Characters News

Wine Prices, Whats the Deal?

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Part 1

Does that $300 bottle really taste better than that $75 bottle? To be truthful, I have no idea. A question like that is only answered by the individual tasting the wine, but WHY is that bottle $300? Now that is a a question that can be answered…sort of

To describe why a wine price is so high is to simply talk basic economics. First you have the cost of production, the cost of getting to market, then there is the demand, and of course the supply. There are definitely many other factors that can sneak into the mix, like the personal ideas or motivations of the proprietor, but to keep it simple lets talk about the 4 main reasons behind determining prices.

Firstly there is the simple and obvious cost of production. This can be influenced in many ways throughout the process of making each wine. Depending on whether or not the winery is new, old, or somewhere in between can affect the production cost a great deal. If the winery is brand new, the proprietors will be carrying a large start up cost like any new business, although the wine business certainly ain’t cheap. Purchasing property in an established wine region is anything but affordable, and the cost of building a winemaking facility only gets more taxing on the pocket book, oh right, then there are the taxes, damn the government! It can be argued that startup costs should not factor in the price of your wine but to be honest, it almost always does, so I thought I would mention it. Then you have the vineyard practices. Do you farm organically? Do you control your yield and if so how much fruit do you drop throughout the year? These are a few factors that can become quite expensive in the vineyard. As a quick example: some vineyards may harvest a crop of over 5 tons of grapes per acre while others may choose to crop closer to 2 tons per acre, and this will undoubtedly result in a more expensive wine as the winery cropping at 2 tons is surely spending more time and money controlling their volumes while ensuring only the best quality grapes get into their wines. Once you get passed that and to harvest time, you then have the option of mechanical harvest which can save some time and money, or hand harvesting which takes longer and is much more labour intensive and usually higher cost. Now that the grapes are harvested you are dealing with a plethora of ways that the cost can vary once in the winery. To keep the list short, the best way to describe winery costs is to think about the time each wine spends being made and its wait time before being released for purchase. One of the main factors that can drive a wines production cost up is barrel ageing. Not only do barrels cost a lot of money, some of which can reach the thousands for a single barrel that holds about 300 bottles of wine, it also means that the wine will have to rest inside that barrel for an extended period of time [sometimes upwards of 2 years and in some cases well beyond that]. So if you are making a wine aged in 100% new oak for 2 years (Can anyone say Oak Bomb! Okay, maybe not, but probably?!) you are not only spending thousands and thousands of dollars on the barrels to age this wine, you are also waiting an additional 2 years before you can see any return on all of your hard work and investment. Think of some of your favourite and most expensive red wines you enjoy from say Napa, or Bordeaux, both regions that are notorious for using new oak on their wines. Beyond this there are certainly many more cost factors that must be considered, but this should give you something to think about when wondering what went into making that $300 bottle of wine and keep in mind that expensive does not always mean better. More likely it means that a lot more time and money went in to making it, which HOPEFULLY means better.

Check out Part Two next week when I get into supply and demand. There is no shortage of controversy when it comes to the reasons people buy wine and how much of it some of the most prestigious wineries make!

By: TJ Harstine

Certified Sommelier

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Lets Talk About Food and Wine…

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So often I am asked, “what is your favourite wine?” and I hate this question, because I have no answer. This drives me crazy, because wine is my career, and life to a certain extent, so how can I not have a favourite? Well I don’t have a favourite wine because I am obsessed with flavour, and there are far too many to choose from. You really want me to pick between an 02 Clos Rougeard and a 98 J.L.C. Hermitage Rouge?! No thanks, because then theres food, and when you through that in to the mix, all bets are off.

Now I would not argue with anyone that they should not have a favourite wine, I believe that you should always enjoy what you want to no matter what any snobby Somm has to say about it, but there is good advice behind some of that snobbery most of the time, now allow me to explain. Lets say your favourite wine is Caymus’s Cabernet Sauvignon, and you like to enjoy it with every meal. A fine wine indeed, but what if your not having a hearty and hefty, protein and fat rich dish this evening? Well weather you are noticing or not, or maybe just don’t want to admit it, your favourite wine tastes awful, or your dish has been rendered flavourless and unfulfilling. Curse the kitchen you say! Caymus has really dropped their quality you claim! No to both!!! You just ate a plate of perfectly made carbonara while drinking a well made Cab Sauve, unfortunately they pair about as well as toothpaste and orange juice. So how do you make the right choices when your out on the town dining at a restaurant with an extensive wine list? Well the best thing to do if you are not all that wine savvy is to ask your server for a bit of advice. Most restaurants have someone that is educated on food and wine available to help, and they can offer a recommendation that will probably blow your socks off when it is paired with careful consideration. Being a Certified Sommelier myself, I often spend too much time perusing great wine lists and start pairing up dishes with their wines while I browse the selection, but more often than not, I actually leave it to the Sommelier to pair my wine or suggest a bottle. I can not count the amount of times I have made a new and grand discovery by letting a fellow Sommelier choose my wine for me, and I cant think of an example where they steered me in a terrible direction. There seems to be a bit of fear when letting someone else make a choice for you at dinner, and I have a hard time figuring out why. I have heard a few reasons, and some are quite comical. Mostly I think diners are worried that they wont like the selection, so they play it safe and stick to what they know, but what is the fun in the same flavour over and over, do you go to the same movie twice? Are you afraid to take the medicine that a doctor orders? Probably not, they are a doctor after all, and sometimes I wish I choose Med school. So sit back, relax, and listen to your Sommelier, they wont steer you wrong, they generally leave the table pretty quick after they serve your wine, and I think you will find that they prescribe the best kind of medicine.

By: TJ Harstine /Certified Sommelier

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20 Things Only People Obsessed With Going Out to Eat Understand

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1. You don’t understand when your friends don’t remember the names of the restaurant they went to. “What do you mean it’s an Italian restaurant that maybe starts with a J or it could be a P?”

2. You plan your vacations around meals. You’ll probably visit the absolutely must-see tourist attractions, but you’re going to be squeezing them in between the stuff on your food itinerary. And when your friends tell you about their trips, your first question is, “Where did you eat?”

3. You have sent emails with the subject line “pizza.” Or “cookies.” Or “new burger place.”

4. Your Instagram account is mostly pictures of things you’ve eaten, and you feel fine about that. If someone is going to be really appalled when you photograph your sushi spread, you can resist. But for the most part, you have no problem taking a quick picture before proceeding with your meal.

5. You don’t understand people who “just aren’t that into dessert.” Like no chocolate or vanilla? If someone gave you a slice of apple pie, you wouldn’t eat it? Who are you?

FOX

6. When someone asks you for a brunch idea, you send back links to four to six different options. You also occasionally annotate them with notes like, “Haven’t been but want to try,” “Very popular, but might be too crowded,” and, “SO good.”

7. You start talking about dinner before you even order breakfast. Just because you haven’t even decided between an omelet or pancakes yet doesn’t mean you can’t look ahead to discuss that amazing pasta they’re supposed to have at the restaurant you’re going to that night.

8. You always volunteer to be the one to make the reservations because you get the OpenTable points. “I’ll take care of it!” you say, leading your friends to think you’re doing them a favor. (And you are!) But you have selfish motives as well.

9. You will also book a restaurant on OpenTable 30 minutes before you go to eat there, even if you know it won’t be that crowded. If you can get the points, why would you not get the points?

10. Friends come to you for ideas rather than using Yelp. You do request that they provide a general price range, type of food, and neighborhood though. Otherwise, it’s so hard to narrow down your favorites.

SONY PICTURES

11. You look up menus on the day you’re going to a restaurant. Sure, you’ll see the selection in a few hours, but you need a preview. You need time to consider your options. This is why they invented the expression “food for thought,” yes?

12. But you don’t even have to open the menu at some of your favorite spots.That Mexican food place down the street? Portobello burrito, no onions, please. The local Chili’s? Chicken Crispers.

13. You have a Google doc or spreadsheet of places you want to try. And it is a looooong list.

14. You are actually kind of ashamed when someone asks you about a newish restaurant and you haven’t been. You’ve totally been meaning to try it. It’s on your list. Seriously, you know, it’s supposed to be so great. And yet you have no insight into the actual dining experience. Sad, you know.

15. You consider getting a reservation somewhere impossible an achievement.You feel like you need to tell your story of triumph with friends. You are disappointed when they don’t seem to understand what a big deal it is.

16. You feel guilty about spending too much on shoes, but you are fine with splurging on a seven-course prix fixe. You can’t do this often, but every once in a while, it’s worth it for the experience.

17. You could never be with someone who was just “meh” about food. You tell your significant other that there’s a new fried chicken restaurant and he just replies “cool” or “OK”? Unacceptable.

NBC

18. You want to hear every single detail of someone else’s meal. “Yes, that chicken sounds great, but go back, what did you have for an appetizer? And did you order side dishes?”

19. Bar dining can be the best dining. You might have to spend a little time scouting out seats, but it’s one of the best ways to try out a place that you didn’t book weeks in advance or that doesn’t take reservations.

20. You can be so full, but you know you’ll probably have room for a snack later. “Ugh, that was great, but I am miserable. I’m never eating again. What? There’s a great ice cream shop around here? OK.”

Written by: Lori Fradkin | Source: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/food-cocktails/news/a34973/things-only-people-obsessed-with-going-out-to-eat-understand/

14 Dining Etiquette Rules You Need To Know

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Eating with someone you don’t know well in a professional environment is a tricky situation. On the one hand, you’re trying to get to know the person better, but on the other hand, you’re also worried about what your eating habits say about you.

The most important thing to remember, says career coach Barbara Pachter, is that you’re not there for the food. You are there for business.

In her new book The Essentials Of Business Etiquette, Pachter discusses the dining etiquette rules every professional needs to know:

1. The host should always be in charge.

This means picking an appropriate restaurant and making reservations ahead of time, which is especially important if you’re having a business lunch or dinner when it can be busy. The last thing you want is to be told there isn’t a table available for you and your guest(s).

Once you’re seated, “you need to take charge of the logistics of the meal,” Pachter says. This means directing your guests to their seats or recommending menu items in various price ranges.

2. Never pull out someone’s chair for them.

It’s okay to hold open a door for your guest, but Pachter says you shouldn’t pull someone’s chair out for them regardless of gender. “Both men and women can pull out their own chairs,” she writes. In a business setting, you should leave those social gender rules behind.

3. Consider the restaurant when figuring out dietary restrictions.

“Most people do not impose their dietary choices on others. Nevertheless, you can often judge what to order by the type of restaurant the host chooses.” Pachter says. For example, if your boss is a vegetarian but chooses to meet at a steakhouse, “by all means you can order steak,” she adds.

4. Keep the food options balanced with your guest.

This means if your guest orders an appetizer or dessert, you should follow suit. “You don’t want to make your guest feel uncomfortable by eating a course alone,” Pachter says.

5. Know the utensils’ proper locations.

Want an easy trick for remembering where the utensils go? All you need to remember is that “left” has four letters and “right” has five.

“Food is placed to the left of the dinner plate. The words food and left each have four letters; if the table is set properly, your bread or salad or any other food dish, will be placed to the left of your dinner plate,” Pachter explains. “Similarly, drinks are placed to the right of the dinner plate, and the words glass and right contain five letters. Any glass or drink will be placed to the right of the dinner plate.”

“Left and right also work for your utensils. Your fork (four letters) goes to the left; your knife and spoon (five letters each) go to the right,” she adds.

6. Know which utensils to use.

Each course should have its own utensils and all of them may already be in front of you or will be placed in front of you as the dishes are served. In the case that all the utensils are there at the beginning of the meal, a good general rule is to start with utensils on the outside and work your way in as the meal goes on.

Pachter writes: “The largest fork is generally the entrée fork. The salad fork is smaller. The largest spoon is usually the soup spoon. If you are having a fish course, you may see the fish knife and fork as part of the place setting. The utensils above the plate are the dessert fork and spoon, although these may sometimes be placed on either side of the plate or brought in with the dessert.”

7. Think “BMW” to remember where plates and glasses go.

Another trick Pachter uses for remembering proper placement of plates and glasses is simple: Remember the mnemonic BMW, which stands for bread, meal and water. “Your bread-and-butter plate is on the left, the meal is in the middle, and your water glass is on the right,” Pachter explains.

8. Always break bread with your hands.

Pachter says you should never use your knife to cut your rolls at a business dinner. “Break your roll in half and tear off one piece at a time, and butter the piece as you are ready to eat it.”

9. Know the “rest” and “finished” positions.

“Place your knife and fork in the rest position (knife on top of plate, fork across middle of plate) to let the waiter know you are resting,” Pachter says. “Use the finished position (fork below the knife, diagonally across the plate) to indicate that you have finished eating.”

10. Do not push away or stack your dishes.

“You are not the waiter. Let the wait staff do their jobs,” she advises.

11. Do not use the napkin as a tissue.

The napkin should only be used for blotting the sides of your mouth. If you need to blow your nose, Pachter says to excuse yourself to the bathroom.

12. Never ask for a to-go box.

“You are there for business, not for the leftovers,” Pachter writes. “Doggie bags are okay for family dinners but not during professional occasions.”

13. The host should always pay.

This one can be a bit tricky, explains Pachter. “If you did the inviting, you are the host, and you should pay the bill, regardless of gender. What if a male guest wants to pay? A woman does have some choices. She can say, ‘Oh, it’s not me; it is the firm that is paying.’ Or she can excuse herself from the table and pay the bill away from the guests. This option works for men as well, and it is a very refined way to pay a bill.

“However, the bottom line is that you don’t want to fight over a bill,” she says. “If a male guest insists on paying despite a female host’s best efforts, let him pay.”

14. Always say “please” and “thank you” to wait staff.

“Do not complain or criticize the service or food,” Pachter says. “Your complaints will appear negative, and it is an insult to your host to criticize.”

 

Written By:  | Source: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/14-dining-etiquette-rules-you-need-to-know/

 

 

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A Smiling Face is Worth It with Chef Shonn Oborowsky

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Why do I put up with the long hours, the heat, the problems, all the of hassles that go into running a successful restaurant?

It’s really the simplest of answers. And it’s not the money.

I love making people smile with food. The look on their face when they take that first mouthful. That’s worth everything to me. After 18 years in the restaurant business, I have seen hundreds, probably thousands, of smiling faces, but that sensation never gets old. That’s why I continue to develop new plates every single week. I never want to get bored serving my food because I don’t want that feeling coming out on a plate to my valued customers. If I’m still inspired to cook, they are still inspired to eat my food.

There are rare moments when I do feel some discouragement and it often comes when customers want to change a dish. I have spent hours coming up the right combinations, and yet some feel compelled to alter it. I will most certainly make a change if someone has an allergy, that goes without saying. But when I assemble all the pieces of a dish, I have already spent the time and effort to put it together properly. I hope people understand that and don’t make changes when those changes most often put something on the plate that doesn’t belong there.

Unlike many other chefs and even professional athletes or musicians, I do my read my reviews. I may not agree with everything that is written but I wholeheartedly disagree with the professionals who say they don’t read their reviews or care what is written or said about them. I always read my reviews. They are valuable observations and opinions from an unbiased outsider and useful for determining what is going well or not so well with your restaurant.

I like to change my plates and my resources over the course of a year, especially to take advantage of seasonal highlights. One thing I’d love to see is that suppliers come to the realization that higher end restaurants have the desire to serve different and better products from time to time. Our demand is there but is has yet to be met. I want grants for greenhouses, for the growers, so we can have local produce year-round. Perhaps the City of Edmonton will hear us out on that matter sooner rather than later.

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Changes for the Better

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Restaurants come and go. The good ones last for years. The not-so good ones are gone before you know it.

I think what has kept Characters around for 16 years has been our willingness, maybe even eagerness, to change. I might not even call it change. Change sounds like things weren’t going well so we needed to change in order to make corrections. I think a better way to put it is evolve and adapt. Another is a refusal to stay stagnant.

If it wasn’t for evolving, adapting, and refusing to stay in one direction, I don’t think we’d have become as successful as we have. Our menu changes reflect not only seasonal moves, but changes in mood, changes in vendors and product, and changes in customer desires. As an example, a restaurant might have had salmon on the menu for years – different glazes, different cooking styles, different ways it is served, but it’s still salmon. After a while, the cooks become bored with it. Even the customers who love salmon are tired. So now with that in mind and availability of new products, like sea bass, a change is made to menu. The cooks are re-invigorated and so too are the customers. Change is good.

Some things are hard to change, though. For Characters, it is virtually impossible to change the physical characteristics of our building. If I could I would move the kitchen to the back of our space to alleviate some of the noise. Then I could hit a bell to call for food to be picked up. It might be fun for me but the servers would hate it so we’re probably better off in the long run.

What I do like, and it won’t change, is our rustic look and feel to the interior. The brick is timeless with a great combination of style and strength. The dark coloring is offset by the crisp white linen tablecloths for a striking overall appeal.

Change will come to some degree as the downtown core becomes a greater hub activity with the impending opening of the new Rogers Place arena – home of the Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Oil Kings and surely hundreds of great concerts. Along with the new arena is the coming of additional office space like the Stantec building and residential structures as well.

For Characters, that will bring change in terms of increased business lunch traffic and longer dinner hours. We’ll quite likely open a little earlier for dinner and possibly stay open a little later. But that’s a change we welcome with open arms.

  • Characters Fine Dining

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23 Excellent Reasons To Drink More Wine

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1. You get to use a variety of really cool glasses.

You get to use a variety of really cool glasses.

2. Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, seem to have a lower risk of heart disease.

The MAYO CLINIC says so and that’s good enough for me.

3. You can’t make cool wine bottle lights without empty bottles.

You can't make cool wine bottle lights without empty bottles.

You can figure out how to make the bottles empty. Instructions here.

4. Kalimotxos are delicious.

It’s red wine and Coca-Cola, and before you knock it, try one! Trust me.

5. The term “one glass” is always relative.

The term "one glass" is always relative.

($17.99 from HomeWetBar.)

6. Because wine bottles come with such pretty labels.

Which, let’s be honest, is half the reason you bought the bottle in the first place.

7. Wine keeps your memory sharp.

Well, maybe not in the short term (i.e., after four glasses). But a Columbia University study found that brain function declines at a markedly faster rate in nondrinkers than in moderate drinkers.

8. Wine drinkers have a 34% lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers.

It’s SCIENCE. Pass the Riesling!

9. Wine enhances the already lovely flavors of your favorite foods.

Wine enhances the already lovely flavors of your favorite foods.

(Click here for larger chart.)

10. Drinking wine can contribute to the atmosphere of any book club.

Drinking wine can contribute to the atmosphere of any book club.

You’re ONLY drinking to have something to do in between discussing chapters, right?

11. You don’t have to spend over $20 (nay, over $10!) to drink something halfway tasty.

12. Because sometimes adults need sippy cups too.

Because sometimes adults need sippy cups too.

VINO2GO cup, $10.49 at Perpetual Kid.

13. Because you can find wine named after all your favorite desserts.

14. Wine is super portable.

Especially with this wine bottle-toting tote. And this flask bra.

15. The polyphenols in red wine can help prevent gum disease.

I am interested in keeping my gums around. Cheers!

16. You can make a chair out of wine corks!

You can make a chair out of wine corks!

It’s urgent that you drink wine so you can fulfill your basic human needs like STRUCTURE and FURNITURE.

17. You can fake wine knowledge pretty easily.

Here’s a starter guide. Say “oaky” a lot.

18. Cabernet sauvignon, petit syrah, and pinot noir have the most flavonoids.

Those are the good antioxidants that have been shown to inhibit tumor development in certain cancers. Better drink up.

19. Because you can’t fill this with beer cans, now can you?

Because you can't fill this with beer cans, now can you?

20. Champagne contains about 10 fewer calories per serving than non-sparkling wine and typically comes in a smaller serving size, making it a healthier choice.

So basically, champagne = a kale salad.

21. You can even consume wine in ICE CREAM FORM.

That’s ice cream containing 5% alcohol. Don’t mind if I do!

22. Because you don’t even have to leave the house to get the full effect.

Because you don't even have to leave the house to get the full effect.

(You need this shirt.)

23. Drinking wine can reduce the risk of depression.

23 Excellent Reasons To Drink More Wine

A study in the BMC Medical journal found that two to seven glasses of wine a week may reduce depression.

L’chaim!

L'chaim!

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The inspiration behind Chef Shonn becoming a Chef & you won’t believe it.

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A great many big names have been the inspirations behind someone becoming a chef.

Maybe it was one of the all-time legends like Julia Child or perhaps a TV-created “celebrity chef” like Gordon Ramsey, Bobby Flay or Jamie Oliver.

For me, yes, you could say it was a celebrity … but not like you’d think. My inspiration was Jack Tripper. He wasn’t even a real person but he was one heck of cook. I knew from watching him on Three’s Company, probably when I was around eight years old, that I wanted to be like him. My purpose in life was to become a real-life Jack Tripper, a star in the kitchen but with a fantastic sense of humor, too. If you’re old enough like me to remember Three’s Company, you might remember the episode when Jack had to cook for a mobster and thought he’d send him a message by overloading the linguini and clams with piles of black pepper. His eyes bugged out when that blast of spice hit his mouth. Turned out, the mobster loved it. Awesome.

Being a chef isn’t about a lot of laughs, though as much as Jack Tripper made it look so humorous and fun. It takes a great deal of time and effort. Thankfully, the passion that Jack Tripper gave me developed my work ethic and drive to succeed. I wanted to be the best I could be in the kitchen. I worked hard because I wanted to. I cared about being the best I could be and the result of that drive has certainly paid off.

I do want to pass that drive down to my kids, but I would much prefer they find their passion in something other than being in the restaurant business. TV makes it look so easy, so glamorous. Unfortunately, it is not. It is a rough business, ugly at times. The hours. The missed special occasions and holidays. The drug and alcohol abuse. I want to shelter my kids from that as best as I can.

But I would want to pass down certain aspects of being a professional chef. Be dedicated. Be organized. Work hard and work clean. Work smart.

Those capabilities are admirable ones no matter what line of work they choose.

Character ” A set of qualities that make a place or thing different from other places or things.”

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Location: 10257 – 105 Street, Edmonton, Alberta Canada

 

54 FREE THINGS TO DO IN EDMONTON THIS SUMMER (2016)

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Summer is expensive. A weekend trip out of town can easily break the bank, leaving less room in the budget for the fun things to explore in the city. Summer camps can leave you feeling drained, causing you to look for inexpensive and free things to do in Edmonton with kids.

Don’t worry, there’s lots to do in Edmonton, for free, through the summer. We’ve got you covered. Try out some of these activities to have cheap fun in Edmonton.

1. Play at one of the top Spray Parks in Edmonton

2. Cool off and wade at the Legislature grounds. Bonus points if you run through the colored fountains at dusk.

3. Watch the K Days Parade, and get some free pancakes.

4. Scale the biggest slide in the city and cool off at Remax Spray Park and playground in Sherwood Park (pictured above!)

5. Get entertained by the Street Performers at Churchill Square while the kids play in the kids area at the festival

6. Take in an outdoor movie during Movies on the Square, or find scheduled ones on our events calendar

7. Park near Sheriff Robertson Park (111 Ave and 81 St) and take a walk through the Kinnaird Ravine. Look at the murals, and climb on rocks that look like ‘hoodoos’.

8. Enjoy a pancake breakfast for free to kick of K-days

9. Check out the Art Gallery of Alberta. You can get free admission on the last Thursday of the month from 6-9

10. Get entertained, eat, and browse for new home inspiration at one of the Show Home openings in Edmonton (to stay up to date on these fun, and free, events – follow our Events Calendar)

11. Take a walk through Mactaggart Sanctuary

12. Take part in a ‘Playground Hop’ and visit the top ten playgrounds in Edmonton

13. Bicycle through Borden Park and have a look at the sculptures and play at one of our favorite playgrounds in the city

14. Get free admission (for kids) to the Saturday Movie at Metro Cinemas

15. Enjoy Free entertainment at the Fringe Festival

16. Get a Free Lego mini build set from the Lego Store

17. Downtown Walking tours are free and available all summer long

18. Browse through Chapters and discover a new children’s book author

19. Take a free Dance class from Ivivva (Sunday mornings, in-store)

20. Join the free computer camps at the Apple Store and Microsoft stores, through the summer (pre-registration required)

21. Play two free bowling games every single day over the summer

22. Take part in the Bonnie Doon Kids Club (toddlers, little kids) on the third Thursday of the month

23. Get out of town – Bring your tubes and float down Whitecourt’s Rotary Park for an easy way to cool off (that’s free!)

24. Watch a Dragon boat race at the Dragon Boat Festival

25. Drop into your local community association and buy a membership and get free swimming at the local pool(through select memberships, at weekly intervals)

26. Get on the bikes and try a new course at the Strathcona County Bike Skills Park

27. Head over to the University of Alberta Observatory to learn more about the stars

28. Check out the Zipline at the new Dino Park in Leduc (The grand opening is on July 25)

29. Check out the Green Shack programs at a local park – Our favorite is Kinsmen, where there are staff all day to entertain the kids and encourage them to get out and play. Find the full city Green Shack program list, here

30. Head over to the Farmer’s Market at Callingwood for Kids Event days with free bouncy castles and petting zoos to entertain the kids

31. Or, join the Sprouts Kids Club at the Southwest Edmonton Farmer’s Market for free kids fun (and credit to the Farmer’s Market).

32. Take the kids to the monthly workshop at the Home Depot and build something to bring home (activities are themed monthly)

33. Listen to the free Disney Fantasia in the Square, by the Winspear Center

34. Get cultured at the Works Art + Design Festival

35. Visit the St. Albert Botanical Park

36. Follow our event calendar for FREE outdoor movie locations and showings, throughout the city

37. Get introduced to Caribbean Culture at Cariwest

38. Take a free Light Saber Training class (there are kids sessions and adult sessions)

39. Take part in Family Nature Nights in Edmonton, two hour long events in July and August where families can come out, learn something new and have fun.

40. Go on a sustainable walking tour offered through the University of Alberta

41. Make a temporary tattoo stand. Grab some tattoos, set up like a lemonade stand and offer a little bit of summer to passerbys with a free tattoo

42. Take one of the drop-in classes at Michaels. Classes are free, and there are fun things like bracelet making and tye-dye – Even the paid classes are very cheap, $12/3 classes all summer long.

43. Find a makeshift swing on a trail in the River Valley

44. Catch the view at one of the best places to watch the Sunset in Edmonton

45. Take part in the festivities at Edmonton River Day, or other festivals throughout the city. All festivals have many free events for children and families to take part in. Bring your lunch, and have some fun.

46. Take part in an epic water fight. There’s the ‘biggest waterfight’ being planned for the summer – and we will let you know when more details come available.

47. Check out your local Parent Link organization, from free playdates at the park, to ice cream parties and even toy lending libraries – you’ll find many free activities for the kids to take part in.

48. Fly a Kite on a Windy Day at Hawerlawk Park

49. Go to the Edmonton Air Show (kids under 6 are free)

50. Scope out the sand sculptures at Sand on Whyte (extended until July 17)

51. Catch frogs in the marsh at the Sherwood Park Natural Area

52. Plan a road trip to go kid friendly tubing at Red Deer Discovery Canyon – bring your own tube, it’s free.

53. Host a movie night in your own backyard. Find a friend with a projector, hang a sheet for the screen and watch movies as the sun goes down.

54. Explore one of these best trails and places to ride bikes, with kids, in Edmonton and area

55. Use our Guide to Geocaching and get out there and go on your own treasure hunt this summer, with the kids.

56. St. Albert kids can take part in daily programming at local parks, with the Cruisin’ Clubhouse

57. Take part in a Saturday morning Physical Activity class for kids, it’s a great way to get active and tire out the kids bright and early

58. Run through the colored rainbow of balls and structures at the Meadows Splash Pad, outside of the Meadows Rec Centre

59. Take your tubes and plan an afternoon spent on the river – at Range Road 23 Park

60. Test the Zipline at one of our newest favourite playground discoveries

61. Catch an outdoor movie, watch The Good Dinosaur outside at Jurassic Forest

62. Check out the FREE kids golf course at Stony Plain Golf Course

63. Check out a local Fire Station open House

64. Attend one of the many free programs to attend at the Edmonton Public Library and while you’re there, sign up for the free summer reading club

65. Ride on the Zipline and climb the fun structure at Florence Hallock School Playground

Source: www.raisingedmonton.com/54-free-things-to-do-in-edmonton-this-summer-yeg-yegkids-yegevents/

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Inside the Mind of Chef Shonn Oborowsky Characters Fine Dining

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I’ve been asked a number of times throughout my career what got me into cooking and what made me decide to be a chef.

My answer isn’t very dramatic or at least it wasn’t intended to be. I view cooking, particularly the high-end, dedicated work that is done in the kitchen of Characters is art. I’m not a painter, a sculptor, a musician, or an architect. But I am an artist. My canvas, my clay, my paper, my blueprint is food. My tools are knives, forks, and plates.

I never wanted to communicate what I feel through other forms of art. I wanted to make people understand what’s in my head and my heart through my food, and in turn, I hope they appreciate my art and it makes them happy.

Just like an artist who changes his work, I like to change mine as well. We’ll call it stirring things up. I do that by changing my menu. Something comes into my head or my heart, I get a thought process rolling, and I want to make some changes. I get antsy doing the same thing over and over again, which is the very definition of insanity. I don’t want to ever get bored or complacent with my cooking. It helps a great deal to utilize seasonal changes in food availability to shake up the menu, give it some new twists, and keep the creative juices flowing. Those never go out of season.

How these changes come about vary a great deal. Basically it comes down to just seeing things differently. For example, you and I both see a rock. But the colors, the shape, how it sits, how it feels might spring to mind something to me that I can put on a plate. That’s just how my mind works.- Shonn Oborowsky

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