Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011 Taste of Edmonton - part two

Well, our plans to head out early today were ended by the deluge of rain this morning. What a downpour!

By mid afternoon, it was looking safe to head out. My older daughter decided to stay home, but my younger daughter, Danielle, had to go to the library. It's right at the square the festival is being held at, so she decided to take it in after all.

2011 Taste of Edmonton

For our first tastes, we picked up a Hurricane Potato from Korean Village, then went back to Lit - Italian Wine Bar for their Basil stuffed Bocconcini with Prosciutto Wrap.

The Hurricane Potato is a really fun dish! Danielle is not a big potato fan. She likes her mashed potatoes and that's about it. She's the only kid I've know who didn't like french fries. So when she says she found the Hurricane Potato delicious, that's pretty impressive! *L* I found it very tasty as well.

As for the stuffed bocconcini...

Wow. That was SO delicious!!! Danielle didn't know what bocconcini was (I have bought it once before, but we really didn't know what to do with it), so she wasn't sure what to expect. When I asked her what she thought of it, all she could say was "MMMMMmmmm!!!" while savouring every bite. Both this dish and the Ahi tuna salad Nicole and I tried there yesterday took longer to get than at any other booth we tried, but they were well worth it. It was fabulous!

2011 Taste of Edmonton

Next up, we went to The Palace Banquets for their Bacon Wrapped Scallops, then to Kyoto for their Canada Maki and Tempura shrimp. These were all sure things for us. The scallops are a tried and true favorite and one of the things we get as a treat after we've tried all the new stuff we were interested in. I had the maki last year, but Danielle hadn't, so it's a new one for her.

As expected the scallops were wonderful. So much flavour! What a treat.

Of the other two, the tempura shrimp is another treat. The downtown location for Kyoto is near my husband's office, and is among the places on our list of restaurants to go to when we meet him for lunch every now and then. Their service kinda sucks, but the food is always really good. The shrimp did not disappoint. The tempura batter is light and crispy and it's cooked just right. We both liked it.

Danielle is new to enjoying sushi type foods. Last year, she wouldn't even try it, but since then she's developed a taste for the California rolls Nicole and I sometimes get, so she was willing to try it this year. She liked the maki, except she wasn't big on the cucumber. She just doesn't like cucumber much. Still, she found it good. I found the flavours very fresh and light, and really enjoyed it.

2011 Taste of Edmonton

Our next stop, we again went back to booths Nicole and I had gone to yesterday. I knew Danielle would like to try the chocolate shooters from The Sutton Place Hotel (I was right, she loved them), and I wanted to try the Grilled Hungarian Sausage with Potato Salad from Bistro Praha, which is the same place we got the marinated strawberries and vanilla whipped cream from.

Danielle is indifferent to sausage at the best of times. She found it good, but not good enough to actually eat all of her half. She liked the potato salad better - another surprise from her! I, on the other hand, found it amazing. Grilling really took the sausage a step up, and the potato salad had a wonderful lingering flavour. In fact, it was so good, I gave my chocolate shooter to Danielle, because I didn't want to spoil the flavours by eating something sweet. It was just so satisfying - comfort food at its best! In fact, as torn as I am by the prosciutto wrapped bocconcini and the bacon wrapped scallops, I really thing the grilled sausage and potato salad was my favourite dish of all.

2011 Taste of Edmonton

For our last dish, we went for stuff we like, but from places we've never been to before. We got hooked on Taro flavoured bubble tea just a few short weeks ago, but this one was from I Love Bubble Tea, which is new for us (sorry, can't seem to find a link for them). It was delicious. The tapioca balls on the bottom were a different size that we were used to, and the texture was remarkably like a slushie, but these were not negatives, by any means.

I was a bit nervous to try the pad thai. I love pad thai, but have only ever tried it from one place, which allows me to choose the amount of heat I want. Being sensitive to spicy foods, I always picked the least amount. This pad thai was from Numchok Wilai Restaurant (their booth was one of my favourites for their decoration). I was really surprised by the quantity they gave, which barely fit on the plate. It was mildly flavoured, so my concerns about heat were for naught. It was slightly sweet, which is not something I am big on, but quite tasty. The bits of sprouts added a nice crunch. It was one of those things I liked more, the more I ate of it. Danielle, on the other hand, doesn't care for pad thai at all. She took a small taste and that was it. Not her thing.

At this point, we'd used up all the tickets budgeted for this year.

Today we had a lot more hits than misses compared to yesterday, which was strangely disappointing. We've got a couple of new restaurants on our list of places to look for, that's for sure!

I'm already looking forward to trying more new things next year!

Monday, July 25, 2011

2011 Taste of Edmonton - part one

Hello again!

With various goings-on in our home, we've missed out on some of the festivals being held in downtown Edmonton. Taste of Edmonton, however, is one I didn't want to miss!

My younger daughter isn't as interested this year, so it's just my older daughter, Nicole, and I this year. We usually split things between two days, focusing first on trying new stuff before we finish off our tickets on some tried and true favorites.

The festival runs from 11am to 11pm. Usually we go during the day to beat the lunch rush, but with the heat, we tried going in the evening this time. Unfortunately, that meant my pictures sucked. I did manage to fix some to upload to my flickr account, but most weren't worth making the effort. We're planning to go back for 11am tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get some better shots.

You can see all the photos in the set I made for this year's festival. For now, I've just got the booths we bought from and the dishes we tried.

Here are our first dishes.

2011 Taste of Edmonton

First we checked out Lit - Italian Wine Bar for the Seared Galliano Crusted Ahi Tuna Salad, and Hoang Long Restaurant and Noodle House for Grilled Quail with Pomegranate Sauce.

Nicole was really looking forward to trying the Ahi tuna salad, but I was much more trepidatious. I don't like tuna much, and have a real problem with raw or seared flesh. I like my protein cooked! No surprise that Nicole loved it, but I surprised myself in being able to eat the tuna without shuddering. That's a big accomplishment. *L* As for the rest, it was very tasty, and an interesting combination of flavours and textures. The touch of salt really made a big difference.

We were both looking forward to the quail, which neither of us have had before. We both love pomegranate, so this should have been a shoe-in.

Surprisingly, it wasn't. Nicole's verdict was "not bad." I found it good. We both found it difficult to eat. By the time I finished getting the meat off all those little bones, I felt like I hadn't actually eaten anything. It was tasty but... not as good as we'd hoped.

On to the next two dishes.

2011 Taste of Edmonton

Here we have Teriyaki Salmon on Rice from Zen and Lamb Tostada with Avocado Creme Fraiche from Zinc.

Zinc is a rather new restaurant we've been interested in trying out, so we were pretty happy to see them represented at the festival. I found it very tasty. It had more heat than I expected. I have a very low tolerance for spicy food, but this wasn't too much for me. The tostada on the bottom really added to it. Nicole, on the other hand, found it tasted like a burrito, which was a touch off-putting for her. She didn't find it bad, but it wasn't what she was expecting, and not as good as she'd hoped.

As for the Teriyaki Salmon, we had an interesting diversion of opinions. I don't particularly like salmon. That part was all right, but for me, it was the sauce that made the dish. Nicole, on the other hand, loves salmon, but doesn't care for teriyaki. She found the sauce much too salty for her liking, but really enjoyed the salmon (she is indifferent to rice). There was only one small piece of salmon for us to split, which she found a bit disappointing.

Next up, we went for something sweet.

2011 Taste of Edmonton

The marinaded strawberries were from Praha, and the cappacino chocolate from The Sutton Place Hotel. (Note; I'm using the spelling from their sign.)

The shooter cups were easily the most adorable items being served! At only one ticket each ($1), they were also the best deal. They had a very intense chocolate flavour. In fact, chocolate was pretty much all we could taste. I happen to love chocolate, especially dark chocolate, but Nicole can take it or leave it. She didn't particularly like the texture of the dark chocolate cup, but it was nice. Neither of us could taste the cappacino.

As for the strawberries, they were good. We both love strawberries, and we both like whipped cream. Neither of us could taste the Grand Marni er the strawberries were marinated in, so it basically just came across as ... well, strawberries and whipped cream. We quite enjoyed it, but nothing made it stand out for us.

For our last dishes of the day, we mixed sweet and savory.

2011 Taste of Edmonton

The Mango Lassi was from Khazana Authentic Tandoori Cuisine, while the wasabi beef on a bun was from Hawkeyes Too.

We are not big mango fans, but Nicole wanted to try it out after seeing how good they looked on display. I chose the wasabi beef.

I found the wasabi beef to be delicious and tender. The wasabi wasn't overpowering, but my inability to handle heat did me in. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't finish it off. Nicole enjoyed it as well - more than she expected.

As for the mango lassi, she really enjoyed it and, surprisingly, I did as well. I found it quite sweet, but the smooth creaminess countered the spice from the wasabi very well. The mango flavour was quite intense. We both liked the texture of it.

In the end, we enjoyed all the dishes, but still found it rather disappointing. It was all good, but nothing was really exceptional. We actually both settled on the Ahi tune salad as our favourite (even though I would have preferred it without the tuna, which my daughter finds quite amusing).

What I found strange is that, even after having 8 different items between two of us, we didn't feel like we'd had much at all. Last year, with 3 of us sharing 9 items, we were usually very full by the time we had dessert. This time around, we found ourselves debating going someplace to sit down and eat. The quantities don't seem to have changed from last year, and we're splitting 2 ways instead of three, but it just didn't feel like we ate much at all. Very strange.

In fact, I'm rather hungry right now. Time to find something more substantial to eat...

Road trip 2011, part four

Well, I'm finally back and catching up on the road trip photos. This time, I've uploaded a few taken at my sister's farm.

visiting my sister

My younger daughter and I got a chance to spend the night with my sister and her husband. Of course, what country visit would be it be if we didn't get a chance to check out the garden, barnyard and cows? *L* Their farm is alongside a creek, with some pretty gorgeous views. As we were walking along the shore, their heifers saw us and decided to check us out. The first time, the path took as through a small bunch of trees. Before long, we were completely surrounded by cows! They were curious and willing to come close, but not too close! After a while, we continued on our way and they stopped following us. On the way back, however, they all gathered around us again. The dog kept coming in between us and the cows, barking if he felt they were getting too close. In the above picture, it's the dog they're all staring at.

As you can see, they aren't particularly intimidated!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day Three

Part of my daughter's booth, newly set up for the third day of the Art Walk. It technically doesn't start for another 20 minutes, but just about everyone around us is up and ready to go.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Art Walk

The section of the Art Walk my daughter has a booth in. There is some awesome talent represented here!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Road Trip 2011, part three

I've added a bunch of photos to my flickr set for this trip. While out, we stayed with my parents on the farm I grew up on. One of my brothers has his own place just up the road, a handy little walk away.

A lot of the farm shots have stories behind them, and will probably get posts of their own. Until then, here some others for you to enjoy.


This is one of several gardens my mother has. The vegetable garden has gotten smaller over the years, though it's still quite large. There are flower gardens, fruit trees and berry bushes as well. This little garden was mostly flowers when I was growing up on the farm. Now it's got more veggies in it - handy to have, closer to the house. With all the rain and cold in MB, the gardens when in a month late and the ground has often been too muddy to tend. It was just starting to dry up a bit during our visit.


There is a new addition near my parents' big garden - a couple of honey bee hives! My late uncle always kept bees, and he loved tending them. After my uncle died, one of his son in laws took over. Now my cousin in law runs Honeybee Meadows and he and his wife sell their honey as a nice little business. I made a point of picking up a big bucket of honey from them to bring home with me! :-) These are their hives, taking advantage of the many seasonal flowers my mother has, though from here, clover is all you can see. The row of trees behind the hives is mostly lilac, though there is a chokecherry tree in there as well (which my dad has used to make wine in the past). I'm sure there are others my mom has added over the years I don't know the names of! *L*


The ditch between my parents' place and my brother's was filled with flowers. Mostly Daisies and Wild Roses, but also Black Eyes Susans, creeping Buttercups, and many more I just don't know the names of.

During one of our walks back, however, we spotted this single Lady's Slipper that suddenly appeared. It wasn't blooming when we walked past the day before. It was hard to get a photo with the breeze, but I think this one worked out all right. We had found two more of a different type of Lady's Slipper in the spruce grove near my parents' house that I just wasn't able to get a good shot of.


It was a beautiful evening when we visited with my brother, so we sat outside to chat - thoroughly covered in bug spray, I might add. It was so nice to sit out there, surrounded by trees and flowers, several cats and the dog, enjoying each other's company. While there, we saw several deer passing through a clearing. They were a bit too fast for me, but I did manage to get a couple of shots.

Gotta love country living!


This is a neighbour's field we pass when driving from my parents' farm to town. When I was a kid, I loved bison, so I was pretty thrilled when people started to keep them. The babies you can just see over the tall grass are so adorable! They're such fascinating animals to look at.

Tasty, too.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Road Trip 2011, part two

I've added a few shots to my flickr set of some of the areas we checked out while in Manitoba. Here are a couple of them.


This is taken from Fraserwood Park, in my home town. You see that building way in the background? When I was a kid, that was my first school. It was a two classroom school, though at the time I went, it was K-3 (it used to be K-6), all in one classroom. The other was used as a gym. Where I'm standing to take this photo was nothing but a marshy area. Now it's a park with a pond, public bathrooms, hand pump, areas large enough for RVs to park, with firepits available.

What you can't see from here is the house we used to live in. There's also a hockey rink and a sports club (which now owns the old school building) and a play structure, basketball court and baseball diamond. My kids were pretty young then, and spent many happy house exploring. One year, we gathered some frog spawn from one of the ditches and raised them in a makeshift tank. Out of the many eggs, only 5 froglets survived, and we released them in this pond.

Also released in this pond was a huge snapping turtle! I have no idea if it's still there. A friend called us up one day, asking for help. She'd seen something odd on the side of the highway, in an area surrounded by farmer's fields. It turned out to be a snapping turtle the size of a steering wheel! With no water in sight, and no idea where it came from, it was brought over to our place and we soon let it go in the pond. I must say, driving the car with that thing in a bin on the seat beside me - a bin it barely fit in! - was rather nerve wracking. Especially when the darn thing almost got out!


This is a Purple Martin tower by the marina in Gimli, Manitoba. They don't hang around long, but when they do, they eat a whole lot of mosquitoes, so a fair number of people build "apartment style" birdhouses to attract them. This tower is the largest such structure I've seen.

Click here to see more photos.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Road Trip 2011, part one

As you may have noticed with some of my previous posts done through my phone, I've been on a road trip. My younger daughter and I drove from Edmonton to Manitoba, visiting various places in the Interlake, not too long ago. We also took oodles of photos. I brought along my old Canon S3, since it also has video capability. Little by little, I'll be adding some to a set on my flickr page and highlighting a few here.

The drive out was quite the adventure. We took the Yellowhead (Hwy 16) out of Edmonton, all the way through to the Trans Canada. We drove through and were surrounded by thunderstorms pretty much the entire Alberta leg of the trip.


When I saw this sun drenched field, with its old cabin, sillouted against a distant thunderstorm, I had to pull over and get a shot out the driver's side window. This particular shot was taken at maximum optical zoom (see my flickr set for a different version). We also found ourselve driving into a spectacular double rainbow. We knew we'd driven under it when it abruptly disappeared.

Our plan had been to find a rest stop and camp out for the night. We weren't in any hurry, so an early night would have been fine. Unfortunately, we discovered there are very few rest stops along the Yellowhead - at least in Manitoba! We ended up stopping at a rest area near Minnedosa in the wee hours of the morning. We broke out the foam mattresses and crashed for the night.


It wasn't until morning that I realized the parking spot I stopped in likely wasn't a parking spot at all! *L*

It was a gorgeous morning, so we had ourselves a breakfast picnic before hitting the road again. Quite a few others were taking advantage of the lovely morning, including a fisherman who set up at the river that's just behind the row of trees you see on the right.

View Larger Map

I don't know the name of the river we were beside. It sure is a squiggly one!

When we left, we saw one more rest area to the East of Minnedosa, and that was it. Not what we were expecting at all!

A treat

I have never had Bento before.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Heading home by a different route and finally able to use my phone again. I forgot MB was a dead zone for the phone i have.

The rest area on this route is a lot nicer than our usual one.