August 18th, 2014

Food Notes for August 18, 2014

I’m a part of two events this weekend – the 97 Street Night Market and the ImMACulate Garden Party. Hope you’re able to join us! On to this week’s food notes:

  • It will be a busy weekend in Edmonton. Among events is the Driving Change for United Way event on August 22, from 5-9pm in Old Strathcona, featuring eight food trucks. A portion of all food sales will go to the United Way.
  • On August 23, 2014, from 6-10pm, the second annual 97 Street Night Market will be taking place in Chinatown. I wrote more about it last week, but join us for food, free walking tours, vendors and a new vision for the neighbourhood.
  • Drift is hosting another pop-up on the heels of their successful “pay the rent pop-up series”. This time, they’re offering brunch on Sunday, August 24, 2014, from 11am-2pm.
  • Viva Italia’s annual festival takes place August 24, 2014, from 12-9pm in Giovanni Caboto Park. Enjoy live entertainment, wine and cheese and cooking demonstrations.
  • The ImMACulate Garden Party takes over the gorgeous Hotel Macdonald terrace on August 24, 2014, from 2-5pm. Attendees are encouraged to dress in garden whites and pastels to enjoy tasty nibbles and a signature drink, play lawn games, and learn more about the history of one of Edmonton’s most iconic buildings. Tickets are $40 and must be purchased in advance.
  • I love the idea behind the YEG Market District on Stony Plain Road – their first event on August 24, 2014 from 9am-5pm will transform a back alley into a stage, market and gathering place.
  • El Cortez is now open! I’m sure it’s rockin’, and not only from the spillover from the Fringe.
  • Cindy and Liane both visited Rostizado, the new spot from the Tres Carnales boys, last week. Can’t wait to check it out tomorrow!
  • Sabor Divino is having a month-long seafood festival, running August 14-September 14. Check out the menu here.
  • Bannock Burger on 124 Street was short lived – it is now closed. That said, the owners are looking for other options after the landlord decided not to renew their lease.
  • The nearby Eden’s Market on 124 also announced that they have ceased operations, with August 10 having been their last market.
  • Looking to have a picnic, but don’t have the time to put together a basket of eats? There’s now a service for that, called YEG Picnic.
  • Happy to hear the backyard chickens pilot passed City Council today!
  • Tim Horton’s debuted a new dark roast coffee on Friday, in an effort to target McDonald’s and Starbucks coffee drinkers. Mack tried it today, and commented that though it is better than their regular joe, it won’t be garnering his regular business.
  • Speaking of Tim Horton’s, they’re seeking votes for this year’s Duelling Doughnuts contest (the winner receives $10,000 and sees their creation grace the café menus). Great to see an Edmontonian among the Ontario-based entries. Go, Judd and your lumberjack doughnut!
  • Mother’s Market celebrated their grand opening on Sunday. It was buzzing, and busier than I’d ever seen it. Their rooftop patio on the second floor is great – in the warmer months, it’ll be perfect for pre-shopping breakfasts and lunches.

Mother's Market

Mother’s Market

Mother's Market

Rooftop patio

  • I had lunch at Culina Muttart last week with colleagues. It’s been some time since I’ve been, but service was efficient, and the perogies were fried to perfection.

Culina Muttart

Marina’s cheddar perogi

  • I joined Brittney and the Food Bloggers (wouldn’t that make a great band name?), Cindy, Andrea, Diane and Teresa at Shanghai 456 last week. It was our first visit to the new location, and boy, was their kitchen quick. The xiaolong bao were as delicious as I remembered.

Shanghai 456

Food, glorious food!

August 17th, 2014

The ImMACulate Garden Party at the Hotel Macdonald – August 24, 2014

Every so often, the river valley development debate comes up in the news cycle, with proponents either for the preservation of its current state or to enhance the ability for Edmontonians to better take advantage of one of our city’s key treasures. While I am in favour of providing more opportunities for folks to enjoy our waterfront, I think it’s easy to forget that some ideal vantage points already exist.

The Hotel Macdonald

The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald will be celebrating their centennial next July, though for a building so etched in our skyline, it is far too underappreciated. Being a hotel, it is easily overlooked by locals, and with the Fairmont franchise attached to it, it may seem out of reach to others.

Hotel Macdonald

In my opinion, there are few better places to soak up our river valley’s views than the terrace of the Hotel Macdonald. Not only can you take in the lush greenery below, but the terrace itself is gorgeous. EnRoute Magazine also recently named the Confederation Lounge (the restaurant that offers primary patio seating at the Mac) as one of its top five must-visit Canadian patios.

Hotel Macdonald

To help more Edmontonians discover this well-kept secret, the team behind last year’s Blink: Parkade Party has partnered with the Hotel Macdonald to host the ImMACulate Garden Party on August 24, 2014, from 2-5pm.

Hotel Macdonald

We are encouraging attendees to dress in their garden party whites or pastels for a chic afternoon of food, drink and entertainment. The Mac has put together a fantastic menu for us, featuring their cherry-glazed duck confit tacos, which were a big hit at the recent Taste of Edmonton, as well as a signature drink.

Hotel Macdonald

Tours will be offered every hour, so you can learn more about one of Edmonton’s institutions. For those who may not know, the Mac sat vacant for years, and was nearly demolished in the 1980s.

Hotel MacDonald

We’ve secured a harpist to help set the tone for the event, a perfect backdrop to try your hand at several outdoor games, including croquet and lawn bowling. We’ve also put together a scavenger hunt – those who complete it will have a chance to win a gift certificate to the Confederation Lounge.

The Mac is unique for many reasons, such as its use of a canine ambassador, the first in Edmonton. Smudge is a six-year-old Yellow Labrador, and was originally trained as a guide dog. She is often seen greeting people in the hotel lobby, and can be requested to accompany guests on a stroll through the neighbourhood. In honour of Smudge, the ImMACulate Garden Party is a fundraiser for the Edmonton Humane Society.

Tickets for the event are $40, and must be purchased in advance here. I hope to see you there!

More information about the ImMACulate Garden Party can be found on blinkedmonton.ca.

August 13th, 2014

97 Street Night Market: August 23, 2014

Last August, I was a part of a group that organized the inaugural 97 Street Night Market. The group was comprised of a number of young second-generation Chinese Canadians, and the market was our way to create a lively, energetic gathering to inspire a new vision for the neighbourhood.

97 Street Night Market
2013 Night Market

In many ways, I think we succeeded. It was heartening to see people of all generations from many different backgrounds convening in a single parking lot, feasting, shopping, and otherwise socializing. It was a gathering place not normally found in Chinatown, and one that I hoped would be replicated in the future.

97 Street Night Market
Fortune sticks were really popular that night!

A lot of things came together to make that event happen – from gathering some of Edmonton’s food trucks to serve up Asian-themed dishes, to organizing walking tours of the area, vendors to sell trinkets and other typical night market finds, and securing performers who fit the spirit of the market.

My favourite act was Convergence Dance Crew

We developed connections with like-minded groups and at the time, knew that the market would allow us to build towards other events in the future.

On August 23, 2014, from 6-10pm, we will be hosting our second 97 Street Night Market. This time, we will be situated right in the heart of Chinatown, at 97 Street and 106 Avenue.

2014 Poster and Postcard - modified

We will be building on the momentum from last year, and have invited some of the same food trucks and vendors to return. Molly’s Eats had a menu that was hard to beat, but Susan may have outdone herself again this year – check out the menus from Molly’s, Nhon Hoa and Yellowbird here.

97 Street Night Market
Molly’s Eats feeding the crowd

The tours were so popular that we knew we had to ask our volunteer guides back. The detailed schedule is here, but were thrilled to have Lan Chan-Marples and Peter Wong lead not one, but two historical tours this year, and Paul Giang returns to deliver a perspective on art in Chinatown. New this year (and something I’m most excited about), is our food tour. I’ve long thought Edmonton’s Chinatown deserves its own culinary walking tour, and I can finally say it’s happening! Wild Tangerine’s Wilson Wu will be guiding a small group through some of Chinatown’s food gems, complete with samples along the way. There are limited spaces, so it is first come, first served!

We’ll have a host of great performers. Convergence is back, and we’ve added a second K-pop dance group as well, R2B. Also joining us this year is a martial arts group and a tai chi instructor! We’ll be posting the performance schedule next week.

Our goal for the 97 Street Night Market is to ensure that Chinatown isn’t forgotten. Join us on August 23, 2014 to explore, taste and see what Edmonton Chinatown has to offer!

Find out more on our website, and follow us on Twitter at @yegchinatown.

August 11th, 2014

Food Notes for August 11, 2014

We’re gearing up for our penultimate What the Truck?! this season, taking place Saturday, August 16, from 4-8pm in Borden Park. Hope to see you there! On to this week’s food notes:

  • A reminder about Alberta Open Farm Days happening in a few weeks on August 23-24, 2014.
  • Mark your calendar for the next Hawkers Market on September 13, 2014, this time in a new location: Latitude 53.
  • The big news this week is that three Edmonton restaurants are in the running for EnRoute Magazine’s prestigious Best New Restaurant list. The restaurants are North 53, Rge Rd and Woodwork. Vote now!
  • Great to hear that Elm Café is expanding with the addition of Burrow, an underground café in Central LRT station. Look for it in mid-September.
  • Chef Nathan Bye’s new restaurant will be called Ampersand 27.
  • Café del Sol is at a new location, 14220 Yellowhead Trail.
  • Max’s Restaurant (Graham calls it the “Earl’s of the Philippines” in the article) is now in Edmonton, introducing Filipino cuisine to the masses.
  • Café de Ville shuttered unexpectedly this month. Liane is on the hunt for the reasons why.
  • Want to cook like Daniel Costa at home? Download his free Tavola app, which features 15 recipes (and will be continuously updated).
  • Get Cooking’s first class at their new MacEwan location on September 5, 2014 is a perfect date night for couples.
  • The most recent Mack & Cheese episode has Mack and Graham discussing recent food festivals and restaurant news.
  • I hadn’t heard about the Elk Island Bison Festival before, but it sounds like their first year was a success.
  • Mack and I had dim sum with our parents at Tasty Noodle over the weekend. Great selection, timely service, and tasty plates!

Tasty Noodle Dim Sum

Dim sum at Tasty Noodle

August 6th, 2014

Recap: Edmonton’s Inaugural Le Dîner en Blanc

When I first heard about Dîner en Blanc, I was entranced. It started in Paris 25 years ago, as a way for François Pasquier to meet with friends, all dressed in white so they could find one another. From there, the idea spread to cities around the world, from Singapore to South Africa. The photos of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people dressed in white were romantic, ethereal, almost surreal. I loved the idea of gathering in a public space, turning al freso dining into a shared experience. And after reading about the first Diner en Blanc in Calgary last summer, I thought, why couldn’t this happen in Edmonton?

Last October, my query to the Dîner en Blanc officials informed me that someone had already taken the initiative in bringing the event to Edmonton in 2014. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was, in fact, a Vancouver-based company that had purchased rights to Diner en Blanc in Western Canada. That company worked with locals Christina Ignacio-Deines and Nestor Turcyzk of Connected Entertainment to organize it in Edmonton, but what had originally seemed like a grassroots function was quickly getting top-heavy.

After the Edmonton date was officially announced, it became even more clear that it was an event I was only meant to attend as a participant. Although they were aiming for a crowd of 1,200, we heard from multiple people who weren’t able to secure an invitation. It also wasn’t particularly transparent how attendees were ultimately selected, though personally knowing one of the hosts was probably your best bet (this was how we ended up on the list). As such, there was definitely an air of elitism associated with Dîner en Blanc right from the start.

In the weeks leading up to July 17, we had already spent $161 (covering our membership, participation fee and two meals without alcohol). As more information was released about the specifications of what we were required to bring with us, we realized the true price of admission was closer to $300. We ended up purchasing a clear, Diner en Blanc-approved umbrella, white pants for Mack to complete his white ensemble, renting white chairs and linens from Special Event Rentals, and, as we were in the pedestrian group, a dolly so we could more painlessly transport our items to the site.

Diner en Blanc

Diner en Blanc-approved umbrella

On the evening of July 17 (I thought Thursday was an odd day of the week to choose, but it is standard for all DEB events), Mack and I headed to Telus Plaza, our set meeting place. Being among the pedestrian group (as opposed to one relying on bus transportation), arrival time didn’t seem as vital, as people seemed to trickle in. It was a bit chaotic, as everyone sought out their table leaders, but it worked out fine.

Diner en Blanc

Telus Plaza

Just before we set out, we were finally told that Louise McKinney was indeed our final destination. Though I am the type of person who would have preferred to know this information in advance, I have to admit, the reveal was an integral part of this event.

Diner en Blanc

Our dolly was the best investment

When we arrived to a fenced-off portion of Louise McKinney in front of the Shumka Stage, we were directed by our table leader to set up in a particular row. After doing so, we picked up our food from the Century Hospitality tent, “designer water” from the Evian tent, and observing that others had started their meals already, attempted to stay as dry as possible through dinner (and though it wasn’t explicitly forbidden, one would think the tents some brought took away from the sightlines).

Diner en Blanc

A bit of sun

Special guest acrobats from Cavalia were on-hand to kick off the festivities (the napkin waving opening), but after that, as no one was sure about the pacing of the event, it seemed most were eager to finish their food. A rough schedule could have been outlined, or at least, announcements (through the speaker system, as weak as it was) that we were on the right course.

Diner en Blanc

Francophone performers kept the mood romantic

It was really unfortunate that the weather didn’t cooperate – it really would have been a different event had it stayed dry. We were probably lucky the rain wasn’t worse. And while it’s true that the participants soldiered through regardless, by the end of the night, it wasn’t pleasant being both wet and chilly.

Diner en Blanc

Under grey skies

For an outdoor picnic, I was surprised at how little emphasis seemed to be placed on the food. Some people had brought wonderful spreads, and our own prepared meals were full of flavour. What seemed to be more on display, however, was the fashion. I guess the opportunity to dress all in white attracted a crowd I wasn’t used to seeing, or at least those who took the time to source everything from white capes to fur coats to fascinators.

Diner en Blanc

Dressed in our whites

There had been ample time for socializing, and because of the lack of information about the itinerary, our area had seen more than a few pairs depart by the time they announced that soon it would be time to light the sparklers. They moved this tradition up about an hour because of the impending rain, not a moment too soon. But even this defining DEB moment lacked coordination – without an announcement from the stage, groups across the field started sporadically lighting their sparklers. It was a great way to cap off the night, but really could have been timed much better.

Diner en Blanc

Let there be light!

The wind and rain picking up, we packed up to go. Though the instructions were to take our garbage with us, no one did so, leaving an unsightly pile clustered around the few permanent bins around the park (and had this really been an expectation, could they not have chosen a lighter weight water container than glass bottles?). There was also a ton of confusion about the on-site rentals drop-off point (a privilege that we paid additional dollars for). None of the volunteers seemed to know where to direct us, and we eventually left our rentals near the stage. When walking out of the park, we encountered the Special Events Rentals truck. Had we not had our name checked off, we would have been charged a late fee.

I recognize this was the first year of Dîner en Blanc in Edmonton, so some hiccups were to be expected. But – after shelling out nearly $300, one would expect a well-organized affair, particularly with the event’s association with a company that has already hosted numerous DEBs in other cities. And though it was a spectacle of sorts, and novel to have been a part of the inaugural event in Edmonton, it’s unlikely Mack or I would participate in another Dîner en Blanc.

Mack, Liane and Robyn also wrote about their experiences.

August 4th, 2014

Food Notes for August 4, 2014

Mack and I were away most of the long weekend at Goose Lake with his family. Given cell coverage in the area is sporadic to non-existent, we were able to focus on time outdoors and around the fire. Hope you had a relaxing weekend as well! On to this week’s food notes:

  • Did you hear – Drift is hoping to move into a storefront! Help them pay the rent at their Burger Night pop-up from 5-9pm on August 9, 2014 at 10721 124 Street. Check out the menu.
  • Save the date: our next What the Truck?! is taking place Saturday, August 16, 2014 in Borden Park, featuring ten trucks. RSVP to the Facebook event!
  • Help Mother’s Market celebrate their grand opening on August 17, 2014.
  • Great news – Elm Café is expanding again downtown! No official word on where downtown just yet, however, though I have a good guess.
  • Karlynn gives us a sneak peek of El Cortez, the tequila bar everyone has been waiting for. It hopes to open August 15, 2014.
  • It sounds like Twyla found a gem in the Portuguese restaurant A Taverna.
  • The Green & Gold Garden now sells locally-roasted coffee sourced from a co-operative in Rwanda, with some proceeds going to Tubahumurize (the non-profit the garden supports that helps marginalized women in Rwanda).
  • I loved this “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” campaign launched by a supermarket in France, which convinced producers to purchase the usually less-than-desirable imperfect produce with a clever marketing idea. Bravo.
  • Congrats to Jacqueline and the rest of the team at Jacek Chocolate Couture for a fantastic opening weekend for their new shop on 104 Street (10140 104th Street)! It’s great to have another specialty business on the street – welcome to the neighbourhood!

Jacek on 104th

Jacqueline in her new downtown store (she insisted on not being in the photo alone)

  • Mack’s parents were in Edmonton during the week, so we decided to introduce them to The Parlour. The pizza was a hit!

The Parlour

Calamari (loved the charred lime on top)

  • After our engagement shoot with Bruce & Sarah, we wound down over a bottle of wine and some food close to home at Tzin. Kelsey and her staff were incredibly accommodating (as we were running late), and were open to us taking a few shots on the patio as well. Thanks for the wonderful evening!

Tzin

I will never pass up an opportunity to order the pork belly

  • As I mentioned above, we spent the weekend at Goose Lake. A final parting shot!

Goose Lake

Goose Lake

July 29th, 2014

Food Notes for July 29, 2014

Mack’s parents are in town for part of this week, and we ended up visiting later into the evening last night than we had originally planned to. Hence – a belated Food Notes:

  • Jacek Chocolate Couture on 104 Street will be opening on August 1, 2014! I can’t wait to check out the new shop.
  • Food Day Canada is taking place on August 2, 2014. See which local restaurants are marking the occasion.
  • The Heritage Festival runs August 2-4, 2014. If you haven’t already, check out the full menu, and then pick up discounted food tickets at your nearest Servus Credit Union (a sheet of 30 for $20 instead of $25).
  • I was sorry to hear Everything Cheese closed its doors last week. As they shared in their last mailout: “Running a small, independent retail business is tough at the best of times, but when struck with calamity [a flood], it can be a deal breaker. So this dream and adventure has come to an end, but other adventures await us.”
  • Have you heard of Loma House (9143 – 23 Avenue), a new vegetarian restaurant in Edmonton? Me neither, until I read Cindy’s post, anyway.
  • Liv paid a visit to Maritime Concession in the west end.
  • Andrea ventured into Ha Phuong. It looks like I’ll have to check it out myself some time soon – those green onion twists look great!
  • Vue Weekly reviewed Sushi Sugoi last week.
  • First there was Taco Day, now there’s Fondita Day at Expressionz Cafe – read all about it on Lillian’s blog.
  • The City is looking for feedback on urban agriculture. The survey deadline is August 31, 2014.
  • A new law just came into effect in France, where restaurants can declare that certain dishes are house made. Unfortunately, the law is problematic and confusing, full of exceptions to the rule.
  • Congratulations to Earth’s General Store, who opened their second location on 104 Street just north of Jasper Avenue on Friday! Particularly with the impending closure of Sobeys, it is great to have Earth’s so close at hand.

Earth's General Store

It’s great to see the shelves full again!

  • We had a staff lunch at the nearby Padmanadi today. It’s been a while since I’ve had it, but their ginger “beef” is so close to the real thing it’s scary. Delicious!

Padmanadi

Ginger beef

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.