Heritage Festival Returns
After being forced to cancel the event in 2020, the Edmonton Heritage Festival returned to Hawrelak Park over the weekend. Introducing timed ticket attendance was one way organizers responded to the pandemic, in addition to eliminating food tickets in favour of direct contactless sales at pavilions. In spite of the changes, the event met its target audience of half a normal year’s turnout.
I was on the grounds on Saturday as a part of the team responsible for judging the food. Alongside head judge Phil Wilson, Councillor Andrew Knack and his wife Jamie, Lorraine Ellis from Partake, and Aditya Raghavan of Fleur Jaune Cheese, we were tasked with eating our way through over thirty pavilions that were offering food this year.
With the delayed green light for this year’s festival, many countries normally represented at the event weren’t present, let alone able to offer food. As such, all of the cultural associations and their volunteers deserve a huge kudos for even getting food on the menu in such trying times.
I was also initially concerned by the concepts of judging and ranking food associated with a specific country or culture. For many of the participating pavilions, the dishes served represent traditions and tastes that are meant to be enjoyed as a window to their world, and not critiqued.
Thankfully, the criteria we were directed to use took into account more than just the food itself, but also the enthusiasm of the volunteers serving the items, the efficiency of the food service, and even signage.
Our process involved the group splitting into two smaller teams, with each assigned to sample fare from half the pavilions. After that, we met up to share our top three pavilions, and headed off separately one last time to try the other team’s short list. The final list came together after discussions in the large group again.
This experience was great for me personally because over the years, it’s been a routine for me to indulge in specific items from the same pavilions – stewed lentils and injera from Eritrea and langos from Hungary, to name a few. But with neither of those countries represented this year, and the wide expanse of pavilions I did have the opportunity to sample, I can safely say I now have several new favourites!
The lokma from Azerbaijan in particular were a lovely surprise, the freshly fried doughnuts were coated in a floral syrup that elevated each bite.
Thanks again to Phil for the invitation to be a part of the judging team, and to all of the staff and volunteers behind the Heritage Festival to bring back the event this year.
- There’s a new wine bar in town that’s now open called Darling, “where Natural Wine flows to old school beats”. It’s located at 9621 82 Avenue.
- Sharon found a new spot specializing in Yunnan rice noodles called Shimiaodao Yunnan Rice Noodle at 8613 109 Street.
- Fleisch will be expanding into the former Cartago space with The Bar at Fleisch.
- Downtown Bistro will be opening in the space formerly occupied by the Free Press Bistro (10024 104 Street).
- Oodle Noodle’s fourteenth location will be opening soon at Kingsway Mall.
- Typ Top Bakery announced that they will be closing this month: “We don’t know what the future holds. Maybe this is good bye, maybe this is bye for now. Either way, we thank you for all the love and support over the years!” Their final pre-order for cinnamon buns will be accepted this week.
- The organizers of Taste of Edmonton said its 2021 festival attendance surpassed their numbers from 2019.
- Local restaurant Yokozuna has been adding heartfelt messages to their take-out orders since the start of the pandemic.
- The latest additions to Edify’s Best Things to Eat list are Shanghai 456’s xiaolong bao and Korean fried chicken from It’Dog.
- There’s a new soda available in town created as a drinkable art installation and sound project that was created in part by students from John A. McDougall School.
- If you’re looking for BBQ ideas with seafood, take a listen to this interview with Daniel Letourneau from Ocean Odyssey Inland.
- The Journal has some sponsored content for restaurants to check out in Edmonton and Calgary.
- Drayton Valley’s The White Bull Cafe is celebrating 65 years in business.
- ICYMI: I recapped the Feast in the Field I attended, put on by MilkCrate and Taste Alberta.
What I Ate
- We ended up spending quite a bit of time at Taste of Edmonton this week, one night with tickets purchased ourselves, and another to use up tickets we won through Coast Lunch Box! We had some great eats throughout, including everything from Pikante, the Coast Lunch Box wrap, and gelato from Little Bear.
- Over the weekend, we were in the area so it was a good excuse to finally check out Tito’s Patio and the Botanist’s Garden, run by Geoscapes Events at Snow Valley. The reclaimed pallet furniture and planters were a lovely sight, and Emily loved exploring the surrounding green space. The food menu was somewhat confusing to navigate, but it was very value-forward. I enjoyed my pulled pork sandwich, which could have easily fed two people! The Patio and Garden are open Thursday to Sunday from 12-8pm until the end of August.