Food Notes for January 18, 2021

Curated Samples of Local Goods Provide Positive Exposure

Many consumers are looking for ways to support small businesses, and there are a couple of recent examples that offer compiled collections of local goods.

The Alberta Box, an initiative of Sobeys, is a package of 22 locally-produced products, including candy, soda, soup mix, and oats. Participating companies, including Gramma Bee’s Honey, appreciated the exposure. Priced at $49.99, the boxes were very well-received and are 90% sold out. As a result, Sobeys will be releasing an additional box featuring new vendors in the spring.

The Silver Skate Festival has created its own version of an Edmonton box, in the form of Celebrate Edmonton surprise gift bags. The bags not only support the suppliers highlighted, but also the festival itself. This promotion ran over the Christmas holiday (I picked up a bag and was pleasantly surprised by the range and quality of items), and was so popular that the festival has brought it back again for Valentine’s Day. Vendors for this version include Caramunchies, Smokey Bear, Acquired Taste Tea, and Token Bitters. Bags start at $25 and orders must be placed by February 9, 2021.

COVID-19-related News

  • Love Pizza’s Spruce Grove location is temporarily closed due to a staff testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Northern Chicken has re-opened again after a temporary closure due to a COVID-19 positive staff member.
  • Bundok has chosen to remain closed until at least January 21, 2021.
  • The Calgary-based Alberta Hospitality Association is asking the government to consider allowing in-person dining to resume and to commit to no further shutdowns.

Openings

  • Farrow’s fourth location is now open in the former Wishbone storefront at 10542 Jasper Avenue.
  • East African restaurant Rayyan is now open in Chinatown (in the space formerly occupied by Garden Bakery, 10019 106 Avenue).
  • Sunflower Eatery is now open at 10014 104 Street.
  • The Express Chef, offering Indian fusion food, is now open at 10534 111 Street.
  • Ayco, a local artisan bakery, opened in West Edmonton Mall back in December.
  • Bubble tea chain Presto Tea added a location to Southgate Centre.

Closures

  • Cacao 70’s Ice District location has been closed since March 2020, but for some reason remains on the company website.

Upcoming Events

  • Celtic Kitchen is still taking orders for Robbie Burns dinners for pick up on January 23, 2021.

Local News

  • Chinatown Dining Week has received some great press in the last week. The event runs until January 24, 2021.
  • The Journal profiled Alberta BBQ Collective, which delivers smoked meats of all kinds.
  • New Asian Village’s Sherwood Park location has been experimenting with fusion-style dishes, including a popular tandoori fried chicken.
  • Vote for your favourite Edmonton cafe in the Th3rd Wave Awards – in categories including coffee shop of the year, best new coffee shop and best new coffee roaster.
  • Edmonton chef Mai Nguyen is back in the MasterChef kitchen for a second chance in MasterChef Canada: Back to Win. It begins airing on February 14, 2021.
  • Kirsta Franke of Wild Heart Collective and Aga Wajda-Plytta and Nina Karpoff of Good Goods Co. were highlighted as a part of EDify’s first class of Edifiers.
  • CTV covered Kind Ice Cream’s recent foray into learning American Sign Language and about Deaf culture. It was driven partly because mask-wearing has made it more difficult for their Deaf or hard of hearing customers.
  • Long-time Old Strathcona Market vendor Hendrickson Bagel has retired.
  • Edmonton’s Food Bank is commemorating 40 years of community service.

What I Ate

  • Mack and I took advantage of the sun last week to walk over to On the Edge, a new cafe located in the Co*Lab space in the Quarters. We loved the welcoming yellow paint and fixtures outside, and it was a good chance to pick up some beans from the new-to-us local roaster 8 Acres Coffee.

On the Edge Coffee

Coffee from On the Edge

  • Our Friday night takeaway was from King Noodle House, our first Chinatown Dining Week meal so far! The soup definitely hit the spot for me, and Linda’s tip about ordering uncooked noodles made a world of difference.

King Noodle House

Chinatown Dining Week combos from King Noodle House

  • We finally ordered some bread from Bonne Vie Bakery – the Sturgeon River Cereal sourdough was dense and hearty, and definitely will lead me to try their other products! I also loved how the loaf was presented with such care.

Bonne Vie Bakery

Beautifully presented loaf from Bonne Vie Bakery

Food Notes for January 11, 2021

In-Person Dining Restriction Extended

Last week, the provincial government announced that the public health restrictions that had been introduced in mid-December would be extended until at least January 21, 2021. This includes restrictions on in-person dining.

Some restaurants are doing their best to maintain take-out during this period, but are finding it challenging. Chef Paul Shufelt of Workshop Eatery and Woodshed Burgers has had to lay off staff, and isn’t certain when, even after restrictions are lifted, whether he will re-open indoor dining again. He shared:

“I don’t know if it’s actually going to be the 21st of January that we can reopen or if it’s going to be mid February or later. Furthermore, I don’t know, just because of the province says it’s OK for us to open, will I feel safe for us to make that decision for the sake of our staff and for the sake of our customers.”

Other restaurants are choosing to close outright due to the length and unpredictable nature of the restrictions. DOSC and Sober Cat Cafe have decided to close as of January 11, “due to the financial burdens of the pandemic.” They hope to re-open for dine-in when it is safe to do so. Their ghost kitchen Burger Brawl will continue to operate for limited hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

Local News

  • Chinatown Dining Week starts later this week, and runs from January 14-24, 2021. I was interviewed on CBC Radioactive alongside Phong Luu of Kim Fat Market to help promote the event.
  • The Tomato is collecting nominations for their annual list of Top 100 Best Things to Eat in Edmonton. Submissions are accepted until January 31, 2021. The folks at Jack’s Burger Shack have a suggestion on the types of businesses to nominate – “Vote for a restaurant that opened in 2020. Vote for a restaurant owned by immigrants. Vote for a restaurant with no social media presence. Vote for the mom & pop’s.”
  • The most recent episode of Radioactive’s Best Dishes column focuses on the brisket donair and the nacho kit from The Next Act.
  • Local baker Larry Harris will be on the next season of CBC’s Great Canadian Baking Show. He is also continuing to offer loaves and baked goods through his microbakery, Bonne Vie.
  • Sugared and Spiced turned some bad politics into some tasty treats, and will be serving up Hawaiian-themed desserts for the month of January.
  • The Moth Cafe was included on this Eat North list of vegan restaurants.
  • The Ritchie Community League has launched a hyper-local monthly subscription service that supports businesses in the area.
  • The Muttart Conservatory (and Culina Cafe inside) has been delayed in re-opening after its modernization due to current public health restrictions.
  • Restaurant Yarrow celebrated their first birthday last week.
  • The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald is welcoming Executive Chef Jiju Paul to their team. He was most recently the Executive Chef at the Edmonton Expo Centre.
  • The staff at Kind Ice Cream are taking workshops on basic ASL to be more inclusive with the Deaf community.
  • The latest from MilkCrate Listens involved a conversation with Chef Andrew Fung of XIX Nineteen about maintaining positive mental health during the pandemic.
  • Congratulations to Caramunchies for partnering with Sobeys (bringing their retail partners to 35).
  • The Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market is the last year-round market to add curbside pick-up as an option.

What I Ate

  • We finally tried El Beso for the first time on Friday. Mack had the carnitas tacos while I chose the enchiladas. They definitely didn’t skimp on the meat, and their website made ordering pick-up a breeze. If dining restrictions lift, we hope to snag a seat one day on their great Beaver Hills patio in warmer climes.

El Beso

Takeout from El Beso

  • Mack, Emily, and I continued our outdoor dining streak with Jack’s Burger Shack. Their Quebecer poutine burger really hit the spot.

Jack’s Burger Shack

Quebecer from Jack’s Burger Shack

Chinatown Dining Week Returns January 14-24, 2021

Chinatown Dining Week is back for a fourth time! This year, 9 participating restaurants will be offering $10 and $18 takeaway deals from January 14-24, 2021.

IG CDW Poster 2021

Our mission has not changed – Chinatown Dining Week was created in 2018 to help promote and raise awareness of culinary gems in a neighbourhood that is often overlooked and undervalued. However, amidst an economic downturn and an ongoing pandemic, our partner businesses could use even more support. Foot traffic is understandably down in the area, as consumers plan only targeted visits, and pre-pandemic, many businesses served food not ideally suited for take-out. These family-owned businesses have done their best to pivot, offering delivery or enhancing their social media presence, but many are still struggling.

This year, due to ever-changing public health restrictions, Chinatown Dining Week will offer take-out meals only. Menus are available here, and diners are encouraged to call ahead to order.

We’re excited to welcome back eight returning businesses, offering a range of cuisines including Indian, Indonesian, Szechwan, Thai and Vietnamese, along with bubble tea, baked goods, and pastries. We are also thrilled that Kim Fat Market is joining us for the first time. Some may be aware of Kim Fat as a Chinatown grocer and butcher, but a well-kept secret is that they also offer prepared meals, too.

KimFat_alldressedribsAll-dressed ribs from Kim Fat

We hope you’ll consider enjoying a meal from one of our participating businesses during Chinatown Dining Week!

We’ve also launched a giveaway on Instagram for a couple of dinners for two and other specials!

Food Notes for January 4, 2021

New Restaurants Continue To Open During Pandemic

In spite of the ever-changing public health regulations, more than 4,000 new businesses opened in Edmonton between March and November 2020. Not all of these businesses were in the food and hospitality sector, but they are among the most visible.

Even this month, as in-person dining restrictions continue until at least January 14, new establishments and concepts continue to pop up. Transit Smokehouse & Bistro, the new restaurant in the renovated Transit Hotel, was set to open by New Year’s Eve, but has since delayed their opening date. The ramen bar in Dorinku Osaka Downtown has been replaced by a new concept called Korea Town.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • XO Bistro’s second location will be open in February in southwest Edmonton, located at 5021 Mullen Road (Rabbit Hill Crossing).
  • There appears to be a third Jollibee location in the works in west Edmonton.
  • Mondo Pizza has opened in the space formerly occupied by Die Pie (11215 Jasper Avenue).
  • Spirit Bistro is a new-ish Chinese restaurant located at 10824 97 Street.

Upcoming Events

  • The menus for the fourth annual Chinatown Dining Week are up. The event runs January 14-24, 2021 and features 9 restaurants offering $10 and $18 takeaway deals.
  • Filistix held a couple of successful Kamayan feasts pre-pandemic. They’ll be bringing it back for home consumption on January 16, 2020 for pick up only.

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

What I Ate

  • Mack and I treated ourselves to some cocktails from Woodwork over the holidays! Convenient single servings and pre-mixed, it was easy to order from their online system to boot. I found the Nocturne to be deliciously refreshing, and Mack loved his WW (boozy) egg nog.

Woodwork

Nocturne from Woodwork

  • We also dug through our freezer for provisions last week and sampled Nepa Food’s chicken momos. They had great flavour and just a bit of a kick. Find them at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market.

Nepa Food

Chicken momos from Nepa Food

  • On the occasion of Mack’s birthday, we finally tried pizza from High Dough. We loved that the Detroit-style crust was thick, but fluffier than expected. We ordered the Dirt City de Luxe.

High Dough

Dirt City de Luxe from High Dough

  • A quiet birthday deserves an epic cake! We decided to go all in for an old fashioned carrot cake from Rosewood Foods (it smelled amazing, and didn’t disappoint).

Rosewood Foods

Happy birthday, Mack!

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.

Epicureous in Edmonton: 2020 Year In Review

The pandemic wreaked havoc on life as we knew it. As Alberta exceeds 1,000 lives lost to COVID-19 amidst a holiday season under near-lockdown, it feels somewhat trivial to reflect on the food and hospitality scene in Edmonton.

Still, there is no doubt that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how we dine out in the future, even post-pandemic. For businesses that are able to outlast the successive waves of the disease as we await mass immunization, some of the pivots fulfilled out of desperation may become permanent.

Restaurants such as Corso 32 and Tokiwa Ramen continued to produce meal kits even after indoor dining was permitted again in the summer; these specialty items will appeal to those more comfortable in their homes or as an entertaining fail safe even after the “new normal” returns.

It was no surprise that delivery services took off this year, with many people reducing non-essential trips outside the home. Although Skip the Dishes made concessions late in the year to temporarily decrease their commission fees, the 20-30% cut taken by third-party delivery apps has severely impacted the bottom line of many businesses. As a result, bakeries like Duchess, fast-casual restaurants like Filistix, HanJan, and Meat/The Next Act/Pip, and fine dining establishments like XIX Nineteen, chose to adopt in-house delivery (joining the ranks of pizza joints and Chinese restaurants). It isn’t an easy undertaking, but hopefully it can be more financially sustainable for them in the long run.

Some chefs, including MilkCrate’s Steven Brochu and Shaw Conference Centre’s Serge Belair have staked out a greater online presence in the form of personalized cooking tutorials or demonstration videos. Food Bike Tours rebranded to Chef Table Living, providing home cooks with chef-created recipe kits and instructional videos. This continues the trend (albeit virtually) of what chef table dinners started by further closing the gap between the diner and the chef.

One of the pandemic adaptations that has been most transformative to the consumer experience has been the upgrading of online ordering systems. Sugared and Spiced, Cartago, and Bon Ton Bakery were among those who debuted more seamless ways for customers to pre-order items for pick up, minimizing time spent in line and indoors. The convenience of pre-paying and access to visuals that aid in product selection will likely prove to be an essential and worthwhile investment.

Tokiwa Ramen

Here are a few other items notable to me in 2020:

  • Curiously, the pandemic pivot that didn’t take to a greater extent was outdoor dining spaces and winter patios. Some, such as Little Brick and Rocky Mountain Ice House/Cask and Barrel have invested significantly in their outdoor spaces, but given all the talk in the fall about the need for winter patio extensions it doesn’t look like many have taken the City up on this. It would be interesting to know if this relates more to the City’s aversion to approving requests on certain types of streets.
  • Considering the pandemic, it was another banner year for the expansion of some local businesses: Workshop Eatery grew with two locations of Woodshed Burgers and three branches of The Greenhouse; Culina on the Lake opened in Hawrelak Park; RGE RD added The Butchery; the folks behind The Sugar Bowl opened up Eleanor & Laurent; Love Pizza added outposts in southwest Edmonton and in Spruce Grove; and Calle Mexico and HanJan extended to three locations each.
  • Independent cafes continue to pop up in all corners of the city, and perhaps none too soon, given the rate Starbucks and Second Cup have been closing shops. This year, we welcomed The Dapper Beaver, Amandine Cafe, Krew Cafe, Mood Cafe, Cafe Neo, Intent Coffee, La Bosco, Bistro 99, Belge Cafe, Ch, On the Edge, and additional locations of Square One and Remedy Cafe. Not to mention CoffeePass launched in November, which intends to help promote some of the same independent cafes.
  • Given the hardship the hospitality sector has experienced this year, the number of closures may not seem as high as expected. However, this may change in 2021, depending on the length of lockdown-like measures. Among the businesses we lost in 2020 were Al Centro, Barking Buffalo Cafe, Dauphine, Die Pie, Doan’s, Doppio Zero Pizza, Il Forno, London Local, Prairie Noodle Shop, Royale,  Veggie Garden, Wishbone, and ZINC.
  • Collaborations between local businesses continue, but this year, even more so to help other independents when possible. The #eatloveeatagain initiative in December was one example, while Yelo’d has leveraged their delivery service to help other brands. In a creative twist, MilkCrate and Why Not banded together for a friendly burger competition.
  • In June, Linda Hoang set off a social media firestorm for Yoshii Express, an Old Strathcona eatery that was struggling. The public response to her posts was unprecedented, with line-ups at the restaurant for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, that level of support wasn’t sustained in the months following. This illustrates both the brilliant possibilities of social media but also its fickle, top-of-mind nature.
  • On a related note, advocacy for local restaurants formalized in the Edmonton Independent Hospitality Community, led by Cartago and Fleisch owner Katy Ingraham.
  • The Edmonton food media scene contracted again this year, with Liane Faulder departing the Journal for a second time. Graham Hicks, who wrote a regular food column for the Edmonton Sun, re-retired in June, amidst some controversy when two local food writers re-surfaced troubling previously published reviews.
  • The Province relaxed regulations on low-risk home-prepared foods in June, paving the way for many home-based “pandemic businesses”, such as Kryzy’s Kitchen and Bonne Vie Bakery. Time will tell if they can maintain and grow a foothold in the crowded market.
  • Similar to the appetite for food delivery, grocery delivery services exploded in the last year, with more than a dozen new options available in the Edmonton area. These include independents like Italian Centre Shop, Meuwly’s, Steve & Dan’s, and Effing Seafood, and big players like Sysco and Gordon Food Service offering direct-to-consumer options. Bountiful Farmers’ Market also became the first market to offer delivery.

You can check out previous year in reviews here.

Food Notes for December 21, 2020

Chinatown Dining Week Returns For a Fourth Year

Now more than ever, without indoor dining as an option, restaurants are struggling. Those located in Chinatown, a neighbourhood often mired in negative perceptions, were experiencing challenges even before the pandemic. Now, the current restrictions have further limited their ability to make ends meet.

Chinatown Dining Week was established to spotlight an area full of culinary gems that are often overlooked, and this year that mission continues (disclaimer: I am one of the founding volunteers of this initiative). The event returns for a fourth year, and runs from January 14-24, 2021:

11 businesses will be participating in the fourth annual Chinatown Dining Week. We’re thrilled to welcome two new partners to our roster: The Nook Cafe and Kim Fat Market. Both businesses have been strong community advocates, and we’re happy to showcase some of their menu items in our upcoming event!

Businesses will be offering special $10 and $18 menus for the duration of the event. Due to current public health guidelines, food will be served take-out only; phone orders are strongly encouraged to minimize wait times. Menus will be posted soon.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • Congratulations to Frida Urban Taqueria, who opened their doors to take-out last week. Find them at 12411 Stony Plain Road.
  • One of the vendors at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market, On The Edge Coffee, has opened up in CO*LAB, at 9641 102A Avenue. They offer convenient pre-order through Ritual as well.

Closures

  • Die Pie announced their closure, with their last day of operations being December 22, 2020: “We have seen a continuing heavy decline in sales the past couple months and increases in expenses and interest rates. We have painfully concluded that we can no longer operate further through this pandemic. We remain optimistic about the future, but we are unsure if or when we will re-open.”
  • Veggie Garden also announced they will be closing December 31, 2020: “Our hope is to one day in the future re-open in a location that is more easily accessible and most of all safer for our family and our customers.”
  • Garneau Pub, home of Combat Juice, is now closed.

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

What I Ate

  • Kudos to Filistix who helped us cater a virtual staff lunch last week, delivering meals to the homes of our team members so we could enjoy it together over a video call. It was nice to break bread during these challenging times. I ordered the Tocino Burrito again – so good.

Filistix

Tocino Burrito from Filistix

  • Emily played in the adjacent Beaver Hills House Park while we waited for take-out from Wayback Burgers, the relative newcomer to #yegdt. The cheeeesy burger wasn’t quite as cheesy as promised, but the choice of tots was nice.

Wayback Burgers

Take-out from Wayback Burgers

  • Sunday was a beautiful afternoon for a Remedy Cafe chai and a stroll.

Remedy Cafe

Remedy Cafe chai

This is the last Food Notes for the calendar year – thanks for reading, and I wish you and your families a restful and safe holiday season.

    Food Notes for December 14, 2020

    Latest Restrictions Shutter Indoor Dining

    Effective December 13, 2020, indoor dining was prohibited in all restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes across Alberta at least until January 12, 2021. Businesses will be forced to rely on take-out and delivery for a period that, pre-COVID, would have been their busiest time of the year. Patrick Saurette of The Marc expects to lay off 95% of his staff due to the changes.

    Some, such as Pho Tau Bay, have elected to close operations until they are permitted to offer dine-in services again. Others have pivoted back to offering meal kits, like DOSC and RGE RD.

    The day after the restrictions were released, third-party delivery app Skip the Dishes announced a support package for small operators. This includes a 25% rebate on commission for independent restaurant partners also effective December 13. Some restaurants have been appreciative of this gesture, and given the frequency and volume of orders (Canada’s most prolific Skip customer lives in Alberta, having ordered 962 times so far this year), it will hopefully help hospitality establishments with their bottom line. When choosing to support local businesses, diners should still consider picking up their take-out, which ensures all of the profits go directly to the restaurant.

    COVID-19-related News

    • Effective December 14, 2020, licensed establishments can serve mixed drinks through delivery and take-out, as well as offer virtual tastings. This decision has been lauded by Spirits Canada, a national organization representing the Canadian spirits industry.

    Openings

    • It looks like Seoul Fried Chicken will be opening north of the river, taking over the space vacated by Royale on 104 Street.
    • Black Ship opened last week at 10251 Jasper Avenue (the former Hat space). They’ve since shifted to delivery and take-out only.

    Reviews

    Local News

    • DOSC has introduced a new burger menu under the banner Burger Brawl, introducing a new burger every week to “challenge” the others.
    • Northern Chicken just began offering a new gluten-free fried chicken sandwich, and it already has its fans.
    • Linda has an amazingly comprehensive list of where to order take-home Christmas meals this year.
    • Sonic 102.9 has a gift guide featuring local food and beer options.
    • Silver Skate has put together support local surprise bags featuring products from a variety of local purveyors. Bags start at $25 for delivery or pick-up from December 17-22, 2020.
    • Nai Nai Mie has started a crowdfunding campaign on ATB BoostR, in the hopes of raising $20,000 to scale up their operation.
    • Phil’s latest Best Dishes column features Drift’s mulligatawny soup.
    • The Journal featured the holiday boxes currently offered by EdmontonEats.
    • The current issue of The Yards is their annual Best in the Core issue, and includes categories of best outdoor eats and best business innovators (which feature several local food purveyors).
    • Ever wonder how to put together take-away pho? Linda has created a handy video reference.
    • Longtime green onion cake vendor Hongmei Chen has bid adieu to the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market.
    • Another LoveGood Food Exchange box has been set up, this time in front of the Edmonton Police Service headquarters downtown.

    Beyond Edmonton

    What I Ate

    • As the temperatures dip and the lockdown continues, I imagine the geography of our take-out map may shrink even further to those restaurants about a block or two away. Craving soup, we ordered from Ramen Misoya on Friday, conveniently just a few steps away from our condo.

    Ramen Misoya

    Order from Ramen Misoya

    • We made the best of a quick trip to Highlands on Saturday – curbside gifts from Majesty and Friends, picked out a book at Mandolin with Emily, and grabbed some bagels from June’s Delicatessen. Lots of opportunities to shop small on that block.

    June’s Delicatessen

    Cheese bagel from June’s Delicatessen

    Food Notes for December 7, 2020

    Local Initiatives Boost Awareness of Small Businesses

    Independent businesses need love now more than ever, so it’s great to see two new local initiatives highlight some of the caffeinated and culinary pillars of our community.

    CoffeePass is the brainchild of Edmontonian Eric Remagni, who was inspired to create the program after an eight month international adventure. “I began working on building the program in May of this year, and it has really been spurred forward by the challenges the pandemic has created,” he shared. “Now more than ever, our cafes need the support of coffee lovers to help them make it through the pandemic.”

    The pass, priced at $35 (plus tax and shipping), entitles passholders to 22 coffees, one at each of the 22 cafe partners. Participating businesses include more established cafes Little Brick and Doughnut Party and newer additions to the scene such as The Dapper Beaver and ch. cafeteria.

    “Our goal is to help people discover new cafes, and for the community to continue supporting each cafe by making additional purchases when they visit – whether that’s picking up some locally-roasted coffee beans, dining (or takeout because of Covid), or grabbing some merch,” said Remagni.

    Passes must be redeemed by March 31, 2021. CoffeePass is available online, or in-person through their cafe partners.

    Eat. Love. Eat Again! was put together by 7 establishments that hope to encourage diners to patronize other independent restaurants. In the month of December, dine-in or take-out at one of the participating businesses, keep the receipt, and show it at one of the other businesses for 10% off the bill.

    Participating restaurants include Filistix, Kanto 98 St., Mercer Tavern, Otto, Three Vikings, Toast Culture, and Yelo’d.

    COVID-19-related News

    • A server at Crown & Anchor Pub & Grill in north Edmonton needed 14 stitches on her face after an altercation with a patron related to asking the person to don a mask.
    • After temporary closures, Baijiu has re-opened, as has Love Pizza’s St. Albert location and Bagel Bar. Bodega’s St. Albert and Highlands locations will be open for take-out only as of December 8, 2020.
    • Other restaurants have decided to voluntarily transition to take-out/pick-up only, including Ramen Misoya, Three Vikings, Vi’s for Pies, and Red Star (who even created a playlist to listen to while enjoying dinner).
    • More restaurants are pivoting back to make-at-home meals, as took place earlier in the spring. This includes Bottega 104 with pasta, pizza, and cocktail kits, Woodshed Burger patties, frozen dinners from Filistix, and heat-and-eat options from Shojo Izakaya.
    • Katy Ingraham, owner of Cartago and Fleisch, continues her advocacy against indoor dining: “…no one should be sitting inside a restaurant with their mask off right now. Do not dine in. Not even if you’re following the rules. Not even if you don’t feel sick. Not with your household. Not with anyone….”
    • Entrepreneurs representing over three dozen hospitality businesses as a part of the Edmonton Independent Hospitality Community signed an open letter to City Council and other levels of government to plea for the need for more restrictions and immediate financial relief.
    • Lobby group Restaurants Canada will be calling for a national working group at a virtual press conference on December 8, 2020, which will include representation from Patrick Saurette of The Marc.
    • The pandemic and the poor economic conditions continue to impact businesses in Chinatown.
    • Bountiful Market has seen their foot traffic reduced by half due to the pandemic.
    • Cafe Bicyclette had made the decision to close for the remainder of the year – and in the process, donated their excess food to those in need.
    • A recent New York Times survey of 700 epidemiologists found that the most risky activity, in their opinion, is eating indoors at a restaurant.

    Openings

    Closures

    • The Downtown location of Yoshi Sushi in the Matrix Hotel is permanently closed.

    Upcoming Events

    • Taste Alberta is hosting a virtual Holiday Kitchen Party on December 9, 2020 featuring cooking demonstrations from a couple local chefs, including Steve Brochu of Milk Crate and Doreen Prei. The $15 registration fee will be donated to Edmonton and Calgary food banks.

    Local News

    • 2020 just keeps on dishing out the punches – this week, it was a fire that decimated Why Not. Co-owner Levi Biddlecombe vowed they will be back, “We’ll be up to something. People still need to eat … now we’re just trying to rebuild. The name has been built, it’s not just the physical space. We’ve built a brand in the community.”
    • Particularly because of the pivots the hospitality sector has been forced to make, those seeking to give local food gifts have never had more choices to consider. These include Fife N Dekel’s pie subscription and cookie mixes from Confetti Sweets.
      • It’s always great to see local businesses collaborating with one another – the latest example is this Mulled Cider Sorbet from Kind Ice Cream and Broken Spoke Cider.
      • Those looking for ready made turkey dinners for the holidays have many options, including A Cappella, Ernest’s, Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, and Sorrentino’s.
      • Food Bike Tours have rebranded to Chef Table Living, which encompasses their online cooking and mixology classes (supplemented with chef kits for easy preparation). They are also debuting their series of guided and self-guided Food Walk Tours on January 22, 2020 in Downtown and Old Strathcona.
      • Twyla Campbell shared information about alternative grocery providers to consider. On that note, Uproot Food Collective, which she mentions, is now shipping shelf-stable products across Alberta!
      • Sepp’s Pizza is celebrating their first birthday.
      • The latest issue of EDify offers an Indian take on Christmas dinner, recommendations for Thai food, and a profile of Lindsay Jang, a Sherwood Park expat with successful hospitality enterprises in Hong Kong, including branded sake called Sunday’s Spirits now available in Alberta.
      • Lincoln Ho’s YEGventures is collecting votes for his Best of Edmonton 2020 list. Voting ends December 20, 2020. Thanks to whoever nominated this blog – it’s an honour to be included along some other great local blogs!
      • 11 year-old Edmonton boy Dongdao Xiao’s recipe for “pandemic chicken” was selected to be included in the Kid Food Nation cookbook.
      • Edmontonians Allison Harrison and Nathan Beck have started a recipe blog called Cheap & Chunky.
      • Boyle Street Community Services has launched a holiday meal sponsorship program that will enable them to provide warm meals to clients.

      What I Ate

      • I had forgotten to post about the delightful outdoor ordering window at Overflow in Old Strathcona. Post-pandemic, I hope these stay!

      Overflow Cafe

      Mack waits for his drink order at Overflow

      • Desk lunches are made infinitely better when they’re made up of a comforting bowl of soup, such as the bun bo Hue from T and D Noodle House (they also closed to dine-in services earlier in the fall).

      T and D Noodle House

      Bun bo Hue from T and D Noodle House

      • It’s been too long since our last La Mision burrito (served at Tres Carnales now) so on Friday we made sure to upsize and include chips and guacamole with our order, too!

      La Mision

      Chicken burritos from Tres Carnales

      • We couldn’t pass up poutine in a cup at this year’s Zoominescence, and it was much better than we expected!

      Valley Zoo

      #poutineinacup from 40 Acres at the Valley Zoo

      Food Notes for November 30, 2020

      More Restaurants Voluntarily Close Dine-In Services

      Last week, the Alberta Government announced their additional measures intended to curb the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in the province.

      Though some had expected a temporary pause on indoor dining, restaurants instead can remain open for dine-in services for households of up to 6 people at a table, or for those who live alone, with up to 2 non-household contacts that are a part of their cohort. These enhanced measures were effective November 27, 2020, and are expected to last until at least December 18, 2020. The previously announced restrictions requiring liquor service to cease at 10pm and restaurants and bars to close at 11pm still stand.

      There was confusion early on about the consequences of permitting mixed household cohorts to dine together, but the reality is that the responsibility of enforcing the restrictions has been downloaded to individual businesses and hospitality workers.

      In the wake of the escalating active case numbers, a spate of restaurants have chosen to voluntarily close to indoor dining, some in part due to the challenges inherent in implementing the restrictions. Earlier in November, restaurants including Dagu Rice Noodle, Nongbu, Fleisch, Cartago, and Northern Chicken pivoted to take-out and delivery only. This week, they were joined by more than a dozen in the Edmonton area, including Avila Arepa, Butternut Tree, The Cabin (closed temporarily), Cafe Bicyclette (closed temporarily) Canteen, Cerdo, Chartier, Dadeo, Dang Good, Highlands Golf Club, Italian Centre’s cafes, Meat, The Next Act, On The Rocks (closed temporarily), Otto, Pip, Vaticano Cucina, Workshop Eatery, and XIX Nineteen.

      Andrew Fung, owner and chef of XIX Nineteen shared:

      “I feel very pressured. We (are) already having a tough time asking people (to) put on a mask and now you’re enforcing another rule on top (of that). I just found it very difficult. What we normally do is provide hospitality. We’re not police, we’re not law enforcement.”

      COVID-19-related News

      Openings

      • Arcadia Brewing Co. is now open, after their initial opening date was postponed due to a staff testing positive for COVID. They are located in Manchester Square at 12016 107 Avenue.
      • Back in May, Filipino eatery Joanne’s BBQ House opened during the pandemic at 13119 156 Street.
      • Mesob Habesha Fusion is a new restaurant just north of Downtown at 10546 109 Street (formerly occupied by Kallin Restaurant).
      • New-ish Shawarma Shack promises authentic but modern shawarma. Find them at 12432 167 Avenue.
      • Rayyan East African Restaurant is opening in Chinatown in the space formerly occupied by Garden Bakery.
      • Spruce Grove is home to a new brewery called Talking Dog Brewing.

      Local News

      What I Ate

      • It was a beautiful day to walk over to Chinatown early last week to run some errands. It was also a good excuse to grab some banh mi for lunch from Nhon Hoa.

      Nhon Hoa

      Combo sub from Nhon Hoa

      • Mack, Emily, and I headed out to Jasper for a short getaway last week. As with our previous staycation earlier in the fall, we brought nearly all of our own food to minimize contact. One of the heat-and-serve meals we tried was the noodle packs from Golomein. Considering the preparation involves microwaving the dish from frozen, the quality of the noodles didn’t seem to be impacted significantly. We also enjoyed the flavours overall, and would be open to trying it again!

      Golomein

      Golomein

      • It was nice to have a hot breakfast included in our stay at Pyramid Lake Resort. The take-out was super-efficient.

      Pyramid Lake Resort

      Take-out from The Pines at Pyramid Lake Resort

      • We made one stop in town for some coffee and treats from Bear’s Paw Bakery. It’s hard not to indulge when this is the reaction to having a cookie!

      Bear’s Paw Bakery

      Emily enjoys a cookie from Bear’s Paw Bakery