Exploring the Trails (and Food) of the Canadian Rockies

Lake Louise, Alberta

When I look at the mountains in the Canadian Rockies, a part of me feels like I’m 19 again and I can feel the excitment and promise of my whole life ahead of me bubbling below the surface. Then I feel the tug of a small hand in mine, and I’m brought back to earth. I’m no longer a carefree university student looking for her next adventure. I’m a mother of two young ponytails who need to reach the end of the hiking trail before the effects of the morning snack have worn off or another bathroom break calls.

I have to tell you that it sure was great to tour the Rockies with my family this summer. We got to explore the spectacularly beautiful area of Banff, Emerald Lake and Lake Louise, where I worked for two summers during university. We also got to spend time with my husband’s family in Edmonton.

Me with the ponytails in Banff.

Carefree isn’t the word to describe this family trip, but did it pull on my heartstrings to see the look of excitment on the girls’ faces as they discovered the magic of mountains for the first time.

The girls riding up the Sulphur Mountain gondola in Banff. Can you say excited?

We managed to complete several 5 km hikes, which was an accomplishment with a four-year old, as well as canoe around a couple of different lakes.

This helped to offset all the calories from the wonderful meals that we enjoyed–including an amazing Bistecca alla Florentina at the Chateau Lake Louise. Given that Alberta is known for its beef, this seemed like the perfect meal to have in one of my absolutely favourite places. The meal didn’t disappoint, and while we devoured the steak before I could get a picture, I’ve decided to share my version of this meal as I have been making it since we first tried it on our honeymoon in Florence.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Tuscan Porterhouse)

Serves 2

  • 1 20 oz (1.5 lb) porterhouse/t-bone steak
  • 2 tbsps good quality olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shavings of parmesan cheese
  • Lemon cut in half.

Mix olive oil and herbs in small bowl. Set aside.

Salt and pepper both sides of steak at room temperature. Place steak on grill and cook for 10 or so minutes per side, for medium rare (longer if you prefer your steak well done). Add lemon halfs to grill at same time as the steak. Remove steak and lemon from grill when steak is done. Drizzle olive oil and herb mixture over steak and let it rest for five minutes on a plate.

Serve steak on a platter with roasted asparagus, fennel, grape tomatoes and potatoes. Sprinkle parmesan cheese shavings over all items on the platter. Squeeze a bit of lemon on the meat and vegetables before eating.

  • NOTES:
    In Florence this dish is made with Chianina beef. They are the huge white oxen raised in the Val di Chiana, near Arezzo. This meat is noted for being both tender and highly flavorful.
  • For the fennel: cut it in half lengthwise, and cut out the core from both halves. Then cut into 1/4″ thick pieces lengthwise. I roasted the fennel, asparagus and grape tomatoes in a 425° oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until carmelized.
  • For a one inch steak: Rare, 10-12 mins; Medium Rare, 12-16 mins; Medium, 16-18 mins
  • It is fun for two people to share one of these platters (as long as you feel comfortable cutting every last piece of meat from the bone in front of your partner) and I’ve made this for company as well — each couple gets their own platter.

I know this won’t be our last family trip to the Rockies. I think the girls were as smitten by mountains as I was all those years ago. Lake Louise, we’ll be back!

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18 Comments on “Exploring the Trails (and Food) of the Canadian Rockies”

  1. A_Boleyn says:

    Seeing you and your two girls hiking through the mountains and boating together was smile-making. I hope they keep up that love of the outdoors for all their lives and share it with their own little ones. 🙂 All that activity really works up an appetite I bet and the steak dinner satisfies it well.

  2. Kristy says:

    We used to take family trips to the Rockies every summer…only down in Colorado. 🙂 We are actually planning a trip to Banff and Edmonton sometime soon. Mike was invited to speak at the University up there, so we thought we’d make a trip out of it. We’re still not sure when we’ll be going, but I’m already excited and your pictures have me even more so! The girls look so happy. I’m sure they’ll remember this trip. I still remember the first time I saw mountains. What a great trip, pictures and memories! You all look so happy. I love it. 🙂

  3. Sissi says:

    Gorgeous landscapes and such lovely family photos! The dish looks fabulous and it must have been extraordinary with the Canadian beef (I have heard lots of good things about Canadian beef).

  4. glamorous glutton says:

    The photo of Lake Louise is stunning. What a wonderful way to spend time with the Ponytails. GG

  5. Those pictures are stunning, truly beautiful! Sounds like you had a fab time, whether it was relaxing or taxing, who could be grumpy at a sight like that?! Glad you had a good time!

  6. Eva Taylor says:

    Looks like you had a great time Barb. The girls are really cute. And the weather looks pretty good too.

  7. Norma Chang says:

    Your photos bring back beautiful memories of our brief trip to Lake Louise, what a stunningly gorgeous lake. Lovely photos of your Ponytails, their excitement sure came through in the photos. That steak sure looks delicious, love your presentation.

  8. Karen says:

    Your family trip sounds wonderful. Memories that won’t be forgotten from that lovely area.

  9. A stunning landscape photo my friend, these mountains are absolutely beautiful 😀
    Thank you for sharing!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  10. Charles says:

    Beautiful photos Barb – that’s incredible scenery. I’m so glad you had a wonderful time. I love the third photo – the ponytails look so happy!

  11. Beth says:

    What a wonderful post! I always love seeing photos of people’s trips, and your pictures of the Canadian West are just beautiful. Although not as beautiful as the pictures of your ponytails (what a couple of cuties!).

    I always thought about working at Lake Louise when I was in university, and it never quite worked out. Thanks for sharing your trip memories, and your steak recipe!

  12. Ameena says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit Banff…it looks like a gorgeous place! The “ponytails” (too cute) are very lucky little ladies!

  13. How cool that you’ve visited our Rocky Mountains! I love Lake Louise!! I can understand your love for the mountains and think it’s awesome you have so many memories made there. Now your little ponytails are making their own!

  14. Now THOSE are mountains! How beautiful that area is and I’d love to visit Banff and Lake Louise some day. That’s a pretty spectacular steak, too, I might add!

  15. Kate says:

    Gorgeous photos. Your family is beautiful. I’ll have to save up and visit someday…looks breathtaking.

  16. The first photo just makes me want to go straight to the mountains, nothing better than being up there in th emidst of nature, wonderful views around you, and even better with great company and food !

  17. […] Speaking of Barb, she very kindly offered to write this guest post for me – even after I was planning on returning to more regular blog work. Naturally I jumped on the offer, because it’s always wonderful to have those precious extra moments free which I can spend with my family. I first met Barb through Eva’s blog about a year ago and since then have greatly enjoyed her recipes and stories. For those of you who don’t know her, she has two adorable children (the ponytails), who pop up every now and again on her blog. […]


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