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Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Gratitude. To feel gratitude is to be fulfilled and satiated, but also to sit back and marvel at the circumstances that precipitated that feeling. I've never been one to send Christmas letters (or write Christmas blog posts...though I must profess that this is Dine & Write's first Christmas, since I commenced writing this blog in March), but so much has happened during the last year that I was compelled to regale my tale.

I've made such singularly wonderful friends through the world of food. Any oversights herein are unintentional, but special shout-outs to Marlow Moo, The Infinite Yums, Blue Butterfly, Weird, Wild and Wonderful, Food Karma, Baconhound, A Canadian Foodie, and Food, Football and a Baby. Your culinary prowess, turns of phrase and companionship have greatly enriched my existence and enlivened my dining adventures across the city.

Why on earth am I posing with the heating cabinet? A scene from the Calzone Co.'s first anniversary party in November.

Writing for Vue Weekly led me Battista's Calzone Company. Long story short: interviewed Battista for Vue, became a regular customer, baked biscotti for Taste 118, and became half-owner. Since then (and "then" being early June 2011), we've expanded the menu, added interior and exterior artwork, hosted private functions, a first anniversary party, a Christmas party, and purchased a food truck (calzones to the people!). We're aiming to have the Calzonemobile on the road in May 2012.

The beginnings of our word cloud...nothing like standing on a rickety ladder and drawing on a wall!

I return to gratitude, since Christmas is a season of reflection for me. I am grateful for the people I've met. I can hardly wait for 2012.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Cibo - A World Apart

Cibo, quite simply, means "food" in Italian. It's also the name of a relative newcomer to Edmonton's culinary landscape. Cibo, which is the creation of friends Rosario Caputo, Mike Giampa and Matt Helstein, sits comfortably in Tesoro's former Oliver Square digs.  It's inevitable that comparisons will be drawn between Cibo and Tesoro, but similarities are restricted to physical location. The menu and ambiance are worlds apart.

Cibo's astute and concise menu contains a smattering of appetizers, entrees and desserts. All recapitulate Italian recipes with liberal use of local ingredients. We begin with pan-fried ricotta cakes; here, a sextet of creamy ricotta pillows are topped by tangy tomato jam and shreds of fragrant chicken. Nicely played, Cibo.

Mike brings us a savoury surprise: polenta fritta. Its name indicates polenta, which I envisioned as a large crispy wedge. To my most pleasant surprise, the polenta is presented as long "fries" with shavings of piquant Calabrese salami. Each fry may be enrobed by salami and dipped in spicy mayo as a zesty precursor to subsequent indulgences.

We progress to guance di manzo. This plate presents a hearty helping of beef cheeks accompanied by a rotund arancino and braised rapini. The crisp arancino (the singular of arancini, if you're wondering) sings of caciocavallo cheese and golden chanterelle mushrooms, while the rapini adds an enticing, vaguely bitter undertone that exemplifies the beef's natural sweetness.

Our second entree, gnocchi, is caressed by creamy gorgonzola, shallots, and earthy mushrooms. True that the dish is a bit monochromatic but one tender bite chases away any nit-picking considerations of colour.

Dessert is a tough call, but we select goat milk panna cotta with blueberry sauce. The panna cotta is infused with basil. Both goat milk and basil are assertive flavours but coexist quite agreeably in this dessert. A snowy sprinkle of piave vecchio cheese adds a demurely savoury surprise and the chubby blueberries burst with violet sweetness.

Evidently (and much to the amusement of Mike, Rosi and Matt) customers still blaze through Cibo's doors, fail to notice the substantial changes in decor, and order items that do not exist on Cibo's menu. It's tough when a favourite eatery moves on, but Cibo's menu makes it easy to find new favourites.

Cibo Bistro on Urbanspoon


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