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. 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. 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. 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
OK, so Alberta suffers from a few extra months of winter than other locations in Canada, but that has not stopped foodies from noticing what the Province does produce — naturally. Events such as Cook it Raw Alberta (2015) have raised culinary awareness levels globally. Karen Anderson, the founder of Calgary Food Tours, is a self-professed food lover. Her passion for the kitchen influenced by a family of cooks, with roots in St. Andrews by-the-sea, in New Brunswick, Anderson tells Nutmeg that “One grandfather owned a fish market, and the other was a farmer.” (more…)
Nutmeg is coffee-obsessed if a cup is not in her hands within 30 minutes of her feet hitting the ground in the morning it’s best to stay away. What is odd about her addiction is that her first encounter with coffee was while visiting her grandparents in the West Indies and she hated the bitter brew. Now, just a few years (or so) later she’s hooked. Needless to say when a new java option appears in town Nutmeg feels it is her duty to investigate. (more…)
Rhonda Zuk Headon had a self-imposed a deadline, if her career path was unclear by her 30th birthday she would force the issue. She did exactly that with a trip to Tuscany and her first taste of Italian pecorino. (more…)
Quarry Lake with a sweeping Bow Valley view is perched above the Town of Canmore. It is a popular recreational location in summer months for picnics and wedding photos. The lake is the result of a successful mine reclamation project on a site that was at one time known as Canmore Creek #3, a strip mine. Nutmeg is fairly confident that the buffed athletes who swim in the lake waters when participating in the annual Canmore Triathlon and families who enjoy leisurely summer picnics on the rocky shores have no idea of the lake’s history. (more…)
Nutmeg was very curious about Nu Roots and Tasty Life, these ladies were recently featured in an article in the Canmore Leader. Talk about complimentary businesses; Samantha Peris, Tori Prescott are combining holistic nutritional advice with Joanne Grimble’s really great raw food. The retail store is open limited hours for now, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. In addition, there are cooking classes (Raw Chocolate Cooking) every second Wednesday night. This store has a tiny efficient footprint. They sell the Tasty Life products like Herb Flat bread, Trailside Buckwheat Granola and the Cocoa Nut version and lots more. They also have some featured cookbooks and other healthy items. Nutmeg was really impressed by these ladies they have combined degrees in holistic nutrition, business and raw food cooking into a great package. Nutmeg has tried the “Nutella” like spread – really yummy, not too sweet but definitely chocolaty and it is made with avocado. This may be the ONLY time Nutmeg eats avocado – she can pick it out of sushi… So thumbs up from Nutmeg, a great combination of nutrition and good food at Nu-Roots. Go and visit the store, check out their stand at the Canmore Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, at Wild Flour in Banff or order the really tasty and good for you products on line. Not sure if Ginger is a convert yet – maybe he just needs to meet the lovely ladies.
Nutmeg and Ginger were treated to dinner at this very newly minted Canmore restaurant, it opened on June 18th. Habitat was reviewed in the Calgary Herald last week, whether that was the reason or the fact that they have done some heavy advertising, the restaurant was full. It is located in the Grand Rockies Resort on Mountain Street off the Bow Valley Trail in Canmore. When you arrive in the hotel lobby it is clearly not the standard Rocky Mountain look; there is heavy emphasis on metal, dark wood, gray-black tile, dark granite – no slate or rundle stone anywhere in sight. In fact, if you closed your eyes to the beautiful mountain view outside you could be in Toronto with the very urban design feel. There is a great looking kids pool, super-slide and fun splash pond located beyond the lobby – it is fantastically sound proofed and no hint of the awful chlorine smell. The restaurant theme is similar to the lobby with some interesting light fixtures, bold artwork, wine displays and booth seating. However, overall Nutmeg felt the design fell short in a couple areas; the room was quite over-lit and there is too heavy an emphasis on bronze metallic finishes. The menu has a strong Asian influence with starters that include tempura prawn and vegetables, five spiced fried calamari, crispy chicken and vegetable wonton soup. The table tried salad and soup starters as well as the tempura nori rolls (very good!). The presentation was excellent and the flavours well-balanced in each case. The main courses are also created with the same nod to the far east; green tea and maple glazed salmon, Asian wok vegetables, wasabi mashed potatoes, tea smoked ribs. The wait staff seems to be newly minted along with the restaurant and they would benefit from some additional experience. Nutmeg started to lose her patience after Ginger explained to our waiter that CardaMOM cannot eat anything too spicy and requested that her order not include the wasabi mashed potatoes…they came anyway (extra bonus?). The table service timing was off; the red wine was poured before cocktails were finished and CardaMOM almost had her butter knife down her back as her plate was being cleared. The clientele is very mixed; there was a couple who arrived from the city dressed for a special evening, several tables of much appreciated tourists with their cameras and hiking shorts and a couple “date” tables where he had clearly made a special effort to get dressed up by putting on a clean ball cap and white sneakers. Habitat may be quite challenged to find the right niche clientele in Canmore. It is definitely not townie focused. Although the restaurant promotion encourages “casual dress” the prices are reflective of a city restaurant yet the ambiance is hotel dining trying too hard – a bit conflicted. Nutmeg and Ginger had a lovely evening and would definitely go back for the food and the decent wine list. The wait staff need some more time to wear off their rough edges. Please let Nutmeg know when she can safely return…. 🙂 [tfb username=’GingerandNutmeg’ count=’true’ lang=’en’ theme=’light’]
Thursday is market day in Canmore, for the summer months only. New this year, the town closes off the blocks between Main Street (8th) and 10th Street on 7th Avenue. This central venue in front of the Civic Centre, creates a great pedestrian friendly community gathering place. The market starts around 8am, “Canmore time“, and runs until about 4pm. Last Thursday, was one of the three days of summer that Southern Alberta has experienced this year, it was a sunny, cloudless 26 degrees Celsius – perfect for market going. (more…)