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The 5 Best Pizzerias in Toronto

BY LINDA LUONG

    The Honey pizza from Pizzeria Defina with fior di latte, gorgonzola, pickled pear and roasted pecans (photo: Pizzeria Defina)

The Honey pizza from Pizzeria Defina with fior di latte, gorgonzola, pickled pear and roasted pecans (photo: Pizzeria Defina)

A bit of dough, some tomato sauce, cheese and an assortment of meats and vegetables may be all it takes to make a classic pizza, but that doesn’t mean just anyone can make a delicious one. There’s an art to making this dish that originated in Naples, Italy; these establishments—our choices for the five best pizzerias in Toronto—consistently serve up culinary masterpieces on thin crust.

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5 Dim Sum Restaurants in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

Shumai (front) and chiu-chao fan guo at Silver Dragon Restaurant. (Photo: Laura Johnston)

Shumai (front) and chiu-chao fan guo at Silver Dragon Restaurant. (Photo: Laura Johnston)

Steaming pots of tea, the chatter of happy diners, and carts groaning under the weight of mouth-watering foods—dim sum is a dining experience unlike any other.

For the uninitiated, here’s how it typically works: diners are seated at an already set table with a pot of tea. Servers circulate throughout the room with wheeled carts loaded with different types of dishes and stop at each table. If you see something you want, they’ll leave it on your table and check it off on your order slip. It pays to be adventurous with your selections! The restaurants listed below are some of the best places in Calgary to indulge in a traditional Chinese dim sum feast.

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Guide to Holiday Entertainment in Calgary

By BREANNA MROCZEK, Illustrations By AMANDA SCHUTZ

holiday_post

There is never any shortage of things to do in Calgary, and the winter months are no exception—seasonal shows and holiday-themed events abound! Here are 25 seasonal highlights to enjoy:

1Jake’s Gift Until Nov 22
This charming play honours the spirit of Remembrance Day with a story about a Canadian veteran’s return to Normandy to reconcile his brother’s war-time death.

2Liberation Days Until Nov 9
A community in the Netherlands struggles to return to their “normal” lives post-WWII in this inspiring drama by a Canadian playwright.

3Vanishing Ice Until Jan 4
Explore frozen frontiers and the North Pole—indoors—in this Glenbow exhibition that explores how artists’ interpretations of the arctic have changed over the centuries.

Winte4r Bobsleigh Starting Dec 26
Soar down an Olympic bobsleigh track—piloted by a pro—through 14 twists and turns at 120 km/hr.

5Ice Skating at Olympic Plaza November – March
Bring your skates and go for a glide amidst twinkling, lighted trees in the heart of the city on this outdoor ice rink.

Silent Night No6v 8 – 14
Calgary Opera commemorates the centennial of WWI with the moving story of a truce between troops on Christmas Eve 1914 to celebrate the holiday and bury their dead.

7Spruce Meadows Christmas Market Nov 14 – 30
Reindeer games, light displays, hot chocolate, fire pits, live music, and shopping in the vendor marketplace: make a visit to this market a family affair.

Once Upon a Ch8ristmas Nov 22 – Dec 21
Nothing feels more traditional than a day at Heritage Park for Christmas and Hanukkah activities, gift shopping, antique photos, sleigh rides, and homemade treats.

9Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite Nov 23
The charming bunny siblings from the children’s TV show perform a kid-friendly version of the holiday classic with upbeat music and storytelling.

10Bach for the Holidays Nov 30
The Calgary Civic Symphony and Cantaré Children’s Choir perform classical holiday music as well as tracks from holiday movies like Home Alone and The Polar Express.

11‘Twas the Night Nov 27
This after-hours shopping party at The Core is a red-carpet affair with host Tanya Kim and festive music performed by jazz musician Matt Dusk.

12Deck the Walls! Nov 25 – Dec 24
An art show you can shop! The walls of Newzones gallery are decked out in various sizes and styles of artwork that are perfect to give as gifts.

13A Christmas Carol Nov 27 – Dec 24
It just wouldn’t be Christmas in Calgary without Theatre Calgary’s heartwarming annual production of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story.

14Zoolights Nov 21 – Jan 4
See some unique animals at the Calgary Zoo… ones made out of coloured lights! Bundle up and stroll the elaborate outdoor light displays.

15With Bells On Dec 1 – 24
This hilarious, contemporary holiday play conveys the heartwarming spirit of the season.

16Christmas at the Opera Dec 4 – 7
Calgary Opera’s emerging artists and a live music ensemble perform delightful sounds of the season.

17Stuart McLean Vinyl Café Christmas Dec 4 – 5
Stuart McLean shares stories—joined by musical guest Chic Gamine—in the live holiday-themed version of his popular CBC Radio show.

18A Merry Little Pops Dec 6
Sing along to carols and jolly holiday songs with The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, a choir, and Santa himself.

19Handel’s Messiah Dec 6
The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus perform this grandiose classical score that has become synonymous with the Advent season.

20Trailer Park Boys: Dear Santa Claus Tour Dec 14
Enjoy some Christmas chaos with the boys as Bubbles’ good-hearted holiday plans are thwarted by Julian’s scheming and Ricky’s pursuit to meet Santa.

21Sleigh Rides Dec 20 – Jan 1
Go dashing through the snow in a cozy horse drawn sleigh with Horsin Around Trail Rides.

22Lions’ Festival of Lights Nov 30 – Jan 8
Calgary’s beautiful Confederation Park is covered in light displays that are free to view.

23Country Christmas Dec 17
Canadian country music superstar George Canyon performs holiday music with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra—and a meet-and-greet reception is available.

24The Nutcracker Dec 18 – 24
The Alberta Ballet presents the whimsical story of Clara and her Nutcracker with dazzling choreography, detailed costumes, and Tchaikovsky’s timeless musical score.

25Celebrate!
We hope you have a festive holiday season full of fun, health, and happiness as you spend time with family and friends exploring our wonderful city!

5 Vegetarian Restaurants in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY & STACEY PARKER

Lotus Root Salad at The Coup (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Lotus Root Salad at The Coup (Photo: Jason Dziver)

If you’re a vegetarian, you must love salad—because if you don’t, there won’t be a single thing you can eat on most restaurant menus. Fortunately for your taste buds, these five Calgary restaurants are turning out (mostly) vegetarian menus loaded with options.

THE COUP
Be sure to arrive with time to spare in order to gain entry to this 17th Avenue hotspot. Well known and loved among Calgary’s vegetarians, The Coup is entirely vegetarian with a focus on fresh, whole, local, organic food. Vegans and gluten-free diners will be comfortable here as well. Don’t forget to try one of their unique cocktails such as the Kombucha Gimlet with schizandra berry, rose, citrus, vodka and elderflower liqueur, topped with hibiscus rose kombucha.
Must Try: Lotus Root Salad (pictured). Okay, technically this is a salad, but it’s a lot more hearty and flavourful than the standard pile of lettuce. Warm Asian greens, lotus root and organic cherry tomatoes are dressed in a citrus ponzu sauce, then topped with toasted pine nuts and perfectly crisped tofu.
• 924 – 17 Ave SW, 403-541-1041, www.thecoup.ca
Map and reviews
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HOTEL INSIDER: Prince of Wales

By LINDA LUONG

The Prince of Wales Hotel

ABOUT THE HOTEL
From the horse-drawn carriages parked in front to the bellhop attired in a red jacket, it’s clear that guests staying at the Prince of Wales hotel are treated like royalty. Named for King George V and Queen Mary, who were guests here in 1901, this property is owned by Vintage Hotels, whose other holdings include Queen’s Landing, Pillar and Post and the Millcroft Inn & Spa among others. This establishment in picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake is the crown jewel however, meticulously decorated with Victorian-era furnishings but with modern conveniences like LCD TVs, Bose Wave music systems and Keurig coffee machines.

Rich dark woods, ornate wallpaper and mouldings, wood-carved and embellished sofas and chairs upholstered in rich fabrics and embroidery nod to the historic charm here. (Be sure to take note of the beautiful stained glass scene in the lobby.) Cosy seating arrangements and fireplaces are inviting spots for quiet conversations and solitude.

Choose from a range of accommodations whether it’s for a romantic getaway, a mother/daughter bonding weekend, business retreat or even for a wedding party. Book The Royal Suite for the ultimate experience, which has a four-poster canopied King-sized bed, a walk out balcony, a separate seating area, fireplace and a pampering bathroom with a jetted tub.

BY THE NUMBERS
Rooms
110, including pet-friendly rooms
Price Rates vary by season and are dependent on the day of the week. May to October $290 to $640 per night; November to April $220 to $540 per night.
Conference Facilities Seven meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 90 people.


AMENITIES
Named by Spas of America as one of Canada’s Top 50 Spas in 2013, the Secret Garden Spa is an ideal spot for pampering. Choose from individual treatments like manicures, pedicures, facials, body wraps and massages, or day packages, and treatments for couples and mothers and daughters, which exclusively uses the Babor line of face and body products. Choose from signature treatments that are inspired by tea such as the Beau-teas facial or body wrap, or the green tea pedicure. Spa guests are can also relax in the salt water pool.

FOOD
Three restaurants—Escabèche, Churchill Lounge and the Drawing Room—means that guests can enjoy an assortment of dining experiences right on the premises. Upscale Escabèche is a beautiful restaurant with panoramic views of Simcoe Park. Executive chef Chris Smythe utilizes fresh, local ingredients for a seasonal menu inspired by French cuisine, while chef sommelier Fred Gamula—who has been with the Prince of Wales for more than 20 years—can provide expert pairings from the wine cellar, which has more than 8,000 bottles representing Niagara wineries, but also France, Australia, Italy and California.

Churchill Lounge is a more casual spot for tucking into pub-style fare in a library-inspired space with bookcases and leather wingback chairs.

Of local renown is the afternoon tea service in the hotel’s Drawing Room. A cheery space in an elegant palate of crimson and ivory, guests can indulge in this midday treat served daily from noon to 6 p.m. Sip a variety of teas from beautiful fine bone china cups and saucers, while nibbling on housemade scones with strawberry jam, Devonshire cream and butter, pastries, cookies, finger sandwiches or a selection of cheeses.

6 Picton St. Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-888-669-5566; vintage-hotels.com/princeofwales/.

Vancouver Roaster Celebrates 25 Years

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

This fall, the folks at Bean Around the World are raising a glass—better yet, a mug—to 25 years of top-notch coffee with West Coast roots

Bean Around the World roasts their beans daily. (Photo: KK Law)

Bean Around the World roasts their beans daily. (Photo: KK Law)

Some leave their heart in San Francisco, but founder Pete Boëda found his when he spotted his first coffee roaster while visiting the Golden City in 1978. Though it took over a decade, Boëda’s newfound love came to fruition when he opened a small cafe complete with in-house roaster—not a common sight at the time. Now, 22 independently owned cafes, each with their own unique style and flavour, bear the Bean Around the World name. (more…)

You Gotta Eat Here in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

Comedian John Catucci hosts Food Network's You Gotta Eat Here. (Photo: courtesy Shaw Media)

Comedian John Catucci hosts Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here. (Photo: courtesy Shaw Media)

From posh urban eateries to down-home country diners, Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here showcases beloved Canadian restaurants, with host John Catucci sampling the most outrageous and mouth-watering dishes the nation’s chefs can concoct.

Fans of the show don’t have to just sit at home and drool, though. Head over to one of the 15 Calgary restaurants featured on the past three seasons and eat what John ate, or discover a hidden gem on the menu. You Gotta Eat Here airs Fridays at 7 pm on the Food Network.

BEER REVOLUTION
Premium beer and wood-fired, thin crust pizza are served at this unpretentious rock ’n’ roll bar. The 24 draft lines change several times per week with a focus on breweries outside the mainstream. Try the Blazing Saddle Pizza with blackened steak, banana peppers, white cheddar, mozzarella, crispy onions, cajun remoulade, seasoned arugula and horseradish aioli.
What John Ate: Pizza Spring Rolls — crispy, deep-fried rolls filled with pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, basil, mozzarella and spicy marinara sauce.
1080 – 8 St SW, 403-264-2739, beerrevolution.ca

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50 Things We Love About Vancouver’s Granville Island

By JILL VON SPRECKEN and SHERI RADFORD

Want to explore False Creek on your way to Granville Island? Take the Aquabus mini ferry. (Photo by Dominic Schaefer)

Want to explore False Creek on your way to Granville Island? Take the Aquabus mini ferry. (Photo by Dominic Schaefer)

1. Commuting via Aquabus or False Creek Ferries.

2. SeaVillage, a charming collection of floating homes.

3. Browsing for fresh produce, bread and seafood in the Granville Island Public Market.

4. Spotting orcas with Wild Whales Vancouver.

5. Ocean Concrete, the oldest and largest tenant on the island. It’s been there since 1917.

6. Edible Canada at the Market, with its fresh regional fare on the menu, plus foodie tours and a gourmet artisan retail shop.

7. Watching buskers perform: musicians, jugglers, magicians and more.

8. Hand-pressed, hand-bottled sake from Artisan SakeMaker.

9. Splashing around in the Granville Island Waterpark.

10. Watching artisans hard at work in their studios.

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Nordstrom’s Grand Entrance in Calgary

By BREANNA MROCZEK

(Image: courtesy Nordstrom, Inc)

(Image: courtesy Nordstrom, Inc)

Make room in your closet for fall fashion! The iconic fashion retailer Nordstrom makes its Canadian debut in Calgary at Chinook Centre on September 19, with doors opening at 9:30 am.

Nordstrom is certainly making its arrival into Canada a grand entrance: before you even get to the fashion, there’s eBar coffee bar, Bazille full-service restaurant, a beauty boutique, free wifi, and personal stylists to consult. Once you make your way to the racks of covetable clothing, you’ll find exclusive brands and high-end statement pieces right alongside modestly priced everyday wear.

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The Best 9 New or Improved Attractions in Canada for Summer 2014

Best New Attraction in Whistler
Best New or Improved Attractions for Summer 2014: A shot of Whistler’s winner

Get some inspiration for your summer vacation this year with the annual list of Canada’s Best New or Improved Attractions, as selected by the regional editors of Where. This annual awards program celebrates the most anticipated attractions for the summer as editors name their picks from brand new or significantly improved attractions, or existing attractions celebrating major must-visit milestones.

This year’s winners offer up a handful of exciting diversions for travellers exploring the great North—including an exploration of the country’s largest indoor aquarium, Olympian-worthy sporting, majestic walks over a glacier studded valley and more.

Discover the winners of the Best New or Improved Attractions Awards for 2014 >>

HOTEL INSIDER: Ste. Anne’s Spa

By LINDA LUONG

Ste. Anne's Spa-1

 

ABOUT THE HOTEL
Nestled in Southeastern Ontario’s Northumberland Hills, Ste. Anne’s Spa exudes relaxation. Don a bathrobe and flip flops from day to night—expect to see fellow guests sitting in the dining room in their white robes and sandals—as you go to the spa, sit in the steam room, jump in the hot tub or dive into the plunge pool. This is a destination for unplugging and recharging.

Whether you’re planning a one-day escape or an overnight visit, the country hideaway—and its beautifully landscaped grounds—is ideal for a girls’ getaway, a mother-daughter or couples’ trip, or even for team-building sessions. An all-inclusive day spa package includes two meals, spa services and complete use of the facilities, while an all-inclusive overnight visit includes four meals, spa treatments and use of the facilities.

Guests can stay in the main inn, which has two wings featuring rooms with working fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and balconies, or in one of eight spa cottages boasting private parking, shared kitchens, dining and living spaces, and hot tubs. A complimentary chef experience is available for groups of five or more: a chef prepares a four-course meal right in your cottage’s kitchen.

BY THE NUMBERS
Size 400 acres of scenic countryside
Rooms 28, including eight spa cottages
Price  Rates are seasonal and dependent on the day of the week. The day spa rate is $170 to $220, and includes a three-course lunch, afternoon tea and $120 allowance for spa and wellness services. The overnight getaway rate is $299 to $515, which includes a four-course dinner, breakfast, three-course lunch, afternoon tea and $120 allowance for spa and wellness services.
Conference Facilities  Three newly created meeting rooms can accommodate corporate groups and retreats for 12 to 20 people. Each facility boasts the latest technology including smart boards, conference phone and audio-visual equipment. And since they’re located in spa cottages, access to a full kitchen, bedrooms, deck and outdoor hot tub are also included.

AMENITIES
Consistently voted as one of Canada’s favourite spas by Spafinder, Ste. Anne’s is best known, of course, for its relaxing treatments, which can be performed at the main inn, at your spa cottage, or, from June to September, in a garden gazebo. There are more than 35 treatments on the menu, including 11 types of massages, plus body wraps, exfoliations and facials. Seasonal offerings include a maple scrub (April to May), a strawberry and sugar exfoliation (June), and a citrus foot scrub and hydrotherapy bath (July to August). The spa uses select Aveda products as well as its own Ste. Anne’s Skin Nourishment creams and lotions, which are made with 100 per cent pure botanical ingredients—some of which, such as rosemary, sage and geraniums, are grown right on the property.

There’s also a fitness facility with elliptical machines, treadmillls, recumbent bike, rowing machine, inversion table and weights. Daily wellness classes include morning and afternoon yoga, stretch, meditation and circuit training. Walking trails also wend their way around the property; in winter, they can be used for snowshoeing. There’s also an outdoor pool, a grotto with a hot tub, plunge pool and lap pool, and a eucalyptus steam room. An equine program allows guests to take part in the morning muck or the evening turn-in at the stables, help groom the horses or even learn to ride.

FOOD
The kitchen serves healthy, well-balanced meals with vegetarian, gluten-, nut- and dairy-free options. Mains could include chicken breast stuffed with spinach and gorgonzola cheese with a roasted red pepper sauce, ratatouille, slow-roasted beef with a wine demi-glace, a quinoa pattie or tandoori marinated tofu with stewed beans and lentils. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3 to 5 p.m., with a sweet, savoury or fruit-and-cheese plate with the likes of orange cranberry scones, white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie, cucumber sandwiches with sundried tomato cream cheese, or fruit skewers with a blood orange maple yogurt dip. The resort is not licensed, but guests are invited to bring their own wine to Ste. Anne’s and enjoy it responsibility anywhere on the property. Staff can uncork the wine (there is no fee), but they cannot serve it to guests.

Well known for its gluten-free baked goods and desserts, Ste. Anne’s Bakery is open to guests as well as to the public. Pick up goodies such as banana bread, honey quinoa bread, almond milk bread and burger buns. Take-home desserts include shortbread or pecan sea salt toffee cookies, tiramisu, flourless chocolate cake, pecan tarts and granola. Or bring home savoury frozen meals such as lasagna, shepherd’s pie and roasted veggie quiche, along with cuts of pasture-raised beef, chicken and pork.

1009 Massey Rd., Grafton, Ontario, 1-888-346-6772; steannes.com

You Gotta Eat Here! 12 Restaurants That are Worth the Drive from the Big City

You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci (photo: Geoff George)

You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci (photo: Geoff George)

Canada’s big cities are home to all manner of acclaimed restaurants. Each year local and visiting foodies flock to by the thousands to the likes of Vij’s and Hawksworth in Vancouver, Canoe and The Black Hoof in Toronto, and Chives in Halifax. But there’s also great food to be had off the beaten path. On his Food Network Canada show You Gotta Eat Here, John Catucci travels across the country in search of the most mouth-watering dishes at hometown-favourite eateries. In advance of You Gotta Eat Here‘s season-three premiere on April 4, Catucci tells Where about some excellent restaurants that are well worth a road trip.

Click onward to see the restaurants that are worth the drive from Canada’s big cities!