Baijiu: Keepin’ it Boozy & Bao-y

In hindsight, I’m not sure I would have selected the furry pink beast as my coat of choice for Baijiu.

Add to that the pink ombre tassel earrings and I am reallllly on the far side of the EXTRAmeter.

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What the heck, who am I kidding? I’m extra and I like it.

And, hey! I found out Baijiu is kind of extra and I like that too!

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First thing, as we walked up the stairs, there was a cloud of hip and beautiful people floating at the pinnacle, including a local yogi celeb whom I ardently admire! Felt v. frumpy/old all of the sudden.

Fortunately, once inside, it was clear that Baijiu does not discriminate against regular or even extra types. All are welcome!

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It’s pretty cool at Baijiu. We didn’t want to sit at one of the tables, so we bellied up to the bar.

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I like to see the boozy magic happen!

Also, we sat right by the DJ guy, and it was very festive to watch him do his thing.

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The DJ is a very transparent kind of guy. Either that or I just didn’t take a pic at the right time, ugh.

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Astroboy looked upset about something. Too much booziness, AB?

Robert went all rogue and asked for a riff on something mezcal. Check out the Black Sea salt treatment!

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I asked for something bubbly and French 75ish and St. Germainish and I got this little darling.

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Totally pony pitcherable.

We tried out 3 dishes.

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We had to try the infamous bao, of course, and went for the Red Braised Pork Bao. I couldn’t refuse the siren call of the Duck Confit Fried Rice and Robert wanted the Spicy Beef Noodles.

AGH.

The food was. SO. GOOD. I had a small seizure when I tried my first bite of the rice. And those house-made fat noodles, GAH. Must come back for more when we are sufficiently famished and wearing stretchy pants.

Finally, Robert ordered the will-not-be-ignored Renshenfengwangjiangthang.

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Our knowledgable bartender revealed to us that they had discovered how to crack the Ginseng Royal Jelly bottle so that the contents would meld with the Japanese whiskey/Cynar/fresh ginger juice. Heck, this drink is pretty much the equivalent of a healthy superfood juice. Enjoy sans guilt, I say!

Before we left, we were served up the DJ’s pet drink – a shot of Hennessy VS followed by a teeny green tea.

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It was, much to my surprise, DELICIOUS.

Well played, DJ.

Unfortunately, I think it caused Robert to have a mini stroke, as evidenced by his left eye.

IMG_0150Seriously, what is going on there???

Anyway, if food can induce mini seizures and drinks can induce mini strokes, you know they’re doing something well!

If having involuntary nervous system reactions to delicious food and drink is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right!

Get thee to Baijiu!

 

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Holy Cocktail Café! Cocktails AND Tea at The Holy Roller

It’s my birthday month! And as the cloud of sugary gluten and creamy/baked/gooey anything begins to lift, I realize that I need to find some meaningful purpose in life. A way to give back. A way to help my fellow man (and inherent to that, woman, since man is a gender neutral term, children!).

You gotta make your own fun or who will make it for you?

I’ll tell you who.

NO ONE, my friend. NO. ONE.

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With this in mind, I have declared that this January, I will contribute to the betterment of society by single-mindedly pursuing the discovery of…

The Most Festive Cocktail Joints in Edmonton!!!

In this case, Festive must include delicious, creative, vibey, lovely, and people-watchy.

Who knew my first foray into cocktail joint analysis would be completely happenstance!

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Robert and I wanted to check out the café part of The Holy Roller, so we stopped by on a Sunday afternoon at about 3 p.m. The café, in the front of the building, is a huge, cavernous space, with a long marble bar area, squeaky floors and that lovely musty smell of old wood.

i.e. LOVE.

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No one was there, and the restaurant part of The Holy Roller doesn’t open until 4, so we were able to get the low down from the café dude, Luke, and the bar manager, Mark. They were both really welcoming, warm, and knowledgable. Please note, the café is not the usual venue to enjoy a drink –  it’s a totally different feel at night in the restaurant!  Here’s a view of it, daytime style.

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I asked for a tea, but at Mark’s suggestion, Robert got a riff on an Old Fashioned with Mezcal and 3 kinds of bitters.

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It was clean, refreshing, citrusy, and THAT GLASS.

P.S. in the background is a super cute little empanada with chorizo. The café has a bunch of little pre-wrapped thingies like wraps and such. Also a cute little cinnamon bun with a really good strawberry jam inside.

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Chef Rafael D’Alcazar also makes an impressive variety of chocolates. Didn’t get to try them, but next time, fo shiz!

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Robert, feeling as though he is being watched.

We changed seats because a) we can b) I like to try out different views c) I like having my back to a wall since I am actually a highly trained spy.

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We could not escape the knowing glance of the peacock himself, however. And, heck, who would want to?

Robert moved on to The Sacred Heart. So fitting for a Sunday. Look at those festive Thai chiles!

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I asked for a Sidecar. I love me a Sidecar for a lighter and parch-relieving drink.

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Of course, after all of that liquid, nature began her usual yodelling, so – wait a minute! What is that??? A SECRET DOOR?????

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MUST. OPEN. DOOR.

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MUST. DISCOVER. SECRET. BEHIND. SECRET. DOOR.

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Now THIS is a bathroom flush with some serious wallpaper.😬

 

I loved sipping cocktails in this venerable yet ultra hip café setting. You should go!

 

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Merry Mixology!

We had our “I guess it’s now an annual tradition” create your own cocktail party this weekend and it was festive. Like, Mariah Carey festive.

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The premise of a create your own cocktail party is that guests bring everything they need to make their drink of choice, as far as ingredients go. As the host, I provide the ice, the glassware (martini, cosmo, champagne flute, champagne coupe, hi ball, shot glasses etc.), shakers, and various tools of the mixology trade.

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The cocktails should be festive, swanky, and delicious. Ergo, survivalist drinks that remind oneself of university days gone by such as the spleen-tormenting vodka cran, should be avoided at all costs.

If things go well, everyone will show off their mad shaker skillz, concoct something amazing, and…share!

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Here’s Robert’s take on MY favourite drink – ‘The Last Mechanical Art”. In order to justify the fact that he had hijacked MY favourite drink, he renamed it “The Last Mechanical Science”.  The crucial ingredients in here are mezcal, Campari, cynar, and vermouth. Boozy as heck, just the way I like it.

Boozy or bubbly. I can easily roll my cocktail caravan in either direction. I made a classic champagne cocktail with angostura bitters soaked sugar cubes, and then I tried one I’d never made before.

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The name is lacking in glitter and swank, but nevertheless! With two forms of rhubarb (including the bitters) and two of elderflower (one being the St. Germain), this was highly festive! My only advice to you is to ensure that you do not accidentally confuse the St. Germain with the rhubarb bitters. GAH.

Don’t forget to have on offer a crapload of food or your guests may end up, as my young adult daughter tells me, turnt.

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Naked vanilla cake from The Art of Cake. Soooo light and yum.

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Absolutely stunning sugar cookies from Milk and Cookies Bakeshop. Oh my gosh. These were not only beautiful, they were also super delicious. Highly recommend!

I also ordered individually packaged sugar cookies in the shape of champagne coupes as guest favours and they were so lovely!

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Guests brought a plethora of cocktail fixins – from Canadian Club to Moet & Chandon.

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Of course, my true love, St. Germain himself, HAD to attend. He is truly the most sinful saint I know.

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I am always a stickler for lighting and festive touches. Oh, how I TRIED to get my POP FIZZ CLINK idea going. It didn’t turn out to be the greatest ever. Lack of wall space and…

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deflated N in CLINK, which Lord Andrew is handily hiding. Sigh.

No matter how cozy,

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no matter how festive,

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no matter how many dogs need petting,

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people always end up in the kitchen.

In order to facilitate this, it’s important to include a guest list that is both diverse and festive. A mix of personalities and stories is vital in avoiding the dreaded AWKWARD LULL or worse, the dreaded HOSTESS LEFT HER OWN PARTY TO GO TO KARAOKE.

Here we have new soulmates, Chris and Kris. Chris has helped me avoid the pain and torture of Hades itself and in a different manner, so has Kris!

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A renowned triathlete and styler of dapper hats attended.

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Suzanne is an aspiring sugar cookie model.

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Kris is flanked by, on the left, a rockstar, and on the right, an expert on rare and antique water heating systems that involve important valves.

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No romances blossomed, but there WERE bromances galore.

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And appearances by nobility in wearable works of esoteric art.

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Scottish clan chiefs cheersed Russian dukes (and my Russian language advisor). Nazdarovya!

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This was the only way I was getting a pic of me until someone took pity on me.

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My swanky outfit actually turned out to be kind of Aunt Shirl-ish.

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the aftermath.

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Ugh. Abhore cleaning up.

Thank goodness I have a husband who has certain obsessive tendencies when it comes to cleaning. I’ll leave him to it.

Love to you all! And goodnight!

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Eat! The Start of a Girls’ Supper Club

I have wanted to start a girls’ supper club type of thing for a long time.

I’m a fan of supper.

I’m a fan of girls.

Put them together and you have either a horrific night of cannibalism or a wonderful night of fun and festivity!

Fortunately, my first attempt resulted in the latter.

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Here are the intricate and tricky steps to creating a supper club:

  1. Invite a diverse group of kind, fun, interesting, and festive people.
  2. Decide where/when/what.
  3. Eat!

I chose The Holy Roller as our first venue because it’s newly opened and has a great buzz about it.

Also, my mid-century Wedgwood stove decided that after 70 or so years, it had had enough.  At this point in time, a supper club at my house would consist of high fibre toast and microwaved eggs.

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This place is so vibey and coolesque and is super prime for people watching.

And dog watching.

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Kitsch is the name of the game at The Holy Roller.

And drinks.

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I was initially horrified by my drink décor. But then I realized I must accept it because I did, after all, order a drink made with aquavit and dill. So Scandinavian! Of course, in the spirit of a communal supper club, we all tried each other’s drinks. I can safely say that the enjoyment level of the cocktails at The Holy Roller is high. Skål!

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Not one person accessed these sweets all night! Maybe they were saving their appetites for the REAL food.

Like this crazy festive halibut ceviche.

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I was oohing and ahhing over it for so long, it was almost completely ingested by the diligent members of Eat! before I got started. I had enough to know that it was really pretty delicioussss.

We had a few other items. The duck chicharrones. Which I basically ordered because it’s fun to say.

Cheech- ah-rrrrrr-ohn-ehssss.

Good thing it was fun to say because it was only medium fun to eat.

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Sorry for not v. good pic. Truth be told, I struggled to snap a great shot. It just didn’t look that beautiful on the plate. Chicharrones are kind of like pork rinds, and in fact, originally, pork was often the go to. They should be decadently fatty, but light and delicate. These were okay. Kind of lukewarm literally and figuratively.

Moving on!

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Ricotta tapenade with, yes, the ever elusive…CAPPERS.  Yes, cappers.

Sooooo, did I ever mention I have a major case of misorthographia? (TM) Yes, I just made up a word to describe the extreme reactions I have to misspellings.

Cappers.

The menu also had a few more special challenges with spelling, but the craziest was involving their signature dish – pizza!

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The Holy Roller has two styles of pizza, the thick, Detroit style pizza, which you see in all its oozy glory above, and the New Haven style. We had to ask what the New Haven style pizza is all about. To this day, we still don’t know the answer to that question. Because the other style is actually New HEAVEN, people.

Anyway, New Heaven pizza is thinner, apparently. Or was that the New Haven? Agh!

We did like the Detroit style pizza we had – ricotta and PROSSIUTTO.

But there were 7 hungry members of Eat! there. And I went home with one piece! One piece out of four! What does this mean??? I am very appreciative of pizza leftovers, but also very suspicious. Shouldn’t this pizza have been gobbled down? Did my comrades and I just not get it? I think I shall have to return again to do further pizza pie research.

Cool restaurant style interlude.

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I just have to make a quick comment about the service at The Holy Roller.

It wasn’t great.

Which I had read on a couple of reviews, but UGH – hate when it happens to me. I’ll gloss over the rest of it, but MUST mention the repeated violation of tenet # 7a. in the Ultimate Handbook to Diners’ Rights, edition 4.

#7a. Do NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to remove food or drink, without asking, before diners have fully enjoyed the item. 

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m a fan of girls.

I am most decidedly NOT a fan of girls who try to take away my nectar and manna. Hands off, lady!

Time for another interlude.

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Look at this. Now this is a wonderful, ethereal, yet mean streets girls’ supper club moment. YAS MAMA KD.

Oh my gosh, I just realized that she has the same initials as macaroni and cheese. My love for her has reached new and cheesy levels.

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That mural on the wall behind these two cellular women is based on actual footage of my reaction whenever someone pulls out a phone at a supper club.

Just kidding, C & C! 💖

 

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Here are a couple of babes breaking bread and belting booze. Well, in this particular photo, we are digesting said bread and booze. And looking kitschy and kool doing so! I love the café area out front with all of its old timey lamps, furnishings, and oddities. Must come back for tea another day, sporting appropriately hip horn-rimmed glasses and a beard. (Not hard when you’re almost 45, believe me.)

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I wish I had been waiting for a no good, scruffy, motorbike-riding, professor type of guy in this picture. It just looks like what these chairs are made for.

Um. I just realized. I am married to a scruffy, motorbike-riding, professor type of guy. Although he is all good.

I’m livin’ the dream baby!

I think our first supper club was a hit! I did find it hard to chat up each girl, due to a) long table/loud venue and b) my problems with focusing when there are so many comment-worthy people to view! The Holy Roller is definitely the place to be if you want to immerse yourself in a festive, cool vibe and observe all the stylista ingenues.

Which I do!

We’ve decided that our second supper club will be hosted by one of us in our home.  Can’t wait to get together again, and Eat!

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