New Zealand Photo Journal

The day I found out I was going to New Zealand I was absolutely glowing. The Alberta School of Business has an awesome business case competition program ran by Doug Leong, and though I had been chosen to compete in external case competitions like the Ethics in Action Competition at Dalhousie University and the CPA Board Governance Case Competition, I was always uncertain if I would be chosen to go on an international case competition. It seemed like the people going on these competitions to Spain, The Netherlands, and Hong Kong were leagues ahead of me in terms of their experience and ability in cases. This year, I got to compete on the JDC West Marketing Team, and through a stroke of good fortune and a zillion cases later, finally had enough experience to be chosen to represent the University of Alberta at the Champions’ Trophy Case Competition in Auckland, New Zealand.

We spent one week at this case competition, meeting our wonderful hosts from the University of Auckland (we kept arguing about which school is the real U of A!) and meeting other teams from all over the globe from the U.S., The Netherlands, Denmark Thailand, Australia, and China to name a few. The cases that we got to work on were absolutely incredible and exposed us to parts of New Zealand culture we had no idea about. Most notably, the cases that we got to present on were addressing issues faced by New Zealand Rugby and Air New Zealand.

After the case competition, we flew across the country to Queenstown, then to Wellington, and finally made our way back to Auckland for a final beach day with our new case competition friends from University of Auckland and Copenhagen Business School. We spent most of our time with the case competition in Auckland, and doing tourist-y things the rest of our stay.

Must-dos in Queenstown: Rent a car for this area because there is so much to see outside the city! Milford Sound tour, hike up Roy’s peak, grab a to-go lunch and eat it near the docks while listening to live music.

Check out in Wellington: Flight Coffee Hangar for flights of coffee – that’s right, 3 lattes all in one – you’ll be wired all afternoon. Te Papa museum & don’t miss the Maori altar, it’s the most stunning cultural piece you’ll ever see at a museum.

UAlberta team at the final gala during Champions’ Trophy. We didn’t place in the case competition, but we did win the Ka Pai Cup for team with best spirit!

Derby Debrief: What’s next for Northlands

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This past Saturday, we hit up the Canadian Derby at Northlands Park – potentially one of the last horse racing events at Northlands if Vision 2020 goes ahead. Northlands has a bold vision for its future which includes creating an Urban Festival Grounds, converting Rexall Place into an athletic complex, and converting Hall D into a 5000-seat venue for sporting events and mid-sized concerts. The new plan also extends into a refurbishment of Northlands’ agricultural strategy, which ranges from creating an urban farm and repurposing old satellite dishes into bee hive hubs.

While it’s sad that the horse track may have seen its last Derby, I’m excited to see how this new vision will unfold, especially if it means Edmonton could host a Lollapalooza or Osheaga of our own. As for the horse races, Horse Racing Alberta has received bids from four separate groups, but fingers crossed that the track stays close to Edmonton.

This was mine and Breanna’s first derby, and as far as pro tips go, the only thing I would do differently next year is make a day of it and organize a Derby brunch at Hotel Mac prior to. Hello, mimosas. A lot of ladies had exquisite hats which probably cost them a fortune, but you can also make a headpiece like I did or buy a fascinator at a vintage shop like Breanna. It was as simple as buying some feathers from a craft store, attaching them to a headband, getting some tulle from Fabricland, throwing in a polka-dot scarf, and adding a ribbon. As long as you have a rigid headband, you can attach anything your creative heart feels like and find yourself Derby-ready.

If you’re curious about Northlands Vision 2020, you can check out the whole spiel here, complete with larger-than-life renderings.

THE HAUL

Dress – vintage ; Shoes – Vince Camuto ; Headpiece – Homemade (see above)

Marina Banister: On Women in Politics, Style & Personal Branding

Marina Banister via Pink Pencil SkirtMarina Banister via Pink Pencil Skirt

The first Pink Pencil Skirt interview

If there’s one type of writing assignment I love, it’s the interview. From interviewing people for Lazy Faire and The Gateway, I’ve learned about the tech scene in Silicone Valley talking to Lucas Matheson of Pinshape, about the challenges of putting out a first album after a super-successful EP from Wake Owl, or simply what it takes to succeed in a BCom degree from prominent business students. The overwhelming feeling I get after interviewing people doing incredible things with their lives is a boost of inspiration in my personal endeavors. It’s almost as if their success is a contagious feeling, and that they impart a little onto the interviewer.

And now, in pursuit of inspiration and stories from wonderful people, I’ve decided it’s time to interview people on Pink Pencil Skirt. I’ve always believed that in order to achieve great things you need to surround yourself with incredible people, and what better way to do that than by having an excuse to ask all the questions you want from people you admire?

So when I decided to start featuring incredible individuals on Pink Pencil Skirt, the first person I thought of was Marina Banister. Marina and I have known each other since high school, when we worked with each other on the Strathcona High School’s SU. She went on to become President of Scona’s SU, and since then has continued her political career into university. The reason Marina was an obvious choice for a feature was her vast array of achievements in her 4 years at university. The timing for this feature couldn’t be better as Marina begins her race for VP Academic in the University SU Elections. Before the calm of the storm (AKA the SU Elections), we found the time to sit down and talk about her style, personal branding, women in politics, and how to become politically involved.

Why she’s kind of a big deal: 4th year Political Science major at the University of Alberta, Chair of the City of Edmonton Youth Council, President of the Political Science Undergraduate Association and a Senator for the UAlberta SU. Phew, I’m out of breath. Marina has also sat on all levels of governance at the U of A and is now running for VP Academic in the current UAlberta SU Elections.

Marina Banister via Pink Pencil Skirt

Photo provided

The girl with the HBC Jacket – a case study on personal branding

Back in her second year, Marina was running for Arts Councilor and branded her campaign with the iconic Hudson’s Bay Company colors because she was so recognizable in her HBC jacket (featured above). “The girl with the Hudson’s Bay Jacket” campaign is still one of the best examples of effective personal branding I can think of. Now in her fourth year, Marina continues to be spotted around campus with this distinct jacket.

“People always say to me ‘I saw you walking across Quad three days ago because I saw your jacket’. That’s what I like, I like being easily identifiable and I think that’s helpful in an elected official, I want you to be able to pick me out in a crowd, know that’s who’s representing you, you can go ask me questions,” Marina explains. At this point, her jacket has transcended its jacket-ness: it’s become a way of distinguishing herself from other candidates and representing her approachability.

But as far as jackets go, it doesn’t just stop at HBC, Marina laughs as she explains, “I love outerwear, I love a good coat, I have a green coat for spring, a white coat for winter… I have a lot of jackets.” Underneath her jacket, Marina describes her style as “girly and professional”. “I wear a lot of peplums, polka dots, patterns, high heels. I always say I’m like a Texan because I have a big head, I like my hair bigger and my lashes even bigger than that. Sometimes more is more.

Marina Banister via Pink Pencil Skirt

Is being a girly-girl possible in politics?

“I wear a lot of makeup, I love makeup, I have too much make up, I watch YouTube videos before I go to bed, Jaclyn Hill like yaaaaas” she jokes around. But for a young woman that is so serious about politics, this love for style and girly-ness may come as a surprise to some. When I ask her about this, Marina explains “there’s this ideal female candidate that’s just pretty enough but not too pretty” but that “because people in student politics take themselves so seriously it’s important to do things you enjoy”, which for her is getting all dolled up. Although she plans to go into politics after graduating, Marina tells me “I’m not going to do that at the expense of giving up who I am.” She describes most political candidates as trying to “fit cookie cutter A, B, or C” but that her positioning comes from “being relatable [which] ultimately means being [herself]”.

So this reminiscence pretty much sums it up: “Ever since my mom drove me to school in elementary school, every single day – this is illegal now – but she would paint her nails at the red lights, and every single day she would curl her hair and put on her drastically contrasting red lip liner on. And my mom is a super successful businesswoman and a great mom. I like getting ready and I have since I was little and I’m not going to tone down my look or wear a pantsuit – although all hail Hillary Clinton – because I think that’s what’s going to get me ahead.”

The question of personal appearance is a tough issue for many women in politics. Marina brings up health minister Sarah Hoffman, pointing out the fact that “people are constantly commenting on her appearance, her weight specifically, even though that’s not relevant to her job at all. Previous Health Ministers have been overweight, but they’re men, and people don’t notice as much.” In her political career, Marina has also experienced the challenges women face with appearances. She’s the kind of girl that looks perfect every day, so I ask her if that’s necessary to be taken seriously. “I do think that you need to look somewhat put together to be taken seriously, but it’s interesting, I think I cross a line that I’m not taken seriously because it looks like I spend a lot of time getting ready,” she tells me. Though we didn’t discuss this when we met up, a case in point is this past summer, when Marina made international news (and the front page of Buzzfeed) pitching for Edmonton’s city council to switch to vegetarian snacking options. Some of the comments on social media were personal attacks on Marina’s physical appearance, and not at all related to the ideas she was presenting. These types of reactions are likely why female candidates are told to tone it down when it comes to physical appearances, but kudos to Marina for rocking her big hair, fabulous makeup, and distinct style.

Marina Banister via Pink Pencil Skirt

Politics for non-politicians

We finished our meeting talking about political involvement. I told Marina that it feels like many people, myself included, want to be involved in the political process but feel powerless to do so. So get ready for Marina’s 3-points of advice on political activism, because these certainly were revelations for me.

#1: “In Canada we’re taught to be polite and keep our opinions to ourselves, and while that has its time and place, that won’t get you very far in terms of [having your voice heard]. Claire Edwards, she was in Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40, she’s one of my best friends, and she has a very active Twitter and Facebook and is constantly sharing her opinion and that’s one reason why she gets taken seriously. Ultimately regardless of whether people agree with her or don’t agree with her, they respect the fact that she has a voice. And it’s interesting because once you start sharing your views on social media, political parties and candidates will start following you, and that’s a really good way to get on the radar.”

#2: “A different way to get involved is through volunteerism. Specifically in this city, I’m the Chair of the City of Edmonton Youth Council right now, and I have a big heart for this organization. I think it does a lot of great things and I wish more people knew about it, because if you’re in between the ages of 13-23 this is an excellent way to get involved. You apply to the council, there are 20 people on it but there are also committees that anyone in the entire city between the ages of 13-23 can drop into. We have a committee for mental health, city planning, arts, engagement, and social equity. These committees meet with city council and tell them their ideas, and ultimately these councillors are very supportive and want us to be involved in the process. It’s hard to find these things, you kind of have to search for them, but if you go to the CEYC website and click on all the different committees, there are ways to get involved.

#3: “I say this a lot to my politically active friends: don’t die on every hill. One way to start getting taken seriously in politics is choosing 2 or 3 issues that you care about and want to make a difference on. One of my biggest passions is the animal agriculture industry, so over this summer I made a big fuss about it and it was ultimately international news. It was on the cover of BuzzFeed, National Post, on the CBC. People respect an expert, so if you can research 1-2 issues, and it could be anything, it could be youth homelessness or the Palm Oil Crisis or the Syrian Refugee Crisis, if you read a lot about that, it becomes clearer what the pitfalls and successes of those movements are. I think politicians get cynical that citizens don’t care, and citizens get cynical that politicians don’t care. It’s this hugely evolving cycle and I think the way to break out of that is to ask questions, throw something out there.”

I never have high hopes when I ask people what are good ways to get involved. Usually people will mumble something about writing a letter to your local MP, yadi-yadi-yada, but here Marina gave 3 very practical, concrete suggestions for being heard. I walked away from this first interview feeling pretty damn inspired.

Twitter: @ban_marina

Why it took me 2 years to start a blog

If you’re thinking about starting a blog, tell your insecurities to step aside.

Every Wear Edmonton via Pink Pencil Skirt

Thank you to Every Wear Edmonton for the Best of 2015 style feature. This got me thinking about how 2015 was such a special year because I finally started my blog, after years of humming and hawing. This may sound ridiculous, but starting a blog absolutely terrified me. I remember posting the first blog-related Instagram post, and my heart racing. “This was it, there’s no turning back now”, I thought. Making a Facebook page? I had an adrenaline rush the entire night. Changing my Instagram name? The horror!

Ultimately, it was scary to share with the world because I wanted to commit to blogging, but was scared that I would get bored or run out of ideas (or clothes). But I also knew that I had been thinking of blogging for 2 years (blogging is kind of like shopping in that sense…If you can’t stop thinking about that blouse, you should probably buy it). After brainstorming a name for several weeks, I  bought the Pink Pencil Skirt domain a year before I went public with it, and posted some posts on it sporadically throughout the year and kept it a secret from most people I knew.

One reason I kept it a secret for so long: I was really nervous that people would judge me, especially since my blog focuses on personal style. What if people think I’m not fashionable enough? Do I have to dress up every day now? Do I know enough about fashion to blog about this? But the truth about blogging is that you can re-invent yourself as a guru. You don’t have to be an expert to blog, but you can become an expert while blogging. And the truth is, blogging has made me become more knowledgeable about fashion, more style-aware, and I continue to learn more every day. You can learn as you go, you don’t have to know anything and everything about your chosen topic when you first start out.

Going public with blogging has been what’s kept me writing. When it was a secret, it’s like I wasn’t held accountable to anyone. I could post every couple of months and it didn’t matter, because no one was reading it anyways. Even now, it’s hard to post regularly (because yadi yadi yada), but I am still motivated to keep going with it. After all, Pink Pencil Skirt is my baby… and because I’m secretly afraid that everyone will judge me if I don’t keep going. I wish I could say I’m solely motivated by my internal will-to-power, but the truth is, sharing your blog (or whatever it is that you’re working on) with your social network is a great means of support, but also an incredibly powerful accountability mechanism.

I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I’m doing, how often I should be posting, what I want to write about…basically everything, but it’s been an incredible adventure so far. I was so scared to start at first, but I’m glad that my fears didn’t stop me from blogging forever. So if you’re thinking about starting a blog, I’d say do it: definitely do it, and don’t take two years like I did. Don’t let the fear of judgment, the fear of not being “expert enough”, or other silly, inconsequential insecurities you have stop you. Trust me when I tell you that it was one of the best things I did in 2015, and that I wish I’d done it sooner. Do your research, take your time, but at a certain point: just jump in and start writing/photographing/drawing/etc. And another thing: don’t keep it a secret like I did, because your social network is the best launch tool you have, and a great pool of support. And so far, the only people to insult my blog to my face were in my nightmares. Everyone in real life has been quite swell.

If you’re interested in blogging and have any questions/comments, leave a comment or shoot me an email at nicole0023@hotmail.com

The handmade bralette: a guide to homemade gifts this season

Handmade Bralette via Pink Pencil SkirtHandmade Bralette via Pink Pencil Skirt

“I just bought underwear from Superstore and sewed it into a bralette. The whole thing is just chunks of underwear.”

If there’s one thing about my friend Emily’s style you need to know, it’s that she love love loves bralettes. She has a leather one, a velvet one, and about 12 other ones. So when it was Emily’s birthday, her best friend Lauren thought it would be a good idea to make her a bralette.

Lauren, crafty as ever, decided that it would really add to Emily’s collection to make her a bralette with hand-prints. Now, you may not be able to tell from the photo, but the beige-detailing that kind of looks like flesh-colored seaweed is actually a hand-print. Aside from its humorous value, the bralette (paired with a gold chain, of course) looks pretty neat-o on Emily but was too risqué to display to the public.

In return, Emily also got Lauren some pretty ingenious gifts (their birthdays are back-to-back) including slippers hand-made out of feminine pads and an hollowed out Breaking Dawn book, for storing secret goodies.

Just in time for the holidays, my friends have reminded me that there is no better gift than a hand-made or thoughtful gift. People always think of hand-made as being inaccessible if you’re not crafty or creative, but what about the homemade gifts that make us laugh or bring a smile to our face? Channel Lauren and Emily this holiday season and I’m sure you too will be able to make thoughtful gifts for your loved ones out of underwear chunks.

So ethical at Dalhousie University

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Representing the University of Alberta at the Scotiabank Ethics in Action Case Competition. We got 3rd place!

The case consisted of a 10-day prepared case that we worked on before going to Halifax, and a 3-hour case at Dalhousie University. The 3-hour case is intense: they locked our 4-person team in a room and we had 3 hours to read the case, come up with a solution, and make a PowerPoint. Shortly after we prepared the case, we were live in front of the judges presenting on a solution made up just a couple hours before. As this was an ethics competition, the solution was even more difficult because it had to be solid from an ethical perspective as well as making good business sense. Balancing the moral and monetary stakes in the solution made this one of the most challenging and rewarding cases I’ve ever done.

Although there was a huge academic component, there were also two wonderful dinners and an after-party where our team got to meet other undergrad and MBA teams from all across the country. After the case competition, our team decided to extend our stay in Halifax for three more days. From Alberta it’s an expensive flight that we wouldn’t be making any time soon, so it was totally worth it to stay the extra days.

We spent our time renting a car and visiting Peggy’s Cove (the most photographed lighthouse in the world!), taking a ferry to Dartmouth (another city just across the waterway), and walking around downtown Halifax. Coming from Alberta the buildings in Halifax were just incredible. The oldest buildings in Edmonton are pushing 100, so it was neat to see the architectural style of the 200+ year-old buildings.

Speaking of history, we took a tour of the Alexander Keith’s Brewery. Let me tell you, this is no ordinary brewery tour. Right before we started the tour, Derek was a bit skeptical and said “once you’ve seen one brewery tour, you’ve seen them all”. In this instance, boy was he proven wrong. The brewery tour turned out to be more like an interactive play, with all the tour guides in historical costumes guiding you through Keith’s brewery. The guides even performed a beautiful song, told us an anecdote, and taught us an old-fashioned card game. I was a bit grumpy about paying $20 for a brewery tour, but it was totally worth it. We all loved the tour so much that we drank nothing but Keith’s the rest of the trip!

But my favourite thing about Halifax is the nightlife. With 5 universities in Halifax alone, the bars stay open til 4am (compared to 2am here, which feels like a race against the clock!), and they are busy every night of the week. Our extended trip was from Sunday-Tuesday and we went out to bustling bars all three days of what I thought would be the slow part of the week. In fact, our flight was at 6am on Wednesday, so we ended up not paying for a hotel room that night and staying out all night and catching a taxi to the airport at 4am. Now that’s what I call smart travelling.
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THE HAUL

Blazer: Suzy Shier // Top: Workhall // Skirt: Zara // Shoes: Ralph Lauren

Am I basic yet?

 

plaid and converse via Pink Pencil Skirt

I just wanna wear what I wanna wear. Is that just so basic or what?

University of Alberta Starter Pack

In response to the U of A Starter Pack. A little bit of background: here at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton, some girls have really taken a liking to pulling together an outfit by wearing plaid, converse (most likely white), a ball cap, and a Contigo travel mug. Gemma Marcincoski aptly dubbed this the “University of Alberta Starter Pack” and posted it on the UAlberta Confessions Facebook page. This post went viral, and in the comments it was declared that this is definitely something a basic would wear.

What’s a basic? Well this time last year I would have told you that a basic (noun, not verb) or a basic bitch is a girl that wears uggs, leggings, a circle scarf, and drinks Pumpkin Spice Lattes. But seriously, the PSL comments are getting a bit old folks. Unless that PSL is in a Contigo mug, then your joke is still relevant.

But on a broader scale, calling someone a basic is a way to “pejoratively describe people who like popular, mainstream products”. In other words, calling someone a basic is an attack on their person for buying into popular trends. Calling someone a basic is at best calling them a little boring, and at worst calling them a robot-of-a-human.

Now that I’m done catching up everyone who missed 2014, let’s talk about this. Don’t get me wrong, the collage is hilarious, but as a young lass that likes to keep up with trends, I resent that my originality and even intelligence is questioned if I’m wearing “the uniform”. I’m not going to tell you that this is horribly offensive or that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I will defend basics as rational purchasers (’cause I’m a marketing student).

I’ve owned uggs, don’t care for pumpkin lattes, worn leggings, lived in Converse, tied plaid around my waist, and didn’t get the Contigo memo. For the most part, these are useful, functional products. Uggs really do keep you warm in the winter, leggings are a great alternative to sweat pants, and Converse truly is the most versatile shoe ever. I could see why people would criticize completely absurd or uncomfortable products that girls started wearing for no reason. But c’mon, we’re young girls that like to be comfortable. And if something is comfortable and on-trend, that’s all the more reason to wear it.

So my point is: unlike our critics would have you believe, maybe we’re not all dumb, mindless zombies that blindly bow down to the Tumblr fashion verdict. On the contrary, these products are popular because they are good products, both in their functionality and appearance (Uggs being the one very ugly exception). Buying the “it” item was still a rational purchase decision, with the awareness that it’s a popular item that happens to suit your needs.

So don’t tell me that I’m desperate to “fit in” because I spent $80 on lululemon leggings. I spent $80 on lululemon leggings because I saw girls wearing them, thought “damn, that looks fantastic”, assessed all the advantages of owning a pair, tried them on, thought they looked good, and bought them. If it didn’t look good or suit my needs, I wouldn’t have bought them. Most people don’t just blindly follow trends, they follow trends that work for them.

But yes, I will admit that tons of girls were wearing lulus before I owned a pair. Indeed, I bought them because other girls owned them – how else would I have known about it? But of course, this is exactly what a basic would say. Clearly, the fact that I bought something that other people were wearing before me is irrefutable evidence that I am a slave to mass culture and have no rational decision-making power. I should have been scouring Etsy for one-of-a-kind clothing, anything less really says a lot about my intelligence as a human being.

And guess what else, you non-basic people you: the fact that something is popular doesn’t faze us. It doesn’t matter if everyone else is wearing Chucks as long as it’s a faithful shoe. You’re criticizing us for wearing something popular, but you would not buy something because it’s popular. And that’s really too bad, because you’re missing out on some really kick-ass shoes just to look original. It’s kind of like when some hipster – oh I’m sorry, do you not like labels? – decides they hate The Beatles because they’re “overrated”.

plaid and converse via Pink Pencil Skirt plaid and converse via Pink Pencil Skirtplaid and converse via Pink Pencil Skirt

Look at me being so basic with my plaid tied around my waist while wearing all stars. Gals: wear what you love and make it your own. Buy whatever you want to buy, and infuse it with your own personality. Follow trends if, and only if, they suit your taste, sense of style, body type, and needs. Shown above: demonstrating my ability to discern that while 2/4 items in the Starter Pack suit my personal style, a ball cap isn’t in the mix.

THE HAUL

Dress: Aritzia. Plaid: Ralph Lauren Denim. Shoes: Converse.

How to Charcuterie

How to make a charcuterie board

 

Charcuterie! What is charcuterie you ask? Only the most delightful way to enjoy an evening, that’s all. But really, it’s the classy way to say a meat and cheese platter. Although the title may have lead one astray, charcuterie is not a verb. Sorry, it should have said “how to put together a charcuterie”. But c’mon. “How to Charcuterie” sounds so much better.

Charcuterie boards/ antipasto platters have become a really popular appetizer at restaurants, with places like Cavern and Cured specializing in the art of the meat and cheese platter. While it’s a great thing to get for a night out, I couldn’t help but notice how simple it is to put together yourself for a gathering or a night in.  Last night I had some friends over for wine and charcuterie before heading to Nuit Blanche (more updates on Nuit to come).

Here is the art of charcuterie, in a few basic principles.

How to make a charcuterie board

The charcuterie starter kit

The shopping trip. In this city, the Italian Centre is the best place to go for charcuterie supplies. They have incredible deli counter service and a wide range of high quality meats. This is your one stop shop for charcuterie in Edmonton, and the best part is they are happy to let you sample their meats and cheeses. In other cities, I recommend seeking out a European grocerer, or a regular supermarket will do just fine as well.

The golden rule of charcuterie: minimalism

Do not overwhelm the palate with gorges of various meats and cheeses. Do not overcrowd the platter. This is not the ’90s. We’re not filling a platter with a thick layer of ham and turkey and cheddar cheese anymore. Ideally, none of the elements should be touching one another. Separate those meats and cheeses! Do not over-serve the platter either. If you are concerned it will not be enough for your guests, you can always restock the platter later.

The golden number for a charcuterie: 3 meats. 3 cheeses. 2 miscellaneous. 1 bread.

With that in mind, the meats I picked up were: prosciutto, hot capicollo, and salami al prosciutto. You don’t want all sausages or all prosciutto-like meats. Go for three meats that give a wide variety of texture and flavour experiences. That being said, I like to stick to all ham products instead of mixing the meats.

As for cheeses: a goat brie, piave vecchio, and Swiss raclette. Brie is a classic in charcuterie because its softness makes it great to spread on crackers. Piave Vecchio is seriously one of the best cheeses I’ve ever tried, and it’s super unique due to its crumbly texture. When choosing your cheeses, I recommend opting for a variety of stronger and milder cheeses to create a flavour balance.

To tie everything together, it’s great to have some crackers. I picked up Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crips in the salty date & almond flavour. These chips are exquisite tasting and provide a great contrast to the other colours on the board.

And finally, you need a couple things that aren’t meat and cheese to complement the platter. For this platter, it was concord grapes and Sammarelli olives. Other options include, but are not limited to: strawberries, mushrooms, sauces or dips, nuts, dried fruit, and pickles.

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My baby

It’s all about the aesthetic

When arranging the platter, do not think logically. Let your artistic juices flow. While everything on the board will taste amazing, half the enjoyment is the visual stimulation that the platter create. With that in mind, the placement need not be what is most sensible. The meats need not all be together, unless that is what is best for the aesthetic. Is it inconvenient that I placed the crackers in the middle of the board instead of on a separate plate? Probably. But that’s where the crackers belonged. The canvas (or cutting board) was calling to them. Did basil really belong on this platter? Not really, no one ate it. But the platter was calling for some colour infusion.

Another common charcuterie mistake is cubing the cheese. Your guests are not infants, and it really ruins the look of the platter when all the cheese is pre-cut. Serve the cheese in blocks, perhaps with a few pieces pre-cut, and a strategically placed knife will do the trick.

And lastly, enjoy. Charcuterie is nothing without the great conversation and intimate atmosphere it creates. Let your taste buds soak in your beautiful masterpiece.

 

 

 

enjoy

St Albert Enjoy Centreflower arrangement @ St Albert Enjoy CentreSt Albert Enjoy Centre, Glasshouse BistroGlasshouse Bistro, Enjoy Centrefossil sunglasses, enjoy centre

Who knew there were so many cool places to go just outside Edmonton? The Enjoy Centre is my latest find, located right in St. Albert. After hitting the St. Albert Farmers Market, we stopped by to see this massive structure- it’s part event venue, garden centre, grocery store, greenhouse, spa, and cafe. Don’t miss the Glasshouse Bistro & Cafe, which features expansive views, tons of natural lighting, and a wide variety of seating: anywhere from funky leather couches to crisp tables to upholstered booths. Definitely going to come back to Enjoy later this year for some sunshine therapy and to stroll around through all the beautiful plants.