Alberta is a province of beer lovers, but although we grow some of the best barley in the world, until fairly recently capacity rules prevented small breweries from getting off the ground. Since the AGLC relaxed its laws, opening up the door for anyone to open a brewery if they want to, we’ve seen a steady flow of microbreweries doing what they do best. I love that so many home brew fanatics now have the opportunity to turn their passions into small businesses that bolster our local growers at the same time. There’s a new brewery tour that will take you and a group of potential new BFFs to a handful of the newest, even the smallest micro and nanobreweries around the city, traveling by cushy bus and even stopping for lunch along the way. Calgary Brewery Tours is the first of its kind in Calgary, a sort of grown-up crawl that’s fun and educational. At each stop, you get to meet the people behindContinue reading

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I decided this past weekend to bring back the Sunday supper – to get back into the habit of gathering people I want to spend more time with around the table each Sunday to reconnect. (I never regret spending time eating and visiting with people I love, but often regret not doing so more often.) I want it to become a part of our week. Conveniently, I almost always spend a chunk of my Sundays puttering around the kitchen anyway. But. This may surprise you – there are some weekends, after a week of cooking and shooting and doing dishes and repeating it all, that I want to go out. Besides, we have some great restaurants in this city that I want to support – especially at a time when everyone seems to be struggling – and a bunch of them offer fixed menu Sunday suppers, served family-style to help facilitate the social aspect of that traditional weekend meal. I love this – it’s likeContinue reading

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Apologies for the radio silence – it’s been a crazy month, and I didn’t want to draw too much attention to this new space, to fully invite you in to poke around and give the grand tour, until everything in it was cleaned up and functional. (Hello, Christmas holiday project.) But honestly, it would be more like me to just sweep everything into the corners and open more wine in the hopes that no one will notice. I’m also learning a slightly new dashboard while I go – and thought I’d start with a recipe-free post, before I learn my new plugin (that also enabled new search functionality – my priority!), and so I thought I’d tell you a little about Banff, if you aren’t already familiar with it, or even if you are. It’s one of my happy places – I’ve been driving the hour or so there since I was a kid, crammed into the rear of one of those backwards-facing navy blueContinue reading

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I’ve spent a lot of time in Edmonton this year – more so than usual – and because of this happy coincidence I’ve had the chance to eat my way around the city, which is a Very Good Thing. For a long time, Edmonton was known as the chain restaurant capital of Canada. This isn’t the case anymore – Edmonton is a city of great restaurants and farmers’ markets and local producers and coffee shops, and an impressive slowfood convivium. Some of my very favourite food people are doing their thing there, and I feel the need to share some of the things they make and do, in case you find yourself in Edmonton. I wish I could just tug on the highway and pull the whole city closer. (Below are chefs Blair Lebsak of Rge Rd, Ryan O’Flynn of the Edmonton Westin, and Brad Haffner of The Local Omnivore, plating dishes for the A Seat at Our Table long table dinner about a monthContinue reading

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For all my whingeing about the end of summer, I adore fall – it’s my favourite time of year. I look for any excuse to hit the highway – in any direction, but I particularly love heading southwest of the city, along the Cowboy Trail, to Priddis and Millarville, Black Diamond and Turner Valley. A couple weekends ago, we helped with a barley harvest out at Bar U Ranch, a preserved working ranch and the only National Historic Site to commemorate the history of ranching in Canada. The Bar U was one of the first large scale cattle ranching operations in Canada, at one time ranging 30,000 head of cattle on 160,000 acres of grassland, and held a stock of 1,000 purebred Percherons. To sum its legacy from the Friends of the Bar U Ranch website: The ranch fed workers building the first transcontinental railway and waves of immigrants, Canada’s first Indian reservations, the first patrols of Northwest Mounted Police, our nation through the GreatContinue reading

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Most summers, we’re out in Tofino when the Calgary Folk Music Festival takes over Prince’s Island in the heart of Calgary. The festival is legendary, drawing musicians from around the world and inspiring Calgarians to stick around and plan their holidays around FolkFest weekend. From the time it first showed up on my radar, I knew it for the food – the curries and Joy’s ginger beer, in the early years. This year is the 36th annual, and they’ve outdone themselves – besides the 76 bands from 16 countries on 8 stages playing concerts and holding workshops and collaborative sessions, there are some seriously fantastic local eats. (And drinks, of course – you’ll find Big Rock in the ultra-popular beer garden.) People know it for the running of the tarps – I go for the eating of the food. I work up an appetite walking or biking down, and then navigate the food lineups. If you go early, they’re not bad – but even onceContinue reading

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We’ve become hooked on short-haul trips to small towns we’ve never explored in our own province. W asked if we could go on another adventure as soon as he finished school, and so we obliged by packing up the car and driving to Medicine Hat on Friday afternoon – as good a place to go as any when the forecast tipped beyond 30 degrees. The temperature in southern Alberta this weekend ranged from about 34-38 – no better time to hunker down in a hotel that has air conditioning and a water slide. (Also: no obligation to cook, do dishes or laundry.) We beat the heat with a visit to Tino’s drive-in (hilariously thin burgers, but people apparently go for the chili fries, and the ice cream was cold) and Swirls Ice Cream (my fave). Because I’m a full-on coffee snob, Mike walked across the street to Tim Horton’s while I went in search of a proper cappuccino. The Station Coffee Co in downtown MedicineContinue reading

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When most Calgarians hop in the car for a day trip outta Dodge they tend to head west, toward the mountains, toward Banff and Lake Louise and skiing and snowboarding. And while those are very worthwhile destinations, I’m partial – once spring rolls around – to leaning more southwest, toward the Cowboy Trail, that gorgeous rolling expanse of foothills between the city and the mountains out on highway 22. Technically, the Cowboy Trail (named for all the ranches it winds past) runs 700 km, from highway 3 near Lundbreck to Highway 18 near Mayerthorpe, but the chunk we like to take goes from Bragg Creek through Priddis, past Millarville – and the farmers’ market at the racetrack on summer and fall weekends – to Turner Valley and Black Diamond. It’s a perfect distance – a couple hours in the car, with plenty to stop and eat. The Millarville Market should be opening again soon for the season-typically it’s open Saturdays 9-2. Keep driving another tenContinue reading

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Every time I come out here, life pulls into sharper focus – it becomes more clear what I want to do and why I want to do it – why it’s important – and then I go home and it kind of collapses into the day to day minutae. One of the things I always seem to struggle with is how to make a living – while maintaining my integrity. I know I’m not the only one. So here I am in the midst of a blog redesign – still, because for years I’ve been trying to figure out how to do things better, what the right next step is, how to stand out from all the sameness yet maintain familiarity, worried that if I do take a sudden jag, people will lose interest. (And if they do, isn’t it my own fault for being boring?) As always, my blog keeps getting back-burnered for actual work deadlines – I have to answer to editors, publishersContinue reading

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