Thursday, August 6, 2015

Heritage Festival 2015

August long weekend is not complete without a trip to William Hawrelak Park for the annual Servus Heritage Festival. This 3-day showcase highlighting Canada's multicultural heritage is my favourite summer festival because there are so many things to see and do: shop for clothing and artwork, watch performances, make crafts, and (the best part!) try culinary delights from approximately sixty pavilions which represent over 85 cultures.

I visited Heritage Festival on its very last day, just like last year (click here to read my recap of Heritage Days 2014). It was super hot and sunny outside but I was determined to survive the heat and visit all the pavilions on my list!

A full sheet of 30 food tickets.

I usually go for at least 30 food tickets for the price of $25 each year. However, prior to the festival, I entered a giveaway by Edmonton Tourism for 30 food tickets and much to my surprise, I was one of the winners!

Thank you Edmonton Tourism for your generosity! I was pretty stoked that I was able to save money this time around.

Fruit Punch Tropicana Slushee.

As much as I wanted to use the tickets for only food, a cold, thirst quenching beverage was a must to combat the summer heat. I decided to try the Tropicana Slushee (5 tickets) from Indonesia (Site 57). The fresh, fruit punch flavour of this icy drink was perfect to cool down with.


5 new pavilions joined Heritage Festival this year so I wanted to make sure I visited some of them. The first new pavilion I checked out was South Sudan (Site 12A) to try their Tameya (3 tickets). These small deep fried balls consist of chick pea, oil, salt, onions, and a spice mixture. These bites were fried to a beautiful colour and had a soft texture inside. They were also packed with flavour and not too spicy either. I only wish there were more than 3 pieces! But so far, a great way to start off an afternoon of trying new food.

Fried Haitian Chicken.

Another new pavilion I visited was Haiti (Site 9) to try their Fried Haitian Chicken (6 tickets). The two pieces of chicken had a thinly fried exterior but the inside was tender and juicy. I also really liked how this menu item was served with rice for a more filling meal. However, I would say that the real standout was the salad - a refreshing bite followed by a spicy kick that built up as you ate more.

Halo Halo.

I was not planning on getting Halo-Halo (9 tickets) from Philippines (Site 16) at all, but my friend suggested sharing it between 3 of us. Halo-Halo translates to "mix-mix" in Tagalog because of the need to mix the shaved ice, milk, sugar, ice cream, and sweetened fruits together. But for the hefty cost of 9 tickets, this particular Halo-Halo left me disappointed. This treat definitely lacked colour... where was the bright green or red nata de coco? Or the purple ube halaya or ube ice cream? Part of why I enjoy eating Halo-Halo is having a variety of components for even more flavour but I felt this one didn't deliver on that end. I also thought it was a little strange adding in shredded cantaloupe (also used in their Melon Drink). However, this treat was great for keeping us cool but I wouldn't recommend it just because it was quite expensive for what it was. 

Lebanese Style Fries.

The last new pavilion I decided to check out was Lebanon (Site 30) for their Lebanese Style Fries (5 tickets). The fries were hot and fresh, perfectly crispy, and paired very well with the delicious garlic dip and parsley. It was heaven in my mouth! Normally I would wish for more garlic dip but the fries were actually quite good on their own too. 


If you read my recap of last year's adventure at Heritage Festival, you might remember that I was inspired to try Japan's (Site 32) takoyaki because of an anime. Well, the same thing goes for this year. Episode 17 of Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma was all about kara-age so I wanted to see for myself what kara-age was all about. And what better place to try it than at Heritage Festival? Kara-age (5 tickets) is marinated and coated deep fried chicken. The one I received was excellent: fried to a perfect golden brown, crispy on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside. This was hands down the best food item I tried all day! Now I know why there was so much hype about this dish in Food Wars. You can bet that I'll be hunting for chicken kara-age next time I'm craving Japanese.


Finally time for something sweet! I went for Picarones (5 tickets) from Peru (Site 36) to satisfy my sweet tooth. Picarones are fried Peruvian donuts served with syrup. These donuts don't look like much, but they were unexpectedly delightful. The exterior had a satisfying crunch but the inside was soft and fluffy. They also had a subtle spicy sweet taste which truly made these one-of-a-kind. The syrup also added just the right amount of sweetness. These Peruvian donuts were another favourite of mine, and CJ even described them as "killer". 

Fruit Punch Drink.

My friend ended up giving me her leftover food tickets, so CJ and I just used them for a nice, cold beverage. We got ourselves two Fruit Drinks (2 tickets) from Ukraine (Site 3) to cap off our day at the festival. If you're looking for a simple, fruity drink to keep cool then I would suggest making your way to Ukraine because they offer a 16 oz drink for just 2 tickets (whereas other pavilions have 16 oz drinks at 4 tickets or more). It's also cheaper than the beverage tents which sell drinks for 3 tickets. Just something to keep in mind for next year's festival! 

It was super fun to take part in the festival's 40th Anniversary and try out new food from many different cultures. The festive sights, sounds, and smells in a beautiful outdoor setting all made for a wonderful afternoon celebrating Canada's multicultural heritage.  A huge thanks once again to Edmonton Tourism for the food tickets! I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store for next year's Servus Heritage Festival. Don't forget to give Servus Heritage Festival a follow on Twitter (@EdmHeritageFest). 

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