Hey guys, for those of you just joining us, WELCOME and I hope you enjoy my reviews (and/or rants)!
Avant Manger (Blog Guide) and Posts of Yesterday (Archives) can be found at the bottom.
Thank you to everybody following my blog, Food Matters, and supporting me thus far!
Feel free to contact me at foodmatterstome@gmail.com with anything! Cheers!

August 06, 2011

Down in the Town: Niche - Lunch Tasting!

A quick heads-up for you guys -- Niche is doing a Lunch Tasting on August 10th (next Wednesday) to push out their lunch menu! Unfortunately, I'll be out of town that day but it's still a great opportunity to try out their menu and sample some of their delicious complimentary offerings! Seats ARE limited - it's a cozy place and I'm sure it will fill up fast! One day, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm, free food, first come first serve, dayummm. Poster below!

August 03, 2011

The New York Chronicles (NYC): Shake Shack (Madison Square Park, UWS, Theatre District)

A couple days in and my trip to New York was already off to a flying start: I had been to a Broadway show, visited the museums, had a slice of heavenly pizza, and topped the Empire State! All I needed to seal the deal was a real American hamburger - Heck if it was good enough for Tony Stark after 3 months of captivity, I damn well want one too! And it's not hard to see why: few things in life are more satisfying than a burger - simple, hearty, and starting at $4.50 - what more could you want! That said, I usually find it difficult to endorse chains (run of the mill food, frozen tasteless meats, and so forth), but Shake Shack is an exception. With locations all across New York City (I got a chance to stop by their Madison Square Park, UWS, and Theatre District locations) and the East Coast, they still remain true to exactly what it takes to make a good burger; no compromises involved!

Enter the freshly ground 4 oz. beef patty. Top that with a blanket of cheese, lettuce and tomatoes (onions and pickles at your discretion). Sandwich between two halves of a soft baked bun and you're done! Genius, isnt' it? Defying-ly simple, yet completely satisfying. You tell me, doesn't that sound delicious? 

Now, back to Shake Shack. The first thing you'll notice and printed in big block letters along the wall in a motto-esque warning, "Stand For Something Good." Wonder what that means? Well, let's dive into an illustrative example, shall we? Let's say.. per chance, you decide to visit Shake Shack around 3 pm. Depending on the location, chances are that there will be a line out the door. That's fine, a lot of people like afternoon snacks, right? Let's try again, 6 pm? Dinner time.. good luck. 11 pm? Surely, it still can't be busy at 11! Actually, that corresponds with when the Broadway shows are letting out so guess what? Yup, still packed! It becomes rapidly apparent that Shake Shack is a busy busy chain and you will most certainly be waiting for your burger. *BUT* the wait is well worth it. Stand for something good! I'm serious.

Shake Shack (Madison Square Park) on UrbanspoonShake Shack (UWS) on UrbanspoonShake Shack (Theater District) on Urbanspoon
(Left to Right: Madison Square Park, UWS, Theatre District)
What's IN: Double Shackburger!
The extra patty is worth it and doubly delicious, trust me!

July 30, 2011

Out and About: Heritage Festival! July 30 - August 1, 2011

Hello all! With summer in full bloom and August just around the corner, you know what time it is! That's right, Heritage Days and this year, Servus is proud to present the 36th annual incarnation of the festival! Sporting 62 pavilions worth of culture, heritage, and of course, food (!), this is one you won't want to miss! I'm sure to be around over the next few days (July 30 - August 1) so I hope to see you guys out at all the festivities! And as much as it shocks me to say, it's not just about the food *gasp*; there's tons to check out from cultural performances, entertainment, and beautiful crafts! Enjoy the sunshine (finally!), grab your friends and hit the festival, you won't regret it!

P.S. My personal favorites include elephant ears and bubble tea (Taiwan booth) from previous years!

July 29, 2011

Thank You!

Ahem! I have an announcement! *begin drumroll* I've been blogging for almost 3 months now! 90 days and 30 blog entries, plus you can check us out on Urbanspoon too! *applause* At this point there should be a chorus of cheers, you know physically tangible energy and all =) ...just kidding. But while that might not mean anything to many of you, more importantly, I would like to take this time to recognize and thank all the people who have supported me thus far! All my blog viewers - you know who you are - give yourselves a pat on the back! Without you, I'm nothing! ...seriously. So keep reading and keep telling your friends about me! Thank you as well to everyone who has helped make this blog happen - family, friends - you guys are the best! Regular posts resume tomorrow!

July 26, 2011

The New York Chronicles (NYC): Famous Famiglia Pizzeria!

Sometimes great food doesn't have to be complicated. And sometimes you just want a quick bite to eat or you might only have minutes before a Broadway musical -- you can't afford to wait in a long line or sit down at a restaurant! BUT at the same time, you want good food. Can all of these really coexist happily? Thankfully, with the advent of fast food and commercialism, the answer has arrived: It's easy to find a chain restaurant (large or small) or a simple joint around the corner! However, for some, the thought of reheated food and the feeling of herded cattle pushed through the store as quickly as possible are a steep trade-off! And I don't blame them. Is good food in a fast and homely setting that much to ask?

I walk in Famous Famiglia Pizzeria to find out! Just before, I had mosied through Times Square and it was getting pretty late in the evening; all I wanted was some soul food on the way home and Famiglia delivered big time!

"Is good food in a fast and homely setting that much to ask?"

Famous Famiglia Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
What's IN: Calzones! 
(I had the sausage one specifically but they're all so good!)

July 23, 2011

In the Town: Taste of Edmonton! July 21-30, 2011

Whew, with me being out of the city for a couple weeks, I nearly forgot to let you guys all know about Taste of Edmonton! Never fear though, wherever I am, I will always have you guys in mind =)! Read on!

Half a million people every year flock to attend Edmonton's Taste of Edmonton (and with good reason)! Whether you want to volunteer or just partake in the 10-day extravaganza, Churchill Square will be packed with your chance to get a-tasting-away! With a ton of entertainment planned each day, there's no reason not to check out this year's extensive menu
(http://www.eventsedmonton.ca/Resturaunts.html), featuring restaurants of all cuisines and corners of the city, as well as desserts, beer, liqueur, wine and beverages galore! There's more happening than I can list here so make sure you take a little time out of your busy schedules to drop by and give this a visit! I promise you won't be disappointed!

Bottom Line: Taste of Edmonton. July 21-30th. Be there.

July 21, 2011

Off the Trail: Food Matters arrives in New York City!

*hum* Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, There's nothing you can't do... Now you're in New York... These streets will make you feel brand new, These lights will inspire you... to write food blogs! (okay, I'll admit it, that was pretty bad but I do love the Empire State of Mind chorus haha) If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you can either click here for the music video or ...disregard the entire first paragraph and stare at the twinkly lights in my vlog =D

Right, so back to business, it's official guys: I'm going to the Big Apple! Rock on! ...actually that was a lie, I've already been here for over a week but that means, I've been stewing up a whole bunch of reviews for you guys! (Hey, it takes time to write them up!) Keep posted -- I'll being putting up a few of the more memorable ones over the next few days! PS sorry for the video quality, it was shot out of the apartment I was staying in (courtesy of AirBNB.com)

July 18, 2011

Out and About: Culina Mill Creek

From the Culina Family's finest and most popular offering, Culina Mill Creek! A quaint place located just beyond the heart of Old Strathcona, Mill Creek delivers an intimate dining atmosphere as well as a cozy spot to relax after a long day! Plus, making a reservation at Culina is a snap - just look up your preference on OpenTable and presto! As a heads up though, to those of you considering this location, Scona Road (the easiest way to get there) is currently closed until November 2011 -- seems like Edmonton is constantly under-construction! -- so your best bet will actually be taking Saskatechewan Drive up until you reach 101 St. and then turning off to 89th Ave for the last two blocks! I, myself, had quite an interesting detour trying to get there from Connors Road (one particularly bad lapse in foresight) which ended with epic failure... seriously! Just a little tip =)

As the night was already getting on by the time we arrived... Seriously, it was Connors Road, not my fault! ...okay okay, we were like 30 minutes late but with some calling ahead, Culina was very willing to work with our reservation time to make sure we wouldn't miss it! For that, I have a hearty thank you! But enough distractions, back to the food! Because of the time, we decided to forego the whole appetizers shebang and just dive straight into the entrees. Make sure you don't forget to check out their specials though!

Overall Score:
Culina Mill Creek on Urbanspoon
What’s IN: Spring Creek Ranch Beef Sirloin (Blue Cheese & Chocolate Sauce!)

July 17, 2011

Fork Fest Reminder!

Reminder: Fork Fest starts today! Running from July 17-21, 24-28, make sure you get a chance to try this year's steals and deals over the next couple weeks! For those of you who don't know, Fork Fest is an excellent opportunity to try out a number of restaurants around the city for a reduced price. While it still won't count as "cheap", I would say that this is an amazing chance to go out and eat somewhere you wouldn't otherwise go! What's there to lose: loosen your belt buckle and come hungry! See you guys out!

July 15, 2011

Off the Trail: Dining Street - London Heathrow Terminal 4!

Have you ever thought that airplane food was a little bland? Stale? Old? Whatever the adjective, join the club -- and as I was stepping off a marathon flight to London one chilly (and rainy!) afternoon, that was the dismally hungry state I found myself in! Needless to say... when a man's gotta eat, a man's gotta eat! Time to find some munchies

July 13, 2011

Edmonton Fork Fest 2011! Another Reason To Go Out!

Fork Fest 2011 is upon us! Brought to us by the folks at Live Local, Fork Fest is a celebration of all the fine eateries here in the city at great prices -- you can get a multi-course dinner at any of the 14 participating locations for anywhere between $25-45! What are you waiting for, grab a friend or two and head on out to explore this city's dining and nightlife!

For a list of restaurants, please check out this. However, I can guarantee almost any of these will be a fantastic deal as well as amazing food -- just check out the menu to see which place is most appealing to you (http://www.live-local.ca/fork-fest-summer-2011-menus)! I hope to see you all out! Promotion runs July 17-21, 24-28 (basically just not Fridays and Saturday). Be sure to snag some of the good prices, good food and great company this summer! Let's just hope the weather and mosquitoes co-operate!

July 11, 2011

Down in the Town: Niche - UPDATE! New Menu!

So some of you might remember my post on Niche not too long ago... and I agree, it is far too early to do a second review considering I still haven't even explored a fraction of Edmonton's tasty restaurants yet! I do have a long way to go... BUT one thing perhaps more important than providing all of you with new information is making sure that same information is ACCURATE. And to stay accurate, it must be up-to-date! So with that, I present... Niche! ...Version 2.0. Yes, to my surprise today, Niche was once again making headlines, figuratively of course, with a new summer menu! Apparently, I was the first one to try the new menu (so I just had to share that experience with all of you!) and personally, I think it may still need a *little* perfecting. Make no mistake, everything is still as tasty as ever but with the fresh ingredients, more variety and more colourful (literally) dishes, Niche just has some more tweaking to do!

Niche on Urbanspoon

Take a look at the pictures below! Gone are the old beef cheeks and such, and replacing it is a smoked tuna spinach/chickpeas salad (splendid vinaigrette!), pork tenderloin served on a bed of coucous, the always amazing duck confit (delish and now served on a vegetable hash plus fingerling potatoes!), and a bison striploin (amongst more)! With a little work, this is going to shape up to be a beautiful summer for foodies everywhere! Keep in mind that Fork Fest is coming up ($25-45 multi-course dinners) - stay tuned for my next post! 

Dinner at Niche - 
New Ingredients, More Dishes, More Awesome.

Dessert Classics! - 
Salted Caramel Brownie and Bread Pudding!

July 09, 2011

Out and About: Rice Bowl Deluxe

Continuing my escapade around the west end of town, I had the fortune of being invited to try out another great spot around Callingwood: Rice Bowl Deluxe! A recent addition to Edmonton's dining scene, Rice Bowl Deluxe has only been open for the past few months: since early February if my memory serves me correctly. Luckily for us, we spoke with one of the managing partners, Susan, and were invited to give it a review! As you can already see from this post, we graciously (and very willingly!) accepted!

Rice Bowls! Very vibrant and colourful, I like it!

Overall Score:
Rice Bowl Deluxe on Urbanspoon
What's IN: Bubble Tea!
( and Frozen Yogurt! ..but that isn't out yet =( )

July 05, 2011

Out and About: Cactus Club Cafe

Hey guys, I know there's a lot of mixed feelings about this one: There are people who report some of the best food in the city while others have been less than impressed or have stood outside for a long long time trying to get in.. and this is true! It is both great food and notoriously long lines! In fact, I actually had to reschedule my blog on this one because the line at the door was huge! But... it doesn't have to be this way. You can have your cake and eat it too.

Honestly, at West Ed AND on a Friday night, it was wishful thinking on my part too -- take into account the day & time and I think it still falls into the realm of "reasonable". Yes, I agree, they fill up a lot and fast but there are ways to avoid this; for example, go out during lunch when it's almost empty or during a weekday! Hello, Monday lunch! If you're still not convinced, as a tip from my kitchen years, this will payback double when it comes to food quality! Less people equals more time spent making and paying attention to YOUR food equals better food! Chances are: if you're waiting a long time, well, you're going to get rushed service and rushed food and that's just going to make you twice as unhappy. So give yourself a break, plan out a nice weekday lunch and thank yourself later! Or not. Up to you. I'm not going to tell you what to do. This isn't communism! (Just joking!)

Once you get inside though, you can see why they would be so popular! Lively hostesses, great ambiance, soft lighting and background music all come together to set the tone for an upscale dining experience. Throw in some delicious food and North America's largest mall and it's no surprise this place is as busy as it is! Especially considering that this is a chain, I'm impressed! P.S. is it just me or do you love the pinecone lights too?

Overall Score:
Cactus Club Cafe (West Edmonton Mall) on Urbanspoon
What’s IN: Rob's Goat Cheese and Feta Flatbread! Plus, it's new!
P.S. Most dishes with the handy "RF" tag beside them are good choices if you're stuck!

July 03, 2011

Down in the Town: Lux Steakhouse and Bar

As billboards and advertisements around town are quick to point out, Lux [Steakhouse and Bar] is "A Rare Steakhouse Well Done"! (..that's even punny-er than me! No small feat!) Let's just hope their food is as good (clever) as their puns! Armed with my trusty camera and pen in hand, I went to check out what all the fuss was about!

The prices at Lux do command quite a premium with dishes like the top-of-line "Lap of Luxury" nearing triple digits; but fortunately - on this occasion at least - I managed to snag a deal on Groupon for $50! Huge shout out to Groupon here by the way; they have great deals all the time (!), which definitely helped stomach the cost! (Did you catch that: "stomach" the cost?) I'm funny, I swear. Well, I might not be able to match the quality of Lux's puns but I hope to go head to head with their food!

Overall Score:
LUX Steakhouse and Bar on Urbanspoon
What’s IN: Double Pork Chop and Steak Tartare! Tie!

July 01, 2011

In the Town: What the Truck! Summary Recap!

It's Friday, Friday... Gonna get down on Friday... Ah, man, I love Fridays! Short work days, long summer evenings, and even better, last Friday managed to breathe some fresh life back into Edmonton's downtown scene! For those of you who were able to attend, What the Truck! was a food extravaganza packed to the brim with food trucks, DJ beats, good company, and warm weather galore! What could be better!? ...Well, okay okay, I might have exaggerated a little bit on that last one about the weather -- it definitely started showering near the end of the evening - but either way, it was definitely still a great night for mingling and all around good eats!

June 29, 2011

Down in the Town: Bubble Buzz! New on Jasper!

Bubble Tea! BBT! Bubs! ...Bubble T? ...B to the T? ...that tasty Asian drink with the bubbles? =P

Whatever you call it, have you ever had that feeling... that you've just been craving bubble tea downtown but all the good spots are too far (Dream Tea, etc.)? That unquenchable thirst for the bubbles (now I just sound like an Aero ad..) or maybe you're looking for a new hangout on Jasper? Well, never fear, I've got you covered! 

Just open this Monday (!), there's a new bubble tea place in town and it's called... Bubble Buzz! Yeah, okay, maybe the name isn't so creative but this nifty spot on Jasper and 104th has definitely got some of the tastiest bubbles in town! They're fresh - nice, sweet and soft - and with a shot of Bubble Milk (Bubble Tea & Milk), go down like a charm. Pretty good!

Bubble Buzz also serves Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, Vietnamese Iced Coffee, and waffles! So if you're in the area (or not!), come down and give it a try!  (PS I think the honeydew is delishhh if you don't know what to get)!
Bubble Buzz... on Urbanspoon

June 26, 2011

Down in the Town: Niche

Tucked away along Jasper and 110 st., Niche (like Corso 32) shies away from the busier Jasper traffic (and the public eye!) amidst all the low-rise buildings and stores that litter Jasper's street level. I was ducking in to avoid the torrid Edmonton rain that’s been pelting us over the past week when I was surprised to see such a richly adorned interior: dimly lit and cozy to be sure! Despite being a rather small restaurant with only a handful of seats, Niche’s design is undeniably modern, with small wooden tables that can be coupled together for a larger flat top or broken off into separate 2 seaters (plus a new patio)!

One of the first things you'll notice about Niche is the simplicity of the menu which lends itself well to a small restaurant. Rather than overextending himself, what Chef Nathan Saurette has decided to do is limit the menu to 4 core entrees (beef, duck, pork, fish) for dinner and a similar style for sandwiches at lunch. I do use the word “limit” very loosely; however, what I mean is that he perfected 4 dishes!
Overall Score:
Niche on Urbanspoon
What’s IN (Lunch):
Cubano – some very interesting flavours that just come together!

June 24, 2011

In the Town: What the Truck?! - Good Food, Rocking Beats, Why Not!

It is an absolutely gorgeous sunny day outside and I can't possibly think of a reason why you would not want to come out and down to the What the Truck event (today) on this lovely Friday evening! Featuring a variety of food trucks from all around the capital region, there's plenty of variety (eats AND beats) to choose from: waffles and mini donuts to pulled pork, even Asian cuisine! All you need is your game face and a lot of room in your stomach - that's it!

Best of all, admission is free! So whether you be a poor starving university student or just someone hanging around downtown, all you have to do is RSVP on Facebook, bring your eating hat and join us for some fun! I hope to see you all out there!

June 22, 2011

Deep Fried Kool Aid!? Say What!

From the people who brought you deep-fried Snickers bars and coming to a carnival near you, this year’s wackiest item (so far!) is definitely going to be Deep Fried Kool Aid. That’s right, deep fried KOOL AID. Sound crazy much? Well, apparently not! It’s already receiving positive reviews in the States where it was developed and tested and from what I hear, as weird as it sounds, it’s good. This wild invention is basically just Kool Aid & flour but it’s crazy enough to become the next sensation this year so buckle your seatbelts and hold on tight.

Here, watch the YouTube video for yourself and YOU decide but heck, it’s crazy, it’s wild, but it sure looks tasty!

If you’re the adventurous type, you can also check out the recipe here and even try making a batch for yourself! Good luck! (Food Matters takes no responsibility for any injuries sustained while making delicious balls of fun. Oh and.. playing with hot oil is not recommended for young children =P) Cheers!

June 21, 2011

The McRib Returns! - Item Feature: McDonald's

With KFC returning its Double Down sandwich to service following popular demand, McDonald's was quick to respond and bring back an old favourite, the McRib starting June 21st (today)! In recent months, McDonald's really has moved towards bigger and better things, having just revamped their line of specialty burgers by introducing the ever-so-tasty Angus Third Pounders; these bad boys pack quite the punch in their own right! But.. that's another story altogether, today it's all about the McRib!