Saturday, September 30, 2017

Two Cowboys: Cracking Claws at the Inaugural Lobsterfest at Big Sky BBQ in Okotoks, AB

Lobsters Beware

There is a time of the year when every Atlantic Lobster should run for cover. It is Fall in Alberta, and Rob Bolton launched the inaugural Big Sky BBQ Lobsterfest.

No one told the lobsters. Before they knew it, almost 1,000 of them made the airplane trip to the Prairie town of Okotoks. It is the beginning of what is to become one of the largest events of its kind. You can mark our words. Rob is not going to hold back this time. He already has plans to double its size next year.


He served the lobsters boiled, with lemon butter and bacon wrapped smoked corn on the cob to 420 hungry local folks. It was the second of two jam-packed entertaining evenings. Many of the guests made sure they got their tickets almost a month in advance. The ones that didn', lost out, or had to bootleg it from a local Okotokian on the Lobsterfest black market.


If you know the quality of BBQ at Big Sky, you will also know that Rob is a perfectionist. He will not relent until he's done it all perfectly and until every guest is thrilled with their experience. We were just excited to have an invite from Rob and to show you how it gets done at Big Sky BBQ.

By the way, the Lobster was delicious! You should have been there.

Hendrik van Wyk
Atlantic Cowboy

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In the Sun

In the Smoke

Lobster Grooming



My Precious!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Two Cowboys: Taking the Cake and Eating It With Coffee at 94 Take the Cake in Okotoks, Alberta

The Perfect Little Coffee Shop

If you had to detail the ideal setting for a little coffee and cake shop, what will it be? How will it look?

For me, it should remind me of my Ouma's kitchen. I had my happiest childhood days taking in the sights and smells of freshly baked bread, cake and her famous pastries. Helping her knee the dough and mixing the icing was a favorite. Sometimes, I was allowed to lick the frosting bowl if there was any left.

My Ouma was the prize-winning baker at the local County Fair with her "soetkoekies" (biscuits), "terte" (Pies) and moist Chocolate Cakes. She set the standard, and aspiring bakers worked year-on-year to try and match it. Few ever succeeded, and even less managed to exceed it.


If I had to design the ideal coffee and cake shop, then it should be a place where the kitchen is the centerpiece. At 94 Take the Cake in Okotoks, Alberta, Robyn and Sherry built their ideal and perfect coffee and cake shop, and we were there for the "grand opening."

According to the ladies, they "Take the Cake" when it comes to delicious and beautiful home baking. Sherry catered before to special occasions with custom cakes and pastries. The new shop now provides her with more space, more capacity and more scope to meet the demands for her unique and beautiful cake creations. According to her, "There is no love more sincere than the love of baking."

She also shares her passion for baking through classes that are hosted at the new shop. Young and old can now learn to bake and decorate cakes with her. She believes that she can even teach the Two Cowboys to bake and decorate!

Robyn is passionate about the coffee. Her friendliness and smile are contagious as you walk in and smell the fresh roast. Fratello supplied the beans and provided some guidance to help make 94 Take The Cake's coffee a welcome companion to the baking from the kitchen. We challenged Robyn to do a Two Cowboys Flatwhite, and she had it spot-on perfect the first round with an excellent crema and smooth, creamy milk. We have our new favorite coffee spot in Okotoks.


Ultimately the setting of the little coffee shop reminds you of a fairytale. There are ample garden spots where you can enjoy the sunshine and read a favorite book amongst flowers and birdsong. The shop has several comfortable rooms where you can work, do a business meeting or share some time with a good friend. From every angle, you can see how Sherry bakes in the kitchen and Robyn makes at the front desk.

We love the coffee. The cakes are outstanding. We have no doubt that this is a winner.

What actually stands out for us is the enthusiasm of two entrepreneurs, Roby and Sherry, that are realizing their dream and allowing us to be part of it. That is why we gladly share their story and eagerly track their progress to becoming Okotoks' next favorite little cake and coffee shop.

Hendrik van Wyk
Cake Cowboy

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Two Cowboys: Fiesta with Casa Hogar Los Angelitos Dancing Away with Ballet Folklorico in Okotoks, Alberta

The Rhythm

Music and dance have a way to transcend culture, time and place. Even more so on a Monday evening in Okotoks Alberta, as a school theatre is packed with spectators witnessing and clapping to the pumping Latin rhythms from Mexico's Ballet Folklorico.

The spectacle was courtesy of the touring dancers of Casa Hogar Los Angelitos of Manzanillo, Mexico, on their tour through the Canadian Prairie towns. The Two Cowboys was lucky to get an invite to the Okotoks performance.

We cannot stay away from people that create things - music and dance in this case - and people that care for each other.


Baile folklórico, literally "folkloric dance" in Spanish, also known as ballet folklórico is a collective term for traditional Mexican dances. It puts the emphasis on local folk culture with ballet characteristics like pointed toes and exaggerated movements, that are highly choreographed.

You will find folk dances in the villages during fiestas and not on stage. Each region in Mexico, the Southwestern United States and Central American countries is known for a handful of locally characteristic dances. On Monday 18 September, we were treated to the Mexican folkloric journey by Casa Hogar Los Angelitos students (CHLA).

CHLA is an orphanage that is providing for the needs of the homeless and forgotten children of Manzanillo. The facilities and the not-for-profit organization that supports it was founded by Nancy Nystrom and her husband, David. Their clear mission is to help develop the young people of the city that would otherwise have been destitute.

The focus is on education. Children that would otherwise not have had opportunities are given a chance and is supported to develop into skilled individuals, ready to contribute to society in Mexico once they become young adults. Since inception, CHLA has succeeded in helping several young men and women go to universities and technical schools. All activities are funded through individual sponsorships and donations by generous patrons.

What sets CHLA's approach apart is the Ballet Folklorico. Nancy Nystrom had the idea that expressive arts may help some of the children deal with their sometimes complicated pasts. It worked. Her idea has gradually progressed to where many of the children in CHLA and even some from surrounding communities have joined the Ballet Folklorico Casa Hogar Los Angelitos.

The next step was to share it with the world by taking the show on the road. This is how people in Alberta and other communities across North America are getting to see the rhythmic enthusiasm of these outstanding performers. At the same time, we all learned a little bit more of Mexico and of ourselves as we too contributed as spectators to the opportunities for these children.


The dancing was world-class. The stamina of the performers was exceptional considering they perform almost daily while on tour. The costumes were breathtaking and the rhythms contagious.

For a short while, we were all in a Mexican plaza during fiesta. Vibrant colors were everywhere. Mariachis and their songs were thumping away in a tranced tapestry of familiarity as they sing of love and heartbreak, happiness and success. People danced. Viva Mexico!

For a moment we forgot about our pasts, and we shared in the music and dance present of the students of Casa Hogar Los Angelitos. What a present it was!

Hendrik van Wyk
Fiesta Cowboy

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Yes, He Came




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