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Holy Smoke!



As I type this, it’s 12 C outside.


Yep, 12 in July.


While Toronto, Montreal and many other tracts of the country are literally cooking, we in our marvelous Calgary are enjoying a fall weather revival.


My friend just emailed me to say ‘Bet you’re glad you didn’t plant that garden now, hey?’  and in fact I am. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but two awful summers were enough for me to see which way the light in shining, (or not as is often the case in Calgary), and now I can sit back and enjoy every cold, windy, rainy day.


But cold or not, unpredictable or not, our summers are what we get, and what we make of them, so it was with great excitement that I took myself down to a fairly new BBQ shack off the beaten track.


Located in the industrial area, and housed in a revamped garage, Holy Smoke BBQ and Smokepit first opened to little fanfare with limited  hours, and immediately began to pick up local buzz. As their popularity grew they stayed open later and more, and shortly after their weekend hours came into effect I was there waving my napkin.


For some reason BBQ like Mexican food immediately craps out when it reaches the prairies. We have had any number of Mexican restaurants and BBQ joints try and fail in Calgary, and at best both could have been called ‘meh’. Some sort of invisible border stretches over the land this far north reducing greatly the taste and spirit of the food. Perhaps those fiery foods draw heavily on their landscape and terrain and become watered down when traveling to the land of snow and winds instead of the hotter, slower climates they originated in.


But Holy Smoke appears to be bucking the trend. You can smell the amazing, mouthwatering smoke as you approach the low building, and the few communal tables were full inside. They have a limited but good menu, and we sort of ordered one of each items, all the sides they hadn’t sold out of yet, and 25 BBQ ribs at a buck a piece. Ahem.


Hauling our bounty home, we proceeded to chow with abandon, pausing only to establish if a certain sauce goes better with a certain meat.


Here’s some photos from best to worst, worst being very very relative:


The pulled pork and the beef brisket – side by side – heavenly combo. Both of the sandwiches were fantastic. Soft, smoky meat, tender, flavorful and only enhanced by the solidly good dipping sauces. The buns held up to the meats well, and like a mother pretending she doesn’t have a favorite child, I’d be hard pressed to choose between them. Which is why you should always grab a friend and share.





The sides – we tried one of each that was available and the cornbread broke, so no photo. All the sides were nicely inoffensive. The macaroni salad and baked beans were pretty good – better than supermarket but not in the homemade category. The coleslaw avoided the uber-sweet mayonnaise dripping calorie-fest and was pretty decent but still too sweet for my tastes. My favorite was the broken cornbread – more of a sweet corn muffin than cornbread it was a lovely foil for the smoky meat. I wish I’d gotten another one.





Oddly enough the ribs were not as good as they looked. They were a bit shy of easy to pull off the bone, requiring some mastication skillz and membrane pulling, but worst of all they committed a cardinal meat sin – no salt. I’m sure they had SOME salt on them, but none that we could detect, so you had the odd combination of smoke, spices, and no salt.  Salt is some imperative to seasoning meat that there are reams of books on the subject, and every bite was an odd disappointment until we seasoned them ourselves, stuck ’em in the oven to warm up, and enjoyed them for the next three days.  But it was not what stellar ribs should be like.





So overall  – I am thrilled Holy Smoke is here. They are head and shoulders above previous BBQ offerings Calgary’s had. Their sandwiches are works of art, their sides and sauces a fair addition to the meatfest, their ribs can use some work, and on their site Brunswick Stew has just appeared, which is on my food bucket list.




Holy Smoke BBQ and Smokepit

4640 Manhattan Rd SE

(403) 605-9365

Mon-Fri: 10-8

Sat: 11-4








Holy Smoke Barbecue and Smokepit on Urbanspoon

Mission and Desserts


I’ve quite a bit of stuff to blog about, but I could not find my camera to PC cord for a few weeks, and so had zero photos to show for the last while of activity. Just as I was about to order a new cord online, James found it somewhere in the basement where it found itself after a fit of zealous de-cluttering. And all was well in the world.


You ever do that? Clean so well that you never find something again? I swear three quarters of the battle in house cleaning is finding places to put stuff, and not just temporary out of sight solutions either, but proper homes for all the ‘stuff’ that finds its way into our homes. And I’m a pretty zealous thrower-outer – I regularly toss, recycle and donate all sorts of crap that we no longer need and aren’t sure where it came from in the first place.


Anyhow, the other day found me in the Mission area of Calgary, where I managed to hit up not only Cruffs, but Yann Haute Patisserie while waiting for my ride.  Cruffs was closer to my destination so I popped in there for a quick Cream Puff – because I love cream puffs. There is not much to the store –  the counter where magic happens and a row of bar stools facing the huge store window. 






The cream puffs come in two sizes – small and huge, and since I hardly eat sweets I got huge. You know, to compensate.  The shells are pre-baked and filled with cream filling to order – so you get a perfectly creamy treat with no sogginess.  I asked the genleman at the counter what his favorite flavor was, and went with the recommended hazelnut.



The puff was perfectly crispy and tasted pretty good – none of the fake shortening-like flavor you get with supermarket frozen cream puffs, but none of the elusive taste of fresh cream puffs baked with butter. The filling was perfectly balanced blend of creamy and hazelnut, and the whole thing disappeared alarmingly quickly. Then I got one to take home.  Verdict? Perfectly lovely but not craving inducing.



2312A – 4St SW 


Cruffs, The House of Cream Puffs on Urbanspoon


Wandering just a bit further, you come to a lovely jolly yellow house off 4th street, and ascending up the steps you end up in a house-turned-bakery that quickly took Calgary by storm, quickly becoming known for their macarons and other baked goods.  And here I have a confession to make. As well as being a bit indifferent towards dessert, I am not the world’s biggest fan of macarons. I’ve tried them a few times, and they just don’t do anything for me. So I blew thirty bucks on other stuff, like the best baguette I’ve tried in Calgary:



And very tasty croissants:




And the piece de resistance – a chocolate/hazelnut beignet that could make you weep. It is so good they’ve been sold out every time I’ve been back. I wish they would hang a sign when they have them or triple the batches or something. On the other hand I’m sure my waistline thanks the rarity factor.



Yann Haute Patisserie

329 23AVE SW

Yann Haute Patisserie on Urbanspoon