Local Fare: Village Ice Creamery

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If you know me, you know that I LIVE for an adventure. It can be monotonous activity such as getting groceries, but if we can somehow spin it into an adventure…I’m in. So you can imagine my delight when I park on a random street in the East Village and see a sign that says, “Village Ice Cream, this way”…I followed, and another block see another sign, and on and on. Seriously I followed the street signs for 3 blocks and when I entered the fantastic and charming little store announced, “I followed the signs!!!”

Village Ice Cream is a new little boutique creamery located essentially in a parking lot at the end of the East Village. 10th Ave and 3rd St SE Calgary. It is owned by Billy, and his icecream scooper extraordinare, Bailey, gave me a serious tour that included tasting all 15 flavors of ice cream.

It really is the best ice cream I’ve ever had. That’s a pretty big statement right? Billy taught me all about High Fat/Low Sugar ice cream, which is exactly the opposite of what one may think is a)healthy, or b)yummy. Not true. This ice cream is rich before sweet and the details and subtleties of the flavors are evident. Billy was telling me that dairy is the expensive part of ice cream, so manufacturers in commercial ice cream are continually decreasing the amount of dairy fat and instead are filling it with all sorts of non-food things we shouldn’t be consuming: polysorbate, monodiglycerides…gross stuff. Billy uses recipes that are 100 years old and only the finest ingredients (organic pecans from California, he knows the grower personally), coffee beans from our very own Phil and Sebastian, etc.

Personally, I LOVED the Huckleberry and the Toasted Coconut is ridiculous. The Salted Caramel is their big hit and they have a couple of summer features I need to go back and try: Spiced Banana and Bourbon Maple Pecan.

Check. It. Out. Tell them Fig and Fennel says hi!

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Eat Local: National

Hello Friends!

Welcome to a slightly adjusted theme to this blog, that I love. I still believe in and love and eat healthy whole food. I cook this way in my regular life and I want my kids growing up knowing that carrots taste great with a little dirt on them and raspberries in season are better than any processed anything they will ever eat. However, I’m working a few contracts downtown right now and realistically I’m spending a lot more time booking dinner reservations and mixing drinks. Time to embrace it on the blog. So perhaps some recipes will be happily interspersed, but for now, you get Calgary foodie reviews, where to go, what to eat etc. It’s gonna be fun.

Which brings me to this week’s adventurous night out…For those of you who know Calgary, you may remember about 10 years ago when 17th Ave was the. place. to. be. It kind of disappeared for a while but in the last few years some incredible places have opened up: Una Pizza and Wine, Ox & Angela, Chilitos Taco House, Cibo, 80th & Ivy, just to name a few. We went, this week, to National, which has been open for a few months. I’ve been a couple of times with “the girls”, but Sexy Husband and I thought we would check it out and actually eat something.
National is set up like a German Beer House, with long communal picnic tables, a huge patio, and a stock exchange style screen of the 100+ beers you can try. As people order a beer, it moves up on the screen in popularity. So fun. We met some friends and shared about 100 oysters (by we I do not mean me, because of an inconvenient shellfish allergy). Then we had a green salad, which was served in a mixing bowl large enough to feed the table. It had some great and surprising tastes including toasted walnuts and thinly shaved fennel with a really light buttermilk dressing. Delish. Then we got some deep fried pickles. Why oh why do I have to love deep fried pickles so much. And we topped things off with their classic poutine. It was a) an enormous portion, perfect for sharing, and b) the best chicken gravy I’ve ever tasted. Loved it. Other people ordered burgers and fish tacos, all which looked delicious. We finished the night with deep friend mars bars. They were yummy but pretty tiny and I’ve made better ones at home.

All in all I was really impressed with the food. The environment is great too and the patio is huge. Our server was great and always showed up at the right time. The music was so loud that it made it hard to talk, but I’m adding National to my regular stops!

Local Fare: Aria’s Save The Lemurs Bake Sale

There are lots of proud moments as a parent. Some of them are skill based, those moments when you realize your kid is the only one who scored a goal in the soccer game, or when you hear your 5 year old sing harmony for the first time. Those are great moments, call the grandparents moments, point your child in that direction moments. Then there are proud moments for character based reasons. These really are the deeply and truly satisfying ones. Like maybe you’ve done something right with your little people. Maybe they get it. Maybe they understand that they are here to contribute to the world and make it better, more than they take from it and hurt each other.

I had such a moment last week. Picky Princess, who just turned 6, learned(via organics kids cereal box) that deforestation is causing lemurs in Madagascar to lose their homes. 22 of the 70 species of lemurs are endangered because of it. She was (rightly) horrified. And determined that she MUST do something to save the lemurs. I told her I would help her in any way and to let me know how she thought we could save them. I even offered suggestions: lemonade stand, benefit concert…But nope, she had already decided, BAKE SALE.

So thanks to social media, and our generous friends at Cornerstone Music Cafe who hosted us, we had to bake about 5 trillion cupcakes this past weekend. Ok it was 600. It was a wonderful day. Picky Princess gave her monologue, over and over, about how we need to save the lemurs. We baked and sold and baked and sold. Thank you to my beautiful friends who supported my beautiful activist child. Between all day friends and family who stopped by with coffee or to lick icing bowls, to late night friends who stopped by to drink wine with me when I was still baking at midnight…it definitely reminded me that…it takes a Village.

All in all, $300 or so was raised to save the lemurs. We will be sending a cheque to the Lemur Conservation Foundation. And I probably won’t bake cupcakes for a while.

Cookbook: Release Party

amazing and beautiful friends and family

prepping in the kitchen

 

 

seriously beautiful friends

I can’t believe it’s come and gone! We had such a great night. A deep and heartfelt thank you to all of you who came out to the Fig & Fennel Cookbook Release Party. I had such a beautiful night and feel deeply loved and supported! Cookbooks are sold out but I have another order in and will get an online order system set up soon! In time for Christmas orders!

A few things:

Thank you to Phil&Sebastian Marda Loop who were the most incredible and gracious hosts. It was a crammed full coffee shop and they made latte after latte, friendly as can be. Warren, gave up lots of space in his kitchen for us and was about the sweetest guy in the world. Brodie at Phil&Seb’s was so great to work with, and Kate who ran the night was sweet and lovely. I seriously couldn’t be more grateful.

Thank you to my amazing family for all the support. Jacquelyn who like the beaters, my Dad who stayed up way later than normal, my Mom and Auntie Rosie who ran the kitchen, my cousin Alex who came all the way from Toronto. They delivered sample after sample, and made sure it was a happy party. I couldn’t have had better help. I know they were prepared to buy my entire stock of books too, in case I needed them to step in.

Thank you to Leon and Graham for organizing music and sound. What’s a party without music? All week they worked for me, instead of the other way around. So grateful. And to the beautiful and talented Sarah Vann who came and sang and played and lit the room up with her incredible smile.

Thank you to the most supportive group of friends I have ever had. You have all treated me like the cookbook was equivalent to a Nobel Peace Prize. I was overwhelmed by one friendly face after another. It was honestly one of the most beautiful nights of my life.

Recipe: Grasshopper Pie

grasshopper pie

Hello! I am writing from beautiful Sunny Penticton! My parents rented a house here for a week so IronSister and her husband and Sexy Husband and the Girls and I are all here enjoying the beach and some family time. We’ve had all sorts of beautiful moments doing things we love. There’s something extremely satisfying for me about eating breakfast outside. Sexy Husband and I have gone for a couple of runs together, and the Girls are at the perfect age to be really fun at the beach. Happy Heart.

My Mom and Sister both like to cook like me, simple, fresh, fruit and vegetable focused meals. So we’ve had some great food like that. Lots of homemade salsa and guacamole, corn on the cob, fresh cherries and nectarines. The boys have been on bbq duty and there is no shortage of great wineries around to keep our glasses full.

While in family mode, I thought I would share a recipe that’s a bit of a family “secret.” We all have these recipes don’t we? I know Grandma’s fudge recipe, or her shortbread, and my mom’s lemon squares and yorkshire pudding recipes, are kind of sacred parts of our family history. This one is my Dad’s Aunt Billie’s recipe for Grasshopper Pie. It’s a simple and refreshing dessert, yet still a bit decadent. My Dad doesn’t eat any sugar. Ever. Literally he has not had sugar in almost 2 years(he’s super disciplined that way and makes my diet look like a trash bin). But when I told him I’d made Aunt Billie’s Grasshopper Pie…he almost caved. Usually it’s the sentimentality of these recipes more than even the taste. My only memory of Aunt Billie is eating this pie she’d made and thinking to myself that it was just so beautiful, the perfect shade of green. I cook, and include my Girls in it, in large part so that they will remember all the time spent laughing and talking and learning together. I hope they remember me in the zest of a lemon, the pinch of basil leaves, and the mini magical bubbles of a blackberry.

Grasshopper Pie

Step one: make an oreo crumb crust. I do this with 2 cups of oreo cookie crumbs and a tbs or two of melted butter, pressed together into a pie plate. Bake at 350 for about 10 mins. Remove and cool completely.

Step two: with electric beaters(or in the bowl of an electric mixer, with paddle attachment) beat together 1 block of cream cheese, and about 1/2 cup sugar. Add a bit of green food dye, just enough to make it pale green, and pure peppermint extract to taste. Start with 1/2 a tsp and work up from there. Beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat 1 cup of whipping cream with 1/4 cup icing sugar until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until smooth. Spread in pie crust and freeze until firm. At least 2 hrs or overnight. Remove from freezer about 5-10 minutes before serving.

** the picture above is one I did for a larger crowd, in a 9×13 dish and added some crumbled cookies on top. Take your liberties!

If anyone is willing to share, I would love to hear what your family secret recipes are!

Recipe: Pasta with Roasted Veggies and Pesto

****I canNOT believe I did this, but I typed up the recipe while I was cooking and then we ATE every last bite before I could get a picture. Good news is that it’s that yummy and easy. Bad news is that it’s the brightest prettiest meal ever and I have NO PICTURE. sad****

 

This probably shouldn’t be called a recipe. It’s entirely too easy. Let’s call it an idea. A summery-if-you-need-a-great-easy-super-healthy-dinner Idea. That sound ok? We have been eating a lot of raw and a lot of really healthy vegetable focused meals. Sexy Husband kicked into high gear for triathlon season and I’ve been out running a fair bit and overall it just feels right to be as healthy as possible. I also have been making s’mores in the microwave…so….it’s all about the balance right?

Things I’m working on for you: infusing your own vodka, fresh new cocktail ideas, chilled desserts. Oh and the damn cookbook.

Things I have learned about myself: perfectionist + hyper drive = frustrated graphic designer. I want it to be perfect but I want it to be done fast. Tedious work is not for me. However the beautiful pics and great easy recipes – those are for me:)

Pasta with Roasted Veggies and Pesto

Whip up some pasta, any kind you like. My kids are on a new mini pasta kick, the smaller the better. So we’ve been using tiny little micro pastinis which cook in a nano second. perfect.

Meanwhile, chop veggies into large pieces(like an onion gets quartered, asparagus chopped in half, peppers into 8ths, zucchinis into large chunk and grill on the bbq for a few minutes until golden. No olive oil or anything needed, maybe a bit of sea salt.

Drain cooked pasta and stir in some pesto. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Top pasta with grilled veggies and serve!

Recipe: Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

cheddar buttermilk biscuits

What is better than warm biscuits straight out of the oven? Not many things. I had my beautiful friend’s beautiful 1 year old for the morning today and she was perfectly angelic and lovely. My two Cyclones, however, were in full force pushing each others buttons, screaming at each other, yet too in love to play separately. So it felt like a long morning. One that should end in comfort food. I also had some buttermilk to use up. This recipe is very easy, the biscuits were ready in 15 minutes and all three of the girls loved them. Enjoy!

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes about 10

1/4 cup of butter, melted

2 cups of spelt flour, plus more for dusting counter

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1 1/4 cups of buttermilk

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar(the sharper the better)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 425. Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Toss in buttermilk and cheese and stir until dough forms. Turn out onto floured counter and press into a disk about 1 inch thick. Cut with a round glass, about 4 inches in diameter. Place on baking sheet. Brush generously with melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes until turning golden. Serve warm!

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