Great food loves that keep you coming back for more
Regardless of relationship status we all have those certain special attachments in our life — the ones that never disappoint and always know how to comfort us in our times of need.
I’m talking of course about our great food loves — that handful of dishes you could write a love letter to for always being by your side the ones that keep you coming back on bad days celebratory days and just-because days. They are the few you would eat every day if you didn’t know any better. The ones that make you say “I shouldn’t” or “I deserve it” or “Eff it. I’m eating this now.” Your food crushes.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day these are mine:
CHEESE PIZZA EXTRA CRISP WITH EXTRA SAUCE
Capri Pizza & Steak House
1704 Edmonton Trail N.E.
This is a spot that is on no one’s list of top restos in town and it may not even end up on yours. But without a doubt it’s the source of my Number 1 and longest-lasting food crush: the steakhouse pizza. After years of experience my husband and I have our order down to a science — extra sauce to avoid dryness and extra crisp for added umami. And it’s all on our terms — we even go as far as picking it up to avoid any chill or sogginess. Nine times out of 10 (Capri can be hit and miss) what comes out of the box makes me giddy. To you it might look like an average Calgary steak house pizza with a paper-thin layer of browned crispy cheese tangy tomato sauce and a thick crust (there’s no 00 flour buffalo mozzarella or San Marzano tomatoes to speak of) but to me it’s a greasy slice of heaven.
Other local pizza crushes include: Manies Atlas Spiros and Gus’s.
PAIN AU CHOCOLAT
Éclair de Lune
1049 40 Avenue N.W.
Nothing compares to the harmony of a truly relaxing Sunday morning. Coffee in hand dog curled up at your feet and an engrossing article for putzing the time away. The only thing that could make it better is combining this bliss with a pain au chocolat from Éclair de Lune. It’s nothing extravagant just your basic flaky croissant enveloping a dark chocolate centre. My husband and I often joke that it’s a “chocolate bar wrapped in a croissant” and that’s not too far off. Arriving at this unassuming French bakery when they are still warm from the oven is a triumph in our household. A word to the wise: if you go for the pain au chocolat you’ll likely end up coming home with a fantastic quiche cheese sticks or lemon tarts too.
The Desert Pita & Grill
144 1830 52 Street S.E.
Just off International Avenue across from the Target is a strip-mall Middle-Eastern joint with one of the best wraps in town — and I wouldn’t suggest customizing it. The ingredients are simple but succulent; roasted chicken with garlic wrapped in a warm pita with pickles fried potatoes (this is key) and coleslaw. It’s a stellar combination that is well worth the drive. Also you might want to visit on a weekend as most weekdays people are lined up out the door. Trust me on this one.
219 16 Avenue N.E.
Milkshake shmilkshake. If you haven’t had a banana split from Peters’ on 16th Avenue you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a staple in our house year-round. Nothing is better equipped to beat the doldrums than Peters’ soft-serve vanilla ice cream topped with a whole fresh banana chunks of pineapple strawberries chocolate sauce whipped cream and that seductive little cherry on top. And this is a dish where I would actually encourage you to customize. I often go for raspberries over strawberries and butterscotch instead of chocolate. Be prepared to line up but it moves fast.
BEEF BRISKET SANDWICH
420 16 Avenue N.E.; Deerfoot Mall; and 4 4640 Manhattan Road S.E.
Four words: Beef on a bun. Tender flavourful brisket on a soft bun with thinly sliced pickles — add your favourite sauce (I like the apple and horseradish) and you’ve got it made. That and the sides are wonderful too. Crisp vinegary coleslaw sweet baked beans and that delicious cornbread. They also make a fantastic cola or Dr. Pepper shake if you have room to spare.
Sidewalk Citizen Bakery
5524 1A Street S.W.; and Sunnyside Natural Market
These bad boys start with a silky brioche dough (organic flour and eggs) that takes two days to process. The “goo” to quote the bakery is made from a delicious blend of butter brown sugar and fresh ground cinnamon. But don’t take my word for it — head in to either location one morning for a fresh gooey masterpiece and spend the rest of the day wishing you had another.