Dining Outside the Home: The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! Authentic Mexican food is as festive as Mexican blankets, wide-rimmed sombreros, and multicolored piñatas. The “Daily Special” boasted Fajitas Al Pastor—crispy chunks of marinated pork cooked with onions and green pepper strips served on a sizzling skillet. Homemade corn tortillas accompanied sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. We ordered a side of refried beans to use as a binding agent once the shells were filled. The finishing touch of habanero sauce sealed the deal with a nice kick of spice. An agave nectar margarita cocktail culminated the entire meal. Bueno!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Positively Popular Poutine! While traveling to Canada recently, I was taken aback by a friendly waitress who recommended a very popular dish on the menu made with crispy French fries, fresh cheese curds, and rich brown gravy. She called it Poutine. Like a deer in the headlights, I was completely frozen at the thought. So I shook my head no, thanked her, and ordered my fries plain. By the end of the meal I was convinced I had missed out on something spectacular. Practically every restaurant listed Poutine as their specialty. Some Poutine platters were loaded with bacon, others chunk lobster, beef brisket, jerk chicken, or sautéed veggies. One place even boasted “Award Winning Poutine” and stayed open til 4:00 a.m. just to meet the late-night cravings of college students. Maybe this dish will catch on, after all.
POSITIVELY POPULAR POUTINE
2 pound bag of frozen extra crispy seasoned crinkle fries
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups cheddar cheese curds, white and yellow
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups beef broth
Fresh parsley to garnish
Preheat oven to 425°. Arrange frozen French fries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste. For the gravy, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not scorch. Whisk together cornstarch and cold water until no lumps remain. Add cornstarch mixture to melted butter, stirring constantly. Gradually add beef broth, continuing to stir until all broth is used. Bring gravy to a boil, as you stir. Allow gravy to boil at least one minute to dissolve thickener. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally. Divide the crinkle fries among serving bowls. Cover each bowl with cheese curds. Ladle rich brown gravy over each portion. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
Surround Yourself with Water at Prince’s Island Park in Calgary, Canada! It has been dubbed an “Island of Dreams” slightly north of downtown Calgary, Canada. Its namesake is Peter Anthony Prince, founder of the Eau Claire Lumber Mill in 1886. What makes this Park so unusual, you ask? First of all, the island began when a channel was dug to transport logs from the Bow River to the sawmill. As the island naturally developed, it became more of a wetland habitat for Canadian geese, mallard ducks, small wildlife, and flocks of birds. Access is limited to only a few service vehicles making it an urban park for recreational hiking, leisurely picnics, energized pedestrians, festive celebrations, and environmental education. Flower gardens and water fountains enhance the lush greenery. Prince’s Island Park is easily accessible by three bridges making it convenient for adventure seekers.
Dining Outside the Home: Murrieta’s Bar & Grill in Calgary, Canada! Are you searching for adventure? Do you have a passion for life? If so, you may have something in common with this restaurant’s namesake located in downtown Calgary. Joaquin Murrieta, a gold rush Robin Hood-like outlaw, was the subject of western fantasy, raiding gold from the rich and sharing with the poor. Still somewhat of an urban legend, his myth lives on within the walls of the renovated Alberta Hotel. Enter on the side street, ascend a winding staircase, and slide onto a seat outside on the second-story terrace overlooking the street activity that seems nonstop. Whether you take a “Happy Hour” mid-day break, meet friends for an early dinner, or dance to the music of late-night bands, it is impossible not to be consumed by the rustic surroundings of Old World tradition.
Just outside the Bow Tower on the plaza in East Village is a gigantic head of a young girl. Could it be Alice with her vibrant dreams and curious mind? This specially designed bent-wire sculpture is one of Calgary’s 56 art pieces located all over the downtown area. Open doorways at the base of the neck make it possible to “get inside her head” for a special vantage point. Check out the architectural curve of the enormous skyscraper. It’s amazing! The Calgary Downtown Association has brochures online showing the location of all 56 art pieces. The self-guided walking tour will keep you mesmerized. Art enthusiasts, locals, tourists, and curiosity seekers won’t want to miss this unmatched opportunity.
Have you ever stood among the clouds? The Calgary Tower offers a spectacular view 626 feet above the heart of downtown. If you walk around the enclosed observation deck, it is possible to see 360°. In one direction, the Canadian Rockies appear on the horizon. In another, the foothills are in the distance and prairies look like patchwork quilts. And then there are the rooftops and street traffic below that can make a child squeal with laughter and a woman feel as lightheaded as being kissed. Not into heights? No worries. The view with two feet on solid ground offers a night glow that is ever-changing from purple, pink, red, green, or blue. On special nights golden moonlight adds a mystical magical allure to the view.
Dining Outside the Home: Hail, Caesar! When you visit a place engulfed in history, it’s not uncommon to hear about its claim-to-fame signature cocktail. Invented in Calgary, yet popular exclusively all over Canada, is the Caesar, also known as a Bloody Caesar. Similar to a Bloody Mary with vodka, spice, and flavor enhancements, the one key ingredient that cannot be excluded is clam juice. It is essential. Mott’s Clamato Cocktail, to be exact. End of story. No matter where you go in Canada, the Caesar is in a class all its own. Every mixologist has their own creation of a bold, savory, made-from-scratch fresh taste combination unique to that bartender. And that is where the fun begins. From a multitude of seasoned rimmers to the grand finale show-stopping garnish, the Canadian Caesar will have you walking away convinced you just experienced uncultivated euphoria.
Beakerhead Brainstorm Hits Calgary, Canada! Mechanical sea creatures, giant motorized robots, walking on water, and hands-on technology are all eye-popping evidence of cultural encounters at the Beakerhead celebration held along Stephens Avenue in downtown Calgary, Canada. This is one time when seeing is believing. Inventors of all ages, as well as nerd busters and scientists, bring engineering to life by giving the public an up-close-and-personal glimpse of the what the genius mind can create. Every September it’s a “Mad, Mad World” where imagination knows no bounds. Join the street party where live music meets illusion for only the cost of curiosity.
Dining Outside the Home: Milestones in Calgary, Canada! Try a trendy new dining experience for Date Night with your favorite squeeze or Girls Night Out to unwind. Get started with a vegetarian appetizer or a signature dish. No matter the choice, they’re all shareable. Rustic sandwiches pair aged garlic cheese with freshly grilled meats and honey sriracha slaw for savior-faire. Or perhaps a pasta bowl of sesame ginger beef and shiitake coconut rice is more to your liking. The choices seem unlimited. And the food photos in the menu have you drooling before the sun dips below the horizon. Sit back, settle in, and wile the night away. Leisure is made for Milestones.