2014 Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival

Wine festivals are great, don’t get me wrong. So are food festivals. But when you combine the 2 of them it is just exponentially better. Think about it; when you drink, you end up wanting something to eat and when you eat, you need a beverage to rinse it down. Bingo, the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival held in Banff this past weekend was the best of both worlds.

Guacamole with Plantain Chips

It was a huge event actually, much larger than I had anticipated. There were restaurant vendors from Banff and Calgary, as well as beverages (alcoholic of course) from all over the place. I love taste testing wine and such because there are typically way too many bottles to choose from at any given liquor store to ever make a dent in trying even 1% of them, let alone all of them. Going to a festival like this is a great way to narrow it down and figure out what you really enjoy. One of my favourite discoveries was Dirty Laundry wine from Summerland, BC. We tried their Gewürztraminer, specifically the “Woo Woo“. They actually have 3 difference Gewurz’s ranging from sweet to dry, depending on when the grapes were picked and how long they are left to ferment. This one was in the middle, although I still found it pretty sweet, which I like.

Even sweeter yet were Field Stone Fruit Wines. That’s right, wine made out of fruit, grown right here in Alberta. No grapes whatsoever, so if you happen to be allergic, it’s your lucky day, you can officially drink wine. They make both what they call “fruit wines” and “dessert wines“, the latter being a bit sweeter and stronger, although both are much sweeter than your average grape-laden varieties. My favourites on each side were the strawberry rhubarb fruit wine (seriously, it tastes like strawberry rhubarb pie in a glass) and wild black cherry dessert wine. We went back for samples twice at their booth, that’s how much we loved Field Stone.

Quinoa Salad

Now, moving on to the food! We started off our tasting with quinoa salad and ribs from the Elk and Oarsman. For a sports bar, I must say they made some pretty good quinoa salad, greek inspired I would call it, with olives, tomatoes and cucumber. The show-stopper of the evening had to be the guacamole from El Toro though. I know what you are thinking, how can simple old guac be a show-stopper? Well thanks to the plantain chips that were shooting out of it like fireworks, it definitely caught your attention. The minute I saw a plate of it in someone else’s hands, I knew I needed my own sample stat!

Being the smart festival goers that we were, we planned to save plenty of room for dessert (which in our case really just meant more fruit wine). Sunshine Village offered a cream cheese brownie with berries. I’m still not really sure where the cream cheese was but it was a pretty good tasting brownie so I won’t complain. Well I will complain, it could have been bigger than one bite! Bernard Callabeut also had plenty of chocolate to sample from, plus it was a great way to use up any remaining tickets as they were only 2 a pop. I am addicted to their habanero sea salt bars, so I was excited to try the similar Rosemary Fusion. It’s basically the exact same chocolate with a subtle hint of rosemary on top of the habanero sea salt flavour. They may have only been 2 tickets each but we sure used up a heck of a lot more than that!

Cream Cheese Brownie

So that’s a wrap on my inaugural visit to the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival. Lucky for me I don’t even have to wait a full year to go back; they come to Calgary October 17-18! See you there!

The Eddie Burger and Bar

So it’s April 30th in Calgary and not surprisingly, the snow is still coming down like it’s Christmas time. Theoretically, such weather conditions suggest that spring skiing would be a relatively valid idea. I mean Sunshine still has over a 200 cm base. How could that be bad?
Well folks, I’m here to tell you that it was more than bad. It was downright awful.
I was excited to make one last trip out to the slopes Saturday, I really was. But after run #1, I knew we were doomed. It’s never a good sign when you look down and all you see is shear, blue ice under your skis. Combine that with wind so strong that it shuts down all of the chair lifts and you have yourself one pretty magnificent day. Ha.
On the bright side, we left early and headed to Banff for lunch at the Eddie Burger and Bar. Things were starting to look up my friends.
First off, I’d like to make a point of saying how AMAZING our server was. There was a large group in the back of the restaurant that hadn’t gone to sleep from the night before and she went out of her way to warn us and apologize (before kicking them out). You could tell she genuinely cared about the customer’s experience and I really appreciated that.
I just felt sorry for the mom at the table beside us who was trying to explain to her young kids why a couple of grown men couldn’t get up and walk straight out of a restaurant. “Mommy why is he holding onto his friend like that?” “He’s not feeling very well right now”. Classic stuff.
The Eddie Burger and Bar
Onto the food! If you hadn’t guessed from the name, they’re kind of into burgers and such. I loved how they stamped an “E” into the tops of all their buns. They give you a card and a marker and you can pick your choice of bun, patty, toppings etc. customizing your burger as you see fit. They also have a menu if you would prefer the kitchen to make that decision for you. My sister got a “build-your-own” with a veggie burger, garlic aioli and tzatziki on a pretzel bun. With a side of veggie poutine (they have both beef and mushrooms gravies), naturally.
The Eddie Burger and Bar
My parents both opted for poutine with a side of sliders (no I did not say that backwards). They were a trio of bison, beef and Wagyu. As for the poutine, my dad had his topped with Montreal smoked meat.
The Eddie Burger and Bar

And as you would expect at a burger joint, I ordered……a salad! Now before you judge, this was a very delicious salad. Pears, pecans and a healthy topping of gorgonzola – I’d put it up against any of the other dishes at the table. It was well-dressed in that almost over-dressed kind of way that I like. It wasn’t lacking in flavor, that’s for sure!

The Eddie Burger and Bar
If you’re looking for a casual meal in Banff, the Eddie gets my vote for both food and service. I guess the day turned out to be not so bad after all!
The Eddie Burger and Bar

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