Introducing Peggy’s Squad Contests!

Many of you know that I love contests and contests are even better when you can enjoy prizes with some of your favourite people. Peggy’s Squad Contests are just that! Enjoy a day or evening doing some of my favourite things downtown and invite your squad to come along.

Here’s how the contests work:

  • Every time you see the image below on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you’ll know that there’s a new Peggy’s Squad contest.

Peggy's Squad Contest Alert (3)

  • Follow the instructions provided in the post and you will automatically be entered to win an amazing experience including yourself and 3-10 of your friends (number of friends depend on the contest).

Stay tuned for my first ever Peggy’s Squad contest on Monday, April 24th. Hint: It involves amazing food!

See you downtown,

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The Tours are back in town!

With the warm weather coming in full force, I’m finally starting to feel the winter chill in my bones fade away. What this means for us Winnipeggers: a whole season of great outdoor activities! This week I thought I’d share something I’m most excited to take part in this summer.

The Downtown Tours, hosted by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, are a super fun way to explore my favourite part of the city—downtown! This year there’s more restaurants, more dates, and more delicious tastes to discover!

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A Moveable Feast: BYOB: Bring Your Own Bike and cycle to various restaurants and coffee shops around downtown. Your $40 ticket price will get you coffee samplings and appetizers at five different restaurants in one night. New to the tours this year is The Planit, you can look forward to their board game nights on Wednesdays!

Tap In: If you like to end your day with a cold glass of beer, you’ll want to get in on this tour right away! For $30, you receive a different beer at each restaurant as well as appetizer samplings. Favourite tour stop Garbonzo’s Pizza Pub holds a trivia night every Wednesday if you’re looking to add a little competition to your after-work drinks.

Patio Crawl: Patio season is so short, which is why you need this tour. For $30, you get access to a plethora of patios plus one drink of your choosing and shared appetizers. The pizza at Carbone is so good, it’s life-changing! And I guarantee you’ll be doubling back for more zah this summer.

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Winnipeg Wine: This tour might be my favourite! At each stop, you’ll get to sample two different wines from the restaurant’s selection and try some small bites pairings. One of the stops is at The Loft Salon, so you may be able to get a little hairdo touch up while you enjoy your wine. Tickets start at $75 (for an individual) and for $285 you have the option of touring all four restaurants and spending a night’s stay for two at one of downtown’s luxury hotels.

The Breakfast Club: There’s no Molly Ringwald or Judd Nelson, but this tour is still one you won’t be forgetting any time soon! For $30, it’s the whole Sunday brunch experience plus a little added cardio as you walk from restaurant to restaurant trying different breakfast samplings at each stop. Whether you’re a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or a criminal this is tour is a great stop!

Downtown Flashback: If you’re looking to get out of the office during your lunch break, this free tour is a great option to learn some interesting facts about our city’s architectural history. Tours start at 12pm at Air Canada Park and end around 12:45pm.

All of the tours (expect Downtown Flashback) can take up to 40 people, so get your group of friends together for a night, or morning, on the town. It’s always fun to find new places to eat, and these tours will let you to sample a variety of options so you know what to order next time! Book your tickets today–I know I will!

The Fairmont’s brought a new chef to town

The Velvet Glove. Even the name sounds fancy – and maybe a bit traditional and old-school, right?

That’s what makes what’s going on in there right now so interesting – there’s change. Potentially big change! And based on what I tasted the other night, I like it.

I was lucky enough to be one of the first Winnipeggers to taste the creations of a chef that’s just come to town – Eraj. He’s the new master of the Velvet Glove’s kitchen, just moved here from the Hilton’s restaurant in Toronto. And his first order of business was to reinvent the menu. Top to bottom, breakfast, lunch and dinner – nothing’s escaping his review. (if you love it and you’re hyperventilating, relax – favourites will still have a home, although they may get a fresh twist)

They’ve done some reinventing outside of the kitchen as well – if you’ve been to the Velvet Glove before, the first difference you’ll notice is that it feels lighter, brighter, and airier. They’ve kept the warm wood panels around the room, but have swapped out the chairs for waaaay more modern low armchairs in pale fabrics and upholstered the booths in creamy white leather.

We started with an amuse bouche served on a granite slab, of pickled eggplant, artichoke, and bites of crisp little spheres with piping hot mushroom and cheese inside.

Eraj called the next course a bit of ‘Manitoba on a plate’ – a fresh take on salad, arranged like a constellation there were heirloom tomatoes, asparagus seared with a blowtorch, puffed grains to add some crunch, and addictive little dots of goat cheese mousse. Before eating it, it was bathed in a basil cucumber water – it almost turned my salad into a fun little soup!

To get our palates fresh and ready for more tasting, there was something Eraj introduced what he called ‘bubble tea from grown-ups’ – little beads of ‘caviar’ made from cassis with lemon with pinot grigio poured over it and

A much more solid and traditional entree – ribeye so tender I didn’t need a steak knife for it, with a sweet lavender honey sauce, smoked butter and truffle oil with mixed veggies and potatoes.

When dessert came out, he asked us to listen to it – as weird as it felt, we put our ears up to our dishes and heard the snap and crackle of maybe the last thing I expected to find at the Velvet Glove – pop rocks! They were crushed and sprinkled over a dish that was a play on peanut butter and jelly – a flourless chocolate brownie with peanut butter sauce, blueberry confit and drunken cherries. It was so rich I almost had trouble finishing it – but somehow managed to make it through. The things I do for material. 🙂

There are a lot of new things planned for the restaurant – when he sat down with us after the meal, you could tell Eraj was excited about the possibilities – he was already talking pop-up dining, reinventing old favourite for the menu, starting a fantastic brunch, and maybe even changing the name!

 

I can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

 

Manyfest – and Food Truck Wars – starts tomorrow!

So Manyfest – and Food Truck Wars! – start tomorrow! I’ve been doing my advance research and looked at the trucks lined up for tomorrow – it starts at 11AM, so that’s my lunch plan made – and I’ve realized I need to stop eating from now until I get there tomorrow, because I’m going to need the extra stomach room. There are a mind-boggling 25 food trucks setting up on Memorial Blvd to participate this year. I didn’t actually realize we HAD that many in the city – that’s more than twice as many as last year! It got so popular last year the lineups got crazy massive – so doubling the trucks should speed it up a whole lot! (plus it looks like you don’t need tickets this year – just walk up and pay at the truck)

Returning from last year for a second shot at the title:

And below – 15 trucks that are ALL new to Food Truck Wars this year! Some of these are old faves around the city – hello, Red Ember and your epic wood-fired pizza – and some I’ve never tried before! Up South BBQ, which I’m assuming is southern food? Waki Temaki, a sushi food truck – awesome and MAYBE a little crazy-sounding, but in a good way. And Simba Safari Grill…I’ve definitely never tried an African food truck before!

Behold the full list of newcomers that will be at Food Truck Wars starting tomorrow at 11:

 

Something’s Happening on Graham

Graham’s a street that sometimes gets overlooked – it’s not as prominent as Portage, not as big and full of food trucks as Broadway, and because a lot of it is designed for transit and bikes, not that many of us drive down it every day. But over the last little while, I’ve seen it changing piece by piece around Kennedy – and it’s gradually transforming into one of my favourite little blocks downtown! If you’ve never explored it, go check it out on your lunch hour – it’s worth checking out these spots that are new to the block.

Seeing the downtown grow doesn’t always mean massive exciting skyscrapers – although I love seeing those go up too! It’s the building of these little intimate neighbourhoods too, places that draw people to walk around that make the sidewalks fill up with people, and I think their successes are worth celebrating.

Art:

There are murals tucked in between the buildings, including a cute mural tucked away beside Second Cup with adorable helicopter bees (I really don’t know what else to call them). It’s also the street when the incomparable Kal Barteski installed her Love Every Body interactive artwork – I went down to take a selfie, and you should too!

There’s an amazing farmers market:

The Downtown Farmers’ Market started here last year. The plaza behind Manitoba Hydro Places is already a great place to sit for lunch when it’s sunny, but when the Thursday market comes out, it’s packed with people like looking for an excuse to leave the office for lunch and buy fresh-baked cookies!

Constantly changing menus at Sana SoupHouse:

They’ve been there less than a year and already I’m not sure what I’d do without their soup of the day list when it’s a rainy day and I need a cozy lunch. Plus, how many places in the city actually have soups like Chilled Strawberry, West African Peanut, and Pumpkin Apple Spice?

Rare finds at Bison Books:

This used & rare book shop relocated here a few years ago, and I never get tired of visiting it to see what literary oddities they’ve dug up. My favourite recent find, courtesy of their Facebook page: Elvis’ Favourite Recipes.

A new shop has popped up:

Pop-up events and pop-ups shops are all over the downtown this year, and I can’t get enough of it! The latest – Chook, at the corner of Graham & Vaughn, which has clothing, skateboards, and comes complete with a skateboard ramp inside! It wasn’t open when I was there, so I shamelessly peered in the windows to take pics.

 

The Urban Bakery is back home on Graham:

After nearly 10 years on Portage Ave, the Urban Bakery renovated a space on Graham and added a ton of creative touches, from a shoe wall to a handcrafted wood slab checkout counter, to an entrance that leads off the back alley!

It’s coffee heaven:
Alright, these aren’t new, but they’re essential! There are no fewer than 3 coffee places within this block: Starbucks, Second Cup, and the independent coffee house Twist Cafe. Second best of all, they all come with patio areas to sit and sip in the sun. Best of all – the Second Cup names their plants.

Graham Ave Second Cup

 

Finding my favourite Caesar downtown – Part 1!

A friend sent me an email the other day, telling me that May 13th was National Caesar Day in Calgary – they actually created a day to honour the day the classic Canadian cocktail was first mixed. Makes sense, actually! The drink’s so popular (apparently we drink 350 million Caesars every year in Canada) that lots of downtown restaurants have their own special spins on the recipe. So to celebrate this very important holiday – and the fact that patio weather has FINALLY arrived – I took some clamato-loving friends out to taste as many of downtown’s unique Caesar recipes as we could and find our favourites.

 

The restaurant: Rudy’s Eat & Drink

The drink: Rudy’s Signature Caesar

Why try it: Rudy’s blends a signature red pepper & horseradish puree  into the standard Clamato and Worcestershire. Results – there’s a whole extra layer of flavour, body and yum. Bonus – snackable pickled green bean garnish!

Rudy's Signature Caesar! #caesarweekend #Winnipeg

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The restaurant: Tavern United Downtown

The drink: Build Your Own Signature Caesar Menu

Why try it: Because the brand-new build-your-own Caesar menu has more than 30 different options – meaning you can go crazy creating an almost infinite number of custom combos. You pick what you want on the rim, what hot sauce, your juice (classic Clamato, or tomato, pickle, or olive), your garnishes, and which liquor you want (we all considered the Guiness or tequila but chickened out). Our friendly bartender Matt created thsee two beauties for us:
Top: Sea salt, tomato & pickle juice, Frank’s Red Hot, dill pickle, and vodka.
Bottom: Lemon pepper rim, horseradish, Worcestershire, chipotle Tabasco,  clamato, pickle juice, and gin with lime and pepperonccini garnish.

Results of Tavern United's epic build-your-own-Caesar menu #caesarweekend #winnipeg

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The restaurant: Earl’s on Main

The drink: Caesar, Baesar

Why try it: The Earl’s signature spice mix plus Valentina hot sauce made the classic Caesar here a hit with all of us – we couldn’t convince the bartenders to tell us everything in the mix, but they did reveal red & green tabasco, garlic, and pickle juice are all in there. Extra points for serving it out of a jar with a slice of jerky as a garnish!

The Baesar is beer + Caesar. The beer is their lightest signature lager, and it makes the whole drink lighter and super-refreshing – perfect for patios this weekend! (Caesars are also on special for $4 on Sundays!)

Caesars at Earls on Main! #HappyLongWeekend

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Tomorrow, part 2!

Chocolatefest

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It’s Easter weekend, aka the weekend when we do the Traditional Overconsumption of Cadbury Mini-Eggs. And I hate to mess with tradition, but if you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth with something a little different, I think you should know it’s still Ciao! magazine’s Chocolatefest until the end of the month! Restaurants around the city are serving up special chocolate dishes for $7 each – here’s what some of the downtown spots (especially the Forks) have on offer!

  1. Caramel Crepe at the Forks: Serving up a chocolate crepe, with Nutella, ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate syrup.
  2. Fro-Gurts at the Forks: Their Oreo Frogurt, blending delicious chocolate Oreo pieces with vanilla frozen yogurt.
  3. The Fudge Guy at the Forks: Hand-made chocolate fudge made from scratch on their premises.
  4. Human Bean Coffee & Tea at the Forks: Chocolate sin torte, a decadent cake full of ganache, mousse and icing layered with three types of chocolate.
  5. The Neon Cone at the Forks: Triple Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream
    This take home dessert is a combination of chocolate ice cream swirled with chocolate fudge and chewy chocolate
    brownie pieces.
  6. Prairie 360 is doing not 1, not 2, but 3 chocolately desserts:
  • Triple Chocolate Cheesecake – Crushed Oreos under a layer of dark chocolate ganache, topped with a milk chocolate cheesecake filling, finished with white chocolate curls.
  • Chocolate Orange Alexander CocktailGlenmorangie original, spiced chocolate syrup, cream, and chocolate bitters
    garnished with cardamom.
  • Bittersweet Harmony Cocktail – Averna, Glen Garioch and creme de cocoa garnished with
    orange peel and a cherry.

Find out more on Chocolatefest here