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Saturday, 31 May 2014

Small Bites - Delicious Pho and New Way Pizza

Extraneous verbosity eschews exactitude and circumvents precision.

No, really.

Vividly descriptive recollections of dining experiences are grand, but summations served with an extra helping of brevity are rare. And so, tonight: Delicious Pho and New Way Pizza. Served short and sweet.

Delicious Pho, based on its name, gives itself big shoes to fill. Much of the interior appears to have been carried forward from the spot's predecessor, The Makk on 124. Arrival of steaming - and positively enormous - bowls of pho heralds a worthy successor. Gorgeous, thin, pink slices of beef are happily tangled with noodles, onions, and crunchy white tripe. Multifarious broth boasts layers of secrets and spices, all of which confirms that this broth could not have been made in a hurry. Pinches of basil, a swirl of hoisin, and a dollop of chili paste complete the picture. Liane Faulder's meatball pho looks pretty darn enticing too.

Delicious PHO' on Urbanspoon

New Way Pizza, an unassuming joint on 66 Street north of Fort Road, is another welcome addition to one's dining repertoire. Ordering in is the way to go, for seating is minimal. Whole wheat crust is commendably fluffy - I didn't realize it was whole wheat until reading the take-out menu after the fact. Generous lashings of marinara, slices of ham, triangles of pineapple and a crowning achievement of cheese embody a thoroughly satisfying pie, the leftovers of which do not end up lasting long in the fridge.

New Way Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Sabor Divino on my mind

It is so easy and, admittedly, great fun to be swept up in the summer flurry of restaurant openings. So easy, in fact, that one tends to neglect time-tested stalwarts. Case in point: Lusito-Iberian powerhouse Sabor Divino. On this particular evening, Sabor's vintage warehouse digs are hopping. Flames dance at the back of an open kitchen, serves weave among tables balancing bottles of wine, and sensuous piano notes linger among the rafters.

Supper commences with strata of Grilled Eggplant. These parcels progress from a molten inner core of goat cheese, to a toothsome but not mushy tomato mantle and, finally, a dense and smoky eggplant crust. A scatter of pine nuts doesn't stray too far from the mother ship, and the entire entity is one of strong flavours vulcanized with gentle heat.

Bocconcini Salad combines tiny mozzarella snowballs with multi-hued tomato wedges. Aromatic strips of basil and impressively innocuous red onion wedges play along, but defer attention to the salad's titular ingredients. An herbaceous red wine vinaigrette is a welcome break from the traditional lashings of oil and vinegar.

Bacalhau Cakes - the salted cod easily Portugal's flagship foodstuff - rest patiently on a peppery bed of arugula. A russet smear of red pepper puree lends itself nicely to the pair of piping-hot fishcakes, which are crunchy and not too salty, but it's a wee bit difficult to tell where the salt-cod ends and the potatoes begin.

Jamon Iberico owns the evening. Iberian cousin to prosciutto, these glistening, supple whispers of cured Cerdo Iberico pig are richly marbled and darkly nuanced with top notes of sweet fat and undertones of sun-ripened acorns.

Tiramisu wraps up the evening with a succinct, boozy-sweet high note, replete with an avalanche of whipped cream. Little hints of cinnamon and caramel set this particular tiramisu apart from other contenders.

At the end of the night, Sabor's owner serenades the entire house with an impressive rendition of "Georgia on my Mind." Sabor's secret recipe for staying power is clearly no secret. Excellent service, gorgeous surroundings, and bang-on food constitute a triumvirate of satiety. A good serenade doesn't hurt either.

Sabor Divino on Urbanspoon

Monday, 19 May 2014

Ticket Give-Away for Host Edmonton...

Eat. Drink. Think.

These three concepts will be shaken, stirred and perpetuated at Host Edmonton, an upcoming three day conference on...well, eating, drinking and thinking. I'm going and you should be too.

Hence, I have tickets to give away. Just tweet me or email me to let me know which ones you'd like. I have:

  • Two conference passes (Claimed!)

  •  Ten tickets for the Kick-Off, which features The Sheepdogs (among others).

It's going to be quite the three day spread. Don't miss out.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Lost and Found at Iconoclast Koffiehuis

Architectural fixtures lead non-linear lives. Prospective lifespans differ greatly; a treasured cutting board might be bequeathed to one's progeny, but a twenty year old (translation: obsolete) toaster oven might be, at best, relegated to goodwill or, at worst, tossed out with yesterday's trash.  The latter fate is far more common.

Indeed, restaurateurs are too often moon-blinked by North American's obsessive need for the shiny and new. Outmoded appliances, dishes and cutlery - and in that same breath, chairs, tables, shelves and virtually anything that can be set, sat on, or hung from a wall - are condemned to an inevitable purgatory of dumpsters and rummage sales.

The lucky ones experience rebirth at Iconoclast Koffiehuis.

So much at Iconoclast has a rich past. Church pews along one wall benefit from the addition of multicoloured cushions - a cushy respite long denied to the pious. Deconstructed, and then reconstructed, packing crates frame the central coffee bar. Ex-government mail boxes do double-duty as display cases for in-house roasted coffee, bagged simply in brown paper and stamped with approval. A ping-pong table, chess set, and antler-framed mirror round out this motley, yet thrillingly stylish, crew.

An Espresso Macchiato renders a litmus test for Iconoclast's chatoyant espresso machine, an auspicious catch sourced from recently defunct Roast Coffeehouse downtown. The resultant brew is cheery and bright, opening with songs of torrid Columbian evenings and winding down with a crisp disjuncture between seasons that can only be found at precisely 53 degrees north, preferably on the north side of the North Saskatchewan River.

Aptly-named Power Cookies are a sparrow's ransom of seeds and dried fruit. The summation of coconut, sesame seeds and garnet-hued cranberries, among other things, creates a toothsome and lightly sweet snack. Rustic and nuanced, just like their surroundings.

So much at Iconoclast has been lost and found. Chairs and cups have new purpose. Obsolete mailboxes (pictured above) patiently cradle special deliveries for those with taste for finely-crafted coffee. And yes, a twenty year-old toaster oven - complete with wood paneling - enjoys the seat of honour at the coffee bar.

Iconoclast Koffiehuis on Urbanspoon


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