Wednesday, 21 March 2012

I'm extremely envious of everyone on the East coast bragging about the 'shorts and sandals' weather they've been having as of late.  And while I'm really not complaining about the winter we had here this year, I'm really ready for the snow to leave.  I feel very house bound and, frankly, my feet are dying to wear something other than boots. 

Oh, and I'd love it if my car would stay clean from the car wash to my house.

Monday, 12 March 2012

the loot

We tend to eat like kings for days after a trip to Edmonton.  This trip we brought back a bunch of different BBQ meats, some of which we ate on Sunday with vegetables and steamed rice, the remainder has been cut up and added to fried rice which we've been picking at today.  We brought home about a dozen buns, stuffed with curried beef, teriyaki beef, peppered chicken, and BBQ pork that have been snacks until this evening as well.

I guess O stands for curried beef filling.

And S stands for BBQ pork.

a bald eagle, a fox, 2 coyotes, and a moose

Just a few of the animals we see on an average drive to Edmonton.  Not to mention the thousands of cows, hundreds of horses, smattering of llamas and elk.  Oh, and deer.  Strange, we didn't see a deer this time.

Well, we went to eat and eat we did.  We started our trip at La Poutine for lunch.  Incroyable.  Le sigh.  I had the Cowboy - hamburger meat, cheese curds and beef gravy.  The Mister had the Supreme - cheese curds, smoky bacon bits, sour cream, green onions, and traditional Quebec-style sauce.  Home fries.  Oh my.

Then we shopped off the calories in preparation for our gut-busting, so good but so bad, late night meal.  It's basically the reason we made the trek to Edmonton this weekend.  Kings Noodle and Hot Pot.  If you've never experience hot pot, I will try my best to do it justice.  It is usually an all you can eat affair where you will initially be presented with a checklist/menu.  The menu consists of a number of different soups ranging from medicinal, herbal, plain chicken broth, spicy, and blow your mind spicy that you will suffer the effects from for days.  We always get the spiciest, Szechuan Spicy Mala broth, but decided to do half spicy and half chicken broth this time.  We are learning from our mistakes.  There will also be a number of raw meats and fish, vegetables, noodles, and every kind of tofu I could dream of.  There are a few hot items too, we ordered the wings and a small bowl of steamed rice.

Once you've placed your order it's time to make the sauce.  They have a sauce station where you can mix different condiments into a dipping sauce for your cooked foods.  You can choose between fresh cut chillies, soya sauce, fish sauce, sesame paste, vinegar, and green onion/ginger oil, to name a few.

By the time you have made your dips the server usually brings your soup to your table and turns on your burner (each table has a hot plate built in).  Soon after your soup has begun to boil a little cart is wheeled out overflowing with everything you've ordered.  Where to start?!  Tofu goes in right away because you can't over cook it.  Vegetables should be cooked in the mild broth as they seem to carry the heat of the spicy broth so much more.  You are given little netted spoon to put your meats in to ensure they don't get lost and over cooked.  We had lamb, beef, fish, cuttlefish, baby octopus, tripe, more lamb, every kind of tofu ordered, enoki mushrooms (an absolute must), watercress, and on choy.  I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

You can get ice cream for dessert too, if you're crazy.  We were too full to even think about ice cream, and decided to leave as soon as we were finished, before the hangover set in.  I'm not kidding, soup that spicy makes you drunk.  I was dizzy and had a headache by the time we got to the car.  But it's so worth it.

Day two:

Bring on the Pepto.

After a shaky start to the morning, we opted to skip breakfast.  Dim Sum is our usual Saturday morning fare, but we thought it best to save our stomachs for lunch, before we hit the road to come back.  After we pushed our way through the crowds at T&T grocery we had worked up an appetite.  The quickest choice was Pho Hoa, adjacent to T&T.  When I say quick, I mean this is what fast food was meant to be.  Speed of light fast.  The menus and tea are placed on your table before you're even seated.  You merely make eye contact with the servers and they take your order.  They walk to the kitchen and walk back out with your soup.  Hot, fresh, cheap, overflowing bowls of flavorful pho.  Tripe, tendon, fatty flank, any option an adventurous eater could want in his pho.  It's not my mother-in-law's, but it fills the void.

Lemon drink with sugar.

The Not So Fun Part of Going to Edmonton

Trips to Edmonton are a very common and highly anticipated weekend getaway for us.  We like to get away to the city for a little shopping, a lot of eating and a stock up on Asian groceries.  The West Edmonton mall is where we usually go for our one-stop-shopping as everything is under one roof.  We can get the majority of our personal shopping done, get our Chinese groceries at T&T, and if we're pressed for time we can grab a bowl of Pho there as we're about to leave the city.

This trip a quick one for us - we went down on Friday and came back early on Saturday.  We power shopped/browsed on Friday evening until our feet were sore.  The Mister made off with two new pairs of boots and I got to check out Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware at Southgate Mall with a few good meals in between (next post).

One thing that remained the same on this trip was the traffic on the 4 hour drive down.  We left at 7:30 am on Friday morning and didn't have too much going south with us, but there were plenty of wide loads traveling north on 63 that morning.  The roads were a little wet and dirty, but there was no snow or rain falling and we only got stuck behind one big rig (driving 40kms/hr) for a few minutes.  These photos are of only a few of the over sized loads we saw on Friday, and a very typical depiction of what you will see on a drive to or from Edmonton any day of the week. 

Traffic on Highway 63 is a hot topic in these parts.  There are many that do not feel that twinning this highway will fix the problem of frequent accidents and deaths.  I agree that people make some very bad decisions on this stretch of road, endangering their lives and the lives of others.  These people will likely make the same bad decisions whether the highway is divided or not.  However, being forced to share the road with vehicles that cannot even reach half of the posted speed limit and stretch over the yellow line into oncoming traffic is really not acceptable.  But, for now we have to deal with it.  And while we are burdened to drive together we should remember these things:  It is never okay to pass on a solid line.  It is never necessary to drive 140+ kms/hr.  And it is rarely acceptable to pass 20 cars at a time.  Well, I'm not going to touch that one... Anyhow, as seen in the pictures below, I think it is obvious that this road needs widening.  Soon.   Like, sooner than 2015 soon - 9 years is a reeeeallly long time to twin a 400 km section of straight highway. 

Pretty standard.

Definitely a wide load, it was driving 40kms/hr.

Again, very common to see.

Check out the traffic that is stuck behind this rig.

Taking a rest.

This thing is tall.

There were two of them.

And a looong string of traffic stuck behind them both.

Pilot truck sending the warning of a wide load ahead.

Yeah, that's pretty big.

A regular occurrence.

Sunday, 11 March 2012