CHARCUT Roast House, Calgary

Even before Connie DeSousa appeared on Top Chef Canada, CHARCUT Roast House has created a lot of buzz. An enRoute Canada’s Best New Restaurant for 2010, their charcuterie and alley burgers (served in the back alley at various times announced on Twitter) has kept their name on the lips of people in Calgary and beyond.

I ate there with a friend back in February, coincidentally just 10 days before the names of the Top Chef Canada contestants were released. We ended up getting the same entrée, but different sides.

For an entrée we had the Spring Creek Butcher Steak, with arugula, fried matchstick potatoes, and chimichurri. It was probably one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. The meat was so tender that it practically melted in your mouth.

My friend also ordered the duck fat fried poutine served with cheese curds and truffle gravy. It was delicious and so very rich. So rich in fact that we couldn’t finish it even though I ended up trying to help her eat the dish. We were stuffed silly. I could easily see this dish being a good appetizer for 3 to 4 people. It’s definitely something that you need to share. I was sad that they cut out Connie’s Top Chef Canada’s poutine Quickfire challenge because I wanted to know if she had made this version for the competition or not.

Butcher steak and poutine

Butcher steak and poutine

The other side that we ordered was the slow roasted heirloom beets served with house-made soft goat cheese and arugula. The beets were tender and slightly sweet, but to me the star of this dish was the goat cheese. It was creamy and fluffy, and had a light tang instead of a strong tang that you find in many goat cheeses.

Butcher steak, heirloom beets and goat cheese

Butcher steak, heirloom beets and goat cheese

For dessert my friend had cheesecake in a jar. I think they were preserved saskatoon berries, but my memory is a little hazy. The cheesecake was light and fluffy.

cheesecake

cheesecake

I had the flourless chocolate cake with graham crackers and ice cream. It was dense and chocolately, with a brownie-like texture. I ended up having to bring some of it away with me because of being much too full from all the good food.

flourless chocolate cake

flourless chocolate cake

Our receipt was delivered with a postcard and the cutest little pig paper clip.

The bill and the pig

The bill and the pig

Alley burgers were actually being served later that night but I was too stuffed to even think about eating them. I had a great meal and would definitely come back again.

P.S. Did you know that I’m doing interviews with the Top Chef contestants? You can read all the other past interviews by using this Top Chef Canada list.

CHARCUT Roast House
101, 899 Centre Street SW
Calgary, AB
www.charcut.com

CHARCUT Roast House on Urbanspoon

Café du Livre, Marrakech

Café du Livre is a bookstore/restaurant that specializes in international food and is often visited by ex-pats and book lovers. Located outside of the medina in the French colonial area of Marrakech, it is hidden away around a corner and is a quiet place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. Here you can eat a meal, peruse their bookshelves, and take advantage of their wifi.

Café du Livre

Café du Livre

water and bread

water and bread

I had a Brasserie Lipp salad – arugula (rocket), lettuce, beets, walnuts and hardboiled eggs, with an olive oil dressing and garlic bread.

Brasserie Lipp salad

Brasserie Lipp salad

I can’t remember precisely but I think this was a club sandwich.

sandwich and fries

sandwich and fries

Shared appetizers with crusty bread – hummus, baba ganoush, and I think the last was a tapenade.

appetizers

appetizers

Café du Livre
44, rue Tarik Ibn Ziad
Marrakech
www.cafedulivre.com

Gluten-free pizza party

I’ve been wanting to give GF Patissiere‘s baking a try for a while now. Luckily, I managed to have a small order tagged onto a regular delivery to Edmonton and, after meeting Peter (delivery man, husband to GF Patissiere’s owner and baker Victoria, and the guy behind The Celiac Husband blog) and his lovely daughter, I had the goodies in my hands.

And then I had to promptly stick them all in the freezer for two weeks because I was saving them all for a get-together with friends. It was pure torture, let me tell you. But I was a good girl, and didn’t even open the box to peek inside. Who knew I had so much willpower?

The box that called out "open me!"

The box that called out "open me!"

In addition to dessert, I also ordered some gluten-free pizza shells so that we could assemble our own Celiac friendly pizzas. I took everything out of the freezer the day before, and I am happy to say that freezing didn’t affect the quality of the food at all.

GF Patisserie pizza shells

GF Patisserie pizza shells

We added a little cheese, a little tomato sauce, some yellow, orange and green bell peppers, some Mastro extra lean hot capocollo, and some Harvest Meats bison sausage before popping the shells into the oven. A couple of different side salads rounded off the meal.

my beautiful pizza

my beautiful pizza

The crust browned perfectly in the oven and took no time at all to make. If you like thin crust pizza, I would highly recommend these. And all of us agreed that you couldn’t tell they were made from special gluten-free dough, which is high praise because most gluten-free products do taste at least slightly different from the originals due to the mix of alternative flours.

one of the other pizzas

one of the other pizzas

And some sangria to go with the meal didn’t hurt either.

Yes we were lazy and didn't make it from scratch.

Yes we were lazy and didn't make it from scratch.

To end the meal we cracked open the box and devoured brownies made from Barry Callebaut chocolate and cream cheese. (To be perfectly honest some of us couldn’t hold out anymore and we had some of these before eating our pizza!) They were like biting into a piece of rich, thick cheese cake and were heavenly to eat. One friend said — and keep in mind that I quote her exactly — that they were “fucking glorious.”

Callebaut and cream cheese brownies

Callebaut and cream cheese brownies

If you want to learn more about GF Patisserie, make sure you check out their website, Peter’s blog, and also this profile on Victoria that Chris did a little while ago.

GF Patisserie
122 – 3rd Ave West
Cochrane, Alberta
www.gfpatisserie.com

White beans in olive oil

White beans in olive oil

White beans in olive oil

While doing some searching on the internet, I found this recipe for white beans in olive oil. I thought this might make a nice salad to take to work. Unfortunately, I think the amount of olive oil called for in the original recipe is way too much. I will likely end up straining the beans when I dish them out. I also ended up adding lemon juice because the dish was crying out for more acid. As I didn’t have any radishes, I used beets instead. Once marinated, the garlic gives the dish a nice bite. I think, if I make this dish again, I would put less olive oil and maybe add in at least half of the juice from the can of beets. The vinegary liquid would taste great with the beans. Too bad I had drained most of the can prior to assembling the bean salad.

White beans in olive oil
Adapted from a recipe on Foodworthy

Ingredients
1 can of white kidney/cannellini beans (540 mL/19 oz)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (Original recipe calls for 1/2 cup.)
1 diced shallot
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/2 can beets, diced (398 mL/14 fl. oz) (I tossed in a bit of the beet liquid as well. Original recipe calls for 5 radishes.)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 minced cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions
Drain and wash the beans. Combine all the ingredients and marinate for at least an hour.