Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Marketing done right!

Well, I cringe a little at the fact that a chain establishment is what is making me write my first post in a very long time, but so be it.

I am a fan of rewards programs, but I try to be selective in the ones I join, because my wallet only has so much space and I only want to sell my soul shopping habit details to so many corporations in exchange for perceived free items.

One such program that I belong to is Qdoba, as fake Mexican food is probably my favourite kind of food*

Now, at heart I'm a Burrito Del Rio sorta gal, their chipotle sauce is ridiculously good. However, I don't often find myself near either of their locations when I tend to get hungry, probably because there are not any thrift stores near there... I of course also like the idea of supporting a local establishment.

One day I tried Qdoba at the recommendation of a friend. I didn't really like it and I thought the portions were chintzy. He let me in on a secret... you can basically have as much of everything but meat for no extra charge! Now, I find their portions to be more on par with BDR and I'm a fan (well, except when they get judgy about my extras, listen lady, I know that's a lot of cheese sauce I asked for, but when I say three scoops, I mean three FULL scoops).

Anyway, the point of this post...
So today in my emails, because I have the Ellice location set to my "home" location, I got this incredibly clever offer telling me I deserve a deal for "braving the elements". That's right, they took the knowledge they had of the snowstorm and how it was likely going to bring traffic to a halt and they turned it into a marketing opportunity. They also didn't do it half-assed, they're doing a full on BOGO. Bravo Qdoba, bravo. You have won my respect for what you will do with my email address.

On a side note, just in case the people who own Burrito Del Rio read this... I might make more of an effort to stop in if your take out "Naked Burrito" was as good a deal as your eat in version. You eat in and you get a nice heaping bowl of tasty goodness; take out you get a teeny little clamshell. I know you have bigger clamshells, why not offer it in two sizes like you do the wrapped burritos? Also, how about a self serve water station for when folks do eat in? Oh! and good grief, I realize it's delicate balance between keeping your staff vs your customers comfortable, but your a/c that blows right onto people (River location) is too cold. Always. Like so cold. Which is why I have to do take out so often.


*which is interesting because I used to be one of the cilantro-tastes-like-soap people, but I grew out of it and now I can't get enough.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer is finally here!



Blueberry Mojito and Seven Seas
That's right. I'm declaring it. Okay, so the calendar also declares it, so summer it is (even if the weather can't seem to be summer-like for more than two days in a row!)

I have made a major life change recently, going from nice and stable employment to the joys of self-employment. So far not starving to death, but also not typically getting to eat out as much as I might like!
Tequila Sour

Now, if I was going to eat out, weirdly (this makes sense if you read my post last year...) I would again choose to go to Joey restaurant. If my last post is a little to long for you to read, the TL;DR version is: usually I dislike chain restaurants, but Joey impressed me.

They haven't slowed down since last year, and again have brought out a summer menu that's something worth trying. Their mixoligists have clearly discovered the magic that egg whites bring to a drink (nice and frothy!) and they showcase them in drinks like their version of a Tequila Sour and their own creation of the Seven Seas. I was also pleased to see they brought back their Blueberry Mojito.

Tandoori Flatbread
Again, full disclosure, the nice people at Joey did feed me for free, but anyone who knows me IRL knows I wouldn't say nice things just because of that.

Korean Cauliflower
They took us through the menu just like if we were dining out, starting with appies and all the way through to dessert. Always a fan of an Indian inspired dish, I really enjoyed the Tandoori Flatbread. This is apparently a re-worked menu item and the bread is hand stretched and baked to order.



We also got to try the Korean Fried Cauliflower, which is a good way to get me to eat my veggies (I also am partial to cauliflower smothered in cheese sauce, should anyone want to invite me over for dinner) and the Calamari Frito; they only use the bodies and tentacles in their calamari, I didn't have the guts to try a body...

Market Salad
The Market Salad is a perfect lighter meal (because, let's face it, restaurant food isn't the lightest fare around) that still packs some protein as includes their HOURLY ROASTED chicken. Let's just pause for a moment and consider the idea of a chain restaurant preparing something hourly. If this seems like NBD to you, talk to anyone you know who has ever actually worked in a restaurant. Typically all prep is done in the morning. Also in the Market Salad you'll find kale, beets, corn and avocado... and a little cheddar - you gotta live a little you healthy people!

Lobster Grilled Cheese
Butcher sandwich









The Lobster Grilled Cheese was also tasty, but as someone who doesn't go ga-ga for lobster that part was a little lost on me; however it did have nice melty brie which I am a fan of! They also have their version of a beef dip, which they call the Butcher Sandwich. I'm not normally a huge fan of a beef dip, but this was actually really good. It comes with a smoky jus and the beef is nice and thinly sliced so it's really easy to eat.



ooooh..... fancy
Ice cream making
They finished us off with a demonstration of their in-house made-daily ice cream. This is made with liquid nitrogen, which, I can't lie, reminds me of the kids desserts they used to have at Moxies a million years ago (that was my first service industry job, a lowly hostess). However, again, hella impressed that they do this - expect the flavours to change daily. We were lucky enough to try the strawberry, salted caramel, the maple and the double chocolate - all delicious - it was a really tough day :p

So that's it guys. I promise to start writing some real blog posts soon, but basically, don't necessarily write off Joey restaurant just because it's a chain; I think this is like the equivalent of hating your favourite local band just because they started doing arena shows.
Ice cream!!!

**Also, since I'm now self-employed (read: poor as hell) please feel free to invite me to things that have free food :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Psssst.... want to read a post I wrote last year about a castle??

If you're thinking this post looks familiar, it's because it does. I've totally just cheated and copied my post from just over a year ago.  Since the real estate link would no longer be valid, here is the new one.

I'm not sure why it's for sale again. I never went to look at it last time; perhaps the owner just bit off more than they could chew? The asking price is the same though, which would indicate that they probably haven't done anything at all to it since then. Or, I suppose it just didn't sell? Who knows. In any case enjoy my post from last year.

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Needless to say, there are not a lot of castles for sale in Manitoba, or perhaps even Canada. Which is probably a good thing because most castles were built in the days before indoor plumbing and central heating, two things I consider essential.

There is however, a "castle" for sale right here in Winnipeg, at 494 College Ave. In around 1906, construction started on this epic building (no, I don't know details like that at the drop of a hat, there is a incredibly detailed 3 part blog post on West End Dumplings).

People have been writing about this gorgeous house since the 50s according to a piece written by The Times two years ago, AND NOW YOU COULD OWN IT!!!

Since I refuse to consider the neighbourhood to be a downside to this property (because, it isn't, get over it) I would say that the complete lack of a back yard would be the only thing that might keep you from running out and buying this. It does have a pretty great front yard though, and trust me, you meet way more neighbours in your front yard vs. the back.

According to the listing for this property, 494 College is currently divvied up into 6 suites and assuming you live on the main floor in the 3 bedroom suite, you get to collect $2275 a month in rent! To point out the obvious, that means you would be being paid to live there... (assuming you could get away with 5% down, which you actually probably couldn't because it's a rental, but assuming you could, your mortgage would be $1344/mo based on the current asking price of $299,000 - but it's now been on the market for a month so you could maybe even get it a little bit less). Personally I would slowly start reclaiming some of the suites as personal living space, but so long as you left one or two you could still basically live for free. In a CASTLE.

Living in this house would put you in great company, with some of these other notable homes in Winnipeg, as found here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Where is it?

Every now and again I like to pretend that I am going to be healthy. This most recent time had me scouring the City webpage to find out where their fitness centers and pools are. That is the first problem - not easy at all to find on their homepage.


 Scrolling down, it seems like it might be under the "Activities and Recreation" section.

Nope.







So then I thought I would use their drop down menu that is probably there to make things easy... Well, I could get to it from there but it's not super clear as you can only get to it by selection "Community Centres" - which to me is not quite the same thing - but at least it takes me to a page with a menu in the left column that will take me where I want to go.

Once I finally found the page (also available after multiple clicks on the "Residents" tab) I started looking at my options.

One of them is the Eldon Ross Pool, which, according to the Homepage for this pool, it is located in the North End.

Nope. Not even a little bit. It is definitely on the wrong side of the tracks to even be remotely considered the North End. But, there is the helpful link to the "now" (Neighbourhoods of Winnipeg) tab! Ah yes, it is in the Brooklands Neighbourhood.

 I didn't bother to look at all of their listings, perhaps this is the only error. My guess would be that it's not, but last time I checked, this gig is a volunteer one (that occasionally gets me invites to events that have food. I like food). *EDIT* I went and looked, at least one other is wrong. It lists the North Centennial Pool as being in Point Douglas (and the "now" map says Dufferin).

But I guess I'm just curious as to how it ever got listed as being in the North End in the first place?? If the people doing our City website don't even know the boundaries of the common names given to the large areas of town perhaps it's no wonder that the media don't either. Haha, kidding, I totally expect them to know. For those of you not from Winnipeg, the North End has a very very very clear boundary to the south, a ginormous rail yard, this pool is most certainly to the south of that.

I've tried to figure it out, maybe they labeled it according to City Council wards? That could explain why North Centennial is listed as Point Douglas... oh wait, but Eldon Ross is still not in the North End (as there is no North End ward), nor does a Grant Park ward exist for the Pan Am pool as it is listed as being in. Maybe we are talking Provincial boundaries on the City website? Nope that doesn't fit either.

Basically, TL:DR - someone dropped the ball and the City of Winnipeg website needs some fine tuning!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

7-11 Cares about your health.... unless it's Bring Your Own Cup Day.

Every now and again I like to pretend I have some sort of journalistic aspirations and before I write a blog post I like to (mostly) thoroughly research what I write about. It should come as no surprise that I have an in depth (in a shallow pool) piece about Slurpees that has been sitting on the back burner.

This all starts last year, when I took in a cup to be refilled. It was a used 7-11 clear Slurpee cup, the same kind I have been refilling for years. I was told I could no longer refill those cups for "contamination" reasons.

Well, that got me going.

There was no sense arguing with the poor store clerk, so I went straight to corporate. I pointed out that there is no way to ensure the cleanliness of other "designated" refillable cups that other people bring in. I first received a response from the store manager that told me that I couldn't refill the clear cup because they were one time use cups and it was against health regulations. To be fair, he did offer me a complimentary re-usable cup, but that's not really my point...

Picture it: Nice day (actually could be a terrible day, I'm a junkie when it comes to Slurpees) you're out and about and you want a Slurpee but you don't have a cup with you. So you get one in a clear cup because that blue cup size just isn't big enough, and now you have this perfectly good plastic cup that you can wash and reuse. You put it in the cupboard with the other ones (and this next part is key) BECAUSE THEY ALL NEST INTO EACH OTHER NICELY AND DON'T TAKE UP MUCH ROOM and eventually you remember to take one with you the next time you go for a Slurpee. Boom. You've just reduced and reused.

You don't buy a new reusable cup every time you find yourself at 7-11 without one, that would be like buying a new reusable shopping bag every time you find yourself buying one too many things on a spontaneous trip to the supermarket. I hope/think that most people try to reduce the "one time" use products that they consume, but sometimes you still need them - it brings a little bit of balance back to the world to at least try to reuse them if possible; those supermarket bags are great for scooping the litter box for example.

So to make a long story (do I tell any other kind?) short, I emailed back and forth with 7-11 corporate, and eventually with the Manitoba Health department. Turns out, while 7-11 may consider the cups to be single use,

the Manitoba Health guideline that they were citing as the reason I couldn't refill my cup actually applies more so to things like they can't reuse plastic wrap, as far as Manitoba Health is concerned, you are welcome to refill the 7-11 clear cup.

Eventually I was told by 7-11 corporate (regarding their discussion with Manitoba Health):
'...if a customer brings in a disposable cup, we'll be happy to give them a new disposable cup and just charge them for the refill. We agreed that the reusable cups we sell are what should be used for our customers that want to bring in their own cup.
 Which, is absolutely absurd and completely wasteful. The whole reason I don't have a stockpile of their officially approved reusable cups (which is to say, apparently any cup except one that the ones that they originally come in) is because of how much room they take up and the fact that I don't have one tethered to me at all times. I'M TRYING TO MAKE UP FOR MY WASTEFUL WAYS BY AT LEAST REUSING MY CUPS A FEW TIMES!

They also seemed to be sticking to their guns about how it was for sanitary reasons, this, from a chain that gleefully allows people to bring in any container they would like and fill it will Slurpee, without first making sure that it's clean.

I think just to be a trouble maker tomorrow, on Bring Your Own Cup day the cup I will choose to bring will be a 7-11 issued clear cup.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sloppy reporting

Now, to be fair, my criticism is similar to that of an armchair quarterback - from the comforts of my little blogging world, where I have no particular journalism standards to adhere to, no pressure to have ratings (although I get a kick out of people reading my blog), added with the luxury of time, it's quite easy sometimes to criticize the media.

All of that said, I feel as though this recent CTV story about a Winnipeg couple who were slapped with a Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law order to paint their house has some serious holes to it.



The absolute biggest hole is that THEY DIDN'T ASK THE COUPLE IF THEY HAD CALLED THE CITY AND ASKED FOR AN EXTENSION. It seems like that should have been the first question the reporter asked them, although that likely would have killed the "story" as the City is generally quite willing to work with homeowners to resolve by-law issues.

Another glaring hole is that in their rush to get a sensational story about seniors possibly (read: realistically not probable at all. Even a little bit.) going to jail they forgot to contact some of the organizations that might have been able to help these people. You know, the ones that they remember to contact for other North End related sound bites? Had they done so, perhaps this could have been less of a fear mongering story and more of an educational one; North End Community Renewal Corporation in particular could have let these homeowners know about several programs that may be able to help. Add to that these types of organizations often work closely with the City and Rodney and Doris Pearson could have slept well that night.

Oh, and some more sloppy reporting (camera work?) is that when they purport to show the fence in question, they show a section of fence that does not appear to require any sort of work whatsoever, let alone painting. If this is the section of fence in question then that's where the real reporting should have begun - why is a brand new looking section of virgin wood fence in violation of a by-law?!

So, in the name of blogger journalism integrity, I went down to take a look for myself at this fence; easy to do since the news clip provided me with their full address (!). Sure enough, they definitely do have some fence that needs to be painted, not the fence they showed, but it's there.
A fence that has nothing wrong with it (still captured from video)


Also, just to nitpick, as the story is being introduced, the anchor says that they will face the penalties if they don't do the work "within six months" when really they have only been given just under 5 months to complete the work.

A responsible way to cover this story would have been to bring to light the Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law, show these folks as the example as to what can happen when you're in violation, and then educate others on how you can either prevent it from happening (by listing common violations) and who to reach out to for help (if need be) should you get one. Owning a house is a privilege and not a right; just because someone lives in the core area doesn't mean they don't have to maintain their house. The City also cannot choose to not enforce by-law standards for some (such as low income homeowners) but not for others.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Indian tacos aren't what they should be

Sounds like inventive cuisine doesn't it? Who wouldn't love maybe some rice and curry piled high on a piece of naan... oh, wait, what? That's not what Indian tacos are??

A new restaurant called the Feast Cafe Bistro is set to open in the old Ellice Cafe spot at the corner of Ellice and Sherbrook; they will have "modern dishes rooted in traditional First Nation foods..." and  the "big hit, however, is expected to be the Indian tacos" according to a CBC article.

She won't be the first to serve "Indian tacos" - working in the North End I have seen many a flyer for a fundraiser where they would sell the same. Feast Cafe Bistro owner Christa Bruneau-Guenther says that the tacos will be piled "teepee high" on authentic fry bread. Why not call them Teepee tacos then?

I don't feel comfortable saying the word Indian (unless I'm talking about people from India) any more than I feel comfortable saying the "N" word. It has been drilled into my brain for years and years that saying Indian when referring to a First Nations/Indigenous/Aboriginal person (admittedly, I'm not sure which of those terms is best to be using, I always worry that I will inadvertently offend) that I may absolutely not use the word Indian. There is no chance I'm the only one who feels this way.

I know that it is said everyone gets too offended these days, and while I guess I wouldn't go so far as to say this offends me, but it sure makes things murkier when trying to navigate the collective feelings of society. Imagine being a newcomer, trying to fit in here in Canada, not necessarily knowing the history behind a word and needing to figure out that it's perfectly acceptable to call a First Nations inspired taco an Indian taco but don't you dare call a person from that same background an Indian!

Looking forward to checking out the new restaurant, hopefully they understand what I mean when I order a Teepee Taco.