HicksBiz Blog

Category: food


Hicks Weekly Dish: The truth about Filipino foods BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2014

o, there’s no dog. Having just finished my fifth visit to the Philippines in some 25 years, I’ve decided this dog-eating thing is a complete myth. Filipinos don’t eat dogs. It’s not part of the culture. Filipinos eat the same meat/fish proteins as North Americans, maybe about one-hundredth the amount, but chicken, pork, fish and shell fish are what you see in the market. There’s nothing weird like snakes or rats or monkeys … or dog. Or if there is, it’s very secret. Besides, why would anybody want to eat a Filipino dog? The street dogs in the country are the scrawniest canines on earth. They all look like they’re about to die from malnutrition. There’s nothing there to eat! The weirdest food you’re going to find is balut – a duck egg with a near fully developed duck embryo that absorbs salt and flavours in a resting stage, then is quickly boiled, peeled and eaten with a vinegar dip. I tried it … once. If you closed you ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Enzo's — just like momma used to make it BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2013

Enzo’s on 76 11214 76 Avenue 780 800 1976 enzosedmonton.com Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and taxes: basic, $30; loaded, $60. It was a cold, cold night in the city‘s southwest. But our gang was as snug as a bug In a rug, sitting in a corner nook at Enzo’s on 76. Nice and warm, no drafts, looking out a big bubble window at the snow-piled windrows along 76th Avenue … piled up over those famous bike lanes. What is it about Italian eateries in our town that make them so darn cosy? Piccolino, Pazzo Pazzo, Sorrentino’s in Little Italy, Nello’s, Café Amore, Il Pasticcio, Rigoletto’s, Il Forno and now Enzo’s on 76th. Cliché becomes truth. Scratch the surface of any good Italian restaurateur, and it’s all about how momma and nonna (grandmother) used to do it, how the pasta never stopped, all visitors were long-lost cousins and a big pot of tomato ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sabor Divino still the king of seafood BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 03, 2013

Sabor Divino 10220 103 St. 780 757 1114 www.sabordivino.ca Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two excluding drinks, tips and taxes: Basic, $80. Fully loaded, $110. What a joy to return to Sabor Divino and find this restaurant has not only held up to its own impeccable standards, but continues to improve upon those standards — a first, first-class restaurant as it were. In the downtown Boardwalk Building on 103 Street, Sabor Divino (Portuguese for “divine flavours”) has been practising the art of fine cooking for five years, on a contemporary Portuguese/Spanish base, but reaching far beyond. It was one of the first restaurants to represent a new generation of culinary entrepreneurs. Co-owners chef Lino Oliviera and manager Christian Mena were skilled professionals who would have been successful at whatever they put their minds to. They are open to innovation, are leaders rather than followers, and are not afraid to char ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Cactus Club couldn't get any better: EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2013

Cactus Club Café (Downtown) 11130 Jasper Ave. 587 523 8030 http://www.cactusclubcafe.com Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip), basic, $45; loaded, $75. It’s the professionalism that’s so remarkable. Everything at the Cactus Club Cafe — the new one on Jasper Avenue — is so well done. It’s the chain concept taken to new heights. The food is impeccable — everything is done just right. They may be the same young ladies in the black cocktail dresses, but the servers are intensively trained for three weeks before they hit the floor. Founder Richard Jaffray opened the first Cactus Club Café in Vancouver in 1988 with a concept that has remained constant to this day, especially in this, the 25th Cactus Club Cafe: To produce consistent, high-quality food at manageable prices. Cactus Club was doing well in the food department. Then super-chef Rob Feenie set ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Under the High Wheel fun yet confusing: Edmonton Sun, Wed. Nov. 20, 2013

Under The High Wheel 8135 102 St. 780 439 4442 www.underthehighwheel.com Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding drinks, tip and taxes), basic, $40; loaded, $60. The food is good, the room spotless, but the whole set-up is quite peculiar. Under The High Wheel is a restaurant/café/bistro — take your pick, it can’t quite decide — on the ground floor of the new-age swishy “Roots on Whyte”, a brand-new three-storey building at the corner of Whyte Avenue and 102 Street. The landlord has bet on Edmonton being ready for an entire suite of organic markets, yoga studios, health foods, specialty massage and restaurants, all in one building. It’s all hippy-dippy and new-age mumbo-jumbo, but, like I said, the place is new, clean, spacious and enthusiastic about its offerings. Under the High Wheel is a loft-like space on the ground floor, sharing one big room with Da Capo espresso and gelato. The ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Il Forno shouldn't change a thing - originally published Edmonton Sun, Nov. 13, 2013

Il Forno 14981 Stony Plain Road (southeast corner, Jasper Gates shopping centre) 780 455 0443 www.ilforno.ca Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding drinks and tip): Basic, $40; Loaded, $70 I declare my bias up front. Anna Muze is a delightful, friendly and big-hearted restaurateur. To not like her and her restaurant, Il Forno in the west end, would be impossible. And everybody in the hospitality biz — those in the kitchens and dining rooms, those who love to eat out — would be in agreement. Most know Anna from her years as maitre d’ at Peter Johner’s Packrat Louie and, before that, at Sorrentino’s. After Peter sold Packrat (he now makes fine chocolates at his rustic chalet near Devon), Anna made good on a long-standing desire to open her own restaurant. She bought Il Forno from another formerly well-known restaurateur, Frank Maio (also of Sceppa’s fame). There are far too few restauran ... Read the rest of entry »

Edmonton restaurants come up big for charity: Weekly Dish originally published in Edmonton Sun, Oct. 30, 2013

Just how much is food and dining out a part of our lives? Consider: Of the 240 packages in The Edmonton Sun/ATCO Christmas Charity Auction, running until 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, at least a third of them involve food. Here’s the Weekly Dish’s food guide to hundreds of Edmonton restaurants who have donated to the Charity Auction. The number in brackets refers to the auction package number in the auction listings in today’s Sun print edition or at www.christmascharityauction.ca. Steaks: Three of the city’s finest steakhouses – LUX (10), Ruth’s Chris (12) and Von’s (15) – are in the first 15 packages. LUX executive chef and Sun columnist Paul Shufelt is giving his guests cooking lessons, Ruth’s Chris is famous for its corn-fed steaks, Von’s kitchen is now supervised by extraordinarily creative chef Shane Chartrand. Don’t forget the Outback Steakhouse (107), hosting dinner with CHED’s Dan Tencer & Andrew Grose. Fine dining: Thes ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Tavern 1903 offers great food at great prices. Originally published in Edmonton Sun, Wed. Oct. 23, 2013

Tavern 1903 at Alberta Hotel 9802 Jasper Ave. 780 424 0152 www.tavern1903.com   Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (not including drinks or tip): Basic, $50, loaded, $80. Tavern 1903 is not a tavern. Tavern 1903 is a restaurant with a great bar. Tavern 1903 breathes history like the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald breathes history. Tavern 1903 is the best food & drink thing to happen at the east end of Jasper Avenue since the Hardware Grill. Which makes sense. Tavern 1903 is a second project for Hardware Grill owner/chef Larry Stewart and his wife Melinda. But whereas the Hardware Grill is the city’s top dog for formal (i.e. expensive) dining, Tavern 1903 is offering Hardware Grill quality in a casual setting, at Earl’s/Joey’s prices. Tavern 1903 is so named because half — to the right as you enter — is a replica of the tavern in the original Alberta Hotel. The other half — to the left &mda ... Read the rest of entry »

Craft beer a growing trend: Weekly Dish column originally published in Edmonton Sun Wed. May 29, 2013

Are Albertans becoming choosier in what they eat and what they drink? Are significant numbers of us shopping at farmers’ markets as well as Superstore or Costco? At the big supermarkets, are organic and deli sections thriving? Are independent butcher shops like Acme or specialty cheese shops like the new Cavern on 104th Street becoming more popular? When you go to the shiny new huge-choice liquor stores and confront literally 1,000 brands of red wine, are you adventurous, learning about different grapes … or do you grab the usual Apothic Red? To be blunt, are you willing to pay more, significantly more, for quality? The subject arose at a multi-course dinner presented at Joseph Rustom’s Parkallen Restaurant by Big Rock Brewery last week, celebrating the launch of Big Rock’s Rosmarinus Aromatic Ale. “Craft” beers, loosely defined as beers made by small, independent and traditional breweries, are a classic test of this quality versus quantity idea. ... Read the rest of entry »

Consistency lacking at Von's Steakhouse: Weekly Dish originally published in Edmonton Sun May 22, 2013

Von's Steakhouse and Oyster Bar Food: 3.5 suns of 5 Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Service: 4 of 5 Dinner for two excluding drinks: Basic, $60. Multi-course, $120. Steakhouses — especially the high-priced ones — tread a fine line. On the one hand, they must stick with the tried and true, the rib eyes and tenderloins covered in molten butter that an older, monied crowd expects. On the other, the next generation(s) has less appetite for acres of red meat, expects dishes with more zest, expects casual elegance and has higher standards. If it’s a $28 chicken plate, it’d better be really good chicken in a really good recipe. The steakhouse chains, hard-wired to convention, only change their menus with the greatest of reluctance. Independents have more room to find that ever-evolving balance. Von’s Steakhouse and Oyster Bar is as independent a restaurant as you’ll find in Edmonton, at its Gateway and 81 Avenue location for some 30 years. Kudo ... Read the rest of entry »