After the Taste of Summer in St. Albert, and experiencing firsthand how an ideal Taste of Edmonton could be with less people, excellent food, and a picturesque, green setting, I knew Saturday’s visit to Churchill Square would be lacklustre at best. Perhaps because of this approach with low expectations, I escaped the event with a better impression than I had thought possible.
Entertainment in Churchill Square (thankfully, the grey skies held up)
Mack and I didn’t plan on filling up at Taste of Edmonton – we figured the 30 tickets I pre-purchased at the discount rate would allow us to whet our appetite, and we intended on filling up on a full sit-down meal elsewhere.
I found that the vendors would better spread out this year, with the exception of one congested row pressed up right along the glass display on the east side of the square. It was so well fanned, in fact, that I ended up completely missing the set of vendors directly in front of the City Hall pool!
If it has happened in past years I haven’t noticed it, but the verbal and quite competitive hawking of dishes was entertaining, as vendors tried to entice the finicky crowd by promoting their fare as a sideshow attendant would. In terms of promotion though, I do think the event should provide a contact sheet like the organizers at the Taste of Summer did, with a full list of names, addresses, phone numbers, and descriptions of participating restaurants – the tasting should be a means to something instead of an end in itself.
Amy’s famous! (the Chicken for Lunch lady)
While I did make a peripheral glance at the menu prior to Saturday, most of our food choices were made after strolling through to see what was being offered. Although organizers trumped this as the year of more participants and better variety, neither Mack or I were that impressed by any one dish.
At the El Rancho booth
The portion of ginger beef from Beijing Beijing was quite large, but as expected, a large proportion of the serving was batter and not meat. Mack enjoyed the bacon wrapped scallops (I enjoyed the bacon) from Firestone, though they were nothing special. Hudson’s Mini Cheddar Burger was a perfectly formed slider, and would be a great party hors douvres. The pad thai from Krua Wilai was a welcome concentrate of carbs coated in a sweet sauce, and my only complaint was for a slightly spicier version. El Rancho’s pupusa, served with cabbage and tomato salsa, was a bit on the soggy side, and sadly enough, the corn-flake rolled-then-fried Mexican deep fried ice cream was as well. Our favourite ended up being butter chicken from Khazana – tender morsels coated in a rich and creamy sauce, with enough kick to make us both happy.
Mack enjoys ginger beef
Firestone’s Bacon Wrapped Scallops
Mini Cheddar Burger from Hudson’s
Pad Thai from Krua Wilai
El Rancho’s Pupusa
El Rancho’s Mexican Deep Fried Ice Cream
Last but not least – Butter Chicken from Khazana
Our container experiment, gleaned from Jane, was our effort to minimize the waste produced from an evening of small plates. While it wasn’t enough to bring just one container (we ended up using a plate for the ginger beef, dried burger and dessert ice cream), it was a learning experience – perhaps we’ll bring two reusable vessels with us next year? Props go to attendants of the Krua Wilai and Khazana booths for not blinking an eye when presented with the plastic dish.
Food aside, the relaxed atmosphere, music, and the general ease which comes from being outdoors made for a nice summer evening. My full set of photos are here.