Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: 4 In the Morning

March 31, 2014

M-O-N-D-A-Y! It's the start of a new week and I'm already wanting to fast forward to the weekend - where the weather forecast promises warm weather! I am over the snow that keeps falling from the sky and want to jump in puddles!

The colour of my nails this week reflects how I feel about this year's prolonged winter. 4 In the Morning is the last shade I picked up from the Gwen Stefani collection for OPI, and this one is a black satin. This matte shade is a little more unique than your run of the mill black matte, as it is a softer black (if you can call it that?) due to the presence of fine silver shimmer. I like that it isn't completely flat and still has a bit of character to it! At two coats, this polish gives you full opacity and 5 days of wear chip free without a top coat! The formula is great to work with and it dries in no time, making this polish a winner in my books!

Downtown

Wine & Spuntini: BAR BRICCO

March 29, 2014

I could argue that the most anticipated opening of early 2014 in Edmonton belonged to Bar Bricco. And I would probably be right. Right after it was announced that Daniel Costa was getting ready to open a second and third (!!!) restaurant, I was over the moon. Corso 32 is one of my favourite dining spots in Edmonton and I couldn't have been more excited for the arrival of Bar Bricco.

Bar Bricco - 10347 Jasper Avenue - Edmonton AB

Located next door to Corso 32 on Jasper Avenue, Bar Bricco labels itself as an Italian wine & spuntini bar. Modelled after those in Italy, spuntini bars are places where you start your evening or wind down at the end of the night with small plates and a few glasses of wine. I've already joked that I should make a late night reservation at Corso 32 and start off at Bar Bricco... but knowing me, it'll become a reality.

We started off our evening with the Carne Cruda Piemontese ($16), which is essentially steak tartare without the egg. In Piemont they use a combination of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to season the meat, and Bar Bricco's version is also seasoned with truffle oil and topped with Vache Rosso (a type of parmesan). Served with a portion of arugula and crisp crostini, this was my favourite dish of the evening.

Egg Yolk Raviolo ($13) is one of those dishes that I love to indulge in from time to time. A single egg yolk is surrounded by housemade ricotta before being enveloped by pasta dough. Being so delicate, one single cut releases the delicious, oozing yolk. The raviolo is rich and creamy thanks to the cheese and egg yolk, and is so good paired with the sage butter and grated parmesan.

Next up was the dish I was most looking forward to: The Salumi Tasting Board ($23). On the board was an assortment of cured meats (mainly imported from Italy), which included Speck (smoked prosciutto), Mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma, Finocchiona (tuscan salami) and housemade Porchetta. Four portions of each variety were placed on the board and served with housemade grissini breadsticks and warm slices of bread. It was so great to be able to sit and relax, nibbling on the salumi and taking in all the calories (so unhealthy but so good!). Out of everything we were served, my boyfriend and I both agreed that the two prosciuttos were our favourite. We didn't enjoy the porchetta as much since it was lightly seasoned and felt quite fatty with each bite.

Next up we tried the Agnolotti Dal Plin ($14) served with sage butter and parmigiano. These little ravioli are pinched to assume their rectangular shape and filled with a meat & breadcrumb mixture. Meant to be dipped into the butter then parmigiano, these little bites were so light and easy to eat that they were gone in an instant!

Last but not least we ordered the Porcini Tajarin ($11), which I expected to be a pasta with a mushroom sauce. Tajarin is a popular pasta in the Piemont region of Italy which uses a higher percentage of eggs in the pasta dough, making it quite rich. What arrived infront of us was a brown pasta covered in a cream sauce & parmigiano. With the absence of porcini, I realized that the porcini had been incorporated into the pasta which gave it the darker appearance. The earthy flavours of mushroom were evident in the pasta and sauce of this savoury dish and I really enjoyed it. Both the texture and appearance reminded me of broad wonton noodles, except with this being a bit thicker.

With an extensive wine menu and so much to offer on the menu, Bar Bricco is a welcome addition to Jasper Avenue. Even after trying so many dishes there's still so much I want to eat! They offer a ton of interesting crostini, a prosciutto tasting (!), and I definitely want to have their formaggi tasting board on my next visit. We also had the chance to sample the Culatello (a refined prosciutto) and it was delicious - I want a whole plate to myself!

Bar Bricco is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 6PM-1AM. Being an establishment that does not accept reservations, my boyfriend and I decided to stop by early on a Wednesday evening. We arrived at 6:05PM to find the place almost full! So start your night early or end it off late to make sure you can grab a spot in this 28-seat bar - it will be worth your while.

Bar Bricco on Urbanspoon

Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: Love Angel Music Baby

March 24, 2014

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Edmonton is still on the fence with Winter/Spring, and it looks like there's some more snow on the way... but I've been making the best of it by enjoying the warm sunlight from the indoors! Haha. Life has been crazy busy lately, so I've been thankful for the longer hours of daylight.

Being in the mood for spring and lighter colours, I chose a lovely gold shade from Gwen Stefani's spring collection for OPI. Named after her well known label L.A.M.B., Love Angel Music Baby is a gold shade with a satin (matte) finish. OPI recommends no top coat with this polish so that the flat, matte finish is maintained. I wasn't too sure how I would feel about it, but I actually liked the finished look. The gold shade had a bit of a sheen to it so it wasn't completely dull. At two coats the polish was opaque, but with the absence of a topcoat, the manicure was prone to damage and chips. I started seeing minor chips at 3 days, but it's not too noticeable given the slight sheen of the polish.

You may also notice that my nails are now round! I've been breaking my nails left, right and center - literally. So we'll see if this shape suits me a little better!

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Edmonton food

Have you Eaten a Ford Lately?

March 23, 2014

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by Ford of Canada and Focus Communications here in Edmonton. With a tagline like "Have You Eaten a Ford Lately?", I was definitely intrigued and wanted to find out more. Apparently, you are what you eat and drive!

It's no secret that I like driving the vehicles manufactured by Ford. I used to laugh and poke fun at the saying "Found On Road Dead," but after test driving the Escape, C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Energi - I've gained quite a bit of confidence in the Ford brand!

The event that evening was meant to highlight Ford's ongoing commitment to using sustainable materials in their vehicles - someone has to think of the environment, right?! And what better way to talk about sustainable materials than to showcase them in the form of food? All attendees were in for a treat with a menu planned by NAIT culinary students featuring just some of the biomaterials currently used by Ford.

Our appetizer for the evening was a Pan Seared Bay Scallop served with sweet potato purée with dandelion honey, maple bacon and baby arugula. The scallop was cooked to perfection and paired perfectly with the sweet mash. Currently, portions of the Russian Dandelions are being tested as a possible alternative to synthetic rubber, and sweet potatoes are used to create the plastic in the door map pocket.

Next up we had Spring Creek striploin of beef with Gruyere pomme de terre purée, corn succotash, and pinot noir reduction. The culinary team cooked the beef to a beautiful medium rare, and the sides were a perfect match for the protein. Research is currently underway to see if sugars made from corn, beet and cane are suitable for biodegradable plastic parts.

To end the meal, our dessert was a Guittard Chocolate Mousse with melba sauce, lavender tuile and macerated berries. This decadent dessert was the perfect ending - I would have loved another serving all to myself! Nothing in this dish is related to the biomaterials that Ford is using in their vehicles, but during the dessert course I learned a little bit more about Ford's commitment to sustainability:

  • Using soybean-based foam in seat cushions, backs and head restraints saves about 2.2 million kg of petroleum annually
  • Ford worked with Canadian universities to recycle wheat straw (a waste product) into bio-based resin for the Ford Flex’s storage bin
  • Rice hulls reinforce plastic used in an electrical harness in the 2014 F-150
  • Recycled denim is used in Ford vehicles as a sound deafener
  • A fibre by-product of coconuts is being studied as a replacement for molded plastics
  • The equivalent of about 22 clear, plastic 20-ounce bottles are in the seat fabric of the Focus Electric
  • 85% of the materials used in Ford vehicles by weight are recyclable

You may have noticed from the facts above that the actual foods themselves are not being used as materials, but rather their waste byproducts are. That way there isn't a competition for food sources, and the waste is actually being put to use! I definitely have to commend Ford for valuing the environment and continuing to fund research to find sustainable, recyclable materials to use in all their vehicles. I'm sure that other motor companies are doing the same, but Ford is definitely leading the way. I can't wait to find out what they come up with next!

Disclaimer: as this was a media launch event, views expressed in this post are solely mine. I was not expected to feature this event on my blog, nor obligated to do so. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.

Edmonton

Western Canada Fashion Week: March 27 - April 3, 2014

March 19, 2014

Fashion week. Every fashionista's dream.

Western Canada Fashion Week (WCFW) began in 2005 and is now recognized as the second largest fashion week in the country. Held twice a year in the city of Edmonton, WCFW strives to highlight local emerging designers, the beauty industry, and even brings in designers from the international scene. With a commitment to developing the community of art, fashion and design, members in the industry and of the public are invited to attend fashion shows and competitions during the week long events.

Whether it's a fashion show you're interested in or a design competition, the ATB Financial Arts Barns is the official venue for all things WCFW. Tickets are $25 daily, or $85 for a week-long pass, so it's a great way to indulge in local fashion and see what's coming up next season. This year the schedule looks fantastic, as fashion week is bringing designers in from Jamaica, Finland, and Germany - just to name a few.

If Fashion Week sounds like something you'd like to participate in, you're in luck! I've got five pairs of tickets to give away for shows on Saturday March 29th & Thursday April 3rd.

Saturday March 29th is the celebrity showcase. Doors open at 7pm, Show at 8pm.
Clothing featured in the show will be from: Derks; La Maison Simons, Eyecare Group, Javada (Calgary, AB), TC2 Swimwear, Anika Designs, and Dwayne Jahns – Courture of the Ages

Thursday April 3rd is a collections show. Doors open at 7pm, Show at 8pm.
Clothing featured in the show will be from: Stanley Carroll Men’s and Women’s, Jessica Halibi, Melanie Rowe, grady bleu Kathleen O’Grady (Saskatoon, SK), and Nina Athanasiou (Munich, Germany)

If you're interested in attending these shows, follow the giveaway instructions below!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

To enter, you must specify which date you'd like to attend and leave me your email address in the giveaway widget below. Please make sure you leave a valid email address, as this is how I will be contacting you.

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES

To gain additional entries:
1. Follow Little Miss Andrea via Facebook
2. Follow me via Twitter (@littlmissandrea)
3. Tweet about the giveaway, making sure to tag @WCFashionWeek and @littlmissandrea

This giveaway is open to everyone able to attend the shows on March 29th & April 3rd. All entrants must be 18+ years of age or have guardian permission to enter. You have until March 26th to enter, and the winners selected by random and be contacted via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

China Glaze

Manicure Monday: Teal the Tide Turns

March 17, 2014

Happy Monday! Or shall I say Happy Green Beer Day? I'm not a huge fan of St. Patrick's day (especially after my elementary school teacher made us clean up the mess that the "leprechaun" left behind), but I'll definitely sport a bit of green to avoid being pinched!

So the green for me today is Teal the Tide Turns from the China Glaze Sea Goddess collection for Spring 2014. Like its counterparts Tail Me Something and Wish on a Starfish, this polish is textured and chock full of sparkles. Two coats of polish doesn't reach full opacity and it actually has a bit of a shiny finish. If you look closely, it's almost as if there's less of the textured material which gives this polish a glossy look. The texture is same as the other two, but I like the finish of this one better. The formula is easy to work with and surprisingly really easy to remove, so definitely pick this one up if you like the colour! Available via Nail Polish Canada.

*Disclosure: This product was sent for consideration of a review.

Downtown

Downtown Dining Week 2014: March 14-23

March 14, 2014

The Edmonton Downtown Business Association's Downtown Dining Week is back this year from March 14-23. Over the course of the next ten days, many of the restaurants that fill the downtown core are featuring $15, $25, and $50 prix fixe menus for patrons to try out their menus and find new favourite dining spots.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the opening reception and sample just some of the offerings that restaurants have crafted up for this year. If you haven't made reservations yet, make sure to find something that interests you below and make your reservations now!


Clockwise from left: Surf & Turf (flat iron steak & Canadian lobster tail) from Cocoa's Restaurant & Lounge // Beef Stroganoff from Select // Braised short rib from Sorrentino's Downtown // Chocolate, strawberry & whip Pannekoek from De Dutch


Chicken Parmigiana off the lunch menu at Pazzo Pazzo


Chicken de Pancetta from the dinner menu at Zinc - oregano marinated chicken
breast, morel mushroom risotto, eggplant involtini


Roasted pork belly with apple relish & smoked navy beans from the
dinner menu at Hundred Bar + Kitchen


Pumpkin ravioli off the lunch menu at Zinc - with house made ricotta,
brown butter, roasted pumpkin seed


Smoked salmon tartare served with rye crisps on the dinner menu at Select


Heritage angus short rib for dinner from Lux Steakhouse - served with roasted fennel,
Yukon gold potatoes, tomato jam & oregano


Pan seared ostrich loin from The Harvest Room at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald,
served with herb infused potato rösti, wilted kale and cassis gastrique for dinner


Chorizo pork burger from the Confederation Lounge at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald
off the lunch menu - with roasted garlic aioli, feta cheese, sauerkraut and brioche bun


Layered tiramisu on the dinner menu at Zinc - made with mascarpone, ladyfingers, espresso, eggs & cream

Downtown Dining Week is a great time to take in the menus of the local restaurants in the downtown core. If I were to recommend one thing you have to eat based on the food I had last night, it would hands down be the pumpkin ravioli from Zinc. It's absolutely delicious and on the $15 lunch menu. You'll be losing out if you don't try it! Check out the menus of participating restaurants on their website here.

Edmonton

Host Edmonton 2014: May 22-24

March 11, 2014

Ever been to a food, drink & hospitality conference? Well, now is your chance!
Host Edmonton is a combined conference and festival that puts you in the mix with top hospitality professionals, exposing you to trends, techniques and ingredients that are guaranteed to elevate your next hosting experience. The conference is open to all people with a passion for food and delivering great hospitality. Whether you host guests at home or in a restaurant the truth is we all want to be the best and Host Edmonton puts you in the lead.
This afternoon I had the opportunity to stop by Hundred Bar + Kitchen to learn more about the conference and spend the lunch hour listening to Kevin Brauch, one of their keynote speakers. You may know Kevin as the Thirsty Traveller, or perhaps the drinking robot? Most people may recognize him as a floor reporter for Iron Chef America, but he's a jack of all trades. I know him as a man with one of the best jobs in the world!

Other major cities in Canada host food and beverage conferences and Edmonton is now capable and ready to host one of its own. Over the course of three days, Host Edmonton is going to offer a variety of sessions related to local food and drink. So whether you're someone who just enjoys eating or someone who likes the science behind pairings and cooking, there will be something to interest you.

The conference itself is being organized by Enterprise Edmonton, which is a division of Edmonton Economic Development, aiming to facilitate the growth of business and prosperity in Edmonton - with a specific focus on hospitality. Over time I would love to see Edmonton become a destination for great food and hospitality, and bringing a large-scale conference to this wonderful city is a huge stepping stone.


Saskatoon Berry DeLorean mixed up by Kevin

So what can you look forward to at the conference? For starters there's an awesome lineup of keynote speakers, including Christine Cushing, Marc Murphy and of course Kevin Brauch. Pairing dinners, cocktail competitions, and a fine wine tasting are in the lineup too. But what I think is really cool is that they are offering a two day Prud'homme Level One Beer Certification course, which can be compared to a Level One Sommelier course, but for beer. Cool stuff!

So if you're interested in attending the conference early bird tickets are now available (at a discounted price, too!) and can be purchased on the Host Edmonton website. Sending a huge shout out and thank you to Enterprise Edmonton for the invite to lunch with Kevin Brauch today, and to Hundred Bar + Kitchen for the yummy eats! And of course Kevin Brauch for making me a drink!

Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: Push & Shove

March 10, 2014

It's Monday and we're at the start of another week! Hope everyone had a great weekend 'cause I sure did with the above zero temperatures here in the city!

Is anyone here a huge fan of Gwen Stefani? I'll admit I've indulged in some of her creations in the past years like her cute Harajuku Lovers line (LOVE the perfumes!), but it's not like I'm a die hard fan. She's a rocker queen fashionista, so I was pretty excited when it was announced she was collaborating with OPI for a mini collection of nail polishes in unique finishes.

One of such polishes is Push & Shove - a silver chrome polish that comes with it's own special base coat called 'Lay Down that Base'. Cute name, and a necessary product to use when applying this polish. I was hoping that the base coat would be ridge filling and capable of hiding all the imperfections on nails, as that is usually what gives the best results with chrome polishes. Unfortunately it isn't, and application of the polish will catch every little thing wrong with your nails. So frustrating, but if its only for one night, I think I can let it go. The instructions recommend two coats of polish overtop of the base coat and no application of a top coat, which allows the formula to dry to a brilliant silver similar to that of aluminum foil. It was so pretty that I couldn't stop looking at my nails! However, this polish dries crazy fast and brush strokes are evident if you have to go back. Work quickly and have no regrets!

Push & Shove itself is meant to be worn for one night only, and I was curious to see if it may last longer on me. After all, I get pretty good wear out of my manicures. Negative. In under 24 hours of wear, I started to see chipping and imperfections. The finish to this polish is extremely delicate, and any light scratch is going to turn things awry. I honestly can compare this to aluminum foil as it's extremely delicate and easy to tear, so this is one of those special occasion polishes. Although slightly problematic, I can handle pretty nails for just one night.

Anyone else tried this shade from the Gwen Stefani collection?

Edmonton food

At the Chef's Table: Earls Clareview

March 08, 2014

Back in February of last year I attended the Mac 'N Cheese Affair hosted by the Campus Food Bank. To my surprise I had won a Chef's Table tasting from Earls. I had completely forgotten about it 'til recently, and had the chance to stop by last week with a group of friends.

Earls - 13330 50 Street - Edmonton AB

Upon arrival we were all promptly seated and offered drinks before the fun began. I had no idea what to expect from the Chef's Table experience, but I imagined that it would be a night of good eats possibly off the menu. Throughout the night we were served multiple courses of different dishes from their regular menu - oops, I was wrong!

Our first course was actually new to the menu - the Mediterranean Calamari ($13): cucumber, spanish olives, greek citrus yogurt. A generous portion of crispy calamari sat on the plate, and the oil was cut by the fresh vegetables and herbs mixed in.

Next up we had a taster size of the Santa Fe Chicken Salad ($16.50 reg): avocado, black beans, corn, dates, feta and field greens, peanut lime vinaigrette, crispy tortillas, cajun spiced chicken. I loved all the different textural components of the salad and the creamy dressing really brought it all together. It was a tangy salad with well seasoned, moist chicken. I totally want to recreate it at home!

To give our teeth a break from chewing, our server brought out mini raspberry mojitos for us all to try before serving the next course. The Chicken, Brie & Fig Sandwich ($14) was the next to our table, and it's one of the most popular sandwiches Earls has: roasted apples, spinach, sweet fig jam, garlic mayonnaise, house baked ciabatta. I know some people will look at this combination and think it's a little strange, but it really works well together! The gooey, melted brie pairs wonderfully with the sweet apples & fig jam and tastes delicious with the moist roast chicken.

After devouring the sandwich our server came to the table asking if anyone wanted to be the chef in the kitchen. I happily volunteered and was handed an apron. Unbeknownst to me, one of the perks of the Chef's Table is a chance to make sushi with the cooks in the kitchen! I donned my apron and headed into the kitchen to make a Dynamite Prawn & Mango Roll. Through a step by step demonstration, I think I did a pretty good job! At least none of my friends got food poisoning, so I think it's safe to say that I get an A+. It was so fun to play in the kitchen environment! Take a peek at these videos here & here if you're curious as to how it went down!

So there you have it, my Dynamite Prawn & Mango Roll ($11.50): panko breaded prawns, avocado, cucumber, maple soy reduction, sriracha mayonnaise, toasted black sesame seeds. Earls isn't even remotely Asian, but this roll really hits the spot when you've got an awful craving for sushi. The sriracha mayo and soy reduction give this roll enough flavour so that you don't need to use the soy sauce, and I really love the sweet chunk of mayo in it. And of course I have to like it 'cause I made it... :)

Continuing with the Asian theme, next to our table was the Hunan Kung Pao ($13.50): spicy ginger soy sauce with wok fried noodles and seared vegetables, topped with peanuts, customize spice by adding 1-6 hunan peppers. This unfortunately was my least favourite dish for the night, as the noodles were quite soggy and coated in a thick, sticky sauce. The sauce itself did remind me of a lot of Asian cuisine, with flavour similar to Chinkiang Vinegar, but this isn't a dish I would see myself eating again.

The last savoury course for the evening was a sampler of the Braised BBQ Back Ribs and Blackened Cajun Chicken. The two were served with a side of coleslaw and warm potato salad. I'm not a huge fan of BBQ sauce to begin with, and found this one to be on the smokier side. The ribs however were tender and moist, making everyone at the table happy. The chicken was moist with a delectable crust on it, and it reminded me of the chicken in the Santa Fe Salad we had earlier.

At the end of the meal we were all nearly too stuffed to even think about dessert, but I wanted it anyway. Our first dessert was the Warm Chocolate Banana Cake ($8): caramelized bananas, banana creme anglaise, caramel walnut gelato, which I really enjoyed as it wasn't too sweet. Banana and chocolate always go well together and the creamy gelato on the top was a great addition to the dish.

The last dish of the evening was the Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding ($8): warm rich chocolate cake, chocolate and toffee sauces, vanilla bean gelato. Of the two desserts this one was sweeter and richer. However, I loved the vanilla bean gelato served in the caramelized cookie nest, and could almost say that was my favourite part of this dessert!

So after multiple courses and lots of fun in between, the Chef's Table experience was definitely memorable. We all felt well taken care of and our server was wonderful. If you ever have the chance to join in on a Chef's Table experience, I highly recommend it! As Earls can be found throughout Canada and in some parts of the USA, hopefully a location near you offers it!

Earls Clareview on Urbanspoon

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