A Busy Saturday (Part 2): Hawkers Market

It has been a busy past few weeks, amd last Saturday was one of those days where just one of those days where it was just packed.

In the last post, I talked about the apple tarts that I created for the Calgary Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale, which raised a whopping $1058 for local Calgary charity Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids. It was a shame I couldn’t have made it to the sale myself, but as they say, “duty calls.”

Because that same evening, after finishing up at my job at Co-op, I made my way downtown to Test Kitchen, the site of this month’s Hawkers’ Market.

For those of you who don’t know, Hawkers’ Market is a collaborative night market consisting of many up and coming chefs and food lovers, pulsating to loud house and electronic music, with beer provided by local craft breweries. First begun in Vancouver, the idea has spread across the Rockies to Alberta, with markets happening in both Edmonton and Calgary.

Working with Jay and Eats of Asia, we have found a nice home here. The crowd is friendly and receptive to our brand of Asian street food, and the atmosphere between each booth is not of stern competitors, but more of friendly, yet collaborative, rivalry. Each booth brings a different thing to the proverbial table, and you, the diner, gets to try each one — and all without the hassle of running around this city to do so! It’s kind of like speed dating, but with new cuisines. And the results are always delicious!

Photo courtesy @calhospcareers

Photo courtesy @calhospcareers

The evening’s atmosphere was enhanced by the phat beats coming from the DJs of Calgary’s own BassBus. I’m not a big electronic/house music kinda guy, but something about their spinning really makes me get in the mood!

Pull dat noodle!  (Image courtesy @calhospcareers)

Pull dat noodle!
(Image courtesy @calhospcareers)

Every Hawkers seems to bring in new vendors every time, and in a way Jay comes up with a new item to wow our audience. Of course there is my now seemingly legendary noodle pulling act, which always seems to draw a crowd. What will my next performance be like? You’ll have to go to the next Hawkers to find out!

Laksaaaaaa... (Photo courtesy Bernice Hill)

(Photo courtesy Bernice Hill)

As for the food, on top of the freshly hand pulled “dan dan” noodles, there is our laksa, a curry-based soup with rice noodles, tofu puffs, fish meatballs, prawns topped with cilantro. It’s proven to be quite popular!

image image image image

But it’s not just us dealing in the goodness — our friends over at the Spicy Jamakin (also at the Market on Macleod), Billingsgate Fish Market, Taiko Taco and Made by Marcus Macarons were also there. I have to say I was deeply impressed by the Earl Grey chocolate ice cream sandwiches from Marcus, and the jerk chicken from Lyle. One was perfectly sweet with floral notes, while the other was fiery as the Caribbean sun.

With all this food around, it certainly doesn’t feel like what one would consider work!

Dim sum caaaaaart!  (No tea dresses needed!)

Dim sum caaaaaart!
(Photo courtesy of @calhospcareers)

A new addition this time is the collaborative dim sum cart, in the style of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. Each vendor contributed an item onto the cart, which was rotated around the venue. To access the goodies that ranged from Electric Jelly’s donuts, to Eats of Asia’s chili wontons, to Brix and Morsel’s wonderful lamb barbacoa steamed bun — all of which I didn’t get to try, a sad indeed. But if you were in attendance and didn’t get to stop the cart — never fear, as the cart will return to YYC for the next event, which is slated for February.

Eating for a good cause!  (Photo courtesy @calhospcareers)

Eating for a good cause!
(Photo courtesy @calhospcareers)

Also new is Hawkers’ partnership with Mealshare, which “makes dining out into helping out”. Guests were encouraged to make a donation to the program, which brings meals to local shelters such as the Mustard Seed and the Calgary Drop-In Centre. It truly makes you feel good about what you’re eating!

There is so much more that I didn’t get to show you, like National’s oyster and whiskey bar, but below is a video put together by Jay’s sister Kristina. which showed off some of the highlights from the evening.

And with that, another night and another Hawkers Market is in the books. The market will return in 2015, bigger and better — and plus, I’ve heard a rumour that the next location will be super nice. So if you are curious, come on down and check it out!

Thank you to Bernice Hill, Adrian Hopkins and Calgary Hospitality Careers for the photos!


A Busy Saturday (Part 1): The Apple of My Eye

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post — life has been a bit hectic lately, and with my first eight-week apprenticeship technical training period starting just a month from now, the craziness is just beginning.

This past Saturday is an example of that. While I was working my day job at Co-op followed by noodle slinging for hungry patrons at Eats of Asia’s stall at that same evening’s Hawkers Market, my handmade pastries were on sale at the Calgary Farmers’ Market. I’ll have more on my night at Hawkers’ Market shortly, but first…the bake sale.

This was the first time I was invited to bake up goodies for the annual Calgary Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale. The sale was started four years ago by local nutritionist and food lover Vincci Tsui, and has grown ever since. While I am only able to see what goodies other bloggers, chefs and other food celebrities created via the power of social media (one of those darned downsides of working!), I can tell you about my own.

I’ll have to admit, I am not the greatest baker in the world — but I do know one thing, and that’s how to bring an Asian twist to classic dishes. Apple desserts, for one, are one of my favourites to bring such twists given the spices that are already being used for them.

Your standard apple pie usually uses cinnamon, but recently I’ve discovered that Chinese-style five spice powder works just as well (if not better) than just cinnamon. The combination of Chinese cinnamon (a.k.a cassia), cloves, fennel, star anise and Szechwan pepper, along with a touch of ginger, adds a new dimension of flavour. Add a little Canadian touch with a bit of maple to go with it all, and I think I’ve got myself a winner.

But of course, I know most of you don’t exactly have five spice powder kicking around in your kitchens — so I thought, maybe there was a way to mimic it. Without access to Szechwan peppercorns, fennel seeds and star anise, I created my own blend of Saigon cinnamon (which has an aroma that I’ve found both Ceylon or Chinese cinnamons don’t have — hence the priciness of it), grated orange zest, nutmeg, cloves. and black pepper. The mix may look a bit more like a citrus rub one would use on meats, but of course that’s a story for another day.

As for slicing the apples, a good knife usually does the trick. But one key to remember, especially if you are looking to create slices instead of cubes, is that slices must be as even as possible for an even cook. And for decorative purposes, a thinner slice (usually under 1/8″) will allow for more flexibility for shaping into, say roses, inside the pastry. This guide will give you a better idea, but if you are truly not confident, a mandoline set to a very thin slice will also do.

You may notice that I didn’t put a traditional egg wash in the recipe, nor did I use milk in the dough. Since I was making it for a crowd, I wanted to have as many people enjoy the pastry. While I did use butter for the crust, most other solid fats can be used if you are sensitive to dairy.

As for the end result, I’d have to say that they ended up looking pretty good. I certainly hope for those of you who picked one up, you enjoyed it because I certainly enjoyed making them for you! Plus you can feel good about that pastry (or any other goodies you picked up at the sale) — all proceeds goes to Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids.

So that was just one part of my busy Saturday last week. Stay tuned, as next we look at Hawkers’ Market!


Asian-Spiced Apple Mini Tarts with Maple-Ginger Glaze
Makes 10-15 tarts or 8-10 galettes

Filling Ingredients:
– 2 large firm, tart apples, such as Granny Smith
– 1/2 lemon
– 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon, ground
– 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
– 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
– 2 tablespoons turbinado (golden) sugar

Pastry Ingredients:
– 8 ounces all-purpose flour
– 4 ounces butter, ice cold
– 3 ounces sugar
– Pinch salt
– Ice cold water as needed

Glaze Ingredients:
– 1 cup maple syrup
– 1/4 cup water
– 6 pieces candied ginger, chopped fine

1. Start by creating the filling. Slice off the “cheeks” off the apples and slice thinly, using a knife or a mandoline. Season apples with a squeeze of lemon juice, add in spices and sugar, and and let sit.
2. Create pastry. Mix sugar, salt and flour together in a bowl. Cut butter into small cubes, and crumble into the dry ingredients until small gravel consistency. Add ice water to pastry gradually until dough forms. Chill until ready to use.
3. Bring water and maple syrup to a boil, add in candied ginger. Reduce by 1/4 and then remove from heat to let cool.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to approximately 1/8″ thick. For galettes, cut out 5″ circles, for tarts, cut out 2-3″ circles.
5. Lay out apple slices on centre of each galette or tart pastry placed into tins, drizzle any extra juices onto each tart.
6. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes until apples are cooked and the pastry is golden.
7. Remove from oven, and glaze tarts. Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, or let cool and wrap for sale.