Park Inn by Radisson / YYC Calgary Airport. 

Parking: abundant outside parking.
Front Lobby: Easy Check-In. Debbie made the check-in process a joy.
Convenience Store: soon to be replaced with a breakfast area.
Elevators: close to check-in area.
Room: King Studio Suite with open floor plan.
All suites include:

  • 37-inch flat-screen HD cable TV
  • Airport view
  • Alarm clock/radio
  • Coffee facilities
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hair dryer
  • Individual climate control
  • Ironing & ironing board
  • Kitchenette with full-size refrigerator, microwave, stove, dishwasher, pots and pans, and cutlery
  • Work desk with ergonomic chair

The Bed Area: Super-comfortable King-Size mattress with soft linens. It’s really quite high to get into, so if you’re short like me (5′ tall), be prepared to have to lift yourself into bed. But once you’re in there, you’ll get an amazing sleep!
One of the things I noticed is that even though the hotel is right below the airline flight-path, never once did I hear an aircraft approach.
This hotel has really good sound-proofing.

The Wash-Room Area:
Park Inn YYC Calgary Washroom Shelves Cosmetics Tidy
Full-length mirror on wall behind the door is perfect for make-up application and/or touch-ups.
This is a big plus when compared to hotels that put the full-length mirror in the hallway where there is little to no light. Anyone who considers make-up application as “Zen” time will really appreciate the placement of the full-length mirror in this hotel room.

Sink area is really large; plenty of room for blow-dryers & personal grooming items.

Having the shelves in the corner is helpful for both the user & the hotel housekeeping staff.
Instead of leaving all the cosmetics & hair-care products on the counter, move them to the cupboards.
This allows housekeeping to clean the sink area without having to move ones personal grooming items.

The tub is quite shallow but this is great for those unable to take large steps to get into the tub or the shower.
There’s 3 full safety-bars which are helpful for getting out of the tub after a bath or shower.
The shower has excellent water pressure, so there’s no issues for anyone with long hair rinsing out their conditioner.
Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Lotion & Soap are all supplied.

The Kitchen Area:
Park Inn YYC Calgary Kitchen FullThe King Suite has a full kitchen area that is exceptionally well equipped with pots, pans, cutlery, serving plates & glasses.

There’s a full size microwave, dishwasher & fridge.
This kitchen also has a built-in cooktop. You could stay an entire week and never have to have a meal outside your hotel room.

Point of note: if you’re a light sleeper who can hear the fridge running – not to worry, there’s a switch inside the fridge where you can just turn it off until wake-time. Of course, be aware of what you have in the fridge as items will not be as cold – but it’s a trade-off for light sleepers.

The Work Area:
My favourite part of this hotel room is the size & functionality of the workstation. The desk is super-long with easily accessible plug-ins.

Park Inn YYC Calgary Work Station Desk


Park Inn YYC Calgary Bulletin Board

Another feature in this well-appointed room is the “Bulletin Board” … nice touch!

Kind of old-fashioned, but comes in handy for notes you choose to leave for your traveling partner … or yourself.

For instance, you’re attending a trade show & you’ve picked up a memo for a download.
You can post it on the bulletin board and attend to that task when you’ve got time.
Bulletin Boards make it easy to remember tasks at a glance!

The Coffee Station

Park Inn YYC Calgary Coffee Ceramic CupTo their environmental credit, the Park Inn YYC Calgary Airport chooses to not use coffee pods, opting instead for the classic drip coffee pot.

And oh, I do love a ceramic cup for coffee in the morning!

The Park Inn slogan is:
“Good Stay. Good People. Good Price”
… and they really do live up to it!
On the subject of “Tipping”
When it comes to showing appreciation, I tend to distribute my “tip budget” really evenly. Everyone, including restaurant servers, get – on average – a $2 tip.
That rationale gives me the budget option to leave a $2+ tip each for hotel housekeeping & maintenance.
These are often the overlooked people, getting little more than an “atta girl” or “atta boy” for all their efforts.
Yet, they are among the hardest working of all hotel staff.
For instance, I once dropped a diamond earring which fell into the sink drain.
Maintenance had to spend a lot of time getting it out. That’s when I really began to appreciate those often un-seen “behind the scenes” hotel employees who also deserve to be tipped for their efforts.

… In summary – for a comfortable hotel stay in Calgary, I highly recommend the Park Inn by Radisson – Calgary Airport for a great stay at a great rate.

Park Inn – Calgary YYC Airport

“This Film Contains Depictions of Tobacco Consumption”

190210 Green Book Tobacco Consumption FP

This is part of the message within the full-page / full colour advertisement for the Oscar nominated “Green Book” in the New York Times Sunday Feb 10.19 edition.

Frankly, as a person who enjoys the tastes & aromas from premium cigars, I read those words as a big, warm “Welcome! Come on in
& enjoy the camaraderie that cigars provide”
But, I’m not naive to the potential of an
equal – but opposite – interpretation.

I sold advertising for 2 decades – newspaper / television / radio. Maybe times have changed, but I don’t ever recall the inclusion of a qualifier like this near the bottom of the page:

190210 Green Book Tobacco consumption 3

Like I said, I sold advertising for many, many years. Proof-reading was an essential part of the business. So, I get it if someone says “I don’t even know how you saw that”.
But I did. And now I can’t un-see it. It raises the question about when qualifiers like that started and where do they go from here? Why single out Tobacco Consumption?
Where’s the qualifier for all the other things that take place in every single movie that’s produced?

I’m just going to leave this here and come back to it when I’ve had a chance to investigate a little further.
190210 Green Book Tobacco Consumption 2


181205 Metro Tastes & Toasts Holiday CocktailsWe mixed some great cocktails during our brand new segment ‘Tastes & Toasts’, on-location at Metro Liquor Regina.

WSET-L3 Sommelier Valerie Bradshaw, along with CTVReginaMorningLive’s Jessica Smith, covered everything from Champagne to Hot Chocolate when it comes to festive holiday cocktails!

Here’s a few recipes for you to serve at your holiday party.
You can pick up all your holiday wine, spirits & liqueur’s at MetroLiquor.

Cranberry Bubbles

Fill a Champagne Flute with your favourite Sparkling wine –
Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or any bubbly of your choice.
Add a dash of Cranberry Juice & a few frozen cranberries.
Voila! A quick and easy cocktail to hand to you guests as they come through the door!

Candy Cane Cocktail
Candy Cane Cocktail

2oz Absolute Vanilla Vodka
2oz Phillips Peppermint Schnapps
2oz Forbidden Secret White Chocolate Liqueur

Add all the ingredients over ice in a rock glass.
Garnish with a Candy Cane.


Jim Beam Black


Cranberry Old-Fashioned
Using a rock glass, sprinkle 2-3 drops of bitters over a brown-sugar cube.
Add a dash of water
Add ice
Pour in 2oz Jim Beam Black Bourbon
Garnish with 4 Frozen Cranberries
This is a quick & easy Bourbon cocktail that will warm the hearts of your guests.



Vodka Hot Chocolate

Add 1oz Vodka
to 1 packet Hot Chocolate Mix.
Swirl Whipped Cream on top.
Add a dash of Galliano Vanilla Liquor
Absolutely fantastic after a day of skiing, snowmobiling, skating or tobogganing!


Happy Holidays!


181122 The Spirit of Edmonton Banner

It’s Grey Cup Week in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada!

Kicking things off at the Westin Hotel in downtown YEG (airline call-letters for Edmonton) was the official
“Spirit of Edmonton Kick-Off Celebration!”

This event goes from 2pm – 2am Thursday Nov. 22 to Saturday Nov 24.18. and is restricted to ages 18+

For a mere $10 cover charge, you’ll gain entry to one of the hottest spots for all the Grey Cup Party action!

There’s live entertainment with bands playing every genre of music imaginable. And they really get attendees dancing!

Another cool experience at Spirit of Edmonton 2018 is the MojoPhoto Booth. 

Get your friends together for a photo in front of a backdrop of stadium seats.

181122 Spirit of Edmonton Mojo Photo Wall
You type in your own caption with either your name or nickname
… and the guys from MojoPhoto …181122 Spirit of Edmonton Mojo Photo Desk

… will turn it into a personalized trading card for you.

181122 Spirit of Edmonton Mojo Photo Val
This is a big hit with tons of people lining up to get their personal trading card keepsake. Check out their website: mojo photo

Lots to See & Do at Spirit of Edmonton event – Westin Hotel
Not only is there a huge party room at Spirit of Edmonton 2018, there’s also local & national celebrities broadcasting from the site.

We met up with Toby & Warren from 100.3 The Bear


181122 Spirit of Edmonton 100.3 The Bear with Toby & Warren

and visited the SKOAL tobacco booth …181122 Spirit of Edmonton Skoal Booth

Plus, the Spirit of Edmonton organizers thought of everything – including a Coat Check for $2 and a very reasonably priced snack bar to help you get through the night!
All in all, it’s a great time with football fans from all across Canada.

From the Spirit of Edmonton Website:
The Heat is Here! Are you ready for the biggest party of Grey Cup weekend?!

Our doors will be open at the Westin Edmonton from Thursday, November 22nd – Saturday, November 24th between 2:00pm – 12:30am daily.

  • Live Bands – featuring Sideline 12, Mourning Wood, Chronic Rock, and our headliner Spoiled Rotten!
  • Live Entertainment – featuring CFL Cheer Teams and more!
  • Live DJ!
  • Surprise Appearances!
  • The return of our mascot, Sociable!

For additional updates and all the latest during Grey Cup weekend, follow us on Instagram @spiritofyeg and Twitter @spiritofyeg.
Follow all the excitement via Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

The Westin Hotel Edmonton
Spirit of Edmonton
100.3 The Bear YEG
mojo photo

I’m on a 5-day road trip to Las Vegas.
That means stopping into restaurants unique to their city.
One such restaurant is Cajun Phatty’s in Billings, Montana.

Cajun Phatty's table with food
Photo Credit – Cajun Phatty’s

When I saw the sign advertising Louisiana Specialty Foods, I wasn’t sure if it was a restaurant or a specialty food store, but had my fingers crossed it was a restaurant.
Sure enough, I was soon chowing down on some really amazing food.

Shrimp & Grits - Cajun Phatty'sI had one of the House Specialties:
Shrimp and Grits. Shrimp with Andouille Sausage in a rich New Orleans sauce on top of cheesy Southern Grits.
Price was very reasonable – $14.50.
The portion was generous with the majority of the bowl filled with delicious cheesy grits and topped with generous servings of both the done-to-perfection shrimp & the Andouille sausage.

I added take-out Red Beans and Rice for a mere $3 to serve as my lunch on the road Saturday.

The service was amazing. The crisp, green salad showed up within minutes, followed not long after by the entree.

Throughout the meal, the server made sure everything was going good by visiting my table regularly … it was as much a nice social visit as a was a sustenance visit!

The other thing to like about this restaurant is they serve ice-cold Coca Cola in glass bottles. Nice touch! 180607 Cajun Phatty's menu p1

Some of the other dishes that get a lot of attention are:
Appetizer: Fried Alligator Bites.
Greens: Muffaletta Salad: Romaine, sweet bell pepper, red onion, Black Forest Ham, Mortadella, Salami, Provolone, Muffaletta Olive Mix, pepperoncini, homemade croutons & shaved Parmesan cheese tossed with Italian Dressing … a meal in itself.
Entree: Crawfish Étouffée: Crawfish in a rich and creamy gravy served over rice with toasted, buttery French Bread.
or try the Pork and Sausage Jambalaya: Cajun/Creole slow cooked pork and Andouille sausage in a rich and rustic tomato stew served over rice with toasted, buttery French Bread.
Dessert: Cajun Phatty’s Famous Fried Bread Pudding topped with Praline Sauce.

I can’t wait to get back to this restaurant to try everything else on the menu!

Here’s what the Cajun Phatty’s has to say about what they have to offer:

“Located in Billings, Montana, you will find an authentic menu of Louisiana favorites! Owned and operated by actual Cajuns, this food truck turned restaurant is training its customers to say “Ça c’est bon” one bowl of Gumbo and one Shrimp Po Boy at a time! Come on down and find out for yourself what all the ruckus is all about!

“You all have probably heard of or even ordered a bowl of Gumbo at a great steak house or soup specialty restaurant, but was it really just “good soup”?

Here at Cajun Phatty’s, we strive to represent our Cajun culture with authenticity and stick to the family owned recipes our founders grew up on.
Gumbo is more than a hot broth and rice (its all about the roux y’all).

And we apply that thinking to all of our menu items and the ingredients they require to be the best and most authentic.

Being in Montana means that sometimes we have to call home for the best ingredients! Much of our seafood comes from back home.

Our menus are updated regularly, so come back often and download a copy for you to drool on… I mean order from! Dine in or Take Out!”

2564 King Ave West Ste. F
Billings, MT — 59102
(406) 281-2820

Monday — Thursday
11am — 8pm
Friday — Saturday
11am — 9pm
Closed on Sunday

Cajun Phatty’s Louisiana Specialty foods

On CTVReginaMorningLive, where I’m the resident Sommelier, we talked about the upcoming 2018 running of the Kentucky Derby and the happy coincidence that it lands on Saturday May 5 … the same day as Cinco de Mayo!

Cocktails enthusiasts around the world are concocting a variety of beverages to honour that alignment.
Here’s our contribution with a Mint Julep Mash-Up that combines Bourbon, Tequila, Chocolate Bitters, Lime and Mint leaves:

180502 Mint Julep Set product onlyMint Julip Mash-Up
2 oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1 oz Patrol Silver Tequila
Chocolate Bitters
1 dozen Mint Leaves
2 Key Limes – sliced
Teaspoon of Brown Sugar
Splash of Water

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves to release the oils.
Slice 2 Key Limes – add them to the mint leaves & muddle.
Using a dropper, add 3-10 drops of Chocolate Bitters (suited to your taste).
Add Brown Sugar … or for a lighter sweetness, an ounce of Simple Syrup.
Pour in a splash a water, give it a stir and filter it into a glass filled with ice & garnished with mint leaves.
You can also add a caramelized lime slice to the garnish.

To caramelize the lime, drop a pinch of brown sugar on top of the slice and give it a quick blast from a kitchen torch.
Personally, I use a torch-style cigar lighter as I prefer the size and the flame output.

The Mint Julep Mash-Up is a an amazingly smooth, refreshing beverage with wonderful aromas of chocolate, fresh mint, caramel and vanilla.

If you’re in Regina SK, you can find Ms. Better’s Bitters /Chocolate at Blush Beauty Bar.
Good quality torch lighters are available at numerous locations … I got mine from Jade Smoker’s Corner in the Value Mall.

Blush Beauty Bar


When it comes to enjoying an adult beverage, there’s something special – for both the consumer & the producer – about having a bottle that’s won an award.

There’s the World Whiskies awards celebrating the global manufacturers.
Some people reference Jim Murrays Whisky Bible awards.
In Canada, there’s the Canadian Whisky Awards, which has award-winning author Davin de Kergommeaux at its lead, celebrating the amazing products from across the country.

This year in January, the 2018 awards were announced at the annual Canadian Whisky Awards event.
Last Mountain Distillery won a coveted Gold Award for their Cask Strength 100% Rye Whisky.
Colin & Meredith Schmidt opened Last Mountain in 2010. It was the 1st micro-distillery in Saskatchewan.
Last Mountain can be credited with introducing all kinds of innovation to the spirits landscape in this province.
a few bottles of which are still available at the Last Mountain location in Lumsden.
The fact they chose to produce a 100% Rye, Saskatchewan Rye to be exact, really speaks to their commitment to their craft.
Rye is incredibly tricky to work with. Braeden, the Production Manager at Last Mountain Distillery, told me their 1st few attempts actually resulted in concrete.
The team persevered and eventually was able to put their rye distillate into once-used Kentucky Bourbon barrels for aging for the minimum 3 years.
That waiting period has its own challenges, but at the end of it, Last Mountain had a product they knew would be a winner, a few bottles of which are still available at the distillery location in Lumsden SK.

Cask Strength.
Many Canadian Whisky’s are bottled at the minimum requirement of 40% abv.
But Last Mountain chose to keep their 100% Rye Whisky at 60%, cask strength – the alcohol level the liquid comes out of barrel.
The great thing about Cask Strength Whisky is the mouthfeel.
Cask Strength spirits always pack a punch and you can feel the weight of the liquid on your palate.
This is a quality whisky that I wouldn’t recommend mixing or using in a cocktail; it’s best  savoured slowly, as a sipper.
Nose it, take a sip, swish it gently in your mouth and then bask in the flavours it releases as it slides down your throat.
If you do need to lighten it up a bit, use a pipette to drop water, a bit at a time, and stay alert to the changes in aroma & taste with the addition of water.

Last Mountain Distillery Cask Strength 100% Rye Whisky.
Color: 14kt gold.
Nose: Honey. Grass. Butter.
Palate: Dark Chocolate. Black Pepper. Tobacco Leaf. Smoke.
ABV: 60% Cask Strength
Length: Medium
Balance: Excellent. Medium+
Complexity: Flavours build on the palate from peppery sweetness to smoky, roasted meat. There’s a very pleasant nutmeg influence on the retro-hale. 

Canadian Rye History
When Canada was being settled, farmers would distill their excess grain – usually wheat or corn – which typically comes out with flavours that are very approachable, but, at the time, lacking in complexity.
Then someone decided to add rye to the distillate, giving it a little more sweetness and a very pleasant “bite” to the dram.
This new expression caught on. Consumers soon started to ask for “rye” when ordering a shot of whisky to ensure they were getting a pour that had rye in it.

Today,  distillers produce some stellar 100% Rye products, but corn, wheat and barley continue to be the main grains used for Canadian Whisky, the majority of which are a blend of grains.

Bottle Design
I love the label of Last Mountain Cask Strength 100% Rye Whisky.
It pays homage to both the province of Saskatchewan with credit to the province on the the bottle, the label of which includes artwork of grain.
Saskatchewan grows some of the finest grain in the world and the province has every reason to be proud of what its farmers produce.
The rectangular shape makes me think of the landscape of the province immediately!

Take a look and you’ll see the Canadian Whisky Awards 2018 Gold Award sticker on the bottle.
A well deserved honour for the hard-working, innovative team at Last Mountain Distillery.