June 20, 2013

Shopping the Downtown City Market on 104 Street? Stop by Kitchen by Brad Smoliak (#101, 10130 105 Street) 10am – 4pm every Saturday until October. Pick up Brad’s delicious Bacon Jam, his signature BBQ Rub (perfect for your Irving’s Pork or Medicine Man Bison) and vinaigrettes for tossing with your market veggies. The selection includes several products from other good cooks and purveyors. And, if you’re lucky, there’ll be a cooking demo or tasting happening the day you pop in.

We are loving Culina Emporium’s fine food sundries such as their spicy tomato chutney, Stephanie’s granola, pecan pralines, coconut peanut sauce, and the Mighty Trio House Dressing, along with Jam Lady preserves, locally-roasted Iconoclast coffee, and Peter Johner’s Swiss chocolates and truffles. Available at the Muttart Café (9626 96A Street, 780-466-1181). Monday – Friday, 11am – 2pm, Saturday, Sunday brunch, 10:30am – 2:30pm, and dinner Thursday nights, 5pm – 8:30pm.

Cococo’s new award-winning Rosemary Fusion bar is a trip, intense rosemary and thyme flavours coupled with habanero’s heat and a surprising hit of crunchy sea salt, gentled by dreamy-rich, high-quality milk chocolate. Pairing with savoury flavours — charcuterie, parma ham, aged cheeses, even olives. Or, nibble away, square by square — this is a bar for chocolate lovers.

Culina Mill Creek (9914 89 Avenue, 780-437-5588, is open for lunch. YAAY! It’s hard to beat a lovely lunch indoors or on their shady patio in quiet Mill Creek. Along with several new offerings from chef de cuisine Christine Sandford, the ever-popular grilled ham‘n’cheese on raisin bread, the steak sandwich, wild salmon with goats cheese and almond sauce, the veggie sandwich, and the popular orange-ginger dressed house salad will be back to enjoy. Lunch, Tuesday thru Friday,11am-2pm, dinner Tuesday to Saturday 5pm -10 pm, and Saturday/Sunday brunch 10am – 2pm.

Bella Casa (9646 142 Street, 780-437-4190) stocks the new Le Creuset Heritage Collection in fennel, soleil, cherry and Marseille colours. Prices range from $85 to $150 for pieces that last a lifetime and look good just as long. Le Creuset’s impermeable enamel finish is fired at temps as high as 1200ºc making it impervious to daily use and virtually non-stick. It’s safe for temperatures from -53ºc to 260ºc making it truly freezer-to-oven-to-table and is microwave and dishwasher friendly.

Amaranth Whole Foods Market (Enjoy Centre, 101 Riel Drive, St. Albert, 780-651-7367) stocks many delicious locally-produced, gluten free, organic and vegetarian goodies: Rock Ridge Dairy organic milk from the Bos family in Ponoka County, two L size, $6.39-$6.69; Pukka Teas, ayurvedic herbal teas from the UK in assorted flavours, $7; the tasty (and highly addictive) Hippie Coconut Chips, all-natural, toasted and lightly-seasoned coconut chips, 56 g bag/$5.49; and, from St Albert, La Crema Cafe gluten-free, ready-to-eat savouries and desserts as well as a gluten-free flour mix and granola. To drink with the chips: Dry Soda is refreshingly sweet and gently carbonated, in lavender, vanilla bean, cucumber, rhubarb, 355 mL, $2.19.

Enjoy a special childrens’ menu at Cally’s Teas (10151 82 Avenue, 780-757-8944) during Alice the Camel Afternoon Tea, Thursdays from 1pm – 5pm. Choose from mini scones with jam and cream, finger sandwiches with strawberry cream or cucumber mint filling; fruit tea or lemonade; special cookies, fruit, and in the summer, Laurel’s homemade ice cream. Prices range from $6-$15/child. Reservations required. Talk to the staff if you desire a custom theme such as dinosaurs, or Alice in Wonderland.

Mark your calendars for Okanagan Wine Festival’s Mile High Wine, August 10 at Silver Star Resort, near Vernon. Enjoy the charming resort and its gnarly mountain bike trails, or slightly less death-defying hiking trails. Then, drink wine. Over 100 wines are featured during the outdoor wine tastings, along with appetizers and live entertainment in the Silver Star Village. Tickets and info.

RGE RD's Blair Lebsack.
RGE RD’s Blair Lebsack.

Two new restos in the works, downtown and on 124 street: The Tavern at the Alberta Hotel. The Hardware Grill’s Larry Stewart has leased the main floor space in the Alberta Hotel, new home to CKUA on Jasper Avenue. Expect a casual vibe with seating for about 100, and a menu of small plates and sharables which takes advantage of the historic long bar design. “We’re creating Edmonton’s first mozzarella bar,” says Larry. Jesse Chalmers will head up the kitchen. Opening late July.

Shane Loiselle (Edmonton Petroleum Club, Zinc) and Sue Kiernan, of the Empress Ale House plan a restaurant in the Eddie Shorts space, east side of 124 Street, north of 107 Avenue. No word yet on when they may be opening or what the final concept will be but, as Charles Rothman of the Petroleum Club says, ‘knowing Shane there’ll be meat and smoke.”

And, of course, we eagerly await opening day at Rge Rd and Woodwork