I think one of the most notable food happenings in 2010 was the growth of the blogosphere. More than a dozen local food bloggers joined the fray this year, and though some of them haven’t stuck, restaurants and media alike really started to recognize the fact that some diners do gather information from online food writers. Menu launches like the one that took place in November at ZINC will likely be more commonplace in the future.
As a result, however, I think readers will have to be more vigilant about what they read. Besides comped meals, it is inevitable that bloggers, like journalists, will develop relationships with chefs and restaurateurs. Edmonton may not have the critical mass of food bloggers as other cities do (yet), but I foresee more discussions about food blogging ethics on the horizon in our online community.
Other notable trends and events:
- Local chains are continuing to increase their foothold in the local dining scene, including a second Transcend, a second Delux, a third outpost of Culina (in the Muttart Conservatory), a fourth location of Oodle Noodle, and another Cafe de Ville in Sherwood Park.
- Of course, there’s usually more public excitement for the establishments opened by international chains, which was the case for Melting Pot and IHOP.
- A few Canadian chains also launched their Edmonton presence this year, including Kelowna-based Big City Cupcakes, and Vancouver-based Local Public Eatery. Coming early 2011: beloved Crave Cupcakes, of Calgary.
- It seems like loose tea purveyors had a good year – Teaopia opened in Kingsway, and David’s Tea now has two locations in Edmonton, at West Edmonton Mall and Southgate. Tea Fusion just opened in November in City Centre Mall (though bubble tea seems to be their focus).
- Something I’m excited about, and really hope blossoms in 2011: one-note restaurant Battista’s Calzones opened in October, and La Poutine, which offers, yes, only poutine, is set to open in January 2011.
- There seems to be a hunger for upscale, quality, not-your-average-deli sandwiches, with MRKT, Press’d, and the neighbourhood darling, Elm Cafe, seeing success this year. In the same vein, I have to think banh mi (Vietnamese subs) have become mainstream in Edmonton, with Nhon Hoa opening up a spot on Whyte Avenue, and V Sandwiches and Far East Sandwiches occupying prime downtown real estate.
- Wine bars really were all the rage in 2010. With the addition of Lit, Moriarty’s, d’Lish, and Somerville Wine and Cheese, there are now several options for those looking for a glass of vino and some nibbles. So many, in fact, that 4th and Vine now bills itself as the “original wine bar” in print ads.
- Speaking of wine bars, after fashion shows took place at both Lit and The Common this year, perhaps we should expect further mingling of bars and fashion in 2011.
- Urban China and the more recent Emperor’s Palace really give me hope that one day, Chinatown might return to its glory days. At the very least though, they have ushered in the modern, stylish Chinese restaurants more common in Vancouver and Calgary.
- This year saw the advent of group-based discount services in Edmonton – Groupon was the first, but it has now been joined by others, including Living Social, TeamBuy and most recently, SwarmJam.
- As the city grows, pockets of businesses like the one in southeast Edmonton with Dumplings and Real Deal Meats will likely be more common (hopefully with locally owned businesses!).
- With the excitement around The Marc and La Persaud in 2010, I wonder if more French bistros are in the cards?
- The Municipal Development Plan, which will help protect some local food sources, was passed in May, and the Capital City Downtown Plan, which mentions providing assistance to those wishing to grow food downtown, as well as a multi-purpose arts/city market space, was passed in July.
- Also on the topic of sustainability, it’s great to see the post-secondary institutions offering opportunities for students to learn more about food security, among other topics – Common Ground at Grant MacEwan University in March, and Sustainability Awareness Week at the U of A in October.
- Another farmers’ market popped up in South Edmonton Common in the summer, and another is being investigated for the Riverbend/Terwillegar communities.
Here’s to more great happenings in 2011!