From Saskatoon

Restaurant Review: Smoke’s Poutinerie

Before it closed, I discovered and reviewed the Smoke’s Poutinerie in Moose Jaw.  I was excited to hear that one was coming to Saskatoon and I checked it out shortly after it opened.

Smoke's Poutinerie in Saskatoon

Smoke’s Poutinerie is a Montreal based chain that is slowly taking over Canada and North America.  If you have never tried it, it offers unique combinations to go along with the poutine that keep bringing people back.  That and the portion sizes are huge.  No matter how hungry we are, I don’t think we have ever finished a bowl of it.  There is an even larger version called the WOW size.  I can’t even imagine eating that much poutine.

We’ve tried the Philly Cheesesteak Poutine, the Pulled Pork Poutine, Perogy Poutine, Rainbow Poutine, & the Chicken Fajita Poutine and have been impressed everytime.  Sadly the BBQ Mac & Cheese Poutine was a limited time only offer but I hope they bring it back.

The poutine is always delivered quickly and hot.  The servers are pleasant and whether you are grabbing takeout or dining in, the experience is a good one.  If you are looking for a fun and unique take on fries, check it out.

Smoke’s Poutinerie
307 21st Street East
Saskatoon S7K 0C1

Smoke's Poutinerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Review: Ayden’s Kitchen & Bar

Ayden's Kitchen & Bar

I recently went to Ayden Kitchen & Bar as part of a medium sized group of people.  Everyone is excited because of the reputation of head chef Dale McKay but also the reputation the restaurant has across the city as being one of it’s finest.

I was greatly disappointed.  We started with the sausage platter which was excellent.  The food was hot, the presentation was excellent and the three flavours of sausange were great.  I recommend that dish if you are ever there.

It was the main meals that didn’t meat our expectations.  Jordon ordered the beef.  The steak was overcooked and much closer to medium than medium rare.  That was the same for everyone in our group.  The other thing was that we realized that some got the wrong steaks which seemed to be a pretty bad mistake on the service part.  Jordon and another guest’s salad had no dressing or the other parts of the salad other than the greens.  When he complained, the waitress said that was the way it was supposed to be.  She did bring back some dressing but nothing else.

The twice baked potato was not cold but wasn’t even warm.  In the end it seemed like the kitchen had a really hard time getting the plates out on time (and to the right patron) and it showed with a really poor showing by them.  While it was a weekend night, the restaurant wasn’t packed.  I’ll never know if they were short staffed in the kitchen or just indifferent.

I ordered the gnochhi.  It was supposed to have gnochhi, cheese, brocolli and other spices with some balsamic vinegar.  Instead it had just a bit of cheese, a few pieces of brocolli and absolutely drowned in balsamic vinegar.  While listed as a main course, it was appetizer sized.  If the waitress had asked once how the meal was, I would have said something but that never happened.

Dessert was was great but it was the mains that really, really struggled.  It seemed from a lack of attention in the kitchen more than anything else.

Ayden’s Kitchen & Bar
265 3 Ave South
Saskatoon, SK 7K1M3
306.954.2590

Ayden Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Review: Fuddruckers

Fuddruckers Restaurant Logo

menu_favs_02Reviewing Fuddruckers in Saskatoon is like reviewing a legend.  It is one of the few restaurants in town that has been here as long as I have and it hasn’t really changed.  Actually Jordon says that it is basically unchanged since he moved here in 1984.  They have always made a good burger and have stuck to that recipe.  There isn’t anything wrong with that and over time Fuddruckers has become Saskatoon’s equivelant to comfort food, a place where you know what you are going to get and they do a good job of delivering it.

The restaurant offers the Original Fudds Burger in various sizes, from 1/3 pound, to 1/2 pound, to 2/3 pound, to a massive 1 pound burger.  I haven’t had the 1 pount burger but Jordon has.  He suffered a bit for that decision.

The best part of Fuddruckers is the burgers and fries.  You go in, order a burger by size and get a well done burger that is set up the way you want it.  You put all of the toppings on the burger yourself, from tomatoes, onions, cheese and whatever else you want to add to the burger.  Sam with the fries.  From regular cheese to their famous jalapeno cheese sauce, you have it all.

There is other food at Fuddruckers, they serve up a great bison burger as well as other specialty burgers as well as some excellent salads and breakfast but Fuddruckers is unapologetically a burger joint and they do it really well.

What they don’t do well is the dining experience.  Fuddruckers is a large cavernous hall which is designed to get you in, fed, and out as soon as possible.  It means that it is great for a good burger, not great if you want to relax and chill out for a bit.  Those hard wooden seats are designed to move you out and don’t pretend to be about anything else.

That  being said, we have had numerous birthdays there and it is a lot of fun, especially in the summer when you have a choice between wandering out to the Grand Slam Batting Cages, mini golf, the Rock climbing wall, or the Ruckers arcade.  

In the end its a family friendly alternative to the same old fast food joints with better food, good burgers, and the ability to customize a burger so that the kids are always happy with what they got.  One of the best burgers in Saskatoon.

Fuddruckers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Review: Fatburger in Saskatoon

I have been to Fatburger three times now which has given me enough time to get a feel for the restaurant and it’s menu.

Burger from Fatburger in Saskatoon

Over time I have become a fan.  Here is what I like about the restauraunt.

  1. The burgers are huge and excellent.  They are the only burgers that I have tasted that actually taste like steak.
  2. Jordon has tried to the fishburger and finds it fantastic.  I have stolen some tastes of it and he is right, it is very tasty, kind of like a good piece of fish from a fish and chips place that is placed between a bun.
  3. They got the fries (and poutine) right.  Jerry’s may make a good burger but mediocre fries.  The fries at Fatburger are amongst the best in town.
  4. The milkshakes rival the shakes at Homestead Icecream.  Rich and decadent.  The kids love them and with a combo, they are a great price.
  5. No one goes to Fatburger and thinks wings but that needs to change.  They have excellent wings and are a great appetizer, just be careful they don’t ruin your dinner.
  6. It is much smaller then Fuddruckers which means less noise and less people bumping into you.  I like that part.   Compared to Fuddruckers, it is a much better dining experience.
  7. The staff has been excellent each time I have been in.

The only bad part is the location.  We live on the westside and it is a long drive to get out to Blairmore.  Hopefully they end up downtown and on the eastside soon.  A burger this good, deserves to  be accessible to everyone.

Over all it deserves to be mentioned along with Jerry’s, Five Guys, the Park Cafe, and the Ace Burger for the best burger in Saskatoon.  As for a restaurant, it may be the best burger joint in the city.

Fatburger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It is the most miserable time of the year

Sigh.  Every single Christmas season someone from my hometown of Brandon, Manitoba calls or emails and wants to know why I never come “home”.  It’s been 18 years which has gotten people talking in the church and amongst family friends.  They have all been told something false by my parents (it’s Jordon’s fault and he is a horrible human being) or something mysterious like (“well some mistakes were made”) which makes them think it is something minor that can be talked out and it is my fault for holding a grudge.

When I tell them what happened, some weep, others are horrified and apologize, some get angry over being misled.  I get revictimized by the process and in the end, I feel gross for having to tell people what happened way back then.

The weird thing is that I have dealt with the trauma of the molestation and while I still have it’s scars, I have moved on from it here in Saskatoon.  I just don’t ever want to go back to Brandon.

Everyone asks me what went wrong with my relationship with parents and it’s complex.  I have posted here before that Guyana has a cultural issue with how they see women and also violence against women.   That is the culture that I was born into and the thinking that dominated my household even after we immigrated.  My father has long believed that being being molested as a very young child was consensual and it was my fault.  My mom just doesn’t ever want to think about it and just wanted me to get over it.  I think she just never wanted to acknowledge that it happened.   I also think that because I am in Saskatoon and not around them, it makes it a lot easier for her to acknowledge that nothing bad ever happened. 

They grew up in a culture where you defer to your elders.  My mother one time told me that she would never have told her parents of the abuse if it had happened and would have deffered to their judgement.  Again my father just saw it as my fault and therefore I am the problem.  It makes it almost impossible to move on.

Of course it means that my parents don’t know Mark or Oliver.  They met Mark once and never have met Oliver.  I don’t think they would even recognize me if they saw me on the street.  I think for them, the pain of not knowing me or my famiy is less then coming to grips with what happened to me growing up.  I also think I am a reminder of their failings as parents and for whatever reason, they can’t go there.  My father told me once that he was happy with his other grandkids and didn’t need to know Mark.  That’s hard to move on from.

Whatever the reason, it sucks having to have the same conversations with well meaning but nosy people year after year.  It’s not just 18 years that have gone by, I didn’t come back for my grandfather’s funeral, my parents 50th wedding anniversary (wasn’t invited either), and I was left off the list for all of the family reunions.  I was taught a long time ago that a women’s roll was to be seen but not heard.  When I broke that rule by talking about my experience, deep down I knew this would be the result.  It sucked going through it and finally accepting it but in the process of doing it, I met so many others that this has happened to and they have cut off by family members after they came forward with their own stories of rape or abuse.  I’m not alone which is both comforting and devastating when you think how many women in Canada this has happened to.

Christmas Morning

Good morning to anyone who is reading this and Merry Christmas.

Jordon wrote about our Christmas Eve on his blog, I posted about it here.  This morning I got up early, let the dogs out (the answer to “Who let the dogs out?” is that I did it) and while Mark  walked Marley, I made some Christmas breakfast.

Yesterday I made up an Eggs Benedict Casserole and I tossed it in the oven.  While I was doing that, I borrowed this recipe from Gordon Ramsey and made some scrambled eggs on smoked salmon.  It was amazing, you should really try it sometime.  Since eggs benedict are a Christmas tradition, we had some of those as well.

While I was cooking, Jordon both and Oliver into the living room and asked them why they didn’t open a Christmas present.  Inside it was a BB-8 droid and tickets to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens this afternoon.  The boys lost their minds.

As soon as I hit “post”, we are off to explore what I expect to be a nearly empty downtown Saskatoon with my new lens, camera grip and strap while BB-8 is charging.  Then we will take in the movie.  We’ll come home to some slow cooked roast beef and I’ll make up some French Dip sandwiches.  Later tonight we’ll end the day with a chocolate fondue for dessert.

Hope your Christmas is a fun one.

The Whimsy Store

Logo-Extended-smGlad to see that The Whimsy Store has moved onto 33rd Street.  Not only does it make the 33rd Street BID (who also has a new and pretty cool domain name, 33rd.ca, Mayfair, and Caswell Hill all stronger, it is a great place to shop and check out in person (or online).  The store sells local artisans works.  Arts and things that make your life a little better.  It’s a great store and worth coming over to check out.

I’m 46 (and I can cry if I want to)

Well it’s my birthday today.  At my age it isn’t as exciting as it once was but then again you are my age, one is just happy to be alive.

For my birthday, Jordon gave me a pen made from lace wood that he bought during Nuit Blanche from Soul Paper.  It is made from reclaimed wood from a local artisan who hand turns it.  It is so nice that I am afraid to write with it.  It’s a great pen from a wonderful store.  Saskatoon is lucky to have a place like Soul Paper.

A nice pen needs a nice notebook to write in so the boys gave me a great Moleskine notebook.

Moleskine ruled notebook

They also surprised me with an raspberry Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera and four packs of Fujifim Instax film.

Raspberry colour Fujifilm instax Mini 8 instant camera

 

I have a great camera and like it but this is something different.  Some friends of ours have them and they create fun instant mementos of events and moments.  I am looking forward to capturing some of Christmas with it this year.

We met up with Lee, Brittany, and Camdyn for brunch and we exchanged some Christmas gifts with the kids.  Mark got a NFL hoodie while Oliver got a Meccano set in a briefcase.  As he said, “I feel like a businessman”.  We gave Camdyn a big wheel and the some Duplo blocks.  She was more impressed with the container the blocks came in as it was a giant crayon.  She wanted the lid to be a hat.

For dinner we are heading out to Fatburger for a fun dinner.  Jordon, Oliver, and myself have gone before and liked it.  Mark hasn’t been yet but he has high expectations.

After taking the boys home, I am off to The Rook & Raven for some prime rib poutine and some drinks with friends.

BHP Billiton Enchanted Forest

BHP Billiton Enchanted Forest in Saskatoon

After a bad week, Jordon took the boys and I to the BHP Billiton Enchanted Forest tonight where we drove the route and checked out what was new this year.  It wasn’t as exciting as last year where there was an accident and a near fight between two drivers but it was a lot of fun regardless. 

I had some coffee and hot chocolate made and it made for a leisurely drive.  The lights have been upgraded from regular lights to more vibrant LED lights which are both more energy efficient but also more vibrant.  It looks great and is a fun Christmas tradition.

If you want to take it, you have to January 9th to drive (or walk it on January 10th).  You can get tickets at the gate or purchase ahead of time at Safeway or Shopper’s Drug Mart.

What to enjoy winter more? Take a cue from the Norwegians

The Norwegians do winter really well.  Here is how they do it.

Norwegian town in winter

To be sure, there are some aspects of the near-polar culture that might be hard to emulate elsewhere. Small Norwegian communities are tightly knit, and strong social ties increase well-being everywhere. That said, there are lessons that can help anyonethink differently about cold weather.

First, Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter. “People couldn’t wait for the ski season to start,” says Leibowitz. Getting outside is a known mood booster, and so Norwegians keep going outside, whatever is happening out there. Notes Leibowitz: “There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There’s a community aspect to it too; it’s not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix. Leibowitz reports that Tromsø had plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together.

And finally, people are enamored with the sheer beauty of the season. Leibowitz grew up near the Jersey shore, and “I just took it as a fact that everyone likes summer the best.” But deep in the winter in Norway, when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, multiple hours a day can still look like sunrise and sunset, and against the snow, “the colors are incredibly beautiful,” she says. “The light is very soft and indirect.”

Most likely you can’t cross-country ski straight out of your house, and while Norwegian sweaters may be catching on, restaurants and coffee shops in more temperate climates don’t all feature the fireplaces and candles common to the far north. Still, there are little things non-Norwegians can do. “One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter,” says Leibowitz. “It’s hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter.”

This is easy enough to change; simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics. Talk about how the cold gives you a chance to drink tea or hot chocolate all day. Talk about ice skating, or building snowmen. Bundle up and go for a walk outside, knowing that you’ll likely feel warmer and happier after a few minutes. Better yet, go with a friend. Social plans are a great reason to haul yourself out from under the covers.

But overall, mindset research is increasingly finding that it doesn’t take much to shift one’s thinking. “It doesn’t have to be this huge complicated thing,” says Leibowitz. “You can just consciously try to have a positive wintertime mindset and that might be enough to induce it.”

Avenue Edmonton has some ideas for winterizing your deck

How to Winterize Your Deck

A roaring fire is essential for any sub-zero soiree. Marshall’s monumental outdoor wood-burning fireplace ideally blends contemporary design with the rustic charm of burning logs and the convenience of natural gas. It’s a design focal point that leaves room for a view of the birch trees beyond. Plus, it’s fitted with a gas log starter so you don’t have to be a boy scout to get the fire going and keep it cheerfully burning. 

Since we don’t all have a fireplace professionally built into the deck, portable ones of all sizes, styles and prices are the next best thing. For an elegant, eco-friendly solution, Marshall suggests looking at a model by EcoSmart Fire. They’re beautifully designed, fuss-free and fuelled with clean-burning bioethanol. Budget friendlier solutions include metal tables with built-in fire pits, fire bowls and chimneys — just take care to place these on a large frost-resistant stone or porcelain tile surface. Marshall places a large tile in front of her fireplace to protect the wood deck from any stray embers.

Biting wind is an unwelcome party crasher, so arrange furnishings and other elements in such a way that creates a cozy enclave. Start by making sure your sofa and/or chairs are a comfortable distance from the fire and draped with plush throws for added warmth and texture. Tip: If you’re stoking a wood-burning fire, be sure to have logs nearby so that guests aren’t shivering while you trek off to a distant wood pile to replenish. Here, ample firewood is stacked in stylish pewter log holders right next to the fireplace.

In Marshall’s space, the height of the fence and walls are intended for privacy, but it also helps block wind from the seating areas. If you don’t have a fence, try flanking your seating area with tall potted cedars or winter planters (more on these later), which are pretty and practical.

Jordon also posted a list of things that you can do in Saskatoon in the winter