Food Festivals Cautiously Optimistic About the Summer
On the heels of a sold-out Flying Canoe Volant this year, it’s clear Edmontonians will be eager for opportunities to gather and enjoy the outdoors, especially as temperatures rise.
The two largest food-related festivals, the Taste of Edmonton and Heritage Festival, have not yet received the green light to proceed this summer. But organizers of both events are ready to modify their plans based on public health guidelines.
Taste of Edmonton had planned to return to Churchill Square from July 22 – August 1, 2021, and already put out a call for food truck vendors in January. Events Edmonton General Manager Donovan Vienneau is confident the area can safely accommodate patrons:
"We’ve got a rather large space, probably the biggest in history. We’ve also implemented a six-foot gap between each of the restaurant tents.”
The Heritage Festival is more optimistic, posting, “There is hope. It was dim a while ago but the chances of us moving ahead are growing.” Executive Director Jim Gibbons indicated they are also planning for a socially-distanced event July 29-August 1, 2021, with ticketing moving entirely online, and the necessary spacing across the park:
“We’re going to keep the number of pavilions down. People will be much more spread out, for sure, if they’re on site.”
Permission to operate the festivals will require approval from the City of Edmonton, Alberta Health Services, and the province.
- It’s great to see restaurants be as transparent as possible in these times – one example is Baijiu, who chose to close when a staff member was experiencing COVID symptoms; they re-opened several days later. Similarly, Kind Ice Cream closed while awaiting test results of a close contact, and re-opened a couple of days later.
- The Next Act, Meat, and Pip all re-opened to dine-in service in early March. Cafe Bicyclette re-opened for regular service on March 9 after being closed since late November.
- The folks behind Vintage Fork were forced to pivot – first to pizza, then to online tea sales – when their Rutherford House-based restaurant was forced to close last year.
- Canadian chain Leopold’s Tavern, located in the renovated Strathcona Hotel (10328 82 Avenue), is set to open its first Edmonton location later in March.
- The first Alberta location of Browns Crafthouse will open in April at 10141 124 Street.
- Formosa is the latest restaurant to announce their permanent closure, “due to the profound effects COVID 19 has endured on our business.”
- Bartender James Grant is hosting more virtual cocktail tastings on March 19-20 and April 8-9, 2021. The $60 accompanying kits can be picked up or delivered.
- Wholly Handmade is hosting Nosh Food Fest on March 20, 2021 at The Agora in Sherwood Park.
- Save the date for A Taste of Al Fresco, on from March 27-28, 2021. A part of Downtown Spark, a festival happening in March and April, the event will include extended restaurant patios, $15-25 food and drink deals, and a Hot Bevvy Showdown.
- It was great to see Partake featured on Food Network’s Big Food Bucket List this weekend.
- El Beso is now open for brunch on Sundays from 10am-3pm.
- Brew + Bloom continues to garner interest, and may be the “first floral cafe in Canada”.
- Congratulations to Jacek Chocolate, who was recognized with accolades from the International Chocolate Awards, including silver for their Whisky Bar and bronze for their 70% Costa Rica bar.
- Edmonton AM highlighted Nai Nai Mie’s story as a pandemic business.
- EDify profiled Aditya Raghavan of Fleur Jaune Cheese.
- I missed linking to Linda’s list of 41 Edmonton-area women artists, makers, and entrepreneurs, including many who lead food-related businesses.
- Daily Hive has a listicle of the 11 oldest restaurants in Edmonton.
- MilkCrate Chef Steven Brochu and his wife cooked their way through Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer’s cookbook, Fraiche Food, and learned to embrace more vegetarian recipes in the process.
- Food tech company Nabati, founded in Edmonton, raised $7.7 million to continue its expansion.
- The African Diaspora Food Bank, run by the Africa Centre, will have up to $20,000 matched by Servus Credit Union for donations collected by March 31, 2021.
Urban Agriculture and Farming
- A biologist studying social insects at the University of Alberta is focused on honeybees.
What I Ate
- We picked up some comfort food for dinner from Coliseum Steak & Pizza, part of the Eats on 118 event on until the end of March. The lasagna, Caesar salad, and garlic toast was just $15 (though we chose to upsize with meatballs). It hit the spot!
Coliseum Steak & Pizza Eats on 118 deal
- It seemed like too beautiful of a weekend to not indulge in some gelato, so we walked over to La Carraia for a sweet treat.
Emily enjoyed her strawberry gelato