Monday, December 26, 2016

Two Cowboys: Adding Some Sophisticated Sauce and Missing Link Seasoning With Bow Valley BBQ in Canmore, Alberta

Boere Braai

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In our unique, little-known and often misunderstood Boere culture we take our meat and meat preparation, very seriously. If you know anything about South Africa's Boere identity and heritage, you will be aware of a right of passage called a "braai". If you don't, let me introduce you to this fantastic way of life.



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The word braai (pronounced “bry”, rhyming with the word “cry”; plural "braais") is Afrikaans for “barbeque” or “roast” and is a social custom in South Africa. “The word braaivleis is Afrikaans for “roasted meat.”

Only trusted friends are ever invited to a Boere braai. If you manage to get an invitation, then be aware that you are allowed into the inner sanctum of culinary privilege. A braai is our happy place. With a beer in hand, an open fire, good company, and something slowly roasting away we savour life. This is living.

When you ever make it to a braai with the Two Cowboys or any other South African Boer, then there is some important advice you should heed. Whatever you do, never ever criticise the way the meat is cooked. There is no bigger insult to a Boer than interfering with this sacred rite. Ever! Here's another piece of valuable advice. Never recommend sauce for the meat. It shows you are self-destructive or even suicidal. There is a good chance you won't live to tell about it.

It is highly irregular and unlikely to find any store bought sauce worthy of a Two Cowboys Boere braai. However, without admitting it too publicly, I think we've found one that we may tolerate. Jamie Ayles from Bow Valley BBQ told us more about it.

In 2013, Jamie and Bow Valley BBQ was accepted into the Self Employment government program for new entrepreneurs through Community Futures Centre West. In utilising the network and resources made available through the program, Jamie and Marie, his partner received a Growing Forward Government Grant to scale up and develop five products.

They then moved their production from a modest commercial kitchen setting in Olds and began producing 400 kg formulations at the Alberta Food Processing and Development Centre in Leduc, AB.  Bow Valley BBQ is now providing federally inspected HACCP certified products for both retail and food service.

Currently, Bow Valley BBQ Inc. products can be found in over 20 Restaurants and Retailers throughout Alberta and B.C. with more to come. They have since grown their monthly production demands to 2,400kg batches and a storage facility in Canmore is housing their inventories from where they ship it nationwide.

Observations


Most commercially manufactured barbeque sauces are molasses laden, fake smoke-induced, MSG-enhanced bottled concoctions. It is what you put on meat if you don't know what you are doing or when you have the in-laws over for dinner. If you do put it on your meat, you end up with a sugary, charcoal resembled, burned bitterness that serves no purpose other than make you look mean and stupid.

With the Boq Valley BBQ Blueberry Merlot Steak Sauce, we've found something much different. It enhanced our work. We used it as a basting sauce, and it made the meat flavour better, instead of destroying or masking it. We used it in combination with the Missing Link Spice Blend on sirloin, pork ribs, prime rib, and so far just could not fault it. It left us enough room for our own flavour additions.

We keep a high standard when we braai. There are reputations to protect. Jamie and his creations are helping us take it to the next level. We are glad we gave it a try. It is now a regular condiment in our arsenal of gourmet braai secrets.

P.S. Jamie is in the process of launching the Canmore Co-Packing Collective. He promised to work with the Two Cowboys to help package and bottle our own famous Monkey Gland Sauce. More about that later...

Hendrik van Wyk
Boere Cowboy

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Photos


Pitching

Crispy Belly

At Work

Grilling

Shrine

Friday, December 23, 2016

Two Cowboys: Advanced Composite Manufacturing for Hand-Built Personalized Fishing Rods at Maven in Auckland, New Zealand

Happy Places

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Marry art, design and modern composite material manufacturing and what do you get? A husband and wife team in New Zealand that works together to make beautiful, one-of-kind, purpose-built fishing rods!

According to Gayleen Pratt, the driving force behind the Maven brand, it is as much about fishing, as it is about engineering beautiful, functional pieces of art. You'll believe her when you see the care she takes to apply a thin layer of lacquer to the windings of a beautiful custom fishing rod. A piece for a lucky customer somewhere in the world. She does it several times over several days to complete a fishing rod that can take up to two weeks to make.



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Maven was inspired by a childhood spent fishing the Firth of Thames. Gayleen grew up in the typical natural Kiwi kid playground of a jetty, on an ocean inlet somewhere on the coast of Aotearoa. It is the place where kids usually pass the time swimming, fishing, playing and generally living the good New Zealand life. It is also where they dream about their future. Gayleen and Stephen never knew that what they may have taken for granted growing up, will one day become an essential part of the inspiring story behind the Maven brand. Artful Fishing.

Maven was launched in Auckland in 2007. Gayleen and Stephen applied their passions for design, technology and off course, fishing, to create something beautiful, functional and unique. They brought it together for something equally at home on super yachts, as it is at the local lake, or a jetty in the hands of a Kiwi kid.

Maven rods blend purist design aesthetics and an impeccable technical pedigree to create a modern classic. Each features a retro-chic longitudinal pinstripe and arch pattern. "The lengthways pinstripe is a world-first for a fishing rod", according to Stephen. "We wanted to create something that would be truly treasured and bring many years of enjoyment. It should be a trusted friend, with which you share many happy moments, in happy places."

Observations


Maven's team works from a state of the art facility situated on the edge of native bushland in Auckland, New Zealand. Their products are jewels of engineering. If you can ever call a fishing rod a piece of art, then this is it.

I am sure some people can get wax-lyrical about their fishing rods. How it helped them to land the big one, or caused it to get away. Granted, Maven's products are beautiful, and they are state-of-the-art. However, we found something more profound than fishing rods during our visit. The real story behind Maven is the passion of two people for engineering and design. This is not so much a fishing rod business, as it is a business for beauty, function and ingenuity.

Stephen walked us through the manufacturing process, and he kept using familiar phrases. Words we've become used to hearing over the months we've been profiling high-achieving producers. "We needed a way to do this, so I made that." "This is different from what other's do, so I made a machine that can do it." "It is a special tool I made to solve that problem."

Stephen may as well be tinkering on the next Pagani or space rocket. The end product will be phenomenal because it is not really about the product. It is in the process, method and ultimately the joy in the journey to get there. No matter what he makes, it is simply a path to, and an outlet for his real passion. The art of engineering and design.

Here is another example. We all know Apple makes great computers and mobile devices. However, it is their design and engineering ingenuity that results in great computers and mobile devices. You can have the right idea, but without the means to pull it off, and the passion for the process of making it, it will forever remain elusive.

I have no doubt that Stephen and Gayleen can take the next project and pull it off as well as they are doing Maven's fishing rods because the smarts and rewards are in the process of designing the making. As with many businesses we discover in far-away little New Zealand, this is yet another example of world-class and remarkable. We are honoured to tell the story and hope you enjoy it with us.

Hendrik van Wyk
Fishing Cowboy

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Photos


Delicate

Perfection


Colours

Steady

Aotearoa Made

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Two Cowboys: Telling Stories With Friends at the Animation College in Auckland, New Zealand

Creating Value

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We checked in with Animation College in Auckland, New Zealand, courtesy of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. The Animation College was a finalist in 2016's Westpac Business Awards' Central Region.

Animation College began as part of Freelance Animators Ltd, founded in 1989 by American, John Ewing – a former Disney animator, and design studio owner, Barry Pearce.


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John Ewing trained as an animator at Disney Studios in the '50s and '60s, the golden years of the studio, where he helped craft classic features including Sleeping Beauty, Sword in the Stone and The Jungle Book. In 1967 he moved to NZ where he turned his skills to classic commercials including Ches'n'Dale for Chesdale Cheese, Jungle Juice, the Marley Duck and the TV Kiwi.

In the ‘80s, Freelance Animators were the first dedicated New Zealand animation studio to carry out contract work for Disney and Warner Bros, including the animated series Tiny Toons for none other than Steven Spielberg. The next step for John and Barry was to begin teaching others as there was no formal animation training in New Zealand at this time.

In the decade that followed, John trained dozens of animators, many of whom went on to work at Weta in NZ, Blue Sky Studios in New York, Passion Pictures in London and ILM in San Francisco. Ultimately, the training scheme grew into Freelance Animation School and branched out into modern animation techniques such as 3D animation. In 2012, the school was renamed Animation College.

Observations


The reason for our visit was to find out what motivates people to become animators and tell stories with cartoons. We wanted to know why students were at the College, and what they hoped to learn from attending a traditional learning institution to be educated in the not so traditional art of digital storytelling.

We discovered that it is a great deal more complicated than we ever imagined. This isn't just about drawing funny characters for children's entertainment. We found a group of talented young people at the forefront of technology, yet still rooted in the classic art of philosophy. They are people pooling their collective talents to create amazing things, tell fascinating stories and most importantly, architect futuristic interactive digital experiences.

At the College, they use words such as "Value Creation", "Wisdom", "Collective Experiences" and "Interactivity" as standard terms to define their pursuits. These are big words for young people that are naturally attracted to the shine of the latest and greatest gadgets. It demonstrates that a significant amount of thought goes into the work they do with what may appear to the outsider as a simple digital playground of sorts. However, it is this easy access to technology, software, gadgets, mobile media, virtual reality and interactive gaming platforms that allow them to push the boundaries of content creation.

An enormous amount of thought and creativity goes into telling stories through non-traditional mediums. No matter what medium is used, we discovered that ultimately it is still about the stories. We cannot get away from the fact that human life is narratively rooted. It is one of the ways we make sense of our world. It is how we bridge reality with perception to form understanding. In every culture, stories are a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and ultimately the for the instilling of moral virtue.

At Animation College, they focus on these age-old principles, coupled with amazing technology and buckets full of creativity to equip tomorrow's geniuses with the means to evolve the experience of the human condition.

You will have to work hard to keep up if you are over 35.

Hendrik van Wyk
Digital Cowboy

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Photos

Not Me!
Mickey's Fault


Watching You...

Nightmares

Mini Vader

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cowboy News Network: Bubbles at Raintree Vacation's Club Regina in Los Cabos, Mexico

Bubbles

Excuse me. Which bubble is yours?

We travel a lot. We do it for many reasons. We travel because we suffer from a compulsion to see what lies beyond the next corner, ridge or ocean. Who else is out there? What do they think or do? It is a defining quality of the human condition to explore and learn. While many are quite content to spend their whole life in one place. Some of us just cannot remain put. We have an insatiable compulsion to remain on the move. To expand our horizons. We travel to learn and enrich our lives.

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People live in bubbles. A bubble is a comfortable reality we create for ourselves. We construct it from the information we get. From experiences. The people with which we interact. The decisions we make. Our circumstances. It is who we are and what we believe.

So it happens that some people idealise travel and make an annual pilgrimage on a cruise ship or to a luxury resort. They are sold visions of far away places with white sandy beaches and blue oceans. Destinations stocked with Latin lovers waiting with open arms and cold Pinacoladas garnished with little umbrellas. Everything is set for their imminent arrival. This is not travelling. This is dreaming. These are theme parks that perpetuate a disconnect from reality. Fake Bubbles.

When you become a traveller you discover a universal truth: Life is a fine balance between expectation and reality tempered with perception. As you push your own boundaries the one thing that can truly set you up for success or failure is your expectation. How you set your bubble.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." (John Lennon) To paraphrase it for the traveller, "...shit happens when you expect things." With no expectations, you are free to experience and formulate positive perceptions about reality. Free to create a nice bubble. If you do have expectations, prepare to be surprised, and not necessarily in a good way.

My Bubble


The more you travel the more you become aware of how focused people are on their own circumstances and how committed they are to their own perceptions. The first and very real discovery come when you realise that life "back home" continues without you. The same goes for the places you visit. Life goes on regardless of your presence. Kids go to school, people go to work, mortgages get paid, birthdays celebrated and the diseased laid to rest.

It begs a profound question. How connected are we really to our reality? How much of what happens in our lives every day is also part of others? Is it within our control? How much should make it into our bubble?

Take a look at your bubble. Who is in it? How does it make you feel? Deal with it, or change it. Everyone is in a bubble. A bad bubble is filled with disempowerment and things you cannot control. Perceptions others chose for you. Disappointments. For example, your thoughts about a dumb-ass politician's statement. The maniac driver that cut you off this morning.

A good bubble is filled with perceptions of empowerment and appreciation. Another profound travel truth is that one should never travel to escape. You tend to bring yourself along for the trip. Bubbles travel with you.

This year we've seen a small part of New Zealand's North Island, Alberta, British Columbia, Maui, Oahu, and Los Cabos. We've visited and profiled more than 200 businesses and met and interviewed over 300 people in these places. We experienced temperatures from +35C to -35C. We've visited mountains and oceans. A famous traveller once said, "the more places he's been, the more he realises just how little he's seen. We agree. We've arrived at a point where every day is an adventure. Not because we expect it. Instead, because we are open to it. We brush our teeth, take a shit, put on our clothes and show up. This is the best bubble ever.

Mexican Bubble


We are signing off our year in Los Cabos Mexico at the Club Regina courtesy of a gift from my mum. Something she still wanted to do before her bubble became smaller. One thing that always surprises me about Mexico is how hard they work to sell someone else's bubble. The theme park. The cocktail. The romantic dinner. The adventure trip and the famous "complimentary breakfast" (read Timeshare Trap)."

The best way to experience Mexico, as for most places on earth is to come without expectations. Arrive. Slow down. Take it as it comes. Face reality. Find authenticity and fold in the richness of the Mexican people and their culture. If there is one ask from us this trip it is this, "Mexico, stop selling someone else' dream. Give us yours."

Club Regina has breathtaking views. It is located in Los Cabos, at the most southern part of Baja California. It rises above the shoreline where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. Every unit faces the ocean and colourful sunsets and sunrises are a given. From November through March you see whales playing in front of the resort. We saw many.

We didn't come with too many expectations. We needed the rest. What we got is a view that gets better every day. Friendly staff and good facilities. A quiet place with everything you need.

We recommend you make the trip to San Jose or San Lucas for groceries. Do it for no reason other than feeling good about how much cheaper it is in Mexico and for fresh fruit and beer. Bring US$. They don't want Pesos. Don't bother with the resort's coffee. The Starbucks logo is for decoration. Remember, Mexico is outside the resort.

We are sold on Los Cabos as a destination. It is a relaxing experience with weather ideal during the winter months. Sunny days and a cool ocean breeze. Club Regina is worth a visit for the views.

Here is the golden key. Before you go to Mexico, and before you take on one more day of your life, let go of your expectations. Manage your perceptions. Appreciate the little things. Above all, make sure the bubble you live is yours. Not someone else's creation.

Hendrik van Wyk
Mexican Cowboy

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Photos


Two Cowboys & A Camera

Blocks

Infinity


Friday, December 16, 2016

Two Cowboys: Joie De Vivre at L'Atelier du Fromage in Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand

The Joy of Living

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Who perfected the art of living?

Was it the French, the Spaniards, or the Italians? Famous phrases have rung out over centuries of ongoing cultural refinement searching for this answer. Phrases such as "Joie de vivre", "pura vida" and "vivere la vita" all attempt to describe the art of perfect living.


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It is a question not to be taken lightly. Many cultures have fought centuries of war over its essence. As with most things in life, you have to lose your innocence to have an opinion. While minutes, hours, days and years are slipping away through the hourglass of our lives, it is profoundly necessary for every person to have an opinion and make up their mind. What is your art of living? Have you to tasted it, heard it, felt it, seen it. Lived it.

Today Two Cowboys dare to weigh in. In the New World, we are lucky. We can get away with borrowing a little bit of living from the Old World and supplement it with the New. With our own roots in South Africa, New Zealand and Canada, we were born into fine wine, refined cuisine and lots of cheese. For us, culinary living must also include beer, smoked brisket, lamb, chocolate, coffee, and oysters.

Life is not all about eating and drinking. It is also about loving family, good friends, fresh air, health and special moments. No matter where you are in the world. All of this is necessary to complete the perfect picture of the art of life.

Observations


Some places make it a little easier. One of those is L'Atelier du Fromage in Auckland, New Zealand. It puts you on the fast track to living. From the moment you step through the door, you are transferred to another world.

If you are from the south of France, it will feel like home. If you've never been to France, it will give you a reason to go. Until you do, Scott and his team will take care of your French culinary needs. All of them. Wine, cheese, croissants, charcuterie, eclairs, macarons and more.

If you need it fresh, resident chef Gilles stationed on his kitchen perch above the humdrum of the shop will orchestrate amazing flavours with fresh local ingredients. He will give you a simple quality meal with no equal in most of Auckland's top restaurants. I don't give out accolades like this lightly. The best pork belly ever: L'Atelier du Fromage. The best beef rib ever: L'Atelier du Fromage.  Gilles is a master with flavour, texture and pairing wine. You have to take it when you get it. The menu changes every week.

Then again, I am politely reminded by Scott, this is how we do it in France. The only part that doesn't fit is that this is in Auckland, New Zealand! Maybe the New World is, after all, discovering the art of living. Maybe the French do know something about it. A visit to L'Atelier du Fromage will certainly give you an authentic and first-class taste of it. If nothing else, it will raise the bar on what to expect.

It comes highly recommended.

Hendrik van Wyk
French Cowboy

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Photos


Cheese Heaven

Croque Monsieur 
Flat White Please



Oui

Oui Monseur

Newmarket!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Two Cowboys: Come for the View and Stay for Comfort at Murrieta's in Canmore, Alberta

A Comfortable View

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There are many perfect spots for restaurants in Canmore. There is one that is a little more perfect than the others. This is where you will find Murrieta's Restaurant.

The restaurant is centrally located on Main Street in Downtown Canmore. One floor up from street level you get the best views of the surrounding mountains and the hustle and bustle of mountain town holiday shopping. Murrieta's makes the most of it with large windows to the North, West and South. It is located across from the iconic and historic Canmore Hotel.

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Murrieta's has spectacular surroundings, and it makes the most of it. As you'd expect from a property in a mountain town it has the compulsory comforting hearth, vaulted ceilings, majestic beams, open plan and captivating scenery. It combines this with soft rays of natural light that flood in from the expansive glass windows. Day or night, prepare to be amazed by open vistas or bright starlight. Have I mentioned the view is spectacular?

Observations


We met up with their new Swiss Chef Marco who recently joined the restaurant. His is doing his second stint in the Bow Valley. He recently revamped Murrieta's menu with new dishes for the Winter season from high-quality ingredients sourced locally and abroad (from B.C. and other places with Sablefish). The cuisine offers up an adventurous, refreshing and inviting blend of seafood, meat dishes and pasta. Ask for the Two Cowboy version of the Pork Chop. Trust us, you will like it. All is served with uncompromising flair and style.

Cody Marks, the Assistant General Manager assured us their trusted favourites are still on the menu. "We keep it on for the locals that know that Murietta's is not just about good food and great views, but also about comfort", he said. "Here you can do a weekly stop for a cold beer, glass of wine or a cut-above bar nibble. It is not just a Sunday place."

Murrieta's is a restaurant with white tablecloths, starched napkins and silverware that includes more than one knife and fork. You will find more than one wine glass at your table, which is necessary when you discover their extensive list of wines on offer. However, Murrieta's is not pretentious. It is a comfortable place where you can bring your wife and girlfriend, out-of-town business guests or the whole family on a Sunday to have comforting well-prepared food.

Everyone is going to get something they like off the expansive menu and people won't look funny at you when you accidentally drop your fork.

Come for the view, the ambience, and the food. If you are local, come to see friends at Canmore's original white tablecloth restaurant. The place with the best views in town.


Hendrik van Wyk
Pork Chop Cowboy

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Photos


Home

Happy

Service Up

The View

Monday, December 12, 2016

Two Cowboys: Grown Up Cookies With Real Treat and Scotch in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Grown-Up Cookies

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Have you ever had your cookie with Scotch? Didn't think so.

Most people outgrow cookies by age twelve and rediscover it when their babies cut teeth. The next time a substantial amount of cookies make into your diet is when little Suzie signs up for Girl Scouts. The excuse is that you have to help her make her sales target. Yeah, right. There are other occasions when cookies feature in our lives. Christmas, birthdays and tea time with English relatives.

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That was before we met Jacqueline Day. She introduced us to grown-up cookies, or rather cookies for grown-ups. Thanks to her we've invented a whole new reason for cookies. Cookies with Scotch! Let me introduce you to her fledgeling cookie empire called Real Treat.

She describes her flavour creations as unapologetically delicious. She is allowed to do that because she's taken flavouring cookies to a whole new level. Without compromise. I mean top class chef quality creations wrapped in a cookie form factor! The layers are there, the textures are there, the pairings are divine. This is no ordinary cookie.

Jacqueline mentioned that Real Treat is serious about ingredients. That is a given. The traditional bits are there. Butter, sugar, eggs, and wheat flour forms the base for most of them. Then comes in-house candied lemon peel, smoked pecans, organic dark chocolate, cinnamon caramel. The list goes on and on with exotics that make it into the recipes.

Anyone can add exotic ingredients and make just another cookie. For Jacqueline, it is not only the quality of ingredients that make Real Treat cookies a real treat. It is rather her processes of flavour pairings that she infuses into the base. It delivers a balanced and delicious surprise every time you let one melt in your mouth.

All her cookies are hand-made and baked in a tiny little kitchen in Cochrane Alberta. She sells them at farmers markets and pop-up stores and selected retail stores across Canada (list on her website). She recently launched her online cookie store to ship all over Canada.

Observations


Chefs are entertainers. 

Everything they do with food and flavour is intended to solicit a reaction. If you want nourishment then cook a steak, make a sandwich, eat some McDonalds and drink Starbucks. If you want to be taken on a journey and experience flavour entertainment, find a good Chef, Chocolatier, Brewmaster, Gelato Master, Winemaker or Barista. These people specialise in olfaction and gustation titillation. 

Jacqueline is on the same journey. She entertains people with cookies. We predict that today it is cookies. Tomorrow it will be something else. What drives her? The pleasure of seeing the surprise on people's faces when they enjoy her cookie creations. It is this surprise reaction, and her drive to learn, discover and create that makes Real Treat cookies so unique. As with all makers, her cookies contain a little bit of Day personality.

It is this that we appreciate about a Real Treat Cookie paired with our favourite peaty Scotch. They both come highly recommended.

Hendrik van Wyk
Cookie Cowboy

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Photos

Real Treat

Lemon Peel

Smoked Pecans

Cookie Nest

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Two Cowboys: A Lifetime of Making at Wild Rose Jewellery & Gifts in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

New Home

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Garo Yanikyan was born in Armenia. At the age of twelve, he started with his apprenticeship pulling gold wire for his uncles. With his family members, he trained to become a Goldsmith. One day he would travel the world and settle in Okotoks, Canada.

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In those days and within those cultures, people were born into a vocation. One grew up with it and in it. It was who you were, even before you picked up your first implement to make your first ring. You were expected to do it. Your trade was you and your family's identity and association.

Years, even decades of work will pass to improve your techniques and hone your skills until finally, you became a Master Craftsman. It was the way to support and provide for your family. Until one day, it became your duty to lead and train new apprentices to follow your footsteps.

Passing on knowledge and experience to the next generation assured the continuation of the craft. It was the work that made it possible to earn a living and provide for one's loved ones. It is was also the work that contributed to the values of one's community and the beauty of one's life.

It was in this life where the journey started for Garo. It would eventually bring him to a small town south of Calgary called Okotoks. Here he became the master Goldsmith for Okotoks. He raised his family and contributed to this community. Yanik became Okotokian. Canadian. He is Wildrose Jewellery.

In Okotoks, he watched life go by for more than thirty years. For a small oil town at the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, that is more than a lifetime of change. It grew from a sleepy little farming community to one of the fastest growing and popular living destinations in Alberta, Canada.

A lot changed since Garo and his wife arrived in the early eighties. Not only did the town grow, but the people also changed. The world has changed for the Goldsmith. The appreciation for the millennium-old craft of goldsmithing declined as people's expectations increased.

Progress or Regress


The age-old demands of quick turnarounds and bold or delicate new designs prevailed. Only now, the distinction of the craftsman is getting replaced by a machine that does it faster, better and cheaper.

It is the birth of jewellery manufacturing. Rings are now designed on computers. Milling and casting machines fabricate faultless and perfect copies, on mass, in automated "factories". Machines do a better job at making jewellery, and it costs almost nothing to put out thousands of items. The smith's road is coming to an end. Garo's world is disappearing.

"People still need to get things fixed," Garo says. "That, machines cannot do, yet. It still makes me useful." While Garo's world is disappearing, the rest of us are also losing something profound. Soon we may be living in a world with no Goldsmiths. Old-world Artisans like Garo, are disappearing from our towns and communities that are now driven by automation and a fixation with consumerism. With them, they take thousands of years of knowledge and skills that were honed through generations of artistry. With them, they take away art. The evidence for civilisation.

By losing them, we are losing a kind of person. We are losing a producer, a maker and an artist. With this loss, we may be losing our very identity.

At least we will have our perfect rings.

Hendrik van Wyk
Wildrose Cowboy

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We are a content company. We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. It allows us to have a closer relationship with our collaborators and grow our audience. If you Sponsor us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/twocowboys or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/twocowboys we can do a lot more for you, your business, event or community.


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Happy Place

My Place

Community

Beauty

Next Generation

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Two Cowboys: Remembering Mum's Kitchen at Home Ground Coffee and Roasting House with Rebel Bean Coffee, Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

Cinnamon and Coffee

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There are two distinct smells that I remember from my childhood in my Mum's kitchen. Cinnamon and coffee. Cinnamon made it into the hot, soft, sticky, cream cheese frosted rolls. Freshly brewed coffee was right beside it. The first thing of focus in the morning.

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Thanks to Wikipedia we know that a cinnamon roll is a sweet roll served commonly in Northern Europe and North America. In North America, its common use is for breakfast or dessert. Its main ingredients are flour, cinnamon, sugar, and butter, which provide a robust and sweet flavour.

In some places, it is eaten as a breakfast food and is often served with cream cheese or icing. History tells us that Sweden is to thank for the creation of this delectable treat. Swedish dough typically also contains cardamom (powder or buds), giving it a distinctive flavour. Canada takes a lot of pride in its versions of the cinnamon bun, possibly because of its Nordic heritage. No matter where you are in Canada, you are guaranteed to find some variety. Whichever variety you do get, the best way to eat them is as fresh as can be. Preferably, right out of the oven.

If you are in Okotoks, Alberta, and you can make your way down Elizabeth Street (old Main Street) towards North Railway Street, you will find a very, very small establishment on your left named Home Ground Coffee and Roasting House. Here they make several batches of buns by hand every day to ensure that customers get their cinnamon buns as fresh as possible.

Home Ground is a tiny kitchen that just so happens to also have a few chairs for patrons. It is probably the closest you will get to mum's kitchen stocked with buns, soups, and other pastries to get you through your day. People come for the buns. They also come for the great coffee. If the building is not small enough for a kitchen and a few chairs, they've managed to squeeze in a single origin coffee roaster by the name of Rebel Bean Coffee.

Observations


Home Ground is a busy place. Heather van Aalst, the owner and her team of helpers, are jumping to get the food out for the day's patrons. Mornings are the busiest as people step in for their Rebel Bean coffee fix and a cinnamon bun. It is the kind of place where they know your name. No drive-through here. The coffee is real, so is the food and the people.

One person in the kitchen is dedicated to only making the famous cinnamon buns. As soon as the first batch leaves the door, the second batch goes into the oven. At around 10:00 when it is tea-time, they are already on batch number eight! The day continues.

Late morning Kerri Ann Colby, the rebel from Rebel Bean Coffee fires up the roaster and the aroma's of freshly roasted coffee lingers down Main Street Okotoks. It is a magnet for downtown folk.

At lunch, you can have freshly baked bread and soup. Everything is home-made right in front of you in the tiny kitchen. After work, you can step in for your wine and beer. Yes, you heard it right. This is a kitchen that goes the extra mile. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and sundowner.

We wanted to know from Kerri Ann, why she named her roastery "Rebel Bean"? In every batch, she explained, there is one single bean that inexplicably doesn’t roast. That bean is among the thousands in each batch that is exposed heat of more than 200°C. Every other lost a good deal of its moisture, lost a percentage of its natural caffeine, and its sugars have caramelised to darken its colour. Except for one. This one bean seemingly flips the bird at chemistry and does not roast. She found one in every batch and termed it, the Rebel Bean. There is a little jar of rebel beans on the shelf in the room where she roasts at Home Ground. The name stuck. It became the personality for the brand and its customers.

Home Ground and Rebel Bean both have tonnes of personality. It is a combination that works. It has energy. Busyness. It is the kind of place you look for in every town. The place where they know your name, and you get a great coffee with an awesome cinnamon bun, that was roasted and baked by the people of the town that morning.

The Two Cowboys & A Camera never drives past Home Ground. It is our people. Please join us in supporting our locals.

Hendrik van Wyk
Rebel Cowboy

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We are a content company. We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. It allows us to have a closer relationship with our collaborators and grow our audience. If you Sponsor us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/twocowboys or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/twocowboys we can do a lot more for you, your business, event or community.

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Yes We Do

Busy, Busy

Okotoks' Coffee

Rebel Beans 
Hmmmm, Aaaaahh




Monday, November 28, 2016

Two Cowboys: Last Market for 2016 at Home with Canmore Christmas Artisans' Market in Alberta, Canada

At Home


Christmas is at home this year. Home is where the heart is. Home is also the place where friends and family work all year to support themselves and contribute to their community.

Canmore's Christmas Artisans' Market is our local Christmas market in this beautiful Rocky Mountain town. It is the market where we have our Chocolatier, Coffee Roaster, Potter and Woodcarver. Eighty local and visiting crafters attend the two-day market each year, which is in its 21st year.

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The Market was created in 1996 as a fundraising event for the parent-cooperative Canmore Preschool Society. It has been a successful annual event ever since that takes place on the third weekend in November. Vendors come from Invermere and across Alberta to spend the weekend in the mountains with Canmorians.

There is a high standard for goods at the market, and Artists and Artisans are carefully selected for their creativity and craftsmanship in addition to balancing the variety of offerings available at the market. Because it is a local market, Bow Valley residents receive preference. All goods are handmade and sold by the person who made them.

The market continues to be the largest annual fundraiser for Canmore Preschool and takes place at the Canmore Collegiate High School.

Observations


We attended on Sunday morning, the second day of the market. We were due to fly out to Auckland New Zealand the afternoon for our last visit to the Islands. We just couldn't pass up an opportunity to quickly check in on our friends. Every possible space was filled with the creativity of another artist or producer. Some were at their usual spots and others were newcomers. It included many familiar local and out of town faces from previous years.

The market is almost like a giant reunion for crafters. Vendors become friends as they attend market after market, year after year. They connect and take stock of their year's achievements. It is also an opportunity to make one more last sale before packing in for the Winter, and a welcome break with family and friends.

Because the market is well attended by the same vendors year-after-year, it provides an opportunity to see the Artisans' development. They display new and innovative products. You can witness improvement in their craftsmanship. The wares are often made just a little bit better than
the year before.

Attending the market is not so much about shopping as it is an opportunity to visit good old friends. That is why a local market is such an attraction for us. It brings people together. We love visiting our markets and tell the stories of the people that make the market a local market. Our market.

Thank you for supporting our market indulgence. We appreciate you sharing our content and rely on your continued support and sponsorship in 2017 when we will revisit our familiar places, meet with folks, friends and add to our portfolio of market coverage across Canada and New Zealand.

We do it because our local markets are the souls of our communities. It is where businesses ultimately begin. It is where we invest in ourselves.

Hendrik van Wyk
Artisan Cowboy

Get rewarded for supporting our local Producers: Receive special offers and invitations from the Two Cowboys and our Producers when you subscribe to our email list.

We are a content company. We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. It allows us to have a closer relationship with our collaborators and grow our audience. If you Sponsor us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/twocowboys or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/twocowboys we can do a lot more for you, your business, event or community.

Photos


Jelly Friends 
Coffee Friends



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