Boy, was it a hot one last night! 35 degrees Celsius at the Calgary Polo Club. That’s 95 Fahrenheit, my American friends. Still, look at my faithful steed Simon go! He’s flying ahead of doggy doc Tom LeBoldus’ pony. How do you like them apples?Or carrots? Before the game I checked out the new Juice Because pop-up at Willow Park Village to stock up on some tangy and energizing Peter. Named after a certain rabbit, I’m guessing.It must have helped, because I even managed to hit a ball or two. Our camo-jerseyed Team KatSaw made it into the finals, which are scheduled for tomorrow if it doesn’t rain. Meanwhile, check out KatSaw Farms patron Ross Prokopy making a splash in purple at the Veuve Classic.The temporary cold-pressed juice shop off Macleod Trail and Willow Park Dr SE is a handy pit-stop on the way to the polo club, but if you don’t check it out before they close on August 31st, don’t worry — they deliver! Head to their website.Meanwhile, come on out and tailgate at the Calgary Polo Club — soon, before the season ends. This heat won’t last forever.
If there are yellow jerseys on the field at the Calgary Polo Club…… and people like Gael-Anne Hatch and Chad Oakes (producer of must-see TV shows Fargo and Hell On Wheels) in the VIP Lounge…… then it must be the 2015 Veuve Clicquot Calgary Polo Classic. This is where the bubbles meet the storied hardwood of the Ranch House bar.Leslie Echino, owner of Blink Restaurant, and Katy Bond of Parker Bond PR managed to look dewey fresh and delightful despite 30-degree heat.While Rob Peters, the man who started Peters & Co, Elaine Duncan and leather-vest wearing horse whisperer John Scott kept cool inside.Katrina Prokopy, the inspiration behind hubby Ross’ team KatSaw Farms (he named it for his wife and son Sawyer), knows this is no time for a Mona Lisa smile. Especially with a pair of Prada Baroques perched above. Go big or go home!Meanwhile, alpha male Ross Prokopy of GMP Securities proves that not only does he play an aggressive game of polo, he also makes a mean mimosa.Despite the talent in Club League, I celebrated a rare summer week of bruise-free legs. Veiled spectator-sporting Paula Marie took support staffing to a stylish new level.While Gordon Ross of Remax and Bernadette Geronazzo, who’s accustomed to being In The Public Eye, toasted the game…… that was still in progress, beyond the revelers at the Ranch House. Mitch Horne checks up for Land Rover, under Allison Rooney’s watchful eye.It was only fitting that Team Veuve, aka Northern Blizzard, took home the cup. John Rooney, CEO of Northern Blizzard Resources, hoists his bubbly, with long-time pro Joe Henderson in the background. Cheers!
Another Stampede has come and gone in Calgary, in a blur of pre-parties, concerts at Fort Calgary and a midway victory that left me with a giant stuffed moose on my first try, thanks to a Whack-A-Mole hammer that reminded me of a polo mallet. It was a stretch, but allowed me to channel my inner winner, just like Team Blue Besos did for the second week in a row on Saturday. But looking back on Stampede 2015, two highlights stand out the most — one of which was, claro, a fashion moment.Met this miss from Texas in her custom-made Maida boots in the VIP tent at Sheryl Crow. Tear your eyes from the deluxe dirt in our alcohol-flowing cage beside the stage and feast your eyes on Cynthia Wood, who wins the Blue Besos Fave Stampede Outfit award, due to the details.From the saddlebag with the perfect rodeo trifecta of leather, fringe and rhinestones…
… down to the ostrich and calf boots that took nine months to make…… it was the heel-clicking positivity of her soles’ soulful message that spoke to me: lucky in love and lucky in business. Those gears in the right horseshoe are her company logo, Gimmal.But even if they’re straight off the shoe rack, any kind of boots will help you stomp your way through Stampede. On my right, LA producer Debbie Emery puts her best foot forward to blend in with the locals while shooting her new sports insider travel show, Sportstown USA.Of course, to get the right shot, you have to get up close and personal. Being right on the rail comes with a risk, as the cowboy to my left kindly warned me. If I kept gaping, mouth ajar, I’d probably swallow some mud.But I couldn’t help it — I was obsessed with the outriders. The lead man up front is tasked with steadying five amped-up horses and pointing them in the right direction before the race. Which is enough to inspire some slack-jaw, but wait — there’s more.When the horn blares and the stove man at the back has thrown the “stove” into the wagon (not kidding!!) he has to run out of the way before he gets run over…… then hop onto his steed while it’s all hopped up! Somehow, even with those stirrups swinging wildly, each outrider manages to settle in for a speedy lap around the track, making sure to stay within 150 yards of their wagon. It’s not only me who considers the outriders fascinating — each one in the Calgary Stampede comes with their own trading card.Sadly, the Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth has concluded for 2015, but we’ll be back to cheer the chucks next year!
I found out where the formal wear is hiding at the inaugural Royal West.At the off-site events! Like this weekend’s gala charity fundraiser at the new Chicago Chophouse on Stephen Avenue. Read More
Nordstrom is finally here! I arrived at last night’s gala event via a long walk in high heels through Chinook Mall — and managed to arrive at the door without the red carpet. But there were still 5 fresh faced new Nordstrom employees to welcome me to the soiree.Inside, both levels of the upscale fashion retailer’s first foray into Canada were jammed. 1800 people partied around the purses, jewelry, skincare and clothing. Important brand alert: Nordstrom has the Calgary exclusive on Kate Spade apparel.Upstairs, the restaurant Bazille was converted into a VIP room for friends and family. And it was a family event — three generations of Nordstroms are in Calgary to help guide the opening. The family takes an active role managing the 275-store chain.Jim Pattison, West Vancouver kazillionaire and all-around good guy, told me he was returning home from Chicago, but decided to have the plane drop him off in Calgary so he could join the party — he’s old pals with the Nordstroms. I recognized the Order of Canada pin on his lilac-accented lapel, but not the other one. Turns out Jim is also a member of the Order of British Columbia.You know Nordstrom is a big deal when you find the Mayor of Calgary at the opening. The last time I bumped into Naheed Nenshi, it was during his heroic handling of the Calgary floods. Now, after our emergency response center recently re-opened to deal with the aftermath of our September snowstorm, it’s nice to see him at something a little less sweaty and more social.Outside the VIP room, liberally-poured Rose enhanced the shopping experience.Casey Wagar, lover of all things fancy, was loving his Chardonnay.Photo ops were everywhere, including with the 30 live mannequins on display throughout the store.Fraser Abbott was on hand to quality-check the delicious edibles provided by Hotel Arts’ Chef Duncan Ly.Bumped into the amazing Cynthia Moore, who’s jetting off next week to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, just one year after kicking flesh-eating disease in the you-know-what. Meanwhile, Jay Skelly of Holt Renfrew swears he was no spy — just an innocent partier.No Scandinavian reserve here. Erik and Julie Nordstrom mingled with Beth and Terry Drayton, enjoying the party (with some particularly fabulous cowboy boots in the background). And they should — the evening raised $180,000 for Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and United Way of Calgary.More of those mannequins, trying to make those white pillars look good. Sprinkled throughout the contemporary Nordstrom decor, they’re a structurally necessary holdout from the previous Sears space.Tucked in between the escalators and the shoes, Toronto-based recording artist Sean Jones sang to throngs of adoring women…… who didn’t mind one bit when he jumped off stage to dance with them. I’m sure Nordstrom appreciated the fact he sang the “Forget you” version of Cee Lo Green’s hit tune.This security man’s job is just beginning… because the opening party continues tomorrow, bright and insanely early, with the Nordstrom Chinook Centre Pre-Opening Beauty Bash. On Friday, September 19 from 7:30-9:30 am, enjoy complimentary consultations and demos at the main Nordstrom entrance in the mall. Expect to see hot makeup brands including Butter London, Dolce & Gabbana and Tom Ford. Everyone’s invited.
It’s a cloudy day here in Calgary today, with thunderstorms looming. I’m worried that polo might be postponed this evening, but for the most part, it’s been an incredible summer, weather-wise and polo-wise. In fact, Calgary has a long history of amazing polo. I’m standing with a piece of it in this photo — my horse, Simon, has been playing in the area for decades. For those of you who missed it in this month’s edition of Calgary Polo Style, here’s my article on our local Sport of Kings:
Deep Roots in the Old West
Calgary polo had its beginnings as the sport of cowboys
Polo is known as the sport of kings, but in Calgary it would be more accurate to call it the sport of cattle ranchers. Long before organized rodeo blazed a trail through the Canadian West, polo was a cowboy sport.
Formed in 1890, the Calgary Polo Club is the arguably the oldest in North America with consecutive annual play. Thanks to Southern Alberta’s passion for horses, the club not only survived two world wars and the Great Depression, it flourished. Even though the local equestrian community kept the sport alive in typical low-key cowboy style, there have been plenty of bold-faced names along the way.
Alfred Ernest (A.E.) Cross, best known for being one of the “Big Four” cattlemen who founded the Calgary Stampede in 1912, was a polo lover first. He established the Calgary Polo Club in 1890, along with several friends from the exclusive Ranchmen’s Club. Although his A7 Ranche is said to be the oldest ranch in Canada still in the hands of its original owners, Montreal-born Cross was more than a cattleman. His professional pursuits included the brewing business, the film industry and politics.
Not to be outdone, Henry Bruen Alexander, the first president of the Calgary Polo Club, built some of downtown Calgary’s most impressive sandstone buildings. His real estate legacy includes the Alexander Block, which still stands on Stephen Avenue.
Calgary polo was also buoyed by many of the remittance men who came to Wild Rose Country to expand their fortunes. Originally from England, Colin Ross was one of those “drawn to the profit potential in western Canada’s burgeoning cattle kingdom,” according to the Historical Society of Alberta. After using family money to invest in property in the foothills, his obsession with polo led him to be known as a millionaire polo player. In 1907, the Los Angeles Times raved about his unbeaten Calgary team, which traveled across North America to meet rivals’ challenges.
All of these men most likely played at Owen’s Race Track, in today’s Elbow Park. It was rented by the Ranchmen’s Club for polo games and “manly sports,” duly noted in the Minutes of Ranchmen’s Club Committee in August, 1895. Also in the minutes, and true to polo-party form, gaining approval for a license to sell beer was a top priority. And despite the official written record, the manly sport of polo wasn’t limited to men. As early as the 1920s, a women’s team organized in both Kamloops and Calgary traveled to the first international women’s tournament in New York.
As the city of Calgary grew and developed, the Polo Club hopscotched through several pieces of real estate, including fields in Hillhurst and Chinook Park. In 1959, Jim Cross (son of A.E.) helped the club put down its final roots by providing land in Okotoks.
As the club settled into its new surroundings, the aggressive sport of polo continued to attract aggressive business leaders. Mr. Charles Hetherington, President and CEO of Panarctic Oils Ltd,received his USPA rating in Calgary in 1959, eventually serving as Canadian governor for the association. Playing into his 70s, his enthusiasm still infuses every game played at the Hetherington Field at Calgary Polo Club.
Meanwhile, history marched on — so much so that it alarmed Fred Mannix Sr., an avid player since 1957. Mannix commissioned author Tony Rees to write a book about the history of polo in Calgary. Interviews with “old-timers,” as Mannix fondly calls them, not only led to lost trophies, but a wealth of material that couldn’t be limited to Calgary. The book, now proudly displayed on many a coffee table, became a much larger project, ultimately titled Polo, The Galloping Game: An illustrated history of polo in the Canadian West.
Some of the players featured in Rees’s book are still on the field. With its 10-player dynasty, the Roenisch family is particularly noteworthy. Clinton “Kink” Roenisch started playing in 1933, at age 44, instilling a passion for the game throughout his clan, continuing to the fourth generation with Daniel, who plays as a 3-goal professional at the Calgary Polo Club today. Daniel benefits from double Southern Alberta polo DNA: not only was his dad, Rob, a 5-goal professional at his peak, his mother Julie was the top-rated female player in Canada with a two-goal handicap and the first woman ever to play in the U.S. Open. She also helped to bring serious women’s polo back to the club for the first time in half a century.
Besides ensuring past history was duly noted,Fred Mannix has helped power the future of Calgary polo, by passing his love of the sport to his sons, Fred Junior and Julian.
The brothers compete in the World Polo Tour with their team, Alegria. 22-year old Julian, rated four goals, wears Alegria’s maple-emblazoned team jersey for North American competitions, leading the team to victory in the US Open this spring.
Fred Junior takes over for matches played in the mecca of polo — Argentina. A rare combination of patron and pro, 29-year-old Fred is one of the world’s best players, rated six goals in North America and nine goals internationally. Perhaps, after making Team Canada when he was just sweet sixteen, the stage was set for this Calgarian to make history. In a sport that only a few hundred Canadians play, he’s the first in 76 years to compete for the coveted Argentine Triple Crown. He’s the second Canadian in 120 years to compete in the Argentine Open. This summer he’s back on home turf, training for the forty-goal polo waiting for him this fall in Argentina.
Besides the local ranchers, pros and CEOs, the Calgary Polo Club has had no shortage of visiting VIPs. Actors Tommy Lee Jones (Men In Black, The Fugitive) and William Devane (Knots Landing, 24) have played in club tournaments. Flames goalie Mike Vernon traded his hockey stick for a mallet a few times. Jetting in from England, Prince Charles took time out from Stampede to take in a match and the professional head of the British Army, Charles Guthrie, stick and balled at the club. Lady Patricia Mountbatten Brabourne has also been a recurring field-side fan.
As the historic Calgary Polo Club plays its 2014 summer season, those bold-faced names, along with all the unsung heroes of the sport and the club, continue to write and rewrite the story of polo in Calgary.
To read the full issue of Calgary Polo Style, look for it at the Glencoe Club, Ranchmen’s Club, Bankers Hall Club, Silver Springs Golf & Country Club, Eau Claire YMCA, Calgary Winter Club and Bearspaw Country Club.
The first game of Calgary Polo Club’s 2014 season was the perfect time to debut the official team jerseys of… wait for it… Team Blue Besos! In Club League, we’re assigned new team members each week: three regular players and a professional. Even though these guys may be my mortal enemies next week, last night they were the best teammates a girl could have. That’s super-pro four-goaler Big Joe Henderson, from South Africa, on the left. Moi and Simon, next. Doug Byblow playing his inaugural Calgary game. And Francesco Galdon, whose Argentinian heritage means he has polo in his DNA.Simon can barely contain his excitement about our new shirts.Just look at them! Kudos to Cal-Crests Ltd. The Calgary custom apparel company did a stylish, speedy job.The same Blue Besos dream team plays again this Saturday at 11am, in a Club League round robin: 6 chukkers of fantasticness. For fans of either polo or tailgating: come out and enjoy both at the Calgary Polo Club. Gracias for the superb team photos, Heather Lilly!
Hold 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.Executive 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.But 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.Wondering 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……once it’s served it doesn’t stay on the plate for long. The one with the bacon was my personal fave.The 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.Packed 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.Back 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.Thanks 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.
Wondering when I was going to make good on that long-lost threat to post Part Two of Seattle Girls’ Trip? Wonder no more! After a ridiculous delay, here it is. To be followed, maybe even tomorrow, by Part Three!Tucked into a corner of the Seattle Four Seasons’ art-filled lobby is ART Restaurant. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel full of ocean view rooms, the restaurant is a destination in its own right, offering a taste of that five-star service along with its tasty food.The first clue that this dining experience would be inextricably linked to the lighting was the sign.Inspired by the ferris wheel lurking outside on the Seattle waterfront, perhaps? This is the ART Lounge, which could be the definition of Mood Lighting.Waiting for your table at the bar near the soft glow of those LED-infused shelves, if you checked your coat, you’ll discover even the minor details are not minus aesthetics.As I perused the locavore menu, the green sheen in the air made sense. Any Pacific Northwest restaurant worth its west coast salt requires a market-to-table philosophy. Besides, Pike Place Market is practically right next door. Nor did I notice the subtle switch to a tangerine hue as the appetizers arrived. I was too busy inhaling the Potato Gnocchi with chanterelles and melted leeks as well as the Crazy Salad, which was not psycho but a delightful fresh mix of local greens. Home-made tortilla chips arrived in the brown paper with the sticker, which I thought was a little casual for a Four Seasons… but that didn’t stop me from wolfing them down. To the left of my wineglass, you can see the Dungeness Crab Cake Bites peeking out of the brown paper in their black pot. Heads up: they are deep-fried, which I did not expect. I prefer my Dungeness to taste like crab, not breading.It was after the appetizers were cleared that I really became obsessed with the radiance of the room. It reminded me of the spectrum lighting of the Muttart Conservatory glass pyramids in Edmonton, of all places. I used to stare down at those I. M. Pei-ish designs during desolate winter nights (that would be November through May) from my condo.Just because I have three wine glasses lined up here, don’t start thinking it was my vision. Because look! The color changed again. Back to the food. Emily, my dining companion, was in Locavore Carnivore mode, so she had the 8-ounce Beef Tenderloin but ducked out of the picture just in time. So annoying to dine with a blogger. I had the Seared Kodiak Halibut: Fennel, Miscela. Both dishes were delish.For dessert we split a Warm Cup O’ Chocolate Cake. Lovely.When the spectrum pivoted to pink…… I know it was a good time to leave, since my pants matched the current luminosity. But……before I got too smug about the tandem incandescence, it changed again.Rolling out to the steamy cityscape, I tried to resist admiring the Big Wheel, but it would become a constant thread throughout my Girls’ Weekend in Seattle. Now, after a night dining within the artful glow of ART, it seems like a perfect pairing.