An outing to Lake Louise
I'm in Calgary for the American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual meeting, and the biggest impression I've had of Alberta so far isn't this oil-money city but rather Lake Louise, which is a two-hour drive into Canada's version of the Swiss Alps. With Ian Tattersall as a driver and Bob Martin as a road guide, we slowly made our way on the 90 km/hr "expressway" through rolling fields into the alpine region.
The lake itself is much smaller than expected, but then again, it was completely covered in days-old snow. Thankfully, I wore my thicker jacket because although it was in the 50's in Calgary, it was definitely in the low thirties out in the mountains. But I can tell you flats and tights are not made for this weather.
Next to the lake is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise which has a Lakeview Lounge with almost breathtaking views of the alpine scenery (going outside is actually breathtaking considering how cold it is). We sat down for a seasonal lunch with ingredients from around the country, but it of course started with some drinks. My blackberry mojito was certainly a beauty compared to the giant, slender glasses of beers Ian and Bob ordered. And it was so refreshing and delightful being paired with the cheese and antipasto plates we ordered.
Later on, I also ordered a bottle of beer because who can pass up a name like Grizzly Paw Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat Ale? I loved the hint of sweetness, which I'm assuming was from the honey it was was made from.
After tasting this selection of cheeses, I've decided that one of my favorite cheeses is the Grizzly Gouda. Ever since I had a cheese in Amsterdam that had what seemed like candy crystals in it, I've been searching the world for something remotely like it. And now I've found it! The Grizzly Gouda was slightly sweet and had that semi-crystalline texture to it, which I find appetizing. No wonder this gouda by Sylvan Star won the 2006 Canadian Cheese Grand Prixe!
Without breads and crackers, I wouldn't be able to eat the cheese. One thing I've noticed they have in Alberta are these sesame crackers (to the right) that have a nice crunch to them. But to be honest, I think the fresh baguettes are the best, followed by buttering up those buns pictured on the left.
This antipasto platter was filled with styles of meat that were completely new to me other than the smoked duck. I've certainly had my share of bison, venison and wild boar before, but seeing and tasting them prepared in these different ways was spectacular! My favorite was the air-dried bison slices, which were so thin and concentrated with a gamey flavor. And the accompanying vegetables paired well with the heavier meats.
It would really be a shame to leave Calgary without making it out here.
- Dress warm - it will be cold, even if it's April.
- It's pretty straightforward to get out here - rent a car, drive west on 16th Ave NW, and two hours later, you'll be here!
- I highly recommend eating at the Lakeview Lounge because they use a lot of Canadian ingredients, have local drinks and have a sweeping view of Lake Louise along with its surrounding mountains.