June 20th, 2018

2018 Edmonton Chinatown Walking Tours

Last year, I was among a small group of volunteers who piloted a series of free walking tours in Chinatown. We were amazed at the number of Edmontonians who joined us throughout the summer; most were curious about the neighbourhood that they had traversed but did not have a reason to linger in.

Edmonton Chinatown Tour

2017 Walking Tour

The tours provided a history of why the city has two Chinatowns, and introduced attendees to some of the cultural institutions and businesses in the area. Our hope, as was the case with other initiatives I’ve been involved with relating to Chinatown, was to encourage more people to explore and spend time in the neighbourhood.

Edmonton Chinatown Tour

We love Chinatown!

We’re happy to share the news that the tours are back for a second year! Even better, the City of Edmonton was able to secure a grant that permitted the hiring of a summer student to coordinate the tours. As a result, supported by the same group of volunteers, we’ve increased the frequency of the tours to twice a month, from 10:30am-12:30pm every second and forth Sunday from June until September. If you’re interested, we ask that you RSVP on Eventbrite. The remaining tour dates are as follows:

If those dates don’t work, the student is also able to lead private tours for a minimum of 10 people.

Chinatown Walking Tour

Jane’s Walk in Chinatown earlier this year

We hope this interest in Chinatown continues – consider joining us on one of the tours this summer!

June 18th, 2018

Food Notes for June 18, 2018

  • The next Prairie on the Plate events are to take place at the Highlands and 124 Street locations of Bodega. They’ll be offering 3-course brunch for $25 on June 23 and 24, 2018.
  • Ernest’s at NAIT is hosting a dinner on July 7, 2018 featuring the “it” pork of the moment, mangalista. Tickets are $99.
  • The Alberta Mycological Society is hosting a Wild Mushroom Exposition on August 19, 2018 in Spruce Grove, to help attendees “identify, learn, forage, taste and enjoy wild mushrooms.”
  • Yelo’d Ice Cream, offering Asian-inspired soft serve, is in their soft opening phase. Find them at 10150A 82 Avenue.
  • 124 Street continues to stockpile culinary assets – this time in the form of Meuwly’s, offering charcuterie, sausage, and preserves. It will open next week at 10706 124 Street.
  • I’m looking forward to the opening of Wilfred’s, described as a “contemporary cafe and diner” in the Brewery District later this month.
  • Downtown Edmonton’s newest coffee shop, Sober Cat in the Morning, is set to open July 7, 2018.
  • Vue has more on what you can expect from the forthcoming Korean casual eatery Buok.
  • It’s always great to see new local food initiatives, such as the food business development platform and retail space that Honest Dumplings is spearheading. Check out the ATB Boostr campaign where they seek to raise $10,000 towards the facility.
  • Original Redhead Condiments also has a current ATB Boostr campaign running to help expand their business. Vue Weekly has more how the idea for fermented hot sauces developed.
  • Congratulations to Chef Lindsay Porter on her win on the television program Guy’s Grocery Games.
  • Kanto’s interpretation of Filipino cuisine leaves Graham impressed.
  • A pair of polar opposite reviews to consider about The Captain’s Boil, from Linda and the Journal.
  • Jonny enjoyed the ramen at Let’s Grill Sushi & Izakaya downtown, but was left wanting more from Wendy’s Gourmet Perogies.
  • Crystal had a positive experience at London Local.
  • Vue applauds the quality Narayanni’s has maintained over the years.
  • Mack and I hit up Kazoku for my first post-baby ramen last week. It’s just not the same without that soft boiled egg!

Kazoku

Shoyu and tonkotsu ramen from Kazoku

June 16th, 2018

Recap: Eats on 118

Last week, my Mum and I were invited to attend the first of this summer’s Eats on 118 Food Tours. The series started back in 2016 as a pilot, but has continued annually since; organized by the Alberta Avenue Business Association and Wildheart Collective, they’ve been a popular way for people to engage with some of the many independent businesses in the neighbourhood. I attended all of the tours last year, with the bowling edition being the highlight for me.

The first stop of the evening was familiar to me, as Paraiso Tropical was included on one of the tours last year. But the shop (as with the rest of the businesses) was new to my Mum; the tour was a great way for her to learn about an area of the city that she does not often frequent.

Eats on 118

Ready to eat!

Pre-assembled boxes of food meant that the large group was fed quickly. We were treated to a variety of tastes, including a pupusa, two flautas, and plantain topped with dulce de leche.

Eats on 118

Paraiso Tropical sampler

We walked over to Handy Bakery next. As my office is just a few blocks from the bakery, it’s my go-to for Portuguese egg tarts (in my opinion, the best in the city), and sweet bread to be used for French toast. But I hadn’t been exposed to their savoury menu before.

Eats on 118

The spread at Handy Bakery

Several different dishes were served buffet-style, including salt cod and potatoes, sausage, fish croquettes, and fried shrimp cakes. The latter was my favourite of the bunch, especially enjoyable alongside the glass of sangria that was included in the meal (the owner endeared himself to the group with his generous pours of wine and sangria).

My favourite moment of the evening came en route to our final stop. In collaboration with Arts on the Avenue, we were treated to a musical interlude by a barbershop quartet, performed in a barbershop! The four women of the Thumbs Up Quartet were fabulous, their passion and joy for song evident.

Eats on 118

Thumbs Up Quartet

We proceeded to Battista’s Calzones, one of my favourite restaurants on Alberta Avenue. Owner Battista offered a sampling of a number of their calzones. He recommended the Giovanna (artichokes, prosciutto, truffle oil), which we learned is named after a student who used to frequent the restaurant and shared her recipe for a pizza served at her family-owned pizzeria in Miami.

Eats on 118

Calzones galore

The second and last Eats on 118 takes place on August 29, 2018, which will highlight several women-led businesses. Tickets are $47 each.

Thanks to Bottom Line Productions for the tickets, and to the organizers for another great event!

June 11th, 2018

Food Notes for June 11, 2018

El Fogon

Beef and gouda arepa from El Fogon

June 10th, 2018

Great Value: Reinette Cafe

One of the best things about the current proliferation of bakeries in Edmonton is that many areas of the city that were once without a place in the neighbourhood to pick up a sweet treat or two have now gained that asset. Reinette Cafe is one such example.

Nestled in a strip mall in Mill Woods, it’s not a place easily stumbled upon. It’s also quite small, with only a handful of tables and counter seats, so reservations are recommended if you’re hoping for a table to enjoy dessert (during our visit all but one table was spoken for). I had called ahead specifically for the afternoon tea set, which is priced at just $20 for two. The set includes your choice of seven treats from a defined menu, as well as two drinks. Although you don’t have to pre-order, we did so to guarantee the availability of our desired desserts (particularly helpful if one in your party, as was our case, is allergic to nuts, as several of the options contain nuts).

Reinette Cafe

Pastry case at Reinette Cafe

Service was efficient, as the staff began assembling our tea tray right after we walked in for our reservation last Sunday afternoon. All we had to do was select a beverage (coffee or tea), which was delivered almost immediately after we ordered. A family-run business, it was clear the owners put some thought into the small details – our teapots, for example, were kept warm on special glass tealight stands, while the takeaway boxes were almost as intricate as the pastries themselves.

Reinette Cafe

Afternoon tea set for four

We found the afternoon tea to be a great way to sample a variety of their desserts. My favourite was the lemon meringue tart – the buttery crust was topped with a beautifully balanced curd. Grandma Male enjoyed the richness and the flavour of the almond cream in the Paris Brest, and we all adored the duck-shaped madelines. That said, given that they were the mini versions of said pastries, the tea is not as filling as other afternoon tea services available in the city (such as Hotel Macdonald or the Rutherford House’s Vintage Fork). Reinette Cafe does offer other savoury options including quiche and sandwiches, but they are not included in the tea set.

Reinette Cafe

Yes, we ate Emily’s share

Still, it was a great way to spend a part of the afternoon in a neighbourhood gem. We’ll certainly be back again – I have my eye on another lemon meringue tart!

Reinette Cafe
301 Woodvale Road West NW
(780) 577-0974
Monday-Saturday 7am-9pm, Sunday 11am-5pm

June 4th, 2018

Food Notes for June 4, 2018

  • Markets continue to spring up around the city, including the Berlin Square Public Market on Sundays from 11am-3pm at the German Canadian Cultural Club and the 97th Street Public Market on Sundays from 11am-3pm at 9615 153 Avenue.
  • Looking for Father’s Day plans? Parkallen Restaurant is hosting another pizza buffet on June 17, 2018. Tickets for adults are $20, and children aged 4-10 are $10.
  • Advanced tickets for a Taste of Edmonton are now available until July 17.
  • The Mayfair just keeps on adding food purveyors – next up is Curry Vibes.
  • DECL shared a rumour that a location of Cora’s is slated for the Days Inn on 106 Street.
  • It’s great to see when market vendors make the leap to brick and mortar locations – this is the case for Milk and Cookies Bakeshop, which just opened at 5532 Calgary Trail.
  • Another new bakery alert: Jovic Bakery is now open at 870 Webber Greens Drive.
  • I’ve never been to the East Coast, so I didn’t know they served donairs differently – King of Donair is the first Edmonton location of a franchise from the East that boasts an “authentic” donair.
  • Silk Bar & Kitchen is now open at 10344 105 Street.
  • Drift is now serving at the concession in ReMax Field!
  • Love Waffle YEG is now open on weekends at the South Common location of Chatime (1915 98 Street), serving up Taiwanese and Hong Kong-style egg waffles.
  • Alley Kat is now serving up pints in their newly-licensed lounge at the brewery.
  • Gig City has a run down of the menu at the recently renovated River City Revival House (formerly Brixx).
  • Vue has a feature on the food truck, KaBao.
  • Villa Bistro was reviewed in the Journal last week.
  • Jonny has a pair of reviews up for La Carraia and Cinnaholic.
  • Crystal had a mixed experience at Cafe Linnea.
  • Graham finds comfort in the “Old World” charm at Manor Cafe.
  • Avenue Magazine has a round up of the best doughnuts in the city.
  • Liane has the details about the new and different tours available through Edmonton Food Tours this summer.
  • Sharman has 30 reasons why you should consider attending the 30th anniversary of Christmas in November later this year.
  • Cultivate McCauley is offering free tours of area gardens every second Tuesday of the month from June to September: “At each stop, a gardener will present an overview of their space, insights into their gardening philosophies, and offer practical techniques, tips, and tricks that you can use in your garden spaces.”
  • It’s disappointing the barriers involved in the vacant lot gardening pilot has prevented more uptake.
  • The Government of Alberta passed Bill 7, which will regulate the organic products grown and sold in the province.
  • Mack and I finally went to try Cinnaholic (10075 109 Street) today. Cinnzeo has always been my guilty pleasure, so I was curious to see how this vegan version would stand up. We went with a plain frosted bun and a coffee frosted bun, so they weren’t as sweet as the deluxe versions, but I just couldn’t see how it is worth $5.50. We also had intentions of eating it later, but staff had no suggestions on how one might heat up the bun at home – we probably would have been better off picking up a day-old, unfrosted bun for $1. Time will tell if they’ll garner the repeat business they’ll need to stay open.

Cinnaholic

Buns from Cinnaholic

May 28th, 2018

Food Notes for May 28, 2018

  • Al-Rashid Mosque is hosting A Taste of Ramadan on June 2, 2018 at the Boyle Street Plaza (9538 103A Ave) from 5-9pm. There will be free food and entertainment.
  • The Duchess Bake Shop team was the only North American group to compete in the French version of the Great British Bake Off show. They will be hosting a viewing party on June 11, 2018.
  • The Shaw Conference Centre is celebrating their 35th anniversary this year! Their annual summer patio party is scheduled for June 22, 2018. Admission is free, but food and drinks can be purchased.
  • Urban Pedal Tours has launched a new “Edmonton Early Riser” tour in Old Strathcona featuring coffee, donuts, and beer. Tickets are $38.
  • Linda spotted a sushi/barbecue place on 101 Avenue and 109 Street that is coming soon.
  • There are now two additional dog-friendly patios in the city at Have Mercy and El Cortez.
  • Vue interviewed Los Angeles-based chef Matthew Kenney on how his forthcoming plant-based venture in Edmonton, Kanu, came to be.
  • Liane published a piece all about Ohana Donuterie.
  • The Local Good interviewed Chef Brad Smoliak about his food philosophy and his business, Kitchen by Brad.
  • Lillian highlights a hidden gem that opened back in January called Artisan Flatbread that specializes in Iranian lavash (a type of flatbread).
  • Jonny is the latest to try Tsujiri.
  • YEG Cravings was disappointed with the food at Nongbu.
  • Vue Weekly reviews the barbecue at Meat.
  • Sharman recapped the Prairie on a Plate dinner at Buco.
  • I love that Uber Eats released a list of the most ordered foods in certain neighbourhoods. Most popular downtown? Pho and spring rolls.
  • Get Cooking will be hosting a variety of culinary bootcamps this summer, geared towards adults, kids, and teens.
  • NAIT is hosting a three-day conference this week to promote plant-based cuisine. One of the days is open for the public to attend, but is sadly sold out.
  • I was so happy to hear that the bridge that had been planned for the area around Riverbend Gardens has been cancelled.
  • The weather was fantastic for the first What the Truck?! of the season on Saturday. If you missed it, don’t worry – the next event takes place on July 6, 2018 at the Valley Zoo!

What the Truck?! at Capital Boulevard
What the Truck?! at Capital Boulevard

Grandin Fish and Chips
Haddock and chips from Grandin

May 21st, 2018

Food Notes for May 21, 2018

I took a break from posting last week because we were away for a few days in Jasper. It’s been years since I’ve been in the mountains in the spring, but it was great to hike without a ton of layers, and of course, it was a pretty comfortable temperature for Emily! On to this week’s food notes:

  • Waste Free Edmonton and Boomerang Bags YEG is hosting a free screening of Bag It, a film about the plastic pollution problem, on May 23, 2018. The groups want to encourage the reduction of plastics, including bags and straws.
  • Get ready for the first What the Truck?! of the season this weekend on May 26, 2018 from 3-8pm on Capital Boulevard. The menus are up to help you plan your meals.
  • Parkallen is hosting a pop-up brunch on May 27, 2018. Tickets are $23 per person for adults and $10 for children aged 2-10.
  • I’m so happy Edgar Farms is bringing back the Asparagus Festival this year, with dates on May 27, June 3, and June 10, 2018. We attended several years ago – here’s what you can expect.
  • The next Swine & Dine is being hosted at The Common on May 31, 2018. Tickets are $40 for the four-course meal.
  • RGE RD is hosting Okanagan-based chef Aman Dosanj on June 5, 2018 for a pop-up dinner. Tickets are $89.
  • Tsujiri, a cafe offering all things matcha, is now open at 10173 109 Street.
  • Ontario-based The Captain’s Boil, a seafood restaurant that combines Cajun seafood boils with Asian spices, is now open in Edmonton at South Common (2051 98 Street). YEG Cravings has an early review.
  • It looks like the vegan trend is still going strong in Edmonton – Kanu, from American Chef Matthew Kenney, is opening up his first Canadian venture in July in the space currently occupied by Monument Cafe.
  • Vue Weekly has a preview of what to expect from Fumaca, the city’s next Brazilian steakhouse to open at 10143 Saskatchewan Drive.
  • Great to hear that the family behind Cafe Amore is opening up another restaurant in the core, a quick-serve Pasta Amore across from Joey’s Bell Tower (the piece also notes that the Crudo family is no longer involved with Bottega 104).
  • Sorry to see that Wild Earth Cafe has closed their 99 Street location.
  • Vue profiles Ohana Donuterie.
  • Leduc has one of the first reviews of Kanto, the new Filipino restaurant in Chinatown run by Chef Edgar Gutierrez of Tres Carnales and Rostizado fame.
  • Leduc and Sharon shared their experiences at Cinnaholic, the newly-opened vegan cinnamon bun shop.
  • The Journal had a positive experience at Why Not, but YEG Cravings was disappointed with their take-out lunch offerings.
  • Twyla recommends The Dirtbag Cafe, in spite of herself.
  • Crystal is the latest to review Bottega 104.
  • Graham continues to be impressed by Corso 32, and enjoyed his meals at Bodega’s new 124 Street location.
  • Vue paid a visit to Korean restaurant Pocha Seoul.
  • As always, it’s great to see local representatives on the Western Living Foodies of the Year list of finalists – including Chef Steven Brochu and Darren and Sylvie Cheverie of Chartier, From the Wild’s Kevin Kossowan, Chef Christine Sandford of Biera, John and Cindy Schneider of Gold Forest Grains and Chef Ben Staley of Alder Room.
  • Liane features a few of the new vendors you can find at local farmers’ markets this summer.
  • Original Redhead Condiments is hoping to crowdsource funding to expand their operations.
  • If you’ve got a pooch, this brilliant weather means it’s a good time to revisit Linda’s post about dog-friendly patios and markets.
  • Planet Organic will be opening up two new locations in the area – one in Ellerslie at the end of June and another in Sherwood Park in September.
  • Local nutritionist Loretta Friedrich just published a book containing over 100 national food stories and recipes, called Your Canadian Food Story.
  • Eat Alberta is recruiting new board members. The deadline to apply is May 23, 2018.
  • We didn’t eat out much in Jasper, but on the way home, stopped by Folding Mountain Brewery. Located just off the main highway, it’s a beautiful spot, with a ton of natural light and a crowd-pleasing menu. It was a great place to stretch our legs before the long drive home.

Folding Mountain Brewery

Folding Mountain Brewery

May 7th, 2018

Food Notes for May 7, 2018

Bottega 104

Packrat Louie no more

  • Mack and I had a dinner date out at Baijiu last week that coincided with the introduction of their new menu! We really enjoyed the the banana leaf-wrapped sole. The flavours were bright and the fish was perfectly steamed. We’ll be back at some point to try out some of their other new dishes, too.

Baijiu

Banana leaf-wrapped sole at Baijiu

  • It’s always nice to get out to Meat for their family-style platters, which we did to celebrate Thom’s birthday over the weekend. I’d forgotten just how good their mac and cheese is.

Meat

Our spread at Meat

  • I picked up some take-out from the newly-opened Kanto over the weekend. The food was priced on the higher side, but of what I tried, their fried chicken Bao Bae ($15.50) was my favourite. The batter was crispy and well seasoned.

Kanto

Bao Bae from Kanto

    April 30th, 2018

    Food Notes for April 30, 2018

    • The last Green Drinks of the season is all about local drinks – cider, coffee, tea, spirits. Tickets are $10 for the May 2, 2018 event.
    • The next Taste Alberta dinner will take place at Buco’s Epcor Tower location on May 9, 2018, and will feature 3 courses for $32.
    • Save the date for the next Passion for Pork dinner, scheduled for May 31, 2018 at The Common.
    • Tickets for Indugence, taking place on June 11, 2018, go on sale May 1, 2018.
    • Kanto 98, a Fillipino eatery helmed by Chef Edgar Gutierrez, is now open in Chinatown at 10636 98 Street.
    • Delux Burger Bar is now open at the Edmonton International Airport.
    • RAAS (Retail as a Service) at West Edmonton Mall has welcomed several new local food brands, including The Moth and Blackbird Cold Brew Coffee.
    • Bubble Cream is among the businesses opening up at the Premium Outlet Collection.
    • River City Revival will be replacing Brixx (beneath The Starlite Room), and will host their grand opening May 23-25, 2018.
    • Great news for fans of Dauphine – a storefront to be known as Le Petite Dauphine will be open in June, located north of Highlands.
    • The Manor Bistro will be shutting its doors at the end of the year, but the owners will be opening Partake, a new wine bar, in about a month next to Urban Diner.
    • Sage at the River Cree Casino has closed and will reopen in June after renovations and rebranding as SC.
    • BC-based vegetarian cafes The Green Moustache will be opening up a branch at 11416 Jasper Avenue later this summer.
    • Liane had a great feature on St. Albert’s newest bakery, Confections Cake Co.
    • Graham is the latest to review The Moth.
    • Sharman recapped her Italian Dinner at the Hotel Macdonald’s Harvest Room (part of the their culinary journey series).
    • Vue Weekly has the details behind Cookie Love’s crowdfunding campaign.
    • Lillian rounds up the participants of her Spring Fling Macaron Mashup.
    • The recent outbreak of E. Coli has led to a recall of pork products that stemmed from Pine Haven, including Irvings Farm Fresh, Fuge Fine Meat, and K & K Foodliner.
    • It’s been quite some time since my last visit to Pho Tau Bay – but it was as good as I remembered.

    Pho Tau Bay

    Our usuals from Tau Bay