I head up to Jasper at least once a year – I’ve been going for Christmas in November for the past 13 years – and because I’m typically eating and drinking at the Fairmont JPL, I rarely have an excuse to check out the town beyond gassing up. This weekend there was a little more wiggle room, and we decided to stay for an extra day to exhale before hitting the coast and to do a bit of a Jasper walkabout. People kept asking me where to eat in Jasper and the truth was, I had no idea. Jasper is a ski town in the Athabasca river valley, small and beautiful and full of gift shops, anchored by a railway station and often populated by herds of elk. There’s an Earls and a Famoso pizza and a Tim Horton’s, the requisite tourist-stop candy store and an easy to find grocery store on the main drag. But some poking around and asking those in the knowContinue reading

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I was in Jasper this weekend. How beautiful is this place? And yes, I met Molly Ringwald. And sang 80s karaoke, and lost my voice almost completely, rendering me unable to manage a squeak across the table to Molly at dinner. And I made Sriracha caramel corn and Nutella brownies and that Pixie Stick sandwich Ally Sheedy made in the Breakfast Club. I’m still recovering. But even with all that pink 80s glam, one of the best parts was getting outside, soaking in the outdoors in all its greatness. (And yet going to bed on ironed white sheets – is there anything better?) The drive up to Jasper from Calgary on the Icefields Parkway (highway 93) is one of the most beautiful in the world – you pass somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100 ancient glaciers and ice fields, emerald lakes, frozen waterfalls and the odd assembly of elk or bighorn sheep. The 10,000 year old Athabasca glacier is the highlight; as kids, we’d takeContinue reading

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downtown

A few weeks ago, we found ourselves stuck in gridlock in an underground mall parkade on the afternoon of Black Friday. This was not planned, and it was not joyful. I’m not one to hit the malls for such occasions, nor set my alarm to go shopping on Boxing Day. I flirted briefly with online shopping, which saves you a trip out, but makes me feel badly for Otto, our FedEx guy, and sitting alone with a credit card by the glow of my laptop is too solitary for the season, and somehow takes away the thrill of the hunt. I do love the bustle of Christmas shopping – of seeing neighbourhoods decked out, of the camaraderie of crowds with the same happy goal. Even when there are lineups and you find yourself crushed in the food court, tired and hangry in search of sustenance in the form of ginger beef, it has a certain Christmas Vacation appeal. So we decided to do our ownContinue reading

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village

I just dropped in to tell you a few things. One: I may have a bit of an ice cream problem. Not news. Two: My new neighbour-slash-mixmaster, Billy Friley, may not help in this regard, and I’m so grateful that he had a quarter-life crisis, crashed out on his Grandma’s couch for a week, tasted some huckleberry ice cream from a micro-ice creamery in Montana and had an epiphany, deciding right then and there it would become his life’s work. Or at least his Next Big Thing. Three: After said epiphany, Billy spent 13 months in a little space in a parking lot off 10th Ave SE learning how to make ice cream from scratch, with only Jessica Alba to keep him company. She still oversees the machine in the corner, where over the weekend Billy gave W a quick tutorial in homemade salted caramel ice cream. His place is open now, called Village Ice Cream, and it’s worth poking about until you find itContinue reading

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Rhubarb Creamsicle 1

I’ve written this post twice, and twice my computer has deemed it unreadable and ditched it on my behalf. And I didn’t even confess anything. Did anyone see where June went? Because I think I may have blinked and missed it. I know it must be July, because this happened: There was a big back yard with a barbecue loaded with cedar planked salmon (caught off the west coast, in Bamfield) and tubs full of beer and boys sitting on the garage roof hurling water balloons at each other, and clusters of girls in cutoffs and flip-flops, walking huddled from yard to park to street corner, whispering. And a dads vs kids soccer game across the street. Ah, to be ten and on my first few days of summer holidays. These popsicles weren’t from this weekend, they were a few weeks back, at Sunshine Farm in Kelowna, where we ate wood-fired pizza for lunch at a long table, and afterward they brought out rhubarb creamsicles,Continue reading

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,

Yesterday was our annual Upscale Bake Sale as part of the CBC Suncor Energy Food Bank Drive. Aviv Fried was back this year with enormous quantities of bread and three kinds of scones from his Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and Brûlée Patisserie brought dozens of mini cranberry loaves. Decadent Desserts brought fancy cakes and a gluten-free Yule log Buttercream Bakeshoppe brought cupcakes. Joining us for the first time this year, Yann Haute Patisserie with pain au chocolat, croissants and other flaky pastries, Wild Grainz with freshly baked loaves and shortbread, Sweet Provocateur with festively packaged cookies, loaves and buttercrunch, and the folks from Cruffs were going fast and furious custom-filling cream puffs with chocolate-hazelnut, vanilla and strawberry pastry cream. Each bakery donated their time and baked goods, and many came down to help and chat with folks coming to buy their wares, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Calgary Inter-faith Food Bank. The numbers aren’t in yet, but when I left they had already talliedContinue reading

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This here? My Favourite View From a Porta-Potty. Remember when I used to post what I ate for dinner every night? Yeah, me too. Now when I fall asleep or need to meet a deadline (not nearly as much fun as propping my laptop up in bed and recounting our evening meal – OK, maybe the sleeping part is) and a day or two slips by, the events of the day before yesterday seem so day before yesterday. But I don’t want the weekend to slip by unreported. Even though I didn’t actually cook anything. I didn’t actually cook anything! (Dinner tonight was roast chicken, roughly smashed potatoes and some baby zucchini, quickly fried up in a skillet with oil and garlic. There, now you’re up to speed.) We skipped out for a quick getaway to Jasper – the highway 93 is as stunning as any I’ve ever driven, and yet we had only seen it in winter. I imagined it would be gorgeous inContinue reading

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In Edmonton last night and today to cook with watermelons on BT this morning. We made a day of it, poking around Edmonton a bit before heading back. We found a cute little shop called the Whimsical Cake Studio, right beside Transcend Coffee, the High Level Diner and a poutinery. I splurged and bought a dozen, thinking we could bring some back for the sweet teeth in Calgary. They met a tragic end in the Winners parking lot. Most of our drive looked like this – all big Alberta sky with Simpsons clouds. And plenty of very gutsy dragonflies on the front windshield. On the way home we took a detour over to Pearson’s Berry Farm. They have a little take-out counter from which they sell pies, sauces, baking (Saskatoon butter tarts!) and ice cream – we got Saskatoon berry ice cream, of course, a (as yet uneaten) sour cherry pie and some berry picking. We set out into the fields with our ice creamContinue reading

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I was afraid I’d be repeating myself, telling you about all the same places we visit each time we’re out in Tofino. But today we stumbled upon a new find: a brand new coffee company, roasting organic beans every day in a wee warehouse space barely big enough to accommodate the shiny new roaster, grinders and espresso machine. The owner, Michael, who reminds me of the Dude (in the most awesome way), and who also owns Groovy Movie (a movie and cruiser bike rental place in a weathered old house beside Chocolate Tofino) just opened Tofino Coffee Co. three weeks ago. His red espresso machine is as shiny as a new car. His grandma’s needlepoint is on the wall. Nothing else for sale but a few brownies and bars from Red Can Gourmet, around the corner of the same building. He made two of the best Americanos we’d ever had, for $2 apiece. A bag of freshly roasted organic beans? $7.50. (For half a poundContinue reading

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