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Jasper dining

Canadian Rockies Farm to Table

Surviving the Mountains on High-Quality, Locally-Grown Food

By Ken Wetherell

Illustrations by Lyuba Kirkova

You are strolling down scenic Banff Avenue; rugged, snow-capped mountain peaks ascend on all sides and you are taking your first breaths of fresh, crisp mountain air. You have arrived. But suddenly you are hungry — the fresh air of the Rockies has given you a voracious appetite for some locallly-grown food. Luckily, the prairies  of  Alberta, just east of the mountains, and the lush mountain valleys and river deltas of British Columbia are local farm havens. For example:

Beef and Pork
Benchmark Angus is a family-run ranch where premium, hormone-free Angus cattle graze the wide-open prairies.

Blue Ridge Farms produces grass-fed Angus beef, pasture raised poultry and purebred pastured pork.

At Broek Pork Acres, free-range Berkshire hogs, known for outstanding quality, texture and flavour, are raised on natural hay and grains without antibiotics, growth stimulants or animal by-products.

Redtail Farms is a third generation family farm that produces grass fed and finished beef, pastured pork, and natural honey. Their Scottish Luing cattle and Berkshire pigs are hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Bison
Carmen Creek raises bison that are free of additives, antibiotics, hormones and stimulants. The bison are raised on three local ranches.

Photo courtesy of Carmen Creek

Chicken, Turkey and Eggs
Mans Eggs produces organic and free-range eggs from small hen flocks on sixteen local farms.

Maple Hill Farms produces specialty chicken that is grain-fed (no animal by-products), antibiotic-free and humanely raised. They also produce free-range and certified organic eggs.

Ridge Valley Farm raises free-range chickens and turkeys in a humane environment using natural, locally-grown feed containing no artificial hormones or antibiotic growth promoters.

Stonepost Farms produces free-range eggs, chickens and turkeys, naturally grown produce, unpasteurized honey, and humanely raised grass-fed beef and pork.

Honey

Greidanus Honey Farms produces unprocessed honey, without blending or pasteurizing, collected from hives located in clover-rich fields.

Milk and Cheese

Fairwinds Farm produces organic milk, yogurt and cheese from goats that are fed an organic whole grain treat when they are being milked, and spend the rest of their summer days roaming the fields and eating fresh grass, which is converted to organic hay for their winter dining pleasure.

Sylvan Star Cheese produces lactose-free Gouda, Swiss and Edam cheeses from heat- treated milk containing no additives or antibiotics.

Vegetables

Broxburn Farm grows organic greenhouse peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as outdoor berries, vegetables and herbs.

Photo courtesy of Broxburn Farm

Mans Organics grows certified organic onions, shallots and garlic outdoors, and tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in a half-acre greenhouse.

Photo Courtesy of Mans Organics

Poplar Bluff Organics grows speciality organic potatoes, beets, carrots and parsnips.

 

Now that you’ve got the low-down on locally farmed food, how can you sink your pearly whites into some of it? Here are some of the ways:

 

In Banff, The Bison Restaurant and Terrace’s menu features a map indicating where ingredients are regionally and provincially sourced. For example, you can enjoy a roasted Broxburn cauliflower salad with your Benchmark beef.

At the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, you can reserve a table at Eden and enjoy fresh organic Alberta vegetables, caviar from Northern British Columbia and aged Gouda cheese from Sylvan Star. Or try the Maple Hill chicken from the Primrose Restaurant menu.

Todd Kunst, the owner of Canmore’s Sage Bistro, notes that he and his team “source quality ingredients from local purveyors and producers of fine foods to bring the best taste to your palate.” Vegetables from Broxburn Farms, Broek pork, Sylvan Star cheese and Fairwinds goat products are all on the menu.

The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is unrivalled in its fine dining choices. Vegetables from Poplar Bluff or Mans Organics can be found in most of the hotel’s restaurants, along with Mans eggs and Greidanas honey. As well, you can find goat milk and goat cheese from Fairwinds Farms at the hotel’s 1888 Chophouse. Down the hill at the Waldhaus, enjoy cured sausages from Valbella or Ridge Valley chicken.

Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Banff Springs

At Olive Bistro in Jasper, chef and owner Darryl Huculak sources food locally because he wants his “restaurant to have a smaller ecological footprint, and because fresher food simply tastes better.” While much of his produce is from the Jasper Community Garden and his own small greenhouse, Darryl also sources poultry and pork from Blue Ridge Farms, and beef, eggs and produce from Stonepost Farms.

There is no shortage of farm-fresh foods to fuel your adventures in the Rockies. So eat well, burn o those delicious calories in one of the most popular mountain destinations in the world, and repeat.

How to Survive a Vacation with Your Family

By: Nicky Pacas

If no one has a temper tantrum or slams a car door, did a family vacation even happen?

Photo Credit: Park Canada/Ryan Bray

We’ve all been there: excited for a family trip. The bags are packed, the hotel or campsite is booked, the car is gassed up — what could go wrong? It turns out, a lot! As much as we love our families, sometimes it seems impossible to survive a vacation with them. Luckily, we’ve compiled some tips and suggestions to help you maximize your trip and minimize your stress. Surviving a family vacation? Piece of cake.

1. Don’t Over-plan: Don’t plan on doing everything during your vacation; give yourself time to enjoy each activity and leave a little wiggle room in case you want to linger on a hike or on a canoe ride. Planning too many activities can make you feel frantic and leave you feeling like you might need a vacation after your vacation.

Using a tour company can alleviate the stress of dealing with details on your holiday. Because tour companies know the Canadian Rockies like no one else, you can trust that your adventures will be well-planned and organized. You might even be able to try something you wouldn’t have access to without a guide.

For early risers, book a Morning Wildlife Tour with Maligne Adventures in Jasper. Since most wildlife sightings occur early in the morning or later in the evening, depend on the expertise of the guides to get you to the right places to see mountain fauna (they have a 95% success rate) during a three-hour tour by vehicle.

Photo Credit: Ross Pugh, Maligne Adventures Wildlife Guide

For rock lovers, book an experience with Canmore Cave Tours and explore water-worn passageways and the beauty that hides beneath the mountainous landscape. A guide and the right equipment gives you access to the places that go unseen by most. Cave Tours typically have a minimum age requirement of 10 years old, but some educational offerings are accessible to all ages.

If you aren’t sure what hike best suits the abilities of your family members, get in touch with White Mountain Adventures for guidance on their hiking packages. Don’t see anything you like? Book a private or custom tour for an expertly arranged experience.

2.Know your Limits: if you have never climbed a mountain before, don’t plan on summiting the highest peak for your first activity. Start with reasonable activities that allow you to test your comfort level and skills before trying something bigger.

Whenever possible, pick an experience that offers variation so as to accommodate everyone’s abilities. Banff Trail Riders hosts two different (but equally fun) ways of getting to their Cowboy Cookout at 3 Mile Cabin: by wagon or by horseback. For family members aged 8 and older, the horseback ride is a guided tour along the base of Sulphur Mountain. For family members younger than 8, or for those who aren’t as keen to ride a horse, the wagon ride gets guests to the cookout after a scenic tour along the Bow River. No matter how you get there, you’ll all be eating together.

Not everyone can hike to great heights. For the best alternative to hiking, see our hot tip on gondolas and chairlifts.

Photo Credit: Banff Trail Riders

3. Pack your Snacks:  Don’t rely on eating a big breakfast or a big lunch to get you through your activities in the Rockies; nothing ruins a great day like being hangry. Packing small, easy-to-eat snacks can be a life-saver when you’re out on the trail and still far away from the parking lot. Visit the bulk section of the grocery store to stock up on nuts and dried fruit to put in your backpack. Energy bars, beef jerky and bananas also make good trailside treats. Remember to pack out your wrappers and peels so that you don’t leave attractants for the wildlife in the area.

For a family-friendly restaurant that is perfect for pre- and post-adventure fueling, visit Communitea in Canmore. With a friendly and healthy menu for kids (and a play area to keep them occupied), adults can indulge in a meal for themselves. Bonus: Communitea opens early (8am) and celebrates Friday with cupcakes!

Photo Credit: Orange Girl Photo

For other family-friendly eating options that can satisfy even the pickiest eaters, visit Craigs’ family restaurant in Canmore, Earls in Banff, or O’Shea’s Restaurant in Jasper.

If you’re looking for places to buy your snacks, find a list of grocery stores in our magazine on pages 92, 102 and 156.

4. Pack your Clothes: The weather in the Canadian Rockies is predictably unpredictable; it can be hot and sunny at the base of a mountain, but windy up top. Make sure that you bring layers so that you can plan for sudden changes in weather. Having extra clothes also makes it easy to move between activities without having to first stop at your hotel room or campsite.

For a list of shops that will outfit you for the mountain weather, see pages 91, 98, 104 and 156 of our magazine. Don’t forget your sunscreen! On page 26, see some of our favourite products to keep your skin protected from the elements.

Photo Credit: Jade Wetherell

5. Think about Interests: Do you love water activities? Do your kids love water activities? Sometimes the things we’re interested in doing are very different from the things the rest of the family enjoys. Make sure that you balance everyone’s interests, even if that means going to a museum for an afternoon instead of riding bikes. Chances are that you will be able to persuade your family members to do the things you enjoy if you show the same interest in their desires.

If you are up for adventure but the rest of your family wants to cool down in the water, why not make the best of both worlds and go whitewater rafting? Jasper’s Whitewater Rafting takes clients (kids must be at least 6 years old) through exciting rapids for speedy adventure. Jasper Raft Tours offers a gentler alternative to whitewater rafting through their tours designed for the entire family. With local guides who have grown up in Jasper or lived in the town for a long time, visitors are led on a sightseeing adventure down the Athabasca River.

Photo Credit: Jasper Raft Tours

6. Have a Plan B: In Lynda Pianosi’s book, Take a Hike with Your Children, all of the hikes that Pianosi recommends have a “Plan B”—each hike is close to a playground or interpretive centre so that if your kids won’t budge beyond the trailhead, you can still make the most of your location.

Pick up a copy of Lynda’s book at Café Books in Canmore. Some of our favourite hikes include the Fenland Trail in Banff, Cougar Creek in Canmore, and Morraine Lake Shoreline in Lake Louise. The Red Squirrel Trail in Jasper is close to the townsite and accessible for all walking abilities.

Try turning your adventures into a treasure hunt by finding as many of Parks Canada’s Red Chairs as you can. The Red Chairs have been placed in special locations around Banff and Jasper National Parks, and are meant to encourage people to connect with each other and with nature. Some are easy to find, others require a little more effort, but all of them are worth the views they provide. There are 13 Red Chairs locations in Banff National Park, and 7 locations in Jasper National Park. Visit the Parks Canada website for the exact Red Chair locations.

Bonus: youth (17 and under) receive free admission to Parks Canada places this year. That means free admission to all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada!

7. Find Time for Yourself: this is your vacation, too! Make sure that you set some time aside so that you can get some exercise, some alone time, or maybe even a meal at a restaurant that you’ve been eyeing. Take advantage of locations that have childminding or hotels that offer babysitting services.

If you need to take a little time for yourself but you aren’t travelling with a babysitter (let’s be honest, most of us don’t), there are still ways to keep your kid(s) occupied while you try some exploring or activities of your own.

Take advantage of the child daycare services at Lake Louise while you enjoy the Lake Louise Summer Gondola or an open chairlift. The daycare is fully licensed and will take kids as young as 18 days! Full day and half-day rates are available.

At Elevation Place in Canmore, get a workout in at the pool, in the gym or at the climbing wall while your little one enjoys the “Lil’ Bears Den” childminding services. A maximum stay is two hours and children must be between 6 months and 7 years old. If your workout lasts under two hours, take advantage of the Good Earth Coffeehouse on site and relax for a while—you’ve earned it.

In the Canadian Rockies, survival isn’t about being the fittest; survival (especially on a holiday with your family) is all about planning. But once you’ve made the plans, don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself!

Keep reading through the magazine for hot tips on sightseeing, entertainment, food and more.

Photo Credit: Ross Pugh, Maligne Adventures Wildlife Guide

Why We Love Jasper Restaurants

By Where writers

From overloaded plates at breakfast buffets to budget-friendly food specials, there are loads of reasons to love Jasper restaurants. Here’s our guide to where to eat in town.

Jasper dining, Jasper places to eat, where to eat in Jasper (more…)

24 Hours in Jasper

Sep. 7, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Planning a trip to Jasper National Park but pressed for time? Fitting it all in won’t be easy. It’d take a lifetime to explore this stretch of peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, lakes and pine forest.

But with a little local knowledge you can see the best bits in a day. Take a sky tram to mountaintop views and canoe on pristine emerald lakes. And don’t forget Jasper townsite, a quaint settlement rich in history and spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Jasper.

Jasper Skytram, Jasper sightseeeing

Get an eye-full of Jasper’s sights on a one-day visit. Image: Jasper Skytram

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Western Adventures in Jasper

Aug. 10, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

For centuries Indigenous people navigated the Canadian Rockies on horseback. And when traders like David Thompson arrived in 1811, horses were used to negotiate northern trading routes and establish trade posts.

Follow in their footsteps and have an old time western adventure in Jasper. Here are the horseback rides, rodeo events and country style steakhouses not to miss this summer. Cowboy hats at the ready…

Jasper Horseback Riding

Escape to rugged wilderness with a horseback ride in the mountains. Photo from Jasper Stables.

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Best Charcuterie Boards in the Canadian Rockies

April 5, 2016
By Ashley Materi

Charcuterie boards are a trendy, interactive way to share a meal. They allow you to sample cured meats, pâtés, cheeses, preserves and produce that complement one another. Plus there’s a bonus—charcuterie pairs great with wine!

Grapes Wine Bar at the Fairmont Banff Springs is an excellent choice for charcuterie. The former ‘Castle in the Rockies’ library now offers an elegant-yet-relaxed dining atmosphere. It’s perfect for a date night or intimate evening with friends.

By Ashley Materi

By Ashley Materi

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8 Reasons We Love Jasper’s Food Scene

Jan. 14, 2016
By Afton Aikens, Ashley Materi & John Strugnell

In winter, Jasper has great skiing at Marmot Basin and in the backcountry. And of course, there are those stunning, snow-draped mountains. After your day in Jasper’s outdoor playground ends (or begins), you’ll love a meal at one of the many fantastic restaurants in town. Here’s why we do.

1. Indian Cuisine
Jasper Curry House is the first in town to offer authentic Indian food. Chef/owner Gopala Shelke’s menu includes specialties from a tandoor oven. The cylindrical clay oven concentrates heat from fiery coals so foods infuse with rich flavours and cook at a consistent temperature. Try the Murg Malai Tikka (chicken with yogurt, crushed cashews and cheese) for a treat.

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2. Hearty Brews
Seeking a robust beer? With notes of cloves and molasses, Jasper Brewing Co.’s Rockhopper IPA has a strong hoppy flavour and is a favourite pour (also available at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s Emerald Lounge). At The Inn Grill, Edmonton-brewed Alley Kat Amber Ale’s caramel malts bring out a full-bodied sweetness balanced by a light aromatic hop. (more…)