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Thread: Edmontonís Dining Passport

  1. #1
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    Default Edmontonís Dining Passport

    Though I have been known to bemoan the lack of dining concepts and conveniences privy to larger municipalities, I appreciate that Edmonton has provided me with many memorable food experiences. I recognize, however, that in a city dominated by national and international chains, it is easy to overlook the gems hidden in paths not yet taken, in neighbourhoods yet to be explored. In this article, I hope to provide some direction to eateries and establishments off the radar, and in doing so, craft an “Edmonton dining passport” – a map of suggestions that fall away from the mainstream track. Enjoy the journey!

    • Seasonal menus: menus that change and adapt to the time of year are an apt way to learn about the variety of produce and animals that can be raised locally. But even beyond taking advantage of the agricultural bounty available in and around Edmonton, the food just tastes better – crisp asparagus in the spring, lush berries in the summer, comforting squash in the fall – the creativity of chefs rise to match the ripe flavours of that particular season. The Blue Pear (10643 123 Street, 780-482-7178 is a great example. A boutique restaurant with a menu that changes monthly, they work closely with local suppliers to ensure exceptional quality and freshness.

    • One-note restaurants: while it is great to have many alternatives to choose from, it’s rare to find restaurants that choose to focus on and perfect one specialty. Edmonton actually has a few such eateries, with pizzazz and creativity to spare. Soul Soup (140-10020 101A Avenue, 780-409-8272) on Rice Howard Way offers three types of soup daily – a vegetarian, meat, and fish option – all ready to be packed into a takeaway container perfect for hungry office mongers. The lingering aromas in the tiny but neat storefront make it difficult to pick just one. Over on the burgeoning Alberta Avenue, The Dawg Father (8654 118 Avenue, 780-477-7947) cooks up eight different types of hot dogs. Inspired by owner Tom Stefura’s love for classic, all-American dogs, expect, among others, chilli and cheddar atop the Coney Island Dog and pico de gallo, jalapenos and cheese on the Tex-Mex Dog.

    • A side of history: though Edmonton is an infant by world history standards, there isn’t any shame in exploring the history that we can claim. The regal Hotel MacDonald, with one of the city’s best views of the river valley dates back to 1915, and was the first building in the city to be designated as a Municipal Heritage Resource. It has hosted many visitors over its lifetime, including American soldiers stationed here during World War II, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. Hotel MacDonald offers a weekly affair called the Royal Tea and Tour, where guests are first served afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches and scones, then are led on a tour about the history of ‘The Mac’. On the other side of the river, Rutherford House gets its name from its former resident, Alexander Rutherford, the first Premier of Alberta. The dwelling is now a museum that preserves the surroundings in which the premier lived, and also houses a quaint cafť called the Arbour Restaurant. Arbour is best known for their high tea – diners can choose between 18 different teas, and an accompanying platter of delights, including scones with raspberry butter and lavender shortbread. Best of all, Rutherford House is located right on the river valley, and invites patrons for a reflective post-meal stroll.

    • Learn something more: with more knowledge comes a better appreciation, and the best examples of these are the chocolate and coffee tastings offered at Kerstin’s Chocolate and Transcend Coffee. Kerstin’s Chocolate, makers of the gourmet line of Chocophilia bars, hosts a monthly chocolate tasting in their retail location, The Cocoa Room, where an expert staff member explains the history, development, and process of chocolate making, then offers samples of milk and dark chocolate from different regions and varying cocoa concentration, with tips on what to look for. On the coffee front, local purveyor and roaster of fine coffees Transcend Coffee holds coffee education evenings called “cuppings”. Attendees learn about the different characteristics of coffee by region, see how beans are roasted, and best of all, get to sample the discrepancy in one type of bean roasted on a light to dark gradient. Each ticket also comes with a half pound of coffee.

    • Get something back: Original Fare, an umbrella group of independent restaurants in Edmonton, has recently started an innovative, free rewards program. Show your Original Fare VIP card at any of the member establishments (14 in all in Edmonton; they vary from chic cafes like Leva to the new Spanish and Portuguese-influenced restaurant Sabor Divino) and earn 2% of your purchases back. At the end of each year, Original Fare will mail a gift certificate to show their appreciation of your business. It’s an incentive that beats most credit card reward programs!


    So whether it is a new restaurant, menu, or a deeper appreciation for an everyday ingredient or the history of our city, I hope you take a chance and step out to explore what Edmonton’s vibrant dining scene has to offer – options varied enough to make sure no two trips are identical!

    -- Sharon Yeo

  2. #2
    C2E Long Term Contributor
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    Just thought of an idea: a monthly C2E foodie outing, where a different local restaurant is visited each month.
    ďYou have to dream big. If we want to be a little city, we dream small. If we want to be a big city, we dream big, and this is a big idea.Ē - Mayor Stephen Mandel, 02/22/2012

  3. #3
    I'd rather C2E than work!
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    do you really think that any one of the restaurants would put up with the inevitable bun fight that would start within minutes of arrival ?

  4. #4
    First One is Always Free
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    Thanks Sharon. I always love reading your stuff. This passport idea was great. Something I hope you do again next year!

    Sonic Death Monkey > You may want to check out the foodie blogger meetup that Sharon organizes. I'm not a food blogger but I still go because I love the conversation and have an appreciation for what they do. http://www.onlyhereforthefood.ca/200...odie-meetup-2/

  5. #5
    I'd rather C2E than work!
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    What a great discussion, thanks for this very informative piece.

  6. #6
    C2E Continued Contributor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey View Post
    Just thought of an idea: a monthly C2E foodie outing, where a different local restaurant is visited each month.

    Dear SDM,

    Good idea.

    - sweetcrude

    Not sure how the logistics would work, but I think it would be a pretty interesting exercise to do. Maybe we could put interested people from C2E into a lotto of sorts and randomly select a new restaurant every month where the participants review the restaurant visited and put the details on C2E.

  7. #7

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    Great stuff. I love to see good things about food in this city... and yes Sharon's blog rocks too
    Time to grow up.

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