Food Notes for October 18, 2021

Downtown Restaurants Had Front Row Seats for Filming

Several streets were closed Downtown over the last two weeks to accommodate filming preparations for HBO’s The Last of Us. Edmonton is standing in for Boston, twenty years after the apocalypse. While businesses remained open as the post-apocalyptic sets were being constructed outside their storefront windows, in a few cases, they had to close completely during filming and were compensated for doing so.

On 104 Street, when filming took place on October 15, businesses from DOSC to Tzin shut their doors for the day. Most restaurants temporarily relocated their patios, but Bottega’s set-up required more intentional dressing with strategically placed vines. Bottega 104 was contacted about their involvement in the production, but declined to comment.

Bottega 104

Bottega 104 readied for filming

Over on Rice Howard Way, the set was much more elaborate, and required Dalla to close for two days from October 13-14. Server Trish Morgan confirmed that although Dalla wasn’t ultimately reconfigured into a salon as was reported by the Journal, the restaurant did act as a green room for the cast and crew. “It was an exciting week in the restaurant,” said Morgan. “Dalla had front row seats to the action on Rice Howard Way.”

Unfortunately, Morgan did not personally have the opportunity to meet the actors in the production. “Security informed me I was not to speak to the actors unless they spoke to me,” said Morgan. “It was still pretty cool to be in the same room as [The Last of Us stars] Pedro Pascal and Anna Torv.”

Dalla has already dallied in film and food tie-ins; their Big Night-inspired Timpano kit was back by popular demand this past Thanksgiving. Given Boston’s North End may be prominent in the show, and that neighbourhood’s history as an Italian-American enclave, the possibilities are especially ripe for Dalla to create themed specials. “There are no plans that I know of yet but I’m sure Ran [Huget] and Elisa [Zenari, owners of Dalla] are thinking up some great ideas,” said Morgan. “All of us at Dalla can’t wait for the series release!”

COVID-19-related News

  • Beaumont-based Bake My Day had their food handling permit suspended by Alberta Health Service on October 8 because they broke COVID-19 related rules. However, they continue to operate.
  • Lux Steakhouse re-opened for the first time since early 2020 on October 12, 2021.

Openings

  • PACT Coffee will open in the former Starbucks location in Old Strathcona in January 2022.
  • Woodrack Cafe has re-opened their Old Strathcona location at #102, 10324 82 Avenue.
  • Chick N Flames serves up Nashville Hot Chicken at 8927B 82 Avenue.
  • SoDo on Jasper offers “elevated cocktails, shareable small plates & wine options” at 11011 Jasper Avenue (the former location of Tapa Vino).
  • BC-based pasta restaurant Basil Pasta Bar opened earlier in the summer at 9655 62 Avenue.

Upcoming Events

  • LitFest’s closing event is called Brunch of Writers: Celebrity Dish. The special guest is Tom Vitale who will discuss his memoir In the Weeds, about working with Anthony Bourdain. The event is free to attend.

Local News

What I Ate

  • Treats from Rosewood Foods make any day a better one! Mack especially swears by their carrot cake.
  • Rosewood Foods

Carrot cake and chocolate olive oil cake from Rosewood Foods

  • We had to get our fill of Love Pizza’s Lovesgiving pie before the month was out. It’s a family favourite.
  • LovePizza

Lovesgiving pizza from Love Pizza

  • These waning days of October have been a good excuse to put our Coffee Pass to use! This weekend we indulged in a large box of churro nuggets from Caffe Sole alongside our hot drinks.
  • Caffe Sole

Churro nuggets from Caffe Sole

  • We were blessed with beautiful weather to harvest the last of our community garden bounty this weekend. We were successful with carrots for the first time, but our potato crop was much less than in previous years. Emily is also happiest in the dirt, so she had a great time bidding adieu to our plot for the season.
  • Alex Decoteau Garden

Carrots from our Alex Decoteau Community Garden plot

Food Notes for October 11, 2021

Drift Food Truck Celebrates a Decade in Business

Drift Food Truck, which was among the handful of businesses that helped usher in the golden age of food trucks in Edmonton, just celebrated a decade in business.

Run by the husband and wife team of Nevin and Kara Fenske, Drift has built up a fan base ravenous for their sandwiches and seasoned fries over the years. They’ve been a fixture on the streets and at farmers’ markets since 2011, and though the Fenskes once had a brick and mortar of their own (Dovetail Delicatessen was open for about a year in 2015-16 on 124 Street), since 2017, they’ve made Shamrock Curling Club their home in the winter months.

Kara Fenske shared that this ten year milestone was reached with many ups and downs. “The high was definitely with the first five years, being at the forefront of our industry in Edmonton, helping other mobile entrepreneurs, and creating an awareness for the food truck industry,” said Fenske. “Losing our restaurant on 124 Street was a low, but not for long as it allowed us to analyze our vision for our company once again, and create a new path.”

After they retire their truck in the fall (lovingly referred to as “Drifty”), Drift offers a modified menu at the Shamrock in addition to continuing with catering engagements. “It has allowed us to have an affordable home base year round, as well as reaching a winter customer base, which we didn’t have the first 5-6 years,” said Fenske (this season, their Shamrock operation begins on October 12).

Despite the complementary success in the cooler months at Shamrock, every spring, Drift has had to find ways to stay current. “Since we aren’t open year-round in the truck, we do lose momentum,” said Fenske. “It can be tricky to try and predict the next season during the off-season.”

As with most hospitality businesses, Drift’s business was affected by the pandemic. The Shamrock was closed at times, while outdoor events have faced numerous restrictions over the last two years. In spite of the challenges, Drift was able to find some success. “One positive was that communities were really coming together to host small gatherings and getting to know their neighbours,” said Fenske. “Being creative in order to have outdoor-safe events was something that really shone the last 2 summers.”

In addition, Drift partnered with Uproot Food Collective last year to start selling their sauces, seasonings, and frozen prepared foods, including their popular fried chicken. With the ever-increasing appetite for local products to prepare at home, this may become Drift’s focus in the coming years. “We are currently in the process of building a production kitchen so that we can better keep up with the demand, expand more product offerings, as well as approach larger retailers with confidence,” said Fenske.

But for those concerned that their food truck may be permanently parked, Kara wants to reassure their fans. “Drifty isn’t going anywhere,” said Fenske. “You will see the truck out in the spring as always!”

COVID-19-related News

  • Food courts in Alberta have been able to participate in the Restrictions Exemption Program as of September 24, 2021.
  • Beaumont-based bakery Bake My Day failed to comply with the Restrictions Exemption Program, but remains open in spite of a visit from Alberta Health Services.
  • Without Papers Pizza in Calgary was issued numerous tickets and had its business and liquor licenses suspended for violating public health orders.

Openings

  • The second location of Gangnam and Coco Fried Chicken will open October 18, 2021 at 1109 Windermere Way SW.
  • Ghost kitchen Eat Food opened earlier this year, and is currently making sushi and Thai food for pick-up or delivery orders.

Closures

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • We had take-out from Northern Chicken on Friday. All day, Emily was excited about the mac and cheese, and it delivered! We also tried the chicken fingers for the first time, and they were great (and huge!).
  • Northern Chicken

Take-out from Northern Chicken

  • We were able to enjoy the gift of a warm October weekend on the Dogpatch patio. Mack’s The Patch Benny was the better of the two dishes we tried (the Irish Boxty was a tad too doughy for my liking), but I would consider returning again, as the walk down into Riverdale is also one that we should do more often! We also picked up some goodies from the neighbouring Bread + Butter Bakery, including an absolutely delectable pumpkin loaf.
  • Dogpatch

The Patch Benny

Food Notes for October 4, 2021

Edmonton’s First Food Hall Opens This Week

JustCook Kitchens will open Edmonton’s first food hall on October 5, 2021 downtown. Announced back in January, the 5th St. Food Hall at 10344 105 Street experienced some delays, but the extra time has allowed the business to embrace change wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As JustCook Kitchens was still in the brainstorming stage when the pandemic hit, we were able to ensure we would take into account the many difficulties and restrictions COVID brought to light,” said Maëlle Piquée, JustCook’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We built our application and processes around both in-person and digital interactions, where take-out or delivery isn’t an afterthought by necessity, but core to our business model.”

JustCook diners will order through their independent app, whether they intend to enjoy their meal in-person in the dining room or for take-out or delivery. At this stage, Piquée anticipates an even split between in-person business and take-out/delivery.

When asked how the app will compete with prominent third-party delivery apps like Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats, Piquée believes JustCook offers something distinct. “We’re a vertically integrated market and food hall combined,” said Piquée. “We provide a holistic offering in our local community that is unique to JustCook and isn’t designed to take on delivery companies such as Skip or Uber Eats, but instead offer a new, different experience.”

The 5th St. Food Hall is home to four concepts. Backstairs Burger is co-led by Chef Levi Biddlecombe; Biddlecombe is most known for his former food truck Attila the HUNgry and restaurant Why Not? (the restaurant was destroyed in a fire in December 2020). HOM, which started as a series of pop-ups, offers South East Asian-inspired dishes. Seitan dishes up plant-based southern food including “chickun” and pizzas. Lastly, Three Foodies serves comfort food including poutine and donut bites.

Piquée shared that the vendors came together organically. “We weren’t really looking for any specific type of food or cuisine – outside of them being delicious and somewhat unique or innovative,” said Piquée. “The one thing we paid close attention to was not to have similar concepts within the same space, as we’re looking for the restaurants to build on each other, not compete against.”

In addition to the four restaurants, the 5th St. Food Hall also stocks products from local companies, including El Gringo, Bent Stick Brewery, and Annex. The products can be ordered through the JustCook app.

The 5th St. Food Hall will be open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-9pm. Piquée is excited for Edmontonians to finally be able to experience JustCook Kitchens. “We want people to try something new, a food or product they haven’t had before,” said Piquée. “We know that once they’ve done it once, they will want to do it again.”

Openings

Closures

  • Madison’s Grill (along with Union Bank Inn) is currently closed, and is available as a leasing opportunity.

Upcoming Events

  • The Public’s St. Albert pop-up is now open in Breadlove at 46C St. Michael Street until October 15, 2021.
  • Beverly Dining Week returns from October 4-9, 2021, with special menus offered at 9 restaurants for between $10-20. Participating restaurants include Uncle Ed’s, Olde Beverly Cafe, Mumbai Dakar, and Italian Bakery.

Local News

What I Ate

  • We tried the new Green Ash Cafe on the weekend. It is a super-charming converted house in Bonnie Doon with great coffee and tasty cookies (Emily devoured her macaron). They’ve also shared that their entire staff have been double vaxxed and they check vax cards for everyone who enters, even for those just getting take-out!
  • Green Ash Cafe

Coffee from Green Ash Cafe

  • While running errands on the south side, we picked up dinner from Pind Punjab in Millwoods. Their chicken biryani hit the spot, and I’m always a sucker for mutter paneer.
  • Pind Punjab

Chicken biryani and butter chicken from Pind Punjab

Food Notes for September 26, 2021

Mojo Jojo Pickles Expanded During the Pandemic

Johwanna Alleyne and her business Mojo Jojo Pickles have had quite the year. The Edmonton-based company, which offers a range of pickled products, preserves, and cocktail supplements, celebrated ten years in business in 2021 and was forced to move several times due to the pandemic. Still, Alleyne has managed to keep Mojo Jojo growing.

After selling the building where her commercial kitchen was located in 2019, Alleyne bounced around a few times until an attractive offer from Kingsway Mall came along. “Kingsway offered us a permanent spot and we opened two weeks before COVID shut us down [in March 2020],” said Alleyne. “And then all I did during COVID was move things.”

After a brief stint working out of the space at Cartago, her husband happened upon a space in the French Quarter at 9627 82 Avenue. In June 2021, they moved their kitchen into one side, and in August, opened up a storefront called Nosh and Quaff on the other. Alleyne shared that the support from neighbouring businesses has been unparalleled. “It’s the best it’s ever been,” said Alleyne. “And it all came out of this crazy journey. It feels like we’re home.”

Nosh and Quaff is the only place in Edmonton to carry the full line of Mojo Jojo products, in addition to canning supplies and cookbooks. It has also begun hosting classes and demos, following all public health guidelines.

Throughout the pandemic, Mojo Jojo has experienced a huge demand for their products, and has barely kept pace with orders. Although its wholesale business through suppliers like Save-On-Foods and Safeway continues to be significant, half of its sales come from fulfilling online orders across Canada. Alleyne credits a confluence of factors for their popularity. “It was the perfect storm,” said Alleyne. “Shopping local, comfort food, quality food, shopping online, cocktails, and cooking more for yourself at home.”

Alleyne said their Caesar bundles have been popular, but she also wishes she could predict which products would peak when. “There was something on TikTok about snacking on pickled garlic,” said Alleyne. “And pickled garlic is what people order in the middle of the night.”

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • Boba Club, a business that started as a home-based business during the pandemic, has opened a brick and mortar storefront at 6538 170 Avenue.
  • Satisfy your poke and bubble tea in one spot with What the Poke and Song Tea at 3354A Gateway Boulevard.
  • Spartans Greek Taverna has taken over the former Vivo space in Windermere (6143 Currents Drive).
  • Community Taps & Pizza is coming to Old Strathcona at 8232 Gateway Boulevard (which previously housed Have Mercy).
  • Soho, a new bar which opened at 11454 Jasper Avenue in early September, now also offers pizza by the slice.
  • Cocktail Culture, Edmonton’s “only fully stocked cocktail supply store for the home bar and professional bartender” is opening soon at 10642 82 Avenue.

Upcoming Events

  • Learn how to make a vegan pad Thai with Roni Zaide through Edmonton Public Library’s Sustainable Kitchen online series. The October 2, 2021 class is free but requires registration.

Local News

What I Ate

  • We’ve been meaning to take advantage of the enticing Dalla patio for a while now, and finally did so on Friday! It was a beautiful evening to enjoy some crostinis and pasta (in my case, the Di Bosco with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and chicken). Emily loved her kid-sized pomodoro pasta.
  • Dalla

Di Bosco from Dalla

  • Mack and I dined on the beautiful rootfop patio at La Petite Iza to celebrate our anniversary. Staff were great with checking for vaccination cards, and we felt safe eating outdoors. As with my previous experience, service and the meal was great, capped off with a lovely sour cherry clafoutis.
  • La Petite Iza

Clafoutis from La Petite Iza

  • It was our first visit to Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm over the weekend, and Emily had a great time. It was also fun to cap our experience by picking a pumpkin out of their expansive patch.
  • Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm

Found our pumpkin!

Food Notes for September 20, 2021

Restrictions Exemption Program Now In Effect In Restaurants

The provincial government introduced additional public health measures last week in an attempt to curb COVID-19 rates in Alberta, including the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) that applies to all restaurants and bars, effective September 20, 2021.

The program requires that all patrons over the age of 12 provide proof of vaccination (one dose is acceptable until October 25), proof of a negative rapid test, or documentation of a medical exemption in order to dine indoors. An apparent loophole in the program is that staff themselves are not required to be vaccinated.

Businesses that choose not to participate in the program will be barred from offering indoor dining, will need to restrict outdoor dining to a maximum of 6 persons (one household or two individuals who live alone), and end liquor sales by 10pm.

Over the weekend, many restaurants began sharing their plans based on the new restrictions, and it appears the vast majority will implement the program. Some restaurants, such as Fife N Dekel and Pho Tau Bay, have delayed indoor dining until October. Others, including Rosewood Foods, RGE RD, and Bundok, have announced that they will be participating in the program, while volunteering the information that all of their staff have been vaccinated. Restaurants such as Say Uncle have committed to requiring their staff to be fully vaccinated.

These hospitality businesses join Fleisch, EvoWonderLounge, and Arcadia Brewing Co. who mandated vaccine passports dating back to August and early September.

Passport Eats is one website that has popped up, offering to be a database of restaurants that have opted in to the Restrictions Exemption Program. However, because information is crowd-sourced, the information may not be accurate or complete.

One of the more prominent businesses to publicly opt-out of the Restrictions Exemption Program so far is KB & Co. It is yet to be determined if business choosing not to participate will see a decline in sales.

COVID-19-related News

  • Earth’s General Store shared that their continued mask mandate throughout the pandemic has lost them many customers.

Openings

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

  • Pizza 73 plans to offer beer across all of its Western Canadian shops by next summer. Beer is currently available at nearly two dozen locations in Alberta.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • We picked up a meal from Viphalay to end a busy week. Emily lay claim to most of the spring rolls.
  • Viphalay

Pad Thai and green curry from Viphalay

  • For the last Al Fresco Market of the season, Mack and I snacked on a couple of Whoanuts. Although it was tasty enough, because of the sweetness and the shape, it made me long for something that used to be available on 104 Street in the summers – a warm liege waffle from Eva Sweet.
  • Whoanuts

Vanilla honey dip

Food Notes for September 13, 2021

Third Edmonton Hospitality Business to Require Proof of Vaccination

Arcadia Brewing Co. is the third Edmonton hospitality business to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter. Fleisch was the first to require proof for guests seeking to dine indoors back in August, and bar EvoWonderLounge mandated proof of vaccination last week.

Arcadia made the announcement on September 7, 2021:

“As of September 20th 2021 customers entering Arcadia Brewing Co will require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result within 48 hours of entering Arcadia…This decision was not made easily and we ask you to please be kind to our staff and please respect our decision.”

Since sharing the policy, Arcadia has received some negative feedback online, but noted that the majority of feedback has been positive. Arcadia co-owner Darren McGeown said:

“Generally, the support has been incredible from people either coming in or messaging me…The past few days people have come in – especially front line workers – have reached out and showed their appreciation, which means a lot to me.”

Venues Metro Cinema, The Starlite Room, and the Winspear Centre also announced similar proof of vaccine requirements.

The Alberta Hospitality Association is currently surveying its members before releasing a stance on vaccine passports.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • Brokin Yolk’s first Edmonton location is now open at 1641 102 Street in South Edmonton Common.
  • Catch of the Week, a fish market, will be opening up in the former Bateman’s IGA at 5120 122 Street.
  • Love Pizza will be opening up their first Leduc location at #110, 5411 Discovery Way.
  • Sorrentino’s will be opening in the former Bistecca location in Century Park (2345 111 Street).
  • Another location of Chachi’s is now open at MacEwan University.
  • Secret Pizza opened up earlier this summer in the former Artisti Pizzeria location in Holland Plaza (11998 109A Avenue).

Closures

Upcoming Events

  • Sorrentino’s annual Mushroom Harvest event runs the month of September, with mushroom dishes featured on the menu and wine dinners.
  • The Festa Dell’uva, or the Little Italy Grape Festival, is returning to Giovanni Caboto Park on September 19, 2021 from 1-5pm. Expect grape stomping, food, and a wine garden, among other activities.
  • JustCook is hosting their opening VIP event at the 5th St Food Hall on October 2, 2021. Tickets are $100 per person.

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

What I Ate

  • We had a great time in Jasper last week! One of our highlights was visiting the Jasper Farmers’ Market. Only the early birds snagged eggs from Stonepost Farms, but we picked up some bagels from Coco’s Cafe and coffee from Vale Coffee Roasters.
  • Jasper Farmers’ Market

Emily loves bagels!

  • As with our other staycations during the pandemic, we brought most of our own food, but did allow ourselves one patio meal at Jasper Brewing Co. We really appreciated the protected patios set up by the municipality, with concrete barricades carving out additional space in the roadways.
  • Jasper Brewing Co.

Fish and chips from Jasper Brewing Co.

  • Mack and I also lunched at Craft Beer Market’s refreshed rooftop patio – it’s hard to say how many fair weather days remain for outdoor dining, so it was nice to take advantage of a sunny afternoon. The half-price Monday pizza special was a nice bonus!
  • Craft Beer Market

Pizzas from Craft Beer Market

Food Notes for September 6, 2021

The Tomato Turns 25

The Tomato, Edmonton’s longest-standing food publication, celebrates a milestone this month as it reaches twenty-five years in business. Their first issue debuted in September/October 1996.

Founder and editor Mary Bailey remembers those early days, driven by a perspective gained from inside the food scene itself. “When I started, I was from hospitality and in the wine business and knew nothing about publishing magazine,” said Bailey. “I really liked City Palate in Calgary and thought, ‘We need to have one of those in Edmonton.’”

At that time, City Palate was a publication focused on Calgary’s food culture that began in 1993. Bailey arranged to co-publish an Edmonton edition for a few years, paying them a royalty to use the City Palate name. Eventually, realizing that the shared identity wasn’t necessary, Bailey rebranded the magazine as The Tomato in 2010 (City Palate folded in 2019). “Funny thing about it was when we did it, everything – advertising, readership – went up,” said Bailey. “That taught me a big lesson: you have to reinvent yourself every few years because it felt new and fresh.”

That same year, they also started publishing content online, but Bailey acknowledges that much of her readership continues to be driven by their print copies. “I think people look for different things in different places,” said Bailey. “I was under the impression that people under 30 didn’t pick up publications but so many of my readers tell me they like the print edition because they can’t make a recipe and have it on their phone at the same time.”

The cover of the September/October 2021 issue features the images of twelve past covers, and in Bailey’s editorial note, indicates that they “selected cover images of many of the people who make our food scene what it is.” When asked how it is possible that no BIPOC persons were included, Bailey indicated that it was not intentional. “I don’t think we’ve ignored the diverse cultures in terms of food,” said Bailey. “It’s in our pages and not on the covers. We’re going to try really hard to do better.”

As for the future of the magazine, Bailey believes The Tomato will last because she continues to be excited about Edmonton’s food scene. “I’m a chronicler of the food scene,” said Bailey. “I think of my job as finding the people in the business that are doing interesting things. We will continue on talking about food, because food always changes.”

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • Mojo Jojo Pickles has a new home – their storefront Nosh and Quaff is open at 9627 82 Avenue. They had a shop in Kingsway that was open for two weeks before the pandemic shut them down.
  • JustCook Kitchens is gearing up to launch their 5th Street Food Hall concept in September. One of the vendors, Seitans, has released their menu in anticipation of the opening.
  • Gangnam Street Food and Coco Fried Chicken will be opening a location in Windermere (1109 Windermere Way SW).
  • Flame Pizzeria is opening a second location at 989 Tamarack Way.

Upcoming Events

  • The 124 Street Business Association is hosting Flavours of 124 Street on Fridays and Saturdays beginning September 10 and running until September 25, 2021. Participating restaurants will be offering menu specials.
  • The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts is hosting a Fall Harvest Market on September 18, 2021 at the Strathearn Centre with a variety of frozen and fresh food vendors.
  • The next NOSH Food Fest featuring a variety of food vendors will be held on September 18-19, 2021 at the Strathcona County Community Centre in Sherwood Park.
  • Dining in the Dark guests will eat their meals blindfolded for a different experience. Tickets for the October events start at $80.
  • Save the date for the annual Pizza Pig Out event in support of KidSport, to be held on October 8, 2021.

Local News

What I Ate

  • In between errands on Saturday Mack and I grabbed some coffee from Roasti in Sherwood Park and happened upon a Chamber Orchestra of Edmonton concert in a nearby park. It was a nice way to enjoy our drinks outdoors!
  • Roasti Coffee

Roasti Coffee in the ‘Park

  • We also stopped by Bountiful Farmers’ Market for lunch (they have an outdoor eating area set up). It was absolutely bustling – and though it will always pain me that the market is not situated in a residential or retail area (meaning that most shoppers are reliant on personal vehicles for transportation), they are clearly doing something the longer-standing markets are not. The tacos from Frida were great, and definitely makes me want to check out their storefront on 124 Street.
  • Frida

Frida at Bountiful Market

Food Notes for August 30, 2021

DRTY Brings Filipino Ice Cream to Edmonton

The profile of Filipino cuisine has continued to rise in Edmonton over the last several years, thanks to upstart businesses like Filistix, Kanto 98 St., and Yelo’d, as well as with the arrival of Filipino fast food giant Jollibee in 2019. New food business DRTY Ice Cream is adding an additional cultural touchstone for the local Filipino community with their take on sorbetes, or Filipino ice cream.

DRTY (pronounced “dirty”) is the brainchild of Abby Ulanimo, who is half-Filipino and was born and raised in Canada. In 2019, she visited the Philippines for the first time and had a reverential initial encounter with a sorbetero (ice cream vendor). “You can imagine it’s plus forty degrees, you’re so hot, and you hear this bell and when you turn around this guy has delicious frozen treats,” said Ulanimo. “The sorbetero brings those feelings of relief and joy.”

Ulanimo explained that sorbetes are typically made with coconut milk or cassava, as ingredients typically found in ice cream like eggs, milk, and cream are expensive in the Philippines. Sorbeteros, lacking access to refrigeration, would make fresh batches of sorbetes by hand daily, sold out of roving wooden carts.

Through its development, DRTY has gone through some recipe changes to adapt to the different context. “When we first started, we were using a cassava base,” said Ulanimo. “But then we found that cassava flour cannot hold its integrity in the freezer. This wouldn’t be a problem in the Philippines because their batches are never frozen overnight.” DRTY has since adapted to using plant-based stabilizers in most of their ice cream flavours.

DRTY’s name is inspired by the history of sorbetes in the Philippines. Ulanimo shared that when larger corporations began stocking grocery stores with their ice cream, those companies made efforts to brand sorbetes as “dirty” to discourage people from patronizing sorbeteros. “Our name is such a conversation starter,” said Ulanimo. “We are very passionate about highlighting the tradition and the culture behind sorbetes. If I can teach someone something, my job is done.”

The names of their flavours are puns in Tagalog (the primary language spoken in the Philippines) as a means to appeal to their target Filipino demographic. But DRTY also showcases non-traditional sorbetes flavours. The flavour “As In Asin” marries a ubiquitous Fillipino coconut jam with salted caramel. “Mangga Gala” replicates a common cake-like dessert many who grew up in the Philippines would be familiar with. “Not everyone has electricity or an oven in the Philippines,” said Ulanimo. “So if they couldn’t afford a cake or couldn’t bake a cake they would layer graham crackers, condensed milk, and mangoes, and the graham crackers would absorb the moisture and act like a cake. I want people to taste it and remind them of something they had while they were sitting in their grandmother’s lap.”

Last year, friends of hers who owned Intent Coffee offered her the chance to make her dreams of creating sorbetes in Edmonton a reality by offering to stock her product. Ulanimo worked as a marketing coordinator by day, and in December 2020 started making ice cream every night in a commercial kitchen until 1am to meet the increasing demand. In June of this year, she finally quit her full-time job and brought on her sister, Emmalyn Ulanimo-Bulan, to help.

While Intent Coffee closed earlier this summer, DRTY is available in single-serving cups and pints at the Shoe Shine Shack in the Mercer Warehouse, and Filipino shop 3J Variety Store, as well as at various markets around the city. They have also found success in supplying customized cups to people throwing birthday parties, bridal showers, or other special events.

Long term, Ulamino wants to see a fleet of DRTY carts servicing the city. “We want to offer that experience of scooping the ice cream and ringing the bell,” said Ulamino. “Bringing sorbeteros carts to Canada would just tie the experience together.”

COVID-19-related News

  • City Council voted in favour of reinstating the indoor mask bylaw, effective September 3, 2021. This would include masking to enter a restaurant, but once seated, patrons could unmask to eat or drink.

Openings

Upcoming Events

  • Shake, Stir & Strainbow runs from August 13-September 3, 2021 with participating restaurant and bars donating $1 from each feature cocktail to the Skipping Stone Foundations, a charity that supports trans and gender-diverse youth. In Edmonton, Central Social Hall, Three Vikings, and Tres Carnales Rostizado are participating.
  • Le Burger Week runs from September 1-14, 2021, when participating restaurants will offer special burger creations.
  • The Alberta Avenue Business Improvement Area is hosting Vybz on 118 on September 4, 2021 with Jamaican, Italian, Vietnamese food on 119 Avenue between 83-84 Streets from 11am-6pm.
  • Root 107 is playing host to the Cocktails & Jerk Festival on September 5 from 11am-9pm. Expect Caribbean street food and non-alcoholic and alcoholic cocktails along with live music.
  • The Chinese Benevolent Association is organizing another long table feast in the Quarters on September 19, 2021 to be attended by vulnerable community members and low-income seniors. They’re looking for volunteers and donations.

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • I had a lovely meal with a friend on Friday on La Petite Iza’s beautiful rooftop patio. I loved the Parisian gnocchi in Dijon creme, and the service was great. I hope to be back again soon!
  • La Petit Iza

Parisian gnocchi from La Petite Iza

Food Notes for August 23, 2021

New Bakery Brings Baked Goods to Riverdale

The folks behind Riverdale’s Little Brick are set to open the doors to a new neighbouring business on August 26, 2021. Bread & Butter Bakery is the newest sibling establishment from the River Valley Company, who has participated in the operation of Little Brick since 2015.

Their vision for the river valley is bold, “to create an international tourist destination with beautifully unique buildings, and to provide world-class hospitality businesses and tourist-centric activities for people from all over the world to come to Edmonton to enjoy.” With the addition of the Umphreville Block at 10158 90 Street, which is home not only to Bread & Butter but also a forthcoming pub called Dogpatch, the River Valley Company is making strides towards creating a destination in Riverdale.

Ange Minor, the Bakery Manager at Bread & Butter is keen for people to finally taste the hard work she has put into developing the launch over the last year. “I always wanted to have more of savoury-focused shop, and the wonderful owners [at the River Valley Company] gave me complete free reign of how I wanted to do that,” said Minor. “All the recipes have been tested and tested until they became absolute perfection.”

She feels the savoury nature of the Bread & Butter sets it apart from others in Edmonton’s bakery scene. “We will have a beautiful bread wall stocked full of a variety of from scratch, baked fresh daily breads,” said Minor. “From focaccia, signature sourdough, brioche loaves, multigrain loaves, gluten-free focaccia, and savoury pastries like scones and croissants.”

Those hoping to find the shop’s namesake “butter” for sale will not be disappointed, either. “Our bakery cooler will be filled with signature butters, which are meant to be eaten together with our breads to make a perfect pair,” said Minor.

Bread & Butter will also satisfy those with a sweet tooth, with treats such as brioche Danishes and gluten-free fudgy brownies and granola bars.

Although Bread & Butter won’t have any seating, they will offer drip coffee and locally-sourced tea along with cold drinks, ideal for those looking to grab a snack to accompany a walk through the adjacent river valley paths. The bakery will be open 9am-5pm daily.

Complementing its sister establishments, Bread & Butter will also be supplying scones, cookies, and muffins to Little Brick, and when Dogpatch opens, they will be featuring Bread & Butter-made breads and pies.

Umphreville Block was first announced back in early 2019, so it has been a long time coming for Bread & Butter. “I know how long the neighbourhood has been waiting for a bakery, so my team & I are very excited to serve our neighbours,” said Minor. “But we are also excited to serve the whole city we love!”

Openings

  • Wilfred’s, which now also houses a Made by Marcus, has re-opened with a new menu focusing on “handhelds”.
  • China Marble Restaurant is now open in the former Pagolac storefront in Chinatown (10566 97 Street).
  • Eat Jamaican is now open at 9518 Ellerslie Road.
  • The Little Spot, located at 11907 Jasper Avenue, stocks a variety of locally-made products, including Battista’s Calzones, and Da Capo Coffee.
  • Lost Dogs is a ghost kitchen operating out of Campio Brewing, serving up hot dogs and sides, with 50 cents from each hot dog supporting the Edmonton Humane Society.
  • New York’s The Halal Guys will have franchise locations across Canada, including in Edmonton. A location already opened in Calgary in July.

Closures

  • The long-standing Starbucks at Jasper Avenue and 109 Street is now closed.

Upcoming Events

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What I Ate

  • Our neighbourhood burger joint Wayback Burgers had a great special on in conjunction with the Al Fresco Market on Saturday, so we picked up some take-out for a picnic at the Legislature Grounds with some friends.
  • Wayback Burgers

Wayback Burgers picnic

  • On Sunday, we ventured out in the drizzly conditions to take in an Edmonton Jazz Festival’s Jazz Around Town performance at The Backyard, and enjoyed a Korean BBQ pork wrap from Coast Lunch Box. It’s great to see this otherwise desolate corner animated, but it will be interesting to see how they transform it for the winter.
  • Coast Food Truck

Coast Lunch Box’s Korean BBQ pork wrap

Food Notes for August 16, 2021

Wine Bars Liven Up Whyte Avenue

Edmonton might be seeing a resurgence in wine bars. Darling, a wine bar focused on natural wines opened in July, while Culina shared news that they will be re-opening their much loved Bibo later this year.

Darling is the brainchild of Justin and Derrick Jones. Justin is an industry veteran, and is currently the general manager of hospitality at Biera. It was there that he was introduced to the idea of natural wines, as the restaurant wanted to ensure the drinks matched the quality of the food they were pairing. “Natural wines involve no intervention,” said Jones. “It’s making wine but not messing with it.” Jones said mass wine producers prioritize consistency above all else, and as a result, add flavouring components, dye, or animal products to ensure bottles taste similar year over year. For Jones, the beauty of wine is to enjoy the nuances imparted by the inconsistencies of farming. “This really is not a new concept,” said Jones. “It dates way back in Europe, but is now becoming a craze in Canada.”

Jones is passionate about sharing his love of natural wines with guests, and so far, Darling’s customers have run the spectrum of those eager to learn to more seasoned wine drinkers keen to see their inventory. “That’s why it’s fun,” said Jones. “We are not pouring wine and walking away – we want to share the story of the winemaker.”

Justin and Derrick had been thinking about opening a permanent restaurant before the pandemic, but things were put on hold in 2020. However, they were approached by their friends, the owners of Take Care Cafe and Weekly Trim True, who asked if they wanted to test the waters in their space in the evenings. As a result, Darling is currently a pop-up, and runs in the cafe and salon from Thursdays to Sundays from 7-11pm. They have indoor and outdoor seating, but Jones has a preference for the latter. “The courtyard is the best part, with 32 seats in the back under the apple tree,” said Jones. “It’s a nice little oasis.”

Food-wise, without proper ventilation in the current space, they are restricted from preparing hot foods. Still, Jones is happy about the curated menu of locally sourced items, which include breads from Brio Bakery and sustainable mussels from Prince Edward Island. “We don’t have complicated items,” said Jones. “Just high quality and tasty things to pair with wine.”

Since Darling opened in July, the community has embraced their concept, and Jones is hoping to find a more permanent home before the snow flies, with the goal to have a full restaurant with natural wines. As he was born and raised in the Ritchie area, he hopes to secure a space in the same community.

Further west down Whyte Avenue is where Bibo will re-open as early as October (Bibo’s Mill Creek location closed back in 2016). Owner Brad Lazarenko was approached by Beljan Development, developers of the Oliver Exchange Building which houses his Culina To Go location. They wanted him to resurrect Bibo in the lobby of the Old Strathcona Hotel. “We’re working on the concept together,” said Lazarenko. “They have a vision for an atrium lobby bar, with very open, high ceilings.” Lazarenko said the plan is for the space to be a café by day, and wine bar at night.

People shouldn’t expect the same Bibo, however. “The aesthetic will be different,” said Lazarenko. “It’s not going to be the same menu.” He teases that Japanese street foods will make an appearance, along with cheese and charcuterie and the option of picking up some Culina To Go-inspired grab-and-go items. “It’s not going to be a place to get big meals,” said Lazarenko. “It will be a place you go before or after dinner.”

For Lazarenko, this shift into Old Strathcona came as a surprise, but the opportunity to work with Beljan again was too good to pass up. “Ten years ago I never would have come to Whyte Avenue, but the area is going through a renaissance,” said Lazarenko. “It has a good energy about it, with good restaurants and lots of good food.”

Back at Darling, Jones agrees that things seem to be building for the area, and he couldn’t be happier to hear that Bibo will join their neck of the woods soon. “It’s amazing because I remember going to Bibo right before it closed,” said Jones. “It was the coolest place with a really smart sommelier who poured me the perfect glass of wine. It’s time to bring back the wine on Whyte Avenue!”

Openings

Closures

  • After nearly 10 years in operation, Mercer Tavern is closing its doors on August 31, 2021. It will be replaced by Calgary-based Home and Away in time for the start of the hockey season.

Upcoming Events

  • You Need a BBQ in Sherwood Park is celebrating its one year anniversary with the Bangers & Beer YEG Sausage Battle on September 12, 2021. Butchers and chefs will compete for your vote for the best sausage, and ticket proceeds will go towards funding Team Canada’s trip to the World Butcher Challenge in Sacramento. Tickets are $25 plus fees.

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