Recap: Eats on 118, International Edition

The third and final Eats on 118 event this year took place in late August. A series of events organized by Wild Heart Collective and the Alberta Avenue Business Association, Eats on 118 helps to showcase the variety of establishments located in an often overlooked neighbourhood. I’ve discovered a few gems from past tours (including Plaza Bowl on the last crawl), and this evening was no different. In particular, it highlighted just how much diversity is present on the Avenue.

The group met up at Paraiso Tropical, a popular Latin food market in the heart of 118. We were welcomed by Jesus Gonzales, who took over the shop from his parents in 2009. Although they boast a wide selection of import products from the Caribbean, South and Central America, they also offer a selection of hot takeout items. The menu varies by day, and could include tacos, empanadas, and taquitos.

Eats on 118

Kicking off Eats on 118

That evening, we each received a street food box with two tacos and a pupusa. Of the trio, the al pastor taco was my favourite, but it was nice to be able to sample a few of their dishes.

Eats on 118

Sampler box from Paraiso Tropical

Our second stop was Mama Asha Cafe, easily missed tucked in next to an auto shop. Like Jesus, Saharla Aden also took over the business from her parents, renaming the restaurant after her grandmother.

Eats on 118

Saharla Aden of Mama Asha Cafe

Saharla and her husband also refreshed the dining room have a more modern, contemporary feel, reopening in May of this year. The menu is unique, offering all-day Somali breakfast and some dishes that are hard to find in Edmonton, such as shakshuuka.

Eats on 118

Savoury plate from Mama Asha

We indulged in a savoury plate featuring beef suqaar strips, rice, a samosa, sabayat (Somali flat bread – my favourite), and bajiya (black eyed pea fritters), but without a doubt, it was dessert that stole the show. The moist coconut cake we were served to end our visit is definitely worth seeking out.

Eats on 118

That coconut cake!

Next, we walked over to Mini Kitchen. While not a retail outlet, the production kitchen on 118 Avenue is used to prepare heat-and-eat Indian and Thai meals sold at eight farmers’ markets in Edmonton, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, and Red Deer. Mini Kitchen’s products can also be found at some specialty retail locations.

Damini Mohan prides herself on preparing healthy and nutritious meals without compromising flavour. With the exception of soy sauce, all ingredients they use are non-gmo, and the produce they source is primarily organic. I enjoyed the taste of butter chicken and naan we were provided, with layers of flavour without an overwhelming heat.

Eats on 118

Butter chicken from Mini Kitchen

Our final destination was Passion de France, a patisserie opened by Montreal ex-pat Mélanie Dovale in 2014. A halal pastry shop, Passion de France fills a niche in Edmonton, but she shared that she likes the community feel of the neighbourhood.

Eats on 118

Pastries on the patio

We were provided with a generous variety of their treats, including a lemon meringue tart, chocolate orange tart, eclair, opera cake, and a macaron. My office is only a few blocks away, so it wasn’t my first brush with Passion de France, nor will it be my last.

Eats on 118

Dessert from Passion de France

Kirsta Franke from Wild Heart indicated that Eats on 118 will be back again for two installments in June of next year. So if you missed out, make sure to check the Alberta Avenue website in the spring! Thanks again to the organizers for putting on another great event.

Alberta Avenue Charm: Passion de France

Passion de France, a relatively new bakery located in the Eastwood neighbourhood, has remained somewhat under the radar since opening back in November. Perhaps because of its location just off the main Alberta Avenue drag, one wouldn’t likely stumble across Passion de France by accident.

Passion de France

Passion de France

I sought out the bakery after around lunch time last week after a meeting near by. Passion de France charms with its pastel colouring, chandeliers and ornate seating. For those seeking something more substantial, Passion de France does offer a variety of savoury items, including sandwiches, quiche and soup. But no doubt, they specialize in more dainty goods.

Passion de France

Interior

The pastry cases were filled with an astonishing variety given the bakery’s size, ranging from macarons, tarts, cakes and pies. Being a sucker for croissants, however, my attention was eventually diverted to their selection of flaky treats. They had already sold out of plain croissants that morning, and I couldn’t wait for their second batch to finish baking, so I ended up with a few mini pain au chocolat ($1.95), as well as croissant twists in chocolate and salted caramel flavours ($3.40 each).

The chocolate croissants were my favourite of the two; they definitely didn’t skimp on the butter! The salted caramel twist was a little too moist for my taste, reminding me of a Danish.

With friendly staff and an inviting interior, Passion de France would make a great stop for those looking to indulge their sweet tooth – I know I’ll be back for their croissants some time soon!

Passion de France
11812 86 Street
(780) 257-2092