September 19, 2012

Wanderlust: Canmore & Banff

Welcome to Part Two of my Adventure out West blog series. Today, we explore Canmore.  Living in Canmore is probably the best of two worlds - you get the convenience of a large city an hour drive away, and the beauty of Banff National Park the other way. Canmore itself is just as beautiful - minus the bus loads of Korean Tourist roaming the street!

One day, I got a tip from a friend about the waffles at the Farmer's market in town so we decided to wake up early and head over there and see what the offerings were. FYI, parking is always free in Canmore, none of that fifteen dollars an hour crap they offer you in Toronto, but f-r-e-e! Gotta love small towns. So anyways, we got there fairly early so there weren't a lot of crowds. This one fruit stand was selling about a dozen or so different apples and giving away free samples of their fruit - gotta love a farmer whose confident in their product! One bite and we ended up walking away with a few bags of produce as well as a loaf of bacon bread. Uh-uh - bacon bread.


Up next, the waffle stand! First off, I see two little girls working from one waffle iron. One. I was wilting awaying to nothing while I stood there waiting for them to dish out two waffles at a time! Granted, there were only a handful of people ahead of me, but it felt like forever. Then I asked my friend what the toppings were, she said - no topping. What? Excuse Me? You mean I am standing in line for a plain 'ol waffle? I was ready to bail right then and there! But they reassured me that the wait was worth it. Blah. Blah. Blah. Where's my waffle already?!

I impatiently continued to watched the girl squirt what looked like simple syrup onto the pan and then squish the dough onto the skillet. Usually I see waffle batter as something runny, like pancake batter but this was more similar to a pizza dough. I'm starting to get a little skeptical.. what the hell did I just crawl out of bed for? 

Finally, it was my turn. By now, I'm thinking "this better be bomb diggity!" So, as I'm placing my order, being the nosy bugger that I am, I start to ask questions. The little girl ended up being supper sweet and answered all my prying questions. I find out that they usually aren't so busy this early or in the middle of the week - hence the one iron. This is forgivable, I guess. The batter is homemade by her parents and inside they incorporate these little nuggets of sugar that they get from Belgium, or Sweden ... oh, I don't know! - at this point I was all "gimme my waffle!!!" 

FINALLY!  I get the waffle in my hand and after I take about a zillion and one pictures of the waffle I waited half a century for, I took my first bite and ... It was Bomb. Diggity! What a damn good piece of delicious lip licking goodness. The "simple syrup" (could not confirm) creates a nice crunchy sticky crust and it was sticky and sweet and it just kept getting better, bite after bite. The dough was moist and those tiny little pieces of sugar turned into little pockets of sweet, sweet moisture. The waffle itself was not overly sweet as expected and I can't believe I'm saying this but, it really didn't need any topping. It was spectacular all on its own. So head on over to Canmore and go straight for Pascale's Belgian Waffles (look them up on facebook!) You won't regret it! 

Next stop on the gravy train is a trip to Banff! The above picture is a view of the town from Norquay lookout. Now, you can't go to Banff and not stay at The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, often called 'the Castle in the Rockies' So just for the day we indulge. We swam in their outdoor heated pool surrounded by mountains, put on their supper fluffy and oversized robes, crawled into our King sized bed, and ordered room service! The ultimate luxury - not having to get out of bed to eat! 


I loved the robes, the room service, and I love it when they label the butter. The view from our room wasn't too shabby either. The pork chops & quince were a perfect combination. My burger was a little bland and the wings were good but the salad definitely stole the show. You can't go wrong with gorgonzola, grapes and candied pecans. 


We also ventured out to Johnston Canyon. The heavy rushing water carves a path through the limestone and creates these beautiful views. You can literally see the layers in the limestone and walk over the rushing water on the man made catwalks. There are two huge waterfalls to hike up to and it's a great place to do some bird watching. While we were there we decided to hike the extra 3k up to the ink pots. These are cold mineral spring pools with basins made of quick sand. It was a gorgeous view. 

At the bottom of the trail there is a patio that serves beer and a cute little ice cream stand that is definitely a great motivator to get you down that mountain. 

Another adventure we threw ourselves into was tackling the Legacy Trail. This is a bike trail from Canmore into Banff. We were faced with snow, wind, and a flat tire but we completed the almost 20k hike there and another 20k back! I know what ya'll are thinking, people who eat like me, do not bike bike trails like this! I was thinking the same thing while I was on the trail!! But with a view like that, two days of a sore ass was well worth it! 

Here I am shedding tears of pain. See you guys tomorrow for the third instalment. Some photos courtesy of chandary Sok  

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