When a local gastronomic experience presents itself and it involves a good and comfortable pair of walking shoes, you know you’re not just giving your tastebuds a workout.
Entrepreneur Karen Anderson has expanded her successful food tour enterprise and is now taking adventurous groups to seven separate food locations to not only share great food and drink, but to share a physical experience involving the sights, sounds and history behind Canmore.
The seven businesses comprising Anderson’s food tour include: Communitea Café, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co., Canmore Wine Merchants, Mountain Mercato, Edible Life, Gaucho Brazilian Barbecue and Blake’s PD3. The tour consists of a five-kilometre walk Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., with tastings at each local food business while exploring Canmore’s history and culture. Tickets are $125 per person.
“They have to be for the community, they have to be warm and their quality has to be there,” Anderson said on who she approached to take part in the food tour.
Along with the seven tastings on the tour, Anderson offers stories of how Canmore started as a mining town, about how the area was an anthropology site and in demand during the world wars … talks about artists coming and staying and then discusses the importance of the 1988 Olympics and how athletes stayed. She also speaks to the climbing culture, points out art venues and galleries and showcases the community garden located by Lawrence Grassi Elementary School.
“We also talk about the importance of food security in a mountain town,” Anderson said.
“We take them on a little nature walk along Policemen’s Creek, we talk about why there’s a giant sculpture of a head, the Northwest Mounted Police and the history of the Canmore Hotel – and it definitely gets colourful at times with the history.”
A few locals who have taken the tour told Anderson they were quite surprised with what they learned during the excursion.
“The goal is so people can understand Canmore’s culture through its food. In Alberta we have seven signature foods, so we try to weave those foods into the story as well,” Anderson said.
“They are beef, bison, root vegetables, Saskatoon berries, canola, red fife wheat and honey. We want people to think about Alberta and think of these famous foods.
“Canadians are only just beginning to articulate if they are asked what our foods are; most Canadians still struggle with a food identity. We’re really trying to form a narrative so when people leave they can tell people if they are in Alberta you have to try Valbella’s smoked bison, which people are able to try at Mountain Mercato during the food tour. We’re really trying to leave an indelible impression upon people.”
How exactly do you navigate a food tour through a busy tourist destination during peak hours? “We did something creative with Marnie Danserau, who owns Communitea Café where we pick up her Rocky Mountain hikers wraps in a little reusable container and then we take them to our meeting point,” Anderson said.
“We don’t have to go inside that business, but we can still talk about that business, we walk by it, we point it out.”
A relaxing 40 minutes is slotted inside Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. for a tasting of salads, pizza, beer and wine for a seated rest stop and a substantial meal.
“Then we go into Canmore Wine Merchants and take part in a tasting and learn about the shop,” Anderson said. “At Mountain Mercato we go around the back alley because they have a secret garden back there, and they put together items that particularly promote the products she carries that promote local business.”
The tour then heads to Edible Life, which Anderson chose for its esthetic of a healthy, outdoor and active establishment offering “beautiful food.
“We are then able to walk by Grizzly Paw Brewery and talk about it and its tasting program. We point out Elevation Place and the art guild where Blake’s new restaurant is going to be located, and Rave Coffee,” Anderson said.
“We’re orienting people – telling them Sage is down the road, Crazyweed is down the road. Anderson offers a map with each place she takes the tour noted, but also lists other areas of where to hike, eat and drink.
“Then we sit at Gaucho and eat amazing Brazilian beef and salad, walk a bit further and finish in fun fashion at Blake’s PD3 converted double decker bus,” Anderson said. “I’ve always admired these businesses ethics, and how they give back to the community and how many local food businesses they source from and just want to share it.”
Visit, www.canmorefoodtours.com for more information and to book. Canmore Tasting Trail runs Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.