Sunday, December 26, 2010


Boxing day. Time honored tradition of after Christmas shopping. Major bargain hunting and all the crowds that come with that.
But you know, there are stores that are virtually empty....COSTCO comes to mind. On Boxing day, this place looks deserted to any other regular business day.
T&T, our Asian supermarket would be another example of a store less frequented on Boxing day.

That's where we went today, if for nothing else than to cruise the aisles to find cool, gluten free ingredients and foods.
Victoria discovered these Vietnamese Chicken Rolls, made right here in Alberta. Gluten Free, No MSG, no food coloring, no sugar, 1,5kg for 12.00. BARGAIN. There are about 45 rolls in that bag.

When you open the bag the first thing you see is flour coating, but it's rice flour. You can prepare these snacks two ways, pan fried until golden brown, or just like me, deep fry the heck out of them straight from the freezer.
.After all, it's still Christmas season and all deep fried food tastes better anyway....Nutrionists can talk to me in January again.

Serve the Spring Rolls with a couple of sauces, for example a spicy Chili sauce and a Plum Sauce. I made a dozen of them, which is about 4 restaurant appetizers. They were gone in a minute or less. Hot, fat and tasty!

Happy Boxing Day!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


About a month ago, Five Guys Burgers and Fries finally opened up here in Calgary. A successful chain in the US, sort of trying to rival In-N-Out Burger for cult status.
Lots of chatter on the Interweb, even their Prez is a fan.

I went of course on opening day, by myself, to check it out. Located in Deerfood Meadows, not too far from Ikea. The Burger was great, a regular comes with two beef patties, with loads of free toppings to choose from. 100% Peanut oil for their fries, so if you are allergic to peanuts, don't go.  I did not like the fries as much then, however yesterday's order of fries was outstanding.

I had a chance to speak with the assistant manager about their gluten free options and he assured me that their fries are fresh cut and gluten free. How about the bun?
They are not allowed to take your bun into the cooking area (it's an American, over protective, litigation worried sissy corporation after all), however they do offer the "No Bun"
option which is better than a blank stare at other fast food places we go to.....

So yesterday finally, we all went together with a bunch of Victoria's gluten free Hamburger Buns and gave it a try. Lauren and myself had their regular Burgers "all the way" which includes all the toppings, while Victoria and Isabella had theirs on GF Buns with regular Mayo, ketchup and mushrooms.

What can I say? GF PATISSERIE'S Hamburger Buns held up very well , nothing fell apart or slid out (they are large patties) and both Celiacs in the family enjoyed their meal.
I only ordered one large order of fries for the four of us and let me tell you, it was plenty. On the way there, Lauren kept reading  the caloric table of their offerings and that order of fries came in at, ah never mind, it's OK. Just go, bring your own GF Bun, eat and enjoy!

If you are not a fan of crappy Kraft cheese, do not order a cheeseburger. The slice of yellow processed chemicals ruined the Burger during my first visit. Since they won't toast your bread, maybe pre toast it at home to get the full experience.
Other than that, I highly recommend this place for a great GF Burger experience

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Peter posted about Spaghetti Bolognese way back two years ago.  Meat sauce.  Yum!  It is one of the best warm meals for cold weeks like the one we're having here in Calgary.  Our version takes a few hours until it is ready, but the end result is worth the wait.  There are four of us in our house and there is always leftover sauce.  Perfect to freeze and reheat for a second meal a few weeks later.

What you'll need (I forgot some items in the picture):

2 packages lean ground beef
1 package of sliced mushrooms (or slice your own)
2 large cans of diced tomatoes
1 can of crushed tomatoes or 1 can of tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
olive oil
red wine
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs 
1 package of pasta (pref spaghetti, however the store was out of it in our favourite brand--Rizopia--and we had penne)

In a large heavy pot, coat the bottom with olive oil and set to medium heat.
Add your chopped garlic and stir just until slightly softened.
Add the ground lean beef and cook thoroughly until there is no pink left.  Throw in a couple pinches of pepper and salt to taste.
Add mushrooms, and let simmer five minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes/tomato paste, and diced tomatoes, and dried herbs.  
Reduce to low heat.  Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add red wine to suit your taste.  We like a stronger flavour in our house...I use about 1/2 cup. 
Stir and allow to simmer for an hour, stirring when needed.  You will see the sauce thicken and reduce in the pot.
Add sugar after the first hour, stir and allow to simmer for another hour.
In the last half hour of simmering, put on your water for the pasta with a couple pinches of salt and a splash of olive oil.  This is also the ideal time to prepare garlic toast as a side.
Once the water is boiling and you have added your pasta, add the cream to the meat sauce and stir.  
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Allow to simmer until pasta is ready.
Drain pasta, serve hot with a good sprinkling of fresh parmesan.
Finish the meal with the dessert of your choosing.  We had fresh poppy seed cake!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Our house had a certain Stampede smell to it this evening. Not horse manure.....or drunken Cowboy puke.
Victoria used GF PATISSERIE'S gluten free waffle Mix and made Funnel cake. So the house smelled like the midway food alley, when you walk by one of those donut makers.

Really easy apparently, I never had one, never made one, but they tasted great. Sugar + fat, not much can go wrong. Use the instructionson the bag, but instead of putting the dough into the waffle maker, get a pastry bag or funnel (hence the name), let the dough run into the hot fat in the same way Picasso painted his best paintings, flip after a few seconds so both sides get evenly brown.

Dust with plenty of icing sugar, eat warm with a glass of milk. It's fantastic! And really easy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


So. You want to buy a small business. Or start one. You got it all planned out. Your questionaire is ready, 10 page business plan written, ready to roll. Rock the world.

But did you ask yourself, "Do I have passion?" Maybe the single most important factor (besides plenty of funding) is also the most overlooked. Why do you want to go into business? Is it a dream? Is it the independence you are looking for? Does the idea sound like easy money to be made? All great motivating factors, but from my own experience, good and bad, it's all about Passion.
I won't bore you with the bad experience(me), but I can tell you about the good ones.

Victoria and Lauren have since day one displayed a passion about their bakery that I wish I could bottle up and sell. I could live on a yacht by now. For real.
 People would pay big bucks for that.
Stories at the dinner table, how little kids made them all teary eyed with those huge smiles of happiness. Waking up the husband in the middle of the night with comments " I think I figured it out, I gotta bake it right now to see if I am right...."
What? It's one in the morning and you interrupted me having fun on my yacht...

Not just those two, many many other  small business people display that kind of passion. Just today I went to a specialty store that sells all sorts of spices and let me tell you, this guy just oozed it. Confident passion. About spices for crying ot loud.

Or Chef Deano @ Wilder Nest Cafe, who'd rather have you take home that sandwich he just made
 for you and frame it in your kitchen than watch you eat his creations. That's passion.
Look around you. Visit the places you love so much and ask yourself why. Is it because they show you their passion?

So. If you think you got it. Do it. Tell the boss today. He will be your first customer, because he knows you have passion.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Victoria is finally ready to make it official what she had planned for the past few month. Her Cochrane location is going up for sale. With the initial success of her licensing program in the USA, coupled with Lauren's departure in 2011, it is time to hand over this very successful gluten free operation to the next baker.

With the lease not ending until August 31, 2011, there is plenty of time to find the right team to move GF PATISSERIE into the next phase. Before handing over the sale to a real estate agent, Victoria is approaching you, her loyal customers first, to see if any of you are interested for yourselves, your family or someone you know.

I am sure you will have plenty of questions, but most of the details should be discussed with Victoria in person by appointment. If you are interested, please drop her an email:

 The asking price includes all of the equipment, licensed rights to the recipes, training and all of the goodwill Victoria has developed over the past years.
Expansion and exciting growth opportunities abound, the new owner can take full advantage of ideas that were never realized due to time constraints on Victoria's behalf.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


As I mentioned last month, we were planning to have a gluten free dinner at SPAGO'S Las Vegas during the International Bakery show. Our Las Vegas licensee pulled some strings to make it possible and a great  evening it was.

Spago, maybe the first luxury restaurant to open in Las Vegas, is located at the famed Forum Shops, a shopping centre attached to Caesar's Palace. The restaurant has it's roots in Los Angeles where Wolfgang Puck opened his first Spago in 1982. A very successfull chef with a knack for promotion, Puck since has created an empire with dozens of restaurants, a frozen food line, coookware and much much more.

The wait staff was fully prepared for our table which besides Celiacs disease also had to deal with a nut and seafood allergy. We were able to choose from the menu and the kitchen ensured that all was safe to eat without having to resort to an EpiPen or bloated stomachs after dinner.

I am certaint hat if you give them some notice, it can be done every visit. Next time in Vegas, check it out.












Saturday, October 02, 2010


Target. Second largest retail chain after WAL MART. But what a difference. All about design, all about good taste. Maybe a bit higher priced, the selection however is better.
It is Victoria's favorite big box store in the US and they could do with a move into Canada, but so far it's not on their expansion radar.

During our last trip, in our old neighborhood we visit a brand new Super Target which in addition to all their designed products also carries fresh foods. They've come a long way. In the Wikipedia article below you can read all about their corporation, saves me time explaining it all. Some very interesting facts.
Especially how some of their customers refer to the company as TAR-ZHAY, which makes it sound French and a bit lofty....oh well.

We did buy those organic spice jars to bring something home. So on your next trip south of the border, try to find one of those stores and check it out.