Culinary Highlights: 2020 Edition

While 2020 made things much more challenging (the part of the pandemic that involved working from home with a two year old was less than ideal), for the most part, it has made me more grateful. I’m still gainfully employed, my family is healthy, and Mack and I have been able to spend more time with Emily. It would be nice to know what life on the other side of the horizon will look like, but for the moment, this point in history is a reminder to stay present. I would also be remiss not to thank those in health care and other essential roles doing their best to take care of our community.

Our financial situation this year also made it possible to continue supporting local restaurants as many had to adapt to ever-changing restrictions. For the most part, we were intentional with our dollars and directed them towards establishments we wanted to help see through the pandemic. And because we eschewed third-party delivery apps, it did mean that we primarily patronized businesses within a 15-minute walk radius of our condo.

Here are some of my favourite food-related memories of 2020:

We did have some meals indoors before things shut down, including what we thought was a farewell to Pam and Lyle of Hathaway’s Diner, as pre-pandemic, they had planned to sell the business (they’ve since continued the business by selling take-out).

Hathaway’s Diner

Emily eying up the eggs benedict from Hathaway’s Diner

My go-to spot around my office remained T & D Noodle House. I dined in early in 2020 and then continued as a take-out patron after that. Their noodle soups and vermicelli bowls are fast, consistent, and satisfying.

T and D Noodle House

Bun Bo Hue from T & D Noodle House

The last indoor dining event I participated in was Downtown Dining Week’s launch at the Art Gallery of Alberta in mid-March. A few days later, the lockdown came into effect, and Downtown Dining Week was cancelled. It was memorable because I’m still not sure when we’ll feel comfortable dining indoors again.

Braven

Downtown Dining Week launch

For us, it was undoubtedly the year of the picnic. We haven’t dined indoors as a family since early March, but that didn’t mean we haven’t dined out together. Enjoying take-out on a sunny spot outdoors proved to be the tonic I needed most days.

Picnic with Jack’s Burger Shack

Enjoying Jack’s Burger take-out outdoors in May

One of our favourite picnics took place at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden. Spreading out a blanket next to a stream in the Kurimoto Japanese Garden and tucking into an exquisitely prepared feast was a highlight this summer.

University of Alberta Botanic Garden

Picnic box from the Twilight Picnic Experience

Outdoor dining was a great way to gather safely, and still allowed for small celebrations with loved ones. This included celebrating my sister’s elopement last fall.

Otto

Take-out from Otto

We were fortunate to have some amazing restaurants open up in our ‘hood, yes – even during a pandemic. Rosewood Foods tops that list – we’ve eaten through much of the menu and we adore the food and service. I hope they stick around for years to come.

Rosewood Foods

Patty melt from Rosewood Foods

Also close to home, we were thrilled with the return of a market to 104 Street in the form of Al Fresco. It was wonderful to watch Emily get excited seeing the vendors setting up on the street down below.

Al Fresco on 4th

Emily at Al Fresco

It was the year of the staycation, which meant we didn’t venture outside the province. It’s no secret that the Prairie Creek Inn in Rocky Mountain House is a favourite of ours, and their hospitality was still second to none, even in a pandemic.

Prairie Creek InnBreakfast from Prairie Creek Inn

Here’s to continuing to enjoy the little things in 2021.

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