Recap: 124 Street Red Shoe Crawl

It’s hard to believe Red Shoe Crawls have been taking place in Edmonton for five years now! The brainchild of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northern Alberta, Red Shoe Crawls serve to raise awareness and funds to support a facility that houses families travelling to Edmonton to seek treatment for their sick children. Participating businesses donate their time and samples to contribute towards a fun, pedestrian-oriented afternoon.

Red Shoe Crawl

Red shoes!

It’s been a few years since I’ve attended a 124 Street Red Shoe Crawl, so when offered the chance to attend as a guest on September 13, 2015, Mack and I accepted. We brought along first-time crawlers Thom and Alicia.

Red Shoe Crawl

Thom and Alicia at Cococo

There were 25 stops on the list, which included an eclectic mix of retailers, galleries, cafes and restaurants. Though I understand the reasons behind some independent businesses not becoming involved (Sunday closure, staffing requirements, small spaces), it was disappointing to see that several of the newest additions to the street were not participating – the Red Shoe Crawl is a great way to expose a different crowd to your shop.

Red Shoe Crawl

Ascendant Books, one of the new-to-us discoveries

At any rate, we still had many places to explore, many of them new to us. We also elected to participate in the scavenger hunt, which invited us to post photos of different items found in the stores along the way. Although it was much more time consuming, it added another element to the crawl, and I have to say, we did have fun with it.

Red Shoe Crawl

Mack shows us how he eats his pizza at Boston Pizza

Similar to our previous 124 Street crawl experience, our main criticism was the lack of savoury items along the way. While we were treated to many sweet bites (including a scoop of gelato at Cococo), the savoury samples were few and far between. As a result, it wasn’t a surprise that our favourite stop was at reLISH. They served up a generous portion of made-to-order poutine.

Red Shoe Crawl

Poutine from reLISH

Some businesses also took better advantage of their crawl participation than others, offering discounts or special offers for the day or the week of the event. It definitely added an incentive to shop that day, as Alicia and Thom found out at Bling.

Red Shoe Crawl

Decorator’s paradise at Bling

To traverse the entire route at a leisurely pace actually took us the full four hours. But it was a great way to explore the neighbourhood! Thanks again to the Red Shoe Crawl for a fun afternoon, and to the organizers, volunteers and businesses who made it all happen.

Red Shoe Crawl

We made it!

Giveaway: Red Shoe Crawl Tickets!

Since the Red Shoe Crawl started two years ago, it’s been great to watch the event grow and establish itself in Edmonton. A fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta, the Red Shoe Crawl is a fun way to visit a neighbourhood by sampling your way through businesses within walking distance of one another.

Red Shoe Crawl

I attended the very first Red Shoe Crawl that took place in Old Strathcona in August 2011, and was blown away by how well organized it was, and loved how it promoted exploring a particular area on foot. The ticket price provided incredible value (we were far from able make our way through the food provided), and it was even better that the entire ticket cost was directed to the charity.

Red Shoe Crawl

Fish and chips from Elephant & Castle

In 2012, the Red Shoe Crawl took place twice that year, and expanded to include the burgeoning 124 Street neighbourhood as well. Though there perhaps wasn’t as much food when compared with the Whyte Avenue event, without question they made up for it with a more diverse range of participating shops, including several that I had never stepped foot in before.

124 Street Red Shoe Crawl

Gelato from Cococo

If you still haven’t had a chance to attend a Red Shoe Crawl, now is your chance! The 2013 Taste of Whyte takes place on June 9, 2013, from noon-5pm. Tickets are just $40, and is inclusive of all food and beverage samples. Expect a great line-up of businesses, with more to be confirmed. So far, the list includes:

The organizers were nice enough to allow me to give two tickets to the event away! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment with a valid e-mail address that answers the following question:

Which Old Strathcona business are you most looking forward to trying or revisiting at the Red Shoe Crawl?

A winner will be chosen randomly from all responses collected before the deadline. The contest closes on May 27, 2013 at 11:59pm. Good luck!

EDIT: Congrats to Susan Z. for winning the two tickets!

Random Number

A Taste of Whyte: The 1st Annual Red Shoe Crawl

Given how much I love exploring neighbourhoods on foot, I was predisposed to liking the idea of the Red Shoe Crawl, put on by the Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta. The fact that it exceeded my expectations was just icing on the cake!

Red Shoe Crawl

Red Shoe Crawl

I received an e-mail from Jen Panteluk a few months ago about a fundraising event the House was in the midst of organizing. The Red Shoe Crawl would be an opportunity for participants to sample fare from different establishments in Old Strathcona, with the entire $35 ticket price going to the charity. Jen shared with me that all of the businesses were not only enthusiastic about the idea, but had all generously agreed to donate food or drinks.

Red Shoe Crawl

Red balloon markers!

We had a three hour window on that Sunday afternoon to visit all nineteen participating vendors. There was even an added incentive to complete the loop: the chance to win prizes. Mack and I thought: with ease! Boy, were we wrong.

Having purchased our tickets ahead of time, we signed in at Chili’s, received our passports adorned with red ribbon that doubled as a lanyard of sorts, and we were off.

Red Shoe Crawl

Passport

Our first stop was Accent European Lounge. We were greeted by a friendly volunteer who signed off our passport, then asked us to help ourselves to a tray of tomatoes topped with fresh mozzarella and a balsamic glaze. Because this was our first stop, we assumed all restaurants would providing made-ahead appetizers in a similarly casual, self-serve manner.

Red Shoe Crawl

Tomatoes with mozzarella and a balsamic glaze

Well, perhaps some restaurants should have. Because this was a first time event, and the businesses were donating their food (and staff and space), it’s hard to fault the establishments that didn’t quite make it work. The Pourhouse was one of them. Situated a few doors down from Chili’s, they were slammed from the start, and in the fifteen minutes that we waited, we saw only a single plate of their nacho dogs with stuffed potato soup go out. We ended up leaving, with full intentions of returning, but didn’t get around to it.

Red Shoe Crawl

The Pourhouse

In contrast, Two Rooms was pumping out plates of bannock and bruschetta like a well-oiled machine. It was also the stop that tuned us into the fact that if we had to consume fifteen more plates that size, we likely wouldn’t make it.

Red Shoe Crawl

Bannock and bruschetta – the bannock was great, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside

Elephant & Castle had a special place for Red Crawl participants. Cordoned off upstairs, it made it easy for staff to identify who still had to be served.

Red Shoe Crawl

Fish and coleslaw – good, but the fish was a little under seasoned for my taste (Mack disagreed)

With fried food in our bellies, we thought it would be a good opportunity to walk it off, given we still had three quarters of the tour left to go. McDonald’s was the furthest destination we had, and it sounded like at that point in the game, hardly anyone had made it that far. We were rewarded with a full size drink of our choosing.

Red Shoe Crawl

The display cups were too cute!

Red Shoe Crawl

Iced coffees (Mack remarked that he preferred these to the Starbucks iced brewed coffees – sacrilege!)

Back on Whyte, Irie Foods treated us to a beef patty. It resembled a pizza pop, but the spicy, well seasoned ground beef filling was so much better. At $3 a pop on the menu, we thought it would be an easy to eat item to pick up during the Fringe, and a much cheaper, but satisfying alternative to the food on the grounds.

Red Shoe Crawl

Jamaican beef patty

Fuss Cupcakes, further down the street, offered us our first dessert of the afternoon, a cute mini red velvet cupcake topped with yellow icing – a delightful homage to the Ronald McDonald House. Our only grimace – the volunteer who told us she was sick, right before handing us cupcakes without gloves on.

Red Shoe Crawl

Cupcake!

Mack had been looking forward to the next stop all day – Molly’s Eats was parked on 104 Street, just south of Whyte. We’d been wanting to try Molly’s for some time now, but this was the first time it worked out. And even better, it was worth the wait! The proveletta sandwich was delicious, packed with melty cheese and perfectly crispy, buttered bread. It was our favourite taste of the day.

Red Shoe Crawl

Susan of Molly’s Eats

Red Shoe Crawl

Proveletta sandwich

The skies were threatening to open up at this point, so it seemed like a good time to start wine-ing down (heh). Well, that and we were starting to get full. Eyecare Group was one of two participating non-food establishments (the other being The Tin Box), so I was eager to see how they fit into the picture. Turns out, they were perhaps the most savvy – offering a wine pour and encouraging guests to browse the store, with the added incentive of a coupon for a $50 discount.

Red Shoe Crawl

Wine

We had our most relaxing experience that afternoon at Murietta’s. We were seated and provided with a glass of water while we waited. Staff were calm and professional, and though the visit was brief, it was the restaurant that impressed us the most, and one that we would most likely return to based on that day.

Red Shoe Crawl

Garlic prawns – maybe shrimp would be a more accurate descriptor, but served warm, they were tasty

Next up was another beverage – a chillate from Second Cup. I can’t tell you how relieved Mack and I were when presented with sample instead of full-size servings.

Red Shoe Crawl

Mini Chillates

At this point, Mack had been utterly defeated by the food. He was stuffed past the brim, while I was just uncomfortably full. We agreed to do two more stops. The first was Sabzy, which had set up its tasting station outside of the storefront. They offered tastes of both a quinoa salad and a rosewater-based drink.

Red Shoe Crawl

Quinoa salad and rosewater

We had saved the ice cream for last – any flavour from What’s the Scoop?

Red Shoe Crawl

Ice cream

We ended up missing six passport markers – Cha Island Tea, The Tin Box, The Pita Pit, Chianti’s (which was offering a full appetizer order – we were bursting just thinking about it), the Old Strathcona Rack (we had wandered in, but no volunteer – or staff for that matter – could be found), and Chili’s (where the after party was being held). I’m not sure how many people actually finished the rounds, but hats off to them!

Red Shoe Crawl

We did our best!

We didn’t stay for the after party – we still had some errands to run that afternoon – but we’re sure it was a good time. On the way home, I kept thinking about how this was such a great medium for a taste event. Not only do chefs actually get to cook in a full kitchen, but diners set foot and get a feel for the actual restaurant. I think it’s also a great way to expose people to a neighbourhood – had Taste 118 gone ahead as planned, I would have hoped for something like this. But other BRZs or districts of interest should also take note – Chinatown/Little Italy, Avenue of Nations, 124 Street, Little India, Little Lebanon…the replication of this type of event is possible all over.

I’ve been told that the Red Show Crawl itself will be an annual event, and that even more restaurants had expressed interest than they could have accommodated this time around. So expect an even better (and possibly bigger) event next year! Kudos to Jen and the rest of the Ronald McDonald House staff and volunteers for planning a fantastic afternoon.