Food Notes for June 21, 2021

Restaurants and Events Prepare for Stage 3

Premier Jason Kenney announced that Alberta would be moving forward with Stage 3 of its Open for Summer Plan on July 1, 2021. Stage 3 will see all restrictions lifted, including the general indoor provincial mask mandate. Edmonton City Council will be voting on potentially repealing its temporary mandatory face coverings bylaw on June 22.

In preparation for this phase, some restaurants are scrambling to staff their establishments in order to meet the anticipated demand. Many business owners are finding that candidates are hard to come by, with many choosing to leave the service industry altogether.

Fleisch co-owner Katy Ingraham, and spokesperson for the Canadian Restaurant Workers Coalition, isn’t surprised that some restaurants are struggling to fill positions due to low wages and the potential for unsafe working conditions.

“Restaurant work is work that needs to be valued and respected with a living wage…Frankly, many of them are leaving the industry because they don’t see that change happening fast enough, or at all,” said Ingraham.

Meanwhile, some Edmonton summer festivals are preparing to move ahead with their large scale outdoor events. Pre-sale tickets for the Taste of Edmonton are available until the event begins. Running July 22-August 1, 2021 at Churchill Square, the event will feature 33 restaurants and 12 food trucks.

The Heritage Festival also confirmed it will be taking place in Hawrelak Park from July 31-August 2, 2021. Free timed-entry passes are now available to be booked, and this year, no food tickets will be sold. Instead, food and goods can only be purchased directly from pavilions by credit or debit.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • Phoenix Diner is now open in the former Doppio Zero space, at 10803 Jasper Avenue.
  • There is now another ramen option in town called Ramen House, located at 10430 61 Avenue.

Closures

Upcoming Events

  • Kingsway Mall is hosting another Food Truck Fest on June 25, 2021 from 3-8pm.
  • MLA Rakhi Pancholi is hosting a virtual Taste of Edmonton-Whitemud on June 27, 2021. Those who purchase tickets will receive a delivery of a sampling from area restaurants for the event. Tickets are $75.
  • Awn Kitchen is organizing farm tours on July 17 to Rosy Farms and on July 24 to Lazuli and Grey Arrow Farms. Tickets range from $55-75.
  • The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival has been rescheduled again to October 22-23, 2021.

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • Taproot Edmonton published a story about those in Edmonton spurned on by the pandemic to grow more of their own food.

What I Ate

  • Summer just isn’t the same without mini donuts! We returned to #Root107 on Friday to kick off the weekend with Jackie O’s Street Treats.
  • Jackie O’s

Cinnamon sugar mini donuts from Jackie O’s

  • It’s been dangerous to have pho at my fingertips with Tau Bay now available via delivery. #patiopho is something I can get used to.
  • Pho Tau Bay

Steak and brisket pho from Pho Tau Bay

  • With my parents now fully vaccinated, Mack and I were able to get away for a brunch date at Chartier over the weekend! It was a beautiful day to enjoy a patio, and though we will continue to support restaurants primarily via take-out, it sure was nice to enjoy a fully-serviced meal with real dinnerware and cutlery.
  • Chartier

Breakfast poutine from Chartier

Food Notes for June 14, 2021

Edmonton Riverfront Patio Is Now Licensed

River Valley Adventure Co. has been operating for nearly a decade in Louise McKinney Park, offering Segway tours and equipment rentals year-round. This year, their patio is now licensed, and can now offer Edmontonians another place to enjoy alcoholic beverages.

Chad Murphy, a Hospitality Consultant working with River Valley Adventure Co., is hopeful that more people will take advantage of what he calls, “the only riverfront patio in Edmonton offering craft Alberta beer, wine and seltzers.” He is particularly proud of their choice to source drinks locally. “[You] will see a rotation in our craft beer, but it will always be Alberta produced craft brews only,” said Murphy. At present, their current offerings include cans from Medicine Hat Brewing Co., Bent Stick Brewing Co., Last Best Brewing & Distilling, Blindman Brewing, and Sea Change Brewing Co.

In addition to alcoholic drinks, River Valley Adventure Co. also brews Sherwood Park-based Roasti Coffee.

Food-wise, they have partnered with The Greenhouse to serve their prepared meat and vegetarian sandwiches. The Greenhouse, led by owner Paul Shufelt, operates restaurants at three city-owned golf courses.

Currently, the patio seats 16, but when restrictions are lifted, they will be able to accommodate up to 28 people. Their hours are also limited at the moment, as they are open 10am-4pm on Monday and Thursday, and from 10am-6pm on the weekends. Murphy indicated that they hope to extend their hours as conditions allow. City-run restrooms are open and available in the adjacent building.

While Segway Tours continue to be their most popularly booked activity, River Valley Adventure Co. has also expanded their rental options to include 5-person inflatable rafts, e-bikes, and side-by-side Surrey Bikes. “We feel that with the introduction of our liquor license and enhanced offerings, that we will open ourselves up to a wider customer base,” said Murphy.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • Wilfred’s will be re-opening this summer with a refreshed menu with a Southern twist. They will also be partnering with Made By Marcus for a dual concept storefront.
  • Evario Kitchen + Bar is now open at 950 Parsons Road SW.
  • Another location of Joey’s Fish Shack is opening on June 17, 2021 at 2571 17 Street.

Closures

  • Food business Nai Nai Mie has decided to close down the business by June 30, 2021. Orders will be accepted until then or when they sell out.

Upcoming Events

  • Another Ritchie Food Court is taking place on June 19, 2021 from 11am-3pm at Ritchie Hall (7727 98 Street). Drift, Calle Mexico, Sosyal Scoops, Fox Burger and Go Nuts 4 Donuts.
  • Campio Brewing is once again hosting their Campio Summer Markets, every other Saturday until September. The next market runs June 26, 2021 from 11am-4pm.

Local News

What I Ate

  • We had a great virtual lunch gathering this week with the Taproot Edmonton team. We enjoyed food from Tiffin Fresh Kitchen, perhaps the most efficient fast casual player in #yegdt.
  • Tiffin Fresh

Tiffin take-out

  • We satisfied an Ono Poke craving for our Friday night picnic.
  • Ono Poke

Ono Poke picnic

  • Emily has had prior exposure to bubble tea, but a venture over the weekend to CoCo may have sealed the deal – she couldn’t get enough of the tapioca pearls!
  • CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice

Drinks from CoCo

  • After rescheduling several times, we finally made it to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden to enjoy their Brunch Box offerings alongside my parents. The Freson Bros. mushroom and asiago quiche was tasty, and would have definitely been even better warm, but our favourite was the Chocorrant gruyere and ham croissant. We finished our morning off with a stroll through the gardens. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday!
  • University of Alberta Botanic Garden

Brunch Box at the Botanic Garden

Food Notes for June 7, 2021

Stump Kitchen’s Alexis Hillyard featured by Google

This week, local YouTube star Alexis Hillyard was featured by Google in a new YouTube video:

“Alexis, an LGBTQ+ and disabled chef, uses YouTube and Google Meet to help pursue her passion for vegan cooking. At the same time, she creates a safe space to celebrate the unique ways we move through the world. http://goo.gle/3fOYOxt

Hillyard, known for her popular Stump Kitchen series, has been producing videos on her YouTube channel for five years. Her videos highlight vegan and gluten-free recipes, often assembled using her stump as a kitchen tool. She uses her platform to celebrate limb differences, and more recently, after having a baby, focus on parenting with one hand.

The video came together quickly over the last few months. “Google googled me and said they were looking for creators to feature and they were looking for disabled or queer creators that were having a good impact,” said Hillyard. “They found my page and loved it and knew they wanted to feature me right away.”

Filming occurred over two days in April with strict COVID-19 protocols in place with Google staff in town from Toronto and Vancouver. Hillyard had a strong say in what content was filmed, including scenes with her partner and child. “I was called a creative consultant on the ground because I got to shape what they caught on camera,” said Hillyard. “It was not artificial.”

Stump Kitchen started as a side project but has morphed into a nearly full-time job for Hillyard, who, as a trained teacher, still teaches one half day a week at a junior high school. The rest of her time is spent hosting classes and workshops, conducting speaking invitations and social media gigs, and being a Canadian ambassador for the Lucky Fin Project. She also relies on her Patreon page for support.

The channel has grown its audience over the years, and while she has a significant fan base in the Prairie provinces, her reach is international including the US, South America, and Australia. “[My audience] ranges from people who are amputees themselves, to families who have members with limb differences, and random people who like cooking shows or have found a different way in – I burp and swear and don’t wear a bra,” laughs Hillyard. When restrictions lift, she hopes to resume travelling to continue to meet and highlight others with limb differences.

While Hillyard isn’t the planning type – she much prefers the joy of living in the moment – she does have one dream that she would love to fulfill one day. “I could open a small café or restaurant called ‘Stump Kitchen’ made up of staff with limb differences and we would sit on tree stumps,” said Hillyard. “It would be great to have a space to celebrate my local community.”

Hillyard credits a lot of her success to the city she is proud to call home. “The community here is so vibrant,” said Hillyard. “It’s so small but it’s so big; we have incredible local businesses and creators that I can learn from, and it’s the kind of city where you can have an impact and be known and not get lost in the rumble of a big city.”

COVID-19-related News

  • Stage 2 of Alberta’s Open for Summer Plan is expected to start on June 10, 2021, and will increase outdoor dining to tables of 6, and will re-introduce indoor dining for the first time since April 9.
  • After a lengthy hiatus, Bundok will be re-opening on June 10, 2021.
  • Red Star’s patio is now open.

Openings

  • Black Box Hospitality has launched a new concept called Young & Restless Pizza, operating out of District Wednesday to Sunday. They have first come, first served picnic tables available. It’ll be great to see District bustling again after it’s been closed since January.
  • Italia Mia (operating out of the former Il Forno space at 14981 Stony Plain Road) is now open.
  • Cafe La Reine will be opening later in June at 8927D 82 Avenue, in the space formerly occupied by Amandine Cafe.
  • Downtown is getting another southern BBQ restaurant called Coals and Cleavers, set to open June 26, 2021 at 10318 100 Avenue. The restaurant is from the folks at the Alberta BBQ Collective and the team behind Pitt County BBQ.

Upcoming Events

  • The Al Fresco #on4th market with extended patios kicks off on June 12 and runs every Saturday from 10am-3pm until September 18, 2021. The closure of the street will also extend into Sundays to accommodate the extended patios throughout the weekend.
  • The Black Owned Market YEG is hosting a Dance and Coffee Cultural Experience on June 19, 2021. Tickets for the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, to be held at the Habesha African Market, are pay-what-you-can.
  • Noodle company Nai Nai Mie is hosting its first pop-up with Chef Doreen Prei on June 30, 2021. Guests will be treated to a 2-course dinner and the event promises to be ”hot, saucy and more than a little noodly. Maybe even a little naughty.” Tickets are $35 with location TBD.

Local News

  • The Journal has more details behind Calle Mexico’s taco carts and their connection to the godfather of Edmonton’s food carts – Fat Franks. The carts may debut on city streets as soon as this week.
  • CRAFT Beer Market will be debuting their new rooftop patio on Rice Howard Way on June 21, 2021.
  • Kitchen by Brad is open for “Meatball Madness” this summer, offering take-out on Fridays over lunch through their take-out window.
  • The Butchery made the Canada’s 100 Best list of  “things to savour right now” across Canada. It’s also worth noting that Chef Shane Chartrand also made the list, but in a composite item that included several Indigenous chefs that the list creators didn’t feel warranted their own individual features.
  • EDify released their 2021 patio guide. The Downtown Business Association (DBA) created a Google map of patios in the neighbourhood.
  • Also from EDify – they will be sharing Best Things To Eat as chosen by prominent Edmontonians throughout the summer. First up – the DBA’s Puneeta McBryan highlights the chocolate olive oil cake from Rosewood Foods, and Oilers play-by-play announcer Jack Michaels selected the chorizo tacos from La Patrona.
  • Uproot Food Collective will be the first long-term tenant of the new Ag-celerator at the Edmonton International Airport, a new federally-certified food production and contract packing facility. Also from Uproot, they now offer frozen bulgogi from Edmonton favourite NongBu.
  • The accommodation and food services sector continues to be the hardest hit in Alberta with a loss of 57,000 jobs from February 2020 to May 2021, based on analysis of Statistics Canada data.
  • Home-based bakery Söta Saker YEG that started early this year has continued to gain patronage.
  • Malaysian-style jerky business Dai-Lou has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $35,000 to help launch a food truck and increase stockists in Edmonton.
  • Luxe picnic experiences continue to crop up; the latest from YEG Picnic and YEG Scoot combines a boho picnic experience with scooter transportation, and costs $130 for two.
  • That’s Food, a food-focused podcast from CJSR, returned in May with new episodes. Their latest this week features a blind taste test of $5, $12, and homemade cake, and an interview with The Art of Cake’s Gloria Bednarz.
  • Congratulations to Tamara Vineberg, the chair of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization bagels fundraiser, who helped to raise over $14,000 this year with the sale of 17,280 bagels.
  • Some people are hopeful that the bigger bees that have been spotted around the city might mean a more healthy population this year.

What I Ate

    • I finally felt ready to sit on a patio for the first time this year – mostly because we were the only ones on it! Mack and I had a quick breakfast date at DOSC as we had been meaning to try their combo deal for some time: a bacon, egg, and cheese cruffle sandwich + a coffee for $8. I liked the sweet and savoury flavours of the sandwich, and it was a nice way to start the day.

DOSC

Cruffle date at DOSC

    • Our day trip out to Wabuman Lake required some sustenance from Farrow – namely, some sweet treats and sandwiches!

Farrow

Treats from Farrow

    • Our summer of picnics continued after we picked up some pastries from Shan Shan Bakery in Chinatown after some other errands in the area. We enjoyed them in Little Italy – there were no excuses not to eat outside this weekend!

Shan Shan Bakery

Shan Shan pastries in the park

    • Though Popeyes has been in Edmonton for some time, we’d only had take-out once before. Now that it’s in #yegdt, it seemed like a good excuse as any to try it again for a picnic! The food held up pretty well on our walk over to the Leg Grounds, and I ended up enjoying the chicken sandwich more than I expected. While it won’t be a regular stop for us, I’m sure it will be a popular spot in the ‘hood.

Popeyes

Popeyes picnic

Food Notes for May 31, 2021

Outdoor Dining Returns In Alberta’s “Open for Summer Plan”

Last week, Premier Kenney announced the new metrics that would phase in Alberta’s “Open for Summer Plan”, tied to vaccination rates and declining hospitalizations. Stage one will allow outdoor dining to return on June 1, 2021 with a maximum of 4 people per table, made up of one household or two close contacts for those living alone.

Stage two is projected to come into effect in mid-June, and would permit indoor dining along with a maximum of 6 people per table.

Many restaurants have embraced the return to in-person dining, and have been preparing patio spaces to welcome the return of patrons. As of May 27, 2021, the City of Edmonton has approved 125 requests for temporary patios or outdoor retail spaces.

NongBu Korean Eatery has chosen to remain take-out and delivery only. Northern Chicken shared that they have made a similar decision:

“We’re going to put our staff and customers safety first, and stay takeout/delivery only for a while.”

Both restaurants have remained closed to in-person dining since November, even when restrictions permitting indoor dining lifted in February.

COVID-19-related News

  • With the projected reopening plan, many summer festivals may get the go-ahead to take place. The Heritage Festival is among those planning the changes required to carry out a large in-person event safely. Other festivals including the Taste of Edmonton and K-Days have also announced they are moving forward with their events this year.

Openings

  • Half Shell Cafe will be setting up shop in Burrow’s former kiosk located at the Central LRT Station. They are aiming for a July opening.
  • The parking lot at 124 Street and 107 Avenue has been branded “The Lot” and is the new home of food kiosk Dick’s Tater Ship. They had begun operating last fall in Old Strathcona, but had to cut their season short due to weather. It looks like The Lot also hosts food trucks from time to time, too.
  • Hey Croffle added a second location at West Edmonton Mall.
  • Capital Coffeehouse will be taking over the former Good Earth location at 110, 9942 108 Street.
  • International chain Earl of Sandwich is opening a branch at South Edmonton Common next week (2055 98 Street).
  • The Downtown location of Popeyes is now open at 10188 109 Street (formerly Swiss Chalet).

Closures

  • Due to the ongoing pandemic and issues related to their building, DeRose Bros Meats has permanently closed. The business had been in operation since 1977. The family does hint at a possibility of continuing in the food scene on a catering basis, however.

Upcoming Events

Local News

  • Grandin Fish and Chips will be undergoing a rebrand, in the wake of the discovery of the graves of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. They posted on their Instagram page: “we are aware of Bishop Grandin’s involvement in residential schools and work to actively harm our Indigenous brothers, sisters and folx. It is heartbreaking, wrong, and we don’t condone it in any way.”
  • Karen Anderson featured Chef Scott Jonathan Iserhoff’s story of reigniting his passion for cooking when it allowed him to connect with his Indigenous roots. He will be opening up a Pei Pei Chei Ow food kiosk at the Edmonton Downtown Market.
  • The pilot permitting alcohol consumption at specific picnic sites in Edmonton officially began last week.
  • Coffee Pass is back for its second iteration with drinks at 28 local cafes included. The pre-sale for the $39 pass is now on; the pass can be redeemed until October 31, 2021.
  • Linda interviewed Larry Harris of Bonne Vie Bakery to learn how he got into baking and about his time on the Great Canadian Baking Show.
  • Several Southeast Asian restaurants, including Kanto 98 St., are featured in this Globe & Mail article.
  • CBC focused on the rise of Filipino cuisine in Alberta, including the desserts of Yelo’d in Edmonton.
  • EDify samples the Somali fare at Mareeg Cafe and Restaurant on Alberta Avenue.
  • Curiocity has a listicle about 10 of the best burgers in Edmonton.
  • Faaiza Ramji partnered with Fort Saskatchewan’s Fort Distillery to create a pea-based liqueur flavoured with botanicals called Don’t Call Me Sweet Pea. It isn’t yet commercially available, but Ramji hopes it will be on store shelves soon.
  • It’s really unfortunate that interventions like this are necessary, but it’s wonderful to see a fully stocked community freezer at Brightview School that allows those in need to access food with dignity.

Beyond Edmonton

  • CBC featured several families behind some of the small town Asian restaurants that are ubiquitous across the Prairies.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • A three-year pilot with YEG Honeycomb will see six sites across Edmonton, including Mercer Warehouse, host urban hives. The pilot is supported by the City of Edmonton.
  • The Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board is working on its first master agricultural plan, which aims to conserve prime agricultural lands over the next thirty years.

What I Ate

  • When leftovers just won’t cut it, I appreciate that I have a multitude of options right outside our door. Last week, we hit up Ramen Misoya for some comforting noodle soup for lunch, and it hit the spot.
  • Ramen Misoya

Take-out from Ramen Misoya

  • My annual Burger’s Priest craving came up early this year, so we indulged in their Vatican City burgers over the weekend. There’s just something about those grilled cheese buns.
  • The Burger’s Priest

Burger’s Priest Vatican City and fries (and Emily’s hand!)

Food Notes for May 24, 2021

Local Business Prairie Catering Takes Over Art Gallery of Alberta Restaurant

Prairie Catering has partnered with the Art Gallery of Alberta to exclusively operate their food service, events, and facility bookings. This will include the space that houses Zinc Restaurant.

In the press release, Prairie Catering owner Jimmy Shewchuk said:

“Our goal with the new space is to inspire and usher in a new wave of hospitality concepts in Edmonton. Considering the disruption throughout the pandemic to the hospitality industry, I believe we have a unique opportunity for new ideas to emerge as we experience yet another hospitality renaissance.”

When public health guidelines permit, Prairie Catering plans to host food pop-ups.

Prairie Catering operates Say Uncle, and has been providing food and beverage services at the Edmonton Valley Zoo since 2019. In April, they announced that all areas of the Zoo where food and beverages are permitted are now licensed for alcohol consumption.

When it first opened in 2010, Zinc was operated by The Compass Group, a multi-national company that provides foodservices in various sectors including universities, hospitals, and work camps. When the pandemic shuttered restaurants in March 2020, Zinc temporarily shut its doors, but never did reopen even after restrictions lifted in the summer. The last chef who helmed the restaurant, Doreen Prei, shared in October 2020 that the restaurant had permanently closed.

Openings

  • There’s another ghost kitchen in Edmonton called Waffle Bird. It operates out of the High Level Diner on Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm-midnight, and serves up chicken and waffles.
  • Iland Vybes Cafe, serving up Jamaican food, is now open at 10027 106 Street (formerly Beans Cafe and Bistro).
  • Awn Kitchen has announced an opening date of June 9, 2021. They are located at 104, 5124 122 Street.
  • I missed the opening of New Gurkha Indian Restaurant and Bar last fall, in the space that formerly housed Thai Orchid at 4005 Gateway Blvd.

Upcoming Events

Local News

  • Calle Mexico will be rolling out taco stands onto the streets of Edmonton soon!
  • You may have heard that the reunion of Friends is airing later this week; local catering company A Capella has jumped on the bandwagon and is offering a Friends-inspired take-and-bake special. The order deadline is May 26 at noon.
  • If you needed an excuse to visit Doughnut Party, $1 from each half dozen order will be donated to Edmonton Cat Fest on May 27 and 28, 2021.
  • Biera and Blind Enthusiasm have supported 24 charities so far through a weekly curated charcuterie and beer box. Each box sells for $65 (delivery is extra) and $20 from each box is donated to a local charity.
  • Simply Supper pivoted last March to exclusively offer pre-assembled meal kit services (dropping their in-person assembly option) and hasn’t looked back.
  • EDify checked out the Dosi-Rock food truck.
  • Boyle McCauley News had pastries from Shan Shan delivered.
  • Alberta quick-service restaurant The Mash has allegedly faced difficulties with the City of Edmonton’s permitting process. They hope to open a restaurant in Edmonton this year.
  • #Eat124StBingo, an initiative of Meuwly’s and 124 Grand Market, was featured on CTV.
  • Speaking of Meuwly’s, Eat North has a short piece about the story behind their name.
  • The Real Estate News EXchange featured Gather Co., the company that owns and has revitalized a number of heritage buildings throughout central Edmonton, including those that house Chef Daniel Costa’s restaurants.
  • Alley Kat’s Full Squeeze beer returns, with partial proceeds to be donated to the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Wild Rose, an organization that supports the LGBTQ2S+ community.
  • CBC’s mocktail columnist JoAnne Pearce talked about zero-proof spirits from Western Canadian producers.
  • Edmonton’s Nabati Foods started at a farmers’ market and recently just expanded into a larger production facility.
  • The John Humphrey Centre created an online emergency food supports map, showing locations of LoveGood Boxes, drop-in food pantries and free food access points, among others.
  • The “Pandemic Planting Project” is running a second year; last year, volunteers helped produce nearly 100 pounds of food for Edmonton’s Food Bank. David Benjestorf has expanded the garden this year.
  • Domino’s Pizza will make a $5 donation to Edmonton’s Food Bank with the purchase of a combo online using a coupon code.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

    • Long weekends are made for picnics! We grabbed take-out from Grandin Fish ‘N’ Chips, picked a sunny spot on the Leg grounds, and revelled in the fact that public washrooms are back (porta potties, but still), and that the fountains on the plaza are on for the first time since 2019! Hope you all had an enjoyable long weekend, too.

Grandin Fish ‘N’ Chips

Dinner for two from Grandin Fish ‘N’ Chips

Food Notes for May 17, 2021

The Backyard and #Eat124StBingo Highlight Small Businesses

The drive to support local continues, and two new initiatives seek to highlight small businesses.

The Backyard, established in a vacant lot at 10004 103A Avenue, seeks to create a new gathering space Downtown. Using art, lighting, and seating to create a sense of place, the centrepiece of The Backyard are its repurposed sea cans that can operate as a bar, pop-up kiosk, and washrooms. During the pandemic, the patio will be able to accommodate up to 150 people.

“The Backyard believes that supporting local is more than a statement,” said Peter Stetsko, owner & operations manager of The Backyard. “It’s a lifestyle.”

They’ve partnered with a number of local food and drink providers to ensure patrons shop small. “There will be up to two food trucks on site when The Backyard is open,” said Stetsko. “To name a few, local favorites such as Coast Lunchbox, Sosyal Scoops, Drift, Casa 12 Doce, Smokehouse BBQ, and Laker Coffee will be onsite this summer.”

The Backyard’s food and snack menu, sold out of one of the retrofitted sea cans, also features local purveyors. “[We’ve] partnered with Toast Culture and Coast Lunchbox to provide a small roster of salads, sandwiches and wraps, which are only available at The Backyard,” said Stetsko. “In addition, we’ve curated our favourite snack items such as Caramunchies, Zwick’s pretzels, and chips and salsa from La Patrona restaurant in Sherwood Park to sell at The Backyard.”

Alcoholic beverages will be sourced from Sea Change and Strathcona Spirits, and Stetsko promises a seasonal cocktail program.

While no official opening date has been announced yet, Stestko is hopeful for a late May or early June launch.

Over on 124 Street, Meuwly’s and the 124 Grand Market are spearheading a campaign to support neighbouring businesses. Inspired by a similar initiative led by Empire Provisions in Calgary, #Eat124StBingo seeks to encourage social media shares for a chance to win a grand prize valued at over $1,000.

Until June 15, 2021, people are encouraged to complete as many bingo squares as possible, with each post or tagged story earning one entry into the prize draw. Those who complete a bingo line will be provided with a small prize pack until supplies last, which could include gift cards, packaged food products, and branded apparel.

To put together the list of businesses, Peter Keith, the general manager of Meuwly’s, reached out to 30 businesses in total, and included the first fifteen respondents (the sixteenth being Meuwly’s). “The goal was to include a nice mix of different types of food businesses from all over the neighborhood, and I definitely tried to reach out to some of the smaller family run businesses that have less of a digital presence,” said Keith. He hasn’t ruled out organizing a second round of bingo later in the year, but is also hopeful the 124 Street Business Association could take that on.

While #Eat124StBingo just launched over the weekend, Keith shared that about five people have already completed a bingo line. “I am hoping we can get a few hundred entries and twenty or thirty ‘bingo’ scores over the next month,” said Keith.

Like all businesses, Meuwly’s has been impacted by the pandemic, related to decreased foot traffic and less restaurant wholesale orders. However, they’ve also made some successful shifts. “We’ve made some great progress on our e-commerce presence and other special packages like the meat club, our D.I.Y. charcuterie kits, and our partnership with Art of Charcuterie,” said Keith.

He is optimistic that this initiative will spotlight the 124 Street food community in this challenging time. “It’s also just a fun morale booster for all of us as small business owners to see the excitement from our audience online,” said Keith.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

Reviews

Local News

What I Ate

  • I had another breakfast date with Mack last week and enjoyed one of the best deals in #yegdt – the egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich from A Bite of Brazil (on their delicious cheese bread, no less), is a steal at under $5! It was super filling, and the service is always so friendly. The sandwich is available until 11am on weekdays and all day on weekends.
  • A Bite of Brazil

Breakfast sandwich from A Bite of Brazil

  • Winner, winner, chicken dinner: on Friday, we had the fried chicken feast from Rosewood Foods and it was even better than I expected. We loved the crispy, juicy lemon and thyme buttermilk chicken, salsa verde kale salad, and scallion buttermilk biscuits (we saved Mack’s favourite carrot cakes for later). We added a side of potatoes for Emily, who polished off more than her share. We’ll definitely be ordering this again!
  • Rosewood Foods

Fried chicken dinner from Rosewood Foods

Food Notes for May 10, 2021

Northern Chicken Offers Vaccine Discount

Several local businesses have stepped up to create incentives to encourage Edmontonians to get the COVID-19 jab. This includes 10% off at Glass Bookshop for a “celebratory vaccine order”, and Fleisch, which is accepting vaccine selfies as entries for a chance to win a $100 gift card.

On May 7, Northern Chicken jumped into the fray, offering 5% off meals with proof, valid on the day of the vaccination. Co-owner Andrew Cowan credits his partner Matt Phillips with the idea. “It’s a small incentive to get people to get vaccinated,” said Cowan. “We talked about it, and it fits with who we are and what we do.”

Northern Chicken was an early adopter of voluntarily shifting to a take-out and delivery only model in November, prior to provincial restrictions limiting in-person dining introduced in early December. Even when indoor dining restrictions lifted in February, Northern Chicken chose to remain closed to in-person dining, citing a need to minimize risk to their staff.

Since introducing the incentive, over 30 people have claimed the discount. Cowan isn’t sure how long the promotion will be offered, but is optimistic that greater vaccination rates will help move things forward. He shared that nearly half his staff have already been vaccinated. “The quicker we can get people vaccinated, restaurants and businesses can get back to normal,” said Cowan.

Although they are doing a reasonable amount of take-out and delivery orders, Cowan is looking forward to the day when it is safe to welcome diners back again. “We’re itching to get people back into the restaurant,” said Cowan, without committing to a timeline or a trigger for when he would feel comfortable with in-person dining again. “It’s social with staff but it’s nice to have new people come in, having friends and family come by,” said Cowan. “I miss it.”

COVID-19-related News

Upcoming Events

  • Root 107, a pop-up park with seating at 107 Street and Jasper Avenue, has extended its run. They are continuing to host food trucks daily; check the schedule here. Even though outdoor gathering restrictions are now limited to 5 people between two households, the event can continue.

Local News

What I Ate

  • Tau Bay is offering $5 delivery within a 5km radius during their regular business hours. Of course we had to try it out, with Friday’s drizzly conditions making it the perfect day for soup. It tasted just like I remembered.
  • Tau Bay

Our usual orders from Tau Bay

  • The new feature Butter Chicken-zas from Love Pizza sounded so delicious, we had to try both versions! The shahi chicken and paneer were super tasty, and highly recommended. We were also able to redeem the gift card we received some months back from the ATB Financial and Linda’s #AdoptAShopYEG initiative, so it felt like a treat! The feature pizza is only available until the end of May.
  • Love Pizza

Butter chicken pizzas from Love Pizza

Food Notes for May 3, 2021

Edmonton Approves New Places To Enjoy Alcoholic Beverages Outdoors

This summer, Edmontonians can look forward to enjoying a cold one at a local park or at the zoo.

On Monday, City Council approved a pilot permitting alcohol at 47 designated picnic sites in seven parks. Running May 28-October 11, 2021, certain sites in Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Whitemud, William Hawrelak, Government House, Victoria, Gold Bar, and Rundle Parks will allow alcohol. Sites include both bookable and “first-come, first-served” sites, and permit responsible alcohol consumption from 11am to 9pm daily.

A survey had been conducted earlier this year that found 71% of respondents were favourable to alcohol consumption in parks. Councillor Jon Dziadyk was among those in favour of the pilot.

“For a city of a million people with a short summer, but a beautiful summer, I think this is one way to get out and enjoy parks,” Dziadyk said.

Last week, Prairie Catering, operators of Sandwich & Sons and 40 Acres Cafe at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, received a license permitting the consumption of alcohol at the Zoo anywhere where food and beverages are allowed.

Prairie Catering owner Jimmy Shewchuk believes this will make the Zoo more appealing to a wider demographic, and brings the facility in line with broader trends.

“You see events like music festivals moving away from strict consumption zones every year,” said Shewchuk. “Being able to walk around and enjoy your beverage at your own pace is much more in line with responsible consumption. I think it will help the Zoo become a new date night hot spot.”

The Edmonton Valley Zoo is currently open with restrictions.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • The local craft breweries just keep on coming – the latest to open is Longroof Brewing, located at #104, 9916 72 Avenue.
  • Hoang Long’s Rice and Noodle Shop location at 10350 124 Street (in the former Prairie Noodle Shop) opened in April.
  • Bodega just announced that they will be opening an outpost in Sherwood Park at 410 Baseline Road.

Closures

  • Graziano’s Catering is closing on May 31, 2021.

Upcoming Events

Local News

  • Whimsical Cake Studio owner Darcy Scott appeared on The Food Network’s baking competition show The Big Bake last week.
  • Glenora restaurant Upper Crust Cafe has joined the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market as a vendor.
  • El Gringo Foods is offering a Cinco de Mayo sampler box featuring 1 bag of chips and 6 jars of salsa. Proceeds from each purchase will result in meals provided to 2.5 families in need. Orders include free delivery in Edmonton.
  • Another way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo is with cochinita pibil from Tres Carnales. Twyla wrote a sponsored post about the special tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tortas available that day.
  • The latest episode of CBC’s Best Dishes column focuses on Kind Ice Cream.
  • To recognize their positive experience working with City of Edmonton staff, Remedy Cafe is providing a 10% discount to all City employees in the month of May.
  • Happy 15th birthday to Downtown stalwart Sofra.
  • Linda interviewed Rochelle Ignacio of Black Owned Market Edmonton. She has some great insights on how to support BIPOC-owned businesses: “Are there new local artists you can support? Can you try a new restaurant? Can you find a gift for a friend at a business you aren’t frequently visiting? Challenge yourself to spread out your dollars.”
  • The latest episode of Startup Edmonton’s podcast The Get Started Show features Vinson Luong of Food Search Inc.
  • Two concepts from Miami-based chef Michael Lewis will be available in Edmonton starting May 6, 2021. Food from breakfast concept Laid Fresh and Chikin (offering Korean Fried Chicken) will be available on Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes, and Door Dash through ghost kitchen Reef Kitchens.
  • Outdoor farmers’ markets are back! The first to return is Callingwood Farmers’ Market.
  • An Edmonton location of Sobeys has an in-store vertical farm, providing fresh herbs and greens year-round.
  • The St. Albert Food Bank held its inaugural food drive over the weekend.

Beyond Edmonton

  • On the heels of Epicurious’ announcement that they have since phased out beef-related content, world-renowned New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park will be going entirely plant-based moving forward.

What I Ate

  • We picked up a pair of chicken parm sandwiches from Bar Bricco’s new take-out concept Zio’s on Friday. We loved the focaccia bun and the generous portion of fried chicken, but found by the end the sauces impeded our ability to enjoy the lovely, crispy breading. We hope to try the baked pasta some time though!

Zio’s by Bar Bricco

Chicken parm sandwich from Zio’s

Smokehouse BBQ

Pulled pork poutine from Smokehouse BBQ

Food Notes for April 26, 2021

TYP TOP Bakery is a Sweet Social Enterprise

Running a business in the pandemic is not for the faint of heart, let alone operating a social enterprise that relies on sales to provide participants provides connection and meaningful employment.

Clark Hardy, Founder & Director of the Trinity Youth Project, has had a whirlwind few years doing just that. He started the project as an art-based program while working as a high-risk youth worker. However, in 2019, after being hired on full-time by the Anglican Diocese, he introduced a small baking program as a way of providing employment opportunities for vulnerable youth in Edmonton. “With the pandemic hitting in early 2020, we had to put our art program on hold,” said Hardy. “But because the bakery was considered an essential service, we were able to continue to grow that.” The bakery was rebranded as TYP (Trinity Youth Project) TOP Bakery.

Since being established, about 60 youth have been involved in TYP TOP Bakery. “In addition to our employment stream, we also take on youth looking to complete volunteer hours, sometimes as part of a restorative justice agreement, or probation conditions,” said Hardy. “This allows us to build further connections with more youth, and opens up the door for them to work with us as positions become available.” They work closely with the employment program at the Youth Empowerment Support Services, and have helped a few youth work towards long-term careers in the food industry.

The bakery started with a few of Hardy’s family recipes, specifically his grandmother’s cinnamon buns and dinner buns. More recently, they’ve added some new items, such as stuffed cookies. “These have been really fun to work on because the youth get to be very directly involved in coming up with crazy new ideas and flavour combinations in a way we haven’t been able to do with some of our previous staples,” said Hardy. Flavours include peanut butter & Reese’s Pieces, and vanilla birthday with sprinkles. Just in time for Mother’s Day, TYP TOP has launched a box that includes a half-dozen chocolate dipped strawberries along with two feature cookies.

The pandemic has led to some opportunities but also many challenges. “As a result of the pandemic, we were able to apply for and received several government grants that allowed us to hire on some staff,” said Hardy. Those staff included Chef Kelsey Johnson (formerly of Cafe Linnea, which has permanently closed), who helped with recipe and product development for a six month period. Through the grants, TYP TOP was also able to increase the number of days they were baking and offer more hours to the youth. “We were able to provide thousands of baked goods for other vulnerable folks around the city through various church meal programs and other non-profit organizations, so it was really a win-win,” said Hardy.

TYP TOP Bakery has collaborated with a number of local restaurants, including Baijiu and Biera, where they’ve featured some of their goods on their menus. More consistently, they provide baking to Lui-Chi’s Cafe, The Dapper Beaver, Fringe Grounds Cafe, and Flat Boy Burgers. “Our wholesale partners have really been great as they’ve provided at least some stability in an otherwise very chaotic year with all of its ups and downs,” said Hardy. “Each of these have been great for the youth to get to see their baking in great food establishments around the city.”

An ongoing challenge for the bakery is the lack of a dedicated space. Last year, TYP TOP participated in some markets and special events, but with those on hold due to public health restrictions, their goods are only available via pick-up once a week from Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Old Strathcona or The Grizzlar. Also, they will need to find a new kitchen in the very near future. “[The Church] has graciously allowed us to operate out of their facility, but once their regular operations resume, the kitchen won’t be as available,” said Hardy.

In the meantime, their website is open for orders. “When people support TYP TOP Bakery, not only are they getting to try some exciting and unique baking, but they are also having a direct positive impact in their community,” said Hardy.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

Upcoming Events

  • Root 107, part of Downtown Spark, takes place April 28 – May 2, 2021, and will see a variety of food trucks set up along a pop-up public space with art, greenery, and unique seating areas.
  • Firefly Theatre has organized a unique fundraiser called Bread & Circus that is part virtual cooking class and part performance. On April 30, 2021, attendees will learn to bake Fougasse Bread with Get Cooking, and while the bread bakes, they will be treated to circus acts and live-streamed music. Tickets are $100 per household and include a bread making kit delivered to your door. Ticket sales end on April 28.
  • Free Wheelin’ Food Truck Fest returns on May 7, 2021 from 3-8pm at Kingsway, and will feature ten food trucks in the parking lot of Kingsway Mall.
  • Save the date for Al Fresco on 4th, which returns to 104 Street June 5, 2021, and will run every Saturday from 10am-3pm until September 11, 2021.
  • The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival has been scheduled for September 17-18, 2021 at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

Local News

  • The 5th Street Food Hall, branding itself as Edmonton’s First Foodhall, has announced its four restaurant tenants, which include Backstairs Burger (an initiative of Chef Levi Biddlecombe, formerly of Why Not?!) and HOM run by Chef Gregory Sweeney, who successfully ran some pop-ups last year. The Food Hall plans to open in June at 10344 105 Street.
  • Tamara Vineberg is at it again with her Bagels for Breakfast fundraising initiative, which sees Montreal bagels sold, then shipped to Edmonton, with proceeds going to the Bn’ai B’rith Youth Organization. Orders for the St. Viateur bagels will be accepted until May 17, 2021, with pick-ups to take place on June 1. On the first day, 279 dozen bagels have already been ordered.
  • Looking ahead for Mother’s Day? Consider this list of patio dining and take-out options.
  • EDify visited The Sandwich Project, which opened last year at 4511 97 Street, and along the same vein, highlight three breakfast sandwiches worth trying.
  • DailyHive has a listicle featuring the best places for cake by the slice in Edmonton.
  • EDify covers the shifts that were forced upon two new breweries in Edmonton because of the pandemic: Irrational Brewing and Longroof Brewing.
  • Several businesses, including a KFC and Little Caesars were destroyed in Sherwood Park from a fire over the weekend. A man has since been charged with arson.
  • Goodwill Industries installed a bee hotel at the Goodwill Impact Centre in northwest Edmonton.

Beyond Edmonton

  • Recipe website Epicurious has made the decision to cut out beef from its new recipes, articles, newsletters, or social media as a way of addressing climate change.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • Our final Downtown Dining Week meal was from Buok. I don’t know why it took us so long to try their fare, but their Downtown Dining Week special was a great way to sample their menu. We found it really satisfying, and loved the bulgogi beef in our rice and noodle bowls. The chicken ginseng broth was also great to sip!

Buok

#TasteYEGDT from Buok

  • Last week, it was too beautiful not to pick up a kouign-amann from Lockstock to enjoy in the sunshine.

Lockstock Coffee

Kouign-amann from Lockstock

Food Notes for April 19, 2021

Making Edmonton Digital Helps Businesses Get Online

The pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses to create and maintain an engaging online presence. Making Edmonton Digital, a partnership between the University of Alberta, City of Edmonton, and Digital Main Street, is helping local businesses with this transition.

Funded by the City of Edmonton and Western Economic Diversification, this free program connects business owners with a consultant who can work with them for a maximum of 12 hours. Services could include learning how to update Google listings, creating websites or accounts on social media channels, and work on branding. The program will run until September, or when they reach a total of 630 businesses. So far, approximately 400 businesses have signed up.

According to Brett Eigner, Marketing Lead on the project, services are tailored to the business owner’s level of understanding. “We walk everyone through the steps carefully and cater [to] each individual and digital literacy level accordingly”, he said. “Whether we are showing them how to edit their webpage or how to use email, everyone gets the utmost respect, care, and attention.”

Of the businesses in the food and hospitality sector that have joined the program, include farmers’ market vendors such as Sunshine Organic, shops like Carol’s Quality Sweets, long-standing restaurants like Blue Willow, and newer establishments like Pine & Dine. Food-related businesses currently make up 67 of the program participants.

Businesses run by individuals or families who may not speak English as their first language, or represent marginalized barriers, often face additional barriers. “We have a range of languages spoken by our consultants,” said Eigner. “When we have had a language not spoken by our team we have arranged to get a translator to assist our work with the business owner.”

Eigner also shared that while they have done some targeted outreach, including with an Indigenous business association and Black-Owned Market, they are hoping to do more over the summer.

Eigner acknowledged that some additional support may be required beyond the 12 hours allotted. Their partner Digital Main Street can offer some extra training, but it is limited. Eigner said they are working through various ideas, but nothing is confirmed yet.

To sign up, businesses can go to the website for more information.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

Upcoming Events

  • We loved the Twilight Picnic Experience we were treated to at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden last year, so it’s great to see the idea has expanded to include a brunch option, too! This option is available between 10am-2pm from Thursday to Sundays starting in May. Prices are $60 per adult (and $35 for children) and include an individual box, non-alcoholic beverage, and admission to the Garden.

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • The newest episode of The Well Endowed Podcast features an interview with beekeeper and gardener extraordinaire Dustin Bajer.
  • Also on the topic of bees, the Alberta Beekeepers Commission is warning that bee import delays could impact production of honey and canola this year.

What I Ate

  • PSA: just one week left to check out Downtown Dining Week deals, as the event only runs until April 25, 2021. 48 restaurants are offering multi-course meals for $20, $35, $50, and $65. Last week, we were gifted dinner from Sofra – the Kusleme Kebab (lamb medallions) were a perfect medium rare, and the bulgur pilaf was pakced with flavour (and a bit of heat!). Emily loved the pita bread and Biber Ezme (red pepper dip). It was another reminder of how fortunate we are to have so many diverse restaurants in #yegdt.

Sofra

Lamb and scallops from Sofra

  • Friday night was made for balcony dining! Mack and I picked up Downtown Dining Week take-out from our neighbours Tzin and DOSC for a dinner date. We couldn’t get enough of Tzin’s gnocchi with mushrooms and Parmesan cream and bison brisket risotto. Consider mixing and matching meals to try even more restaurants!

Tzin and DOSC

Meals from Tzin and DOSC

  • I love that I am still discovering #yegfood hidden gems, even now. We hit up Hazeldean Bakery last week for the first time, and I had to use Emily for scale of the apple fritters (though we actually ended up enjoying their cinnamon buns more)! Bakeries also have to be one of the few pandemic-proof businesses.

Hazeldean Bakery

Emily loves doughnuts!