G I LC H R I ST

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

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.

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