Two Gentlemen of Verona – Theatre Thursday


(“Two Gentlemen of Verona” Poster Image, as always, lovingly stolen from Theatre Calgary. Their site is always adding more incredible, informative material about their shows, please take the time to explore it.)

First off: I probably should have written about this show a month again. Actually, if I were really good at my job, I would have seen the show early in it’s run and written an actual review to actually encourage my readers to go see it. But long-time readers know that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here for ruminating on things for far too long and then vomiting my thoughts about important theatre onto this blog. And today? The #importanttheatre that I’m talking about is #ShakesBow‘s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona.

What’s #ShakesBow?

Shakespeare by the Bow is our forever evolving summer outdoor Shakespeare theatre in Calgary, Alberta. It’s varied in format over the years – sometimes two shows running in currently, sometimes just one… sometimes allowing experienced actors to work with those of all levels, sometimes emerging artists being allowed to tackle amazing roles. They have partnered with different theatre organizations in town and recently rebranded from “Shakespeare in the Park” with their most recent partnership with Theatre Calgary. ShakesBow has even experienced variety in its performance spaces when flooding in 2005 and 2013 damaged their usual space at Prince’s Island Park. (Note: this is an incredibly vague and non-detailed history. Don’t come at me.)

However, one thing that has remained consistent over the years is that ShakesBow offers donation-based, accessible classical theatre. It is Shakespeare to help people who maybe only ever read Shakespeare in high school – if that – “get it”. It is equal parts fun and touching. Above all else, it is completely understandable. (Note: Again, don’t at me. Anyone can understand Shakespeare when it is done well and ShakesBow does it.)

So, what makes Two Gentlemen important?

Aha! Great question! After all, why am I writing about this show over a month after it closed?

I don’t love Two Gents. Part of it may be that I saw an insane musical adaptation of it almost a decade ago. (Seriously. It was over the top. I thought I had an old livejournal review of it somewhere, but I couldn’t find it and also I don’t want anyone reading my old livejournal from a decade ago.)

A bigger part of it is that I don’t love watching Julia, who is spunky and fun and takes action, chasing around Proteus who immediately falls in love with his best friend’s girl. I don’t love that Proteus and Valentine are big ol’ dummies and Valentine volunteers to “give” his girl to Proteus. I know, I know, it’s a different time and potentially Shakespeare’s first play but I’m still allowed to not love it.

Unless…?

Unless. (tm. McElroy brothers)

ShakesBow does the play. And doesn’t actually change the dialogue, but completely reclaimed the play for the women. With a look, blocking and a very specific song choice, our heroines realize the boys are bozos and truly become heroines.

You guys. It was so good.

I love Shakespeare.

Bonding in Musicals – Theatre Thursday

wicked

Here’s a fun picture of the time I did Popular for a talent show thing in high school. In my defense, it was 2003-2004 and incredibly timely and not overdone at that point. Musicals!

I feel like sometimes when I write about theatre topics (especially some of the more serious ones like fear in theatre or auditioning for shows), the most important thing about why we do theatre doesn’t come across. Creating something is fun. It’s scary and exhausting and hard work, but it’s also fun. I find theatre especially remarkable because it is a collaborative creative experience, when so much creation is very solitary. Recently, someone commented to me they enjoyed doing musicals more than straight plays because they found that the cast bonded better during musicals.

Well, huh. That stopped me in my tracks. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a musical – I love them, but this girl does not sing, like to the point that when I have auditions that require singing, I sing Sing from A Chorus Line… wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, it’s been a long time since I did a musical but, in my experience, that actually is a pretty true statement. But why?

Is it because the rehearsal period for a musical is typically longer? (There’s so much more to learn – not just lines, blocking and motivations but choreography and songs as well!?)

Is it because choreography so often leads to touching each other? (Okay, that sounds creepy… I just mean that you need to get comfortable with each other pretty quickly because trust is important and… okay, you get it. I think.)

You know, I actually do think it has to do with the choreography and the songs. Not the touching or the time it takes, but the process of learning something together. Theatre is so collaborative but when you really think about it – only the actor learning the lines actually learns those lines. You can run your lines with your co-stars, they can help you, but at the end of the day it’s all on you. The way that we learn the things that are specific to musicals – song and dance? Those things happen together and they can’t be performed without each other.

But damn, what is out there for those of us who sing Buffy the Vampire Slayer songs because Sarah Michelle Gellar isn’t a singer either and they wrote the songs for her?

I’ve figured it out. Collective creation. Write a play together. Completely create something from the ground up. This is what my theatre company does and it’s amazing.

We may have a little project in store for the 2018-2019 theatre season and I’ll track the journey here. Watch this space.

No-Spend April – Week Three

No-Spend Week Three
Week Three

I keep thinking I skipped writing about No-Spend Week Three and I’ve messed up – and then I realize that I’m currently in Week Four and April has just been a bit of a runaway blur. I still have over a week left! I should be less smug about “no-spend”.

The Spends

  • Truth time: I bought a set of chairs and a new couch last week. (Note: Couch was bought on my mom’s HBC credit card so she can get points and I will be reimbursing her when the bill comes due, so not until May.)

This is literally the opposite of “No Spend”.

But hear me out! I’ve been looking for a new living room set since last summer. Despite being a fully functional adult and actually having a pretty cute house, I’ve never actually picked out my own, new furniture and bought it. Right around January, I picked out the chairs I liked at Ikea and the couch/chaise I loved at The Bay. Since then, I’ve just been waiting for a good price and, coincidentally, Ikea had a living room sale and The Bay put their couches on sale for 55% off, which is the best sale I’ve seen since the summer.

So, since this spend was from savings, it’s something that I would have spent a ton more on if I waited until May and it was mindful… I think it fits into the philosophy of “No-Spend April”.

  • This week also contained my pre-selected social outing – it was my friend’s 30th birthday and his girlfriend planned a whole surprise day for him (board game café, beer and chip tasting, Escape Room, Pin Bar). To be honest, I originally wasn’t going to go. I even texted her and was like “Ugggh, it’s No Spend Month!” And then I thought about it. About how I would probably regret it if I missed it, about how I shouldn’t be an anti-social shut in, about how I had budgeted myself one night out this month. And about how, really, life is about moderation and normally I would go out every weekend and have so many self-dates so I was still doing better. So I went and it was so much fun and so good to see my friends.

The No Spends

Groceries were $23 this week and I’m just killing it.

Maybe because I did purchase my new living room set this week (though it won’t be moving in until early June), but this month really isn’t feeling like a No Spend Month anymore. Not in that I’m spending a ton, but I’m just not feeling deprived, which is what I expected. It’s really just about making better choices about what I’m spending my money on and focusing on my goals.

I think I’m going to continue with a No Spend May (I have waaaaay too much stuff in my pantry still that I need to cook through), excluding a shopping day with Claire for my upcoming Vegas trip. I have finally found a roommate that I like, who will be moving in for May, which means a little help on the household expenses, but I don’t want to be going too wild just because of that. Gotta save for the future. Be the ant and not the grasshopper and all that.

The Yoga

I am two days behind on the challenge and I am totally okay with that. I am getting so much better at finding the space in my day and prioritizing my yoga. 30 days to make a habit, right?

No Spend April – Week One

No Spend Week One
Week One

It’s recap time! Because we’re one week into No Spend April already. WOO! Week One! (Also, I totally didn’t take pictures of my meal prep this week. Hopefully that’s not actually something you want.)

The Spends

Blah blah blah, mortgage, cell phone, condo fees property tax… who cares? Let’s get down to the things I can control!

1. My gas gamble didn’t work – gas went up by four cents and I had to fill up this weekend. Meh.
2. Groceries only cost $19 this week! I have a rice and bean recipe that I am obsessed with and my pantry was already stocked with carrots, peas, onion and rice so I mostly just made a huge batch of that and then supplemented with some burrito bowl fixings. Delicious.
3. … I went to the Make It Market with my mom on Saturday and spent $40.

You Spent $40!?

Calm down, internet. I spent $40 and I don’t feel bad about it. I bought a one-of-a-kind art piece, created by a local artisan. For about six months, I’ve been trying to put together a wall in my kitchen – it currently has a chalkboard and a canvas print on it and I really want to hang up a corkboard that I already have for organizational purposes. However, this wall needs a something else to help balance the proportions… and I finally found something! After months of looking! I can finally not have my corkboard just leaning up against my wall in my kitchen.

I feel fine with this purchase because it was conscious and mindful. In months of looking, I hadn’t found anything I liked and I spent a ton of time weighing out the purchase before making it while at the Market. (I also didn’t buy any craft distilled liquors or tiny rings like I vaguely wanted to, so… winning.)

The No Spends

I know, that’s not an actual phrase, but I’m using it.

One of my biggest expenses is eating out. Part of it is that I love trying out new restaurants, with or without other people, but another part of it is just habit. I used to travel for work and I got super used to sitting at the bar in a restaurant with a book and a glass of wine to unwind. I got super used to grabbing a Chopped Leaf bowl on my way home from the gym because it was quick and healthy, and I was starving. Like I wrote about the tuna melt last week, a lot of what I did was just so easy and relatively inexpensive… but easy and inexpensive adds up, yo!

Right now, I think I’m still riding on the high of being oh so virtuous. It feels good to clear out my pantry and to go home to eat the meals I prepped. (Note: Old!Erin would totally have prepped meals and still gone out to eat anyway… that’s why it’s nice to have the “challenge” element to lean on.)

The Yoga

Oh my gosh, you guys, I am loving the Yoga With Adriene TRUE challenge. It reminds me a bit of being back in university and getting in touch with all the elements of myself – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. I will note: I don’t recommend this challenge if you just want to “work out”. Though there are definitely some challenging physical elements, this is really about developing a yoga practice and figuring out what it means to you.

I did miss a day of the challenge – on Friday, I spent the night at my parents’ house, having a railway night (long story), and then I spent a day out with my mom on Saturday, going straight to my Saturday night plans. I had thought I’d be home by 10 pm or so, then being able to unwind with a little yoga, but that was not to be. In an amazing moment of kismet, Adriene actually spoke about how we have to develop our own practice, how it make take some of us longer than 30 days to complete the challenge and how we have to celebrate ourselves… during the session I wasn’t able to complete on Saturday and ended up doing on Sunday night. How perfect!

I’m In a Play – Secondary Cause of Death – Theatre Thursday

secondary cause
(Caption: This is the face of a girl who slept for four hours during the daytime on Tuesday because she was sent home from work, and went on to kill it at the theatre that night. This is the magic that theatre does.)

I’m in a play!

Let me be real here – this is not a review for the play that I am in. Mostly because I think the show is pretty great but it is nigh impossible to be objective about a play that you are in. This also isn’t really an advertisement or promotion for the show that I’m in – I’ve been doing a ton of that on social media, even including a “tech week selfie” game with Claire since we always seem to manage to be in tech week at the same time. So, what is this? I guess it’s really more of an ode.

I can’t remember the last time I was so thrilled to be in a play – maybe when I did Scorpio Theatre’s world premiere of Blood of the Red Queen, had a role rewritten for me and knew that I was a part of something that was going to just take off? I don’t know… I’m always pleased to be in a play and I always love it (otherwise I wouldn’t do it), but this time I’m just thrilled.

Part of it may be that I was asked to step into this show to fill a role once they lost an actress after rehearsals began – I hadn’t met the director before so I did do a bit of an audition, though nothing like the ones I’ve written about before – and it’s always nice to be needed/wanted.

Another part of it may be that I’m really getting to stretch myself as an actress. I am playing the type of role that I often get cast in (lovely and graceful) but the process hasn’t been “easy” by any means, and I appreciate that. I swing towards bubbly when I act and I’m playing a character who is on the older end of my age range so there is absolutely no room for bubbly. The show also takes place in England in 1939 (and is very British murder mystery in feel) so accents are imperative. I went to U of C, I haven’t learned accents! But I can do one now…

I think the biggest part of it, though, is that I just feel like such a part of things doing this show. I am a shy person by nature (which people always seem to mistake for my being a bit of a bitch and not just rampantly socially awkward) but everyone in this show has just made such an effort to make me not feel like the “new girl” since Day One. There is a camaraderie in the dressing room that I haven’t actually felt since university (other than during Full Circle Theatre shows, but that’s really just me gathering my friends together and going “let’s make a play!”) and I love it, even when I just sit quietly and listen to everyone else. I absolutely trust every person on that stage to pick me up and save me if I forget a line. (Oh gosh, that better not happen… knock on wood!)

I’m in a play. And even though I am going on vacation the day after it closes, I’m going to miss it when it’s done.

If you would like to see the play that has inspired such gushing from me (and hear my sparkling dulcet tones), Simply Theatre’s “Secondary Cause of Death” runs until October 1 and tickets can be purchased by calling 587-575-656 or by visiting http://www.simplytheatre.ca Come see it. It’s worth it. (This is not a promotion, I’m just happy.)

Things I Ate at the Calgary Stampede

Okay. Dudes and dudettes, you may or may not know that I am currently on vacay in BC for a week. I usually spend my vacations touring around places I haven’t really been to before but this year I dropped all my extra cash on London, so instead I’m just relaxing out at my parents’ place in Kimberley. It’s been a lot of reading beach trash, drinking boxed wine and brainstorming blog post ideas so I don’t fall behind again. It’s awesome but it’s probably making me lazy. I don’t want to let the Stampede fall too far in the past, since it closed on Sunday, but I am on vacay, so let’s keep it real easy and start off by talking about “Things I Ate at the Calgary Stampede” (I know, I know, be so jealous).

tophies
bbq and mikes
Pulled Pork Sandwich
At Stampede, you’ll quickly learn that there is pretty solid BBQ all over the place, specifically down the alley towards the Grandstand. How does a girl decide which barbeque stand deserves their well-earned $10? If you’re me, it’s the one with all the trophies, obviously! Most of these trophies are actually for their brisket but pulled pork is one of my very favourite meals (actually, I’m a sucker for pulled meats in general) so I went for it along with a Mike’s Hard Root Beer. Which?! Rootbeer beers are all the rage right now according to my dad who is “in the industry” (read: has a retirement job working at a liquor store) and yeah this tastes 100% just like root beer. So dangerous!

elvis
The Elvis
Guys, I get it. I now know how Elvis became Fat Elvis because I too have experienced the deliciousness that is a bacon, banana and peanut butter sandwich – in my case from The Peanut Butter Cupboard food truck. I stood in the rain for this guy and did not regret it at all – the perfect picture of salty-sweet. I might be able to recreate it at home but instead, I might just try to stalk this food truck around town instead… It’s summer in Calgary, they must be everywhere, right!?

mini donuts
Mini Donuts
And I rounded out that day of Stampeding with a little bag of mini donut – aka little clouds of sugary heaven. I somehow managed to save half for the next day and refreshed them at work by microwaving them for just 15 seconds. All my friends were so jealous.
Note: Don’t be fooled by imitators. The only place to get mini donuts is at the big yellow stand between the Big Four and BMO Centre called “Those Little Donuts”. I repeat do not go anywhere else.

Waffles and Chix
Fried Chicken Poutine
Another day kicked off with this not-so-little goodie from the Waffles & Chix stand. Waffles & Chix are actually all over the place in Calgary between their food truck and their booth at the Crossroads Farmers’ Market. But my mom and I enjoyed the fried chicken poutine a few years ago and it was so good that I have never wanted to taint the memory. This year we finally did and it was just as delicious as we remembered – all melty cheese curds and a bit of shredded cheese to fill it out, white gravy and delicately breaded fried chicken. Note that it is definitely a sharing portion. And that I was so excited to eat it that I didn’t take a picture… also, I was busy helping the little boy sitting next to me not lose his plate. It was a dramatic time. The picture above is blatantly ripped off the internet.

cheese pairing
Cheese Pairing
After all the craziness of the midway, Stampede Show Band and snowmobiles hopping over jumps (to be explained in a later post…), my mom and I needed a little Zen so we hit up the Co-op Wine Garden and enjoyed a little wine flight with cheese pairings. We have been obsessive with trying to pair our cheese and wine ever since (and we definitely have been carrying that little pairing card around with us) so that speaks highly to the success of it, yes?

nachos
Nachos and Beer at The Station
Did you know that there is a small beer garden with 20 types of wings, beer on tap and table service in the basement of the Big Four? (There’s also a ton of excellent food options down there, including some truly remarkable tacos from Anejo.) My mom recently had a cyst rupture in her knee so she needs regular walking breaks and we decided to just check out what was what in order to find a 30 minute sitting break. What a great choice! I was so thrilled with the table service, I couldn’t stop telling everyone how excited I really was. I’ve always found that wings are a lot of work for little pay-off and the nachos looked so incredible being carried by so we decided to go with them instead. They were a little bit on the spicy side but the full on potato slice they were made on were incredible and sitting in the Station was such a nice relaxing note to the end of our stampede day. Check it out next year.

mini donut popsicle
Mini Donut Popsicle
Okay, despite the fact that it was raining/hailing and I was wearing shorts, my day actually ended with a mini-donut popsicle. Last year I ate about four of these beauties – the dulce de leche base is so decadent without being overwhelming and y’all already know how I feel about mini donuts – and even though it was not popsicle weather, I couldn’t resist! Even if it meant I had an old lady comment about my shorts and popsicle combo… whatever, I gotta do me!

Seriously, mini donut popsicles, beer in the basement, crazy poutine… do it all. But don’t go to the wine garden. That’s just for me.

Cherry Pit – One Day Juice Cleanse

Juice Cleanse

As those of you who follow me on social media have undoubtably already seen, on Monday I did a petite one day juice cleanse. With the Calgary Stampede looming on the horizon and a booze-soaked girls weekend in Kimberley behind me, it just seemed like a good choice to try to get my system a little bit back in line. (Why yes, we did purchase 11 bottles of wine for three girls. We didn’t drink all of them, though, I swear! Seriously. That sounds like a made up swear, but it’s true! Anyway… moving on…)

In the past, I’ve only done three day cleanses and the one day cleanse was a walk in the park, by comparison. I did take a late night “Barre, Core, Stretch” class at Barre Body Studio on Monday and, though I was a little bit hungry after Lindsay put us through an insane tricep/oblique series, it was so refreshing to know that I had a juice waiting for me at home and even if it didn’t completely quench my hunger it didn’t matter because I got to eat on Tuesday morning. I even did my meal prep for the week on Monday night and my food monster remained in check! So, without further ado – my petite review of my petite cleanse.

Where did my cleanse come from?
Great question! (That I asked myself… maybe I shouldn’t reveal the conceit. Anyway…) In the past, I’ve purchased three day cleanses from an old A Flimsy Plan favourite, Cru Juice, but this time I decided to go for something a little shorter and a little bit cheaper. The one day cleanse from Cherry Pit, located at The Calgary Farmers’ Market fit the bill – super easy to pick up since I was already there and only $40 for one day! Apparently you can also order cleanses ahead of time online by emailing in, but I am clearly far too impetuous for that.

8:00 am – “The Hulk”
Kale, Apple, Celery, Lemon, Ginger

Starting off my day with a glass of hot lemon water and a green juice felt oh-so-virtuous. I really think it set me up with a positive frame of mind for my day. This juice was sweeter than I expected (a nice surprise for a green juice!) and I could definitely sense the celery in the after-taste, though not at all in an unpleasant way.

10:00 am – “Tropical Paradise”
Green apple, Pineapple, Lemon, Mint

A variation of this juice seems to be a standby in most cleanses (Blueprint Cleanse calls it “PAM”, Cru offers the “Pumped Up Kicks” which is similar but includes aloe vera) and with good cause – it’s nice to have something a little bit sweet to help pump up your blood sugar when mid-morning hits and it suddenly becomes very real that you will not be eating today, my friend. My morning at work was quite busy and the juice was sweet enough that I was able to alternate this guy with sips of water and spread it out over about an hour and a half until it was almost time for the next juice!

12:00 pm – “Carrot”
Carrot, Orange, Apple

Again, in the fall, Cru Juice offers a similar carrot juice that I just do not love… their variation includes yam and a few spices that I can’t remember at the moment – so either I really like orange or I really don’t like the spice I can’t remember, because I loved this carrot juice! I also appreciate the vegetable based juices during a cleanse because they seem a little “thicker”, and therefore more filling, which this one definitely did. As a note, I was developing such a headache by this point.

1:30 pm

The headache was still there. Maybe it was a caffeine headache, as I had tried to be good and not have any coffee that morning? Maybe. I drank two cups of David’s Tea’s “Cream of Earl Grey” and it did help some. It was probably a caffeine headache.

3:30 pm – “Heart Beet”
Beet, Carrot, Apple, Ginger, Lemon

Can we talk about how cute the name of this juice is, even if it took me awhile to get it?
I am one of those weirdos who absolutely loves beets, but this was probably my least favourite juice of the cleanse. I know that beet juice is super good for you, but I just couldn’t get on board. Maybe my tastebuds were attuned to the sweet after my previous few juices? Maybe it was because I drank it during that dreaded late afternoon slump? I also drank it about an hour and a half later than the suggested time, so maybe that was a part of it? I’m not sure, but I just knew I couldn’t wait to be done with it.

5:30 pm – “The Popeye”
Spinach, Cucumber, Apple, Pear, Lemon

To be honest, I barely remember drinking this juice. I got home late from work because I had to run a few errands and I downed this guy while meal-prepping. I don’t remember anything distasteful about it and I do remember the cucumber taste being prominent. If you are looking for a standard juice to get a lot of nutrients in for very little work, I think this would do the trick.

9:00 pm – “Wonderwoman”
Watermelon, Pineapple, Coconut Water, Lime, Mint

Like the “Heart Beet”, I drank this juice waaaaay too late (the barre class! I have explained!) but unlike the “Heart Beet”, I loved it! It was like dessert! And it was brilliant, because the coconut water was the perfect thing to restore my water and electrolyte levels after the workout.

Final Thoughts?
I would absolutely do a one day cleanse again. I felt virtuous, I felt energetic, I was proud of myself. I also would probably have a cup of tea in the morning to stave off the headache.

The main difference I felt between the Cru Cleanse and this one, was the lack of a nut mylk included in the cleanse. I usually had the nut mylk after a workout to get some protein/sugar in as a recovery and I may have needed that if I did a more vigorous barre workout or continued the cleanse for longer. Cherry Pit juices are also more pure fruit/veg blends with less additional spices to add flavour.

I will note that I felt awful for much of Tuesday (the day after the cleanse). I went for a walk at lunch and almost passed out. This could have been a cleanse response, but it also could have been because I took an Advil that morning and I very rarely take any type of medication. I think I will have to do another one day cleanse, maybe after Stampede, and see how I feel the day after for comparison.

I loved the price of the Cherry Pit cleanse, I loved that I could purchase a day of juice and still be within my grocery budget for the week with a little clever finagling.

Swine and Sow – Big Taste Calgary

Surprise! I actually have one last Big Taste Calgary review under my belt! I had thought I was done after Teatro (and my wallet was probably a little relieved, since even $35/meal adds up when you are a crazy person and do it upwards of five times)… but I had a surprise last minute invite pop up for Saturday night, so how could I say no? Girl’s gotta eat!

menu

My date selected Swine and Sow for our final dinner – in part because of the usual bonus of the Big Taste menu having a few options to select from and in part because we had never been there before and, with its location next to Theatre Junction Grand, we’ve always been curious. It was a good, good choice.

cocktails

We started our night with some delicious craft cocktails – the Basilisk (gin, elderflower liquor, basil and lime) and the Vegas Water (blueberry stoli, grapefruit and 7-up) since we’re always on the search for cocktails we can re-create at home. I’ve been a huge gin fan since I was 19 and mixing it with cream soda like only a dumb new drinker can, so I was obviously partial to the Basilisk. As we sipped our cocktails, we perused the full menu and excitedly made plans to return in the future for charcuterie and bacon tacos – but tonight? We were ordering and sharing literally everything from the Big Taste Menu.

first course

For our first course, we shared a Forest salad and risotto croquettes. The salad was fine (actually, I’m sure it was very good, I love mushrooms and it was probably wise to get some vegetables into our systems) but those croquettes… they knocked the memory of any other foods right out of my mind. They were so so good. They’re also kicking around on the regular menu and you better bet I tucked that information away for the future…

second course

Can we talk about how much food we got for the second course!? That lovely photo right there shows two racks of cherry wood smoked ribs and a phyllo-wrapped steelhead trout. Delicious, sizable and easily shareable. I preferred the trout to the ribs, but I’ve never really been a fan of food that requires lots of work for very little pay-off so I may be a biased party. (You know… Ribs, wings, bone-in meat… so much work for so little protein!)

third course

I was most excited for the dessert – a sticky toffee pudding and a Fiasco Gelato ice cream sandwich… and it was the Mini-egg gelato! March is totally my month! We initially had plans to share both desserts and, yes, we did each take a bite of both, but once that ice cream sandwich hit the table, there was no way I was sharing. Thank goodness my date preferred the sticky toffee pudding!

During our dinner, we noticed that there was a super large party downstairs (it sounded like a birthday party) and the staff was doing such a great job of keeping on top of it. We noted that our order was in just behind theirs but we never felt like we waiting for our next course and watching the Big Taste plates file past us to downstairs just got us more excited for our next course. I have to give the team at Swine and Sow big props for that and we will definitely be back.

ice cream sandwich

I’m in the midst of developing a new series for the blog, now that Big Taste is over, so check back next week for that and in the meantime have an amazing long weekend! I am looking forward to both catching up on sleep and dressing up to go out drinking/dancing with Claire on Saturday… best weekend ever!

Teatro – Big Taste Calgary

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’ve been pretty glowing in my reviews of the Big Taste restaurants that I’ve gone to. Part of that is because I chose my restaurants pretty carefully, part of that is because I just wouldn’t post about an experience that I didn’t like. I would like this blog to be a positive place for all the exciting/fun/interesting things I do in my life. And also for nonsense. Obviously. All that aside, Teatro really was a highlight of the week – of the year, more likely.

My date for Teatro was my most high-powered, fancy, successful friend who is probably also the smartest person I know – and I neglected to ask her if I could feature her on the blog, so I won’t be calling her by name. She has had a few disappointing Big Taste experiences this year, so we decided to really go for broke, treat ourselves and choose the Gourmet menu. It was the best choice we could have made – everything was delicious, everything was perfectly proportioned to allow us to end the night satisfied but not full, and the service was impeccable. The pacing of the courses was completely on point, our server was so patient when we got busy talking instead of ordering, and she gave incredible recommendations. Teatro may be pricey, but they without a doubt deserve it.

Teatro Cocktails
Our Teatro date was on a Thursday night and, since we both had to work the next day, we declined to go for the wine pairings. (Though, they were exceedingly reasonable at only $30 added to pair wine with five different courses.) We started our night with a cocktail – my date selected the always fabulous Kir Royale while I ordered something delicious with gin that I totally forgot to record the name of. C’est la vie.

Teatro Insalata
First course – the Winter Lyonnaise Insalata which was the perfect start to our night. How can you ever go wrong with a poached egg? Or pancetta? I suspect this was a smaller portion that you would normally get when you order ala carte but, with five courses to follow, it was perfect.

Teatro Salt Cod Risotto
The second course – the pasta course – was the only one where my date and I deviated from ordering the same thing. She loved her dish, but I couldn’t resist the creamy draw of the Salt Cod risotto. I actually saw a gentleman at another table sending his risotto back and I cannot imagine how you could possibly do that – I loved every bite of the mild flavours!

Teatro Eggplant
This Eggplant Parmigiana was actually the dish that tipped us over from getting the 3-course menu to the 5-course menu. Eggplant, tomatoes, cheese – and not just any cheese, but a fior di latte. Yum. This dish is on their regular menu as a Contorni (side dish) and I suspect I would order it again. Maybe just it and a cocktail before a show – is that weird? I’m okay with that…

Teatro Flat Iron Steak
Red meat twice in one week is not usually something that I rock – but when a prix fixe menu has a flat iron steak on it, you pick the flat iron steak. And look at that portion! (There are little potatoes hiding under the steak, but still. It’s a lot. And I didn’t even know that arugula puree was a thing that I loved, but it was definitely a thing that I loved.)

Teatro Panna Cotta
We finished our night with coffees and vanilla panna cotta. The panna cotta was light, the strawberry-rhubarb compote was appropriately tart – dessert was probably my least favourite dish, but it was still absolutely delicious… the rest of the dishes were just so elevated that this was the least of the best. And, honestly, after my week of dining, it was nice to have something light to finish off.

This review is much shorter and less rambly than my previous ones but I just don’t know if I have the words to approximately communicate how incredible the food and the experience really was. I can’t do Teatro all the time, but I am so glad I did it this time and that we went big. Thank you to the smartest person I know for helping me make a smart dining choice and for staying out way too late on a Thursday night, talking life and catching up.

Murietta’s – Big Taste Calgary

In my “About” page, I wrote about how this blog wouldn’t at all be aspirational because, let’s face it, I’m no Cup of Jo or Cupcakes and Cashmere. I don’t live in a major city that people dream of moving to and I certainly don’t have a book deal. I don’t even have a DSLR camera! That being said, my blog so far has mostly been fitness classes, wine tastings and nice dinners out, soooo…

Here’s some real life for you.

Today, I went to grab an English muffin from the fridge (because I am super not a morning person so I have to plan one breakfast for the entire week that I can make in approximately 2.65 minutes). The English muffins were moldy! I only bought them on Saturday! Ugh, what do you even do in that situation? Do I return them? (No, I threw them out when I got home from work.)

Anyway, I am not capable of coming up with a new breakfast plan that I can make in 2.65 minutes on the fly, so I grabbed a McDonald’s coupon out of the recycling bin. Classic money-saving! I probably just should have leaned into the fact that I was doing the McDonald’s thing and gotten something greasy-slash-delicious but I have recently designed the flimsiest of plans which involves a health component so I got the kale feta More-ning wrap. It was okay. The kale was a weird component, I think it was only there to sound fancy. Eh. What can you expect from McDonald’s?

I still have three Big Taste restaurants to talk about (I know, I said two, but if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I had a surprise dinner out on Saturday as well), so let’s dive into it. Last Wednesday, I spent a lovely evening at Murietta’s Bar and Grill with my very oldest friend, Lynn. (We’ve been kicking it together since junior high school – over 17 years ago now. How old does that make me feel!?)

I’ve been to Murietta’s a few times in the past after other events to take in some live music, so I knew they had a great cocktail list, but I’ve never done food there before. I also didn’t realize that they had a spacious dining room off to the side and just set slightly away from the live music so you can easily chat with your dining companions. Since this was my first time seeing Lynn since her honeymoon in Japan-New Zealand-Australia-etc and my recent change in my living situation, we had a lot to chat about and took about an hour per course!

We specifically chose Murietta’s because it offered options on the menu and, of course, we made a real effort to try all the different things.

Salad

Soup

Course One offered a choice between a garden salad with lemon balsamic dressing or a seasonal soup (in this case a perfectly light tomato-based vegetable soup with lentils). Lynn was kind enough to allow me to take a picture of her salad – we were shocked by how big it was! Generally speaking, Big Taste portions are a little smaller than normal due to the great deal you get on the menu but that was definitely not the case at Murietta’s.

short rib

For Course Two, I selected the Braised Short Rib and Pork Cheek Duo. I do love short rib, like any good resident of Alberta, but I don’t often think to order it so this opportunity was perfect. I’ve never had Pork Cheek before – it was a little rich for me – but the short rib was a perfect compliment to it and I just alternated between the two proteins. Also, there were beets. You can never go wrong with beets. (I paired my dinner with a Mirassou Pinot Grigio with the soup and then the Pinot Noir with the entrée. I am excellent at pairing, apparently.)

Dessert
And, finally, we both wrapped with the Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake with bananas flambé. How can you not!? It was rich, moist and, even though it looks small when plated, it was almost too big to finish. (Actually, I think I finally did have to tap out and just eat the bananas off the second half of my dessert leaving the cake behind.) Of course, we were so busy chatting once again that the waitress was worried we didn’t like it… I promise, we did!

I love the ambiance of the bar side of Murietta’s so much that I suspect that’s where I will be returning to in the future… but I certainly wouldn’t mind a classy little dinner in the dining room first!