Author: Rebecca

Downtown Dining Week Runs March 8 to 17

Downtown Dining Week Runs March 8 to 17

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Edmonton foodies. Downtown Edmonton’s culinary scene will once again be in the spotlight for the 15th annual Downtown Dining Week, March 8 – March 17, 2019.  

Downtown Dining Week

Presented by the Downtown Business Association, Downtown Dining Week gives local foodies an opportunity to enjoy special prix fixe menus from participating restaurants. For 10 days, diners can enjoy dining deals across Downtown and Downtown’s rich, culinary diversity.  Downtown Dining Week menus start at $18 for a two-course lunch or brunch, and $30 and/or $45 for dinner. (Prices exclude beverages, tax and gratuity.)  

“Downtown Edmonton’s restaurant scene continues to grow with an incredible assortment of exciting new concepts, but also our longstanding establishments,” says Ian O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Downtown Business Association. 

This year, a record number of 50 restaurants will take part in this year’s 10-day event, up from last year’s 37 eateries. The 10-day celebration welcomes back notable restaurants and long- standing participants such as – Hardware Grill, The Marc, Madison’s Grill, TZIN, Sabor, and Ruth’s Chris.  Restaurants new to Downtown Dining Week this year, include BUCO Pizzeria + Vino Bar, Craft Beer Market, DOSC, District Café & Bakery, XO Bistro, River City Revival House, and Oil Lamp.  

Also new this year, participating restaurants are offering a two-course brunch on the two weekends – March 9, 10 and March 16 & 17. Special culinary events such as cocktail tours and cooking classes also round out this year’s new offerings.  

Diners are encouraged to make their reservations early through participating restaurants.  

For a list of participating restaurants and multi-course menu offerings, please go to edmontondowntown.com

Valentine’s Dinner Experience by Chef Mikael Charlton

Valentine’s Dinner Experience by Chef Mikael Charlton

A friend of a friend…

I have had the pleasure of being a Facebook friend with Chef Mikael for a while now. A mutual friend used to always post his creations on her feed. Everything looked and sounded delicious. Being the foodie that I am, I sent a friend request and have been able to watch such delightful creations being posted all the time.

There are many Chefs out there, and many people that like to cook. There are few that have that passion, that fire to create, the delight when someone enjoys their creation. I am delighted to report Chef Mikael has that passion and fire.

Being a Chef is hard work

The average person that sits down in a restaurant to enjoy a meal has no idea how much is going on in the background to make sure that the plate in front of you is perfect.  There is recipe research and development, gathering the perfect ingredients, practicing until you have it right and then making the plating a work of art.  Hours of prep time go into the menu.  Just like a musician or painter, Chefs are also artists.

Let them shine!

My best restaurant experiences have been at the invitation of the Chef for a “not on the menu” tasting.  I have been fortunate enough to experience some world-class food in my time.  When a Chef is given no limitations and just allowed to let their creativity shine, this is when you will see, feel and taste those masterpieces.  This is not just food.  This is an experience.

The delicate balancing of flavours and textures, making sure everything is cooked to perfection, served at the perfect temperature.  The artists do this.

Chef Mikael is currently working with Cask and Barrel located on 100 ave and 104 street in downtown Edmonton.  It is a smaller, cozy high-end cocktail lounge that has eats and sometimes live music.  I quickly glanced at the regular menu and there are some tasty looking things on there, but I was focused on the evening at hand.  Let your light shine Chef!

Valentine's Menu

Let’s start with the Drunken Prawn Bisque.

Drunken Prawn Bisque

Not only is it beautiful, but it was spicy and delicious.  The cream on top and the crunch of the (I think it was green onion, I forgot to ask) made this the perfect, warm cup of love on a very brutally cold winter night.  It was like a hug in a bowl.  This was perfect to wake up those tastebuds for the main.

The next beauty to grace our table was the Spinach and double creme brie stuffed chicken breast wrapped in puff pastry with a Sambuca cream reduction.  It was accompanied by seasonal veggies and brown butter sage gnocchi.

Spinach and Brie Stuffed Chicken Breast

This was perfection on a plate.  It was a large portion, and I just couldn’t stop eating it!  The chicken breast was tender and juicy with the delicately balanced tender/crispy textures and the slightly sweet taste of the Sambuca cream sauce with the spinach and brie.  The gnocchi was addictive, I could have eaten it all night.  Perfectly simple and delicious.  The seasonal vegetables were also cooked to perfection texture wise, and the eggplant that they were served on had a slightly smoky flavour to it.  We both ended up tapping out about half way through because we knew we needed to save room for dessert.

Red Velvet Rose

This was a rose made from red velvet cake topped with creme fraiche, drizzled with creme de cacao hot fudge and salted caramel sauce.  Not too sweet, moist, chocolatey goodness.  So many flavours to mix in different ways, and beautiful!  My only complaint from the entire experience was that the creme fraiche covered up the rose, it could have been that much prettier.

This was a wonderful way to celebrate love day with my husband.  The wait staff was friendly and attentive, the “Dark and Stormy” was tasty, it was just a perfect evening out.  Thank you Chef!  It was lovely to finally meet you and shake your hand.

Be prepared readers, I will be spamming you with Chef’s future creations.  Stay tuned for more awesomeness!

 

Amore Pasta – New Downtown Location NOW OPEN!

Amore Pasta – New Downtown Location NOW OPEN!

From the makers of Cafe Amore Bistro and the Black Pearl Seafood comes the new and improved downtown location of Amore Pasta.

Family recipes passed down from Italy will tantalize your tastebuds on this budget-friendly, build-your-own menu.  Yes, there is an Amore Pasta on the south side, but that location is just pasta and pales in comparison to the new downtown location.  They are open at 8 am for breakfast – yes, breakfast!

There is a lovely cappuccino bar to serve up some espresso and baked goods in the morning.  If you need something heartier, they have some signature omelettes available as well as the build-your-own versions.  Choose how many eggs you would like, add your choice of veggies, protein and cheese.  You can even choose to have a side of Amore hash (crumbled Italian sausage, cheddar cheese, green onions, mushrooms and peppers).  Can’t decide?  There are five signature Baked Eggs al Forno and omelettes to choose from.

Franchise? No!

The Crudo Family will have none of that!  They would love to have Amore Pasta all over the countryside, but they want to ensure quality over quantity.  They have a central “warehouse” location where the sauces etc. are made lovingly called “Papa Giuseppe’s”.   They are hoping to have more “in-house” made fresh pastas in the future.

Lunch and dinner will knock your socks off!

You can order a beer or wine to go with your dinner creation.  Make sure you try the fried lasagne bites with Papa Joe’s red sauce to start off with, they are very tasty!

This is similar to a Subway concept where you go up and order your food and bring it back to your table to enjoy.  Lunch can be quick, delicious and painless.

The “Return of the Mac” shall be triumphant.  They have 5 signature choices and the macaroni is made fresh daily.  “Pizza Me” is pictured in my slideshow; red onion, mixed peppers, crumbled Italian sausage, cheddar and mozza cheese.  This rib-sticking delight will surely satisfy.

Create Your Own Pasta starts out with the pasta and sauce, you add your choice of veggies, your protein and cheese.  Again, there are five signature pastas to choose from if you can’t decide or are in a hurry.  I couldn’t get enough of the “Sicilian”; made with homemade Strozzapreti, marsala cream sauce, green onions.  All of the flavours blend together beautifully.   It was a delight to eat.

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Where is it?

10235 101 Street, right in the Ice District.  There is a surface Impark parking lot located across the street but that can get pretty pricey during a game night.  There is also parking available in the tower which is much more reasonable.  Open at 8 am for breakfast and closes normally at 9 pm on weekdays.  Open at 11 am and close at 9 pm on weekends.  They will be adjusting hours to the crowd and are wanting to be open for food and drink after the games.

Gluten Free options available.

Since you are building your own meal, you have the option to pick items that are gluten free.  Your food is cooked right in front of you. Ask your server for details.

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Rendezvous Pub

Rendezvous Pub

As I reflect back on some of my favourite moments in 2018, a large quantity of them came from Rendezvous.

As well as being a food judge, I am also a huge metalhead. Rendezvous is like a second home to me.  Calvin, Dez and the rest of the staff have always been welcoming and it feels good to be recognized when you walk through the doors of your favourite pub.

The Vous has stepped it up a lot over the past year.  I can remember the good old days when there wasn’t a lot of choice for what you were drinking when you sat down to enjoy a live show.  Now there are local breweries available on tap. There is a great selection of bottles as well. This beer snob appreciates the chance to enjoy local.

Although the Vous is not renowned for its food, the wings are some of the best that I have been able to find in Edmonton.  Thoughtful right down to the finger bowls, which no one else in the city seems to do any longer. Wing night is Wednesday and they are 40 cents per wing with a minimum order of 12.  You can’t beat that deal!

There is a menu featuring a selection of your pub favourites.  Nothing fancy, just simple, delicious food. If you go for food, be patient.  The kitchen is always open, but there isn’t always a cook for the late night hours.

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Earlier this year, the City of Edmonton had proposed a plan where the building that houses the Vous was to be demolished and the LRT track was going to be built there.  This gave a lot of us in the community a huge panic attack. Calvin and the rest of the crew were not going to stand for it and went directly to City Hall to let them know this was not okay!  Thankfully the decision was rescinded. Way to go team Vous!

The Rendezvous is so supportive of the local live music community.  It’s not a huge venue, but they bring in some great talent and there is a live band just about every weekend.  Calvin is awesome about supporting local charities as well. The Christsmash Eve event complete with Church burning at midnight was awesome for us Christmas orphans. The Edmonton Food Bank was the charity of choice for the night.

I almost forgot about karaoke!  I’m too chicken to get up on stage myself, but I know most karaoke places don’t have a lot of metal on the playlist.  It’s cool to see your favourite front man from a local band belting out some karaoke tune. Only at the Vous.

And we can’t forget about Calvin… Calvin has been the Manager of Vous for as long as I can remember.  He is generally quiet and can appear a bit intimidating, but don’t let that fool you. He works hard for our little community and brings all of his wrestling and Dead Jesus experience to the table.  It’s much easier to book shows when you have actually put in the time on the stage. Thank you for all that you do for us Calvin!

I am looking forward to many more Wednesday Wing Nights with my crew in 2019 and can’t wait to see what awaits the Vous for live shows.

Check out the Vous this year where the wings are hot, the beers are cold and the shows are live!  Tell them YEGfoodie sent you.

Otto Food and Drink

Otto Food and Drink

Anyone that knows me, knows I am not a fan of what Christmas has become…  To me it is not about all of the commercialism and who buys what for whom.  It should be about celebrating with family and friends, spending time with loved ones and enjoying wonderful food and drink together.

Otto was started on that premise.  It was meant to be a gathering place for families and friends where you can enjoy some great Alberta craft beer and some great company.  The food was not the focus, but is still a wonderful part of the celebration that is Otto.

Owner Ed Donszelmann (previously of Culina Mill Creek) is the creative force behind this little neighbourhood Gem tucked away in the Norwood community.  The decor is simple and warm. There is an overhead garage door that can be opened for the summer months. Ed ads to the warmth of the space by being present and making his rounds.  He makes sure each guest is well taken care of.

The liquor menu has a lot to choose from.  The focus is on the beer, but there is a full bar and a wine list available as well.  There is something to quench everyone’s thirst, or to pair with the simply delicious food.

The food… You can clearly see Ed’s Dutch influence on the menu.  Otto’s specialty is Fuge Fine Meats which are now exclusively available only at Otto.  You may have experienced some of Steve’s sausage at one of the local markets. The sausages are flavourful, tender and delicious – even the vegan option!

For our visit we tried the “Otto Dog” and the vegan “Smoked Apple Sage” sausage.  Monday night is a great time to visit with $6 pints of beer and $6 sausages. The sausage is served naked with a small serving of sauerkraut and a home made pickle. If you want a bun for that bad boy, it’s only an extra $2.  The mustards that you have to choose from are also amazing. If I remember correctly, Red Head Condiments supplies them.

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I don’t normally like many versions of vegan/plant-based “meat”.  It is usually an awful texture and not that tasty. Fuge has managed to make a plant-based sausage that is the same texture you would expect from a normal, every-day meat sausage.  The flavours were nicely balanced, slightly smoky and delicious. I enjoyed a side order of the deep fried cauliflower.

My handsome dinner companion was nice enough to give me a taste of the Otto Dog; Sylvan Star smoked Gouda, caraway and fresh garlic are the standouts in this undeniably rich, flavourful sausage.  They are not joking with that description. Juicy, tender and delicious. He had the garlic herb fries with spicy mayo as his side.

I thought that between two of us we would be able to try a few options, but we tapped out after the single sausage and side.  Not even room for dessert! (I hear good things about dessert too though!)

Otto does focus on local suppliers and ingredients, you can see the loving detail that went into the menu with each item that is shared.  You can taste the difference.

Children are welcome at Otto.  Sundays they have a kids meal for only $5.  You won’t break the bank with a visit to Otto, the prices are very reasonable.

Grab a couple of friends and enjoy some great beer, food and sparkling conversation at Otto.

 

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/otto_yeg/

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ottofoodanddrink/

 

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/OTTO_YEG

Vienna Bakery

Vienna Bakery

I am about to share with you one of my “hidden gems” right here in Edmonton.  My favourite European buttercream in the city; Vienna Bakery.

This is a family owned operation that has been in Edmonton in one form or another since 1959.

Oma and Opa ran the business from 1987 until they retired in 2005.  Brian Jaeger took over the business in its current location in 2011.

I have been volunteering with Deadmonton Haunted House for the past 5 years.  The floor manager was doing some bookkeeping for the bakery so we would often get cookies and sheet cakes from Vienna for the different fundraisers and celebrations that we had as a team.  Best. Buttercreme. Ever.

Doing a bit more exploring, I found out that they were a European bakery and actually made “Bee Sting” cake (Bienenstitch) and not only is it available as a whole cake, but as a single slice as well.  My favourite. Heaven.

The pretzels, the marzipan, the sourdough…  The list of deliciousness goes on and on. Rye breads, sourdough breads, and pretzels are their specialties.

Not only are they a retail bakery but some of your favourite restaurants and cafes also carry their breads and pastries.

This place can be tricky to get to.  It is on Gateway avenue on the south side of the Argyll road intersection.  It is tucked behind the main building facing the road. Google Maps will steer you in the general direction.  Heading south on Calgary Trail, turn left on 61 Avenue and go straight through the traffic lights. The customer door faces north along Argyll.

Now that you have found the place, make sure that you get there early to get those pretzels.  They often sell out before noon, no matter how many they make. Very limited hours, but definitely worth the trip.

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They saved my butt for a Halloween potluck.  They have the cutest spooky cupcakes to brighten up any Halloween gathering.  Complete with tiny axes, spiderwebs and eyeballs! The pumpkin bars are currently in season.  If you are a pumpkin spice lover like myself, you must try these!

Custom cakes are also available.  Put that delicious buttercream to good use!  They have some very creative designs sprinkled around the internet.  The birthday cake for me and the sheet cakes made for the haunt were beautiful AND delicious.

Support your local family run business, give them a visit!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vienna-Bakery-215540941816881/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/viennabakery/

Sunworks Farm

Sunworks Farm

Sheila is very passionate when she talks about her farm and the way that the animals are treated humanely and respectfully.  Coming from an indigenous background myself, this is something that has always been important to me. The animals should be treated well, killed humanely and we should use as many parts from snout to tail as we are able.  Sunworks does all those things.

Their farm was started because their daughter had such severe allergies and food sensitivities that they needed to be able to grow their own food.  They started out feeding themselves and through a few requests started raising a little bit more, and a little bit more until it grew into what it is today.  No farming background. Amazing!

Free range, BCSPCA certified humane, grass fed, certified organic and “as close to nature as possible”.

These folks are passionate about their farm and their animals and it shows.  The end products are delicious, good for you AND celiac safe and allergy free.  The Chicken Moroccan sausages are so good.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend “Family Farm Day” at the beginning of September to see where my food comes from.  This is an annual event put on by Sheila and family where you can come out and meet everyone, have lunch and a farm tour.

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I am guessing there were about 800 people in attendance.  The weather was pretty crappy that day, so they cleaned out one of the winter chicken coops for everyone to gather in.  We had some lovely live entertainment while we were waiting.

Lunch was simple elegance.  Smoked chicken wings with organic salad and apples for dessert. It was delicious!

After lunch we got to see some happy animals!  The turkeys and chickens are about as “free range” as it gets.  They are in outdoor shelters, but the buildings are moveable. So they get to run around and just “be”.

All of the meat is processed on site.  Always treated respectfully. They gave their lives so that we could be nourished.  These folks have their family values that they live by and refuse to compromise quality.

If you are like me and have a hard time making it out to the farmer’s markets on the weekend, you can try Blush Lane Organic Market, or Planet Organic on Jasper Avenue to find the chicken, turkey, beef, pork and eggs.

You can taste the difference!

Twitter: @sunworksfarm

Instagram: https://instagram.com/sunworks_farm

 

Swiss 2 Go

Swiss 2 Go

Swiss 2 Go is one of those places in Edmonton that you kind of take for granted.  They have been in Edmonton serving Swiss style sandwiches and desserts since 2012.  I have had the pleasure of attending a couple of events catered by Swiss 2 Go but had never stopped by the storefront.  Their specialty is soup, sandwiches and dessert.

Narcity made photos of their teacup cheesecakes go viral and my dessert loving friend Brenna insisted that we make a girl date of it.

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I wanted to pop in and see what the rest of the menu was like before I invited all my ladies out.

My husband and I stopped by one evening for a sandwich and dessert.  Plenty of free parking available out front. When you walk into the café it is like walking in off the street into a grandmother’s kitchen.  Very cute knick knacks everywhere. It is an environment that feels very comforting. The menus are all handwritten chalkboards and selections rotate regularly.  There is a coffee bar, a selection of teas and always some citrus infused water available.

The sandwiches run around $10 – $12 for the smaller size.  Since we were there primarily to try the cheesecake, we opted for the smaller sized sandwich.  They are big!

The sandwiches are served on a bun that is a combination of brioche and pretzel.  It has a beautifully soft inside and that nice chewy crust with the kosher salt. You could almost put anything on that bun and call it delicious!  The sandwiches are made with such care and attention to detail, presented with a Swiss flag skewer to keep it all together. The fillings are made with quality ingredients and piled high.  I don’t know how anyone could finish one of the larger versions.

The teacup cheesecakes will run you $13.  Pricey? Not for what you get. They were almost too pretty to eat.  Once you get over the artistry and dig in, they are just as delicious as they are beautiful.  Hand made with quality ingredients. No artificial flavours or preservatives. We got to try one of the green tea versions and a fresh fig version.

When I spoke with the lovely Drita about bringing my group of ladies in, she was telling me that they have 150 different varieties of cheesecake.  She is always willing to create something new with the caveat that if it is popular, it goes on the menu! Drita was lovely enough to print me off the list of flavours so that I could let the ladies choose and order ahead.

It was exciting being able to see all of the flavours to choose from, but also a bit overwhelming because it may take me a couple of years to try them all!

We got our favourites picked and ordered in advance.  All of my ladies dressed up and wore their fancy hats.  We arrived – the place was PACKED! (this was Saturday afternoon)

PRO-TIP:  Swiss 2 Go does not take reservations!  We had no idea.

We finally managed to sweet talk another table into trading so that we could get two tables together which would be enough space to fit our large group.  Mission accomplished.

We enjoyed our mochas and lattes, and caught up on each other’s lives.  We had a delightfully lovely afternoon. The cheesecakes were heavenly. My flavour was honey lavender.  It was garnished with a sprig of dry lavender. So pretty.

Hicks on Six gave Swiss 2 Go a pretty amazing review and he can be a bit of a hard ass.  Budget and epicurean friendly. Go support local and give them a visit!

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Swiss2Go

 

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/swiss2go

 

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/swiss2go/

 

OSFM Quarterly Local Food Tour – Picnic Edition

OSFM Quarterly Local Food Tour – Picnic Edition

One of the most epic places in the city of Edmonton to be able to support your local small businesses, find sustainable and healthy food choices and get that “Farm to Fork” experience is the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market

The market started outdoors in 1983 in the space that is now the free parking.  It is now Edmonton’s largest year-round indoor market with approximately 10,000 people through the door each Saturday. 

A team of Edmonton bloggers was invited to a meet and greet with some of the local producers and farmers this past weekend.  This was their first “food tour” and they called it the “Picnic Edition”. 

It was an early start for some, but the market gets busy (and quite crowded) quickly.


After we were all introduced to our lovely Hostess, April, we were on our way to our first stop which was Sunworks Farm

Sheila was very passionate when she was talking about her farm and the way that the animals are treated humanely and respectfully.  Coming from an indigenous background myself, this is something that has always been important to me.  The animals should be treated well, killed humanely and we should use as many parts from snout to tail as we are able.  Sunworks does all those things. 

Their farm was started because their daughter had such severe allergies and food sensitivities that they needed to be able to grow their own food.  They started out feeding themselves and through a few requests started raising a little bit more, and a little bit more until it grew into what it is today.  No farming background.  Amazing! 

Free range, BCSPCA certified humane, grass fed, certified organic and “as close to nature as possible”.

These folks are passionate about their farm and their animals and it shows.  The end products are delicious, good for you AND celiac safe and allergy free.  The Chicken Moroccan sausages are so good. 

 

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Sunworks has an open farm day on September 3.  Go and meet the family, have lunch and get a tour.  You need to REGISTER to attend.  See you there!  

 


Our next stop is now one of my new favourite things to eat!  

Alex from Golomein Noodle House introduced us to his fresh, healthy and convenient meal packs.

There is always a lovely story on how every small business started and Alex’s story is inspiring as well:

“Our Dad developed the recipe initially 52 years ago where he worked the streets of Brunei, as a hawker trying to earn enough money to support a family of 10.  Struggling agains all odds, he developed the awesome recipe he would later bring to North America”.

He made his noodles only to serve his friends, family and coworkers charging them only for their gas and their time it took them to visit his home.  He even delivered packages to his mother who always looked forward to the tasty treat. 

The fabulous noodles caught on and before long, everyone wanted more.  People searched for the delicious meals, but they were at the mercy of whenever Dad felt like making them and his kitchen was the only place this amazing taste could be found.

Alex, the youngest was unable to sleep one night , so he decided to do a marathon session of watching 5 episodes of “Dragon’s Den”.  Tired of beating his head in the corporate world, he decided a change was in order.

It brought back memories of the work his Dad put into his noodle recipe that he created over 50 years ago.  The noodles were so good that Alex’s childhood friend, Paris, would rid his way too small bike halfway across the city just to eat the noodles. 

Recognizing the incredible opportunity before him, he immediately told his 2 brothers, Albert and Allen.  Alex’s enthusiasm was infectious and it didn’t take much convincing to persuade his 2 siblings to join his quest to bring their dad’s noodle recipe to the masses.  All 3 brothers were excited about continuing their beloved Dad’s legacy and making noodles for future generations.”

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For the meal packs, the noodles are lovingly prepared and then packaged in a neatly folded square of butcher paper.  They are then frozen.  They are sold individually ($11) or in packages of 5 ($50).  You simply pop the frozen package, paper and all in the microwave for 5 to 6 minutes and then unfold the package to open and enjoy!  You don’t even need to transfer the contents to a plate or bowl.  They are available in beef or pork.  

If you crave them like I do, the family has a restaurant waaaaay in the south with a more varied menu. Worth the drive!


Next stop was Mojo Jojo Pickles and Preserves.  Johwanna has been an Edmonton staple for many years now.  She is definitely a pickling artist and knows how to make the vinegar bend to her will!

Salted caramel pear butter… Do I even need to say anything else?  We were treated to some very lovely marscapone grilled cheese sandwiches with some equally lovely pear butter to dip it in.  This was simply joy on the tongue!  The pear butter would go well with so many things, as do many of her pickled veggies.  Charcuterie anyone? 

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Johwanna was also sampling “Shrubs” which is a drinking vinegar.  I had no idea how tasty they are.  I am a new fan!  

If you can’t make it to the market, Johwanna has a store on the website where you can purchase most of the products. 


Nancy from Market Pizza was our next stop.  “Delicious take & bake pizza made with the finest ingredients”.   The booth smells amazing!  They offer samples all day. 

If you would like to make your own creation, they also offer frozen, ready-made crusts.  They have a secret recipe that makes it the lightest pizza crust that I have ever come across. It is not a thin crust, but it is light and airy, almost like the dough is whipped before baking.  

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The take & bake pizzas are frozen and are $15 each.  There are some amazing flavours available and it will be a different mix every Saturday at the market.  I tried the Bacon Cheeseburger and the Donair pizzas.  It was like you were eating a cheeseburger or a donair, just a flat version without the traditional bun or wrap.  Both of them were delicious, but my favourite out of the two was the donair pizza.  A donair eating experience without all the mess!  

I can’t wait to get my hands on another.  


Monica with Rainbow Acres was our next stop.  Berry farm extraordinaire!! 

How Rainbow Acres farms differently:

From Dave’s own market garden specific equipment to their modified old granary pack house, Dave and Monica are masters at making use of materials to fit their needs. This kind of instinctual innovation is part of what makes their operation so unique.

Their incredible variety of crops is a result of their eagerness to try anything new that comes to their attention. They like to “dabble” in many crops to see what will thrive on their land and add to their already diverse produce offerings. Anytime something new comes up, they want to try it out.

When they started in 1989, Dave and Monica were cautioned against doing fruits and veggies at the same time because their harvest seasons overlapped. While it can be an intense work load, they’ve been making it work for years. While most of their fruit is used in processing their delicious jams, jellies and juices, in her commercial kitchen Monica also processes many of the veggies that are leftover from market. To make sure none of their product ever goes to waste, Rainbow Acres regularly donates left over fresh produce to the Edmonton and Leduc Food Banks.

And those are just the Coles notes!  Rainbow Acres is famous for their carrots, but they have a wide selection of preserves to choose from at the market.  These are some hard working farmers!  

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I used to help my Grandmother with the canning, pickles and jam.  It’s a lot of hard work!  Rainbow Acres makes it easy for you to stock up for the winter and to pop a few of their products into a gift basket at Christmas time (its close folks!) 


Martina’s Vegan House, where veggies are sexy, is up next. 

I got the impression that the Peanut Brittle is what Martina’s passion is.  Vegan Peanut Brittle is available in the regular version, or the spicy version.  The spicy version is amazing.  

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Martina has frozen vegan meals, soups and stews at her booth for all of you folks that are passionate about plant based eating!


Doef’s Greenhouses visit was a bit of an eye opener.  The family has been farming since 1979.  What is grown today is all done hydroponically in greenhouses which allows vegetable production all year round.  Currently the greenhouses span 11 acres and employ 50 people. I had no idea that we even had such an operation near Edmonton.  

Tomatoes are what they started with, their grape tomatoes are juicy and full of flavour. The main crops continue to be Long English cucumbers, mini cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers, with small amounts of eggplant and hot peppers as well.

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Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery was the next stop.  My Grandfather kept bees so I was fortunate to see the whole process of how the honey was extracted from the hives.  A sweet treat for me as a child was to be able to chew on the beeswax that had a bit of honey left behind.  As an adult I still love the smell of beeswax and used to be obsessed with making candles. 

From the website: 

“Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery straddles the fine line between naughty and nice – and sometimes more. Flirtatiously flavored and seductively styled, our full-bodied wines and mead are always up for a one night stand or an evening rendezvous. 

But, you can’t have your Marilyn Monroe without your Jackie-O.

A little restraint can make a true romance.

So how do you like it? The purity and innocence of the Bird? Or the seductive tease of the Bee?”

The statement above from the website sums things up quite nicely.  Naughty names like “Kinky Cranberry” and “Big Tease Raspberry” adorn the bottles.  If you visit the website, it gives you the sassy profile of the wine and tells you what it pairs best with.  

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The wines and meads are available at some liquor stores in Edmonton. Liquor Connect can help you find them! 


Ben was next up with Farm Fresh Lamb/Blacksheep Farm 

Another reason why I love the farmer’s market: Sustainably grown & humanely treated without the use of animal by-products or growth promotants.  No antibiotics, no animal by-products.  The sheep are fed a mixture of oats, barley, yellow peas and alfalfa hay grown on the farm in the Peace Country, and allowed to pasture graze during the summer months.

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I find that when you treat the animals well and give them a good diet, the meat tastes much better.  With lamb, if it is butchered properly, it doesn’t have that “gamey” taste that a lot of people complain about.  I am going to be looking up all kinds of lamb recipes now!  

 


Last, but certainly not least was Sean from Mighty Trio.  (no website)  From Organic Box:
 
“Mighty Trio Organics is a family owned and operated business located on a beautiful acreage just outside of Redwater Alberta. They are both a manufacturer and distributer of highly nutritious, fresh foods such as hemp, flax, and canola oils. This allows them the opportunity to interact directly with customers and seed producers. By bringing people closer to the farms where their food is grown they are able to provide the freshest, most nutrient rich foods available. Mighty Trio Organics values the environment and supports local businesses, which is why they only use seeds that are grown as close to their facility as possible. By supporting Mighty Trio Organics you are also supporting local farmers and because their products have not traveled great distances, you are also making a friendlier choice for our planet. Mighty Trio Organics provides you and your family with the fats, fibers, proteins and nutrients essential for healthy bodies and minds. To your good health!”

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Smoke Point” is a thing.  Hemp is not recommended for frying.  Canola on the other hand has a pretty high smoke point compared to other oils.  So the hemp and flax oils are great for salad dressings etc.  In fact Culina has done a collaboration project with Mighty Trio to make their salad dressing. 

This food tour was an absolutely wonderful experience.  It gave me the opportunity to get to know the people behind the brand.  I am very passionate about shopping local, but not necessarily someone that will approach the owners to get to know them.  This was very informative and very fun.  

I look forward to meeting more of the vendors for the next round, and sharing them with you! 

 

Northern Bites; Showcasing Local Producers and Talent

Northern Bites; Showcasing Local Producers and Talent

Northern Bites is the brainchild of Jacquie Fenske and Monique MacDonald.  Jacquie is part of the Fifendekel family and Monique is one of Edmonton’s social media influencers.  Monique is also on the teams for Spirits on Ice and Sherwood Park Cravings.  These two lovely ladies have partnered together to bring you unique tour experiences to meet local small businesses in Edmonton and the surrounding counties.  It was quite the tour!

After we RSVP’d to our invite, we were sent an email requesting that we meet at Fifendekel to board the limousine that would be leaving promptly at 6pm.  Limo?  Swanky!

We were treated to a bagged lunch from Fifendekel.  Wow, did that bring back memories!  They have been an Edmonton staple for 35 years.  I have had the pleasure of being able to indulge in many catered lunches through various workplaces over the years.  Quality ingredients, quality food.

During the ride to the farm, we were treated to a presentation by Chocolates by Terry.  This is a lady that started out her whole business with a batch of chocolate covered pecan bark.  It was so popular that she decided she might need to make a business out of it.  This is her retirement project so there is no retail storefront, custom orders only!  Everything is made fresh to order and has a shelf life of approximately 3 months.

Before we knew it, we were pulling up to Thiel’s Greenhouses in the Bruderheim area.   We were introduced to our lovely host family and educated on the different types of Saskatoon berries.  (I had no idea that there were different varieties!)

Malcolm also showed off his very unique titanium Morse code glyph pendants.  Super talented creator.  A beautiful way to put a message onto a piece of jewelry to gift to a loved one.

We were sent on our way with our pint sized pail to speed pick the saskatoons.  By chance, it was also the Scotford Hutterite Colony’s night to pick berries as well.  The ladies came with their berry picking belts and pails and settled down to work.  Unbeknownst to me, the Hutterites are known for singing while they work.  These ladies had beautiful voices!  I could have picked berries all night listening to them sing their hymns while they picked.  This was my favourite memory of the night.

Speed picking it was!  Fill that pail up and off we go!  The lovely Nancy made us some scrumptious Saskatoon and Rosemary Ice Cream to sample before we got back in the limo.  We were also gifted with some creeping Rosemary seedlings to plant at home.  They smelled absolutely delicious.

Sparkling conversation took place for the ride back to Fifendekel.  It was lovely to get to know our hosts and our fellow influencers.  Edmonton is so fortunate to have such a vast and diverse group of people that want to promote everything local!

When we arrived back at Fifendekel, our baking stations were all set up for us and ready to go.  I have never made a scratch pie in my life, so this was a little intimidating for me.  We washed our berries and then followed the recipe (see below).

Thankfully the pie crust was pre-mixed and rolled out for us already.  I remember many battles with that damn rolling pin and being covered head to toe in flour.  I am NOT a good baker! I have, however, watched many food television shows and was at least able to fake it.

I managed to get the berries into the bottom crust and make the top crust into a flower cutout.  I think I even managed to flute the edges so that they didn’t look too bad.

The pies went into the oven.  They needed to bake for 50 minutes so we were treated to another couple of special guests.

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Camola Sustainable Foods was first up.  I have been following them for a couple of months now doing my research on cricket flour and the sustainability factors of growing crickets versus cattle.  Due to a personal setback, I haven’t gotten that blog post up yet, but it is coming in this month’s edition of The Edmonton Muse!

Don’t let the whole “cricket” thing turn you off of the products.  They are both delicious and nutritious.  There is no “off” flavour.  If you didn’t know that there was cricket flour in these products, you would not be able to tell the difference between a normal biscotti and a bugscotti.  Be brave, try one!

Camola’s products are available for purchase on their website, or you can buy them in person at one of the farmer’s markets that they attend on a weekly basis.  They will also be growing their own crickets within the next couple of months.  It is an exciting time for them.

Rig Hand Distillery was on hand to sample about 12 different flavours of vodka, gin, brum, moonshine and whisky.  I have had a previous opportunity to get a super quick tour of the distillery and one of their tasty garlic vodka ceasars!  Clearly I need to pop back in for a complete tour soon.  Many flavours in all of the different categories.  All of them use ingredients available right here in Alberta and no added sugars.  My favourite was the raspberry vodka.  I love the “no added sugar” concept.  You actually get to taste the flavour of the raspberries in all of their natural glory.

Jacquie Fenske from Fifendekel gave us a bit of history on the business.  It is 35 years young this year.  Originally it was started out as an ice cream business.  The name comes from a family “urban legend” from one of the uncles.  When you were misbehaving, it was all because of Phillip Fifendekel, a mischievous imp.

Eventually, the ice cream business wasn’t lining up around the block any longer because people were becoming more health conscious and the popularity of ice cream was going down hill.  This is where the sandwiches took over.  The meats are all roasted in house.  Nothing is processed.  All of the ingredients are fresh and lovingly prepared.  Famously fast, friendly and flavourful.  Nothing pretentious here!

Fifendekel is most famous for those pies.  A different featured flavour every month.  When good things go into a product, deliciousness comes out.  Fifendekel pies are no exception.  Family recipes, simple and unique ingredients, tasty dessert.

Monique gave us a bit of information on Spirits on Ice.  This is part of the Silver Skate festival that takes place each year in Hawrelak park.  Enjoy food and drink samples from local vendors inside a heated tent.  Live music, firepits and a beautiful winter atmosphere are here to enjoy.  Admission is free, you just pay for your food and drink tickets.

Special packages were available at last year’s event where $20 would get you admission to the Ice Castle and 10 tasting tickets.  What a great date night idea!

Jacquie also filled us in about #MustardDayAB which will take place on August 13.  Chicks n Chaps has a little competition going where you can win some prizes for the best recipe using mustard.

Our pies were finally done baking, the whole process smelled so good that it was making everyone’s mouth water!  It is such a delicious recipe that I thought I would share it with you below:

Fifendekel Saskatoon Pie

One of the featured flavours during the month of July.  Use fresh local ingredients. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Fifendekel

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cup saskatoons freshly picked
  • 2 9 inch pie crust
  • 1 tbsp butter cut into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt together. Sprinkle over top of saskatoons and mix together gently.


  3. Line dish with one pie crust. Add saskatoons. Dot with butter.


  4. Get creative with that top crust! Cut into 1/2 inch strips and make a lattice, or place the second crust on top and make some slits for ventilation.


  5. For some added flair, you can sprinkle the top of the crust with a bit of extra sugar.


  6. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Northern Bites is a bit too new to have a website up and running just yet, but you can find them on all of the popular social media platforms:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

They will surely have some exciting tours coming up soon!  Go and give them a follow and experience some of the delicious local producers that Edmonton and area has to offer.