A taste of Spain: Ox & Angela

One of the best experiences in my life was spending six weeks in different areas of Spain. The people I encountered and culture I witnessed were beyond what I ever expected.  I was especially impressed by how they use lunch and dinner as a way to create community.  Rarely did I go out for dinner with a large group and be done in less than 3-4 hours. People don’t rush to order their meal, rather multiple people order small plates throughout the night to keep the options lighter and the conversation flowing. It was a refreshing experience.

I am always on the hunt for a great tapas restaurant. I’ve been obsessed with that style of meal ever since my European travels. My good friend was the one to introduce me to Ox and Angela here in Calgary.  I thought it was too good to be true that my new city had not only a tapas menu, but a dedicated Spanish menu! I was in heaven.

I have waited to go there again and had the luxury of taking my sister who came to visit me. It was the perfect atmosphere to catch up and enjoy every bite of food.

We heavily relied on our lovely server to lead us through some of the best dishes on the menu.  We also used him for an amazing wine recommendation.

Pan con tomate with fried goat cheese

Pan con tomate with fried goat cheese

We knew we needed fried goat cheese in our lives (fried cheese is a no brainer) and as much as we were confident we could eat it by itself, we were told to get an order of the pan con tomate to accompany it.
This combo is perfect for sharing with up to four people. Luckily it was only my sister and I so we could each have two toasts. The goat cheese flavour was not too overpowering, so if you aren’t normally a fan I would encourage you to step out and give this a try. I’m still dreaming about it.

We then moved onto the pan-friend mushrooms on toasted bread, poached egg, and truffle. It was a flavour experience to say the least. You cannot miss out on this. We tried our best to eat it slowly, but no luck!

 

Next up, the spicy merguez lamb sausage sauteed with apricot, sherry and mustard. We did not grab a shot of this one since the picture could not do it justice. It had a good kick to it, but it was best paired with a little bit of the apriocot with each bite.

 

Of course we made room for dessert.  This was a dark chocolate salted almond torte. It was rich, but the dark chocolate was the perfect balance of sweetness that we needed to end this delicious meal.

 

El Porron - The Spanish Wine Pitcher

El Porron – The Spanish Wine Pitcher

 

I can’t leave out the wine. From his recommendation, we ordered the Borie de Maurel Esprit d’Automne. I could have butchered that name, but I’m hoping you’ll be able to find a way to order this smooth red wine.

The coolest part is how they serve it in the Spanish version of a decanter! Our server explained it is used a lot at festivals or gatherings where caring is sharing!

 

Do yourself a favour and check out Ox & Angela.  Perfect for a first date, small gathering, or a unique food experience.

http://www.oxandangela.com/

Love xox

 

 

 

 

Koi: Funky & Delicious

At one point in my life I equated healthy food with less than delicious food, and use to be so perplexed on how someone could possibly be full without a mound of potatoes or ample servings of bread with their dinner. Obviously I couldn’t have been further from the truth. This journey from eating whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like, to being a bit more conscious about what I eat has been a long and challenging one. By no means am I a clean eater and will probably never be and for me I think that is ok. Growing up I played a lot of competitive sports so between that and being blessed with a fairly good metabolism I could crush burgers, garlic fingers and ice cream without much thought. Now, the more I get into multi sports and endurance racing I’ve been trying to change my set and look at what I eat as fuel. Which can make eating out tricky especially when you love going for dinner with friends as much as I do. Luckily I’ve found a couple places in Calgary that offer nutritious guilt free menu’s.  

I first stumbled on Koi about two years ago, and have been going back regularly ever since. Koi is a funky gem along 1st SW. Supporting the Calgary Arts scene in a big way. They offer local artist their wall space to exhibit their work. Looking to shake up date night? This spot is perfect, as they offer a variety of off the beaten path entertainment, check their schedule for more details.

 

Buddha Burger with Yam Wedges

Buddha Burger with Yam Wedges

While all the above is sweet it’s the food that keeps me going back. The menu is filled with Asian-fusion dishes that blend the culinary flavors of China, Korea, and Japan. Many items offer the option of Vegetarian, Vegan or Gluten Free. My latest kick is the Buddha Burger. If you would have asked me two-five years ago that I’d be drooling for at veggie burger I would have probably laughed in your face, but this handmade black bean patty with caramelized onions, beets, spinach and peashoots is out of this world. I dip it in the sauce that comes with the yam wedges which sends this dish right into flavor town. If your mouth is watering I suggest checking it out during happy hour where you save on bowls or during ‘Vegelicious Monday’ where you save $2 on vegetarian / vegan entrées.

Happy Eating!

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Playa Del Carmen – Eats

This past week I had an opportunity to head to the beautiful Fairmont Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen for a quick getaway. What better way to see your friends from Vancouver than meeting in Cancun??
What made it extra special was celebrating my friend Stephanie’s 27th bday. I knew we had to do something a little different, so we found this VERY cool restaurant right in the city.
What did we do before google, trip advisor and yelp? Please tell me.

Alux Restaurant, Playa del Carmen

If you want an experience outside of your resort one night for dinner, I’d highly recommend taking a cab to this place. It had high ratings on every site I checked and it did not disappoint!

Essentially, it is fine dining in a natural cavern. At first we assumed we were just paying for the atmosphere, but then we had food served to us. It was extremely delicious and we all enjoyed our meals!

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Alux1

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Check out this photo! Order a Spanish coffee “on fire”.  So cool.

Tough posting on my almost dead iPad, but hope you enjoyed a taste of Mexico with me!

xo

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I fell in love… with Boston

I came to Boston for a Risk conference and ended up falling in love with this city. I’ve been here since Tuesday night and minus a luggage snafu it’s been great. I am actually shocked how much I enjoy it here. So much green space!! Seems like every few blocks there is a small green space or a park. People here seem to be quite active which I suppose makes sense, as home to one of the world’s largest and most recognized marathon’s I really shouldn’t be surprised. The people here are beyond friendly which I wasn’t expecting. They remind me of people from back home, must be an East Coast thing 😊.

This city is rich with history and we got a glimpse into some of it via the local Duck Tour, which is hilariously educational if you haven’t heard of it. It’s a land/sea tour aboard a “duck”, a W.W.I.I style amphibious landing vehicle that cruises by many of the historic landmarks here.
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As a non baseball fan I must say that there is just something enchanting about Fenway Park. I’ve been to other MLB games but this one was a neat experience for sure.
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BUT on-top of everything I’ve already mentioned it’s the food here that really makes this city a home run. I haven’t had one bad meal since I’ve been here. Mike’s Pastry’s PB cannoli are so good they ought to be illegal. I haven’t had any left overs from any restaurant on the North End which is a feat because the portion size of the homemade breads and pastas are gigantic. (Definitely going to have to have a mini detox when I get back home)

There was one spot in particular we tried in the North End called Giacomo’s, a local favourite as judged by the line outside. This gem of a spot has no words to really describe it. Don’t let the line out front deter you because this is a spot is not to be missed on your trip. Italian and delicious, loud, a little chaotic, and obnoxiously amazing. The portions for the price they charge are insane, we’d never see something like this in Calgary. We ordered the chicken and cheese agnolotti, and the 1/2 lobster mussels clams over linguini which my boyfriend described as “fucking delicious” his words not mine. This no frills cash only restaurant with bottles… Yes Bottles of wine starting at only $18! Boston you my friends know food.
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With a couple days left of my visit there are still quite a few things I want to see, Harvard Square and Frost Bar to name a couple but obviously as Canadiens and hockey fans were are clearly busy Saturday night when game 5 rolls into town.

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Burger love

canvas1We were hoping to be among the first to take advantage of ‘Burger Week’ here in Calgary, but in true Amy fashion, I mixed up the start date and we found out that it doesn’t start until May 2nd – whoops. Already seated on their patio, we decided to give Canvas a shot (it helped that Calgary finally blessed us with a gorgeous day).

Sensing our disappointment, the waitress did us a solid and asked the chef if we could still take advantage of their feature burger. Sunshine AND advance burger week screening? Not today it seems. They did however mention a special lamb option forcing our hand to select the intriguing offering.

Ordering the bison burger with rainbow carrot fries, this messy contraption was the bomb! There was zero worry of me going hungry after devouring the hefty portion. It  was surprisingly very moist and flavorful. The rainbow carrot fries were ok. Tossed in a lime dressing, they really just tasted like carrots covered in a lot of oil, yet somehow I didn’t feel as guilty as if I had ordered the fries.

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Ken, ordered the lamb burger with a cesar salad, which I obviously had to try… you know quality control. As with the bison, the lamb was incredibly juicy and packed full of flavor. The use of fresh herbs really elevated the taste and paired with the light aioli, made for some tremendously satisfying bites. I mean quality control checks.

Canvas has been re-opened for about 3 months now, so it isn’t overly busy – meaning less wait times and cheaper bill totals. You can get in and out in decent time without damaging the pocket book too much. The patio at Canvas Bistro is a great gem that gets lots of sun light, if only they lost an umbrella or two, this might become a fantastic summer lunch option.

Ps: Did I mention they have wine deals on Thursdays?

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How have I never eaten here before?

Going out for breakfast is probably one of my top 3 favorite activities. I love it! Today I got a bit of a late start on the day today (I blame birthday celebrations for our Betty Amanda), and as most know trying to get breakfast in our fair city is like playing battleship – veeeeery strategic. Most places don’t take reservations so you need to go into breakfast here with a solid game plan, how long are you willing to wait? How far are you willing to walk/drive? How many people do you expect to eat with? (larger numbers are tough) and so on and so forth. I have a couple of places that I can’t get enough of , the problem is the secret on these places seems to be out and the wait times can creep up to an hour in no time. On days like today, when I wake up late these little gems automatically get scratched from the list and I have to be a little bit more creative with my options. I was so hungry but couldn’t make up my mind so we just started driving west and then it dawned on me what about Cassis Bistro, that little French spot off Crowchild? My initial concern was, will they seat us if I’m wearing a sweater and lulu’s? It sounds a bit too fancy for my current attire. My indecisiveness wearing on my boyfriend and our options dwindling we agree to chance it.

We walk in and are quickly greeted, her kindness eases my mind on the terrible outfit choice. I was excited not to be turned away, the place was oozing of culture and French charm. Thankfully we are seated within minutes, order our coffees and try to decide what to eat. I had my heart set on eggs bennies and when I didn’t see them on the menu I was a little disappointed. That feeling of disappointment quickly subsided though, when our food started to arrive. We ordered the fresh baguette with jam, Croque Madame, and the Omelette du Jour. I have never ever in my life had a Croque Madame like this, so delicious! It definitely is not the healthiest option but oh my, the flavor. Cheesy deliciousness and the bread still had a bit of crunch to it. I will go back to Cassis for that sandwich alone. We substituted the Soup du Jour for our side; today’s soup was Tomato served with a cheesy crustini on top. This soup was so creamy with the right tartness to it.

Today’s omelette was spinach and mushroom, served with sautéed potatoes and side mixed green salad. I was happy to discover the omelette was made with brie cheese. This large three egg omelette was cheesy deliciousness.

Despite being quite full when asked if we were interested in dessert my stomach spoke for me in saying, of course. We ended up getting the chocolate cake with caramel ice cream. I knew we didn’t need it, and that it would probably result in an afternoon nap but I couldn’t resist. As soon as it arrived though I was happy with the decision, who can resist a warm chocolate cake, need I say more?

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I loved the atmosphere here. Small, but doesn’t make you feel crowded. The décor had a bit of a French influence, with a little local or sustainable flare. People all around were relaxed and most enjoying a glass of wine while they waited for their food immersed in conversation. It was nice to see people actually enjoying one another’s company and not playing on their iPhones. The table beside us was speaking French the entire time and I couldn’t help but ease drop from time to time to see what they were saying. Our waiter a transplant from France, sported the perfect French accent I wanted to break out my best choppy French to talk with him but was a little too nervous, the best I could conjure up was “Merci, bon après-midi”. I can’t wait to go back, I am a sucker for delicious food made with fresh ingredients. My only regret, not taking more pictures.

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Ps: For those who can’t read French, “Il” means Boy. A vital tidbit of information for         those that require the restroom. I received a nervous text message from my perplexed boyfriend who would have guessed wrong had I not intervened. Sometimes, those are the breaks.

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