As the year has come to a close, I would like to share my list of the most memorable things I ate in Calgary over the past year in no particular order:
1. Clam Chowder – CHARCUT Roast House, Calgary, AB
It’s too bad this clam chowder is not part of the regular menu at CHARCUT. I had it as part of their LUNCH ALL AT ONCE set menu, which includes a bowl of their Daily Soup and a Daily Sandwich. This soup was definitely the most memorable out of all the ones I’ve tried to date as part of the set lunches at CHARCUT. In fact, I would say it was one of the best clam chowders I’ve ever had. The clams were big and tender. The creamy soup had the perfect consistency and was not too thick. I loved the smoky bacon pieces as they provided a nice flavour to the soup. I wish this clam chowder would be part of the regular menu at CHARCUT.
2. Panko Breaded Crispy Tofu with Sautéed Kimchi and Citrus Aioli – Anju Restaurant, Calgary, AB
I’m not usually a fan of tofu but I loved this Panko Breaded Crispy Tofu with Sautéed Kimchi and Citrus Aioli at Anju. It was the perfect combination of flavours and textures in every bite. I loved the contrast of the crunchy, flavourful sautéed kimchi against the crispy panko breading and the soft, silky tofu inside. The creamy citrus aioli also provided the perfect balance against the spiciness of the sautéed kimchi.
3. Wild Blueberry Gelato – Fiasco Gelato Food Truck, Calgary, AB
Out of all the flavours I’ve tried from Fiasco gelato, the Wild Blueberry has been my favourite. I like that it is not too sweet. In fact, it has got a touch of tartness that makes it quite refreshing. And I like that I could actually taste the freshness of the fruit in the gelato. I’m really glad that Fiasco is back in the gelato scene in Calgary and it’s even better now that they are mobile.
4. Hot & Sweet Sauce Chicken – Olive Chicken, Calgary, AB
Olive Chicken specializes in Korean fried chicken. I’d never had Korean fried chicken before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It didn’t take me long to get hooked on their Hot & Sweet Sauce Chicken. The sauce had the perfect balance of heat and sweetness. What I liked most was that the chicken was freshly prepared to order and the coating was still crunchy beneath the hot & sweet sauce while the meat was moist and juicy.
5. Marinated Olives – Without Papers Pizza, Calgary, AB
I’m a huge olive fan and have ordered olives at many restaurants around town. These Marinated Olives from Without Papers Pizza are delicious and addictive! They are plump, juicy, flavourful, and have a bit of a spicy kick to them. The olives are house-marinated in balsamic vinegar and a blend of spices. I like that there is a mixture of different type of olives, including the little black sun-dried ones. When I think of olives, Without Papers Pizza is the first place that comes to mind.
6. Chocolate Cupcake – Choklat, Calgary, AB
I’m usually not a cupcake fan but this Chocolate Cupcake from Choklat is out of this world! I lucked out on one of my trips to Choklat as there was a fresh batch of these cupcakes. The cupcake itself was rich, moist, and decadent. I later learned that the cupcake is so rich and moist because instead of using regular butter, cocoa butter is used instead. The cupcake is topped with whipped chocolate that has the texture of thick whipped cream but with an intense chocolate flavour. Despite the amount of chocolate that is in this cupcake, to my pleasant surprise it wasn’t very sweet. If I had to pick one dessert to indulge in here in Calgary, it would be this Chocolate Cupcake from Choklat.
7. CHARCUT Reuben – CHARCUT Roast House, Calgary, AB
I had this CHARCUT Reuben on one of my visits to CHARCUT as part of their LUNCH ALL AT ONCE set menu, which includes a bowl of their Daily Soup and a Daily Sandwich. Again, I wish this reuben would be part of their regular menu as it was easily one of the best reubens I’ve ever had. The CHARCUT reuben was served on soft Foccacia bread instead of the traditional rye bread. The tender meat was thinly sliced and had a subtle smokey flavour which I totally was not expecting.
8. Hunan Style Crispy Noodle with Chicken – Golden Central Chinese Cuisine, Calgary, AB
I think this dish is unique because I haven’t come across many restaurants that serve a spicy crispy noodle dish. This is mainly because crispy fried noodles, better known as chow mein, is a Cantonese dish and the Cantonese are not known for hot and spicy cuisine. Golden Central is so far the only place I know of in Calgary that serves this Hunan Style Crispy Noodle with Chicken. What I like best about this dish is the spicy sauce on top of the crispy fried noodles. The sauce is just spicy enough so that you can feel the heat but without being overly spicy. If you want to kick it up a notch, you could mash up one of the chilis into the food. There is certainly no shortage of chilis in this dish. Though the sauce is spicy, the flavours of this dish are very clean and go nicely together against the crispy fried noodles.
9. Murray’s Firecracker Prawns – Involtini Ristorante – Calgary, AB
On the menu, this pasta dish sounded somewhat ordinary but to my pleasant surprise, I loved the flavours! The dish consisted of jumbo prawns and sun-dried tomatoes sautéed in a chili garlic lemon white wine butter sauce served over angel hair pasta. The prawns were cooked to perfection and the angel hair pasta was al dente. The sauce was flavourful and bright. The chili and sun-dried tomatoes gave the dish that extra punch of flavour but without being overly spicy. To me, it’s worth the drive across town to go back to Involtini for this dish. It’s been a while since I’ve tried a pasta dish here in Calgary that’s impressed me. And this dish has!
10. Rosemary infused olive oil and Fig Balsamic vinegar – Mirabello Vinegars, Calgary, AB
I tried the Rosemary infused olive oil and Fig Balsamic vinegar for the first time at Involtini Ristorante. A dish of it was served along with complimentary fresh bread. I’ve had bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar before so I didn’t think it was a big deal initially. Wow, was I mistaken! This fig balsamic was amazing. It was sweet and smooth. There was no acidic edge to it and it went really well together with the rosemary infused olive oil. I was surprised that I could actually taste the rosemary in the oil. Together the fig balsamic and the rosemary olive oil were a match made in heaven. I learned that this vinegar and infused olive oil is made by Mirabello Vinegars and can be purchased at the Calgary Blackfoot Outdoor Farmers Market as they have a stall there on the weekends.
CHARCUT Roast House
#101, 899 Centre Street SW
507 – 10 Street SW
1324 10 Ave SW
Without Papers Pizza
Upstairs, 1216 – 9th Ave SE
1327A 9th Avenue SE
Golden Central Chinese Cuisine
5016 Centre Street NE
2515 90 Ave SW
Calgary Blackfoot Outdoor Farmers Market