Restaurant Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

My first experience with Five Guys Burgers and Fries came while were in Calgary back in 2012.  When it came to Saskatoon, we have checked it out a couple of times since it is right beside Don’s Photo where Jordon works.  Since we keep going back, we must like it.

The one thing that all of us have learned is that we just order the single patty.  It is a big enough burger with just one and is just too much beef with two of them.  Since you can customize the burger any way you want it, we tend to load up with some combination of ordering a cheeseburger and…

  • Mayo
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Grilled Onions
  • Grilled Mushrooms
  • Ketchup
  • Onions
  • Green Peppers

A burger and fries at Five Guys

The hamburgers are cooked well done and then there is the fries.  The fries are good but we tend not to order them as the burgers are that filling.

It’s a diner so set your expectations for service accordingly.  It’s loud in there with the staff calling out your orders and the music is really too loud but our experiences with the service is consistently excellent.

There is a big debate on who has the best burger on 8th Street; Five Guys, Fuddruckers or Jerry’s Food Emporium.  I’ll pick Jerry’s but Five Guy’s is awfully close to being the best.

As a mom with a somewhat picky eater for a son, having the ability to customize your burger is a wonderful thing.  I know you can do it at other places but it’s nice not to have Oliver going, “I don’t like this because there is a pickle somewhere in the burger”.  Maybe that is one of the reasons parents love this place.  It’s one less thing to deal with and I appreciate that.

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CCM Rooftop Cargo Bag

Instead of jam packing the car full of stuff when we go into the Rocky Mountains next year, we bought one of these.  It is from CCM and is a bag that attaches to the roof of any car and offers up 13 cubic feet of space, or about the same amount as some of the Thule rooftop carriers which cost about 8 times as much.

CCM rooftop cargo bag

After looking at it, I should be able to get the sleeping bags and the tents in the bag with no problem.  We don’t have rooftop racks but it has it’s own attachment system so it will be fine.  Once we get to Banff National Park, we will take it down and toss it in the back.  It folds down to a small bag with no problems.  The one thing that the reviews pointed out that if used in the rain on the highway, water will get in.  That makes sense.  100 kph of driving rain tends to force it’s way into any small holes or cracks.  To stop that we will toss things in waterproof bags before we pack it.

Wow, already taking steps for next year’s trip.  That doesn’t seem like me does it.

Canadian Seafood Chowder Recipe

A traditional Atlantic chowder is made with fish or shellfish, canned milk, potatoes, onions and is served with a dollop of butter. This version, which comes from a Nova Scotia fisherman and uses sour cream, fresh cream and thyme, is quite different and very good.

Ingredients

  • 1 md Onion; minced and chopped
  • 1 tb Butter
  • 3/4 c Sour cream
  • 1 1/2 ts Thyme
  • 3 Potatoes; peeled, cooked and diced
  • 1 1/4 ts Celery salt
  • 2 c Whipping cream
  • 1 1/4 c Milk
  • 9 oz Haddock or halibut fillets
  • 1 ts salt
  • 6 oz Scallops; chopped
  • 1/2 ts -pepper
  • 3 oz Lobster meat; cooked
  • Paprika for garnish

Directions

  1. Cook the onion in the butter until transparent. Add the thyme and celery salt. Remove from heat.
  2. In a saucepan, pour the whipping cream over the fish fillets.Cover, bring to a boil and simmer slowly for 10 minutes or till the fish flakes easily. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon, then break into small pieces and remove any bones. Add the onion mixture and the scallops to the poaching liquid. Bring to barely a boil, then simmer for about 1 minute or till the scallops are opaque.
  3. If the chowder is not to be eaten immediately, refrigerate everything at this stage. Just before serving, add the fish, lobster, sour cream, potatoes and milk. Heat through, but do not allow to boil. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve immediately.

Notes

When reheated leftover chowder, it may be necessary to add a little more milk or cream, because the fish and potatoes will have absorbed some of the liquid.

from the Zwicker Inn, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Next summer

After a lot of debate and discussion, we are going to spend our summer vacation in Banff National Park exploring the trails and hidden lakes around Banff and Lake Louise.

Our home base will the Castle Mountain Campground.  It’s in the shadow of the Castle Mountain and the Main Range of mountains.  We scouted it out last week and it is gorgeous.  We have our 8 person and two room tent for Jordon, Marley and I.  Mark and Oliver have a 5 person tent they are sharing.   Well, we will see how that turns out.

The plan is to drive from Saskatoon to Calgary on July 3rd and spend the night at the Best Western Calgary Centre.  We have stayed there twice before and liked it.  Then on Monday morning we will head up to Banff National Park and make camp.  Since we are camping in the middle of bear country, our food will be in a food locker.

After that is done, we will drive back down the Bow Valley Parkway and hike Johnston Canyon past the lower and higher falls before pressing on unto the ink pots.  In the afternoon we will explore the nearby Silverton waterfall, a little known but really high waterfall near Castle Mountain.

Tuesday we will  start out with a trip to the Lake Agnes Tea House at Lake Louise.  It’s a short hike but it will be a long day before we head back to the campground.   Since we are up in the area, the afternoon will be spent hiking around Moraine Lake.

Wednesday we are heading up our first mountain.  In fact, it’s the only urban mountain that I know of; Tunnel Mountain.  Then we will take the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain.   I am not worried about Marley on the hikes but  I am worried about her on a gondola.  Since there is no showers in the campground, we are going to shower and chill out in the Banff Hot Springs.  We will also resupply our food stocks at the Safeway in Banff.

Thursday, we are heading up to the Plains of Six Glaciers Tea House.  That is a long hike, lots of elevation and a long day.

Friday we are undecided about which hike to try.  Since there is a lot of time between then and now, we will decide.

Saturday we are breaking camp and then driving 70 km past Lake Louise where we are hiking to Glacier Lake.

The hike to Glacier Lake and it’s backcountry campground is considered easy to moderate.   It is approximately 18Km return with a total elevation gain of 400m, allow 5-6 hours return.

At about 1 Km you will reach the foot bridge that crosses the North Saskatchewan River. Cross the bridge and continue on another 1.2Km until you reach the Howse River View Point. Interesting to note that David Thompson who led a group of fur traders camped at this spot for several days in 1807.  From this viewpoint you can see Howse Pass, Mount Murchison, Mount Outram, the Sir James Glacier and the beautifully colored Howse River.

Follow the trail to your right (west) as it drops down towards the river. The trail meanders upstream along the bank of the Howes River for another 2Km or so then enters a lush spruce, fir and pine forest.  In approximately 4.5km you’ll reach a sign that points towards the Glacier Lake Campground.

The trail splits here towards Glacier Lake and the dangerous Howes River crossing that joins the historic Howse Pass Trail. From this sign it is a short distance down to Glacier Lake. Glacier Lake is the fourth largest lake in Banff National Park. It is 4.6Km long and .9Km wide. The lake is fed from the massive Lyell Glacier that is 8.5Km west of here.

We plan to camp overnight and return in the morning.  Once we get back on Sunday, we will grab a shower and then head back to Saskatoon.

Restaurant Review: East Side Mario’s in Calgary

Like most people in Saskatoon, we had eaten as a family at East Side Mario’s.  It’s not my favourite Italian restaurant but it was good when it was in Saskatoon and we enjoyed it up until it closed a couple of months ago.

While in Calgary, the boys were hungry and they wanted to eat right away.  We were driving out to see how far Calgary had sprawled and drove by one on Macleod Trail.   Since we enjoyed it here, we thought it would be okay in Calgary.  How much different can a chain of restaurant’s really be?

It wasn’t that busy and we were seated right away.  The service was mediocre which was the highlight of the meal.  The table wasn’t that clean, the menu’s were dirty and worn, and two of our four  side plates were dirty.  When the pasta arrived, it just had no taste at all.

The alfredo sauce was very watered down and instead of baking Jordon’s plate with cheese as he asked, they just tossed a small bit of cheese on top and let it melt.  

It was the worst meal we have ever eaten in Calgary which is surprising since the franchise can be excellent in other cities. 

If I were you, I’d avoid this location.  They just don’t seem to care.

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How the West was Once

Yesterday we got up early and headed to Heritage Park for the opening of the park at 9:30 a.m.  We parked and after paying $1 each, we took a restored Calgary Municipal Street Car into the Historical Village where we did some scouting out of the shopping.  Oliver was asked to blow the street car’s whistle so he was thrilled and after getting to the main entrance he goes, “there’s more?”.

Oliver and Mark riding the Calgary Municipal Streetcar into Heritage Park

We then headed into Gasoline Alley where we checked out a series of old historic cars and a restored gas station.

Gasoline Alley in Calgary's Heritage Park

Inside Gasoline Alley in Calgary's Heritage Park

After heading into the main park, we immediately got into a steam powered locomotive at Midnapore Station to Shepard Station that took us to the back of the park.

Conductor on the train

From there we took the replica paddlewheeler out into Glenmore Reservoir where we watched some rowing and sailing races.  The breeze just about froze me to death but Jordon and Mark found it refreshing so I used Jordon as a wind break.

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Picnic on the shore of Glenmore Resovoir in Calgary

Sailing boats in Calgary's Glenmore Resovoir

From there we checked out the old midway where Oliver and Mark went on the Caterpillar.  As it was going Jordon read the sign that says that it was super popular for dating couples to go on because once the top closed, there was no telling what was happening.  Mark got off the ride with a “you’ve got to be kidding me look on his face”.

Then it was off to the old Vulcan Ice Cream Parlour and explored the rest of Main Street.  I wandered into the old Gledhill’s Drugstore which used to be in Dundurn and later Hanley.  I bought Jordon and old retro camera and typewriter poster sized advertisements.  Mark wanted one of the camera as well. 

Main Street in Calgary's Heritage Park

Some street performers in Calgary's Heritage Park

I hit up the bakery, checked out an wooden oil rig, and road the train to different parts of the park.

Finally it was time to go and we picked up a couple of things at the gift shops in the entrance to the park.  Mark wanted a poster that showed the history of Canadian aviation.  I got a print of an early advertisement for CP Rail and the Chateau Laurier. 

Vintage CP Rail Advertisemtent for Lake Louise

Shepard Station in Heritage Park

In the end, I had no idea what to expect from Heritage Park but I really, really enjoyed it.  If you have never checked it out, add it to your list of things to visit in Calgary.  It’s well worth the money and the day we spent there.

Exploring Banff National Park

Good morning!

I am sleeping in today.  After two straight days of being up at 5:30 a.m., we get to sleep into 7:30 a.m. today.

We took the old highway to Banff which is a long and winding highway through Cochrane and some of the most amazing scenery ever.  It’s one of our favorite drives.

Calgary to Johnston's Canyon Map

The morning got off with a hitch when I forgot jackets for Jordon and I.  So I went into Safeway in Banff while Jordon and Mark went shopping for a hoodie for Jordon and I.  Jordon never found one he liked (and he never minds the cold like I do) but they found one for me.  It is great and  I was glad I got it.

Me in my Banff National Park hoodie

We drove up the Bow Valley Parkway and got into Johnston’s Canyon early and started to hike along the amazing path.   The parking lot was packed like I had never seen it before.  We started out and it was slow walking along the path.  Jordon used the Map My Hike app and it said that we averaged 15 minutes a kilometre.  It was frustrating.  So many tourists and they were a) either taking selphy’s or texting.  I lost a lot of faith in humanity. 

The start of the hike up Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Waterfall in Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

The first big waterfall at Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

We had plans to go to the second water falls but it had rained the night before and Jordon should not have been hiking up that trail with his ankle and foot the way it was.   It had rained the night before and the trail was really slick.  It wasn’t good for his leg or hip and instead of pushing it too far, we made the decision to do the entire path next year.

After heading back to the car, we got in and checked out the Castle Mountain Campground where we plan to camp next summer for a week.   I’ll be honest, I had looked at the campground website and didn’t pay that close of attention.  When I didn’t notice any showers or washrooms, I kind of freaked.  After being assured that there is washrooms (but no showers), I was okay with it.

After that we pushed up the Bow Valley Parkway while keeping a lookout for black and grizzly bears, moose, and all sorts of elk.

Banff to Lake Louise

We got to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (where Jordon asked me to marry him).

Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park

We had planned to hike a bit but the parking was backed up down the mountain.  People were also parked 11km AWAY from Moraine Lake.  It was insane how much traffic there was.  We have always gone later in the season and have never had to experience the insanity of peak season.

After that we went back down the Bow Valley Parkway and stopped at a picnic area called Sawback.

P7240072

Sawback had changed from when Jordon first took me there.  It was a childhood favorite spot of Jordon’s and here it was totally changed.  I was kind of frustrating but Jordon wandered into the bush and we followed him.   He came across the most amazing babbling brook (which is why he loved it).   The picnic tables had moved but the brook was right where it had always been.   I was happy to be there but sad that Jordon’s mom wasn’t.  She would have loved to have shared that spot with her grandkids.

Mark dipping his head into a glacier fed stream

Jordon and Mark dunking Oliver into the stream

Jordon has some hilarious stories of falling in to the brook and then drinking from it (he got sick).  Mark decided to dip his head into it the brook.  He places his hands into the ice cold glacier water and almost died.  He did soak his head and kind of suffered from immediate hypothermia.

Back in Banff, we did visit the Bow Falls where not only Mark dunked himself but so did Oliver.   Learning from experience is not their strong suit. 

Then it was time to head over to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.  I had never been there before but Jordon grew up going to it and was really looking forward to us seeing the site.  It had changed a lot since he was last there but we had fun.  They had a contest for the kids on who could do the most activities there so Oliver was all over the place.  

Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff National Park

We did do some shopping but I realized by the limp that Jordon had, it was time to head back.  Oliver bought an elastic band gun while Jordon bought me some moose shaped ear rings. 

Then it was back to Calgary.  We took Highway 1 back into the city and found ourselves back into the hotel exhausted.  As the boys went to bed, Jordon and I went back down to the hotel pool.

Today we are off to Heritage Park and see how the west was once.  Neither the boys or myself have never been so we are really looking forward to checking it out.

We are in Calgary

We are in Calgary right now and staying in the Best Western Plus Calgary Centre hotel.  Here is how we got here.

This morning at 5:50 a.m. we got up, drove to Tim Horton’s for some mocha chinos.  After caffeinating up (and listening to Jordon complain about Tim Horton’s coffee), we left Saskatoon and were on the Saskatchewan Highway 7 through Rosetown, Kindersley & Alsask by 5:00 a.m.  We then met Alberta Highway 9 which took us through Oyen, Hanna, and Drumheller

The Drive from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Calgary, Alberta

Unlike previous trips to Calgary which generally start with a greasy Egg McMuffin breakfast at McDonald’s on 22nd (and followed by stomach ache until Hanna), I made a healthy breakfast, made fresh coffee and tea, and basically did a much better job of planning. 

The boys were fine.  They both have go-bags, inspired by Lifehacker.  In Oliver’s bag was his Nintendo DS, binoculars, an iPod and headphones, a new book to read, his flashlight, camera, water bottle, and a notebook and pen.  He was good the entire trip, even when his DS ran out of battery life.

Mark’s bag included his tablet,  headphones, flashlight, water bottle, his Fujifilm Finepix XP20 camera, his phone, GPS, tablet, monocular, a notebook, pen, book, and a copy of Outside Magazine.

Jordon and I have them as well.  Mine included my iPod, headphones, flashlight, binoculars, book, magazine, pens, iPad and a notebook.  Jordon’s was similar but like Mark, he has a monocular.  It really makes travelling a lot easier.  For loading the car yesterday, we had two duffle bags, three camera bags, a small cooler with cold drinks and the four go-bags.  Other than coffee mugs this morning, everything was ready to go.

We stopped at Drumheller to let Oliver take a run in the padding pool and for Mark and Oliver to run up the dinosaur’s butt.  When we went through three years ago, Oliver took a look at the giant T-Rex and realized that those stairs went “up his butt” and immediately had second thoughts.  Since then has become more comfortable with the idea.

The break was good for both Mark and Oliver.  Jordon was thinking ahead and had Oliver travel in his swimming trunks.  After he dried off, we pushed onto Horseshoe Canyon where we stopped again and took some photos and let the boys take it in.

After that it was on to Calgary.

Best Western Plus Calgary CentreWe had timed the trip to be both leisurely (which it was) and to coincide with us arriving in Calgary in time to check in at the hotel.  After talking our stuff inside (camera and duffle bags), we took the LRT from the hotel to downtown.

We were checking out MEC and The Camera Store when Jordon got a DM from Dave King asking if we had supper plans.  We did not so we met him at The King and I, a Thai restaurant in downtown Calgary.  The food and service were amazing.

We walked with Dave back to the the Calgary Tower.  Oliver loves the Calgary Tower more than anywhere else and he still thinks it was amazing.  It was incredibly busy but we walked around, tempted fate by standing on the glass floor and then made our way to The Bow.

The Bow was amazing.  I could have stood in that square all day long taking photos and just taking it in.

We were going to go to the Peace Bridge but Oliver was melting down.  He had been up since 5 a.m., didn’t sleep for a second on the trip and had nothing left.  So we took the CTrain back to the hotel and let the boys wind down after a long day.

We will head back downtown to explore The Bow and the Peace Bridge early on Sunday morning before we go to the Calgary Zoo.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce Recipe

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce RecipeIngredients

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch chili peppers, crushed.
  • 6 boned and skinned chicken breast halves cut in 1/2″ strips
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • sprig cilantro

Directions

  1. Combine the brown sugar, curry powder, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic and crushed chilies in a shallow dish, or in a heavy-duty resealable bag. Marinate strips of chicken for 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water to prevent burning at the time of cooking.
  2. Thread the chicken pieces on the skewers in a serpentine pattern.
  3. To make the peanut sauce, combine the peanut butter, coconut milk, lemon juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper in a saucepan over moderate heat (on the sideburner), and cook until the sauce is as thick as heavy cream, about 15 minutes. Purée briefly in a blender or a food processor. Add the chicken stock and cream and blend again until smooth. Reserve, and bring to room temperature before serving.
  4. Preheat barbecue on HIGH and brush grids with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Place chicken skewers on the grill and reduce heat to MEDIUM. Cook, turning several times and basting with the marinade, for 6 – 8 minutes or until no longer pink on the inside. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with room temperature peanut sauce.