Everyday Life with Erin

Exploring the Beauty of YYC

Getting ready to make the three hour journey back to Calgary, we needed to stop for a fresh cup of joe on route home, and what a better place to do that than Kicking Horse Coffee. I’ve tasted their drip coffee numerous times, purchasing it in grocery stores across the country, but I had no idea that this business called Invermere it’s home.

In 1996, the two owners began roasting and selling their coffee out of their garage, experimenting with new blends and striving towards perfection. Throughout the years and officially in 2007, they made a commitment to be 100% Certified Organic and Fairtrade. Then in the following year, they opened their coffee shop in Invermere and continue to uphold to high standards of coffee production.

This was the first time visiting their cafe location and I was pleasantly surprised. On the outside, it looks like a warehouse, but as you approach closer, they have a cozy patio surrounded by tall grasses and plants, full of people talking and enjoying their treats. Entering the building, the hustle and bustle continued, but the attractive decor and warm employees made it a joyous experience. We purchased our order, two Canadianos, an espresso brownie, and a peanut butter cookie, and patiently waited for our name to be called out. The coffees were great, strong and bold just as we prefer, and the treats tasted homemade. Invermere is lucky to have this place!

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Around three hours from Calgary lives a little cluster of towns: Radium, Invermere, Windermere, and Fairmont. Each place offers different activities from hiking trails to golfing to hot springs.

In the late morning, we drove into Radium to take our pups for a hike. Out of the four towns, Radium is the most dog friendly with many off leash hiking areas, and poops bags distributed throughout the town. Sinclair Trail offers a magnificent view of a canyon, mountains, and a creek that the dogs can play in.

Stopping through Invermere, we arrived at Arrowhead Brewing Company. Established in 2012, this retro brewery serves up a variety of beers to taste. We ordered a flight, consisting of three predetermined beers and two individually chosen ones, and then made our way onto their patio. It’s a massive area with gorgeous, wooden, picnic-style tables and a pergola above to shade from the sun. Looking around, you’re completed surrounded by a stunning view of mountains and trees. The beers themselves were quite good. A crushable blonde, grapefruit IPA, and Farmer’s Daughter were among my favourites.

Traveling further onwards, we made a pit stop at Fairmont Hot Springs. Instead of stopping at the big, crowded ones, we ventured down a path behind them which took us to a small secluded area of natural hot springs. They were easy enough to find, weren’t busy, and were beautiful!

Traveling through the windy roads, encircled by Rocky Mountains and spotting the occasional deer, we arrived in Canada’s highest city: Kimberley. Established back in 1891 and being one of the greatest lead-zinc mines in the world, Kimberley thrived as a mining village. Being aware that the resources would eventually be depleted, in 1973 Kimberley adopted a Bavarian theme, transitioning to a popular tourist and recreational area. They transformed their downtown into a pedestrian only shopping area called the Platzl. Although the city has become so much more than that today, there is still evidence of both the traditional mining past and Bavarian community design.

Kimberley has several cute little shops on the Platzl; The City Bakery which is family owned and operated and specializes in French, German, and Swiss baked goods and pastries, and the Old Crow Emporium housing beautifully crafted antiques and artist goods.

My favourite place though, just off of the Platzl, would have to be Over Time Beer Works. Their decor is simple and clean, and their taproom seats around thirty people. Initially launching in July of 2016 with four main beers, Over Time now produces many more than that. Yet, they still can’t seem to keep up with the demand of the locals and tourists alike. While visiting, we ordered a flight of five beers. At the time, they only had five on tap which made the choice quite easy. Each were tasty in their own way, from a nice wit, to a fruity sour, to a robust IPA. This place is worthy of a walk off the Platzl!

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Nestled within the old Mount Baker Hotel in downtown Cranbrook, Soulfood is redefining the restaurant industry. Having both take-out and a sit-down restaurant facility, everything they serve is local and/or organic. It’s a place for vegans, vegetarians, and meat lovers to unite!

Moving into their downtown location in 2018, Soulfood also transformed into a food cooperative. Employees and community members can purchase a membership to act as the owners of the restaurant, voting on important decisions, nominating the board of directors, and being active ambassadors. Additionally, being “suspended coffee” members, locals can pay it forward by purchasing food or drink items in advance for a person in need. It’s clear that they live and breathe their beautiful business philosophy: “Treat our people well. Be kind to our planet, our home. Compost. Don’t waste. Collaboration, not competition. Build people up. Be organized. Plan. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Abundance not scarcity.”

Entering the building instantly puts you at ease. It’s beautifully decorated with local art work, greenery, couches, and a variety of seating options. After selecting our own seats, we ordered a drink and several food items. Their dishes are not typically what you would see offered on a menu, and all had a unique twist to them. We ordered a variety of food to share:
* soul fries – a mixture of root vegetable fries served with a delicious tahini aioli
* fela-fell in love soul bowl – middle eastern inspired flavours with beet hummus, feta cheese, preserved lemons, falafel, and chicken, all on a bed of buckwheat
* bison bocconcini burger – handmade from local farmers bison and pork, with carmelized onions, and served on a charcoal brioche bun
* waygu steak – sourdough bread topped with local mushrooms, chimichurri, and a perfectly seared steak

Not only does Soulfood create delicious dishes and have outstanding service, but they truly are farm to table and a gem of a restaurant in Cranbrook, not to be missed!

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Cranbrook: Mountains of opportunity and the biggest town in the East Kootenay area. Arriving at our new destination, we began our exploration of the downtown, and the food and drink scene.

The Heid Out and Fisher Peak Brewing Company
As an already established restaurant, Fisher Peak Brewery Company was added to the facility in 2013. With award winning beer and a kitchen that focuses on using local ingredients, this is a match made in heaven. The brewery is named after Fisher Peak, the highest peak in the Cranbrook area and visible from anywhere in town. It stands at just over 9300 feet and is quite the hike to endeavor.

The building itself is more of restaurant than a brewery, and has that pub feel to it. They had over twelve beers on tap, varying from a blonde, to a radler, to a bourbon aged strong beer, that were fairly easy drinking and enjoyable. I had their burger with their homemade sauce that made it uniquely tasty and pleasant.

Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap
Located within the old Fall Hall No.1, this restored, historical building is so much more than a gastropub. Newly opened in June 2018, it features twenty taps that pour BC craft beers. You can sample numerous types, about half of which are only available in BC.

Although we didn’t sample any food here, it was a place where one was encouraged to stay. The bartenders were friendly, the atmosphere comforting, and the wide selection of craft beers made it a desirable place to relax and enjoy the mountain scenery. It is definitely a place I will return to and would recommend.

Open since 2003, Yamagoya Sushi continues to win the palates of all, being voted the best ethnic and evening dining restaurant in Fernie. The place offers a welcoming atmosphere with friendly servers and prompt service. Having both traditional and fusion menu items, the food is beautifully presented and incredibly tasty.

The restaurant does not take reservations, but arriving earlier than our typically dinner time, as recommended by locals, we waited about ten minutes before we were seated right at the sushi bar. Receiving recommendations from our server, we ordered as much variety as possible, tasting our way through the menu. Each menu item came out as it was ready, spaced nicely as to not overwhelm or discourage the decisions made. We tasted the perfectly grilled gyoza, the delicious spicy tuna and curry roll, and the uniquely tasting sashimi carpaccio. We also tried two types of aburi nigiri, scallop and salmon, which were a flamed sushi. The best item however, would have to be the dragon roll; labeled as a fusion roll, it was a jumbo dynamite roll topped with a diverse assorted of sashimi.

In a small town of just over 5000 people, they may not have the booming economy some desire, but they clearly know their sushi!

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Located right next to the Royal Canadian Legion, Fernie Distillers cozy feel and vintage decor fits in perfectly with this historical town. The distillery has been operating for just over two years, by a husband and wife team. It’s one of the few distilleries in Canada with a female distiller, who uses old-age techniques and local ingredients to produce high-quality, small batch spirits.

Featuring three main spirits, vodka, gin, and a liqueur, the distillery offers a tasting menu so you can try each one. We were given instructions about how a proper tasting of spirits should occur. It begins by taking a small amount of the spirit to move around the inside of your mouth. The next sip should be held longer on the front half of your tongue, and whatever is left, you should enjoy. The No. 9 Mine vodka stood out for me, in terms of it’s flavour profile and distinctiveness: wheat based, caramel nose, vanilla and anise finish. Next, we tried the Prospector gin. It had a typical juniper and citrus nose, but a floral and cardamon finish. Finally, the Fernie Fog with it’s bergamot and floral nose. Infused with earl grey tea, it leaves a vanilla and honey finish, being a spirit that anyone could enjoy.

Sitting at the bar, the employees were there to offer cocktail suggestions and answer any questions that we had. Besides being knowledgeable, efficient, and friendly, there was something special about the workers. They were sincere, humble, and made you feel like you were a part of their community. This is a hard feeling to evoke with customers, especially new ones, leaving me especially impressed with this distillery. It’s a must visit!