THINGS TO DO:
Food & Dining
The Calgary Farmer's Market is bustling on a Saturday morning and chef Judy Wood of Meez is in her element among the farm-fresh local products she uses in her cooking school and catering kitchen.
Insider secrets of top chefs
She guides us from one tasty purveyor to the next to sample elk sausage, potpies and creamy fudge brownies shot with Saskatoon berries and port. We learn about Alberta range-fed beef and cold-pressed canola oil, heirloom potatoes and the unusual striped green tomatoes from a nearby organic greenhouse.
These are the kind of fresh ingredients you'll see on menus around the city. Calgary's top chefs are using their collective creativity to bring better food to the masses so expect local flavours across the board, whether you're tasting at farm markets, funky food trucks or trendy tapas bars.
Tour for treats
There's nothing like exploring the food scene with a local, and its always fun to join Wood's market tour or take a guided urban food hike through the ethnic neighbourhoods and gourmet groceries where the city's top chefs shop.
From the best bakeries to French delis, cheese mongers and specialty wine stores, we fill our shopping bags with chewy baguettes, foie gras torchon, wild boar paté and award-winning Alberta gouda along the way.
Beef and beyond
But they don't call it Cowtown for nothing - Calgary was built on beef - so on a sunny southern Alberta day, a little culinary road trip through cattle country is in order. It's not long before we hit our first market garden, a great spot for U-pick strawberries and currants. Then it's off to find a ranch where elk and bison products sit alongside grass-finished beef at the farmer's gate.
Learn from the masters
To take the market tour one step further, we'll use our fresh local treasures in a cooking class. There are private cooking schools, even classes at city grocery stores and wine shops. But my choice is the new downtown culinary campus for SAIT's (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) professional cooking program.
We pull up a stool in the open kitchen and watch chef Michael Dekker demo our dinner, then roll up our sleeves and learn the secrets of sushi and sake with award-winning chef Hayato Okamitsu.
Thanks to its proximity to fields of golden barley, Calgary has a booming beer culture. Several local microbreweries offer tours and tastings, but we opt for an after-hours excursion to one of the city's modern beer halls, where craft beer and local cuisine share equal billing.
Make your own discoveries - it's a tasty town to explore.