Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

Friends!  I wanted to remind all my Calgary folks that the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival is coming up this weekend, October 13 and 14.  This one is extra special because it’s the 20th edition.  I like this festival not only because you get to try a variety of interesting wine and beverages but there are also a ton of local restaurants featuring their latest and greatest.

Last year I discovered Old Coal Chocolates with their colourful and flavourful choices.  They are back this year along with multiple other vendors.  You can get tuna poke nachos, freshly shucked oysters, beef sliders and rolled ice cream all in one place.  Pair that with your favourite wine, beer, cider or spirit and you’re set.

So how does it work?  You need to buy tickets for a session and there are a variety of options and prices.  You can buy tickets on the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival website, just click here.  Once you get inside you can buy sampling coupons for $0.50 a piece.  Each booth will let you know how many coupons you will need to buy their items.  My best advice is buy some coupons to get started and then get more coupons based on what you missed.

The Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival site is full of great information and there are still lots of tickets left.  Just click on through to discover more.  If you’re looking for a fun date night out or an afternoon with the girls this is a great event.



What Dae Ye Ken? A Kindle in the Kitchen!

I’m a little late to the game but thanks to Netflix I have recently become enamored with the world of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  Usually I read a book first and then watch the onscreen version but not this time.  I have a holiday coming up and I’m looking forward to getting a start on reading this series when I am on my travels.

For you Outlander fans, you probably already know about the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook by Theresa Carle-Sanders.  I recently purchased this book on my new Kindle Paperwhite and have enjoyed delving further into Outlander through the kitchen.  Although I haven’t been reading too much.  At the beginning of each recipe is an excerpt from the books that inspired the recipe.  I’m trying not to read those because I don’t want to spoil my upcoming reading project.

So, how is it working with an e-reader for a cookbook instead of the actual book?  It’s amazing actually.  The only thing I don’t like is you don’t get a full appreciation of the artwork that comes when looking at a paper book with colour photos.  But that’s ok.  You still get the photos, they are just black and white.

One thing I like about cooking with the Kindle is the ease of bouncing back and forth in between pages.  No more flipping and looking for pages.  With the Outlander Kitchen book you can be reading a recipe and it references a technique you need to know at the front of the book.  But that is highlighted and you can click on the link and it will take you right to that section.  So easy!

I’m also a bit of a mess in the kitchen, especially when I’m baking because I like to use my hands.  Working with the Kindle means I can prop the recipe against the wall and it shines bright, with it’s no glare, high-resolution 300ppi display screen, back at me for simple reference. I don’t need to worry about turning pages with dough covered hands.

Another bonus of the Kindle, if you have limited space, is that you can store many books and cookbooks in one handy spot.  I understand that paper is sometimes better but that isn’t always an option. A Kindle offers an alternative.

And before I forget, one last thing.  If you like to make companion notes in your cookbooks with recipes, you can do that with the Kindle too.  Margin notes can be added then edited or deleted or even exported to your computer if needed.

So now that I have  Outlander Kitchen on my new Kindle Paperwhite the next step is to get the entire Outlander series.  That should keep me busy for a while.

But in the meantime, Theresa Carle-Sanders has been kind enough to let me share with you a recipe from Outlander Kitchen.  I have never made bannocks before so I wanted to try them.  It isn’t that much different from making my Grandma’s Cream Scones, these are just savoury and grainier.  I enjoyed my bannocks for both breakfast and supper.

Bannocks At Carfax Close


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional

1 cup coarsely ground rolled oats

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold butter

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup yogurt


Move a rack to the upper-middle rung and heat the oven to 400 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Grate in the butter and mix well.  In a separate bowl stir together the milk and yogurt.  Add to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon to make a slightly sticky dough.

Turn onto a floured counter and sprinkle with more flour.  Knead dough lightly five or six times, working in just enough additional flour so that dough is no longer sticky.

Pat or roll into an 8X8 square, about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into twelve rectangles and arrange on the prepared baking pan.  Bake until just golden, 12 to 15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Serve warm or cold with butter, cheese or jam, or beside a bowl of Geillis’ Cullen Skink (or your favourite stew).

Keep in a covered container up to 3 days.

Makes 12.

I have been compensated for this post with various Amazon products, including a Kindle Parperwhite.  However, please note that all opinions are my own.

Granary Road Calgary

I want to tell all my Calgary people about a new place that opened this past summer.  BUT, I’m guessing by how busy it has been the last couple of times I’ve been you know about it already.  That’s ok, I’m going to talk about it anyway.

Yes, it’s Granary Road.  Granary Road is an Active Learning Park for kids of all ages and also a Market full of eclectic vendors and great places to eat.

The Market will be open year round but I wanted to focus a little bit on the Active Learning Park.  Even though summer is just about over the park itself is open until the end of October.  If you haven’t had a chance to visit you can still get your chance.

The park is obviously geared towards kids with the many play areas but there are also interactive learning exhibits for everyone.  Like the Mushroom Meander area, the kids will have fun learning about foraging for truffles while there are tons of fun facts about the different kinds of mushrooms out there.

There is a petting zoo with a variety of farm animals with knowledgeable staff that answer all your questions.  And if you need to let the kids get the wiggles out there are lots of areas for that.

If you don’t have children with you I think you can still enjoy yourself.  Grab a coffee from the Market and go for a walk.  There are moments of peace to be found, you just need to know where to find them.

And of course there is the Market itself.  It’s a huge open space with tall ceilings.  As I mentioned there are some great vendors and places to eat inside.  Instead of trying to talk about all of them here I think I am going to take some time through the months to come to give them the individual focus they deserve.

But in the meantime, here is a sneak peek, because I mentioned it earlier.  The minute you walk in the main doors you will find coffee at The Loft Bakery.  It’s the perfect welcome because you can drink that while you stroll through the Market.  And when you are done that stroll and your Market experience you can grab a snack to go from Calgary Mini Donuts! This is a personal favourite in our family.

So have fun exploring the Active Learning Park and the Market for yourself.  I know we have enjoyed our time there.  Oh, don’t forget to take a selfie in the bat cave!

Granary Road

226034 112th St West
MD of Foothills, AB, T0L 0X0

From most of Calgary travel South to Stoney Trail SE (also known as AB-22X) and go West. Drive West on Stoney Trail until 37th Street SW and turn left going South. Follow 37th St SW south until 226th Avenue W and turn right. Go approximately 1.5 kilometers and turn left onto 112th Street SW and you are there!

Active Learning Park at Granary Road: Open 9am to 5pm every day from April to October and weekend days for special Holiday/Winter events

The Public Market at Granary Road: Open year around Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 9:30am to 5:30pm

Roundup MusicFest 2017 Giveaway – Are You “Hungry Like the Wolf”?

Stampede 2017 is coming my friends.  And you all know what that means, 10 days of boot wearing, midway riding, pancake eating and so much more, cowboy fun.  In all my years of living in Calgary, I don’t think I have seen one Stampede that is like the other.

This year I will get to experience something I haven’t done in a long time, one of the many concerts that happens during the Stampede.  Apart from the acts that perform on the actual grounds themselves, there are lots of other concerts that are happening.  The one I’m particularly excited about is Roundup MusicFest.

This event is happening at Shaw Millennium Park on July 11, 2017.  Of course we are there to let loose but the main reason for this event is to raise funds for the Calgary Military Resource Centre (MFRC).  The main goal of this organization is to provide support to military personnel and their families and the unique challenges they face.  The proceeds from this event will go to support programs and services including prevention, support and intervention service with a focus on mental health, family separation and reunification support counseling and crisis intervention.  This organization serves over 1,800 military and veteran families in Southern Alberta.

So while you are there to support this worthy cause, you will get a few things.  Like what kind of party would it be without the food?  This year, one of my favourite local, meal providers is catering, Made Foods.  While pancakes are a breakfast staple during Stampede, Beef on a Bun is king for dinner.  And that’s what will be on the menu at Roundup MusicFest.  I already know the beef will be delicious, just take a look at one of the take home dishes I enjoyed earlier this year.

Made Foods Calgary

Made Foods Roast Beef

Ok, ok, I know, who’s performing you may ask?  The festivities kick off with Walk Off the Earth, who I know for their hit Rule the World.   Next up is Capital Cities and their hit Safe and Sound.  And the headliner?  Well, my inner teenager will be screaming when Duran Duran hits the stage.

I have several spots throughout my post that you can click to take you to where you can buy tickets on the Roundup MusicFest website.  General Admission starts at $120 plus GST and really that is such good value.  For that amount, you get to see performaces from all three bands, entrance to the Official After Party at the Wildhorse Saloon (yes, I forgot to mention that too!) and of course the Made Foods, Beef-on-a-Bun dinner.

Roundup MusicFest 2017


Another option is to enter my contest.  My friends at Press and Post are allowing me to give away two tickets to you guys.  All you need to do is click on the Rafflecopter link below and it will tell you what you need to do to enter.  When the contest is done I will contact the winner by email.  You will then be required to answer a skill testing (not that hard) question.  I will then forward your email to Press and Post and they will make sure you  get your tickets.

Click here for the link to the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Good luck everyone, I know I am “Hungry Like the Wolf” for this one.  What, too much?  It’s just “The Reflex”!

This post is sponsored and in exchange for writing it I have been given tickets to Roundup MusicFest.  However, all opinions are my own.

British Grocer & Bakery Inc. – Calgary

*UPDATE – Dear friends, today is May 19, 2017 and I just found out that this hidden gem in Calgary is closing it’s retail store.  I am sad to bring you this news because I really appreciated what Shef was trying to do with this space.  However, if you enjoyed BGBYYC’s pies, pasties and sausage rolls you will still be able to find those at the Jolly Good Candy Store, located in McKenzie, at 24 High Street SE.*

Even though I am Canadian, because of my Scottish heritage I have been given the opportunity to try many British treats either through my family or with my trips to the UK.  My Mom, being born in Glasgow, had her favourites too.  She would often request a Fry’s Peppermint Cream Bar as these were her favourite, but me?  Well, I always seem to crave a bottle of Irn Bru and a packet of Prawn Cocktail Walkers Crisps.

I am always on the lookout in Calgary for these treats and due to our large community, there have been many spots throughout the years that sell British import items.

Recently a new shop opened in town, called the British Grocer & Bakery Inc., that can help me with all, and I do mean ALL, of my cravings.  To the point that it is dangerous.  They have everything and it is cheaper than most of the other shops out there.  The thing that is unique is that it has the grocery AND the bakery.

The bakery focuses on savoury and sweet making mostly pies, pasties, cookies and tarts but they do make a variety of other treats based on the season.  Most of the things are available to buy in the fridge or freezer but there is also a takeaway counter if you are there over the lunch hour and want a pasty to go with your bag of crisps.

There is also a small freezer with local meat products, like sausage and black pudding from Irvings Farm.  Even though most of the products in the grocery section are from the UK they do try to support local where they can.

What I really like about this place though is the sense of community.  They really want to provide a service and a product to us all, that is good value.  They even say the more we buy the cheaper the prices go.  They want to pass the savings on to the people who shop in their store.  So my Calgary people, get over there and start buying Curly Wurly’s and Cadbury chocolate so we can all get cheaper snacks!

Seriously though, the shop is a hidden gem.  It is a little off Blackfoot Trail in the Manchester Industrial area but it is not that hard to find.  The way is dotted with signs.  I often find myself going for a visit on Saturday mornings before I go pick up my produce for the week and will pick up some pasties or pies for the evening.  And yes a bottle of Irn Bru and and a packet of Walkers Crisps too.

British Grocer + Bakery
533 Manitou Rd SE, Calgary, Alberta T2G 4C2, Canada
+1 403 245 0809

Monday – Friday: 9am – 5:30pm
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: Closed

Vij’s Indian – The Cookbook

When I was recently asked to review a copy of the newest cookbook to come from the Vij’s brand, Vij’s Indian by Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij, I jumped at the chance.  Even though I don’t cook Indian food often, I did experience one of my best meals ever at Vij’s flagship restaurant in Vancouver a few years ago.  It was a magical night that commenced the moment we sat at our table with a cup of chai.  That chai was a welcome, not only to the restaurant, but also invited us into an evening where food and companionship were intertwined.

Before I received my copy of the book in the mail, I was hoping to see some of the recipes for the dishes I enjoyed that evening and to be honest, I thought that this post would revolve around that.  But what I really want to talk about is the book itself.

This isn’t your typical recipe book.  It does have photos of food and ingredient lists located in the sidebars but what really struck me is the format in general.  This is more like a short story book than a cookbook.  And you all know how I like a good story.

The beginning of the book, like most cookbooks, gives you a heads up as to what to expect when cooking from it, like what spices you will need and why you need them.  Or a feature that I particularly like is the wine pairing section.  Members of the Vij’s team each recommend wines that they like to pair with the dishes that are served throughout the restaurants.

Then you get into the heart of the book, the recipes.  Each recipe begins with a story and each story is different, of course, depending on the recipe.  There is an easy way that the book talks about the partnership between Meeru and Vikram, in their restaurants and in their home.  Why they eat things the way that they do, like why you should eat pumpkin seeds versus sunflower seeds depending on your constitution.  Or what kind of things are popular in their restaurants.  If you have been to Vij’s or plan on going there, everyone will tell you to eat the Lamb Popsicles.  The recipe for the famous Lamb Popsicles is in the book, but with a twist.  It has been simplified so that you can make it for yourself at home.

The thing that is most noticeable in the book is the method for the recipes.  Most cookbooks list the directions in a step by step format, using numbers or bullet points.  Vij’s Indian is different.  The instructions for making the recipe are written together in paragraph form.  Because of that you do need to be careful when making the recipe that you don’t miss anything.  But what I like about this format is it makes it personal.  It’s almost like Meeru or Vikram are in your kitchen guiding you as you move along with the recipe.  It’s a conversation, a give and take.  And it’s that kind of thing that facilitates bringing a little bit of the Vij’s world into your home.

I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make initially from the book.  There is a section near the beginning called Condiments and Complements that contain recipes that you would make before you would even start creating anything else in the book, things like Paneer and Garam Masala.  My best advice is to scan the book and if the recipes you want to make include any of these condiments, make those first.

Ultimately I made the Fruit Chaat which had the Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and the Date Chutney included in the ingredient list.  Both of these recipes were in that Condiment section.  What is really great about making these before hand is that you will use them for more than just that recipe.  For example, I made the Spiced Pumpkin Seeds to use in the Fruit Chaat but they are so good on their own as a snack.  I have also been using them for extra texture and flavour in my yogurt, they really make a difference!  An added bonus is that a number of items in the Condiment section would work well as homemade gifts.

Also included in the Condiment section are a few variations of how to make chai.  You do get the recipe that is used in the restaurant but a few others as well.  It is the original chai recipe that I have decided to share with you.  The chai is thing that draws you in and keeps everything together.  It’s the one constant throughout the meal and the story.  It’s the beginning and the end.

But before I share that recipe with you, I wanted to let you know about an event that is happening this upcoming week.  On Monday, March 27 Calgary’s own Cookbook Co. Cooks will be hosting an evening with Vikram Vij.  The event will celebrate the release of Vij’s Indian as well as Vij: A Chef’s One-Way Ticket to Canada with Indian Spices in His Suitcase.  When I last spoke with Cookbook Co. Cooks there were still tickets available.  The cost is $85 per person but keep in mind that not only do you get to attend the event, you also get the chance to meet Vikram Vij and walk home with a copy of each of the books.  If you are interested in registering, call Cookbook Co. Cooks at (403) 265-0600, ext 1 to book your tickets.  And if you want to know more about the event itself, just click through to the website.

Ok, now that I have let you know about that I will end with the chai recipe.

Vij’s Chai

5 1/2 cups water

12 to 15 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds

5 orange pekoe teabags

6 teaspoons sugar (optional)

3/4 cup whole milk (optional)

Makes 6 cups

Prep and Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes

Set a small bowl and tea strainer/sieve beside the stove before you begin.  In a kettle or pot, combine the water, cardamom pods and fennel seeds and bring to a vigorous boil on high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to boil for another 2 minutes.  Add the teabags and sugar, stir well and allow to boil for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes more, or longer if you like a stronger flavoured tea.

Using the sieve or a large spoon, remove the teabags and place in the bowl.  Add the milk to the pot and continue to heat through for 45 seconds to 1 minute (you don’t want the milk to boil over).  Turn off the heat.  Place the tea strainer over the mouth of a teapot and pour the chai into it.  Or hold the strainer over individual cups before pouring.  Serve immediately.

Calgary Maplefest des Sucres

Growing up, maple syrup, real maple syrup anyway, was almost a foreign concept. I grew up in Calgary where there are very few maple trees. Syrup was in a plastic bottle on the table Saturday mornings with pancakes. Real maple syrup was a treasured tin brought back from our summer vacations to my Mom’s childhood home in Ontario and only used for special occasions.

Photo courtesy of Timothy Wilson Hoey

In a place where the biggest winter event that got people excited was when the next Chinook blew into town, Quebec’s annual Winter Carnival and Bonhomme were things we saw on the news and learned about in French class. And making real maple syrup in a sugar shack? Well, that just seemed like a country far away. Visions of collecting sap and boiling it were vignettes nestled between The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dress-up when we were allowed to watch the beloved CBC. And as a child, when I saw that, the thing I wanted to try most of all was glistening, sweet maple taffy on clean white snow.

Years have passed on, many years in fact, and still I have never made the time to go out east to take part in this very Canadian experience. I will someday.

In the meantime, last year I discovered something that will help me fill the void. It is the Calgary Maplefest des Sucres. This event is held the first weekend of March by the Association canadienne-francaise de l’Alberta, Calgary chapter (ACFA Calgary). The festival is celebrating its 15th year and it supports the ACFA Calgary goal of promoting and developing the local Francophone community.

Last year Maplefest found a new home at Heritage Park, which I think is the perfect venue. With its wide open outdoor spaces and winterized indoor facilities, it is well suited to host an event that has unexpected early warm spring days, like last year, or chilly winter days, like this year. From the moment you arrive at the park you are transported from Calgary to Quebec with a Bonjour/Hello greeting from the multitude of volunteers. And if you want to practice your French language skills this is a good place to do so, they encourage it.

Activities focussing on promoting French culture, or just having fun, are situated in various places throughout the park and they cater to everyone. If you want to sit and listen to traditional music and watch dancers or theatre, you can do that. If you have kids that like crafts, you can do that. If you are like me and have a child that likes to play like crazy outside, hot or cold, you can do that too. And most of all, if you want to eat maple type things you can definitely do that!

When my son and I go we always start at the main Celebration tent and get our pre-purchased maple themed meal. The meal itself is a bit expensive but I don’t mind shelling out the extra cash when I know it goes towards hosting the festival. And who doesn’t want to eat crepes with maple syrup, maple ham, maple style baked beans, maple pea soup and more? Once we eat that we’re ready to go on our way and walk around the park.

Our ending point of the day finishes at my favourite part of the whole festival, the makeshift Sugar Shack. It’s here where I get to go back to being a kid and experience that sweet maple taffy on white snow. When you put it in your mouth it is filled first with cold bits of ice melting on your tongue and then the delicious maple flavour takes over completely.  It is better than I could have ever imagined when I was a child and it is the main reason why I will keep going back.

If you are in Calgary during the first weekend of March take a chance. It won’t be Quebec’s Carnival but sure is a nice substitute.

A very special thank you goes out to artist Timothy Wilson Hoey who allowed me to use an image of his Maple Syrup painting for this post.  He is currently touring Canada with his art show, O-Canada, which features 150 images celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.  I was able to see the show recently when it was in Canmore and it caught my imagination.  Check out his Facebook page for a great walk down Canadian memory lane.