An Outfit for The Braids

Have you heard of The Braids? If not, you will soon enough. This originally-from-Calgary, now-from Montreal band won my heart (and Michelle’s) last night. They’re officially my new favourite.

I’m not the first to fall under their spell. In December, the UK’s Guardian said it’s “time to welcome Braids to the pantheon of new Very Important Bands.” In January, The Globe and Mail wrote, “the band’s debut album is what the early adopters of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene are going to be listening to and talking about this year.”

I could write more but my ears are ringing and it’s late. Michelle and I saw The Braids tonight (Wednesday night) at the Grand Theatre, my favourite local venue for bands. It’s time for me to go to bed.

Earlier, I threw together a fun concert outfit that works great at a venue like the Grand.

These 4-pocket trouser jeans in Bleecker Vintage from 7 For All Mankind (which just opened at Chinook if you’re looking for a pair.)

My new favourite top, this swingy electric blue Thayer tank:

This printed kimono from Zara. I’m addicted to the new kimonos/”bed jackets” everywhere this spring. They do the job of a cardigan without being too Grandma-ish.

I can’t get enough of these Barberis boots from Aldo. They’re comfy and offer suitable protection for nights when your shoes are likely to get hit snow, rain and/or beer.

Throw on some long gold necklaces and grab one of the small purses seeing everywhere this spring. I own this one from BCBG.

Have a great day, lovelies! Now, I’m off to bed.


PS – A sad note, Velvet — one of my favourite restaurants in the town and the mainstay of the Grand’s lobby — closed March 27.


Three Ways to Enjoy Wine

I just heard about The Wine Summit Lake Louise 2011, which takes place at the Post Hotel & Spa from May 26 to 29.

Wine is one of my favourite things. And the Post Hotel is one of my favourite hotels. Hence, I’m thinking this would be a cool shindig to attend.

My first visit to the Post was two Novembers ago, when I went with my friend, Jen, as the “date” to her company Christmas party. What a weekend. From the dinner we had in the wine cellar to the body wraps we had in their cozy spa, everything was top-notch. We even made some friends in the lobby:

We then made some human friends at a bar in Lake Louise, who kept handing us glasses of champagne. When we’d had enough — but they insisted we have more — we came up with creative ways to dispose of the bubbly:

Those friends ended up inviting us to Edmonton last summer to watch the Indy, as they own a racing team. Things went awry in Edmonton, though, and we never made it to the race. Jen and I changed our BlackBerry statuses to read, “On the outs with Tagliani and the crew of 75,” which made us laugh the whole drive back to Calgary.

But, back to the Post.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the hotel a few times since that first visit. Every time, the service has blown me away. For example, during a recent stay, we called the front desk to for a wine-opener. The time it took to arrive? Three minutes. On a silver platter.

They don’t mess around at the Post. Which is why, if I were the happy owner of a money tree, I would head to the Wine Summit.

Seeing as a money tree is not in my possession, I will check out Shelley Boettcher’s blog, Uncorked in Calgary, which we link to in our blogroll and has the lowdown on all kinds of great events in and around town. Maybe I can hit a tasting sometime soon.

And, as a third, last and economical choice, I will buy a bottle of wine and enjoy it with friends. I’m looking for a new white to enjoy. What have you been loving lately?



Motion Traxx

Oof. I’m still smarting from a spinning workout on the weekend. When I sit down, I’m never quite sure that I’m going to stand up again. I’m glowing, too, the way you do after a great workout.

I had no photographer to record it for posterity so here’s me on a completely unrelated, much easier cruise through Berlin.

Because the post-workout pain/glow came from a solo workout rather than a class, you can experience it, too.

It’s from Motion Traxx, a fitness music podcast from Deekron, The Fitness DJ. Let me rephrase, that’s a free fitness music podcast.


Based on plenty of glowing reviews, I decided to check out a coached cycling podcast from Gregg Cook, a popular spin instructor at NYC’s Equinox. I’ve heard he’s amazing so on Sunday, my iPod, Gregg and I hit the gym.

Gregg — we’re on a first name basis  although he’s never heard of me –  tells you to imagine you’re out for an afternoon road ride with a group of 16 cyclist friends. Everyone’s fit and competitive. There’s no March snow in this dreamed-up world.

He leads you over three tough hills as you take on challenges from other riders. At one point, I was pushing my way the top of a steep, steep hill, standing out of my seat, breathing like a horse on the last stretch of the Kentucky Derby, struggling desperately to stay ahead of another rider.

Then, I suddenly remembered I was at the gym, the other rider was imaginary and I looked crazy.

All in all, a great workout, notwithstanding my pride.

Everything is timed to music, so when Gregg tells you –  shouts at you — to push, push, push at 110 RPM, you have an appropriately motivating soundtrack to get there.

The workout is as good as everything you’ll get in a spin class, but you can do it on your own schedule. Until it stops snowing, it’s a good way to pretend you’re actually out on your bike.


PS – The workout I tried was Get Cyc’d, Part II. I enjoyed it enough that I’m going to try this coached running podcast tonight.


Coconut and Chili Pan-Fried Halibut

Ever since visiting Calgary’s Mango Shiva for a delicious dinner a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been craving more Indian food. Which is how I came to try this Coconut and Chili Pan-Fried Halibut recipe from a cookbook called Indian Food Made Easy.

And friends, it did not disappoint.

I’m actually writing this blog post minutes after finishing dinner. Yes, I’m a bad host to my guest. But this is how excited I am to share the recipe with you.

You could serve this dish with a salad, as the author, Anjum Anand, recommends, or with a pile of veggies. My side dish was a concoction that was all my own — loads of veggies cooked in coconut milk, garlic and red curry paste, with lentils stirred in at the very end.

Whatever you serve it with, the fish will make your tastebuds happy. I promise.

Coconut and Chili Pan-Fried Halibut
  • 2 halibut steaks or other firm white fish
  • 2 heaped tbsp shredded coconut
  • 2 heaped tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lemon, to serve


  • 3/4 to 1 large fat red chili, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/4 in. fresh ginger, roughly chopped *I just threw in a spoonful of grated ginger from the jar
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 8 fenugreek seeds *I didn’t know what these were, let alone where to find them, so my fish was, sadly, sans fenugreek seeds
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

Pound or blend together the marinade ingredients to make a fine puree. Over-season the mixture slightly, as it will be absorbed by the fish. Place the fish in the marinade in a nonmetallic bowl, and leave for at least 30 minutes.

Mix together the coconut and the flour. Maintaining a generous coating of the puree, coat both sides of the fish steaks well in the dry mixture. *I should note here that I bought fillets instead of steaks — because they looked more fresh — and I chopped them into big chunks. I tossed the chunks in the coconut and flour mixture, and it worked just fine.*

Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan and, when hot, add the fish. Cook on a low heat without moving the fish for 4 minutes, then turn over and cook on the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes or until done. Squeeze some lemon juice over the fish and serve with a hot salad.

Serves 2.




Things We Like

Here we go — Things We Like Fridays, part II!

  • This cat, who Chris met on an island off the coast of Portugal. He lives at a beach bar. He looks like he has a very good philosophy on life, no?

  • For anyone gearing up for a big race this spring, check out these running tips from legendary running coach Jack Daniels.
  • Need plans for Saturday night? May we suggest a group of friends and a game of Cranium?
  • This makeup brush from Bobbi Brown. The. Softest. Ever.
  • Come, Thou Tortoise, an outstanding read by Canadian writer Jessica Grant. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to buy a pet tortoise.
  • We like that H&M will be opening its flagship store at the Core shopping centre on April 14.
  • On the shopping front, Chris is taking a day off next week to shop with her mom. They’re shopping for her Mother-of-The-Groom dress. Any local shop suggestions?
  • Also on the shopping front, Gravity Pope has extended their penny sale until Monday. Buy one, get the second sale pair for a penny. Consider yourself warned.
  • Charming nephew Lukas. Check out how cute he is here. And the Calgary-based husband-wife photographers, f8, are also pretty fantastic.
  • On the topic of photographers, we also dig Bryan Helm. Michelle works with his mom — a woman Michelle considers to be her “at work mom” — so, not so technically speaking, Bryan is somewhat related. His photography is stunning. Check out his Motorcyle Culture collection, which is in the running for a Focus Project 2011 award. (You can vote for him there, too!)

Have a wonderful first weekend of spring, lovelies!

~The Toque Girls