Monday, November 24, 2008

Banff, Day 3: Gondola, Hot Springs & Fondues!

On our third day in Banff, we got up bright and early to do a bunch of activities before we had to return our rental car. We started with a gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain. It was very cold at the peak of the mountain and we only stayed long enough to snap a few pictures. The views were spectacular but for $26, they came at a steep price.

View from Sulphur Mountain.

Another view.

We then went next door to take a dip in the Banff Hot Springs. It is not an actual hot springs but water is piped into an exterior pool. We were there at opening hour which is probably best; the water is at its cleanest because there hasn’t been too many people. Supposedly it can get rather dirty at night. The water was 38C, which is very hot when you first dip in; it is actually not recommended to stay longer than 20 minutes due to potential heat exhaustion. After about 40 minutes, with some breaks, I actually felt quite light headed.

Hot Springs about to open.

Before returning our rental car, we went to check the hoodoos. Hoodoos are geological formations. The Parks Canada sign described them as “hauntingly beautiful” which we thought was rather hilarious. The hoodoos were not so impressive, though the ones in Drumheller (Day 7) were much more so.

The hoodoos in Banff National Park.

Finally, we took it easy until our friend AM from Calgary came for dinner. We were also joined by D’s trapeze friend. C and I gave D a fondue set to thank her for her great hospitality. We gave this gift while hinting that we wanted to have some fondue…! We made cheese fondue for dinner and chocolate fondue for dessert. Are you jealous?

Cheese Fondue
After research from the internet we bought ingredients for fondue. Plan for about 5 oz. (140 g) of cheese per person. We used the typical mix of gruyère and emmenthal, and threw in some leftover parmesan.

1 garlic clove
1-1/2 cup white wine, or until right consistency
cheese - 5 oz. per person, grated
1 tbsp cornstarch or flour

Rub the inside of the fondue pot with a garlic clove.
Add wine and bring to a simmer.
Add the garlic clove to flavour the wine.
Mix the cheese and corn starch together.
Add the cheese mixture a little bit at a time to the wine until it melts.
Repeat until you have added all the cheese, while stirring.

To dip
vegetables, blanched
bread, cubed
potatoes, cooked and cubed
dried fruit

and enjoy!

Rubbing the pot with garlic clove.

Ready to dip into yummy cheese!

Broccoli tastes good with cheese!

Chocolate Fondue
For the chocolate fondue, D baked a pound cake from her Williams-Sonoma dessert cookbook (I have the same!). For fruit, we had pineapple, pears, banana, apples and clementines. Strawberries would also be good, but produce is not the greatest in Banff...

1/2 cup heavy cream
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped roughly or use chocolate chips

Bring cream to a simmer.
Add chocolate and mix until it melts.
You can also add a bit of a liqueur of your choice.

To dip
fruit, cubed
pound cake, cubed

Dip into the chocolate.

Selection of fruit to dip into chocolate.

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