Focus on My City

In need of a mini vacation, I was racking my brain for day trip ideas for Cole and I. Between working, friends, and family, it gets pretty difficult to find quality time together where we can shut off our phones and simply enjoy each other’s company.

So, when Ford Canada asked if I would like to put their new Ford Focus through the paces, I thought it was the perfect excuse to get away. When they asked for my suggested itinerary for a day in Calgary, I quickly pointed out that one of the best things about Calgary is that there is so much else to do nearby.

After debating between a variety of options, I settled on a road trip to Drumheller. Only an hour and a half or so outside Calgary, it was the perfect new adventure for a day of exploring.

We picked up our ride early in the morning and headed out in search of (human) fuel. The first stop? Breakfast at Blue Star Diner. We had both heard great things about it, but had never been willing to either wake up early or brace the lineup. Seeing as we were now already up early, we seized the opportunity.

We used the Focus’s handy-dandy park-assist feature to snag a parking spot in Bridgeland, and popped in just short of 9 AM. There was still a line, but within ten minutes or so we were seated at a lovely table for two.

We sipped our morning beverages while the menu tempted us with french toast, hot cereal, and a variety of eggs bennies.

I ended up being rather boring and went for the classic – two eggs, toast, and red potato hash. It was good, but nothing to write home about.

Cole, went for a little more adventurous option and ordered the chipotle pulled pork hash. His bowl came out stuffed with tender slices of pulled pork shoulder, marinated with a chipotle-lime sauce, and topped with eggs and potatoes. Easily the better option of the two if you’re looking for something hearty.

As we ate, we used the time to hanker down and make a game plan for the day. I had really been craving a picnic in the park, so I suggested we make a few pit-stops before leaving the city, and grab a few of our favourite items for one a little later in the afternoon. Plus, it would give us the opportunity to put the Focus through the test of inner city driving.

Having had a little coffee to awake us, we eagerly hopped back into the car, sync’d my phone up to the bluetooth (every road trip needs a DJ), and headed on our way. Normally I would be worried about my battery, but there was a built-in USB charger to the dash, so I knew I was safe to use social-media throughout the day to my heart’s content.

The next question? Where does one go for picnic essentials.

The first decision: Corbeaux Bakehouse. Every picnic needs a decent loaf of bread, and the house made Red Fyfe at Corbeaux was just what I had in mind. Freshly baked, I knew it would pair well with cheese, meat, fruit, and whatever else we fancied.

I made sure to grab a few croissants for the road (just in case hunger struck) and debated over some of the classiest-looking pastries. I ultimately decided on a chocolate Neapolitan mini-cake and a hazelnut mousse creation, but the fruit danishes put up a good fight.

Now, you are probably thinking two pastries is enough for a picnic – and if so, you don’t know me very well. In my mind, every picnic NEEDS a box of macarons. They’re light, sweet, and easy to gobble up in a few bites – plus, they remind me of picnics in Paris.

There is only one spot I go when I want a macaron – Ollia. Yes, there are other delicious spots in Calgary, but in my opinion, Ollia has the best. The meringue shells are super soft, and the ganache just melts in your mouth with each bite. Usually not up this early, by the time I stroll in on the weekend, my favourites are sold out. But, that was not about to happen today. I ordered a box of 7 without missing a beat – dark chocolate & salted caramel, mint chocolate, and rocher. The best of the best.

Fully loaded with sweets, we hopped back into the Focus and headed out for a few other items. Instead of sandwiches, I was set on meats, cheeses, and a few pieces of fruit (just to be somewhat healthy).

Now, I may be biased about the Beltline, but I really do think the shops have some of the best products in the city. Janice Beaton was just down the road and it is always my go-to for any of my cheese needs. After testing out a few we landed on a garlic-infused goat cheese, a slice of Manchego, a piece of Old Cheddar, and another cow cheese with a kick to it. The total came to $30 – which in my mind, was a pretty good deal.

I directed our last stop to Co-Op and quickly ran in to grab a selection of fruit, meats, and sodas to wash it all down. Every box on my picnic list was finally complete as we stuffed it all into the trunk. Although I will admit, the trunk was much larger than expected and all our goodies sat pretty comfortably in there – complete with picnic blanket and cutlery.

Bellies full and afternoon picnic ready, we hit the road! I took far too many photos, so you’ll have to wait for Part 2 tomorrow.

As for our Focus? So far it lived up the our inner city needs. I was able to play my favourite songs, use the park-assist to weasel into a tight spot, and the rear-view camera prevented any bumps that might have ruined our day plans. The next test? The Deerfoot.

Head over to Part 2: A day in Drumheller

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