January 28, 2010

Creations Dining Room


This morning I reviewed the Creations Dining Room in the Sawridge Inn on Edmonton AM. You can hear the review by going to their website – cbc.ca/edmontonam – and clicking on restaurant reviews. It should be up later this morning.

Overall, the meal was inconsistent. Part of that was because of J’s newfound lactose intolerance, but even without it there was some disappointment. Especially considering the prices, and the expectation of a high-end meal.

The best parts of the evening were the bison maki, the side of broccolini with our entrees, and the lavender ice cream. Yum.

Does anyone have suggestions about places I should review in the coming weeks and months? I have some ideas but I’m always looking for new ones.

I’ll be back here soon to talk pancakes, because I’ve found a new delicious recipe. I’m also planning a post about Farm restaurant, which I visited in Calgary last weekend. Let’s just say I’m still dreaming about the meal.  

Oh, and since I didn’t take any photos at the restaurant (must be discreet and all), that is a pretty picture of an apple galette for you. ( If you’re craving galettes now, see recipes here and here from the archives.)

January 12, 2010

Spelt Crackers

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Who knew you could make crackers at home? Not me. Until I read about it on smitten kitchen, one of my favourite food blogs. We don’t usually buy crackers at the store. I’m a big fan of all the fancy-schmancy ones like Raincoast Crisps, but they’re so uber-expensive that I rarely splurge on them. But these crackers? They’re cheap, simple and delicious.

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All you have to do is mix some spelt flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl. The dough will be a bit shaggy, but keep mixing. When it’s starting to come together, stick your hands in there and bring it together in a ball. Dump it out onto the counter and knead it a few times. Then, roll it out into a large rectangle, score it into squares, spritz some water onto it, and sprinkle whatever you like on top. I decided on sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and flaky sea salt.

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Pop it in the oven, and your job is done. When the crackers are browned and crispy, pull them out and break them apart. Wait until you taste them. They’re crackly, nutty, and perfect for snacking. With cheese or without.

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I used spelt flour like the original recipe calls for, but I’m sure it would work with all-purpose as well, or a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat. Since I had a big bag of whole spelt flour on hand, that’s what I used, and the crackers came out much browner in than smitten kitchen’s photos. They also took longer to bake – I think I sprayed them with a little two much water. You could top these with just about anything: a dusting of parmesan, caraway seeds, red pepper flakes, etc.

January 9, 2010

K & K Foodliner, Edmonton

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I’m a huge fan of specialty foods shops and ethnic groceries. There are still many in Edmonton I haven’t been to yet, all because of location. When going to a store requires a special bus trip, it takes more motivation.

But there is one centrally-located store that we hadn’t visited until recently. K & K Foodliner is on Whyte avenue at 99 st. I used to ride by it on the bus all the time, and I knew they specialised in German sausages, and smoked their own meat, but other than that I didn’t know much. J’s voice teacher told him it was an amazing place, so one Saturday we hopped off the bus and headed in.

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Let’s just say this place is heaven for foodies and Europhiles (is that a word?) like us. We’ve never been to Austria or Germany, but the store reminded us of places we’d visited in France and Denmark. The moment you step inside, you feel like you’ve been transported to a small Austrian village. The smell of smoked meat fills the air, and the tiny aisles are full of Edmontonians getting their European food fix.

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My first question: what the heck does “foodliner” mean? I did a google search but didn’t come up with much, except a trucking company and a few other grocery stores with the word in their names. Since visiting the store, however, I did find out that K and K stands for Krause and Krause, and that the store was started by three Krause brothers and their wives in 1956. (I guess K & K & K was a bit much.) The store is still run by the Krause family today.

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Trolling the aisles, so many of the grocery products struck me as absolutely hilarious. Who buys candy sprinkles to put on bread? Is curry ketchup any good? How about baking flavourings packaged like perfume? I know there are plenty of weird and disgusting packaged items in North America (um, dill pickle chips, anyone?), but these ones are just so foreign to me. There’s also a small selection of German children’s books and romance novels. 

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We left K & K with some thick, smoked bacon that was incredibly cheap, and a block of aged gouda cheese. I also noticed that they sell containers of lard, which I probably would have found disgusting until I read the book Fat by Jennifer McLagan. Now I’m glad I know where to find it, since making pastry with lard is something I’d like to try.



As I mentioned, K & K makes their own sausages in-house, and you can also bring them your wild game to be cut down and/or made into sausages. We saw one family picking up a gigantic order when we were there.

If you’re looking for a taste of Europe, be sure to visit K & K Foodliner. I’m sure you’ll find something unique and tasty to pick up, and you might just have a good laugh, too.

K & K Foodliner
9944 82nd Ave.

January 2, 2010

Chinese Hot Pot


One of the best parts about moving to Edmonton from back East was discovering new restaurants in our new town. There is a lot I miss about Halifax’s restaurant scene, where you can walk or take a quick bus ride to almost any restaurant, and where there are a myriad of excellent Japanese and Thai choices (two of my favourites), but with Edmonton being so much bigger there is obviously even more to explore here.

A few of the restaurants we like most are in Chinatown, which is a quick walk from our downtown apartment. And one of them is unlike any place either J or I had ever eaten.

The first time our friend Joyce took us to King’s Noodle and Hot Pot, I was apprehensive. Let’s put it bluntly: I was cranky and worried I wasn’t going to like the food. But when we left a few hours later, I was completely sated and happy about finding such a new, fun kind of dining.

Since this is the only Chinese hot pot restaurant I’ve ever been to, I don’t know how typical it is. But let me give you a run-down of what happens here:


1. Ordering. The first time, we left it all up to Joyce as the native Chinese person. She asked us a few questions about what we like, but we ended up trying a whole  bunch of stuff. You write your choices down on a little sheet of paper, kind of like ordering dim sum. Since our first visit, the restaurant has started catering a little more to non-Chinese speakers and now offers a menu full of colour photos of each dish. We’d still be totally scared to go without a Chinese person though.


2. Sauce-making. Once you’ve ordered, you head to the sauce table at the back of the restaurant. Here, there are containers of chopped garlic and green onion, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame sauce, raw minced chile peppers, and hot sauce. You pick what you like and create a little dipping sauce to flavour your food with during your meal.


3. The food arrives. The various raw ingredients are shuttled to your table on a little metal cart. Beef, lamb, pork, oysters, mussels, shrimp, tripe, mushrooms, noodles, watercress, spinach, tofu, and fish balls are among the offerings.


4. Cooking. You lower each ingredient into the simmering broth in a large metal pot in the centre of the table. There are handy little metal baskets to make it easier. We usually order two different kinds of broth, which come in a pot that’s split down the middle. This is where the real fun happens. Since certain ingredients obviously take longer to cook than others, the meal is long and interactive, and forces you to really enjoy what you’re eating. The thin slices of beef and the greens take mere moments to cook, seafood and noodles a bit longer, mushrooms and fish balls the longest. The combination of the broth, the ingredients, and your sauce results in fresh, vibrant food.


We brought J’s parents for hot pot when they were visiting Edmonton. We knew his Dad, an adventurous eater, would love it, which he did. His Mom wasn’t so keen – at the end of the meal, she called it “interesting.”


The point of hot pot seems to be to stuff yourself with as much food you as possibly can – after all, it is all you can eat ($24.95 per person, I think, with reduced prices from 10 pm to 2 am). Sort of like a buffet on a rolling metal cart. The first time we ate here, Joyce was appalled at the paltry amount of food we consumed. Since then, we’ve tried to do better. Usually we end up ordering more food halfway through the meal, and often there are some ingredients still left on the cart, or floating in the broth, at the end of the meal.

There are also a couple of dishes we like to order that aren’t cooked in the broth. Edmonton’s ubiquitous green onion cake is deep-fried here, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and highly addictive. We also like a dish of hot rice topped with Chinese sausage that comes with a sweet sauce.


Going for hot pot is an experience like no other. A chance to linger over a meal, try new tastes (I know I won’t be eating the tripe again), and leave feeling like a bowling ball. The only frustrating part is walking past the tables of tiny, giggling Asian girls who are downing tray after tray of beef and seafood without blinking. I’ll never know how they do it.