All posts by Dan Clapson

Dan Clapson is a food writer and critic based out of Calgary. He loves creating new recipes at home and travels across Canada regularly, simultaneously eating everything imaginable.

8 Vegan Restaurants in Canada You Have to Try

Eating vegan in Canada used to be a bit of a challenge but cruelty-free cuisine has become widespread in recent years and continues to thrive. Here are eight veggie-centric restaurants across Canada that are sure to satisfying any palate.

Boon Burger

Boon Burger

be love (Victoria, BC)

Start off your meal with a spread of house-made nut and seed cheeses and then try some fun takes on classic dishes, like the pastrami-spiced portobello ‘reuben’ sandwich. They also offer a weekend brunch (Victoria is big on brunch!) Vegan or not, the cardamom pear pancakes with maple ginger syrup and vanilla cashew ‘cream cheese’ will give your taste buds a shake.

Boon Burger (Winnipeg, MB and Barrie, ON)

It would be a shame to spend a chunk of time in Winnipeg (where Boon Burger’s original location is) and not pop in for one of their big, juicy vegan burgers. Whether you’re having the jalapeño ‘cheddar’ burger with pickled jalapeños and house burger sauce or the spicy boon buffalo burger, don’t forget to end your meal with their homemade coconut soft serve. Winter be damned!

Boon Burger: Vegan Poutine

Boon Burger: Vegan Poutine

Chau Veggiexpress (Vancouver, BC) 

Fresh and aromatic, the myriad of dishes offered at this vibrant Vietnamese joint are just as much of a treat for your eyes as they are for your mouth. Try their spin on pho (“candlelit lantern”), and since no Vietnamese dinner is complete without spring rolls, order the “non la rolls” filled with kale, shallots and tofu with a lemon vegan ‘fish sauce’.

ChuChai (Montreal, QC) 

Many of my friends that have eaten at ChuChai have left with a, ‘I can’t believe there was no meat in those dishes’ reaction. Using products like seitan (a glutenous meat substitute that can be seasoned, shaped and formed in a variety of ways), this Thai restaurant is able to create plates of food similar to many classics. From panang beef to salt and pepper squid, these vegan takes have all of the robust flavours of the original dishes, but none of the meat. Fooling your taste buds has never been so rewarding.

The Coup (Calgary, AB) 

It comes as no surprise that there aren’t many options for vegan dining in the land of beef, but The Coup, 11 years in business and counting, does a stand-up job. Aside from an exquisite interior, the restaurant offers creative food (the menu is about 75 percent vegan) and drink, including refreshing cocktails made from house-made juices and dishes like tandoori cauliflower wings with chimichurri.

The Hogtown Vegan: Philly Cheesesteak

The Hogtown Vegan: Philly Cheesesteak

enVie: A Vegan Kitchen (Halifax, NS) 

This popular vegan eatery on the east coast offers a little bit of everything, from lunch and dinner to weekend brunch. They also have a full-service grab-and-go area where you can buy an array of cold-pressed juices, salads and more. Their poutine with house-made ‘cheese curds’ will make anyone’s tummy happy, whether you’re a carnivore, herbivore or somewhere in between.

The Hogtown Vegan (Toronto, ON) 

While the name and branding (a gigantic pig as the logo) can be a little puzzling, everything you eat at this Toronto hotspot is completely meat-free. That being said, Hogtown is all about taking those classic, greasy-good pub dishes like nachos, wings and mac ‘n’ cheese, and making them deliciously vegan.

The Hogtown Vegan: Unchicken and Waffles

The Hogtown Vegan: Unchicken and Waffles

Kupfert & Kim (Toronto, ON) 

This small chain of fast-casual vegan restaurants is not only meat and dairy-free, but wheat-free too. Don’t worry, that certainly doesn’t mean the food is flavour-free. Swing by for a quick lunch and try one of the rice or quinoa bowls, or the congee made with brown rice, organic bok choy, house-made kimchi and loads of other veggies. There’s kombucha on tap here too!

Kupfert and Kim

Kupfert & Kim

lentil beer

10 New and Unique Canadian Beers to Try

If you consider yourself a beer fan and are looking to treat your taste buds to some creative new brews this is the perfect time to do it. Craft brewers across Canada are experimenting with new ways to make beer with some pretty wild ingredients. While the ingredients may raise eyebrows, the results are delicious. From lentil beer to grapefruit, here are 10  truly unique and some new Canadian beers to sip from coast to coast.

Last Best Brewing

1. Last Best Brewing (Calgary, AB) – Caramel Latte Beer 

Most people have only experienced a nitro-injected beer in the form of a stout (think Guinness), so this ale easily stands out from other microbrews. Since it’s ale infused with beans from a local coffee roaster, the Caramel Latte offers the best of both beer worlds as it’s refreshing and light but less effervescent and smooth on the intake.

Left Field Brewing

By Mark Horsley

2. Left Field Brewery (Toronto, ON) – Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale 

Brown ales are as common as a Canadian penny in 2010 and oatmeal stouts are pretty easy to come by too. But an oatmeal brown ale? That’s not quite as common. This little microbrewery in Toronto brews up a list of beers, including this uniquely titled ale called Eephus, named after a particular style of pitch in baseball.

mill street lemon tea beer

3. Mill Street Brewery (Toronto, ON) – Lemon Tea Beer 

Mill Street has grown exponentially over the years, becoming one of the major players in the Canadian craft beer scene. Large-scale or not, this distinctive beer, infused with Earl Grey and orange pekoe, remains a reliable summer sipper and one of the few brews across Canada that features tea.

4. Muskoka Brewing (Bracebridge, ON) – Winterweiss 

This wintery brown beer is to a summery hefeweizen what the abominable snowman is to the sasquatch. Distant cousins, perhaps, but both are equally bold and delicious. Once you take a swig, you’ll be able to taste cloves, banana and the hint of sweetness that wheat beers are known for.

chucklehead

5. Phillips Brewing (Victoria, BC) – Chucklehead IRA 

This Indian Red Ale gets a 10 out of 10 on visuals alone. The vibrant label forces anyone terrified of clowns to face their fears. Once you get past the label, you’ll find a beautifully-coloured ale that can appeal to “hopheads,” ale and lager fans alike.

lentil beer

6. Rebellion Brewing (Regina, SK) – Lentil Cream Ale 

It is the International Year of The Pulses after all, so it’s only fitting that right in the heart of lentil country you can find a beer brewed with lentils. Don’t let the name fool you — there’s nothing creamy-tasting about it. Cream ales are typically quite easy-drinking and the use of lentils in the process makes for a lighter colour and more refreshing sip.

royal city brewing

7. Royal City Brewing (Toronto, ON) – Black Bean Brown Ale 

Much like the lentil beer mentioned above, Royal City is using Ontario-grown black beans to create this robust brown ale. So, what does bean beer taste like exactly? Surprisingly good! They also have a pilot system to experiment with more unique flavours, including Banana Bread Stout, Double Smoked Honey and Raspberry Spice.

Steel Toad Brewery

8. Steel Toad Brewery (Vancouver, BC) – Saison Sauvignon 

With a slightly higher alcohol percentage (6.5%) and big, bright citrus notes, it’s a little too easy to knock back a few glasses of this tasty beer in one of Vancouver’s newest brewpubs. The best part about this particular brew? Most saisons have a higher price point but at Steel Toad you can get a pint of this wine-infused beer for the same price as you would other creations.

9. Tree Brewing Co. (Kelowna, BC) – Grapefruit Radler 

It’s not too often that you come across a Canadian-made radler, although the type of beer itself is one of the most popular, low-alcohol patio drinks in the country. Tree Brewing Co. concocts a ton of interesting small-batch beers at this “beer institute,” but their delicious radler can be found in liquor stores all over Western Canada.

Cowbell Sour

10. Wild Rose Brewery (Calgary, AB) – Cowbell Sour 

Ask any Canadian cicerone (a beer sommelier) and they’ll tell you that sours are the hot ticket these days in the beer world. To all novice brewers, sour beer is pretty finicky in its brewing process and can yield an undrinkable product when not done properly. Cowbell boasts the marking of a classic sour being quite tart, but is infused with fresh lime leaves.

10 Restaurants with Celebrity Connections

The restaurant game isn’t an easy one to play; even if you’re a great chef with a great concept, capital can really slow you down. It’s only fitting that celebrities would get involved in the restaurant business every now and then, I mean, if I had the money, I certainly would too. Here are 10 popular food businesses owned by or connected to celebrity actors, musicians, athletes and beyond.

Robert De Niro, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Meir Teper Partners of Nobu Hospitality

Robert De Niro, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Meir Teper Partners of Nobu Hospitality

Spin (various locations in North America) 

These days, being able to go to a restaurant, eat, drink and play a game (whether that be bowling, pool, board games or otherwise) is pretty common in most major cities. Owner and actress Susan Sarandon, along with her business partners, were a little ahead of the curve with this one. Head to a Spin location in cities like Toronto or Chicago to play a few games of ping pong, grab some drinks and maybe a slider or two.

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SPiN Toronto

Tagine (Beverly Hills, CA) 

Canadian heartthrob Ryan Gosling — admit it, he’s pretty dreamy and man crushes are nothing to be ashamed of — partnered up with longtime friends to open up Tagine, a Moroccan-inspired restaurant. Dishes served here highlight big, bold flavours using exotic spices, with a chef’s expert touch. Out of all of the establishments on this list, Gosling’s is easily the most unique.

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Tagine

Wayne Gretzky’s (Toronto, ON) 

It’s not much of a surprise that one of hockey’s most famous athletes has a namesake establishment. Pop in to watch the game and chow down on items like grilled cheese sandwiches, meatloaf or fish and chips. If you’re craving a glass of wine, rest assured that the selection is primarily Gretzky’s own label (also namesake) that’s produced in the Okanagan Valley.

Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Elton John, David Furnish and owner of Neuro Diana Jenkins attend Neuro Hosts a Party at Southern Hospitality BBQ

Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Elton John attend Neuro Hosts a Party at Southern Hospitality BBQ

Nickels Deli and Bar (Québec) 

Peppered around the province of Québec, serving patrons simple food like roast chicken platters, French onion soup and, of course, mile-high Montreal smoked meat sandwiches. Where’s the celebrity endorsement here, you ask? Well, it’s not overly apparent at first glance, but a quick Google search will tell you the Canadian-born multi-platinum songstress Céline Dion is an investor in the Nickels chain.

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Nickels Deli and Bar

Nobu (various locations worldwide) 

Acclaimed worldwide, this string of restaurants opened by partners Chef Nobu Matsuhsia and Hollywood A-lister Robert De Niro, can be found in some of the biggest mecas across the globe: London, Milan, New York (that’s where you’ll find the flagship location) and Los Angeles. The menus may vary from location to location, but there’s strong attention to detail in terms of food and drink offerings, as well as interior design.

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Nobu

National Underground (Nashville, TN) 

Located on Broadway, the city’s most famous and buzzing street in the downtown core, this generally jam-packed venue offers live music and a standard pub menu. Owned by singer-songwriter brothers Gavin and Joey DeGraw, the former being the more recognizable name in the music world. Like many of Nashville’s Broadway bars, it wouldn’t be unusual to see an actor from the Nashville television series, or a country artist sitting down for a casual beer and bite with friends.

Rock & Brews (various locations in North America) 

More or less a Kiss-focused version of the Hard Rock Café, this music-themed chain serves up simple food like burgers, flatbreads and nachos, and currently only exists in the United States and Mexico. There are a few rumours buzzing around that a Rock and Brews (or two) may pop up in Canada in the coming months, specifically in Saskatoon as it’s the hometown of Gene Simmons’ wife, Shannon Tweed.

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Rock & Brews

Rustic (Geyersville, CA) 

Francis Ford Coppola, director of the iconic film The Godfather, shares his personal host of recipes on the grounds of his winery, where you can enjoy thoughtful farm-to-table cuisine just steps from the rows of grapevines. Plates of pasta, salads built of fresh, local produce and of course a couple glasses of wine are always enjoyable in the California sun.

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Rustic

Southern Hospitality BBQ (New York, NY) 

We’ve seen him sing, dance and act, so being a verified triple threat, it’s safe to assume that Justin Timberlake can do no wrong. This A-lister taps into his Southern roots at this New York restaurant that offers diners everything from deviled eggs to smoked meats, fried chicken and pecan pie.

On a side note, it’s likely not Timberlake himself posting on behalf of the restaurant on social media streams, but at least the eatery has a similar sense of humour to the actor/musician. “We survived the storm, come celebrate with our deep-fried pickles!” said Hospitality in a recent Facebook post.

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Southern Hospitality BBQ

Music City Food and Wine Festival (Nashville, TN) 

We know this one isn’t a restaurant, but this large-scale annual food festival in Nashville wouldn’t have come to life without the joint effort of celebrities, Chef Jonathan Waxman and two members of Kings of Leon, Nathan and Caleb Followill. When the festival kicks off again this coming fall, a long list of culinary stars will be cooking up a storm in the lively Southern city, including Marcus Samuelsson and Carla Hall.

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Music City Food and Wine Festival

10 Best Places for Pie Across Canada

If you’ve been living in Canada long enough, you already know that pies are one of our country’s most beloved and iconic desserts. Whether it’s the seasonal fruit pies or creative twists on classics, here are 10 of the best places to get pie in Canada.

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Rustique Pie Kitchen

Goodies Bake Shop (Winnipeg, MB)

Expect nothing but the classics from this indulgent little spot in Winnipeg. Of course, you can get a lemon meringue pie with the meringue piled high, but anyone who’s a fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups will be more than happy with the chocolate peanut butter pie.

Mabel’s Bakery (Toronto, ON)

With a few locations around Toronto, it’s easy to find your way to a Mabel’s to grab a pie on your way home from work. Granted, if you’re too late, they may all be gone — so you might want to stop by on your way to work instead. Heading into the holiday season, a well-made pecan pie is always appreciated after a big dinner and, luckily, they’ve got you covered here.

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Mabel’s Bakery

The Flaky Tart (Toronto, ON)

This classic bakery is a popular spot for a simple, homemade pie like cinnamony sweet apple. With a more simple approach to pies and their fillings, these versions are easy to pick up and pawn off as your own at a dinner party. I’m not saying you should lie to your friends, but if you’re a terrible baker and tasked with making dessert for a potluck, the choice is yours!

Life of Pie (Ottawa, ON)

Arguably the city’s most popular pie shop, this great little spot offers a nice range of pies, with a slew of different weekly flavours. Always expect some fruit varieties (pear ginger crisp was this past Wednesday), quiches and much more. And yes, if you’re wondering, it always smells ridiculously good in here.

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The Pie Hole

Pie Cloud (Calgary, AB)

Not just somehwere to go just for some take-home pie, this newer eatery in the Kensington neighbourhood is all pie, through-and-through — offering it up for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Try a wintery option like the Turkey Dinner, made with a stuffing “crust”, turkey, tender vegetables, mashed potatoes and cranberry relish. You’ll find the usual pie suspects here (apple, pecan, etc.), but try the Marshmallow Mermaid for something more new and fresh: orange and blue curaçao curd in a flaky crust with a marshmallow topping.

The Pie Hole (Vancouver, BC)

There is creativity abound with the in-crusted creations from Pie Hole. Maple French Toast Bacon and Bourbon Pecan Pumpkin are just two of the delicious pie varieties that shoul have your mouth watering in no time. They don’t have a proper bricks and mortar location, but customers are still able to find their goods at shops and cafes around the city, as well as online.

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The Pie Hole

The Pie Lady’s Drive-up Bake Shop (Halifax, NS)

Too quirky not to mention, this mom-and-pop operation is an online-only ordering system, where you select your pies from a drop-down menu. You can then head over to their shop where they hand you freshly baked pies through the car window. How sweet is that?

The Pie Shoppe (Vancouver, BC)

With choices like walnut and bourbon and salted honey, it becomes apparent (after looking through the bake case) that this is not your standard pie shop. Big on seasonality, don’t expect to see the bakers offering you a cherry pie in the middle of winter. Don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee while you’re here, since they roast their own beans in house.

Rustique Pie Kitchen (Montreal, QC)

One of the nicest things about pies is they’re meant for sharing — so if you’re looking for a simple dessert option for dinner, you can’t really go wrong here. Rustique’s pie options change with the season, so right now you can find a freshly baked strawberry rhubarb pie sitting on display screaming, “Take me home with you!” Naturally, you will.

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Rustique Pie Kitchen

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky (Toronto, ON)

Custard-filled, cream-filled, and almost any fresh fruit you can imagine, Wanda’s got it going on at her popular bake shop. The chocolate bottom pecan pie is a fun spin on the classic, with a chocolate shortbread base. You also can’t go wrong with the “Ambrosia,” which is a rich myriad of flavours with peaches, wild blueberries, apples, pecans and raspberries. With Wanda by your side, you can’t lose at dessert this holiday season.

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Wanda’s Pie in the Sky

10 Best Comfort Food Spots from ‘You Gotta Eat Here!’

Do you ever get jealous of John Catucci? I mean, I certainly do; traipsing around North America, diving into unique and tasty food, and getting all of those tried-and-true recipes to boot? You’re a lucky man, Catucci!

Here are 10 You Gotta Eat Here! restaurants from coast-to-coast that are even more delicious when it’s cold outside and you’re looking for some down-home comfort food.

2 Doors Down (Halifax, NS) 
Good ol’ comfort food with a little refinement is something everyone can appreciate, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at this popular joint in downtown Halifax. The classic cheeseburger is quality through and through with a house-made “processed” cheese slice, tangy pickles and a big, juicy patty sandwiched between a pillowy sesame seed bun. Then there’s the more unique interpretations of popular classics like a Korean-inspired gnocchi, and mac ‘n cheese that’s loaded up with kale, roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts, oh, and lots of cheese, too!

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2 Doors Down

Calabash Bistro (Vancouver, BC) 
Caribbean spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are coupled with the heat from spicy scotch bonnet peppers, resulting in a residual heat that may overwhelm your taste buds at first — but will settle down to a gentle warming that will make you feel cozy and satisfied. The oxtail stew with fried coconut dumplings, or classic the Jamaican meat patties are good examples of the comfort food fare you can find at Vancouver’s premier Caribbean eatery.

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Calabash Bistro

EE Burritos (Saskatoon, SK)
It’s no secret that it gets cold in Saskatchewan starting mid November — like bone-chilling, wear-a-snowsuit-to-work sort of cold. So why not shake off the snow and warm up at this lively Latino eatery, with a big bowl of pozole soup or the beef flauta (think jumbo-sized taquito), or maybe a side of refried beans for good measure.

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EE Burritos

Murray Street Kitchen (Ottawa, ON)
This nose-to-tail spot in the country’s capital is known for its meat-heavy menu, house-made charcuterie and bold, cozy flavours. More adventurous eaters can find comfort in a plate of braised ox tongue with cheese curd creamed corn, while Murray’s ode to Newfoundland, “Dan’s Beef” — a mix of cured, smoked and braised beef shank, cabbage and veggies, with bone marrow “buttered” garlic toast — would be just right for, well, just about anyone.

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Murray Street Kitchen

Naina’s (Calgary, AB)
A go-to restaurant in Calgary for grilled cheese sandwiches, poutine and Naina’s famous stuffed burgers, it should come as no surprise that the comfort level of these plates of food are off the charts. Order up a big burger topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce and mozzarella cheese to see what all the cool kids have been raving about.

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Naina’s

Rock Lobster (Toronto, ON)
As the name implies, lobster is the name of the game at Matt Dean Preddit’s duo of restaurants in Toronto. As satisfying as lobster rolls are, they’re more of a warm-weather sort of meal, so stick to the rich and creamy dishes like the lobster cheese dip, lobster mac ‘n cheese or lobster poutine. Too much lobster, you say? I say, there’s no such thing.

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Rock Lobster

Saint John Ale House (Saint John, NB)
There’s a double whammy of Food Network Canada show history here as you’ll find one of Top Chef Canada’s most charismatic and bubbly chefs, Jesse Vergen running the kitchen. Being a family man, Vergen makes sure there’s plenty to choose from for kids, like chicken fingers (with local chicken meat, no pre-packaged frozen strips here) or grilled cheese, while adults can look forward to things like warm rock crab and cream cheese dip, pork sausages with mashed potatoes, braised cabbage and more.

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Saint John Ale House

Smoke and Spice Southern Barbeque (Windsor, ON)
Pulled pork sandwiches, smoky, fall-off-the-bone smoked ribs and cornbread are just a few of the Southern-style dishes you can sink your teeth into at this family-friendly joint. Swing by midday any weekday for some Southern-inspired lunch with such fare as smoked meatloaf, waffle fries, collard greens and their specialty, the pulled pork sundae.

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Smoke and Spice Southern Barbeque

The Tallest Poppy (Winnipeg, MB)
Since appearing on season one of You Gotta Eat Here!, The Tallest Poppy has relocated to a bigger and better space at the front of the Sherbrook Inn in Winnipeg. The cozy comfort food remains the same though, with big bowls of homemade matzo ball and chicken soup, bison meatloaf and other large plates of goodness that are ready and waiting to warm you up on a chilly night.

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The Tallest Poppy

Topanga Cafe (Vancouver, BC)
Some Mexican food, like tacos and tostadas, doesn’t always have the same charm on a chilly day as they do when you’re soaking up some sun and sipping on a cold beer. So stick with this restaurant’s more comforting dishes like burritos, enchiladas, black bean soup and tamales. A friend told me that their chocolate cake, baked fresh every day, is to die for. Chocolate is comfort 365 days a year, right?

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Topanga Cafe

Spicy Pumpkin and Sausage Soup

Whenever Fall rolls around, I start to go a little soup crazy. The spicy Italian sausage adds nice heat to this hearty, vegetable-heavy bowl of goodness. With the chickpeas, chunks of zucchini and kale and thick broth, this soup almost feels more like a stew. Needless to say, it is best enjoyed with family or  friends.

pumpkinsoup

Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:
3 cups fresh pumpkin (1 cubed)
2 large Italian sausages (casing removed)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups zucchini (halved, 1/2 sliced)
3 cups kale (stems removed, loosely chopped)
1 14 oz can chickpeas
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:
1. Start with preheating your oven to 400°F. Toss the chunks of pumpkin with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and let them roast in the oven until they’re fork tender, about 35 minutes.
2. While that’s happening, cook the sausage in a large pot on medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon as you go, until well-browned. De-glaze the pot with the red wine, then add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes or so.
3. Next, pour in the broth, remaining vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Once the pumpkin is ready, remove from oven, place into a food processor or blender with cream and purée until smooth. Stir the pumpkin puree into the pot, along with remaining ingredients. Let simmer for another 20 minutes.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper to finish.

10 Crowd-Pleasing Cupcake Shops from Coast to Coast

While the macaron craze is beginning to run its course, cupcakes are here to stay. Check out this roundup of sweet shops from coast to coast that are doing this nostalgic treat proud.

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Cake-ology 

Cake-ology (Winnipeg, MB)

Stroll into the Exchange District in downtown Winnipeg and follow the scent of freshly baked goods until your nose leads you to Cake-ology (you can’t miss the big cake jutting out from the building’s exterior either). Of course you’ll find a variety of cakes including “cakettes” (think stickless cake pop) and cookies. Like any good bake shop, they can customize too, so ask ahead and your flavour-combination wish is their command.

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Crave Cookies and Cupcakes

Crave Cookies and Cupcakes (Calgary, Edmonton, AB and Saskatoon, SK)

One of the original upscale cupcake shops in Canada, Crave just turned 10 years old earlier this year and has significantly updated their concept since it first opened. Now, instead of simply rows and rows of cupcakes, you’ll find all sorts of delicious treats like red velvet sugar cookies, amazing cakes (try the ice box cake right now — summer-approved!) and pies.

The Cupcake Conspiracy (Saskatoon, SK)

Saskatoon’s first gourmet cupcake shop keeps things concise but tasty with their offerings here, baking up a short list of sweets that include chocolate banana, vanilla and rum buttercream, vanilla and coconut, and more.

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The Cupcake Lounge 

The Cupcake Lounge (Ottawa, ON)

There’s a lot of eating and drinking to be done in the ByWard Market in the heart of Ottawa. But what about dessert? This sweet little cupcake shop offers the regular suspects, seven days a week as well as daily specials like ginger lemon on Thursdays, butterscotch bourbon on Saturdays and banana peanut butter on Sundays.

The Cupcake Shoppe (Toronto, ON)

This popular sweet spot was arguably the first upscale cupcake shop in the country (opened in 2003) and always aims to impress. As many cupcake options as there are colours in the rainbow, expect a vast selection of flavours from the popular carrot cake, to margarita and many more.

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Jenna Rae Cakes (Winnipeg, MB)

When you’re noted by Martha Stewart as a place that makes beautiful cakes and cupcakes, you know you’re in for a spike in business, which is exactly what happened to Jenna Rae’s shop in Winnipeg. People line up out the door to get their hands on the pretty baked goods inside.

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ManCakes via Inside Vancouver

ManCakes (Vancouver, BC)

This bake shop aims to turn dainty cupcakes into a manly three-bite dessert. Look beyond the “masculine” design of the shop and you’ll find some impressive out-of-the-box flavours including red wine and chocolate, whiskey lime — or perhaps the most intriguing, a buffalo wing-inspired cupcake with blue cheese cheesecake mousse, spicy buttercream and crispy chicken crumble.

Susie’s Shortbreads (Halifax, NS)

The name may be slightly misleading, but Susie dishes out an array of gourmet cupcakes in addition to her famous cookies. Bite into a dulce de leche or cookies and cream cupcake and pair it with a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread for a truly satisfying dessert.

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Thimblecakes (Ottawa, ON)

Don’t let the name fool you, Thimblecakes bakes up anything but tiny, bite-size cakes. Custom cakes and cupcakes can be ordered ahead, but pop in during the week to get a mix of cupcakes with flavours ranging from red velvet and chocolate chip cookie dough to salted caramel tiramisu.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

10 Fast Casual Restaurants You Need to Try in Canada

Describing an establishment as “upscale, fast and casual” doesn’t make the most sense. So, let’s think of this list as fast food joints that go the extra mile in terms of cooking from scratch and making a conscious effort to source quality ingredients. Yes, my friends, the fast casual movement is growing stronger in Canada with each passing week.

Here are 10 great places in Canada that can have you in and out in no time, while getting you still get your money’s worth with a delicious meal.

Ace Burger (Halifax, NS)

Ask anyone on the east coast and they’ll tell you that the fast food giants have certainly got nothing on Halifax’s leading quick service burger spot. Find beauty in their simplicity with Ace’s classic burger and the bacon cheeseburger, or kick convention to the curb and bite into a jerk chicken burger in a cornflake batter with coconut-chili mayo. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

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Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi Boys (Toronto, ON)

Get your Asian food fix quick, fast and furious-style at this popular sandwich-focused shop with two locations in downtown Toronto. Naturally, there are the standard banh mi fillings like pork and chicken, but go out of the box and be pleasantly surprised with options like lemongrass tofu or an order of kimchi fries.

Go Fish Ocean Emporium (Vancouver, BC)

Head to this food stand to bite into some of the best crispy fish and chips this west coast city has to offer. With sustainability in mind, everything on the menu is fresh and caught with a conscious, which is something we should all appreciate.

Indochine (Halifax, NS)

In a similar vein as Banh Mi Boys and Watercress Express (see below), Indochine harnesses those robust Southeast Asian flavours in a variety of dishes, from noodle bowls and pho to fusion tacos, serving them all up in a quick-service environment. Once your meal is ready to go, head over to the Halifax Public Gardens to soak up the last few days of summer while you enjoy the tasty food.

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Mandy’s via Instagram

Mandy’s (Montreal, QC)

Quebec’s food mecca is well known for its love affair with foie gras, maple syrup and really, anything rich in general, but I think we all know we shouldn’t be eating (generalizing here) poutine, foie gras and smoked meat every day of the week.

Mandy’s is the popular salad bar staple of Montreal, a complete juxtaposition to the formerly mentioned, with a long list of greens-packed, to-go dishes like the Waldorf or smoked meat salad with “slaw” dressing. All right, so maybe the smoked meat is harder to escape than I thought.

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Tacofino via Instagram

Tacofino (Tofino, BC)

There are a few different Tacofino joints in Canada, which you can find in Tofino, Victoria and Vancouver, but nothing beats the one spot that started it all a few years back in one of the most western points of Canada. Technically a food truck, the business is more or less stationary and the menu is pleasantly simple. Freshly caught seafood, chicken or beef, served (mainly) in tacos or burritos.

Tractor Foods (Vancouver, BC)

Skip the subpar salad bar at your local grocer and pay Tractor a visit for all your fresh, vegetable-driven needs. With a long line-up of freshly made salads as colourful as the rainbow, you can have your pick between big bowls of quinoa and roasted mushrooms with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, orzo and feta, and a whole lot more. Fresh produce is arguably the main event here, but carnivores can still be appeased with chicken and steak salads, or sandwich options like roasted pork with apple and fennel slaw.

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Tres Carnales 

Tres Carnales (Edmonton, AB)

One of the original restaurants in Canada to embrace the contemporary taco trend — and also a You Gotta Eat Here! alumnus — Tres Carnales has won numerous accolades, both local and national, when it comes to their taco-making skills. Many people opt to sit down for a quick bite during lunch or dinner, but it’s just as easy to order a well-made Mexican meal to go.

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Took Tuk Thai

Tuk Tuk Thai (Calgary, AB)

Ordering pad Thai at a Thai restaurant is like ordering chicken fried rice when you’re getting Chinese takeout; a staple, but hardly anything ground breaking. Even though this come-and-go eatery on Calgary’s bustling 17th Avenue offers the famous dish, there’s so much more to enjoy on the menu here like the Moo Moo Lemon (barbecued pork shoulder in a chili lime dressing) or fried basa with eggplant. It’s going to be getting cooler soon, so grab a bowl of their beautifully aromatic tom yum soup to go.

One of the many highlights of dining at Tuk Tuk is the actual containers that your food comes in. Remove the sticker on top of the circular take-out box and it unfolds like a flower. Very cool!

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Watercress Express

Watercress Express (Calgary, AB)

Watercressexpress We are blessed to have so many Vietnamese restaurants across our beautiful country. True pho fanatics are always on the lookout for a bowl of noodles and broth, and I’d urge them all to try the sate pho here at Watercress. With a young, formally trained chef running the kitchen, this restaurant serves up everything that is to be expected of a traditional Vietnamese establishment, but with extreme attention to detail. Try a bowl of soup and a side order of the crispy fried wontons and you’ll see what I mean.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

8 Must-Try Poutineries From Coast to Coast

A Canadian classic, poutine is always at the top of our comfort food list. And although there are tons of casual chains offering up plates of cheesy, gravy-soaked fries, here are 8 eateries that add a bit more pizzazz to this iconic dish.

Below Deck Tavern (Calgary, AB) – Good Ol’ Fashioned Poutine
For East Coasters looking for a little taste of home in Western Canada, this is the spot to be. Revel in deliciousness with dishes such as deep-fried pepperoni and cottage pie. But for something a little extra special, opt for Below Deck’s spin on a poutine. They season skinny fries with old bay seasoning and top with the regular curds and gravy. Add on some donair meat while you’re at it.

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Caplansky’s (Toronto, ON) – Smoked Meat Poutine
Food Network Canada personality, Zane Caplansky, has built a big brand for himself in Toronto creating a successful delicatessen-style business. Try his version of the poutine, chock full of quality, kosher smoked meat.

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La Banquise 24th (Montreal, QC) – Hot Dog Poutine
Open 24 hours for all your post-bar, drunken food cravings, this popular spot for poutine in the heart of poutine land — Montreal — serves up more variations on this theme than you can imagine. Naturally, after a hard night out, you’re not always thinking, so skip the brain work and just go for the hot dog option. I mean, who’s counting calories at 3 am?

La Pataterie Hulloise (Gatineau, QC)
Most Ottawans will tell you that if you’re really interested in finding a great poutine, then you need to take a short drive over the river from Ottawa to Gatineau. This no frills spot keeps their offerings simple because sometimes, you just don’t need to mess with a good thing.

Peasant Cookery (Winnipeg, MB)
There’s something nice and homey about this restaurant in the exchange district of downtown Winnipeg. The menu is all about good ol’ home cooked food, but taken up a notch. Crispy fries are topped with curds from a local producer, Bothwell Cheese and a bacon gravy. We’ll order two please.

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The Reef (Vancouver, BC) – Jerk Chicken Poutine
I guarantee that you’ve never had Caribbean jerk in this application before. Sure, the cheese curds and fries are pretty average, but the pulled chicken in this dish is great and the gravy is sweet and spicy with hints of cinnamon. Out of every dish on this list, this bastardization (if you will) of poutine is one of the most interesting.

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Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack (Saskatoon, SK) – Smoked Mozza Poutine
I’m still a little shocked there’s not a poutine-inspired perogy dish in my hometown (maybe there is and I’m just out of the loop) and even more shocked that a good poutine is still hard to come by in Saskatoon, but thankfully this top notch barbecue joint is saving the day. If you’ve never had smoked mozzarella, you haven’t lived. Add this gooey delicacy into a poutine equation and you’ve got something really worth forking into.

Willy’s Fresh Cut (Halifax, NS)
Like I mentioned earlier with Below Deck Tavern, donair meat in a poutine is an East Coast favourite and Willy’s can definitely verify that fact. If donair meat isn’t your cup of tea, try Willy’s stuffing poutine, or one with a big helping of pulled pork on top.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

12 Great BBQ Joints in Canada

There isn’t a time of year where a good plate of barbecue doesn’t feel right. Here are a few spots to hit up across Canada where you can find authentic Southern-style barbecue and some smoky, finger-lickin’ good meals.

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Brisket Burnt Ends (left) and Pecan Pie (right) from Barque Smokehouse

Barque Smokehouse (Toronto, ON)

There’s a lot to love about Barque — from their lively yet family-friendly atmosphere and wide array of Southern-inspired dishes that aren’t afraid to step outside the box (try the Cuban corn, that’s grilled and finished with feta and lime). The Sunday night dinners offer up an abundance of barbecued goods perfect for sharing with friends. And their brunch? Well, who could say no to Barque’s spin on eggs benny with cornbread, barbecue hollandaise and beef brisket?

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John Catucci Visits Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse on an Episode of You Gotta Eat Here!

Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse (Calgary, AB)

A Calgary favourite (and You Gotta Eat Here! alum owned), this barbecue spot now has two locations, as well as a stand at the Calgary Farmers’ Market. You can buy all sorts of Big T’s smoked meats like sausages and bacon or, in my opinion, one of the best breakfast sandwiches in the city, topped with brisket, homemade barbecue sauce and all the fixings.

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Burnt End Poutine from Boneheads BBQ

Boneheads BBQ (Halifax, NS)

What do you mean there’s no lobster on the menu? This is Halifax! Some may scream East Coast blasphemy, but I’m sure if we stuffed some pulled chicken or bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers in their mouths, there wouldn’t be much complaining. Save some room for dessert here, as the lemon lime icebox pie will call out to you like the sirens to Odysseus.

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Pile of Ribs via Bookers Barbecue + Crab Shack

Bookers Barbecue + Crab Shack (Calgary, AB)

Bookers’ fairly extensive menu goes well beyond the sandwich or smoked meat platters, covering everything from appetizers (like deep-fried pickles!) to crab and shrimp boils, and jambalaya. Any Calgarian will tell you that Sunday night is the best day of the week to visit Bookers, where you can opt for either all-you-can-eat crab or ribs.

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Electric Mud via BlogTO

Electric Mud (Toronto, ON)

Sister restaurant to the taco-centric Grand Electric, Mud is all about embracing Southern cuisine and having a little fun with it. Shrimp and grits, pork ribs and smoked sausage links make for a perfectly meaty start here, but don’t forget to order a side of pickled green tomatoes and charred broccoli salad with red eye gravy for something a little less conventional.

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Kitchen Sink Spud from Hogtown Smoke 

Hogtown Smoke (Toronto, ON)

With a bricks and mortar location on Queen Street East, as well as a food truck by the same name roaming the streets, chances are you’ve stumbled by Hogtown more than once this summer. While the food truck can only offer so much on the menu, look to the restaurant to get a more intense barbecue fix with dishes like the Jack Daniels pulled pork grilled cheese, brisket and pulled pork chili and gigantic beef ribs.

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Pig Out Platter from Hogtown Smoke

Le Boucan Smokehouse (Montreal, QC)

If you find yourself in Montreal and craving some smoked meat (not the deli kind that the city is famous for) and whisky, then Le Boucan should be on your dining agenda. Expect to be served fairly traditional barbecue in a hipster-chic environment, with a nice selection of whiskies and bourbons to choose from.

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Lovey’s BBQ via Bake Eat and Grow/Wordpress

Lovey’s BBQ (Winnipeg, MB)

Head to Lovey’s for a casual meal or grab some barbecue to take home for the family. The smoked chicken wings, brisket, pulled pork, farmer’s sausage and “burnt ends” (essentially the really crispy bits found on the edges of a well-smoked brisket), are all available by the pound to go.

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Meat via Eating is the Hard Part

Meat (Edmonton, AB)

Located just off of the busy strip that is Whyte Avenue, this slightly upscale meat-centric restaurant (if the name didn’t tip you off) serves up those big, smoky flavours of the south in a slick-looking room. No matter what you decide to eat, make sure to slather it in their house-made sauces, and wrap your meal up with one of Meat’s popular Bourbon Banana Splits.

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Memphis Blue Barbeque House via Sean’s Adventures in Flavor Town/Wordpress

Memphis Blues Barbeque House (Kelowna, BC)

Okanagan wineries may steal the limelight in this area of the country, but downtown Kelowna has got some gems too. Just a few blocks from the water, you’ll find this busy establishment serving up their take on Southern barbecue with big, messy brisket and pulled pork sandwiches with sides of pit beans. Grab some food to go and enjoy the sunshine on the beach — but remember to bring some napkins with you!

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Re-Up BBQ via Sean’s Adventures in Flavor Town/Wordpress

Re-Up BBQ (New Westminster, BC)

Originally a food cart in downtown Vancouver, Re-up BBQ made quite the name for itself before relocating and upgrading to a food counter/commissary outside of the city centre. Pop by for a big bucket of fried chicken, some Southern sweet tea, house-made cola (say, what?) and much more.

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Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack vua Facebook

Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack (Saskatoon, SK)

You’ll have to drive through the North industrial area of the city to enjoy these barbecued goods, but once you arrive, you’ll see it was worth the journey. Find anything to fit your appetite here, from pulled pork to smoked chicken and everything in-between, including their signature Schryer’s Fries that are topped with smoked meat, barbecue sauce and slaw.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

12 Farm-to-Table Restaurants Celebrating Canadian Cuisine

This Canada Day we should be celebrating the restaurants highlighting the fresh and local ingredients surrounding them. A hyper-local menu (very similar to local food and is in many ways the same thing) will taste differently on the west coast of Canada compared to the heart of the prairies, but our vast and diverse landscape is what makes this country so great.

Here are 12 must-try restaurants from coast to coast that do right by the farm-to-table approach and serve some pretty tasty food, too.

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Chives Bistro: Crab Cakes

Chives Canadian Bistro (Halifax, NS)

One of the institutions of the Halifax dining scene, Chives Bistro and owner Craig Flinn have always stayed true to the “work with what’s around you” mentality when it comes to their menu. Naturally, you’ll find some fresh East Coast lobster being offered here, but also a ton of local produce, Nova Scotia cheeses and more.

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Fable Kitchen

Fable Kitchen (Vancouver, BC)

With a name like “Fable” that merges the words “Farm” and “Table” into one, you’d better hope that the restaurant places an emphasis on knowing where their ingredients come from. Top Chef Canada’s Trevor Bird and his kitchen team work with a long list of B.C. producers onshore and offshore, receiving whole halves of beef or lamb and butchering them down in-house. Getting a side of the signature house-made bacon is a must when you’re popping by for brunch on the weekend!

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Farmhouse Tavern

Farmhouse Tavern (Toronto, ON)

When it comes to a meal here, diners looks to a chalkboard with an ever-changing list of options that go along with the season. In terms of libations to enjoy with the hyper-local menu, expect local craft beers and a nice list of VQA wines from the Niagara area.

Fusion Grill (Winnipeg, MB)

Though the name may not really imply it, Fusion Grill’s thought process with food is “local, local, local,” through and through. On the menu you’ll find Manitoba grass-fed beef (a protein that is not overly common in the city), pike, bison and even a variety of cold-pressed canolas used in various dishes that are specific to the Manitoba region.

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Fusion Grill

Langdon Hall (Cambridge, ON)

Hyper local has never looked quite as beautiful as (if you don’t believe me, check out his Instagram right this second: @langdonhallchef) the food coming out of Langdon Hall’s kitchen. If you’re looking to splurge a bit on local, foraged and good quality cuisine, then head to the proper restaurant, but those looking for something a little more casual then Wilks’ Bar on the same property, which has the same mentality but with more approachable fare.

Mallard Cottage (St. John’s NFLD)

Top Chef Canada season one alumnus Todd Perrin embodies Newfoundland cuisine in an old character cottage that (through much blood, sweat and tears) was transformed into a restaurant just outside the heart of St. John’s.
Like Farmhouse Tavern, the menu is ever-changing, but don’t be surprised to see uniquely Newfoundland ingredients like seal or salt beef popping up on the menu. To stay up-to-date with what Perrin is cooking up, check out his Instagram: @mallardcottagechef.

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Mission Hill: Halibut

Mission Hill Winery (Kelowna, BC)

In terms of location, the Okanagan offers one of the best growing seasons in Canada, which also means having access to locally grown produce almost all year round is sort of like a chef’s dream come true. Aside from working closely with a long list of Okanagan producers, the winery restaurant chef Chris Stewart also cares for the large on-site garden that has everything from herbs to peach trees and huckleberries (say, what?). All of these things will end up on the menu at Mission Hill in some shape or form.

It’s also pretty tough to beat the view while dining on the terrace here, especially when the sun begins to set and a light breeze comes up from Lake Okanagan.

Prairie Harvest Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

I’ve mentioned this cozy Saskatchewan restaurant before because of their great weekend brunch, but one of the main reasons why most Saskatoonians (myself included) love Prairie Harvest is because they work closely with the city’s farmers’ markets to use local products like beef, pork, lake fish like trout and more.

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River Cafe: Fiddlehead Soup

RGE RD (Edmonton, AB)

The name of the restaurant itself is an ode to the country roads (range roads) that you can find in the Prairie Provinces; roads that cross over hundreds of kilometres of farmers’ fields. As it implies, RGE is all about using the best ingredients Alberta has to offer on the plate and showing you how tasty the province can be.

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River Cafe: Octopus Salad

River Cafe (Calgary, AB)

One of the first restaurants in Western Canada to embrace a “local” mentality and definitely the first in Calgary, River Cafe has been a staple of the dining scene since the 1990s. Being around for that long, you’d think the restaurant might have a hard time keeping up with what’s new and trendy, but the food remains as contemporary as ever, and the restaurant continues to be rated as one of the best establishments in the city for years.

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Rouge: Tartare 

Rouge (Calgary, AB)

Much like River Cafe, Rouge has long been a leader in the sustainable sourcing food movement in Calgary. A great sourcing ethic paired with one of the largest and most lush backyard gardens in the prairies means you’ve got a culinary experience worth trying. In the summertime, sit on the restaurant’s back patio while you watch Chef Jamie Harling and his kitchen staff pop in and out of the heritage home, picking greens and small vegetables to garnish plates with. Garden-to-table — it really doesn’t get fresher than that.

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The Wolf in the Fog

The Wolf in the Fog (Tofino, BC)

When you’re only a few hundred feet from the Pacific Ocean, it would be a real shame if you didn’t opt for using the beautiful (and sustainable) bounty that’s underneath the waves. The Wolf in the Fog, enRoute’s best new restaurant in Canada for 2014, is big on utilizing local oysters, more meaty underwater delicacies like Humboldt squid, as well as foraged mushrooms from the many forests that surround the beautiful little coastal town that is Tofino.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

Kale, Feta and Barley Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

I think I’ve said this before, but I love kale. It tastes good year-round, and whether I’m sauteing it in some butter with garlic, baking it into ‘chips’ – which is one of the most oddly delicious things you’ll ever try, I assure you – or just chopping it up for a salad, this leafy green never lets me down.

Lately, I’ve also been debating whether or not to have a summer fling with barley. It doesn’t sound quite as cool as kale, but it’s a great grain that’s easy to cook and tastes great in a fresh salad. Cooking it until it’s el dente will give it a nice texture and let it hold up against salad dressings, without getting mushy like some types of rice.

So, I guess what I’m really trying to say is that barley is great too. So, why not put combine it with kale for a wicked summer salad?

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Prep Time: 10 mins
Marinating Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Salad Dressing:
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 lemon (zest and juice)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp  honey
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground black pepper

Salad:
1 bunch kale (thinly sliced, approx 5 cups)
2 shallots (thinly sliced)
1 1/2 cups cooked barley
1/2 cup cooked green lentils
1/2 cup feta (loosely chopped)
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup pickled turnips (diced, I realize this sounds random. I picked them up in the ethnic food aisle at SuperStore a few weeks ago. Pickled red onions would be a perfectly find substitute)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients for salad dressing into a small bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside for now.
2. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl, pour salad dressing into the bowl and toss with tongs until evenly mixed. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and toss again before serving.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

Four Easy Tips to Make the Perfect Soufflé

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I’m never really sure who comes up with these national food days for various ingredients and dishes, but nonetheless, they always seem to be a fun excuse to make something delicious.

Since February 28th is National Chocolate Soufflé Day, obviously, it’s only natural to try to whip a few up for yourself (and some friends — don’t be greedy) at home. Making soufflés can be a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first go at it. To make sure you get the tallest, puffiest soufflé of them all, here are four tips from Top Chef Canada season 4 alum and pastry chef extraordinaire, Karine Moulin.

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How to make a perfect soufflé:

1. Make sure to properly brush the melted butter and then coat the inside of the ramekins completely with sugar. This is what makes soufflés rise evenly and achieve full height.

2. Once prepared, soufflé batter needs to be baked immediately. The longer it sits out at room temperature the less height you will have with the final products.

3. Run your eggs under warm water before using. This will help you get more volume and great height with your soufflés.

4. When it comes to getting creative with a soufflé batter, avoid using whole fruit like pieces of apple or other fresh fruit in the mix as this will prevent the soufflés from rising.

Karine Moulin will be baking these beauties all weekend long at her restaurant, Yellow Door Bistro, in Calgary. If you’re a little too far away to pop into Yellow Door for a soufflé, don’t worry, Moulin has shared her no-fail recipe with us!

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Karine Moulin’s White Chocolate and Lemon Soufflé

Serves: Six 4oz ramekins

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 large organic egg yolks
10 large organic egg whites, room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 cup white chocolate shavings
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (plus the zest of 2 lemons)
1 vanilla bean cut in half, remove the seeds
1 cup whole milk

Directions:

  1. Brush melted butter inside each ramekin, and coat with sugar. Using your index finger, level off the top surface of the ramekin, to make sure there is no butter or sugar on the top of the lip.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together yolks, flour, zest, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
  3. Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan. Slowly pour milk into yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent yolks from cooking. Return mixture to pan, and whisk until thick like a pudding, about 1 to 2 minutes. Strain through a sieve, and whisk in butter and lemon juice.
  4. Beat whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir a third of the whites into the yolk mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whites using a rubber spatula.
  5. Next, fold in the white chocolate shavings and fill each soufflé dish until it is 3/4 full, removing any excess batter from rims.
  6. Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and let cook in oven until soufflés rise and are golden on top, about 16 to 18 minutes.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

Dan’s Good Side: Lobster and Green Pepper-Stuffed Mushroom Caps

I was chatting with my friend Mel the other week about the fact that green peppers always seem to suck. They aren’t great raw, they aren’t great cooked. Is there a good way to cook them? Is there? I may just be a jaded, old green pepper hater, but I’m willing to keep trying avenues where they can be more enjoyable.

Anyway…recently I spent a good chunk of time out on the east coast, so I decided to bring a few lobsters back home with me to cook up a lobster-centric dinner for some friends. I thought it would be fun to go a little old school with some stuffed mushroom caps and there happened to be a green pepper from my last Spud Calgary delivery pre-travels, staring at me every time I opened the fridge, so it was time to use it.

It’s hard to go wrong with stuffed mushroom caps, especially when cream cheese and lobster are involved, but I must admit, the green pepper was an enjoyable addition to this recipe and everyone seemed to love them, so maybe I just need to cool it on my anti-green pepper campaign…

Lobster and Green Pepper-Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Yields: 24 stuffed mushroom caps
Total Time: 45 minutes

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Ingredients:

1 green pepper (halved and seeds removed)
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 Tablespoons white wine
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cream cheese (softened)
2 cups cooked lobster meat (finely chopped)
1 Tablespoon liquid honey
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
salt and pepper (to taste)
24 white mushroom caps (stems removed)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  2. Place green pepper on a small roasting pan, drizzle lightly with oil and let roast until tender, approximately 20 minutes.
  3. Heat remaining oil in a medium pan on medium-high heat and cook onion and garlic for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add white wine to pan and let cook until almost completely reduced, then add the butter and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
  5. Transfer contents of pan to a blender, puree until smooth and set aside to cool. While that’s cooling, dice up the roasted green pepper and place into a large mixing bowl along with the next 4 ingredients.
  6. Once onion puree is cool, add it to the bowl and stir until everything is well-incorporated, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Place mushroom caps on a large baking sheet and spoon the cream cheese and lobster mixture into each cap. Bake in oven until mushroom is tender and the filling has started to brown, about 18-20 minutes.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

Lemon Rosemary Risotto with Fiddleheads and Spot Prawns

Okay, so I realize this may be kind of a lame move, using two ingredients that have very short seasons (fiddleheads and spot prawns), but I spent a good part of last week in Vancouver and just had to pop by the Granville Island Market! How was I supposed to resist fresh spot prawns (caught that morning!) and fiddleheads? Feel free to substitute with a different seafood (scallops would be great) and maybe some fresh green beans if you can’t locate these seasonal guys.

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Lemon Rosemary Risotto with Honey Roasted Fiddleheads and Spot Prawns

Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the Risotto
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups cream
2 shallots (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/4 cup chardonnay
2 cups arborio rice
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1/4 cup fresh rosemary (loosely chopped)
6 spot prawns
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the Honey Roasted Vegetables
1 1/2 cups fiddleheads (soaked, blanched and cooled)
1 cup zucchini (halved, 1/2 sliced)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Start by heating up the broth and cream in a medium-sized pot. Just before it starts to simmer, reduce to low heat and keep warm on stove. In a large pan, cook the shallots and garlic in a bit of olive oil on medium-high heat until soft, about five minutes. Pour in the white wine and let it reduce by three quarters. Next, stir in the dry arborio rice and let the mixture cook for another few minutes. Start ladling the hot broth into the pan, one cup at a time. Stir regularly and, once the liquid is almost completely absorbed by the rice, add some more. Continue until you’ve used all of the broth and the risotto is al dente, about 25-30 minutes. Finally, mix in the lemon juice, zest and rosemary. Season with some pepper (salt if needed) and keep warm on stove.

2. For the spot prawns, simply boil some salted water in a large pot and toss them in, shell and all, letting them cook for one minute. They’re just like big shrimp, really, but much tastier! Once they’re cooked, their bright colours make them good for garnishing. You can twist them in half, peel the shell off the tail and (this will sound gross) suck out the innards of the head. Surprisingly sweet and delicious. Try it sometime!

3. If you like multi-tasking like I do, you can roast the vegetables while the risotto is cooking. Place the first five roast vegetable ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add some salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil then toss with hands or tongs to combine. Pour onto a prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Finally, gently stir the vegetables into the risotto and dish out to your dinner guests! Top with a plump spot prawn tail and a head for shooting back! Done and done! Man, typing up this recipe is making me think I need another trip out to the west coast ASAP!