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Posts tagged ‘Duck Confit’

Cafe Review: Al Forno

Location:222 – 7 St. SW

We originally came at around 10:30am, the place was packed. We scoped the place for any available seats, but there were none, so we headed to Cafe Blanca. After an hour or so we headed back here and found a table pretty much immediately. With one person saving our spot, the other two headed down to order. My first impression of the place was that it was very similar to Corbeaux on 17th Ave (that has sadly since closed down). As Valerie and I stood in line, waiting to place our order, a line formed behind up, ending up with people pressed up against the door. Though we had already eaten, we decided to get ourselves some sandwiches and a tart, while Yulin ordered a flatbread.

The duck sandwich from Al Forno is pretty much exactly the same as the Duck Confit from Vendome, which makes sense since that’s what Vendome has become known for and is one of the best things they have on their menu. Unfortunately, unlike Vendome, Al Forno’s duck sandwich was drenched in enough oil to save Alberta’s economy from disaster. The porchetta sandwich I ordered was something that wasn’t something available at Vendome. It consisted of roast porchetta (of course), hazelnut gremolata, some kind of greens (I’m thinking arugula, but I’m not completely sure), and a lemon aioli. Despite this sandwich being very oily, it definitely was not as oily as the duck sandwich. The lemon aioli was a refreshing addition to the panini instead of the typical garlic or truffle aioli which can be quite heavy. The lemon is a good contrast to the richness of the porchetta. This was my first time having a gremolata, so I didn’t know what to expect, but really, I didn’t taste much of it and I’m still wondering what it’s supposed to taste like. My only other complaint was that there was a thick layer of fat that could have been removed from the porchetta. And I’m not sure if this is expecting too much of them, but the skin could have been crisped up like the Chinese do with their roast pork (which is pretty much the same). Yulin’s veggie flatbread wasn’t all that special. I liked that it was full-bodied in its flavour because so many healthy options just don’t get enough seasoning. I also like the combination of herbs used in the flatbread that helped to provide more complexity to the dish.

The chocolate ganache tart was the featured tart of the day. At first I was concerned that it would be too rich and from the moment I cut into it I knew there was something wrong. The ganache stuck terribly to my fork, which I expected, but the entire crust fell away and crumbled everywhere. It was admittedly a delicious crust containing oats and coconut flakes, but awfully inconvenient to eat. The ganache wasn’t as sweet and overwhelming as I expected, but it was about $5 for a slice (look below to see how small it was).

Though this cafe is brighter, more modern, quieter, more spacious, less noisy, and slightly cheaper than Vendome in some aspects, the amount of oil in the sandwiches is a bit off putting. However, I’d like to try out some of their other food (pizzas and pastas and small stuff) before I make a final decision about my return. For today’s visit I’d rate it 3.75/5.

al forno.jpg

Top: Duck Sandwich; Bottom: Porchetta Sandwich Right: Chocolate Ganache

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Veggie Flatbread

al forno interior 2

Al Forno Interior

al forno interior

Al Forno Interior

Cafe Review: Vendome Cafe

Location: 940 2 Ave NW, Sunnyside/Kensington, Calgary, Alberta


I was first introduced to this cafe back in 2011 and immediately fell in love with the small town coziness of the place. The cafe itself is small and in peak times, it’s hard to find a seat, but every visit is worth it. The decor of the cafe makes me think that I’m in a whole different city, maybe even a city in Europe, if one doesn’t look outside, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine it was summer in a Paris cafe…well okay, maybe that is a stretch…I like that this cafe gives me a vacation from the busyness of life. It provides a quick retreat from the mind-numbing turmoil of the working and academic world and isn’t outrageously unaffordable. Keep in mind that this is Kensington and in my biased opinion, one of the best places to eat.

Over the years I’ve brought many friends and family members to share in the joy of this treasure nestled in the quiet community of Kensington. Their amazing food has brought be back again and again and today I was back enjoying a lovely breakfast with my sister for her birthday. In the past, their Duck Confit paired with their creamy, yet sweet butternut squash soup have been my usual, but today I decided to try something new, their sumptuous whole wheat blueberry waffles (see picture below). Considering their portion sizes for their paninis I was a little underwhelmed by the smallness of the portion; I had expected two waffles at the very least, but no…one waffle, cut into quarters, topped with vanilla bean whip cream that was sorta watery and deflated, blueberry jam was concealed under the waffles and there was an odd drizzle of what I expect to be maple syrup (as the menu specified only syrup, maybe it was an unrealistic expectation to think it might be maple syrup), but tasted more like table syrup (coloured glucose water). As delicious as the waffles were, it was not worth $12.

Below are a few pictures highlighting some of the dishes I have enjoyed at this cafe over the years. Besides the Duck Confit, the Mushroom Eggs Benedict is another favourite of mine, unfortunately it is a bit on the salty side. The dish that caught me off guard was the open faced tuna melt sandwich. Typically, I’m not a tuna kind of girl, but this tuna melt has converted me. I have to say, it is one of the best ways I have seen a tuna melt prepared (unfortunately too yummy for any pictures). Perhaps the most memorable dish I had was for Mother’s Day in 2011. It was the first time my mom had been out and about in Calgary and I was pretty new to it myself, so I decided to treat myself and mom to the most decadent Chocolate Ganache, which, to this day I still dream about. One bite and I was in heaven. The chocolate was not overpowering sweet and was perfectly balanced against the acidity of the strawberry coulis. I could have eaten ten of them if I wasn’t worried about gaining 200 pounds.

My final complaint is the way I smell after I leave the place, saturated with oil and as though I had been dipped in butter and confited. Occasionally I smell so good that I want to eat myself, but most of the time the lingering smell of oil is off-putting and difficult to get out of my clothes.

However, despite these minor issues, I still highly recommend this cafe and would give it 4.5/5 stars in taste and atmosphere.


Duck Confit


Butternut squash soup with caesar salad


Half Chicken Club, Half Duck Confit with Apple Sauce and Coleslaw; Mocha; and a Mushroom Eggs Benedict with Hash Browns

Half Chicken Club, Half Duck Confit with Apple Sauce and Coleslaw; Mocha; and a Mushroom Eggs Benedict with Hash Browns


Butternut squash soup with marinated beet salad



Chocolate Ganache Cake with Strawberry Coulis

Half duck confit, half chicken club at top of image with a chai tea latte. Bottom half of image is the whole wheat blueberry waffles and a cappuccino.

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