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Monday, June 25, 2018

Two Cowboys: The Spice Must Flow with Alberta Steak Spice in Canmore, Alberta, Canada

It’s the Spice

Someone once said that you can never have too much spice in your life. We agree. As we get older and our palates develop, some would say mature, we definitely lean towards discovering new and bolder flavors for cooking. Spice is one of the go-to options to add more flavor. It allows us to broaden our culinary repertoire. We have our favorites but we are always open to discover new ones.


There are a lot of places in the world known for spice production and its use in specific cultures and cooking. Mexico for chilies, India for curries, and Asia immediately come to mind with a mind-numbing array of bold spicy flavors. We didn’t think that the Province of Alberta was one of them until we discovered that it is the New World’s main producer of mustard! This opened our eyes to the adventures of Alberta’s spice masters.

We were fortunate enough to have met one of them, Larry Gale, at the Canmore Uncorked Food Festival a couple of years ago. Today, he is the inventor, proprietor and general cheerleader of Alberta’s newest and most adventurous journey into spice production - blending spice. According to Larry, Alberta has a unique demand for a  foundational spice that goes well with its world-renowned Black Angus Alberta beef.

However, he didn’t stop there. Once the foundation was laid he discovered that it worked with a lot more than Beef. It spiced up chicken, ribs, seafood, vegetables. In fact, Larry will canvas for the use of his spice even on Ice Cream!

The real opportunity came for Larry’s product when he hunted for a name for his spice. At first he settled on the unassuming and generally accepted convention for plain and simply referring to it as Alberta Steak Spice. Alberta’s people are Prairie farm folk. Simple folk. It is better to make it clear what the stuff in the bottle is for.

Then it struck him. Larry invented “ASS”! Or, more commonly referred to as Alberta’ ASS. The acronym for (A)lberta (S)teak (S)pice is ASS. This opened up all kinds of wicked marketing possibilities which he hasn’t even started to explore.


The novelty of the name may be the first thing that attracts someone to ASS. However, once you tried ASS you want to use it a little more in your daily cooking. We’ve used it on our steak and we’ve liked it more and more.

The blend is course, yet versatile, and a little on the peppery side - the way folks like it here in Alberta. It is a base blend which allows you to add more of your own adventures like a little more cyan pepper, mustard for pork, all spice fr chicken or even brown sugar for caramelization. Larry mentioned that he is adding to the ASS repertoire with a finer version of ASS (Alberta Seasoning Spice). He is doing it because folk have been using ASS on so much of their food and so many different kinds of food that there is scope for something with even more use.

We can see this only the beginning for this novel idea. It has our support. Where will you be able to get your own ASS, I hear you ask.

You can buy it online for worldwide shipping, in your local supermarket in Alberta (soon British Columbia and the rest of Canada). It is also available in the Two Cowboys Store. (

Hendrik van Wyk
Spice Cowboy

 We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.            



Ribs and ASS

Larry and ASS

Amongst Friends

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Wing Night With the Two Cowboys in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Waterton Wing Night Wings

"Wing Night is a ceremonial and sacred evening during which many chicken wings will be eaten by a gathering of gluttonous friends. Each step of the preparation and consumption of the wings is carefully orchestrated and held holy. Deviation from tradition (i.e. inviting your girlfriend, not eating til breathing is difficult, leaving early, not toasting the first wing, not getting everyone a beer when yours is finished or you get up, bringing non-wing food to the gathering, de-winging during the meal) is strictly and violently forbidden. The only consumables other than chicken wings welcome at wing night are blue cheese dressing, celery stalks, and beer - lots and lots of beer."

We checked in with three establishments in Waterton Lakes National Park's Town Site to find more out about their wing offerings. We were spoiled for choice in what is essentially a really small town. Here is what we found.


Zum's Eatery and Mercantile 

Zum's is an institution when it comes to southern-style fried chicken in Waterton. As a result, their chicken wings didn't disappoint. They know their chicken. It was lightly breaded, well cooked and succulent to the bone.

The sauce didn't have the kick we were looking for. Instead, it had the flavour that complemented the wing nicely. The challenge with southern-style wings is that it is a rich wing. You will have to pace yourself not to fill up too quickly.

Is it a typical Wing Night wing? For the Cowboys, it needed more heat and we will probably not run out of beer, as you should when having Zum's hot wings. It is more your Sunday lunch kind of wing. Add the restaurant's amazing patio and scenery and you have a must-do stop in Waterton where you can take the whole family for fried chicken.

Thirsty Bear Kitchen and Bar

The Thirsty Bear is the Bar and a favourite hangout in Waterton. All bars need hot wings on the menu at the Thirsty Bear didn't disappoint.

The Cowboys would have liked to have a few more than three choices of wings on the menu. Considering the gourmet-feel the rest of the menu offers patrons, it may have made the choices too hard. We usually get distracted by the Truffle Mac n Cheese. If there was a way to dip our wings in that we may just have gotten ourselves into trouble.

For this particular occasion, we tried the hot wings. It came with a unique Dill Dip (get the Aussie to say it ;-)) that was almost as good as the Mac n Cheese. Go for the dip when you visit! The wings needed more heat to be classified Cowboy hot, which is probably acceptable given the delicate flavours of the dip.

The Thirst Bear stands out for its excellent selection in craft beers. If Shameer's cook can make the wings hotter, they may just get us to drink (a lot more) of the delicious local beer.

Trappers Mountain Grill

If there is one place that spared no expense in laying out the red carpet for the Cowboys it was Steve West and the crew at Trappers. Here comes the disclaimer: You will probably need a VIP access pass to the Trappers' inner circle to get the buttery smokey gourmet wings laid out for us during our visit. What we tasted was from Trappers' test kitchen. We took one for the team and every bite was worth it!

I think we convinced Steve to put the new flavour wings on the menu if he can manage to repeat the feat and make the food cost work. A lot of labour and love went into making these wings and it was the most flavourful wings we've tasted thus far.

Steve is not going to like what comes next. Sorry, Steve, we needed more heat. Not burning heat. Rather, more flavour heat. Something that made us thirsty. The beers were huge and icy cold and we were dearly looking for an excuse to have even more beer. We didn't get it. We ended up looking for more wings instead!


Waterton has a variety of food establishments and a great community of people. While chicken wings may not (yet) be a good reason to make the trip, who knows, it may become one in the future.

Please support Waterton's businesses. Say hello to the people of Zums, Thirsty Bear and Trappers. Tell them the Two Cowboys sent you and ask for parmesan with your wings.

We thank them all sincerely for indulging us while we are trying to find the best Wing Night wings in Canada and hope they will have us back after seeing and reading the above.

Hendrik van Wyk
Winging Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.


Zum's Wings

Trappers Wings

Thirsty Bear Wings

Winning Wings!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Seeing the Light with Dark Sky Guides in Waterton, Alberta, Canada

Not So Dark

Sometimes you need darkness to appreciate the light. This is indeed an opportunity in Waterton National Park as the residents of the town reinvent themselves after the devastating Kenow fire of 2017.

One of the ways they are doing it is to offer a new experience that is well suited for the literal darkness of the destination - stargazing! You can now have a guided stare at the breathtaking heavenly night sky of Waterton with Dark Sky Guides.


The four Robinson Brothers were lucky to grow up in Waterton Lakes National Park, and over the years they explored all areas of the National Park, both in daylight and after dark. As third-generation tourism service providers (they also operate Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company), sharing Waterton Park’s abundant human and natural history has always been a part of their lives. Now they are starting at the heavens and they want to take you with them.

After the Kenow Mountain Fire burnt a significant portion of Waterton Lakes National Park in September 2017, the brothers knew it would be more critical than ever, to show people that there is more to Waterton that just daytime hiking through (the once forested) mountain landscapes. And so, Dark Sky Guides was born.

Between the four of them, the Robinson Brothers officially have 40 years of experience acting as tour guides in Waterton Lakes National Park. And over the years the brothers have travelled to many destinations around the world, picking up best practices from other tour guides and companies across the planet.

Dark Sky Guides offers small, personalized tours that will open peoples’ eyes to an entirely new area of Waterton Lakes National Park – the night sky above. The brothers hope to encourage every single tour participant to connect on a personal level with the National Park, in their own particular way.


We were lucky to be invited to the dinner kick off and Dark Sky Guide launch night on the 29th of May 2018.

Keith, his brothers and their team surprised us with a fantastic meal while we waited for the sun to set and the moon to shine. At around 22:30 we were treated to the new experience of having our own local guide - one of the brothers - from Dark Sky Guides showing us the heavens above Waterton Lakes National Park.

The moon was full. With the telescopes they provided, we were given a chance to see it in a whole new light. We were left with a renewed appreciation for the area and for our own small place in the vastness of our Universe thanks to their expert guidance and commentary about the heavenly bodies.

Keith noted that while the summer nights in Alberta doesn't provide a lot of dark hours, they hoped to offer the experience year-round. Winter in Canada is a stargazers dream, and there is no better place to dream than amongst the beauty of Waterton Lakes National Park.

This is a recommended Two Cowboys experience, and we wish the Robinson brothers all the success they can have with their new venture!

Hendrik van Wyk
Moon Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.


Maiden Voyage

On Tour


Big Gun!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Two Cowboys: Smoking Meat, Cold Beer and BBQ is a Lifestyle at Trappers Mountain Grill in Waterton, Alberta

A BBQ Lifestyle

I once asked a competitor at a Canadian BBQ Society sanctioned competition how long he's been grilling and smoking meat. He surprised us with his answer. Two years, he said. Truth be told, my question was meant as a joke! We didn't know there was another way to cook meat. We've been doing it for all our lives.


BBQ, smoking and grilling meat is a lifestyle for the Two Cowboys. Five out of seven days, at the close of the day, we are outside doing our thing with steak, chicken, pork and whatever we can find to cook on the grill or in the smoker (including vegetables like pumpkin, asparagus, potatoes etc.).

We've done it in rain and sunshine, in blazing summer heat and when it is -30 C in Canada. To us, it is a sacred, primal, right of passage as a reward for being at the top of the food chain. We cherish the opportunity. The rite that plays itself out alongside our grill, fire or smoker is as old as humanity itself. It is who we are. We love every moment of it and are always looking forward to it. In the same way, we are always on the scout for fellow comrades with a similar passion and commitment to the lifestyle.

We meet many during our travels and we love telling their stories. This is how we've come to know Steve and Debbie West from Trappers Mountain Grill in Waterton, Alberta. Steve shares our love for BBQ and cold beer. He is also an innovator and a passionate entrepreneur that makes Waterton his home for six months of the year when he is not fishing in Florida. Steve likes to do something unique that allows him to share his passion for good food, BBQ, Gin and Beer.


This is how Trappers Mountain Grill is launching something new in Waterton this season. Steve calls it his Backyard BBQ. The plan is, once the rush of the summer days subsides and the lines for food and ice cream are over, to do a delicious smoked meat sandwich. It will be available at the back-door of his restaurant on main street Waterton Avenue.

It promises to be an excellent sandwich that will go down well with your own crispy cold beer (sorry folks, you have to bring your own beer). For Steve and his team, it is another way of sharing their passion for cooking meat in one of the worlds most picturesque locales. He is doing it with his new US$35,000 smoker!

Apparently, he's been practicing all winter to get the recipe locked down, and it is finally ready for the "big time". In his own words, "It is a mean piece of equipment with the single purpose of delivering the best-smoked fair available in Waterton town" - authentic Southern-Style BBQ.

Steve's venture promises to deliver a hearty meal and great fellowship when most food establishments in the town close down for the evening. It is the way it should be done, simply and deliciously with good friends. The Two Cowboys were there to give it a try. Enjoy our experience with us.

Hendrik van Wyk
Trappers Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


With Friends

Backyard BBQ

Southern Pride


See You There!