A TALE OF TWO CITIES

The ins and outs of two un­der­rated Cana­dian cities

S/ - - CONTENTS - BY AN­DREA KARR

There’s more to Al­berta

than sprawl­ing prairies and foothills, and the glo­ri­ous, snow-capped Rocky Moun­tains. The prov­ince’s culi­nary cre­ations, par­tic­u­larly in its two largest cities, are unique, un­pre­ten­tious, and ut­terly de­li­cious—and some of the same words can be used to de­scribe the lo­cal com­mu­nity of mak­ers. Spend sev­eral days split be­tween Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary, plus their sur­round­ing ar­eas, to in­dulge in first-class meals, shop­ping, and spa treat­ments (and a bit of na­ture, too), and you’ll be amazed by this un­ex­pect­edly rich Cana­dian hotspot.

Ed­mon­ton

Put a visit to Café Lin­nea at the top of your list for French-meets-Scan­di­na­vian fare. Best known for brunch, it of­fers fresh dishes like owner/ chef Kelsey John­son’s favourite, the Com­plète Galette (a buck­wheat crêpe topped with ham, gruyère, and an egg), all made with in­gre­di­ents found within 100 kilo­me­tres. If you’re in town on a Thurs­day, wan­der the nearby 124 Street dis­trict, be­cause it’s the only day each week that Pura Botan­i­cals and So Pretty Cara Cot­ter both open their art­fully dec­o­rated stu­dios to the pub­lic. Pura is an Ed­mon­ton-based skin­care line that makes all of its nat­u­ral, or­ganic, and wild crafted blends in a tiny lab on site, while So Pretty Cara Cot­ter cre­ates a wide range of hy­per-fem­i­nine jew­ellery de­signed lo­cally, but made by fourth-gen­er­a­tion Jaipur sil­ver­smiths us­ing Cara’s favourite stones: labradorite, chryso­prase, and

moon­stone. Up the street is Ar­turo Denim, a shop that will tai­lor one of its three women’s or two men’s styles—or a piece of your own—to per­fectly fit your fig­ure; Duchess Bake Shop, an Ed­mon­ton in­sti­tu­tion known for its clas­sic French pas­tries like mac­arons, éclairs, and galettes; and Bearclaw Gallery, one of Canada’s most re­spected deal­ers of Cana­dian First Na­tions art.

Next, stop by the new­est out­post of Ed­mon­ton shoe-and-ac­ces­sory brand Poppy Bar­ley at South­gate Cen­tre, where hand­bags and leather shoes made in León, Mex­ico (think Chelsea boots, Ox­fords, and rid­ing boots), are avail­able for pur­chase and or­der in ex­tended siz­ing. Save room for din­ner at Ros­ti­zado, a con­tem­po­rary Mex­i­can eatery lo­cated across the street from Canada’s first out­door Neon Sign Mu­seum, and dip into their sweet-and-savoury Shrimp & Chorizo Mol­ca­jetes with pineap­ple salsa, and crispy chur­ros with dulce de leche. Spend the night at the down­town Fair­mont Ho­tel Mac­don­ald, which of­fers lux­u­ri­ous Fair­mont Gold ac­com­mo­da­tions, pri­vate check-in, and an ex­clu­sive lounge on its sev­enth and eighth floors.

Cal­gary

Stay on top of your fit­ness reg­i­men while on hol­i­day by start­ing your day off with a class at Junc­tion 9, a posh yoga and pi­lates stu­dio on the edge of In­gle­wood—Cal­gary’s old­est and trendi­est neigh­bour­hood. The light-filled space has mul­ti­ple class­rooms, rooftop yoga in the sum­mer, and a café stocked with lo­cal bev­er­ages like Phil & Se­bas­tian cof­fee, True Buch Kom­bucha, and Juice Be­cause cold-pressed juices.

Af­ter class, stroll through the nearby shop­ping dis­trict and pop into The Livery Shop and Purr for cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories, The Un­com­mons and 28 Blan­kets for quirky house­hold goods, and The Silk Road for hard-to-find spices. Be­tween pur­chases, dig into lunch at Deane House, a cozy resto in a his­toric home with all-Cana­dian dishes like Gin & Ju­niper Cured Chi­nook Salmon, Top Grass Ox­tail Pero­gies, and Cof­fee-Glazed Al­berta Lamb Ribs. When it’s time for a break, let XO Treat­ment Room’s owner An­nie Gra­ham work her magic dur­ing a cus­tom­ized fa­cial that uses a mix of lasers, peels, and oxy­gen to brighten, tighten, and re­ju­ve­nate with no down­time. For din­ner, stop in at For­eign Con­cept and be pre­pared to want one of every­thing on the menu. The mouth­wa­ter­ing Viet­namese-fu­sion cui­sine by owner and award-win­ning Cal­gary chef Dun­can Ly in­cludes dishes like Miso Bake Sweet Potato with cheese curds, Bul­gogi Im­pe­rial Rolls with daikon kim­chi, and An­gus Beef Striploin Tataki—and beau­ti­ful pre­sen­ta­tion doesn’t come at the ex­pense of taste. Fol­low up your meal with an ar­ti­sanal cock­tail or two from the ex­ten­sive and ever-chang­ing menu at Proof, then set­tle in for a good night’s rest at Le Ger­main Ho­tel Cal­gary, where there’s com­pli­men­tary car ser­vice and no set check­out time.

Drive On

From Ed­mon­ton: Lo­cated 40 min­utes east of the city, Elk Is­land Na­tional Park is an oa­sis teem­ing with wildlife—es­pe­cially bi­son, elk, and moose in the win­ter months. Rent snow­shoes from the vis­i­tor cen­tre or lace up your ice skates for a loop around the skat­ing track un­der the twin­kling stars of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Pre­serve. If you pre­fer to keep your fin­gers and toes toasty warm, head to the town of Beau­mont, known for its French her­itage and award-win­ning Chartier restau­rant, which serves up French-Cana­dian dishes like smoked meat sand­wiches, lob­ster pou­tine and tem­pura-fried green beans with maple mayo.

From Cal­gary: Cal­gary is less than an hour and a half by car from some of the pret­ti­est and most ac­ces­si­ble parts of the Rock­ies: Kananaskis, Can­more, and Banff. Take a trip into the moun­tains and recharge with fresh air and scenic views atop the Banff Gon­dola, then soothe sore mus­cles with a calm­ing Alpine Aro­mather­apy mas­sage and a dip in the hot-and-cold treat­ment pools at Wil­low Stream Spa. For an­i­mal lovers, Yam­nuska Wolf­dog Sanc­tu­ary in Cochrane of­fers tours of its res­cue fa­cil­i­ties, in­tro­duc­tions to its dog packs, and ed­u­ca­tion about the im­por­tance of wolf preser­va­tion and re­spon­si­ble wolf­dog own­er­ship.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY THOMAS WHITESIDE/ TRUNK ARCHIVE.

1. Snag Pura Botan­i­cals’ pop­u­lar hy­drat­ing Overnight Watermelon Mask to nour­ish your travel-weary skin. 2. So Pretty Cara Cot­ter’s jew­ellery is per­fect for stack­ing and lay­er­ing. 3. Take in Ed­mon­ton’s river val­ley views from the com­fort of Ho­tel Mac­don­ald’s pa­tio.

4. Get pam­pered at XO Treat­ment Room. 5. In­dulge in For­eign Con­cept’s mouth­wa­ter­ing Beef Tataki. 6. Sip on a craft cock­tail from Proof.

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