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Friday, 17 August 2012

Product Review: Simple Simon Soups

I was at the Crossroads Farmers Market on August 12. Hadn't been there for a long time, and I missed the weekly farmers market in Airdrie that week so it was a good excuse to go shopping for some fresh fruit and veg. They also have a large indoor portion to this market where they sell meats, prepared foods, and even have a flea market. While we were wandering around inside, my mom spotted a big "GLUTEN FREE" sign, so, of course, I had to investigate.

Now, I remember before my diagnosis, indulging in Simple Simon Pies every now and then. I remember them being quite good. They even offered me a sample of two different kinds of their soup (Mulligatawny and Chicken and Leek) and they were both quite good!

Imagine my surprise when I brought some soup home, and realised they were anything but.

I ended up taking some Mulligatawny, Chicken and Leek, French Onion, and Broccoli and Cheese. So far, I've only tried two of the four (Mulligatawny and Broccoli Cheese) and I'm sincerely hoping the other two fare better than the two I've already had.

I will say the Broccoli Cheese had good flavour, and I'm relatively picky about that. Good consistency, not too incredibly salty or cheesy, but what really put me off was the broccoli.

Usually good broccoli and cheese soup uses mostly the top part of the broccoli, the teeny little green buds. These guys used the whole thing. Somehow, the stems were incredibly numerous, and either very stringy, and very woody. It totally ruined the experience, and made the soup very unpleasant to eat.

I figured it was a fluke, and brought the Mulligatawny with me today for lunch. When I tried it in sample form, it was excellent and the spices weren't overbearing at all. This soup, unfortunately, was even worse than the Broccoli Cheese, which really stumped me because the sample had been to die for! I did nothing to the soup apart from heat it up.

The soup was practically flavourless, with nothing apart from an unpleasant burning aftertaste from whatever curry or spice they used. The texture was the worst part, the "broth" was so think I would nearly border on saying it was thick like paste, but I didn't want to add water to it for fear it would drown out whatever tiny bits of flavour were there. The chicken and vegetables were soft and mushy. I eventually have up, and after a few bites, disposed of the 90% of the soup that was left.

I will update this review when I try the other two soups, but of right now, these soups get two big thumbs down. I enjoy canned soup more than this, and for half the price, so will my wallet!

P.S. Blogger is being a pain, and I cannot upload photos at the moment. Will do so as soon as I am able.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Restaurant Review: The Keg - 73%

I got invited out to supper with my parents, aunt, and grandmother on Saturday which was awesome enough, but when my father informed me he would pick me up driving his ’74 Pontiac GTO convertible I was totally in! It was decided we were going to The Keg, because both my parents and aunt had gift cards.
 Looks pretty much like this, except for a 1974 Alberta plate on the front :)
We ended up going to The Keg on 36th street, right across from Marlborough Mall. There are a few others in the city as well, I know one just south of McMahon stadium and one on Mcleod trail south of Chinook centre for sure. Check If there is one in your area at their website of 
As soon as we were seated, I mention to our hostess I was celiac and she went to get the manager to come out and speak to me. He was very prompt, and mentioned I could have any of the plain steaks, as well as plain seafoo. He recommended the steak or chicken oscar (as the bearnaise sauce they use was gluten free), and said if I had questions about another specific dish to ask my server. Uh, thanks…? 
The restaurant atmosphere was nice, but pretty much the same as any other Keg I’ve been to. Something about Steakhouses that block out all light from the outside world just doesn’t do it for me though.

I hadn’t been to The Keg in a long, long time, probably since I’ve been diagnosed, and figured being a steakhouse there would be a decent selection of items for me to eat. I figured if the Bearnaise sauce was GF, then they would possibly have a lot of other options be GF too. Boy, was I wrong.
 I attempted to order the follow items, only to be told none were GF:
  •  Creole Chicken
  • BBQ Chicken and Ribs
  • Pecan Sirloin

The waiter had to go back and check each time to see if the item was gluten free. Finally, I was so embarrassed with the other people eating with me wait I ordered the plainest steak they had, a regular sirloin. I could have any accompaniment except the rice or fries, so I went with a baked potato. I ordered my steak medium rare.
Admittedly, the steak was WAY better than I was expecting it to be, but it could have been my sour mood after being told three things I wanted couldn’t have. It was cooked perfectly, and made my mouth water with every bite. Beautiful grill marks on the outside, giving a nice crust to the meat. The potato was excellent, big with lots of toppings, and I’m always happy to have asparagus with a meal!

All in all I was pleased, but I would definitely recommend contacting The Keg head office or call the restaurant directly to figure out what kind of things to have before hand, especially if you are dining with people that are impatient or non-celiac and you don’t want to hold them up.
Atmosphere 7/10
Service 7.5/10
Presentation 7.5/10
Taste 8.5/10
Variety of Gluten Free Dishes 6/10
Value 7.5/10
Keg Steakhouse & Bar - Marlborough on Urbanspoon

Friday, 27 July 2012

Fid Friday

Not exactly one of my birds, but defiantely something any parrot person can relate to.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Product Review: Tim's Gourmet Pizza

The German and I have made the decision to try and buy more of our food at the local farmers' maket during the summer. They have lots of wonderful vendors there, I have to get my weekly supply of BC cherries, and this week we came upon a new vendor that sells gourmet pizzas. Gluten free gourmet pizzas!

Tim's Gourmet Pizza can be found at numerous farmers makets in the Calgary area, and a full list of locations, as well as an online menu. They offer three sizes, however, gluten free crusts only come in the middle size, which does me two moderate sized portions. A guy with a hearty appetite, though, it would just barely do one.

At $15 a pop, they aren't cheap by any means, but as a once and a while treat, I think these are well worth it.

I forgot to take a picture before I started chowing down.

I chose the Spolumbo Sausage pizza, which, along with sausage, also has proscuitto ham, and cranberries. Mine also ended up having a few pieces of onion on it, which was probably just a mistake, but I hope they are more diligent when it comes to assuring cross contamination is avoided with the crust. I enquire more abut this the next time I see the gentleman at the farmers' market, and report here as an add on to the post.
The crust itself was the shining feature of this pizza, I've never had anything like it before and it was almost surreal. Buttery, and slightly crumbly, the crust almost melted into the pizza. It was wonderful, but I found it very rich, and it probably wouldn't replace thin crust pizza totally. Even if I wasn't gluten free, I think this crust would be a nice change of pace.

If you are curious about the very dark colouring on the bottom of the crust, Tim advises his pizzas can be cooked in one of two way: oven or bbq. It had been so incredibly hot here lately I opted for the bqq, and towards the end, I cranked up the heat because I got impatient. Follow the directions, and you should be fine!

Not a whole lot to say about the choice of toppings, except I didn't even notice there was proscuitto until I re-read the menu. The cranberries were a nice addition, and I appriciated the sweet pop every once and a while.

I would say a definate thumbs up for this one. A wonderful treat that beats any other frozen gluten free pizza I've had by leaps and bounds.

Fid Friday

This week's snapshot is Jazz and Lillith sharing broccoli.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Calgary Stampede 2012

Hey guys!

Yesterday, I went to the Stampede and while I forgot to take pictures of most things (I’m still new to the concept of taking pictures of all my food) I thought I might as well give you a quick recap of what I saw and experienced.

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of awareness there seemed to be about the importance of gluten free and lactose free options this year.

The German and I split a MASSIVE smoked Turkey leg. Every year that I go to the Stampede I have seen these, and every year they are sold out of every size except “Cave Man” (really, I think it’s “extra large” but that sounds so much less dramatic) so I’m beginning to think this is the only size they offer. It was ok, the meat was nice, smoky, and tender, but it was very, very salty; we downed three bottles of water between the two of us. They may seem expensive at $15 a pop, but divide that by two people and it’s a decent deal for a filling meal on the grounds where a crappy cheeseburger will run you upwards of $6. There are a few stands that sell them on the grounds, but the good stand is in the same place every year; across the Corral about halfway in between the Coke Stage and the Saddledome. It’s hard to miss with its large cast iron smokers right next to it.

I had some “Sea Salt and Honey Peanuts” from a stand inside the BMO center called “Billy Dee’s” (apparently they are based in Ontario, even though I couldn’t find a website). These were actually really, really good. The bold salty and sweet juxtaposition was absolutely addicting, although at $6 for a fairly small portion I couldn’t justify seconds to take home.

The German got some french fries from a nondescript stand along the main midway section. Ok, but nothing special. Gluten free fries are actually not too hard to find on the grounds, just be sure to ask the staff inside if the coat the fries in anything, and what else they cook in the same oil.

After the concert I was attending got out, my sister and her boyfriend went to have a smoke, while my mother and I sought out the perennial favourite: the pineapple whip. In case you are unfortunate enough not to have ever tried one of these before, it’s basically a soft serve sherbet made of pineapple juice. Incredibly smooth, and not too tart, it’s a wonderful fat free alternative to ice cream.

Although I didn’t partake in any of the following items, they were available GF at the grounds at various stands throughout the park:
  • Pizza
  • Tacos
  • Numerous types of Ice Cream
  • Fudge
  • Taffy
  • Popcorn and Kettle Corn
  • Smoothies
I'm still rooting for GF corn dogs some day! Cross your fingers for Stampede 2013!!