Fort McMurray Food Fight
With a brand new beautiful airport, Fort McMurray has two brand new restaurants for visitors and residents to try out. Famoso Pizza, located on the public side of the Fort McMurray Airport, and Earls located past the gate security check-in. Both the Fort McMurray Famoso and the Fort McMurray Earls are the first ever of their franchises to locate in a terminal. Put simply, we’re the only airport in the world with these restaurants, and better still, both restaurants have a Grab-And-Go counter for busy travellers.
Round 1: Atmosphere
Earls is conveniently located just past security on the departure side of the terminal. The restaurant sports an open kitchen with plenty of booths, tables, and sit-up bar stools to accommodate every type of traveler. The restaurant also has electrical outlets at the booths allowing for people to charge their various devices. This is a great place to relax and people-watch.
Famoso is located just inside the main airport entrance and features a formidable wood-burning pizza oven. The contemporary design of this brand new restaurant is fun and tasteful. At each table is a menu and a slot with order sheets and pencils. A unique concept in our region, diners browse the menu and write down their orders before heading to a central counter to place the order. From that point on, service is handled by wait staff who deliver the food and drinks. Very cool!
Winner: This round is a tie. Both are great places to hang out.
Round 2: Menu
Earls has a pared-down menu to accommodate quick service and a slightly smaller kitchen. It features most of their franchise’s signature dishes from steaks to salads with a good selection of appetizers. They also have a good selection of drinks and draft beer for those who wish to enjoy a libation prior to travel.
Famoso has a great selection of both old-world and new world pizzas as well as Italian inspired appetizers and salads. The Neapolitan style pizza is different than the “North American” pizza many are used to. Famoso also has a good selection of wines, perfect for pairing with their many dishes.
Winner: I also have to call this a tie. Life for an airport traveler is hurried and both Earls and Famoso understand this with menus balancing variety and speed of service.
Round 3: Food
At Earls I had the signature dynamite shrimp rolls which were excellent. My host, Ashley also insisted we try the off-menu item, “Taco soup”, which was simply amazing. Ashley also pointed out that because their restaurant is on the secure side of the airport, they don’t have steak-knives. In other words, the steak must be tender enough to cut with a butter-knife. It certainly was. The food was well prepared and delicious.
At Famoso I enjoyed the Pesto and beautiful Fiore-di-latte, which is just a fancy word for very fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk. For my main course I ordered the Capricciosa Pizza, an old world pizza of Italian ham, roasted mushrooms, Kalamata olives, and artichokes. Basically, everything I like about Italy on a thin crust wood-fired pizza. Delicious! With the pizza slice folded in half to minimize the mess and the risk of burning my chin, every bite was bright, fresh, and flavourful. Even the last few bits of crust were lovely, with a slightly sweet and salty background over the wood smoke.
Winner: Order your steak at Earls and order your pizza at Famoso, and enjoy your trip!
Pro Tip: You can order your pizza from Famoso ahead of time and pick it up upon arrival. And at Earls, make sure you order the off-menu item Taco Soup. If you don’t trust me, trust Ashley Kowalewski.
These are two different types of restaurants in two different areas of the airport. If you’re flying out somewhere, I’d clear security early and relax at Earls in the secure side, something we’ve never been able to do until now. If you’re in town looking for something new, or if you’re arriving into the city, I’d head to Famoso for an amazing taste of Italy.
Bolognese at Home
Several years ago I traveled to the Royal Suites at the Grand Palladium in the Riviera Maya and explored many of their culinary delights. While Mexican food in Mexico is absolutely delightful, I also noted that this resort had chefs who have apprenticed around the world. One evening I ordered Spaghetti Bolognese and absolutely fell in love. It took years before I could find and replicate this magic Bolognese sauce, but I have finally come close. So here we go:
- 1 cup of no-salt chicken broth
- 1 cup of no-salt beef broth
- 8 tsp of unflavoured gelatin
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 large celery rib chopped
- 4 oz of Pancetta, chopped
- 4 oz of Mortadella, chopped
- 3 tsp of good olive oil
- 1 of a pound of lean ground beef
- 1 of a pound of ground pork
- 4 tbsp of fresh sage minced
- 1 can of good tomato paste
- 2 cups of good red wine
1. Add the chicken broth and beef broth together and stir in the gelatin. This will add a silky texture to the end product. Set this aside.
2. In a food processor add the onion, carrot, and celery and pulse until chopped into very fine uniform pieces, set aside. Put the Mortadella and Pancetta into the food processor until they are nearly minced. If you want some extra meaty-richness you can also add a couple of ounces of chicken livers to this mix. Set aside the now chopped meat mixture.
3. Heat the oil in a dutch oven to medium-high heat and add the ground beef and pork, cook this down until the moisture has evaporated and the meat is sizzling, always breaking apart any pieces that clump together. Add in the chopped pancetta/mortadella mix along with the sage and cook this until the pancetta is translucent (about 8 minutes). The pancetta is going to bring the salt to this recipe.
4. Next add in the chopped vegetable mixture and cook until they’ve softened, stirring frequently.
5. Next add in the can of tomato paste and cook this down until the mixture is a deep-rust colour, about 5 – 10 minutes.
6. Next, add the wine and stir it in, reducing it for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Sneak a glass for yourself while you’re at it.
7. Finally stir in the broth mixture and return the sauce to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and cook at the very slightest simmer for an hour and a half to two hours. You can also transfer this to a slow cooker, set to its lowest setting with the lid off. Finally, when the sauce is good and thick, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve with your favourite pasta (I prefer pappardelle).
I hope you enjoy your meal, and be sure to tell us what you think!