Ready for a waffle rumble?

There’s a new waffle in town. A franchise of Wannawafel, a company originally out of Victoria, B.C., opened up in Edmonton recently. They serve Liège waffles, just like Eva Sweet does. Let’s compare them, shall we? (I apologize in advance for the missing waffle parts. It was vital to taste them while they were hot and could not wait for my photographic efforts.)

Eva Sweet

Eva Sweet sells their Liège waffles out of a food truck, and charges $3 for a waffle without toppings (or at least they did last summer, not sure if the price has changed or not). They have three different flavours – vanilla, cinnamon and maple – and have numerous toppings available at an additional cost.

Eva Sweet truck

Eva Sweet truck

I’ve tried all three flavours without any toppings. The vanilla flavour is a little plain and the maple is a little too sweet for my personal tastes, but for me the cinnamon one is near perfect. The amount of cinnamon is just right. These Liège waffles use pearl sugar, which provides a great caramelized crust. My only issue with the sugar is that sometimes you find chunks of grainy, uncooked sugar inside the dough of the waffle.

Eva Sweet Liège waffle

Eva Sweet Liège waffle

Wannawafel

Wannawafel uses a cart, complete with waffle irons. They charge $4 per Liège waffle, and at this point are serving only one plain flavour with no toppings. Wannawafel in Victoria does serve their waffles with toppings.

Wannawafel cart

Wannawafel cart

These waffles are made with beet sugar and are a bit smaller than the ones I had at Eva Sweet. The beet sugar melts and caramelizes very well; there were no discernible chunks of uncooked sugar in the waffle. The dough is a more eggy and light than Eva Sweet’s, but the waffles are less sweet and as a result tastes a little more plain. If you find Eva Sweet’s waffles too sweet, then these waffles are the ones for you.

Wannawafel Liège waffle

Wannawafel Liège waffle

My verdict

I would be happy with either of these companies’ waffles. I liked Wannawafel’s dough better, but preferred the sweetness and flavour of Eva Sweet’s waffles. Eva Sweet’s waffles are also cheaper.

Eva Sweet
www.evasweet.ca
Their location changes a lot, so your best bet is to check their Twitter @evasweetwaffles.

Wannawafel
www.wannawafel.com
Wannawafel Edmonton’s Facebook page
Currently located at 108 St and 99 Ave during the work week. Also planning on appearing at various festivals and events around the city.

Ginseng Restaurant, Edmonton

Last month, a group of friends and I headed out for some Korean BBQ. Ginseng Restaurant specializes in an all-you-can-eat, cook-it-yourself BBQ buffet.

buffet table

buffet table

About half of the buffet has a variety of marinated raw chicken, beef and pork, as well as seafood such as shrimp, mussels, clams and squid. The other half has cooked food such as rice, noodles, tempura, kimchee,  tofu stir-fry, etc.

pre-cooked food and fruit

pre-cooked food and fruit

Each table has a built-in grill set in the middle. You’re given tongs to use to cook your food, and away you go! The metal grill plate gets covered with blackened fats quite quickly, and a waitress came by often to replace our grill plate with a clean, newly oiled version.

grill and raw food

grill and raw food

I was happy with the variety that Ginseng offers on their buffet table. The marinated meats ranged from mild to spicy, and the cuts weren’t too bad. I liked that they cut up vegetables for the grill as well.

If you go, go early as the place fills up quickly. Also, be aware that you will walk out of the place reeking of meat and smoke. There are giant vents over each table (like those that you would find over a stove), but it didn’t seem like the restaurant actually turned them on. The room had a visible haze of cooking smoke by the end of our meal. It also probably didn’t help that the table behind us kept burning their food. All of us smelled like meat for the rest of the evening.

The buffet costs $29 per person and  includes non-alcoholic drinks, but not dessert other than the fruit that is on the buffet table. The restaurant also has a regular menu, but everyone there seemed to eat from the buffet.

Ginseng Restaurant
9261 – 34 Avenue
Edmonton, AB

Ginseng Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sabzy Persian Grill, Edmonton

A meeting on the south side and the opportunity for a solo lunch drew me over to Sabzy Persian Grill. I’ve heard a lot about Sabzy but haven’t had a chance to visit until just recently.

Sabzy Persian Grill

Sabzy Persian Grill

The outdoor patio (over on the west side of the building) looked inviting but since it was just me eating I opted for an indoor table. My order was a small version of one of their daily specials – the eggplant stew. (Apologies for the blurriness of the photo; I didn’t realize that I needed to retake the picture.) The stew came with a giant piece of tender eggplant, a number of pieces of flavourful chicken, and a preserved lemon, all placed on a bed of rice. I was warned not to take huge bites of the lemon, and it was for good reason. Instead of eating the lemon I squished it into my rice and over my chicken, giving the entire dish a pleasant tangy flavour.

It was a solid dish and service was very attentive. My only criticism is that I wish the eggplant had been cut up prior to being served.

eggplant stew

eggplant stew

Sabzy Persian Grill
10416 82 Avenue, Edmonton
www.sabzy.net

Sabzy Persian Grill on Urbanspoon

What I did on my long weekend, part 2

Welcome back to the continuing story of what I did on the Saturday long weekend! After my excursion to the City Market, I popped home briefly to drop off my farmers’s market goodies. Next up, the annual Edmonton Heritage Festival!

This is my favourite Edmonton festival. The food, the sights, the culture, Hawrelak Park, the weather – they all combine to make a perfect day. I admit I have a soft spot for this festival; I was a frequent volunteer back when I was a student. I spent many years handing out maps at the information booth, and even spent some time drawing awkward cartoons on kids’ faces (“But I don’t know how to draw,” I cried. “That’s okay,” they said as they handed me a box of face paints.). One year I had a really fun job where I got to wander around the whole park and ask people to fill out a short survey about the festival. It was the best volunteer job I’ve ever had so far, probably because I wasn’t stuck in a tiny booth or in one spot for my whole shift.

After lathering on DEET (to fend off the mosquitoes that have invaded the city) and sunscreen, and carrying a bag of canned food for the Edmonton’s Food Bank, I headed off to Hawrelak Park. I was happy to see quite a lot of people in attendance; from my past experience Saturdays generally aren’t as busy as Sundays and Mondays, and I wondered if there would be a lot of competition due to all the other events happening in the city at the same time. Finding the Food Bank donation box was easy enough because they were everywhere near the bus drop-off, but finding a map or information booth proved to be nearly impossible. Who’s bright idea was it to stick them in white tents with only one tiny sign on the front of the booth? And why were they all open to the middle of the park instead of facing the pavilions?

All the pavilions were using bamboo or recycled plastic cutlery, and what looked like to be recycled plates and bowls. There were a lot of recycling bins around too, but it looked like people were confused as to whether or not they could recycle their cutlery and plates once they were finished with them.

My first stop was at the Thailand pavilion for some pad thai and sweet sticky rice and mango goodness.

Half eaten pad thai and sweet sticky rice and mango

Half eaten pad thai and sweet sticky rice and mango

And then the Boreno tent tempted me by offering laksa on their menu. It was ok but ultimately disappointing to someone who has eaten really good laksa before – the soup wasn’t coconutty enough, the shrimp was deceptive because it was only half of a piece, and there was barely any hot spicing to the soup.

laksa

laksa

A stop at Portugal netted me BBQ sardines and a pastel de nata. The pastel de nata was creamy and a little less sweet than the Chinese version that I’m used to, which I liked. The sardines were big ones, unlike the dinky ones that I’m used to finding in cans, and were a great value for the ticket price. They were delicious and a maybe a tad too salty, but I was a little bit disappointed that they weren’t gutted at all. The bones of the smallest fish were easy to crunch into, but the larger ones had to have the flesh picked off of them. I admit I did eat the heads. And they were yummy. Don’t knock fish heads until you’ve tried them!

BBQ sardines and pastel de nata

BBQ sardines and pastel de nata

I actually had a passing stranger stare at me and emit nervous giggles as I ate Peru’s offering of anticuchos (beef heart marinated in vinegar, oil, cumin). Tender and flavourful, this dish was one of the highlights of the day.

anticuchos

anticuchos

Continue reading

What I did on my long weekend, part 1

I had a busy, busy Saturday. My adventure started with a short volunteering stint as a “food sample girl” over at the downtown City Market. Saturday was Canada Food Day and to celebrate, the City Market held a number of food demos from chefs. Once the food was made, I helped to distribute the goodies out to the hungry crowd (at least, for the first demo).

setting up

setting up

The first demos were from Chef Brad Smoliak, whose first recipe was Ukrainian Eggs Benedict. Chef Smoliak started off by doing some prep work, including putting the Irvings Farm Fresh pork chops (or, as the Chef called them, bacon chops) in a pan to begin frying.

bacon chops

bacon chops

He made an effort to point out places in the City Market where he had grabbed the ingredients – from eggs to herbs. (Unfortunately I didn’t jot down where everything came from.)

Chef Smoliak talking about herbs

Chef Smoliak talking about herbs

He cooked Mo-Na mushrooms, fried eggs, flipped the chops… the smell was torturing everyone in the audience.

almost time to eat!

almost time to eat!

The final product looked like a giant open-faced sandwich. And it probably could feed at least two people.

the assembled benny

the assembled benny

My duties were over, but I stuck around to catch the second demo where the Chef presented a summer salad.

adding finishing touches to the salad

adding finishing touches to the salad

the salad, complete with edible flowers

the salad, complete with edible flowers

One of the Chef’s last tips was that if you were doing a buffet style party then you might want to pick up some candle votives and utilize them to serve the salad. I’m not sure if I would use votives though, unless you were sure that the vessel was safe to use with food. I’ve seen this technique used in Las Vegas, although they used cups that were smaller, like shot glasses.

salad in a votive

salad in a votive

Also hanging around the market was fellow volunteer Eating is the Hard Part, and Only Here for the Food who was helping to man the Slow Food Edmonton booth.

So what did I do for the rest of the day? Well, if you have been following my tweets then you’ll know. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for my next post to find out what happened next.

Good Buddy Restaurant, Edmonton

I don’t write a lot about Chinese restaurants in Edmonton – not because I don’t go to them, but because they’re usually… well… average.

There are two Good Buddy restaurants in Edmonton; one in the north and one in the south. I have never been to the south location so I can’t comment on that one. I have a love/hate relationship with the north side location. I love that they’re convenient and that going there means I don’t have to drive all the way to Chinatown. I love that they have a decent selection of dishes, and that the food is tolerable.

I hate their customer service with a passion. Their servers are barely present, and once in a while downright surly. Even just trying to find someone to flag down for the bill can be a huge effort. I dislike their service so much that I have avoided going there if there was another viable option.

So why am I writing about them now? Well I was there recently for dim sum and, while most of the meal varied from okay to barely tolerable, there was one stand out dish that made me go wow. So much so that I ordered a second helping.

shrimp stuffed eggplant

shrimp stuffed eggplant

Shrimp stuffed eggplant is a common dish found at dim sum restaurants. This dish is often soggy and limp. This magical dish, however, was particularly notable because of the large piece of eggplant, large chunk of shrimp, and the high level of crispyness of the shrimp. It’s almost enough to make me want to go back to this restaurant more often. Almost.

Good Buddy Restaurant (north)
Northgate Centre Mall
9499 137 Avenue, Edmonton

Good Buddy (North - By Safeway) Restaurant on Urbanspoon

News and events

  • I recently stopped at Famoso for a meal (lots of photos over at my review from 2009). The pizza was great as usual, but they’ve recently changed their gelato supplier from Edmonton’s Bueno Gelato to Calgary’s Fiasco Gelato. I tried two flavours – the blood orange sorbet and the banana chocolate gelato, and was disappointed. The sorbet was a little too icy and grainy, and didn’t have much blood orange flavour. The gelato, while creamy and smooth, had no banana taste whatsoever and I wasn’t crazy about the chocolate flavouring. This really surprised me; while I haven’t tried them in any of their Calgary locations, Fiasco ordinarily gets pretty good reviews from what I can tell.
  • Superstore is now selling bread made with Red Fife. There’s a $1 coupon that you can get if you want to try it out (expires July 16). When you click on the link, just skip to page 4 of their baking booklet. There are also coupons for other breads and cinnamon buns on that same page.
  • Liane Faulder at the Edmonton Journal has a blog post about a food writer’s tour of Alberta.
  • Gary at travel blog Everything Everywhere has started up Project Pringles – his effort to document every flavour of Pringles from all over the world. If you have a picture of a Pringles flavour, you should send it his way. (And yes, he’s right. They are everywhere. I even found Pringles in Morocco, but unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of them.)
  • World Cup fever – did you know that the Dutch wear orange because of purple carrots?
  • And more on the World Cup – the “Oracle Octopus” could end up as dinner if German fans have any say.
  • Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko is in hot water after spending a lot of money on breakfasts during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Maybe he’s a hobbit who needs breakfast, second breakfast and elevenses?
  • Jeffrey Steingarten interviewed Gwyneth Paltrow for Vogue magazine – she’s coming out with a “cooking for families” cookbook later this year. The best line from the article has to be “Our conversation was not much different from what it would have been if Gwyneth were a longtime food friend, except that Gwyneth is nicer than most of my food friends.” You can see a bunch of photos of Gwyneth’s kitchen(s) and read an edited version of the article on the Vogue website.
  • Fast Company did a feature on innovative U.S. cities, and a couple of cities caught my eye – New York’s urban farms and Portland’s farm-fresh food.
  • And lastly, check out Beer and Butter Tarts, a Canadian food and drink blog aggregator. I recently added my blog to the list!