adventures in the far east — of canada!

Archive for the ‘calgary’ Category

The Vaterland ever calls: farewell to the last German!

In calgary, food, friends, st. john's on September 16, 2009 at 4:03 pm

At the moment of writing, I am on the plane, bound for Toronto where I shall stay for about an hour (and hopefully get something to eat…), and then off to Calgary for a one-week visit. I at last have a very long stretch of time to put towards catching up on this blog!

What a week it’s been…the trip couldn’t come at a better time. Not that I knew it was going to be so crazy busy at work. It just worked out that way.

Anyhoo (a word I am pleased to inform you has been officially added into the Canadian Oxford Dictionary!), accounts of things that happened between then and now (then being Philipp’s departure from St. John’s) may unfortunately be a little fuzzier in detail, given the amount of time that’s passed. Well, maybe only a month, but still. A sad consequence of my laziness in regards to the blog, but hey, I’m already doing something most people don’t regularly! And life’s ever interesting in St. John’s. 🙂

But enough small talk.

Weeks and weeks ago, before Thursday, August 13–an important date, because that is when my friend Jamie arrived in St. John’s for a visit–Jeanne and I would send off Philipp, the last of the Germans we met in St. John’s finishing up a medical rotation.

It was just myself, Jeanne, and Philipp, and what we lacked in people we made up for with (as always) exceptional company, conversation, and food. We went to International Flavours at my suggestion, because a friend/co-worker had recommended the place to me once as a very cheap place that runs a decidedly unconventional menu that is wonderfully tasty.

Their menu is different because there really isn’t one–you go in, and the lovely east Indian lady and owner of the place explains that the only thing you can choose is chicken, lamb, or a bit of both. Excepting the meat chosen, the generous portions of curry, rice, and various sauces were the same, and they were very, very tasty. I’d also ordered the mango milkshake, because reviews had heaped praise on that as well.

I recall that day was a very rainy but warm day. I walked there from work, and I was soaked through. Upon arrival, I was assured to find that the restaurant had earned a “Places to Eat in Canada” sticker for a certain recent year (2008? 2009?). That label always impresses me, and I see it as a great affirmation of quality food by customers who vote restaurants to the honour each year. Towa Sushi in Calgary has a collection of them, but for a restaurant that has virtually no menu, that to me is pretty cool.

Taste-wise, the food reminded me of the Afghan Restaurant, as the food is from a similar region. However, I would say International Flavours (an inaccurate name indeed, seeing that they only serve one thing from one culture) does a better job of it, and the service was much more personable–the lady was a delight to talk to! She told us about her life here, her children, and her successful little restaurant despite hours that only went from noon to 7 pm and no Mondays.

The restaurant also sold various Middle Eastern groceries I haven’t seen anywhere else in the city for fairly cheap! I bought a big jar of minced garlic and ginger for a great deal, considering grocery stores sell them separate in mini jars at about $3 or more.

In the end, we were stuffed, and dinner outlasted the downpour. After making my purchase and bidding the cheery owner a good evening, we concluded the evening with ice cream at Moo Moo’s!

Moo Moo’s was fantastic as always. There was a rum and raisins ice cream that I had to have (RUM!!), as well as something caramel, I think. Philipp ordered a fudge or something, and a wonderfully tart partridge berry (I know because we let each other try our order). Jeanne was being lame (and if you’re reading this…I ordered that much to share, dammit!!) and got nothing and would not try anything, citing the “full” excuse. Bah! I ate a lot more ice cream than I’m used to that night…

Soon enough, however, it was time to call a close to the night. Philipp had a last bus fare on his card to use up, the bus was coming soon, and so we idled the last of our time together in St. John’s at a nearby movie rental place. Jeanne wanted some brainless movie (maybe her brain was also “full!” :P) and got it, haha. Back out we went, the bus was on its way, and we said our goodbyes to Philipp and each gave him a hug…

Did I mention before how people are still leaving me all the time? 😦 C’est la vie. Again, one of these days, I want to head to Germany, and hopefully see the crew again. There’s nothing better to feed a travel bug–the promise of seeing friends again!


Board games!! And the Target Wii-mbledon

In calgary, food, friends, internship, st. john's on July 29, 2009 at 12:33 am

On Sunday, Jeanne and I went out to a late lunch (we stayed up far too late the previous night at Mercy, the Sexton’s gig) at Get Stuffed, a lovely little restaurant (classy, lounge-y interior, plushly plump seating) that served brunch.

Afterwards, we were due to meet a couple I contacted via Board Game Geek, yet another community I’m a part of. I’ve been there a goodly amount of time, exploring the immense world of hobbyist board gaming (we’re not talking about Monopoly or Life, here). I’ve got a decent collection of games myself (say around 20 titles), and back home in Calgary, I played them with my brother and various friends. It’s such a great hobby–board games may seem so trivial, but it really brought a lot of my friends closer, because of the shared social experience beyond trying to kick their asses. 🙂 It was a regular-ish thing, and I think we all looked forward to it.

Obviously, moving to St. John’s diminished my games group–or rather, obliterated it altogether. And it’s fairly apparent that it’s not really a huge thing in St. John’s–not that it was a huge thing in Calgary (or in most places, I imagine), but it definitely had a presence. Here, there is little more than a whimper.

Through BGG, I contacted a user based in St. John’s. We corresponded via email some (she was actually not in town for a while, before moving back in preparation to go back to Memorial University), and at last, with her and her boyfriend’s return to St. John’s, a meet was scheduled Sunday. And they’d even give us a ride, too!

I’d coerced Jeanne to come, so there’d be another player, and she was curious, anyway. It was supposed to happen 1 pm, but let it be known that Get Stuffed is a rather slow restaurant. However…to their credit, their food was delicious.

I had a Get Stuffed Omellette–I have this theory that any restaurant that has a dish named after themselves (not entirely uncommon) that it has to be pretty amazing–because it would be stupid to associate a dish so closely with your own name if it sucked. I was proven right–I’m not sure I’ve had a better omellette, or more tasty hash browns!

It was a beast that looked more steak than egg, and it was filled with leaks, artichoke, some salami that had a special name, some sorta great cheese, onion…I’m sure I’m forgetting something. Such are omellettes, though, so mixed up it’s sometimes hard to separate. In any case, it was so very fluffy, moist, juicy, and savoury. The hashbrowns I would describe more as potato cubes, baked with their skins still on, and they were seasoned expertly. Where very often you would have ketchup or something with such fries-like things, to spoil such grandness here was out of the question!

Jeanne had a masterful seafood chowder (of course) and a pulled pork sandwich that was marinated very well–you could plainly taste the cider vinegar it described in the menu, it was juicy, and there were two! There was also a fried pickle, a thing that puzzled both of us, and we concluded it must be a Newfoundland thing.

After brunch which I took care of (she’d paid my cover and a few drinks for me the other night), we got picked up at 1:30; Daisy and her boyfriend were lovely people, and were as excited about playing some board games as I was!

We ended up playing like 7 hours worth, haha. There were some breaks where we fooled around with their 2 ferrets as well–so cute!! They’re like…furry slinkies, so flexible. They’re quite playful as well, and so soft; the girl, Kaylee, was practically obsessed with the Pooh Bear toy she had, and she brought it along everywhere, snuggled with it in a small shelter, and would dutifully fetch it back every time Flint, the other ferret, stole it. We’d sometimes take it and it could be used to steer her, she would just not let the thing out of her sight!

We played Aquadukt, Animalia, Ys, and Cuba; the first two were gateway games (easy to learn, easy and quick to play, meant to ease in new players or those new to hobbyist board gaming), and the last two were deeply strategic games that were new to everyone, because they had a backlog of titles they still haven’t tried. Between them, their collection of board games numbered over 200 titles!! I was much impressed, and I’d like to try as many as I can…

Because it would only bore you to get into details, lemme just say Ys and Cuba were both pretty cool. I’ll have to make note of them…this will be a great way to expand my own collection, eventually!

We finished the day in great spirits, and they urged us to do this again. Better yet, I found out they were huge fans of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books (Mark’s favourite–I also cite them as my favourite all time novels, as well), and they’re both big fans of the show Battlestar Galactica. Oh my goodness, I was in heaven–geek-splosion! I’m so glad to have made these 2 new friends. 🙂

In other short news, at work, we’ve begun a Wii-mbledon Tournament. Haha, you guessed it–Wii Tennis! A round robin has been set up, and I’ve won my first match to advance. The ultimate winner…gets a vacation day!! I’m very determined; my friend will be in St. John’s soon, and I have off 4 of the 5 days she’s here. This is my chance to get that 1 missing day!

But I gotta say, the competition may be stiff–the guys here, few as they are, are pretty intense at the game. On Monday after work, I spent an hour in the office practicing. Will it be enough?? I may need more practice to beat them confidently…I can’t afford to mess it up. I’ve asked various friends to give me tips, tricks, and strategies, and they have been more than obliging (one even sent me a video of his technique!). In my hour of practicing, I found value in all their collected wisdom.

I can do it fairly often, but if only I can perfect the smash serve 100% of the time….

Wish me luck!

Walked into another spanworm today

In calgary, st. john's on July 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

Seriously, this has got to stop!

Strolling along, minding my own damn business, and then I look down at my chest…and a spanworm’s struggling to work its way up to my face. Long as my middle finger, humped curl on one end, a little skinnier than my pinky, a dull brown. Ick.

I flicked it off.

Alternatively…you’re walking along, and you’ve long since grown accustomed to looking up to spot dangling spanworms as you approach branches overhanging sidewalks. It’s all clear. You have nothing to worry about, and stroll on by. And then you feel this bit of stuff fall on your head (well, at least I can with so little hair). Gritty, only a fleck, really–“What’s with these specks of black ash that keeps falling onto me in this city?” I was told a coworker once asked early on.

Spanworm poo.

Sure Calgary has its own tree problems–as I mentioned, the pine beetle–but at least those pests have the decency to never bother anyone. Decimate the trees, yes, but I can feel secure that walking or running down the street, one of the beetles or its larva is not going to end up in my face. At this rate, I’m going to develop a serious phobia of walking under trees!

Well…okay, maybe it’s not that bad. They’re slow moving and large, compared to small spiders that dart about and are…small. I seem to have a problem with small things. I’m okay with huge, lumbering tarantulas, but a small, dangly spider? I’ll kill it dead, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy getting close to it!

I really showed that one spider in my bed weeks ago. I smashed it to smithereens. Let that be an example to any others that have similar ideas. If only he could tell his buddies…

Anyway, back to the worms. I’m told they’ll soon be moths. Joy, at least those don’t dangle from trees and squirm on you. But mark my words, any chance I get, I’m going to pulverize any of those silvery white moths that cross my path. Out of vengeance, of course.

You’ve annoyed the wrong guy, worms…

In other terribly exciting news…the weather here has got to stop being so nice. I am constantly fooled into dressing slightly warmly in the brisk mornings, and then being punished for it by the afternoons when I promptly sweat out all the water in my body. What’s the deal, b’y? Please stay cool.

The weather is also terribly uninspired; for the next four days (Wed-Sat), the high/low forecast is: 23/13, 23/13, 23/13, 23……/12!!! It’s cause enough for celebration. To George Street!

Actually, the exciting news is that my passport stuff has been figured out, and will arrive well before our sojourn to France! And I may try my luck and ask for one more day off (beyond the 2 the company owes me) to encompass another day when my friend’s here. Or if there’s another holiday coming up, I’ll just try to work then and save another to apply.

Fun times, fun times.

I am an honourary Newfoundlander! And a note of sadness

In calgary, culture, food, friends, internship, lingo, st. john's on July 12, 2009 at 1:18 am

On the long-awaited Friday night, I got screeched in with my friend Jeanne!

But firstly…holy hotcakes, we’ve been having great weather. So good, I don’t like it–like 26 degrees, very sunny (I gradually get more uncomfortable for every degree above 20). I’m baked.

Friday at work was great…it was a light day, and most everyone left earlier on account of the weather. In fact, we were encouraged to–“Get the fuck out of the office!” the higher ups in the offices urged. I did, but only an hour early, because I was finishing up some work I don’t ever want to touch again. You’ll begin to understand why with this brief description: densely packed maps I standardized, only to find out each one is sized differently depending on the section (so some maps are 83%, 100%, 125%…). I had to proportionally determine the ratio to increase or decrease each symbol on the maps, and rearrange the type…the stuff of nightmares.

But that’s been how I’ve been discovering some of Newfoundland’s crazy place names like Dildo and South Dildo a little further…south. A few more random ones: the town of Goobies, and an island called Random Island.

Target is near the harbour, and right across from Harbourside Park. Beautiful place, and every Friday afternoon, there’s a free lunchtime concert there! And as it so happened, the Idlers did a free hour show there, to a very large crowd. It was great, kids dancing everywhere, people basking in the sun listening, and while watching (even though I would be at the show that night), I met some of the friends I’ve made there. The other Karen was there too (being a co-worker of John), and she invited me to her own birthday event at her place Saturday. Suddenly, another event, but that’s another batch of stories and pictures.

Some of Friday's crowd at the Lunchtime Concert

Some of Friday's crowd at the Lunchtime Concert

Idlers at Harbourside Park, across from Target

Idlers at Harbourside Park, across from Target

After work, myself and two co-workers (including my lovely intern buddy) went to Taste of Thai. Hmm. Good food, but pricey, no free foodstuffs, and honestly–the Thai green curry I make is far superior. I ordered it to see how well they do theirs, and it was white. Guys, it’s called green curry for a reason…I knew instantly it wouldn’t taste right, as it had to be lacking a whole lot of the green herbs. A disappointment overall, sadly (my first…not bad, but disappointing eat out in the city), but it’s the only Thai place in the city. Maybe there needs to be at least two of something to upkeep quality, like the two Japanese restaurants, or the two Indian places?

However, that’s not the note of sadness I mention. One of the friends I’ve made, Kevin the fellow Calgarian, told me he was leaving for home…flight at Saturday 9 am. WHAT! We got along great, we played squash, dammit, shared a number of beers, and were looking forward to hanging out more. He couldn’t find a job in his few weeks here–I think he was getting a little impatient, he’s only been around for 3–so he won’t be back until September for school. 😦 He was awesome, and now I am back to having no squash partner.

I found out when I called to confirm with him our screech in; obviously he couldn’t come, as he had to pack and leave so soon. So, it was down to myself, Jeanne, and her roommate, who is tons of fun, and I know we’ll be seeing more of each other. My intern buddy showed up to take pictures for me as well, which was brilliant because she had to cancel earlier as well.

Anyway, the screech in…so much fun! The guy at Christian’s Bar is so entertaining. The ceremony was full of laughter and good-natured fun, and telling locals afterwards, they’ve all been pleased we did it at Christian’s, apparently the best place for it.

The place was jam-packed. It cost $15 a person, and the presiding guy was larger than life–he was dressed in fishing gear, and carried a big wooden canoe paddle, and his accent was wonderfully befuddling. He regaled the crowd with jokes, and asked everyone participating their names and where they came from. There were surprisingly a ton of people from out of town, and I don’t just mean elsewhere in Canada. When I announced my name, he remarked to the crowd, “Well, we don’t get many Natrix’s out here, I tell ya!” and so he renamed me Captain Eli for the remainder of the ceremony haha.

Keith, master of the ceremony, myself and Jeanne

Keith, master of the ceremony, myself and Jeanne

Keith's fierce!

Keith's fierce!

We all ate a hunk of canned fish meat on toothpicks, and he told us some of the history of screech and such which was cool, and then led us through a raucous sing-along of a tune that reminded me of the Twelve Days of Christmas. No, not the melody itself, but the way it was structured…you know…”5 golden rings! 4 calling birds, 3 French hens, 2 turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree! On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…” It started at 1, progressed to 2, then 3, and so on to 10, and each time, he sang what preceded it, faster and faster. It was quite impressive actually when he got to 10, he was singing the words faster than any auctioneer!

Fish cube on a toothpick!

Fish cube on a toothpick!

We had easy responding lines like, “What will you sing me?” (about him singing us a song, to which he answers that he’d sing us a number*, which increased) and then we sing back something like, “What will the one* be?” All the numbered things were all nautical…I think haha. His accent was impressive.

Then we were made to get down on our knees, and he produced a frozen cod from a bag; we each had to kiss it on the lips. What a riot, eh? Okay, thinking about it more thoroughly, probably not the most hygienic thing, but it was fun, and most of us did it with gusto. One young woman near me was so freaked out about kissing it…she got within inches of it many times when it was offered to her, and she was always at the last moment turn away in disgust, grimace, and physically shudder! Even our peer pressure couldn’t get to her, and the host (Keith, I think) playfully jerked it and cried, “BOO!”, startling her after a few too many tries. I mean seriously, it’s all in good fun, lighten up lady!

I'm kissing the cod, you just can't see it...

I'm kissing the cod, you just can't see it...

KISS IT! Lady in red had the trouble

KISS IT! Lady in red had the trouble

Next came the screech…we each had mini shots of Newfoundland rum. I love rum, so it was no big deal for me…it’s a little stronger, yes, but still tasty to me. Earlier, the host taught everyone the appropriate response to a question often asked by Newfoundlanders: “Have you been screeched yet?” The proper answer is:

” ‘Deed I is me ol’ cock, long may your big jib draw!”
(sounds like: “Dee-die is me ole cock”)

BRILLIANT. Let’s break it down…” ‘Deed” is a contraction of indeed, ” ‘ol” is of course old, and don’t think inappropriate things for “cock,” it’s shorthand for the British cockney, which over here can mean friend. To the question “Have you been screeched yet?” the first part in essence says, “Indeed I have, my old friend.” The second part is wishing someone good fortune, a saying you can find in many cultures. A “jib” is the triangular sail on a ship, so literally you say to the person, “May your ship’s sail draw wind for a long time.”

After the shot, he went around challenging the participants to recall and say it again. Most couldn’t without screwing up, but I did fine. 🙂 One guy who disappointed got his bottom paddled a few times by Keith’s oars! Acting frustrated that most couldn’t say it properly, he just told us all to keep saying, “Yes.” After the great show (because it was that enjoyable), he pronounced us all honourary Newfoundlanders, and passed out certificates!



Just screeched in

Just screeched in

My screech certificate!

My screech certificate!

Keith was great man, he kept us on our toes, and he was good on his own–every performance has to be a little different. He worked fluidly with what he had–for example, when Jeanne (again, from Montreal) was passed the fish, he warned, “No French kissing!”

Something to remember for sure. Immediately afterward, we went to The Dock beside Christian’s and watched the Idlers play. They’re so good live, we danced our shoes off! I stayed after their show (ended 3 am), bought a CD from John for $10 (such a good price, and so well done), went up with John and Kate to the band suite (bands get like a top floor suite above the establishment with its own bar, nice washrooms, couches, flatscreen TV, etc) where we hung out for a bit, and then we all had to leave (bars legally should not be open past 3 am, even on George Street). But the three of us and Mark, the frontman and trumpeter for the band who I’d also met that day at the cabin, invited us over to his place for a nice chat until like 5 am. It was nice, I didn’t get a chance to talk to him much at the cabin, and he’s a remarkably cool and down-to-earth guy for being a frontman. He grows so much of his own food in gardens, and he’s so socially and culturally aware.

Idlers at The Dock

Idlers at The Dock

Friday was everything I’d hoped for and more! And I’ve found out that I may have a day off Monday. Huh. My afternoons and evenings are so delightfully occupied these days. I slept late, and almost missed a lunch thing with a university prof I met here as well, but that’s for later.

Suddenly everything is okay…

In calgary, culture, friends, lingo, st. john's on July 6, 2009 at 11:53 pm

…because I now have a squash partner. YES! 🙂

Met him yesterday, and as luck would have it, he’s also Calgarian! So we had a lengthy chat at Bridie Molloy’s, and then Christian’s Bar when it opened later (because I love the free popcorn there too much).

We’d met because weeks ago, I put up a “friends” personal (a rare category among any Classifieds site), a callout to interesting people around my age, guys, girls, or anything in-between, to have coffee, a beer, hang out, play squash maybe…and he was one of the respondants. There were a few more whom I’ve traded a few emails with, but they’ve suddenly dropped off the face of the planet when a meet was actually set up. So it was just myself and Kevin.

Awesome guy–arived at the city like a day before me. Being Calgarian, we had even more to talk about than normal, and it really was thrilling to compare notes on St. John’s–just to even find out, no, it’s not just me having this grand old time; I thought perhaps I was being a little more positive with all the excitement of coming out here.

Nope…we giddily traded wonderment about the whole “There are 10 times less people here, but it feels like there’s more than in Calgary,” and marvelled mutually at how excellent the live music is here. Neither of us were big bar or pub goers in Calgary–he actually only began drinking beer here in the city!–but both of us were happily going often now on George Street. It’s the vibe, man…as I said, with people clapping, stomping, and singing along to music, it’s such a lovely thing! I’ve since invited him to the big screech-in happening Friday, and seeing the Idlers later.

Friday can’t come soon enough!

Anyway, he’d always wanted to try squash, and I was happy to show him the ropes–myself and others (Roxy mainly) have done a lot of introducing, and it’s such an easy sport to pick up. He loved it…and he may have been the best beginning player I’ve encountered. Barely missed the ball, got serving down only after a handful of serves, really fought hard to try and get the ball (diving, sliding, etc.), was playing the front and back… He loved it, and expressed (like some of our squash-ees at the SAIT facilities) almost an addiction to the game. As a newbie, he was huffing and puffing, but he was driven, and we played for quite a while, again longer than other people I’ve taught. He’s determined to beat me, and I’m sure he will one day if he improves as fast as he took to the sport!

He says we must do this often. Excellent!

And randomly, I’ve realized a correction to some of the simple lingo I’ve described here–“by.” Sorry guys, it’s actually “b’y” with an apostrophe. It makes more sense now (I thought, why the word by of all things?)–it’s actually a crazy contraction of the word “buddy”! So yes, it does indeed sorta act as a stand-in to “man,” but it is more accurately a stand-in for “buddy”–“What’s up, buddy?” Things said to me before: “Yes, b’y,” and “Hey, b’y.” Now I know.

Took the Metrobus transit here for the first time, a free shuttle service around downtown. Handy (it was labeled, “Free Ride With Buddy,” and its site were questions about the service with the happy-face character answering, “Yes, b’y!”–how I found out). Also bought a 10-ride card, just to have just in case, for $20. Did I mention how smart the system here is? Aside from the computerized card that is refillable (and programmed to whatever you want–10 rides, a monthly, etc.), it recognizes whether it’s a transfer or a new fare (I guess from the time it was last scanned). And the Metrobus…Kevin, who takes it a lot, says they are very on time (we ranted that night, “Why does Calgary Transit, despite having so much more money, buses, and even trains–suck??), within a minute or two. In fact, on their site is an updating list of the routes, and how behind they are–3 minutes behind, 1 minute ahead, etc., all there for the public. Brilliant.

One other random thing…Kevin, into history, corrected me that not only is St. John’s one of the oldest cities in North America, it is the oldest city on the continent. And the street where Target Marketing is on, Water Street? That’s the oldest street in North America. Pretty cool.

That’s it for now. I have more free time these days as my routines–cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, making lunch, laundry, etc.–are getting done quicker. Not a bad feeling.

“The best sushi on either coast”

In accent, calgary, culture, food, st. john's on June 13, 2009 at 2:08 am

…enthused one sushi lover on a world travel website, honed in on St. John’s and restaurants. Besides a mini-restaurant review, I’d like to take a moment to observe something about Newfoundland culture.

As it turns out, there are only 2 sushi places in St. John’s; I thought the place could afford to be a little dumpy, a little sucky, and still enjoy a lot of customers due to this fact. Actually, that and the other place is known for really fine dining–like well over $100 for 2 people kinda fine. So, it caters to a very different audience and experience. Out of 197 restaurants listed in the city, Basho is ranked #6; the other place we ate at, Sun Sushi, caters to your average person ranks barely behind at #9! A good sign, but I still thought–maybe it’s only so high because of such a lack of competition?

I was very glad to be wrong. Not only is it a nice restaurant, the food was outstanding. Best sushi I’ve had in a while, bar none. And how awesome is this–as soon as you sit down, they give you a free, good-sized bowl of miso soup! That surprised us–we thought, “We didn’t order any!” and then–“Are they going to sneak that onto the bill?” And they did this for any sized group.

There’s no way to describe the pure awesome of the sushi, other than to say I will be dreaming of the “palm spring roll,” the “baked tilapia roll” (they had a number of baked rolls–and indeed, they were hot from an oven and had cooked fish. I hate warm sushi–it’s bad preparation–but their baked rolls were soft treats), their sushi pizza, and the seaweed salad. Holy crap, especially the palm spring, it was 8 Rolls of Heaven with Transcendance Topping. AND THE DESSERT. Some people may know one of my favourite places in Calgary was Towa Sushi, and it had the best dessert this side of the universe–tempura ice cream. Yeah, yeah, sounds nasty, but pretty much everyone who’ve tried it loves it. I’ve never found anything to beat it…but Sun Sushi had tempura BANANA ice cream (Jenny, you must have just projectile vomited on your screen…). It was perfection cubed–very delicately done, and the new king of the land.

Anyway, enough of the edibles, which was fit for gods. I’ve been noticing small things here that confirm to me St. John’s is classier than a lot of people may give it credit for. I was never disappointed to get the internship–how could I be anything but excited–but several people I told kinda just dismissed it, suggesting “Boring!” or “What could be possibly there?” or “That backward little place?” or something.

It’s a small thing, but Duckworth Street (I adore that name, by the way), where the restaurant was located…was also where Basho was on, the burn-a-hole-in-your-pocket-but-thrill-you other Japanese restaurant. I just noticed it. I looked at more restaurants…we were across from “A Taste of Thai.” The NUMBER ONE restaurant in St. John’s is an Indian place–also on Duckworth! A pleasant surprise, not because it is so ethnic, but because I assumed it had to be a seafood place. Even such an innocent assumption is wrong.

I’m sure you’ve kinda clued into it as well: Duckworth Street is like Calgary’s Kensington, or 17th, or Steven Ave. There were yoga and art places as well; it’s the city’s awesome street. Sun Sushi was full up, and everyone there seemed quite pleased with their food, and ate with chopsticks. Why is that significant?

It’s because, as a city of a little over 100,000, it seems ahead of the curve. I still distinctly remember growing up in Calgary–a city far in excess of 100,000 even when I was in elementary school–where there was still this phase of change. At school, kids and adults alike were just abuzz over sushi–how strange it was, how gross raw fish was, and utensils beyond a fork and spoon were rare. Nowadays of course, it’s such a commonly enjoyed food, there no more ick factor, and chopstick wielding is so normal. Well, St. John’s-ers seem pretty cultured then, more embracing of differences than cow-town likely when it had a comparable population. Don’t forget an Indian joint is their favourite place to dine.

No one I’ve met thus far has had an accent. WAIT–one. A guy who worked in the gift shop at Signal Hill, inside Cabot Tower, the little fortress top. I didn’t look at their wares long, but he was cheerily and jauntily speaking to a customer in a lilt that sounded close to Irish. I don’t recall overhearing what he said, but I DID understand him. Karen, my benefactress, tells me it’s mostly that in the Newfie accent–if indeed it can be found.

And to conclude…guess I was wrong about being touristy. Today was mostly grocery shopping, renting a car–normal stuff. I now have a good base to continue on. Later today (well–it’s 1:53 am right now, but it’s tomorrow to my friends and family), it will truly be tourist day. We will visit a famed geological site, pay a day visit to the Basilica of St. John’s (we took a few pics when we passed it at night), maybe take in The Rooms*, and take a small road trip on “the Irish loop” outside of St. John’s.

*Another cultural high point–we drove by it, and the structure immediately caught our attention–“What’s that??” We looked it up at home, and it’s a mega-house gallery, museum, and archive for the city. It looks lovely with so much glass, and so contemporary… (make sure you click, and then click again below):

Stay tuned!

In less than 24 hours…

In calgary, friends, internship, st. john's on June 10, 2009 at 12:25 am

I will be on a plane with my brother (who will be seeing me settled in for a few days), bound for St. John’s, Newfoundland. I’ve always wanted to check out the Maritimes, but never would have guessed that the circumstances would be for an internship!

I’m terribly excited for this 3-month gig. It’ll be my first serious step into the industry.

My past week has been a lovely blur of farewell gatherings and eating out too much. I positively glowed at times I was having so much fun, content to see and spend time with good friends; it was also very sad. I was getting used to the fact that people were leaving after college, but there would always be a good-sized group in Calgary. Now suddenly, it’s me who’ll be taking off, and bound for a place I have no roots in at all. But that’s bound to change, and I look forward to the adventure.

I have more or less decided on a place to stay already. It’s not 100% certain however, so I won’t detail it just yet, but those other options have got to be ridiculously amazing if it’s going to change where I hope to end up at.

But for the time being, that’s enough for a first post!