My friends Su and Allison are food scavenger hunt veterans, having competed in three previous contests in Calgary. The hunts sounded like a lot of fun, so when Culinaire Magazine (newly expanded in scope from covering Calgary to all of Alberta) announced an Edmonton treasure hunt, I jumped on board (and dragged Mack along with me).
We decided to join forces with Su and Allison so they could pass along the wisdom they’ve gained from experience. Our team also had the added efficiency of carpooling!
September 10 was a busy Saturday – one that saw the four of us start our morning at the Rogers Place open house. Although this was a chosen detour, Su and Allison hoped that Culinaire had adopted one of their recommendations from previous hunts – that clues should be distributed to the 50 odd teams at the same time for an equitable start, instead of first come, first served. Unfortunately, nothing had changed for this hunt.
Culinaire editor-in-chief Linda Garson kicks off the hunt at the Italian Centre
Some had really great themed costumes (I loved the team dressed to the nines in 1940s attire), but Su’s great idea was to wear our What the Truck?! shirts and vests so we could promote the last event of the year.
#TeamHighViz and #TeamWTT
While enjoying complimentary coffees and chocolate croissants from the Italian Centre, we settled down to solve the clues. Su and Allison recommended that we map the 30 destinations in order to plan our route, starting from the furthest out and working our way back to Pampa downtown, where the hunt would end. The Treasure Hunt regulations did express the need for a vehicle, and once we mapped everything, it was clear why – stops were as spread out at Nisku and St. Albert. Even though we decided to skip Nisku (and ran out of time before we could get to St. Albert), we ended up doing quite a bit of driving.
Fort Edmonton Park was the most picturesque stop
Another requirement was a phone with internet access, which made sense for GPS purposes. However, I never expected clues that would need to be googled word for word. The most egregious of these was the following: “the latest restaurant to erupt within walking distance of the new arena.” I thought of multiple restaurants that could fit this description (“walking distance” being subjective, notwithstanding): Joey’s Bell Tower, Baijiu in the Mercer Warehouse, Buco in the Epcor Tower, Bottega on 104 Street. The answer? Bundok in Fox One, as lifted directly from one of Liane’s posts.
Chef Ryan Hotchkiss at Bundok
At any rate, we had many favourite stops, memorable for different reasons. Canova, located just north of the Yellowhead by the train tracks, is one we would have never discovered without this activity. Formerly DeFazio Gourmet, Canova vended at the St. Albert Farmers’ Market, in addition to this retail location. The cornetti (vanilla cream-filled crescent) was delicious and one of the best things we ate all day.
Making pedal-powered smoothies at Earth’s General Store
D’Amores Mercato was on my list to visit for some time, and this event was just the excuse I needed. I knew they had a small food service operation, but what I didn’t realize was the fact that they are well-stocked with Italian basics and frozen pasta options. The staff were also wonderful as they helped us with the challenge of crafting our own pizzas – it was the type of service that will garner return visits.
Making pizza at D’Amores Mercato
Prairie Noodle Shop put some thought into their activity that saw each one of us tasked with peeling the perfect hard boiled egg. To help us with this, we were shown a nifty technique that none of us had been exposed to before, involving a spoon to separate the shell from the white. It was a neat tip, and based on that brief interaction, Mack (who has never before dined at Prairie Noodle), remarked that he would be back.
Learning how to peel eggs at Prairie Noodle
Some stops provided a financial incentive to return – Cured, for instance, provided a very generous $25 gift card per pair. The City Market, also hoping to lure back customers, gave each participant a $5 gift certificate. With those amounts alone, we had earned back more than half of the $65 team registration fee.
Allison and I are stumped at RGE RD
For the most part, establishments were mainstream in nature. It would have been great to see more ethnic establishments chosen as stops.
In case you were wondering, we made it to 25 of the 30 destinations, which wasn’t good enough to beat two teams that visited 29 locations. But in this case, we were satisfied with the journey – we had a great time with Su and Allison over the course of the day, and experienced what a culinary scavenger hunt could look like in Edmonton. Thanks to Culinaire for putting on the event, and to Su and Allison for letting us join forces!