News and events

I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I haven’t been posting as frequently as I had hoped. I am also behind in reading other blogs, so please bear with me!

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

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News and links

And lastly, if you live in the Edmonton area you should check out the local Chowhound board. I took over moderating the Edmonton Restaurant Review of the Month (RROTM) a couple of months ago, and we need more people participating! Here’s some info for you:

The Edmonton Restaurant Review of the Month (RROTM) is an event where chowhounds nominate local restaurantsto review for the month (similar to a book club). The moderator of RROTM will use a randomizer to choose the restaurant for the upcoming month. Chowhounds try to eat there at least once during that month, and post their opinion in a RROTM specific thread. There are two monthly threads for RROTM – the discussion thread to choose the restaurant and the thread for the reviews.

June discussion: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/710328?tag=main_body;topic-710328
June review thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/711446
May review thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/705743

Buttercream Bake Shoppe, Balzac (Calgary)

Just outside of Calgary sits a small town called Balzac. And in this town, right on the highway leading to and from Calgary, is a relatively new giant shopping mall called CrossIron Mills. I met up with a friend there, and I also went because I wanted to walk around (was hoping to find a lot of good outlet stores, but came away relatively disappointed because this place is mostly just a regular shopping mall).

Inside the mall, in the middle of a hallway, is an outlet of Calgary’s Buttercream Bake Shoppe. There were plenty of mouth-watering displays of cupcakes and cookies.

Buttercream Bake Shoppe

Buttercream Bake Shoppe

I didn’t want a whole cupcake, so my friend and I opted for two mini cupcakes. One was a vanilla cupcake with a passion fruit frosting, and the other was a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. The cupcake itself was just ok – the cake was moist but not as flavourful as I’d like. I think I prefer the cake from Crave. The frosting on the passion fruit frosting was very fruity, and both it and the vanilla frosting were almost too sweet. (I think this is why I don’t eat cupcakes very often. They’re just too darned sweet for me!) The texture of the frosting was excellent though. Creamy, but not so rich that you feel like you’re sticking a piece of fat in your mouth. I think I like their frosting better than Crave’s.

mini cupcake

mini cupcake

Buttercream Bake Shoppe
CrossIron Mills Mall, Balzac – just outside of Calgary next to Highway 2
Two other locations in Calgary
www.buttercreambakeshoppe.com

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