While the covid vaccine roll-out numbers continue to climb, so, too, does the hope that we’ll be able to explore a little beyond our neighbourhoods later this year.
As you look ahead to the summer and fall, consider some of the great close-to-home destinations covered in the current issue of Taste & Travel International magazine – including Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley, which I was fortunate to visit in 2020.
Adventure tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel market – climbing by a whopping 65% a year from 2009 to 2013, and projected to grow by more than 17% annually through 2023.
According to a 2018 survey by Travel Leaders Group, it’s the top specialty travel choice among North American travellers, and sought out by men and women of every age group.
What exactly IS adventure travel? According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), it’s travel that combines at least 2 out of the following three elements: physical activity; connection with nature; interaction with culture.
“Soft” adventure activities like hiking, cycling, and kayaking are among the most popular, driven by travellers’ increased desire to include hands-on, authentic , and off-the-beaten-path experiences while out exploring the world.
I’m certainly no athlete, but by this definition I’ve been a soft adventure traveller for two decades. Given the statistics, you’ve likely done some, too, or are seriously considering it for future forays around the globe.
Listen to this week’s INFORMED TRAVELER podcast, as host Randy Sharman explores why I like to include a bit of active travel in my holiday plans. You’ll hear some adventures from my multi-day cycling trip in France – through one of the most interesting corners of Provence – and learn tips about choosing a cycling tour that’s right for you.
I love the relaxed, conversational way that Randy’s show brings the latest in travel news and tips to his listeners. Like me, he believes that “there’s no better learning experience than traveling the world and meeting the people who inhabit it”, and he’s dedicated to teasing out stories and insights from his on-air guests.
The INFORMED TRAVELER is heard Sunday’s on 770CHQR in Calgary, 630CHED in Edmonton and on 980 CKNW in Vancouver.
You can also listen to free podcast episodes on curiouscast.ca and omny.fm by searching Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify on your electronic device.
You can listen to my segment here – or hear the full episode (including info on celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Los Cabos or volunteering abroad) on THE INFORMED TRAVELER website. If you like what you hear, you’ll find past episodes available on the website, too.
I’m looking forward to chatting with Randy again sometime in the future!
NOVEMBER IN CALGARY: it’s the perfect juxtaposition of dwindling daylight hours and increasing social expectations that’s destined to wreak havoc with your serenity.
Still, the silver lining of this time of year is witnessing a stunning prairie sunrise as you grab that first (or second!) morning coffee at work – and a mountain sunset as you make your commute home.
Those rose-hued skies of late have put me in mind of a couple of my favourite things to lighten the holiday season.
The first is the November Sky – a warming combination of brown spirits and red wine that is one of Aileen Shipley’s gifts to the cocktail-sipping community. Shipley conjured it up for her apres-ski guests at Cirque Restaurant & Bar in Fernie’s Lizard Creek Lodge (and allowed me to share the recipe in my basil column last winter). The cocktail’s evocative sweet and sour layers are up to the dual tasks of pleasing your holiday guests or lifting your spirits as you work through your seasonal checklist.
And my second favourite go-to? Broiled Feta Crumbles & Fennel on Mixed Micro-Greens – a quick and delicious topper for crostini or crackers that was taught to me by Chef Crystal McKenzie of Peasant Cheese Shop in Kensington. The recipe for this appetizer inspiration has recently made its way to the website of Taste & Travel International where you can access it for yourself.
[You’ll notice T&T’s photo presents it plated like a salad – a delicious option – but Crystal likes to spread a thick layer of tiny sprouts (pea shoots are terrific!) across a small platter, then sprinkle the toasted cheese crumbles and roasted fennel bits across the top, for a layered ensemble that guests can simply scoop onto their bread].
Mmmm – warm, salty cheese and greens, together with an elevated whisky sour. For me there’s no better combination for easy entertaining or a little self-care in the midst of holiday chaos.
Or for simply curling up and looking ahead to powder ski days in the Rockies.
When I came in search of food experiences in British Columbia’s North Okanagan Valley, I didn’t expect to find myself HERE.
Pine forests tumble down the Monashee mountains and cottonwoods throw shadows over the canoe, as I float with seven other paddlers down the Shuswap River. Other shadows flit below the water: Chinook and Sockeye salmon returning to their birthplace to spawn. A Bald eagle whistles from a tall snag, but before I can locate his partner, my guide, Charles Ruechel, sounds his call to stroke hard on my side of the canoe. By the time we clear the “sweeper” – a tree laid low over the water – we’ve left the eagle behind. No matter. Minutes later, another eagle splits the October sky.
Read the full story in the Summer Issue of Taste & Travel International magazine.
With writing deadlines pending, public trials at YYC Calgary’s new International terminal to attend, and a little Thanksgiving cooking and travel to enjoy over the past two weeks, I’m just now sorting through my notes from the Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop held at the Manteo Resort in Kelowna Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
Those of you familiar with the workshop will know it’s the love’s labour of Jennifer Cockrall-King, author of Food and the City and Food Artisans of the Okanagan, who splits her time between homes in Edmonton and the Okanagan Valley (when she’s not on the road researching articles for various print publications). This was my first appearance at the Workshop – now in its 7th year – but it’s safe to say I’ll be joining the ranks of previous alumni who return regularly to the event for more.
More of what, you ask?
More opportunities to meet the chefs, growers, and winemakers who’ve put the Okanagan Valley firmly on the map of North American oenophiles and food lovers.
More engaging workshops designed for food, wine, and travel writers, regardless of where they are in their careers.
Workshops like Timothy Fowler‘s interactive session on “The Pleasure and Discipline of Daily Writing”, complete with short-but-sweet writing exercises to stimulate the creativity in anyone.
Or “How to Find Great Stories in Food”, presented by SunsetMagazine‘s Food Editor, Margo True – who took us behind the scenes of her award-winning stories at Gourmet, Saveur, and Sunset, to share her own lessons learned and sources of inspiration.
Jill Foran, Editor of WestJet Magazine, helped us hone our query skills in “The Art of the Pitch” and Jennifer Cockrall-King brought it back to the personal with “Authenticity and Connection in Good Writing”.
Woven between these plenaries were bonus presentations by Tourism Vernon, Quails’ Gate Wines, and Carmelis Goat Cheese (replete with treats, I might add).
And then there were the field trips: an orchard experience and hands-on galette-making with Hank and Darcel Markgraf representing B.C. Tree Fruits; a tasting of Kitsch Winery’s newly-minted award-winning 2015 Riesling with winemaker Grant Biggs; and Gabe Cipes’ sunset tour of the biodynamic gardens at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, followed by a 4-course gastronomic experience created by Summerhill’s new Executive Chef, Alex Lavroff and hosted by CEO Ezra Cipes.
Back at home base, the kitchens of the Manteo Resort and Hotel Eldorado took our fueling needs to new heights, with the Eldorado’s Vince Van Wieringen recreating a veritable flower garden on our lunch plates and the Manteo’s Marc Schoene and his culinary team pulling out all the stops with spectacular breakfasts, a seafood-inspired lunch, and a true Okanagan farm-to-table harvest dinner.
Kudos to you all for the generous sharing of your talents and passion. And special thanks to Jill Foran and Margo True for your positive feedback on my own new work during our 1:1 Blue Pencil sessions.