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Ciao! News – December/January 2012

new openings and food and retail news

year at a glance

trend report

From finger-licking barbeque to fresh fast food, a number of trends emerged on the Winnipeg restaurant scene in 2012. American chains Famous Dave’s, Woody’s and Five Guys Burger & Fries joined locals Danny’s BBQ & Smokehouse and Buck’s Sports Lounge to satisfy the cravings of meat-loving locals. A Korean, DIY, table-top take on the trend was brought to the city by IGI BBQ Grill & Sushi Bistro. Korean cuisine is having a moment right now, with south Winnipeg’s recent open Rakumi serving up traditional offerings. Elsewhere in the market, we’re seeing ethnic takes on fast food with the emergence of gourmet casual spots, including Saigon Jon’s Vietnamese Kitchen. Burrito and taco joints are still popping up at a feverish pace; Burrito Splendido will be followed by Modern Taco Company in early December. Several restaurants opened second (or third!) locations this year, notably JC’s Tacos and More, Boon Burger and La Bamba. Those weren’t the only expanding empires of 2012; a few prominent chef and restaurateur opens include Chef Fern Kirouac’s In Ferno’s Bistro on Academy, Chef Michael Schafer’s Rudy’s Eat & Drink and Noel Bernier’s Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria, with Carnaval to come.— JZ


Gold Medal Plates winners: Jamie Snow, östen Rice and Michael Schafer; photo by Dan Harper Photography
Gold Medal Plates winners: Jamie Snow, östen Rice and Michael Schafer; photo by Dan Harper Photography

food news

gold-medal plates

Winnipeg’s culinary stars burned bright at this year’s Gold Medal Plates, which took place Oct. 26 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Held in cities across Canada since 2004, this competition raises funds for the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Chef Michael Schafer of Sydney’s at The Forks bagged bronze for his turn on classic bacon and eggs while Chef Jamie Snow of Amici at Niakwa picked up silver with “Manitoba on a plate.”  The coveted gold went to Chef Östen Rice of Wasabi Sabi for his architectural Japanese interpretation of the traditional Scandinavian gravlax his grandmother used to cure. “I had an Eureka moment at my parents’ house,” Rice tells Ciao!. “Japanese and Scandinavian is a fusion that’s been done before, but it’s still new to a lot of people.” Chef Rice will represent Manitoba at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna in February 2013.— JZ

billabong, 2.0

The evolution of Billabong Gastropub continues. Since re-opening in October under the direction of Chef Darryl Crumb, the Osborne Village haunt’s ever-changing menu has held our attention. Crumb ditched Billabong’s Australian fare in favour of upscale finger food and imaginative pub grub, like an indulgent poutine replete with Bothwell cheese curds in a veal demi-glaze. Now, he’s impressing with inspired new mains, such as a hearty heartland chowder and savoury smoked duck breast. 121 Osborne St, 204-452-1019.— JZ

and the winners are…

In November, Taste Canada – The Food Writing Awards honoured the crème de la crème of culinary writing for 2012. This year’s race included 73 French and English entries in four categories. Natalie MacLean’s Unquenchable snagged top honours in the culinary narrative category while Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen: 100 of My Favourite Easy Recipes was best general cookbook. David Rocco’s Made in Italy was top regional/cultural cookbook, and Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan’s Spilling The Beans was crowned best single-subject cookbook. Talk about timing; these books would make great gifts for foodies on your list.— JZ

 Fish taco from Burrito Splendido; photo by chronic creative
Fish taco from Burrito Splendido; photo by chronic creative

now open

simply splendido

Winnipeg is ready for smart fast food, and Ken Livingstone delivers with Burrito Splendido (pictured.)His west Portage Avenue restaurant elevates the casual, convenient and familiar elements of fast food with fresh, gourmet Mexican fare served in cool, contemporary surroundings that eschew mustard yellow and ketchup red. And you won’t find deep fryers at Burrito Splendido; all flour tortillas are pressed fresh in-house using Manitoba grain. 4-3380 Portage Ave, 204-885-3889.—JZ



café, si’l vous plaît

Enjoy a great cup of coffee while taking in the charm of Winnipeg’s French Quarter at Café Postal. Located on the main drag of Provencher, this cozy, 430 sq ft boutique coffee shop features a highly selective, back-to-basics coffee menu to match its minimalist design. The gleaming counter tops and street-facing bar were crafted from reclaimed local elm trees. Curl up with a rich chocolat chaud or a bittersweet Gibraltar — a shot of espresso topped with a bit of milk — and watch the world go by. 202 Provencher Blvd, 204-414-3654.— JZ

retail news

la dolce vita

Winnipeg’s stylish Sweet Impressions has opened a satellite location at St. Vital Centre just in time for the holidays. It’s a handy one-stop shop for whimsical stocking stuffers; think hand-decorated sugar cookies (100% nut-free, of course), adorable aprons and ’50s-fabulous cookware.— JZ


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