Tag Archives: Food around the world

Eating Escargot in Paris

June, 2013

This morning, my new friend Georgia suggested we go to Sacré Couer, the cathedral on the hill, in the sun, with a gorgeous view of Paris. Good idea! She deduced we could get off at the stop ‘Place de Clichy’ which she didn’t know how to pronounce, and so said, ‘Place de Thingy’. Off we went to the cathedral. We arrived at the correct station, and began our walk.

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The cathedral came into sight and I was in awe. It is beautiful. We stopped at an ice cram stand nearby and bought a few scoops to enjoy on the hill. As we walked up the first steps, Georgia told me to hide my wrists. I was puzzled, but did as she said. We turned the corner and were accosted by vulturous men grabbing at our arms, trying to tie bracelets on our wrists, forcing us to buy them! I kept my head down and my arms crossed. I kept walking and ignoring him, and he finally left me alone. Phew. I checked Georgia’s wrists to ensure she had survived the trip too. Bracelet-less! Double phew! We found a spot halfway up the hill and set up camp. I ate my decadent Parisian ice cream and Georgia had a nap. I watched the people walking by, taking photos, holding hands, kissing, drinking beer, it was so lovely.

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We were both quite hungry, and so grabbed a table on the patio of a cute little French bistro up the hill in Mont Marte. The waiters at this place were the flirtiest bunch I have ever encountered. We came to the conclusion that it is in their job description: clear plates, take orders, brush patron’s hair out of their eyes, constantly wink and smile. We ordered a carafe of Bordeaux.

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Maybe it was the delicious red wine, maybe it was the flirtatious French men, maybe it was just the love in the air. Whatever it was, I was inspired to take the leap and try escargot! The little snails arrived to the table in a funny little dish, and they smelled amazing. You know what? I actually really liked it! How could I not? Anything doused and cooked in that much garlic and butter is going to be an instant hit with me. They tasted kind of like mussels. I was quite pleased with my French wine and my French dish and flirtatious French waiters. We finished our wine and paid the bill. As we left, the waiters grabbed at us, tried to pet our chins, touched our arms, kissed our hands. I was amazed, and totally uncomfortable. We walked past the cathedral and down the hill, guarding our wrists again from the bracelet vultures.

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We found the metro stop and it was time to say goodbye to Georgia. One of the the most amazing things about traveling is how quickly you can make friends, and then as quickly as you connected, they are gone like the wind. I think it is such a magical thing to be able to share a beautiful day or two days, or week, or whatever, with someone, divulge all your dreams and hopes and fears, and then part ways. With a stranger is the safest place to keep a secret

A cheesy day in Alkmaar, Netherlands

April, 2015

I woke up this morning at about 6:30am because the early bird catches the cheese! I rolled out of bed, grabbed an orange and a granola bar, put on clothes and head out the door. I met Rebecka, Line, Tine, and Fanny at Centraal station at 7:30. Phew it was early. It’s my own fault, it was my idea to meet this early. We caught the train and in no time, we arrived in Alkmaar! We were here to partake in the infamous Alkmaar cheese market. We wandered from the train station to the main square. On the way, we found ourselves caught up in a cluster of old people getting off a bus. They were slow moving and seemed to be creaking as they walked. We were able to outrun this gaggle of geezers and we reached the square. It was empty. I felt silly. First of all, I forced my friends to wake up SO early, and second, we dipped and ducked through that hoard of octogenarians like our lives depended on it, only to find there was no reason to rush. Line, Tine, and Fanny decided to go for a coffee, and Rebecka (bless her) and I stood in the front row, waiting for the show to begin.

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It did and I couldn’t stop giggling. We were introduced to the Cheese Father, but I couldn’t figure out why he was called the Cheese Father, or what his significance was other than his orange top hat and silver cane. The 13kg wheels of gouda cheese were loaded onto cheese boards and run from the stacks to the weigh house, then back to the wagons. There were people walking around tasting, examining, and buying the cheese. img_4063

It was such a silly, hilarious event. Rebecka and I were even able to hold a wheel of cheese! We didn’t last for the entire show, because the tourists behind us were becoming very aggressive. One man kept using my shoulder to steady his camera. The woman next to me took around 300 photos. I was being pushed into the gate like I was at a rock concert. We snuck out of the crowd.

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We went to the cheese museum next, so we could have a free piece of cheese, and learn a bit more about the cheese processes. After all the cheese-centric activities, the only thing missing was beer. We sat on a patio boat outside the beer museum, and enjoyed a nice, cold beer.

Today was brought to you by cheese! I just wrote “cheese” 13 times…14 if you include this sentence.

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Fishing in Koh Rong, Cambodia

January, 2014

We jumped on the boat and I said “let’s sit on the side, by the window!” We found four seats, that were not next to the window, much to my dismay, and the boat was off. Now, quick side note: when we booked these tickets the other day, Dermott asked the guy, “is it really rocky? Do you feel all the waves?” The man assured us not, and told us how new the boat was and that, “it really just flies.” Ok. That’s the side note. We were out in the ocean, and the waves were huge! I would even call them tumultuous. (I did, in fact, say to my friends, “these waves are tumultuous!”) Some of the windows were broken too, and the waves splashed into the boat. ALL over a few people sitting by the windows. It was pretty funny to watch, especially because I wasn’t sitting by the window like I originally pouted about.

We arrived to Koh Rong and fell in love immediately. Emma and I looked at each other and without speaking, both took our sandals off. Those wouldn’t be back on my feet until I stepped back on this boat. We rocked up to a hotel and asked if hey had rooms. They had two private rooms left! As luck would have it! $15 a night for one room, it was perfect. Some folks that Dermott and Meghan knew from a hostel earlier in their travels were hanging around the beach! Claire, Amy, and Ben. They invited us to go fishing! After some sun lotion, and some sun baking, we walked to the pier with them and boarded a boat. The skipper, Tillman, loaded the cooler with beer, and off we went.

There I was, boating around a tropical jungle, and untouched paradise. When we went close enough to shore, we could see monkeys sitting on the rocks! We jumped off the boat and had a snorkel. We saw some incredible things. Giant sea urchins with huge pointy black spines, big lip things that are like clams (and might actually be clams) that look like they have huge lips, and when they eat, it looks like someone blowing their lips like a horse. We also saw this weird body rolling organism. It was like a magic carpet fish and body rolled through the water. Again, incredible. And we invented a dance move that mimics the movements of it. I love it.

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After snorkelling, we boated a bit more around the island, and let the anchor go. It was here that we would fish. We fished with spools. It was SO cool. I caught 8 fish! They were only small guys, but we didn’t throw anything back. Emma caught the biggest fish. We boated to Long Beach (the longest beach on the island) and the Cambodian guys from the boat began gutting and cooking the fish. We were each given a plate with a whole fish on it. No utensils. I was in barbaric heaven. There is nothing better that picking at a freshly caught, freshly cooked fish with your fingers. Oh em gee.

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The sunset made the day. I love the fact that though there is a sunset every day, it is still so very magical. I looked at Emma and felt a rush of joy. Look where we are, paradise. One of the most beautiful beaches, with the sun setting over beautiful water, eating a beautiful meal, with my beautiful best friend. How could I possibly be happier? The boat trip home was quick. As I gazed at the moon, and thought about my happiness. I seem to do that a lot, think about how happy I am. I am so happy.

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Eating BBQ at Trolley 5, Calgary, AB

There are so many incredible restaurants in Calgary. Truly, there are. So many, in fact, it is hard to keep up! If ever I wonder where I should go for a meal, there is only one source I trust to send me to the right place— my mother. Mom somehow knows about all the newest, trendiest, and most delicious restaurants in the city. So, naturally, for her birthday, we went to the newest, trendiest, most delicious restaurant on 17th Ave. SW, Trolley 5 Restaurant & Brewery.

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We sat upstairs in the wide-open restaurant, and I perused the menu, my eyes drawn immediately to the barbecue section. I laughed at my dad’s somewhat jokey suggestion of sharing the big barbecue platter, the Pit Master’s Platter, for four people. Mom just rolled her eyes. When the server came over, I asked, “what is Trolley 5 known for?” Her answer was music to my ears, “definitely our barbecue.” Awesome. We talked about sharing a few plates, a few different meats, and maybe a salad (although who are we kidding). In the end, the somewhat jokey suggestion of sharing the Pit Master’s Platter for four ended up being not so jokey, and we told our server this is what we desired. Salad shmalad.

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The platter arrived. Both my dad and my eyes lit up. Chicken, smoked turkey, ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, and cornbread. Holy moly. We made a promise to each other in that moment that we would make sure we took some food home. We couldn’t possibly eat all of this meat. The platter, served alongside Trolley 5’s fleet of house-made barbecue sauces ensured our mouths were watering.

The meal was delicious! The brisket was so tender, it didn’t even require chewing, the cornbread and beans were mouth watering, and the pulled pork was a perfect example of why I am not vegetarian. Sure enough, we could not finish the meal, which relieved mom. We packaged the rest of our meat up and I dreamed about the amazing meals I was going to have the next few days.

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Alongside the ludicrously tasty barbecue, Trolley 5 is the newest brewery in town. Growlers, that hang on the trolley snaking through the restaurant and over the bar are, of course, for sale, and for the true beer connoisseurs, brewery tours are available for booking.

Thanks for the delicious beer and barbecue, Trolley 5!

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Eating Poko Popcorn

Popcorn truly is the perfect snack. When watching a movie, you don’t want your snack to be too loud and crunchy as to over power the sound from your TV— popcorn! When having a few beers with friends, you don’t want your snack to be too salty, or you wake up the next morning with swollen fingers and a numb tongue— popcorn! Riding a bicycle, walking down the street, laying in the sun, paddling a canoe, climbing a mountain, holding a baby, soaking in a bath tub— popcorn, popcorn, popcorn!

Poko Popcorn is the newest snack to ‘pop’ up in our city, and to introduce the hippest and coolest new snack food to Calgary, Poko held a tasting event at National on 17th, where six of Poko’s flavours were paired with local brews served by National. I know, a popcorn and beer tasting event— this is what dreams are made of, people. We met Cam, the man with a dream that one day people could buy popcorn that is air popped, tumbled with flavour, and served warm. I could listen to this man talk about popcorn all day. I have never seen anyone more passionate about snacks in my whole life. We tried six flavours, salt and butter, white cheddar, salt & vinegar, cheesy dill pickle, spicy jalapeno cheddar, and salted caramel. They were paired with six beers, that Natasha Pieskar, the brand manager for National, chose for us.

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We learned that the word “Poko” doesn’t really mean anything, it is just a radical name that’s easy to remember, and fun to say. All the flavours Poko serves were created by Cam and his team. When deciding on the white cheddar flavours, they tested nearly 40 different kinds of white cheddar. All the flavour decisions were made by friends and families. “What do you guys think?” asked Cam, “I love butter,” said one of the attendees.

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The evening was a blur of popcorn, beer, and laughter. Ryan and I ate every last kernel, and drank every last drop. My favourite flavour, the white cheddar, was paired with the delicious Open Road American Brown Ale from Alberta’s own Troubled Monk Brewery. It was like eating a grilled cheese sandwich. “Nothing has the kind of mouth feel this does,” said Cam.

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Poko Popcorn has four locations in Calgary and is hoping to expand across the country— just what Canada needs, more popcorn! So next time you’re craving the perfect snack, do yourself a ‘flavour’ and go Poko.

 

My Day in the Mekong Delta

January, 2014

We were up super early and on the bus to head to Mekong Delta. I don’t think any of us expected the day we were about to have. The boat trip across the water was nice and peaceful. Nghiep, our guide, told us a little bit about the Delta. There are islands called Unicorn, Dragon, Phoenix, and Turtle islands. It was a lovely little trip and we arrived on Unicorn Island in about twenty minutes.

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This lady was making rice paper

First stop: We learned how rice paper is made! It’s a mix of rice, coconut milk, and water, spread over a hot plate like a crepe and then put in the sun to dry. They had samples for us, some flavoured, some crispy, some still fresh. They were all delicious. We each were able to hold a python too! I love the feeling of snakes!

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This is me with a snake

Next, we learned how coconut candies are made. After chopping the coconut open with an incredibly dangerous tool that could slice off a hand, shelling the coconut with a sharp spike that could impale your inner thigh, and feeding the coconut slowly through a grinder that could eat your fingers, the coconut is mixed with sugar and malt. It’s stirred for about half an hour and then set in the sun to dry. They flavour the candies with various things like peanuts, chocolate, and coffee. I had to buy a few ginger ones- they are just too good.

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The terrifying tools used to make coconut candies

We took a row boat down one of the canals to our next stop. The boat was small, and only 4 at a time could fit in. The water was unmoving, the giant palm fronds have us shade, and the only sounds were the water lapping against the shore, a rooster crowing in the distance, and our rower’s oar dipping into the water. It was lovely.

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The beautiful Mekong Delta

Second stop: lunch! After walking through an inadequately secured bee farm, we arrived at a giant table. We all sat around and lunch was served. They brought out a huge cooked fish, and at the table, a Vietnamese woman made us individual fresh spring rolls with rice noodles, pineapple, and cucumber. They were very good. We had really nice battered banana, sour chicken, fried rice, jackfruit, and delicious tea with honey from the bee farm! After lunch we had a chance to all Latin hammocks and digest our food. I forgot how much I love hammocks. I love hammocks.

We took tuk tuks to our third stop. These were unlike any tuk tuk I’ve ever seen. They were converted motorbikes! Front half of a bike attached to a bed of a very small pickup truck! We wore helmets because we drove through a coconut forest, and they don’t want tourists getting bonked on the head. I think it was also because they like to laugh at the tourists with their goofy helmets on.

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Our goofy AF helmets

Third stop: we were given fresh tropical fruit for dessert! Dragon fruit, jackfruit, some amazing fruit of which the name I can’t remember, and the most darling bananas I have ever seen. These bananas made me feel like a giant. They were no longer than my index finger, but short and fat, and the brightest colour of yellow on the inside. Delicious.

Last stop: the pier. We boated in silence back across the water. As we passed more docked ships, I saw a man napping on a hammock ON A BOAT! The water was literally rocking him to sleep. I have to talk to my friends and see if they’ll go in with me to buy a boat and a few hammocks….

I also saw:
Two old men playing Vietnamese chess,
A topless man reading the paper and smoking,
A grandma playing with a new baby,
An overturned motorbike,
A boy sneak a kiss from the girl on the back of his bike,
A game of football being played by young boys in a parking lot,
Two old women using stationary bikes on a playground.

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Dan and Amy looking as lovely as ever in their conical hats

Sitting on an Ancient Patio in Ghent

We arrived in Ghent and instead of trying to figure our the tram system, we decided to walk to the hostel. It wasn’t too far. We wandered through the streets of this delightful little city, awe-inspired by the absurd number of castles we passed. The whole place is so picturesque.

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We began our wandering. And wandering and wandering. We were quite tired, so stopped by the canal and relaxed for a little bit. We took a lovely slew of pictures and selfies. We awed again at the surroundings. Our panoramic view starting from the left included some beautiful canal buildings, next to an old canal bridge, next to more old, stone buildings, a clock tower, a cathedral, an abbey, another SUPER old canal bridge, and another cathedral. Wow.

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You have all heard that saying, “when in Ghent, do as the Ghentians do,” right? So, we had waffles for dinner. They were delicious. Piled high, oh, so high with strawberries, drizzled with melted Nutella, and topped with just the perfect amount of whipped cream. Holy moly, how delicious was that?! I love waffles for dinner.

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You know what I love almost as much as waffles for dinner? Candy for dessert. We bought a bag of typical Ghent candies called Cuberdons. They are little purple sugar cones, filled with goopy purple sugar liquid. Wow. We had one each and I felt a cavity grow in. The only thing I love more than waffles for dinner and candy for dessert, is beer for second dessert. We sat at a patio near a super old stone building, that has probably been there for 400 years, and asked our waitress which local beer she would recommend. She recommended to me, a dark beer, of which the name I can’t remember, but whose percentage was 10%. Rebecka had a blonde of normal people alcohol percentage. I warned the waitress that after one I was going to be drunk. She laughed. I wasn’t kidding.

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We were a little drunk when we left the ancient patio. We wandered by a canal and our breath was taken! The wind had ceased and the water was almost perfectly still. We took about a million photos of the buildings and the water. We both had to pee, so we ducked into a little bar. When we emerged from the washroom, we realized it was actually a really cool place! We decided to stay here for a beer! The snacks on the board were all in Flemish, a language with which I am not very strong. We ordered the snacks that said ten of them came. I like ten of things. All of a sudden, two men began playing jazzy, bluesy music! One guy on a saxophone, and the other on a guitar. Wow! It was so wonderful. Rebecka and I were their biggest fans. No really, we were the only ones clapping the whole time. Soon, it was time to go back to the hostel. Home again, home again.

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Devouring Cupcakes in New York City

January, 2015

We woke up when the alarm went off and were ready in an instant. We turned our tickets in at the hostel kitchen and collected our breakfast- a bagel and an apple. We toasted our bagels, nestled our apples in safe little spots in our purses, and sat in the kitchen, all eyes on us. There we were, Allison looking like a million bucks in her aubergine coat, black high heel booties, with bling peeking out from under her dazzling scarf, and me, with my bright red lipstick, polka dot dress, and beautiful timepiece on my dainty AF wrist, sitting in the hostel kitchen surrounded by a gaggle of your typical hostel kitchen goer. We were well out of place and we loved it.

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We began our walk towards grand central station, and found Starbucks on Park Ave, a few blocks from Grand Central Station. We ordered our drinks and were off. Our Starbucks cups really added to our NY glam. We ducked into Grand Central Station and my breath was taken away. How can anyone walk into this building and not look up?! It’s SO beautiful. We continued to make our way towards the “Rock”. As we walked, we imagined and talked about life would be like as a Manhattan local. Then we heard a huge thud and a guy yell. When we turned around, we saw a bike pizza delivery guy on the ground and an open taxi door. I guess being a Manhattan local isn’t all Sex and the City. We turned the corner and there was Rockefeller Centre! The tree, the skating rink, the giant building towering over us. Incredible. The tree made me feel a little weepy. The Zamboni was resurfacing the ice before the next million people went for a skate. We wandered around and took a few pictures. How beautiful.

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Our selfie with Rockefeller Centre

 

We wondered what to do next, but then saw a man wearing a Magnolia Bakery hat. Allison said, “hey! That man is wearing a Magnolia Bakery hat!” Then we realized he was standing right outside Magnolia Bakery! Without question, we turned to the shop, opened the door, and were inside, drooling. We stood, dumbfounded at the organized chaos that was the Bakery, unsure of where to go. Again, without question, we joined the cupcake line. A man behind the counter told everyone to form an orderly line instead of crowding. We did as we were told. I was happy to abide by these line rules because I ended up with a VIP view of the cupcakes! We salivated with anticipation.

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The delectable cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery

I saw the man drop a cupcake upside down on the display platter. He picked it up, but sighed when he saw the icing was all smushed. He came over to the counter again and said, “who wants a cupcake?” I put my hand up, “ME!” I said with enthusiasm! I honestly thought he meant in general. I thought he was the cupcake enthusiast man, getting everyone pumped up for the cupcakes! I thought he was just managing the line up again, telling all those who said they did want a cupcake to move into an orderly line. But that was not the question. He meant “who wants a cupcake for free because I can’t sell it because I dropped it upside down on the display platter and now it is smushed?” He handed me the smushed cupcake. For free! We ordered our red velvet and our ‘dirty blonde’ cupcakes, and two hot chocolates, because when in Rome. When we went back to retrieve our hot chocolates, the same cupcake enthusiast man came over and began chatting with us. He was thrilled to hear we were from Canada. We told him we would love to ice cupcakes and bake cakes all day. He told us to leave our resumes.
We sat on the edge of a fountain and we ate those cupcakes. Damn they were good. I love red velvet cake because it is often paired with cream cheese icing, which I love. It was only after we finished demolishing the cupcakes we realized we were sitting in front of a highly photographed fountain. We are now featured in the family photo albums of the multiple tourists who visited New York in January, 2015.

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Allison, looking like an advert for Magnolia Bae-kery

Eating Poutine during Poutine Week in Calgary

There are some moments in history for which I wish I could have been a fly on the wall. Like when the first person decided to ride a horse! Was he drunk or just gutsy? Or when they first lit the flame on the Calgary Tower, as the tallest tower in Western Canada. Or when those brilliant folks in Quebec decided to put cheese curds on top of fries and melt it all down with gravy. I, like many other Canadians, are happy those folks did that because we just can’t get enough of it. The world calls it ‘exotic’; we call it poutine. Summer is rapidly approaching Calgary, and what better way to celebrate the upcoming bathing suit season than with an entire week dedicated to the cheesy goodness that is this Canadian classic.

To start off my week right, I went to Flipp’n Burgers with my dad. We ordered their poutine week special, the chilli poutine. It was $9.75 and the least expensive dish on the poutine week website. It was delicious.  A classic poutine— fries, swiss cheese, gravy, and with chilli as an extra. Plus jalapeños and sour cream. I sat there, eating poutine with my pops, drinking our hipster colas from glass bottles and listening to the sweet sounds of the Breakfast Club soundtrack.

I figured poutine number two should be completely different, so Chris and I went to the Coup on 17th Ave. I may be a proud animal byproduct eater and lifelong bacon lover, but I am absolutely not closed-minded. Our server was a little pretentious and not as friendly as we hoped, but we were pleasantly surprised by the poutine. The potato wedges were giant and smothered in mushroom gravy and the smoked tofu “bacon” bits almost tricked me, lover of bacon.

I decided poutine three would be from the other side of the spectrum. I rallied up my four favourite poutine people and we headed to Cleaver on 17th Ave. Cleaver with their house made cheese curds, their treacle gravy, and their whiskey duck. The only problem with this dish was that it had to end. You think you’ve felt heartbreak? Try seeing the bottom of your plate through the duck fat fries. Accompanied by incredible service, and a total adventure of a cocktail list, this was my favourite poutine experience so far.

The week is young! Poutine Week goes until April 23. Go find your fave poutine and indulge in a guilt free snack, for this is more than just a celebration of a delicious dish. In fact, every poutine sold during Poutine Week in any of the participating restaurants provides a free meal to someone in need, thanks to local non-profit Mealshare. “Poutine with purpose.”

Check out the participating restaurants and their menus here: http://www.calgarypoutine.com and let’s talk about it! #PoutineWeekYYC

Eating Village Ice Cream on St Patrick’s Island

On an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in the city, my friend, Chris and I did what any Calgarian would do on an unseasonably warm afternoon in the city: went for ice cream! The city of Calgary has a plethora of ice cream places. My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe in Marda Loop, Peters’ Drive-In on 16th Ave NW for a delicious milkshake, and Amato Gelato in Kensington, just to name a few. This afternoon, Chris and I decided to stay downtown and wandered towards East Village to Village Ice Cream!

We joined the line outside the shop. Honestly, I am not one for lines, (who is really?) but there is something about the line at Village that is unlike any other. A certain buzz flows through the crowd. It’s the kind of buzz that only exists among people about to buy delicious and creamy ice cream. I have a rule that I must try three flavours before ordering – today,  Earl Grey, Chocolate Coconut Milk, and Snickerdoodle. They were all so good, but Snickerdoodle won me over. Usually for me it’s a Cardamom cone at Village, but the Snickerdoodle was just too good to pass up! Chris doubled up his scoops and had Village Vanilla Bean and Snickerdoodle piled high on a freshly pressed waffle cone.

With ice cream in hand, we hopped in the car, motored over to the riverfront, parked by Fort Calgary, and walked across the Skipping Stone Bridge. St Patrick’s Island is a relatively new park in the city that opened its bridges in August 2015. With a giant toboggan hill that doubles as a movie theatre in the summer, a huge playground, and “The Point” which has some of the best downtown and river views, St Patrick’s Island was the perfect place for a stroll and to eat our ice cream. We ignored the looks from the other park-goers when seeing our fingers turning red in the brisk weather. We walked through the trees and along the river, watching the geese slide about on the ice. The sun shone through the branches. It was a magical place to enjoy our ice cream.

As the sun went down, it began to feel a bit more like February. We walked back to the Skipping Stone Bridge as I took the last bite of my cone. Perfect timing! Thanks for the ice cream and the beautiful walk in the park, Calgary!