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Best Of Calgary

6 things to do in Calgary this week: Dec 4 to Dec 10

By SILVIA PIKAL

Photo by Silvia Pikal.

LIFE-SIZE GINGERBREAD HOUSE 

See a life-size gingerbread house at Fairmont Palliser until January 2. The house took more than 300 hours to build! Step inside the house with a cash donation to the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre or Calgary Food Bank, or with a non-perishable food donation.

Main Lobby, Fairmont Palliser, 133 – 9 Ave SW, Fairmont.com/Palliser-Calgary (more…)

Warm Cocktail Recipes to Heat Up Your Holidays

By RACHAEL FREY

Photo: Viktor Hanacek  / picjumbo.com

Photo: Viktor Hanacek / picjumbo.com

Calgary is notorious for its cold, blustery winters. While you might set out for the night in the mood for a cocktail, by the time you arrive at your destination a cold drink is the last thing on your mind. Luckily, Calgary’s savvy mixologists are on the case, creating delicious cocktails that are served warm enough to defrost your fingers and heat you from the inside out. And, if you get snowed in, they’ve kindly provided the recipes so you can re-create their inventions at home.

Nouvella Picante (Photo: courtesy Candela Lounge)

Nouvella Picante (Photo: courtesy Candela Lounge)

Nouvella Picante at Candela Lounge
The bar dominates the centre of the room at the elegant and exotic Candela Lounge. The menu reflects its global flair with a focus on small plates with a Latin twist, such as bison chorizo with caramelized onions, tomato and melted cheese curds or “Russian roulette”—six oyster shots, one of which is extra hot. That playful sense of flavour extends to the cocktail menu as well. Created by mixologist Darren Fabian on a frosty December night, the Nouvella Picante is a warm, sweet, rich drink that can be paired with dessert or just replace it entirely. As an added bonus, the espresso component will keep you dancing all night.
• 2 parts Amaretto
• 1 part Frangelico
• 1 part Zanin pepperocino
Add:
• 2 parts hot espresso in room temperature martini glass
Shake 1 oz vanilla syrup and 4 parts whipping cream over ice and double strain on top of liquid in glass to float. Garnish with coffee beans.
♦ 1919 – 4 St SW, 403-719-0049, candelalounge.com

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B-Side Dinner & Drinks: Eat at the Bar in Calgary

By ANGELA NEUFELD

Bartender Travis Whitney shares a laugh with patrons at Avec Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Bartender Travis Whitney shares a laugh with patrons at Avec Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

When you’re out for dinner and drinks in Calgary, consider requesting a seat at the bar. Bartender banter, cocktail clatter and the sociable setting of a communal elbow rest deliver an instant dose of nightlife. Also on the plus side, most venues’ dinner menus can be enjoyed at the bar sans (typically) reservations. Below is a guide to a varied assortment of great restaurant bars.

AVEC BISTRO
The Bar: Bright and contemporary, its blonde wood backbar and red bar seats are a fun and modern twist to this French bistro.
The Appeal: You can cozy up to your dinner date at this intimate six-seater. The rustic French food far exceeds its price tag.
The Feel: Refined yet happily casual.
Specials: Occasional weekend special: homemade ice cream sandwiches, seafood du jour.
Bar Reservations: Call ahead on Fri and Sat.
Recommends: Steak frites with béarnaise and aioli paired with a fine French red. Or the Drink French Fluently cocktail made with St. Germain liqueur and Champagne.
Hours: Mon – Thu, 11:30 – 2:30, 5 pm – 10 pm; Fri, 11:30 – 2:30, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sat, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sun, closed
• Avec Bistro, 105, 550 – 11 Ave SW, 587-352-0964, www.avecbistro.com
• Map and reviews

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Best of Calgary Shopping Centres: CrossIron Mills

By SARAH SUSSMAN

CrossIron Mills is a large shopping centre located just north of Calgary city limits (Photo: courtesy CrossIron Mills)

CrossIron Mills is a large shopping centre located just north of Calgary city limits (Photo: courtesy CrossIron Mills)

Located about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) north of Calgary city limits in the hamlet of Balzac, Alberta’s newest enclosed shopping centre features over 200 shops including many outlet stores. The centre also houses a movie theatre, several casual restaurants and a food court. To kick off our Best of Calgary Shopping Centres series of posts, here are our top five picks for places to shop at CrossIron Mills.

Michael Kors Outlet
Known for chic, modern American women’s fashion, this outlet store for the luxury designer label features discounted pricing on the brand’s apparel, accessories and footwear.
• 403-730-5677, www.michaelkors.com

Levi’s Outlet
Levi’s is one of the most popular and recognized denim brands in the world, and this outlet store for the label features discounted prices on a wide variety of styles for men, women and children.
• 403-275-6655, www.levistrauss.com

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30 Things We Love About Calgary in March and April

There are countless reasons to love Calgary, even in the dead of winter—but, we’re still pretty excited to move on to spring. Here are 30 things we absolutely adore about Calgary in March and April.

WinSport's Canada Olympic Park (Photo: courtesy Tourism Calgary)

1: WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park (Photo: courtesy Tourism Calgary)

1 Skiing and snowboarding as late as mid-April at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.

2 Slurping up a bowl of spicy chili goma ramen at Shikiji Japanese Noodles & Sushi.

3 Canada’s Queen of Improv, Rebecca Northan, whose off-the-cuff comedy Legend Has It is part of the Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays.

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10 Best Breakfast Spots in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

Diner Deluxe's salmon eggs Benedict (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Diner Deluxe’s salmon eggs Benedict (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and brunch with friends and family makes it an occasion. Calgary is home to some amazing breakfast and brunch spots that are bound to have line-ups around the block. But trust us, the wait is worth it.

OEB Breakfast Co.
This little 36-seat diner is a local favourite. Chef-owner Mauro Martina cooks with natural, local ingredients—OEB even has its own egg-laying flocks of free-run chickens.
MUST TRY: Soul ’n a Bowl incorporates potatoes fried in duck fat topped with St. Albert cheese curds, slow-cooked bacon lardons and brown-butter Hollandaise.
• OEB Breakfast Co. Uptown, 824 Edmonton Tr NE, eatoeb.com
• OEB Breakfast Co. Downtown, 222 5 Ave, eatoeb.com

Diner Deluxe
Just a few doors from OEB, this funky retro diner serves hearty plates with ingredients from local producers such as Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage. The walls are adorned with vintage metal signs, but the food is fresh and modern.
MUST TRY: Maple Fried Oatmeal, a thick slab of oatmeal fried in maple syrup and topped with lemon curd and vanilla bean cream.
• Diner Deluxe on Edmonton Trail, 804 Edmonton Tr NE, www.dinerdeluxe.com
• Diner Deluxe in Aspen, 104, 350 Aspen Glen Landing SW, www.dinerdeluxe.com

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5 Top Thai Restaurants in Calgary

By JOHN GILCHRIST

De Thai Cuisine (Photo: Blair Hill)

De Thai Cuisine (Photo: Blair Hill)

#5: WHITE ELEPHANT CUISINE
Tucked into The Pointe Inn, White Elephant is frequently packed for its fresh, lively, luscious Thai flavours. Try anything here, but check out the curried chicken and pineapple; it’ll take you right to Thailand.
• White Elephant Cuisine, 1808 – 19 St NE, www.whiteelephantcuisinecalgary.com
Map and reviews

#4: THAI ONZON
A trip to Cochrane isn’t complete without a stop at Thai Onzon for delicious Thai vegetarian and vegan cuisine like fresh mango salad doused in a chili-lime dressing.
• Thai Onzon, 115 – 5 Ave West, Cochrane, thai-onzonveggie.com

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Bound to Please: Calgary’s Best Indie Bookstores

By RACHAEL FREY

Pages on Kensington is located in the building that once housed Calgary's first library branch (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Pages on Kensington is located in the building that once housed Calgary’s first library branch (Photo: Jason Dziver)

The massive online book retailer Amazon.ca recently dubbed Calgary the second most well-read city in Canada, based on print and e-book sales from its website. But, this statistic doesn’t account for the many bibliophiles who loyally frequent the city’s independent bookshops to hold the books in their hands and riffle through non-digital pages.

Calgary is home to a small handful of indie bookstores, each offering its own carefully curated selection. JoAnn McCaig, owner of Shelf Life Books, is not threatened by online book sales or e-books. “The ambience and sense of community found in a bookstore can’t be duplicated by Amazon,” she says.

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Calgary’s Best Eats: Where to Dine Award Winners 2013

By IAN DOIG and ADELE BRUNNHOFER

Model-Milk

Model Milk’s boudin noir with egg yolk gnocchi (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Calgary’s dining scene continues its prolonged hot streak. As bold new eateries emerge, the (generally friendly) competition has moved established restaurants to up their game. The scene’s sheer scope of choice and high level of taste is well represented in this list of Calgary’s best dining establishments.
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