This year, we spent the early weeks of summer poking around small town Alberta, spontaneously (when we could) jumping in the car with the dog to go exploring. We watched sunrises and sunsets, drove past waves of canola, through and around afternoon storms, and explored plenty of places previously overlooked whilst whizzing by on the QE2. Red Deer and Lacombe. The boys looked at me blankly when I told them (it had to be told, not suggested, or they likely wouldn’t have gone for it) we were going to spend a Friday this way. It turned out to be one of the best days so far this summer. Not least of all because I got to yell ‘canola!’ out the window at the yellow fields, making W roll his eyes and put on his headphones. Yes, already. The best prairie road trip days include doughnuts. The Donut Mill was one of those places we’d always whiz by on the highway, but although it didn’t openContinue reading

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Who knew this was a thing, in the middle of rural Alberta? Not me. We’ve been poking around home this spring and summer, jumping in the car and going on day or afternoon trips and overnights, just for a change of scenery and to get to know our province a little better. I love prairie road trips, and small towns I might not ever otherwise know. A few weeks ago we visited friends at their cabin between Gleniffer Lake and Red Lodge Provincial Park (both which are under an hour away yet I was previously completely unaware of), which turned out to be right below the Scandinavian Trail. Yes, we’re still in Alberta. We started at the Stephansson House, which turned out to be just off Township Road 371, in the middle of miles of fields. Turn down the road and you’ll find a tiny house – a provincial historic site dedicated to Stephan G. Stephansson – the Poet of the Rocky Mountains – whoContinue reading

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Did I ever tell you about that time a couple months ago when I went wine tasting in Sonoma? It happened quickly, back in March – the week before spring break, when everyone was antsy to get out of town (and yet we had no plans to), I took off and spent a few days touring wineries and sitting on patios, and felt only a little bit guilty about it. It was all in the name of research, right? Besides, I had never been. And touring California wineries seems like the sort of thing I should get some insight into, right? So I can report back? Besides: early spring break. Our first stop: Buena Vista Winery, which has been around since 1857 – it’s California’s first “premium” winery (I guess they don’t count hobby tool shed wineries), just outside the town of Sonoma. I was with a small group of mostly wine writers, which was intimidating/interesting/thrilling and I highly recommend if you can swing itContinue reading

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I’m all about the road trips. (Often, it’s just an excuse to buy Cheetos and gaze out the window.) Some weekends, they’re just short hops – and that’s fine, almost better than long hauls. It feels like there’s proper separation between you and the obligations of home, you still get to sleep in a hotel room bed, and there’s barely time for passengers to ask if we’re there yet. Also – I never get tired of the diversity of our prairie landscape. Drive in one direction (west) and you hit the Rockies. Drive in another (northeast) and after an hour or so of rolling fields, it suddenly opens up to this. Badlands! It’s different in winter, with a skiff of snow instead of almost intolerable heat, no hum of crickets nor risk of tripping over a rattlesnake. And no crowds at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the science of palaeontology, which W is now fully and completely preoccupied with. AlthoughContinue reading

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Despite how things might sound, we don’t get out a whole lot, just Mike and I. Partly because of life and stuff, and being the parents of a 10 year old who would rather go to McDonald’s – but also because my job involves a whole lot of cooking. So lately we’ve been making an attempt to get out more, investigate new places and taste new things, and at the same time support our (currently stressed-out) independent restaurants. Of course eating out can be pricey, so as believers in both love and money we’ve been seeking out ways to try new spots without spending too much. Here’s how we’ve been attempting to maintain a manageable Visa bill. They’ve been popping up around the city, offering great deals to bring people in before the dinner rush – we used to go to Cibo all the time after school (they have $5 pizzas weekdays between 3-5) but recently stumbled onto happy hour at Native Tongues, the new(ish)Continue reading

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Eating out in Banff

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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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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