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Tag: calgary (Page 1 of 4)

A Year of November Project

NP SF

Photo by NP SF

Technically it’s been a little more than a year since I first set my alarm to join the November Project YYC Tribe for a workout, but today seemed so fitting for this post. For starters, I went to my first NP San Francisco workout this morning. I drove two UC Berkeley students into the city & back as part of the East Bay carpool. It was a great morning, & Odin was a huge hit, of course. Today is also one week out from a very special Wednesday morning for NP YYC: the annual McMahon Stadium workout!

Story time! Last September, I decided to participate in a month-long a healthy living challenge to raise awareness & funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. You may recall my blog posts about the challenge around this time last year. I’d committed to eating paleo, limiting alcohol, & working out three times a week. The greatest thing that came out of the challenge, besides raising money for a good cause, was November Project.

I’d first heard about this crazy group of people back at the beginning of that summer. My friend Zoe messaged me with a link to the Calgary tribe’s information, “You need to join this. I joined the YYJ one in December & it is literally the best thing I have done ever.” Strong words, Zo. I briefly looked at the page, saw that workouts were at 6:13 am, & gave it a hard pass. I’d spent most of high school waking up before sunrise to jump in a freezing cold pool & swim laps for a couple hours. Aside from the occasional 6 am spin class, I was over the commitment of early morning workouts.

That is, until I saw the amazing support Zoe got during our SeaWheeze Half Marathon a few weeks later. There were high fives, “y’all goods”, & lots & lots of hugs throughout the course. All this because she put on a Lululemon shirt with November Project spray-painted across the front. It didn’t matter that they weren’t from the same city. It didn’t matter that they’d never worked out together before. These people were in her court, cheering her on. This was more than just an early morning sweat session. This was a community. & that was something I could get behind.

So I decided to join. They happened to doing a special Wednesday morning workout on August 31, 2016: running the McMahon Stadium stairs. This would be my first NP workout. I even recruited a few friends to come with me. I don’t remember much about that first workout except that it was hard. Like, really hard. I walked away with sore legs & a huge smile plastered on my face.

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My first NP YYC Workout, McMahon Stadium 2016

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My last NP YYC workout before SF!

I couldn’t walk properly for days afterwards. & the next few workouts were hard too. They were hard in a way that I loved though & throughout the course of that first month, I found myself looking more & more forward to Wednesday mornings. So much so, that I started going to the Monday morning workouts too. & after that September Challenge ended, I didn’t stop going.

Winter mornings in Olympic Plaza with Odin

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I swear I’m not always carrying Odin

Although he adds a nice challenge to lunges

Over the last year, November Project has become more than just a morning workout for me. It’s become coffee dates, & socializing, & high gives when you think you can’t take one more step. While Tammara & Kyle have put us through some crazy workouts, I’ve also made some really rad friends. Better than that, I’ve become part of an amazing, supportive, welcoming community.

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NP YYC Card Workout

After a tough deck of cards workout

The test truck brings breakfast to our stair workout

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Rotary Park play ground workouts

So here’s to an amazing year with the YYC Tribe, full of everything from warm sunrise runs & half marathon scavenger hunts to climbing everything in sight & frozen eyelash photo shoots. Thank you for welcoming me, Odin, my husband, & anyone else I’ve dragged along into your weird little group. We may be a small tribe, but you have the biggest hearts.

Weatherproof! We even workout when it’s -30 C & our eyelashes freeze. Thanks for the photo, Kyle!

NP YYC Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt

Odin & I with our awesome co-leader, Kyle! (Who supplied many of these great photos!)

Since I have some serious FOMO about missing this McMahon Stadium workout, I hope you’ll all #justshowup for me, & if you were thinking of joining NP, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE. This is what started it all for me. & I’d love to see you’ve joined this fantastic crew when I get back in mid October.

#noexcuses

A Couple of Couples

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This week has been crazy! I have a couple posts almost ready to go but haven’t had time to actually sit down & fully edit them.  It always seems to be that way leading up to vacation, as I try to wrap up loose ends. But this week has been especially bad, with N flying back & forth between Calgary & Northern Alberta. The final countdown is on though, as we board a plane for La Manzanilla, Mexico tomorrow morning. Most things are wrapped up at work & we’re seeing Brad Paisley tonight with friends. Vacation brain is on in full force.

A couple weeks ago, we went for dinner at Parc Bistro with Jenna & Mike from A Couple of Couples. If you haven’t checked out their blog, I highly recommend it. It’s such a great idea! Our post is online this week, so I wanted to share it with all of you.

If you haven’t already heard, they’ve also got their hand in some board game-related meet-ups around town. We’re avid board-gamers, so we’ve been going to the monthly Thursday one (we’ll be away this month, sadly!). It’s been so successful that they’ve launched a meet-up at a coffee shop & another restaurant. I think it’s brilliant! It’s a great opportunity to meet new people & try out new games. David has the largest collection I’ve ever seen, so there’s something for everyone.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Just a quick little post to point you in the direction of some cool happenings around town. I clearly think you should join us for some board games, or my other obsession: Wednesday Night Adult Gymnastics (sounds intimidating, but I swear it’s the best. Do it!).

Eat Eat \ Suzette Bistro

Parlement de Bretagne

Parlement de Bretagne (2009)

I’ve written at length about my love for Lyon, but my first French love was actually for Rennes. Ten years ago, I packed my comically large suitcase for a semester abroad in a small French city in the northwest region of Brittany. At twenty, I had no real clue what I was getting myself into or how the experience would change me.

Rennes (or Roazhon, if you speak Breton) felt like a small town to me, & I spent the next six months exploring every inch of it.The city is considered to be one of the most festive in France & I made every effort to take in as much of that as I could. It certainly lived up to its reputation – I can barely keep track of how many festivals & events took place during my stay.

One of the many festivals: Fest-Noz

One of the many festivals: Fest-Noz

Wandering the old streets of the beautiful historic center was by far one of my favourite pastimes during my stay. A picnic in one of the beautiful parks also isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon, & thanks to the large student population, Rennes also boasts a vibrant nightlife. There’s even a street made up only of bars. Nicknamed “rue de la soif” (Street of Thirst), rue Saint-Michel is the place to be on a Thursday night during the school year.

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One of the beautiful squares

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Portes Mordelaises: the last remaining gate to Rennes from the middle ages.

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Crêperies at St Anne

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Parc du Thabor

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Opéra at Christmas (2005)

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A rare snowfall at Villejean Residences

If that wasn’t enough to make me fall in love, the local food certainly did. Brittany has many wonderful specialties including seafood, salted butter caramels, numerous pastries, cidre (hard apple cider), & half salted butter (for some reason, it’s unreal). You can find most of these at the weekly Saturday market, le marché des Lices. For my favourite traditional Breton delicacy though, you’ll want to head over to Crêperie St Anne & order a galette. Breton galettes are the crêpe’s savoury soulmate, made from buckwheat flour & filled with anything from smoked meats to vegetables & cheese.

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Le marché des Lices

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An having a galette jambon at the market

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Galette Complète – jambon, œuf, frommage.

I thought I’d have to go back to Rennes for my galette cravings until Suzette Bistro opened this year. I could barely contain my excitement as I walked over to meet N for dinner last Friday. Reminiscing about my time in Brittany, I had high hopes for our meal.

A quick look through their drink menu & I decided on the cidre brut (dry cider) – a favourite from both times I lived in France & an easy choice for me. Their selection also included a decent assortment of beer & wines. I love that the cidre was served in a traditional ceramic mug like you would get in Brittany. Things were certainly off to a good start!

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Cidre

For my main course, I chose the Complète, with French ham, Gruyère cheese, & egg (always my favourite variety in France!). N went with the Norvégienne, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s eaten with him as it features smoked salmon. All galettes come with a a mixed green salad. Ours orders arrived quickly & that was the first thing I dug into. It doesn’t look like much, but this is exactly the same salad I’ve eaten in countless restaurants across France, & it is fantastic. The magic is in the perfect dressing. If that didn’t take me back to Bretagne, then my first bite of galette certainly did. It was perfect combination of ham, cheese, & egg in every bite! & the actual galette tasted exactly as I remembered. I tried a couple bites of N’s, & it was delicious too. A generous serving of smoked salmon paired nicely with the creamy leeks.

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Despite barely having room for dessert, I convinced N to share a Bretonne crêpe with me. I couldn’t resist the idea of caramel beurre salé (can you blame me?!). I also ordered a cappuccino. It was the perfect way to cap off our meal.

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A perfect crêpe, bigger than my face.

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Suzette Bistro gets tops marks from me as authentically Breton & incredibly delicious. The prices are reasonable, the service was pleasant (you could even practice your French with some of the staff, if you wanted!), & the food was fantastic. It seems we aren’t the only fans of this new Mission addition either – the place was surprisingly busy despite our early reservation.

I highly recommend you check out Suzette Bistro – they do weekend brunch & weekday lunch & dinner (with the exception of Mondays). Thank you to Suzette for a wonderful meal & a fantastic trip down memory lane.

Suzette Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat Eat \ Parc Brasserie

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When N was back a few weeks ago, I took him out for an evening to celebrate his (then belated) birthday. It seems like there are so many new places opening up all over the city so we decided to check a couple of them out. We started the night at Proof, a new cocktail bar with an impressively extensive menu, grabbing one of the last tables on what was looking to be a pretty busy Friday night.

With so many cocktails to choose from, it took us a while to make a decision. I finally went for the Millionaire – a delicious combination of whisky, grand marnier, grenadine, & egg whites. I’m such a sucker for cocktails with egg whites so it was a bit of a no brainer for me. N went with Fire in the Pharmacy, which is a scotch float with lemon, ginger, honey, & mezcal. I’m not really a scotch fan, so I never would have ordered this, but I’m so glad he did. It is delicious – such a great surprise!

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birthday boy

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Unfortunately we only had time for the one drink before we had to head to dinner. I look forward to going back & tasting more cocktails. I also plan on trying some food off their menu next time too – everything coming out of the kitchen looked incredible.

The space itself is pretty cute, with high ceilings & big windows facing the street, but the wall of bottles behind the bar is probably the most impressive piece. It commands your attention, especially if someone has to hop on the ladder.

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drinks

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an impressive wall

In order to make our reservation, we hopped in a cab to Parc Brasserie for dinner. Walking in, the decor was exactly what you’d expect of a French Brasserie, with black & white checkered floors & simple design. We were seated at the back, by the kitchen, giving us a great view of the rest of the restaurant. I loved the art on the walls, especially the familiar photos of different landmarks across France. I spotted a few favourite spots in their gallery.

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We decided to dive right in with a bottle of wine – a Côtes du Rhône we really enjoyed. We also shared two aperitifs: the Croquettes & the Rillette de Lapin. The croquettes were a perfectly fried combination of Emmental cheese, ham, & potatoes, topped with aioli & a little extra cheese for good measure. The rabbit rillette came with pickles, capers berries, mustard, & crostini. We enjoyed both thoroughly. Another nice touch was the fresh bread they came around with as we waited for our starters. It was some of the best bread I’ve had in this city (so I suggest you say yes if they ask – go for the country style).

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Deciding on a main course was tough as everything sounded delicious. In the end I went with the classic choice: Steak Frites. Topped with roasted shallot butter, mushrooms, & peppercorn sauce, it was cooked perfectly & full of flavour. Pairing it with the accompanying arugula made for the perfect bite! The fries were generously portioned, crispy, & flavourful. I loved the aioli that came on the side.

N’s choice stole the show though. He went with the duck, which came with asparagus, lentils, & an orange sauce. It was incredible. We capped off the night with cheese – the perfect dessert, if you ask me. It came with three beautiful cheeses, crostini, & two jams. It was a great way to end the meal.

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Steak

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Frites

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Canard

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Cheese Course

Our experience at Parc was wonderful – our server was great, as were the others we interacted with throughout the night. They were attentive & helpful every step of the way.

I hope to head back for a repeat experience soon. I’m a sucker for a good french brasserie & I’ve been eyeing the Tuesday night moules special.

Thank you for a fantastic evening, Parc!

Parc Brasserie, 17th Ave:
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Calgary Poutine Crawl 2015

Someone needs to start a YYC Salad Week. Seriously. Now that poutine week has come & gone, my pants fit a little tighter & I’ve been craving vegetables. We tasted some delicious poutines though so I think it’s a fair trade off. I tried to implement my own personal salad week last week to balance things out. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately?) it was Alberta Burger Fest. I spent far too much time ogling the delicious entries & gave in to Eats of Asia yesterday. The things I do for charity, right? (ha!)

This year I scored tickets to the Poutine Crawl again, taking place on the final day of Poutine Week. I wasn’t about to attempt much more than that (I’m no Kyle MacQuarrie – He ate 36 poutines over the course of 7 days!), however we did warm-up earlier in the week with Anju‘s Poutine for your Seoul. I’m always impressed with Roy Oh’s creativity & this poutine was no exception. It combined Kabayaki gravy with Kennebec fries, gochugaru salt, soft tofu, cheese curds, & dehydrated kimchi. The entire dish was a hit, but the gravy stood out as one of the best I’ve ever had. Well played, Anju.

Come Saturday, our little group met the rest of the Poutine Crawlers at Below Deck Tavern. We quickly ordered a few drinks as we waited for the event to begin. I went with a caesar since it felt a bit early for beer. Below Deck’s poutine was an East Coast Donair Poutine. The fries were perfectly crispy & flavourful,  the curds squeaky, & the donair sauce was an unusual, but delicious addition. I found myself wishing there were more curds & meat, but overall it was a great start to our crawl.

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We didn’t have to crawl too far for our second poutine. We found ourselves across the street at Mango Shiva for our next poutine. I’ve been meaning to visit this beautifully decorated Indian restaurant for a while & I know I’ll definitely be back after tasting their delicious curry. Their poutine was a Rogan Josh lamb curry with cilantro, cheese, tomatoes, & fries. The flavour in the curry was unreal. I will absolutely be back to try more of their curries after that! Unfortunately, we thought the fries could have been a bit crispier & found ourselves wishing it was paired with naan or rice instead. I guess it wouldn’t have really been a poutine then, though!

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Full of delicious Indian spices, we wandered down Stephen Avenue to City Hall, where the Joey’s Double Decker Diner awaited. We lined up at the window for our enormous Greek Poutine. This thing was seriously huge, & full of amazing ingredients. Fries, gravy, tomatoes, tzatziki, cucumber, feta, & chicken may seem like an odd combination, but we all loved it. Imagine poutine topped with greek salad & tzatziki. Delicious!

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Charcut has long held the title for my favourite poutine in the city so I was very excited to see it on the list. We arrived a bit earlier than expected – it was a bit chilly to continue hanging out outside the Joey’s bus. After three poutines, we welcomed the little break, & their delicious beer selection kept us occupied.

Before too long, they made the rounds with their contribution. Their take saw crispy fries topped with squeaky curds, a light gravy, & truffle oil. When used sparingly, truffle oil can take a dish to the next level, & this was certainly the case here. This was my favourite poutine of the day, & to top it all off, we chatted with one of the chef’s, Connie DeSousa. It was great to meet her & hear a little bit about their choice of flavours & ingredients.

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We’d reached the fifth stop on our crawl & we were stuffed. I was ready for a break…& maybe a nap. But the Poutine Crawl soldiered on; it’s not for the faint of heart. Swine & Sow served up a fondue poutine. It consisted of house-cured ham, swiss fondue sauce, crisped pancetta, & a cabernet reduction. The flavours here were incredible, & incredibly rich. I could barely finish this poutine despite thoroughly enjoying the flavours.

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Our last stop was Black Betty. By this point, we’d had a few beers & were understandably full. A few of us decided to try out their cocktails, on the recommendation of one of the guys. They had some unique options. The poutine itself was also interesting. The fries seemed to be battered & it reminded me a little bit of fried chicken. It wasn’t my favourite, but I was pretty full at that point & more interested in the upcoming Flames game.

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Once again, the Poutine Crawl was a great event. Thank you to Karen Richards for organizing it again this year – it’s pretty incredible to have an event sell out when you can only buy tickets if you purchase a mealshare item & post it to Facebook.

The votes were tallied the next day & Charcut came out on top. A well-deserved win, if you ask me!

Winter thoughts

Winter may not be official for another couple weeks, but our climate certainly says otherwise. We’ve been bundling up, wearing extra layers of wool, & trudging through snow banks for a couple weeks now. & I love many aspects of winter – planning ski trips with friends, comfy wool socks (these are a staple for me. They’re men’s but they last for years), flannel & leggings, carefully braising beautiful meals (winter cooking is probably my favourite), skating at the rink in our neighbourhood, & reading by the fire at my parents’ house in the mountains. Just thinking about all this gets me pretty excited for the winter months ahead.

Unfortunately, my motivation seems to wane when the temperature drops far below zero. I’m not alone here either. There’s even a disorder for this season – seasonal affective disorder – SAD. Isn’t that acronym depressing? I don’t think I suffer from SAD, I just have a hard time motivating myself to get up & do a whole lot of anything. Gilmore Girls was just added to Netflix & I’ve made every excuse to watch episode after episode on the couch. I’ve watched it while blogging (like right now), writing thank you notes, cooking, & even cleaning.

In the summer months, I’m usually pretty motivated to workout. I get my butt to the gym or go for a run or even just go for a walk. We live about a minute from the river paths, so it’s easy to take advantage of this proximity. In the summer.

The great thing about the paths though is that they are cleared all year long & we’re lucky enough to experience breaks in the freezing cold pretty often. Even when it is cold out, it’s just a matter of taking the plunge. Once you get out there, it’s really not so bad.

I’ve been making an effort of getting out there more often lately. Even on the days that I don’t feel like heading to the gym, I’ve been going. I’ve been setting my alarm for 5 am & forcing myself out of bed for spin class. (I know that seems so crazy, but I have the best time once I’m there. The best!) I reminded N to pick up his skates so we can head over to the skating rink in the evening. Free dates are the best dates, right?

that’s it. Those are my thoughts about winter. None of this is truly groundbreaking, but I hope maybe it helps a little bit if you’re finding yourself in hibernation mode. You can do it! Get up, get out, & go for it. You can either hate on winter for the next 6 months or you can find a way to make it great.

Or maybe you’re already an expert in getting through the winter. Let me know if the comments what keeps you going

Eat \ Anju’s Test Kitchen Takeover

It’s been decided. We’re part of the Roy Oh/Anju Fanclub, maybe even the founding members. Over the course of a month, I attended 3 dinners where Roy was either the chef or a contributor, and he doesn’t even currently have a restaurant right now!

H actually has me beat though as she attended four over the course of the month. If that’s not fan girl status, I don’t know what is.
Kidding aside, if you haven’t eaten Roy’s Korean Fusion fare, you’re missing out. I know I just said that he doesn’t currently have a restaurant, but that’s all about to change soon (stay tuned to their twitter – @AnjuRestaurant. I know I will be!). If you’re familiar with the Calgary restaurant scene, his new digs will fill the space that used to be Petite (at 17 avenue & 4 street SW).
For my second Anju experience in June, a YMCA co-worker invited H & I to check out his pop up at Test Kitchen. H was a bit hesitant as this would be Anju meal three for her, but in the end she couldn’t resist.

I love this pop-up series idea going on at Test Kitchen & really hope it continues. I think it’s great to have different chefs come in & have the opportunity to do something that is maybe a little different from the usual fair in their own establishments.

We started the evening with a soju strawberry, chili, & mint cocktail. As expected, it was delicious. The flavour combination was different in the best way. The hint of spice was a welcome surprise & I’m a sucker for any cocktail that features mint.

The first course was a spicy oyster shooter. We each got a little shot glass with a spicy oyster shot. I love oysters so it was a great way to kick off the meal.

Next we had a bone marrow risotto. Rich, creamy, & decadent are adjectives that spring to mind when I think of this dish. Bone marrow has such an amazing flavour on its own; the smooth & creamy risotto was a perfect pairing. Roy had also added some anchovies that reminded us of one our unexpected favourites at the Chinese Association dinner. I’m sure I made my happy face throughout this entire dish. It was that great.

Fish & Chips were next up on our menu. We discussed what possible spin Roy would put on it. Roy’s creativity shone through as we were presented with what looked like two spring rolls on a bed of tartar sauce.

We all decided to go with wine pairings for the meal. I wish I’d taken better note of the wines we tried. They were all lovely and mostly white wines, not something I usually pick myself since I know my taste in red better.

Our last savoury course was bibimbap. This was a new dish for me, but one I think I can get behind. As usual, Roy had a bit of a non-traditional take on this wonderful dish. As I’ve come to expect with
most dishes that come out of his kitchen, I loved the combination of different flavours in this dish. This time I think the different textures were what I most enjoyed though here.

Last came dessert – milk & cookies. The milk was a sesame milkshake & the cookies were warm chili chocolate. It was a delicious end to a fantastic meal & further cemented Anju in my mind as somewhere fantastic. I will definitely be very excited to see this restaurant back on the scene in Calgary & can’t recommend it enough.

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Craft Beer Party

A couple weeks ago, our friends had a housewarming with an interesting theme. This wasn’t the first time they’d hosted this type of party, but it was the first time N & I fully participated.The idea is that everyone brings a six pack (or however much they plan on drinking) of craft beer. All contributions are added to the cooler, with the hope that everyone brings different craft beers so you can try a variety.

I love this idea! It’s not often that you get to sample such a variety of craft beers in a single evening. I mean, some of my favourite bars operate on this premise (National, Craft, & Beer Revolution, to name a few), but sometimes it’s hard to justify dropping $6-$8 on an unknown beer. This way, you can try at least six different beers for under $20.

I took photos of all the different beers I tasted, but unfortunately I didn’t take any tasting notes, so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say they were all quite good.

My first beer was my own contribution to the party. Perhaps a little silly to go straight for the beer I had brought, but I love Anchor Brewing & was really excited to try this Liberty Ale. I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely not a bargain at the liquor store, but it’s also not unreasonably priced. I’ll buy it again soon.

Our friends apartment has this great mirror wall. It’s pretty distracting, but a fun addition to the space.

 N’s contribution was Anchor Steam. This is one of my favourite beers. I order it almost every time I see it on a menu. It’s got an interesting flavour, but is easy to drink – delicious & slightly dangerous.

I’m really never sure about IPAs. I find them really hit or miss. Sometimes, they’re great & other times, they’re just too bitter for me. I liked this one though & I think the label is pretty awesome.

I really like Village beers, so of course this had to end up in my hands at some point in the evening. If you’re even remotely into darker beers, the Blacksmith is great. It’s definitely a go-to beer for me & their growlers are fun to split with a friend.

My beer choices quickly turned pretty safe as the night continued & I moved to beers I was more familiar with. I think this is kind of inevitable, but it was fun to at least start the night out with some new finds.

All in all, it was a pretty successful evening. We started early in the evening so we all went through quite a lot of beer. Next time I’d probably try to keep it to a six pack per person, so things don’t get too rowdy.

Not that there’s anything wrong with rowdy – everyone needs a noisy party at least once in a while, right? & you have to break in a new condo at some point. Mission Accomplished.

I’m definitely looking forward to trying this idea again with another group of friends. It’s been a hit both times we’ve done it. If you like craft beer, I highly recommend this idea for your next party.

Eat Eat \ Poutine Crawl

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends scored two tickets to the 2014 Calgary Poutine Crawl. We’d both been anxiously awaiting the moment they were to go on sale, but she was one of the lucky 60 or so to snag a pair of tickets to the event. It literally sold out in less than 15 seconds – the first obvious sign that it was bound to be some special. I was obviously pretty bummed about it until her husband offered his ticket to me. Best wedding gift so far, Z!

Poutine Day arrived and we excitedly met at Wurst at noon. I’ve eaten (as well as enjoyed many a beer) in this great establishment & have always enjoyed the experience. There’s something about a beer hall that just says good times to me! We ordered drinks & waited for things to start, discussing whether we thought it would be something off their menu (they have great poutine) or something new.

Karen Richards, the organizer, welcomed us before the chef took the stage to talk to us the thoughts behind the day’s creation. They had decided to go with the poutine on their menu for a very good reason – they’d spent a long time creating it & think it’s great. I have to agree; it is a great poutine. They start with duck fat fries (never a bad idea, if you ask me) & add cheese curds, green peas, speck sauce, duck confit, & truffle oil.

This poutine is rich so I was grateful for the smaller portion. I have & would eat this poutine again though – the fries are great (duck fat, people!), the cheese curds squeak, & the “gravy” has a great flavour. For me, those three things are the most important components of a great poutine, & Wurst nails it.

Once we’d finished up, we got onto one of the two party buses & headed off to National 17. Not only is National one of my favourite bars in Calgary (another beer hall. What can I say? They’re just so great!), but also this next poutine would be the creation of one of my favourite chefs, Roy Oh. This poutine was by far the one H & I were most excited for, being Anju fangirls. (We’re anxiously awaiting the opening of his new restaurant – Anju 2.0!) Roy’s creation was a very cool Korean-Inspired “poutine” featuring chewy rice cakes, bacon, cucumber, gochujang sauce, & squeaky cheese curds. This is definitely not traditional poutine here, but those flavours. Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The experience was over far too soon for me.

Back to the bus – we were headed off the beaten path, to Naina’s Kitchen, in a more industrial area of Calgary. I regularly frequent the Farmer’s Market across the street, but haven’t tried the stuffed burgers this place is famous for yet. It’s a small, unassuming little spot, but we all squished in. This one was a feast, & probably the most traditional to that point, featuring fries, cheese curds, meatballs, caramelized onions, & a sweet gravy. The meatballs were fantastic & I enjoyed the hint of maple syrup in the gravy, but the fries & curds weren’t my favourite. This was probably for the best though. If I had finished that monster, I don’t think I’d have managed the rest of the crawl (without actually crawling!).

It was back downtown for our next stop – The Libertine. Halfway through & I was getting a little full & a lot sleepy. Luckily, they have some great beers on tap, so we quickly solved one of those problems. Their team presented their poutine in little takeout boxes. I was excited to see apple coleslaw on top (I’m sure I’m almost alone in my excitement over a good coleslaw). Underneath we found fried chicken, double smoked pork belly (magical words), & of course, curds, gravy, & fries. I think the pork belly (& the slaw for me – I know I’m alone in this) were the stars for me here. The fries, curds, & gravy were all delicious though too so it was an all around well-executed poutine!

H & I had reached waddle status at this point, so she suggested we walk the few blocks to downtownfood. It was a great idea & we even arrived before the bus. downtownfood was the 2013 Calgary Poutine Crawl winner. In fact, they seem to put out some pretty amazing food for most of these types of things so I was definitely looking forward to their take.

They started us off with a lemon sorbetto to cleanse our palate “after all those inferior poutines we’d tried.” It was a clever tactic. This sorbetto was arguably one of the best palate cleansers I’ve had. Next they came around with the poutine. Servers removed funny plastic lids to uncover a steaming bowl of deliciousness, which included bacon, mushrooms, house-made cheese curds, duck-confit gravy, & delicious fries. These curds hit it out of the park for me. I could have eaten a bowlful of them. Seriously, I love curds. I also loved the flavour of the gravy, despite it being a bit on the more liquidy side. All around amazing flavours.

& then they followed it up with dessert: macarons. I’m such a sucker for macarons. Well played, downtownfood.

Last stop on our tour was a little pub across the river, Oak Tree Tavern. Wild Rose Brewery put us all in great spirits with a free beer. The poutine that followed was the first vegetarian option of the day, featuring crispy fries, cheese curds, & a sage mushroom gravy. The flavours of this poutine were great again, but I found myself wishing there were more curds. Yes, even after 6 poutines, I wanted more cheese curds. (I know, I’m a freak.) Oak Tree Tavern was a great venue to end that day on. We stayed around for a few extra beers & waited for our stomachs to shrink back to normal.

Overall, Anju’s poutine was my favourite for Roy’s creativity as well as the amazing combination of flavours, but I can’t say I was disappointed with any of the poutines we tasted. The votes were tallied the next day & downtownfood came out on top for the second year in a row – a well deserved win. All the participants did an incredible job & I would highly recommend this event to anyone who likes poutine. Or maybe I wouldn’t – I’d like to score tickets myself next year.

Dear Calgary

I’ve been catching a ride with N into downtown lately so I haven’t had my usual morning walk. This morning, however, I dropped him off at the airport before work and, as a result, found myself walking in.

My usual route takes me through Rotary Park, down a large wooden staircase, & across the iconic Center Street Bridge before I even hit the hustle & noise of the Core. For how close we live to the City Center, it’s incredible how tranquil the first part of that walk is. 
Calgary is an usually sunny city, but even on this rare overcast day, this walk is beautiful. Walking through the park, sipping on a latte from one of my favourite shops, as the city collectively awoke, reminded me of how much love I have for this place – the cowboy town turned city. 

As you reach the top of the stairs, the trees part to reveal the city, & what I personally believe to be one of the most striking skylines. While the spring air was moist & heavy in the park, it seemed to lift as I headed towards downtown. “I love this commute”, I thought, sipping my coffee. After this particularly harsh winter, this kind of spring morning was just what I needed. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect way to start my day.

Calgary has a bit of reputation as redneck, conservative, a little rough around the edges. But I love it. This little city in the West, bordered by snow-capped mountains on one side & wide open prairies on the others. This city is home. It’s had its share of growing pains, but haven’t we all? It’s still a young city & it’s got a lot going for it. It’s evolving & coming into its own & I’m so excited to be here to experience it. 
If you’re looking for a nice way to start your day, grab a coffee at Luke’s DrugMart & head over to Rotary Park. Walk through the park to the stairs. Head down to Center Street & cross the bridge. Take the pedestrian ramp to the river path & walk along the river towards Eau Claire or the East Village – each have their fair share of perks. It’s worth checking out!
Enjoy the weekend! 

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