Monthly Archives: April 2013
Burger Lounge- San Diego
We’re always up for a great burger, so when we got suggestions from from San Diego locals to check out Burger Lounge, we couldn’t resist.
The look and feel of The Burger Lounge reminded us a lot of Clive Burger in Calgary. Fittingly, just as the Custard Shakes at Clive caught Robyn’s eye first, at Burger Lounge it was the Brownie Shake. This is now in my top 3 favourite shakes, along with the Chocolate Cake Shake at Portillos in Chicago, and the aforementioned custard shake at Clive Burger. I’d probably give the custard shake the nod, but all 3 are fantastic. I swear there was a half pound of chunked brownie in that shake!
We both got the Lounge Burger, which BL proudly proclaims is made with 100% single source, grass-fed beef. The Lounge Burger is topped with Organic cheddar, fresh or grilled onion, lettuce, tomato, and house made 1000 Island. It’s served medium unless requested to be cooked more. I’m generally a “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” kinda guy, but the Canadian in me just couldn’t willingly order a burger medium, so we went med-well.
You know how I gave Clive the nod on the shake? Well Burger Lounge gets my nod for the burger. The juicy, gristle-free patty was delicious, the bun was soft and the grilled onions were a nice touch.
I wish I could say I was as happy with the combination of Onion Rings and French Fries we had to accompany the burgers.
The Onion Rings were pretty much flavourless, and although the rings and fries both had some specks of green on them suggesting a herb of some sort, neither of us could distinguish any flavour from it. The saving grace for the fries was the little side of homemade bbq sauce that we used for dipping. Tasting heavily of chipotle, they gave the fries and rings a nice kick and helped us finish them off.
Although the Fries and Onion Rings were a miss for us, I could definitely foresee a late night burger and shake in our future before we come home.
Swine and Dine at Bistro Saisons
The nice thing about a dining event centred around Alberta Pork, is that, well, it’s a dining event centred around Alberta Pork! Duh.
Given that this event, dubbed Swine and Dine, was being held in my neighbourhood at the brand spanking new restaurant Bistro Saisons, it was a prefect time to check it out.
According to our host, Sharman Hnatiuk, Passion for Pork would like to make Swine and Dine a monthly event, held at a different restaurant each month. Based on what we were treated to for a very reasonable $50 price tag, you’d do well to keep your eyes open for the next event and book it early.
From start to finish, I though the staff did a fantastic job of not only showcasing the delicious Alberta Pork, but themselves also. If this was your first experience at Bistro Saisons, you’d certainly be back to try more. It made me even more sad that we had to cancel our first planned visit here with our friends Twyla and Steve, but lucky for you Twyla is herself a blogger and restaurant reviewer for CBC radio, so you can read all about her experience at Bistro Saisons here.
On the table to start, sat a basket of french bread, with whipped butter. The table chatter immediately turned to gushing over this butter. Salty, garlicy, and so delicious. It’s no wonder everyone liked it so much, as it was laced with truffle and one of my favourite new ingredients, black garlic. Even as we were elbows deep in entrees, more bread and butter was requested at both ends of our table.
Course 1 of the 3 course dinner was kind of a 2 for 1 starter. Heritage greens salad, with lardons, duck eggs, and tomatoes, with an apple- dijon vinaigrette. This was quickly followed by a white bean cassoulet, with braised pork shoulder and crispy pork belly. The salad added a nice acidic contrast to the rich pork and beans, but the greens weren’t exactly bite sized. Hardly worth complaining about, but what the heck… they didn’t give me anything else to nitpick. The Pork Cassoulet was very well done, with the rich fattiness of the Pork seeping into the beans. I’d order that on the regular menu if it were there.
Course 2 consisted of Pork Loin, wrapped in Bacon, topped with a cognac apricot sauce. That was paired with Black Lentils, with caramelized apples and onions, and Honey Lavender Roasted Vegetables. The thing that struck me when this course hit the table, is that the chef actually thought about the meal as a whole, and what will work together. Heavier proteins such as pork really need to be balanced with some acidity to cut the richness of the meal, and the chef did a great job of that. I wish more Edmonton chefs would take the cue, as it seems like many just think that making great food just means adding more fat.
The pork was moist, tasty, and had a great crust on the outside, but for me the star of the show was the Cognac Apricot Sauce. Again, the acidity was there to cut the richness, and it worked perfectly. I would have eaten that sauce with a spoon. The vegetables were roasted until soft, and had just a touch of sweetness from the honey. The black lentils weren’t something I’d had before, but I really enjoyed them. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one, since our large family style bowl (the whole meal was served family style) was empty when I went looking for seconds. I think it was the texture most of all for me that sent me looking for more. With a lot of other soft-textured components on the table, the firmness of the lentils was a welcome contrast.
At this point, I was already full, but of course the women at the table were a different kind of full. You know, the kind of full that means they’re full enough of dinner, now bring me a 1 pound chunk of decadent chocolate cake please.
So they did.
Seriously, this thing was like the Stonehenge of Chocolate Cake. Usually I’m not a fan of dense chocolate cake, and even less a fan of adding bacon to desserts in general, but this one had such a delicious, crunchy outer coating and mild bacon flavour that I found it quite enjoyable. It was a great, albeit heavy, end to a pretty fantastic meal.
The next Swine and Dine hasn’t been announced yet, but follow along on twitter here, or Sharman’s account here, and you’ll be in the know.
Spicy Thai Egg Drop Soup- 10 minute dinner
You know those days where you just don’t seem to be able to find time to make a healthy dinner? Or any dinner at all? Those days often end up with a trip through the drive- thru. Well it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t always have to resort to fast food.
These are the days when a smart utilization of the pantry can save you a few bucks and a whole bunch of calories. Using just a few ingredients that most of us typically have on hand, you can create this quick, low calorie Spicy Thai Egg Drop Soup.
Use the recipe as a guideline, and tweak according to what’s in your pantry. You don’t have a thai chili? Use red pepper flakes. Or a pinch of cayenne. Or even a squirt of sriracha. Got some leftover chicken? Throw it in! No-one’s going to know. You’re the boss here. Make it your own.
Here’s the recipe to make 1 large bowl.
2 cups chicken stock- if your stock is a bit thin, bump up with a couple tsp of concentrated chicken boullion
1 tomato- diced
1 celery stalk- diced
1 thai chili- seeded and diced
1tsp thai seasoning
1tbsp chopped parsley
1 green onion- chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Bring all ingredients except the egg and green onion to a boil for approximately 10 minutes. Blend with immersion blender.
Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and drizzle into the soup while slowly stirring.
Garnish with green onion
Sorrentinos Annual Garlic Festival
Sorrentinos 22nd Annual Garlic Festival begins April 8th and runs through the 11th. The fundraiser for Sorrentinos Compassion House combines a special garlic themed menu at Sorrentinos restaurants (and Bistecca), with garlic themed events. The flagship event is the Garlic Stomp, which is a night of food, dancing, and fundraising for Compassion House. Check out http://www.sorrentinos.com for tickets.
One of the events was held last week – a garlic cook-off – where home cooks were invited to submit their best garlic-themed recipes. Out of all the submissions, 5 finalists were chosen to prepare their dish for a panel of judges for a chance to win a trip to Gilroy, California to their huge garlic festival. Pretty sweet prize.
Oddly enough, the good folks at Sorrentinos invited me to be one of the judges of the 5 finalists in the garlic cook-off and, shockingly, I jumped at the chance.
The event was being featured on Global Televisions Morning news, so Lorraine Mansbridge was busy interviewing contestants and judges. No pressure, people… it’s just a T.V. camera in your face watching your every move (and bite).
The panel of judges weren’t any less intimidating than the cameras. Edmonton Journal columnists Liane Faulder and Nick Lees, Sorrentinos executive chef Sonny Sung, Mary Bailey from Tomato Food and Drink and, somehow, yours truly.
The dishes included a Garlicy Butternut Squash soup by Jodie Bakker, Garlic Infused Chicken Balls by Laura Connor, A Roasted Garlic Goat’s Cheese & Rosemary Tart from Heidi Noble, and a Roasted Pork Belly with Roasted Garlic Polenta from Sharman Hnatiuk. All those dishes has some high points, but they couldn’t defeat Dino Esposito’s Garlic Eggplant Ravioli, with 3 different sauces. The Garlic Prosecco Cream, Garlic Pesto, and Marinara sauces were a nod to the white, green and red in the Italian flag. Enjoy Gilroy, Dino.
Here’s a few iPhone pictures of the event and food I snapped in between mouthfuls.