HicksBiz Blog

Pampa introduces Brazilian wine to Edmonton

Why, one asks after yet another fine bottle of Brazilian red has been sampled at a media gathering in the Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse, has there been so little Brazilian wine available in Canada before? After all, it wasn't that difficult, after Pampa proprietor Oscar Lopez and his wine guy Nelson Gomes of FineVine Imports decided to focus on Brazilian wines in a restaurant specializing in Brazilian-style spit-cooked meat shop, to get the stuff.   They made a trip or two to Brazil's wine country to its south, met the growers and vintners, and simply fired up a not-too-difficult process of importing wine by the case from vintner to restaurant ... with a few bottles left over for FineVine to distribute through its retail network. It appears that Brazil has not gone after the export market for its wines, which, in price and quality, can easily compete with the much better known Chilean and Argentinian brands from South America. So the perceptive Mr. Lopez not only has a unique style of cooking and presen ... Read the rest of entry »

Hole in one: XIX fine addition to upscale-casual dining scene: Weekly Dish originally published in Edmonton Sun, Wed. Nov. 14, 2012

XIX (Nineteen) 5940 Mullen Way (Rabbit Hill Road, north of Henday Drive) 780-395-1119       Dinenineteen.com Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambiance: 3.5 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $60; fully loaded, $100 —— It’s an inside joke, folks, and a bit of clever marketing. What kind of restaurant calls itself XIX, or, in the vernacular, Nineteen? Lucky 19? Oriental numerology? A winning blackjack hand? Is there a casino in the ‘hood? The 19th hole. Of course! It’s a casual golf reference to the gathering of friends for food and beverage after 18 holes of golf. XIX is inextricably linked to the Blackhawk Golf Course. Chef Andrew Fung ran Blackhawk’s dining room since it opened. His partner in XIX, Al Prokop, built Blackhawk, and remains majority owner of the members-only course located between Devon and the city’s southwest boundary. Some se ... Read the rest of entry »

Advice on a frugal lifestyle: Hicks on Biz originally published in Edmonton Sun, Sat. Nov. 10, 2012

Welcome to the Hicks on Biz Guide to Living Frugally. Canadians are now carrying record levels of household debt, owing $1.64 for every $1 in income. I’m sure Edmontonians are more sensible than most of our fellow citizens. But if you can’t even pay a fifth of your credit card debt this month (at 20% annual interest in the unpaid balance), get your act together, impose a little financial discipline and STOP SPENDING! You may have champagne tastes. But, buddy, you only have a beer budget. Apart from moving into cheaper apartment, turning in the BMW for a used Cavalier and cancelling that Club Med holiday, here are a few small cutback tips that add up to thousands of dollars not spent annually. Coffee: Drip versus cartridge versus Starbucks These new coffee cartridge machines are all the rage. Excuse me. Coffee cartridges cost 50 cents each. Home-drip coffee, even premium brands, rings in at under two cents a cup. A 737 gram tin of Safeway Edwards coffee (darned ... Read the rest of entry »

Sweet, but too Sweet! Viphalay Thai Restaurant, Weekly Dish originally published in Edmonton Sun, Wed. Nov. 7, 2012

Viphalay Laos and Thai Restaurant 10523-99 Ave. 780-756-8188       www.viphalay.com Food: 3 of 5 stars Ambience: 3.5 of 5 stars Service: 3 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $30; fully loaded, $50 —— Sweet. Everything about Viphalay Laos and Thai Restaurant was sweet. The Tom Yum soup – the classic Thai spicy sweet ‘n’ sour soup – was not particularly sour, but very sweet and ultra-spicy. The Laph diced chicken salad was defined by its chopped sweet onion. The “Puht Kieh Mow MaMa,” or drunken noodles, was too darned sweet. The “Chu Chi Bah”- red seafood curry, far and away the best dish of the evening – still, was very sweet. Sweet, here and there, is just fine. But in every dish as the dominating taste? It’s just too much, and severely detracted from the other attributes of Viphalay’s cuisine. It’s tough to e ... Read the rest of entry »

Talking about Edmonton Trash: Hicks on Biz column originally published in Edmonton Sun, Nov. 2, 2012

It’s one of the most intriguing, and unusual, business propositions ever to come out of this city.  Waste RE-Solutions Edmonton, a new city-owned business, has the same challenges and doubts as surround any other brand-new company … except for the six extra zeros in its start-up costs. Over the last 25 years, as much by circumstance as by design, Edmonton has emerged with one of the most advanced and sophisticated waste management systems in the world. At the Edmonton Waste Management Centre (EWMC), everything possible is recycled or composted in multiple public and private partnerships. We recycle everything in our blue bags, deconstruct ancient TVs and computers, have the world’s biggest composter, recycle construction and demolition waste, and, in 2013, will open the world’s first industrial scale municipal-waste-to-biofuel project. The $80 million Enerkem plant will somehow convert garbage that can’t be composted or recycled into methanol fuel. Soon to come at the E ... Read the rest of entry »

ATCO Sun Christmas Charity auction offers plenty of dining options: Weekly Dish, originally published Edmonton Sun Oct. 31, 2012

Reviewing 80 restaurants and food shops in one Weekly Dish column is a tad unwieldy.  But let's give it a go, because that's how many have donated dinners, lunches, brunches, gift certificates and food products to the ATCO/Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction happening through Thursday. Is there any restaurant of repute in all Greater Edmonton that has not made a donation? If packages interest you, head to www.campusauctionmarket.com, register online (it's very easy) and bid away. No computer handy? Call 780-421-XMAS (9627) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, then 9 a.m. to the auction's closing at 7 p.m. Thursday. An auction volunteer will place bids on your behalf. It's all for the United Way, Sign of Hope, Christmas Bureau and The Stollery. Let's start with those of you planning a big event, at work, with your family or your club members. (The package number is in brackets beside the description.) The Delta Centre Suite Hotel hosts a reception for 25 in its ballroom foyer (Pkg. 18). ... Read the rest of entry »