In more ways than one, it’s been the summer that never was.
In Edmonton, we’ve had very few days when we could enjoy eating on outdoor patios, lounging outside with a good book, or heading out to a favorite lake for a weekend camping trip. When it wasn’t wet, cold, and windy, brooding clouds hid the blue, blue Alberta skies, shortening our traditionally long summer evenings and forcing us to turn on our dining room lights to see our dinner plates.
My own summer had the added disappointment of a cancelled trip to the UK after my husband was injured in a cycling crash. While he convalesced, I tried to staycation, but ended up going back to work a week early to save my vacation time for something more exciting than watching the rain flood my flower pots.
So, today, when the skies stayed blue through the entire day, and the temperature reached a balmy 24C, I was determined to get home from work in time to enjoy an evening on my back deck. But I had to stay late at the office for a Skype call that never came and my bus took off without me in a huff of diesel just as I reached its back door. Muttering under my breath, I thought my precious summer evening on the deck had disappeared. But then, I looked across the street to the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald– and got an idea.
In one blink of a traffic light, I was climbing the Macdonald’s front stone steps and basking in the smile of its doorman. I was headed for some me- time and dinner on one of Edmonton’s most elegant patios.
I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of our one-in-a-row summer evening. Only a table for 5 was vacant, but the server told me to go ahead and take it, not batting an eye at my solo dining status. Classy. He then brought me their summer BBQ menu (all dishes concocted at an outdoor cooking station) and asked if I’d like a newspaper to read while my white wine spritzer was being prepared. Why, yes, of course.
I didn’t have to look long at the menu to know what I needed to eat on this precious summer night- a burger and sweet potato fries. The brioche bun, crispy onions and Gouda aioli added a touch of gourmet while preserving the good old BBQ burger taste.
After a pause to appreciate the panoramic view of the river valley and to read an article on an innovative guide service for vacationing introverts called Introvertravel (really- this is a thing), I was ready for dessert. My server suggested the Mac honey ice cream, the honey courtesy of the hotel’s own bees and topped with pieces of honeycomb.
When I’d finished my meal, I wandered the gardens at the back of the hotel. The evening perfume of petunias, the still-sunny rudbeckias and the lulling splash of a fountain provided the finishing touches to my impromptu mini-vacation.