gastronomic happenings around town
fresh pasta with sauce
Francesco Saccomanno has taken over the north end grocery store and deli started by his grandparents in 1965. Now it has a new look, a new chef, the talented Joshua Dissanayake, and a new menu featuring house-made pasta, sausage and pizza dough.
“I was a finance manager, but I have been helping out here for a long time,” says Francesco. “My grandfather and grandmother had been running it forever, so the family sat down to discuss, are we going to close or should we continue? We decided to invest some money, change it a bit, hire a chef and give it a good run.”
The new look is contemporary — grey and white with wood accents, Metro shelving and a concrete epoxy floor. “Instead of the steam table everything is made to order. We’ll have veal marsala, chicken cacciatore, braised short rib, fish, lasagna, spinach ricotta, rabbit cannelloni as features,” says Francesco. “The chicken parm ($13) is still our staple, but now it will be on fresh pasta. In the morning we have Italian Centre pastries and biscotti from Canova.” Café 65 by Saccomannos (named in honour of the grandparents) features a spiffy new hand-pull espresso machine sourced by Ace Coffee. Café 65, 10208 127 Avenue, 780-478-2381, Monday-Saturday, 9am-6pm.
to make a clowded creme
Writer and educator Kristine Kowalchuk has long been fascinated with food. Her PhD thesis is now the book Preserving on Paper (U of T Press, $33.50). In it she helps us understand the work of Constance Hall (circa 1672), Lettice Pudsey (1675), and Mary Granville and Anne Granville D’Ewes (1740), who wrote books of receipts (recipes) by hand with homemade ink. Surprisingly, several of the recipes are similar to what we make today. (Others, not so much. The glossary created by the author helps.) The book is a fascinating look into the lives of women, especially important because history often puts home life on the sidelines.
If you treasure your grandmother’s scrawl on an index card with a list of ingredients and not much else (because of course you know how to bake a cake) you will love this book.
Meet Kristine Kowalchuk at the 17th Century Dinner at NAIT, Saturday, January 27 — three courses paired with wine and a copy of Preserving On Paper, to benefit Food For Thought. TIX, $105/p, email@example.com, or 780-471-8685.
kudos to ernest’s
Congratulations! NAIT restaurant Ernest’s has been voted a 100 Best Restaurants in Canada 2017 by OpenTable. The winners are based on more than 500,000 restaurant reviews submitted by diners using OpenTable between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017. Dishes prepared by second-year Culinary Arts students under the supervision of NAIT’s seasoned chef instructors provides students with critical real-world skills along with a terrific dining experience.
“It’s the students who put us in the top 100, because it’s the food they create and the hospitality they provide that puts us among the best restaurants in the country.” Mitch McCaskill, maître d’, Ernest’s. This is the second year the restaurant has been recognized by the online reservation system, Ernest’s, 10701 118 Avenue, 780-471-8676.
There is probably no one better than chef Ned Bell to help us understand fish. His culinary journey has led to an embrace of ocean sustainability, and his cookbook Lure (Figure.1 Publishing, $38.95) will help us feed our families better, more sustainable fish more often.
It will become your go-to cookbook on fish. It has buckets of great info packed into its 239 pages — how to shop for and store fish, basic cooking techniques, species profiles, a seasonality chart. The recipe section, divided up by white fish, fatty fish, shellfish and sea greens, holds fairly straightforward recipes highlighted by a refreshing juxtaposition of ingredients (think halibut burger with blueberry relish or seaweed brownies). Ned Bell suggests we need a national conversation on ocean protection. Lure will get you started on that in the most delicious way.
bread and butter
Brad Long on Butter (The Harvest Commission, $28) could be the definitive book on butter. Why we love it, why it’s essential in the kitchen and why we no longer need to feel guilty about it. Chef Long concentrates on the amazing power of butter to transform, and its ability to bring deliciousness (the greens, beans and brown butter recipe is an epiphany). You will learn to make your own butter (a bit of a workout, but why not) and his technique for brown butter explains everything. The chatty methods, which give the impression of a kind and voluble older brother walking you through the dish in person, will make you smile. Woven around the shaggy dog stories is solid technique and a deep respect for farmers and the ingredients they grow.