Cochrane is growing more on me every time I visit. Yesterday we went to Pho Anh Huyen, a Vietnamese Noodle House on 5th Ave. Close to Safeway.
The decor and atmosphere remind me of a 1980's low end noodle joint in Hong Kong Harbor, with the pink walls and black vinyl chairs around those cheapo Formica top tables. Piles of spoons and chop sticks right there, ready to use...very authentic,
very stylish. In a chinese way.
But that's secondary to the food in this case. That's what is important here. It really is. Maybe close your eyes while you wait for your food. Or keep them open and imagine you are having lunch with the locals in Kowloon.
Every single dish we ordered was available gluten free. The Chicken Noodle soup and Victoria's Curry Chicken soup were outstanding in flavours. Strong pungent spices with fresh vegetables.
The size of servings are almost prohibitive to eat by yourself, so those buckets of soup you get are great to share or take home for a full second meal. Or in Victoria's case...three meals.
You may have noticed that Victoria's place in Cochrane is not open on Tuesdays.
Though closed, she is busy at work all day long, prepping the place for the week and get daily staples made.
Victoria's waffle plan has been in the works for a while, now it is becoming reality. It took some tweaking and experimenting, but finally the product meets GF Patisserie standards. ( I could tell you stories....)
THE SIX PACK WAFFLES.
I doubt that Victoria will adopt my name suggestion, but regardless, you gotta get there this week and try them. Six big square waffles too thick for any toaster. You need a toaster oven. I almost set the house on fire, my waffle got stuck and set off the smoke alarm.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Victoria's GF Patisserie is our Isabella. Not only does she get a treat most times she visits her Mom, she also gets to brag about it to her friends. Cupcakes this, butter tart that and on she goes all the time.
No surprise then, when she has a friend over to hear the question, "Can we go visit the bakery today?"
It's Saturday, not much else going on, so why not. Kids who are not affected by Celiacs disease, don't want to hear about Gluten Free, wheat versus rice flour, they just want a treat. And they deserve it. Especially since Victoria's cookies are very good and made with top notch ingredients, like clarified butter and Callebaut Chocolate.
Compare that to a single scoop of ice ceam for 3.50 (plus .25 for a cup) on main street, Hmmm what can I say?
When you live with a Celiac it usually is a habit changing relationship. Not only with your significant other, as we adapt to bizarre rituals in an around the kitchen, or cook so very different than what we were used to before we met you, but also our own relationship with food. We care deeply for our gluten challenged family members and do anything to see them get good quality GLUTEN FREE food, which in itself can be very rewarding for all. It does make us happy to see you happy over food.
Not to mention the actual health benefits for ourselves by cutting out that glue like substance.
Once in a while though (some more than others), we have this massive craving for regular food stuff. Full of Gluten. No excuses.
Especially when eating out, where we won't experience those long term guilt syndroms for contaminating the kitchen sink with crumbs, or get the evil eye for using the same knife we cut the bread with, to spread butter AND honey on this excellent crusty bun we just bought at COBBS Bakery.
So much easier at a restaurant, just sit at opposite ends of the table. And dig in. Go for it.
So, recently on a trip to Edmonton, Victoria gave in to my subtle (maybe they weren't so subtle after all?) whiny remarks for all things Italian.
"Fine", she said, "Let's go for Pizza." Hallelujah.
After eating all the rice noodles, curries and GF Mexican food I can handle, I get to eat PIZZA! MY PIZZA! Do I know a place.....
Dear Celiacs, if you are ever in Edmonton and your Non Celiac partner likes thin crust Pizza, check out FAMOSO on Jasper Avenue. Original Neapolitan thin crust Pizza. Imported flour, imported tomatoes and fresh Mozzarella cheese. Your spouse will thank you and pay you back in spades. Trust me.
They do make a very very good Caesar's salad (See? we always think of you), just tell them to hold the croutons. Next time we go back to "A Tasty Menu" again and watch you eat your food.
I think Thai food is well liked all over the world. If you have been to Thailand, the smells and spells of that versatile cuisine will be with you forever. From spicy curries, well perepared seafood, to fried noodles, there usually is a dish for every palate.
In "Where Magazine", we found below description of a Thai restaurant, centrally located, not too far from the hotel. Needless to say the usually endless dinner debate was settled very quickly.
With the exception of my spring rolls all dishes we ordered were gluten free. Both curries, we ordered a pineapple red curry and a green chicken curry, were excellent.
Sukhothai Curries, stirfries, noodle dishes and BBQ are among the menu selections at this authentic Thai restaurant. The menu is also celiac friendly changing their ingredients to make it gluten free if required. Tues – Fri 11:30 am – 3 pm; 5 pm – 9:30 pm; Sat 11:30 am – 10 pm; Sun 11:30 am – 9:30 pm. Location: 11525-104 Ave., Edmonton 780-426-4020
A couple of doors down from GF PATISSERIE on 3rd Avenue in Cochrane is the Blue Dog Cafe. The place has been around for quite a few years, always a good sign for me.
So I took Victoria for lunch there, as it was a sunny day and their patio looks very inviting.
Besides the obvious gluten free salad selection, they had some more option for Celiacs. Victoria went for the ribs. Great flavor, with a tangy BBQ sauce, tender meat. Nice and light lunch. Victoria brought her own bread to go wit the meal. ( AN obvious advantage having a GF Bakery next door)
On weekends they feature live music and to me, it is well worth a drive to Cochrane.
Victoria and Lauren opened the doors of GF PATISSERIE for the first time today.
Thanks to their loyal customers they met over the past 9 weeks at the Bearspaw Farmers' Market, it was busy for a very soft opening.
Over the next few weeks the place will offer more and more variety of great gluten free baked goods. Don't hold back, tell them what you would like to see there.
The only thing I will push for next summer, is an espresso cart for that fantastic deck that shop has out front. A few more of those great teak benches and you could have a great Saturday morning hang out place.
OK. I made that up. It's just Paella, but it sounds better with a Spanish name. La Boqueria is a fantastic market in Barcelona.
To me, Paella is similar to fruit salad. If you order it in a restaurant, you can't really choose what goes in. You get what you get. You don't like mushy bananas in your fruit salad? Too bad. It's in there. Or water melon pits by the dozen? Check. No restaurant gives you fresh Raspberries in your fruit salad. Why? Or those tiny wild strawberries I like so much. Never had tehm served in my fruit salad. Sort of the same with this Spanish rice dish. Some restos in North America add calamari or local seafood, others mix in corn, probably to keep it yellow or because they are from Saskatchewan and their family is in the agri business. No thanks. I make my own and get to put in what I like. Or what the family tolerates. In Spain many versions come with rabbit. Well, can't do that. Everybody likes the bunnies that poop on the golf courses around Calgary, can't serve em up for dinner. Where would I even buy them?? Chicken it is. Chicken is good. Everybody eats chicken (no vegetarians in our house). Merguez sausages, add a nice spicy touch to the dish, that's it for meats. Seafood. We all love Shrimp, in they go. I like clams and since I cook, they are going in! Nobody else eats them, but they don't make the Paella too fishy, so it's OK. Fresh roasted tomatoes, green peas for veggies and color, make sure you have flavourful chicken stock and good quality Saffron. One of the best gluten free dishes you can make.
I am sending this post for prior approval to our good friends Manuel & Ina, who hail from Spain and know a thing or two about Paella. If the post is up, they approved my cooking.
As you may have noticed, I did not say much about Victoria's bakery the last few weeks. After the disaster with her first location, she did not want me to talk too much about the second (and much better) location in Cochrane.
But it is official! As of today, Tuesday August 5th 2008, GF Patisserie has passed the inspection by the Calgary Health Region. Onwards and upwards. As of Saturday, August 9th, she will be opening her doors with some the best Gluten Free baked goods you have ever tasted. Here is the address:
122 - 3rd Avenue West in Cochrane
By the way, did you know that you can now look at the inspection reports of your favorite restaurant online? Check it out:
15 years ago I made the decision to move to North America. And I chose Calgary. Though not as European as Montreal, but much more down to earth, cleaner and as good as anything, if not better than what I could have settled for on this continent.
Though we did a stint in the United States for a few years, Calgary is home. For all of our family.
Austria, where I was born, is my favorite "former" home. My family is still there, so that is always the best excuse to visit. This trip is booked for the end of August and I am able to combine it with business. Even better.
Can't wait. Here are some images, where I will be staying.
Hinterstoder, my village, is located in a remote valley in the alps. Well known for skiing and mountain climbing to most Austrians and Germans, it somewhat resembles Banff without the Japanese and commerce. Only 900 souls call this village home, so you can imagine how peaceful it can be. Or boring. Depends what type of holiday you look for I guess.
P.S. The aerial image of Hinterstoder is borrowed from this wonderful blog about Paragliding. Check it out. My thanks go to Schirmherr.