Marathon Mouth Ebook Free This Week Only

My Marathon Mouth road-trip ebook is absolutely free this week

My Marathon Mouth road-trip ebook is absolutely free this week

Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

In this case, you actually do have to pay for your meal. But the “expert” recommendations of all the best, affordable, independent places to eat and drink during a road trip in the western U.S. and Canada are—for a moment in time—absolutely free.

That’s right. For a week only, I’m giving away free copies of my Marathon Mouth ebook (normally still a bargain at $10 or less). It covers nearly 900 great cafes, diners, coffee shops, bakeries, food trucks and brewpubs. So no matter where you are, there’s a fine, informal place for a bite or gulp nearby.

The book uncovers lots of character places like L.A.'s Grand Central Market

The book uncovers lots of character places like L.A.’s Grand Central Market

This fully interactive ebook (some 500 pages in length) is more than just an eating guide. It’s also a travelogue, offering scores of driving routes, many of them meandering off crowded interstates and winding through fantastic landscapes: mountains, coastlines, rain forests and deserts. If you’re into self-propelled outdoor activities—like hiking, biking, paddling or climbing—I’ve got lots of suggestions for jaunts both short and long.

Plus, there's lots of great driving routes, like through Death Valley

Plus, there’s lots of great driving routes, like through Death Valley

But surely, there must be a catch? Just one, and it takes no more than a couple of minutes of your time. In exchange for a free ebook, I ask that you consider writing a brief review on Amazon.com, (Amazon.ca in Canada), Apple iBooks or Chapters/Indigo.

One of the great things about dining on road trips is finding fantastic hole-in-the-wall places like this Mexican stand in Hamer, Idaho

One of the great things about dining on road trips is finding fantastic hole-in-the-wall places like this Mexican stand in Hamer, Idaho

If you’re interested in a free book, please email me at info@billcorbett.ca and I’ll send you the ebook in your choice of a Kindle (Amazon) or iBooks (any Apple device) file. Note: Even if you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon has a free app that allows you to read ebooks on your computer.

This free ebook offer only lasts until Wednesday, August 31. After that, you’ll have to cough up a bit of dough. Still, it’s less than a burger and fries.

Not Going Slow as We Can in B.C.’s Slocan Valley

Lovely garden patio at Mama Sita's Cafe in Winlaw, B.C.

Lovely garden patio at Mama Sita’s Cafe in Winlaw, B.C.

Things are decidedly laid-back in southeast B.C.’s Slocan Valley, labeled Slow As You Can by locals.

So we’re quite prepared for leisurely service at Mama Sitas Cafe, a colourful, highway-side spot in tiny Winlaw. We use the time, after ordering, to soak in the culture, such as folks in dreadlocks wandering in and out of the attached natural foods co-op.

Still, we’ve just completed a punishing, six-day backpack in nearby Valhalla Provincial Park and are rather famished. Thus, we’re pleasantly surprised when our server promptly delivers teeming, affordable plates of taco salads and burgers fashioned from local, organic beef.

Working up an appetite boulder hopping in Valhalla Provincial Park. Photo: Marg Saul

Working up an appetite boulder hopping in Valhalla Provincial Park. Photo: Marg Saul

It’s all good stuff, wolfed down in record time. No way I’m going slow as I can.

This burger disappeared in about five seconds

This burger disappeared in about five seconds

Mama Sita’s Cafe
5709 Highway 6, Winlaw, B.C.
250-226-7070

Working up an Appetite by Running up Mountains

A new edition of my 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies book

A new edition of my 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies book

People sometimes ask how I remain (relatively) slim despite eating like a snake swallowing a rabbit during my Marathon Mouth road-food travels.

Well, during the long months at home, I eat much less and better—far fewer fries and flapjacks.

I also run regularly and hike and backcountry ski as much as possible. But there’s no calorie burner like running (okay, sometimes wheezing) up mountains.

Indeed, for more than two decades, my obsession was not gorging myself on road trips across western North America. No, it was another epic challenge: climbing all 54 of the 11,000-foot peaks in the Canadian Rockies.

Climbing the amazing East Ridge of Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper

Climbing the amazing East Ridge of Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper Photo: Vern Dewit

After becoming the third person to complete this quest, I parlayed this experience into a mountaineering guide and history book, creatively titled The 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies (Rocky Mountain Books).

Now, nearly 15 years later, I’ve just published the second edition of the book. Full of colour photos, it weighs a hefty two pounds, making it a great training weight in the pack. It’s available online (Amazon.com, Amazon.ca and Chapters/Indigo) and through places like Mountain Equipment Co-op.

The gorgeous Mount Assiniboine is one of the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Photo: Steph Abegg

The gorgeous Mount Assiniboine is one of the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Photo: Steph Abegg

Researching and writing this edition was a marathon effort in its own right. Think I’ll celebrate. With a burger… or two.

Fast, Middle-Eastern Chicken in Los Angeles

Zankou Chicken in Los Angeles is moist, garlicky nirvana

Zankou Chicken in Los Angeles is moist, garlicky nirvana

It’s not KFC (a lesser man might have added, “thank God”). But in the greater Los Angeles area, Zankou Chicken may well be more celebrated than the fast-food giant. Indeed, there’s a road map on Zankou’s walls showing all eight of the scattered locations of this mini empire.

If anything, you could call it fast Middle-Eastern chicken. There are rotating spits of shawarma chicken, grilled kabob plates and wraps. But the signature dish is fall-off-the-bone rotisserie chicken, available in half ($10.50) or quarter ($8, white or dark) sizes. Each plate comes with creamy hummus, pickled veggies, a couple of pitas for scooping and a little dish of Zankou’s not-on-a-first-date garlic sauce.

I rarely frequent fast-food chains of any size, especially in generic, fairly sterile surroundings. But when the food’s this good, quick and affordable, I’m happy to make an exception.

Zankou Chicken
Eight locations, mostly concentrated in the north Los Angeles metro area
Daily 10 am-11 pm

A Blockhead Goes to Banff

Joining the masses, overlooking Banff Avenue in Banff National Park

What am I thinking? Walking into the gaping maw of Banff townsite on a sunny summer Friday. During the height of a historic tourist season.

I do have an excuse, of sorts: doing research for a new edition of my Day Trips From Calgary book (out next year!). And if I’m already there, rubbing shoulders with the hordes, might as well eat.

So I head in late morning to what I call restaurant row: three narrow joints within a span of about 50 feet on Caribou Street. At longstanding Coyotes Southwestern Grill, folks are cutting into slabs of sourdough French toast, dipped in free-range, organic eggs. It looks tempting, but I’m more interested in lunch.

Lining up on restaurant row on Caribou Street

Lining up on restaurant row on Caribou Street

Next door at Tooloulou’s, they have both meals covered, serving big plates of eggs, po’ boys and other Cajun cuisine. But the line is out the door, and I don’t do well with waiting.

Fortunately, a few doors down, tapas-focused Block Kitchen + Bar has just fired up the lunch grill, and other than one occupied outside table, it’s just me, co-owner Andy Burke and the cook. Perfect.

It takes no more than five seconds of menu scanning for my eyes to fix on a winner: a house-roasted pork belly naanwich, with pea shoots, house pickles and tangy mango sauce, plus a mess of fries on the side. This honking big sandwich is delicious and, for a resort town, great value for $15.

The pork belly Naanwich was a delectable, filling meal

The pork belly Naanwich is a delectable, filling meal

Indeed, I nibble on it all afternoon as I drive around the town’s tourist hot spots, before heading up to Lake Louise, where the traffic is so heavy I have to park a kilometre down the road from the fabled lake. What am I thinking?

Block Kitchen + Bar
Corner of Caribou Street and Banff Avenue, Banff, Alberta
Daily 11:30 am-2 am
403-985-2887

All-Natural Meats Make This Small-Town Alberta Stop a Winner

Despite the looming presence of a Tim's, Meadow Creek Sausage & Meat is doing just fine in Claresholm, Alberta

Despite the looming presence of a Tim’s, Meadow Creek Sausage & Meat is doing just fine in Claresholm, Alberta

In small-town Alberta, it might be considered the kiss of death for an independent food joint to be located right next door to a Tim Hortons outlet. Yet in Claresholm—a town of less than 4,000 folks astride Highway 2 an hour south of Calgary—Meadow Creek Sausage & Meat is not just surviving, it’s intent on expanding.

“We’re a completely different market” from iconic Canadian juggernaut Tim’s, explains Meadow Creek owner Chantal Blokpoel. While the former is a national chain built on hyper efficiency, the latter is firmly focused on local and made to order, witness the little grill where all the meals are prepared.

At Meadow Creek, everything is built around the sausage and beef produced in the attached, federally inspected meat-producing/packaging facility, run by Chantal’s father, Peter. Indeed, the Texas Longhorn beef is from the family’s nearby ranch.

Meadow Creek produces its sausage in its attached, federally inspected facility

Meadow Creek produces its all-natural sausage in an attached, federally inspected facility

These ain’t your generic sausages. They’re produced with no antibiotics, no growth hormones, no nitrates, no fillers… nada. Just all-natural pork, spring water, sea salt and in-house spices.

You can buy these meats in Meadow Creek’s deli or at the Saturday Millarville Farmers Market, where they’re a big hit. Or you can sit yourself down at the 10-table restaurant and order, like I did, a fabulous whiskey garlic pork burger on a pretzel bun. Or Longhorn BBQ beef on a bun, with fried onions and melted Monterrey Jack.

A whiskey-garlic pork burger on a pretzel bun. Yum!

A whiskey-garlic pork burger on a pretzel bun. Yum!

With a couple of years under their belts, the Blokpoels are looking to expand into a full-scale restaurant, among other plans. In the meantime, it’s heartening to see folks with a vision and high standards pursue their dreams in small-town Alberta, where these days more independent places are closing than opening.

Of course, I had to take some all-natural chorizo sausage home

Of course, I had to take some all-natural chorizo sausage home

Meadow Creek Sausage & Meat
33 Alberta Road, Claresholm, Alberta
Monday to Saturday 8 am-5 pm. Closed Sunday
403-388-0155