Country Cuisine – TASTE! of Summer 2008

Sunday’s Taste! of Summer was like an event straight out of my dreams. Blue sky, bright sun, swift breeze, and in the shadow of two historic grain elevators, some of the freshest produce Alberta farmers had to offer, prepared by regional chefs with an understanding and appreciation for the local.

So picturesque

I bought my tickets for the annual event about two weeks prior just in case, and was relieved that I had done so when I saw the “sold out” sign tacked up near the entrance. Admission in advance was $15 per person (plus service charges), though we were each provided with $5 worth of food tickets upon entry.

Menus in hand, we perused our options. There were 12 vendors in total (roughly a quarter compared to a Taste of Edmonton) that offered about two dozen dishes or drinks. We started with Mexico Lindo‘s Lamb in Adobe and Lola Canola‘s Raspberry Sweetini.

The Lola Canola gals

Sweetini and Lamb in Adobe

We’re still not sure what was in the lamb sauce, but with our palettes, we detected a fair comparison to Indian cuisine. Still, with the sample’s tender, easily shredded meat, there were no complaints from either of us. The Sweetini had hints of basil and honey, and is a drink I could see served out on a patio on a warm day.

Stephen Tchir Trio provided some jazzy ambiance

Next up were two more meat dishes – Lily Lake Resort‘s Wild Boar Roasted on a Spit with Homemade Apple Chutney and CareIt Urban Deli’s Spring Creek Ranch Tip Sirloin stuffed in English Yorkshire Pudding (a mouthful, yes).

Slicing boar

Wild Boar with Apple Chutney

Sirloin stuffed in Yorkshire Pudding

The unfortunate result of roasting the boar for several hours was dry meat, though the apple chutney did help freshen up each bite somewhat. The charred bits of skin really were the best part, however. As for the Yorkshire Pudding? Mack and I could have spent our entire ticket fortune at that booth – the meat was juicy, the gravy was rich and oh-so-savoury, and though we first balked at the idea of a Yorkshire Pudding shell, the fluffy chewy exterior worked somehow. So good.

Mack enjoys the pudding

We weren’t too optimistic that any other dish could follow CareIt’s, but we tried to find one. Mack chose a Traditional Buckwheat Bread from Bricco Ristorante Italiano, while I had to have a plate of Sweet Herb Salad from Inspired Market Gardens.

Buckwheat Bread

Gwen prepares the salad

Mack likened the buckwheat, potato, onion and bacon-stuffed loaf to a perogy of sorts, and I couldn’t disagree. As for my salad, it tasted just like I remembered, and the black currant vinaigrette was a great pairing to bring out the sweet yet delicate flavours from the colorful flowers.

Using our last few tickets, Mack tried some beer from the Rough Neck Brewing Company, and we returned to the Inspired Market Gardens booth for two scoops of Herb & Flower Sorbet.

Raspberry-tarragon and Lavender Sorbet (a very generous serving)

The vendor indicated that the sorbet couldn’t be sold at the City Centre Market due to a lack of power to keep a freezer operating, and it really is a shame. The delicate dessert was refreshing, and so unique, and should be available for more people to try.

The entire experience was relaxing – the grass (as opposed to pavement) helped, as did the space to move around and ample seating areas. The menu also came rolled with a second sheet of paper titled “Our Chefs, Producers and Artisans”, and provides a detailed listing and contact information for all of the vendors present that day – this is something the Taste of Edmonton organizers should look at – actively promoting the restaurants as opposed to the one-shot food at the event itself.

I do think the limited number of people allowed into the site (capped at 350) and shorter time frame for the event meant that the vendors could focus on providing bigger portions of good food (for example, Mexico Lindo also has a booth at Taste of Edmonton, but have pupusas and fried ice cream on their menu instead of lamb).

To end off the evening, we decided to go on a short tour of the grain elevator.

Inside

Outside

It was such a lovely day overall. I encourage you to check out next year’s Taste of Summer event, or, if you can’t wait that long, Edmonton’s Countryside is running their 6th Annual Country Soul Stroll this weekend (July 19 & 20), where everyone is invited to visit farms and attractions in townships around the city.

7 thoughts on “Country Cuisine – TASTE! of Summer 2008

  1. I loved reading your description of the day, hearing your thoughts on the food, and of course looking at the delicious pictures. I also thought it was magical; the setting is incredible. The event has taken several forms over the past five years and I feel that it finally might be coming into its own! Plus, I loved inventing the raspberry sweetini!

  2. It was a lovely event – my first visit, but such a great one that I will definitely be back next year! Thanks for visiting my blog!

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