Conference Weekend in Calgary

I spent the past weekend in Calgary attending a conference, and judging by the fact that the venue served us popsicles during one coffee break, they also didn’t anticipate the snow that fell in June. I do hope that was the last of it.

Convention centres always amaze me with their logistical abilities to feed a thousand people in a fairly efficient way. The Telus Convention Centre was great for the most part, but I had a nitpick about their neglect of tea drinkers on the first day.

Carafes, from left to right: coffee, decaffeinated coffee, hot water (the latter was empty – at all stations)

Thankfully, they improved on day 2, as I’m sure they received their share of negative feedback.

The gala dinner was quite the spread (I am certain the conference is heavily subsidized – our registration price would have gone to food alone). Someone should have decided to call table numbers, however, as the wait in the free-for-all lineup for the buffet was half an hour for those who arrived to the hall late.

Dessert table (the “cherry almond martinis” were visually engaging, but tasted to me like whipped cream…I didn’t finish it)

The second day was filled with sessions that focused on wellness, a nice change from the content-heavy day prior. I really enjoyed Judy Atkinson’s community drumming workshop. It was incredibly satisfying to spend an hour and a half getting accustomed to the different instruments (African, Cuban and First Nations drums, as well as percussion), and was a great stress reliever.

My starter drum

As Saturday was a half day, I was able to wander a bit around the core before catching my bus back to Edmonton. I stopped in at Art Central for some window shopping, then to deVille Cafe for something to eat. It’s a nice space, chic and modern as you’d expect from an upscale cafe, but their microwave-equivalent breakfast sandwich left something to be desired – it was rubbery and had me wishing for Starbucks’ sandwich instead. I guess at $3.50, I shouldn’t have set my standards too high (particularly knowing that coffee was their specialty, not food), but shouldn’t small independents focus on quality?

deVille Cafe interior

Ham, Egg and Cheese Sandwich

After more shopping, I ended up at Avenue Diner for an early supper. I haven’t been back since my visit nearly two years ago for brunch, and I was eager for an opportunity to try the tempting macaroni and cheese, a large print of which is displayed in the lobby. The servers were lovely throughout, and took a little pity on me as a lone diner as they tidied up for the day. The food was fairly tardy, unusual also because I was the penultimate party to order. It did arrive with a golden, crunchy, cheesy crust though, and probably could have fed two people. At the same time, given the price ($16.29), perhaps that’s what they had in mind.

“Dad’s famous aged white Cheddar mac and cheese” from Avenue Diner

There are still so many Calgary eateries I’d like to try – I look forward to my next trip down, hopefully minus the snow!

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