Thursday, August 1st, 2013 at 10:34 pm
Capital Excess at K-Days 2013
Mack, Amanda, Felicia and I headed to K-Days last Friday. Though I’m in favour of the “K” being “Klondike” (despite Northlands trying to leave the door open for any and all interpretations), for reasons of the name, weather or otherwise, Edmontonians flocked to the festival in the highest numbers since 2006, the year it was rebranded “Capital Ex”.
I won a prize on my first try at Bowler Roller!
The gold rush theme was back, most noticeably in Klondike Park. The gold panners lined the Chilkhoot Goldmine attraction (some looking mighty serious while doing so), and there was even a couple parading the area in period costume.
Our period costume
Inside the Expo Centre, The Farm display wasn’t new, but it was the first time we took the time to wander through. We probably got a bit too photo happy.
Felicia or the egg?
A real garden!
Amanda loves groceries just that much
A new exhibit this year was Our Alberta. Though it seemed like an extended promotional vehicle for Travel Alberta, I loved it. I thought it was very well done, from the walk-through replicas of a grain elevator and the Dunvegan Bridge, to the interactive elements like rock decorating, and the past and present photo displays. I hope they bring this back in the future!
Amanda checks out the decorated rocks
Edmonton photo display
But – the real reason for our visit: the food! For a second year in a row, Mack and I were fortunate to have been given the opportunity to overindulge at KDays for free. Bringing two additional eaters along for the ride, given their insatiable appetites, and well, youthful metabolisms, just seemed to make sense, especially since “healthy midway food” is somewhat of an oxymoron.
Our makeshift table on the Boardwalk
An improvement from last year was the availability of a coloured map indicating where the new food items could be found. That said, the map was somewhat incomplete – Northlands’ offerings were left off, and had I not read about it in advance online, I wouldn’t have known to look for it.
Located in the Expo Centre, Northlands was serving up A Taste of Canada, new this year. The dozen or so items represented some of the best value we encountered at the fair: heaping portions of food (the vast majority not deep fried!) for the price of a jumbo corn dog outside.
A Taste of Canada
We ordered several dishes to sample: a lobster roll from the Maritimes, a duck confit panini from the East, and the pulled bison sliders from the Prairies. I would have added the West’s Okanagan peach cobbler to the mix if the plates being handed to me didn’t make me doubt whether or not we’d even make it through three servings. Each plate also came with a side of either salad or chips.
Of the three, the duck confit panini was the most successful. The duck and cheese were plentiful, though the blueberry didn’t come through as much as it could have. I would have also preferred the sandwich to have been more than just lukewarm.
Duck confit panini
The lobster roll was filled with a generous amount of lobster and imitation crab, but the roll had likely been sitting uncovered in the cooler for hours on end, and resulted in stale, rather hard bread.
Amanda didn’t mind the pulled bison sliders, but both Felicia and I noticed a sourness to the meat. It left us with an unpleasant aftertaste. Perhaps it was just a bad batch?
Pulled bison sliders
Also in the Expo Centre was The Grand, the K-Days equivalent of a multicultural food court. One of the highlighted items was aloo tikki from Bob’s Bombay Curry N’ Hurry. I was lucky to snag the last two potato cakes, and paired with the tamarind and hot sauces, it was a well-spiced snack.
Felicia couldn’t resist picking up a package of milk and cookies, being sold as a fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank and the Northlands Agriculture Scholarship Fund.
Felicia’s happy with her milk and cookies
Back outside, we hit up Rib Fest. It was one of my favourite food attractions last year, so I was happy to see they brought it back. Though its location was a definite improvement, being situated near a music stage, its overall square footage seemed to shrink, and seating was definitely at a premium.
I love the friendly competition between each smokehouse, each of them with display tables overflowing with their past winnings. Even better are the staff, hawking their accolades at random intervals.
We shared a half rack of ribs from Boss Hog’s. The sauce was enjoyable, smoky and slightly sweet, but the meat was on the dry side.
Ribs from Boss Hog’s
Given the lack of tables in Rib Fest, we wandered over to the Boardwalk Beach and Beer Gardens next door to try our luck. Of course, given the free flow of alcohol here, it was even busier. It was easy to maneuver around however, and folks seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Boardwalk Beer Gardens
Beach volleyball court
On the midway, Mack made a beeline for his annual corn dog. I convinced him to try something new, and he selected the double bacon corn dog. The hot dog had been wrapped in bacon, then coated and fried. The “double” part came in with a disappointing side of bacon bits and a container of maple syrup. Needless to say, it made us wonder what made up the triple bacon hot dog.
Double bacon hot dog
One of the most novel items was the chimney cake, presented as a traditional Hungarian snack. Dough is wrapped around a steel cylinder and cooked over charcoal, then dipped in cinnamon sugar. Felicia, having visited Budapest last year, remembered it from her travels, although there, it was coated in sugar alone.
Given most midway food is prepared away from prying eyes behind glass, it was refreshing to be able to watch the chimney cakes cook over the fire in front of us. Each cake took about ten minutes to make, as it was slowly rotated and browned over the coals.
Over the coals
The final product wasn’t as sweet as my palate would have liked, but would have been perfect paired with a cup of coffee. The texture was also notable, as the dough had a nice springy consistency. Best of all, we were told by the vendor that the chimney cake would last a few days on the counter (unlike those beloved mini doughnuts), and I am happy to say – he was right!
Much to my companions’ dismay, I was eager to give deep fried butter (you read that correctly) a try. It’s been on my radar since it was introduced at fairs in the deep south, but I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to sample it myself.
Oh, the anticipation
I learned that this preparation would see butter wrapped in pastry dough, deep-fried, then sprinkled with sugar.
Mack humours me
The verdict? Mack was the only one who ended up with an explosive bite (the butter, of course, liquefies), but the rest of us, after draining out most of the excess, figured it was just like eating butter-brushed pastry.
Deep fried butter
We also tried the deep fried caramel apple pie from the same vendor. Earlier in the festival, it had won the K-Days new food contest, enticing judges with its scratch made pastry. With the soft serve ice cream (which was particularly good), we enjoyed the turnover enough, though by that time, we were starting to reach our fill line.
Deep fried caramel apple pie
We capped of the night with Those Little Doughnuts (what else?), and waddled our way home.
Mack’s favourite treat
Thanks again to K-Days for the opportunity to eat our way around the festival!
You can check out the full photo set here.