St. Albert Farmers’ Market

I know I talk a lot about the downtown Edmonton City Market, but one of my other favourite local farmers’ markets is out in St. Albert. Open every Saturday until October 9, the city closes down a couple of streets to traffic so that the St. Albert Farmers’ Market can take over the space.

St. Albert Farmers' Market

St. Albert Farmers' Market

It’s so popular that they even have shuttle buses running to ferry people to the market.

crowds on a sunny day

crowds on a sunny day

more crowds

more crowds

There is a section for food like donuts, popcorn, hot dogs, lemonade, etc. set up right next to city hall.

concession stands

concession stands

While some of the stands are also present at the City Market or the Old Strathcona Market, the St. Albert one has quite a few booths that are unique. The Cinnamon Girl’s booth is always crowded and stock sells out quickly.

Cinnamon Girl

Cinnamon Girl

Fancy Shmancy sells delcious mini brownies of various flavours, as well as a great cookie. I can’t resist stopping here whenever I come to this market.

Fancy Shmancy

Fancy Shmancy

Fancy Shmancy's baked goods

Fancy Shmancy's baked goods

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Studio Café, Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a 24-hours kind of place, especially when you are on the Strip. And to meet those needs, it seems like every major hotel has at least one restaurant that is open 24-hours a day. For the MGM Grand, that place is the Studio Café.

We went here for breakfast one day and came away quite impressed. I was expecting the food to be more of the greasy spoon variety, but what we got was huge portions, tasty food and an interesting menu with a mix of basics and gourmet items.

The toast was admittedly nothing special, but I decided to take a photo of it because of the paper.

Studio Café, MGM Grand

Studio Café, MGM Grand

I was tempted to order one of the day’s specials – a lobster omelette – but instead chose one off their regular menu, the Ragin’ Cajun Omelette ($14.00 US). Filled with andouille sausage, green peppers, beans and a spicy shrimp gumbo, it started off my morning with a bit of a kick. On the side was a giant hash brown –  just thick enough to give a good balance between the crispy outside and the soft potato inside.

Ragin Cajun Omelette

Ragin' Cajun Omelette

Our other order was one of the day’s specials – a Greek Omelette ($13.00) served with tzatziki, feta cheese, pitted olives, tomatoes and a very mild amount of jalapeños. I hadn’t expected to like this omelette as much as I did because I was unsure about how the Greek flavours would taste with the eggs, but it was a rather refreshing dish with lots of vegetables. This dish also came with the same delicious hash browns. (Apologies for the crappy lighting of the photo.)

Greek Omelette

Greek Omelette

*Disclaimer: My meal here was discounted because of a comp. Saying that, the prices were relatively reasonable for a place on the Strip and I would have been happy to pay full price for this meal.

Studio Café
MGM Grand, Las Vegas
www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants/studio-cafe.aspx

Studio Cafe (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

Cactus Club Cafe, Edmonton

Some friends and I planned a dinner out on Saturday, April 25th, so I suggested we try out the newly opened (as in opened two days before on the 23rd) Cactus Club Cafe location over at West Edmonton Mall. Edmonton used to have a local location of this Western Canadian chain a long time ago, but it didn’t fare very well and closed relatively quickly.

Despite its brief stint in Edmonton, the Cactus Club Cafe has been around for many years. More recently in the past few years, much like how Earls and Moxie’s is also doing, the Cactus Club Cafe is working to make their menu, decor and atmosphere more sophisticated. When (Canadian celebrity chef and  Iron Chef America winner against Masaharu Morimoto) Chef Rob Feenie’s assocation ended with Vancouver’s Lumiere and Feenie restaurants, he later popped back into the public eye as the new “Food Concept Architect” for the Cactus Club Cafe. They’ve used his name to great advantage; his face is all over the website, he often talks to the media about the food at the Cactus Club Cafe, and all of his specific dishes are marked on the menus with a special RF logo.

As the restaurant had just opened, I half-expected service to be a bit slow but all of the staff were unfailingly attentive and helpful, and the food arrived quickly. (Other blogs and Chowhound discussions say that staff were flown in from Vancouver to ensure smooth service.)

The restaurant is located in a free-standing location in the northwest corner of the mall where a car repair shop used to be (Sears, I think). There is no entrance via the mall at all; an interesting decision that I hope doesn’t hurt them later when the tourists and locals stay inside the mall and don’t want to walk outside in bad weather.

The decor is modern but comfortable, with a mix of different textures and materials. Red leather seats, wood panelled walls and tables, glass, and even a concrete block wall gives the place an interesting look. The lights are dimmed somewhat so the red of the seats are muted. The booths are spacious, and art is featured on many of the walls (including some from Andy Warhol). A large patio was already set with lounge-style outdoor furniture, although at the time it was still too chilly for people to sit outside.

To start, a couple of people ordered bellinis and promptly declared them delicious. (Sorry, no photo. They stirred and slurped the drinks before I could take the camera out.)

We all shared a couple of appetizers. The first dish was an order of calamari, red pepper and jalapeño, dusted with fresh dill and served with chipotle aioli and tzatziki dips. The calamari was tender and the jalapeños gave the dish a lot of heat. (Lots and lots of heat.)

calamari

calamari

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L&W Family Restaurant – Jasper, Alberta

This weekend I took a drive to the Rocky Mountains – specifically to a little town called Jasper, Alberta.

The Rocky Mountains in Jasper, Alberta

The Rocky Mountains in Jasper, Alberta

For dinner we wanted somewhere casual and not too pricey, and after some research on my part we decided to grab some pizza and burgers over at Lou Lou’s Pizzeria. Unfortunately for us, Lou Lou’s was closed and the lights were off, although through the window you could see working coolers holding bottles of pop. We later found out that they had moved down the street to a new location. It was disappointing that they did not place a sign on the door of the old location to notify people where they were.

With our first choice gone, we decided to head to the L&W Family Restaurant; partially because we could get a 10% discount because we were staying at a certain hotel, and partially because it seemed like a place that could accommodate a relatively large group.

L&W Family Restaurant, Rocky Mountains in the background

L&W Family Restaurant, Rocky Mountains in the background

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