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.



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.



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City Market feature – Don Carmelo

One of my favourite stalls at the City Market, Edmonton’s downtown farmers’ market, is the one from Don Carmelo.

They started off selling various jars of their Venezuelan guasacaca, an avocado salsa, which I fell in love with a couple of years ago at A Taste of Edmonton when they sold pupusas topped with this lovely sauce. (Makes a great dipping sauce for roasted chicken!)

Don Carmelos guasacaca

Don Carmelo's guasacaca

And then they started selling their pupusas at the market as well. Yum! Went I walked past their booth last week, I saw that they had added tamales and had to order one to try. Pricey at $5 each, it was served with a cute wooden fork. I added a moderate amount of guasacaca roja, and dug in. A little bit of chicken and some vegetables made up the filling for the corn masa outside. It was pleasant tasting and very warming on a cold day, but I have to say that I’m glad I had a lot of sauce on there as it helped boost the flavour. I think next time I’ll stick with the pupusas, if only due to the cost.

Don Carmelos tamale

Don Carmelo's tamale

This Saturday is the last market day of the year, so if you want to grab some for yourself you’d better make sure to stop by. They do have a store/restaurant on the south side (which I haven’t had a chance to visit yet) where apparently you can buy these items all year round. I think it’s rather interesting marketing as they do get a bunch of business from their stall at the farmers’ market. I have wondered why they don’t seem to push their restaurant more though.

Don Carmelo
booth at the City Market,
or at their permanent location over at 4220-66 Street
Edmonton, AB