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I just returned from a wonderful trip to Canada covering a Culinary Tour for the Christmas in November Festival at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge that draws mostly women, though more men are showing up each year. It is a beautiful culinary event that takes place every November. The Fairmont Hotel hosts award-winning chefs from around the world to give seminars with tips on cooking to the guests at the Fairmount Lodge for their Christmas in November event. Two gala dinners are included plus all meals, two nights lodging, sightseeing, and swimming in the outdoor heated pool, all for $559. Along with the chefs they also had decorators to give decorating tips, not just for Christmas, but also for home year round. There were also lessons in arts and crafts by a crafts master, as well as sightseeing tours through the Majestic Rocky Mountains.
Never having been to Canada I was pleasantly surprised to find such warm and gracious people. A great, great time! Spectacular views, great accommodations in top resorts with excellent service, down bedding that felt like you were sleeping on a cloud, and meals to die for. I tasted Musk Ox. Caribou, Buffalo, and Alligator, but the beef was the best I have ever had. It was like butter. It melted in your mouth. Of course, the Canadians are known for their beef, especially the region of Alberta.
My cameraman, Dave Fasano, and I flew Air Canada to Toronto and we did one overnight (two separate rooms) in Edmonton at the Fantasyland Hotel, which is situated smack in the middle of the West Edmonton Mall. The Mall is unbelievable! It is awesome! There was an indoor beach with mild ocean waves for swimming. The children were riding the waves on inner tubes. There was an NHL-sized skating rink under a glass dome, miniature golf, sea life caverns, a Galaxy-land amusement park with spectacular rides and games for all ages, surrounded by beautiful shops. You could shop till you dropped. Bargains galore! A Mall full of pleasurable moments for kids and adults alike.
We departed the next day via Rail Canada’s Snow Train with lunch on board and experienced the observation car and gaming car. Each of us had our own compartment and we marveled at how efficient and comfortable they all were; enough to ride the rails in comfort for days on end.
Five hours later we landed in Jasper National Park and transferred to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, which is beautifully surrounded by snow-capped peaks and sparkling lakes. I was lucky to have a spacious, double bed cabin right on the lake. This night was the beginning of Christmas in November. All the lights of Christmas were on the trees, and yuletide decorations everywhere. A festive cocktail reception and sit down dinner was served and it was delicious. We looked forward to meeting the award-winning chefs the next day.
John Ash, author of “Cooking One on One,” made a few marvelous soups, which we sampled. Fresh ingredients were his key words. John Ash made marvelous soups. His secret to making fish broth was to simmer fresh, uncooked shrimp shells. The next chef, Michael Smith, said to “Keep it simple.” He made a succulent beef stew. “Braise the beef slowly and do not dip into flour,” he said, and “Extra virgin olive oil is not necessary. After the beef is braised add the carrots and potatoes and other vegetables you wish.” Lynne Tolley, the great grandniece of Jack Daniels, cooks everything with Jack Daniels because it enhances all food and it intensifies the flavor. We had fabulous treats from Anna and Michael Olsen from Food Network Canada such as sherry onion tarts, endive walnut salad and pumpkin tiramisu. My taste buds jumped with joy. This was just a sampling of the award-winning chefs that were there.
That evening was the Gala reception, and dinner was superb. Santa flew in on his sled and I got a chance to sit on his lap to present my Santa‘s List.
We toured the Jasper National Park and found how protective they were of preserving the tress and wild animals. Along the way we were thrilled to catch sight of sheep, wolves, elk, coyotes and more.
The Blue Pear Restaurant was where I ate Chard fish, which was heavenly, like salmon only not as fishy. And I tasted buffalo meat, which was tasty and not gamey, similar to beef at the Fantasyland Hotel. I savored their Canadian beef, which is much more flavorful and tender than American beef. Of course, all the food was excellent. It was a culinary tour and I didn’t have a hungry moment. At the Fairmont we took bites of freshly prepared samples of seminar dishes. We took with us a beautiful memory of Christmas in November at the Jasper Park Lodge. No wonder their guests have been coming back year after year for as long as seventeen years.
We were driven back to Edmonton by van to enable us to take pictures of the wildlife. The Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel took us in for two nights to enable us to dine at two of their fine restaurants in Edmonton, where they served a sumptuous sampling meal paired with the correct wines to enhance the taste of each dish. I sampled Elk and Buffalo there. Both the Blue Pear and Normand’s were very attractive and exceptional places to dine. We visited the Old Strathcoma Area, the historic part of town, the Alberta Crafts Council Gallery and Shops, and Maggie Walt Designs that fuses East and West clothes tailored in Bali.
It was a beautiful trip with breathing-taking views that made you feel the closeness of God and that one on one feeling with nature. Wonderful, gracious people, and so welcoming to folks from the USA. I don’t know if you have ever been to Canada, but I do recommend that you visit it at least once in your lifetime
Air Canada flew us back home from Toronto, but the pleasant memories of the views, food, lodgings and people will linger forever.
And speaking of culinary, we have Kennedy’s restaurant right here in Breezy that serves delicious meals, and not just ordinary. Helene and Peter Danzilo asked me to join them for dinner at Kennedy’s Saturday night, where I met Barbara and Billy Genoese, their daughter, Mary Duignan and granddaughter Olivia Rose. A young lady at the next table from us recommended the Dorado fish on the special menu. We all ordered it and it was wonderful. Kennedy’s can compete anytime with all the sensational meals I had in Canada. This special was ever so good.
According to the Corner Bachelors, Joe Kilbride stole away with a secret admirer.
And thank you Helen Jordan.
Give a call and “AWAY WE GO!!!’