restaurant to see if we could secure a table for the evening. Thinking that we didn’t have much of a chance for a table at such short notice, we were pleasantly surprised to find they could squeeze us in for a late dinner. In this case, it was truly better late than never!
Gnocchi’s Ristorante & Dining Lounge
1238 – 8 St. SW
I was introduced to Gnocchi’s during a business lunch a few years back, and it continues to be a favorite spot to enjoy a glass of wine and some fantastic food while we pretend to work over the lunch hour.
“The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.” George Miller.
As we are usually only here for lunch, we tend to skip appetizers in favor of a bottle of wine – but we decided to splurge today and start with the Italian sausage in a mustard brandy cream sauce. I can’t repeat some of the inappropriate comments made by my colleagues over how amazing this sauce is, but trust me – it truly was fantastic, and there was not a drop left anywhere in sight.
Sneaky Pete’s Bar & Grill
12315 118 Ave NW
12402 118 Ave NW
Two days to refresh my first-aid training at the St.John Ambulance centre, and two pubs within viewing distance, meant an opportunity to conduct a head-to-head pub-food battle. After a long morning of tying splints, we headed across the street to Sneaky Pete’s Bar and Grill.
With only a few patrons at the bar, service was friendly and attentive. Skipping the tempting option of a liquid lunch, I ordered the steak sandwich special for $9.95. We were going to ask about the advertised “free lap dance with your beer”, but this was obviously an inside joke, we weren’t privy to.
Smoking Water Coffee Co.
4985 Hot Springs Road
Fairmont Hot Springs, BC
Years ago my gullible self was suckered into purchasing a timeshare, and every year I find myself receiving a letter informing me that my unused points will expire in a couple months. This subsequently prompts me to search online for some last minute resorts close to home so I don’t let too many points go to waste.
Fairmont Hot Springs, located in BC’s Columbia Valley, has the largest network of timeshare resorts in Canada – which made it easy to get a spot on this particular week. As we enjoyed an unusually warm winter this year, this trip turned out to be quite nice.
Arriving just after lunch – we stopped into this cozy cafe for a quick bite and a coffee.
I will admit, that I am not the biggest coffee connoisseur, but there was something about this latte that I thoroughly enjoyed. The extra wide cup always seemed odd to me (from a thermodynamics point of view), but I’m sure someone has a theory that it affects the flavour. Regardless, after our six hour road trip, this hit the spot perfectly.
101-1205 Bow Valley Tr.
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.
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]
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).
Korean BBQ House
6111 – 28 Avenue
As I started writing this post, I noticed that fellow Edmonton blogger ‘eating is the hard part’ was also through this restaurant recently (and quite possibly the same day, a few hours apart). While he took the adventurous route, we stuck with the better known classics. Our dinner started with the same trio of banchan: savoury sprouts, sweet daikon, and spicy kimchi — all good.
I have a secret obsession with Pajon, a.k.a. Puchingae. Shokutsu probably has haunting memories of me dragging him through the streets of Seoul into the wee hours of the night, in my desperate hunt for a quality vendor (with only hours before my flight out). The hunt in Seoul was a success, but this local option was fairly basic – with green onion, squid, egg and a vinegar based dipping sauce. It is an acceptable base representation, but sadly not great.
Pad Thai Cuisine of Thailand
10159 – 82 Avenue
I have driven past this location on Whyte avenue (just east of the train tracks), a countless number of times in my lifetime. On a quest to try somewhere new – we stopped in for lunch.
There was a solid lunch crowd already seated in this small little restaurant, so we ordered a couple appetizers right away fearing a slow lunch service. I was proven wrong – as the food quickly started arriving at the table. Starting off with an order of spring rolls and satay skewers – the skewers win the appetizer battle. Spring rolls & sauce were good, but not memorable; however the sweet chili sauce with the satay was a definite winner. Nothing against the peanut sauce, but it looked unlike any peanut sauce I’ve ever seen and tasted like every other peanut sauce I’ve ever had.
6010 – 104 St.
(780) 438 – 8338
We have mentioned Syphay on this blog in the past, and have identified it as one of the better Thai restaurants in the city of Edmonton. I personally have yet to find a dish on their menu which I have not liked; from their salads, soups, stirfry’s and especially love their fried fish dishes.
Syphay Platter, includes the sweet pineapple shrimp, spring rolls, and garlic shrimp rolls. We noticed a slight alteration to the platter on our last couple visits – as they removed the Tod Paa Mun (fishcake), but have padded the quantities of the other items to compensate. I do miss the fishcake, but this fried platter of goodness will probably continue to find its way into our order.
2401 2nd Ave
I have had Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant on my wishlist for a few years, ever since I learned about the master-student relationship between Japan’s revered sushi master Jiro Ono, and Shiro Kashiba. When I recently found myself on a short notice trip to Seattle, I was elated to learn that we scored a dinner reservation.
Unfortunately Kashiba-san was out of town, so we were at the mercy of his deshi. The many reviews out there, state that the best seat in the house is at the sushi bar (which was full), so we opted for the Kaiseki dinner to give us an opportunity to try a variety of dishes. With three price-points to choose from, we went with the $80 middle option.
We begin with a trio of appetizers: tempura of king salmon wrapped with smelt, asparagus with a miso dressing, and yellowtail collar. At first glance, I thought we were given a fried salmon roll, but the tempura of two variety of fish with a squeeze of lemon made this the stand-out of the trio.
Natto, is not as scary as most people tend to think. It unfortunately gets a lot of bad press because of its unique (sticky & slimy) texture which coats the beans. In an episode of “A Cook’s Tour”, Anthony Bourdain narrates:
“This (natto) is a really frightening texture, I mean it’s mucelogenous. This is like eating out of a spit cup at the dentist.”
Maybe I am immune to these factors, as I was exposed to natto at a very young age. Regardless, count me as one of those who love it. Seriously, love it!
It is fairly easy to make natto at home (although it takes a couple days), but it is now readily available in the freezer section of most asian supermarkets. Usually sold in 3-packs of either styrofoam (left), or plastic cups (right). I find that these freezer packs represent the major characteristics of natto, but obviously prefer the freshly-fermented version as it tends to keep more of the nutty flavours from the soybean.
Once thawed, a quick stir will let you know that it is good to go. I apologize for the second television quote, but according to the original Iron Chef – Battle Natto:
“Stir it up 15 times. This means if you wisk the fermented beans some 15 times, little threads will form around them, and these enhance the flavour it’s said. But, if you stir more than 15 times the threads turn into little bubbles, and that spoils the delicate taste”.
4218 – 66 Street
(780) 484 – 0582
Hidden out of view from 66 Street, just a short distance south of Whitemud, is a fantastic restaurant serving both South Indian and Caribbean dishes. Curious as to what sparked the mixed menu – our server explained that many of the original Caribbean items stayed on the menu when the new owners took over.
With heavy Indian influence in Caribbean cuisine, many of the spices are similar but we were told that their Caribbean menu items differ mostly by the use of potatoes in the curries, and the use of cinnamon and cardamom in the spice mix.
The signage out front was highlighting the dosa, which is a rice flour crepe, and the idli pictured below as the white coloured, steamed cake of lentils and rice. Served with a bowl of sambar (vegetable stew), and a small dish of coconut chutney. I have made the trek to this restaurant just for this dish alone.
Grannan’s Seafood Restaurant
1 Market Square
St. John, NB E2L 4S6
(506) 634 – 1555
We happened to come across Grannan’s as we were exploring the water-front next to Market Square in the historic downtown of St. John, NB. A seafood restaurant located on the water – should be good, right?
The menu was a little confusing, as the options were all over the map: Thai shrimp, Cajun calamari, spanakopita, mozza sticks, seafood crepe, maple curry pasta, and an assortment of steaks, seafood and sandwiches. Ultimately, we figured the ‘Grannan Signatures’ would be the safest bet.
1560 Yonge Street
Located just a few yards off Younge and tucked out of view is a tiny chocolatier called XOCOCAVA. I must thank a good friend of mine who sent me here, but I sure wish he had given me a little better directions than “Younge and St.Clair”.
As this was my first time walking into this establishment – my eyes were fixated on trying to understand what resembled a ‘periodic table’ of chocolate truffles. Once I managed to figure this out, I was faced with the larger decision of beverages, pastries, candies, ice cream and sorbets.
What a Bakery
875 Milner Ave
Once upon a time, my wife worked at a bakery to help out a friend. Waking up at 2am to GO to work was absolutely mind-boggling, but I sure enjoyed waking up to a fresh loaf of bread, and the occasional treat. As we started our journey out of Toronto, we turned off the highway for a coffee in the suburb of Scarborough – and happened to come across this bakery.
I’ve written in the past about my love of cornbread, and this cornbread muffin ranks as one my favorites. My second choice for the road, was the cinnamon twist (figured it would be easy to eat while driving). Both were superb.