Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: The Best View for Spot Prawns in the Bow Valley at Juniper Bistro, Banff, Alberta

Spot Me a Prawn


Chef Angus An of Vancouver’s Maenam Restaurant is a good friend of Chef Chris Irving. Chris is a good friend of ours, so we managed an invitation to see what Angus can do with a very precious Canadian delicacy - Spot Prawns.

It is part of the "Chef's Series" hosted at the Juniper Bistro in Banff, where Chris invites his best friends from around the world to cook for the sophisticated palates of the Bow Valley.

Yeh! Spicy street food! This was what we thought when we heard Thai and Prawns. What we discovered were the familiar flavor explosions you'd expect from Thai. Yet, it was done with a sophisticated bistro twist. If fermented rice sorbet gets your attention, then join us for the highlights of the evening as it unfolded.


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Three things came together, and a fourth was missing.

Let's start with the star of the attraction. The venue, Juniper Bistro is arguably the restaurant with one of the best views in Banff. Chris confessed that his famous chef friends are all too eager to make the trip up the valley. When they hear Banff and Juniper Bistro, they don't need a second invitation. The setting makes it a sought after opportunity to cook in a place that is on the bucket list of many travelers. The view of the evening of the 23rd of May didn't disappoint. It was Spring. The valley was green. The waters were turquoise and the sky, a powdery blue. The setting was perfect for a pinnacle food event.

Secondly, two very talented chefs collaborated in a special menu to celebrate the start of the highly-anticipated Spot Prawn season. Angus and his restaurant Maenam is the reigning champion of “Restaurant of The Year” in the Vancouver Magazine‘s Restaurant Awards. He has held a Gold rating for Best Thai since 2009. Maenam is considered #32 in Canada’s 100 Best. The second member of the team, Chris Irving, is used to rub shoulders with celebrities. He cooked for David Beckham and his family three days a week. The other two days for Gordon Ramsay. Now we are fortunate that he cooks for us, the Two Cowboys, in the Bow Valley.

Number three, the Spot Prawns, were flown in alive and fresh for the day of the dinner directly from the icy waters of the Pacific Ocean. Wild BC Spot Prawns are a delicacy known around the world for their sweet, delicate flavor and firm texture. They are most recognizable for their reddish brown color which turns bright pink when cooked.

Observations


We had the view, the talent, and the ingredient. What could be missing? This is where we may ruin our newly formed friendships.

We loved the evening. Everything was perfect. The service was outstanding! The prawns were poached, grilled, crackered, oiled and downed to perfection. However, we missed the familiar spiciness and heat of Thai. In our opinion, the chefs were not at fault. We know it is hard to balance delicate flavors and make a very fragile ingredient the hero of an extensive and creative menu. Rather, it is something else that is all too familiar when authentic oriental foods are involved. In our opinion, something is wrong with the Canadian palate.

It reminded me of a chefs' revolt we witnessed a couple of years ago when an authentic Indian restaurant opened in Okotoks. The chefs were principally imported from India to provide a truly authentic curry experience. After two months of Vindaloo complaints, they refused to cook one more curry and packed their bags promptly back to Bangalore. The chefs refused to adjust the authentic recipes and departed for a market where their cooking is appreciated.  The verdict? Canadians cannot stand the heat.

If there was one thing missing from the evening, it was the heat. I have a suspicion that if we met Chris and Angus in a more private setting, it would be there. Until then, we will have to settle for "Canadian Thai" - if there ever was such a thing.

Hendrik van Wyk
Hot Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please support us and get VIP privileges like early access to content and special offers. Alternatively, please sponsor us: http://www.travelingcowboys.com or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: http://www.forwardthefavour.com. It helps us to promote our local people, businesses, and events and to keep entertaining you.

Photos


Final Touches 
Prawn Team



The Hero

Complexity

Appreciation

Friday, May 26, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Smithbilt Hats Enhancing Personalities Since 1919 in Calgary, Alberta

Oldish New Beginnings


Smithbilt Hats recently moved to a new location just down the street from their previously located spot. It is a 120 year old reclaimed and repurposed feed store building from a grain elevator that burned down in the sixties.

The former was incorporated into the new with the rebirth of the building thanks to some architectural ingenuity, perseverance from the builders and an appreciation and time-honored commitment to the classical roots of the business.


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The new building is breathing fresh air into the century-old hat manufacturing business we’ve come to love and admire. It provides additional space for new additions such as a woman’s millinery line and a multi-function room for small events. 

You can still pick your hat and have it shaped or serviced right there by Brian and his team. Because of the addition of a female touch, you can now also get your personality enhanced by accessories that Holly Allen and her team append to your hat. It adds to the unique experience and definitely improves your appearance.

Smithbilt has a strong commitment and connection with the Calgary Stampede. This year, it will be part of the maker’s hall. For the 150th Canada birthday celebration the Stampede is including this new initiative to help showcase the various maker arts and crafts associated with the Western heritage and culture of the show. It will include famous and new artists in buckle making, saddle making, apparel and more. Smithbilt will showcase hat making and demonstrate its unique hat shaping skills right on the floor of the exhibition. You will be able to walk away with your own hand-shaped Calgary-made Western hat.

Observations


Holly made a vital point during our most recent visit to Smithbilt. According to her, in the same way, an accessory completes an outfit, a hat gives a person personality. We were wondering if it is such a powerful contributor to a person’s identity, then surely people should take hat wearing a lot more serious. What you wear on your head and how you wear it tells a big story about you, your history, identity and outlook on life.

We made the discovery that Smithbilt has been giving personality to countless people since 1919. If they can’t help you, then probably, no one can. In our case, we have personality. Our Smithbilt hats are therefore merely enhancing it. That is why we wear ours proudly and with attitude.

Hendrik van Wyk
Enhanced Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please support us and get VIP privileges like early access to content and special offers. Alternatively, please sponsor us: http://www.travelingcowboys.com or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: http://www.forwardthefavour.com. It helps us to promote our local people, businesses, and events and to keep entertaining you.

Photos


Old Stuff With Stories

A Lifetime of Stories

New Stories

Initializing

Personality Enhancement

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: 2017 Feast and Frolicking and SmokinQ some BBQ at Lynnwood Ranch, Okotoks, Alberta

BBQ Feast


It's not BBQ. It is chef inspired gourmet cooking with locally sourced Alberta produce. Alberta Pork, Beef, Chicken, Alberta smoke and truly amazing Alberta BBQ talent.

Gus Leduc and his team at Lynnwood Ranch hosted the annual KCBS' Alberta Chapter, BBQ on the Bow, for the seasonal kick-off of Alberta's 2017 low and slow BBQ competitions. If this sounds like a mouthful, let me explain.

The Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue. It is the world's largest organization of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts with over 20,000 members worldwide. KCBS sanctions over 500 barbecue contests worldwide. The annual event at Lynnwood Ranch is one of three in Alberta where a team can earn a ticket to the annual World Championships in the U.S.A.

Here is the first of two videos to showcase the events of the May 12 weekend.

Feast and Frolick and SmokinQ


Video 1 of 2: Feast and Frolic

Video 2 of 2: SmokinQ

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The Feast and Frolic precede the SmokinQ competition to give the BBQ teams a fantastic feast, a dance and a chance to be judged on the preparation of inspirational food items outside the KCBS criteria. Almost 300 people attended the event to sample from a series of starter dishes prepared by the teams. It was accompanied this year by Gus' own outstanding smoked brisket and "Alberta" salmon.

Competition day is known as SmokinQ. This year 35 teams competed with a fair number of newcomers to the "sport" of BBQ. I questioned Steve Alvarez (the KCBS representative in attendance) on why it is referred to as a "sport"? He clarified, "There is a lot of physical activity that goes into preparing good Southern Style BBQ. It can take up to 18 hours to have the food prepared perfectly and on time for judging". We here mistakenly thought that to eat BBQ was the sport!

Observations


The hospitality at Lynnwood Ranch was as usual, outstanding. There was nothing too much for Gus and Wendy when we wheeled in our Motorhome on Saturday afternoon ahead of the Feast and Frolic. They are the perfect hosts.

If there is one thing that stands out in the BBQ community other than the great food, it is the community and the friendships amongst the people involved. People from different locations, as far as Manitoba come to the event. They are from diverse backgrounds, varying levels of cooking skills and experience. All of them come together for a fabulous weekend around their love for a particular type of food. If you were ever looking for a real festival of food, then this is the single best place to experience it all first-hand.

We are glad we can be part of it all and tell the stories of the people involved.

Hendrik van Wyk
Brisket Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please support us and get VIP privileges like early access to content and special offers. Alternatively, please sponsor us: http://www.travelingcowboys.com or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: http://www.forwardthefavour.com. It helps us to promote our local people, businesses, and events and to keep entertaining you.

Photos


We have a thousand photos. See all the event photos here.

Competition Time

Arrival

It is Called a Braai

Monday, May 15, 2017

Two Cowboys: The Beans, Roast, The Grind and the Coffee Machine with Espressotec and Rocket in Vancouver, Canada

In Order of Importance


"The espresso machine is probably the least important in the value chain of good coffee. Much more important is the quality of the bean, the roast, the grind and the skill of the barista", according to Reg James, the founder of Espressotec.

Yet, the market for coffee machines is growing in sophistication. Terms such as pressure-profiling and temperature-profiling are becoming conversation points around the local single origin espresso bar. With single origin coffee, a lot more work goes into getting the best flavors from the bean. A lot more engineering and technique goes into the machines that extract these flavors.

In this post, the Traveling Cowboys caught up with Reg James, the founder of Vancouver's biggest and most trusted coffee machine and accessory suppliers. We also had the privilege of meeting Andrew Meo, from Rocket Espresso Milano. In the coffee world, these are some of Our people.



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When we heard Andrew will make a stopover at Reg's place on his way to the Seattle Global Coffee Expo 2017, we couldn't contain our excitement. The motorhome is always on ready-alert for an opportunity like this. We immediately hit the road to Vancouver.

On this trip, not only did we get to visit an old friend and trusted Rancilio supplier of ours, but we also managed to meet and interview a fellow coffee countryman from New Zealand. Andrew Meo is heading one of the fastest growing and best trending brands in Coffee Machines. At Rocket Espresso Milano they make the best espresso machines they possibly can.

In a very crowded and well-established global market, Andrew and his team are breaking into the commercial sector with the same solid foundational values that launched the venture not long ago. A small team of craftsmen in Milano, Italy produce both premium domestic and commercial espresso machines that are beautifully made with meticulous care and attention to detail. Machines that should last twenty-five to thirty years.

Both of these veterans have a passion for the coffee business. They also have a passion for the quality that sets a company apart and makes products and brands legendary. Not a moment goes by without them offering valuable advice and opinion on how best to coax even more flavor and value from our love affair with the little coffee bean.

Observations


We learned a lot on this trip.

Espressotec is a one-stop-shop for the coffee gadget enthusiast. We can spend days there. There are not many places like this, where you can get hands-on with the latest from RancilioRocket Espresso Milano, and La Marzocco. In the beautiful showroom that doubles as a coffee training lab and general customer hangout spot, you get to work with the machines and compare them side-by-side.

On the one hand, you can experience the legendary history of almost a century of engineering. On the contrary, you get hands-on with the rebellious new kid on the block that is pushing traditional boundaries in a pocket-sized rocket package. The Ferrari is set against the Tesla of the espresso world.

Espressotec hosts monthly events where barista and latte art enthusiasts can test their skills and learn new techniques from experts and from each other.

The most important take away from our visit is the confirmation, yet again, that the coffee grinder is the stepchild of the coffee business. The grinder, which is probably one of the simplest machines in the coffee value chain, has the single biggest role and impact on the quality of a cup of coffee. Without a good and a correctly set grind, no monster espresso machine stands a chance to extract a good cup. We own a Rancilio and a Rocket espresso machine, but we protect our grinders with a vicious guard. Reg has trained us well to appreciate the things that matter (in the coffee world).

Hendrik van Wyk
Rocket Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please support us and get VIP privileges like early access to content and special offers. Alternatively, please sponsor us: http://www.travelingcowboys.com or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: http://www.forwardthefavour.com. It helps us to promote our local people, businesses, and events and to keep entertaining you.


Photos



Make Something

Baby Espressos

Fix it... 

New Kid

Trusted Friend



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Meeting Our Brewers and Distillers at Calgary International Beerfest Courtesy of ABF, Alberta, Canada

Our Beer


We wanted to know where our beer comes from. That is why we attended the 2017 Calgary International Beerfest courtesy of Bill Robinson from Alberta Beer Festivals.

This is not another blog post to get wax lyrical about the explosion of craft and micro brewing in Alberta. We are not going to contemplate the ever prevailing evils of big corporations or the AGLC's manipulation of the industry. We are also going to leave the hophead potshots for another time (only this time).

In this post, the Traveling Cowboys went searching for the makers. The people who brew our beer and distil our Whisky in Alberta - Our people.


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A convention and festival is an ideal opportunity for a business to exhibit its wares. It is a chance to get close to prospective and loyal customers. When we get an invitation to attend a fest we cannot contain our enthusiasm to see what's new. It is even better when a beer is involved.

Who doesn't like a road trip? We love traveling to see and meet the Brewers and Distillers of our Province. As a bonus, an event like this gives us a chance to "speed date" the newer producers and "speed taste" unique new beverage creations. We get to introduce ourselves, catch up with old friends and meet the "new babies" (With "new babies" we imply original beverage creations and concoctions from inspirational experimentations. There is no place for children in a beer hall.).

Observations


We discovered at the Calgary International Beerfest that it was crowded.

Yes, we know it is a very popular and an ever-growing event with more than forty thousand attendees over two half-days. What we mean with crowded is that we proudly saw how well represented our own Alberta producers were against the imports from other Provinces. Alberta producers are starting to carry their own weight when placed alongside the big names. We are slowly and gloriously starting to crowd out the corporations.

There was another very obvious distinction between the breweries in attendance. We like to distinguish between the "dress-ups" and the "show-ups." The "dress-ups" put effort into portraying the lifestyle. The "show-ups" are living it.

The dress-up booths have the band, the brand, the packaging and the script that hits the caramel notes, chocolate, sea breeze aromas and IBUs. The customary V-Dub bus is parked in front with the smiling Beertarts pouring drinks from its side, to complete the perfect portrayal of fake friendships, market segmented tastes, brand associations, and consumer preferences.

The show-ups brought their kegs on a wheelbarrow. The taps are in a toolbox. In the back, a bag of ice in a tin bath is chilling the beer. The brewer is the business. His personality is the brand. He pours your pint from a brew he mashed last week. To become his customer is to be counted as one of his friends. No one can recall the names of his beers, and it doesn't really matter. His passion for consistent perfection is what is important. He never disappoints. Hops grow in his beard. Everything he does and that comes with him is real and authentic.

This is how we know where our beer comes from. It comes from a brewer. Our people.

What truly sets some apart from others is the passion that comes from the maker. The authenticity of the people, their community involvement and the quality of the beer.

According to Bill Robinson, "People want to know who is responsible for what they are eating and drinking." We completely agree. It is good to know who they are.

Hendrik van Wyk
Beer Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please support us and get VIP privileges like early access to content and special offers. Alternatively, please sponsor us: http://www.travelingcowboys.com or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: http://www.forwardthefavour.com. It helps us to promote our local people, businesses, and events and to keep entertaining you.


Photos


Here for the Beer

Where is this?

The V-Dub Bus

Coolbox Brigade

Our People

Wrong Glasses

Education is Important

Just Beautiful

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Event Highlights for Canmore Uncorked 2017, Alberta, Canada - You Should've Been Here!

Canmore Uncorked Food Festival in the Mountains 2017


This is the second year that we collaborate with Canmore Uncorked (http://www.canmoreuncorked.com).

See the highlights of 12 days of food festivities in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta.

Because many of the business in Canmore support us as sponsors and patrons, we support them in return: http://www.travelingcowboys.com. If you want to see more about them, be a supporter of our cause or follow our travels, then please become a friend on Patreon. Subscribe to our channel on YouTube and read our Blog.

Hendrik van Wyk
Travelling Cowboy

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"For as little as $1/month you will get the inside track on content like this and follow the travels of the Two Cowboys & A Camera. Join here."

Here they are:


Highlights!

Launch Party!

Long Table Dinner

Wine Festival

Beer Festival

Whiskey and Spirit Festival


Progressive Amazing Dinner Tour Race

Traveling Cowboys: Little Mexico on the Prairie - Motoburrito Back for Another Summer in Turner Valley, Alberta

Living the Dream


Here is the ideal lifestyle. A food truck summer in Alberta, Canada. Sunshine, sand and beach-bound winters in Mexico.

If you mention this to any Canadian, they will get a strange longing in their eyes. It is the same look someone gets when thinking of missed opportunities, long gone lovers or lost romance.

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Motoburrito in Turner Valley, Alberta managed to make the dream real. This is their lifestyle. With their food truck, they are on the busiest breakfast-run biker junction of the Foothills. Summer weekends and lazy days see them serving delicious Burritos, Tacos and "Mexican coffees". Winters, they recover by lounging on the sandy beaches of Cancun, Mexico.

Observations


When Motoburrito opens their trailer for business, we know that Spring finally arrived. The food is fresh and delicious. We call it our little Mexico on the Prairie. Go for the "Dirty Sanchez" (don't ask where the name comes from, you don't want to know!) or the Pollo Loco. Even the chickens love it ;-)

These dishes are trusted favourites in Mexico. It is as authentic as you can expect from people that spend half their time South and can serve you in Alberta Spanglish if you wish.

Whatever you do, don't miss out on the coffee. Tell them that you want the "Two Cowboys coffee special". We guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised. Note though, under no circumstances do we take responsibility for what follows. Refrain from driving or riding for at least a couple of hours. You will need the rest, trust us!

The one distinct characteristic of the Motoburrito experience is that it is a local experience. These are our people. They know their customers by name. Introduce yourself, and you will quickly become friends. Walking up to the truck you will be greeted with the usual Motoburrito yelp. "Tequila!" The rest is up to you...

As they say in Mexico, "What happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico". Enjoy the coffee. Keep the secret, but tell everyone about Motoburrito!

Hendrik van Wyk
Taco Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please support us and get VIP privileges like early access to content and special offers. Alternatively, please sponsor us: http://www.travelingcowboys.com or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: http://www.forwardthefavour.com. It helps us to promote our local people, businesses and events and to keep entertaining you.


Photos


This is not Sanchez!

Little Mexico

Burrito Ladies

Tequila!


Monday, May 1, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Getting Ready for 12 Days of Food, Drink and Community at Canmore Uncorked 2017, Alberta, Canada

Canmore Uncorked Food Festival in the Mountains 2017


This is the second year that we collaborate with Canmore Uncorked (http://www.canmoreuncorked.com).

We do it because it is an excellent award winning event that kicks off Spring in the Rocky Mountains every year. It is our opportunity to showcase the fantastic food establishments and producers in the Bow Valley. We celebrate their businesses, and we give you an inside glimpse into what makes Canmore a great place to visit. It is also a food festival, which means we need no further justification for the Two Cowboys & A Camera to show up.

Many of the businesses we showcase during the festival are supporters of our campaign. They are producers, and they help us to encourage more people to make something, establish local businesses, employ locally, build community and shop with each other. All of them are serving the town's folk and collaborate with fellow producers to bring great products to market. For us, it is a success story when a community comes together for a celebration and to mutually support each other. That is why we are at the festival and why we will be bringing you the highlights of the festival.

Because many of the business in Canmore support us as sponsors and patrons, we support them in return: http://www.travelingcowboys.com. If you want to see more about them, be a supporter of our cause or follow our travels, then please become a friend on Patreon. Subscribe to our channel on YouTube and read our Blog.

Hendrik van Wyk
Travelling Cowboy

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"For as little as $1/month you will get the inside track on content like this and follow the travels of the Two Cowboys & A Camera. Join here."

Here they are:










Traveling Cowboys: An Active Chamber of Commerce Keeps Growing the Okotoks Business Expo, Alberta

Enthusiastic Okotokian Businesses


The Okotoks and District Chamber of Commerce is growing dramatically with about 150 companies added in the past eighteen months.

The past weekend we checked in with Andrew Gustafson, the President of the Chamber, to find out what is the cause for this enthusiasm and growth. "It is simple", he says. "We are advocating for our members. We are communicating, educating and networking with business." They have 45 events planned for 2017. There is even a business Boot Camp for up and coming entrepreneurs.

The one event we love to attend is the Okotoks Business Expo. See the highlights below for 2017.


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Business is booming in Okotoks, despite the general doom and gloom in the Alberta economy. It is because there is a community for businesses eager to support each other and see each other succeed. When it doesn't go well in one area, then people are enterprising and flourish in others.

This year saw a food truck section added to the Expo. We caught up with Gus Leduc from Lynnwood Ranch for our favourite brisket. The vehicle exhibition expanded into the curling rink arena. There was barely enough parking on the Friday evening when we attended. We heard that Saturday was crazy busy due to the Festival of Flavours where local food establishments and producers can showcase their delights.

Observations


A Business Expo is an ideal opportunity to showcase the services and products that are available within a community. It is a time to connect with potential and existing customers. Also, a time to reach out to fellow businesses owners and explore opportunities together. What stood out for us this year is to see how the entrepreneurs collaborate and support each other. It was packed with local businesses and a few creative entrepreneurs from Calgary that came to test the water.

New businesses, like Two Birds Furniture, are growing. Established businesses, like Integrity Post Structures, were recognised as industry leaders in Alberta by the Alberta Chamber of Commerce during their annual Business Excellence Awards in February. All round, Okotoks is the ideal place outside the city for entrepreneurs.

We thank Andrew and Cheryl from the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce for hosting us again this year. It is always fantastic to catch up with old friends. Good luck with a busy business summer in Okotoks. We will see you for 2017's Lemonade Day!

Hendrik van Wyk
Business Expo Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content about inspiring people and their stories. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please support us and get VIP privileges like early access to content and special offers. Alternatively, please sponsor us: http://www.travelingcowboys.com or Donate to our cause on GoFundMe: http://www.forwardthefavour.com. It helps us to promote our local people, businesses and events and to keep entertaining you.

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