dessert

Your #YEG Summer Checklist: Top 5 Spots for Locally-Made Ice Cream in Edmonton

July 15, 2018

Summers in Edmonton have their fair share of heat waves, and the best way to cool down is with a cold treat. There are many different places to get your ice cream fix but you can't beat the unique handcrafted flavours made by some of the city's best. Here's my list of 5 places you must visit for locally made ice cream this summer.

Revolution Ice Cream Company

Revolution Ice Cream Co. came about when owners Jess & John wanted to bring the ice cream flavours they fell in love with abroad back home to Edmonton. Their ice cream is handmade in small batches with local ingredients then packed into pints and cups for purchase at various farmers markets around the city. The ice creams are creamy without being overly rich, and some of their flavours can also cater to dairy free and vegan diets. My favourite flavours are the Lemon Lavender and Vanilla + Tonka Bean, but their ice cream sandwiches (featuring Milk & Cookies Bakeshop cookies) are one of my bigger weaknesses.

Where to find them: 124 Street Grand Market on Thursdays & Sundays, City Market Downtown on Saturdays (Pints also available through SPUD)


Fan Fan Patisserie

While the name doesn't necessarily allude to it, Fan Fan Patisserie churns out delicious sorbet and gelato in a wide variety of flavours. The sorbets are vibrant in colour and the flavours really shine in each spoonful. The gelato, on the other hand, is beautifully smooth and creamy. I personally love the mango passionfruit sorbet and the chocolate malt gelato, but I don't think you can go wrong with taking your pick at anything. Each order is accompanied with a macaron cookie shell, so go ahead and use it to scoop up your cold treat.

Where to find them: 10330 80 Avenue


Yelo'd

Old Strathcona's newest ice cream shop is causing quite the buzz on social media with their perfectly swirled soft serve and charcoal waffle cones. The Filipino-inspired ice cream at Yelo'd is unique and taste true to their flavours. Their secret? Using real, fresh ingredients in their soft serve ice cream base. There's nothing artificial here. Mangga (mango) uses Ataulfo mango purée, Ube (purple yam) is flavoured and coloured with purple sweet potato, and Buko (young coconut) uses activated charcoal and coconut pieces. Despite these additions the ice cream remains incredibly smooth and creamy, just the way it should be. Better yet? They hand-make their waffle cookie cones in house, stuffing marshmallow in the bottom to prevent drips. Genius, if you ask me!

Where to find them: 10150A 82 Avenue NW (Pints also available for purchase)


Black Mountain Microcreamery

New to the ice cream scene this year is Black Mountain Microcreamery, a hidden gem in St. Albert. Their cooler offers a handful of flavours, all of which are delicious - I had a hard time choosing just one! Bits of fruit and spices are evident in every bite and the ice cream has a great creamy texture. To give back to the community, a portion of revenues is donated to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Make the trek out to the St. Albert Market to try it for yourself - but don't go too late in the day as some flavours sell out each weekend!

Where to find them: St. Albert Farmers Market on Saturdays


Pinocchio Ice Cream Company

A veteran in the ice cream industry, Pinocchio Ice Cream is well-known in the city for their fantastic creations. Their classic flavours are found on menus throughout the city and their pints are stocked at a host of local grocery retailers. However, their recent collaboration in making Hawaiian-inspired flavours exclusively for Ono Poke Co. has me really excited. Each flavour I have sampled tasted delicious, but the black sesame and yuzu options are my two favourites on the menu. Enjoy the scoops on their own or as a fun creation in a cup or a cone.

Where to find them: Ono Poke Co. for exclusive flavours, classic flavours available at retail partners listed here


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Honourable Mention:

Gelaterie La Carraia

Early this year Edmonton's downtown core became a home to La Carraia, a gelato shop which originated in Florence, Italy, in 1990. La Carraia prides themselves in making their gelato everyday from exclusively Italian ingredients (with exception to the fresh fruit toppings and the milk), and they have a wide assortment of flavours that rotate seasonally. The fruit-forward flavours are delightful - not too sweet, and you don't feel heavy even after having a few scoops, which is likely due to the fact that the gelato is made fresh in the shop with Canadian skim milk. While La Carraia isn't exclusive to Edmonton, they make their product in house and deserve honourable mention because each visit will take you on a tasty trip to Italy.

Where to find them: 10067 109 Street NW

Chinatown

Filipino Food Around the Corner: Kanto 98 Street

June 29, 2018

When it comes to Filipino food there are only about a handful of choices available in our city. I will admit I'm not the most familiar with Filipino dishes, but I'm always up for trying something new.

Kanto 98 St. Eatery - 10636 98 St. NW - Edmonton AB

Lucky for us there's a new spot in Chinatown where Chef Edgar Gutierrez (one of the minds that brought us Tres Carnales and Rostizado) is serving up his take on modern Filipino street food. In Tagalog Kanto means "corner" (where two streets meet), or a busy area in Manila where vendors serve Filipino street food. So if you ask me, the name is perfect for this new eatery. Joining great spots like Tau Bay Restaurant, Van Loc Submarines and Ruby's Bakery, Kanto has found its home on 98 Street.

As you walk into Kanto you really feel the modern, hip vibe of the space. A vintage photo of Edgar's mother back in the Philippines greets you at the door, and Filipino artwork from the 60's mixed with comic book characters from Edgar's childhood adorns the walls. Mix in some hip hop beats and it feels like you're dining at the coolest spot in town.


Garlic Fried Rice

Kanto offers fast-casual service in which you place your order at the counter and your dishes are brought out to you as they're ready. The menu splits its offerings into BBQ, baos, bowls, and a handful of sides. The menu seems small, but the flavours pack a punch. The restaurant has been open for just over 1.5 months and I've eaten my way through the menu over three separate visits. Sharing of plates is highly encouraged, so to get a better taste of the menu bring a few friends for lunch or dinner.

The Chinese term 'bao' is a bit ambiguous as it can refer to a few different food items, but the bao at Kanto are similar to the Taiwanese 'gua bao' in which meat and condiments are sandwiched between a flat steamed bun, resembling a taco of sorts. Bao have become increasingly popular over the last few years and I love that Chef Edgar is putting a Filipino twist on them. Each order comes with three portions, each on a light and soft steamed bun.

The Bao Bae ($15.50) features Kanto's crispy fried chicken garnished with pickled cucumber, spicy red pepper mayo, fried garlic and green onions. The flavours come together nicely, and since the mayo is made with bird's eye chilis it gives the bao a real hefty kick. It's my favourite of all the baos on the menu as I love the contrasting textures.

The Bao Boy ($15) on the other hand features a savoury and tangy pork belly braised in soy and vinegar, finished with fried garlic, pickled cucumber and green onion. The pork belly is so flavourful and literally melts in your mouth as you bite into it.

The Karabao ($15) is similar in texture to the Bao Boy with its fork tender braised beef, but the flavour is markedly different as it mimics the flavours of a classic beef kaldereta stew. Tomato puree, red pepper mayo, fried shallots, green onion and keso (cheese!) round off the flavours to this tasty bao. If you love this bao filling you can order it as a bowl of kaldereta served over rice.

When I see fried chicken on a menu, it's almost impossible for me not to order it. Kanto's take on fried chicken is supposed to be a mix of wings and thighs (the wings being a full wing with the tips) (3pc $5.60/6pc $11.25) available in original or spicy. Unlike a lot of fried chicken out there, Kanto's version is just lightly coated and fried very crispy, so you're not biting through a thick crunchy layer of batter before hitting the meat. The resultant fried chicken isn't overly oily and stays crispy for longer when coated with the sauce. While the original flavour is well seasoned, I love the spicy version - it's well-balanced between savoury, tangy, sweet, and not overly spicy. Order six with half original and half spicy to decide which flavour you like!

When it comes to BBQ meats I'm a bit of a sucker for pork belly. The Liempo ($13.50) is marinated, grilled, and sliced into generous chunks. The pork belly can be quite fatty, but in this case fat is flavour. Each piece is rich and tender and you get a bit of smoky flavour from the grilling process. The pork belly is also served with a small bottle of vinegar that has been steeped with garlic, shallots, and chlli, which you can use to flavour the pork belly and cut through the richness of the fat.


Talangka Fried Rice

On my first visit to Kanto our server recommended that we add a side of rice to our Liempo, so we went with the Garlic Fried Rice ($7). I'm not usually one to eat a lot of rice, but I would fight you for this dish at Kanto. This isn't your ordinary fried rice - Chef Edgar wanted to give his fried rice the same crunchy texture you find in rice at the bottom of the rice cooker pot. The resultant dish is garlicky, full of umami, and has great texture with its chewy crispy bits. To add a bit of funk a small pipette of fish sauce can be added - I recommend squeezing the contents all over the rice.

In the last few weeks Talangka Fried Rice has made it's way onto the menu, which is an amped up version of the garlic fried rice. In Filipino culture Talangka refers to a very small river crab. Being so small they do not have any substantial meat to them, but they are instead savoured for their deep yellow tomalley (fat + roe). The addition of the talangka gives the rice a nice colour and some added depth of flavour, but it's quite subtle so I didn't find a big difference between the two fried rice offerings at Kanto.

Another recent addition to the menu is the Spaghetti & Chicken ($16), which is Kanto's take on Filipino style spaghetti made famous by the fast food chain Jollibee. I grew up eating my parent's versions of spaghetti sauce with soy sauce added into the mix, but the Filipino take is quite different. The tomato sauce base is sweet due to the addition of banana ketchup, which came about in World War II due to a shortage of tomato ketchup and a high production of bananas. The banana ketchup is literally a combination of bananas, sugar, vinegar, spices and red dye, so it isn't your typical ketchup, but it's uniquely Filipino. You will either love or hate this style of spaghetti, but I like it since it has such a fun twist to it. With hot dog slices, cheese, and fried chicken it feels more like a dish for kids, but I can see how nostalgic this dish can be for an adult.

Given the quality of the dishes here at Kanto and the rise in chefs supporting the Filipino Food Movement I wouldn't be surprised to see more establishments open up in the city in the next year. Filipino food is definitely one to watch and Chef Edgar and his team are bringing killer dishes out of the kitchen. At peak times it's going to be harder to find a seat in the restaurant, but Kanto is fully equipped to do takeout orders and has partnered with some food delivery companies to get dishes right to your door. Price points are fairly standard for dining out, but I highly recommend bringing a group of friends to try out a bigger portion of the menu.

Kanto is working towards a liquor license, some new dishes, and cold desserts (namely, Halo Halo) for the summer, so there's lots to look forward to. I'll be coming back on the regular - I just Kanto get enough!

Kanto 98 Street Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

brunch

Pip, Pip, Hooray: Brunch Every Day

February 12, 2018

When I was growing up my parents would always talk about Sunday brunch, the breakfast and lunch hybrid reserved for Sundays. Once I hit my 20's, brunch with friends would be scheduled for Saturdays too, so for as long as I can remember brunch has always been a weekend affair. But what if you're craving brunch on a Wednesday?

Pip - 10403 83 Avenue - Edmonton AB

Whether I'm cutting into perfectly poached eggs with a loved one or toasting mimosas with friends over good conversation, there's just something special about brunch that makes it high priority on my weekend to-do list. But given the nature of my profession brunch only happens on alternate weekends, so it definitely feels like I'm missing out on the weekends that I'm scheduled to work. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels this way, but luckily there's a new option for those of us that work weekends; say hello to weekday brunch at Pip!

Down the street from MEAT and next door to the Next Act Pub, Pip is the little sister to these two well-loved restaurants of Old Strathcona. Pip's 28-seat space is much smaller than the space occupied by its big sisters and differs with it's minimalist decor and a hip, sophisticated vibe. The space is cute and cozy with soothing shades of slate, mint, and birch.

Pip serves brunch daily until 3 pm, which is perfect whether you're an early riser or you like to start your day a little later. The brunch menu is short and sweet with 8 dishes, some optional sides, and a handful of fresh cocktails to enjoy.

I've been to Pip on two occasions now and enjoyed the Traditional Eggs Benedict ($17) both times. Two perfectly soft poached eggs sit on thinly shaved ham and are generously covered in a rich, buttery dill hollandaise sauce. I could argue that the hollandaise is one of the best in the city - I almost licked my plate clean! The accompanying pan-fried house hash was flavourful, although the potatoes could be a little more crispy for me.

The menu offers a Quinoa Breakfast Bowl ($14) for those looking for lighter fare, served with arugula, avocado, basil pesto, toasted hemp seeds and a hard boiled egg. With all the components mixed together and a generous squeeze of lemon juice the bowl is a fresh start to your day.

Perfect for a cold winter morning, the Eggs & Bocconcini ($15) baked in a tomato basil sauce and served with toast is a soul-warming dish. The rich egg yolks are well balanced by the tangy tomato sauce. Spoon it onto a crispy slice of toast and you have a hearty breakfast!

Pip also offers a rotating breakfast sandwich special paired with house hash, and on our particular visit the sandwich featured a Meuwly's Italian sausage patty with artichoke mayo, tomato, arugula, melted cheddar and a runny fried egg on a sourdough bun. The sausage was well seasoned with a little kick and the sandwich was delicious with all the components combined. Who doesn't love a breakfast sandwich with an oozy egg?

If the line-ups out the door are any indication, Edmonton's brunch game is picking up and I'm glad to have a weekday option available in the city. Unfortunately there are no reservations for brunch, so line up early or be prepared for a wait. Given the small space, tables for two have the quickest turn over, so bring a loved one or a close friend for brunch any day of the week.

Pip Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Downtown

Plant-based Delights: The Moth Cafe

January 19, 2018

The start of a new year brings forward the idea of New Year's resolutions. Eating healthier is one that often tops the list for many people, and a big food trend this year is to adopt a more plant-based diet.

The Moth Cafe - 9449 Jasper Avenue - Edmonton AB

Plant-based diets are gaining in popularity, where vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes and fruits make up a majority of the diet. While I'm not moving towards a plant-based diet, I definitely appreciate the movement as I'm learning to incorporate more pulses as a source of protein in my diet. After all, Alberta is rich in pulses - we are one of the biggest pulse producers in the country!

Just east of the downtown core, amidst the revitalization of the Quarters, a new plant-based cafe has opened up in the space formerly occupied by Trang Tien. The Moth Cafe is the little sister to vegan and vegetarian restaurant Cafe Mosaics, but The Moth differs with it's focus on plant-based food and drink and healing elixirs made with nutritious raw ingredients.

Walking through the arched doorway into The Moth, the space is bright and inviting with accents of exposed brick and greenery. Any remnants of the family-run Vietnamese restaurant are gone and replaced with a beautifully tiled counter space, marble-top furniture, and a cozy lounge area complete with seating suspended from the ceiling.

I will admit that I am not a person to go out of my way to eat plant-based food - I've actually had some previous bad experiences at vegan restaurants, which has steered me away from them. But I'm always willing to give things another shot, and The Moth answered the call.

I have stopped by The Moth on two occasions now, the first of which was for lunch on a weekday. My fiance and I were pleasantly surprised by how busy the cafe was, given that they had only opened their doors a few days prior, but that's always a good sign. The menu can appear overwhelmingly long, but three quarters of the pages were dedicated to teas, elixirs, and other blended drinks. We chose to start with some smaller bites and ended up with a main dish to share.

We started with the Gluten-free Jackfruit Crabcakes ($12) which arrived as a plate of four with a light citrus cream for dipping. One of the things I truly admire about vegan cuisine is the use of a variety of different ingredients for texture, and the jackfruit really worked for this dish. While the texture differed from a traditional crab cake, the ingredients held together nicely and gently flaked apart with each bite. The cakes were flavourful on their own with their crispy exterior and kick of heat, but the citrus cream gave it that extra little zing.

The name makes this dish sound less appealing, but the Moth Banh Mi ($10) was a truly delicious homage to the traditional Vietnamese sub. Sandwiched within the crispy baguette was a delicious vegan mutton made primarily of soy protein and mushrooms. The texture of the mutton really did mimic that of meat and there was so much umami in each bite. The mutton also packed a generous amount of heat, which was balanced by the the lentil paste, pickled carrots and cucumber. I loved The Moth's banh mi, and would almost pick it over my usual banh mi.

The menu featured two noodle soups, so as a self proclaimed noodle soup lover it wouldn't be right if I didn't give them a try. We chose the Banana Blossom Shiitake Miso ($15) noodle soup, which came topped with meaty shiitake mushroom slices, chives, sliced banana blossom and silken tofu. We were surprised at just how large the portion was - it was quite the substantial meal for one person. After the first few bites of the noodles it became evident to us that our bowl probably wasn't prepared properly. The clear broth had a predominant lemongrass flavour, overpowering any trace of miso, and all the rice noodles in the bowl were broken into short 1 inch pieces. I was fairly certain no miso had been added to the broth, and the bowl was pretty difficult to eat using the chopsticks provided. We looked around the restaurant at others who had ordered the same bowl and their noodles were long and easy to pick up, leading us to our conclusion. The noodle soup wasn't bad, but had the preparation been executed properly I'm sure I would have enjoyed it much more.

On our second visit to The Moth we found ourselves seated for breakfast shortly after the cafe opened. We were the first customers for the day, but soon after the room started to fill up even on one of the coldest mornings this winter. I wanted something hearty to kick off my day so I ordered the Moth Breakfast Bowl ($15). The colourful breakfast bowl was filled with roasted vegetables (eggplant, mushroom, peppers, brussel sprouts, asparagus), fresh cherry tomatoes, soy-based sausage, and an egg-like crumble. On it's own the bowl was comforting, but the cashew sauce on the side really brought the dish together. Think of it as vegan hollandaise and you'll understand why I poured it all over the contents of my bowl.

Gordon opted for the Gluten-free Chai Pancakes with Cinnamon Banana ($15) and extra blueberries. The portion of fluffy pancakes was more than generous and sweetened perfectly with the side syrup and bananas. He did find the whipped 'cream' to be a bit too sweet for his liking, making the bites with all the components together a bit too rich.

The Moth Cafe is a great addition to the Quarters and will hopefully appeal to the diverse residents that the community currently serves. The prices are affordable and the space has a relaxing vibe, which makes it a perfect setting for a coffee or bite to eat at any time of day. Gordon and I were actually quite surprised at how long we were satiated after each visit, and we really didn't miss the meat at either meal. Both of my visits have been pleasant and have left me excited to return again in the future. So if you're hesitant to try plant-based, give it a shot! It may surprise you, like it did me.

The Moth Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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