The Char Bar Experience

It was a ladies of leisure kind afternoon, and after driving around for sometime trying to make a decision, we ended up choosing to head into the Simmons building in East Village where we got all comfy in Char Bar.

It’s funny how there are so many fabulous restaurants that I want to try in the city, and for some reason when the time came to go out and dine somewhere – my mind went completely blank, and I couldn’t come to any sort of decision what-so-ever, nor could I even think of a name of an establishment that I wanted to visit.

Ahhh, where am I again?! Oh right! Calgary. The mind of a traveler. Although it was a last minute decision to head out, so we really didn’t put a game plan into action before hand. Had we have planned the lunch excursion the evening prior, I would have put some damn good thought into it. However that being said, spur of the moment spontaneity, does lead to some pretty favorable experiences. Not to mention, the ambiance in the Simmons Building is right up my alley. I love the fact that it’s a historic building that’s been restored, I am all about history, vintage, and recycling. The open concept of the Phil & Sebastian cafe, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and Char Bar that are inside, is also a winner. Three separate, local businesses, whom are like minded and working in union to create this wonderful culinary experience.

The feel when you walk into the Simmons building is warm, chic and inviting, with plenty of aromas to savor, from the fresh ground coffee, to bakery delights, onto the culinary creations.

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Having spent the better of the last 5 years living on the island of Mallorca in Spain, and having that still as my home for half of every year, I have been quite spoiled with my luxury Mallorcan lifestyle and incredible dining experiences. So I suppose my bar is set pretty high. I myself very much enjoy atmosphere, setting the stage for my experience. Obviously having worked in the hospitality industry for many years, service is quite important to me as well. Natasha and myself got seated at the most perfect quaint little table, nicely tucked away, where we could have our photo shoot and laughs without being amidst loads of people. It was 2 in the afternoon as well, so there was not a massive crowd as it was.


Obviously first thing was first. Get on top of the vino situation. Yes, if you have followed my blog up until now, you know, I am a massive wine lover. Having traveled the world for 10 years and visited many vineyards around the globe, my palette is finely tuned and has a massive appreciation for fine wines.

Today the Rosé was jumping out at me. Mirabeau En Provence from France, was the wine of choice.



I absolutely adore French rosé, particularly rosé from the Provence region – where they are famous for their rosé. Producing it from as early as 600bc, so you could say they have had some practice. This one was a nice combination of wild strawberry, red cherry and raspberry. It went down beautifully.


We had a very fantastic server, Tyson, whom was extremely knowledgeable and very happy to give us any and all recommendations on what to try.


We were interested in just a few small things to share, and so decided on the vegetable ceviche, pistachio and avocado bruschetta, plantain chips, and a small portion of regular fries.


Wait! Before you dig in, let’s not forget to place your napkin.

Being classy makes you cool – and so does sipping on fine wine in a classy establishment.

The vegetable ceviche was super flavorful, and well prepared, I enjoyed every bit of it. The pistachio and avocado bruschetta was made with a different take, but I am a massive avocado lover, so there is no way I won’t enjoy some avo. The chips and fries where exactly that, chips and fries – as you would expect them to be. It was all very tasty.
We were treated to some dessert which was super nice.


In which I washed down with a nice steaming almond milk cappuccino.

Look how much love they put into that cup

 I was trying my darnedest to make the ol’ classic heart with my hands. For some reason though, I couldn’t quite do it. What the heck?! After struggling with it for a bit, I came to the conclusion that my hands just weren’t made to make a damn heart. Well I suppose my real heart is just big enough as it is.

Before our dining experience was concluded, we were also kindly offered to be taken on a tour of the building. To which we obviously accepted.

Tyson continued to wow us with his knowledge of the place.

That table happens to be 103 years old.
The flooring and brick are also completely original.
An original fire door. In case of a fire, the rope would burn and the door would automatically close, keeping all the money safe.
The room upstairs that I would book my private functions in.They do also have ample seating upstairs, as well as a patio in the summer.
Have I mentioned how much I love oysters?!
They take great care in dry-curing their meat.

We were feeling very knowledgeable after that tour. It’s always so nice to see people whom truly enjoy and take pride in their job. Very impressive. What was also impressive is that Tyson proudly hand crafts all his own bow ties. That’s a good stitch if you ask me.

Having had such a fabulous experience for the second time around at Char Bar, you can guarantee that I will be back again in the very near future. 

There is a couple of very satisfied customers.

So, if you happen to be scratching your noggin trying to decide where to take yourself for your next culinary experience in Calgary, then make sure to head down to Char Bar, and make it a memorable culinary delight.

 

Eating typically traditional in Palma at La Cueva

One thing to remember when embarking on a dinner mission in Spain – ‘Most restaurants don’t open before 8’. Freaken heck though, most westerner’s don’t like to eat after 8. It can be a tad bit of an adjustment. Seeing as how I am programmed to have dinner quite early in the evening, I always tend to forget this late dinner fact.

My friends and I had dinner plans, and we decided to just wing it – meet up, be spontaneous and just find a place. It just so happened to be about 6 pm, and the streets were quite and most restaurants chained up, dark and lifeless. Yes it was way to darn early. ‘Dang’ we thought, where the heck are we gonna get some chow?!’

Long behold, we came across ‘La Cueva’. With 20 people standing outside(well maybe 10, but in dead streets it looked like 20) we figured there was a good chance it was open. We took a peak inside – and damn straight, it was OPEN! Score! We were in there like flint.

Not before having a photo shoot in front of the door.

From the entrance we had to go down a few stairs(I know from the previous photo you would assume up, BUT, it was down), and enter into the restaurant which is very much like a cool ass little cave. With ‘La Cueva’ translating to ‘The Cave’ in English, it only made sense really.


 I am all about fresh and local ingredients, and they definitely had the fresh part going on. I didn’t have a chance to ask about the local part though.


My eyes were already liking what they were seeing. Although, once menu was in hand, and you are presented with what appears to be loads of delicious plates, it ain’t so darn easy anymore.


Oh geez, what the heck to choose?! How about just one of everything?

OK, ok, that’s excessive, it would be far too much…… So we each just chose 2 tapas each for the table.

It was still way too much in the end, but at least we got to try a bit of everything. They have their system down pat, and are ready to rock with the plates at any given moment. It was very good service. The only thing I did notice was the microwave.


We were a bit shocked at how incredibly fast it came, and not being someone whom uses microwaves myself, it was a small bit daunting, but being as hungry as we all were – we weren’t about to complain, and in reality, its not like they were hiding the fact they use a microwave for some things. Everything was made fresh, and I suppose it was necessary to keep up with the capacity of clients they receive. So really, it is what it is. No biggy what-so-ever.

We opted to choose a different Vino then the one on the table, and instead went for the Jose. L. Ferrer. One of my favorite vineyards in Mallorca . We tested out a bit of everything food wise. From olives and aioli,

onward to, potatoes with aioli, mushrooms, pepper padrons(one of my all time Mallorcan favorites), Mallorcan bread and cheese.



Not to mention, shrimps still sizzling.

Calamari, octopus, and shaved ham.

img_6227 Don’t forget to share – sharing is caring.

The food was all ridiculously good to be honest, and super traditional. If there is one thing I enjoy most in life, it’s taking in as much of the local cultures and traditions where ever in the world I may be. Even when it happens to be in my own Country of Canada.

Just when we thought we were having the time and feed of our lives – in came the live music. My little world would not turn without music, and I am ALL about live music, in any and all forms. So this rocked my darn world.

In came the cavalry.

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 Pucker up princess. They were freaken awesome! And such good sports. Not to mention, I do love the accordion oh so much! I am into the most random things. I also happen to play a few tunes on the harmonica. Bet you didn’t expect that.


My time was running short in Mallorca. Even though I am never gone that long, I like to end my time here with the most Mallorcan experiences as possible. Considering we thought we were outta luck unless we waited for places to open – we were pleasantly surprised. A feast for a king – a hungry king at that. This little gem of a restaurant was absolutely great, and I would go back to ‘La Cueva‘ in a heart beat.

Hungry for some traditional tapa’s before 8 pm? Well meet me at La Cueva.

Living Dreams in Santa Maria

There is nothing like a Mallorcan adventure. More so,  just a nice afternoon excursion out of Palma. It’s always good to get out of the city when you can, there is just way too many things to experience on this wondrous island. The winter weather has been so incredibly awesome, it just asking to be basked in.

Santa Maria was the destination on the dice. A beauty of a little town on the interior of the island. No massive plans really, just take a nice walk around, find a beauty of a spot to enjoy some lunch, and sip on some fine wine.

Previously I have been to Santa Maria, but only by car. This time around, we were taking the train. You would be amazed at the awesome little metro system here on the island. I sure the heck was. I had been planning on taking the metro for years here on the island – just for something different, but always ended up driving everywhere. Knowing we had the intention of indulging in some vino, driving was not the mode of transport for us classy ladies.

The trains actually come much more frequent than expected.

We grabbed our tickets, and it was GO time!

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Aaaalll aboard. Next stop, Santa Maria.

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Ok, not the classiest looking train stop.

The rest is damn classy though. You just hang tight…..

It’s such a nice and quaint little town – epic little place to enjoy a stroll.

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This little gas station was too cute not to photograph.

Let’s not forget that it was also during the hours of siesta. So it was extra quiet in the streets. There is no messing around when it comes to siesta time in these necks of the worldwide woods.

Suddenly along our path, we came across an establishment called ‘Livingdreams‘.

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With a name like that, I was intrigued and drawn right in. It has such a crisp modern chic and naturally minimal appeal to it.

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So we grabbed a table in the front and preceded to get on the vino and olive wagon. The service was given with all smiles, and super welcoming personalities. I was diggin it -that’s for darn sure.

A little while into the day dreaming, nature was calling. That vino was going right through me. So I had to search out the ladies room. I didn’t expected to be astonished. Little did I know, I was absolutely about to be living a dream. A kick ass one that you are happy to not wake up from for as long as you possibly can.

I was pleasantly surprised just walking through the lux establishment, absolutely thinking, ‘well hello, this is enchanting now isn’t it?!’

IMG_5815 IMG_5817 IMG_5819 Very appealing on the eyes.

However, upon entering the courtyard to which I was directed in order to find the ladies room, my eyes widened with sheer delight.

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Hiding in the back was a classy courtyard ambiance. The next big thing in my head was, ‘We are moving! right freaken now!’

Wait though on second thought, it’s best I visit the ladies room….. Gotta stick the with program.

After that business was taken care of, it was straight back to Kassandra to say my thoughts outloud ‘We are moving, right freaken now! You will see why.Let’s go’

It was incredible. Right up our freaken alley. We ran around loving the secret garden, taking photos like mad.

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I had no problem imagining all the people I want to shared the little gem with(obviously this means you lucky duck).

Before that could happen, we needed to get back to business, sipping our vino and grab a little lunch.

IMG_5866 IMG_5889It was all ridiculously good.The wine, the food, the ambiance.  I can’t wait to go back for round two.

Yes you could definitely say,

I found my secret garden, with the fountain of Vino!! 

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The best part about having no plans or expectations, is that it always turns out better then you could have expected, as you didn’t have any – and more often then not,  you always end up getting completely blown away by pure epicness.

An Unforgettable Dining Experience at Bens d’Avail

So here we were on a beautiful summeresque Saturday, thinking it would be a brilliant idea to take a little road trip and go for a lunch excursion. And what an excursion it turned out to be!! Off we cruised to that beautiful little town of Deia, well we were actually just outside town, on a Mountain, where there was the place of all places, Béns d´Avall. I Almost couldn’t believe my eyes when we arrived. First of all, the view, was just hanging there like a priceless painting, it was unbelievable. The most spectacular view I have got to enjoy while having an equally as spectacular meal. This was the topper of all the places that I have had the pleasure of visiting while in Mallorca, not to mention one of the best restaurants in my 9 years of travelling the world. We got there before it opened, to my dismay…IMG_5609IMG_5610 As after the little road trip, I really had to Pee!!! Darn it… and we had like 45 minutes till it opened.. It’s amazing how long 45 minutes can feel, when you have a bursting bladder! But none the less, we took a little walk to check out the beautiful scenery.IMG_5607 I already knew I was going to absolutely love this establishment. It had the perfect energy and ambiance to it all. The minute I heard the gate open though, it was like heavens gates opening! And I ran straight for the relief of the ladies room;) Happy days! And then when I walked out onto the terrace I was welcomed with this stunning vision, literally, stop in your tracks kinda stunning, the view and the table. IMG_5614 Wow. This alone was enough reason to come. IMG_5612Béns d´Avall has been here since 1971, it is owned by Benet Vicens(whom is also the chef), and his wife, Catalina Encrypt, together with their son James, whom is the second Chef to his father, and they are all absolutely LOVELY, might I add. So friendly, and inviting, and you can see they are there because they are doing what they love, and they want nothing more than to create a memorable experience for all of their guests. It is located in the most pristine location, right with mother nature, and all she has to offer. They have a set menu every day, that changes monthly, and offers only the finest cuisine, with local products from Mallorca. You have the option of the Express Menu for 50 Euros, the Short Tasting Menu for 65 Euros, or the Full Tasting Menu for 75 Euros! Well if you are going to come this far, you mine as well go for the full one:)IMG_5619 I decided it was only fitting to start off with a glass of Cava(Similar to Champagne), I mean being in that place at that moment, was somethinIMG_5624g to be celebrated, and bubbly always makes things seem like that much more of a celebration. Once we had put in our order for the full menu, it wasn’t long before the incredible culinary delights began to arrive. I think ‘Delight’ may even be an understatement. Mr. Vicens, knows exactly what he is doing in the kitchen. It’s Amazing. Of course, we were offered fresh bread to start, with olive oil for dipping, along with some little finger snacks,IMG_5626 to get the palette ready. I had no idea, that the full menu, is basically endless, and you best come prepared with your biggest appetite…. BUT, when the food is that salivating, you can make sure to keep eating whatever pleasure they put in front of you. Once we started our magical taste bud journey, I knew I had to combine it with a fine Mallorcan wine(I wanted to keep the experience as local as possible), I had the beautiful Catalina assist me in my choice, and it was a fantastic choice indeed! I ended up taking a red wine that goes by the name of ’12 Volts’, which is a Crianza make. IMG_5629Delicious! It paired very well with all the courses. I will be buying more from the shop for sure!

IMG_5628 We started with a Mallorcan pizzaIMG_5631 Next up was a Free range chicken Crepe Souffle with artichokes and black truffle.IMG_5632Then we were onto Foie Gras 2014. IMG_5660 To be followed by the fish, which was Ray Pave with Black butter, wild green asparagus and capers.IMG_5661 What follows fish but the meat dish! Candied and spiced Sierra de Tramontana lamb with legumes and winter vegetables. IMG_5663 IMG_5664 After all those courses, you have 2 desserts!! What the?! it just keeps on coming. You definitely get your moneys worth. And one more thing to boot!! IMG_5665

Well 7 courses and 3 hours later, and we were beyond stuffed, with absolute lusciousness. It was very nice that it is spread out over such a long period of time, you really get the opportunity to savour every morsel, and not rush through it, not to mention there is no one pushing you rush either. After it all, we still managed to have a coffee, it was kinda necessary or we would have succumbed to food coma, and never made the drive home;) They were so sweet, to even bring the whole crew out and take a photo with us. IMG_5662 All the people that play their part in creating an astonishing experience. What can I say. Amazing Venue, Amazing People, Amazing Food and Wine. I will be back there, FOR SURE! The end. Or maybe I should say, to be continued… This could be a monthly stop, since the menu is always changing;) Thank you Béns d´Avall!!