Category Archives: Alberta at Noon

My @Albertaatnoon food column on #cocktails – just in time for #CanadaDay – Have a great one!

Cocktail Culture - photo - Karen Anderson

Cocktail Culture – photo – Karen Anderson


Here’s my CBC Radio One Alberta at Noon Food Column podcast on Alberta’s cocktail renaissance. Find my piece with host Donna McElligott at the 15:30 mark in the show.
Thanks going out to Christina Mah and Katie Mayer of Hotel Arts Group for inventing the #GnomeComeHome cocktail for our listeners to try. It’s truly delicious. Cheers till next time. Karen

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#Cocktail recipe for my June column for @albertaatnoon

Katie Mayer and Christina Mah in the poolside garden at the Hotel Arts talking about Gnome Come Home's local ingredients - photo - Karen Anderson

Katie Mayer and Christina Mah in the poolside garden at the Hotel Arts talking about Gnome Come Home’s local ingredients – photo – Karen Anderson

Coincidences make for great stories.

One day last week, I went to visit Christina Mah. Mah is the general manager of The Hotel Arts’ “Viet Mod” bistro called Raw Bar by Duncan Lee. She is also the president of the Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Professional Bartender’s Association (CPBA).

I interviewed Mah about cocktail making and asked if she would create a summer cocktail that I could share with you. Her creation is fresh and seasonal. Fresh and seasonal might not be words you think of when it comes to cocktails but they are an emerging cocktail trend that – happily – seems to be here to stay.

In this post I’ll talk about how to make cocktails, give you some recommendations for great places to drink them in Alberta and I’ll also share the story of how we named this drink Gnome Come Home after the Raw Bar’s gnome mascot was coincidentally “kidnapped” the day I arrived to interview Mah.

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The #Cocktail Renaissance – my June Column for @AlbertaatNoon

The origins of the cocktail are believed to have evolved after King William of Orange lowered taxes on distillation in 1688. There was a grain surplus that year in England and before long one in four buildings in London had a still for making gin.

Alcohol at the time was about the safest thing to drink as most of the leading causes of death were caused by drinking water.

By the 1730’s gin had become a problem for many – especially for the poor. For others it was drank in moderation with the addition of fruit juices and known as punch. This mixing of punch bowls in 1730’s England is now believed to be the first mixology bar tending.

This post will look at the history of cocktails and why – after years of focus on wine knowledge and a growing trend for craft brewing – popular culture has turned into a cocktail culture once again.

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My @AlbertaatNoon podcast on Classic French Gastronomy and the fun food fad – #MugCakes

Mug Cakes are included in this VIP - Very Important Pots cookbook - photo - Karen Anderson

Mug Cakes are included in this VIP – Very Important Pots cookbook – photo – Karen Anderson

I made eight mini Mug Cakes this morning to take to my friends at CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon.

If you’re wondering how I worked Classic French Gastronomy and Mug Cakes into the same segment, you can listen to the podcast here.

If you master the Mug Cake try making this beautiful French menu with recipes from my friends at Succulent Paris.

Today’s CBC column proved that whether you go classic or faddist – you can still savour it all.

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A French Food Fad for 2015 – Mug Cakes

little mug cakes cookbooks were everywhere in Paris - photo - Karen Anderson

little mug cakes cookbooks were everywhere in Paris – photo – Karen Anderson


I don’t think Mug Cakes are new. I’ve found blog posts dating back five years with oodles of recipes for them but they seem to have taken Paris by a chocolate brown cocoa powder storm this year. Everywhere I looked little cookbooks were devoted to them. At Le Grand Epicerie de Paris you could even buy a mug fully loaded with the ingredients for the mere price (I jest) of 13.50 Euros.

This post has a recipe I developed for a deliciously ooey-gooey Chocolat-ey Chocolate Mug Cake. It’s easy and fun and ANYONE can make it. I hope you will. Let me know how it turns out for you.

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The Gastronomic Meal of the French – #recipes from my friends @SucculentParis

My friends at Succulent Paris enjoying the treats I brought them from Alberta - photo - Kim Irving

My friends at Succulent Paris enjoying the treats I brought them from Alberta – photo – Kim Irving


My friends Marion Willard and Aurélie Mahoudeau of Succulent Paris food tours are wonderful cooks who love to share their passion with visitors to their city. This post will highlight a day where I booked them for a private gourmet tour. We met for coffee, shopped on Rue de Levis near their home and then prepared a seasonal multi-course gastronomic meal.

Cooking with Willard and Mahoudeau is a joyous occasion. Sitting down and sharing a meal together even more so. I hope that you’ll see that in the photos I’ll share here and that you’ll try some of the recipes as well. If they all seem a bit too much skip ahead to the next post where I share a ridiculously easy and fun Mug Cake that anyone can make and enjoy. It’s all good.

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The Gastronomic Meal of the French – a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Value and my CBC @AlbertaatNoon food column for May

I’m just back from Paris.

I had the opportunity during my visit to spend a day shopping and cooking a multi-course French meal with my friends Marion Willard and Aurélie Mahoudeau of Succulent Paris. For my Parisian friends, this is a daily occurrence. They have culinary skills that have been passed down through the generations of their families. They learned to cook both at extensive family gatherings and in the day-to-day preparation of meals with their parents. They enjoy shopping daily for what is fresh and in season and they use their culinary skills to pull together meals to celebrate those ingredients.

While this is la vie quotidienne (daily life) for my two friends in the food business, cooking a multi-course meal is no longer taken for granted by French families. Families in France also have two partners working outside the home, just like other families around the world, and here in Alberta. This means that their children and ours have less access to cooking mentors than previous generations.

The French government nominated The Gastronomic Meal to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage values in 2008 (it was accepted in 2010) in an effort to preserve its essence – taking time to care and enjoy family and life through gathering at the table to share a thoughtfully prepared meal. The traditional preparation of Kimchi in Korea is currently being considered for UNESCO’s list and Japanese and traditional Mexican cuisine have also already been accepted to the list.

The French realize future generations will need help to sustain this part of their culture due to the evolution of modern family life so they are working with UNESCO to save this intangible part of their heritage. As children’s health advocate Jamie Oliver puts forth in his Food Day Revolution, the life skill of cooking is necessary to the health of future generations. Suddenly, the intangible values surrounding a culture’s way of eating become very tangible supports for a healthy lifestyle when their manifestation has this outcome.

This post will talk a bit more about what’s involved in The Gastronomic Meal of the French and how the values it embodies translate to resilience needed for daily life.

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