Recap: the ImMACulate Garden Party

On August 24, 2014, the Blink: Parkade Party team reunited to host an event in partnership with the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. The ImMACulate Garden Party provided an opportunity to explore one of the city’s best patios and vantage points of our stunning river valley.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

The terrace at the Hotel Macdonald

Although the Mac is a respected institution in our city, it is often underappreciated and overlooked by locals. We hoped that by organizing an afternoon of light entertainment and activities, we could highlight this gem in the summer leading up to its centennial. The event was also a fundraiser for the Edmonton Humane Society, in honour of the hotel’s canine ambassador, Smudge.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

Enjoying the view

Nearly one hundred people joined us on that beautiful Sunday, all dressed in their garden chic attire. A quarter of attendees indicated that they had never been to the Mac before.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

Garden party guests

The food and drink were a definite attraction, with the chefs focusing on a fresh, seasonal menu of refreshing nibbles.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

Seafood ceviche

Guests enjoyed the melodies of harpist Keri Lynn Zwicker (which included dabbling in Madonna’s catalogue) and had the chance to chat with local artist Lori Frank about her Edmonton-inspired pieces.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

Harpist Keri Lynn Zwicker

The Mac was also supportive (in spite of maintaining a pristine lawn) of the transformation of their green spaces into garden games, including lawn bowling, bocce ball and croquet.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

Lawn bowling (photo by Monika Czuprynski)

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party


Catering Manager Larissa Gonzales led several tours of the hotel. Besides learning about some of the building’s storied history, the last two tours even manage to snag a peek into the Mac’s most expensive (and celebrity-graced) suite.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

Inside the Queen Elizabeth Suite

The collaborative canvas was an experiment that went even better than expected – we invited guests to make their individual mark on what started out as a blank canvas. By the end of the event, the pastel-drawn piece resulted in a unique piece that reflected the group’s vision of Edmonton’s river valley. It was handed out as one of the door prizes at the end of the afternoon.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

Before (Mack and I are a little embarrassed at how we started it)

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party


It was wonderful being able to see people make use of the terrace we ourselves have enjoyed all summer. And though the Mac is open to hosting such events again in the future, I recommend not waiting – make use of this last burst of warm weather and take advantage of one of our city’s assets.

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

The boys were out in full force (photo by Monika Czuprynski)

Thanks to everyone who attended, and the Mac for being such a great partner. We were able to raise over $550 for the Humane Society! Last but not least – I had a blast working with Hannah, Stephanie and Mack on this event, and look forward to whatever trouble we may get ourselves into next year!

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

The team! (photo by Monika Czuprynski)

You can see more photos for the event here.

The ImMACulate Garden Party at the Hotel Macdonald – August 24, 2014

Every so often, the river valley development debate comes up in the news cycle, with proponents either for the preservation of its current state or to enhance the ability for Edmontonians to better take advantage of one of our city’s key treasures. While I am in favour of providing more opportunities for folks to enjoy our waterfront, I think it’s easy to forget that some ideal vantage points already exist.

The Hotel Macdonald

The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald will be celebrating their centennial next July, though for a building so etched in our skyline, it is far too underappreciated. Being a hotel, it is easily overlooked by locals, and with the Fairmont franchise attached to it, it may seem out of reach to others.

Hotel Macdonald

In my opinion, there are few better places to soak up our river valley’s views than the terrace of the Hotel Macdonald. Not only can you take in the lush greenery below, but the terrace itself is gorgeous. EnRoute Magazine also recently named the Confederation Lounge (the restaurant that offers primary patio seating at the Mac) as one of its top five must-visit Canadian patios.

Hotel Macdonald

To help more Edmontonians discover this well-kept secret, the team behind last year’s Blink: Parkade Party has partnered with the Hotel Macdonald to host the ImMACulate Garden Party on August 24, 2014, from 2-5pm.

Hotel Macdonald

We are encouraging attendees to dress in their garden party whites or pastels for a chic afternoon of food, drink and entertainment. The Mac has put together a fantastic menu for us, featuring their cherry-glazed duck confit tacos, which were a big hit at the recent Taste of Edmonton, as well as a signature drink.

Hotel Macdonald

Tours will be offered every hour, so you can learn more about one of Edmonton’s institutions. For those who may not know, the Mac sat vacant for years, and was nearly demolished in the 1980s.

Hotel MacDonald

We’ve secured a harpist to help set the tone for the event, a perfect backdrop to try your hand at several outdoor games, including croquet and lawn bowling. We’ve also put together a scavenger hunt – those who complete it will have a chance to win a gift certificate to the Confederation Lounge.

The Mac is unique for many reasons, such as its use of a canine ambassador, the first in Edmonton. Smudge is a six-year-old Yellow Labrador, and was originally trained as a guide dog. She is often seen greeting people in the hotel lobby, and can be requested to accompany guests on a stroll through the neighbourhood. In honour of Smudge, the ImMACulate Garden Party is a fundraiser for the Edmonton Humane Society.

Tickets for the event are $40, and must be purchased in advance here. I hope to see you there!

More information about the ImMACulate Garden Party can be found on

Blink: Parkade Party Recap

Things really came together for our Blink: Parkade Party in August. For years now, I’ve been eyeing the parkade on 104 Street just south of Jasper Avenue, wondering how we could program the space. Thankfully, Vinci Park 103 was open to our use of the rooftop, and by working with a great team, we were able to make something happen!

The decision to screen the 50s classic Grease helped to establish the carnival theme that pervaded the rest of the event. Fat Franks and Cookie Love were on hand to dole out summer treats, while DJ Thomas Scott helped us set the tone with a spirited soundtrack from the era.

Blink: Parkade Party

DJ Thomas Scott

To continue the party atmosphere, Alex of E-Town Salsa led a zumba session to great success. It was really cool to see the number of people who joined in!


We also worked with Cookie Love to host their inaugural cookie eating contest, featuring a number of Edmonton’s social media superstars. Brittney, Su and Mack were great sports, participating in a public challenge to see how many cookies they could eat in two minutes. Mack was the winner, however lightweight, winning the competition by consuming a total of three cookies.

Competitors in the Cookie Love 1st Anniversary cookie eating contest, from left: Susanne Dennis, Mack Male, and Britney Le Blanc.

Our brave competitors (photo by Alistair Henning)

Before the movie started, and during intermission, the fabulous Sugar Swing Dance Club taught the crowd Grease-inspired dance moves (I will admit now that this was somewhat inspired by a cheesy scene in The Wedding Planner, where the two romantic leads dance during a movie screening in Golden Gate Park). While our dance sequences were a little less spontaneous, they were equally inspirational!

Julie and Ben were fantastic instructors, upbeat and encouraging. Their first set involved pairs of dancers grooving to tunes of the era.

Let’s dance

At intermission, Julie and Ben led “Team Sandy” and “Team Danny” in a fun dance off. Based on the crowd’s cheers, I think it was “Team Danny” that was declared the winner.

Dancing showdown!

The main event was a screening of Grease onto the side of a parkade directly adjacent to the rooftop. With the help of Owen Brierley of Guru Digital Arts College, we were able to secure a projector that worked well in spite of the glaring parkade lights.

Blink: Parkade Party


With the help of Media Architecture Design Edmonton (MADE), we were also able to provide some park-like seating options in the form of grass tiles! They were still a bit damp from the previous night’s rain storm, but brought a pop of unexpected green to the decidedly urban surroundings.

Blink: Parkade Party

Grass tiles

We were happy with the turnout for the movie, realizing that the novelty of the screening location had something to do with it!

A big crowd stayed to watch the movie 'Grease' projected on the side of the building.

Grease is the word (photo by Alistair Henning)

As a result, we’re not certain this event can be replicated as such, but you can be sure we will always be on the lookout for underutilized spaces that have the potential to be so much more!

The event was free of charge to attend, and was only possible because of Edmonton Awesome Foundation’s seed money. The funding provided us with the opportunity to not only focus on putting on a good event open to all, but also retain our commitment to donate part of the proceeds to the Boyle Street Community ServicesDowntown Proud, a program that provides employment opportunities for formerly homeless individuals. With further sponsorship from Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and the Downtown Business Association of Edmonton, we were able to collect donations that would go straight to the cause. All told, with the generous help of those who attended, we raised over $2,100 for Downtown Proud.

We also want to thank the Downtown Edmonton Community League, Oliver Community League and Cask & Barrel for their support of Blink. We also had a number of fabulous volunteers who gave their time to help us out – thank you!

And lastly, having been involved in a variety of events and projects over the past few years, I can honestly say that it was a dream to work with Hannah McDonald and Stephanie Chai. And it wasn’t just the coincidence that our meetings always took place over wine! Thanks to you both for your creativity and endless energy – I hope our collaborative paths cross again in the future!

Blink: Parkade Party

We’re with awesome!

Blink: Parkade Party

Nearly every night, I look out my window and see the rooftop of Vinci Park 103. Empty and aglow with possibilities, I’ve been imagining how we could program the space for some time. Not all parkades are created equal, but if ever there was a parkade that was meant to moonlight as an event venue, this is it. Surrounded by high rises, the rooftop manages to feel intimate and private, in spite of the fact that it is just off of Jasper Avenue. The vantage point also offers a great view of both commercial and residential properties downtown, a snapshot of the mix that makes up this wonderful neighbourhood.

Vinci 103

Our condo as seen from Vinci Park 103

It was somewhat fortuitous that the Downtown Edmonton Community League (of which I volunteer as a Board member) happened to move into one of the vacant Vinci 103 street front locations earlier this year. That relationship lent itself to an agreement from the property management company to host an event on the rooftop space. However, without any money, the likelihood of us being able to pull something off was slim to none. Enter: Stephanie Chai and Hannah McDonald.

We saw a Make Something Edmonton post indicating interest in organizing a parkade party, so we contacted the writers behind the post. It turned out Stephanie (someone I grew up with but hadn’t connected with in some time) and her friend Hannah had secured some funding from Awesome Edmonton by proposing an idea for a parkade party fundraiser benefiting Boyle Street Community Services. We met, realized our ideas fell in line with one another, and Blink: Parkade Party was born.

WHAT: Blink: Parkade Party!
WHERE: Vinci Park 103 (10040 103 Street)
WHEN: Saturday, August 31, 2013 from 6-11pm

Vinci 103


Inspired by the drive-in organized by the Alberta Avenue Community League, we thought the evening could be based around an outdoor screening of the iconic 50s classic Grease. With a blank wall immediately south of Vinci 103, it seemed like the perfect way to highlight everything the site had to offer. To differentiate the screening from others, we introduced a dance component, and were thrilled when Sugar Swing Dance Club agreed to partner and offer Grease-inspired dance lessons prior to the screening.

Vinci 103

Blank walls make the best screens!

Rounding out the rest of the evening will be a cookie eating contest featuring a number of social media superstars including Brittney Le Blanc and Liv Vors, a Latin dance lesson by E-Town Salsa, music by DJ Thomas Scott (Urban Monks) and carnival games! Fat Franks and Cookie Love will be on hand providing carnival favourites.

We’re also excited that Media Architecture Design Edmonton (MADE) is on board and will help us transform the rooftop into a park of sorts. Grass, anyone?

We ask that you bring your own chair for the movie, and be prepared for the outdoor conditions! As well, given this is a fundraiser for Downtown Proud, a program of Boyle Street that helps keep the core clean, please bring cash to donate if you are able.

You can check out the full program schedule here. I hope to see you there!

Recap of Blink: Urban Picnic

Our second pop-up dinner in the Blink series took place on August 26, 2012. Situated outdoors in Louise McKinney Park, the weather would undoubtedly make or break the event. We were fortunate that it was the former and not the latter.

But even better than the conditions that evening, Mack and I were able to find three amazing partners that really helped make Blink: Urban Picnic happen. The first, the Shaw Conference Centre, not only helped us ensure the price of Blink remained affordable, but went above and beyond by kicking things off in an extraordinarily creative way. Shaw lent us dishes and flatwear, a cost that would have otherwise been passed on to the diner. They also introduced the idea of offering an “escalator cocktail” as a welcome beverage. Diners, greeted at the Jasper Avenue entrance, were handed a refreshing drink, and invited to enjoy it as they took advantage of the escalators, an ideal gateway into Edmonton’s river valley.

Blink: Urban Picnic

Cocktail hour

Blink: Urban Picnic

Communal walk to dinner

Blink: Urban Picnic

The tables are set

Second, Kara and Nevin Fenske of Drift, helped articulate the concept of an “urban picnic”, designing a casual but refined family-style menu perfect for communal tables. Their commitment to local producers also meant the courses were seasonal, highlighting the breadth of harvest produce available from area farmers. They also secured live music, which further enriched the setting.

The scene of the crime

Mobile eatery (photo by Hugh Lee)

Blink: Urban Picnic

Nevin and Ron working hard

Kara @ Blink

Kara serves up some crostinis (photo by Hugh Lee)

Blink: Urban Picnic

Enjoying the sunshine

Blink: Urban Picnic

Musicians from Drive the Day and Calan and Cole

Blink: Urban Picnic

Urban picnic

Blink: Urban Picnic


Blinking the potato salad

Family style (photo by Hugh Lee)

Blink: Urban Picnic

The fried chicken was divine, though the warm potato salad was a close second

The third, River Valley Adventure Company, agreed to serve dessert and coffee to patrons as a cap off to the night. Given that many still aren’t aware of their presence in the park, it was a great opportunity for guests to learn more about their services. Even better, Chris, the gregarious owner, offered free segway demos to anyone interested.

Blink: Urban Picnic

Free rides

Though it wasn’t entirely intentional, I ended up really enjoying the physical transitions down the gradient of the river valley. From a cocktail hour at the Shaw, dinner with a view, finished with segway ride next to the river, the sum of the parts made for a very special evening.

Sharon & Mack

Watchful (photo by Hugh Lee)

Thanks to everyone who attended Blink – we hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did!

You can take a look at Mack’s full photoset here.

Blink: Urban Picnic

I would say the first event in our Blink series of pop-up dinners came together relatively quickly, from conception to reality (helped greatly, of course, by the staff of Century Hospitality Group). The notion of transforming a pedway into a restaurant felt inspired, almost spontaneous. This is especially true when contrasted with the location of our second Blink event.

For a few years now, Mack and I have been looking longingly at a site at Louise McKinney Park, wondering if it would be possible to program the space. It seemed like the ideal location – accessible, with riverfront views. Though in recent years there have been more efforts to animate the park as a whole (That’s Edmonton For You and Hip Hop in the Park come to mind, besides the long-standing Dragon Boat Festival), it’s still a drop in the bucket.

Louise McKinney Riverfront Park
Louise McKinney Park

The addition of washrooms and a cafe at the base of the building haven’t seemed to help either – on most days passing through in the afternoon or evening, one would be hard pressed to find many people using the trails, let alone lingering. We often hear it said that the best feature of Edmonton is our extensive river valley – but if no one is actually out enjoying it, what use is it?

Louise McKinney Riverfront Park

One argument that has been made is that there should be more reasons for people to visit Louise McKinney. The cafe in the River Valley Adventure Co. is a good start, so people taking a stroll can stop in for a coffee or ice cream along the way, but it’s clearly not enough. Opening up the riverfront to more commercial development doesn’t mean letting it go forward unchecked, but a few more amenities such as a local restaurant with patio seating, would help make our greatest attraction a more user-friendly one. For us, Blink provided us with the ideal medium to explore this idea further – what would a river valley restaurant look like?

What: Blink: Urban Picnic!
When: August 26, 2012
Time: Cocktails from 5-5:30pm, dinner from 5:30-7:30pm
Where: 9735 Grierson Hill

But like our previous event, Mack and I aren’t in this alone. We’re actually quite fortunate in that we’ve again found some wonderful partners to work with.

The biggest challenge was to find a way to prepare the food in the middle of the park. With the advent of food trucks in our city, this was easily solved. We knew that Kara and Nevin of Drift had been wanting to branch out with meals beyond sandwiches, and with their philosophy of promoting local producers, the fit was perfect. With Drift on as a partner, Blink: Urban Picnic was born. We can’t take credit for the name – it was all Kara’s idea, wanting to take advantage of the al fresco nature of the event, under a family-style casual dinner theme. Check out the menu they’ve developed here.

Kara and Nevin also introduced us to the owners of River Valley Adventure Co., who have also jumped on board. They have seen first hand how some development can help introduce folks to our natural assets, but acknowledge that more can be done. They will be offering coffee and tea to diners at the end of the night, as well as an opportunity to try out a Segway!

Louise McKinney Park Cafe
Inside River Valley Adventure Co.

Another of our obstacles was finding the resources to cover all of the materials we would need to set up a pop-up restaurant. We wanted to keep the ticket price as low as possible, and we were only able to do this when the Shaw Conference Centre stepped in. They have been not only a generous, but gracious sponsor, and in this case, the perfect fit. In many ways, the Shaw is the gateway to the river valley – either by folks traversing its outdoor staircase to reach the valley below (as we do on our walks), or by taking the escalator down for similar access. They’ve even come up with a way for diners to experience this latter path in a novel way – by enjoying a cocktail along the way! We are asking that diners enter the site through the main doors of the Shaw Conference Centre off Jasper Avenue. There, they will each receive a champagne flute to drink while riding down to reach Louise McKinney. They have dubbed this an “escalator cocktail” – no doubt this will be the first of its kind in Edmonton!

Shaw Conference Centre
Shaw Conference Centre

Tickets for Blink: Urban Picnic are $50, and will go on sale at 9am on August 20, 2012. We hope you consider joining us for this pop-up dinner!

Recap: Blink, a Pedway Pop-up

Last June, I remember writing that the first What the Truck?! very much unfolded in the way I had envisioned. I am very happy to say that Blink, the February 26, 2012 pop-up restaurant that Mack and I helped organize also held true to what I hoped the event would look and feel like. In this instance, a lot of that was attributed to our partner, who understood from the get-go what we wanted to achieve.

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

Pedway from street level

Blink had been inspired by Diner en Blanc and the spontaneous community those gatherings facilitate. As I mentioned in my introduction to Blink, I knew it was too late for an outdoor meal, but we knew of several underutilized indoor spaces in Edmonton just waiting to be colonized with good food and new friends. Mack and I centred on closing a pedway, and as he has already so aptly described, set about garnering the right support and permissions from the Downtown Business Association (DBA) and building managers.

I had initially approached Chef Tony Le of Lux Steakhouse (part of the Century Hospitality Group) about this concept back in December. Lux’s proximity to our desired pedway overlooking 101 Street was ideal, but more than that, CHG had a penchant for forward-thinking initiatives (alley burger and CHG Top Chef being two of them). And true to form, Tony embraced the idea even before we had all of the details ironed out – I really appreciated his trust in our collaboration and faith that we could pull this off. Though Tony took charge of designing the six-course menu, CHG VP Culinary/Managing Partner Paul Shufelt got involved in securing the necessary health and liquor permits for Blink. Paul’s knowledge and existing relationships and contacts really made this easy on Mack and I – Lux was able to get a caterer’s extension to stage a kitchen adjacent to the pedway (thought he majority of the preparation and cooking would still be done in Lux proper), and after a fire inspection, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission granted us permission to offer alcohol with dinner.

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

Chefs Paul, Tony and Matt Phillips hard at work plating dessert

To create the dining room itself, Paul was adamant about using proper chairs, to ensure it felt more like a restaurant as opposed to a banquet. That meant carting sixty heavy leather-backed chairs up one floor. Props to the Lux staff who did this over the course of many trips – I wish I could say I helped! The tables were dressed with linens from Lux; overhead costs were definitely reduced because we could borrow and poach from Lux, especially since they are closed Sundays anyway.

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

Table setting, with custom Blink menus prepared by CHG

That left the lighting to Mack and I. Commerce Place, who controlled the pedway lighting, agreed to turn off the fluorescents, allowing us to add appropriate lighting to contribute to the mood. A friend of mine was nice enough to lend us two hundred feet of white lights she had purchased in advance of her wedding, saving us from having to rent them. With some money we had been granted for the event from the DBA, we could afford to purchase some battery-powered paper lanterns. Strung in the centre of the pedway with fishing line, I thought the room was tasteful but didn’t take away from the street view inherent from the location.

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Pedway in daylight

We were lucky Blink sold out quickly – twelve hours, in fact – but I know we failed in setting up an official waiting list (or a proper cancellation policy), something we will improve upon in the future. Still, we appreciate the patience afforded  to us by ticket buyers as we worked through the learning curve.

Something else we’d change for next time is also allowing dining room access earlier. We used Scotia Place as a closed lounge area for the cocktail hour, in order to hold off the pedway “reveal”, but given the number of drink orders taken at the table, it would have been wise to have had guests seated at least twenty minutes prior to serving the first course.

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

The cocktail “lounge”

Mack and I were very lucky that we didn’t have to work during the actual dinner – along with sixty other strangers, we got to experience the communal table firsthand, which of course, included all six of the exquisitely planned dishes.

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Chef Cowan prepares his amuse

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

Busy staging area

Never does everything work out perfectly, and in our case, we had some trouble with the lights – the fluorescents came back on just after the first course had been served, half of our string lights shut off on one side of the pedway, and the kitchen staging area went dark. We actually didn’t get to “run through” the shut off with Commerce Place prior to that night, and without a maintenance worker on-site, it was touch-and-go as to whether or not the problem would be fixed. With some scrambling, the pedway lights were shut off soon after, but we weren’t able to rectify the two other issues.

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

Fluorescents on

Blink Edmonton: Pedway Pop-up

Fluorescents off

Thankfully, nothing else major cropped up that evening, and we were able to enjoy ourselves.

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Sweetbread terrine amuse

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Bread & butter – focaccia, lardo, pink peppercorns, Himalayan sea salt, brown sugar, fresh rosemary, ciabatta, bacon butter, peach chipotle jam, fresh thyme, rye crostini, quails egg, fried sage, sriracha ketchup

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Fish – Alberta pickerel, sesame oil, fresh chili, fried shallots, pea shoots, smoked sea salt (one of my favourites that night)

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Ravioli – roasted beet and Smoky Valley goat cheese stuffed, fennel marmalade, micro arugula, chili-mandarin beurre blanc, toasted walnuts (the beet and goat cheese worked incredibly well together)

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Rabbit – confit rabbit pot pie, braised bacon, fresh arugula, Yukon Gold chips, northwest truffle (only Tony could get me to eat rabbit, or as he said, “the cuter the animal, the better it tastes)

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Cow – Heritage Angus striploin, lobster croquette, bernaise, cabernet demi-glace, sauteed peas

Blink: Pedway Pop-up

Sweet – macaron, oreo terroir, micro greens, cinnamon chocolate truffles (I loved the “potted plant” presentation!)

As I mentioned above, Blink couldn’t have happened without the support of a number of parties. We cannot thank GWL Realty Advisors and Morguard enough for allowing us to use the pedway, the DBA and the Downtown Edmonton Community League for sponsoring us, and last but not least, Paul, Tony and the rest of the staff of Lux for helping us make Blink a reality.

We hope those who took part enjoyed themselves! We really appreciate that people embraced this idea, and were willing to try something a little unique. Based on the response, we know there is an appetite for dinners in unexpected places, so we are working on another Blink – stay tuned!

Check out what Paul, Liane and Linda had to say about Blink!

Blink: Edmonton’s Pedway Pop-up

When I first saw pictures of Diner en Blanc, I was absolutely transfixed. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, all dressed in white, dining al fresco with the most gorgeous urban backdrops imaginable – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the New York harbourfront. The scenes just looked so surreal, so serene, that I immediately started imagining what such an event would look like in our fair city. Would it take place in Churchill Square? The Legislature grounds? The 4th Street Promenade? But with autumn fast approaching and winter not far behind, it wasn’t feasible for the season.

Months later, I still couldn’t let go of the idea. I especially loved the instant community created as diners gathered in underutilized or public spaces, transforming them into unique settings for elegant picnics. It was the same principle behind the locations we chose for the two What the Truck?! festivals Mack and I organized last year, hoping to make use of often overlooked areas of downtown.

This was the germ for Blink, a pedway pop-up restaurant Mack and I have put together, with the help of Chefs Paul Shufelt and Tony Le of Century Hospitality Group, and the support of the Downtown Business Association, GWL Realty Advisors, Morguard and the Downtown Edmonton Community League.

Pedway between Commerce Place & Scotia Place

On February 26, 2012, the pedway between Scotia Place and Commerce Place, overlooking 101 Street, will be transformed into a sixty seat restaurant. Diners will be seated at a communal table, and will enjoy a six-course menu highlighting some of the best local ingredients available.

While we know other restaurants in Edmonton have hosted dinners featuring guest chefs in unfamiliar kitchens, we’re really excited about this opportunity to gather around food in an unconventional space.

Pedway between Commerce Place & Scotia Place

Tickets for the dinner are $65, and can be purchased online. A cash bar will also be available, separate from the ticket price.

We hope you consider joining us for this dining experiment!

You can read Mack’s take on Blink here.

Road Trip: Calgary Eats

Though we would have preferred to have had every meal from a food truck, that just wasn’t possible with so many vendors out of commission over the weekend. So we filled in the blanks with restaurants, which didn’t turn out so bad at all either.


Though we had good intentions to walk over to 17th Avenue for dinner, we succumbed to our lethargic mood and decided to choose a restaurant near our hotel (the Le Germain, our new Calgary favourite). We wandered Stephen Avenue, and decided to revisit Blink.

The last time we dined at Blink was three years ago, for a Dine Out Week prix fixe menu. I had been impressed by the service and the interior (I’m a sucker for exposed brick!), while the food was a mixed bag. Still, they had the most enticing menu on our walkabout, and it was a good opportunity to dine at the same place again.



Mack and I chose to share four appetizers and sides, something our server was clearly not accustomed to. But it worked out well, as all four dishes arrived simultaneously, so we could graze as we pleased. Our server was also very attentive – I don’t think my water glass ever reached half empty before being refilled.

The pork belly and roasted scallops ($14.50) were sensational. It was easily the best pork belly I’ve had in some time – the fat didn’t just melt, it burst, dissolving into a silky swathe for the tender meat beneath.


Pork belly and roasted scallops

It was great to see several tomato dishes on the menu, celebrating the best of what the late summer season had to offer. We would have easily eaten a bowl full of the roasted tomatoes that topped the tart ($12), but we were just happy that the vegetables (accented with a basil puree) were the star of the dish. The tart itself was thin and buttery, and complemented the tomatoes instead of overwhelming them.


Tomato tart

I had been wowed by the puree of squash varietals that I had tried previously, and was hoping for a similar impression from the roasted tomato soup ($12.50). It was good, but I would have preferred a touch more sweetness to balance the tartness.


Roasted tomato soup

The macaroni and cheese ($8.50) was the only real dud of our quartet. No question a generous hand dealt the great melting cheese that encased the crevasses of each noodle, but the cheese itself tasted flat and flavourless.

Our second experience at Blink would be enough to bring me back again. There’s something intimate about the restaurant, low-lit and understated. And with a deft kitchen in the back and stellar service up front, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to others.

Red’s Diner

Maybe we just need to visit Calgary more often, but I find there’s always a new diner to try when we get there. This time, it was Red’s Diner, just down the street from Central Memorial Park.

Red's Diner

Red’s Diner

When we arrived, there was already a cluster of patrons on the sidewalk waiting for tables. But we were told the wait time was just fifteen minutes, so we stuck around. And unlike at other diners, the estimate wasn’t deceiving – we actually did get seats after fifteen minutes!

Red's Diner

Loved the “retro” coffee mugs

We sat at the counter (where there were purse hooks underneath in front of each stool – so thoughtful), and as a result, had a front row seat to the kitchen. This kitchen put up empty plates on the window, and filled them accordingly – an orange twirl to start, then some bacon, toast, then eggs…ding! Order up!

Red's Diner

The view from the counter

I ordered Red’s big breakfast ($12.99), which definitely lived up to its name. Three eggs, bacon, sausage, a giant buckwheat pancake and two pieces of toast (sourdough cheese toast – not something often seen as an option); I was defeated. The eggs could have been creamier, but that was my only quibble.

Red's Diner

Red’s big breakfast

Mack, who figured he wouldn’t be getting his perogy fix via food truck, decided on the Prairie breakfast plate ($13.99). It was also quite the hearty breakfast, with homemade perogies, kielbasa, two eggs, potatoes and toast. Mack thought the potatoes were seasoned really well, and his eggs were perfect.

Red's Diner

Prairie breakfast plate

The kitchen was quick, service was friendly, and Red’s captured that perfect weekend morning atmosphere – bright, bustling and brimming with the simmering aroma of breakfast. We have many diner favourites, but Red’s is now close to the top of that list.

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

A Calgary food trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Jelly Modern Doughnuts. We were first introduced to their delectable treats back in June, when Mack picked up a dozen doughnuts on his way home from a conference. Their handmade, creative concoctions are made with local ingredients to boot!

Jelly Modern Doughnuts


I love the option of a kid-sized doughnut (available for most of their flavours), which for me, was absolutely the perfect size. The sprinkles were the best part.

Jelly Modern Doughnuts


Though Calgary is only a few hours away, it always seems like a world away in terms of food. I’m sure it has something to do with its relative novelty, and feeling like a tourist in the city, but a trip to our southern neighbour is always a fun getaway.