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!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Teaket Eatery

I absolutely love Edmonton's food scene. I am constantly checking social media to keep updated with new, upcoming food businesses but also places I have yet to pay a visit to. But sometimes the most exciting food finds are at places that you just happen to come across without any advanced planning. That's what happened just last Saturday, when CJ and I made a trip to the 7-Eleven located in Riverbend for free slurpee day. We both noticed a restaurant beside the 7-Eleven and decided to check it out for lunch.

The Ticket Eatery - now named The Teaket Eatery.
The interior.

The sign currently reads The Ticket Eatery, but we soon found out that this business was now named The Teaket Eatery (14916 45 Ave NW). The interior features black and white decor with bright red accents, in addition to a large blackboard listing some of the menu items. This eatery seats 16 people inside with just one table outside for those who want to enjoy their food in the sun. 

The menu.
The menu.

The menu found right beside the cash register lists wraps, quesadillas, and pizzas as The Teaket Eatery's offerings. The blackboard lists a few options for soup as well. We were told that we could take a look at their menu online and were given a link for their website. I'm glad we decided to view their website menu because it was more complete compared to the menus inside the restaurant. Additional offerings included paninis, pastas, salads, and some drink items like fruit smoothies or a root beer float. 


The menu item that caught my eye was Tocinini ($5.95), a panini containing tocino (marinated pork), pico (I had cucumber and tomato in mine), mixed cheese, and mayonnaise. Tocino is a cured meat product popular in the Philippines and one of my favourite things to eat at home with rice. I've seen tocino used as a topping on pizzas, but this was my first time seeing it incorporated into a grilled sandwich. So how did it taste? The bread was toasted golden brown and had that satisfying crunch we all desire in paninis. The tocino was sweet and mellow and paired nicely with the refreshing vegetables. Mayonnaise and the melted cheese brought all the components together for a more well-rounded taste. Overall, I really enjoyed this simple yet yummy panini with a Filipino twist. The portion size of the panini was also great for me and didn't leave me feeling too full or hungry for more. It was just right!


CJ's pick was the Tapanini ($6.25), another one of their paninis containing tapa (marinated beef), pico (this one had tomatoes and onions), mixed cheese, and mayonnaise. Tapa is cured or dried beef commonly eaten for breakfast (typically with rice and egg to create a dish known as "tapsilog") in Filipino cuisine. I'll happily eat tapa any time of the day though! Both CJ and I found the beef to be slightly too dry, while I personally thought the taste of the onions was too prominent for my liking. The tocinini was definitely my favourite between the two! We both did like the simplicity and the rest of the flavours in this panini and its affordability.

Our experience at the new Teaket Eatery was positive overall. Service was very friendly and the atmosphere was relaxing and inviting. This eatery also comes equipped with lots of games to keep you entertained. CJ and I ended up playing Connect Four and discovered that we were the first to use a brand new deck of cards. I think the best part of this new business would be its tasty food at an affordable price. I'm always on the hunt for places with pricing on the lower end, so I'm quite happy to have found this southside gem. 

The Teaket Eatery just opened about two and a half weeks ago (on June 24 to be exact), with their grand opening scheduled for this coming Saturday July 18. They hope to have their equipment for making bubble tea ready by then so they can stay true to their name (bubble TEA... TEAket Eatery hehe). To my fellow Filipinos and anyone interested in trying Filipino food... The Teaket Eatery also offers sisig wrap, sisig quesadilla, and sisig pizza. CJ and I would love to return here to try their bubble tea and more of their menu items for a nice lunch. I believe The Teaket Eatery is a welcome addition to the southwest Riverbend neighbourhood - be sure to check out their website and their Facebook page by clicking here! They are open everyday from 12 PM to 9 PM. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Scoop n Roll

Happy July! Now that summer has officially kicked off with very hot weather to match, I often find myself turning towards ice cream to keep cool. From the store-bought varieties to the simple, homemade recipes, ice cream has always been an enjoyable treat for all ages. Lately I've been making trips to the local farmers' market or other locations across the city to try ice cream offered by different businesses. My most recent ice cream adventure? Scoop n Roll Creamery

Scoop n Roll.

I learned about Scoop n Roll through Instagram just a week ago. I was very excited when I discovered that they created ice cream served as rolls! This concept of ice cream made fresh right before your eyes originated from Thailand, where street vendors expertly create ice cream rolls using only a few tools. Click here or here to see how the ice cream is made in Thailand! 

In spite of my excitement to try Scoop n Roll, I didn't know how soon I could check them out since they are located in north Edmonton - a 30 minute drive for me and an area of the city I don't usually frequent. However, when the owner of Scoop n Roll connected with me via Twitter, I thought "Alright, it's time to finally check them out!". I somehow convinced CJ to drive us and soon we were well on our way to trying rolled ice cream! 

Concession trailer.

Scoop n Roll is a concession trailer found in the parking lot in front of Canadian Tire (9603 162 Ave) on 162 Ave and 97 Street. They are not there everyday so be sure to check out the Street Food Edmonton app or follow their social media pages to find out when they are open. Scoop n Roll is owned and operated by Andrew, the first to bring the ice cream made fresh concept to Edmonton. 

The menu.

The ice cream at Scoop n Roll is made to be very customizable. Choose from a selection of ice cream flavours and add in two free mix-ins. It is then served as either scoops or rolls in a cup or a waffle cone for just $5. My pick was vanilla ice cream with blueberries and strawberries. 

So how is it made? Click below to watch the video I took showing how the ice cream was made from start to finish (or click here to watch the video on Youtube):

Just some photos showing the initial stages of the ice cream being made: 

Ice cream made fresh.

Here is a summary of the process: first, milk is combined with whatever flavour you chose from the list. This ice cream base is then poured onto a very cold surface along with your choice of mix-ins. Metal spatulas are used to cut the mix-ins into smaller pieces in addition to spreading the mixture across the surface several times. Finally, the ice cream is spread evenly over the surface to ensure that it freezes consistently and then it is pushed into rolls. 

Ice cream rolls!

The end result: ice cream rolls made fresh right before my eyes! Perfectly creamy and delicious and a nice portion size to boot. I also loved the extra strawberry and blueberry toppings! It was so much fun to eat as rolls too. Tip: the fruit-flavoured ice cream flavours form rolls really nicely! 

CJ's ice cream rolls.

CJ decided to try chocolate with strawberry and banana mix-ins. His ice cream formed beautiful rolls. He also said it tasted awesome!

Thank you Andrew for the sweet treat and for bringing ice cream rolls to Edmonton! Trying out this creative way of making ice cream was definitely worth the trip. I'm looking forward to eating more Scoop n Roll ice cream this summer. Don't forget to check out Scoop n Roll's Facebook page and follow them on Instagram (@scoopnroll) and Twitter (@scoop_roll)!