Tuesday, May 24, 2011
10345 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton
After a long work week I was finally off for a couple days. I had plans to go and meet with my friend Ruth that evening but felt quite hungry on my way over. I called her and asked if she would be interested in getting a bite to eat. She agreed and asked where we would go. I told her I had a few places in mind and I would make some calls. Initially I wanted to grab some tapas and wine but the few places I called were closed on Sunday nights. I told her about Corso and that it was a hard reservation to get but we might luck out as it is a Sunday. Sure enough I called and they had a table for two available right away. It was not my plan to eat at Corso this night but I was very excited nonetheless.
Corse 32 has developed quite the reputation in Edmonton in the short time it has been opened. With very little marketing I may add. They have built a following based entirely on word of mouth and some social media type marketing but all that aside they are able to do this because of the merit of their food. They are committed to using fresh and local ingredients and simple traditional Italian cooking. They truly show us that using fresh and simple ingredients is half the battle in making great food.
We did not take long to look over our menus, I was already familiar with it and Ruth trusted my judgment. To start we ordered the house made goat ricottta with crostini, and the orange and fennel marinated nocellara olives.
The ricotta was very smooth and creamy. It completely coated my mouth. With a drizzle of good olive oil and some fresh rosemarry the natural and simple flavours really came through.
The olives were marinated in orange and fennel, again the focus was on simple and fresh flavours. The dish was not overly complex by any means but the saltiness of the olives works well with the fresh flavours of the fennel and the citrus from the orange.
I had the carbonara and it did not disappoint. The fresh pasta, the house cured pork jowls, the fresh ramp, and the fresh cracked pepper all combined wonderfully. The dish was very salty, but in that good pork saltiness kind of way. It left my mouth watering and longing for more.
Ruth is a vegetarian so the house made ravioli stuffed with fresh goat ricotta that was on special sounded perfect. I only had a small bite of it but the flavours and textures were excellent.
Although we were sufficiently full, we still wanted to try a dessert. We decided on the pistacchio & olive oil cake with blood orange, and mascarpone. Much like the rest of our meal it did not disappoint. The cake was so moist and delicate and combined very well with the sweetness of the orange and the mouth feel of mascarpone. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful meal.
Corso 32 is a great restaurant. Everything about it is done simply and well, from their small minimalist dinning room with a small open kitchen, to their menu that is full of fresh and simple ingredients. They really show us that using fresh and simple ingredients is half the battle when trying to produce good food. Our experience at Corso was great and I can't wait to make a return visit.
Posted by MIKE holmer at 1:51 PM
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Work has been crazy... but in a kind of great way. For those of you who don't know I recently, about four weeks ago, started working at The Prairie Bistro. It is the restaurant inside the new Holes Enjoy Centre. If you have not heard of it yet or eaten there, you should most definitely check it out. We are a restaurant that sources fresh ingredients from local farmers, uses organics whenever possible, makes everything in house, and is socially and environmentally conscious. Now all of this is on the exact opposite end of the spectrum of the last place I worked which was for a camp outfit in the oil sands in Northern Alberta. But let me back up a bit to when I first got back from Europe.
I had a plan; I was going to finally go to culinary school and pursue a career in culinary arts. I would do my two years in culinary school, save my money to go and to Europe to earn my strips. Pay me dues in the best kitchens in the world and eventually come home with a wealth of knowledge. Well, things did not exactly go as planned and I ended up back home sooner then I had initially expected. In all honesty coming home I felt like I had failed, I had had it all figured out and now I had nothing. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to continue cooking anymore. I had very little if any direction to what my next move was going to be.
I knew I was broke and needed some quick cash, and the easiest place that I knew of to make a quick buck was back up north. So I emailed a few contacts to see if I could get on with PTI again, and as it turned out they did not want me back. Thank god for small miracles though, I am so glad I did not end up back up there. I try not to swear too much in my blog but, Fuck the money, the oil sands is one of the worst places on the planet, and nothing is worth what they are doing up there. Thinking back I can't believe I even considered going up there again. That place destroys creativity, free thought, and hope.
Fast forward to where I am now, four weeks in at Prairie, just finished working a fourteen hour shift for the third day in a row, and driving home. I thought to myself, god I love cooking again, and it was true. Places like Fort MacMurray, and PTI had made me forget how much I actually loved cooking. The only other time I had worked similar hours was for PTI and after those shifts I usually wanted to kill myself and everyone around me. I do not feel that way when I leave Prairie for the day, and I am happy when I am working there. I like what we stand for and what we are trying to do. I have fully bought in and am proud of what I am doing and of the food I am helping to create. More importantly and maybe I had forgotten it for a little while, but I love cooking again.