Edmonton Tourist: Tiramisu Bistro

It has been a hot minute since I have been brunching. I think somewhere around 18 months. The last time I remember being out, ordering food and staying at a restaurant had to have been at Café Bicyclette to eat brunch on the winter patio in front of the fire. Even then, I was wary knowing things were changing.

A month ago my friend posted about dinning in some igloos. It was outside patio dinning but sheltered. Very important here in Edmonton where it can snow on a moments notice – although this week we are heading into hotness of 36C – man, I expect it to be brutal. I am not good with heat. Where were we? Right – igloos. I thought this would be the perfect way for me to ease back into restaurants.

Tiramisu Bistro is located on 124 street slightly north (three doors or so) of the Duchess. If you know, you know. They had ample patio seating and three igloos. The igloos require advance reservation plus 48 hours menu selection. Which is fine except you reserve on one site then leave to email or message them your menu selection. This was not the best customer experience (I am a Member Experience Specialist so I am always looking for inspiration elsewhere) but its about flexing and I can flex with the best of them.

My go-to brunch is Eggs Benedict. But this time I went for the crepes and thought I might regret it. I am please to report, I did not. Cream cheese and cinnamon filling with caramelized peaches served family style. All entrées came with a fruit platter and a bacon platter. You heard me – a BACON PLATTER. The bacon platter had these marvelous fried potatoes that tasted like Old Dutch BBQ Chips with a hint of maple syrup. Oh man….I could have snacked on those all day. My brunch date had Nutella and strawberry crepes. I didn’t try his, Nutella is too much for me for breakfast.

The igloo had a long table and bench seating. It could easily sit 6-8 people. The patio was extended seating into the parking spaces on 124 street. The traffic was loud, but the music was old timey standards mostly redone by Post Modern Jukebox – exactly my style. The service was impeccable.

Next time I go (which will be for my birthday on August 16 in case you need to know), I will sit wherever they seat me and I will try something else – maybe the benny – but will 100% have those fricken’ amazing potatoes and log crispy strips of bacon. Damn I love Old Dutch BBQ seasoning! This bistro has made it into my TOP 1 favourite places to brunch in Edmonton. There was only one thing I didn’t like and that was the coffee. Next time I will have a latte. I do not love a medium roast. Give me dark or give me death.

Oh and one more thing – they have this adorable market and bakery attached. I could have spent all day. Need to rent picnic stuff? They got you from the basket to the quilt and of course all the fixin’s. I will be back at least once this summer but likely more.

Stay healthy friends!

PS good luck winning those Stampede tickets. If I win, you can have mine. FUJK.

Edmonton Tourist: Little Libraries

My daughter planned an adventure outing for Mother’s Day. She gave me rules and then told me nothing.

“You need to choose five books to leave your collection. Be ready at 10:00 a.m.”

Okay – I can do that, thinking we must be going to a used bookstore or flea market. She did say it was neither of those and then my curiosity piqued. I chose my books and was in the car by 10:00 a.m. She was driving. I was given a clue: You have never been here before and dad says you will love it.

First stop was Starbucks. She bough me a skinny vanilla latte. It tastes better when your kids buy it for you. Then she drove in the direction of the French Quarter.

We crossed the bridge on 82 Avenue that crosses Mill Creek Pool and we turned left. I asked for the address so I could help navigate.

“There isn’t one, you just get to know the general area and then you see it.”

Weird, but okay. Then she pulled over and parked. “Do you know yet?”

I hadn’t the foggiest idea what was happening. She reached into our collective book bag and pulled two books. She opened the car door and waited for me to get out. We walked about 25 steps before we stopped in front of a Little Free Library. She confessed to feeling nervous because it felt like snooping in someone’s home uninvited.

I opened to door and we we began looking through the books – well first I was excited so I immediately placed my book on the shelf. We found nothing that interested us so we decided to go to the next one.

I had a million questions.

  • How did you find a list of little libraries?
  • What gave you the idea?
  • Had you ever used one before?
  • How many are there in Edmonton?

She watched a youtube video of a fellow who decided to visit little libraries in his town. This reminded her of stuff I like to do in Edmonton. Why had it never occurred to me? I love books, I love exploring my city. I love everything about this project.

The website she found is LittleFreeLibrary.org. It says Welcome to the world’s largest book-sharing movement! The site provides maps to all the registered free libraries in the world. She entered our city and boom:

Look at all those libraries in Edmonton! She picked five in a neighbour that has big trees and no one we know. My girl had never used one before but thought I had. I knew of a few but only stumbled upon them randomly and I never had a book with me.

The next one was a couple of blocks away so we went there next.

The owners of this little library were in their yard so it felt weird but we still opened it and found a couple of great books, left two and walked back to our car.

Each library had something we were interested in or had a book that was on our Edmonton Public Library waitlist or was a favourite we had always wanted in our collection. We hit the jackpot.

The last library was filled with Agatha Christie’s and Harlequin Romances. My girl took one of each because she collects Agatha and she had never read a Harlequin. Honestly – everyone needs to read one once in the summer. It’s a right of passage. She took two and left 13 Reason’s Why and Eat this not that.

We finished the day happy and satisfied. I decided then and there that this was going to be my Dad’s father’s day girt – don’t tell. I finally get what my parents mean by ‘don’t buy me any gifts’. They mean “spend time with me”. This was one of those memories I will never forget and I hope she takes me again next year. I want to build one now.

Stay healthy friends!

One year later

It’s been one year since everything changed for everyone on the planet. How are you all doing? I am tired, as in, I am not sleeping well. I have a lot on my mind and it wakes me up or worse, I dream about it. So I am doing my best to stay present. One of my strategies for that is to read. I have read 11 books in March (there is that 11 again). Reading keeps me absorbed in the story so I can’t think about the future. Since January, I have read 21 books. I can see thinks took a turn for the worse in Late February… so I read. I read at breakfast, lunch, after work and before bed. On the weekends I read most of the afternoon.

I read somewhere on some self-help thing that reading a book a week will change your life. I suppose it can. The more I read the faster I get. I retain a lot of it but I am only reading fiction with a couple of memoirs thrown in. I read a lot for work last year and you know what? I learned I am not that ambitious that I need to spend my down time reading for work. I have chose books from Jenna Bush’s book club, tried Reese Whitherspoons’ book club and have hated all of them except for one. Oprah’s books are often too tragic. I am trying to not be tragic so I can’t read those. I like happy.

My top three reads for the first Q of 2021

  1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  2. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kid
  3. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I am still baking on the regular. I just haven’t written about it lately. I made a three layer birthday funfetti cake with extra sprinkles. I made some ginger krinkles – the same ones you can buy at the Duchess and I am planning out Hot Cross Buns for Easter. I don’t celebrate Easter but I really like Hot Cross Buns and Cadbury Cream Eggs, so those will happen as a treat for me.

Treat for me.

I just realized I haven’t been doing any thing nice for me. Maybe that’s why I am feeling so crappy with the stress living in my head.

I did one thing that was fun and for me. I went downtown to the Downtown Spark Festival and saw Fantastic Planet. I love public art installations. This one was fun and interesting – I will do a post on the entire happenings including those cute chickadees and the rabbits at Amiskwaskahegan (Beaver Hills House Park) but I need to get there first.

May be an image of standing, sculpture and outdoors

Soon I expect to hear I can make an appointment for my vaccination. I fall under 2b – those high-risk non-senior adults. I am looking forward to it because I miss stuff. Like visiting Vancouver in the spring, or the mountains in the fall. Most of all I miss brunch.

Brunch… It’s a stupid name that means delicious. The hubs and I take the bottle return money and put it in our brunch jar. So far we have enough saved for a dozen brunches. Soon I will be able to take my brunch money and have it pay for a trip to Tofino for brunch at the Point. Oh man! I miss Tofino. Surprisingly, I don’t miss Disneyland.

No photo description available.

I think the first places I will visit will be Tofino, Vancouver and then head east as far as St. John’s. I also want to meet up with friends at the Sugarbowl. Just have a giant takeover of the patio in the height of summer, drinking beer and eating their popcorn. It’s funny that you don’t realize what you miss until its gone.

The Sugarbowl Cafe | Alberta Canada

As I wait for my turn for the vaccine, I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. The anticipation of a new found freedom (ironically as we head into the third wave…) I want long summer nights on patios with friends laughing. Not talking about serious stuff. Just fun stupid stuff. I want to go swimming. I miss swimming. I want to listen to music and watch theatre in the park or even inside. I want to hug family.

Realistically I know this isn’t going to happen in 2021, but 2022 will have no excuse. Get your vaccine because its science and because you should do nice things for others but most of all you.

Stay healthy friends.

Edmonton Tourist: Government House

Sitting high above the North Saskatchewan river is Government House. This park is also home to the form Royal Alberta Museum or RAM. I may be wrong, but I think the old RAM still houses museum archives. I hope one day it becomes an indigenous peoples museum. The architecture of the building is stunning. It would be a shame to let it fall into ruin.

I came here a few weeks ago when the sky’s were filled with smoke from the American fires. Edmonton had very few smoke filled days this summer. Likely because everyone stayed home (for the most part) this year. The government house grounds are home to a significant collection of public art. The Captain and I strolled around the grounds to take it all in. It had been a while since we visited here. Often its in the winter to look at the Christmas lights.

There was a wedding in front of Government House, probably no more than 10 people and two dogs. All wearing masks. It was a lovely setting. I know it isn’t a ‘trend’ to have smaller weddings right now, but I like it. The big splash of a wedding doesn’t appeal to me. I like a nice simple affair with a handful of meaningful friends and family. I parked far away from the wedding party so they could have their privacy and I could have minimal people contact.

At the bottom of the parking lot is a path that leads to the valley and Government House Park. There is a great tobogan run and a fantastic running path that takes you west along the river bend and then south. The leaves were perfection. This was the peak day for fall.

We then headed towards the totem that sits on the south east corner.

I don’t know what it is, but I love totem poles. I like to really take my time with each face and study the carver’s ability.

This one is soulful and feels sad.

Cap soon became restless so we headed towards RAM to look at the public art. One section of the building has stone carvings that represent petroglyphs. In all my years coming here, I had never noticed these before.

We wandered around the building to look at the other pieces of art, but honestly none were as beautiful as the building itself.

This is my favourite piece on property.

We wandered around the back of the building and Cap heard the howl of a coyote so we stopped to listen. I thought he would join in but he was not okay with the coyote and thought we should leave.

Soon we were back at Government House. It is haunted so I always look for paranormal activity in the windows. I saw a clerk once in the window as a kid. The building was closed and it was night. The hair on my arms stood on end. It was spooky. I don’t like going in that building but I take visitors on tours there. Apparently there is a ghost story about a clerk who locks men in one of the rooms. The men who work in the building avoid going into that room. The ghost doesn’t bother the women at all.

The medallion in the centre is a wild rose. I would love to take an imprint of that and turn it into a tatecanvas bag or something.

We stopped this building. I am not sure what it is but it is beautiful to look at.

If you enjoy public art, I recommend a visit to Government House grounds. Wander around and take in the views. Whatever you decided to do for fun, keep your distance, wear a mask and stay healthy friends.

Edmonton Tourist: Emily Murphy Park

I tried to wander around Emily Murphy Park Saturday morning but I couldn’t find a parking spot. This is arguably one of my favourite river valley parks because it is secluded and there is a kick-ass fire pit hidden within the park. I am not divulging the location, even today when the park was slammed with people my beloved firepit stood alone – hidden waiting for me to return (or my pal because I told her about it).

from 2011

While going through my archives, I realized I never visited this park as part of the Edmonton River Valley Park series. Cap and I made our way down to see a huge party at the shelter. No masks, no social distancing….so I guess in two weeks we will know the outcome. I took a photo of Emily Murphy herself (in bronze) and thought briefly about first wave feminism. Don’t @ me about how terrible it was these famous five women didn’t consider bipoc in their quest to be know as people. That is why it is first wave. The ones who came first to open the door and suggest the world could be different. Super flawed but most people don’t consider others, they only think of themselves. It’s up to you to change that. Don’t like it? Do something.

I circled the park. To the south the road is closed because of the Groat Road construction. That is a shame because that way leads to the trails along Mayfair Gold Course and into Hawrelak Park. The photos below are from 2011. The park hasn’t changed.

To the east the trail was clear. That path takes you into Kinsmen Park, The Walterdale Museum, the Highlevel Bridge and the Walterdale Bridge.

Sitting on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, Emily Murphy Park feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. The University of Alberta is up the hill. Downtown is across the river. But it feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. That is what I like best about Edmonton’s River Valley Park system. It feels like wilderness in the middle of the city. Where else can you live and be surrounded by wildlife one minute and head for the coffee bar the next?

This shows the park in all her glory when the park was empty on a Friday night in 2011.

When we left the park, we headed for Government House. I wanted a view of the valley and about 500 less people. I will save that story for next time.

Edmonton Tourist: Queen Elizabeth Planetarium

Have you ever been to the planetarium? Not the Space Science Centre, the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium located at Coronation Park. It was the first planetarium in Canada and I used to go all the time when I was a kid. I remember sitting in the blue velvet seats (I have know idea if they were or not, but that is how I remember them) and staring at the white lights on the ceiling called stars.

I learned abut constellations and gained enough knowledge that I would pick them out in my backyard and name them. I still can. It was something my grandpa and I would stand in the back yard and we would point them out to each other. My brother was looking for UFOs and I was looking for other planets. Grandpa would always point out Cassiopeia – the W in the sky. He told me it was God’s initial W. It stood for Warren, Grandpa’s last name – implying he was the divine. If you knew my grandpa, you would know he was a giant fibber, all in fun, but a giant fibber just the same.

Stargazing was a huge favourite pastime of mine – still is to some extent. I am not a rabid fan like the hubs but I enjoy it on a crisp fall night. I remember coming here with my class for field trips and with my cousins with my grandma. The place seemed huge but I loved gazing at the stars from the comfort of the chairs. I remember the building being larger, of course I was a kid so everything was larger.

This building is supposed to open soonish – hard to say when since there is a pandemic, but soonish could mean next year. They did a marvelous job on the inside. I took a peak and the restored architectural design is quite lovely, even the bust of Her Majesty looks grand.

Trying to find this place from memory was tricky. I have walked to it from the Space Science centre, of course we have parked at the building when I was a child, but trying to drive to it wasn’t as straight forward as I expected. The building is in a back alley of sorts now. Behind Ross Shepherd High School. It is directly across from the sports field. I found it eventually and walked around the building. The mosaics are still located in the front of the building which is now the back. The front faces the park and the back of the building is the parking lot. It doesn’t matter, it creates a grand entrance.

I am glad the City of Edmonton preserved it. It is a true historical gem.

Stay safe and healthy friends and get out to explore your town.

Edmonton Tourist: ᑳᐦᐊᓯᓃᐢᑳᐠ Kâhasinîskâk

Have you seen the new bridge that spans Connors Road? It is beautiful and will need a revisit after the LRT Valley line construction is complete because you just can’t get close enough to take a good photo. I did a drive by and it doesn’t do it justice.

The bridge is called ᑳᐦᐊᓯᓃᐢᑳᐠ or Kâhasinîskâk (pronounced kâ-(h)a-si-nî-skâk) it means “slow moving water over stones” which is in reference to Mill Creek just south of the bridge. There are a few things I love about this project. First of all I love the nod to the Cree peoples who are here now and who came before us here on Treaty 6 lands. I love the written language of Cree. I love the look of this bridge and I love that the City of Edmonton up-cycled the old bridge and moved it to Blackmud Creek. I hope Edmonton incorporates more indigenous names, artwork and architecture in our landscape.

After I drove under it to get that terrible photo, I parked at the Muttart Conservatory so Captain and I could walk over to the bridge. I used to run here a lot and was in much better shape, but I still found the hill daunting and hard to climb. In my less than fit state, I am happy to report, I climbed that hill and lived to talk about it.

The park west of the conservatory appears to be unnamed. If you know the name, let me know. I think it is Dove of Peace park. That is where the Dove was moved to after Pope John Paul II held mass under it.

I thought there used to be a swing hanging from it. Am I imagining it? Does someone else remember it? This hill also provided great views of downtown and I took a moment to wave a my pal who lives across the river. I texted her to say I was waving. She wasn’t home but said hi.

This perspective gives you some idea how steep the hill is. It is where Edmonton Ski Club is located and people sit on these hills for the Folk Fest. It provides a lovely view – plus the construction of the valley line station. Ugly but necessary. I am sure they will place public art to help with the ugliness.

I kept climbing and made it to the top where ᑳᐦᐊᓯᓃᐢᑳᐠ or Kâhasinîskâk crossed Connors Road.

It isn’t really finished. The deck is just roofing shingles and Cap wouldn’t walk on it. Likely too hot and gritty plus he is fearful of heights. I couldn’t walk across it. It it lovely though, I love this architecture.

We headed back down the hill and saw the backside of the Dove of Peace and took in the views of Edmonton Ski Hill and the Muttart Conservatory.

When we made it down the hill, we walked around the Cloverdale neighbourhood. I like it here too but living here during Folk Fest is a no go for me. Half of Edmonton arrives in this neighbouhood for a weekend and no thanks. But it sure is charming.

Where should I go next? I might head over to Emily Murphy Park because I don’t have that in my River Valley Parks series, or maybe I will head to one of the ravines. Let me know what you would like to see next.

Stay healthy friends and get out there to explore your neighbourhoods.

Edmonton Tourist: Muttart Conservatory

I am getting braver. I still won’t go inside public buildings, except for grocery and pharmacy. But I am visiting lesser visited outdoor public spaces. This week I went to a few spots in Edmonton’s beautiful river valley.

September is sunflower season here. I was starting to see sunflowers pop up on my Instagram feed. I thought I would go and see if the Horticultural Society was still maintaining the gardens at the Muttart. The Muttart Conservatory is closed this year and next for extensive renovations. Hindsight tells them, it was good timing, the same goes for Fort Edmonton. Timing is everything! The new LRT line is under construction and quite frankly the roads are a mess.

But…

This scares people off and I’m for it.

The parking lot at the Muttart was surprisingly full but I learned that was for the construction. I found a spot in the north section and parked. A few masks were tossed on the ground. Your mom doesn’t work here so clean up after yourself. You should be ashamed. Clip those loops and toss in the trash. Better yet, purchase a pile of reusables and wash them. At least you are wearing a mask…

Captain and I walked south towards the cute little foot bridge at the path entrance.

There were a few people walking around but only two small families. My first thought was this would be a lovely spot for a wedding. I knew an Egyptian family who immigrated here years ago. They held their daughter’s wedding photos here because of the pyramids. They were beautiful photos.

I had forgotten there was a gazebo too.

This park is really charming. Cap was pulling me onward towards the gardens. I instantly spied the sunflower bed. So we headed towards it.

It shared space with zinnias, or at least I think they are zinnias. Fun fact, they were Lois Holes favourite flower – or at least she said they were in her annuals book.

You can’t tell from this photo but the space between the gardens and the cityscape is the LRT construction. Crouch low so you get the best vantage point.

The bees were busy gathering pollen for winter. I found a few hives mounted on trees to support bee life here in Edmonton, SAVE OUR POLLINATORS!

I took a pile of photos of just sunflowers. You can check those out on Instagram, some even star bees.

We wandered around the flower beds and found the afternoon to be relaxing. I missed this. I miss Edmonton’s parks. But I am reluctant to go to many places. Usually the colder weather reduces the number of people in the parks, so I am going to check more out this fall. I am not afraid of cold and snow, and it keeps people inside. All the better for me.

My plan was to climb up on top of the conservatory. The conservatory is built into the ground with the centre courtyard a flat space for walking around and looking into the greenhouse pyramids. I climbed up the steep bank only to find the walkway closed. Sad sigh on my part.

We climbed back down and walked around the south side of the conservatory. This area was ankle deep grass. It wasn’t mowed all season.

I knew the community gardens were around the west side of the conservatory so we headed there. These gardens are overrun with weeds but we found strawberries, peppers, green tomatoes, chard and milkweed.

I turned around an saw a tiny path that let to Dove of Peace Park, but I will save that for next week.

Have you been to the Muttart Gardens? It is a perfect place to sit and meditate or wander around and smell the flowers. It is worth a visit.

Edmonton Tourist: University of Alberta

It is the time of year when students are heading back to school and participating in a once in a lifetime pandemic. Life is strange and unfamiliar right now. Both my adult children are attending classes but not at their campus of choice. They are attending classes via Teams, Zoom and eClass. This is how I finished my degree, so I know a little bit about what they are going through. It is hard to make connections, participate in group work, and borrow books from the library. My work from home situation is similar. It is hard to work on group projects, chat and become inspired and get those creative juices flowing. However, it is what it is and we are making the most of it.

My daughter is annoyed that she is paying buckets of money and she doesn’t even get to enjoy the best part of University, Fall Semester on the Arts Quad. I have to agree. It is the best part about about being a U of A student. Certainly not the windowless classrooms, but walking across campus to get to different classes before winter sets in.

I left the house last week for the first time since forever or blursday, I can’t remember. I hadn’t been on campus since last fall. My MRI doesn’t count because I was in and out of the Kaye without going anywhere but my car. I was doing some architectural research for a book I am working on and drove to the University of Alberta Campus and brought my pal Captain. We could have stayed in the car but I needed to walk.

It felt normal. I miss normal.

I parked at Rutherford House Provincial Historic site. For those of you not in the know, Alexander Rutherford was Alberta’s first Premier. His other lesser home is found in the valley at Fort Edmonton Park. I have toured this house a lot. I used to imagine living here when I was a kid. I loved the opulence of the grand staircase and the idea of having a maid to cook meals. My hubs does that now and it is as decadent as you think it might be. We walked around the gardens taking bad photos.

The gardens are well maintained and lovely for being so late in the season.

We headed south towards the Common where the international students reside as well as other student housing. I love that the campus sits on the south bank of the North Saskachewan River.

The older homes mixed with the newer architecture is normal to me and I love the character it adds to Garneau neighbourhood. The big elm trees that hang over the streets is so lovely and calming. I ask myself every time I am here, WHY DO I NOT LIVE HERE?

We stopped and admired gardens and buildings then found ourselves in front of Convocation Hall, the old Arts Building. The entire arts quad is lovely. A friend of mind said it reminds him of Harvard. Harvard is 383 years old, U of A is 112 years old but it feels stately and peacful.

There is a little brook between Convocation Hall and Hub. I love to sit here and just think or meditate. I have had many great ideas here and the best part is I haven’t shared this spot with anyone so it isn’t tainted with memories. It is just my spot to visit alone.

My parents used to take my brother and I here for walks in the evening. Likely my dad had to drop off a paper or we were picking him up from class. I don’t remember, but I loved running around the big trees and visiting the Turtle or as the sign post says, Tory Building.

So many great memories here for me. I hope my kids have equally great ones too. Get out and explore new neighbourhoods, Edmonton is a lovely city.