August 27th, 2015

Culinary Q & A with Karen Unland

KarenAfter recording a podcast on Seen and Heard in Edmonton with Karen, I thought I’d turn the tables on her and ask her to share some of her favourite food and restaurants in the city.

Occupation:

Entrepreneur (or at least trying), instructor, consultant

What did you eat today?

Breakfast: Chocolate croissant and plums

Lunch: Leftover Oodle Noodle (mostly pad thai)

Supper: Steak with mushrooms and shrimp, steamed potatoes from our garden, Caesar salad with lettuce from our garden

Snack: Gelato

What do you never eat?

I’m kind of proud of always eating what’s put in front of me. I don’t have any allergies or sensitivities, so I have that luxury. There are foods I’m more likely to choose than others at, say, a buffet, but I can’t think of anything that I wouldn’t at least try. (I did have a bad experience with pickled herring once that might lead me to shy away in the future.)

What is your personal specialty?

I really don’t cook much, but this year I learned how to make chicken noodle soup from scratch. After we have roast chicken (which my husband cooks), I take the carcass and make soup, then freeze it for future meals.

Complete this sentence: In my refrigerator, you will always find:

Two kinds of milk (full-fat for our son, skim for the rest of us)

What is your weekday meal standby?

If I’m cooking, I’ll usually make eggs, unless there are leftovers. Like I said, I’m not much of a chef.

What is your favorite kitchen item?

The appliance I use most in our kitchen is the tea-maker, which is kind of like a drip coffee-maker, but for tea. I was skeptical of it when my husband bought it, but it turns out to be very handy, and it makes it easy to use loose-leaf tea.

World ends tomorrow. Describe your last meal.

Ah, it’s hard to think of food when the world is ending! I’d want to eat at home, and my favourite meal there is salmon cooked on the barbecue with a mustard sauce; steamed asparagus; fresh bread; saskatoon pie for dessert.

Where do you eat out most frequently?

For fast(ish) food, we probably go to Oodle Noodle or Edo Japan most often as a family. When I’m downtown, I’ll usually eat at Chopped Leaf or Remedy. For finer dining, my husband and I like Tasty Tomato, and my best friend and I often end up at Manor Cafe.

Where’s the best place to eat in Edmonton?

I’m very fond of the Hardware Grill, but it’s been ages since I’ve been there, and the last few times I’ve tried it’s been booked. There are so many great places, though, and I pretty much like to eat anything I don’t have to cook.

If you weren’t limited by geography, where and what would you eat?

I love seafood. If it were possible, I’d eat sushi and shellfish all of the time.

Follow Karen on Twitter and check out her blog and podcasts on Seen and Heard in Edmonton.

August 26th, 2015

A Tour of the El Mercado Tortilla Factory

Two weeks ago on an overcast Saturday, Mack and I headed to south Edmonton for a tour of El Mercado corn tortilla factory. You may already be quite familiar with their product, as it is used in several popular restaurants in the city, including Tres Carnales, Rostizado and Glass Monkey. El Mercado also produces a line of corn tortilla chips.

Tres Carnales

A spread at Tres Carnales

We’ve picked up their tortillas and chips in the past for home use, usually at Tienda Latina, though they are also available outside of Latin markets at about two dozen locations in the city, including Save-On Foods and the Italian Centre. Impressively, their distribution runs even further south to Red Deer and Calgary.

The opportunity to tour the factory, however, meant not only seeing the production in action, but also getting to taste fresh tortillas off the line, something neither of us have done before.

El Mercado

Masa ready to be loaded into the machine

El Mercado imported a tortilla machine from Mexico in 2010, and had to adapt it to meet local safety guidelines. But the mechanization of the process results in an incredibly efficient system – once staff have prepared the masa (dough made from corn flour and water), they feed it into the machine which flattens, cuts, bakes, then cools the tortillas, all in 8 minutes. El Mercado generally produces 12,000 tortillas a day, two to three times per week.

El Mercado

The roller

They employ uses three different roller sizes, creating 14 cm and 10 cm diameter tortillas, as well as the triangular shapes that are prepared into chips.

El Mercado

Tortillas feeding into the oven

El Mercado

Three levels of heat bake the tortillas

We had the opportunity to try a white corn tortilla still warm from the line, which Karla, our volunteer tour guide, demonstrated how to eat it Mexican-style. First, we sprinkled the surface with salt, then rolled it up in the palm of our hand. They were surprisingly pliable, and tasted almost like a flour tortilla.

El Mercado

Karla demonstrates the technique

The tour was a bit of a trial run for El Mercado; depending on the interest of the community, they are considering the possibility of selling freshly-made tortillas straight from their factory on a monthly basis. Let’s hope this happens so more people have the chance to try El Mercado’s products as they were meant to be enjoyed.

El Mercado

Ready to go!

We picked up a bag of their new flavoured tortilla chips (spicy, though sweet was also an option). Mack hasn’t stopped eating them since, finding the seasoning of onion, garlic, and chili powder extremely addictive. If you’re looking to purchase El Mercado’s products, check out this handy list.

El Mercado

Snacking on the spicy tortilla chips

Thanks to Karla for the invitation, and to El Mercdo for hosting us!

Check out Cindy’s post about the tour as well.

August 24th, 2015

Food Notes for August 24, 2015

I was flattered when Karen asked me to be a part of a Seen and Heard in Edmonton podcast, her series that highlights local online content creators. We had a great conversation about some of the changes in the food blogging scene since I started nine years ago, among other things. Thanks again for having me, Karen! On to this week’s food notes:

  • The third SalvagED lunch at Earth’s General Store Downtown will pop-up on August 25, 2015 from 11am-2pm. The meal is put together using ingredients that would have been otherwise discarded.
  • Little Brick is planning an end-of-summer shindig on August 28, 2015, from 6-9pm, with food, drinks, games and music.
  • The annual Viva Italia Viva Edmonton event is planned for August 30, 2015, from 12-9pm in Giovanni Caboto Park (95 Street & 109 Avenue).
  • The next Staff Meal is taking place on the Senger Farm on August 30, 2015, featuring a supper inspired by Latin American fire cooking. Tickets are $95, and include a return bus trip to the farm.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t also remind you all to save the date for the finale of our 2015 What the Truck?! season, taking place at Churchill Square on September 11, from 4-8pm. Expect 35 trucks.
  • The 4th annual Edmonton Beer Geeks Anonymous’ Real Ale Festival runs September 12, 2015. The $30 tickets will sell out fast, but if you want an idea of what to expect, check out Jason’s recap from last year.
  • BRU Coffee + Beer House, located at the Pearl (11965 Jasper Avenue) is now open, though for the time being, is only offering espresso-based drinks and pastries.
  • Sante, a café that offers healthful salads, sandwiches and drinks, is now open on 104 Street, in the space formerly occupied by Carbon (10184 104 Street).
  • The Journal reviewed Tapavino (11011 Jasper Avenue), a wine bar featuring small plates not unlike Niche, the restaurant it replaced.
  • Cathy is the latest to check out Huma Mexican Food on the south side.
  • Lots of love for Little Brick this week, courtesy of Andrea and Cathy.
  • We heard through the grapevine that Mother’s Market (which announced its temporary closure on July 18, 2015), is permanently closed. They’ve deleted their Facebook and Twitter accounts; no word on what is to happen to the space.
  • Congrats to Valerie and Cindy, whose blogs made the Williams Food Equipment list of “Top 25 Must Follow Canadian Food Bloggers”!
  • I had no idea maple syrup was controlled by a quota system in Quebec, not unlike the dairy quota closer to home. It sounds like there are proponents on both sides.
  • Before Dark Matters last week, Mack and I stopped by King Noodle House to quench our bun bo Hue craving. It worked.

King Noodle House

Bun bo Hue from King Noodle House

  • The What the Truck?! crew met over charcuterie and flatbread at Ampersand 27 tonight. I returned to the Forest Floor, but Mack’s Salty Pig was a really tasty diversion.

Ampersand 27

Forest Floor flatbread

August 23rd, 2015

Recap: Dark Matters Nerdgasm

It’s been more than a year since Mack and I attended Dark Matters, a series of adult-only evenings at the Telus World of Science. Billed as an event where “science is served on the rocks & the adults come out to play,” Dark Matters provides a relaxed environment for learning and the opportunity to connect with an Edmonton attraction in a different way.

Dark Matters

Thespian robot

The Dark Matters that we attended last July was centered around food, while the theme of Thursday’s event was “Nerdgasm”. Top-secret Nerd Nite Edmonton lectures were the feature of the evening.

What brought us out to this particular Dark Matters was actually the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit. We’d recently visited Jurassic Forest in Gibbons, and learned that similar animatronic dinosaurs were on display closer to home.

Dark Matters

Mack with a juvenile t-rex

As one of our biggest complaints about Jurassic Forest was the distance between the viewing platform and the dinosaurs themselves, Dinosaurs Unearthed did deliver. The exhibition is, as expected, much more compact, with a combination of animatronic and fossil specimens on display.

Dark Matters

Dinosaurs Unearthed

The figures also featured the most up-to-date renderings of dinosaurs, feathers and all. Though we have to say, after learning that a velociraptor was between the size of a turkey and Great Dane, that classic raptor/kitchen scene in Jurassic Park just wouldn’t be the same if based on current scientific knowledge.

Dark Matters

I couldn’t help myself

While we enjoyed our visit with the dinosaurs, the highlight of Dark Matters did end up being the Nerd Nite lecture. Megan Evans, who plays the French horn for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, demystified the instrument for us. It was an enlightening and engaging 45 minutes, full of humour and fun facts. It was a great primer on what we could expect at a regular Nerd Nite event, which starts up again in September.

Dark Matters

Megan Evans on the French horn

Mack and I both agreed that this Dark Matters seemed to involve more elements than the previous one we’d attended. They made the most of the space, including outside the facility, where staff were launching rockets.

Dark Matters

Rocket launching isn’t just for kids

We ended our evening with a tour of TWOSE with long-time staff member (and now volunteer) Trevor Prentice. He is an enthusiastic ambassador of the centre, and introduced us to his favourite exhibit – an actual piece of the moon!

Dark Matters

Trevor with the moon rock exhibit

We were granted a behind-the-scenes look at the Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre (did you know that the laser shows are not pre-programmed and are controlled by the technician?). Trevor also showed us Sophie, the star projection machine used before the transition to a digital system.

Dark Matters

Sophie

It was a great way to spend an evening reacquainting ourselves with the Telus World of Science. The next Dark Matters is taking place on October 15, 2015, with a rock & roll theme – it should be fun!

August 21st, 2015

Recap: 2015 Grand Taste Tour with Wolf Willow Honey, Tofield Packers and Irvings Farm Fresh

On July 12, 2015, Mack and I were guests of the second annual Grand Taste Tour, a partnership between the 124 Grand Market and Taste Alberta.

The Grand Taste Tours began in 2014 and seek to showcase some of the great local producers we are fortunate to have in this province, and to enjoy some of their bounty as prepared by a talented local chef.

In our case, Mack and I joined Phil and Robyn on the "bee bus", meaning that we would be visiting an apiary to start. Our counterparts on the "dairy bus" headed to the Breevliet Dairy Farm first, after which both groups would meet up at the second and final stops.

We learned that the 2014 Grand Taste Tour was much different, as it was self-guided, and participants had to reach the participating farms on their own. Although some might appreciate the choice and freedom of a choose-your-own-adventure tour, we appreciated the fact that all logistics of transportation and food taken care of this time around.

It took the bus over an hour to reach our first stop, Wolf Willow Honey. Their products can be found on the shelves at Duchess Provisions, but for the most part, Wolf Willow prefers to sell their honey direct to consumers from the farm or at the Camrose Farmers’ Market.

Wolf Willow Honey

Wolf Willow Honey

Doug Chalmers shared that Wolf Willow has 400 hives (with 50-80,000 bees making up each hive). He described the surrounding area as a “bee haven”, with more than 200 perennials available to their bees. That said, he does liken the collapse of bee colonies to the changing landscape after the second World War, linked to the decrease in food sources and the increase in pesticide use.

Wolf Willow Honey

Doug Chalmers

Using burlap smoke to sedate the bees, the beekeeper was able to pull up a frame for us to see.

Wolf Willow Honey

Beekeeper Ben

The bees were busy working away – did you know that a single bee makes just 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey over its lifetime?

Wolf Willow Honey

Bees

We also had the chance to sample some of their honey products, which included light clover, dark clover, dandelion, creamed buckwheat and an end-of-season 100 flower blend. Mack and I would have appreciated more of a guided tasting, but then again, we’ve been spoiled with superb honey education sessions led by Patty Milligan.

Honey tasting

Mack

It was then on to Tofield Packers, a small abattoir used by Irvings Farm Fresh, among other local producers.

Tofield Meat Packers

Tofield Packers

They are committed to public education, often opening their doors to 4H Clubs, so it wasn’t the first time they’ve hosted external groups. Owner Dale Erickson was our no-nonsense guide, and though he was responsive to questions asked, a more thorough explanation of the process up front would have been ideal.

Tofield Packers

Dale Erickson on the kill floor

We did learn that they process pigs, cows, sheep, goat, bison, elk, ostrich and alpaca. While they have processed game in the past, they shy away from it because the animals are typically very dirty. On a good day, the plant can get through 7 animals.

Dale led us through the various coolers in the facility, including the wet room, where the animals are left to drain of blood and other fluids, and then the aging room, where sides are hung for anywhere from 14 to 21 days.

Tofield Meat Packers

Coolers

Tofield Packers also purchases sides of animals to process into hams, sausages and other cuts of meat which they sell out of their retail shop.

An abattoir is something every meat eater should see, to appreciate the end of a life that has travelled from a farm to your table. Tofield Packers is a great example of a family-owned facility that works with small farmers to put forth good quality products.

Before heading to our final stop, our group congregated in the parking lot to enjoy a snack. Given it was a tour sponsored by Taste Alberta, the big box store granola bars and watermelon was unexpected and ill-fitting. Hopefully snacks better aligned with the tour can be arranged next year.

Mack and I were most looking forward to the visit to Irvings Farm Fresh. We’ve been buying pork from Alan and Nicola Irving from the City Market, Old Strathcona and Salisbury Farmers’ Markets for years, and had always meant to stop by the farm to see where their pigs are raised.

Irvings Farm Fresh

With Alan

We finally had that chance, and we weren’t disappointed. The farm occupies a total of 80 acres, and this year, for the first time, the Irvings are growing their own grain for feed. The barley was surprisingly green, but the grass in an adjacent field was incredibly brittle under our feet.

Irvings Farm Fresh

In the barley field

A few years ago, when Alan and Nicola were deciding on how to expand their operations, they had a choice to make – they couldn’t do it all on their own, and had to choose between outsourcing their breeding or their product line. They decided the latter was more important, and with a facility built to process all cuts on-site, they are able to guarantee their products are free from wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy and MSG.

As a result, their Berkshire pigs are brought to them at 2-3 months. Irvings raises them until they’re between 6-7 months, or approximately 250 pounds. Beyond that, and the ratio of fat to meat becomes unwieldy.

Irvings Farm Fresh

Pigs

The Irvings believe that pigs should live as naturally as possible, so provide their animals with an environment where they have the freedom to move, dig, root, sleep and eat. They self-regulate, and on that warm afternoon, most of them had sought shade to keep cool (pigs don’t sweat). That week, the farm had about 70 pigs.

Irvings Farm Fresh

In their element

Before lunch, we had the privilege of observing a butchery demonstration by Elyse Chatterton. We learned that the pigs are killed at Tofield Packers, then brought back as sides to the Irvings facility (she even pulled out the bullet from the skull of the pig!).

Irvings Farm Fresh

Elyse Chatterton

Trained in England, Elyse learned how to do everything by hand, eschewing the use of even a band saw for cuts through bone. As a retail butcher, Elyse loves the process of transforming a “beast” into attractive cuts of meats that catch a customer’s eye. She skillfully carved up several shoulder roasts (her favourite cut), and indicated that she could dispatch the entire side in one hour.

Irvings Farm Fresh

All by hand

Her sense of humour was evident throughout the demo; for instance, some have questioned whether she is able to do everything a male butcher can do. Her answer: she isn’t able to go into the men’s washroom.

Then it was time for lunch, picturesque communal tables set up beneath several trees, adjacent to a makeshift outdoor kitchen. Chef Daniel Costa (of Corso 32 and Bar Bricco fame) and his team certainly had to work in an untested environment, but in spite of this, managed to create a memorable meal that celebrated the flavours of summer.

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Lunch

A plate of snappy, raw vegetables from Riverbend Gardens reminded us that sometimes, simple is best. It was followed by grilled Bonjour Bakery crostini topped by the most luxurious Fairwinds Farm goat ricotta and fresh spring pea and mint spread.

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Pinzimonio (raw vegetables)

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Goat ricotta

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Spring pea and mint

We were spoiled with platters of porchetta and panzanella made with tomatoes and cucumber from Gull Valley Greenhouses.

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Porchetta

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Panzanella in action

My favourite dish was the spring onion, pea shoot and whey risotto. Given risotto is difficult to make under regular circumstances, it was an even bigger feat on this stage. The whey imbued a creaminess that had me going back for thirds.

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Risotto

Grilled Irvings pork loin capped off the main course. The meat was overdone for my taste, but to be honest, I’d filled up on the preceding dishes.

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Grilled pork loin

But we weren’t done yet – generous chunks of two year old Parmesan, drizzled with the 100 flower blend of Wolf Willow Honey, followed suit. The finale was a silky panna cotta with honey, grappa and berries.

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Parmesan and honey

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Panna cotta

I’m certain that had the menu been advertised alongside ticket sales, the Grand Taste Tour would have been sold out; a similar meal at Corso 32 would have easily cost the equivalent of the $90 ticket price. Next year, organizer Kirsta Franke has already secured the chefs from North 53 for the lunch portion; if the cost of the tour holds steady, the all-inclusive nature of the event and the high quality of the food should sell itself.

2015 Grand Taste Tour

Kudos to the team behind the day

If the tour of Irvings Farm Fresh piqued your interest, you’re in luck – Alan and Nicola are participating in Open Farm Days on August 23, 2015, from 11am-4pm. Visit with the pigs, tour the meat shop, and enjoy a “simply porky lunch”.

Thanks again to Gastropost, Taste Alberta and the 124 Grand Market for inviting us, and congratulations to the organizers for a second successful tour. I look forward to seeing what’s on the agenda for next year!

Check out Mack and Linda’s recaps of the events, too!

August 17th, 2015

Food Notes for August 17, 2015

Our penultimate What the Truck?! event of the 2015 season takes place on Saturday, August 22, 2015 from 4-8pm at Telus Field. Come join us for some eats on the outfield! On to this week’s food notes:

  • Alberta Open Farm Days runs this weekend, August 22-23, 2015, and offer people the chance to visit and learn more about some of the wonderful farms and farmers in this province. Of note, Northlands is showcasing their urban agriculture project close to home, for those who don’t want to venture too far out.
  • I remember Liane was one of the first to stoke the rumours about a Whole Foods coming to Edmonton (which turned out to be true), but I have to say I’m pretty skeptical about a Shake Shack expanding to Edmonton as its first Canadian location.
  • Let’s hope Rostizado is the latest Edmonton restaurant destined for the prestigious enRoute list of Best New Restaurants. But in the meantime, you can do your part by voting for them in the People’s Choice category.
  • Linda checked out an underrated restaurant on Edmonton’s southside called LETS Grill, specializing in cuisine found in northeast China.
  • Liv enjoyed her experience at Ikki Izakaya, the second izakaya to open in Edmonton.
  • It’s the end of an era for Happy Garden, at least in its current location. They’ve been given 3 months notice to vacate their storefront, and relocation isn’t guaranteed, as the family may not want to start from scratch.
  • I was saddened to learn that The Bothy’s 124 Street location will be closed for the foreseeable future, due to declining foot traffic because of the 102 Avenue Bridge closure.
  • I’m hoping for more pictures about the inaugural Feast on the Field fundraiser at Commonwealth Stadium – it sounds like it was a very unique evening with great food!
  • I missed linking to Phil’s list of top 5 fried chicken in Edmonton last week.
  • Let’s hope the sunshine isn’t gone for good – and when it comes back, here are some patio options from Avenue Edmonton to help make the most of those last summer rays.
  • Sure, this video is portraying stereotypes of Asian restaurants versus mainstream establishments, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t make us laugh in parts.
  • Mack and I took our parents to Café Amore last week to catch up over pasta. I think it was a point of pride for the men to clean their plates, while my Mum, Patti and I were content to take home the leftovers.

Cafe Amore

My favourite truffle pasta

August 16th, 2015

Recap: What the Truck?! at Park After Dark

On July 11, 2015, What the Truck?! partnered with Northlands to co-host an event during Park After Dark.

What the Truck?! at Northlands Park

Park After Dark was established to introduce those who may not be familiar with the track to the excitement of live horse races. With an extensive outdoor patio and licensed area, we thought it would be a good way to incorporate an adjacent beer garden into What the Truck?!, something attendees have been inquiring about for some time.

What the Truck?! at Northlands Park

We hosted 15 trucks that night, including 5 new to the festival. 1879 Where the Flavour Begins, Northlands’ own food truck, made its debut at the event, and seemed to be a crowd favourite, incorporating product from Mojo Jojo Pickles into one of their dishes. Mack and I split a “Big Mock” burger from another new truck, The Hop, enjoying the quality of a homemade patty but a flavour inspired by the Golden Arches.

The space ended up being very conducive to a food truck event, with the backdrop of horse races creating an atmosphere of anticipation and exhilaration. It was neat to see folks crowd around the track at the bugle call to post throughout the evening.

What the Truck?! at Northlands Park

Linda Hoang even decided to introduce visitors to What the Truck?! in her Explore Edmonton video for Edmonton Tourism. Thanks, Linda!

If you missed our event at Park After Dark, you only have two other chances to catch What the Truck?! before the end of our 2015 season. Our penultimate event is another first for our festival – Trucks in the Outfield.

What: What the Truck?!
Where: Telus Field (10233 96 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB)
When: Saturday, August 22, 2015
Time: 4-8pm

RSVP on Facebook!

We’ll be lining up the trucks inside Telus Field so you’ll be able to have a picnic in the outfield! Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and even baseball gloves and balls to play catch on the ball diamond.

Three trucks, The Hungry Dodo, Roots Patties, and Spiced! Food Truck, are new to What the Truck?!. All menus are now up for your viewing pleasure.

Hope to see you there!

August 10th, 2015

Food Notes for August 10, 2015

It feels good to have finally finished up a big project at work over the weekend – so I’ll hopefully get to make the most of what’s left of summer! On to this week’s food notes:

  • I’m so excited for the tour of El Mercado’s corn tortilla factory on August 15, 2015, from 10:30am-1:30pm. You may be familiar with their product already, as it is used at Tres Carnales and Rostizado, and available for sale at The Italian Centre and Tienda Latina (among other shops). The public is invited to come see how the tortillas are made, and to taste the products freshly made. El Mercado is located at 4723 101 Street.
  • The next Edmonton Food Fight pits two vegan chefs against each other on August 17, 2015.
  • Sturgeon County Bounty will be hosting Rostizado for a culinary cookout at Cardiff Park for al fresco tacos on August 21, 2015, from 4-8pm. Food tickets for 2-4 people cost $40.
  • If you have a hankering for ice cream in the west end, you can now head over to a new 80 Flavours location by Meadowlark Mall on 87 Ave & 159 Street.
  • Massawa Café & Bistro (10153 97 Street) looks like it’s ben open for more than a month. It’s located in the old City Market building.
  • Twyla reviewed a new restaurant called Sambol Sri Lankan Kitchen (9261 34 Avenue) on the southside, opened by the family behind Razzelberries downtown that was forced to close due to a rent increase.
  • The Journal reviewed Cured Wine Bar, the newest charcuterie/wine bar on Edmonton’s southside.
  • Stephanie shared what seemed like a fabulous first pop-up for Crossroads, held at The Mercury Room. The dinner was inspired by “The Three Little Pigs” .
  • Eat This Poem is featuring a literary city guide of Edmonton, including many great restaurant recommendations.
  • Speaking of recommendations, Linda’s put together a list of her top 10 Chinatown spots (but in my opinion, I’d say the omission of Pho Tau Bay is glaring, though I know Linda still hasn’t been yet!).
  • Although the study isn’t conclusive, recently released research is suggesting that spicy food may lower your risk of dying prematurely.
  • Here’s another innovative way a company is trying to reduce food waste: taking unsold or ugly fruits and preserving them in freeze-dried form.
  • Soylent, the food substitute, has just released its second version, a ready-to-drink bottled variety.
  • For a late dinner last week, I finally introduced Mack to the brilliance of the build-your-own-soup at Tao Garden (9642 107 Avenue). Even better, their special noodle was ramen!

Tao Garden

Ramen in satay soup with beef balls and tofu puffs

  • We also finally checked out The Cone, Edmonton’s cutest soft serve ice cream trailer, parked just north of Wild Earth Bakery on 99 Street. I tried the French vanilla while Mack had the banana. Worth heading back for just to try some of the other flavours!

The Cone

French vanilla from The Cone

Packrat Louie

Chorizo pizza from Packrat Louie

  • Mack and I also had the pleasure of spending most of the weekend with his family, including a leisurely Sunday out at the guest house where his parents are staying near South Cooking Lake. Among its charming features: an honour-system jam, egg and pottery shed (we picked up a jar of Saskatoon jam).

Honour Jam Shed

Jam shed!

  • And for dessert after our barbecue supper, Mack’s sister made some awesome apple pies.

Homemade Apple Pie

Apple pie

August 3rd, 2015

Food Notes for August 3, 2015

It’s been a whirlwind of a long weekend, but a good one. Hope you’ve been enjoying the sun, as we go into our last month of summer (too soon, I know!). On to this week’s food notes:

  • The 12th Summer Latin Fest takes place on August 9, 2015, from 10am-5pm at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (11310 111 Ave), with 10 outdoor pavilions featuring food and entertainment.
  • Sabor Divino’s annual Seafood Festival runs from July 31 – August 30, 2015. Lillian highlights some of the dishes you can expect.
  • Northlands will be hosting an outdoor dinner at their Northlands Urban Farm in conjunction with Open Farm Days on August 23, 2015. Tickets are $80, excluding fees.
  • The Red Shoe Crawl is hosting its next event on 124 Street on September 13, 2015. They haven’t announced the participating businesses yet, but stay tuned!
  • Gail Hall has organized another local tour highlighting several Alberta farms, including Beary Berry Honey and Irvings Farm Fresh. The tour runs September 12-13, 2015.
  • Good news for coffee lovers Downtown: Da Capo will be opening a second location at 9888 Jasper Avenue, some time in December or January.
  • Great to know that there will be a solid pho option on the south side, with Pho Hoan Pasteur opening up another location in Mil Woods.
  • Liv is the latest food blogger to review 12 Acres.
  • CBC Radio collected some “hidden gems of Edmonton” from some local personalities, including Brittney who shared her favourite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and Cindy who shared her secret coffee spots.
  • Linda recapped her experience at Knifewear’s Cut Like a Chef knife skills class.
  • Sugared & Spiced’s Cake Club is now live: limited to 50 members, the cake subscription lets you pick out 3 special dates in advance and will have a cake ready (and delivered to you, within the city) that day. Such a great idea.
  • One of the latest local food-related Kickstarter Projects has been launched by Frickin Delight Donuts, who are seeking support to move into a bigger space. They’re hoping for $55,000 that will go towards increasing their production
  • Cindy started a new blog series that will feature different vendors at farmers’ markets. First up: Serben’s Organic Farm.
  • Vue Weekly updates the progress of the MacKinnon Ravine, the city’s first food forest, as it celebrates its first birthday.
  • Why cry over spilt coffee if it can be turned into art like this?
  • Mack and I joined his family to take in the Heritage Festival earlier today. It was a bit surprising that the festival didn’t do more to celebrate its 40th anniversary (there were some placards showcasing some of its history and photos from earlier events), but in a way, it is fitting, seeing as it would rather allow the pavilions and cultures speak for themselves. We did our best to try as many of the new pavilions as possible.

Heritage Festival

Lebanon was a big disappointment – the chicken shawarma was expensive at 8 tickets, but was small and cold.

Heritage Festival

The samosa from Rwanda (6 tickets) were hot, and filled to the brim with beef, onions and peas.

Heritage Festival

The mula beled, mulukhia (3 tickets) from South Sudan wasn’t listed on their signage, but was worth asking for from the program, as it was the best deal. The spinach and beef stew served over fufu could have used a bit of salt, but that was our only critique.

Heritage Festival

Haiti could have better advertised their pork (8 tickets), which was essentially deep-fried pork belly. It was a healthy serving that was meant to be shared among many.

Hope you enjoyed your Heritage Festival visit, too!

July 27th, 2015

Food Notes for July 27, 2015

  • The Mercury Room is hosting the Crossroads Pop-up Restaurant on August 9, 2015, with a farm-to-table event inspired by the story of “The Three Little Pigs”. Tickets are $55 each.
  • Chef Christine Sandford (who just won the most recent Edmonton Food Fight) will be kicking off an interactive Dinner Club series at Get Cooking, with a sit-down, multi-course menu. It takes place August 11, 2015, with tickets at $100 each.
  • The sixth incarnation of Jennifer Cockrall-King’s Okanagan Food & Wine Writers’ Workshop runs September 11-13, 2015. The early bird registration deadline has been extended to July 31.
  • Sometimes you have to plan far ahead – Jacek has added new chocolate and coffee tasting dates for the fall – October 2 and November 18, 2015 at Credo Coffee on 124 Street.
  • Jason shared that a new craft brewery and restaurant is in the works for Old Strathcona, called Situation Brewing.
  • Andrea checked out Cured Wine Bar, and was impressed with their house-made charcuterie.
  • Phil couldn’t get enough of fried chicken so put together another blind taste test of some of the city’s offerings.
  • The Journal reviewed Memphis Blues Barbecue, which now has three locations in the Edmonton area.
  • John Gilchrist, the restaurant critic from the Calgary Herald, stopped in Edmonton and named four restaurants worth the drive: Share, RGE RD, Glasshouse Bistro and Ampersand 27.
  • It’s not great to hear about the potential closing of Burrow located in the Central LRT station due to security issues. I really hope something can be done to keep it open.
  • T & T’s newest southside location (3451 Calgary Trail) is now open, and it’s no surprise the parking has been a gong show.
  • Diner en Blanc will be back again on September 3, 2015. I’m happy to say I’ve done it once, and won’t need to do it again.
  • Mack has me hooked on John Oliver’s long-form video commentaries on Last Week Tonight. Here are two food-related segments worth watching on food waste and chickens.
  • Another State & Main is coming to Edmonton, this time at First & Jasper.

State & Main

State & Main

  • Spotted at the City Market: Reclaim Urban Farm is getting into the “ugly vegetables” movement, with some discounted hail-damaged greens on offer.

Reclaim Urban Farm

#uglyistastytoo from Reclaim Urban Farm

  • Mack and I stopped by the start of the Burger Finals of the Canadian Food Championships at Centennial Plaza. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but based on the name “kitchen stadium”, we were anticipating a somewhat more raucous crowd. In some ways, it was too bad the competitors weren’t on a raised platform, or at least in a space with tiered seating so the feeling of a battle arena could be staged. It was just the first year, so hopefully the competitions are highlighted even more publically in the future. Congratulations to the winners!

Canadian Food Championships

Burger Finals at the Canadian Food Championships

  • We also took in K-Days on the weekend, including our share of gluttonous food. I tried the glazed donut grilled cheese from Vancouver’s Melt Town Grilled Cheese, and was left disappointed. There wasn’t enough sweet-salty contrast for my taste.

Melt Town Grilled Cheese

Glazed donut grilled cheese

  • I’m not the biggest football fan, but it’s an experience to attend a live game now and then. It was great to watch the Eskimos win their third in a row, and perhaps even sweeter that we were able to do it in the comfort and shelter of the President’s Suite (thanks, Mack!).

Edmonton Eskimos

Go Esks Go!