Culinary Highlights: 2018 Edition

2018 was defined by Emily, who entered into our lives at the end of January. So when it comes to food, much of this year was spent taking baby steps and learning how to dine out with a little one. In rediscovering local restaurants with a baby-coloured lens, it continues to surprise us when we’ve dined at establishments with high chairs, but no change table.

I’m also proud that I was able to meet my goal of maintaining this blog – albeit with fewer posts – after Emily was born. I really wasn’t sure what my life would look like with a small human to care for, but keeping up with the Edmonton food scene was a welcome exercise to keep my sanity intact!

Here are some of my favourite food-related memories of 2018:

My favourite new restaurant opened towards the end of the year, with an ethos that exemplifies the culinary experience that I now crave most: unfussy and unpretentious. Partake is a lovely spot on 124 Street, with good food and a great vibe.

Partake

Happiest hours at Partake

We also discovered a wonderful new high tea option in the city at The Art of Cake that also happens to be Emily-friendly!

Art of Cake

Treats for days

I definitely had more time for brunches this past year, so it was perfect timing for Calgary-based OEB to roll into town. Eating my way through the breakfast poutine portion of their menu will take me well into 2019.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Brunches with Emily

I was still on a sweets hangover from my pregnancy (my strongest craving while carrying Emily was baked goods of all sorts). No dessert was more spectacular – or fun – than the Fruit Loop-dusted confetti cake from Rebel.

Rebel Food and Drink

The sparkler takes the cake

It was great to be a part of a volunteer team who successfully organized the inaugural Chinatown Dining Week in January (if you missed it, the event returns for a second year starting this week)!

Gui Lin

The 2-course meal from Gui Lin

We continued our tradition of visiting farms of producers we frequent. This year it was a tour of Sundog Organic Farm.

Sundog Organic Farm

Strawberry fields forever

I also had the opportunity to see some urban agriculture even closer to home – the rooftop hives are a sight to see at MacEwan University.

MacEwan Urban Beekeeping Tour

Urban bees

Speaking of urban agriculture – Mack and I embraced community gardening this year, and found that our life was better for it.

Alex Decoteau Park Garden
At our plot in Alex Decoteau Park

Mack and I were fortunate to do some travelling this year, with stops in Canmore and Kananaskis, and a short flight to a Vancouver Island getaway in Sooke.

Shirley Delicious

At Shirley Delicious, our favourite breakfast spot just outside of Sooke

It was a year full of change, but without a doubt I’m having the best time of my life. Here’s to 2019!

Culinary Highlights: 2017 Edition

At the very least, compiling a list of some of my favourite food moments over the past year reminds me of how grateful I am to live where we do! It’s also a good opportunity to reflect on our travels, and how fortunate we were to be able to explore a bit more of our country.

Here are some of my favourite food-related memories from 2017:

Our favourite new restaurant was Otto. Mack and I love their approachable menu, simple but well-made food, friendly service, and accessible location (just one bus from work or home).

Otto

I love the Otto dog and fries

Zwick’s Pretzels was another new favourite – there’s nothing better than a fresh, savoury pretzel warm out of the oven.

Zwick's Pretzels

Trio of pretzels

We also had a fabulous meal at the chef’s table at Baijiu with Amanda and Jason in the fall.

Baijiu

Braised pork bao from Baijiu

My office moved to Alberta Avenue in the spring, so it was great timing that Eats on 118 continued this year. I had a blast at each of the food tours, but I had a soft spot for the bowling edition, where I was introduced to the wonderful Plaza Bowl.

Eats on 118

Plaza Bowl

Mack and I had a great time exploring more of our backyard last year as well, with trips to Lake Louise, Lacombe, East of Edmonton, Calgary, and Smoky Lake.

Eagle Creek Farms

Selfie at the Bowden Sun Maze

Continuing with the theme of visiting farms, a highlight was a tour of the Sunworks Farm, one of the producers we purchase from regularly.

Sunworks Farm Tour

Chickens at Sunworks Farm

Similarly, it was an special experience to be able to visit Doef’s Greenhouses as a part of this year’s Grand Taste Tour.

Doef's Greenhouses

Doef’s Greenhouses

Alongside a small team of volunteers, I enjoyed introducing many Edmontonians to Chinatown (and some of its culinary gems) through a series of walking tours. I’m happy this will continue into 2018 with Chinatown Dining Week.

Edmonton Chinatown Tour

Edmonton Chinatown walking tours

We did some travelling as well, with visits to Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, and Vancouver Island.

Schwartz's

Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich was the best thing we ate in Montreal

Maison Christian Faure

Although I wish I had gone back for a second croissant from Maison Christian Faure

Wild Mountain

We did not expect to find a restaurant like Wild Mountain in Sooke on Vancouver Island

Red Fish, Blue Fish

The tacones at Red Fish, Blue Fish in Victoria lived up to my expectations

There is a lot to look forward to in 2018, so we’ll see what makes the cut next year!

Culinary Highlights: 2016 Edition

I looked back on my year of blogging only to remember how an unexpected project at work derailed the first four months of 2016, severely limiting my free time to write. Although things calmed down in the spring, I’m not sure my work/life balance ever fully recovered.

At any rate – I never managed to put together a 2015 edition of my culinary highlights, so it’s a small victory that I am returning to some old habits.

Here are some of my favourite food-related memories from the past year:

Did someone say pizza? Love Pizza ended up being our go-to downtown addition this year. Great product, and a restaurant we can walk to!

I can’t say no to the Meatatarian

A Streetcar Named Dessert was a unique experience that married Sugared and Spiced cakes with an amazing musician in an unforgettable venue.

How do you choose?

This year’s Grand Taste Tour took us to Tangle Ridge Ranch where we enjoyed one of the best dishes I had all year.

Gnocchi with peas and pecorino

I attended my first Gold Medal Plates in 2016, and appreciated firsthand the skills and talent of all competing chefs. But I would be kidding if I didn’t say that the highlight of the event was a selfie with the gracious Olympic gold medalist Erica Wiebe.

#graniestphotoever

It was also the first year that I attended What the Truck?! as a “layperson”. The festival is a lot of work to produce, so I am grateful to the team for carrying the torch forward!

What the Truck?! at Northlands

A brief stop in Niagara this spring resulted in some wine education for both Mack and myself.

Green Lane Winery

We continued that education in the Okanagan that fall, and at Covert Organics, met a special strawberry patch.

Ain’t nothing like a fresh strawberry

In Chicago, I finally got to taste some of Rick Bayless’s food, and it lived up to my expectations.

Frontera Grill

Smoked pork queso fundido from Frontera Grill

Closer to home, we enjoyed some food with a view in Rocky Mountain House.

Prairie Creek Inn

I also found my new favourite restaurant in Calgary: Ten Foot Henry.

Salt roasted potatoes

In most cases, it’s not what we eat that we remember, but who was around us at the time to make it special. For example, while there were things I would have changed about the Culinaire Treasure Hunt, Mack and I had an absolute blast with our teammates Su and Allison.

Team High Viz!

In that same vein, one of the reasons I’ve grown to love Toronto as much as I have is because of my sister.

Toronto 2016

Cheering on the Raps at Jurassic Park

Thanks for joining me on another year of adventures. Here’s to 2017!

Culinary Highlights: 2014 Edition

I had a blast in 2014. Mack and I got married, had an amazing honeymoon, and leading up to it, we had our usual packed summer schedule. It was a wonderful year, with memories to last us a lifetime.

Here were some of my favourite food moments last year, starting off with some great local eats:

Tavern 1903

A part of me still doesn’t want to believe Tavern 1903 is closed for good; we loved the Korean fried chicken, truffled mac and cheese, and the desert shrub was my favourite cocktail in the city – RIP

Brunch at Elm's Dining Room

Although the Elm Café Dining Room is also no more, we loved their pop-up meals, which included buttermilk biscuits at brunch

The Parlour

I never thought I’d like, let alone enjoy, seafood on a pizza, but The Parlour makes magic happen with the Gamberi

Route 99

It was the year of the selfie – it seemed appropriate for Mack and I to take one at our favourite diner in the city

We did hit the road a few times before the honeymoon, with our annual winter sojourn to Calgary, a trip to Toronto for a friend’s wedding, and out to a nearby farm we’ve always been meaning to visit. We also had the privilege of attending Christmas in November at the Jasper Park Lodge.

River Cafe

It’s hard to believe it took us years to finally dine at Calgary’s River Café, but I guarantee we won’t wait that long before returning

Bymark

While in Toronto, our one splurge meal was at Mark McEwan’s Bymark – although the pan-seared halibut was perfect, it was the beluga lentils that spoke to me

Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival

The return of locally-grown asparagus is what signals spring to us, so I’m happy we finally made it out to Edgar Farms’ annual Asparagus Festival last June

Sharon with the Olsons

It was a bit of a thrill for me to meet the Olsons at Christmas in November

Tourtiere

And though I probably didn’t cook as many new dishes this year as I have in the past, I can say that Anna Olson inspired me to make my first ever tourtiere. Even better, it turned out really well!

As usual, we had our share of events, starting with Eat Alberta in the spring, multiple What the Truck gatherings, our second 97 Street Night Market, and an ImMACulate Garden Party.

Eat Alberta 2014

It was my last Eat Alberta as a part of the organizing committee – it has been a blast!

What the Truck?! on 104 Street

What the Truck?! returned to 104 Street, in what was my favourite event of the year (the fact that I live on the street may have affected my choice)

97 Street Night Market

The 97 Street Night Market returned to Chinatown, and this year, included a food tour

Blink ImMACulate Garden Party

We partnered with the Hotel Macdonald for the ImMACulate Garden Party, a fundraiser for the Edmonton Humane Society

In early September, my sisters organized the best bridal shower for me. We started at Gail Hall’s loft for a cooking class, walked over to Tzin for an amazing meal, and ended with some bridal games.

Bridal shower

Making gnocchi at Seasoned Solutions

Sharon's Bridal Shower

We were lucky enough to receive two helpings of the bacon at Tzin

Bridal shower

The beautiful brides!

On September 27, 2015, I married my best friend. The only tears were happy ones (and mostly from me). To cap off a beautiful day, we had the most wonderful reception at RGE RD.

Mack & Sharon Wedding

Thanks to Blair and the team at RGE RD for a truly memorable meal (photo by Moments in Digital)

There’s so much more to say about the sights and sounds of Vietnam and South Korea that we experienced, but for now, these are the dishes that I’m still salivating over.

Honeymoon Part 1: Hoi An, Vietnam

Our homestay by the beach in Hoi An was a dream – where else would breakfast involve a regional dish as complex and delicious as cao lao?

Honeymoon Part 2: Ho Chi Minh City

Authentic bo bun hue in Ho Chi Minh City

Honeymoon Part 2: Can Tho

While in hindsight we should have included Hanoi in our itinerary, it was an experience to have pho for breakfast in Can Tho at 6 a.m.

Honeymoon

Japchae and fried rice at South Korea’s Namdaemun Market

Honeymoon

Mack will also never forget his favourite street dessert – an ice cream-filled waffle for $1

Though I’m still not certain where this year will take us, I can only hope it’s as delicious as 2014. Thanks for following along with me this year!

Culinary Highlights: 2013 Edition

This has been my most delinquent blogging year – I haven’t yet written about most of my travels. I had the chance to visit my sister twice in Toronto, explore Ottawa for the very first time, and most recently, enjoy New York at Christmastime.


Amanda and I had fun stomping around Toronto with Mum!


A monster of a breakfast sandwich at Toronto’s Beast


I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet Michael Pollan while in Toronto

Ottawa reminded me so much of home. Mid-size, government town, it felt like many embraced their star local businesses in the same way we celebrate ours.


The most amazing black pepper spaghetti at Supply and Demand

While planning our New York City itinerary, I was initially regretting our decision to revisit the grand old town in the same season as our previous trip. But I think I forgot that there’s nothing like NYC at Christmas.


At the Union Square Farmers’ Market


I loved the laid back, neighbourhood vibe at Red Rooster


Show stopping roast chicken for two at Nomad


The best pizza from the coal-fired ovens of Grimaldi’s

Closer to home, we also had some great food experiences in Calgary, and of course, in Edmonton.


Whole sea bream at Mercato in Calgary

Izakaya Tomo
Worth getting in the car for: the chicken kara-age at Izakaya Tomo

Cafe Amore
The pasta pescatore from Café Amore, one of our new favourites in 2013

Elm Cafe
Austrian dumplings at Elm Cafe

Jacek Chocolate Couture & Baseline Wines Tasting
Wine and Jacek chocolate tasting at Baseline Wines

It was also a busy year for us on the event front. We were fortunate to collaborate with some fantastic people this year on a number of projects, and looking forward to 2014, we don’t doubt that we will be just as lucky.

Eat Alberta
Perogy making at Eat Alberta 2013

97 Street Night Market
Sunset at the 97 Street Night Market

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

Grease is the word at Blink: Parkade Party (photo by Alistair Henning)

_DSC5020
Our season-ending What the Truck?! in Churchill Square (photo by Dave Feltham)

It was a special year for many of our friends, and Mack and I were thrilled that we could be a part of several wedding parties this year.


With May on her wedding day!

And perhaps the most memorable highlight for me this year, even if it had nothing to do with food – getting engaged to my sweetheart!


In Central Park

Here’s to a great 2014!