So, Taste of Edmonton was a few weeks ago, and I think it’s about time I wrote something about it.
Deviating from the normal restaurant review template, I’ve decided on a free flowing photo documentary in order to provide you with ground-zero coverage on “the largest food festival in Canada.”
For those of you unfamiliar with local events, Taste of Edmonton is a food festival where Michelin-star restaurants and celebrity chefs present the best that Edmonton has to offer in an open-air, ticket-based marketplace.
We stopped off at the Melting Pot tent as they were the first stand that didn’t serve a slider or burger or some sort.
Instead, they served their signature fondue mix on what appeared to be a Costco hamburger bun. Surprisingly, despite the shitty bread, this was probably one of the tastier items. The cheese mixture looks a little pre-digested, but tasted how a fondue should: rich, creamy, and sharp.
Next stop is the “Lagano Skies Special Tibs-Beef Stir-Fry & Injera”, courtesy of Lagano Skies Ethiopian Restaurant.
The beef had the consistency of shoe leather, the vegetables were fresh out of the freezer and the bread tastes the way tetanus feels.
I know you were expecting some sort of tasteless joke about Ethiopian food (or lack thereof), but I’m above all that.
I don’t have much to say about this beside the fact that it makes me a little sad.
Roughly an hour in, I stumbled upon an Indian food truck. I assumed it was part of the festival and purchased some sort of saucy onion dish on rice.
Upon closer inspection, I realized the dish also contained little flecks of chicken.
I looked up the menu on the Taste of Edmonton website, but there was no such item.
The plot thickens.
If I recall correctly, these were the “Chicken Masala Perogies with Caramelized Onion and Tamarind Sour Cream”.
My memory may have been somewhat distorted by the pre-festival beverages, but I think I remember this tasting mostly like mayonnaise and perogy wrapper.
Slice of Bread.
Get your shit together Kimon and Andrea, I know you can do better.
What surprises me here is that people are actually lining up for an Old Spaghetti Factory food stand.
Fresh out of The Underground Tap and Grill comes the “Buckin’ Bison Slider with Gorgonzola Blue Cheese”.
Heavy on the onions, and the patty was a bit dry, but otherwise unoffensive.
That’s all I’m really asking for at this point.
We stopped off at the Frenson Brothers Markets stand for some “Rotisserie Roasted Pig”.
Hats off to the genius that decided to pair bland, dry pork with bland, moist cabbage.
Surprisingly, one of the better tasting items at the festival this year came out of Zinc.
This was a “Banana Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce, Brulee’d Banana and Whipped Cream”.
The pudding was dense, moist and not cloyingly sweet, which allowed the caramel, cream and brulee’d banana to play a more important role on your palate.
The only detail missing would be two greasy idiots in suits loudly shilling banana bread.
Zinc never ceases to amaze.
“Marvelous Stuffed Mushrooms” from The Cheesecake Cafe.
They tasted like mushrooms, grease and batter.
I forgot what this was.
The food vendor menu on the Taste of Edmonton menu comes up with a “Bacon Bomb Slider” from Smokehouse BBQ, but it doesn’t quite look right.
What’s important is that it wasn’t memorable in the slightest and tasted mostly of bread and cabbage.
I typically respond to meeting new vegetarians by consuming double the amount of animal products that I would normally eat that day.
Needless to say, I don’t consider myself a fan of vegetarian food.
This sort of changed after I tried the Padmanadi Vegetarian “Chicken” Satay Skewers.
For those unfamiliar with vegetable meat substitutes, they often mess up on the texture of the meat fibres, and you get the taste equivalent of dry tofu. Padmanadi, however, has greatly improved on the mainstream recipe, and has formulated a veggie protein mix with a slightly chewy, fibrous mouth-feel. It also fries fairly well, and you get crispy brown edges on the ‘meat’.
The satay sauce was a bit heavy on the peanut, but otherwise the skewers were one of the best items at the festival.
If you haven’t before, definitely go try Padmanadi, even if it’s just for the novelty of space age fake meat.
This is the “Nehiyaw (Native ) Taco” (no really, that’s what they call it), from Native Delights.
This consists of normal taco ingredients on top of bannock.
I like to think this is the passive-aggressive aboriginal way of getting revenge for the residential school cultural genocide committed by the Canadian government.
Pictured above is the “Smoked Bison Carpaccio”, from Normand’s Bistro.
Think pseudo-bison jerky with vinaigrette and wilted salad.
The bison honestly wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t really carpaccio either.
Another pleasant surprise came from the Hotel Fairmont stand and the “MAC scone with whipped cream and berry compote”.
While technically uncomplicated, the flavors are tried and true and it didn’t pretend to be more than what it was.
The cream was fresh, berries tart, and the scone tasted like a scone.
I didn’t get anything from La Pasta because I don’t hate myself.
Now I didn’t actually try the “Pork Tacos with Kimchi Slaw and Lemon Thyme Aioli” from the Fairmont, but a few choice quotes from a friend include:
“Oh it was shit”
“…some kind of chlorine-y sauerkraut”
“…what I would imagine dirty dishwater would taste like”
All said and done, the food from Taste of Edmonton was largely a disappointment, but the food is only part of the reason you go out to festivals like these.
The atmosphere is fun, the weather is generally nice, and it’s refreshing to see Churchill Square not packed with homeless people for once.
50 bucks well spent.