Sunday, August 24, 2014

Heritage Festival 2014

With Edmonton being known as Festival City, it's not hard to come up with a list of festivals to look forward to attending every summer... Taste of Edmonton, K-Days, Fringe Festival. One summer festival that has always been on my list is Heritage Festival (! Servus Heritage Festival is a 3 day showcase highlighting Canada's multicultural heritage, located in William Hawrelak Park. They feature 60 pavilions representing over 85 cultures from all over the world! At these cultural pavilions, you are able to sample a variety of culinary delights, watch performances, and shop for clothing, artwork, crafts, and other neat items. The best part about this festival is that admission is free! Transportation via bus, buying food tickets, or purchasing items would be the only instances when you'd have to spend money. You could definitely attend the festival without needing to spend money and still have a great time! 

Heritage Festival occurs during the August long weekend, but I didn't have time to go until the very last day of the event - Monday, August 4th. CJ and I arrived there early in the afternoon to have lots of time to enjoy the festival without fear of food running out! Yes, the food will always be my favourite part of the festival. Every year, I carefully look through the festival menu and plan out what food and drink items I want to get, depending on the number of tickets I buy. I usually get 30 tickets for $25.00, but this year I wanted to try even more food! I decided to go for 42 tickets which cost me $35.00. 

If you've ever been to Heritage Festival, you'll know just how large the area is! The pavilions are spread all over Hawrelak Park, so it really helps to have one of the Site Maps with you. CJ, my friends and I decided to start at one end of the festival and make our way around, checking out each pavilion along the way. 


First stop: the Dutch pavilion at Site 58 to pick up Poffertjes (6 tickets). Poffertjes are tiny Dutch pancakes served hot from the griddle, with melted butter and powdered sugar. I don't really like pancakes in general, but I couldn't resist trying out these smaller sized ones! The pancakes were light and fluffy but just a little buttery, while the powdered sugar added the right amount of sweetness. Yummy! I thought this was perfect for sharing with my friends. 

Latin Fried Ice Cream.

One of the food items that caught my eye was Latin Fried Ice Cream (6 tickets) from Nicaragua at Site 37. When we got there, we only ended up having to pay 4 tickets instead of 6! Apparently the rainy weather was affecting the number of ice creams being sold, so they decided to reduce the cost. This dessert is deep fried vanilla ice cream rolled in crispy flakes with brown sugar and cinnamon, topped with whipped cream and strawberries on the side. The fried outer layer was a little hard to break through at first, but when I got around to taking a bite of the crispy flakes and ice cream together, it was heaven in my mouth. So good!!! The brown sugar and cinnamon definitely made the crispy flakes more flavourful, and I thought the strawberries were the perfect touch. While most people return to Heritage Festival for the classic Elephant Ears, I would come back for this ice cream! I highly recommend giving this dessert a try for next year! 


Now for something savoury: Takoyaki (3 tickets) from the Japanese pavilion at Site 32. The first time I heard about takoyaki was while watching an episode of One Piece. After finally reaching the Red Line, the Straw Hat Pirates help a mermaid named Keimi and talking starfish named Pappug, who offer to give them some takoyaki to express their thanks. I clearly remember Luffy cheering for takoyaki along the way to meet with Hatchan, who runs a takoyaki stand. Since then, I've always wanted to try this dish! Takoyaki is essentially an octopus dumpling served with sauce. I've never had octopus before, so I was a bit nervous to try it! Unfortuately, this particular dumpling wasn't as pleasant as I thought it would be. I thought the flour-based batter was a little gummy for my liking, and the octopus itself was a bit tough to chew. The sauce it was served with was mildly spicy, but overall just okay. If I ever try takoyaki again in the future, I'm hoping it will taste better than this one. 

Fresh Lemonade Drink.

Several years ago at Heritage Festival, I remember wanting to get something refreshing to drink. I ended up getting the Fresh Lemonade Drink (4 tickets) from Borneo at Site 30. At the time I was thinking, "this is the best lemonade I've ever tasted". Since that time, I've always gotten this drink every year at Heritage Festival. Unfortunately, every year after that one just hasn't been the same. Instead of the amazing, sweet lemonade I had in the past, this drink is now just your average lemonade. I don't know why I still keep getting it though. Maybe out of hope that one year, it will be the same lemonade that it was before! Oh well. 

Mango Slices with Sticky Rice.

Right next to the Borneo pavilion was Thailand, at Site 29. Here I wanted to try the Mango Slices with Sticky Rice (5 tickets), which is a popular Thai dessert. This dessert consists of coconut milk sweetened sticky rice with ripe mango slices. Once I had this dish in my hands, I could immediately smell the sweet coconut aroma from the sticky rice. Yum! The mango was perfectly ripe and juicy, and the sticky rice was sweet and melted in my mouth. This dessert is definitely on the heavier side compared to more classic Western desserts, so I would give this one a try if you're looking for something new and different! I'm looking forward to getting this dessert again if I ever check out some of Edmonton's Thai restaurants. 

Melon Drink.

Whenever I go to Heritage Festival, I do my best to sample food from places I usually wouldn't try. In other words, avoid all Asian pavilions - particularly the pavilion of my own heritage! However, there is one item from the Philippines pavilion at Site 16 that will always keep me coming back: the Melon Drink (3 tickets)! I absolutely love this drink. Sometimes my mom makes this at home, and I'm pretty sure I'm the one drinking most of it! This chilled drink is composed of shredded cantaloupe and sugar, so it is nice and sweet but also very refreshing. CJ and I grabbed a fork because we knew we'd want to scoop up the remaining pieces of cantaloupe after the liquid would be all gone (why let something so good go to waste? Haha). If you're going to get a drink, make it this one! So good and only 3 tickets! 

Chicken Curry.

Okay, time to get a more filling meal for CJ and myself! I decided to get us Chicken Curry (7 tickets) from Fiji at Site 14. This dish consists of chicken pieces cooked with spices, garlic, and oil served with either rice or roti. We chose to get ours with rice. I thought the chicken was cooked well with a unique combination of spices, and the bed of rice underneath was fresh and warm. This dish was hearty and was a perfect break after having so many desserts and sweeter beverages. Both CJ and I wished that there was more chicken though! 


Another more filling dish: Latkes (5 tickets) from Israel at Site 2. Latkes are fried shredded potato and onion pancakes, served with apple sauce. The pancakes were hot and quite flavourful, and they were actually very filling as well! I was already feeling stuffed after eating the first pancake. The inside had a fluffy texture but the outside was perfectly crispy. I think I would've liked the dish better if the apple sauce itself was sweeter! I thought it lacked much needed sweetener, like sugar or honey. Unfortunately, CJ didn't enjoy these pancakes as much as I did. 

Shrimp Chips.

At this point, 5 tickets remained out of the 42 I purchased earlier. However, one of my friends needed to leave early, so she gave her 6 remaining tickets to CJ and I! More food for us! I hadn't really planned for having extra tickets, so it took me some time to figure out what to get. CJ just wanted something simple and didn't want to walk too far, so I chose to get a bag of Shrimp Chips (4 tickets) from the Hong Kong pavilion at Site 24 which was nearby. Both of us have had shrimp chips countless times, so why did I choose to get this? Because it's addictive and colourful, that's why! This is definitely one of my favourite snacks - light, crunchy, and full of shrimp flavour. 

Jugo de Pina.

CJ is always looking for something to drink, so we ended up getting Jugo de Pina (3 tickets) from Ecuador at Site 25. This pineapple juice was smooth, sweet and very thirst quenching. Delicious! 

Empanada de Queso.

Last food item of the day! CJ and I were ready to go home, so we just got another item from Ecuador instead of walking around some more. We got the Empanada de Queso (4 tickets), which is a deep fried dough filled with mozzarella cheese. The empanada had a beautiful golden brown colour, and was flaky after taking a bite out of it. CJ and I actually thought it would be filled completely with the mozzarella cheese, but we found that it had a hollow interior with the cheese lining the inner sections of the dough. Very simple and satisfying dish to finish off our day at Heritage Festival! 

Heritage Festival 2014 was so much fun! All the food and drink I sampled were delicious, and I loved being able to try new things from different cultures all over the world. It's a great experience to see so many people coming together in one spot to celebrate Canada's multiculturalism and cultural diversity. Mine and CJ's favourite dish of the day had to be the Latin Fried Ice Cream, hands down. I'm already so excited for next year's Heritage Festival, which will be their 40th Anniversary! See you then!

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