Friday 24 August 2012

Leave your Lederhosen at home

I heard about 1600 World Bier Haus from some friends of mine that work there and it was 7pm on Wednesday when Shelby and I sauntered our butts through the door. I don't know what I was expecting, well, ya I did. I expected a great deal of dark wood, I expected lots of those strange yellow molted windows that look like my grandmothers juice glasses in 1982. I expected lederhosen - a lot of it. Little green outfits with flowered appliques, tall socks and little black shoes. I expected deep solid wood carvings, spun in ornate patterns that look like a bird from the right and a vagina from the left. You know the ones I mean...don't even PRETEND that you don't know what I am talking about.

 Frankly, I expected 1600 World Bier Haus to look like the inside of a cuckoo clock.

How WRONG I was. Which doesn't happen often...really.

1600 World Bier Haus is bright and clean and shiny without being pretentious. It manages to feel like your neighbourhood pub and a high end cocktail lounge at the same time. Which is tricky, so they did well. We were greeted by a lovely hostess who had a booth ready for us. We had two servers welcome us within a few moments. They seemed to be completely on the ball as far as Celiac's go. I did quiz them a little bit on the preparation of the GF food. They were unsure about a few details but rapidly offered to check with the kitchen. I like that. I can smell a bullshitter a mile away, being an excellent bullshitter myself. It is always best to tell the truth, even if the truth doesn't sound fancy. Having a server say, "I'm not 100% sure but I know someone who is..." is a welcome thing to hear.

I ordered two things, because , that's the way I roll. I got the mussels and the three cheese flat bread. Both were AWESOME! Like, really really good. Fresh and hot and tasty. The ONLY problem with the food is that my gluten free meal was run by a server, and not MY server. It is ALWAYS good policy to have a manager or the server who took the order run the Celiac food themselves. The girl who dropped off my flat bread smiled and placed it in front of me. Only by me prompting, did she assure me that it was Gluten Free... NOT the warm comfy feeling that I was hoping for. A different server ran my mussels and didn't mention that they were gluten free. Now, granted, the mussels are NATURALLY gluten free but that extra bump of assurance of having a manager run both my plates with confidence makes a big difference. Peace of mind is priceless.

We had a great time. Part of it was the company. Shelby and I aren't the most,
... shall we say focused?.... individuals on the face of the planet. We were deep in conversation, something about....ah shit... I don't even know when this lady walks in with a hair-do that can not be beat. We then got into a deep, long, painful conversation about HOW this lady gets her hair that big. It was in a pony tail but the puffiness around the ponytail was such that implied other forces were at work. Shelby insisted that it was a "bump it" - one of those on-line do-hickeys that poof up your hair. I think it was just masterful teasing. We then get to talking about physics and hair and then conditioners and then something about Paris maybe? This topic then consumed us until something shiny went past.

Anyway...back to the blog...see what just happened there? Under "CHAOS" in the dictionary, is a picture Shelby and I... shopping for shoes....or flying on an's really all the same to us.

The food was delicious. Shelby had a burger and loved it. Two managers and our server checked on us throughout the meal. I was sad to not see a GF dessert but the bill came promptly and with a smile.
1600 World Bier Haus was a great breath of fresh air. Usually in suburbia, our pubs are dark and a little creepy with pictures of Don Cherry plastering the walls. 1600 World Bier Haus is bright and fresh with a modern interior and a menu with lots of GF options.

Go to 1600 World Bier Haus, leave your lederhosen at home because you would look super stupid, just like wearing a bump-it would. I would suggest making a reservation. The place was lined up while we were there.

We are going to check out 1410 Bier Haus on 17th Avenue next...that is, if we don't see a squirrel first and get distracted.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Is That A Goat in A Bathing Suit?

I could have died today. It totally could have happened, could have DIED. I know I tend to lean on the side of the dramatic but I need to be clear, I totally could have died.

I got stung by a wasp.

I don’t think it was a regular wasp, I think it was some kind of mutant science experiment gone wild.

Trevor says I am being ridiculous, I say he is grossly underestimating how much this hurts. I think that stinger thing is still in there or whatever because it is like 6 hours after “the death incident” as it shall be known and it STILL FUCKING HURTS – A LOT!

Let me tell you the tale of when I almost died today.

We went to the Millarville Fair. It’s a small town southwest of Calgary and each year they put on hands down the BEST fair I have ever seen. First off, it is creepy good organised (did you see my English Degree leaking into that previous sentence?) – from paying from your car to the tonnes and tonnes of parking attendants to the cute farm kids walking around carrying “ASK ME” signs. Of course, I have to wonder, can I ask ANYTHING? Like “what is the meaning of life?” “have your parents ever traumatised you by making you kill a chicken by whipping it around like in that fucked up you tube video” OR  “how do you kill a chicken?” But I didn’t – because I’m not an asshole yo.

They have vendor after vendor from the hudderite colonies and the honey farms to the organic meats and flowers. You also have rows and rows of entries from kids and adults alike. There are Lego creations, cakes, paintings and home made dolls and stunning quilts. It’s really pretty cool. I can’t even make fun of it because my kids are totally going to do it next year.

The fair also has the end all be all in fair entertainment, there is a Rooster Crowing Contest. That’s right. They have about eight roosters in cages and the roosters get a coin every time they crow.  It’s totally awesome and my kids cheer and laugh and love every second of it. I think they might be amazed that for once I didn’t lie to them and a rooster actually crows. They haven't quite let go of the “cows can’t actually fly over moons” debacle of 2009.
The Rooster Crowing Contest

Don’t worry – I am getting to the part where I almost died. AND about the Celiac thing too…

Wait, the rooster crowing isn't the best – the competition where kids and their animals dress up is the best. I'm again, not mocking this at all because if I wasn’t allergic to everything on the face of the planet, I would totally DO this. Kids pick a theme and then they and their animal put on costumes and compete for prizes. There are princesses on horses with unicorn horns, Cleopatra on donkeys dressed as camels and my personal favourite. A kid in a life jacket with a GOAT IN A BATHING SUIT!!! It was a FULL bathing suit and little goggles on the goats head. Beyond fantastically awesome. I might just go out and buy a goat to make it a bathing suit. I am trying to convince Trev to buy me a pot bellied pig because I really don’t think I would be allergic to Petunia (I have named my fictitious pig) but he refuses. I could dress up Petunia to look like an ACTUAL flower and then all I have to do is put gardening gloves and a hat on one of the spawn and I AM A SHOE IN TO WIN. But Trev says no…..

You know what else the Millarville fair has? GLUTEN FREE FOOD ! A LOT of it. I love it so much. Where the stampede has thousands of vendors selling garbage by the foot, this small town “gets it”. Each vendor promises organic, locally grown and gluten free options. It is so great to go to a fair and not fill my spawn with crap.

I choose the Primal Grounds Tent and man, did I ever pick well.

This all happened before I almost died by the way.

So I show up there and meet Margaret. She is the most gorgeous, delightful, wonderful human being I have ever met (she told me to write that but it’s kind of true so it gets to stay). Primal grounds has ALWAYS been gluten free and now has branched in to the primal soup company. She made me this turkey, herb smokie on a herbed gluten free bun with maple syrup, cheese and BRACE YOURSELF hickory sticks. I didn’t know we could HAVE hickory sticks but Margaret says we can and that makes it FACT bitches.

That is Margaret making my lunch with gluten free love.

It was one of the best meals I have ever eaten standing up looking at a goat in a bathing suit. It tasted fresh and juicy and full of wonderful things and it was made with a lot of love.  The kids had the chicken smokies and they were awesome too. You can visit the wonderful Margaret at The Kingsland Farmers Market. I know I will.
So I am just finishing up my delicious smokie and watching the spawn jump in some sort of inflatable box that always resembles a giant womb to me (once they get all the kids in there, I always get a flash image of octomom in my head) and I felt something on my neck. So I innocently, gracefully (because I am above all things a graceful woman) brush this creature of God away.




So I of course start screaming that there is CLEARLY a cougar on the loose so hide the goat in the bathing suit and the babies but I was quickly informed by a moderately snarky hudderite that I have been stung by a wasp. Now, I have no idea if I am allergic to wasps and because I am allergic to horses, I can only assume that they are of the same genus or family or order or something because zebras have stripes. (See how my brain works? It’s no picnic in here people)
I come to the ultimate conclusion that  am going to die….right now. I could almost FEEL my throat closing up and the venom coursing through my system.

 But my friend Letishia looked at my neck and informed me that I was indeed not going to die and I would be fine. I don’t think she took it as seriously as she should have because no one was making a move to call 911 to get me airlifted out of there. She just looked at me like I was fine. She added that I wasn't bleeding becuase this is how well she knows me, she KNEW my next question was if I was bleeding or not.
Later, I was speaking to a friend of mine who is a nurse, I tried to inform her of my near death experience and she simply glanced at my neck and shrugged and said that it might hurt but I should be fine. She didn't pull out a medical kit or a microscope or ANYTHING. I told her I will be writing a letter to the Alberta Health Services in complaint at her bedside manner BECAUSE I COULD HAVE DIED. She laughed in my face. Literally. Nurse Rachett.

So the MORAL of the story is….go to Primal Grounds and the Primal Soup Company and get your Gluten Free Goodness on. You will not regret it. Next year, go to the The Millarville Fair and love every minute of this fantastic event.

I hopefully will be fully recovered by then, I might still be in therapy. I can feel my neck swelling again so I am going to go lie down and drink a bottle of wine.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Dammit....We Should Have Gone East

Last night was another meeting of my delightful book club Libations and Literature. We usually meet at someones house but decided this time to meet at WEST, a restaurant in downtown Calgary.  I have heard good things about WEST – I am starting to assume that those people have the standards of blind, deaf, circus folk.

We made a reservation for 7pm and at 7 we stood at the door. Now, there was some crazy weather going on in Calgary last night - some rain and hail etc. We were clearly not going to sit on the patio. The hostess acknowledged our presence and said a table would be “put together for us”. We then stood for 25 minutes staring at an EMPTY restaurant while said hostess wandered aimlessly from the back to the front over and over again. I am sure this girl is good at many things, like water polo or knitting, I don’t know but ‘looking busy’ or "looking happy to help" are not her talents.

There was some sort of problem with the rain and moving things or people or furniture or sections or something that she kept mumbling about every time we asked her. It was terribly odd. When a different hostess arrived, she amazingly, by some feat of sheer genius, found us a table in the empty restaurant. Brilliance….it happens when you least expect it.

The service was slow and expensive. The server training must make it clear that pants are always optional. At McDonalds, smiles are free, at WEST, a different kind of cheek is handed out willingly. Who doesn’t want a side of ass cheek for dinner?  If she was fun and bubbly and showed me her ass, that would be fine but she was slow and bored so the ass really wasn’t worth its weight in smiles.

 Slow means that she took our dinner orders before our drinks arrived. Slow means that our reservation was for seven and it was eight when we first clinked our glasses together. Slow also means that she wasn’t very smart.  Her attitude was as lackluster as the transparency of her “dress”. We got the distinct feeling that she didn’t want to be there and therefore we didn’t want her there either.

As far as the Gluten aspect goes, they charge extra for everything Gluten Free which irritates me. *Please see previous post. I feel this is the same as putting a toll booth on a wheel chair ramp.* At the end of the day, I believe I paid twelve extra dollars in upcharges. It makes my skin crawl. I would know the exact amount but despite requesting a copy of the bill three times. I never did get it.

The corn pasta was ok, a little over cooked but that can happen with corn pasta if you aren’t used to cooking it - which the chefs should be. The chocolate fondue was ok too but we were charged the GF upcharge because I couldn’t have the pound cake and I asked for more berries to be added but they just added more grapes – I guess those are expensive somewhere right now. Of course, I tip extra for the fact that no one poisoned me so it was a costly meal for me. I am of course hoping that the server takes the tip to purchase herself a bra. Wishful thinking.

The only bright side of the night was that I got to spend it with my dear friends. Books are vaguely discussed with a good dose of laughter and problem solving as it is with good friends. I just wish I could add a wonderful restaurant experience on top of it all. It was really one of the blandest meals out that I have had in recent memory, served by bland people and charged extra for it all.

I wouldn’t recommend WEST for Celiacs or circus folk or even people not wearing pants.