Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Date Night: Hawkers Market & Parka Patio Party

In spite of how far we’ve come, there’s still a stereotype that nothing happens downtown on evenings and weekends. Well, on a recent weekend, we hopped from a great food event to a happening party, which all took place within a few blocks of one another.

We started out the evening at the second Hawkers Market to take place in Edmonton, again at the Mercer Warehouse. Conceived as an incubator of sorts for new food-related businesses, I think it still has a ways to go before it is able to attract the newer entrepreneurial efforts who really are seeking a platform to road test products.

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Brittney and I at Hawkers Market

That said, Hawkers Market is still a great addition to the food scene in Edmonton, particularly in the winter, when economical events are harder to come by. Although the line-up of vendors was remarkably similar to the previous event, it didn’t deter the crowds. Organizers estimated about 100 more people this time around, and at least one vendor sold out an hour and a half into the evening.

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The Drift team!

Kara of Drift Food Truck made a good point – the provision of seating really changed the experience for attendees. They encouraged people to linger and stay and to perhaps have another drink or dish that they wouldn’t have otherwise indulged in.

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Busy night

As a result, the atmosphere seemed more festive, with friends gathering around tables, facilitating sharing all that much more. Mack and I sampled a handful of dishes, starting with bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers ($5) from Low & Slow Barbecue, a new vendor at the event. Some people might be familiar with them from the 124 Street Grand Market, but this was our first encounter with their food. Mack enjoyed them well enough, though we were told later on that their pulled pork was the standout.

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Jalapeno poppers from Low & Slow Barbecue

Slow Food Edmonton had a booth, offering both sweet and savoury concoctions. I really liked their version of grilled cheese ($3), made up of a base of Bon Ton bread, a crackling crust of The Cheesiry’s pecorino, and a dollop of Mojo JoJo Pickles’ salted caramel pear butter.

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Chad Moss cooks up some sandwiches

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Slow Food Edmonton’s grilled cheese

Their local marshmallow trifecta ($4) was a unique dessert, with my favourite of the three being the honey-scented treat, topped with a honey toffee crumb.

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Marshmallow treats from Slow Food Edmonton

Mack couldn’t resist Bully’s perogies and ham ($8). We anticipated tasty perogies, but what blew us away was the house cured and smoked ham steak, which was so tender it flaked under a fork alone. And you can always hand it to Bully to win the serving size sweepstakes!

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Dean serves a mean ham!

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Bully’s perogies and ham

Our favourite dish of the night was from Parts & Service, a food truck hoping to hit the streets this spring. Their take on chicken and waffles ($5) was ingenious from a street food perspective, as it could easily be eaten standing up with one hand. Not to mention, the house made chicken sausage (wrapped in a waffle cone) was delicious! It was served with maple syrup and an apple hot sauce, but really, the sausage was seasoned so well it didn’t need any accompaniments. I’m even more excited about their truck now!

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Chicken and waffles from Parts & Service

I was most looking forward to dessert from Paper Bag Donuts (cooked up by Red Ox Inn chef Sean O’Connor). I had missed them at the last event, as I mistook their table as an extension of the bar. This time, they had an overhead sign advertising meyer lemon curd donuts ($3)  and honey crullers ($5). We chose the latter, and weren’t disappointed with the warm, freshly fried treats.

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Paper Bag Donuts

We had a great time, and based on that night, I think Hawkers Market has the potential to become a staple event in our community. For those who missed out, mark your calendars – the next event is scheduled for April 12, 2014.

Full, we walked over to Latitude 53, which was hosting their annual Parka Patio Party. Mack and I had attended their first ever winter patio party in 2012, but the weather had been kinder that year. This year, with temperatures hovering around –30 with windchill, we were grateful that the event had an indoor component.

Parka Patio Party

Parka Patio Party

That said, we had dressed for an outdoor function, and like other attendees, had no use for the coat racks set aside.

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What coat racks?

Hot tea and soup were served inside, but playing up the Ice Land theme, organizers were offering make-your-own cocktails out on the patio. Not only did this involve an ice luge, but also an array of frozen fruit. Needless to say, we gave it a shot.

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Ice luge!

If that wasn’t enough, Pinocchio Ice Cream was also on hand sampling newer product varieties – popcorn and salted caramel ice cream.

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Tom from Pinocchio Ice Cream

A DJ kept the spirits up indoors, and in addition to art up for silent auction, there was also a fun “Scandinavian Toy-Scape” installed in the space (I loved the little waving monster!).

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Too cute

It was great to catch up with some familiar faces at the party, and to take part in a winter event, that in spite of the cold, played to a packed house.

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The cold didn’t keep people away

Thanks again to Latitude 53 for the tickets! Here’s hoping it’s just a few degrees warmer next year.