Jody Robbins | Travels with Baggage - A a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust
Boozy slurpee

Cool cups contain even cooler cocktails

When we were kids, slurpees were one of the best parts of summer. Now that I’m older, I won’t go near that shit. All that dye and sugar. No thanks! But a boozy slurpee? That’s another story, especially when the slurpee is made with only water, fresh lemon juice, agave and a dash pectin. Yes, friends, “healthy” slurpees are available at the new National on 8th.

Ping pong table on rooftop patio

Care for a game?

Located where West was once, this is the fourth outpost of the trendy gastro pub. It’s got all the great NTNL features like bourbon cocktails and an oyster bar, but NTNL 8 has two additional awesome things going for it. The slurpees and their patio (perhaps the city’s best patio). With panoramic views of Calgary’s skyline and a ping pong table, you can easily spend an entire night at their rooftop beer garden.

But back to the slurpees. They were light, tart and deceptively boozy (some have 2 ounces of alcohol). I was in love with the Bees Knees (as you can see, my good friend Gabe was equally enamoured).

Gabe Hall

Made with gin and lavender honey (Ryan’s honey from Fallen Timber Meadery just outside of the city), the Bees Knees was flowery, but not overly so. The Banana Colada comprised of aged rum and coconut syrup also got the thumbs up. Other slurpee flavours include: rose wine, margarita, bourbon strawberry lemonade (just like their infamous cocktail!) and guy favourite, negroni.

yellow plastic cups

And this is why toonie bars at weddings were invented

They don’t pre-mix booze in the slurpee machine, so if you’re abstaining, you can still treat yourself to a fun, frosted drink.

NTNL 8

These bros love the corn dogs, yo!

Besides boozy bevvies, you can tuck into National’s upscale pub grub. There’s short ribs, great sliders (pork belly is my fave), deep fried pickles and their awesome tater tots (best dipped in hot sauce).

Jody Robbins and Reid Fiest

A night here goes by way too fast, especially after a few slurpees. I may have had one too many and gotten overly friendly with Global News Anchor Reid Fiest.  Then again, he didn’t seem to mind.

What’s your favourite summer patio?

P.S. You also might like Bowling at National on 10th and Poolside Yoga at Hotel Arts

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s been awhile, I know, but I’ve been on holiday with my girl in the Maritimes for a little over a week. We had such a lovely trip to PEI and New Brunswick, eating far too many lobsters and ice cream! Here’s a look at some links that caught my eye recently. Hope you enjoy!

Bison roaming

Ha! Our Instagram life vs reality.

5 Ways to make fewer decisions.

Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes.

Are you loving all the cherries this season? Use them up in these decadent black forest cupcakes.

How big of a bitch are you? Find out with this quiz.

If only I could be this carefree! What Italian women wear in the pool.

The 7 things all stylish women own. I’ve only got four:(

I’m barely cooking this summer, so I liked this ramen noodle upgrade.

If you’re a parent, you should aspire to this. 12 ways to be the meanest mom in the world.

Why it might not be a bad idea to use a motivational password (though, don’t admit it unless you want me to bully you).

Only 7? Foods Canadian ex-pats take for granted.

The Wet Brush

Most women I know would never work through wet hair with a brush. We’ve been taught that it breaks off the hair and it’s just way healthier to use a comb. Trouble is, it’s annoying to switch from comb to brush when you’re blowing out and who wants to pack both when you’re travelling? The solution is…. the Wet Brush.

When I recently got my hair Botoxed, my stylist “combed” through my hair using this bad boy. “Are you allowed to do that?” I asked worriedly. He replied that he most certainly was, and told me I ought to pick one up for myself. His salon didn’t carry it, but Chatters and most of those other sub-standard salons in the mall do, too.

It was love at first brush! It’s lightweight, doesn’t pull and most importantly, my daughter’s been converted. She was under the impression that fiercely brushing her hair was easier for detangling than going through with a comb. I was forever fearful this practice would set her up for a lifetime of frizzy hair.

With the Wet Brush, we’ve reached I compromise. I don’t have to nag and she gets through her hair easily and neatly. I think I paid about $14 for it. #worthit

P.S. You also might like Botox for Hair and Tip of the week: Organix Coconut Milk Shampoo.

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The best part of summer has got to be all the alfresco dining options. Patios are great and all, but when so many of them back onto busy streets, it’s not exactly a tranquil experience. That’s why I’m a huge fan of picnicking. I’ve got a lovely wicker basket I pull out a few times a year, but best is having someone make it up for you. When I found out River Cafe offers picnic baskets all ready to go, I immediately started drooling.

River Cafe picnic

River Café Picnic Baskets include the basket and all the proper accouterments such as linen napkins, a blanket and cutlery. You have to order 24-hours in advance and then pick up at their restaurant on Prince’s Island Park. These picnic baskets are perfect for those lazy days when you can’t bear to cook and just want to watch the afternoon shadows elongate over the banks of the Bow River. But they’re also ideal for day trips to the mountains or touring the Bow River bike paths.

What’s on the menu? Start with fresh fruit plucked straight from the Okanagan, plus a green bean and quinoa slaw with a yummy lemon mint vinaigrette. There’s rosemary smoked almonds, candied ocean-wise salmon and Sylvan Star gouda with home-made seed and cranberry crisps. Then comes the entree. Choose between Gull Valley grilled eggplant, roast sirloin or naturally-raised chicken sandwiches. Finish off with organic cookies and perhaps a lovely bottle of vino (you’ve packed yourself). Substitutions are no problem. River Cafe can accommodate celiacs, vegetarians and any food allergies.

Naturally, you have to return the picnic basket, cutlery and linen napkins, but if you’re biking or hiking they can pack everything for you in a paper bag with compostable cutlery.

Who wants to sneak away with me to Prince’s island park for a taste of summer?

Picnic Baskets are available until September
$35 per/person
Order online: www.river-cafe.com or by phone: 403-261-7670

P.S. You also might like: Brunch at NOtaBLE and Poolside Yoga at Hotel Arts.

Calgary doesn’t really have much of a brunch culture. For sure we have a breakfast culture, with all our fab diners, but a NYC-style, boozy brunch is hard to come by. I suspect that’s all about to change once word gets out about NOtaBLE.

NOtaBLE is one of my favourite Calgary restaurants. Owned by Iron Chef competitor Michael Noble, this is where I’ve had many an anniversary or birthday dinner. Aside from the odd lunch, I don’t usually hit this place up during daylight. With live music every second weekend and a new brunch menu, it’s totally got it going on.

Last Sunday I ran into my good friend Misty and her adorable son at NOtaBLE, which was awesome because Misty’s a total foodie who doesn’t mind sharing plates (and drinks). We joined tables and I was able to get my lovely, leisurely brunch experience with family and friends.

steak and eggs

Dan and Eve split the Flat Iron Steak that came with potatoes and the freshest looking tomato salad. Misty’s son ate cake, AKA Banana Bread Panini sandwiched together with Nutella. Even though it wasn’t mine, I couldn’t stop picking at it, that’s how good it was. If you’re ordering it for kids, you might want to ask for the lemon curd and pineapple banana compote to be served on the side.

Notable breakfast pizza

Misty and I split a NOtaBLE Skillet and Breakfast Pizza topped with duck confit, Camembert, potatoes and a poached egg. It was nice, but not my fave.

spanish breakfast skillet

The best brunch item in my books is the Skillet. Comprised of of a Spanish tortilla wedge (like a thick omelette with potatoes in it), smoky in-house made chorizo, poached egg and brown butter hollandaise, it was comforting, while tasting slightly exotic.

Notable cocktails

We washed it all back with well pickled Caesars and a divine Lavender Rhubarb Lemonade. That green hued cocktail was a winner as well. It’s NOtaBLE the III made with Grey Goose L’Orange, mint syrup, fresh lime and Sprite. Delish!

fratello coffee roasters

There are no lattes nor espresso on tap, but you can perk up with a proper medium bodied cup of drip coffee or French press. Chef Noble created his own blend with local roasters the Fratello Coffee Roasters, which received the thumbs up from the caffeine abuser at our table.

All too soon, our plates were polished off, cocktails kaput and wee-ones ready to go. We came, we ate, we conquered. But I’ll be back to attack NOtaBLE again for brunch. Of that, you can be sure.

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