Mack and I started off our Sunday at Urban China for dim sum with my family. It’s been much too long since we’ve done that on a weekend morning, because we clearly underestimated the crowds: it was a forty minute wait from the time my parents arrived around noon. We’ll get an earlier start next time; Urban China is still one of my favourite places for dim sum in Edmonton!
Crispy pork dumplings
We then headed off to Giovanni Caboto Park for the last day of the East Meets West Festival that celebrated all things Italian!
This was our first time at Viva Italia Viva Edmonton, though we’ve taken in the Chinese and African legs of the celebration in past years. It was easily the best part of the festival we’ve ever attended.
Part of that had to do with the amount of space afforded in Little Italy, especially when compared with Chinatown or the McCauley School grounds. With a playground, spray park, wide green spaces as well as the street, there were definitely a lot more possibilities because of the area.
Lots of families were out!
That said, the organizers still had to program the wide expanse, and they did that with panache. We arrived around 2pm, and found an abundance of things to peruse. Between browsing the shops and the car show, watching the soccer tournament, taking in the cooking demonstrations, or enjoying the on-stage entertainment, there really was something for everyone (Maki thought so too).
Mack’s dream car
I have to say I particularly enjoyed Chef Daniel Costa’s demonstration. He made something I’ll never be able to pronounce, let alone spell out. Needless to say, it was a bucatini pasta with cured pig jowl and a San Marzano tomato sauce. He was great handling audience questions, and clearly loved sharing his passion for Italian cuisine with the crowd. Perhaps most invaluable was learning about some of his favourite products available at the Italian Centre (such as the Rio brand of olive oil for cooking).
Chef Daniel Costa
Speaking of food, one of the most entertaining moments of the day for us was the pizza eating contest. Four women who work in local media were recruited for the spectacle, which required them to eat as much of a medium pizza as they could in five minutes. Brandy Taylor of Sonic and Kit Koon of OMNI tied, and ended up in a two minute eat-off. Brandy emerged as the champion.
Sizeable crowd on hand
There was also plenty of food options to keep festival-goers well fed. Fantasia Gelato easily had the longest line-ups that day, though Sorrentino’s and the Italian Centre were also serving up Italian fare.
Cooking up sausages
Wine and cheese tasting tent
Our only suggestion for next year is to have all of the information up on a website prior. The postcards with the festival week schedule were nice, but didn’t have the detailed information that would definitely help them attract an even bigger crowd.
We hopped on a bus, and on the walk home, came across the Alley of Light public art installation still in progress.
It’s a really neat project – three artists were commissioned by the Edmonton Arts Council to create a design that could be made into a stencil. The stencil would then be used to paint a portion of the alley.
Featuring bold, bright colours, it is a project that puts art in unexpected (but welcome!) places, and will definitely turn some heads. And hopefully, as forecasted by the speech bubble, invite dialogue about public art and the Alley of Light itself.
Check it out the next time you’re downtown!