It was great fun to be one of Avenue Magazine’s eight “best restaurants” judges again this year. Beyond the voting process, I was thrilled to have the chance to be a cheerleader for my favourites in Calgary’s burgeoning food scene. Admittedly, not all of my picks made it to the top 10 list above but there’s more to this annual March publication than first meets the eye.
Read on to see what I’m talking about…
The March Avenue Magazine is a food-centric issue with a whole menu of best food lists to peruse. Readers will find categories for best business lunch, cocktails, pizza, brunch, dessert, seafood, sushi, steak, small plates, service, French, Chinese Italian, Thai, Latin American and Indian food. I was able to contribute a list of 10 hidden gems that will take adventurous souls to the four corners of the city and hopefully that will lead them to their own treasures along the way.
These are the kinds of places you’ll usually find me. I’m drawn to ethnic eateries and casual comfort. However, I do splurge on fine dining experiences in Calgary throughout the year. I believe that if we want a great dining scene in Calgary we’ve got to get out and support the restaurants that are striving for excellence.
A lot of my eating out is at lunch because I like to cook for my family most evenings at home. I also eat out at least once a week in the evenings with my family. The average Canadian only spends 9% of their income on food. I’m personally doing my best to pull that average up and I’ll never run out of worthwhile inspiration in Calgary.
Next week, March 7 – 16, Calgary’s Downtown Association kicks off #BigTasteYYC with 72 “Revolutioneateries” taking part in this 10 day festival of three-course price-fixed meals with wine pairings and culinary events at the city’s hottest downtown dining destinations. Avenue Magazine has their annual Avenue Dinner Series coming up soon after and there are over 30 other food and wine festivals in Calgary each year.
People who still think of Calgary as a slow poke one horse/cow town in the cuisine department may want to catch the next express coach to our current reality. I believe we have Canada’s hottest culinary scene.
We are a sleek, sophisticated, multi-cultural model of successful palate transcendence. We’ve got so many maverick chefs branding our palates we’ve been most persuasively pulled along behind a new and more global culinary chuck wagon. Yes, we’ve still got steak on our menus but, darn it, it’s the best in the world, so why wouldn’t we have it? Our minds are as wide open to diversity in food offerings as our Prairie range, Rocky Mountains and the big blue sky that surrounds us.
I’ve had a lot of jobs in my lifetime. I’ve been a weaver in a woollen mill, a hot dog vendor, fish market worker, chambermaid, housekeeper in a nursing home, nurse’s aid, shop girl/sales clerk, Cancer Nurse, Nurse Educator, Nurse Practitioner on an inner city Street Health Bus, Master’s Degree program developer, Primary Health Care Consultant, volunteer event planner, fundraiser, freelance writer, food columnist, cookbook editor, radio columnist, television production assistant, location scout and guide, and a food tour operator.
Some of my jobs have been deadly serious. Some were and are just plain fun. All have led me to my life’s passion which is inspiring people to care about what they eat. I think caring about food and wine along with cooking and dining could be the most important element in a long and healthy life.
Did I ever imagine the day when I would be a restaurant judge? No, but at this point in my life, if my being a restaurant judge can help inspire anyone to think about the who, what, when, why and how of eating then that will suit my life’s palate perfectly.
Here’s a look at some of the dishes that were served up at the Best Restaurants launch party hosted by Avenue Magazine at Albi Homes amazing multi-kitchen showroom. I hope you savour the pictures and that they’ll lead you to eat out in Calgary. Dining out is a great way to Savour it All.