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Delicious Winnipeg spots where you can go eat your feelings

Last night’s loss — and indeed all the losses this past week — were tough to take. (Especially all those goals from Kesler, that bum).

While we can be happy to have made the playoffs, being the first team out is no fun, although huge props to all the fans at the MTS centre for the classy Go Jets Go send off.

But despite our never give in attitude, you must admit that there still is a bit of a void today, one that I’m going to recommend you fill with food.

Yes, it’s certainly not the most productive thing to do, but later you can go work out your caloric intact (and your out-of-the-playoff aggression) at the gym.

So without further ado, here’s some of the city’s best places to go eat your feelings:

Turn that frown upside down with one of the best cupcakes you've ever had from Cake-ology (PCG)

Turn that frown upside down with one of the best cupcakes you’ve ever had from Cake-ology (PCG)

Let’s start with some sugar shall we? Our office’s proximity to Cake-ology (85 Arthur Street) has always been a blessing in times you need to indulge. There are a couple ladies in our office who had been assuring me for months that Cake-ology is the spot for anything to do with cakes — especially cupcakes, with a weekly stop there part of their office ritual.

After seeing so many cupcakes come through our office’s doors — and thus, doing some serious sampling myself, I certainly agree because these pillowy, not too sweet and always fresh wonders are about as good as it gets — and I’m not even that into sweets.

For starters, their cupcakes are so moist, while the ratio of cake to icing — icing I might add that is nearly as good as Pavelec’s final run-in of shutouts to clinch the playoff birth (especially their excellent buttercream) — is spot on.

I was even shown a clever way to eat them today (as demonstrated by my co-worker Laura in the heading photo) whereby you turn your Cake-ology cupcake into a cupcake sandwich; a manoeuvre so clever that to execute it is better than scoring a shorthanded goal (which the Jets were so great at right up to the playoffs).

I tell you these cupcakes are so good that you’ll forget Monday’s overtime loss.

Feelings officially half-eaten at Sherbrook Street Delicatessen (PCG)

Feelings officially half-eaten at Sherbrook Street Delicatessen (PCG)

Next, for full on gluttony, BDI (766 Jubilee Avenue) has always been the place to be, with a higher count of ice cream concoctions than we saw for body checks in game one, which we all know was a lot. The standout for volume alone in this ridiculously creamy repertoire is the Sleeping Beauty, with a lineup of two ice cream sundaes topped with cherries and ungodly mounds of whip cream with a cherry on top, all stationed in half a pineapple as a vessel.

You’ll feel like Garth from Wayne’s World, when he was presented with that blue cocktail, when you are served the Sleeping Beauty. Its title is surely a foreshadowing of the food coma it will put you in if you finish. But at least, in said food coma, you’ll be visited by lovely, sugary dreams where Corey Perry’s deft stick handling will fade like unimportant childhood memories.

If sweets aren’t your thing, then nothing says emotional eating like comfort food, which Winnipeg has in abundance. For something new to the scene, I highly recommend the smoked brisket stacked high on City Rye Bread at Sherbrook Street Delicatessen (102 Sherbrook Street) along with all their other Jewish-style comfort food.

The Marion Street Eateries' Mac n' Cheese (Joel Ross)

The Marion Street Eateries’ Mac n’ Cheese (Joel Ross)

Mac n’ cheese will always be a winner, especially when you are feeling a bit like a loser. Our two favourites in the city come courtesy of Marion Street Eatery (393 Marion Street), whose Bothwell aged cheddar sauce with broccoli, bacon and a crunchy pretzel topping is sure to please, while the version at Deseo Bistro (696 Osborne Street) which features smoked paprika, manchego, chorizo and hand-rolled pasta is almost better than Teemu’s rookie year — who, while we’re at it, we should forget was ever a Duck.

We love you Teemu.

But speaking of ducks, a lot of the local media was making it a thing to serve roast during the series, but I must say they were off the mark as there is no point trying to do your own when you could have just headed to either Sun Fortune or Evergreen Restaurant.

Evergreen (331 Pembina Hwy) is a no frills spot that has been specializing in Chinese barbecue for over 30 years. Many a Winnipeger holds their Peking duck as the best in the city and I’m inclined to agree. But I’m also quite partial to Sun Fortune (2077 Pembina Hwy) which for me is one of the best and most authentic Chinese spots in the city.

Barbecued duck from Evergreen Restaurant (Evergreen Restaurant)

Barbecued duck from Evergreen Restaurant (Evergreen Restaurant)

Their duck skin is so crispy and it makes for such a nice bite when you wrap it up in the thin pancakes with scallions and hoisin sauce, which is how the duck is first served. The second serving, featuring lettuce wraps with the tender meat stir-fried in soy, is also quite good. Plus, the large round tables and the bustling atmosphere at Sun Fortune is great for a group (make a reservation) where everyone can share their favourite moment from the season, all while tipping back Tsingtao beer and taking solace in the fact that we may have just lost to the 2015 Stanley Cup Champions.

As a bonus, if you don’t want anyone to see your tears, you can hide them quite well over a steamy bowl of South East Asian soup from Laos Thai (763 Selkirk Ave). I like to opt for the souk gai, a traditional tangy clear Laotian soup that you can order so spicy that it will open your ducts more than the neutral zone during Monday night’s action at the MTS Centre. In fact, all their soups will keep you wanting to come back for more, be it the tom yam, or their untraditional take on Chinese wonton, which my wife is absolutely obsessed with.

Plus the great thing about Laos Thai is the co-owner Somkid Boonthajit is a really nice guy, so if he sees you looking down from the Jets loss he’ll be sure to cheer you up with some excellent Laotian hospitality.

What’s your choice when it comes to eating your feelings?

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New & Notable: Miss Browns

When you are still thinking about the sandwich you ate two hours after the fact, you know that you’ve had a pretty good sandwich.

Such was the case yesterday for my coworker Sam and I after we had our hands on Miss Browns‘ incredibly fine fare.

Later that afternoon we’d periodically come by each other’s desk just to say, “but really, that sandwich. It was that good wasn’t it?” Along with, “and how about that chimichurri sauce that went on the micro greens that accompanied that brisket?”

To say we were satisfied with our choice to split the Smoked Pork and Beef sandwiches would be an appalling understatement. Both meats had a crispy bark on the outside with a well-developed oak-smoke flavour, all while remaining moist. It made for a sandwich with robust textures and rich flavours in every bite as the meat, panini-pressed bread, and accoutrements performed a tantalizing dance on your tastebuds.

Miss Browns owners Steve and Jenny Tyrrell (PCG)

Miss Browns owners Steve and Jenny Tyrrell (PCG)

Steve Tyrrell, the Aussie who smoked the meat for these sandwiches, along with his wife Jenny (who’s originally from Winnipeg), certainly know what they are doing when it comes to deliciousness. I guarantee it won’t take long for Winnipegers to realize this.

As Jenny relates the story to me, this idea to open a cafe here was somewhat like their calling, one which started when they were living Down Under.

“I woke up one night at 1 a.m. and Steve was on his laptop…. looking at this little red smoker, and telling me, ‘I know what I want to do,'” said Jenny.

“We’d been doing catering at Steve’s mom’s place — she’s got this boutique vineyard in Australia — and we were making these lunches with these slow cooked meat sandwiches. Steve said, ‘this is what we’ve got to do: we’ve got to move, we’ve got to buy a smoker, and we’ve got to open up this sandwich shop in Winnipeg.'”

You'd never know the space used to be a Subway restaurant (PCG)

You’d never know the space used to be a Subway restaurant (PCG)

They’ve since been back in Winnipeg for just one year, working the whole time at converting this now charming location into Miss Browns, which opened on April 1.

The room itself, a converted Subway location which they painstakingly remade (at a cost upwards of $260,000) is quite pretty, with subway tile (I asked if that was a playful nod to the past occupants, but alas that was not the intention), a long communal table, and an open kitchen area that takes up about half of the room.

Steve’s multi-occupational background helped him and his father-in-law transform the room into a mix between open-and-industrial and Parisian cafe. This includes the tables and counters which Jenny points out are: “reminiscent of Steve’s artwork.

Jenny and Steve met in Bath, England, on a pub crawl (as you would when you are backpacking) and since have lived the life of Aussie-come-Canadians by doing the ski town circuit (Fernie, Whistler, Big White) while also working stints here in Winnipeg (back in 2003) and Vancouver.

Steve working the brisket from the smoker (PCG)

Steve working the brisket from the smoker (PCG)

Long story short, Jenny has worked in restaurants since she was 16, while a stint as a nanny in Vancouver rekindled her love for cooking. Steve has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Newscastle, Australia (his work has been shown in galleries in Sydney, and he still works across several mediums), while he also attended the Vancouver Film School and has worked as a carpenter and a cook in multiple restaurants across multiple countries.

They always knew that they wanted to do this cafe, so let’s get back to the meat of matter:

On Thursday their smoked pork sandwich was composed of baby rack ribs with pickled fennel salad and BBQ sauce while the beef (smoked brisket) featured a satisfyingly-garlicky chimichurri along with havarti cheese. It won’t be this same combination tomorrow as the flavour combinations change daily, along with their selection of soups and salads.

At $10 per sandwich they may seem a touch steep, but once you realize the sourcing that goes into these beauties it’s apparent they are right on the money (not to mention really filling).

Friday's brisket featured  tomato, havarti and chipotle mayo (PCG)

Friday’s brisket featured tomato, havarti and chipotle mayo (PCG)

Like most eat-local proponents, the Tyrrell’s are conscious carnivores, so it took them a while to find a source that they could really love.

After doing some research (and getting some local advice) they were hooked up with All Natural Meats in Carman, who process their own free-range cows in their own abattoir — making the farm-to-table connection about as transparent as it gets.

It is much the same with their other ingredients; their green’s are sourced from Braman’s Greens — as will be their vegetables this summer; their milk and cream is from Organic Meadows (grass-fed milk at that); the eggs are from Nature’s Farms and the ice cream from Cornell Creme.

Sandwiches aside, Miss Browns also does breakfast with sausage rolls and bacon and egg rolls like you’d get in Australia, while they are hoping to become a destination brunch place on Saturdays with a liquor license allowing them to make caesars.

A flat white, minus a couple sips... I couldn't help myself (PCG)

A flat white, minus a couple sips… I couldn’t help myself (PCG)

They also make one of the best cups of coffee you can get in Winnipeg.

Miss Browns are the only people in the city I know who are making a flat white, where the top creamy layer is composed of micro bubbles that give the whole drink (which involves a double shot of espresso) an incredible mouthfeel. They also only use bean’s from Portland, Oregon’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which Jenny said has been quite the eye-opener.

“We loved their values and their samples, plus they flew here to train our staff,” said Jenny. “They [Stumptown] will not sell to you until they send a trainer down to set up your machine and give you two full, eight-hour days of training.”

“We thought it was a bit much beforehand, but they are very serious about their coffee, and it’s been so worth it.”

(PCG)

(PCG)

Miss Brown’s is located at 288 William and is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Brunch. They are now also starting to serve wine and a daily feature cocktail if you want to wet your whistle at lunch. 

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Muy authentic tacos for poco prices at BMC Market

There are some pretty obvious signs that you are about to be served some seriously tasty, authentic tacos.

One is when the corn tortillas are handmade right before your eyes. The other is that the person making them is straight-up from Morelia, Mexico, and that the taco recipes are all her grandma’s.

This is exactly what goes down everyday at BMC Market, the South Osborne Mexican market-turned-taqueria that does not compromise when it comes to authenticity.

“Sometimes people ask for lettuce, or tomato, or sour cream,” said Betty Calderon-Villasenor, who owns and does the cooking at BMC with her husband Rigoberto. “But I have to tell them no because it’s not the way we do tacos back home.”

Betty Calderon-Villasenor makes pressing out perfect tortillas look easy (PCG)

Betty Calderon-Villasenor makes pressing out perfect tortillas look easy (PCG)

The room has slowly expanded over the past 4 and a half years since they first opened. At first BMC was primarily a market where Betty and husband Rigoberto imported Mexican goods to service Winnipeg’s latin community. After a short period she decided she should start making tacos using her aforementioned grandma’s recipes, which soon found a loyal client base.

Now, two and half years into the taco-making, they are the room’s sole focus frequently resulting in lines at lunch and dinner time along with oftentimes more take out orders than Betty and her crew (which, aside from Rodrigo — who does all the pressure cooking of the meats — is primarily composed of latin ladies from Mexico and Guatemala) can keep up with.

“It was a big surprise that people here would like the Mexican tacos so much,” said Betty. “At first we thought we would have to do two menus: one really Mexican and one Tex-Mex, but we never needed to do it that way.”

Michoacán, tomatillo, chipotle and habanero (from left to top) salsas (PCG)

Michoacán, tomatillo, chipotle and habanero (from left to top) salsas (PCG)

For tacos they do chorizo, al pastor (marinated, heavily spiced pork with pineapple and onion), tinga (chicken with onion and cabbage), and rajas (poblano pepper with mushroom and cream) all at the incredibly cheap price of 3 for $5.

All of the tacos are toped with onion and cilantro and served with a choice of four or five salsas ranging from a very mild tomatillo, to a relatively spicy habanero. My personal choice is the one that is nearest and dearest to Betty, that being the Michoacán salsa from her home state, which is studded throughout with cilantro. (And don’t worry cilantro 10 per cent-ers, she will omit the herb for your tastebuds which receive its flavour profile as soap).

They also do a couple slightly more expensive tacos like barbacoa (braised beef, which is really amazing on weekends when it is made from tongue — but only if Betty’s husband Rigoberto is able to source it from their butcher in New Bothwell), and carnitas (which uses braised, rustic cuts of pork) that won’t hurt the wallet either at 3 for $6.99.

Everything is handmade from scratch at BMC (PCG)

Everything is handmade from scratch at BMC (PCG)

Standards like sides of pico de gallo, pozole (a soup made of hominy — which is dried corn kernels, pork and chiles. 12 oz for $3.99), quesadillas (also made with handmade tortillas, 3 for $7.99 served with a tasty carrot and raisin slaw in a creamy, cinnamon-spiked dressing), and various house-made Mexican drinks using tamarind, hibiscus and horchata (rice) also make the menu.

Plus, BMC starting selling Mexican beers like Negra Modelo, Pacifico and Sol (taco’s best friend) around a year ago.

So if you want to go to Mexico without paying for a plane ticket, let this colourful little room take your tastebuds there. (Indeed, it’s a constant joke of Betty’s to say, “you are now in Mexico” to her customers when they come in during a cold winters day).

She’s also always open to help you practice your Spanish — if you are so inclined.

Don't let the facade fool you, inside BMC Market on South Osborne its all charm  and big flavours (PCG)

Don’t let the facade fool you, inside BMC Market on South Osborne its all charm and big flavours (PCG)

BMC Market located at 722 Osborne and is open seven days a week, Monday – Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.