Though I loathe to admit it, I am not immune to the pleasures of Capital EX, even though now most of my enjoyment comes not from amusements, but from immersing myself in the atmosphere.
The midway at dusk
Mack and I started our evening in the cool recesses of the Agricom, specifically at Sip! The event I was most looking forward to, Sip! is set-up to be a showcase of alcohol and food in that order. At the gate, we were handed a small booklet containing a comprehensive list of liquor merchants and the wares they were showcasing, not unlike the pamphlet provided at the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival.
Sip! in the Agricom
We ended up buying 13 tickets (at $1 a pop), and tried Mojo (an “alternative vodka beverage”), wine from EnSante Winery, Alberta’s only organic-fruit cottage winery (too cool, wine made from alfalfa and rhubarb, among other varieties), and Firecracker Shrimp (cayenne-dipped, phyllo-wrapped, tempura-battered, served with a mango habanero sauce). The chefs at each of the food stations we passed were so eager to tell us not only how their products were made, but why the flavours complemented each other – count me impressed.
We decided to stick around a little longer when we noticed a few people setting up at the CookTop, a stovetop and counter with an angled mirror installed above for easy viewing (like Home Economics class in secondary school). Sebastian Lysz of Devlin’s (10507 82 Avenue) led the session, and prepared Spring Creek Ranch flank steak and sauteed vegetables. Mary Bailey, an ISG certified sommelier and noted local food writer, spoke about appropriate wine pairings. The best part about watching the demonstration was the free food – we received two wine samples each, and a small plate of steak and vegetables. Based on what we paid for the shrimp, we were sure that quantity of food would have easily been $10. It was darn good steak, too.
Sebastian Lysz cooks
Flank steak, vegetables, au jus
After chowing down, we had just enough time to head to the next hall for a performance of the Birdhouse Factory, a show of acrobats in the same vein as Cirque du Soleil. Besides still wondering why the theme of a “birdhouse factory” was necessary at all, the show was great. It was definitely worth staying through the entire forty-five minutes. My favourite acts were the gymnastic tango and the trio of agile trampoline performers. The soundtrack really did enhance the show – made it more exciting and upbeat, or whatever mood the scene required.
The rest of our evening consisted of wandering the grounds, perusing various exhibits, including the ETS Centennial display, ED Fest (where Raine Maida was performing, alongside his wife Chantal Kreviazuk), Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, and the Family Fun Town.
In the driver’s seat (I stole this caption from Mack)
Scary python (thank goodness for the cage)
Too corny (heh)
Like a memory from my childhood
We also tried our hand at skee-ball, but ultimately decided that we belonged at Chuck E. Cheese.
Shoot for 50!
In our quest to find the most unusual food on the midway, we came across deep-fried Oreos (which actually looked quite sad), deep-fried cheesecake, and last year’s sensation, deep-fried Coke. “Taco in a Bag”, essentially Doritos tortilla chips, ground beef, cheese and other taco fixings in a bag to be eaten with a spoon, was around last year as well, but this was the first time I had seen it. Needless to say, we bypassed all of the above in favour of our summer festival standby – mini doughnuts.
Happy with mini doughnuts in hand
To end the evening, we took in the fireworks at the racetrack, finding a comfortable bench to wait out the anticipatory period. In total, the show was six minutes long – respectable, and both of us were quite impressed with the finale (with pops and whizzes louder with the sound bouncing off of the grandstand). To be fair, we were happy there were fireworks at all – they had been cancelled at our last Capital EX outing the year before.
In all, it was a nice way to spend a summer evening in Edmonton. Mack’s pictures are here.