HicksBiz Blog

Category: food


Christmas in November at Jasper Park Lodge: Introduction of the Man Cabin

The famous  three-day Christmas in November celebrations  at the Fairmont Jasper Place Lodge, the same package repeated three times (Nov. 4-7, Nov. 7-10 and Nov. 10-13) this year, is a hoot-and-a-half of getaway fun – with 400 to 500 people per time slot out to thoroughly enjoy themselves with receptions, galas, dances, food and craft demonstrations and wine, wine, wine. But, face it, for 27 years Christmas in November has been primarily designed and attended by women. It works mostly as a three-day getaway for small groups of female friends, and family combinations.For whatever reasons, food and decoration themed events don’t hold that much interest to men. Except … times are changing.  More men enjoy being hobby chefs, even outside of the summer BBQ months. More men are beginning to come to the Jasper Park Lodge’s Christmas in November with their wives or significant others. The organizers this year came up with a bold new concept – why not a “Man Cabi ... Read the rest of entry »

Wine-tasting: Wines from Brazil's Vinicola Salton winery by GRAHAM HICKS

Wine-tasting:  Wines from Brazil's Vinicola Salton winery By Graham Hicks Edmonton, Alberta, Canada First posted Nov. 7, 2016 hicksbiz.com graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com @hicksbiz Edmonton wine stores have shelves upon shelves of Canadian, American, Italian, New Zealand, Australian and French wines.  There’s fewer Chilean, South African, German and Spanish wines, but still some choice. But when it comes to Brazilian wines, you’ll be lucky to find a few brands on a back shelf. Which is why Mauricio Salton and Cesar Baldasso, of Brazil’s Vinicola Salton winery, found themselves 11,000 kilometres away from home, tucking into tapas at the  Bodega Highlands tapas bar and kitchen on a cool November evening. Producing 1.25 million cases of wine annually, Salton is one of the biggest wineries in Brazil and definitely the oldest, started by Mauricio’s great grandfather and his great grandfather’s brothers in 1910. Brazil likes its home-grown wines, especially sparkl ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: McDonald's and Chutneys Indian Grill: A tale of evolving fast food tastes BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 03, 2016

McDonald’s, the biggest fast-food chain in the world, is re-inventing itself to stay current. Chutneys Indian Grill is a kid full of dreams, a new fast-food franchise concept originating in Edmonton, with one prototype outlet in the fast-growing suburbs east of Mill Woods. Joe Sangha and his partners in Chutneys are betting the world is ready for a healthy version of Indian fast food, delivered in the pick ‘n’ choose style of a Subway or Chipotle. In a new building in a new shopping common south of Whitemud Drive on 17 Street, the Chutneys’ serving process is familiar, the food less so. As in a Subway, you start at one end and work your way down the serving counter, pointing at that what you want to add to your meal. First up is the base – a freshly-pressed and cooked “burroti” (see below), or brown rice, or salad greens. Then a protein, a sauce (gently westernized versions of butter sauce, tikka masala, vindaloo or daal), multiple toppings (cucumber, onions, toma ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sloppy Hoggs is in excellent hands BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2016

Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus 9563-118 Ave. 780-477-2408 sloppyhoggsbbq.com Tuesday to Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $24; fully loaded, $50 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns When a top-notch independent restaurant changes ownership, as happened earlier this year with the popular southern barbecue Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus on 118th Avenue, you worry. Will quality drop? Will the ribs be as expected? The good news is the new owners recognized a good thing when they saw it. The sale included everything down to the meat smokers and Sloppy Hoggs’ BBQ recipes. Nothing has changed other than a few more additions to the menu. Six of us descended on Sloppy Hoggs this past weekend, hungry and ready to chow down. The first impression was promising – the restaurant was bustling on a Sunday evening with several birthday parties in pro ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Clementine’s has much more to come BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2016

Clementine 11957 Jasper Ave. barclementine.ca 5 p.m. to midnight, 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday Closed Sundays and Mondays  (No reservations. no phone) Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 4 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $40; fully loaded, $70 It’s far too early to tell – like declaring a Stanley Cup winner two weeks into the season -  but Chef Roger Letourneau at the newly opened Clementine has the potential to be the next culinary star to come out of Edmonton.  On the storefront street level of the new 35-story Pearl Tower on Jasper Avenue West, Clementine (or Bar Clementine, the name goes back and forth) is a jewel in the pearl.  Through a winter-proof vestibule, one enters a time-warp, magically transported to a classic European bar circa the 1930s – all dark polished woods, sturdy tables and counters, dominated by a massive curved bar behind which stands rows of spirits of every colour and hue. Co ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: The micro-brewery explosion BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 04, 2016

“It smells of grainy and metallic caramel malt, a twinge of earthy yeast, ethereal oily nuts, leafy, herbal, and floral hop bitters. The taste is bready and moderately biscuity caramel malt, a dark orchard fruitiness, earthy yeast notes, and laid-back weedy, herbal, hay-like hoppiness.” We may not be in Coors country anymore, Toto. These wondrous if unintelligible words from Brady White of thebeerdiaries.tv are not in praise of a fancy French wine, but are a tribute to Rale Yard Red Ale, a specialty beer brewed by the Olds College brewmaster program. Rale Yard is made in the heart of ranching country, its barley grown on the hard-scrabble prairie. Beer is the new wine. Different kinds of beer are being “paired” with food at multi-course dinners in better restaurants. Beer is a new food group, being considered a food flavour unto itself. In 2003, seven craft breweries were producing beer in Alberta, including Edmonton’s venerable micro-brewery Alley Kat and Calgary& ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS WEEKLY DISH: Izakaya Dorinku needs some explanation BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Izakaya Dorinku 10205-82 Avenue 780-988-9760 dorinku.ca 5:30 p.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday, till 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 3 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $20; fully loaded, $60 These Izakaya Dorinku people – and there are lots of them — certainly are sociable. When a customer enters the Japanese-style gastro-pub, the staff gustily shouts out “irasshaimase”! As Izakaya Dorinku is a hit, “irasshaimase” (welcome in Japanese) reverberates throughout the stylish but casual drinking/eating establishment. The many young, mostly Oriental female servers never stop ensuring everything is fine. Upon leaving the Old Strathcona establishment (in the new Station Condos building east of the tracks), the front-of-house boss walks you to the door, holds it open, then stands outside, waving goodbye. Izakayas are the gastro pubs of Japan. Found everywhere in that country, izakayas are a vi ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Hankering for great steak? Try Von’s BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 06, 2016

Von’s Steak House + Oyster Bar 10309 81 Ave. (Old Strathcona) 780-439-0041 www.vonssteakhouse.com Food: 4.5 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 4 of 5 stars 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (midnight on Friday and Saturday) Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $70; fully loaded, $120 The last few years have seen a revival of the venerable steak house. Chop, Ruth’s Chris, Bistecca and the Blue Rare (Sherwood Park and St. Albert) have joined the standing ranks of Lux, Coliseum, Moose Factory, Sawmill and the multiple Kegs. One steak house has stood eternal, above the fray, seemingly unchanging and as popular as ever after some 35 years in the same South Side location that looks over Gateway Boulevard at 81 Avenue. Von’s Steak House + Oyster Bar, built and opened by Barry Sparrow and family around the same time Sparrow opened Cook County Saloon next door, has never changed hands. Operating partner Ron Kauffman continues to run a first-class show. Evolution, ... Read the rest of entry »


Holy atomic pile, Batman! The new JOEY Bell Tower restaurant opened this week, 278 seats with an investment of at least $5 to $6 million in an extension off the downtown Bell Tower, just a 30-second stroll to Rogers Place. JOEY is the latest hospitality business to make such a bold move. At least 50 existing downtown restaurants/bars are pinning their hopes and improvements on the disposable dollars of the 5,000 to 20,000 people that will flow in and out of Rogers Place some 150 nights a year. Another 50 – at least – new downtown bars and eateries will open in the near future. Outside the immediate Ice District (the four office/residential/hotel towers and plazas around Rogers Place) the following restaurants have been announced: Buco Pizzeria and Vino (Sorrentinos Group) opens in the EPCOR Building. Baiju (sister to North 53) in the Mercer Building. Bundok (brand-new, chef Ryan Hotchkiss) in the Fox Tower. Bottega 104 by the Crudo brothers (Café Amore, Black Pearl Seafood ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sage Restaurant, River Cree Resort and Casino BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, AUGUST 09, 2016

Sage Restaurant, River Cree Resort and Casino 300 East Lapotac Blvd, Enoch, AB 780-930-2636 http://rivercreeresort.com/dining.php 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, just food – basic $60, loaded $100 Alas, we picked the wrong day to visit Sage, the excellent dining room in the River Cree Resort and Casino out where Whitemud Drive turns from a freeway to a country lane. There’s no “wrong” day per say. Sage maintains its consistently high quality seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Casinos rarely sleep.) It’s just that executive chef Shane Chartrand’s alternative menu, reflecting his indigenous culinary fusion cooking, wasn’t available this particular evening. Some country band known as the Mavericks was performing that evening in the River Cree concert hall. A concert means Sage fills with diners checking their watches. To meet time demands, the Sage kit ... Read the rest of entry »