Dear Calgary

This is my first post on the new site, and I want to dedicate it to Calgary – my hometown, that place I both love and hate (but only a little bit), and apparently an emerging food city. Who knew?

I left Calgary when I was 17 to attend university elsewhere; at that time, Calgary was in the baby stages of becoming a booming, bustling metropolis. I emphasize baby. The downtown core consisted mostly of office buildings and pubs, with a few bars and clubs thrown in. After 6pm, it was deadsville. Although there have always been museums and galleries, I didn’t notice that there was a real cultural face to the city. The food scene was equally uninspiring, especially to someone as young as I was – there were a few interesting (read: expensive) restaurants, but it was mostly the Western chains that dominated, like Joey’s, Earl’s, or Moxie’s (not that I have anything against these guys – the fish tacos at Joey’s are still my fav).

Since then, I have been home for summers, spring breaks, and various weekends in between; sometime between then and now, the beginning of 2013, Calgary has changed dramatically. And it’s all good. There are great restaurants opening everywhere, even in the suburbs. This was first brought to my attention by the arrival of Mercato West on 85th St. The original location is just off 4th St and man, is the food good. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything I didn’t like here (maybe the sugared tomatoes weren’t my favourite, but really, what is that). I would have to say that the service is maybe not the best, but I think the food is well worth it. I love the liver pâté with fried capers…amazing!

These days, there are a plethora of places to go eat, see, and be seen. Ones that I have tried recently include Anejo (Mexican – pretty decent, huge amount of tequila), Model Milk (couldn’t get into it – food seemed overhyped, although the space is great), Jelly (I know I’m way behind on this one but salted caramel beats maple bacon hands down), and Laurier Lounge (not new by any means but fondue! yum).

Maple bacon donuts

I’ve been Jellified! (finally)

This past summer I convinced my parents to try Anju, a Korean fusion place; it was so good even they had to agree! Below, some of the delicious things we tried:

Crispy tofu with kimchi

Crispy tofu with kimchi

KFC - as they say on the menu, Korean fried chicken

KFC – as they say on the menu, Korean fried chicken

Spicy salmon tacos

Spicy salmon tacos

Along with this new influx of ‘fancy’ restaurants, there are way more ethnic eateries than there ever used to be. One of my go-to’s for Ethiopian is this tiny place off 17th Ave SE called Fassil; it’s filling, cost-friendly, and SO GOOD. There’s also new Indian restaurants popping up everywhere you look, right beside the ubiquitous neighbourhood Viet.

Every time I head back home now, I’m excited to try what new delicacy Calgary has to offer – whether it’s Peruvian, Canadian, or down-home Indian, I’m finally learning to love my city. Therefore my advice for you today is: Go out! Try new food! Try old food! Just try – you’ll see a whole new side to your city, and probably find some hidden gems to boot. People will be so impressed when you tell them you have a hookup for the best tagine around.

I’m going to try really hard (really) to post regularly; I know you are all dying to hear about my food adventures in Oxford, which, let’s be honest, is not exactly a culinary hotspot. However, while I strive for some balance in my life, and you are eagerly awaiting my next post, remember to stay delicious ;)

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