Australia Short Visit: How to Spend Three Days in Sydney

Finally, G&N landed “down-under” on a 30-day Australian “bucket list” trip –  it had been a 25-year discussion.

Described by friends as “Vancouver without the mountains” and “Stockholm with more people,” Sydney is Sydney without any comparable. Not entirely sure what to expect of the five-million person (not including visitors) metropolis the twosome stumbled out of their Darling Harbour hotel to explore the highlights. Late morning, after the 20-hour transit including a 16-hour flight leg the only thing on Nutmeg’s mind was finding a strong flat white coffee (maybe two).

Sydney Harbour Bridge #Sydney #Australia #VisitAustralia

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Why you Need Patience at the Sous Préfecture in Provence

Nutmeg is self-admittedly not a patient person. She develops a plan, does not appreciate too much external input, and certainly is not thrilled when there is a proposed change. Living in France, with life at a slower pace, has helped with her natural inclination somewhat. Although, Ginger is certain that she may never be fully cured of her affliction.

Here, are some verbal “pictures” of life in slow motion:

  • Walks with a 12 year old yellow lab
  • Sunday morning coffee service at the village café
  • Opening hours/days for the local boulangerie and boucherie
  • Watching a dog sleep in the sun
  • WiFi access in a thunderstorm
  • A swimming pool warmed only by the sun
  • Waiting for your tax refund

Coffee Time

This post is about the ultimate lesson in patience, a heavy dose of bureaucracy, mountains of paperwork and long queues. Welcome to the world of the sous-préfectures (home of French Administration)! Nutmeg has had the pleasure of visiting a couple of these offices while in Provence, the location in Aix-en-Provence and equally attractive Arles office.

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Distilling Wild Spirits in Canmore

It is not every day that a new vodka hits the liquor store shelves, and certainly not one that is fabricated using only (100%) ingredients from Alberta. The bad news is Ginger and Nutmeg missed the grand opening party. The good news the Wild Life Distillery is nearby, in Canmore.

The distillery’s founders Matt Widmer and Keith Robinson are both Bow Valley locals. Widmer grew-up in Banff and Robinson in Canmore, their connection, like many residents, was snow and sport related – in this case, cross-country skiing events.

Wild Life Distillery Owners in Canmore

It might seem strange for graduates of Kinesiology (Widmer) and Business Administration and Marketing (Robinson) to join forces, but they both appear to be driven by entrepreneurial forces. In the summer of 2014, they shook hands on the slightly crazy idea of opening a distillery in Canmore, and the Wild Life Distillery began to take shape.

Nutmeg asked how the concept came together. According to Widmer,

“I have had an interest in distilled spirits since 2010. While living in Tofino, I would chat with a friend (MBA graduate) on a weekly basis about business ideas and options for future entrepreneurial goals. Distilleries were just starting to be a thing on Vancouver Island around then, and it sparked my interest. Why were there no small distilleries in Alberta? I travelled to Chicago in 2011 to take a spirits course and learn about the industry. Then after some investigation with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC), I discovered that there were extremely high production minimums to grant access to a class-E manufacturing license. So basically, you had to produce 250,000 litres of absolute alcohol to get a license, which clearly prohibited any small distillery from considering starting up. It was then in the summer of 2014 that the AGLC changed the licensing structure, and dropped this huge minimum to zero.”

This was the game-changer that they needed.

“The distilling industry is full of big bucks and big dreams. Keith and I had to find ways to achieve the big dreams without spending too many $$. “

And, sure enough starting a new venture is not easy…

Probably the most difficult part of opening this business was getting permission from the municipality to renovate and acquire our building permit. This involved months of planning, navigating the building and fire codes, and countless meetings with the town to finally arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. Only then, could the space be renovated to suit the production requirements. Determining and finalising equipment needs took months of research and hours of commissioning once it was all installed.

The Wild Life Distillery facility is now fully operational and open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 8 pm. Drop by for a tour (at 3 pm), enjoy a cocktail or buy a bottle of local vodka to take home.

Vodka bottle from Wild Life Distillery in Canmore

Can you tell our readers about the Wild Life Vodka?

We use all Alberta ingredients for our vodka. The grains are raw hard, red wheat and malted barley. We mill, mash, ferment, distill, bottle and label every drop of every bottle on site. It is 100% locally produced, and we are proud to be able to do so here in Canmore. From ‘grain to bottle’ the process is around two (2) weeks. We use Canmore ground water for blending, and the resulting spirit is clean, smooth and authentically Albertan.

Mixing cocktails with Wild Life Vodka distilled in Alberta

Where can readers find your Wild Life Vodka locally?

In Canmore:
Stores: Liquor Depot Canmore, Cellar Door, Rusty’s Liquor and Unwined at 3 Sisters
Restaurants: Where the Buffalo Roam, The Drake Pub, Hogshead Pub, and The Hive Gallery

In Banff:
Stores: Liquor Depot Banff, Side-Street Liquor, Town House Liquor, Tunnel Mt. Liquor
Restaurants: Ticino Swiss-Italian Restaurant, Melissa’s Restaurant, The Bison Restaurant, Park Distillery, The Block Bar/Restaurant and The Banff Park Lodge

What is Next up on your list of spirits to be produced?

Gin. We should be ready with gin within several weeks, and then from there, we will likely do a flavoured vodka for summer.

Contact details:
Wild Life Distillery
160 -105 Bow Meadows Crescent
Canmore, AB T1W2W8
Tel: 403-678-2800

Destination New Orleans: 5 Things to Do During Your Visit

Unkempt and a bit frayed at the edges New Orleans just woke up with bed head.

French quarter #NOLA #NewOrleans

This is the kind of place where potholes can swallow a car tire in a single bite and construction projects take decades. Flash flooding is frequent when it rains because there is nowhere for the water to go. The city’s residents have adapted, basements are practically unheard of and definitely a folly, slab on grade construction begs for slightly damp walls, and there is a festival of some description almost every day.

French quarter #NOLA #NewOrleans

French Market #NOLA #NewOrleans

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Dipping A Toe in France’s Ardeche

This post will most likely make Nutmeg’s Corsican friends angry.

Why bother with the hassle of an overnight ferry, crowded beaches and small twisty roads? If you want to feel like you, have experienced a bit of Corsica without leaving the French mainland, plan a trip to the Ardèche region.

The similarities between, the beautiful island of Corsica and the Ardèche are significant, see below:

Corsica

Ardeche

Surface Area 8,680 sq km 5,550 sq km
Widest Point 82 km 75 km
Highest Peak 2,706 metres Mont Cinto 1,754 metres Mont Mézenc
Population 302,000 309,000
Annual Visitors Roughly 2 million Roughly 3 million
Agriculture Chestnuts Chestnuts
Olives Olives
Grapes Grapes
Goats, Sheep Goat, Sheep, Cows
Figs Figs
Beaches 1000 km of coastline Countless River banks
Geographic Formation Volcanic Volcanic

 

Ardeche views #Ardeche #France

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How Nowhere Attracts Artists to East Jesus

Today, your GPS or smartphone might just lead you to the middle of nowhere – East Jesus. This artist’s colony is a couple of dusty miles away from Slab City, a squatters’ settlement that feels like an Imperial Valley desert metropolis once you reach this commune, literally at the end of the road.

East Jesus #EastJesus #California @GingerandNutmeg

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Far from Reality Slab City and Salvation Mountain

As Nutmeg stood in front of a crayon-coloured mound of dirt, clay and straw she thought what would Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (Gaudi) have thought of this? The “summit” of Salvation Mountain stands almost 45-feet high, a mass that is easily recognisable in the otherwise pancake-flat California desert.

Salvation Mountain #California @GingerandNutmeg

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