Wednesday Night Eats

I know what’s going on, you’re sitting there wondering where the heck you’re going to get anything halfway decent to eat in this burg now that Taste of Edmonton and the Heritage Festival have packed it in for another summer.

Thank goodness it’s Wednesday night in Edmonton.

If you’re in the downtown area, you can head over to 112 Street for some ice cream and chocolate, as Kerstin’s celebrates a new chocolate ice cream. You could even walk away with free ice cream. Plus, any night is a good one to check out one of the best placed in the city to get chocolates.

If you’re not downtown, don’t worry. Wednesday is a solid farmers’ market night in Edmonton (and area). Tonight is the night for the Callingwood, CastleDowns, Southwest Edmonton, and Sherwood Park markets.

Told you it was a good night for food.

Callingwood runs its market Wednesdays and Sundays, and is no rookie on the scene. Sherwood Park has had a market since almost before I was born. Southwest and CastleDowns are newcomers but adding to the booming market scene in Edmonton.

Farmers markets aren’t just for the weekend!

Fork It

Fork Fest is back!

Local restaurants are offering up special menus and deals to get you out of the usual chains and into something just a little different. It’s a great way to try out a new restaurant you’ve been thinking about eating at, or have heard about recently. It’s also a nice way for me to pretend I’m fancy and eat somewhere like the Blue Pear. It’s also a reason to head back to old favourites like the Blue Plate Diner and Wild Tangerine.

All of the restaurants involved (most are downtown or in Old Strathcona) have their Fork Fest lunch and dinner menus online at the Live Local Alberta site.

Here are the restaurants (all links take you to the Fork Fest menus):

Which ones do you want to hit up?

Summer 2011’s Fork Fest runs until this Thursday (July 21), then takes a few days off, and July 24-28.


Happy Slurpee Day!

Today is July 11, 7-11 if you will, so the 7-Eleven convenience store chain is celebrating an unofficial birthday.

Every location of 7-Eleven in Edmonton (and everywhere else) is giving away free (FREE!) 7.11 ounce Slurpees today.

Each store will give away 1,000 Slurpees. So get out there and get some icy fun.

Mixing It Up At The Market

By Pam Brierley

It is a balmy Wednesday evening in YEG and despite the subtle threat of thundershowers off in the distance, shoppers are streaming in and out of the parking lot of Lillian Osborne High School. Some are laden with bulging cloth shopping bags while others have loaded their child’s stroller. The parking lot across the street is full and a line-up of cars inch their way along Leger Road seeking a spot. By all accounts, the new Southwest Farmers’ Market is a hit.

A crowd has gathered around Diana Neubauer’s booth, Mixes ‘R Us, eagerly listening to her hawk her line of mixes and tasting her vegetarian chili and channa masala. Diana’s bright blue eyes dance as she chats up each new customer. She laughs easily putting them at ease immediately. Her hands and arms are well-muscled suggesting a life of physical work. She moves with efficiency. Not a motion is wasted. (more…)

Food Friday

I am hereby declaring this Friday – June 24, 2011 – Food Friday in Edmonton, Alberta.

Now I should tell you why. (more…)

A Sweet Goodbye

By Pam Brierley

Kay McRay, of K.D. Honey, smiles warmly at her young customer as they trade three flavoured honey sticks for a shiny gold loonie.

“The thing I love most about the market is the people,” she says.

Don and Kay have been in the bee-farming business for nearly 50 years and are regulars at the Callingwood Farmer’s Market for the last 13. The thing she says she’ll miss the most, when she and her husband Don retire at the end of this season, is all the friendships they’ve built over the years.

“When you sit next to someone week after week, you kind of get to know them.”

The regular vendors even breakfast together at local restaurant Muggn’z before the market opens on Sunday mornings. Occasionally, regular customers will join them too.

Don first learned the trade from a neighbour when he was 12-years-old, and when his own kids turned 12 they got in on the honey production too.

“I told the kids to either get a summer job or they were working for me.”

But over the years farming has not been easy. (more…)

Sabzy Persian Grill

You could be eating this right now.

A few months ago, Jeff and I were having lunch at Sabzy Persian Grill (also known by many as Sabzy Cafe) on Whyte Ave., and struck up a conversation with Ahmad Sabetghadam, who owns and runs the restaurant with his family.

Ahmad is a ridiculously interesting person who totally digs talking about food and has a rather unconventional story for a restauranteur – he’s an academic (a professor at the University of Alberta, to be exact) with a background in agriculture – but when he talks about Sazby’s menu and their emphasis on food as preventative medicine, it all starts to make sense.

Wing Wednesday

I know the weather outside is stupidawfulterriblecold, but Wednesday is wing day, and you’ve got to respect that, Edmonton.

“But where do I go for wings?” you ask.

Well, I’m not the boss of you, but Sally did stumble upon this chicken wings website in her Internet travels, and I think is a pretty good place to start. It’s a website all about chicken wings. Umm…awesome.

Right now The Gas Pump (!), Sawmill, and Dadeo are the top three in Edmonton wing-rankings. I bet you wing aficionados will have something to say about that.

There’s also a nifty little tool to let you find the places with the cheapest wings any day of the week. But we all know Wednesday is wings.

Culina at the Muttart (and your new Yelper)

Hey! Let me introduce myself as Brittany K, otherwise known as the brand new Community Manager for Yelp Edmonton! Yelp is a website where real people write reviews of real businesses. Being the Community Manager comes with a whole schwack of responsibilities like taking care of the community, online and offline, and also delicious opportunities like filling in for the fine folks at the edmontonian for awesome events like checking out the new Muttart Culina.

Part of Edmonton’s Culina family, the newest location is hosted at local landmark the Muttart Conservatory. (It’s joining other restaurant locations in Millcreek and Highlands.) The Muttart dishes highlight a score of savoury and sweet local producers. (more…)

At The Hat

edmonton, the hat, sliders, burgers, salad, mountain pepper berry

You get 3 sliders. I just ate one before remembering to take a picture.

The other night I was out at The Hat for evening of food, drinks, and conversation about Edmonton.

I feel like I should be Yelping this review, since we were out to meet with Yelp Canada’s Crystal. Don’t tell her.

I haven’t been to The Hat in a long time. I think it was still recently opened the last time I was there. (more…)

Meet the Press’d

edmonton, press'd, sandwich, restaurant, downtown

So, I was wandering around downtown Edmonton’s mall district the other day (which is just City Centre Mall) and came upon a new sandwich place in the old Cargo & James spot.

Being an enjoyer of a good sandwich, I stopped in to see what Press’d had to offer. My first question, after ordering their take on the club with a potato soup, was whether this was a chain. One of the owners informed me this was an Edmonton deal. Good for them.

You can see all kinds of bread stacked high in the corner, by the cash. It appears quite a bit of food is prepared on the fly too, since it took a few minutes for my sandwich and soup.

I opted for a half-size because I wanted to pair it with a cup of soup (full-size sandwiches and bowls of soup are also options). That was a good call since the sandwich was piled high with turkey meat. I think it was just your standard lunchmeat, and the bacon was really thinly sliced, leading me to believe it was that microwavable kind. The soup was pretty good though, and they’ve got a handful of regular choices. The sandwich iteself is BIG. Did I mention that? I feel like I should mention that.

edmonton, press'd, sandwich, restaurant, downtown, turkey, bacon, soup

I would tell them to lose the bread cup next time I get a sandwich with my soup. Too much bread.

Press’d is probably going to be a decent choice for you downtown lunchers. It’s not deep-fried, and that’s always a step in the right direction.

Plus, they have rules on how to order, Soup Nazi style, which can only add to the experience. I wonder if they’ll deny sandwiches to those who break form…

Check out Press’d and let me know what you think. It’s in City Centre West.

edmonton, press'd, sandwich, restaurant, downtown

Milkshakes = Boys to your yard

Today. 2-4pm. Get yourself a free milkshake.

I’ve been meaning to write about the fun milkshake machines at my local Mac’s (and possibly the one by your house too), and now I’ve got my reason.

Mac’s is giving away free milkshakes this afternoon. Go get one.

They also have smoothies, I think. I can’t say for sure because I love my fatty chocolate milkshakes.

(Ignore the fact that the Mac’s looks like a 7-11 in that Google Maps link.)

Update: Sally has sent in a photo from the milkshake front lines:

People love their free milkshakes.

A Taste of Lunch

Yes, we finally made our way down to Churchill Square for the 2010 version of A Taste of Edmonton.

Thanks to Mari and Ryan for recommendations.

The pupusa from El Rancho and dry spicy chicken from Lingnan were great.

Sally went for the pineapple sunset chicken from Blue Willow, and calabrese potatoes with aioli from Zuccharo Cappuccino Bar. Both of those were also good choices.

We got out of there just about noon, so it was getting really busy with the downtown working crowd making their way to the square for lunch.

Our lunch for two was about $20 (with drinks). Thanks, Taste of Edmonton!

(Hover your mouse over the photos to find out which food is which.)

The Samsonowich will destroy breakfast as we know it

Why would someone create a sandwich of waffles and danish? If I’m remembering the story correctly, I’ll tell you why.

We went and tried one of McDonald’s new healthier options, a Southwest Salad. We weren’t fans of the BBQ sauce on the salad, but have since heard other reviews that place the salad in higher esteem. Maybe the restaurant we went to was just phoning it in.

Anyway, we thought it would be funny to create a salad of cheeseburgers. It was. We didn’t eat that though.

Twitter got rolling on things and before you know it CJSR’s Makin’ Whoopee is talking about the “Samsonowich,” a breakfast delicacy made of waffles and danish. With whipped cream or syrup to top it off.

Fast-forward to Saturday, and our attempt at a live, late-night, Edmonton talk show, and you’ve got a need to create this monstrosity of breakfast, in a cooking segment.

edmonton, waffles, danish, sandwich

You know what? It was actually pretty good.

We used Eva Sweet (vanilla) waffles, so we started with the best waffles any of us had ever had. I picked up some danish (It has to be cherry!) at Sobeys, whipped up the cream myself, and put it all together live on the air.

It’s likely not a healthy option to start your day, but damn if it isn’t a delicious, messy way to kick things off.


Saturday Night with Samsonow is continually looping on our account. We didn’t know it would do that, but it’s kind of cool.

If you watch, just pretend the parts without sound are our attempt at an artsy film school submission.

Rope yourself a good burger

rodeo burger, edmonton, french fries

Not too long ago, Sally and I had the pleasure of stopping in at Rodeo Burgers. This new burger spot is on the University of Alberta campus, across from the hospital.

It’s also a fantastic place to get a burger.

The patties are a little bit thinner than you might be used to, but you can always load your burger up with toppings, including a homemade relish. I’m kicking myself for not noticing the homemade relish until after I had my food. Next time…

You could also get an extra patty or two, to beef up your meal.

The fries come with a spice or nice and salty. We had the salted version, and you can see in the photo above that they appear to be freshly cut potatoes. They were great. And came in a fun, generic, fry container.

I took a peek inside the bun before eating.

The burgers do take a few minutes to make, again we’re talking about fresher food, but they are well worth it. And if you pile it up with condiments and veggies you are in for one of those parties in your mouth where everyone is invited.

That it can get a little messy only adds to the appeal, in my opinion.

Oh, and before I forget, go for the sauteed onions. You’re welcome.

Sally went for the veggie burger, which she reports is quite good.

The food is more expensive than your average burger or fast food joint, but it’s fresher, tastier, and you can get a beer. I don’t know how that last one means anything to the price of a burger and fries, but it’s somehow worth mentioning.

Ride on down to Rodeo Burgers the next time you’ve got a hankerin’ for a burger. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Rodeo or two pop up around Edmonton.

Long Live the Fork!

It’s time to sharpen up your forks, and dine at some of Edmonton’s original, local restaurants.

Fork Fest! – Summer 2010 – is on.

Many of Original Fare’s restaurants are offering special menus, some with special prices, to get you to try something outside of the chains. Give them a whirl, and let us know which one is the best local spot to grab dinner.

Thanks to our buddy Derjis for this photo, celebrating the pronged utensil.

Upon reflection, this also works well as a Monday event listing. Check out the restaurants you could be eating at tonight.

Reviewing the McDonald’s Southwest Salad (or, why it is unlikely anyone will ever give us anything free again)

Sometimes, when you are part of the team behind the 17th most successful blog in the greater Edmonton metropolitan area, you are given certain perks. Sometimes, people say, “Hey, would you guys like to try our new product and/or service in exchange for some publicity?”

This is often very nice, and very flattering.

Most recently, we were approached by fast food giants McDonald’s to review their new Southwest Salad. We were a little divided on whether or not this constituted an Edmonton story but, eventually, based on my well-documented love of salad and my unshakeable logic that there are McDonald’s restaurants in Edmonton, Jeff relented, I pulled up the tape divider I had created in the center of the room, and well, here we are.

It's salad time, buddy!

I would like to begin by saying that while I don’t UNDERSTAND why McDonald’s has tried to position themselves as a more upscale, health-conscious restaurant of late, I certainly RESPECT their right to do so. I think it’s nice that little kids can get apple slices instead of fries, and I can get milk with my Filet O Fish, and that my Last Airbender toys aren’t covered in lead paint, or whatever. Because it’s all about moderation.

Anyway, the very generous PR folks at McDonald’s gave us a $25 gift card to try their new Southwest salad. This made me a little uncomfortable, because I was once in the dating pool, and I know that when someone buys you dinner, whether they say it or not, certain things are expected. Would I like the salad? Would I be barred from McDonald’s if I did not?

In the end, we obviously made the decision to use the entire $25 gift card in one outing. Because, as my mother has been telling me on a regular basis since I was about 11, “Why must I always insist on being a complete jackass?” Also, because how could we fairly judge the salad without comparing to $16 worth of other menu items?

Here is what we purchased:

1 Southwest Salad: $7

1 Hot Chocolate: $2

1 6 piece McNugget combo: $6.50

5 Double Cheeseburgers: $10

total: $24.49

I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous at this point.


A step above “everyday foods”

As much as we love burgers and pizza (and we do) we know that a good diet is rounded out. Even when dining out.

For that reason, and for the simple fact we had yet to eat at Sabzy, Sally and I jumped into a tasty lunch recently.

As I mentioned, we’ve been there before, but for coffee and tea. Not for a meal.

Sabzy is a Persian-themed restaurant on Whyte Avenue. It’s also a hookah joint and that patio will be smokin’ soon.

Their menu is fresh, healthy items with middle eastern flair.

And, you’re going to want to have coffee since they do a fine job with that sweet elixir.

Sally went for the grilled chicken sandwich, which comes with corn chips. Actually, a couple of their dishes come with the crispy chips.

With the house hummus and bell peppers the sandwich is a great option to having another burger in another casual dining place.

(I see that Flavours is going to re-open as the Pour House and I fear the same old.)

I chose the Kabob Platter, which gave me one chicken kabob and one beef and lamb. I opted to pay the extra $2 and have saffron rice. That was right move. The rice was totally moist and great and was as good or better than the kabobs.

Oh, and saffron is a spice you’ll see a lot of in Sabzy.

The kabobs didn’t come stuck on a stick. Which could be good or bad, depending on how much you like eating things off sticks.

The meat was cooked really well, and it was spiced to make me want more, more, more.

We finished with americanos and super-sweet desserts. I mean the squares were sweet as in delicious but also really sweet in flavour.

They’re also vegan-friendly if you like that kind of thing, Gregg Beever.

Sabzy gets 8.73 Saffrons out of 10. Check them out.

Culina: Some of Edmonton’s Best Food

(A little backstory: Sally and I wrote this story for a new Edmonton food magazine…alas it never hit the news stands. You, dear friends, can still enjoy our glowing words about Culina. Then, you can go there and enjoy some of the best food in the city. – Jeff)

Some friends, and friends of friends, enjoy their wedding meal at Culina-Mill Creek. So don't worry, dress is usually a little more casual at the restaurant.

Taking the Latin word for kitchen and cooking, and combining it with some Ukrainian heritage, Brad Lazarenko christened his neighbourhood bistro “Culina,” six years ago.

Growing up in a Ukrainian home he knew the translation of the highbush cranberry plant was known as “kalyna” in his parents’ native tongue. That sealed the deal on the restaurant’s name.

“The name is very important,” Brad says. “I see a name [of other restaurants] and think ‘You’re not going to make it.’ I knew I didn’t want to be a ‘Brad’s Grill.’”

Culina-Mill Creek’s name is one of any number of things that make the establishment memorable.

For one, this cozy, 40-seat restaurant is impressive without being pretentious; it’s the sort of place you can wear a suit or dress one night, and return the next in your favourite jeans and feel just as comfortable.

“It’s my baby,” says the owner. “Well, my first baby.”

That correction comes as Lazarenko notes Culina isn’t merely the six-year-old venue off 99th Street, in the Mill Creek neighbourhood (9914-89 Avenue). There’s also Culina-Highlands, in north-central Edmonton (operated by Lazarenko’s sister Cindy), Culina catering, and three wine bars know as Bibo (the first is one door over from Culina-Mill Creek; the other two are in British Columbia).

You need to try Culina's brunch. They're always busy for reason.

Culina-Mill Creek blends neighbourhood bistro with some of the finest fusion you’ll find on a menu. And it strikes that balance as best that could be done. “I always tell people it’s ethnic comfort food. That puts people at ease.”

Brad’s sister, Cindy Lazarenko, owner and chef over at Culina Highlands, agrees. “It’s all the foods that he loves, but it’s very comforting food.  It’s a lot of like starch, and meat, and vegetable side dish.”

Culina-Mill Creek serves lunch, dinner and very popular brunches.

“It’s food I like to eat myself,” says Brad. “Every dish is something I’ve eaten and wanted to recreate. I look at Culina as a compilation, a mix tape.” (more…)

Backstairs Secret Vegan Cafe

FireShot-capture-#40---'FacOh, the facebook fan page. It can really get asses in the seats, if you know what I’m saying. Because, you know, one friend of yours declares themselves a fan of say “Your Mom,” and then, one by one, it spreads like wildfire, as it pops up in everybody’s news feed.  My favorite example of this was when Jeff recently (and accidentally) declared himself a fan of Canadian country supergroup Doc Walker.  He quickly deleted it, but for days after, my news feed informed me that Jeff loved Doc Walker, and maybe I would too?

Anyway, one page I recently became a fan of, after seeing a bunch of my friends do the same, was the Backstairs Secret Vegan Cafe, “Edmonton’s Culinary Speakeasy.”  It’s been quite the facebook phenom, rapidly accruing over 350 fans.   Basically how it works is you visit their website, check the posted menu and then e-mail to reserve your spot.  Be warned, IT’S POPULAR, and therefore tough to get into, but based on some of the previous menus they’ve posted, it’s well worth the wait.  It’s $15 a plate, and you will receive further details via email.  UH, RAD.

2958199311_f3d905cd10I sent off an email to see if I could find out more about the mystery organizer(s,?) behind the Backstairs.  And I did.  I met someone who for the sake of not wrecking the secret-ness I will call “Kevin.”

Kevin is a charming, affable guy who is clearly really passionate about food.  He informs me that this whole “culinary speakeasy” thing is going on all over the place, and that he recently came across a place to live that was so big and inviting, it was pretty much begging him to serve food in it.

“Probably about a year ago, I read this zine called ‘A Chef’s Tale’.  He tours like a band.  He was mostly telling stories about the adventures he had,” explains Kevin.   “[For] part of it,  he included how he used to run a café out of his apartment.”

“I was like, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.”


‘Bet’ you need somewhere to go for Thanksgiving Dinner (you’ll get it in a minute)

…well fret not, my pets. Whether you’re away from home for the first time, simply don’t feel like cooking, or are in the mood for a weekend-long tryptophan bender, you are in the right place.

While I have not done the exhaustive work of contacting restaurants around the city in pursuit of all available thankgiving meals, because let’s face it, I’m lazy –  I HAVE done the relatively easy work of contacting several local casinos.  In my defense, casinos are the masters of the buffet meal.  Also, it’s a casino. What goes better with turkey and cranberries than a lingering sense of despair?

Casino Yellowhead‘s Stagecoach Grill (12464 153 St) has a Thanksgiving buffet with turkey AND carved ham, plus salad bar and dessert, for $15.95, plus GST.  It’s available from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday [(780) 424 – WINS for more info].

Casino Edmonton (7055 Argyll Road) is having an all day turkey dinner, with an as-yet-to-be-determined price.  They open at 9:30 a.m. Also, this completely irrelevant, but they had “Eye of the Tiger” as their on-hold music, and I enjoyed it considerably [(780) 463 – WINS for more info].

Palace Casino (2710-8882 170 Street) is offering a thanksgiving-themed buffet on Friday and Saturday nights.  Regular price is $14, but if you score one of their rewards cards, I’m told you’ll get 2 bucks off. Also, the fellow I spoke to couldn’t guarantee any thankgiving-y food on Monday, but he thought there might be some turkey sandwiches and such available in the Deli [(780) 444-2112 for more info].

No word on whether Century Casino (13103 Fort Road) is going to be serving up a dinner, but they ARE in the midst of a frozen turkey giveaway, which carries on until Monday, which obviously reminds me of the  turkey drop episode of WKRP in Cincinnati.  [(780) 643-4000 for more info on the turkey giveaway].

casino yellowhead

monday oct 12
5-9 turkey and carved ham salad bar  and dessert
stagecoach grill
15 95 plus gst


Potatoes and more potatoes. (Photo: @EdwardMonton)

Potatoes and more potatoes. (Photo: @EdwardMonton)

Potatoes are a very versatile food. They’re also a local food.

Our friend, Edward Monton, wrote about The Great Potato Giveaway, but we’ve harvested his comments to fill you in.

Essentially, to show off the great food-growing potential of the Edmonton region, a number of groups (including Norbest Farms) are coming together to offer you (yes, YOU) free potatoes. You can haul up to 50 pounds of spuds this Saturday.

The details about the potatoes and how to get to the potatoes (in Fort Saskatchewan) can be found here.

Fundraising I can Get Behind, that is, Fundraising where someone feeds me.

As we established here, Jeff and I are taking next week off to take care of less glamorous blogging business (which makes it sound like I’ll be out back digging a blogging ditch (?) or something, but I think you all know what I mean).

Nevertheless, the whole world won’t be busy! Busy digging blogging ditches! There will still be plenty going on. One industrious gal, let’s call her Jackie Pearce, as that is her name, will be hosting a vegan dinner party on August 28 as well as a garage sale (not a vegan garage sale though, because that’s not a thing), August 27-29. Funds raised will benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Fundraising for charities and cooking are both hobbies for Jackie, and she says this isn’t the first dinner party she’s hosted. We exchanged e-mails yesterday, and I got the lo-down on her upcoming vegan feast.

SALLY: Why are you fundraising for the MS Society?

JACKIE: I have several friends and clients who have people …in their lives who suffer with MS every day, so I have seen and heard first hand just how debilitating it can be. (more…)

Story Meeting: Breakfast at Jojo’s Cafe

Okay, so let’s hop in the delorean (“Roads? Where we’re going, we won’t need roads…”)and head back in time to discuss Sunday. Jeff and I did what we now plan to do every Sunday – we went out for breakfast and hashed out stories for the week ahead.

This week we went to Jojo’s Cafe at La Piazza Dasee.