Dine Chartier – an Adventure

Last night I had the opportunity to go for dinner with my parents and my lovely wife, Emily. My parents wanted to take Emily out for her birthday and I was lucky enough to also be invited.

Yes, that is my happy face.

The interior of the restaurant is rustic – distressed wood and fixtures, mis-matched chairs. Chalkboards framed with chunky art frames line the walls. These are used to describe the features and the rotating craft beer taps along with some chalk art. It was a really exciting space to walk into and experience.

Our server (whom I forget her name, so that makes me the worst, but she was the best) told us that she could bring us samples of any of the craft taps to try it out before settling on a full glass, which was a really nice thing to hear. I skipped this option entirely and went to the Situation Brewing Earl Grey Tea Saison, as I have had the Afternooner before, and the other beers on the menu were either ones I’ve had, or not quite what I wanted.

The menu was very intriguing. Many small plates to choose from, many unique offerings.

My parents decided to share the Mussels and Clams.

As a sneak, I definitely stole some. It was enjoyable, I preferred the mussels to the clams personally.

As for Emily and I, we had the Crisps.

Pork rinds and chicken skin. Healthy. Om nom. The flavours were fantastic. The pork rinds were light and fluffy, the chicken skin was salty and chewy and delicious. Also, I was eating fat fried in fat. Because I’m an adult.

Then my beer had a problem. It was empty. I reviewed the board and decided that I wanted to give the Fallentimber Meadjito a try. This time, I took our server up on that sample opportunity. Let me tell you – if you like Mojitos…find this and drink it. If you don’t like it, please deliver your unused portion to my mouth.

Finally – it came time for our main courses. Also, this is where the adventure in the evening occurred. See, I couldn’t decide on what to have for dinner (the Crab Roll is probably what I would have ordered if it was available, but snooze, loose, blah blah), so I traumatized our server. I asked her to pick my main for me because I sure couldn’t. She looked at me like she was a deer about to be smashed by a car on the highway. Apparently this is not something people do, ask for food surprises. Personally, I’d get drunk with power.

Well. I’m not people. This is my way of getting outside of my comfort box in the land of food. Without a sufficient push I won’t go outside of my normal. So. Today was time for adventure. I assured her that I was going to be happy with anything and to not tell me what I was getting until it arrived – she promptly stated “how about the Beaumont Smoked Meat Sandwich”? In her defense, she probably didn’t hear my last request because it was a little loud and I can be quieter than I should be sometimes. I said “sure”!

It arrived, wrapped in butcher paper with a plate of fries that looked amazing. I unwrapped the sandwich and it looked delicious.

Food layout by Emily, nurse, wife,  and food artist.

The sandwich was really delicious. The meat was tasty and well complemented by the in-house made pickles and mustard. My fries were assaulted by everyone at the table. I can’t wait to eat the second half of this today (not fries, they were sacrificed to our stomachs last night).

Emily ordered the Roasted Chicken. The presentation was very appealing.

The bite of the chicken I had was nice. Good flavour, juicy chicken. Only downside: we expected a bit more ‘sauce’.

I didn’t take photos of my parent’s meals because I can only impose so much on people I’m eating with. My mom had the Pork Chow (a nice flavour, really enjoyed the lentils) and my dad had the Roasted cod (I did not sample, as it disappeared too quickly). Both presentations were great. Take my word on it.

Finally, it was time for dessert. Three of us had the Pets de Soeur. It looked too good and I ate half of it and realized crap, I didn’t take a photo. So I’m not sure if I actually ate it. But. It was really good – I particularly enjoyed the calvados ice cream. My dad had the Pot de Lemon Meringue, which I did get to sample and it was a really nice curd and shortbread and a light fluffy Meringue on top. Again, no photo, see imposing and the whole fiasco with my dessert.

So. That’s the adventure at Chartier. I highly recommend you go. It’s great.

Also, hopefully our server reads this. Because she gave me a great meal and will probably pull the same thing on her if she serves me again. Because I like adventure.

Eating out with Baby

A few new stops for meals with Jackson means a few more posts from me!

Applebee’s Southside – Overall, the experience was ok.  They did not have cups with lids (like Chili’s) for young ones, but everything else was pretty decent.  We weren’t really impressed with the food this time around, but I’m not sure if that’s a function of what we ordered or if the food is decreasing in quality (we’ve eaten here before and enjoyed it, pre-baby).

A Taste of Edmonton – Lots of choices!  Serve yourself.  Jackson didn’t/couldn’t eat a lot of things, due to his allergies, but we had anticipated this and brought him his own snacks.  It was a fun afternoon out.

Mr. Mike’s

A number of people enjoyed the post I made yesterday talking about baby friendly restaurants. I realized that I missed a few. I given the responses of my previous post, I will try to continue this feature.

Mr. Mike’s – We ate at Mr. Mike’s in West Edmonton Mall. They had high chairs which were of good height in relation to the table. Our server interacted with Jackson quite a bit, asking him questions like what he’d like to eat. It was a very positive experience.  Additionally, the food is very good and quite reasonable for a steakhouse.

Chili’s – We’ve eaten at the Edmonton South location twice and both were positive experiences.  They have great kids cups (with a straw and a lid) which are great.  Jackson drew with crayons for the first time at Chili’s.

Baby Friendly

With a little one in the family, our restaurant experience has changed slightly.  Thankfully, we’ve had pretty good experiences. 

Red Robin– We’ve eaten at both Edmonton South and Edmonton West.  Both, as expected were very good experiences.  Our most recent visit to Edmonton West we had ordered some vegetables for the little one, but they didn’t have anything, so we received some melon, free of charge.  The high chairs are high enough for the little one to reach the table fairly well.
Earls – We ate at Edmonton South Common.  This was a good experience.  We had contacted the manager beforehand to check to see if they had high chairs (they don’t), so we brought our own.  We sat on the patio, but the chair did put the little one pretty low on the table.  I’m not sure if this would be any better in the dining room or not.  We ordered some seasonal veggies for the little one.
Moxies – We’ve eaten at Edmonton South and Edmonton South Common.  South Common was alright.  The high chair was not tall enough for the table we were seated at.  South was a better experience.  The high chair was the right height for the table.  We had ordered some steamed broccoli which we were charged for.

Overall, we were happy with our experiences at these restaurants and would not discourage families with young ones visiting any of them.

Homebrew

At the urging of my friend, Paul Welke, I’ve begun making my own wine in my basement.  I’ve picked up a variety of equipment second-hand (Kijiji is a great service, BTW), as well as buying a few items new (and I will be borrowing a few things from my parents, also).  Part of the appeal of this hobby is that it’s dollars a bottle, rather than tens of dollars.  According to the person I talked to at Winning Wines Plus (on the southside), a $75 winekit will make a wine at a $20-30/bottle quality for about $4/bottle.

Truth be told, the actual process of making the wine (at least thus far) is boring.  You mix water, grape (or other fruit) juice with “Package A”.  Take a hydrometer reading, record.  Cover the primary fermenting vessel and wait for at least a week.  Take another hydrometer reading.  Once the hydrometer gives you the appropriate reading, transfer the wine to a different vessel, and wait for several weeks.

Yea.  Not much goes on there.  However, I hope that through making a variety of kits and working through this process, I can start developing a greater understanding of how the wine develops and perhaps make my own changes to the wine-kits to tweak them more to my liking.

And of course, there’s also Beer to be made.  That process sounds a bit more exciting.

Much excitement!

I’m anxiously awaiting my order of Had A Glass 2009, which is the 2009 version of the book I recommended back in March.  Based on the extremely high quality of the wines chosen from last year, I will have to say that it will be difficult for this book not to provide some excellent choices for wine.

Speaking of excellent choices in wine, I was incredibly lucky to get my hands on a couple bottles of Inniskillin ‘Discovery Series’ Chenin Blanc (2005).  If you see this wine, buy it.  It is incredibly tasty, but the supply is rather limited.  With that said, Earl’s does have it on their wine list, so you can buy a bottle there.

In other news, I also purchased the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Supplement for Star Wars Saga Edition.  From my reading so far, it adds a great deal of information to increase the coolness of your game.  The more I take a look at supplements and the like for SWSE, I’m finding that Wizards is doing an excellent job with the support for this title.

Wine as a Hobby

Earlier this year, I made the conscious decision to take up wine as a hobby.  I consider myself fairly lucky on that front, as Emily’s parents are also enjoy wine, which gives me the opportunity to try a lot more than I’d normally have the opportunity to try.  This also means I get to look over older issues of various wine magazines and the like when they are done with them.  Saves me the money that I’d potentially spend on these sorts of things, especially given my track record with reading magazines.

However, I did invest in a book about wine (Wine for Dummies, if you must know), which I have read bits and pieces of to help me understand various wine terminologies as I come up to things I don’t quite understand.  Even though I’ve been doing reading on wine and all that sort of thing – I’m still not all that sophisticated in my tasting of the actual products.

I can follow the ‘procedure’ for wine tasting, but when it comes right down to it, I’m not really that good at describing the taste or smell of the wine that I’m tasting.  It could just be experience (or lack of).  I don’t know.  It doesn’t bother me all that much though.  When it comes right down to it, either I like the wine or I don’t.

So, with that said, I’ve recently had a few wines that I’d like to recommend to you.

First is from Cono Sur’s Viognier (2007) from Chile.  I really enjoyed this wine.  I found it to be very easy to drink.  Can’t beat the price either as it goes for around $12. 

I also had an inkling for a Rose (and by that, I mean it was hot out and I didn’t really want a white).  Emily picked out a bottle from Capcanes Montsant, Mas Donis Roset 2007 (~$23) from Spain for me, and I was quite pleased with it.  I enjoyed drinking this wine, though I did note that the flavor could have been a bit fuller.

Finally, I think I’ve noted this wine before, but Gazela’s Vinho Verde (2007, Portugal) is really enjoyable.  A slight carbonation makes the wine tickle your tongue in very good ways.  Another easy drinking wine that is excellent for enjoying with people on a patio.  Again, very affordable, ~$13.

So, I like my wine.  Maybe I can’t tell you what flavors I taste or smell, but I don’t care and neither should you.

Cherry Wine?

Recently, I picked up a bottle of Elephant Island Cherry (2007).  That’s right, a wine made from cherries rather than grapes.  In fact, all of Elephant Island’s products are made with fruits other than grapes.

I had heard good things through my interweb travels about this producer, so I decided I’d check them out.  Originally, I was looking for the Black Currant (2006), due to the good review in my Top 100 under $20 book, however, I found the 2007 Cherry and Black Currant at Aligra in West Edmonton Mall.  Intrigued by the Cherry, I opted for that bottle instead.  I also picked up a bottle of Moselland Riesling Avantgarde (I can’t recall the Vintage), mostly because the bottle was too cool looking not to buy.

Before I get back to the wine, I’d like to note the enjoyment I received from shopping at Aligra Wine and Spirits.  The individual that was working at Aligra was very helpful in helping me select a Scotch to purchase for my Dad for Father’s Day.  He hasn’t received it yet, so I can’t vouch for the reliability of the advice.  She did note that the bottle I did purchase was well received at the Scotch tasting they had a few days prior to my visit.

Anyway, the wine.  I’m really unsure what to think.  The first glasses I had was pretty average in my opinion.  It tasted like cherries.  I certainly wasn’t blown away.  The next day, I had a couple more glasses.  It was really tasty, I quite enjoyed drinking it.  So, perhaps the food pairing the first night wasn’t quite right, or the pairing on the second night was perfect.  I don’t really know.  Maybe it tastes better as it sits open in the fridge (which I doubt).  If you want to give something different a try, Elephant Island Cherry is definitely that.  I don’t think I’ll be buying another bottle of this one, but I’m definitely still on the prowl for their other offerings.

Also, I’ve posted a new recipie, Stuffed Pork Chops.  I hope you enjoy it, I certainly did.