Category Archives: Uncategorized

Scenes From a West Coast Road Trip

 

Early morning light on Mount Temple near Lake Louise

Early morning light on Mount Temple, near Lake Louise

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The kiddies may be back in school but fall road construction in B.C. carries on

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Taken to its logical conclusion, doesn’t this mean no one should pass?

La Baguette muffin

How fruit muffins should be stuffed. The incomparable La Baguette in Revelstoke

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Only in Tofino

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No words required

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Must have arrived in the dark

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The best coffee shop mugs in the world: By Katy Fogg, at Tin Town Cafe in Courtenay

 

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Why I go to Vancouver Island’s west coast in the fall

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Beats this October 4 return to Calgary

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It’s been a strange fall

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Fresh From the Fryer Doughnuts in Edmonton

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A sumptuous, Portugese-style doughnut at Edmonton’s Ohana Donuterie

I’ve had a lot of food made to order. Which is the way, for the most part, it should be.

But never doughnuts. Not that I ever eat them; their doughy sweetness sends my blood sugars soaring.

Still, when we walked into Edmonton’s Ohana Donuterie and saw that the doughnuts are not fried until you order them, we figured we had to give it a shot; two bites in my case.

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You can eat in (preferred) or take out

These are not your conventional doughnuts. They are called malasadas, a Portugese-derived yeast doughnut, rolled in sugar, that’s also popular in Hawaii. At Ohana’s, you can get them filled—in our case, with a simple vanilla cream.

And really, you don’t want to complicate things. You want to concentrate fully on these puffy, soft, yummy bombs.

While some folks were ordering them to go, they are best consumed at a table, warm from the fryer and perhaps chased with an espresso. They are also pretty substantial; a single doughnut is a fair-sized snack, costing $2.75 if filled.

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This is where the doughnuts are fried to order

Ohana is a year-old partnership of two guys, Adam and Kevin, who started with a food truck and added a fixed, hole-in-the-doughnut location in Edmonton’s Strathcona district. It’s a good thing I live in Calgary.

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The hole-in-the-doughnut location near Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue

Ohana Donuterie
10347 80 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta
Monday to Thursday 8 am-9 pm, Friday 8 am-10 pm, Saturday 9 am-10 pm, Sunday 10 am-9 pm
780-777-1322

Edmonton’s Coffee Mecca

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The Columbian Coffee & Roastery is a nice new neighbourhood cafe in Edmonton

There’s a good case for making Edmonton the number two coffee hot spot in western Canada, behind Vancouver. Of course, Edmontonians aren’t as precious about how they roast and prepare their coffee as the wet coasters.

Still, there are always new coffee shops popping up in Alberta’s capital. After profiling half a dozen places a couple of years ago, I figured it was time for a fresh visit up north.

The first stop was The Colombian Coffee & Roastery, next door to the venerable Vi’s for Pies in the city’s leafy Glenora neighbourhood; the roasting happens at the back of the long, narrow space. It seemed like an odd, generic name, until I learned co-owner Santiago Lopez was from Colombia and that some of the roastery’s beans come from a family farm there. Talk about farm to cup.

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Nice ceramic mugs for the Americanos

The place was hopping on a dreary Saturday morning, with lots of folks ordering avocado toast to go with steaming mugs of java. Good stuff, evidence that if you build a good coffee shop in a nice district, the neighbours will come.

Somewhat harder to find is ACE Coffee Roasters, on a little side street south of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton’s Strathcona district. It’s a lovely, spacious place with high ceilings, exposed ductwork and a gleaming marble coffee bar.

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ACE Coffee Roasters is a spacious spot near Whyte Avenue

My Americano was one of the better ones I’ve had in Edmonton. The coffee is nicely chased with donuts baked at partner Café Leva in Garneau.

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Fine espressos pulled at the gleaming coffee bar

In the attached space, separated by a glass wall, is the company’s Caffe Tech, where you can drop a few grand on high-end home and commercial espresso machines. Think I’ll just let the expert barrista pull the shots for me.

The Columbian Coffee & Roastery
1, 10340 134 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta
Weekdays 7 am-6 pm, Saturday 8 am-6 pm, Sunday 9 am-3 pm
780-757-9195

ACE Coffee Roasters
10055 80 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta
Wednesday to Sunday 8 am-4 pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday

Sorry, We’re Open

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This roast-beef sandwich, at Soups in Beaverlodge Alberta, was definitely worth a year’s wait and 3,000-km-plus of driving

Thank God for persistence. Or pig headedness.

Last summer, we drove 1,000 kilometres from Calgary to near Tumbler Ridge, in northeast B.C., for a backpack. Just past Grande Prairie, Alberta, we stopped at a recommended lunch spot, called Soups, in Beaverlodge. Closed for the week. Strike one.

The bad luck continued when at the very trailhead, after a long gravel-road drive, was a hand-made sign: trail closed because of wildfire. On our way back through smoky Beaverlodge, a week later, we stopped again at Soups. Still closed. Strike two.

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1,000-plus kilometres of driving leads to this surprise

Because we’re dim-witted creatures accustomed to suffering, three of us headed back this summer for another crack at said backpack. Of course, we stopped at Soups for a mid-morning break. Closed for a staff break. Strike three.

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Would you like that beaver smoked?

The smoke in the mountains was still rather thick, but the Monkman Pass trail was open and we persevered through a wonderful week of waterfalls and alpine lakes. So things were looking up when we stopped at Soups, on the way home. What do you know, it was open.

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Hiking amongst the tarns in Monkman Provincial Park

Packed to the rafters, in fact, at mid-week lunch. Who knew so many people lived in little Beaverlodge? Or made it their favourite place for a bite out?

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Soups is a bustling place, when it’s open

We grabbed the last free table and watched the bustling staff deliver house-made soups and hefty sandwiches to the expectant diners. Many of the sandwich meats are made in house, as is the thick, soft bread; customers are, charmingly, asked if they want their sandwiches on “white or brown.”

What we wanted, after a week of hiking and dehydrated meals, was big, fresh and tasty. And Soups delivered on all counts, serving up honking sandwiches of roast beef and bayou chicken. Chased with a fresh-baked cinnamon bun.

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“Take that picture and let me chomp down on this bayou chicken sandwich”

And then into the line at the till, where long-time owner Luvie Castro chatted with all the customers, at least the ones paying the bill.

Who knows if I’ll ever go through Beaverlodge again. But if I do, it’s definitely worth a stop to see if Soups is open.

Soups
908 2 Avenue, Beaverlodge, Alberta
Weekdays 7 am-3 pm. Closed weekends
780-354-3111

How $1.34 turned into $76.13

Yes, could we get Alberta utilities (Enmax included) to explain their indecipherable billing.

In This Corner

I don’t know where you are, but here in the Great White North’s most northerly metropolis, it was a lovely summer. Until smoke from B.C. forest fires began to blot out the sun for days on end, we had a great string of warm, sometimes even hot, weather. In my view, a very good summer. (My mother-in-law disagrees, however. Like all women in their 80s, it is never hot enough.)

Summer, as it does here, died seemingly overnight. Around this time of year, Father Nature (Mother Nature’s long-suffering, little known husband) rises from his La-Z-Boy, storms over to the world thermostat, and complains “Who turned it up to 28C? I’m not made of money” and turns it down to 18C.

But it was nice while it lasted. July, in particular, was very pleasant.

So why is my natural gas bill $76.13?

I find it’s usually best not to look at…

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Huge Bites in Chilliwack, B.C.

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Gee, I wonder why they call this the Oinker? At Bubba’s Big Bites in Chilliwack, B.C.

I walk into Bubba’s Big Bites, in Chilliwack, B.C., with a deer-in-the-headlights look as I survey all the lunchtime dining options.

“Your first time here?” co-owner Julie asks after a glance at my slack-jawed face.

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Julie and Sascha are the fun-loving couple who own Bubba’s

“Yeah. What’s your signature sandwich?”

“The Oinker.”

Let’s see: pulled pork, ham, crumbled bacon, a couple kinds of melted cheese, bbq sauce—all squeezed inside a thick, half loaf of bread and, if that’s not enough carbs, served with a side of potato wedges. Having just backpacked about 100 kilometres, I’m feeling rather piggish, so let’s go.

Sadly, I’m still not up to the task. The five wedges, from a rather large potato, are a meal in themselves. And thank goodness there’s a hefty serrated knife thrust inside the sandwich, because there’s no way I’m getting my jaw around the whole thing.

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Half the fun is reading the big board

It’s all great, fresh stuff. Still, I take half to go, and that wonderful sandwich is still feeding me a couple of days later.

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This is about all the seating at this hole-in-the wall spot

Bubba’s is a fun, lively place, thanks to the energy and personalities of its owners, Julie and Sascha, who run the whole show. It’s only about five minutes off the Trans-Canada Highway, traffic willing, and is a great, tiny place for a quick bite, or a hundred, before hitting the “don’t want to get off the highway” mob scene of greater Vancouver.

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Here’s the diverse menu; many of the meats are house prepared

Bubba’s Big Bites
101, 5885 Vedder Road, Chilliwack, B.C.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday 11 am-7 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11 am-8 pm. Closed Monday
604-858-0020