If I could have one wish it would be for all my meals to sustain a level of savory and sweet choices that have an infinite array of combinations. And if you have ever hovered over the meat and cheese platters as I have at most social engagements, you could appreciate the delight when the Maple Mustard pairs beautifully with the Cured Rabbit Sausage. It is not only the array of flavors that is appealing to the senses, but the vibrant variation of colors and textures.
Charcuterie boards, or let’s simply call it charcuterie, is not a new thing. They have been around for hundreds of years. It’s only until recently that America has got caught up in the trend.
Before we get to the here and now, here’s a little bit of a history lesson. Charcuterie is derived from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit). The word was used to describe shops in 15th century France that sold products that were made from pork, including the pig’s internal organs. However, the practice of salting and smoking meats to preserve them dates back about 6,000 years to ancient Rome. Charcuterie is rooted in the belief that nothing from the animal should be wasted; not even the heart, lungs, kidneys, fat, or brain.
But lets look beyond the meats and cheeses for a quick minute and consider alternatives.
Whether you are dining, entertaining, or cuddled up on the couch for a night in these Charcuterie alternatives will most definitely not disappoint!
1. Dessert Charcuterie
You can apply whatever holiday theme you like with this idea! Whether its a Valentines, Easter, or you are need of an Ice Cream Sundae extravaganza-the options are limitless!
2 Hot Chocolate Charcuterie
No matter how old you are, this board will be sure to bring the brightest of smiles to the coldest of hearts. Pro Tip: Add some flavored liqueur shots like Bailey’s Red Velvet Cake, or Kahlua and let the good times roll!
3.Breakfast in Bed Charcuterie
Probably my hands down favorite as breakfast is my personal cup of tea- especially when it looks like this! You won’t want to skip this meal of the day. If your a total genius, serve this as a Breakfast for Dinner option as well.
4.Hot Diggity Dog Charcuterie
Bring the Ball Park Nostalgia to your backyard this summer. Hot Dogs can be as gourmet as you desire with an assortment of Honey Garlic, Chorizo, or Smoked Cheddar Smokies.
5.Grilled Veggie Charcuterie
Charcuterie doesn’t always mean heavy on the salts and fats-Grilled Veggies can be marinated and seasoned in so many ways that provide you with the same variations of flavors that any traditional board can offer.
6.Wing Night Charcuturie
Wing Wednesdays never looked this appetizing. Take a classic pub food favorite and put your own twist on it in the comfort of your own home. Go ahead, lick those fingers and spill that hot sauce on yourself, there’s no one there to judge!
7. Seafood Charcuterie
Such a perfect option for a romantic beach picnic or brunch at home with close friends. Serve your oysters with a little red wine vinegar and shallots, or opt for rock salt and lemon? There is no wrong combination with these choices.
Pickle Lovers UNite Charcuterie
There will be no sour faces despite this pickle platter party. As an alternative take your pickle platter to the next level with some Asian inspired pickled delights like Kimchi and Oi Muchim.
9. Chip TruCk TRAY CHarcuterie
This savory buffet of carbohydrate delights would be anyone’s late night munchie dream. But with a little bit of prep your dream can come true with the flick of an oven switch and raiding the condiment shelves of your refrigerator.
A proper late afternoon it was as I recall in late June. You see we were already in what felt like month 8 of wintertime, so when the warm weather hit, we took advantage of the good weather vibes. Nevertheless, these months can often feel like years. Weathering Calgary winters is a matter of psychological survival of the fittest. You can either fall into the winter doldrums and await the snow melt, or just carry on with life. Our ability to endure is massively under-estimated as many would assume we must be miserable during these months, but we make it work. Others tend to rub salt into our frigid wounds despite our resilience, but should be assured we make the most out of any outdoor time we can get. Located next to us is the Province of British Columbia, who’s residents continuously boast about their balmy year round weather, and it leaves us no choice but to talk about ours occasionally. Our conversations often worth mentioning which I learned is not a well known term among outsiders- The Chinook. They can be lovely and painful.
You see, just as my skull felt like it was going to rupture from the pressure, I realized it wasn’t from a Chinook but from a wicked mid week pandemic drinking hangover. Who knew there would something worse than the Chinook Migraines to consider… Alas there was the Covid-19 headaches lurking around each corner or on the surface of your delivered groceries. It seems that being an Albertan comes often with a lot of headaches no matter which way you go about life. We desperately needed a break from it all. And an early summer was delivered!
While Good ol’ 2020 is the year we all hope to forget, it was forgiving enough to give us a bit of early nice weather for a change, no headaches attached. In fact, as we were all hunkered down at our homes, I worked on my patio most days soaking up the cool spring sunshine. By June the weather remained beautiful and the Province began to lift the pressure of isolation and extreme social distancing measures. After months of binge watching Game of Thrones & Vikings, a date with the outside world would be added to my empty agenda. Kudos to all those who got super creative and cute with their social bubbles…we aren’t that type at all. We were just focusing on finding Lysol wipes, toilet paper, and not murdering each other.
So to my surprise, my adorable boyfriend made a plan to take me on a picnic at Prince’s Island park.
The sun was out and I was dressed for the occasion, wearing an adorable little romper with white polka dots. In fact it was one of 20 I would buy throughout the months of online shopping that kept me busy during a pandemic lockdown. As the Pandemic marched on foiling my runway Covid release party, I’d send them all back in defeat. I kept 2 rompers in total to symbolize the 1 time I picnicked in the park, and then one in case we’d do it again. On this day I felt sort of normal. Our picnic basket that had been given as a gift years ago was filled with some champagne and pre-ordered Lebanese food from a store that was doing “pick-up only.” We were into supporting the small businesses in which many as a result of our Stage 1 shut down were on the brink of closing their doors for good. I assure you we single handedly did our best to keep them afloat with our hearty appetites and my lack of desire to cook.
As we strolled making our way through the park on the hunt for the perfect picnic spot we ensured the two meters apart protocol. I should mention when you are in a park, its really hard to avoid the floods of roller-bladers, skateboarders, cyclists, and people who just didn’t give a shit. This was probably the most stressful part of the date as we worked really hard to do our share of distancing, dodging, ducking, and all around avoiding passer-byers. This may seem ridiculous but remember this was in the early months when no one knew whether to wear a mask, or thought Covid was a 5G network conspiracy.
This anxiety inducing element made finding the “perfect picnic spot” got old real quick and we lowered our standards somewhat settling on a plot of grass that had the least amount of Canadian Goose Shit in or around it. We settled for a beautiful spot under a tree where my honey could sit in the shade and I could soak up the long awaited warm summer rays. Blankets were laid, food spread out, champagne poured and a good vibes playlist begun.
I vividly remember how amazing it felt to be out in the world again, watching new faces stroll by, all equally desiring the same need to reconnect with the world again. Colors seemed amplified, the flowers and grass more fragrant. The sounds of the birds and the fountain heightened against the rousing melodic music in the background. Even the face of my boyfriend looked fresh and new despite having stared at it non-stop for the previous couple months while in the pandemic lockdown. Perhaps I was going to recant my initial thoughts of smothering him in his sleep? The edges of his lips would begin to curl up and a smile peaking through…indeed I would not be smothering him.
I had only wished we had brought a frisbee, mitts and a ball. Maybe badminton rackets even, not that I can actually do any of these activities well. There is something about being in a park however that suggests that when in Rome, these activities could be enjoyable even for a gigantic accident prone clutz like myself. I imagine that during better times in the world you could probably catch a scene from Top Gun where all the boys are playing volleyball shirtless, dogtags stuck against their glistening sweaty skin. Silver framed Aviators perched perfectly on the bridge of their Adonis nose, complimenting a strongly chiseled jawline. If luck would have it, maybe a rogue volleyball would make it my way, rolling into my peripheral view. I’d glare at the broad shadowy figure above me, looking sheepishly irritated with the interruption as I adjust my bathing suit flush against my oiled and cellulite free bottom. I did say it was “better times” y’all, 20 years ago give or take.
Let me get back to reality here.
Our food was so delicious, and so was the company. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect late afternoon; dining Al Fresco on our little patch of heaven in the park. We found new things to talk about that left us freshly engaged as our conversation danced with ideas, ready to execute for when things returned back to normal. Careful to not get too hopeful, but enough as to not let the cynicism seep in and ruin the day. We’d talk about places we wanted to travel too in the next coming years, and what kind of adventure we were seeking from these travels. We would go through the list of what we had learned about ourselves during the isolation from friends and family and what good things came from these lessons. We’d acknowledge the fact that the pandemic was not going to be forever but here for now. Just like how the time we had together was going to model a similar outcome. We’d have each other now, and in this moment hoped it would last forever, but impossible.
We would not get the opportunity to picnic like this again during the summer, but would spend some time on the Bow river floating, snacking and sipping in the sunshine. It would be the simplicity of these afternoons that I hope we can repeat next summer as soon as the warmth returns to us. I suspect the world may still be in a similar state in 7 months whereby our gatherings stay small, our travel plans stay local, and expectations stay realistic. Picnic’s in the park for a Pandemic Date Win!
Cereal has always been one of those go to foods for me that I have always counted on whether its to kill some hunger pangs, silence an angry stomach that doesn’t know what it wants to eat, or make me feel good inside. And before all of the Nutrition/Dietary Maniacs get on their soap boxes, I am fully aware of where this food staple in my life falls short. In the last few years I have strayed from time to time away from the safer, healthier choices of cereal that would habitually line my cupboards. Every now and again my other half would buy a small box of Sugary Delight, and indulge occasionally in a bowl. I’d toss my nose up in the air as if it was inconceivable to consider eating a bowl of cereal that only as I child I was allowed to have when we went camping. You see, these were “Sugar Cereals,” and if I didn’t know better they may as well have been the devil according the searing Kathy Bates voice in my head. Mama did not let little Cece D such garbage, and forget being allowed to add sugar to my plain CHEERIOS. Read More About That Tale Here. However, the joke would be on my mother when the CARBS ARE BAD era arrived, and all cereal was clumped into that category. But somehow the trauma of my no sugar childhood clearly stuck with me. I had not bought a fun cereal ever until I realized the pie I had just smashed was doing me no favors either.
My palette required some level of priming before I went all the way balls deep into the hard stuff. I started with the Honey Nut Cheerios and Vanilla Special K, moving onwards to the flavorful Honey Combs and scrumptious Frosted Flakes. My taste buds awakened like the blood vessels of crack cocaine addict, and I was left strung out needing more on a daily basis, it was the first thing I’d think of when I woke up. As my tolerance for candy covered processed grains grew stronger it seemed as if I would not be satisfied until I could find the right balance of crystalized glaze, upholding itself against the saturating milk.
But Alas, my other half is not just a pretty face, he is a connoisseur of all things sinful and indulgent, and he had placed something new into the cart one day that I had never seen before. It’s box- bright yellow like a singing Canary; boasting bold, colorful letters that sung a Sonnet into my heart “Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries.” The audacity this cereal had claiming it was so Crunchy that it deserved the word Crunch twice in its name. This particular delicacy has ruined me for all other cereals as Quaker has somehow managed to corner the niche market on the gastronomical science of crunch. I could take 20 minutes to eat my luscious bowl of crunchy morsels and they show no mercy against the milk’s ominous attempt to penetrate its sugary walls. That my friends is the sign of an exemplary cereal in my eyes. So much so, that the roof of my mouth was no match for its piercing swords lacerating me with its crunchiness. But like all good things they must come to an end, surely the roof of my mouth spoke that truth.
Now you may be thinking from the sounds of it, that I need an intervention of sorts. And I assure you there will be one as soon as these Covid Restrictions ease up and I can return to the gym. I’m in what I have come to call a “HUNGRY STRIKE.” I’ve realized -Why make life harder with more restrictions added to it like cutting carbs at a time like this. And seeing as these restrictions may carry on for some time, I’ve taken my interest to the Magical World of the Interweb where communities alike gather and share their own field research in regards to Cereal, or Nuggets of The Sun that I more commonly refer to it as.
” I think Frosted Flakes are actually the dandruff of angels.”
You cannot get more poignant than that Mr. Edwards.
As I searched further for others to join my Hungry Strike Brigade, I came across something that felt like may give the Cap’n a run for his money. The magical sorcery of these cereal makers continues to keep me in awe as I uncovered that they indeed had made a Twinkies Cereal. You heard me…little tiny Twinkies that you could spoon into your mouth at a rate much faster than you could stuff a whole Twinkie in there.
“Between Popeyes chicken sandwich and this crap we all gonna die before 55.”
— One Instagram user’s response to the new Twinkies Cereal
According to Josh Jans, Brand Manager of Cereal Partnerships at Post Consumer Brands, said in a statement: “In developing a cereal version of the iconic Twinkies, our top priority was focused on delivering the great Twinkies flavor in each bite. And unless you have been living under a rock Twinkies became a hot commodity as Hostess Brands, the owner of Twinkies, went out of business in 2012. Approximately 18,500 employees lost their jobs and 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes, and 570 bakery outlets were closed.
In conclusion, whether you are a stoner who loves the muncheroos, or an adult working through her sugar free childhood trauma-cereal is the bomb. Ultimately I will need to wean myself from its tender clutch, and pretend we don’t know each other when we pass one another in the aisles. But like a booty call that hits you up at 2am with the “You Up” text 2 years later, you know it will always be there for you if you need a dose of frivolous pleasure.
Here’s an opportunity to go all out: recreate your first date — at home. If you went to a coffee shop, whip up some artisanal coffees. If you went to a romantic restaurant, print the menu and try to make one of the dishes in your kitchen. If you went to the zoo, print pictures of the animals you saw and put them in frames around the living room. Get creative and remember to tell your partner everything you loved about them on that very first day.
Our first date was on 17th Ave in Calgary- We did a bar crawl from one end of the Ave to the other.
2.Take a virtual mixology class.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to get fancy with your drinks. Not sure how to mix anything more exciting than a vodka soda? Take a class! Log on with your special someone — or your pals — and let an expert help. Virtual Holiday Party Canada Offers Many Options!
3.Take a class.
Little ones deserve to have a festive Valentine’s Day too. To get them in on the fun, sign them up for a V-Day-themed virtual class. Websites like Eventbrite have options from baking and letter writing to dancing and singing.
February might still be chilly, but make the most of it by dressing up in your warmest coats and building a fire. Bring out a bottle of good wine, toast some oversize marshmallows, play an outdoor game, and enjoy the outdoors during the time of year we are usually inside. If you have an outdoor space that’s bigger than a barely-there balcony (lucky you!), consider turning your backyard into your own personal campsite. Just hang some string lights, grab a couple cozy blankets (or Parka’sif you live in Calgary!), fill these Oprah-approved, triple-insulated mugs with a delicious hot drink (think: mulled wine, spiked hot chocolate, or Irish coffee), and build a roaring fire pit, and you’ll have everything you need for an at-home adventure—complete with stargazing, of most importantly, s’mores (pro tip: swap peanut butter cups for chocolate bars).
6.Have a Dance Party
For a more interactive evening, Mary J. Gibson, a relationship expert for DatingXP, recommends dancing to get your heart rate up. A variety of dance classes are now offered online: Learn how to fox trot, tango, and two step during one of Ballroom Dance Chicago’s Zoom lessons; Dancio teaches beginners how to do a plié and pirouette; and CLI studios offers lessons on everything from tap to hip-hop. (Pro tip: Just make sure to put on some romantic background music.) You can also, of course, fire up YouTube and learn choreo to some of your favorite music videos.
7.Have a Karaoke Night
Though an activity like karaoke might make you feel a little self-conscious, it’s a great bonding experience. “When one partner is feeling adventurous or afraid and they are stepping out of their comfort zone, this gives the other partner an opportunity to show their comforting or protective side,” says Sassoon. (Suffer from serious stage fright? Purchase this bestselling karaoke microphone and enjoy singing your favorite sultry tunes—from the comfort of your couch.)
Here’s a video from some of our Karaoke Days!
8. Volunteer somewhere together.
Hopefully, you show your partner love all year round. So instead of showering each other this V-Day, give love to someone else who may need it even more. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters are always looking for volunteers, as are animal shelters (furry babes need love too!).
Hear me out: While a photo session can feel cheesy, once you have those adorable couples photos, you won’t think twice about how corny you looked in that Charlie’s Angels pose in the second shot. Use the session as an opportunity to have fun with each other and create memories and photos that will literally last a lifetime. Shoott makes it easy to book a session in your area, and you’ll only pay for the photos you like.
Or Recreate these hilarious ones!
10. Play a romantic game
Fed up with date nights ending on the couch with another Netflix binge-watching session?
I suggest getting a romantic or a simple board game to get you two talking, playing or simply engaging with one another. The Date Night Box Set is a great option because you and your partner can choose from three different game variations: Talk, Flirt or Dare Cards that can really spice up your night.
Valentine’s Date Night: This luxury hotel in the centre of downtown Calgary will spoil you and your partner this Valentine’s Day with upscale accommodations. While you bask in this at home escape, enjoy a gourmet dinner for two and a bottle of wine from the comfort of your room.
Cost: Luxury Rooms from $349 and Luxury Suites from $379.
Luxe in Love: Swoon over your stay in a spacious suite at the downtown Calgary Fairmont Palliser. This special for two includes fondue, charcuterie, canapes, and sparkling wine. You can also enjoy your room and accommodations a bit later with this package.
You may remember this pre-pandemic activity that involves painting canvases and drinking decent amounts of wine. Recreate this activity at home and buy watercolor paint (the better not to ruin your floor). Then set up an object to recreate (fruit always works), say cheers, and bring the object to life. Or even better spice it up a notch a use your human canvases!
15. Take a long drive.
Fill up your gas tank, pack snacks and (non-alcoholic) drinks, and ride around your local area. You can stop your joyride at a secluded area like a park or camping site. If the weather allows, enjoy some time outside. See these 25 Day Trips from Calgary
16. Make a short movie.
Who needs Steven Spielberg when you have a smartphone? Be the directors of your lives when you film yourselves for the evening doing…whatever you like. Maybe you share sweet confessions about each other, film yourselves running around outside, or maybe…you get more creative. No matter what, feel free to press delete at the end of the day; this film is all in good fun.
This is a hobby that has become even more popular since many people have taken on to doing more outdoor activities and here in Calgary and in the surrounding areas there is no shortage of places to go!
Date nights are always a fun opportunity for me to get dressed up a, throw on a Burgundy Jewel Toned Lipstick and venture out to a new eating establishment we haven’t been to yet. I get nostalgic thinking of when my mom and dad used to go out for dinner which was often saved for special occasions like a birthdays or anniversaries. My mother always had a flair for rich vibrant colors, and would accessorize her long royal blue coat with a ruby or emerald broach pinning her silk scarf against the lapel. Her cheeks freshly rouged as she shuffled me into my black patent dress shoes smelling of Shalimar and Oil of Olay.
It’s only to be expected that I’ve followed a similar pattern of pomp and circumstance on date nights. My boyfriend Tony is well programmed in his responses to my questions around appropriate dress attire where he’ll simply say:
“Wear whatever it is you’d like to wear!”-Smart Boy
It should also come as no surprise that I’ve been extremely overdressed on multiple occasions, but chalked it up to sometimes Truck Stop Diners with world famous pie deserve the opulence.
“The story of the Bow Valley Ranche is nearly twelve decades long. Throughout its many years, the house has always had a reputation for holding unforgettable parties. It began with a few characters who were critical to the development of Alberta’s cattle industry, the Big Four. In fact, the idea of the Calgary Stampede may very well have been conceived within the walls of the house.
In 1896, cattle rancher and businessman William Roper Hull purchased property along the Bow River and built a sprawling ranch house. The ranch became a centre for refined social activities, as he entertained many local and foreign visitors there. Among the activities popular with the guests, tennis and the outdoor pool were crowd favourites, as you can see from the pictures below.
Hull owned the house and property until 1902, when it was purchased by Patrick Burns, a successful cattle rancher who eventually became a senator. Almost a century later, local residents Mitzie and Larry Wasyliw created the Fish Creek Restoration Society in 1995 for the purpose of restoring the Hull residence. In the summer of 1999, the ranch house was opened as a fine dining restaurant.”
Bow Valley Ranche is a fine dining resteraunt and we were celebrating our common-law anniversary, which is a thing for some of us fearful of marriage!
September 28, 2020 gave us an abnormally warm evening and looked forward to clutching on to the last few days, hours and minutes of outdoor dining we could. We had also been aware that they were hosting the Foodies in the Park Series : Wonderland Dome Dining which we will return to experience on October 23rd, 2020. Stay tuned for that!
We strolled along the pathway leading up to the impressive farmhouse, lined with old fashioned street lanterns. It reminded me of the scene in Mary Poppins, Bert and the children went to the park and broke into song singing:
A quaint little fountain in the middle of the Ranch House’s garden marked its way before we arrived at the steps leading us onto a porch that wrapped its way around the house. I knew that was where I wanted to sit for dinner, and we were led to a discreetly placed table
We started our dining experience with a hearty helping of Oysters on the half shell, fresh grated horseradish, lemon and mignonette du jour. On our first date, we had worked our way down 17th Ave, Bar and resteraunt hopping with our last stop being Market. There we drank cognac and ate Oysters until we ended up taking the party back to my place *wink *wink- So it only made sense to indulge.
For dinner I had the Smoked Gouda & Wild Mushroom Stuffed Chicken with macaire potatoes, asparagus, tomato confit and roasted peppers. Tony had the Rougie Duck a L’Orange, with Russian Blue mashed potatoes, green beans, baby carrot vichy. Both entrees were delicious, however we had a little giggle over the plating of his food, specifically his Russian Blue Mashed Potatoes.
We ended our evening of with a dessert of truffles that were on the house. Our waiter was so excellent and quite charming, ensuring our glasses remained full or if we needed anything in the most cordial of ways.
It was a beautiful way to finish up a gorgeous September.
Last night we ventured North of the bow River to SS106 Aperitivo Bar, and Italian Kitchen nestled in the heart of Crescent Heights on Edmonton Trail.
“SS106’s name derives from the SS106 which is a 491-kilometre highway on the Ionian coast in southern Italy, stretching between the towns of Reggio Calabria in the west to Taranto in the east. While the highway offers incredibly scenic views of beaches, ancient coastal towns and the sea, it is also known as one of Italy’s most dangerous roads, due to tight turns. However, Domenico (the owner) wanted to change the highway’s reputation right here in their hometown of Calgary.
SS106 Aperitivo Bar was opened to create the Italian lifestyle here in Calgary. The Italian lifestyle is very social and every Italian visits their local bar daily even if it’s just for a quick espresso. Many people who have not traveled to Italy have a perception that Italian restaurants are only quiet and candle lit. In Italy many Italian restaurants & bars are very social, happy and louder. SS106 Aperitivo Bar has brought a piece of Italy to YYC.”-Website
And loud it was! It made me long for my girl gang and a time during pre-pandemic days where we’d sit for hours, drinking, laughing and taking no particular notice of the other diners around us regardless of how racey the topic was.I could see the owners vision at work as small groups of diners grazed over plates of Charctuterie, Olives and Pasta.
SS106 makes all their pasta in house and lived up to its charm of not trying to be anything else but just that. A perfect spot to drop in, fill your belly, and try one of their craft cocktails. I enjoyed an Apertivo called the Busted Negroni-Cinzano | Campari | Prosecco | Soda.
We ordered the TAGLIERE (BOARDS) Fromaggio and Calamari to start which were pretty standard and tasty. For our entree’s I had ordered the Gnocchi ai Funghi which is their House-made gnocchi served in a gorgonzola cheese fondue with seared mushrooms. Tony ordered the Fusilli Calabresi pasta served in a tomato sauce with parmesan cheese, which I ended up wishing I had ordered with its nicely spiced, well balanced sauce.Alternatively they have pizza’s as well that perhaps I will try next time. It was a nice time and I was happy Tony had come across this place for our date night. The service was awesome and quick, and very Italian!
Stay tuned for our next date nights in YYC : Foodiesinthepark–Wonderland Edition
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