Category Archives: Why Winnipeg Rocks!

Bringing Bruce Springsteen to Winnipeg: An Idea that’s Born To Run.

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will know almost instantly that I have three over-riding passions in life. I am crazy for our local sporting scene, being a huge supporter of the Winnipeg Jets and a Winnipeg Blue Bomber season ticket holder. I crow endlessly about Winnipeg food and the mavericks that slave day in and day out to feed this fickle city.  But one thing trumps both of those my love of live music and the ongoing spectacle that is Rock and Roll.

In fact the very reason that I began writing this blog is due to a trip Darlene and I won to New York City 4 years ago. We were lucky enough to win an all expenses paid vacation to see two nights of concerts honoring the 25th Anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Two stellar nights of shows spanning the entirety of rock and roll as we know it.  One man was part of both nights, a singular rock and roller with gravel in his voice, hammer and anvil guitar style and Arlo Guthry in his soul.  I’m talking about the one and only Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello Belt out The Ghost of Tom Joad. (Photo Credit - Rolling Stone)

Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello Belt out The Ghost of Tom Joad. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concerts.  (Photo Credit – Rolling Stone)

As a devotee of rock and roll, I’ve seen more acts than most people will see in a lifetime, but I’ve never seen anything the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. As concert time approaches random cheers and whistles grow into a single unified voice “BRUUUUUUUUUUCE” the people exclaim! Even now into his 60’s Springsteen is powerfully built yet charismatic and kind, like a favorite uncle who sits you on his knee to tell you a story. He commands not only his band but also the audience with a gentle iron fist. From the first second he strides on stage you know why he’s called “The Boss”.

Bruce Springsteen Working Hard as Always (Photo Credit Brooklyn Vegan.com)

Bruce Springsteen Working Hard as Always (Photo Credit Brooklyn Vegan.com)

Last week I was approached by Diane Geddes who is heading up the Springsteen2Winnipeg campaign, a drive of like-minded people who are rallying to bring Bruce and the E-Street Band to our city on the prairies. She asked me to add my voice to the growing number of Springsteen fans to spread the word Winnipeg Loves the Boss. How could I possibly say no?

There will be the naysayers among the crowd who say that Winnipeg is too small, too flat, too boring to have a hope in hell’s chance of attracting The Boss. These of course are the same people who said the Winnipeg Jet’s would never ever be back and that the Blue Bombers would never get a new stadium. I like to call those people WRONG! Just sitting here writing in my basement I can think of tons of reasons why Bruce would love to visit Winnipeg and why I think he would get just as much out of a visit as the fans. In fact I think I have enough for a top ten list!

Top Ten Reasons Bruce should bring the E-Street Band to Winnipeg.

10. Winnipeg is a blue-collar town. We work hard for our money, suit and tie is not the dress of the day. Bruce is an outspoken supporter of the working class.

9. Winnipeg is a Rock and Roll town. Radio stations like 92 CITI FM have been around for 35 years and show no sign of slowing down.

8. Howard Mandshein the Godfather of Winnipeg rock radio would lose his mind… Seriously!

7. Winnipeg is really just a collection of small towns.  People know their neighbors and friendliness is a way of life.  Our license plates say “Friendly Manitoba” for a reason.

6. Winnipeg has great food. From a plateful of North End Perogies to a Steak Dinner at 529 Wellington Winnipeg will feed you well.

5. Little Steven can shop for some new headscarves in the Exchange District. Stars from all over the world love shopping for trinkets at Ragpickers.

4. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is opening next year. Because Bruce’s Rock and Roll has a conscience, always has always will.

3. Investors Group Field is a great place to feel the love. Rock Royalty and Bruce’s buddy Paul McCartney just played to a packed house here.

2. Our Summer evenings last forever. In the Summertime the sun doesn’t set till almost 11:00!

1. Winnipeg Loves Bruce and the E-Street Band. From humble beginnings the Springsteen2Winnipeg movement is growing and growing.

Bruce wows the crowd. (Photo Credit - American Songwriter.com)

Bruce wows the crowd. (Photo Credit – American Songwriter.com)

We need everyone to jump on board here and make noise, tell your friends, tell your family, hell tell your dog and cat. Kevin Donnelly is listening, The E-Street band’s management is listening and Bruce Springsteen is listening. The time to act is NOW! Be vocal, be active and be proud to live in Winnipeg. Together we can bring the E-Street Band to Winnipeg, if only we believe!

To join the cause visit Springsteen2Winnipeg.ca

Here’s a little Snippet from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert that I was lucky enough to have been to.  Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello with the Ghost of Tom Joad.

Rollin’ downtown for lunch with On a Roll Sandwich Truck.

With the Winnipeg summer heat soon drawing to a close and the inevitable onset of fall close at hand I set out to redouble my efforts and visit as many of the new food trucks that now dot the Winnipeg lunchtime streets.  Yesterday found me in familiar territory on Broadway Avenue where the majority of lunchtime food trucks are known to set up shop.

On a Roll Sandwich Truck

On a Roll Sandwich Truck

As it turned out my choice was an easy one, turning off Main Street the first truck that met my eye was a new to me, the On a Roll Sandwich Truck.  Painted an eye-catching bright green announcing “Bringing the flavours of the world to the streets of Winnipeg” was an offer I simply could not refuse.

Menu Board

Menu Board

The menu pasted to the side of the truck spoke of simple family favorites from around the world delivering on the promises of their motto.  Shrimp Po’ Boys representing the Louisiana coast of the United States, Jerked Chicken Sandwich giving a taste of Jamaican spicy influences.  For a more savory note a patron could try the ever popular, if confusing Chicken and Waffles.  Even vegetarians are welcomed with a falafel patty Banh-Mi sandwich representing the best of French and Vietnamese influences.

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The Red Ember: Hot Hot Hot!

There are always a few things that I look for in a new eating experience, location, menu choices, the price of the items on the menu all rank high on how I form a first impression. But few things wow me like a serious line of hungry patrons waiting for service. The fact that people are cued up on a busy downtown street spending their lunch hour waiting in line screams eat here!

The Big Red Truck, AKA The Red Ember.

The Big Red Truck, AKA The Red Ember.

Well folks The Red Ember pizza truck at the far end of Broadway Ave down by the legislature on Kennedy was packing in the masses for lunchtime on Thursday for sure. It’s hard to miss this transformer like mash-up of a bright fire engine red and big rig styled wood fired pizza joint on wheels. Many of the apartments in the tenements on Broadway no doubt are smaller than this monstrosity and I can pretty much guarantee that the food coming out of those kitchens can’t hold a candle to the applause worthy pies coming out of The Red Ember’s wood fired pizza oven. Yep, a wood fired oven on a truck in Winnipeg, grab your skates and sticks, Hell has officially frozen over folks!

Eat Real, Eat Local

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Sir Paul McCartney triumphantly returns to Winnipeg.

When people sit around and talk about the average 70-year-old person certain things tend to come up in the conversation.  Retirement issues, health concerns, loss of hearing and perhaps even ambition.  For the exceptional pensioner they may talk about vibrancy and youthful appearance despite the age.  One thing is for certain though Paul McCartney does not fit into any group labeled ordinary.  I count my lucky stars that I have now seen this living legend twice and by all reasonable standards he just keeps getting better and better with age.

Welcome to Winnipeg!

Welcome to Winnipeg!

Let’s face it Paul is a rock and roll icon of the highest order and now into his 7th decade could very easily rest on his laurels and slip most contentedly into obscurity.  The fact that this ground-breaker and might I add billionaire chooses to go out on tour again speak volumes.  One of the most critical things I look for in any performance is whether or not the principals are enjoying themselves and I can happily report that it sure seemed like Paul and his band mates were having a blast on stage in Winnipeg!

Yours truly waiting for the show to start!

Yours truly waiting for the show to start!

Slideshow warming up the arriving crowd.

Slide show warming up the arriving crowd.

Darlene and I sat midfield in the lower bowl of the stands giving us an excellent wide-angle view of the entire stage setup. Two huge High Definition screens flanked either side of the stage helping with close up views of the band.  The evening began with cover versions of Beatles tunes played in time with a scrolling montage of kaleidoscopic images of Paul though out his life.  At 8:30 sharp the band took the stage to thunderous applause from the 31,000 in attendance.  The audience, as one would guess, spanned the age spectrum.  Families with children hand in hand eyes wide with wonder at the unfolding spectacle, teens decked out in tight shirts and silly grins.  Older women and gentlemen seeking to recapture their youth in the songs bound to be sung that perhaps they courted each other to.  The crowd had it all.

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Chez Sophie sur le pont: Magnifique!

As my long-term readers will attest I am a fierce supporter of local cuisine.  One case in point is a favorite bistro that Darlene and I frequent fairly regularly both for the fine French bistro food they serve there but also arguably the best thin crust pizza within 200 miles of Winnipeg.

Chez Sophie a tiny but highly regarded St. Boniface institution has expanded in a very ambitious way, opening a second site on a bridge over the mighty Red River.  Yes dear readers I said on a bridge, but not just any bridge, the Esplanade Riel to be exact.  Itself the subject of many of my photo essays and stories over the years.  Let me an Anglophone living in the Francophone quarter of Winnipeg be the first to shout it out it’s about time!

Chez Sophie sur le pont from the Base of Esplanade Louis Riel.

Chez Sophie sur le pont from the Base of Esplanade Louis Riel.

Chez Sophie sur le pont serves food that could grace the table of any fine dining establishment in Winnipeg in a unique setting that only a few other rooms can compare to.  Darlene and I planned our evening with a nice walk in the French Quarter of St. Boniface and enjoyed the cool evening air as we headed out over the bridge.  Looking out over the fork of the Red and Assiniboine rivers hand in hand anticipating our Friday night together.

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Luckily we managed to get a table without calling ahead, this location although bigger in scope than the mother ship Chez Sophie still has a high demand for table space.  We were seated next to the floor to sky windows of the panoramic dining room overlooking the majestic Red River flowing steadily underneath us.

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Our server gave us expert consultation on the menu before we ordered our beverages and quickly returned to take our orders. One thing I had been missing terribly since the demise our go to restaurant Paladin was an all-inclusive meal.  Bread, soup, salad and a main without the pain of having to order every item separately and to the pain of the bill at the end of the meal.

Chez Sophie sur le pont delivers that in spades. Supper meals here include both a salad and a soup course as a part of the entrée.  Our meal consisted of a delicious mushroom soup with a glorious chunk of home-baked baguette.  Finely chopped mushrooms with a hit of fresh chopped parsley bathed our senses in earthy richness.  The soup with baguette and butter could have satisfied me right there for a meal.

The Salad was plated delightfully in a square bowl with a tiny “tea-pot” of dressing included inside.  The thick and rich home-made dressing is a great treat and accompanies our house salads with honor.

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For our mains Darlene chose the Steak sauce à la poivre (Beefsteak with peppercorn sauce) and I opted for the  Magret de Canard (duck breast).  Both dishes being within $4 of each other it was hardly bank breaking to enjoy the normally out of price duck that features on other restaurants menus.

The mains were cooked as advertised, my duck breast medium rare and succulent in a sauce of balsamic reduction.  Which at first I thought overpowering for the duck but upon more tasting found myself wanting more of to balance the rich game flavours of the duck breast.  In all it worked beautifully.  The beans and bacon could have used a bit more salt and punch from the their sauce but all in all worked well to counter balance the strong flavours of the balsamic gastrique.

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Darlene had a completely different flavor profile on her plate, cream sauce and pepper dominated and co-mingled with the juices from her beef to wonderful effect.  She reported a well cooked piece of beef to her liking, and a delicious accompaniment of sauce. Much like my only issue hers came with the vegetable accompaniment.  The peppers in her mixed veg being a bit to pronounced for her liking.

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All in all a very good night as we strolled down the bridge to the Forks Market with a delicious meal in our bellies and warm thoughts in our hearts for Chez Sophie sur le pont.

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