G I LC H R I ST
Ask any soccer mom or hockey dad, “How’s the food at your local pitch/arena?” and you’ll usually receive a grimaced face in reply.
Most of us have stared at the greasy, spinning hotdogs and the questionable nacho cheese under heat lamps and wondered if our health was in danger.
But if you’re in the Black Diamond area and you drop into the Oilfields Regional Arena at 611 3rd Street, the aroma emanating from Ginni’s Kitchen (403990-5952) will leave you with a different impression. Ginni and Dale Kelley have taken over the concession and have installed a cafe serving buttermilk pancakes, chicken pot pie, pizza rolls, handformed cheeseburgers and tuna salad paninis, all fresh-made. Coffee is fresh-ground Fratello and dessert is chocolate pie or little round doughnuts christened Gin-Bits.
Ginni Kelley, a solicitor in England, worked for the Crown in Calgary when the couple immigrated to Calgary a few years ago. Known to friends for whipping up an excellent butter chicken, she soon took over the Corner Cafe in the Blackfoot market and started serving her Indian specialties. It was just meant to be a sideline for her legal work but Kelley caught the restaurant bug.
Then an offer to run the President’s Choice cooking school at the Superstore in Deerfoot Meadows pulled her away from the market. But with ideas of food service still in her mind, Kelley and husband Dale looked for opportunities. Residents of Okotoks, they saw that Oilfields was looking for a new concession tenant. They took the leap.
So now, in addition to the upgraded concession fare, the Kelleys, using their Indian background, have introduced samosas, spiced lentil soup and butter chicken poutine that uses fresh paneer instead of cheese curds. And since they spent many years in England, they’ve included Cornish-style pasties, shepherd’s pie and double-dipped fries. (Excellent!) Pretty heady stuff for an arena lobby that has only two tables and is lit by fluorescents.
But Oilfields Arena is no typical arena. There’s the usual covered artificial ice rink and curling rink but there’s also a refrigerated outdoor rink. Between hockey, curling, figure skating and electri- cal generation, it’s one humming place. Electrical generation? Oilfields Arena is a highly energy-efficient facility, generating more than 20 kilowatts from solar panels on the roof and a small wind turbine project. So being innovative in food service is not a big stretch. It’s a fine fit for the Kelleys and their many customers. You won’t see too many grimaces around this arena.
Are you up for a taste of Banff ? Traditionally, the latter part of November has been a “locals” time for the mountain town with restaurants offering deals in the non-peak period between hiking and skiing.
The enterprising folks of Banff cooked up the idea to formalize the deals into a festival called Bon Appetit Banff, now in its fourth year. So through to Nov. 23, more than 30 Banff restaurants will offer three-course meals at $27, $37, $47 or $57.
For example, you can have a Greek feast of calamari or horia- tiki followed by lamb shank or bison short ribs, both with Greek vegetables, and finish with baklava or cheesecake for $27 Sunday through Thursday. (Tax and tip are extra and on Friday and Saturday it bumps up to $37.) There are other great Greek options, too.
Or head to Eden in the Rimrock Hotel for a three-course tasting menu that would typically be $89 for $57. Or how about veal carpaccio, rabbit lasagna and chocolate pecan pie among a wealth of choices at Juniper Bistro for $47?
Also, on the evenings of Nov. 18, 19 and 20, the Banff Lake Louise Tourism folks have developed what they call “Dine Around Banff ” packages. For $99 per person, you meet at a designated restaurant, have a first course and then are bused to three more restaurants over the evening. For example, the Nov. 18 package includes El Toro, Maclab Bistro at the Banff Centre, Castello at the Fairmont Banff Springs and Elk & Oarsman. Each course will be revealed at the restaurant. Your ticket includes transportation, tips, taxes, four courses and paired beverages with each course.
For more information on Bon Appetit Banff check out www.banfflakelouise.com.