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December- Still Going…

What a way to kick off December, the Christmas season, than with a birthday! Any excuse for pizza is a-ok with me.

8 Mile Pizza (Instagram? BlogTO?): this might be a record for closest (read: laziest?) delivery. It’s at Yonge & Bloor. Detroit-style pizza is quickly becoming a fan-favourite in this household. It has already, unquestionably beat out Chicago-style for best pan pizza. It was barely even a contest. We ordered two pizzas, one with double-cheese. At the time I loved it, it was so good and so cheesey and just made me so happy. By the time I was trying to sleep, bloated and gassy as hell, I kind of questioned my motives. Still worth it. The pepperonis on both were good. We’ve confirmed that honey and jalapeno make for a winning combo. We were pretty sure after having Blondie’s pizza, but it’s best to confirm with other sources, just in case. Was it as good as Descendant’s Pizza? Not quite. But I may have to do a side-by-side comparison when I am ready to eat pizza again. The thing about Detroit-style is that it leaves you satiated and full, your pizza meter will be off the charts and you need some rest after.

Dasha: I was excited about a Michelin-starred chef’s take on Chinese food. We had enjoyed our dinner at Akira Back so I had high hopes. Oh man was it good. The fried noodles were exactly as expected, I kept going back for more platefuls. The crispy duck was perfect. When the night ends with a too-full stomach and regrets about the last plate, you know it was good.

Mamakas Tavern (Toronto Life top 100): for a while they were never available but finally our luck changed. The tea brined chicken was perfect, the skin was crispy and the tea flavour was just right. The charred octopus on orzo was delicious, but the little pieces of octopus mixed in somehow fell flat. It was really weird how different the two were, drastically so. The meatball was more of a mini meatloaf, no complaints here, it paired perfectly with the tomato sauce. I especially like the little hint of cumin in it. The root vegetable that I thought was a potato (until I cut into it and it was hard) I could do without.

Fresco’s Fish and Chips (BlogTO?): you know things are bad when the best part of the meal is the chips. They should maybe consider only selling fries, because those were some fo the best of the year. The coleslaw was also really good. The breaded haddock left much to be desired, the breading was not crispy enough, and just bad in some bites. The shrimp po’boy, the main event, the reason I first heard of this place. Where to even begin? DON’T ADD CHEESE TO A SHRIMP PO’BOY. It does not make any earthly sense whatsoever. It does not add, in fact it detracts. No. You just don’t do that.

UPDATE: I did it! I successfully made salmon, turkey and ham for Christmas! We feast into the New Year! 🎉

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2020 in Fooding From Home

 

November Eatin’

Cabano’s Comfort Food (blogTO): earlier in the week Brent had ordered from Rudy’s for his cheat day. Everyone is crazy for Rudy’s, the orginal smash burger in Toronto. Nope. It was as bad as the first time. For our Saturday-cheat-day redemption was necessary. We got a Cabano burger (a smash burger with deep-fried jalapenos), fries and a fried chicken sandwich. The burger, my oh my! THAT is what a smash burger should taste like!!! The jalapenos were the perfect addition. The fries were crispy and perfect. The fried chicken sandwich, that one threw us through a loop. It was awful! Night & day. It made me wish we had ordered a cheeseburger instead.

Mary Brown’s: not sure that this counts as fooding, it was more like “here’s a fried chicken fast food place that opened up near us and we’ve never had it.” Coleslaw, good. Thai chicken bites, good. Regular chicken sandwich? Doesn’t compare to all the rest out there, womp womp. The buffalo chicken sandwich was pretty good. The gravy and “taters”-that-are-actually-wedges were a delicious combo. Curiosity satiated? Yes.

Imanishi Japanese Kitchen (Toronto Life top 100): we had cleared out many of the top contenders and are approaching the middle-bottom, and it’s starting to show. We ordered a bento box, sashimi and ribs. Nothing was that impressive. The ribs were good, the sashimi was good (can’t really screw up raw fish without it being obvious, in which case we wouldn’t have even eaten it). Bonus points for real wasabi. Inexplicably the bento box had potato salad. The salmon was ok but honestly I could make something better at home. The rice was just bad, I skipped it after my first forkful. The dessert was a packaged flan from Japan. The flavour was good, caramel and vanilla but oh dear god that texture. Not. For. Me. Shocker, this place did not rank that highly on our list, somewhere to the bottom of the middle?

General November update: I’ve made a solid dent in the 20kg of flour, having used at least 1/3? Toronto has gone into more lockdowns, but not a full shutdown. Work continues, but attention has shifted to massive-mega-Christmas planning. My first Christmas without family, where I am in charge of our household plans. Cue stress baking/cooking! I have lofty plans.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2020 in Fooding From Home

 

October- We’re Back!

October- We’re Back!

Fooding took a break during September, half the month we were away on vacation and it just worked out that way the rest of the month. Cases are spiking, new records are being broken, restaurants are open but we still order to our home.

Uncle Ray’s: I saw this one on BlogTO and was immediately enamored with the idea of Nashville hot fried chicken. My brain seemed to have dropped the hot part and focused solely on the fried chicken part. No mind that Uncle Ray’s version was listed as “triple hot” with three different elements adding heat to the chicken. All I heard was fried chicken and pork fat. It was too hot for me. I tried, I really did. I kept going back and nibbling but it was too much. Maybe if the chicken itself had been better? There were bites that were just grease and nothing else. Other times all I got was breading. The chicken had been beaten flat, the ratio of breading to meat to grease was off. The shrimp po’boy had sounded so good, how could we go wrong? The shrimp wasn’t breaded, instead it drowned in mayonnaise. The bun. Oh god, the bun. It was a disaster, it was a cheap hotdog bun. Gimme a crunchy Kaiser-style roll. The standout winner was surprisingly the biscuit with the hot butter honey. It was the right amount of spicy and so soft but with a crunchy exterior. If all biscuits were like this then maybe I would like biscuits. The super-close second place winner was the pecan tart, it was short and didn’t have as much filling as a traditional tart- but in this case it really worked well, it wasn’t overly sweet.

Not a great start to October.

Patria: I can’t remember why this was on our list anymore, but it was finally actually available on order! As opposed to previously when they said they’d be available but weren’t. At least we still had our order choices written down from last time. Now this was a good meal! October had been turned around. The cornish hen was delicious and a bit Thanksgiving-y so that was nice. It even had crouton and peanut stuffing, albeit on top. The shishito peppers were perfect (as one would expect). My only complaint was not enough mushrooms in the mushroom paella which was really more of a rice dish (it was still good, don’t get me wrong). They threw in a bonus seafood appetizer and those were some of the best clams I have ever had, the mussels and shrimps were also really good. I went back for seconds and thirds.

COAST (BlogTO): All of the rules, I threw them out the window. Rather than ordering from a place that had been on the list for a while, I got super excited about a new “ghost kitchen” from the people behind Rock Lobster as well as other renowned seafood people. Heck yes! Smash burgers are currently trending, why not throw some lobster on top? I was a bit skeptical, going into it with low hopes. But it was surprisingly good. Not the best burger I have ever had, but certainly the best surf n turf burger and I would happily eat one again. The chowder was a bit thin, but chowder is always good. The garlic toast on the side, it was really more of a basic toast. I legit had no idea it was supposed to be garlic toast. I had a bite of Brent’s Nashville hot shrimp sandwich, it was good, the spiciness was slow. But in the end, even with the slight Doritos taste to it, it was too spicy for me. The fries were a let down, but that’s what you get when you order fries for delivery. It is going to be a looooooong time before we eat a perfect fry dish again.

Grandma Loves You: (Toronto Life): a relatively new addition, both to the Toronto food scene and to our list, it just so happened that we were walking by on our way home during the lunching hour. Except they didn’t have any time slots until later in the day for pickup. Delivery to the rescue! The sandwiches arrived just after we got home. We had one hot sandwich on a sub bun and one cold sandwich on German rye bread. The hot sandwich with grilled sausage and veggies and house sauce was the clear winner. The ham & cheese was also really good (once the offending tomatoes had been removed). The chocolate croissant, oh boy, I would love to eat these every day. A soft buttery croissant, cut open and filled with Nutella and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yes please!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2020 in Fooding, Fooding From Home, Uncategorized

 

Cross Canada- Day 15+16

Sat. Sept. 12, 2020
Iron Bridge, ON to Collingwood, ON

Breakfast was so nice and relaxing, sitting on the screened-in porch playing ACNH and eating the pecan danish I had (smartly) purchased the day before for breakfast. Even if I didn’t have coffee, which would have made it perfect. The guy in the cottage next door was out on the dock fishing even though it was raining. At the Timmie’s in Blind River I got a pumpkin spice latte and walking back to the car I saw that there was a produce stand across the street. I got potatoes, zucchini and corn. Alas they didn’t have leafy greens. The perks of driving home from vacation are that I can load up the car. We stopped in Sudbury at the Big Nickel but for some reason I did not think it was as cool as the big loonie, even though this one was actually made of the same material and more renowned. The Science Centre where the nickel was situated was also closed. The car was really struggling at this point, stressing us both out. We just had to make it back. We had one final stop at Tim Horton’s, where they had a DQ that was closed (argh!), before getting to Collingwood where we overnighted. Sunday Sept. 13 was spent driving home, going very slowly down the DVP and just hoping that the car would make it.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2020 in Travel

 

Cross Canada- Day 14

Fri. Sept. 11, 2020
Schreiber, ON to Iron Bridge, ON

The pizza which we had haphazardly crammed into the fridge was too frozen for my liking. There was NOTHING on TV. At least I had a chocolate Pop Tart to assuage me. We stopped at Aguasabon Falls & Gorge. It was very pretty but the early sun was right above the horizon, the sun was right in our eyes. The pictures didn’t do justice to the view: the waterfall down to the river between the gorge and the lake off in the distance. We only had one activity planned for the day: see the giant loonie monument.

Playing ACNH in the car I realized that the previous day Redd had been at my island I had forgotten to go back for art, the game was starting to fade for me.

We stopped at Tim Horton’s in Wawa, I needed a big cup of tea. Even still, the driving slowly lulled me to sleep. As per usual I suppose.  We stopped in Sault Ste Marie for a late lunch and we picked up a pizza for dinner as well. We had no idea what our dinner options would be in Iron Bridge and who could say no to Toppers Pizza?  Especially when I could order ahead and just pick it up. Mr. Sub really hit the spot and I was becoming a convert. I was also craving ice cream but we had already passed two DQ’s and the timing had not worked out. I was seriously considering going into the gas station at our next fill-up to get an ice cream bar. My case was not helped by dehydration.

The loonie monument was in Echo Bay and it wasn’t much of a detour. It was good to get out and stretch, plus I am a sucker for giant things. We were staying in tiny lakeside cottages just outside of Iron Bridge. It just sucked that it was a smidge too cold for sitting outside. We tried for a bit but then had to retreat back indoors after we finished eating pizza. It was a classic cottage and made me nostalgic for Tiny, a small bedroom, an old plaid fabric couch, fake wood-panel walls and a curtain instead of a door. We drove to LCBO but it was closed, apparently small town LCBOs close at 6pm.

The sky over the lake at sunset was very pretty. I stepped out to look at it and take a picture but it was too cold and there was good TV on. We had Frasier, Jeopardy and Seinfeld. There was basketball on at 9pm so I switched over to ACNH because there was a meteor shower happening. I multi-tasked and read my book only clicking for stars and praying no scorpions showed up (unless I was looking, then yes please by all means step into my net). I tried to shower but it was horrible (classic cottage!), it was super hot then it was super cold. It was impossible to manage, add to that the fact that there were no towels. It was rough.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2020 in Travel

 

Cross Canada- Day 13

Thurs. Sept. 10, 2020
Thunder Bay, ON to Schreiber, ON

I woke up at 8:44am and rushed and scrambled- I needed coffee and breakfast was not served after 9am! I resorted to eating my yogurt with a fork because there was no spoon in the bag and I didn’t have a spare one in my purse. I was so glad I had stopped at that fruit stand, fresh fruit for breakfast was such a rarity on this trip. It was still too cold outside so we bummed around the hotel for a little bit, I had time to read and futz about on the internet.

We drove to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. We stopped at the parking lot of one of the smaller trailheads because the sign said we could get parking permits there (good thing we did, I saw them checking later). The trail was 11km one-way, aka no-way for me. I went as far as my legs would take me which was around 5km and then I turned around while Brent went on. On the way we had seen a small group of young ground birds (pheasants? grouses?), they were all walking around peeping, it was very cute. They weren’t sure what to do about us traipsing through. They were still there on my way back, still peeping. I saw a woodpecker doing his thing, hammering away at a tree, looking for a snack. I passed a squirrel sitting on a stump, as soon as he saw me, he just started screaming at me, he even started to run towards me. He was so aggressive. After a long while of walking I started to doubt myself, had I somehow managed to get lost on this turn-around-and-walk-straight-back-the-way-you-came trail?? I didn’t have cell service so I couldn’t bring up a map and just as I was really starting to doubt myself, I saw the entrance to the trail.

I settled down on a picnic bench, I had my notebook and the Switch and a semi-cold Okanagan cider. I could hear rustling in the woods behind me and there was a squirrel eyeballing me and I legit considered moving after my last experience. I really thought Brent would take longer but it only took him 4-hours round trip. That just cemented my “nope” feelings about the whole trail. Especially hearing about the steep parts later on.

Leaving the park, we saw a fox walking along the side of the road. Brent slowed down and rolled my window down but I was too slow grabbing my camera and I missed my opportunity. The fox, unafraid of people, was now approaching the cars on the other side of the road. It was sad to see. We stopped in Nipigon to (finally!) see the smallest Canadian Tire. I was unimpressed, it was bolstered on either side by a garden centre and an auto centre. That was cheating, I wanted one tiny squat building. It looked too big and was kind of a let-down. We stopped at the overlook on the edge of town. There was a staircase up to an overlook but it was those metal stairs that are more like grating and you can see through them. It was a slow panicky climb to the top. From the top we had a view of the Nipigon River and landscape that inspired the Group of Seven painters. They even had a fake easel set up in the grass with an information panel.

We didn’t pass any food on the way to Schreiber. Google said that there was a KFC + Pizza Hut combo in Schreiber but when we pulled up it was a motel. I was ready to give up but Brent pointed out that there was a Pizza Hut. It was a tiny little outpost sharing space with the motel lobby. THIS was more impressive small-size-wise than the Canadian Tire. There was no KFC but that was ok, their version of a “famous” chicken sandwich could wait. We ordered the meat lovers pizza but they were out of bacon so she offered extra pepperonis. It was also the busiest one-person Pizza Hut I had ever seen. We placed our order and headed down the road to check in to our hotel. Continuing in the small-town vein, our motel check-in was actually in convenience store adjoining the motel. At least I found cookies & cream Twix and birthday cake Hershey’s and some soda while Brent checked in, so it was convenient. From afar our motel looked more like the Pizza Hut (red pointed roof) than the actual Pizza Hut. We barely rolled into the parking lot. The car had started giving us trouble, randomly shutting off and flashing warning lights on the panel. We were so close to being done vacation it just had to get us back.

It took a bit of finagling to get the cable to work (I had to change some inputs on the TV). We were eating super cheesy pizza while watching You Gotta Eat Here about deep-dish pizza in Hamilton. It was borderline too much to handle, especially as I was getting full of pizza. After that we watched Frasier and Seinfeld, with reading during commercials. I finally got my tea fix, we had a coffee maker in the room and I had remembered to bring in my tea. The apple spice tea from Banff was perfect. It was frustrating but I finally beat Bowser in Mario Odyssey. A lot of swearing but in the end I did it.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2020 in Travel

 

Cross Canada- Day 12

Day 12: Wed. Sept. 9, 2020
Winnipeg, MB to Thunder Bay, ON

Driving through Winnipeg, while it had some rough parts, was actually really nice. We drove by the legislature and through downtown.

We were almost caught up on Giant Beast Cast and Giant Bomb podcasts so Brent downloaded some Comedy Bang Bang episodes he thought I might like and so he tricked me into listening to the Monster F*ck. I was suspicious why he had chosen an episode that had guests I’d never heard of (as opposed to someone like Jason Manzoukas, who I like). It was only when they got to the song that I realized I had been played.

ONTARIO!!!

We stopped in Kenora instead of taking the by-pass. I finally got to see Huskie the Muskie. It was not what I was expecting, I thought it was going to be a replica of a real fish that had been caught. Not a “keep our lake clean” gimmick. It was not the legendary fish I had been hoping for. I mean it was a really pretty lake but come on! Searching for somewhere to have lunch I saw on the map that there was a place called Bob’s Burgers. We had to go there! We got there right at open and the tables were already filled and it was all locals. No distancing, few masks. It was a tight space and not that comfortable. My only thoughts were: the food is almost ready then we can get out of here. We had to get the “bob” burger, it was pretty good but Brent’s burger was way better it had lettuce and good smoky bacon. The fries were total burger joint fries, it made me nostalgic for childhood and going out for lunch.

On the Giant Bomb podcast, they were talking about how you can get a framed photo of your villagers in ACNH and I just kept shouting WAIT WHAT!? No one told me about this! I would have been nicer! I couldn’t resist, I had to play in the car. I had to get to the bottom of this. It didn’t last long. Sleep soon overtook me, apparently, I was even snoring? The non-existent Shell station dashed my hopes of Sunny D (my latest craving) and a quick leg stretch. Soon we were back in Eastern standard time, goodbye to those two hours we had gained on our trip.

It was a long day of driving and somehow, I was tired even though we hadn’t really done anything. Losing that last hour also made me (inexplicably) sleepier. We were staying in a literal courthouse, I thought that was just the name of the hotel but nope it had formerly been courts. We were staying I what I imagine were once judge’s chambers. We wandered around a bit and poked our head into the courtroom (now the dining room during normal times). The stupid vending machine was sold out of almost everything and I had to settle for diet Pepsi. The sun was starting to slowly set, right at angle to blast me in the face as I tried to sit on the bed. It was not good for my mild headache that I was trying to keep at bay. We ordered from Man vs Meat on Skip The Dishes, another best of. We split a Caesar salad, Brent had a chicken parm and I had a Christmas turkey sandwich. The turkey sandwich was ok, the stuffing was a bit soggy and the turkey was lost in the cranberries. The real winner was the Caesar salad (or I was desperate for veg?). Our TV had no guide and the channels didn’t match the descriptions. In the middle of watching something the channel became unavailable, it was irritating. I finished reading The Husband’s Secret (I’m ashamed how long it took me) and started on Pretty Bitches. I alternated playing Mario Odyssey but I got mad at the underground lava level on the moon and had to stop playing. It was a headachey sleep that night.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2020 in Travel

 

Cross Canada- Day 11

Tues. Sept. 8, 2020
Regina, SK to Winnipeg, MB

It was our last chance to say: “that’s it, back to Winnipeg!” I was going to walk to the Tim Hortons down the street but it was zero degrees outside- NOPE. I love coffee but it could wait. We were going to drive to downtown Regina, there would have to be a little coffeeshop right? The first one I googled had shut down. But there would at least be a Starbucks? The “downtown” was barely discernible from the surrounding area. We navigated to a Starbucks in a Hilton but it too was closed.  There was another one on the way to Spirit Sands Provincial Park in Manitoba. But it was in a grocery store and not open. At least there was a Tim Hortons in the same plaza so I was saved. They only had vanilla yogurt so I settled for a raisin bran muffin. We passed yet another Starbucks but it was a plaza still being developed… except the Starbucks was open! Ah well. We stopped at a gas station and got some road snacks: hot wings Doritos, peanut butter OMG clusters and Starburst duos.

MANITOBA!!!

We stayed in the same hotel in Winnipeg as we had earlier. I had forgotten the tea I bought in Banff in the car so I settled for the in-room English breakfast. We placed an order on Skip The Dishes for a burger, brisket sandwich and smoked rib chowder from Brazea Hall (which was on a best of Winnipeg list). The food was a bit heavy but the chowder really hit a spot, it tasted so Polish.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2020 in Travel, Uncategorized

 

Cross Canada- Day 10

Mon. Sept. 7, 2020 (Labour Day:
Calgary, AB to Regina, SK

At some point in the night Brent had gotten up and gone to sleep in the other bed. In the morning he had no idea why. There weren’t any good coffee options and I would have to hold out until early lunch when we planned on stopping in Medicine Hat at the mall parking lot where they had a Wendy’s and a Tim Hortons. Apparently, Wendy’s isn’t open at 10am. I was a bit confused at Timmies, why don’t they have the bagels visible? I had to ask what all my options were and soon as I heard cinnamon, I asked for it, having accidentally mixed it up with the French toast bagel that I actually wanted (but didn’t know if they had). They did the worst toasting job on that bagel ever. It was just warm enough to melt the butter but it had no crunch on the outside, just awful. The iced coffee was necessary, I was so sleepy. The apple pie Kit Kat was kind of weird but kind of good. On the way we had passed the world’s (or just Canada’s? just Alberta’s?) biggest teepee but we could see it perfectly well from the road so that was enough.

SASKATCHEWAN!!!

We stopped for lunch in Moose Jaw. We tried to go to Dairy Queen but it was closed- and they were ice cream only, no grill, so even if it had been open, we would still have to find another lunch option. Driving to the Moose Jaw tunnels we saw a Mr. Sub down the street- lunch plans saved! While we drove around Moose Jaw, I was wondering why I had no memories of it from earlier in our trip? Then I remembered: we had stayed in that hotel just off the highway and hadn’t gone into town. There were lots of nice murals around town and they had a really cute little main street. We could see nothing of the Moose Jaw tunnels, we weren’t even really sure where it was? In the old train station? No matter, it was time for lunch.

The turkey & cheddar sub really hit the spot, I was so happy (!!) to be eating vegetables. We drove across the street to Timmies, tea and a fresh blueberry donut. This was shaping up to be a great lunch. We drove to the Saskatchewan legislature in Regina. It was a very pretty building with beautiful curated grounds and gardens and across from Wascana Lake. The only downside was the cold breeze coming off the lake. It was single digits and I was not happy. On the way back to the car we saw Jollibee bags in the trash: dinner plans were settled. I mean, we would check for other top food options but I was pretty set in my choice.

We were staying at the Wyndham and when we checked in, they gave us a welcome package: a bottle of water, a mini hand-sanitizer, lip balm and a mini chocolate. It was a nice gesture. We settled in and watched Best Thing I Ever Ate All-Stars, it was great because chefs were talking about food and they had some contestants from the season of Top Chef we are currently watching. We walked to the liquor store across the street but the only single ciders they had were Somersby’s, the basic ones which is even worse. I couldn’t resist going to the DQ next door, I would finally have my Blizzard fix!! It was the perfect opportunity, it was right there and it was open. The snack size Oreo mocha fudge was everything I had dreamed it would be. I ate half then stored the rest in the fridge while we waited for our DoorDash order from Jollibee. The fried chicken was ok, the real winner for me was the spaghetti with cut up hot dog pieces (which sounds weird but is really good). Watching Frasier and drinking cider made for a great evening. The watermelon cider from BC was not good but the Scenic Road Cider Co. pear cider was the best perry I had ever had!

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2020 in Travel

 

Cross Canada- Day 9

Sun. Sept. 6, 2020:
Jasper to Calgary, AB

I woke up at 6:30am which was before sunrise, yay! I would be able to get some beautiful mountain sunrise photos. By 7am it was still dark outside, that did not bode well for my plans. The sun was supposed to rise at 7:12am, it should not be this dark. The plan was to walk over to Bear Paw Bakery for breakfast and coffee. As soon as I opened our door, I saw why it was dark: it was raining. I ran back inside to change my outfit and leave my DSLR. I grabbed my rain shell from the car and changed into my waterproof hiking shoes. It was actually a pretty nice walk, the ground was wet but it wasn’t raining. They had fair-trade organic coffee which was so good! I couldn’t remember the last time id had a really good cup of coffee, probably the last day at home before vacation. I ordered a raspberry lemon danish and a chocolate croissant. The namesake bear paw looked too big and thick for a pastry roll and it was just unappetizing. It was only later while writing in my notebook that I realized why I had been so unimpressed, I had mixed it up with bear claw and I had been expecting something closer to a crueller than a mutant giant danish.

Last night we had researched Goats & Glaciers lookout to confirm if it was just called that or if there was substance to the name. Apparently, goats really do go there because there are naturally occurring minerals there and they go to lick the rocks. Now I was really hoping we would have luck: how great would that be to see goats licking rocks?! The chocolate croissant was meh, it was not buttery and did not melt in my mouth. The chocolate was rich but only concentrated in some parts so my bites were uneven. We stopped again at the lookout and you could smell the typical barnyard smell. As we approached, we were sure we could see goats. Maybe goats don’t like rain? It was a letdown.

We stopped for another view of the Columbia Ice Field because it was a slightly different angle and the scene was now different, instead of bright blue skies there were low hanging clouds. At the Howse Pass scenic overlook we saw the North Saskatchewan River and had beautiful mountain views with nice clouds- but still no goats.

The driving lulled me to sleep, which wasn’t hard given I had not slept too well (thanks cider, I had gone a little too hard with four tall cans and a regular- oops). I was twitching and my mouth was gaping open. The salted caramel Milky Way was what I needed to wake me up. I was in desperate need of a stop at a “human gas station” (that is how tired I was, that I wrote that in my notebook) aka Starbucks and refuel.

We stopped in the town of Banff. We had to park in a large parking lot that was a 10-minute walk away from the town centre. That was fine by me, there was a Starbucks in town that mobile ordering so it would work out perfectly. We stopped in at a gas station for bathrooms and snacks. I placed my order and we could immediately see why we had to park in that lot instead of in town. All the roads were torn up and being rebuilt, there were times we were walking on dirt.

The Starbucks was crammed full of people, it was like everyone had the same idea. Even with the ordering ahead, I still had to wait. We walked along the two main roads, all the storefronts were done in the style of ski chalets. I couldn’t resist shopping at the Rocky Mountain Soap Co, and at Banff Tea. On our way out of town we stopped at a liquor store (as you do on vacation) and they had a habanero cider but it was $13 for a bottle?! Way too much for something that might be atrocious. Back in the parking lot, the car next to ours also had Ontario plates and they cheered and we had a short conversation about travelling across Canada being just about the only thing one can do for vacation during these crazy times. They somehow had three and a half weeks of vacation!

In Calgary we stopped at a European deli because all of the other Polish stores were closed on Sundays. I didn’t find any sól ziołowa or Polish newspapers (for my dad) but I did find cukier waniliowy which I had run out of a while ago. They also didn’t have a bakery section so my dreams of pączki for lunch were dashed. We drove to Pearce Estate for views of the Calgary skyline and the Bow River but all we could see was the river, which was running alongside the highway at this part. Not very scenic. So far, I was not impressed with Calgary.

We drove closer to downtown and walked around a parkade which was nice because it was closed off to cars. But there was no one around, it was a ghost town (and I think it was pride weekend based on the banners and signs). While walking we placed an order for pickup from Native Tongues for some tacos and a burrito and guac & chips. They appeared on a bunch of best of lists so we had high hopes. It had been way busier in the neighbourhood just out of downtown, we had seen a huge line of at least ten people waiting to get into of all things, a spice store. It was bizarrely hipster. We passed by a David’s Tea and for a brief moment I thought it might still be open (they had recently shut down almost all their stores). It was not. By the end of our walk I felt like I had gotten my fill of Calgary and there was no real need to come back. I was not impressed and I didn’t really like it.

Continuing in the spirit of let-downs. The chicken taco was meh, the pork tasted like beef and the beef was too salty. Whoever assembled the pork burrito should not be allowed to assemble any more. It was the worst burrito assembly I had ever seen. All of the meat and the sauce were in the first half, causing a messy disintegrating soggy mess. The rice, guac and tomatoes were crammed into the little bottom corner of it. It was really awful. Even the tomatillo salsa was too salty. The only good part of the whole meal was the chips & guac, but it wasn’t outstanding by any stretch of the imagination.

We had reached the halfway point in the trip. Meaning it was laundry time. I was really mad. There were only two machines for the whole (airport) hotel. You would think there would be more? One person had abandoned their clothes, the other machine still had some time. I came back. They had not. I came back again, no change. So, I took the clothes out of the more recently abandoned machine and put mine in. When I came back, neither load had been claimed so I put the clothes back in the machine as if nothing ever happened. By the time I had come back for my clothes from the dryer, the first machine had still been forgotten. This person had left their clothes in the washing machine for more than two hours! That is just bad etiquette and so rude. On one of my many trips, I had passed some kids who were crying because their 30-minutes in the pool were up. You had to book a time slot to use the pool. Their desperate parents bribed the kids with the promise of a bubble bath back in the hotel room.

Laundry done, I could finally relax. We were watching a new show called Martha Stewart’s Bakeaway Camp. At first, I was not impressed but by the end I was taking notes of all the baking tips. Between that and Chopped and Wall of Chefs, it really made us appreciate what a good show Top Chef really is. I didn’t realize when I grabbed it that the Old Rosie unfiltered cider was actually from the UK, so much for drinking local. Soon our good run of TV ended, and we didn’t even get TLC or W Network and for some reason Much Music was actually a movie channel?? We ended up being too full for an evening pizza as had originally been the plan.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2020 in Travel, Uncategorized

 
 
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