July 25th, 2014

Taste of Edmonton 2014

The Taste of Edmonton has been getting a lot of love this year, and it couldn’t be at a better time. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Taste is very much a staple in the city’s busy summer festival calendar. But the organizers haven’t been resting on their laurels – over the past few years, they’ve strived to make changes in order to continuously improve the festival experience, and to try and expand their appeal to an even larger audience. To that end, I think they’ve succeeded.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Taste of Edmonton

Sip ‘N Savour, Taste’s effort to involve chefs and restaurants who might otherwise not participate in the festival with a regular booth, was introduced in 2013. This year, the special workshops and pop-up evenings seemed to have something for everyone, and I loved the idea of the culinary adventures that saw off-site food and drink excursions (in a way, I’d have to think they’d be even more successful in the fall or winter, when festival calendars just aren’t as packed as during the summer months).

Taste of Edmonton 2014

There was a lot more non-beer garden seating this year – hurrah!

But the heart of the festival – the food samples served by restaurants – is the real draw. And with a high menu turnover, and the average item priced at 3 tickets, the value for dollar was better than ever before, and patrons were able to sample an even greater variety of dishes. The complaints heard in previous years about the price of food seemed to fall away this year, as the festival returned to again offering taste-sized portions.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

I wish more booths hawked their wares like Guru

The crowds have been out in full force, and Wednesday was no different. Lines were twenty deep at some booths, and available standing rom in some areas of the Square was sparse. But even at the dinner hour, it only took us about an hour and a half to sample more than a dozen dishes.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

The dinner crowd

One of the highlights for me was the pizza from Canicus Catering. In a way, the food trucks have been a blessing for Taste of Edmonton (introduced in 2012). Whereas restaurant booths are immobile and harder to change over, the addition of trucks provides the festival with the ability to offer “limited edition” items, and with a rotation of trucks throughout the ten days, patrons can return over the course of the event and still try something new.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

The line-up

Canicus Catering is perhaps the most unique food truck in Edmonton, serving up wood-fired pizza cooked out of a converted fire truck (where the water tank has been retrofitted with a pizza oven). It was great to see the pizzas being cooked in front of us (whereas in some cases, restaurants employ the “scoop and serve” model).

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Canicus Catering

The pizza had a wonderfully crisp crust, and bubbly cheese atop the prosciutto. The fact that it was freshly prepared made all the difference.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Canicus Catering’s prosciutto pizza

Mack’s favourite item was the chicken marsala perogies with sauteed bacon and onion from Select. The tangy flavour was a bit off-putting for me, but Mack had a different opinion.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Select’s marsala perogies

Although many restaurants claimed to use local ingredients, few named the producers, or, in Culina’s instance, put them front and centre. Listing Calgary’s White Gold and Gull Valley as its primary suppliers for its “Prairie” caprese skewer, it really did live up to its name. Mack didn’t find fault with the chicken and bacon kofta with tomato chutney either, remarking that the dish had a lot of flavour.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Culina’s caprese skewer and chicken and bacon kofta

Mack, of course, couldn’t turn down crack chicken from The Lingnan. It was actually the perfect portion size in my opinion!

Taste of Edmonton 2014

The Lingnan’s dry spicy chicken

The ricotta cheese fritters from the Edmonton Petroleum Club were disappointing. We had high expectations, but unfortunately, the fritters just needed more salt.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Edmonton Petroleum Club’s ricotta cheese fritters

Creole Envie’s fried green tomatoes are probably an acquired taste, as they were a little too tart for me. But I did anticipate a thicker breading that would hold up a bit better.

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Creole Envie’s fried green tomatoes

We ended our meal with Eva Sweet’s liege waffle – one of my favourite sweet treats!

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Eva Sweet’s liege waffle

I’m already looking forward to what Taste of Edmonton may have in store for us in its 31st year – see you then!

July 21st, 2014

Food Notes for July 21, 2014

  • Cathy shared a bit about the forthcoming Rocky Mountain Icehouse (10516 Jasper Avenue), brought to you by the folks behind Cask & Barrel. The grand opening is taking place on July 25 and 26, starting at 4pm.
  • Elm Café’s Dining Room (9132 – 118 Avenue) will be open for business on July 25 and 26, from 5pm-late, with a theme of Southern BBQ. Make sure to call ahead for reservations.
  • I love the ideas behind this event on August 7, 2014: Ladies on the Green is a charity golf tournament where golf is optional! Food and indulgences are included, and even golf lessons for those so inclined.
  • Vue Weekly previews the hotly anticipated El Cortez Tequila Bar + Kitchen.
  • I didn’t know Pampa was offering cooking classes about Brazilian BBQ. The cost is $90/person, and upcoming dates include August 23 & 24 and September 20 & 21. Unfortunately, Pampa doesn’t have any information on the website to link to – interested parties will just have to call the restaurant.
  • Karlynn shared that the new fair food winner at this year’s K-Days was the Angry Birds candy apple.
  • Lillian reviewed a new Korean/Chinese restaurant on the south side called Rae Mi Hyang (10625 51 Avenue).
  • Have you heard of The Carrot Project? It’s a fundraiser for E4C’s School Snack Program, where they’ve partnered with Meadow Creek Farms (located 1.5 hours outside of Edmonton). For $75, donors will receive over 20 pounds of vegetables in early October, while a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Snack Program.
  • Congrats to everyone involved in planting the city’s first food forest in the river valley this weekend!
  • I didn’t hear about the French food blogger fined for a negative review she wrote until I saw the story linked on Cheryl’s blog.
  • We had our latest What the Truck?! meeting last week at The Parlour (where on Wednesdays, the wine is half price!). The pizzas, as expected, were delicious.

The Parlour

The Gamberi (garlic prawns, sriracha pesto, fior di latte, lemon)

The Parlour

The Hangover (pancetta, fior di latte, fried egg, potato fritto, green onion)

July 20th, 2014

Food and Fun at K-Days 2014

Mack and I may not be the target demographic for K-Days, but we love it regardless. It’s an annual summer tradition for us – there’s just no other festival in Edmonton that offers the variety of attractions, or a midway of that scale.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Midway

We were fortunate enough to have been asked to eat our way through some of the new food items offered this year. And knowing our consumption capacity, we thought it best to invite Amanda and Felicia with us on Saturday, two people also used to testing their limits.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Ready to eat!

Like last year, the one page map produced by K-Days helped us to locate the new dishes on the midway. However, it wasn’t as intuitive as it could have been, as many of the vendor names didn’t match the signage on the actual booths (Tin Lizzy for instance, home of the porcupine corn dog, was branded “Wiggle Chips” instead). I also had to wonder if the list was comprehensive, as none of the local food trucks participating were included on the listing (even though it was their first time at the fair), and Expo Centre vendors were conspicuously absent.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Juicy’s Outlaw Burgers (home of the world’s largest commercially available hamburger and hot dog)

We started our indulgence indoors at the Taste of Canada in Hall H. In 2013, we found the dishes inside to be of the best value (not to mention their relative distance from the deep fryer). Unfortunately, things changed, and the average price for a sandwich with a side of chips has risen to $13. Disappointingly, the menu was smaller and less enticing than last year. Given the recent launch of Northlands’ Alberta Flavour initiative, it’s surprising they couldn’t have somehow incorporated more local ingredients in some of the dishes. We did note the cooking stage located in the same area, but without a posted schedule, we didn’t know when the next demo would be conducted.

We ended up with a Montreal-style house smoked meat sandwich ($13.25). The sandwich itself was fine, if unremarkable. The side of kettle chips was the highlight for me, lightly salted and addictive.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Montreal-style house smoked meat sandwich

Back on the midway, Mack’s annual corn dog was from a maple bacon breakfast corn dog ($7), served with a side of maple syrup for dipping. It was definitely light on the bacon, but Mack enjoyed it all the same.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Mack’s maple bacon breakfast corn dog

Amanda’s porcupine corn dog ($5) was the better deal, and more unique – a corn dog studded with French fries. She remarked that the fries themselves could have used a bit of seasoning, but other than that, she gave it a thumbs up.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Amanda and her porcupine corn dog

I was happy to see the return of Rib Fest. The theatricality of the staff is as much of a spectacle as the food itself.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Rib Fest

That said, I’m not sure why the lines moved so slow this year. It took us more than 30 minutes to reach the front of a modest sized line, even though the transaction time for us between ordering and receiving our food was less than two minutes. The big attraction was Gator BBQ’s pulled pork sundae ($9), a savoury concoction comprised of layers of mashed potato, baked beans and pulled pork.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Success!

The serving size was not for the faint of heart, and from a conception standpoint, I loved the idea of the sundae. Execution-wise, everything from the pulled pork to the potatoes was over salted to the point that we struggled to finish it.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Pulled pork sundae

My favourite item that night was the Royal Street turkey dinner poutine ($12) from Mardi Gras Grill. It was a creative take on comfort food, topping a bed of fries with cheese curds, gravy, slices of roasted turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. All of the individual elements were well-prepared – the roasted turkey would have been equally delicious on its own – but together, it was a tasty, one box meal.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Royal Street turkey dinner poutine

On the sweet side, I was most looking forward to the deep fried cookie dough ($7). Three generously battered and fried balls made up the serving, lightly dusted with powdered sugar. And though we all remarked that they were intensely sweet, they delivered – the chewy coating gave way to a soft chocolatey centre. Our only suggestion for improvement was to make them two-bite treats.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Deep fried cookie dough

Cin City Donuts offered a different take on the fair favourite of mini doughnuts. We tried their s’mores mini donuts ($5), which saw marshmallows, chocolate sauce and graham crackers replace the traditional cinnamon sugar topping.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

S’mores mini donuts

It’s worth noting that when I mentioned that Felicia is allergic to chocolate but still wanted to try it out, they ended up giving us two servings for the same price – one minus the chocolate sauce. Their generosity aside, we had assumed the dish would have been quickly broiled to melt the marshmallows, but no dice. As a result, the donuts themselves were on the dry side. We decided the traditional cinnamon sugar was the way to go.

Interspersed between bites, we took our time to explore the grounds as well.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

One of the mini-parade floats

I had been hoping to catch a glimpse of the futuristic robots in the Techlife exhibit, but they had been packed up for the day. Still, there was lots to see in that pavillion, from the Hacklab where kids of all ages were putting together different models, to the mock stadium view they had set-up for gamers on stage.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Hacklab

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Gamers on display

Next door in Hall C, we had the chance to indulge in a little gaming ourselves of the retro variety. There was an NES and a Super Nintendo set-up, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and MarioKart on rotation, respectively. I have to admit, I’m a bit out of practice – Amanda schooled me on MarioKart.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Out of practice

We also took in the Hockey Canada exhibit, and didn’t pass up the chance to have our photo taken in front of a memorable backdrop (we think it’s Eberle’s tying goal in the 2006 World Junior Championships, but we may have heard wrong).

Shoot Score

Felicia and I weren’t ready for the photo

Hall A hosted the Farm exhibit, and we loved seeing the live animals.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

The three little pigs

K-Days Edmonton 2014

How about these three day old chicks?

We closed out the night with a final walk around the midway and fireworks.

K-Days Edmonton 2014

Ferris wheel

K-Days Edmonton 2014

At Northlands Park

All in all, we had a great day. Thanks again to K-Days for the chance to sample the breadth of this year’s fair food!

K-Days runs July 18-27, 2014.

July 18th, 2014

East Meets West Festival 2014

Mack and I met up with Maria and Roxanne last Saturday to check out the East Meets West Festival in Chinatown, now into its sixth year. In the past, the timing usually coincided with an event in Little Italy (hence the name), but this year, the Business Revitalization Zone-organized Chinatown portion took place about a month earlier.

East Meets West 2014

97 Street

It was great to see the festival return to 97 Street, the main artery of the neighbourhood, and a location that gives the event much more prominence. A stage was set up near 105 Avenue, while vending tents and food trucks were spread out on the street.

East Meets West 2014

Stage

No doubt the weather was much improved from last year (when a flash hailstorm forced the event to shut down early), but I had to assume it was the poor experience the organizers had with small tents in inclement weather that caused them to go with the larger, heavier-duty cover this time. Though its hard to argue with their sturdiness, the walled structures felt disconnected from the rest of the street.

East Meets West 2014

Inside the tent

Most of the vendors beneath the tent sold items typically found at Chinese markets – trinkets, small toys, clothing and accessories. The theme didn’t necessarily continue throughout the marketplace – while it was great to see the Organic Box’s Fruit Truck, it would have been great if they had been able to incorporate some Asian produce into their wares.

East Meets West 2014

Fruit Truck

East Meets West chose to partner with Hawkers Market to organize a combination of pop-up food vendors and food trucks. I was hoping more of the trucks would be serving Asian-themed menus, but it was a bit hit or miss.

East Meets West 2014

Knosh and So-Cal Smoothies

Long Lost Foods was one that absolutely hit the mark with their unique vegan donair made with green onion cakes. Given the recent debate about whether the donair or green onion cake should be crowned Edmonton’s official dish, it was an ingenious way to settle the argument – why not combine the two?

East Meets West 2014

Long Lost Food’s green onion cake donair

With the scorching hot weather, we also couldn’t resist an ice cream sandwich from One Cool Cookie. The trailer is not only equipped with ovens (fresh baked cookies, anyone?), but because they assemble the sandwiches on-site, we were able to personalize our treat with our choice of cookie and ice cream.

East Meets West 2014

One Cool Cookie

I ended up with one of their suggested combinations – skor cookies with Pinocchio’s salted caramel ice cream. The thin, room temperature cookies made this one of the easiest homemade ice cream sandwiches I’ve ever had, and it was darn tasty, too.

East Meets West 2014

Mack’s double chocolate and black cherry ice cream sandwich

It was a great day to be outside, and though the heat may have chased away mid-afternoon revelers, we hoped more foot traffic would come in the evening.

East Meets West 2014

Squinting in the sun

If you missed this event, not to worry –  we’ll be announcing the details of our follow-up to our successful 97 Street Night Market shortly. Stay tuned!

July 16th, 2014

Yelp’s Ultimate Science Party @ the Telus World of Science

Ever since the success of the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Refinery series, other cultural and learning institutions have jumped on the bandwagon to replicate their success of drawing young professionals into their folds. The Royal Alberta Museum has started their semi-regular Museum After Dark events, while the Telus World of Science organizes bi-monthly Dark Matters evenings.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Telus World of Science

Yelp partnered with TWOS for their most recent Dark Matters event in order to throw Yelp’s Ultimate Science Party. It was a night to appreciate the Yelp community by merging food and drink with opportunities for adults to indulge in their childish wonder.

The Telus World of Science staff were great, patiently explaining how their stations worked and the science behind them. I made my hair stand on end, while Mack took part in a flaming karaoke device.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Whee!

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Do re mi

A ton of people also took the “hovercrafts” for a ride – leaf blowers attached to perforated boards to be maneuvered with sticks. Not exactly what I pictured from Back to the Future, but close enough.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Hovercrafts in action

Yelp had also organized a variety of pampering stations so guests could have their hair and nails done as well. A more popular unisex vendor involved balloon animals, which, according to those who lined up, could have also taken on a more naughty slant.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Diane, Teresa and Brittney and their balloon masterpieces

Of course, a big draw that night for everyone was the food! Tasting stations were set up throughout the building, and stumbling upon them was almost half the fun.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Mini Swiss2Go sandwiches

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Food truck bay

Taste of Edmonton, to help promote their upcoming 30th anniversary year (the festival starts July 17, and runs until July 26, 2014), had organized several of their restaurant vendors to offer a sampling of what to expect at the festival.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Miles from The Lingnan dishes up kung pao chicken

The green onion cake from Hong Kong Bakery was irresistible, but the real surprise for me was the cheese fondue in a bread cup from The Melting Pot. It’s hard to mess up melted cheese on bread, but boy, was it delicious.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Green onion cakes!

This was my first Yelp event in some time, and I was quite impressed with how many local businesses were a part of it! And though it was not a typical Dark Matters evening, I could see how the adult-only concept is a great program addition for the Telus World of Science. Mark your calendar for their next Dark Matters, a “Cowboys and Aliens”-themed event on August 28, 2014.

Thanks to Jennie and Yelp for a fun night!

July 14th, 2014

Food Notes for July 14, 2014

It’s almost easy to forget how great summer in Edmonton can be until we have weeks like this. Hope you’re enjoying the weather, too! On to this week’s food notes:

  • Mealshare is a non-profit that works to help feed Edmonton’s less fortunate by partnering with restaurants for a “buy one, give one” model (certain dishes with a Mealshare logo next to them will result in meals donated to a charity). To mark the addition of six new restaurants to the Edmonton program, they are hosting this year’s pancake breakfast on the morning of the K-Days Parade on July 17 from 7:30-10:30am in Churchill Square. Each $5 breakfast of pancakes + sausage or fruit and yogurt will result in a donated meal. Great cause!
  • Mark your calendar: Slow Food Edmonton will be hosting several Open Farm Days events in August. The first is on August 23, 2014, and involves a pig roast and other seasonal goodies at Get Cooking’s new digs at MacEwan University. On August 24, 2014, Slow Food will be leading a walking tour through Reclaim Urban Farm’s plots in the Garneau neighbourhood, cumulating in a Ukrainian-themed lunch at the St. John’s Institute. Check out more Open Farm Days events here.
  • Lux is hosting their fifth annual Bacon Day fundraiser on August 29, 2014. Tickets are $75, with $25 going towards Youth Empowerment & Support Services.
  • Phil posted a great recap of some of the best burgers he encountered through his Burger Odyssey. I did want to see one awarded a bronzed burger trophy, however.
  • Speaking of Phil, he’s already onto another new series, this time, to find the best of Edmonton’s patios.
  • City and Dale shares their favourite picnic spots in the city, with some ideas of how to fill your picnic basket, too.
  • Check out these visual representations of the last meals consumed by twelve death row inmates (thanks for the tweet, Liane!)
  • There’s something about the first ripe tomato among the green vines that is just such a satisfying sight.

Tomatoes!

Sweet baby girl tomatoes from Sundog Organic

July 13th, 2014

Recap: Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

What the Truck?! has always been at the mercy of the elements, and this was no more evident than on Thursday. Boyle Street Plaza played host to our second Truck Stop of the year, a burger-themed event. And though the forecast had been beautiful in the days leading up to Thursday, that evening was incredibly windy and mostly overcast.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

Boyle Street Plaza

On the bright side, the lines were short, so it was perfect for folks looking for a quick dinner fix before heading off to make the most of their summer evening.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

A break in the clouds

Among the three trucks present (one had to pull out due to mechanical difficulties) was Funky Mango, a Fort Saskatchewan-based truck who specializes in burgers. Mack and I had the Kahuna and the Thai shrimp burger, respectively, and found them to be very good. The latter in particular was very unique, with a handmade shrimp patty, impeccably seasoned, topped with a smattering of peanuts and served in a soft bun.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

Thai shrimp burger

We were happy to have Now Radio’s Trucksicle on site, complementing the savoury menus with a free sweet treat.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

The ice cream men

Our organizing team also debuted our new volunteer t-shirts on Thursday! It’ll now be easy to find us, if you have a question while you’re on-site.

Truck Stop at Boyle Street Plaza

Just look for the blue and yellow!

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share at least one picture of the cutest puppy to venture down to the plaza that day: Lemons, a four-month old corgi. Couldn’t you see him as our animal mascot?

Lemons!

Lemons!

Thanks again to the City of Edmonton and the Boyle Street Community League for your support! Our next What the Truck?! will be taking place on Saturday, August 16, 2014. Check back on our website for more information closer to the date!

July 12th, 2014

City Market 2014

I haven’t been up early for the City Market much this season, but in preparation for a potluck tomorrow, I thought it best to make sure we had our pick of produce. Good thing too, given how busy it was right at the start!

City Market 2014

Overhead view

I haven’t written much about the market this year, a deviation from previous summers, and because of this it’s harder to reconcile that we’re nearly halfway through the outdoor market season already! On the bright side, it means we’re that much closer to some of my seasonal favourites, including green beans and field tomatoes. But in the meantime, this week saw the return of carrots, new potatoes and peas.

City Market 2014

Kale from Sundog Organic

City Market 2014

Rhubarb from Sundog Organic

City Market 2014

Carrots from Sundog Organic

City Market 2014

Lettuce from Sundog Organic

City Market 2014

Peas from Kuhlmann’s

City Market 2014

Radishes from Kuhlmann’s

City Market 2014

Swiss chard from Kuhlmann’s

City Market 2014

Green onions from Kuhlmann’s

City Market 2014

Broccoli from Green Valley Farm

City Market 2014

Tomatoes from Doef’s

City Market 2014

Potatoes from Riverbend Gardens

City Market 2014

Carrots from Riverbend Gardens

City Market 2014

Beets from Riverbend Gardens

City Market 2014

Peaches from Steve & Dan’s

City Market 2014

Berries from Steve & Dan’s

City Market 2014

Cherries from Steve & Dan’s

One can only hope the gorgeous weekend weather will continue all market season. See you there!

July 9th, 2014

Edgar Farms’ 2014 Asparagus Festival

Mack and I have had intentions to visit the Asparagus Festival at Edgar Farms for several years, but summer weekends are always too easily filled. This year, we made sure to book it in our calendar well in advance, and finally made it out there on June 15, the last day of their 2014 festival.

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Asparagus Festival

Edgar Farms is located in Innisfail, about two hours south of Edmonton. They offer rhubarb, peas and grass-fed beef, but what they are known for is their tender, sweet asparagus. With 28 acres, they have the largest asparagus patch in Alberta.

The $5 (per adult) admission granted us access to explore the farm, take part in tours and sample asparagus-centric dishes. We started with the latter first – if not just to warm ourselves up! It wasn’t the warmest of days, with clouds threatening rain all afternoon, so creamy asparagus soup hit just the right notes. The southwestern beef on a bun was fine (especially with pickled asparagus as a condiment), but what really surprised us was the asparagus dip – the Edgar Farms version of guacamole, substituting asparagus for avocado. It would be a great use for those bags of asparagus “seconds”!

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Asparagus for lunch

Satiated, we ended up first on a self-guided tour of the farm, then joined up on a tractor-pulled group tour. The self-guided tour was marked by informative posters along the way (some cheeky in nature), and given we were the only ones exploring on foot at the time, granted us some time and space to take in the farm at our own pace.

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Walking tour markers

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Mack on the farm

This was our first time seeing asparagus plants, and both of us were surprised at how patchy they appeared to be sown, with the scraggly spears of each crown shooting up at intermittent levels (Mack commented that he expected to see a field flush with asparagus, not unlike a wheat field). We learned later that the asparagus are harvested daily, and given the spears can grow up to ten inches a day, the patchwork effect made sense.

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Asparagus up close

We also got to see firsthand how sandy the soil was. Because asparagus prefer warmer conditions, the sandy soil is perfect to capture and retain heat, as well as offering better drainage. It now made more sense as to why the Edgar Farms staff at the farmers’ market were always strongly recommending thorough cleaning of asparagus prior to consumption.

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Taking a closer look

On our walk, we saw some asparagus pickers at work, riding a foot-controlled “asparagus buggy” built by the patriarch of the farm, Doug Edgar. The vehicle enables three farm workers to cover a lot more ground, as all of the asparagus is hand-picked.

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Say “asparagus”! (the staff were nice enough to pose for the photo)

Later, on the group tour, we were told that the plants take five years to mature to the point where they can be harvested for six straight weeks. And when asked how long the perennial would continue to give asparagus, our guide cited neighbouring plants that were still healthy at over one hundred years old.

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

On the tour

At the end of June each year, the asparagus are left alone, and allowed to go to fern. We were told this allows the plants to rejuvenate for the following year.

Back at the barn, we watched staff weigh and bundle asparagus, before placing it in a cold water bath to help the vegetable retain its natural sweetness.

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Bundling asparagus

The farm’s commercial kitchen was located on the same facility, which allows the farm to value-add to their products and extend income past the short growing season. We picked up a handful of their frozen rhubarb and berry pies to take home (not sold at their stand in Edmonton, but can be found at the Edgar Farms/Innisfail Growers Calgary Farmers’ Market booth). The pies didn’t last two weeks in my freezer, as they were promptly devoured by my pie-loving family.

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Some of the Edgar Farms bounty

The farm also offered numerous attractions for kids – lots of friendly animals, a play area, and even an asparagus mascot!

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Goats

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

Okay, so we’re not kids, but who could resist Gussy?

The Asparagus Festival was a fun day trip, and a great way to spend a summer afternoon. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about local food – watch for dates in June 2015.

July 8th, 2014

Recap: Truck Stop @ Baconfest

Last Friday, a glorious summer evening, What the Truck?! partnered with the inaugural Baconfest to host a bacon-themed Truck Stop.

Truck Stop at BaconFest

Baconfest Truck Stop

Six trucks, all offering sinful, bacon-filled menus, parked outside the Arts Barns to serve their sweet and savoury concoctions. I loved the creativity, from SoCal Smoothie’s bacon milkshake to Big City Sandwich’s mysteriously named bacon magic cheeseurger.

Truck Stop at BaconFest

Smokehouse BBQ

It was great to have several vendors new to What the Truck?!, including SoCal Smoothies and Keilan’s Creamery. Keilan’s primarily serves ice creams from Foothills Creamery, but also sources from a local small-batch ice cream maker who brings unique flavours (and then some) to the market – such as bacon bourbon, maple bacon and Guinness vanilla.

Truck Stop at BaconFest

Keilan’s Creamery

This was one of our quieter events this season; I think we weren’t able to overcome some of the confusion as to whether or not our Truck Stop required a ticket for admission. Still, those who attended seemed to have a great time, and the short lines meant folks were able to dabble in dishes from multiple vendors!

Truck Stop

Amanda and her poutine from The Local Omnivore

I personally was able to enjoy a few dishes, the most memorable being the Peruvian Pan Con Chicharron (braised & pan seared rib meat, pan seared pork belly, fried sweet potato slices & salsa criolla in a French bun). It was easily one of the best things I’ve ever had from Molly’s Eats – I loved the crispy, flavourful meat and the crunchy bun.

Truck Stop

Peruvian Pan Con Chicharron from Molly’s Eats

The tangy peach sorbet from Keilan’s was a refreshing way to end to the scorching day. It seemed that almost everyone indulged in the cool treat too.

Truck Stop

Felicia enjoys two scoops of coconut ice cream from Keilan’s

Edmonton Public Library was on-site, signing people up for free memberships. And in a What the Truck?! first, there were a handful of peaceful protesters present all night, encouraging people to refrain from eating meat. I suspect they were mostly there because of the media attention attracted by Baconfest, but I hope none of the Truck Stop attendees felt intimidated.

Truck Stop at BaconFest

I heart EPL, too!

I’d like to also recognize the Old Strathcona Business Association and Baconfest for partnering with us on this event.

If you missed the Truck Stop, you’re in luck, we we’re hosting another one this Thursday, July 10, from 5-8pm at the Boyle Street Plaza. This time, the menus are burger-themed, so bring your appetite and come hungry!