Food. It brings people together.

Taste of Edmonton (#ToE) is a 10-day food festival that occurs annually during the summer, usually coinciding with K Days, on Churchill Square. It features different restaurants across the city, each showcasing 2 small samplings of their signature, or street-friendly, dishes. It seems as if ToE has grown and grown over the past few years, introducing new events, workshops, and entertainment. Recently, there have been talks that ToE will have to relocate in the future, making room for construction of the new LRT line and to accommodate increased patron traffic. Hopefully a new location can still keep the momentum of the event going.

I met up with KN after work on Thursday and the crowds were a decent size despite it being an awkward time (around 4:30). Even the rain couldn't stop Edmontonians from enjoying the food!

Tickets can be purchased online or on site, but we came prepared, buying tickets in advance when they were also discounted. You save money and you beat the line-ups so might as well plan ahead.

Onto the food!

Duck tots (4 tickets) by Attila the Hungry
I have fond memories of eating tater tots from Taco Time as a kid whenever my mom would drag us out to go shopping and so I very much anticipated the moment that duck tots and I would finally be able to meet. The menu description is drool-worthy enough: crispy tater tots topped with tender braised duck legs, lime Sriracha sauce, Hoisin aioli, and a combination of green onion, cilantro, and peanuts on top. We got a double order, so you know it's that good. Crispy, spicy, and creamy. The duck even seemed like an afterthought, but I think if you get their normal portion size that they sell for $12, the amount of duck would be more substantial. Regardless, this was my favorite item of the night.

Chilled Thai watermelon soup (2 tickets) by Attila the Hungry
Because the duck tots were THAT good, a coworker (Hi CM! I know you read my blog ;)) requested that I also try their other offering, the chilled thai watermelon soup, and report back to her. Now, I love eating watermelon with salt (it definitely brings out the flavour) but I didn't love this soup. I really don't know how to describe what it tasted like, the flavour was just off and it was really salty. It's an interesting concept, and perhaps poor execution. But hey, maybe it's just my taste buds, I heard another lady in front of me rave about the watermelon soup.

Cheese fondue in bread bowl (4 tickets) by The Melting Pot
A lot of white wine probably went into the making of the cheese fondue because it was all that I could taste. Probably not a bad thing to others, but I really hate the smell and taste of wine or any alcohol for that matter. #grandma. So this was okay; I think it can be improved if the bread bowl was a little more crusty than soft. On a side note, this was 4 tickets?! Highway robbery.

Chicken masala perogies with caramelized onion and tamarind sour cream (3 tickets) by Select
I didn't eat any of this because of my aversion to sour cream (it's vile), but KN thought that the perogies may have been undercooked.

Dry spicy chicken (4 tickets) by The Lingnan
More affectionately referred to as "crack chicken", the dry spicy chicken definitely lived up to its name. No, not that it was as addicting as crack, it was just dry. Sorry, not sorry.

"Chicken" satay with peanut sauce (2 tickets) by Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant
2 tickets for 2 pieces of satay? Easily the best value item at ToE (for reference, the Sutton was offering a single chocolate dipped strawberry for 2 tickets...)! If you didn't know that Padmanadi was a vegetarian restaurant, you probably wouldn't know that these weren't chicken and actually some type of meat substitute. The texture of the "meat" was slightly chewier than normal chicken but the flavour was really good and easily fooled me. We even started to dip the aforementioned dry spicy chicken into the peanut sauce to make them more easier to get down.

Beef garlic rump steak (3 tickets) and bacon wrapped chicken thighs (3 tickets) by Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse
Pampa's was definitely the most popular stand at ToE; they consistently had a small line out front. The smoke and smells wafting from the stand probably lured them in as it did for us. You can't go wrong with bacon wrapped anything, and the rump steak, although a bit chewy, was still pretty good. 

Bam bam shrimp (3 tickets) by Old Spaghetti Factory
Old Spaghetti Factory wins for most vocal booth. All I heard were BAMS! from the fry cook as he was pumping out orders. It actually scared me the first time when I was lining up and heard a BAM! out of nowhere. The shrimp were fried nice and crunchy and the sauce was some sort of Sriracha mayo that was spicy and complimented the dish nicely.

Jamaican beef patties (3 tickets) by IRIE Foods Caribbean Cuisine
Think of this like a Jamaican pizza pocket. The crust was nice and flaky, while the filling was a spicy beef curry mixture. The spice definitely creeps up on you, but this was A+ in my books.

Mac & cheese ball (2 tickets) by The Underground Tap and Grill
 "Can I have a ball?" This is why I love KN. 

Basically a ball of mac and cheese, breaded in panko or breadcrumbs, deep fried and served with a remolaude sauce, or something close to it anyways. This was okay, not really memorable unless you love mac and cheese.
After our first round of walking around the square, we circled back around again to grab dessert!

Kiwi and mango sorbetto (4 tickets) by Fantasia Caffe and Catering
White chocolate swirl and chocolate/hazelnut gelato (4 tickets) by Fantasia Caffe and Catering
Fantasia Caffe and Catering basically had an outdoor ice cream parlour going on. They had so many flavours that it was difficult to choose (#libra problems). You can choose either a cup or a cone, or a waffle cone for an extra ticket. The girl at the booth informed us that you get 2 scoops, so you can choose 2 flavours if you wanted to. Can't go wrong with gelato!

Amigo Churros (2 tickets) by The Three Amigos Authentic Mexican Restaurant
I was expecting churros similar to the ones served at Rostizado: crispy with a soft inside and overall just delicious. These were rock hard and disappointing.

Banana bread pudding with caramel sauce, whipped cream, and bruleed banana (3 tickets) by Zinc
One word: HEAVEN. The bread pudding was basically a small brick of what tasted like banana bread topped with the most amazing caramel sauce (basically like melted Werther's originals).  The bruleed banana was also a nice touch. Second favourite of the night!

12 oz Lemon Heaven Freshly Squeezed Lemonade (3 tickets) by Lemon Heaven
We had 3 tickets left over so we just decided to get a lemonade as we were too full and also extremely thirsty from all the sodium-laden fried foods we ate. This didn't exactly quench our thirst... it was extremely sour and didn't exactly look like it was freshly squeezed. Oh well. 

To recap, Taste of Edmonton is a fun event for all ages and for groups of friends to attend. There were also way more items that I wanted to try, but our stomachs and wallets didn't exactly agree. Predictably, some items are better than others but I think that's the whole point of ToE. You get to taste a small snippet from restaurants you probably have been curious about, but didn't want to commit to fully when choosing a place to dine out. It's great exposure for the restaurants that make the cut to participate. Also, where can I find me some more duck tots?

- CT


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CT is a 20-something Edmontonian who started blogging as an excuse for taking pictures of her food.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf