Birthday road trip | Banff, hot springs | Canada's 150th

banff-Canada150

This year I was celebrating a milestone birthday. I wanted to experience something brand new (to me) and opted for a family road trip. 

In true planning fashion, I started with a good google map. Little did I know it would end up being 2000km over 6 days. A ton of driving for my husband and my little girl!

Day 1: we travelled to Kelowna. We had lunch at Quail's gate, visited Mission Hill and bought a bottle of wine from Mount Boucherie. Thanks to family we were visiting, we got some very nice adult time in. My daughter doesn't have much patience for wine tasting.

Day 2: We travelled to Banff, via Revelstoke. We stopped at the very retro 3 Valley Gap. It was their first day of opening, so it felt a bit "abandoned" but still super cool. As we came into Banff, we travelled via the Bow Valley Parkway (in hopes of spotting some wildlife). Then we stopped at the customary lookout, just above the vermillion lakes. We stayed right in in the middle of town at Brewster's Mountain Lodge. It was super central, clean and quiet. The continental breakfast made me feel like I was in prison but all things considered, I'd still recommend it.

Day 3: Was our only full day in Banff and man oh man, was it jam-packed! We started off at the Cave + Basins historic site. It was pretty and educational. Then lunch at Park Distillery which was so inspiring - great food, design and staff. Then on to the Banff upper hot springs. They were super busy, more like a pool than what I was expecting. I didn't take photos but did capture some of the fun on my Spectacles. You can view the rest of the videos on YouTube here.
 

We continued our adventures on the gondola and capped off the amazing day with a meal at the stunning Banff Springs hotel. If I were to go back, I'd try to hit up their afternoon tea. The views in the lounge are off the hook!

Day 4: Sadly, we had to leave Banff, but spent some time at Vermillion Lakes before heading out. We were really hoping to see some wildlife. Aside from some scat, we were out of luck. Then it was on to Radium hot springs via Storm Mountain Lodge and a hike through Marble Canyon
As we left the hot springs and drove through the town of Radium, we were lucky enough to spot some Big Horn Sheep. They were super casual, hanging out on the hillside right next to the highway!

By Day 5, the whole family was pretty done with all of the driving. We woke up in Revelstoke on Easter Sunday and found ourselves a restaurant with amazing brunch. Refreshed from our breakfast, we decided to push on with our last day and headed out towards Halcyon hot springs. They did not disappoint - definitely my favourite (and the most relaxing) of all the pools we visited. We also had a quick visit to the town of Nakusp and enjoyed a few of the ferries across the Arrow Lakes.

Our last night, we stayed in a great suite at the Castle on Swan Lake in Vernon. We travelled back through Kelowna, stopping for lunch in Merritt (shown in the logging shot). Such an amazing vacation with the family. A bit rushed for sur,e but now we will know all of our favourite spots to return to. 

Chicken, brie, cranberry sandwiches on gluten-free buns

CHICKEN, BRIE + CRANBERRY SANDWICHES (makes 3)

Ingredients
3 chicken breasts
6 slices of brie
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
12 basil leaves
1/8 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
3 buns - I used Burger + Sandwich buns from the Gluten Free Chef

Instructions
1. Cook chicken breasts in oven or Instant Pot
2. Pre-heat broiler
3. For cranberry sauce: mix together can of whole berry sauce or make your own. Finely slice basil leaves, add to sauce.
4. Slice each chicken breast in half, place on broiling pan, with one slice of brie on each chicken breast halve.
5. In small bowl, mix mayo, dijon and minced garlic. Place 1 tsp on to each side of sandwich bun.
6. Toast buns + chicken breasts under broiler for approximately 4 minutes.
7. Assemble sandwiches open face + enjoy!

I am also hosting a Gluten Free Chef prize pack giveaway. Comment on my Instagram or Facebook page to enter. Winner announced on April 3rd, 2017.

Vancity Virtual Potluck: Negroni Fizz + Caprese Brushetta

I am infatuated with the Negroni. In fact, I'm obsessed with most things bitter - beer, coffee, tahini - and have been doing a lot of experimenting in the past year adding cocktail bitters into my drink making repertoire.

I love any riff on the classic Negroni. Most recently I've been using Amata, Amaro and lightening up the classic drink by adding sparkling wines + tonics.

My recipe combo tonight is meant to whet your guests appetites as they walk through the door. The acidity from the tomatoes + balsamic, balance nicely againgst the bitterness of the Aperitif. It's also meant for the host to snack and sip on as he or she putters in the kitchen. Pop some jazz on spotify, pull out your best glassware and let's get this party started!

The Negroni Fizz

Ingredients
1 chunky ice cube
1 ounce local gin *I used Victoria premium cocktail gin*
1 ounce Rubato Aperitif from Bitterhouse
1 ounce of bittersweet vermouth
A splash of Fentimans tonic
Garnish with orange peel twist

Instructions
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 3 ice cubes
2. Shake + strain into glass
3. Top with tonic
4. Add garnish + serve
 

Caprese Brushetta (adapted from House of Yumm)

Ingredients
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of fresh mozzarella
2 cups chopped tomatoes (roma or cherry)
6-8 fresh basil leaves
1 high quality loaf of bread *I used the market loaf from Batard Bakery*
1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Reduce balsamic in small saucepan over low/medium heat for 8-10 minutes and then put to the side.
3. Chop up the fresh mozzarella
4. Finely chop the tomatoes
5. Slice basil into thin ribbons
6. Slice the baguette into - approx 1/4". Brush one side of each slice with olive oil and place olive oil side down on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5-6 minutes, until lightly brown.
7. Distribute mozzarella evenly on toast slices and return to the over for 4-5 minutes until slightly melted.
7. Serve toasted bread topped with fresh basil and tomatoes, drizzle with the balsamic glaze and garnish with fresh ground black pepper.

 

Check out some more amazing dishes from Vancouver's talented bloggers by continuing on the virtual potluck (links below)!
Or go straight to the the Piquant Marketing Blog and check them out there. Thanks for such an inspiring idea!