Rachel Lees, broke Canadian girl, gets creative with “dining out”

One of my best friends Rachel Lees (@rachylees on Twitter) is currently doing an unpaid internship in San Francisco. The work is great and the experience of living in a city like San Fran is amazing, but she’s got almost no money and has had to get pretty creative when it comes to “dining out.”

She first shared some of these photos on her Facebook Page and when I saw them I knew more people would be interested in seeing her work! So Rachel sent me a bunch of her “restaurant” experiences that I could post on this blog. Pretty hilarious – and pretty talented! Rachel when you come home I will take you out for dinner – for real – to any of these places! Love & miss you!

Starbucks - Broke Canadian Art

Boston Pizza - Broke Canadian Art

The Keg - Broke Canadian Art

McDonalds - Broke Canadian Art

Cheesecake Factory - Broke Canadian Art

Olive Garden - Broke Canadian Art

Denny's - Broke Canadian Art

Tim Hortons - Broke Canadian Art

Soda Jerks - Broke Canadian Art

I think Olive Garden, The Keg, and Boston Pizza are my favourites!! :)

Rachel is a seriously a very talented artist! She did this amazing piece showing myself & hubby Mike on our wedding day here:

Mike and Linda - Wedding

If you like her work, let her know on Twitter! @RachyLees.

Love & miss you Rachel!

Love & miss you Rachel!

UPDATE:This post is now on Buzzfeed!!!

Linda


News Online: Edmonton’s Tres Carnales, Corso 32 make best Canadian restaurants list

Published online at Edmonton.Ctvnews.ca on Sept. 28, 2012.

CTV Edmonton
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton: September 28, 2012

Edmonton’s Tres Carnales, Corso 32 make best Canadian restaurants list

Two downtown Edmonton restaurants are being called two of the best in the country, according to a special issue of Maclean’s Magazine.

The magazine has just released a special issue featuring the Top 50 best restaurants in Canada and Edmonton’s Tres Carnales and Corso 32 both make the list.

“Our jaws dropped to the ground,” said Tres Carnales co-owner Daniel Braun.

“This is amazing. We’re ecstatic. It’s huge. It’s the biggest thing that’s happened to us.”

“I felt honoured and excited,” said Daniel Costa with Corso 32. “All of our hard work is paying off. We’re being recognized nation-wide and it means a lot.”

Corso 32 has been open for just under two years and Costa says the vision has remained the same – which might be a reason why diners keep coming back.

“We haven’t compromised our vision. We’ve kept it small. Everybody sits nice and close. We do our food with all of the passion that we have in our heart and it’s the same staff that I’ve had since Day 1 in the kitchen. We’ve just slowly worked towards improving the food as much as we can and it’s paid off.”

Tres Carnales has been open for about a year and a half and Braun believes the liveliness of the Taqueira helped cinch the spot in the Top 50 list.

“It’s a very lively place, the music, the colours, the people who work here – big smiles, we try to really make people happy. We try to project that to everybody who comes here,” he said.

“This is kind of the big cherry on the cake to solidify everything that we believed in and show everybody what we’re all about.”

The project was edited by Maclean’s food columnist Jacob Richler who worked with a few “hand-picked reviewers” across the country.

Liza Cooperman with Maclean’s says the list tried to represent restaurants with varying price points and looked at the overall experience of a restaurant.

“They (customers) of course want good food but they want to feel special and have good service and feel like their money is being well-spent so our reviews are much more broad in the sense that they tackle more than just the food, it’s the whole dining experience,” Cooperman said.

“We were just looking for the best of what is out there these days in all categories. We tried to represent all price points and the idea is to be accessible for anyone looking for a particular type of cuisine at any price point.”

Cooperman says young chefs in Edmonton are trying new things and helping the local food scene grow.

“Edmonton in particular is definitely growing and emerging on that scene and we’re seeing interesting young chefs who are trying new things. I think we’re seeing a lot of growth there,” Cooperman said.

“What we found in the Prairies generally is that the food scene is improving drastically. Once upon a time there weren’t a lot of diverse options in the Prairies and now we see that is changing.”
Costa and Braun agree.

“I think our food scene is growing rapidly and there are a lot of exciting places that are opening up,” Costa said.

“I think there’s tremendous potential. We know of a lot of great restauranteurs in the area and they’re doing fantastic things and I think they’ll be recognized more and more as we move forward,” Braun said.

Five restaurants from Calgary also made the list.

The special issue is already out on some newsstands and is expected to be available across the country by Monday. It will become an annual feature.

With files from Sonia Sunger

Click here to read the article on the CTV Edmonton website.

Review: Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse

Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse at 9929 109 Street.

I have wanted to try Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse at 9929 109 Street ever since it opened – how can you not be attracted to the idea of all-you-can-eat meat served endlessly to your table?? (Well, I guess unless you’re a vegetarian, lol). But Mike and I always pushed it back on our list because we aren’t ever really keen on the idea of spending $50/person for dinner at any restaurant.

When we were in Las Vegas earlier this year – we decided to finally go for it and try the ‘Brazilian Steakhouse’ concept. We went to Fogo de Chao and had one of the best dinners of our lives!! (Not exaggerating).

I suppose it’s that fabulous experience at Fogo that heavily plays a factor in the disappointment we felt with Pampa – when we did finally try it last month. We just kept comparing everything to Fogo and Fogo came out on top for mostly every point.

Salad Bar at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

Except the salad bar! Pampa’s salad bar is amazing! (Excuse the varying qualities of my images, some were on my iPhone, some on digi cam, some were rushed because I felt awkward taking a photo, some not, lol). Tons of selection to please even the pickiest – and a divine mini potato dish that I couldn’t get enough of.

Salad plate at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

What I learned from Fogo is not to go too crazy on the all-you-can-eat salad bar, because hello… meat is on its way! So I just chose a few items and then patiently waited for the meat to roll in.

Green means more meat please! at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

At Pampa, you control when you want meat by turning a circular disc over to green or to red. Green = meat please! Red = not right now. The Pampa ‘grill masters’ (or Gods of Meat) are supposed to be walking around the dining room keeping an eye on what colour is present at tables, and if it’s green – they’re supposed to head on over and cut you off delicious meat from their skewer.

Mike and a chef at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

Delicious meat indeed – and solid variety. Pampa offers 10 different meat options including: coxa de frango (chicken drumstick), sobrecoxa de frango (chicken thigh wrapped in bacon), picanha (beef rumpsteak), picanha com alho (beef rumpsteak with garlic), alcatra (beef top sirloin), fraldinha (beef bottom sirloin), contra-file (beef ribeye), pernil de cordeiro (leg of lamb), linquica de porco (pork sausage) and lombo de porco com queijo parmesao (pork loin with parmesan cheese). I’m smacking my lips just writing out the names. Drool, drool, drool. I love meat.

The meat starts trickling in at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

My favourite? The ribeye and bacon-wrapped chicken thigh! Oh my. You cannot go wrong with bacon-wrapped anything. Yummmmmmy. So, we have no complaints about the actual taste of the meats. They were great. We loved it. Our complaint stems in the fact that we had to wait so long in between pieces of meat… for more meat to arrive at our table. This is where I wonder if our Fogo experience is what ruined Pampa for us – at Fogo, the chefs were literally lined up at our table, one after another, carving us meat after meat after meat. This is not an exaggeration! We had to quickly pop our coloured disc over to red many times at Fogo because as soon as we flipped to green – POP! Instantly – a chef was at our table. At Pampa? Not so much. Slow, slow meat service. There was too much of a delay in between meat pieces and when we did excitedly look up to see a chef had finally arrived – it was with a meat piece that we had already had (which is fine up to a point – but it would have been nice to have had all the different varieties come out without us having to ask for one specifically). So that is our biggest complaint and I feel like if you’re going to dine at a Brazilian Steakhouse where they specialize in their chefs coming to your table to serve you all-you-can-eat meat from their skewers and we didn’t get the best experience in that – then there’s a problem, lol.

Appetizers at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

Our dinner comes with polenta and cassava appetizers. I didn’t like the polenta that much when we had it at Fogo but actually I did quite enjoy Pampa’s. I ate it up pretty quickly (Mike didn’t care for it at either restaurant). The cassava was also only okay. Again – our experience at Fogo comes into play. We finished off our first plate of the appetizer and then … like the meat … we waited. At Fogo – the appetizers included the polenta, caramelized bananas and garlic mashed potatoes. Our servers at Fogo kept refilling our appetizer plates nearly as quickly as the meat kept coming. Perfection. At Pampa? I mean, maybe I was wrong to assume it should have been like that too? Because our server came by several times and our appetizer plate had been empty – and he didn’t offer us a new one. It was only after say the third stop by – that Mike asked if we could have another plate of the appetizers and our server brought us out another. So – meh experience there.

Dessert options at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

Then another disappointment came in the desserts. Again, I believe this is because of the unlimited dessert offerings at Fogo (that is included in the dinner price). Dessert at Pampa? Not included in the all-you-can-eat dinner price. Still we wanted to go full circle so we ordered the Papaya & Cassis Liqueur which is fresh papaya blended with French Vanilla Ice Cream topped with dijon creme de cassis liqueur. ($12)

Papaya & Cassis Liqueur at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

It was very pretty and tasted fantastic – and I’m usually not a dessert fan!

Mike and I at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse.

Overall, we likely won’t be coming back to Pampa though if we ever return to Vegas – we’re definitely going back to Fogo – lol. I think if you’ve never been to a Brazilian Steakhouse before, then Pampa will probably knock your socks off. It’s a great concept and again, who isn’t attracted to the idea of all-you-can-eat meat? But when we’ve had it elsewhere – and the service was so much better – it’s hard to be excited about Pampa. It was just okay. If you’ve never been to a Brazilian Steakhouse – by all means – start with Pampa since it’s right here – but hopefully you’ll try others elsewhere because I don’t think Pampa quite compares.

Feel free to read my glowing review of Las Vegas’ Fogo de Chao!

So have you been to Pampa?! What did you think??

Linda

Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon