Everything Niece #2

Further food adventures with my niece K who’s visiting from New Zealand.

On Tuesday night we had dinner at 3 Amigos, a family-run Mexican restaurant in south Edmonton (4035 – 106 Street).

Festive, colourful interior.

Every meal begins with delicious homemade tortilla chips and salsa. We also had a starter of jalapeno poppers – deep fried breaded jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese.

K’s main course was Burritos Nortenos ($12.99),  two tortillas stuffed with chicken, rolled up and covered with salsa verde.

I had Tamales ($13.99 for three), steamed corn flour stuffed with spiced chicken and wrapped in corn husks. It came with rice, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo.

K was too stuffed for desert, so I took one for the team and had the Empanada de Pina ($5.99) on my own. It’s a deep fried pouch of crushed pineapple, served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and drizzled with caramel.

Bandamax (a Mexican music video channel) plays on big screen TVs. They seem to play the Mexican equivalent of Country music – every song had either accordions or Mariachi horns.

On Wednesday night we stayed in and made burgers with lots of fixings,

including King Crabby’s wonderful pickled beets (I forgot to tell you how much we enjoyed them, KC).

Burger Australian style. K says that in Australia they put fried eggs and sliced beets on their burgers – even McDonald’s has beets.

Today I made lunch plans to meet up with Crabby and Truly Scrumptious to try out Bubba’s BBQ and Smoke House food truck (featured in yesterday’s Journal), which is located conveniently close to their workplace. We thought we’d get some brisket to go and eat in a nearby park. K was feeling a little “meated out” but wanted to come along to enjoy the fabulous weather. Before we arrived, Truly phoned me on my cell to tell me that she and Crabby were at the truck and the line was so long that they’d have to be back at work before they got their food. We decided to meet at Kyoto Sushi instead (9852 – 63 Ave).

The ever classy King Crabby demonstrates alternative uses for chopsticks. It should be noted that this Kyoto, in a strip mall on Argyll road, is run by a Korean family and is not related to the Kyoto sushi restaurants on Jasper Avenue or 109th Street.

Truly’s bento box included teriyaki beef, sushi and tempura.

K and I had Sushi Combo C ($10.95) which came with a spicy tuna hand-roll, a yam tempura roll, and one piece each of inari, salmon, and tuna sushi.

Our meals also came with soup and tea. Everything was delicious. Barbecue will have to wait for another day.

While Crabby and Truly went back to the office, K and I checked out Argyll Foods Tienda Latina, a Mexican and Latin American grocery store a few doors down in the same strip mall (9844 – 63 Avenue).

Co-owner Bernardo Maldonado was very friendly and enthusiastic. Originally from Mexico City, he and his partner Carlos Isaias opened the store 10 months ago and are starting to break even – ahead of schedule.

You can find just about every kind of dried chili you’d ever need,

as well as presses for making tortillas.

But if you’re not that ambitious, you can just buy them frozen.

K is delighted by the name of this Mexican candy.

We bought some Mexican sodas, grabbed blankets from the car, and went to the park to enjoy the rest of this lovely afternoon.

This is what the sky looked like.

Posted by Jean Poutine

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To market, to market

Hope you’re having a great vacation, Crabby. Missing you and our weekly trip to the Old Strathcona market.

Yesterday Truly Scrumptious and I went to the downtown market instead. We took the High Level Bridge streetcar from the south side. The one operating this day was Melbourne tram #930 that was in service in Melbourne, Australia from 1947 to 1997.

The volunteer conductor gave us a brief history of the tram and Edmonton streetcar history (which you can read about on the Edmonton Radial Railway Society‘s very handsome website).

Crossing the High Level Bridge

to the northern terminus at 109th Street south of Jasper Ave. It was shortly before noon and we were both very hungry, so our first stop was the Blue Plate Diner.

I liked the art they had on the walls. We were seated next to one of several portraits of dogs by Dana Holst. The flying baby painting in the background – by an artist with a difficult name I didn’t take down – was also pretty great.

TS had the maple-glazed cornbread with a bowl of fresh fruit.

I had the special, which was a savory basil cheesecake. I thought the plate looked a little unappetizing when it arrived, but it tasted so much better than it looks. It’s an unbaked cheesecake made with mascarpone (and blue cheese too, I think) with a breadcrumb crust. And lots of fragrant fresh basil. So rich, so creamy, so basilicious. Those aren’t blobs of whipped cream at the top of the plate – they’re my poached eggs. There’s also a couple of sausages hiding behind the fruit cup.

Hunger quelled, we hit the market. These berries looked fabulous (glad I remembered to bring my camera this week).

We chatted with Jo, who was shelling peas at the Slow Food Edmonton tent, and I introduced myself to Sharon of Only Here For The Food who was also hanging out.

These handmade monsters by Belua Designs are awesome.

Especially this mutant sock monkey.

I bought some tomatoes, TS failed in her quest to find a sunhat with a brim. It was a glorious summer day with perfect weather.

We got back on the streetcar and went home.

Posted by Jean Poutine

I’m Shopping in the Rain

I hope you and your Guides are warm and dry, Crabby. It’s been raining here. A lot.

On Sunday I told my mom I’d come over during the week to make a big pot of soup. I looked up farmers markets to find one that was open mid-week and the Beverley Towne market (118th Ave. and 40th St.) on Tuesday from 4 to 8 pm was the only one that worked for me. Since it’s way far, I decided to amortize my trip by visiting a few thrift stores out that way and going to a cheap movie at Movies 12 (Splice – creepy!). When I got out of the movie it was barely raining, but by time I drove a few blocks the rain was coming down so hard the windshield wipers could barely keep up. I stopped in at Dutch Treats to buy a free-range chicken, then drove to the market. I sat in the car awhile thinking I could wait out the rain, but it didn’t seem to be stopping so I just went for it. I popped the trunk and searched for the umbrella I always keep there, but I couldn’t find it.

Vendors huddled under their awnings. You had to be very careful not to stand too close to the edge of a tent because occasionally a whole bunch of water would come cascading down without warning.

I got some peas, carrots, beets, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, raspberries, garlic scapes (which I’ve never used before), and some bread and cinnamon buns from The Cinnamon Girl (I bet she’s sick of people singing that song at her).

By time I was done it had stopped raining and a small patch of blue sky was opening up in the distance.

My umbrella was safe and dry at home.

All this rain has been really good for your potato garden, Crabby:

Posted by Jean Poutine

Rebar… ridiculous

Jean, have you ever met my friend M? She has been living in Africa for the past two years and is returning home tomorrow – she’ll be staying at my place tomorrow night. I am very excited to see her, but there’s just one thing – she’s a vegetarian. I thought I would make her some black bean soup from the only vegetarian cookbook I own – Rebar. I assumed it would involve combining a bunch of vegetables and simmering. I was wrong… so wrong!

After reading through the ingredients for the soup, I realized I had them all except some peppers and what they call “rebarbeque sauce”. Oh no… the dreaded Recipe Within A Recipe. Of course from that recipe I was missing allspice berries, dark beer and chipotle peppers. I want to point out that I thought I had every spice one could buy in Edmonton. I have a full spice rack and many ziploc bags of spices.

I went to Superstore hoping they might have all these ingredients. They had the regular peppers, but nothing else. Their liquor store didn’t even have the beer I needed. So off to 34th Ave. I went to try to find some allspice berries.

I went to the Spice Centre because they always have the spices I’m looking for. I have yet to figure out how they organize their spices so I spent my usual 20 minutes looking for the allspice berries. When I was about to give up (or actually ask for help), I found them. This is what they look like:

After the Spice Centre, I went to Argyll Foods (corner of 99th St. and Argyll Rd.), which is a little convenience store that specializes in Latino products. They had the chipotles and an amazing assortment of Latino candy (next time we need a sugar fix we should go). I found the beer at Liquor Depot. After what seemed like hours, the soup was ready. I was too tired to take photos during the cooking.

Since my friend isn’t here until tomorrow, and I like meat, I added grilled halibut to my soup. I also added some chopped tomatoes and cilantro as a garnish. The soup was smoky, spicy and hearty. I liked how it tasted, but I wouldn’t make this soup again due to the long prep and cooking time.

On a side note: When I was at the Spice Centre I overheard the owner talking to another customer about flour – I could tell he LOVED the product. I went over and saw this:

Sun Prairie is located in Nanton, Alberta. The owner told me a naturopath recommended the flour to his wife 15 years ago as the healthiest flour available in Alberta. Back then they would drive to Nanton to buy it for themselves. Now they carry it in their store and insist it is the best flour around. I plan on using it to make many delicious loaves of bread.

Posted by King Crabby

Dutch Treats

So, King Crabby, how is it that we went to Dutch Treats & Farm Fresh Meats yesterday – a place that specializes in locally raised meat, organic eggs and poulty and so on…

and only ended up taking pictures of candy?

Sweet (or salty), delectable, bizarre Dutch candy in bulk – Engelse drop, muntdrop, zwart wit, kattekoppen, hopjes, spekken, cola rola balls, tikkels  mint, biggetjes

Look at all the little piggies

This brought back fond memories for me: natural licorice root – for those who prefer their sweets to look and taste like a tree branch. In all the excitement I forgot to buy cheese.

We didn’t just buy candy. You got some smoked salmon, beef jerky and pepperoni and we both picked up a ring of rookworst (smoked sausage), but somehow all I have is pictures of candy, candy, candy…

Posted by Jean Poutine