1 September 2014

Winnipeg Neighbourhood Guide Part 1: Osborne Village

I decided to begin our neighbourhood guide to Winnipeg with Osborne Village for two reasons. First, it's the neighbourhood I call home. And second, it's a pretty firmly established destination in Winnipeg. Although Osborne Village is full of great spots, I've narrowed it down to a special group. And while all of these places definitely come with my recommendation, I've organized each category from highest recommended to lowest. (Think of it like "You absolutely cannot miss this!" down to "This is still pretty great.") Please enjoy and feel free to comment below!
A beautifully intimate atmosphere, flat out fantastic food, and delightful, unusual cocktails. This place led the trend of little plates in Winnipeg and continues to do so very, very well. They don't take reservations, but, if you arrive well before you plan to eat (we're talking easily an hour plus if you have a table of four or more on a weekend), you can leave your name and number and they'll call you when your table is ready. That way, you can do some shopping or have a drink elsewhere instead of hanging out in their cozy waiting area. Either way, it's worth the wait.

Osborne Village Cafe
Ditch the insane lines for breakfast at Stella's (although also good) and head here instead. The vintage diner feel is lovely and the food is wholesome, fresh and delicious. They have great vegetarian options too. A true diamond in the rough.

Decent drink options and a simple but great menu make this place a winner. You can really taste the quality ingredients and the dishes are a good value for your money.

This is the place to go for a great burger with a fun twist. My personal favourites are the Shanghai and the Drunken Aussie (an egg on a burger? be still my beating heart). The atmosphere is fun and the glass pop bottles are a nice touch. Skip the upgrade to a bison patty. I love bison, but found this to be on the dry side and much preferred the classic beef.

Burrito del Rio
Chris and I are regular fixtures here for good reason. Hands down the best burritos I've ever had. My favourite is the Vegetarian with guacamole and medium salsa. The result is filling, flavourful and freaking delicious. I'd avoid the chicken though: unfortunately underwhelming. Also, if you opt for one of the Mexican sodas, go with the lime or grapefruit, unless you're down for some maaaajor sweetness.

Meiji Sushi
If sushi's your thing, I love the atmosphere and freshness of the food at Meiji Sushi. Sneak upstairs to G Martini for a girly drink afterward.

I decided to work here for a reason. The minimalist yet inviting atmosphere, kind staff and quality coffee makes this one of the best coffee shops in the city. If you're into specialty coffee, or just learning, and want to pick the brains of people who are passionate and knowledgeable, this is the place to go.

Whiskey Bar at The Toad in the Hole
Classic whiskey cocktails like Old Fashioneds and Whiskey Sours (with real egg white) set this place apart from other bars in the area. The 25+ is a bonus for us old fogeys who just want to sit with a good drink and enjoy pleasant conversation.

Green Carrot
This is where I go when I'm looking for a nutritious snack or a light meal. The shakes (The Best Green Smoothie in particular) are delicious and super fresh. The same goes for the juice. The KAMP (kale, apple, mint and pineapple) taught me that kale can taste like more than "good for you."

Baked Expectations
With its "get baked" puns, neon sign, black and white tiling and cherry red tables and chairs, this place is a Winnipeg dessert institution. Spend time perusing the case filled with cake upon cake. (My favourites are the Tia Maria and the Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake.) Slices are reasonably priced and huuuuuge so unless you've got a bottomless sweet tooth, bring a friend or expect to take some home for a sugary snack.
Silver Lotus
Quality and unusual jewellery with an emphasis on Canadian designers make this place great. This is where I go for a piece I can wear every day - it holds up over time but it's not so precious that I'm afraid to wear it. They also have some pretty cute dresses.

The sister shop to Silver Lotus with an emphasis on shoes. They carry a great selection of offbeat brands and quality materials.

The Happy Cooker
Quality kitchen goods at a range of price options. You'll find some truly high end items alongside more affordable options. If, like me, Julie and Julia made you want to go out and buy some Le Creuset, this is where you find it.

Out of the Blue
Home to some beautiful, vintage inspired clothing options, kitschy items for your home and the cutest change rooms in town (if only they had mirrors!).

Music Trader/Movie Village
The reign of Movie Village has fizzled out, but this is still one of the last places in the city where you can rent movies. They also carry a great rotation of newer music, used CDs, records, and they often have tickets available at the front desk for great local shows.

David Rice
With original designs and beautiful pieces, this is a great place to go for special occasion or engagement/wedding jewellery.

Vintage in the Village
You're not going to find anything incredibly high quality/rare here, but they've got some cool stuff, the prices are reasonable and the lady behind the counter is the nicest.

Sew Dandee
I'm a weirdo who enjoys buying souvenir tea towels, so I think this place is awesome. Also great for picking up uniquely Winnipeg tees as souvenirs/gifts for former Winnipegers/to wear somewhat ironically on the streets. (I DID survive the winter of 2013-3014.)

Home to a variety of local talent: from improv shows, to dance recitals, to musical performances and live theatre.

The Osborne Street Bridge
Since its latest update, the Osborne Bridge is both much less dangerous and much more beautiful. Walk across it at night to see the glowing art and poetry. Bonus, monkey around on the bizarre gear statue on the southeast end.

25 August 2014

A Neighbourhood Guide to Winnipeg

I like to organize my itinerary around neighbourhoods when I travel. It not only helps me to really get a feel for the vibe of the city, but it's efficient to spend pockets of time visiting all the spots in one area, rather than jumping back and forth among neighbourhoods. Although Winnipeg isn't exactly a tourist mecca, I really believe we do have a lot to offer both locals and travellers, and to that end, I wanted to create a comprehensive guide to my favourite neighbourhoods in the city.

Each post will focus on a specific neighbourhood with suggestions on where to eat, drink, read, shop and enjoy attractions in the area. The first will be up next Monday featuring Osborne Village, and more posts will roll out over the next month or so. I will be collaborating on this project with Audrey from GoWPG, and am excited about what we have in store for you.

If you have any suggestions to offer - neighbourhoods you'd like me to feature or places you think should make it on the list - feel free to leave your feedback in the comment section.

18 August 2014

A Weekend to Unwind

This past weekend, I enjoyed some long overdue mom time with the Hamam and Yoga Package at The Fort Garry Hotel. I've been entranced by the luxurious old green monster ever since I moved to Winnipeg, and was excited for my first stay there. 

We kicked off our evening with some spine-twisting yoga detox at Yoga Public, one of the most upscale yoga facilities in the city. After grabbing dinner, we sipped at classic cocktails and listened to a mellow musical performance in the Palm Lounge. Finally, we returned to our suite to flop down and pass out on the massively comfortable beds.
The next morning, we went over to the Ten Spa for the self-administered Hamam Treatment. We began in a cozy heated room with tea and turkish delights, followed by a warm rinse and a salt scrub in the steam room. Next, we laid out on a heated marble slab, where bowls of cool water were poured over our legs and a cold compress and water bottle were at the ready. Then we sat on tiled benches to pour bowls of cold water over ourselves. Next we returned to the heated room to moisturize with a cool aloe vera and lemon grass gel and towel off. Finally, we unwound in one of the lounges with a drink of natural yogurt, spring water and sea salt.

I was blown away by the quality and beauty of Ten Spa. The byzantine tiling throughout the hamam rooms was completely gorgeous, and the entire experience was incredibly unique.
We capped off the weekend with the famous Fort Garry Hotel brunch. Again, I was impressed by the  quality and variety of the food offered. Overall, our stay was a memorable, luxurious and utterly relaxing. If you're feeling stressed or just like you want to get away, I'd highly recommend the entire experience.

11 August 2014

Eat and Drink Minneapolis

Ted Talks and motivational Instagram accounts have been telling me to do what I love, and two things I definitely love are delicious beverages (preferably of the alcoholic or caffeinated variety) and delicious food. So on a weekend trip to Minneapolis with friends, I took it as my solemn duty to consume as much of those things as possible. What follows is a quick list of reviews on my picks for eating and drinking in the city. Since I was only there for three days, this isn't an exhaustive list by any means. But don't worry, I'll be back (and recommendations are always welcome).

Fantastic espresso and highly skilled baristas. I tried a natural process Ethiopian - the most deliciously fruity espresso I've ever tasted, and a Gibraltar with a more traditional South American blend espresso. The barista drew a swan with the steamed milk on the Gibraltar and I wish I had given her a round of applause for this feat. Weird? yes, but appropriate I think.

The gorgeous little windowed seating area is a bit on the small side, but Uptown is a cool neighbourhood, so get that coffee to go and enjoy it as you look at books, records and home goods.

Hen House
I completely loved the retro-diner decor, and the food is decent. I had the fried chicken and waffles, which were the tiniest bit dry, but still yummy and unusual. Their jam is made in house and is completely to die for. I didn't try any of the desserts, but they looked like delicious works of art in the pastry case. Their brewed coffee is better than most diners, but skip the espresso-based drinks.

Chino Latino
This place is huge and fun fun fun. Between four people we ordered three small plates and one large and there was food a-plenty. Their guacamole and salsa is an explosion of flavour and the leftovers tasted amazing mixed up in my scrambled eggs the next morning. The mojito I ordered was underwhelming, but they have a great beer selection.

Great coffee and lovely decor. I especially love all the original mouldings and ceiling. This would be a perfect place for a chat with friends, some laptop time, or a book.

Butcher and the Boar
If you want some flavourful, well-balanced cocktails, go here. Their outdoor beer tent (a misnomer, since they serve the full drink menu) is beautiful. We didn't try anything from the dinner menu, but it looked promising.

As a side note, the restaurant floor is tiled with pennies: pennies people. I think the Canadian government should take every penny they've removed from circulation and tile the floors of all the government buildings they can with them, because the effect is interesting and gorgeous.

Do yourself a favour and enjoy a deceptively strong tiki drink. Just make sure you're not the one driving. I had the One-Eyed Willy, which was delicious and made me feel just wonderful ;) Each drink comes in its own specialty glass that requires a 5$ deposit. Because, yeah, the cups are totally steal-worthy.

Our pizzas were okay, but nothing to write home about, and the service was friendly, but a bit slow. Understandable since the place is HUGE and what you're really paying for is the atmosphere.

The Angry Catfish
Watching my syphon-brew being made was like witnessing a science experiment, and the result was a really clean, bright cup of coffee. The staff were very friendly.

If you're interested, they also carry some pretty serious bike gear for various types of riding. Definitely a neat space. I was super sad the The Butcher's Wife's just down the street was closed, because pastry dipped into coffee is among my favourite things. If you're there and it's open, try it out and report back!

Brasa Premium Rotisserie
I am completely in love with the concept of this restaurant. You order multiple plates of soul food to create your own meal or share around with a group. I had one protein and two sides (all small) and I was stuffed by the end. The prices are really reasonable, and if you go in the summer with nice weather, the restaurant is open to the outdoors, with a patio and a fire pit. Such a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.

28 July 2014

And We're Back

Hello there,

I know it's been a while, but I'm glad I took some time to hit the refresh button. I've been spending my time sipping cappuccinos, eating B.C. cherries, watermelon and wood-fired pizzas, re-watching 30 Rock and reading. It's been lovely.

Now that I've had a bit of time to reflect, I've decided to make some changes to my posting schedule. Previously, I'd been posting every Monday and Friday. I was finding though, that particularly as my work schedule got busy, I was posting because I felt like I HAD to. From time to time, I didn't particularly have anything to post about, but I would put something together anyway, because I felt obligated. I've realized that the pressure was coming from me and me alone. I'm not running a business here, I'm writing this blog because I love writing and taking photos and travel and sharing that with people. So I want to shift my focus more toward quality.

To that end, I've decided on a lighter posting schedule. I plan to continue posting only on Mondays, and from time to time, if I really don't have anything to write about, I may skip a week here or there. I'd love to hear your feedback on this. I think keeping a schedule's important, but I also want to be sure I'm posting because I genuinely have something to say, not just because I feel I have to fill up some space.