By Karlie Marrazzo
The Taste of Edmonton is a fixture in Edmonton’s festival scene, and one of its longest running, this being its 27th year. Set up in the heart of downtown at Churchill Square, it runs for 10 days alongside Capital Ex, until July 30.
The festival has over 40 of the city’s finest restaurants represented, as well as a Taste of Beer, a Taste of Wine, and new this year, a Taste of Dessert and Liqueurs – choices abound. The festival also has live music and local artists displaying their works.
I met up with a couple of friends on the first day of the festival for an early supper of small bites. Lines for the ticket booths were almost non-existent – a pleasant surprise.
Each ticket costs $1 and each item cost between three and six tickets. That goes for food and beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. My husband and I only spent $27 between us.
This is what we tried:
Zinc – Lamb tostada with avocado crème fraiche (4 tix)
Standout bite of the night for me. Perfectly spiced ground lamb with an amazing avocado crème fraiche on top of a crispy tostada.
Hoang Long Family Restaurant – Grilled quail with pomegranate sauce (4 tix)
I’d never had quail before and was quite pleased with this dish. A full piece of quail covered in a slightly hot pomegranate sauce with a few pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top. Delectable.
Noodle Noodle Restaurant – Crackling shrimp ball (5 tix)
Three shrimp balls coated in a crispy, crackly shell. Served with sweet and sour or ginger sauce. A satisfying snack.
Palace Banquets – Bacon wrapped scallops (5 tix)
Three small scallops wrapped in big slices of bacon. The flavour of the scallops was almost totally hidden, and the whole thing was overwhelmed by the saltiness of the bacon.
Tra Amici Café and Bar – Calamari in lemon garlic sauce (5 tix)
The most disappointing bite for me, which is unfortunate because I love Tra Amici. The calamari was soft and rubbery and the sauce was overwhelming.
El Rancho Spanish Restaurant – Mexican fried ice cream (4 tix)
A night of firsts for me! This was my first ever deep-fried dessert. Crispy ice cream – it sounds strange, but it’s delicious. Two vanilla ice creams balls topped with strawberry.
New Asian Village – Cinnamon naan (sample)
Naan bread plus cinnamon equals yum.
I didn’t venture into the beer tents, but I was happy to see five beers from local brewery Alley Kat on offer, as well as one from local Yellowhead brewery, a couple of beers from B.C. and, of course, Calgary’s Big Rock. Non-alcoholic beverage choices include bubble tea, coconut drink (in its own fancy ‘coconut’ cup), and the ubiquitous festival drink, lemonade.
The dishes can seem expensive for what you’re getting, so it’s best to go with a few friends who don’t mind sharing with you, pooling your tickets and trying a variety of food. Edmonton has a great restaurant scene, and Taste of Edmonton is a perfect way to sample some of them before deciding where to make your next reservation.