Sunday, December 5, 2010

Eating Everything in Edmonton

I was in Edmonton for a week in November. It was probably the coldest weather I have ever experienced. It was -34c when I arrived and stayed that way for the first two days. We decided that the only way to beat the cold was to find some good food and really enjoy our meals there.

My first step was to ask my Twitter followers where I should try in Edmonton. I was directed to a blog which had a great list of restaurants in Edmonton. I decided to use this blog as the starting points and go from there. As it turns out, we got to try three of the restaurants recommended and loved all of them. Here are some photos and comments about the ones that we tried.

Skinny Legs and Cowgirls - "A sort of bistro"

I decided to try this one mainly because of the name. I decided that anyone that named a restaurant like this would have to be creative and original. I was right. On the outside, it was a tacky sign and looks like a very low end restaurant. As you walk in, the atmosphere is amazing and the staff is very welcoming. We went on a slow night so we got to chat with our server (Amy) about the food, wines and beers. They use organic food and local wines and beers. It turns out that her and her mother own the place and really take pride in all the aspects of the restaurant. At one point we ordered a beer that they were out of in the bar. She sent someone to the liquor store to pick some up for us.  Not necessary but definitely appreciated.

We ordered the three cheese salsa bake, mussels and house salad to start. The salad was anything but 'house'. It had candied pecans, pears, beets and blue cheese. We decided it was an 'epic' salad.

For the mains, we ordered the mixed grill which included stuff like bison ribs, lamb and beef tenderloin. It was also loaded with amazing vegetables. I love sharing platters so this meal was really a hit for me. Everything tasted amazing and we weren't stuffed after it was said and done. I would highly recommend this one.

Skinny Legs and Cowgirls Website and Menu

Epic house salad

Grilled Mix Sharing Platter
Wildflower Grill - "new Canadian cuisine"

We had a work event one night that ended at 8:30 and only provided apps for us. We decided to check out this restaurant as it was walking distance from downtown. It is very classy inside but not overly expensive. We weren't too hungry so we ordered a bunch of apps and shared them among three of us.

We tried the Gnocchi, Scallops & Prawns, Braised Beef short ribs and seared tuna. The presentation was really well done and made trying each dish that much better. They serve you a fresh warm bread in a measuring cup to start which was very original.

Wildflower Website and Menu

Warm bread in measuring cup

Seared Tuna

Braised Short Rib

Gnocchi with sweet pea puree

Culina Mill Creek - "Creative comfort food"

This one was a little out of the way from our hotel but we used our great smartphone GPS apps and got there on time.  It was another slow night and the place was very quiet inside. I think we might have been a little too loud for this crowd. It had a nice, dark atmosphere and very creative washrooms with tons of mirrors. The menu was small and very unique, which I think are two very important things for a restaurant.

We ordered the Persian Platter, Truffle Popcorn, Duck Hot Dogs and butternut squash soup to start. The soup was amazing and the other apps were good too. The popcorn was just normal popcorn with a light drizzle of truffle oil. It was very greasy and I think we were all expecting something way more exciting. I'll include some images of the mains below. All were very good but they were very big portions.

Culina Mill Creek Website and Menu

Duck hot dogs

Phyllo wrapped goat cheese

Alberta Beef with blue cheese and chocolate sauce + mash

Pork Tenderloin Steaks with spicy chimmichurri sauce and couscous

Honorable Mention:

Hundred Bar and Kitchen - We had lunch here one day. They offer a bunch of different sliders that all looked delicious. I asked if I could get a combo of all three (one of each). They agreed and what came was amazing! There was one Kobe Beef Burger, one Lobster BLT and one Kobe chili hot dog.

Trio of sliders

Rickys - Yes, it is a chain. Yes, it is a lot like other diners. But, wow, it always delivered great breakfast when we needed it badly. Make sure to try the stuffed hash browns. It includes shredded potatoes, bacon, cheese, sour cream and green onions. Thanks Rickys!


Not pretty, but much needed.

Tiny Tims Donuts (or Tiny Toms depending where you go) - These greasy little donuts come hot in a brown bag and are soooo yummy.

Sherlock Holmes Pub - Pub fare if you want that sort of thing. But I recommend it for having some pints with friends. Live music Thurs-Sat and very small intimate atmosphere that makes for a great pub. I try to stop in every time I'm in Edmonton. There are photos on the wall from the 80's of Gretzky, Ron MacLean, Tom Green, etc. If you go, make sure you check out Gretzky's mullet and Ron MacLeans head of hair!

Japanese Village - We had Teppanyaki one night and it was very yummy. I won't include a write up as it was a lot like other one's that I have been to in the past. A little disappointing since they wouldn't do the egg trick or the onion volcano. (even though we asked many times, haha)

Thats all! Let me know what you think and happy eating!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Surfing in Canada

It had been six years since I had been to Australia. I spent a year over there working, traveling and learning to surf. Over the six years since I have been home, I have only been surfing twice. Once on a long road trip to Cape Hatteras and earlier this year on a trip to Hawaii. Since I was going to be in the Victoria area, I called the girls I surfed in Australia with and asked if they were interested in a trip to Tofino. That was all it took. We were booked for a 3 day girls surf trip.

We booked into a little surf shack (actually called that) near Chesterman's Beach. It had one bedroom, a couch, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and a HOT TUB! Since surfing in Tofino is so damn cold, the hot tub is the key ingredient to any trip.

We rented full wet suits and boards from a place in town and took off for the ocean. My friends would fall into the 'good' category for surfing and I would fall into the 'beginner' category. They did a great job and caught some waves while I practiced my paddling skills by the shore.

One of the best parts of the trip (aside from surfing and hot tubs) was the fish tacos! There is a little truck called Tacofino in town and the tacos are incredible. My favourite was the Tuna taco made with Ahi Tuna and a mango salsa and wasabi. I can't remember all the ingredients but they have some amazing stuff there. We got ginger cookies for dessert.

If you don't mind slightly cold water then get your butt to Tofino as soon as possible for an amazing vacation in Canada.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nuit Blanche 2010 - Toronto

The Nuit Blanche experience this year proved to be a great night. The rain held off and the crowds certainly came out in full force. I don't have a lot of 'culture' in my day to day life so this night is always a very interesting experience. Since I really enjoy photography, I use this night as a way to take photos of some interesting art projects that I wouldn't usually have access to.

We started our night on Bloor st around 8pm and couldn't believe how many people were out already. We walked down Bloor and then hit Yorkville and fueled up with Starbucks. After that, we hopped on the TTC and got out at Yonge and Dundas square. We walked down Yonge, through the crazy crowds all the way to Front St. Now it was about 2am and we decided to take a pit stop at home. We finished the night at the Distillery where the crowd had really thinned out.

After 10 hours, 2 coffees, 1 subway, chinese food and A LOT of walking, here are some photos from the night. To see the full album of photos, go here:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fiji - A week of island hopping

I booked a trip to Australia for a year and decided to take a week in Fiji on my way home. The travel agency was really trying to push stop overs in Fiji so I went with it. I'm not sure why they were but it sounded like an awesome idea. I would fly in to Nadi and have 7 days and 6 nights to hang out. I was going alone so I went with a backpacker travel company called Awesome Adventures.  

I chose to visit 4 islands over 7 days. A huge yellow boat comes and picks you up and goes for hours before arriving at the Yasawa Islands. You exit the boat in the morning after breakfast at the island you choose for that day. This is usually an interesting process since the huge yellow boat can't get close to the island since they are so remote. You are put on a tiny boat and then have to walk through the water a bit to get to land.

The local play a welcome song on each Island...
Each island has only a few people staying there, anywhere from 10 to 30 for each given night. When you arrive, they stand at the edge of the beach and sing a welcome to you. You stay in small huts and sleep on bunks like at camp. The locals make you all three meals and they definately aren't the best meals but each island makes something different and it's local food. They also offer simple activities during the day like bracelet making from the local women. Each island is staffed my Fijian families who have lived there for years.

View on hike to the Blue Lagoon

Most of the days are spent sitting on the beach, lying in a hammock, snorkelling and just hanging out. Each island as something different. One of them has a long hike over the island and you end up at the stop where they shot the movie, The Blue Lagoon. On the hike back, we ran into one of the locals who had climbed a tree to get a coconut. He cut it open with a machete and we enjoyed some fresh coconut. We did the hike back at midnight and we saw the most amazing sunset from the middle of the island on a huge hill.

Beach-side massage. Yes please.

My favourite island was called South Sea Island (in title pic). The entire island was the size of a baseball diamond. (Just let that sink in...) It had one large hut that everyone slept in. There was also an outdoor eating area and a pool in the middle of the island. There was sand all around it and you could snorkel all around and see amazing fish. They had a great fresh outdoor buffet and the staff sang and played guitar as you ate. They had a small bar inside and play music at night as well. There were amazing sunsets and the best thing was the beach side massages.

Click here for more Fiji photos (worth the click!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

BuskerFest in Toronto

Tonight we went to check out Buskerfest in the St.Lawrence Market neighbourhood in Toronto. There are about 5 different buskers doing shows every hour covering everything from singing to clowns to fire throwing. Most are very entertaining but you have to be there very early or be very tall to see anything. As you can see from the title of my blog I'm not the tallest person out there. If you aren't able to sit on your parents shoulders then forget seeing most of the entertainment. The other issue is the actual 'busking' and asking for money from the crowd.

Since these entertainers aren't paid by the event, they rely on donations after they preform. Several of the shows we watched were very pushy when asking for money and spent a lot of their show talking about it. It kind of ruined the mood, but I guess that is what busking is all about.

There were two parts of the event that really stood out for me. The food and the crazy amount of children on their parents shoulders. I found out that the best view in the house was definitely on someone's shoulders. I think the event organizers should consider building some sort of staging area for them to stand on so they are visible to more than one row of people. I know it would ruin the whole 'street busking' feel but I think once you have corporate sponsors you should consider making the festival a little more friendly for the public. The choices for food were great. Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, gyros, hot dogs, thai food, crepes, fajitas, poutine, corn on the cob, funnel cake and much more. It was like the CNE but without the overpriced cover charge.

More info:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


We decided to check out the 'zorbing' at Horseshoe Resort by Barrie, Ontario last week. They were opening their new adventure park on July 1st for Canada so thought it would be a great activity with my nieces. The line up was huge and since it was opening day the organization was horrible in the park. I assume since then things would have improved.

They got the Zorbs from New Zealand where it has been going on for years. Some great You Tube videos if you Google it. Not all of the parts had arrived in time for the grand opening, hence the long lines...

We bought the 'play-all-day' pass and went straight to the zorbs. The line up for a trip down the hill was about 45 minutes but we stuck it out since we had driven all the way there. You get in the giant orb with 1-3 people of any age and they fill it with about a foot of water. They zip it up and push you down a hill. The effect is something like being inside a giant washing machine and you are the clothes. It is a little scary at first but I'm also afraid of roller coasters so I wouldn't take my word for it.

I would recommend going to check it out but go early to avoid afternoon line ups.

Check out the video here:

The Zorb track at Horseshoe

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Day in Cozumel

So I had 48 hours to spend in Playa Del Carmen with a friend I met from Texas so we decided to spend one of the days in Cozumel. We took a 10am ferry from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel, its about $20 USD for a round trip.

We rented a scooter from one of 100's of booths when you get off the ferry. It was about $30 USD for the whole day. They gave us a map and highlighted some of the cool things to check out. We headed out to Chankanaab which is one of the best snorkeling spots apparently. When we got there we found out it was set up like an amusement park type place with $20 USD admission and various costs for snorkel equipement. When you rent equipement you get a free locker so that was good. We headed out and found a few fish but had to look for quite awhile before we found spots filled with TONS of fish.
Jon with a statue

There are also statues at the bottom on the ocean that you can look for those and take some cool pics with them. Jon from Texas was a little more adventurous than me so he checked out the statues and I took his word for it. The photos below will really show what the snorkeling was like.

Me and the scooter!

Next, we headed, or should I say 'scooted' back to the main town for some lunch. I got a recommendation from a friend to check out a locals spot called La Choza. Since it was a little off the beaten path (and very damn street is a one way) this took us quite awhile. Finally we found it and had a great lunch of soup, fajitas, and beers. They bring out fresh natchos and spicy cheese sauce when you sit down and it is sooo good. We were too full so couldn't try the avocado pie for dessert. I will always wonder what avocado pie tastes like.

La Choza

We asked the waitress where the best spot to hang out before the ferry and she suggested No Name Bar so we headed over there. This place is hidden from street is a little alley. You go in and find a huge back hotel with bar, beach, hammocks, pool and tons of people swimming and partying. It is owned and operated by an ex cruise ship crew member.  He started it for crew members who were in town for the day and looking for a place to relax. We hung out, swam and rested in hammocks for an hour and then went back to ferry.

No Name Bar

Scooter guy said that the people who came in after us to rent a scooter had it break down on them. They were stranded on the street and I think had to walk back. We were very lucky our scooter worked well all day. Scootering is definately fun.

Oh and it was damn hot. 41C with humidity. wow. The sunset on the way home was incredible, a HUGE red glowing sun over the ocean. Too bad my camera didn't capure it nicely.