I’ve lived in Calgary for the better part of my life, and when I regale tales of my hometown to those who don’t know it, it usually involves talk of cowboy culture, oil sands, fickle weather, and the Stampede. Food rarely gets a mention unless it involves poutine or perogies (which shocked my inner teenager by being relatively unknown in other parts of the world).
However, lately I find myself becoming more aware of our humble-beginnings restaurant and food industry. Granted, it could be a case of aging, where I now prefer good food and good wine to a night out on the town, even still, it certainly can’t be denied that Calgary’s food industry has grown to new heights. In only a few years, our once humble industry has become nothing short of well cultured, explorative and exciting.
New restaurants with promising menus have been popping up all over the city in earnest for the last few years. With food options, cooking methods and preparation techniques ranging far and wide, these days I spend just as much time googling the words describing my potential meal as I do eating it. But that’s ok! While I wouldn’t label myself as a “foodie” in the formal sense of the word, I do enjoy food with a fervor that sometimes embarrasses my mother; so I certainly don’t object to the fact that Calgary is catering to my every need and helping me climb that foodie ladder in vocabulary, palate and otherwise. The point is, I’m curious and luckily for me, it seems that the rest of Calgary is too.
If the current popular and opening restaurants are any indication of our expanding culinary curiosities, Calgarians have been working on refining their palates and paving the way for new food culture in the city; where caviar, sweetbreads and foie gras have become normal fare. In the days where Calgary restaurants evoked thoughts of steakhouses and sports bars, it’s refreshing to be able to find places in the city that offer delicacies such as roasted bone marrow (Taste), lobster poutine (Briggs), duck confit carbonara (Home Tasting Room) and even a gouda mac and cheese (Blink).
Having lived in the over populated and vastly cultured city of London for the past two years, I’ve unwittingly pitted Calgary into a competition with the British metropolis in every imaginable category. While there have been wins and losses to both teams, and some unfairly so given the scale and reputation of certain contenders; when it comes to the food category I find myself rooting for the underdog apparent and thus far have not been disappointed.
As a result of our city’s realized gastronomic appreciation, Calgary now boasts some of the best places in Canada, if not the world, to get a fine dose of hearty street food, Asian fusion, highbrow cuisine and even comfort food. With an affinity towards using local ingredients, homegrown vegetables and unorthodox combinations, Calgarians are eating better than ever before and I can certainly feel the love.