March 24th, 2015

SPUD Edmonton: Local and Organic Groceries Delivered to Your Door

Grocery shopping has never been a chore to me. I relish the time we spend at the farmers’ market every week, and even more routine trips to the Italian Centre or Superstore are an opportunity to observe commercial and product trends.

But I know not everyone feels the same way about a necessary task. In Ontario, Loblaws launched a “click-and collect” program back in October, offering customers the convenience of putting together an order of groceries and other products online which would be ready for pick-up at a designated time. While that system hasn’t been implemented outside of the GTA, Edmonton does have two grocery delivery services. Unlike the range of items offered by conventional grocery stores, however, the two services emphasize local and organic products. The Organic Box has been in business for several years, while Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery, or SPUD, is the relative newcomer to Edmonton. SPUD began its first deliveries in October (for the record, the Good Food Box run by Live Local Edmonton was the first of such services, but is no longer in operation). 

SPUD differs from The Organic Box in that it does not require a membership fee and has no minimum commitment. Delivery is also free for most orders.

Two weeks ago, I received a complimentary SPUD delivery to try out the service for myself. I was interested in seeing how seamless the process would be, from selecting products to the delivery itself.

Of course, selection is paramount in a service like this. Given the current winter season, I knew the selection of local vegetables might be slim, but SPUD does source from some Alberta producers I’m not familiar with, such as Mans Organic and Poplar Bluff Farm. They also have more recognizable names, such as Gull Valley Greenhouses, Reclaim Urban Farm and Lund’s. As expected, however, to fill out the quotient of organic produce readily available at grocery stores, countries of origin were as far away as Chile or Peru.

Local producers were better represented on the meat and dairy side – SunWorks and Olsons High Country for meat, Vital Greens and Rock Ridge for milk, Bles Wold for (our go-to) yogurt and The Cheesiry for cheese. Other Edmonton-based businesses that supply products to SPUD include Transcend Coffee, Prairie Mill, Honest Dumplings, Jacek Chocolate Couture, Cookie Love, La Oliva, Bloom Cookie Co., and the most recent addition, Glow Juicery. I appreciated the “local products” section, which contained the products supplied by all of the Alberta-based companies.

On a side note, personal care and cleaning products are also available, with an emphasis on natural and environmentally-friendly options. I suppose this again goes to SPUD’s desire to be a “one-stop shop”, but without a doubt, the convenience would definitely come with a price.

Once I was logged in, ordering was a breeze. I liked the running tally of items on the left hand side of the screen, which also reminded me how quickly the total can be ratcheted upwards. I ordered a variety of fresh, frozen and non-perishable items, but, as is our shopping tendency, focused more on locally-sourced products.

I submitted my order by 3pm on Monday, which meant my SPUD box would be delivered the following evening, between 3-9pm, as per my downtown zone. Living in a condo unit, I was most concerned about the security of the drop-off, as I wouldn’t trust that the box would remain safe and untouched in our lobby. Thankfully, allaying my concerns was a priority for the SPUD staff, who connected with me by e-mail and requested specific instructions. They were able to include a note to the delivery driver about calling us upon arrival to be buzzed up to our floor. When we arrived home late Tuesday evening, we found the box waiting for us in front of our unit door.

First SPUD Delivery

SPUD box

Opening the box, we found that products were separated into different packaging sleeves, with refrigerated and frozen items packed into insulated sleeves with adjacent ice packs and dry ice. It was obvious everything was put together with care and attention.

First SPUD Delivery

Packed with care

First SPUD Delivery

Unboxing

Over the next couple of weeks, we enjoyed most of the contents of the box.

First SPUD Delivery

Our haul

We fried up the Honest Dumplings and sprinkled Reclaim Urban Farm cilantro microgreens overtop. The SunWorks stew meat combined with the Poplar Bluff carrots, Lund’s parsnips, Steinke Family Farm potatoes and Noble Spuds onions for a fabulous stew. We used the Olsons High Country bison pepperoni to top our homemade pizza.

Honest Dumplings

Honest Dumplings with Reclaim Urban Farm microgreens

We found the ingredients to be of high quality, and comparable to what we might pick up at a farmers’ market. SPUD definitely introduced us to some Alberta producers we hadn’t really known before – at the Calgary Farmers’ Market the following weekend, it was nice to see the Olsons High Country booth and their breadth of products in person.

Pizza

Pizza with Olsons High Country bison pepperoni

As I mentioned, my preference is to buy direct from producers whenever possible, so I can’t see myself becoming a regular SPUD customer. However, I could see occasions where SPUD could come in handy – a particularly busy week, returning from travels, gifting a box to a new mom or a time-crunched friend. I know SPUD Edmonton is also continuously adding more local producers, and likely, with the spring, the selection will increase even more.

Thanks again to SPUD for the opportunity to try out the service!

Learn more about SPUD Edmonton here, with $10 off your first order of $50 or more.

March 23rd, 2015

Food Notes for March 23, 2015

  • I’m looking forward to attending Northern Land’s Meet Your Maker event this weekend. Learn more about the biggest all-Canadian wine and culinary festival in Vue Weekly.
  • Dream Tea House opened up their fourth location in Oliver Square (11242 104 Avenue). Stephanie wrote an overview of their menu items.
  • Sherwood Park now has its own location of Memphis Blues Barbecue House (150 – 222 Baseline Road).
  • Sandwich and Sons continue to get good food press, this week from both Liv and Twyla.
  • The seventh Pizza Odyssey took Phil to D’Amore’s Mercato and the Italian Centre, for a throwdown of grocery stores that double as pizzerias.
  • Not surprisingly, the third Prairie Noodle Shop pop-up was a resounding success, serving up vegetarian ramen. Andrea and Cindy recapped the evening.
  • Andrea also captured her experience at the first underground dinner at The Salt Room.
  • Cindy attended a variety of events during Edmonton’s first YEG Coffee Week – great to hear that it will be back next year, too!
  • Century Grill (and Hundred Bar and Kitchen) have been sold by Century Hospitality Group, in order to allow the business to focus on their other brands. Century Grill is hosting a final farewell party on March 28.
  • Chic Hog O’s Social Roast House closed recently due to a dispute with their new landlord. The couple behind the restaurant are currently scouting new locations and considering a food truck.
  • Did you know that March 20 was “macaron day”? Lillian (macaron baker extraordinaire) marked the occasion by reflecting on the origins and current direction of her blog.
  • F.E.D. U.P. (Feminist Eatery Database Undercover Project) is a site led by four Women’s Studies students at the University of Alberta, seeking to “highlight prominent issues regarding sex, gender and race in the service industry”.
  • The tickets for the 2015 edition of Eat Alberta go live on March 31, 2015.
  • Twyla is leading her own food tour to New York City April 12-16, 2015.
  • Mack and I hosted a family supper on Sunday, as Mack’s Mom is in town for the week. We successfully made citrus-braised pork shoulder tacos with all the fixings from Pucker. We’ll definitely make it again!

Tacos for the Family!

Tacos for the family!

March 16th, 2015

Food Notes for March 16, 2014

  • The Telus World of Science Edmonton plays host to its latest Dark Matters event on March 19, an adults-only evening where “science is served on the rocks”. The theme this week is food and beer, with Alley Kat on tap, and sessions on cheese, honey and sausage.
  • Cookie lovers rejoice: Cookie Love Café is holding their grand opening celebration on March 20. Expect free cookies, ice cream and espresso!
  • Taste of Iceland reservations are going fast! Check out the dinner menu to be served at Characters from April 9-12, 2015 here.
  • Burger’s Priest opened to much fanfare this weekend, but did you know that another Eastern burger chain is set to invade Edmonton this summer? Phil has the details about Relish Gourmet Burgers (10704 124 Street) aiming to open in June.
  • The warm weather means food trucks have started to come out of hibernation! The Local Omnivore, among others, has already kicked off the season.
  • There are some great things happening at Mother’s Market – namely, the unremarkable food vendors on the second floor have been replaced by The Salt Room, run by Chef Antony Krause, formerly of St. Albert’s Privada. He is hosting an ongoing series of underground dinners, the first of which were reviewed by Cindy and Diane. It looks like his next few are already sold out, so follow Antony on Twitter to get a jump on the next one!
  • NAIT’s annual Chef in Residence Program took place last week, and it looks like Chef Michael Stadtländer helped cook up quite the feast for its feature luncheon – reports are back from Andrea and Chris.
  • I love that Loblaws is following in the footsteps of French supermarket Intermarché and adopting its ugly produce campaign, selling undersized or blemished produce under the “Naturally Imperfect” label.
  • The Downtown Business Association kicked off Downtown Dining Week with a reception at the Art Gallery of Alberta on Thursday. Nine restaurants were on hand, offering samples of some of the dishes they will be serving as a part of their prix fixe menus from March 13-22, 2015. One of my favourite tastes was from The Harvest Room, who served a red wine braised veal cheek slider. Zinc’s contribution of a house cured and smoked pork belly, atop potato rosti with a quail egg was also delicious, and formed part of a larger statement plate of “head to hock” Alberta pork. Thanks again to the DBA for the invitation!

Downtown Dining Week 2015 Launch

Red wine braised veal cheek sliders

Downtown Dining Week 2015 Launch

Zinc’s Alberta Pork “head to hock”

  • On Friday, my family and I headed to The Marc for supper to celebrate my parents’ anniversary. Incidentally, only my Dad ended up ordering from the Downtown Dining Week menu, as the rest of us were too easily swayed by the a la carte options. One thing we could agree on, though – beignets for the win!

The Marc

Braised pork cheek with Savoy cabbage, peas, pearl onion and fingerling potato

The Marc

Seared scallops with confit potato, spinach pistou, leek crisps, tomato and caper

The Marc

Beignets!

March 9th, 2015

Food Notes for March 9, 2015

I’m honoured to be among the bloggers nominated in the “Best in Food” category for the 2014 Yeggies. Congrats to my fellow nominees! On to this week’s food notes:

  • Over 30 restaurants are participating in this year’s Downtown Dining Week, which runs March 13-22, 2015. Prix fixe meals are specially priced at $15 for lunch and $28 or $48 for dinner.
  • The Palestinian Bazaar on March 14, 2015 will celebrate the arts, culture and food of the Palestinian people. The event is taking place at the Citadel Theatre from 12-5pm.
  • It’s starting to look like spring out there – head to the annual Seedy Sunday event to get inspired for your garden this summer! The March 22, 2015 event features speakers, exhibitors and seed swapping.
  • St. Albert is now home to a taqueria – Cerdo Tacos opened last week at 150, 15 Perron Street.
  • The Edmonton location of The Burger’s Priest opens on Saturday. The Journal has a sneak peek.
  • Great to see that Meat is now offering brunch on the weekends from 11am-2pm! Bring on the biscuits and gravy.
  • First there was S’wich, then Farrow, and now, Sandwich and Sons – Edmonton is definitely on the handcrafted sandwich train! Both Andrea and Cindy checked it out last week.
  • Linda reviewed the new Browns Socialhouse in Windermere, which seems like an immediately popular addition to that part of the city.
  • Diane started a great series called Living La Vida Local, which will be highlighting her favourite local businesses. The first post is all about Revojuiceinary.
  • Have you seen Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list? Three local establishments made the cut – Corso 32, RGE RD and Rostizado.
  • Ever wondered what your favourite chef has up his or her sleeve? Wonder no more, with Liane’s story about food tattoos.
  • Thinking of booking a class at Get Cooking? They’re offering a 10% discount for April to June classes booked this week. I’m already looking forward to our Indian street food class with Addie in a few weeks!
  • In Calgary on the weekend, Mack and I stumbled upon a thought-provoking art installation at the Esker Foundation in Inglewood called tender by Rita McKeough. The accompanying interview illuminates her view on how we should see our food.

Tender

tender

March 4th, 2015

Alberta Avenue Charm: Passion de France

Passion de France, a relatively new bakery located in the Eastwood neighbourhood, has remained somewhat under the radar since opening back in November. Perhaps because of its location just off the main Alberta Avenue drag, one wouldn’t likely stumble across Passion de France by accident.

Passion de France

Passion de France

I sought out the bakery after around lunch time last week after a meeting near by. Passion de France charms with its pastel colouring, chandeliers and ornate seating. For those seeking something more substantial, Passion de France does offer a variety of savoury items, including sandwiches, quiche and soup. But no doubt, they specialize in more dainty goods.

Passion de France

Interior

The pastry cases were filled with an astonishing variety given the bakery’s size, ranging from macarons, tarts, cakes and pies. Being a sucker for croissants, however, my attention was eventually diverted to their selection of flaky treats. They had already sold out of plain croissants that morning, and I couldn’t wait for their second batch to finish baking, so I ended up with a few mini pain au chocolat ($1.95), as well as croissant twists in chocolate and salted caramel flavours ($3.40 each).

The chocolate croissants were my favourite of the two; they definitely didn’t skimp on the butter! The salted caramel twist was a little too moist for my taste, reminding me of a Danish.

With friendly staff and an inviting interior, Passion de France would make a great stop for those looking to indulge their sweet tooth – I know I’ll be back for their croissants some time soon!

Passion de France
11812 86 Street
(780) 257-2092

March 2nd, 2015

Food Notes for March 2, 2015

Mack and I are ready for a bit of a break, so we’re both looking forward to our upcoming getaway to Calgary. I’m readying for a low-key weekend full of new discoveries and good food. On to this week’s food notes:

  • The next Green Drinks is all about Local Food DIY! Join in on the conversation on March 4, 2015 at Yellowhead Brewery.
  • YEG Coffee Week starts this weekend, and runs March 7-15, 2015. Check out their list of events, including pour over and latte art seminars, roastery tour, and a coffee-inspired dinner.
  • Cheer on our hometown chef Shane Chartrand when his episode of Chopped Canada airs on Saturday – he is hosting two viewing parties at Sage on March 7, 2015.
  • Do you commemorate Pi Day (3-14)? Maybe you should! Or at least, with Sugared and Spiced offering up a special selection of Pi Day Pies, you’ll be tempted to. Pre-order chocolate pecan, black & blueberry or caramel and banana cream pie by March 8 for pick-up on March 14.
  • Save the date: the fourth annual Culinary Cook-off, benefiting Mount Royal School, will be taking place on April 18, 2015.
  • Blink and you miss it: the second Edmonton Food Fight, hosted at Get Cooking on March 24, 2015, is already sold out! Make sure to follow the Twitter account for notice about future events.
  • Lots of food literature released this week for your reading pleasure, starting with Avenue Edmonton’s Best Restaurants issue. Congrats to all of the establishments recognized in 2015, including those honoured in the best overall category – Corso 32, RGE RD, Cibo Bistro, The Marc and Tres Carnales.
  • The Tomato also released their annual list of Top 100 Best Things to Eat or Drink in Edmonton, with a sandwich from Farrow topping the list. Unfortunately, the list isn’t yet online, so you’ll have to pick up a paper copy of the issue.
  • Sandwich and Sons (13119 156 Street) is the newest artisan sandwich shop to open in Edmonton by Chef Alex Sneazwell, formerly of Von’s and El Cortez.
  • Liv is the latest to review Coffee Bureau, the newest café to add to Edmonton’s coffee district.
  • Phil sampled pizzas from Tony’s Pizza Palace and Ragazzi Bistro in his sixth Pizza Odyssey installment.
  • This is a great piece in the Journal that interviewed a few chefs, including Daniel Costa, about the current and future state of Edmonton’s restaurant scene.
  • Learn more about the duo behind Farrow in a piece in Vue Weekly.
  • Expect a new farmers’ market this summer on the city’s north side, called the Miller Crossing Farmers’ Market, to run Tuesdays and Sundays at the Miller Crossing Kingsway Legion Branch (14339 50 Street).
  • The scourge of K-cups, indeed – have you embraced the single cup trend?
  • Speaking of coffee, would you try KFC’s forthcoming edible coffee cups, coming to a UK location near you?
  • The Parlour is one of our favourite meeting locations – lots of natural light, half price wine on Wednesdays, and one of my favourite pizzas in the city!

The Parlour

The Gamberi

  • Before the Edmonton Rush game on Friday, a few of us met up at The Denizen Hall for a bite to eat. I had their $10 fried chicken special. It’s a good value, three pieces of meat served with smashed potato, kale, and buttermilk biscuits, but the breading was a little thin for my liking.

Denizen Hall

Fried chicken at The Denizen Hall

  • At the Rush game, I ended up winning a really neat prize – a Budweiser goal light helmet (complete with a remote control to turn on the light). What was more amusing than the helmet, however, was learning how much people were willing to pay for it.

Goal light helmet FTW!

Goal light selfie!

  • Over the weekend, a few friends hosted a communal hot pot party. The meat definitely outweighed the veggie options that night!

Hot pot

Hot pot!

  • After babysitting our nephew on Sunday, Mack and I had lunch at King Noodle House. It’s always busy, and for good reason.

King Noodle House

We love their bun bo Hue!

  • I’m proud to say that not only have I kept the starter alive that I received a few weeks ago at a bread making class I attended, but I’ve also been continuing to bake loaves!

Bread baby

Bread baby #4

February 23rd, 2015

Food Notes for February 23, 2015

  • The Pourhouse Bier Bistro continues their “chef vs chef” pop-up series through April. The throwdowns will feature several chefs, including Chef Matt Phillips of Lux and Chef Danielle Majeau of Creole Envie.
  • Save the date – Characters is bringing back their Taste of Iceland feature April 9-12, 2015.
  • Though we often think of building up, we don’t often think of better utilizing subterranean spaces as well. Sofra (10345 106 Street) has redone their basement space up into a sumptuous Turkish wine bar.
  • Overtime on the south side has been replaced by Provincial Pub (#160, 4211 106 Street).
  • Edmonton is now home to another casual franchise – Browns Social House is now open in Winderemere (5210 Windermere Blvd).
  • Mack believes that newly-opened Coffee Bureau and Lock Stock Coffee have revived Edmonton’s coffee district.
  • Amelia alerted me to paper signage next to Smokehouse BBQ – look for their sister restaurant, Pie Piepers, soon!
  • Linda tweeted about a forthcoming Korean restaurant, Nong Bu, in Old Strathcona.
  • Twyla takes aim at Halo Bar and Bistro’s byline of local ingredients at the Edmonton International Airport.
  • Phil’s latest Pizza Odyssey post rounds up the best of the old timers – Royal Pizza and Dallas Pizza.
  • Cindy is the latest to check out Chinatown’s Tao Garden for noodle soup.
  • Fancy some afternoon tea? Check out Andrea’s review of elegant tea service at the Hotel Macdonald.
  • I love the idea of a pedway food adventure – here’s one suggested by Vue Weekly.
  • Cindy recapped the inaugural Edmonton Food Fight on February 21, hosted at Get Cooking.
  • Avenue’s annual Best Restaurants issue is out next week!
  • Love food trucks and want to help grow Edmonton’s food scene? Consider joining the What the Truck?! organizing committee – we’re recruiting!
  • It was great to be at The Westin on Thursday night to help Chef Ryan O’Flynn celebrate his win at the Gold Medal Plates this year. He even made sure guests had something special to sample – the dish he prepared to pair with the mystery wine: a smoked sturgeon with a deviled egg aioli, beet root puree, and caviar. Spectacular.

Gold Medal Plates

Gold Medal Plates redux

  • I watched my first ballet on the weekend – Alberta Ballet’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Marveling at the athleticism and grace of the dancers, it would be interesting to see their technique deployed in a more traditional show. At the very least, I know this won’t be my last ballet!

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

  • Happy Lunar New Year to those who commemorate the occasion. I missed the bulk of the fun in Chinatown, but while picking up some groceries, I was still able to partake in lion dances and firecrackers – it should be an annual tradition for more Edmontonians!

Chinatown

Lunar New Year in Chinatown

February 16th, 2015

Food Notes for February 16, 2015

This long weekend really couldn’t have come at a better time. Hope you had a great time with your families as well! On to this week’s food notes:

  • This year’s Farewell to Winter Patio Party is taking place at the Hotel Macdonald on March 14 and 15, 2015. Tickets to the “fire and ice” themed events are $45.
  • Save the date: Eat Alberta 2015 is taking place on May 2, 2015.
  • The week’s biggest food news was the announcement that Whole Foods will be opening a store in south Edmonton in the fall of 2016 (in South Park, in the existing Canadian Tire). I am disappointed with the choice of a location so inaccessible by transit, but I am curious to see if the city can support such a large organic retailer. Do you think Edmonton is ready for a Whole Foods?
  • Native Delights has opened up a storefront in the old Sloppy Hoggs location (10406 118 Avenue).
  • Vue Weekly has a great review about The Mercury Room, Edmonton’s newest vegan restaurant.
  • Andrea reviewed the Chinatown location of Lee House.
  • I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the latest Elm Café project, Little Brick, does open up in March!
  • I loved this story in the Journal about chef sweethearts Matt Phillips (of Lux) and Sarah Masters-Phillips (of Belgravia Hub).
  • Congratulations to Confetti Sweets, who will be bringing her Sherwood Park-baked cookies to Hollywood for a pre-Oscar party.
  • Mack and I had a pretty low-key Valentine’s Day – bun bo Hue at King Noodle House, followed by a visit to the Art Gallery of Alberta. We’d both wanted to check out the exhibit Future Station for some time, but as a bonus, we also managed to watch a bit of the fascinating 24 hour film, The Clock. It is definitely worth your time, heh.

King Noodle House

Spicy noodle soup from King Noodle House

  • We’re thrilled that there’s a new coffee shop in the neighbourhood! Coffee Bureau (10505 Jasper Avenue) has had a soft opening these past few days, but will officially be open tomorrow (Monday-Friday 7am-5pm, plus Saturdays). They’re using beans roasted by ACE Coffee, owned by the folks behind Leva Café, and will offer pastries sourced in part from Leva. Coffee Bureau is built mostly for takeaway business, but it’s a cute little spot that’s renewing my hope for a larger “coffee district” downtown. Go check it out!

Coffee Bureau

Coffee Bureau

February 15th, 2015

Bread Making 101 at the Edmonton Resilience Festival

It’s hard not to love a city like Edmonton where, even in the dead of winter, new festivals can be imagined. Last weekend, The Local Good’s inaugural Edmonton Resilience Festival took place at the Boyle Street Plaza. The Festival aims to “strengthen community resilience through skill-sharing workshops and other events, inspiring participants to help create a sustainable, creative and promising future.” Session topics ranged from healthy living to cooking to community building, and were organized into streams, but there was also the option to purchase tickets to individual workshops.

For an event just in its first year, it encompassed so many elements beyond sessions. Although there was a fee to register in the various hands-on and discussion-based workshops, organizers did not want financial means to be a barrier for those interested. As such, they had planned many free activities open to the public, including more formal learning opportunities as well as more informal chances to connect with others through conversation cafes or information booths.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Outdoor skating and bonfire

On the Spot Pop-Ups had also been asked to be a part of the event, and organized local artisans to be on-hand displaying and selling their wares.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Information fair and market pop-up

I attended one of the workshops on Sunday morning, alongside my friend Su. There are few things that would have convinced me to be ready to learn at 8am on a Sunday, but fresh bread is definitely one of them. Owen Petersen, of Prairie Mill, has been an instructor at Eat Alberta for years, but I’d never had the chance to participate in his class before. This was a great opportunity to do so, all for just $25.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Owen slices into some fresh bread

The class took place in a kitchen on the second floor of the Boyle Street Plaza. Perhaps a reflection of the early start time, there were just six of us in the group. Because of this, it was even more interactive, and Owen was able to answer all of our burning questions about yeast, flour and baking vessels (did you know that to simulate a steam oven, all you need is to bake your dough in a lidded container? Genius).

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Different oven-safe containers

We were each gifted not only with a jar of Owen’s starter (18 years old and named “Julie”), but also mixed up a batch of dough to take home. Owen’s methodology was so straightforward, that both Su and I felt inspired to start baking immediately. The class reminded me of Anna Olson’s pie dough recipe at Christmas in November – it was enabling instead of discouraging, as some more finicky, perfection-driven chefs have been known to be.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Su mixes her dough

I learned that breads made from starters are more forgiving than those made from dry yeast, which again, made the process of baking seem less daunting. Owen shared a story about forgetting about dough in his car overnight, which still resulted, the next day, in a fairly good loaf.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

All smiles with Owen

After the session, I headed home and incorporated cheddar into half of my prepared dough. It resulted in a pretty killer cheese loaf.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Say cheese!

A week later, with the remaining dough, I left the bread to bake even longer to achieve a more beautiful crust.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Sourdough

Next week, the training wheels will come off though, and I’ll have to craft the dough from scratch on my own. But the promise of freshly-baked bread awaits. Thanks to Owen for leading a wonderfully educational session, and to The Local Good for organizing a great festival – here’s to next year!

February 11th, 2015

Something Borrowed, Something New: Gama Cafe

Gama Café, tucked away on a side street in Old Strathcona, was known for their unique green cap milk tea, a Taiwanese specialty drink featuring cheese foam. The space, however, was divided between the café and retail, and eventually, the former seemed to outpace the latter.

Three weeks ago, Gama opened in brand new digs further west on Whyte Avenue, with décor more fitting of a café. There is now ample seating, with plenty of cushy, cozy booths, and even a semi-partitioned area ideal for larger groups. The crystal light fixtures definitely brought an air of elegance to the space, seemingly made for lingering over coffee with girlfriends or a casual first date.

Gama Cafe

Interior

Su had noticed the new storefront a week prior, and suggested it as our meeting point on Friday for a quick bite before another engagement in the neighbourhood. That evening, we were one of several parties, so the word has been spreading quickly about Gama’s transplanted location!

With a full kitchen, Gama can now work towards offering full lunch and dinner menus. However, at this time, savoury dishes are still under development, with only three on the current menu. Both Su and I agreed that we would have to return to sample some of their desserts – the table adjacent to us had ordered the Tommi Toast, which looked like a many layered cake topped with ice cream!

Gama Cafe

Latte

Su had decided on the porcini risotto ($13.99), while I chose the dry noodle ($12.99). The risotto arrived several minutes before the noodles, likely because the server assumed we were sharing. Although we both remarked that it seemed an odd fit for the café, the risotto was fine. The egg was perfectly poached however, and having not been referenced on the menu description, was a nice surprise.

Gama Cafe

Porcini risotto

The noodles had, in fact, been tossed in a very light, flavourful sauce. The accompaniments had been minimized to a few mushrooms. Although we were assured of its authentic nature (and found the noodles themselves to be quite tasty), I’d still prefer a dish with more texture and variants.

Gama Cafe

Dry noodles

Service was spotty, but understandable considering its recent opening. It may take some time for Gama to reach its full potential in its new state, but it is full of potential! I look forward to returning in the future to see what new surprises may await on the menu, or at least to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Gama Café
10813 82 Avenue
(780) 438-2382