From one part of Canada to another.
Last night the folks from the Calgary Stampede were in town, putting on a humdinger of a party at Rock ‘N’ Horse Saloon in downtown Toronto. The bar was a sea of white hats with red trim, and they had a smokin’ good band called Trinity Bradshaw.
They didn’t do a big press presentation, preferring to let the great food and music – okay, and the beer – speak for itself. But I can tell you I went to the Stampede last year for the first time and loved it. The atmosphere at the Stampede grounds is wonderful even if you don’t go to the actual Stampede cowboy events. There are rides galore and concerts and displays and wacky food options. This year’s dining options include everything from lobster corn dogs to mini-donut popsicles and even a $100 hot dog that features bratwurst infused with some of the world’s most expensive cognac.
Of course, you don’t want to go all that way and not partake in watching the actual Stampede Rodeo events. The chuckwagon races might be the most famous events, but I personally preferred the one-on-one events such as steer riding and women’s barrel racing. Watching little kids try to ride or rope small ponies also is hilarious.
The “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” runs this year from July 8-17, so don’t miss it. And don’t miss the pancake breakfasts they put on all over town, too. Beer is great, but nothing beats pancakes.
Downtown Calgary has become a terrific destination on its own. You’ll find a fabulous restaurant scene, with great restaurants such as Model Milk, River Cafe and Charcut Roast House. There’s also a growing arts scene, as represented by cool spots such as the Esker Gallery in the trendy Inglewood area.
HALF A COUNTRY AWAY
Last night it was Calgary. A week or so ago it was Prince Edward Island’s turn to show the tourism flag in Toronto. They put on a truly sensational event at Ruby Watchco on Queen St. E., complete with magical entertainment and wonderful cooking from celebrity chef Lynn Crawford. Her seafood and salads are tremendous, and she also makes amazing Cheddar Cheese biscuits with buttermilk.
PEI has come up with a fun scheme called #AskanIslander, where you can go on their website and find locals who can give you tips on lesser-known delights, or where to find the best lobster or prettiest lighthouse.
I’ve loved all my visits to PEI over the years. There are great hotels such as the Inn at Bay Fortune and the Great George in Charlottetown. Last year I stayed at a house in North Rustico that rotates, courtesy of a basement motor. There’s great food, of course, not only in Charlottetown at places like Terre Rouge but all over the island. The Inn at Bay Fortune serves some of the best meals in Canada from my experience.
You’ll also find fun distilleries such as Prince Edward Distillery (try their potato vodka or blueberry vodka) and the excellent Beach Chair Lager, made by the PEI Brewing Co.
The golf and the beaches also are fantastic, especially around Prince Edward Island National Park.
Two different parts of this great country; two different destinations. But both wonderful…
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