(Weekend recap: Date at Piqniq Bistro and Easy Appies in a pinch}
On Friday night after work, me and the boy met up at Craft Beer Market for a quick beverage to pass the time till our dinner reso. I ordered a glass of the Grapefruit Stiegel Radler – a light fruity beer made with real grapefruit juice. So refreshing, the perfect summer beer. The boy went with one of his faves, the Erdinger Dunkel – a dark full-bodied wheat beer from Germany.
At about quarter after 6, we made our trek to Piqniq, a classic Parisienne bistro located above the Beatniq Jazz and Social Club in the heart of downtown.
What started out as heavy thunderstorm, turned into this! Giant pellets of hail!? Uh, this is August people, really? Luckily we barely made it inside before it started getting really crazy. This was our view from our table inside. It was a brief storm, but it caused a ton of damage, including ripping all the leaves off the trees and leaving several tiny indentation on the hoods and roofs of cars parked in the area.
While it stormed outside, we happily nibbled on a cheese board ($12) consisting of a tangy blue, the CREAMIEST triple cream brie I’ve ever had (it was like butter) and a slice of chevre noir – a complex aged white cheddar. Served alongside crostini, pecans, pistachios, raspberries and some honey.
I paired this with a glass of their feature Sauvignon Blanc while the boy had a bottle of their Fish Tale Organic Ale.
The menu is short and sweet, split into two categories – petit and grand plats. I don’t think a small menu is a negative thing, because it allows the restaurant the opportunity to perfect their selection of dishes – which is exactly what Piqniq does.
The boy had the Grain Fed Alberta Chicken Supreme ($26) – a tender and juicy filet of chicken with a crispy exterior atop a ragoût of wild mushroom, roasted root vegetables and braised veal cheeks. Finished off with foie gras butter. And yes, it tasted as good as it sounds.
I had an equally delicious dish, the Pan Seared East Coast Scallops ($28) – perfectly cooked medallions of scallops layered atop a green pea and tarragon risottto and boar bacon beurre blanc.
For dessert, we went with had their Frozen Neapolitan mousse - layers of rich and creamy vanilla, strawberry and chocolate mousse. Garnished with a white chocolate dipped shortbread cookie and some berries.
Not for the light of heart, this was REALLY decadent. I guess my only complaint would be I wished there was more chocolate.
Overall, a very pleasant experience. Great food and exceptional and attentive service. And lucky for us, I nabbed a Living Social deal ($25 for $50 worth of food and liquor). A nice little place to reminisce and imagine we are back the city of lights again.
BEAT NIQ Jazz & Social Club (Lower Level) & Bistro PIQ NIQ (Main Level)
811 1st St. SW, Calgary, AB., T2P 7N2
Phone: 403-263-1650 (call for reservations)
On Sunday, I bought some groceries to make appies for my friend’s staguette. Here were the goods.
The first dish: Proscuitto, cantaloupe, boccocini with fresh basil. Simply cut the melon into bite size chunks, half the boccocini and skewer them onto mini bamboo picks along with a slice of ham a basil leaf. A simple and elegant nibble, perfect for a cocktail party.
My friend was making up a giant stockpot of fruity red wine sangria that night for the party, so I thought this dish would be a perfect complement. Strawberry feta crostini with balsamic crema and fresh lemon thyme.
Simply cut up a fresh baguette into diagonal slices, spread a thin layer of roasted garlic onion jam (I used Stonewall, but you could make your own). Overlap layers of slices of strawberries over top and crumble the cheese, a quick drizzle of balsamic reduction and decorate with leaves of the citrusy herb. Voila! No effort at all! With lots of time left to spare to get dolled up
Oh, and for dessert? Bubbly glasses of Prosecco with a scoop of raspberry sorbet and fresh raspberries. So refreshing! The perfect palate cleanser.
The last appie can be served as a starter or as a side dish alongside a main for dinner/lunch. This recipe is another winner from the book, Plenty by the noted London chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. My cookbook of the moment. The dish: Grilled zucchini with toasted hazelnuts and parmesan.
Start off by toasting a few handfuls of raw hazelnuts in a pan on medium high heat. Be sure to keep tossing them around and keep one eye on them at all times. The last thing you want it a bunch of little charcoal looking nuggets.
Next I tossed 1/2″ thick wedges of zucchini with a bit of olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper in a bowl, then grilled them in a hot pan till they get those beautiful char marks.
Top with a handful of your chopped toasted hazelnuts and a few shavings of a nice quality parmesan or grana padano.
Add another sprinkling of fresh ground pepper and that’s it! This has easily become one of my favourite dishes this summer. Looks sophisticated, tastes great and super easy to make. Now that is my kind of recipe. Bon appetit.
On Sunday, after much diddle daddling and procrastinating around the house, I got my butt outside and ran a 28km training run. The last 4km nearly killed me, but I repeated my power mantra over in my head (endurance activities is all about the mind games). The one I’m loving lately is a quote I heard on the radio in an interview with Melanie Jones of Endure: Run.Woman.Show (coming to Calgary soon!) who said:
“It’s not about how fast you run, it’s about how much you’re willing to suffer…it’s getting to that point you feel like you can’t go on, and then you do”.
And that’s just what I did
10 weeks to the Nike Womans’s Marathon in San Francisco and counting..