So last week, I managed to get invited to the Taste of Edmonton media launch held at the Citadel Theatre – I don’t know that this is ever going to happen again so let’s do a quick chair dance of awesomeness. The Taste of Edmonton, which runs from July 19-28, 11am – 11pm, is reaching out to the online community in (I guess you could say) a more active way for the first time, so a bunch of Edmonton food bloggers were invited to attend the media launch on June 20. Sadly, the launch was from 11:30AM – 1:30PM and a lot of my fellow bloggers weren’t able to make it due to work commitments (luckily I have a relatively flexible schedule – yay for being a student/PT employee?), but I did run into Lillian from Beyond Umami and Michelle from The Tiffin Box (formerly known as Food, Football and a Baby) at the event.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the launch, I’m going to own up to taking a pass on the Taste of Edmonton for the past few years – I found it to be all the same menu items over and over again and I just wasn’t willing to battle the summer crowds for yet another green onion cake. But it sounds like this year will have a couple of new things happening – starting with several new items (some of which were available at the launch event), a collaboration with Race Week Edmonton, and the return of the cooking stage!
There are new vendors coming in this year like Tzin Wine and Tapas and Caffe Sorrentino and 65% of the menu items are new, although the very popular green onion cakes are still around. There will also be drink areas (A Taste of Beer, A Taste of Spirits, A Taste of Wine and A Taste of Beverages) for you to quench your thirst. One of my favorite new food areas is ‘Curb Your Hunger‘, where five food trucks (Curry ‘N’ Hurry, Smokehouse BBQ, Drift, Molly’s Eats and “The Act” will be parked for part (or all) of the festival! The collaboration with Race Week Edmonton will involve a party zone and a family fun zone for those of you with little ones (Ms. C. – you can bring the kidlets here).
And lastly, the event happening on the Atco Gas cooking stage – I had heard the scuttlebutt over twitter about a food blogger cooking competition where intrepid souls would produce a dish and be judged by chefs. I wish I had the cooking skills to participate in something like this but I don’t so maybe it’s incentive to do something about that? Anyways, back to the cook-offs, there are two different events happening on July 22 and 23 from 11:30am – 1:30pm: First will be the aforementioned food blogger competition where Michelle, Phil and Teresa are coming up with a food truck entree and being judged by three chefs. All three competitors are amazingly creative and produce great food (that’s based on my own very limited experience with their potluck items at parties) so it should be a fun time. Come out and cheer them on as they battle for the title of best food truck entree! The second event is a “Cooking with the Stars” BBQ cook-off where food bloggers will pair up with a chef in a BBQ battle – I am less clear on the details but rumour has it that it will be “Chopped” style and there will be mystery boxes.
Taste of Edmonton sounds like it’s going to be a pretty good time but here’s the most important question: What about the food? I managed to sample a few items at the media launch and my stomach refused to let me get more than a few dishes in but there were definitely some hits for me (see below).
The first thing I tried was the Tandoori Chicken Samosa from Guru. This was amazingly delicious and jam packed with chicken – we’re not talking about a thick dough and tiny bites of chicken – this was all chicken inside a thin shell. Seriously one of the best samosas I’ve ever had.
Another winner for my sister Bel (who tagged along) and I was the Whisky and Dark Chocolate Ribs from Share in the Westin Hotel. The portion was big and served with a mango (I think) coleslaw – I don’t normally like coleslaw but this one was yummy. And ribs were definitely worth writing home (or on your blog) about… Just see how delicious it is looks! They were pretty tender and I found it easy enough to eat standing with my fork.
My other favorites are all in the arena of desserts probably because dessert is my favorite course ever. The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald “Mac” Scone Sundae was awesome! This is a play on the traditional high tea staple of a scone and devonshire cream, but instead of devonshire cream it was vanilla ice cream. So it was a scone with a scoop of vanilla and then topped with berry and chocolate sauces. If you dive in right away, you might find the scone a little hard to cut into with a fork/spoon but if you let the ice cream melt into it a little bit, it is easier to cut and you get a delicious vanilla soaked scone which you can then swirl around in the sauces.
Luckily for my stomach, the last two desserts I grabbed were of the portable variety as I ate these at home later in the evening. The chocolate cookie sandwich from Molly’s Eats was a great midnight snack but was a little too big to eat in one go (two snacks for the price of one?) so I only had half and forgot the other half in the fridge until this week BUT it was still good. The red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting was almost too pretty to eat (I didn’t let that stop me) and it was great! The cream cheese frosting is not overly sweet and the cupcake was beautifully moist.
So that wraps up a few of the hits for me at the Taste of Edmonton media launch but there were lots of things that I didn’t get a chance to try like the cannoli’s from Italian Bakery and the chickpea salad from Caffe Sorrentino. I am definitely planning to be at the festival this year so I can get my hands on the ribs and samosas again while exploring some of the other new items around. I am also going to be at the July 22 food blogger truck food entree cook off cheering on my fellow blogger friends and possibly trying to scam a sample of their dish, so if you’re there that day – tweet me so we can say hi!
So What Would Argenplath Pay?
Tickets are $30 for a sheet of thirty but if you buy them before the festival starts from Tix on the Square, you can save yourself 10% so it would be $27 for a sheet of tickets. Items on the Taste of Edmonton menu range from 1 to 6 tickets but there are very few under the 4 ticket mark so realistically, I would say the range is 4-6 tickets for items, which works out to $4 – $6 (or $3.60 – $5.40 if you bought your tickets in advance).
I know which items I am definitely going back for (see hits above and the famous Molly’s Eats Mini Carnita Mac Melt) and I think they are worth the ticket price because they are large-ish portions and quite filling. I can’t say for sure whether or not the other dishes are going to be great but that’s the beauty of an event like this, it’s only a sampling of the food and way less commitment than going out to each restaurant and having lunch/dinner there. I would say bring some (hungry) friends and you can share all the dishes (sharing is caring) so if it’s a miss, everyone only has to have a bite or two and if it’s a hit, you can always go back for more!