Monday, December 22, 2014

Flirt Cupcakes

I'm sure we all know how amazing cupcakes are... a moist cake topped with sweet and delicious frosting... I'm craving a cupcake just from writing this! I've made it a goal of mine to check out all of Edmonton's cupcakeries, and I'm slowly but surely getting there. The cupcakery (or cupcake bakery) that I last took a trip to would be Flirt Cupcakes (, located on Whyte Ave. They also have another shop in Downtown on Jasper Ave, which I've passed by a few times before.

CJ and I had purchased a Groupon for Flirt Cupcakes at the start of our summer break, so we visited the cupcakery just a few days before the deal expired! Lol, cutting it close for sure. I didn't really think about taking a picture of the interior since CJ and I were in and out fairly quickly. However, the Flirt Cupcakes Whyte Ave location has a decent size space with some seating inside, which is great if you want to stay in to snack on your sweet treat. 

A Dozen Mini Cupcakes.

The deal we had at Flirt Cupcakes were a dozen Mini Cupcakes (normally $16.95) at a discounted price of $8.99. I loved all the fun and bright colours of the frosting! It was very hard to divide the cupcakes between CJ and I... at least we each got one red velvet! 

Here is my best attempt at naming all the cupcakes in the above picture, from left to right: 
Top Row: Cookie Dough, Fury, Fantasy Island, The Flirt.
Middle Row: Coffee Date, Heartbreaker, Heartbreaker, Sweet Georgia Brown.
Bottom Row: Basic Instinct, Wild on Whyte, Orange Creamsicle, Cookies & Cream.

Sweet Georgia Brown.

All the cupcakes I had were heavenly! Fury and Heartbreaker were at the top of my list, but the one that stood out the most to me was definitely the Sweet Georgia Brown. This one is a brown sugar and cinnamon cake topped with cream cheese frosting and a Teddy Graham. SO GOOD! I'm not kidding when I say that this is one of the best cupcakes I've had. Just the right amount of sweetness too. I want to come back to purchase the regular sized cupcake in this flavour for sure. 

Be sure to hit up Flirt Cupcakes to satisfy your cupcake craving! I found that the price of their cupcakes are just slightly higher compared to other cupcakeries in the Whyte Ave and Old Strathcona area, but they still have the Groupon deal going on for both their locations! Get it before it's gone! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Teriyaki Corner

Do you have a go-to spot for late dinners? CJ and I certainly do! We always find ourselves heading to Teriyaki Corner (, a Japanese bistro serving gourmet food in a casual setting. There are 4 locations in Edmonton that are easy to get to from the Anthony Henday, but the one we usually frequent is their newest Southwest location in Windermere Crossing. 

The interior.

My favourite thing about Teriyaki Corner are the swing seats! The photo above doesn't do a good job at showing the swings, but it is essentially sturdy ropes that hold a long wooden seat in place. So much fun to sit on, even though you can't swing too much on these seats. CJ and I always go for a table with swing seats whenever we can!

Our food.

On our very first visit here, CJ and I just couldn't decide what to get! Teriyaki Corner offers a variety of Japanese appetizers, rice and noodle bowls, and a huge selection of rolls. They also have several bubble tea options and a few desserts. There is definitely something for everyone here. 

Dragon Roll.

When in doubt, go for Dragon Rolls ($9.67)! A fried spicy salmon roll with avocado, cucumber, and creamy dragon sauce, this dish will always be a favourite of mine. If you're not feeling too hungry, you can also order 4 pieces instead of 8 for $5.95. Sadly, these particular dragon rolls were just okay in my opinion. I was really hoping for a slightly thicker fried exterior rather than the thin one I got. The salmon inside also had a weird mushy texture. I also wish there was just a bit more spice! 

Japanese Curry Rice Bowl with Chicken.

Instead of a roll, CJ opted for their Japanese Curry Rice Bowl with Chicken ($8.24). Bean sprouts are served alongside the chicken and rice, but you could also get this bowl with beef or pork tenderloin. CJ enjoyed this simple yet tasty dish, finishing everything in his bowl. I didn't try any, but it sure smelled good next to me! 

Chocolate Strawberry (left) and Chocolate Banana (right).

For drinks, we both chose from their list of Real Fruit Bubble Favourites ($5.48): Chocolate Strawberry for CJ, and Chocolate Banana for myself. I asked for no tapioca balls in my drink. I thought my bubble tea tasted pretty good - the chocolate and banana flavours perfectly complemented each other, and none of the flavours would overpower the other. Unfortunately for CJ, he didn't like his drink too much. He asked me why it seemed like he'd always end up choosing the not-so-great bubble tea flavour, as was the case when we went to Qup Cafe a few weeks before. Perhaps he's not as lucky as I am with bubble tea! 

Crazy Roll.

We ended up visiting again the following week for another late dinner. Since this Teriyaki Corner is located fairly close to our neighbourhood, coming here is definitely no trouble at all. We decided to share 8 pieces of their Crazy Roll ($8.48) which consists of imitation crab meat, avocado, cucumber, and egg with a fried tempura exterior. While I did appreciate the extra crunch from the fried exterior, the Crazy Roll was overall a big miss for me. I didn't enjoy the sauce drizzled over the roll: it had an unpleasant egg taste that was way too overwhelming for me. CJ didn't seem to mind, but I couldn't eat the roll unless I had pushed the sauce away. Oh well, there will always be some dishes at food places I don't enjoy. 

Tempura Green Tea Ice Cream.

CJ surprised me with dessert that night: Tempura Green Tea Ice Cream ($4.95). This was our first time trying tempura ice cream together, so I was very excited. This particular tempura ice cream wasn't the best though... the tempura itself was somewhat soggy and chewy instead of crispy. The tempura layer was also too thick compared to the amount of green tea ice cream that was inside. This was just an okay dessert for me. 

Chocolate Banana (left) and Mint Chocolate (right).

More bubble tea of course! This time, CJ was sure to pick the bubble tea that he knew tasted good - Chocolate Banana! I decided I would try something new so I went for the Mint Chocolate ($4.76) bubble tea which is under their list of Milk Favourites. I asked to have no tapioca balls, but ended up getting them anyways. Bleh. In terms of the flavour, I really liked the refreshing combination of mint and chocolate, but I did feel that the mint was slightly overpowering the chocolate. Still a great drink though! 

Teriyaki Meaty Roll.

Finally, on our most recent trip here, we decided to get the Teriyaki Meaty Roll ($8.48), another one of the rolls listed in their Unique Uramaki Rolls. The roll contains fried teriyaki chicken and beef with cucumber, along with a fried tempura coating on the outside. This is my personal favourite of the unique rolls at Teriyaki Corner! The meat inside was tender and juicy, and the crunch from the cucumber and tempura exterior was perfect. So good! I highly recommend giving this one a try! 

Teriyaki Corner is an awesome place to go if you're craving Japanese food and want casual dining. The food isn't particularly fancy or the most high end of its kind, but it's great if you want something quick, simple, and inexpensive. During the times CJ and I have visited this place, it always ended up being around 8:00 in the evening so it wasn't too busy at that time. There were only a few other people dining in, but most got their food to go. The atmosphere of the Southwest location is quite nice as well. Instead of the usual fast food places, consider checking out Teriyaki Corner for your next lunch or dinner!

Tres Carnales Taqueria

If you live in Edmonton, chances are you've heard of Tres Carnales Taqueria (, an authentic Mexican restaurant located in the heart of Downtown. Inspired by the sights and sounds of all the regions of Mexico, Tres Carnales offers tacos, tortas, and quesadillas, along with a couple sides and drinks. This restaurant is quite popular - I've seen several reviews and countless photos pop up on my Instagram and Twitter feeds. That being said, I was determined to check this place out. But here's the thing... CJ has something against Mexican food. He'll eat the food of course, but he just doesn't find it memorable for some reason. I, on the other end, absolutely love the bold and fresh flavours of Mexican food. So when one of my friends suggested we all check out Tres Carnales together, I obviously couldn't refuse her offer! Group dates are the perfect way to try restaurants that CJ or myself would otherwise not go to on our own. 

The interior.

One thing I liked about Tres Carnales is that it is easily accessible by public transportation. It is right across the stairs that will take you underground to Central LRT Station. Very convenient if you ask me. The inside of the restaurant isn't too big, and there aren't a lot of seats either. I enjoyed the unique and colourful light fixtures, and the decorations on the wall were great at highlighting Mexican culture. Overall, very fun and hipster vibes! 

The menu.

Hmmm what should we try? That's the question CJ and I would ask each other while we waited for an open table. There were 4 of us, but one of our friends was late. Even then, we still couldn't be seated and they wouldn't take our order until all of us were present. I understand that they want to serve the food fresh, but I didn't really like having to stand up against the wall. Not to mention people who had smaller parties lined up behind us got to be served first. Eventually our friend showed up and we ordered our food *sigh of relief*. 

Guacamole y Totopos.

To start our lunch, we got Guacamole y Totopos ($7.38). The crunch of the chips was so good and paired nicely with the fresh guacamole. Perfect to snack on while we waited for our tacos! 

Jarritos Soda.

For our drinks, CJ and I got matching Jarritos Soda in Mango ($2.86). I don't usually go for carbonated drinks, but this was the best option for me. Jarritos uses 100% natural sugar in their drinks, so I did enjoy how sweet and fruity the mango flavour was. 

Our food.

Yum! Everything looked so good. Bright red, green, purple... the colours on our food were gorgeous. Tres Carnales believes in sustainability and farm to table: all their proteins except for the fish are farmed within 1 hour of the city. The bread and tortillas are also made fresh locally. Awesome!

Tacos de Pescado.

My friend and I decided to get their Tacos de Pescado ($10.48). This comes with lightly battered and fried Pacific Red Snapper with a fresh slaw on top. The crispy exterior of the fish was delicious and the combination of vegetables on top were the perfect accompaniment. However, I found that eating these tacos was a bit messy! The tortilla itself would fall apart as I ate, and I just found that there was too much slaw in some of the tacos. Even though there were only 3 tacos, I got full right away - don't be fooled by the small size of these, especially if you have a smaller stomach like I do! I've heard a lot of positive things about these fish tacos, and while I did enjoy it, I personally wouldn't call it a favourite or something I would come back for. 

Quesadillas Al Pastor.

CJ's pick: Quesadillas Al Pastor ($12.14). These quesadillas are filled with marinated and slow roasted pork. CJ ate all his food and said he enjoyed it, but he was still hungry afterwards! For him, 3 quesadillas weren't enough to fill him up. I gave him one of my fish tacos so he wouldn't be grumpy. Thank you CJ for being willing to try something new with me! 

Tacos de Pollo.

Finally, my other friend ordered Tacos de Pollo ($10.48). These tacos consist of marinated and locally farmed chicken. I probably would've chosen this dish, but I knew I wanted to try the super popular fish tacos first. 

So good!

I'm definitely glad that I finally got to check this place out! I recommend everyone in Edmonton to give Tres Carnales a try at least once in your life. The food is served fresh, and everything tasted like authentic Mexican street food. The fish tacos I got were good but not a favourite of mine, so I would love to order their other tacos sometime in the future. I'm happy that CJ agreed to come here and share the experience with me along with my friends! If you can't get enough of Tres Carnales, perhaps check out their second restaurant: Rostizado (, located in Mercer Warehouse on 104th Street. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Qup Cafe

Qup Cafe ( is a fairly new bubble tea establishment tucked away on 109th Street in the Garneau neighbourhood. It is within walking distance from the University, and since CJ and I were already there, I knew I wanted to check it out. Like a lot of the food places I've been to, I first heard about Qup Cafe on Instagram (@qupcafe). 

The interior.
Monopoly Wall.

To get into Qup Cafe, you have to open a small door on the street facing side of the building, which will then lead you up a narrow set of stairs. This place really takes "hidden gem" to the next level! The inside is on the smaller end, but it is quite cozy. There isn't a lot of decor except for the Monopoly Wall that adds a colourful and cute touch to the interior. 

The menu.

Along with bubble tea, Qup Cafe offers a variety of hot and cold Asian drinks, desserts, and a few savoury snacks. The food here is similar to the kind you would find at Dream Tea House. I knew I wanted to try their bubble tea along with a dessert. The servers were very friendly and we didn't have to wait too long for our food and drinks. 

Our food.

I was excited to get our huge bubble tea drinks, along with the food we had ordered! Time to dig in!

Make a Wish.

The first drink to come out was CJ's choice: the Make a Wish ($5.50), one of their Special Bubble Teas consisting of strawberry and peach. I thought the bright peachy pink colour was gorgeous, and I was of course impressed by the amount of bubble tea we got as well! After having a few sips of the drink, I could tell CJ didn't like it. He said it lacked a lot of sweetness, and that it was more on the icy side instead of milky. I tried some of this bubble tea, and I definitely agreed with him. 

Lovers and Friends.

The Special Bubble Tea I ordered was Lovers and Friends ($5.50), which has strawberry and banana. Let me just take a moment to say that the names of these bubble teas are really cute! Hehe. Compared to CJ's drink, Lovers and Friends was significantly better! The strawberry and banana were perfectly blended together, and the drink had just the right amount of creaminess and milkiness. I'm glad that I was able to add lychee pieces instead of tapioca balls to my drink as well. 

Green Onion Cake.

The first snack we tried was their Green Onion Cake ($5). CJ and I were immediately unimpressed when we saw this dish: it was essentially one thin piece of green onion cake cut into 8 tiny wedges. The portion of the food and the price did not match up with this snack at all. So overpriced for something so small! Later on, CJ told me that the pictures used on their menu was very deceptive. He thought that the green onion cake would be much larger based on the picture, so he felt that $5 was worth it. We found out that this certainly was not the case. You could buy larger pieces of green onion cakes at the grocery store or at any other restaurant and that would cost a lot less compared to what we had at Qup Cafe.

Egg Waffles.

For our sweet snack, I decided to get their Hong Kong Egg Waffles ($4.50). We got ours topped with icing sugar, cinnamon, and brown sugar. You could also add fruit for an extra $1.75, or chocolate or caramel drizzle for $1. I've seen a couple pictures of egg waffles all over Instagram, so I thought now would be a perfect time to try them for myself! I really enjoyed the light and simple taste of the waffle, and the toppings added a hint of sweetness. I personally felt I would have enjoyed this dessert more if we got some fruit or chocolate sauce with it though. 

Overall, Qup Cafe is a decent place to go to if you're having bubble tea cravings in the University area. This place is great for relaxing with friends after classes! They even have a variety of board games to play as well. Recently, they've added a couple of bubble tea flavours that sound delicious and are perfect for the holidays, so that's something I would be interested in trying next. Unfortunately, it's hard for me to get CJ to return here. He's not as forgiving of food places as I am, especially whenever he has a particularly negative experience. Since he didn't like his drink or the green onion cake, I definitely understand his reasoning to not come back. I also like didn't how overpriced the food was, so I'll probably just stick to bubble tea if I ever come back. However, I still believe Qup Cafe is worth a try if you're a bubble tea lover and want to hit up all of Edmonton's bubble tea spots! They are open everyday except on Tuesdays, so check them out!

The Harvest Room

When I was younger, I would constantly look out the window of the car whenever it approached Downtown coming from the south side. There I would see Hotel MacDonald - back then, I thought of it as a beautiful castle and that I would want to take a visit there one day. Growing up, I still held my childhood feelings towards the hotel. I even wanted to have my 18th birthday debut celebration there but I knew it would be super expensive. However, on my 2 year anniversary with CJ, I finally got a chance to visit the place! We decided to have our anniversary lunch at The Harvest Room (, the restaurant inside the hotel overlooking the North Saskatchewan River Valley featuring lots of regional specialties. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

The interior.

The dining area itself isn't the largest, but it gave off a very warm and inviting atmosphere. The interior decor and overall design of the space was quite elegant yet modern. My two favourite parts of the dining area: the high ceiling with the timeless chandelier light fixtures, and the gorgeous view of the River Valley from the patio. 

The menu.

Since we were having lunch at a high end hotel, CJ and I knew that the price of the food here would be more expensive than what we're used to. I was glad when I saw that they offered an Express Lunch ($24), which they described as being "The 45 Minute Experience". For this lunch, you choose one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert from a select list of food items. I thought this deal would be great for the two of us! 

Our lunch.

Our meal arrived after a few minutes, but I was hoping that the presentation would be a bit more elevated than what we were given. We also informed our server that we were still waiting on our drinks, so we got those immediately after as well. 

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup.

The first part of our lunch was the appetizer, and CJ and I both chose the Fire Roasted Tomato Soup. This soup consists of local tomato, rough parsley, hemp seed oil, and focaccia crisp. For some reason, I had envisioned the soup to be a vibrant red colour rather than the light brownish colour I got (lol). The first couple spoonfuls of the soup were okay, but as I had more and more of it, I began to get an overwhelming garlicky taste. Furthermore, I found the texture and consistency of the soup to be a bit unpleasant. CJ didn't enjoy this soup a lot either. Sadly, this appetizer was definitely a miss for the both of us. 

Pesto Primavera.

Next up was my entree, the Pesto Primavera. I loved the vibrant colours in this dish, but it really looked more like an appetizer instead of an entree. This rotini pasta comes with zucchini, peppers, onions, and basil pesto. After having the soup which I felt was too oily, this pasta was much better. It didn't have a lot of wow factor to it, but I thought everything tasted fresh and flavourful. 

Prime Rib Panini.

Across from me, CJ was busy eating his Prime Rib Panini, the entree he chose. This comes with shaved slow roasted prime rib, tarragon aioli, wild mushrooms, gruyere, and peppercorn jus. CJ obviously loves his meat, so I wasn't surprised when he picked the entree containing prime rib. Unfortunately, he didn't like this one either! He told me that the panini was too dry, and that he wished there was more sauce to add extra flavour. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich.

After some time, we finally got our desserts! Dessert is my favourite part of the meal, so I was very excited to try the ones offered at The Harvest Room. There are only two desserts to choose from in the Express Lunch, so we naturally had to get each one! The first one was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich. The chocolate chip cookies are housemade and dipped in chocolate, with a peanut butter filling wedged in between. It was also topped with half a strawberry. When I was about to break into the cookies, I found that it was ridiculously hard and tough to eat! I'm pretty sure it had just come directly from the freezer. The chocolate chip cookie and peanut butter combo was a great idea, but this particular dessert was very disappointing. 

Sorbet Trio.

Last but not least, the second dessert option: Sorbet Trio! This dessert features mango, raspberry, and lime sorbet, a brandy snap basket, and fresh berries on the side. While this dessert was a lot easier to eat compared to the cookie sandwich, it was just okay in my opinion. The sorbet tasted like something I could have purchased at the grocery store. I think the best part of this dessert was the sauce underneath the basket - it had a bold flavour with just subtle hints of the alcohol, so it was certainly something unique and new for me!

View of the River Valley.

It took some time for our server to get the debit machine for us, so we had to wait a bit before we could finally step out onto the patio and admire the view. Good thing The Harvest Room had a Groupon at the time, so we were able to save some money. The view of the River Valley from Hotel MacDonald is absolutely breathtaking! We could see the University, the Muttart Conservatory, and some buildings even further south. Not to mention all the trees and different bridges that add another element of beauty to the scene. 

Taking a stroll around Hotel MacDonald.

I'm sad that our experience eating at The Harvest Room wasn't the best. The food itself wasn't memorable, and it wasn't really the best tasting food either. Service was a bit slow even though there were only a few diners. I appreciated that our server was super friendly - she even congratulated CJ and I for our anniversary! I'm so happy that I finally got to visit Hotel MacDonald, my castle from my childhood. Being inside such a beautiful building and being able to take a walk around the garden area was such an awesome experience. I'm looking forward to the next time CJ and I come here. Hopefully we will have a more positive dining experience!

I'm Back!

Hi everyone! After a 4 month long absence, I've finally returned to updating my blog again! I'm not sure how many people actually follow along with my blog, but a few of my friends and CJ have been wondering about new blog posts. Considering that I am now on my winter break, I thought I would take the time to catch up! 

Initially, I wanted to continue updating my blog even when I was back at school. However, a full course load and other priorities constantly came up, so I couldn't find the time to sit down and work on a post. After all, each post takes me an hour or more to write! I definitely had to put in a lot of effort into planning where and when I wanted to go on my food adventures. That being said, I have A LOT of adventures to share with you all! I can't wait to start writing about them. I'm not sure if I can finish writing about 4 months worth of trips to restaurants and food events before the new year, but I will do my best! <3 

Monday, August 25, 2014

T.H.I.S. Place

I would like to start off my post by thanking Instagram and other social media for helping me discover food places I've never heard about before! Most of the cafes, restaurants, or food events I choose to go to have in some way been influenced by what I see popping up on my Instagram or Twitter feeds. It's because of this social networking that I was able to learn about T.H.I.S. Place (, an Asian fusion cafe-bistro located in Downtown on 105 Street. 

CJ and I had some errands to do in Downtown, so I told him I wanted to check out T.H.I.S. Place when we were done. T.H.I.S. Place is within walking distance from MacEwan University's Downtown Campus, so it isn't too difficult to find if you're familiar with the area. 

T.H.I.S. Place.

I absolutely loved the urban look of the building where T.H.I.S. Place is located. There is some seating outside if you want to enjoy your food and drink in the sunshine as well. 

The interior.

Walking inside, I was immediately impressed by what I saw. A high ceiling, quirky light fixtures, and concrete walls all gave off a modern, industrial vibe. Although there is only a few seating, I already knew this would make an awesome hangout place with some friends. 


The best part about the interior space is the local artwork displayed on all the walls throughout T.H.I.S. Place! My favourite paintings were the ones on the wall closest to the front entrance - the abstract, surrealist feel of the paintings are definitely my style of art! Very beautiful and inspiring. 

Alright, let's talk about the menu! T.H.I.S. Place offers a variety of specialty coffees, hot or iced chocolates, and other cold drinks. In terms of food, they have a few appetizers, savoury dishes, and desserts. Lastly, they even have all natural popsicles made in house! Everything sounded so delicious, especially all the different flavours for the popsicles. However, CJ and I were quite hungry so we decided to share a savoury dish with some drinks and a dessert.

Nutella Banana Spring Rolls.

When we went to place our order at the front counter, we were asked if we wanted the dessert to come after eating our savoury dish. CJ and I replied at the same time: "All at once please". Lol. CJ and I have always liked having our food arrive at one time. With that being said, the dessert we chose were the Nutella Banana Spring Rolls ($6.75) - which happened to have a scoop of ice cream with it! It had to be eaten first, of course (don't want yummy ice cream to melt!). The spring rolls were hot and fresh with a very crunchy outer layer. Maybe a little too hard and crunchy for my liking. The filling inside was sweet and went well with the cold vanilla ice cream. I really like the combination of nutella and banana, so I thought putting it all together in a spring roll was very fun and unique. 

Red Curry.

For lunch, CJ and I ordered the Red Curry ($11) over rice. You could also choose to get it served with vermicelli instead of rice. I loved the vibrant red-orange colour of the dish, and the aroma was just as enticing. The main components in the curry are chicken, potatoes, and carrots. After eating my first spoonful of the curry with the rice, I was in love. So delicious! The heat had me reaching for my drink, and the spiciness was just the perfect amount. The chicken was nice and tender, while the vegetables added greater depth to the flavours. I'm already craving this Red Curry just writing about it! 

Almond Iced Chocolate (left) and Milk Chocolate Iced Chocolate (right).

CJ and I wanted something cold to drink, so we took a close look at the flavours for their Iced Chocolates. I decided to get the Almond Iced Chocolate ($4) and CJ got the Milk Chocolate Iced Chocolate ($3.50) for himself. I really enjoyed the mild, nutty flavour of the almond in my drink - perfectly refreshing on a hot summer day. I don't think CJ liked his drink too much though, because he said it tasted just like water. "I'm not really tasting chocolate", he said. Although I thought my drink was perhaps too watery as well, at least I could taste the almond. Overall, these Iced Chocolate drinks were just okay.

Normally, I would end my post here by writing a quick summary of my thoughts about this cafe. However, CJ and I decided to visit T.H.I.S. Place again the following day! We wanted to try a different savoury dish because we were both obsessed with how good the Red Curry tasted, along with some new cold drinks. 

Green Curry.

Unsurprisingly, CJ wanted to try the Green Curry ($12) this time. "The Red Curry was so good, but let's see how the Green Curry is!" The Green Curry consists of chicken, zucchini, red peppers, and bamboo shoots. Instead of being served over rice like the Red Curry, the rice was served in a separate bowl. Since it was our first time having these Thai dishes, we didn't really know the difference between the red and green curries. We were told that the green curry is usually spicier than the red curry. Well, let's give it a try! The Green Curry was also deliciously spicy, yet had noticeable sweeter undertones which made it more well rounded. The zucchini and bamboo shoots added a tasty crunch to the curry as well. The citrus notes of the curry made it taste fresh and healthy, making it even more addictive when paired with the warm rice. I cannot get over how good this dish is! This has become mine and CJ's new favourite eat for sure. 

Raspberry Lemonade (left) and Strawberry Lemonade (right).

For drinks, CJ and I went for the Raspberry Lemonade ($3.75) for him and Strawberry Lemonade ($3.75) for myself. Packed with ice and topped with lemon slices, raspberries or strawberries, I knew this would be the perfect summer beverage to quench your thirst. And I was right! My Strawberry Lemonade was so good! I loved the light pink colour and the refreshing strawberry taste. I tried some of CJ's Raspberry Lemonade and it was just as amazing (maybe even a little better than mine actually!). The raspberry flavour definitely packed a punch with each sip. 

After taking just two trips to T.H.I.S. Place, I am happy to say that it has become mine and CJ's new favourite place. We both loved the cozy atmosphere and the interior decor was very eye catching and appealing to both of us. And most importantly... the food here is so good!!! I mean really, really good. If only I had known about this cafe sooner (it's actually been around for awhile now too). Since our trip here, CJ has always been asking to come back. I respond by telling him we'll have lots of opportunities to come here once school starts in a week (boo!). I've mentioned a few times that CJ doesn't like cafes at all... but this place is the only exception! Wow, isn't that a miracle? The people working at T.H.I.S. Place are also super friendly - they even recognized us the second day we visited. I'm looking forward to dropping by again to try their Fall/Winter Menu starting in September. To be Happy Is Simple... words to live by! 

Check out T.H.I.S. Place on Instagram and on Twitter @THISplaceYEG. 

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!