HicksBiz Blog

Bundle up, get outside and enjoy Hawrelak Park/The Ice Castle in January! - by GRAHAM HICKS

Jan. 17, 2017 Baby, it’s cold outside! When it’s winter, inertia can rule.  What’s the point of heading outside?  Mitts, toques and scarves must be put on and taken off, over and over.  Exposed skin is always mildly shocked by the dramatic change in temperature – fingers and toes and cheeks take forever to warm up. But as Canadians, we know the up-side.  As long as there’s little or no wind, being outside on a sun-lit Alberta day in January is gorgeous. The cold, crisp air is a tonic.   Mental cobwebs are swept away.  Headaches caused by the stuffy indoors magically disappear. But where to go once you are dressed for the elements?  Especially when you lack athletic skills such as skating, playing hockey or skiing, when you’re too old and brittle for toboganning? To Hawrelak Park! Edmonton’s most popular park in the summer (Heritage Days etc.) is also a haven for outdoor winter activities. For the second year in a row ... Read the rest of entry »

WEEKLY DISH: The Almanac offers winning formula on Whyte BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2017

The Almanac:  10351 82 Ave. NW 780-760-4567 Website: almanaconwhyte.com Twitter: @almanaconwhyte Hours: Sun. to Thurs. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. to Sat. 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Closed Mondays Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $30; loaded, $60Know yourself. And know your audience. by Graham Hicks 780-707-6379 graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com hicksbiz.com @hicksbiz The Almanac on Whyte Avenue is owned and operated by the same partners that two years ago opened the Solstice Seasonal Cuisine on 124 Street. But customers at the 124th Street establishment are a different kettle of fish compared to Whyte Avenue clientele. Solstice is a destination, a full evening built around breaking bread. Solstice attracts a 40+ audience whose nightclubbing days are long behind them. Three hours of multi-course dining, good conversation and good wine constitutes a fine evening out. Know your audience. The Alma ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Political correctness has run amok BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, JANUARY 06, 2017

It’s a subject where one fears to tread, but it needs be said. Political correctness is casting a smothering blanket over one of Canada’s greatest and most consistent ideals, freedom of speech and civilized discourse. It’s right and good that four major issues of the 21st century – climate change, the environment, aboriginal reconciliation and gender liberation – have surfaced as priorities and are being championed with enthusiasm and political will. But enthusiasm is too often evolving into dogmatism and self-righteousness. If you’re not 100 per cent with us, you’re against us. Do not question – you will be vilified and scorned. Civility and politeness, much-praised aspects of Canadian behaviour, have left the room. Today, perhaps because of the anonymity of Internet-facilitated commentary, intelligent individuals too often resort to personal insults rather than debate the issues at hand. Climate change has become a rigid ideology, best illustrat ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Northern Chicken + Popeyes - two takes on fried chicken BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 03, 2017

Northern Chicken 10704 124 St. 780-756-2239 northernchickenyeg.com 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday Closed Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday to Sunday Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $15; loaded, $30   Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen 3773 17 St. NW popeyeschicken.ca  Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $15; loaded $25   A tale of two fried chicken joints – as different from each other as different can be, but both making darned good fried chicken! Northern Chicken, located on 124 Street’s restaurant row, is as trendy as down-home trendiness can be. Three big boys with obligatory mountain-man beards, ball caps and aprons man the open kitchen and the cash counter. There are picnic tables at the front, funky plastic red chairs inside, hipster art on the walls among scatte ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz year-ender 2016: The worst is in the past BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2016

I’m going on out a limb. Edmonton Economic Development Corporation head Brad Ferguson is predicting a grim 2017 for Metropolitan Edmonton. City economist John Rose is forecasting a 1.8% growth in the local economy, compared to his prediction of 3.8% growth in 2016. But in my crystal ball, the worst is past. No ideological considerations here, no remarks – however accurate – about monstrous government spending and deficits, about the new “haves” in our society – public-sector employees — and “have-nots” – those without government jobs. All that counts, in this argument, are jobs, jobs, jobs. The New Democrat provincial government, in the short-term, is saving Edmonton’s bacon. It refuses to consider lay-offs, continues to fund the education, health and public sectors at existing levels. Given a quarter of Metro Edmonton’s workforce is found in pubic/quasi-public sectors, this is a good thing; at least until the gove ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Food memories that stick out from 2016 restaurant reviews. BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2016

This was the year when KFC evolved from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Korean Fried Chicken. “Izakaya” was incorporated into the every-day language of Edmonton dining. Sandwiches became more and more interesting. Tapas and small plates became the norm. Octopus, squid, mussels and clams moved into the mainstream, even though lots of prairie folk remain wary. BBQ The $100 Game-Day platter at Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus on 118th Avenue is piled high with the best of smoked BBQ meats, easily feeding eight. Bison Von’s braised bison short ribs, bison that for once is rich and moist with a cherry molasses sauce. Burgers The BBQ Crunch at Jack’s Burger Shack in St. Albert, with its magnificently seared monster patty, home-made orange soda BBQ sauce, and potato chips in the burger for crunch. A nod for McDonald’s for its new, Create Your Taste “custom” burgers – except there’s no more McDonald’s cost advantage. Charcuterie Past th ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Dear Santa BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2016

Dear Santa, I hope you don’t mind, but can we use your big, fat, jolly shoulder to cry on? We shouldn’t really. Ours are first-world problems. But they’re aggravating! Santa, what happened to the old-fashioned notion that governments should do as little as possible besides take care of the poor, provide security and keep taxes low? Why does Edmonton city council keep sticking its nose into social issues (like low-income housing) that the provincial government is supposed to handle? Shouldn’t the city stick to paving roads, building sidewalks, policing, fire-fighting, basic services … and keep property taxes as low as possible? Santa, this climate-change thing is absurd. We barely contribute to global warming, yet this government acts as if we pollute like China! In the middle of a recession, a huge environmental tax hits us next week pulling even more money out of our pockets.  Then a new bureaucracy will be created to give much of the money back!  Sa ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Edmonton’s leading-edge dining scene BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2016

For years and years, snotty socialites would complain about the Edmonton dining and cultural scene. It was soooo backward here, dahling, compared to that wonderful Toronto or fabulous New York City. Even Calgary was better than plain ol’Edmonton. It drove me nuts – you’d reel off 10 excellent restaurants, they’d not been to one. You’d name 10 recent theatrical productions in this theatre-rich town, and they’d not seen one. They’d not bothered with the symphony or to visit the art gallery. No matter. We were just … backward. The best news of the past year: That complaint is gone! The opposite has happened. Fancy national magazines now send out writers from Toronto to chronicle Edmonton’s leading-edge dining scene. I don’t care if Edmonton is ahead or behind the times. I just live here and thoroughly enjoy what my city has to offer in a staggering array of dining-out options. The number of new, informal, high-quality bistros continues t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: We mustn’t count our chickens BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2016

Never count your chickens until they hatch. But as the beaks of the baby chicks break through their shells, things look promising. Two new petro-chemical plants have been announced in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland – the enormous industrial park around Fort Saskatchewan. One will be in Sturgeon County, the other in Strathcona County. These are economic development monsters – a total of $5.6 to $6 billion spent over the next four years, 4,000 skilled-trade construction jobs through 2021. Dozens of local fabrication plant bosses aren’t sleeping these days, wondering where new business will come from as the Sturgeon Refinery and Suncor’s Fort Hills oilsands plant finish up construction. Two new petro-chemical plants will be a God-send. But we mustn’t count our chickens quite yet. The boards of the two energy companies involved – Pembina Pipelines (with Kuwaiti partner Petrochemical Industries) and Inter Pipelines – have not yet officially approved ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Opposite but two great places to eat BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2016

Bodega Highlands 6509 112 Ave. 780-757-0137 bodegahighlands.ca 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Fri/Sat) Closed Sundays (No reservations outside of groups) Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $30; loaded, $60   Red Goose Restaurant 9625 66 Ave. 780-435-8661 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sundays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Lunch for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $10; loaded $24   While as opposite as opposite can be, Bodega Highlands and Red Goose are two terrific places to go eat. Highlands is charming in an upscale, informal, old-fashioned way — as if you’ve wandered into a tapas bar in Lisbon ...with a 40C difference in temperature. Red Goose is a magic portal into the 1950s. It’s not trying to be kitschy or retro-fashionable. Korean owners Hank Lee (server) and his wife Chon Lee (cook) simply like the place the way it is ... Read the rest of entry »
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