Behind the Scenes at Odysseo

Odysseo Media Preview CalgaryCavalia’s new show Odysseo opens tomorrow in Calgary. Invited to the media preview today, I have to say this mystical, magical show is like nothing you’ve ever seen.Odysseo Media Preview CalgaryWith 70 horses and 49 human artists performing under the big white tent at Canada’s Olympic Park, Odysseo is the largest traveling show on earth. Bigger than U2. With a stage that’s bigger than a hockey rink. It’s twice as big as their original show, simply named Cavalia, which is still touring places like Dubai, Belgium and Australia.Odysseo CalgaryBeyond the amazing equestrian and acrobatic spectacle, special effects include high-def computer graphics on a screen called a “cyclorama” — the size of three IMAX screens. When the horses come toward you, it’s like they’re breaking free from a film or a painting.Odysseo Media Preview CalgaryShow creator Normand Latourelle calls this 6-D. “It’s like watching a big Hollywood movie, but it’s live.”Odysseo Media Preview CalgarySeating seems intimate, yet the big top has enough room for an audience of 2000. Of course, it feels really intimate when you have a front row seat.Odysseo Media Preview CalgaryDream sequence followed by fantastic dream sequence, enhanced by acrobats, live musicians and a massive merry-go-round that lowers from the rafters, finally transforms to an aquatic vision.Odysseo Media Preview Calgary300,000 liters of water fill the stage to create a lake for the finale. If you’re lucky enough to have a floor seat, you may get splashed.Tiffany Burns OdysseoAfter the incredible 50-minute preview, I trotted to the stage to take a selfie with some of the stars of the show, like Indigo the Appaloosa and his lovely rider…Normand Latourelle… and bumped into Normand, who tells me he doesn’t ride. “They put me on the horse once for a picture and I looked like a potato bag.”

But that doesn’t stop him from creating spectacular shows. After all, he helped start Cirque du Soleil without ever trying a trapeze. “Why should I ride? But I can pretty much understand what the horse do,” he says, his Quebec accent coming through. “The rule here is let the horse be a horse. Don’t make them do human tricks.”Normand LatourelleThe natural scenes surrounding the horses were inspired by Normand’s view from home, an hour outside of Montreal. “I watch out my window when I’m in the kitchen. It’s what I have reproduced on stage. So I brought the mountain. I have almost a lake, a forest, all the images we project.”Cavalia stable CalgaryBehind the scenes, the temporary stable rivals pony digs at Spruce Meadows. Performers tend to their mounts before getting out of costume.Cavalia stable CalgaryNo lead rope required!Cavalia stable CalgaryPompon is a Canadian Cross. I didn’t realize that this breed, descended from horses sent to the New World by Louis XIV, was once on the verge of extinction. Now numbering 2500, there are two of them here.Cavalia stable CalgaryThis is where the horses poop before the show! I’m not kidding! Thanks to my time at 19 Action News in Cleveland, I’m not afraid to ask the tough questions. And Normand was willing to talk. ”We exercise them before. When they poop in the warm up, we thank them. They know it’s the place to do it. So they don’t do it often on stage.”Cavalia stable CalgaryI thought there would be all kinds of crazy hooks and loops to assist the performers, but many of the saddles looked like regular English ones to me.Cavalia stable CalgaryNo mares in this barn! All the horses are either stallions, or geldings, like Raz, this six-year-old Arabian.Cavalia stable CalgaryDon’t tell my horse Simon, but I think Raz and I had a little connection.Normand Latourelle1200 invited VIP guests will be under the big top tomorrow night for Odysseo. I’m thrilled to be one of them, since I have a feeling I could watch this performance a thousand times over and not tire of it. Stay tuned for my official show review, later this week. 

Meanwhile, if you haven’t got tickets yet, Cavalia has added twelve extra nights in Calgary, with VIP tickets that include your own stable tour. And open bar! A votre sante, Cavalia.Besos

Black Pig Bistro Sneak Peek

Black Pig BistroBridgeland’s latest addition to the foodie world of Calgary is still papered up against prying eyes.Black Pig Bistro sneak peekBut last night, if you were on the list, you were invited to a sneak peek at Black Pig Bistro, before the media launch next week and before the public opening. It felt very VIP, but it was actually more grassroots — and savvy marketing strategy. The soft launch was for local social media supporters.the bar at Black Pig BistroAnd who doesn’t support free food and wine?Chef Alison Bieber Black Pig BistroCirculating chef and co-owner Alison Bieber offered chicken liver pate in appetizer form, which will be served as a smear on the antipasti dish when the restaurant opens. I’m anti-smear, but pro-pate. Delicious.Black Pig BistroLove the random Tiffany blue wall in the middle of the subtle brown and white decor. Or Blue Besos blue. Take your pick!Larry and Denise ScammellThe other two-thirds of the co-owner triumverate, Denise and Larry Scammell. Larry tells me black pig is the tastiest of all pork.Black Pig BistroAfter all those conservative photos, I finally found the restaurant’s namesake, willing to ham it up for the camera. Black Pig Bistro opens to the public next Wednesday.

Besos 

Black Pig Bistro on Urbanspoon

Spring Snowboarding at Lake Louise

Ski Lake LouiseIt’s the middle of April and the ski season is still going strong in the Canadian Rockies. Lake Louise Ski Resort, located in the heart of Banff National Park, is just a two-hour drive from Calgary.Lodge of the Ten PeaksThe Lodge of the Ten Peaks at the base could be the ultimate ski chalet. Those are hand-skinned logs btw. It is Canada’s second largest log structure. But (sorry!) I can’t tell you where to find the first largest. More on Canadian manners further down in this post.View of Lake Louise from Lake Louise Ski ResortOnce you’re on the hill, if you take a rest stop on the first run (like I tend to do) you may notice that you’re at the same altitude as the ski hill’s namesake:  Lake Louise, still frozen and looking like it’s tilted. (Although that’s crazy, because lakes don’t tilt. I checked.) Can you see it across the valley? And yes, that would be the Valley of the Ten Peaks. If you’re a vintage currency collector, you may recognize the vista from two former versions of the Canadian twenty dollar bill.

Next, head to the lift that you can see just past my right foot.Top of the World LiftThere’s plenty of room to stretch out on the Top of the World six passenger chair.Top of the WorldAt the top, aka Top Of The World, you have a double black option. I went for the poser option.Top of the World Lake LouiseLuckily there’s a green run down from every chair lift. And look at those Rockies!Sign at Top of the World, Lake LouiseA handy sign tells you the distance to Tokyo and Cape Horn, just in case you feel like a long run. Whitehorn Lodge Lake LouiseIf you can tear yourself away from the epic spring ski conditions, check out the Whitehorn Lodge. It’s always been here, mid-mountain on the front side, but it was only just converted to an upscale restaurant this season. Normally the ski racks out front are packed, but we were here on a Monday. Game Platter Whitehorn Lodge Lake LouiseNothing like eating lunch 6700 feet above sea level. Usually I just have beer and wings on a ski day, but the the Rocky Mountain Game Platter for Two  at Whitehorn couldn’t be passed up. After a winter of snowboarding 4 different mountains in 3 different provinces/states, and sampling the restaurant fare with all associated mountain resorts, I now feel it is safe to say that I am a game platter expert. The air-dried buffalo, cured chimney sticks, peppered duck breast, artisan cheeses, figs, sun dried cranberries and raincoast crisps on this one qualify it as Awesome.

Just to keep it carnivorous, I followed it with the Bison Burger. At Whitehorn, it comes three ways:  with blueberry compote and brie, roasted red pepper and goat cheese or bacon and cheddar. I hadn’t had a burger with blueberry jam before, so I gave it a try. Delicious.  The bison is locally sourced. The only other high-end mid-mountain dining option I’ve tried in recent memory was at Jackson Hole. Couloir may use Kobe beef in their burgers instead of bison, but Whitehorn is a lot closer to home. It’s not pictured here, but the inside of the lodge has been nicely decorated with wood accents on the walls and tables with amazing views.Grizzly Express GondolaWith a belly full of food and enough libations to inspire your inner Robert-Redford-from-Downhill-Racer, take a fast one down the front side. The Grizzly Express Gondolas will float you up to the top in minutes.Paradise Bowl Lake LouiseFrom there, if you head over to the back side, you can pick your poison:  green, blue or black diamond.Larch Chair Lake LouiseThe Larch Chair will take you up another peak. With 4200 skiable acres, Lake Louise is one of the largest ski resorts in North America.Apres Ski Lake LouiseBack at the base, there’s nothing like having a beer at the end of the day — right by the lift. I took this after they’d closed up shop. With blazing sun at 5:30 pm, I wasn’t the only one lingering in the 10 degree temps. (That’s Celsius, folks).Sorry No Smoking Lake LouiseThis being Canada, even the No Smoking signs are super polite.Bright Day at Lake LouiseThe lifts will keep running at Lake Louise until May 11. Saturdays they’re open til 5pm. Then they shut down … and open for summer season just three days later. Which will probably go for ages, since they have still have a 200 cm base. See you soon, Lake Louise! Hopefully on another day when it’s so sunny and bright I need my goggles on, even after I take my snowboard off.

BesosWhitehorn Lodge on Urbanspoon

Tanya Taylor’s Tickle Trunk

Tanya Taylor Holt RenfrewWhen Tanya Taylor brought her trunk show to Holt Renfrew Calgary on a recent Thursday, the highlight of her evening plans included spending some quality time with the television“We haven’t had very much sleep, so we might do some room service and Scandal.”Tanya Taylor Spring 2014While she may love a show whose main character is known for wearing white, Tanya’s palette this spring is anything but. Her designs are driven by color, and the one she’s loving this year is poppy orange.Tanya Taylor Trunk Show Holt RenfrewThat’s what Tanya calls it. I saw tangerine. But deep coral, peach, citrus zest, no matter how you interpret it, the color was a definite theme, spreading throughout the back room on Holts’ second floor.Tanya Taylor Spring 2014There’s a couture element to this off-the-rack collection, available in Canada exclusively at Holts. The New York based designer says fabric is an integral part of her process. ”I paint all the prints originally, then print them on silk. There’s an original hand-drawn quality about everything in the collection.”Tanya TaylorOriginally from Toronto, Tanya is painter at heart. With a finance degree. She found fashion to be the perfect intersection between art and business. “I liked the idea of starting my own company, similar to the entrepreneurship I’d studied, but also being able to sit down and paint on a canvas, then translate that into a dress.”Tanya Taylor 2014Trunk shows tickle Tanya with the opportunity to interact with the customers. Visiting Calgary comes with the bonus of interacting with her extended family here.Tanya TaylorFor those who need more than poppy orange, there are options. And while Olivia Pope has been branching out from her go-to color of late, Tanya Taylor’s Spring 2014 Collection has an outfit to bring her white wardrobe back.

Besos

Double Zero Doubles Up

Anchovies Double ZeroHold the anchovies? Who says that? Not Double Zero.
The popular Stephens Avenue pizza joint created a new white anchovy crostini concoction to celebrate the opening of their brand spanking swanking new location, in the north end of Chinook Centre.Chef Robert JewellExecutive Chef Robert Jewell, slinging the pie in the sky here, sings the siren song of the white swimmers. “You don’t have to bring the sexy to anchovy, to me they’ve always been sexy. It’s one of my favorite things to snack on. We’re trying to open customers up to it.” He says they’re more subtle than sardines. If that doesn’t get you you, maybe the super-luxe price tag will:  $45/kilo. Prepared the Double Zero way, the little fishies pair nicely with Prosecco.Double Zero pizzaBut let’s get to the real reason we’re here:  the pizza. Plagiarizing directly from the 00 website, “Double Zero is named after the finest grade of flour on the planet.” Since I know flowers better than flours, I’ll just take them on their word.Double Zero menuWondering why this dude with the beard is lurking everywhere? He’s all over 00. The tables, the walls, even the advertising. We’ll get to that in a minute. In the meantime, check out the ‘za. Super affordable and super good…Double Zero Chinook…once it’s served it doesn’t stay on the plate for long. The one with the bacon was my personal fave.upstairs Double Zero chinook centreThe media party was wisely contained to the downstairs bar/bistro area, but upstairs the restaurant was rocking! Even though it has only been open since Monday.upstairs decor Double Zero ChinookPacked with beautiful people, can Double Zero sustain the Opening Week clientele standards once mall rats get wise to their fresh new dining option conveniently located right next door to Tori Burch? Although Chinook shoppers are pretty cute.Jon Molyneux ConcordeBack downstairs I thought I’d tracked down The Dude. Not Jeff Lebowski, but the bearded bro in all the promo. Turns out it was a different beard, belonging to a different dude:  Jon Molyneux of the uber-tasty Concorde Group. But he revealed the wine list cover model is Peter Feenstra of Tank Design, a Friend Of The Restaurant, like everyone featured in the arresting black and white wall murals. Feenstra also designed all the furniture in the restaurant.Double Zero downstairs chinookThanks for the party, Double Zero! Not only did I learn beards are optional here, it turns out that 2 x 00 = feel good, taste good math.

Besos

Double Zero Pizza on Urbanspoon

Ski-Out from Sunshine Mountain Lodge

Java LiftWhen you overnight at Sunshine Mountain Lodge, you can make first tracks in the morning. Or, if you wake up late, like me, and barely manage to get out of your room by the 11am checkout time, you’ll discover that you can still get a breakfast croissant at Java Lift. With enjoyable midday temps.Java Lift at Sunshine Mountain LodgeAdded bonus to sitting outside? The mochas here come with marshmallows.The Great Divide at Sunshine VillageWith the lift for Mount Standish just ten steps away, it seemed like a natural choice for the first run of the day. At the summit of Mount Standish, the clear view of the BC Rockies made our mission clear:  it was a bluebird day to ride the provincial border.Great Divide Lift at Sunshine VillageTurns out there’s a lift for that.Welcome to BC Sign at SunshineAs you ride up, you cross into British Columbia — the Beautiful, as their license plates say.Welcome Back to Sunny AlbertaTwo towers later, you’re safely back in Wild Rose Country.Canadian Rockies at Sunshine Village Banff Tiffany BurnsThese are our Alps:  the Canadian Rockies.Spring Skiing at Trappers Saloon BanffWithout the drive to the hill or the gondola ride to the lifts, a half day felt like a full day. It also felt like it deserved a few beers, which, as you know, are my favorite thing to imbibe at Trappers Saloon. Or outside Trappers Saloon. A relaxing ride down Banff Avenue (a green run, although downloading on the gondola was also an option) would reunite us with our luggage at the base lodge. And with the massive snowstorms lately, the skiing should be just as satisfying right through closing day on May 19.Besos

Apres Ski at Sunshine Mountain Lodge

Sunshine Mountain Lodge hot tubAfter a day on the slopes, should you choose to forgo your option to go home and stay at a Sunshine Mountain Lodge fantasy suite (apologies to both The Bachelor and the Lodge) … first you tub, then you dine. The hotel claims they have the largest outdoor hot tub in Banff, but I would go even further and say it’s probably the biggest in the province. With the admirable masonry of the high stone walls to block the wind, bring a brew (in a can, not glass) and sink in.Eagle's Nest Dining Room BanffAfter you towel off and slip into something less waterproof, there are several dining options to choose from. If you’re feeling rowdy, you can walk 20 steps from the hotel to Trappers. You can enjoy casual fare inside the Lodge at the Chimney Corner Lounge and Sports Bar. Or you can upscale your evening to the more formal Eagle’s Nest Dining Room, where the chef will start you off with an amuse bouche. We split the Caesar Salad on the excellent advice of our excellent server (Aussie, of course, like almost all the staff here), because it would have been too much for one person, if you’re intent on several courses. It had just the right amount of dressing (over-saucing is a constant dining concern for me) and an added touch of crisped pancetta.Eagles Nest Dining Room Sunshine Mountain LodgeThis is my Pained Blogger look as I take a shot of the Dreaded Food Porn. Normally I try to avoid it. There’s nothing I hate more than whipping out my camera during a meal. It’s just so rude! Plus my Venison Osso Bucco (incredibly tender and tasty) and Risotto is getting cold. But at the Eagle’s Nest Dining Room, the food takes center stage. Except for the lovely log beams, the room itself is not the ultimate in ambience. It doesn’t detract from the experience because the service and the food, which are top-notch, are what it’s all about. Except for when you desire a dining photo that doesn’t scream Food Blog 101.Chimney Corner LoungeFor dessert, we decided on a change of scenery, and our waitress kindly accommodated. This is when I realized the Chimney Corner Lounge is called that for a reason. The focal point of this classic ski-lodge lounge is the enormous chimney. Another intimate sitting area with a separate fireplace sprang from the same rocked-in chimney to our right. I was going to check out the other sides to see if there were even more fireplaces, but then I got too comfy, sated with the most incredible piece of chocolate cake. It could be the walnuts that made it so delicious. Or perhaps the vanilla creme on the side. I was also dazzled by the spotlight illuminating the deer so perfectly. Please excuse the lack of full reportage of the chimney situation.

Time to roll on back to our room to get a good night’s sleep for the ski out tomorrow.Besos

The Eagle's Nest Dining Room on Urbanspoon

 

Room 105 at Sunshine Mountain Lodge

Sunshine Mountain LodgeAfter drooling over it all day from the chairlift, we finally got to see the inside of our premier room in the new West Wing (important info to remember if you book, since the main lodge rooms aren’t as new). In case you need it, there’s also a queen Murphy bed efficiently hidden beside the sitting area. The bedding was super-comfortable on the main bed.Bathroom at Sunshine Mountain LodgeI’d call the bathroom decor rustic modern… Eco Products at Sunshine Mountain Lodge… with products that stressed that the hotel is eco-boutique luxury lodging. Hard to tell with the slightly wack perspective going on here, but the item on the right is lip balm. Nice touch since Banff is possibly even drier than Calgary, which seems to have the driest climate in North America. Even nicer, not pictured, is the HUMIDIFIER THAT COMES WITH THE ROOM. Had to do all caps there because I believe every hotel in Alberta should offer this, but usually they don’t. Buen trabajo, Sunshine Mountain Lodge!West Wing Sunshine Mountain LodgeThe Lodge offers ski lockers but we didn’t quite make it there. Hopefully we won’t get in trouble once these photos go up. Look how careful we were not to scratch anything, SML! Especially those lovely heated floors.View from Sunshine Mountain LodgeView from Room 105.View from Lodge in BanffYou can also see the main part of the lodge with the restaurants. The hot tub is hidden below the stone wall…Fireplace at Sunshine Mountain Lodge… which poses the challenging apres-ski question of the day:  hot tub first? Or cheese plate by the fire? The fromage was just too tempting. But one small quibble as I nibble:  the super-eco gas fireplace had a timer that automatically turned it off after ten minutes. I agree it should have an auto shut-off at some point, but how about twenty?Besos

The Only Ski-In, Ski-Out Lodge in Banff

Check into Sunshine Mountain Lodge BanffSunshine Mountain Lodge is the only ski-in, ski-out accommodation in Banff National Park. The easy button starts from the moment you pull up to the base lodge, bypassing all the day visitors who’ve parked a mile away.Sunshine Mountain Lodge base check inInside, there’s a comfy sitting area to organize your luggage. Yes, the leopard-print suitcase is mine. Changing rooms and restrooms are just around the corner. Once you check in at the counter, leave all your bags behind. They will be whisked up to your room at the Lodge.Sunshine Village GondolaYou’ll be smiling on the gondola because the only thing you need to worry about now is your snowboard or skis. However, FYI, you won’t be smiling if you attempt to check in to the hotel after the gondola shuts down at 5pm, since it’s the only way to get up to the Lodge. Don’t be late! Unless it’s a Friday, when you have until 10pm.Heart of Sunshine VillageAfter the 13-minute gondie ride, you’ll arrive at the heart of Sunshine Village. This is where the lifts to the ski runs are, and Mad Trapper’s Saloon, one of my fave mountain lunch stops in the world. The food there isn’t mind-blowing, but damn it tastes good when washed down with a Corona in the middle of a ski-day. If you’re not totally mesmerized by the magic of the unicorn eye on my Gnu base, you’ll see Sunshine Mountain Lodge behind me.Sunshine Mountain LodgeLooking back from the Strawberry high-speed quad, you can see the Lodge is truly nestled in the Canadian Rockies, at 7200 feet.Sunshine Mountain Lodge from Standish LiftThe Standish Lift goes right by the new West Wing of the hotel. From the chair you can see right into the two-story loft rooms, so I’d advise holding back on naked streaking up and down the stairs until the lifts close at 4pm.Kendra Sonia Sunshine VillageFor Kendra Sonia, whose family bought the resort in 1981, Sunshine Village was her playpen growing up. She showed us some of her favorite runs, while kindly going slow enough so I could keep up. The Village is actually three mountains with 12 lifts and more than 3300 acres of skiable terrain. Riding with Kendra made me realize how much of the resort I hadn’t seen before, even though I’ve been here several times.Goat's Eye signKendra even gave me some tips, which gave me the confidence to take the chair up Goat’s Eye for the first time. I offer photographic proof of my arrival to an elevation of 9200 feet.Sunshine Mountain Lodge from trailJust when my thighs and calves were starting to tremble, it was finally time to begin the apres. Next up, Room 105.Besos

Girls Trip Seattle Epilogue

For the third and final post of Girls’ Trip to Seattle, some random stuff I enjoyed around town.Le Panier SeattleCraving a croissant? Head to Le Panier on Pike Place, right across from the public market. It’s worth fighting the crowds for a seat.Le Panier coffeeNo one’s really fighting anyhow, since everyone is in their flaky, buttery, caffeinated happy place. Nice manicure, Emily! And that LV bag would put me in a happy place even sans croissant.Pike Place MarketI’m not gonna go on about the fish tossing, since I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but Pike Place Market is also a wonderful place to pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers and locally grown eats. Banana Republic Converted Bank SeattleWalk over a few blocks and you’ll find the significant stripes that surround Banana Republic’s coolest rehab, converting the old Coliseum Theater into a retail mecca that on this occasion had some  hot pink cords discounted 75% that I could not resist.Umbrellas at University VillageEven those who claim to abhor malls, like myself, will be charmed by the University Village Shopping Centre in Seattle. Shops line the streets, while lane-ways in between are pedestrian only. Umbrella stands on every corner offer a caring nod to the reality of the ecosystem here.Microsoft Store Seattle University VillageThe ultimate proof I was in Seattle:  a Microsoft Store. Located across from the Apple Store. And totally empty. Kidding! I took this photo after closing time. Still… Once you go Mac, you never go back.Joey Flagship University VillageBesides my general mall malaise, I’m not one for chain eateries, but the Joey Restaurant Group is Canadian. Turns out Joey Kitchen has made a few forays into the Evergreen State. This is their flagship Washington location at Uni Village.Joey Kitchen interiorWith the ultimate Canadian touch inside:  washrooms is Canuck for restrooms.Great Wheel Cloudy DayAnd the Great Wheel rolls on. See you on the next spin, Seattle! Besos

About Tiffany

About Tiffany

I'm a model, journalist, short-time polo player and long-time fashion addict...

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