Friday, July 31, 2015

Taste of Edmonton 2015

Hey everyone! I was away for the past two weeks for a family vacation to Las Vegas and Southern California. I'm going to be writing a few blog posts about the food adventures I had during my trip, so stay tuned for those. For now, I want to share my experience at this year's Taste of Edmonton! 

Taste of Edmonton is an annual 10 day summer food festival that takes place in Churchill Square. It is an event where you can sample a variety of food and drinks offered by some of Edmonton's restaurants and food trucks. Additionally there are music performances, culinary workshops, evening pop ups, and so much more to create a fun experience for everyone. 

Taste of Edmonton in Churchill Square.

Now it has come to my attention that there has been a lot of discussion about the festival, mostly in response to Edmonton Sun writer Graham Hicks who described this year's Taste of Edmonton as "awful". I know many people who wholeheartedly agree with him that the event has gone downhill and has seen better years, but there are also many people who disagree completely. So where do I stand? In my opinion, it's a matter of asking yourself what you expect when you visit... I attend this festival to have a good time with my loved ones, enjoy the weather, and sample some (hopefully) delicious food. I've always had a great experience during the years I've visited Taste of Edmonton, and this year was just as awesome. Check out Linda's recap on this year's Taste of Edmonton - I agree with her thoughts on the festival!

Alright, let's move on with this post! I arrived in Edmonton from my vacation just in time for Taste of Edmonton's last day. Cutting it really close for sure. The weather was perfect for an afternoon in the heart of Downtown trying lots of new food. This year CJ and I purchased only 20 food tickets for $25, half of what we got last year. Click here to read my recap of Taste of Edmonton 2014

City Market Vegetable Salad.

To start off our day at Taste of Edmonton, CJ and I headed over to the booth for Zinc Restaurant to try their City Market 104 Vegetable Salad (3 tickets). If you know me, you'll know that I am not a salad person. In fact, I don't really like most vegetables. This year, however, I wanted to try something new... something I would not normally pick. After reading Sharon's review of this salad in her Taste of Edmonton 2015 recap, I decided to give this one a shot. I'm glad I did! Dressed in champagne and lemon olive oil, this salad was refreshing but also really tasty. As CJ said, "I would eat salads more often if they were made like this!". 

Banana Bread Pudding.

I've heard many great things about Zinc's Banana Bread Pudding (3 tickets), so I knew I needed to try it this year. Served with caramel sauce, whipped cream, and a bruleed banana slice on top, this dessert was absolutely delicious. It was warm, comforting, and not too sweet. All the components worked well together and I can see why this dessert is a consistent favourite for many people year after year. 

Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich.

Next up was the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich (3 tickets) from Sandwich and Sons. In between the marbled rye bread were some tender and juicy shaved brisket along with house mustard and sauerkraut. This sandwich was a nice, light bite and had me wishing I didn't have to share the other half with CJ! 

Cauliflower Fritto.

CJ and I tried the Cauliflower Fritto (3 tickets), one of the offerings from The Parlour (Century Hospitality Group). We were given 4 pieces of deep fried cauliflower, but I accidentally dropped one piece on our way to a table! Nevertheless, CJ and I thought the portion was still great despite me having dropped a piece. This dish was quite hot when we received it, so that was good news. The cauliflower was also a nice quality and seasoned well. Paired with garlic aioli for dipping, this dish was a hit between the two of us. 

Buffalo Chicken Bombs.

I'll admit that I was enticed to try the Buffalo Chicken Bombs (3 tickets) because of its name. A new offering from O2's Tap House and Grill, these "bombs" were filled with hot sauce, chicken, bacon, and much to my surprise, cream cheese. These small deep fried stuffed wontons were only mildly spicy, but they weren't too memorable for me. On the other hand, CJ enjoyed them more and said they were pretty good. 

Chinese Mini Donuts.

I'm always trying to squeeze in dessert items whenever I attend a food festival! For my second dessert of the day, I decided to try the new Chinese Mini Donuts (2 tickets) from The Lingnan Restaurant. The appearance of these mini donuts were very different compared to what many of us are used to seeing, so I wasn't sure what to expect taste-wise! Our first bite had us thinking of soft pretzels... the exterior of the donut was firm but the inside was a little fluffy. The sugar and glaze added the sweetness necessary for this to be considered a dessert. 

Tuscan Meatloaf.

Last but not least was the Tuscan Meatloaf with Pesto-Truffle Aioli (3 tickets) from Fantasia Caffe & Catering. I wanted something more filling and savoury so this meatloaf definitely hit the spot. The cubed meatloaf was cooked well, paired nicely with the aioli, and was a good portion size to boot. 

Even though CJ and I tried fewer food items this year, I'm happy that we were able to try more new dishes. In fact, out of the 7 dishes we tried, 6 of them were marked as new dishes on Taste of Edmonton's restaurant menu. Both of us didn't leave feeling full though, but then again we chose to just save our money and not purchase any more food tickets. Overall, our experience at Taste of Edmonton this year was enjoyable. I noticed there was more seating throughout the Square which was great. We spent less time walking around trying to find a seat and more time enjoying our food. In terms of line-ups and waiting times for food... pretty much non-existent. We got our food quickly because we didn't have to wait in lines, with the only exceptions being The Lingnan and Sandwich and Sons (although both their lines were short and moved fast anyways). The food we tried was tasty overall, with mine and CJ's favourite being Zinc's City Market Vegetable Salad. For next year, I recommend purchasing food tickets in advance for 20% off - especially if you want to try lots of food! Taste of Edmonton is a staple summer festival for many and an event I will continue to attend for years to come. 

Follow Taste of Edmonton on Twitter (@TasteOfEdm), Instagram (@tasteofedm), and check them out on Facebook as well. Also, what do you think of Taste of Edmonton relocating? Do you think they have outgrown Churchill Square or should they stay? Personally, as long as the festival is easily accessible by public transportation, I would be okay wherever it is. Let me know what you think!

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