All posts filed under: Travel

Cooking in Gascony, France

Life moves pretty slow in Gascony, an area of southwest France where I spent six days last summer immersed in a culinary course. Just how slow life moved was reinforced the day I tried to get back to the Gascony Cookery School’s kitchen before our French instructor Bernard delivered our first course of foie gras for lunch. I had just sat down in the restaurant for lunch with a glass of rosé when I realized I had left a tart in the oven from our morning pastry class. I was hustling back the 150 meters between buildings when our neighbor, who seemed to never be wearing a shirt, but always drinking a bottle of wine, caught sight of me. “Ca va?” he asked, concerned. In my remedial French I responded that yes, I was alright. He brought his arms to his side and swung them back and forth rapidly, laughing as he mocked my urgent speed-walking. I lacked the language skills to say my tart may already be on fire, so I just smiled and …

A Weekend in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

We recently celebrated our fifth anniversary with an extended weekend in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. For $300 return from Edmonton each we booked round trip flights with Air North, Yukon’s Airline, which allows guests to take two suitcases and still gives out snacks, mini-meals, and drinks for free – it could be one of the best travel deals we score all year. We arrived late on a Thursday night, which gave us three full days to explore before catching a 6 a.m. direct flight back to Edmonton on the following Monday morning. While we easily could have spent more time in the Yukon (allowing us to walk in the footsteps of gold rush hopefuls along the Chillkoot Trail, canoeing up the Yukon River, or living up the Klondike experience in Dawson City), three days in the land of the midnight sun was enough for a taste of the Yukon. Here are some of the activities that kept us busy on our trip: IN AND AROUND WHITEHORSE A CULINARY ADVENTURE We fueled up for a full day …

A weekend in Los Angeles – 10 things to do without a car

When Westjet posted a seat sale a few weeks before The Spaniard’s birthday, I took advantage of a deal I saw on the direct flight from Edmonton and booked us a three-night trip to the city of angels. I knew I wanted to take him to an NBA game, but after that I wasn’t sure what we would get up to. Everyone I spoke with said we would have to rent a car, but we weren’t excited by the prospect of sitting in traffic, trying to find parking, or paying for parking (especially with the Canadian $ making our American trips more expensive). So – I took a look at where the LA metro and bus system could take us, and we decided to plan our trip around that. From the airport we took the free shuttle to the LAX metro stop  where we were able to take the metro conveniently for around the same time it would have been for an uber or the FlyBus in high traffic times. Google didn’t give us the …

Five Reasons You’ll Want to Devour! The Canadian Rockies

In March, I was invited to attend the inaugural Devour! The Canadian Rockies Food Film Festival at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Even though my weekend was complimentary, I was blown away by the incredible value of a two-night stay at the JPL including most meals, alcohol, and access to all the happenings of the food and film festival. Now in its 8th year in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Devour! is a food and film experience combining cinematic excellence with extraordinary gastronomic activities. Festival organizers chef Michael Howell and Lia Rinaldo have expanded the maritime event to include satellite Devour festivals around the world – including Alberta’s only event at the JPL. Devour! The Canadian Rockies Food Film Festival is back at the Fairmont JPL – February 22 – 24, 2019 – $479 per person After experiencing last year’s event, I’m happy to pay the $479 for a spot at the 2nd annual Devour! The Canadian Rockies Food Film Festival.  In fact, The Spaniard and I are already booked for 2019! Packages for the 2019 edition …

A Weekend in Montreal – 10 things to keep you busy

Montreal has been on our travel Canada hit list for some time now, so when my friend Adrienne asked if we wanted to join her for the August long weekend, we took her up on the offer of a free bed. We took a couple extra days off work so we had extra time to eat and have some extra fun in the sun (and humidity). Here are 10 things that will can keep you busy on a summer weekend in Montreal. 1. Watch tennis at the Rogers Cup Both The Spaniard and Adrienne are tennis fans, so when the initial invite came to come visit – we knew we would be going to the Rogers Cup. This year the women were playing in Montreal, and we got up-close with number of high-ranked players including Johanna Konta, Jelana Ostapenko, Sloan Stevens, and Maria Sharapova. 2. A culinary walking tour Montreal is a food-lovers dream city. We arrived late on Friday afternoon and decided the best way to orient ourselves (it was The Spaniard’s first time …

A Weekend in Porto

Summer has been a whirlwind and it all started when jumped on a plane to cross the Atlantic Ocean so I could meet up with Helen, my lovely friend from London, for a weekend in Porto, Portugal. I arrived at the airport jet-lagged and so out of it that I left the airport, was standing on the platform for the metro, and realized I had forgotten to pick up my suitcase. Thankfully I still had my boarding pass, as I had to show proof I was on the flight and be checked in with the police before a security staff member could escort me back to my bag. I had time for a quick nap in our suite at the Magnolia Hostel before Helen arrived. I woke up to a text telling me they couldn’t find our reservation. After a series of messages and finally a call, she figured out she was at the wrong hostel, but just a quick eight minute walk away. (Her error made me feel less silly about my bag blunder – …

Weekend in Seattle

We recently took advantage of the direct flights from Edmonton to Seattle for the long weekend in May. As per usual, we used public transit (the light rail transit and buses were very convenient) and booking on Air BnB to save some coin while traveling on the American dollar (which always leads to more colourful encounters with locals). While we have shied from uber touristy activities on our most recent city-break trips to the United States (San Antonio, Portland, and New York City), we decided to go full on tourist with the Seattle City Pass. I knew The Spaniard, a civil engineer, would want to take a ride up the Space Needle, and our friends Marc & Jaddah had suggested the locks harbour cruise tour. With two of those activities (the locks tour was a small upgrade), we decided it would be worth the $89 (American) pass for five of Seattle’s top (insert most touristy) attractions. For our first toursity activity we joined the mob of families taking in the Seattle Aquarium. We had some …

Why the 30th Anniversary of Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge will be the best yet

Heading to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (JPL) to experience Christmas in November (CIN) has become my favourite event of the year. Who wouldn’t love escaping to the mountains to spend your days in interactive culinary sessions with local and celebrity chefs, getting your Christmas decor and craft on, and indulging in decadent meals and a few adult beverages. The hardest part is deciding which session to go to and when to fit in a dip in the heated pool. The first Jasper CIN I attended was five years ago for their 25th anniversary, and I can tell you they like to celebrate anniversaries. This year, the Fairmont JPL team is going all out to put on the best Christmas in November yet! The event is already close to a sell out, so if you want to rub elbows with Food Network Canada culinary stars, learn tips and tricks on how to DIY (do it yourself) your holiday decor, and get all the recipes you need to host the perfect holiday dinner, you better book quickly. …

Two Weeks in Japan – Highlights in retrospect

It has been a year since I returned from a two-week trip to Japan with one of my favourite travel buddies Josh (who met me there from Australia). Life was a bit crazy when I returned from that trip, and I never got around to blogging about our adventure. My facebook memories have been on overdrive in recent weeks reminding me of what Josh and I were up to a year ago, which made me feel like it wasn’t too late to document our Japanese journey, and reflect on my favourite memories of our trip. So, here is my top 10 highlights from two weeks in Japan (along with some tips which helped make the most of our trip). 1. Went to a Japanese baseball game A post shared by Sharman Hnatiuk (@theporkgirl) on Apr 25, 2017 at 4:30am PDT Going to watch a baseball game was so much fun in Japan we did it twice. (We actually tried to go three times but we arrived at the ballpark in Tokyo to find the game sold …

A weekend on Vancouver Island

Conveniently, my birthday falls around the family day weekend. The last few years we’ve celebrated by going out of town for the three-day weekend. This year, we decided to take advantage of the direct Westjet flight from Edmonton to Comox and visit my friend Christopher and spend the weekend on Vancouver Island. Christopher was very excited to show us around. We kicked our weekend off with a hike along the shore of Comox Lake before we joined the locals for a roast-beef-dinner at the Waverley Hotel in Cumberland. We also picked up some locally brewed Raven’s Moon craft cider (and bootleg BC wine) before heading home to binge watch the winter Olympics. Saturday morning we were ready to kick it to west coast of Vancouver Island. A post shared by Sharman Hnatiuk (@theporkgirl) on Feb 17, 2018 at 10:47am PST Christopher suggested picking up some seafood before we set off, so we stopped in at Fanny Bay Oysters for oysters and crab, and we also grabbed some clams from Mac’s Oysters, where I was blown …