I first visited Calgary last winter, and like a true Californian, I wasn’t prepared. But despite the freezing cold, the city won me over, and I went back in Calgary in July to visit Nishan and visit the Calgary Stampede — one of the world’s largest rodeo festivals. Yes, you read that right. I went to a rodeo. And it was awesome.
But first things first. Phil & Sebastian is my favorite coffee shop in Calgary, and we stopped there first to fuel up before heading downtown.
A piece of freshly-baked bannock bread kept us sated as we began to roam the Stampede grounds. Bannock is an unleavened flatbread fried in oil and native to Canada’s First Nations, and in this rendition, the bread was sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon for a sweet, warm treat.
We roamed the Indian Village on the bank of the Elbow River, peering into tipis that re-enacted elements of their traditional lifestyle. five nations of the Treaty 7 – the Tsuu T’ina, Piikani, Stoney, Kainai and Siksika – are represented at Indian Village. Made in 1877, the Treaty 7 was an agreement between Queen Victoria and several mainly Blackfoot First Nations tribes in what is today the southern portion of Alberta.
Next we headed into the exhibition area to view (and pet!) the livestock. Horses! Llamas! Sheep-shearing contest! The little kid in me was delighted.
No visit to Stampede (or, uh, Canada) is complete without poutine, so we grabbed a container from La Poutinerie before the rain began. Southern Alberta was still recovering from some of the worst flooding the province had seen in a century, and the rains were still tapering off. We found shelter in a corner and dug into this delicious, comforting snack.
Dinner was even heartier at Charcut, a trendy and upscale downtown steakhouse. We shared a plate of the steak tartare as an appetizer followed by, well, more steak as our entrees. Hey, it’s Alberta. These guys do steak right.
Oh, Calgary. It was good to be back.