I flip the hood over my head; blink twice as my vision adjusts to the mesh hanging in front of my face. I ask for a final inspection of my suit and the beekeeper rips the Velcro away for readjustment before patting it firmly over the zippers at my neck.
“Looks good,” she says. “Are you ready?”
I am SO ready.
“Let’s do this,” I say. And I pick my way through the dandelions toward a pair of bee boxes bright against the sky.
I’ve arrived at Chinook Honey Company – just a stone’s throw from Okotoks’ Big Rock erratic – to join seven other participants in the farm’s BACKSTAGE WITH THE BEES experience. It’s my own personal tribute to 2021’s Year of the Beekeeper – and a good excuse to indulge my fondness for honey…
Read more about my experience as a wanna-be beekeeper HERE – or in this month’s issue of SAVOUR CALGARY magazine.
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.
Just a two hour drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is not only Australia’s oldest, but its most visited, wine region. With fall markets, year-round food and wine festivals, and concerts featuring international pop stars to chamber music virtuosos, it’s easy to see why. A covey of stellar vineyard restaurants and artisanal food producers cements the Hunter’s place as a food-lovers haven.
READ ON HERE to learn more about my favourite discoveries in the Hunter Valley – or check out the full Summer issue of Taste & Travel International magazine HERE.
If you’re feeling a little blue about more months without travel and all of your favourite local festivals being cancelled, you’re not alone.
And if you’re a particular fan of fringe festivals, you’re probably also concerned about how those performing artists you’ve been waiting to see are making out.
Truth is, they’re not going to be travelling to any festivals for the foreseeable future through this 2020 festival drought.
But there’s a wee bit of good news from Adelaide Fringe (the world’s second-largest annual arts festival), which managed to eke out its 2020 festival in February and March just ahead of the covid crisis’ descent on Australia. It’s launching a new online pilot platform called Adelaide FringeVIEW, encouraging local and international performing artists to submit a digital version of their show to be presented to online audiences around the world.
“We want to help the artists who are unable to perform live or have had their shows cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO, Heather Croall. “There is a need for the arts industry to band together and come up with new ideas, and with people at home and more time than ever to experience new shows, we want to provide an opportunity for people to access entertainment while supporting artists who have been impacted”.
Adelaide FringeVIEW is designed to create an income stream for artists still looking to perform while restrictions are in place, with audiences asked to buy a ticket to help support the industry. Artist registrations for the new platform have been open since April 15 and are free. All proceeds from ticket sales are given back to the artist.
The Adelaide FringeVIEW platform will be live to the general viewing public starting this Friday, May 1 through to the end of May 2020.
“We are truly heartbroken to see so many livelihoods impacted,” Ms. Croall said, “but together we can continue to support and connect artists and audiences from around the world during a time where isolation is the new norm.”
So if you’re craving your fringe fix and want to support the artists who bring their innovative shows to you, see https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringeview for more info, and for tickets starting this Friday.
And to help satisfy your wanderlust in the meantime (or at least soothe your clipped wings), check out “Fringing in Adelaide” – my take on Australia’s fabulous festival city when I ventured there in March 2019. It’s an opportunity to look back and look forward to better days, and you can read it here or in the Spring issue of Taste & Travel International magazine.
There’s also a few recipes to expand your kitchen repertoire (and don’t we ALL need that at this point?), including a delicious vegetarian dish from Adelaide Central Market, and a bright prawn and pineapple Thai curry developed by one of Adelaide’s premier chefs, Chef Nu Suandokmai.
(And in case you’re wondering: Adelaide Fringe has no idea who I am and certainly did not subsidize the article or this post in any way 🙂 )
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!
Let me be upfront: I never read Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun. Never saw the movie. I’m unaccountably indifferent to pasta (and Italian food in general, if truth be told). Yes, I missed the boat completely on the raptures of Tuscany.
Friends who’d spent time in the popular Italian region said this was a gap in need of remedy. Stat.
So I booked a culinary walking tour of Tuscany, offering hillside rambles and an abundance of wine. Now THAT’S something I could commit to…
I’m here on the water’s edge of what’s considered to be the most beautiful Old Town in Greece. From my vantage point, I see a Venetian lighthouse standing sentry over a narrow harbour entrance and a Turkish mosque – now serving as an exhibition hall – opening its doors to the morning air.
This is Chania, second-largest city on the island of Crete, where the architecture provides just a sliver of insight into a turbulent history…
When you visit the magnetic city of Venice, two things are for certain:
1) You will get lost.
2) You will be hard-pressed to find quality Venetian food in the company of locals.
Thankfully, there’s a way to tackle both – and it’s guaranteed to be more than a little fun.
Find out how, in my latest article “In Search of Venetian Fare“. You’ll find it on my website here.
Or look for it in the current issue of Taste & Travel International, now fully accessible online here. (Give these last two links a dozen or so seconds to fully load – then click happily through the great travel content, photographs and recipes that you’ll find in every issue of T&T).
Because what’s better than a little armchair travel as we hunker down for the longest nights of the year?
(With apologies to southern hemisphere readers for my ethnocentricity).
In 2003, when international borders were closed to Canadian beef by our largest trading partners, Canadians responded with the World’s Longest Barbecue. Chefs across the country came on board, sanctions were lifted over time, and that show of solidarity with our beef farmers morphed into Food Day Canada/Journée des terroirs, a nationwide party held every August long weekend in celebration of Canadian food.
Fifteen years on, with our blustery neighbour once again preoccupied with building walls, and our food producers under fire (from those, I believe, who would be allies if they better understood the reality), I have to agree with Food Day Canada founder, Anita Stewart, when she says that “Today we face similar, perhaps even graver, challenges”.
And I’m definitely on board with her call to all Canadians to not linger on lament but to throw a party instead, to “honour our own ingredients”.
Perhaps it’s my usual giddiness at the bounty that’s all around us at this time of year, but my personal Food Day Canada will be a celebration of delight as much as solidarity. I’ll be pulling out some sweet discoveries that I made for my Canada Day barbecue in 2017.
I’ll start things out with my favourite summertime cocktail, the Dominion Dram, created by Calgary mixologist, Myles Petley. This drink has me gleefully picking new spruce tips in my backyard, and features a gin with botanicals traditionally used by the First Nations of the Arctic tundra.
We’ll nibble crostini baked from Canadian wheat flour, topped with aged Ontario cheddar and a drizzle of birch syrup that I sourced from a producer on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. We’ll crunch through more than we should of Lobster Roll Bites (riffed from the delectable lobster rolls of Atlantic Canada, via George Brown culinary school alum/instructor, Annabelle Waugh).
My husband will rule the grill with his famous West Coast Salmon (from a recipe shared by an old friend in Nanaimo) and *Nish Kabobs created by Aboriginal Television’s Chef David Wolfman (another George Brown notable. *Note: “Nish” is slang for Anishinaabe First Nations). With a few more mouths at the table, we might add Quebec Maple Pork Skewers to the platter, or some Bison Cherry Burgers (always a family favourite).
I’ll turn to Chef Wolfman again for Three Sisters Corn Relish salad, loaded with zucchini, onions, and peppers from my favourite Calgary Farmers’ Market producers. And there will be heaps of Alberta-grown greens, carrots, and cucumbers, and sweet tiny tomatoes picked fresh from my garden pots.
Still to be determined are which Okanagan wines to drink. So, too, is dessert – although it’s likely to feature the just-ripened fruit from my Juliet sour cherry tree (bred for Canadian prairie hardiness by the diligent researchers at the University of Saskatchewan).
To mark this 15th anniversary of Food Day Canada, Toronto’s CN Tower will light up the sky, and the film Before the Plate will make its sold-out premiere at that city’s Isabel Bader Theatre. (This documentary, which takes one plate created by Chef John Horne at Canoe restaurant and traces each ingredient back to its Canadian source, includes revelations about modern farming and distribution that are sure to surprise. Watch for it – this doc is destined to appear at film festivals and indie cinemas everywhere).
Chefs will be hosting Food Day Canada events across the country; look for one near you from the list of restaurant partners at fooddaycanada.ca.
SO REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU’RE INCLINED TO CELEBRATE – be it solidarity with our country’s farmers, delight for Canadian-grown/raised/fished/foraged/brewed/distilled/aged or otherwise-crafted ingredients, or simply a glorious long weekend in our oh-so-short summer – be sure to rustle up some culinary treasures from your local farmers and food artisans this weekend or hustle down to the digs of your favourite chef-creator of Canadian cuisine. There’s a patio or deck with your name on it somewhere and a cornucopia of Great White North flavours close at hand.
Wherever you are, be sure to share your discoveries on your favourite social media platforms using the hashtags #FoodDayCanada and #CanadaIsFood.
(And for my Alberta homies, there’s a brand new resource out there to help you find all that delicious local goodness. Food Artisans of Alberta by Karen Anderson and Matilde Sanchez-Turri combs every corner of the province to highlight the best growers and producers harnessing and nurturing our unique terroir from land and water to plate, jar, and bottle. Once you read their stories, you’ll want to track them down – and much of their fare is closer than you think! Find this guide at bookstores, cafes, cooking schools, food artisans – even the odd gas station around the province – or online at Chapters/Indigo.)