Category Archives: Drink

Changes in my Edmonton

One of the ways a new city starts to feel like home is noticing all the ways it’s changed since I arrived.  When I lived in Kingston, a small city in eastern Ontario, a lot of people in our downtown and old-society social circles used to give directions by the traffic circle (that’s Upper-Canadian dialect for roundabout) that hadn’t existed since the 1970s, and used to call restaurants by names that weren’t on the sign.  It felt exclusive to those of us who weren’t “old stones” (people whose roots were elsewhere), but after several years I found myself also talking about the traffic circle, the place where the beer store used to be, and so on..

And now I find myself doing the same thing in Edmonton.  I’ve lived in one place for four years, and spent most of my time in the Strathcona/University neighbourhoods.  So I’ve been here long enough to see some changes.

Transit When I arrived there were eleven LRT stops and now there are fifteen.  The opening of South Campus station rearranged some bus routes, so that I used to take the #6 downtown and now I take the #7.  Although lately I’ve gotten so annoyed with watching three #8s go by first that to go home from downtown I don’t wait at the Telus plaza for a bus; I take the LRT to the university and home from there instead.  (MasterMaq discussed this problem in a recent blog entry.) The LRT extension north by the Kingsway seems to be really happening, and the next lines have gotten as far as having station names.

Restaurants  Pad Thai is gone. ouSia opened and I still haven’t gotten around to going there.  A crepe place popped up on Whyte Avenue and went away again.  Langano Skies closed for renovations after the building fire, but is back.  A noodles place across the road changed hands and is now NaanaliciousFour cupcakes places opened in Strathcona/Garneau. Death by Chocolate closed and eventually a Dairy Queen opened.  A Funky Pickle outlet near U of A campus closed, but a Papa John’s opened.  Cargo and James tea disappeared.  Chili’s became O2.  Bars come and go, often too fast for me to visit.  The Savoy became the Gin Mill became Tilted Kilt, and I hadn’t been to any of them.  The Iron Horse sat empty for ages, but didn’t wait for me to become a billionaire philanthropist and buy it to run a passenger- train line to Calgary – it became MKT.  I think there was a live-music bar on the north side of Whyte Avenue which is now some kind of billiards-themed place.  On 124 Street, d’Lish opened and closed, and now there’s something new there but I haven’t gotten there yet.  Downtown, I can’t remember what’s new since I arrived and what I was just slow to discover because I barely crossed the river my first couple of winters here – Zinc opened since I got here, and Underground is new.  La Poutine opened in the Garneau Cinema block – oh, and that reminds me.

Entertainment The Garneau Cinema is now the Metro cinema.  I haven’t been there yet.  I think the Metro cinema used to be in Ziegler Hall at the Citadel, but now Rapid Fire/Theatresports is there.  It used to be at the Varscona Theatre.  The Muttart Conservatory was closed for renovations when I got here, and I think the Art Gallery of Alberta was being rebuilt then too.  The Oilers still play at Rexall Place, except that they’re not playing.  The baseball team that played in Rossdale folded and there might be a new one.

Driving I was here before the big construction project that had 99 Street closed all last summer, I figured out how to work around that, and then it all opened again.  I don’t drive often enough to be confident on road directions farther away, but it seems like every time I drive to IKEA, the route changes, the exit to 23rd Avenue looks different, and the sprawl of South Edmonton Common shopping district has gotten bigger.  I also think that Fox Drive and nearby routes have been under construction the whole time I’ve lived here.

Stores  Two record stores have closed on Whyte Avenue, Southside Sound and the big one I forget the name of, and Permanent Records opened on Gateway.  Alternative Video Spot moved and became Videodrome.  Urban Knitter opened on Whyte Avenue, moved to Gateway, and closed.  Ewe Asked for It and Knit and Purl closed.  River City Yarns opened a second location and moved its first location.  Greenwoods Books moved back to Whyte Avenue (it’s the one store I knew about from before I moved here), and then closed.  Earth’s General Store moved from a central upstairs location on the busy part of Whyte Avenue to a bigger place with parking farther away from the crowds.  Lucid Lifestyle moved from a storefront to a pop-up kiosk to a different storefront.  Blush Lane Organic Market and other interesting outlets opened in a new building where Pad Thai’s parking lot used to be.  A Shell gas station closed on Whyte Avenue.  It looks like some progress was made on remediating the other gas-station site on Whyte by 106.  A Vespa-scooter dealer with bar closed.  I think Blockbuster Video closed, but I haven’t checked.  The Shoppers Drug Mart at Whyte and 109 moved across the road to a bigger two-story space, and the old space sits mostly empty.  Home Depot just south of Strathcona doesn’t have a Harvey’s in its lobby any more; just more things to buy.  Scottish Imports moved from Whyte Avenue to 124 Street just when I was becoming aware of 124 Street as a destination.  My hairdresser (Mousy Brown’s), on 124 Street, opened a second location in Old Strathcona.  And now I’m one of those people who call things by their old names, because I just learned about Treestone Bakery around the time it was changing hands and becoming Boulangerie Bonjour.

While some of these specific changes make me sad, I love living in a city that’s prosperous enough that I can look forward to new ventures, and that’s big enough that I still have lots and lots to explore beyond the fifteen blocks of Whyte Avenue I’ve gotten to know.

What Edmonton changes make you happy?  Which ones make you sad?

Dinner by twitter

On Sunday night I was hungry and I had transportation, so I decided to go to the Next Act Pub, where I don’t go very often.  By the time I found a parking space in Old Strathcona, it was fashionably late and the pub was almost full, so I sat at the bar.

I asked the bartender to recommend some hoppy ale, and he served me an Alley Kat Orange Dragon Double IPA.  I would definitely drink this one again.  It was moderately hopped and had a sort of orange-peel citrus taste to it.

Then when I was reading the menu and contemplating dinner, the bartender reported that the Cameo Burger (the Next Act’s name for burger/sandwich special) was the Paul Reubens, their take on a Reuben sandwich.  Before he was finished reciting the ingredients, I realised that reading the bar’s twitter-feed description of that sandwich was what had put the Next Act in my head in the first place, so I waited til he finished, told him so, and ordered the sandwich along with fries.

The official description of the Paul Reubens is “the amazing Paul Reubens cameo!! Corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pickle and homemade sauce on marble rye.”  It was a really good version of a Reuben sandwich, with lots of meat but not enough that it fell apart, and savoury fresh marble-rye bread lightly grilled with – I don’t know if it was butter or oil, but the grilling added to the satisfying mouthfeel.  The fries were thin and crisp and not too salty.

Also, from my seat at the bar I could read the show posters on the wall, and I saw signs for at least two interesting plays closing that day that I hadn’t known about before.  Which is another good reason to go to the Next Act more often.

More cocktails

1 part Cranberry liqueur
4 parts ginger ale
1 part Cuban rum
Shake with ice in a water bottle.

This one was pretty good but not great. I think the rum taste was distracting. Maybe I need to get some vodka, if I am looking to beef-up some flavoured-alcohol drinks. It doesn’t have a name yet.

1 part Bailey’s Irish cream
1 part Voyant chai cream liqueur
1 part Kahlua
0.5 part Grand Marnier

Since everything was in the fridge I couldn’t be bothered with the shaker, I just stirred it and licked off the spoon. This was very good. It’s like the ingredients of the layered shooter B-52, with the chai liqueur added, so I decided it should be named after a bomber airplane of the Indian Air Force and went looking for one. Hence, Shamsher.

A better cocktail recipe

As served at deVine’s (I don’t know if this one was presented by Penny Irving or by Bryn Batton Wall)

Nutty Angel

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz Baileys
  • 0.5 oz dark creme de cacao

Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice, dust with nutmeg.

As served chez moi

  • 1 part Cuban rum
  • 1 part Frangelico
  • 1 part Baileys
  • 0.5 part Kahlua (turns out dark creme de cacao is not as ubiquitous as the guy at deVine’s assured me)

Shake up with ice in a wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle, put some nutmeg on top in a glass.

This is almost as good as the one at the tasting. Since Kahlua and the rum come from Spanish-speaking countries, I will call it Ángel Loco.

Food and drink that doesn’t go together

When I was a teenager, I noticed that ground beef tasted great in lots of one-pot combination dishes. We ate a LOT of ground beef as a family of several picky eaters, one heart patient, and mostly one busy cook. I also discovered that eggs tasted pretty good with stuff mixed in, starting with a can of Campbell’s cream soup, but then extending that to various other things in scrambled eggs such as cheese, mushrooms, or celery. So one summer when I was keeping house for myself I thought to extend these observations to cooking eggs and ground beef together in a frying pan along with a can of soup. It didn’t taste good at all.

On Thursday night I went to a cocktail tasting at deVine Wines. Our party gathered in honour of a birthday celebrant.  It was a lot of fun – we tasted seven cocktails, and brought home recipes, a silly souvenir drinking vessel, and whatever ingredients we bought. I feel like making cocktails at home now, except that I don’t have a shaker, and I’ve just gotten around to putting an ice cube tray in the freezer, and I don’t have a complete set of ingredients for any of the things we tried. But one or both of the drink-mixers for the event was really encouraging people to try out combinations on their own and make up names for them.

Here are my conclusions so far:
1. Cranberry liqueur from Okanagan Spirits is really good on its own. It would probably also be very good with orange juice, with ginger ale or soda, with cranberry-cocktail juice, or with champagne, but I don’t have any of those things here yet.
2. Frangelico, the hazelnut liqueur dressed up with a monk’s knotted belt around the bottle, is a bit too sweet to drink warm on its own, and it smells oddly like an old library.
3. Diet root beer and 6yo Cuban rum, while each is something I would gladly drink on its own, when mixed together have a terrible overtone or texture or something, together, like outgassing plastic. Fortunately I didn’t mix very much of it. I had thought it could be called an R&R, but now I don’t want to waste a name.
4. Adding a dribble of Frangelico to the above makes most of the weird chemical thing disappear. It actually just makes it taste like cheap pop, which may be a fake-flavour taste or may be an artificial-sweetener taste.

Conclusion: I need to buy more compatible drinks.

What foods or drinks have you discovered just don’t go together?