Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Candian Rockies – September/October 2017
Part Two – Banff to Seattle
Enjoyed staying in the Yoho National Park in the little town of Field consisting of about two streets.  Had breakfast at Truffle Pig where I had stayed, i.e. a very limited menu!  I had French toast and then was on my way to the Natural Bridge, an impressive natural rock formation that spans the flow of the Kicking Horse River and then to emerald lake, renowned for its vivid coloring. It took me about 2 hours to walk all the way around…Drove over to the Takakkaw Falls 833 feet high and also stopped at the famous spiral tunnels opened in 1909. 

Drove back to the Truffle Pig for lunch, i.e. grilled salmon salad with goat cheese and apple chutney and crème brulee and then on to Lake Louise, an emerald colored glacial lake in the Banff National Park.  Walked the lakeshore trail to the end of the lake which took about an hour and then visited the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  Followed the Bow Parkway 1A, a very scenic drive, to Johnston Canyon Resort where I stayed a couple nights in a little cabin about 25 minutes from downtown Banff.  Went into town for dinner in the Juniper Hotel at the Juniper Bistro and had tuna poke with cucumber, seaweed and crisp wild rice and a beautifully presented chocolate tart.  Excellent meal.

In the morning after breakfast in town at Wild Flour Bakery on Bear Street I walked to Bow Valley Falls nearby.  Afterwards I visited the Cave and Basin Historic site where you can go into an underground cavern.  It is also the site of natural thermal mineral springs around which Canada’s first national park, Banff National Park, was established. There is a small walking trail through the thermal pools which is quite interesting as well.  Stopped for a quick egg salad sandwich and cookie and then reserved an icefield tour near Jasper for the next day.

Drove back to Johnston Resort, parked the car near my cabin and hiked the lower and then upper falls which were very beautiful with lots of creeks, wild life, etc.  Back into town for dinner at Block Kitchen Bar, small little restaurant, cozy and quaint.   Sat at the bar and had crispy duck spring rolls, salad greens with quinoa, beets, etc. and chocolate pot of cream – quite delicious!

Early breakfast at Wild Flour Bakery and picked up a ginger cookie “for the road”.  Headed up Highway 93 to the icefields.  First stopped at Herman Lake and then Bow Lake where I walked around the lake for about 30 minutes enjoying the beauty of the mountains reflected in the lake.  Stopped at wilderness lake for a lookout and then at “crossing” where food was available.  Got some delicious spicy tomato soup which I had with some hot tea and my ginger cookie.  Really cold out!!!

Arrived at the icefields, parked my car easily and was in plenty of time for my 2:15 p.m. reservation.  Watched a video about the icefields and then started the glacier adventure where about 25 of us drove onto the Athabasca glacier where we had about 30 minutes – awesome.  Afterwards I took the self-guided skywalk tour which was very interesting.  The skywalk is a steel bridge arcing 11.5 feet out over the Sunwapta valley.  The audio tour explains the glaciers, wild life, etc. and it takes at least an hour to really enjoy it.

Drove into the Jasper National Park and stopped at Becker’s Chalets where I stayed in a wonderful private cabin for two nights.  This cabin was a lot bigger than the one in Johnston Resort, i.e. I had a kitchen, sitting room, bedroom, etc.  It was delightful.  Drove into town which took all of 10 minutes and had dinner at Raven, i.e. Raven nicoise with rare tuna, fingerling potatoes, etc. and chocolate pecan tart.  Really delicious and nice relaxing atmosphere.  The town seems like a ski resort town, small, quaint and with lots of little shops.

Bran muffin at Bear Paw bakery in the morning and then drove to Maligne Canyon where I took a fabulous 2 hour hike along the Athabasca River, i.e. many waterfalls, deep canyons, etc.  Stopped at the Fairmont Hotel (Jasper Lodge) for lunch overlooking the lake and had potato bacon soup and a small kale salad with goat cheese and hazelnuts.

Drove up to Pyramid Lake and walked across the bridge to pyramid island which was rather unique.  Wandered around the town a bit and stopped for tea and a cookie before returning to my chalet where I “chilled” for a bit.  It was nice and cozy.  Returned to Raven to dinner and had “Buddha bowl” with arugula, quinoa, black beans, chicken, butternut square and banana chips which was really good and another chocolate pecan tart.  Great little restaurant.

Breakfast at Bear Paws and I picked up an egg salad sandwich and rhubarb bar for later as I would be driving down the icefield to Invermere and there wasn’t much to choose from on the way up.  Stopped at the five lakes trail and spent about 2 hours hiking the five lakes, each of which was unique and so beautiful.  Stopped at Athabasca falls, Alberta’s longest and Sunwapta Falls – both gorgeous.

I had missed Peyto Lake on the way up so stopped there and walked up to the Summit for a view of the lake and then stopped again at Bow Lake where there were some tables overlooking the lake and had my sandwich and cookie.  There was also a place to get some hot water for tea which worked for me.

On to Kootenay National Park and stopped at the continental divide which denotes the dividing line between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and my final stop was at Marble Canyon with its turquoise waters of Tukumm Creek and a carved deep narrow gorge crossing the water on seven bridges.  Such beauty!

Drove on into Invermere where I stayed at the Mountain View B&B a ways out of town.  Had dinner at Birchwood on 13th street, i.e. arugula salad with apples, goat cheese, kohlrabi and hazelnuts and a chocolate terrine.  Very nice and unexpectly delicious for an out of the way town.

Breakfast in town and then walked the old coach trail where the old coaches and Model T’s used to drive.  Also took the Columbia River headwater walk through the changing leaves.  Stopped at Fort Steele Heritage town and thoroughly enjoying visiting the 60 restored heritage buildings, i.e. barber shop, bakery, old hotel, etc.  Charming.  Drove into Fernie where I walked 2nd street and found the Crumb Café where I had lunch.  Cute little town.  Checked into the Lizard Creek Resort about 10 minutes from town which was a really nice place to stay.  Dinner later at Nevados serving innovative Latin tapas, i.e. ceviche with plantain chips, pulled pork arepa and churro bites with caramel and chocolate sauces.

Delicious blueberry muffin at a little café in the morning and picked up a freshly made ginger cookie to take along.  Walked along the Elk River for about an hour and then headed to Nelson.  Stopped in Cresson for an egg salad sandwich and walked around a bit and then drove around the Kootenay Lake on the 3A.  Stopped at the Glass house built by the former funeral director David Brown in the 1950s.  He constructed its walls from more than 500,000 empty embalming fluid bottles.  There is a little tour of the inside which is quite elegant. 

Drove on to the Kootenay bay to catch the lake ferry.  Had planned to catch the 2 p.m. ferry but only a small one was running and it was full so I caught the 3:50 p.m. one instead.  Took about 30 minutes to cross the lake and it was free!!!  Arrived in Nelson about 5:30 p.m. and wandered Vernon and Baker Streets to see some of the historic buildings it is known for.  Spent about an hour in the Touchstones Museum of Art which dealt with the first nation’s heritage, the explorers, miners, steamship captains, etc.  Very interesting and I was happy it was open late.

Stayed at Beach Taghum bed and breakfast and had dinner in town at Sage Tapas and Wine Bar, i.e. arugula and beet carpaccio salad with apples and goat cheese and chocolate torte with dulce de leche.

Breakfast at Oso, a fabulous bakery in town.  Had a delicious cinnamon/pecan bun and then walked around the lake for an hour.
Drove to Oliver, north of Osoyoos for lunch at Miradoro in the Tinhorn Creek Winery.  Sat outside on the patio overlooking the lake and although a bit windy it was lovely.  Had tuna with potatoes and seaweed slivers and chocolate budino.  Such a delicious lunch. 

Drove on to Kelowna, first stopping at the Geert Maas sculpture garden highlighting the works of this internationally acclaimed artist.  His sculptures were amazing.  Wandered around the town a few minutes but didn’t really like it much.  Found my airbnb and it was fantastic, i.e. a private studio apartment.  Very comfortable.  Later in the evening I drove to Basil and Mint which was about 25 minutes away and it was very hard to find a parking place.  Food was nice.  I ordered the 3 course menu and had poached pear salad with arugula and toasted hazelnuts, roast duck with cranberry sauce and horseradish mashed potatoes and crème brulee for dessert.  Probably one of the best restaurants in town.

Drove to Peachland in the morning for breakfast at Bliss Bakery on the waterfront.  A fabulous bakery with delicious muffins and great coffee.  Walked for about an hour into the small town, visited the little art museum and then drove back to Oliver for lunch at the Sonora Room in the Burrowing Owl Winery.  Sat outside on the patio overlooking the vineyard and had a tuna nicoise open-faced on focaccia with tomato jam, tapenade and greens and chocolate crème brulee. 

Stopped at the NK’MIP desert cultural center to learn about the Osoyoos Indian band living culture and the desert creatures.  There is a nice trail outside through interesting plants with information, etc.

Final stop before heading back to the U.S. was the Desert Model Railroad with its 4000 sq feet of miniature villages, towns, etc. and 45 computer controlled trains weaving through these villages and towns.  It was really fun to see.  Arrived in Pateros about 6 p.m. and had a delicious tomato roasted pepper soup at the only place in town to eat, i.e. the Bakery.  Had picked up a chocolate cookie at Bliss Bakery in the morning so had that as well with a hot cup of tea.  Perfect.  Stayed at Howard’s, expensive but very nice.

Back for breakfast at the Bakery after a nice walk around the lake and little town, i.e. just baked and still warm cinnamon roll.  Amazing little place with such great food.  Drove to Snohomish, Washington, a very cute little town.  Walked main street and stopped at First & Union Bakery for a light lunch and then checked into the Countryman B&B which was very nice and close to town.  Changed into something a bit dressier and drove to Herb Farm for dinner.  My GPS sent me the wrong way so when I finally arrived about 4:30 p.m. I had missed the walking tour of the vineyards but luckily was on time for dinner.  I had a nice little table of my own and thoroughly enjoyed my nine course dinner which took about 4 hours…

The theme was An Indian Summer.  First course:  Tomato water w/braised celery and smoked Keta roe, relish of cubes, peppers and scallop chips and tempura papa cacho potato with dried tuna. Second course:  Wedges of pear, turnip & fennel w/hazelnuts and roasted pear sauce.  Third course:  Wood-roasted ling cod, golden marigold, Pellegrini bean-tarragon sauce.  Fourth course: Mille-feuille of winter squash & matsutake mushrooms w/fermented blackberry basil sauce.  Fifth course:  Grapevine-grilled 7-year old Angus tenderloin w/ leek pie and charred leek sauce.  Sixth course:  Thyme-infused fresh curds w/ Chioggia beets in a sugar crust.  Seventh course:  Candied melon peel w/ lemon grass.  Eighth course:  Apple baked for 36 hours, apple cider glaze, black sheep creamy cheese ice cream.  Ninth course:  Coffees and parfait of herb farm grapes with pumpkin biscotti.  There were wine pairing with each course and all was extraordinarily wonderful!  Found my b&b easily – about 20 minutes away…

Took a walk along the Constitution Trail and then had a delicious chocolate nutella pastry at First & Union.  Drove to the 268 foot Snoqualmes Falls and walked the 0.7 mile trail from the upper falls viewpoint to the lower falls viewpoint.  Returned my car and  checked into my airbnb on 16th Street.  Had a fun dinner at the Indian style restaurant Poppy with my niece, i.e. thalis with salmon and chicken and lots of little tasty dishes to go with.

Took a walk in the morning almost to Pike Market and had a delicious almond croissant and Seattle’s famous coffee at a little café.  Lunch at Pink Door in Post Alley, a very popular ecletic spot with great food.  Shared some spicy corn, pizza with arugula and prosciutto and a plum tart with whipped cream with my nieces before taking the lite train back to the airport and heading home. 

Canada is such a beautiful country and I saw some amazing things.  I look forward to seeing more, perhaps starting next time in New Foundland...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Canadian Rockies – September/October 2017
Seattle to Banff – Part One
A great time to visit Canada is in early September so I was almost a bit too late in arriving.  Flew into Seattle and took the lite rail into downtown and a bus to Ballard Inn where I spent the night.  It is a great little neighborhood but a bit far from downtown.  Took the bus back in and had lunch at Mamnoon on Melrose/Pike, a cute little Middle Eastern restaurant with great food, i.e. falafel with cabbage salad and hummus with pita bread. 

Walked up to the Fyre Museum which had a very interesting exhibition on people who are “different”…Walked around Pike Market, down to Olympic Park and into the Sculpture Gardens near the waterfront.  Later took the bus to Lloyd Martin for a delicious dinner, i.e. ravioli filled with epoisse cheese and foie gras and chocolate cremeux. 

Found a nice little pastry shop for breakfast and then walked to the Ballard Locks and was able to see a boat come through.  You can also see the salmon migration through windows below the locks.  Picked up my rental car about 2 p.m. and drove to Vancouver.  Stayed in an Airbnb near Chinatown and walked to Blue Water Café for dinner, i.e. delicious tuna carpaccio nicoise and warm chocolate cake sitting on the patio outside.

In the morning I spent a couple hours at the Bill Reid Gallery which focuses on his Haida origins.   It highlights his beautiful gold and silver jewelry, totems, etc.  Really a must see.  Walked over the Granville bridge to the Granville Market where I had a tuna sandwich and cookie and then took the bus to the Museum of Anthropology to see the totems and Haida houses.  I had been there before so just wanted to see Bill Reid’s “raven” and a few others things I loved.  Dinner at Wildebeest, i.e. tomato and plum salad with burrata cheese and arugula and chocolate cake with toasted pineapple and rum raisin ice cream.

Drove up to Tsawwassen in the morning to catch the 10 a.m. ferry to Victoria Island.  It was a beautiful day so I stood outside and enjoyed the scenery.  Arrived about 12:00 p.m. in Swarz Bay and stopped in Sidney nearby to wander around.  Found a nice little café called Beacon where I had an egg salad sandwich and ginger cookie and then drove to Victoria.  Checked into my airbnb and on my way to the Royal Columbian Museum stopped at Emily Carr’s house.  None of her artwork was there so didn’t spend too much time looking around.  The RC Museum is fantastic and filled with information on the First Peoples including enormous totems, their artwork, life style, etc.  Also an extensive exhibit of life in Canada in the 1900’s.  Really well done. 

Later I walked across the Johnson bridge and along the waterfront and back to Saveur where I had dinner, i.e. beet terrine with goat cheese and pistachios and flourless chocolate cake.

After a delicious muffin at Liberty I drove up to the Butchart Gardens and spent about three hours wandering through the sunken garden, rose garden, Italian garden, etc. until it started to rain.  There were so many flowers in blow so it was gorgeous.  Went into the lovely dining room and had lunch overlooking the gardens, i.e. farro salad with smoked trout and apple and crème brulee.

Drove back into Victoria to the Gallery of Art to see some of Emily Carr’s original landscapes and then walked up the hill to the Craigdarroch Castle with its 4 floors and 39 rooms.  It was constructed in the late 1800s as a family residence for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir.  Its history and intrigue made the visit even more interesting.

Later in the evening I walked to the Empress Hotel where you can have tea in the afternoon and down Government Street to Chinatown where I had dinner at Olo Restauarant.  Great food!!!  I had cornbread with buckwheat butter, grilled octopus with roasted pepper hummus, chickpea panisse and cucumbers and chocolate cake with marshmallow cream for dessert.

In the morning I walked the inner harbor to fisherman’s wharf and saw the 33 floathouses moored along the river.  They reminded me of the house boats in Amsterdam except much smaller and with a lot more personality.  Walked to Beacon Park and to the “O” kilometer where the trans-canadian highway starts.

About 12 p.m. I drove back to Sidney for another delicious egg salad sandwich and ginger cookie and caught the 2 p.m. ferry back to Vancouver.  Lots of traffic from the port so didn’t arrive to my airbnb until about 5 p.m.  It was also near Chinatown so it was quite a walk into downtown.  Walked to Water Street and the clock tower and finally to Nightingale where I had dinner which was excellent.  Started with watermelon salad with watercress, mini cucumbers and macadamia nut feta, next came the grilled octopus with chickpeas and garlic aioli and finished with salted caramel pot of cream. 

Drove to Whistler in the morning and visited the Squamish-Lil’wat center which was fabulous.  It is set in a large concrete, fir and cedar structure and explains the tradition of these two people.  Walked to the village Square nearby and had lunch at Ingrid’s, found Araxi where I would have dinner and then walked the lost trail around the lake.  Just as I was finishing the walk it started to rain so drove to my airbnb where was really nice.  I had my own private studio.  Later in the evening I drove back to town and enjoyed a beet salad with burrata cheese and fondant chocolate flourless cake at Araxi sitting peacefully by the window.

In the morning had a delicious muffin in a cute little café at the bottom of the hill before heading to Revelstoke a long way away!!!  Stopped in Kamploops about halfway and wandered around the town, stopped in a café for egg salad sandwich and continued on the Salmon Run where I stopped at the famous Shuswap Pie Company for raspberry rhubarb pie and ice cream.  Cute little town as well.  Found my airbnb and then took a walk into town to stretch my legs.  Pretty cold out!!!

Decided to dine at Quartermaster, a new restaurant in town, and was not disappointed.  Had a steak salad with blue cheese, crispy shoestring potatoes and greens and lava cake – all perfectly done and great atmosphere. 

Walked up to La Baguette for breakfast in the morning and then spent about an hour at the Railway Museum which presents the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Columbia mountains with dining cars, old trains, videos, etc.  Fabulous!  Drove up to the Meadows in the Sky and walked up to the Summit where there were patches of snow on the ground.  Back down to La Baguette for salad with goat cheese and dried cherries and chipotle yam soup before driving through Revelstoke National Park where I walked the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk trail and then drove into Glacier National Park which was gorgeous.  Wanted to do another hike but the time was one hour ahead when I reached Golden so I kept going. 

Stayed the night in Field at the Truffle Pig in the center of the Yoho National Park which was a delightful inn.  Drove across the bridge to Cathedral Lodge for a very enjoyable dinner in peaceful surroundings.  I had tuna tartar with cucumbers and fingerling chips and a s’mores dessert which was wonderful, i.e. crisp graham crackers topped with chocolate and mountains of meringue caramelized on top served with caramel sauce.  Even had a glass of wine which I felt I deserved after a very busy day.  The next day I headed for Banff.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fregola with charred onions, snap peas and fresh corn
2C fregola (or orzo), cooked al dente, drained
3 ears corn
1C snap peas, blanched
2 red onions, thickly sliced, peel left on
1/3C toasted pine nuts
1C arugula
1/2C basil leaves
1/3C olive oil mixed with 1 tsp. spice rub

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. raspberry vinegar
2 tsp. honey mustard
6 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Shake the vinaigrette ingredients together in a jar and set aside.  Brush the corn, red onions and snap peas with olive oil mixture and grill until charred.  Cut the kernels from the cobs, remove peels and chop the onions and cut the snap peas in half lengthwise.

Mix the fregola and vegetable with vinaigrette to coat.  Add the pine nuts, basil and arugula, salt and pepper to taste.
MAKES:  6 servings