In honour of Canada Day and our 150th birthday as Canada, I thought I would dedicate this blog post to my home country. I don’t want to discount the fact that the First Nations communities lived and made their home here on this land long before we recognized Canada. I am happy to call Canada home and am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me in this country. Canada has a lot to offer and I have certainly been a tourist in my country many times over and have a wealth of stories, tips and events to chose from. I could write about Toronto, Quebec City, the Maritimes, Victoria, Kelowna, even Saskatoon. But not Vancouver ever. Seriously go to Northern BC, it is stunning. But I chose my hometown, Winnipeg. I wouldn’t be surprised if people are shaking their heads and asking ‘Seriously Winnipeg?’ Yes Winnipeg.
Winnipegers often make terrible PR people for their hometown. We often tell others about our extreme cold and snow but neglect to mention the warm/hot summers. And if we do we will focus on mosquitoes. Mainstream media often portrays us as a violent crime ridden city . Despite the fact we are often behind other cities in crime rates with a gentler reputation (I am looking at you Saskatoon). Winnipeg isn’t perfect but it has more to offer than you think. Our RWB ballet is world renowned. Our symphony has an impeccable reputation, Our Fringe Festival actually has the reputation of being one of the best in the country. Folk Fest has legendary performers and crowds. Scott Bagshaw, a local chef has an acclaimed reputation nationally and deserves it, his food is blow your mind amazing.http://www.enotecarestaurant.ca . or http://maque.ca/#!/Home And if you are really brave you can eat an expensive dinner on a tent in the river in February, with guest chefs from Winnipeg and the country cooking. Even Vikhram Vig. I should mention it is 7 gourmet courses and after your done you can wander across said River to St Boniface ( a large French Canadian community that is part of Winnipeg) and continue to freeze while attending Festival du Voyaguer, a festival celebrating French Canadian and Metis culture. You can even drink caribou’ a fortified wine’ out of an ice glass. But don’t do that, that stuff is disgusting and caused the most legendary hangovers my group of friends ever experienced.
Winnipeg has a lot to offer and because I like to travel so much, I forget to be a tourist in my own city. It is easy to get caught up in your daily routine and friend circles and forget or have the energy for other new things. Recently and completely by accident, I am rediscovering Winnipeg (while still planning my next vacation New York or Provence) It started a few weeks ago. I was looking for Bordeaux wine for tastings to augment my French Wine Scholar course and I wandered in to a Government run liquor store known for its wine selection. After picking out a couple Bordeaux the staff told us to check out the free wine and food tasting at the back of the store. The cynic in me assumed it was 2 wines and a pack of warmed up ready made appies they had bought at the grocery store but hey it was free and it was wine so of course I would check it out. @benton8tor and I wandered into a room celebrating Canadian wines in honour of Canada’s 150 birthday. There were a total of 10 different wines you could try though we limited it to about 6. Most the wines featured were from BC’s Okanagan region. I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed them. We had a Gewurztraminer from Inniskillin Wineries http://www.inniskillin.com/ that was deceptively complex and not overtly sweet, A Cabernet from Jackson Triggs http://www.jacksontriggswinery.com/ that was plummy but not overly fruit forward. We had some other interesting wines but those 2 stand out. Far from the Safeway appies, they had chefs preparing honey and ginger glazed arctic char and ribeye with horseradish cream on a baguette. Winnipeg Who Knew?
Well apparently the wine store guys know. A couple of weeks later I found myself in Kenaston Fine Wines (one of my favorite wine stores) https://kenastonwine.com/ and they told me about a natural wine tasting hosted by Elevage Selections https://www.elevage-selections.com/ at Forth a local restaurant. So off we went to that as well. Only to discover that Forth has a spectacular rooftop patio (who knew?) and an amazing cocktail bar in the basement. The wine tasting was amazing natural wines including a sparking and rose from the Okanagan, a red from Spain and a white Jura wine from France that tasted unlike anything I have ever tried before. In a good way. Apparently these tasting happen once a month.
Now here on June 30th, I am making plans for Canada Day Celebrations. Last year we went with friends to a local French restaurant across the river from the Forks and Human Rights museum (you must go) with a perfect patio view of these landmarks. Ben enjoyed Steak Bearnaise while I enjoyed BC salmon with a blueberry glaze and Manitoba wild rice, paired with French wine while we watched the fireworks. Plan for tomorrow? Same thing but I will probably order something different, because Promenade Bistro’s menu is amazing. http://www.cafeandwine.com/And to top it off they cordon of the parking lot so a French band plays while you eat, drink wine, and watch the fireworks. Happy Canada Day indeed.