We’ve made some changes for 2014. The 25 Best Things to Eat feature was an annual staple in this magazine. But, for the 2014 edition of our summer food issue, we decided to go in a new direction.
Instead of having a judge or judges select the 25 items to appear on the list, we decided to ask Edmontonians what dishes they can’t live without. We asked politicians, artists, moguls and philanthropists. We asked athletes and TV personalities. We asked bankers and we asked writers.
And what we got was a fantastic cross-section of the Edmonton culinary scene. And, even better, we got some great stories as well. Food isn’t just about the taste – it’s about the emotional connection, the experience of going out and enjoying flavours that you really love.
We all have different reasons on why we love certain dishes. Maybe they remind us of favourite home-cooked meals. Maybe we associate certain dishes with special nights out. In the following pages, you’ll read about 25 prominent Edmontonians and why their favourite dishes are so important to them. Some are romantic, some are adventurous, some just want to enjoy a great meal with a bunch of friends.
We encourage you to try as many of these items as possible. But don’t tell ’em that Avenue sent you. Tell them that Mayor Don Iveson sent you. Or Patrick LaForge. Or Lynn Coady. Or …
Royal Pizza (10433 80 Ave., 780-432-7720, royalpizza.ca)
The chain began as a humble pizza spot, launched in Edmonton back in 1969. The Old Strathcona location was perfect for serving University of Alberta students on tight budgets. There are now eight locations throughout the metro area, including Leduc, St. Albert and Sherwood Park; but Edmonton Oilers’ President Patrick LaForge has a lot of love for that original Whyte Avenue-area location.
So, when you ask for the Royal Special, with ham, pepperoni, onion, green peppers and black olives, think of the NHL team’s head honcho.
“My wife and I grew up on the south side and we connected with the casual vibe,” says LaForge. “As twenty-somethings we grew up on a healthy diet of Royal after an evening of shuffleboard at the Strath.We love the authentic Royal recipe for awesome pizza – big, thick crust, their own special tomato sauce and each pizza topped with a unique flavour of cheeses. The service is always coffee-shop casual style and the owner/manager knows the names of his regulars. It is like home cooking.”
And, well, we all know that pizza is wonderful fare for a night of watching hockey.
European Sweetness (12212 107 Ave., 780-454-5476)
We thought it was a good idea to ask Jelena Bojic what dish makes her taste buds sing. After all, she was recently the director of community relations for the Edmonton Opera, having just moved to Kingsway Mall as its incoming marketing director.
Bojic, who went to school in what’s now known as Montenegro, picked a Balkan treat, made locally, as her favourite. And the location? European Sweetness, just off 124th Street.
“My husband, my son and I often go there for breakfast on the weekends and enjoy great pastries, coffee and other European beverages,” she says. “So, there’s a meal called burek, and it’s cheese and filo pastry. It’s traditional breakfast in Serbia. So I’d say that’s one of my favourite things to eat – my weekend ritual. It goes well with light yogurt – kind of like buttermilk. A good long espresso after that, and my weekend is complete!”
There are many variations of burek; in fact, many eastern Europeans fill the filo pastry with not only different types of cheese, but with vegetables and meat. But, when served with yogurt and coffee, cheese is the filling of choice. As well, sweet burek varieties are also popular, with fruit fillings or drizzled in honey. The pastry-and-cheese combo is diverse and can handle sweet or savoury options.
Allegro (9650 142 St., 780-451-6671, allegrorestaurant.ca)
Allegro Italian Kitchen (10011 109 St., 780-424-6644, allegroitaliankitchen.com)
The great thing about Italian food is its simplicity. When it’s done well, Italian food highlights the delicate nature of the pasta, the sweetness of the tomatoes and the subtle aromas of the herbs.
For Lidia Molinara, owner of Lidia’s Pharmacy, no one does it as well as Allegro. There are two Allegro locations in the city, but the Crestwood spot is the original.
“I really enjoy the home-made lasagna at Allegro at Crestwood. The Caesar salad is also very, very good! He [co-owner, Rico Ferri] has his own secret dressing.”
The thing about the lasagna is that it’s not a menu staple. You may need to check when it’s going to be one of the specials. But Molinara says it’s worth staking out the restaurant in order to get the layers of pasta, sauce and cheese.
“The lasagna is not on the menu all the time, but when Rico offers it, let’s just say its authentic Italian and delicious. The lasagna sheets are homemade and the pasta melts in your mouth. But the key to great Italian food lies in the tomato sauce, and Rico makes great sauce. Let’s just say my Italian mother even enjoys eating there and that says a lot!”
And while it may be a little bit ironic that a healthcare practitioner recommends a dish that has layers of cheese, remember that good food is good for the soul. And we all could use a delicious mental health break, right?
Leva (11053 86 Ave., 780-479-5382)
Timothy Caulfield graced the cover of Avenue‘s January issue. And he’s used on TV and radio as a health expert so often that you’d think he was a member of the media, not a University of Alberta prof. His 2011 book, The Cure For Everything!, debunked the myths about diet and fitness fads, and instead offered a science-based approach towards physical well-being.
So, as a man whose work is so closely linked to food and health, his choice is gonna be a salad, right?
No, he chose the “crazy good” scones from Leva, just a stone’s throw from the university campus.
“I am thinking they add a pinch of some illicit drug – so addictive,” he says.
The scones are sweet and crispy on the outside, chewy and delicate on the inside. They offer the perfect textural combination. But what really makes them sing is the infusion of rosemary; the herb, when mixed with the sweetness of the scone, really brings out some floral notes. The use of the herb really makes the scone stand out.
But, for those who worry that Caulfield, Mr. Healthy Eating himself, is going to have to put extra notches in the belt to deal with the weight gain, know this: He limits himself to one scone a week. He knows it’s a dangerous gateway drug – that could lead to eating more scones, that is.
V Sandwiches(10135 100A St. (this location is temporarily closed due to renovations), 780-426-1888)
(10460 82 Ave., 780-756-9888, vsandwiches.com)
President and CEO of ATB Financial Dave Mowat likes to keep it simple. His favourite food is a straightforward Vietnamese dish, conveniently located a stone’s throw away from ATB Financial’s downtown office.
“Most definitely the grilled pork or beef or shrimp salad rolls at V Sandwiches downtown. Awesome!”
Rice noodles, vegetables and one’s choice of meat are held together with a rice paper wrap. The peanut sauce served on the side is ideal for dipping, but better drizzled on top to contrast the crisp lettuce crunch. Salad rolls are traditionally ordered as appetizers, but V Sandwiches offers up a large portion of noodles, with three wraps per order, enough to satisfy as a meal. Served cold with fresh protein options, including tofu, these Vietnamese rolls keep Mowat coming back for more.
Indian Fusion (10322 111 St., 780-752-5500, indianfusionrestaurant.com)
Of course, as the President of NAIT, Glenn Feltham raves about Ernest’s, the on-campus bistro operated by the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management students. After all, NAIT has produced many of the chefs that are featured in our Best Restaurants issue. Ernest’s also hosted our Best Restaurants kick-off event this past March.
But, having Feltham recommend an on-campus eatery might pose some ethical problems for the magazine. Luckily, Feltham also has an off-campus favourite. And that love affair between him and his favourite dish was ignited in 2011, when he moved to Edmonton from Manitoba to take the NAIT presidency.
When he arrived in the Alberta capital, he wasn’t exactly familiar with the city, and he found comfort in a small Indian restaurant.
“When I first moved to Edmonton, I lived downtown. Just behind my apartment was a small Indian restaurant with just a handful of tables – Indian Fusion. While I enjoy all their dishes, their butter chicken is incredible.”
Even though three years have passed since Feltham first discovered Indian Fusion, his passion for the food hasn’t waned. If you see any sauce stains on his necktie, you may have a good idea where they came from.
The Lingnan (10582 104 St., 780-426-3975, thelingnan.com)
The Lingnan is one of Edmonton’s most famous eateries. After all, the restaurant’s comings and goings fuelled the reality TV series, The Quon Dynasty.
But Clay Hamdon, the president of Cove Properties, has been a regular at The Lingnan long before the cameras arrived. Loooooonnnnng before.
The Lingnan opened in 1947 and moved to its current location in 1963. It is one of the city’s longest-standing restaurants. And Hamdon remembers going there as a child with his family. He fell in love with the food then and it’s still at the top of his list, six decades later.
“Our family has been going to The Lingnan restaurant for almost 60 years; my dad started going there back in the early ’50s,” he says. “My sisters and I literally grew up at The Lingnan, and it’s one of the earliest and best memories I have of my childhood. We’ve spent many – if not most – special occasions, New Years, birthdays, etc. at the Lingnan, and Kinman [Quon] and his family have become extensions of our family when we see them at the restaurant.
“One dish that we get, without fail, is the crispy nest with chicken. When we were kids we used to fight to get a chunk of the delicious deep-fried potato nest, which houses all the great vegetables, chicken and sauce inside. It’s one of our family favourites and, when in my mind’s eye, I think of what our table of food looks like at The Lingnan, it always has that beautiful nest on it.”
Happy Garden (6525 111 St., 780-435-7622)
Owner and president of Banister Research & Consulting Inc., Linda Banister is a marketing entrepreneur with expertise in business management. She keeps her finger on the public’s pulse. Banister stands out as a woman who is distinct in her field, much like her favourite food choice.
“My favourite thing to eat in Edmonton is the delectable, fresh, perfectly cooked green onion cakes from the Happy Garden restaurant.”
After years of working in communications, Banister knows the value in building reliable, long-term relationships with clients, and so it’s not surprising that she is a regular herself.
“I always order six orders and, after 25 years of ordering take-out, when I tell them it’s Linda on the line they say, ‘We’ll have your six orders ready in 30 minutes.”‘
This green onion cake is downright delicious. Delightfully doughy through and through, this savoury treat needs a warning sign to let customers know how insanely addictive they are, especially with the fiery dipping sauce.
Kitchen by Brad Smoliak (101, 10130 105 St., by appointment only,780-757-7704, kitchenbybrad.ca)
Rona Fraser is a member of 2013’s Top 40 Under 40 class. She’s one of the city’s most prominent fundraisers, working for the likes of the Canadian Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation. She also dedicates a large portion of her time to the Nina Haggerty Centre, a place that helps those with disabilities express themselves through art.
When Fraser sits down to eat, she doesn’t mind if the chef turns up the heat. Her favourite dish is spicy and buttery at the same time.
” [Kitchen is a] very unique approach to eating and entertaining,” she says. “It’s a culinary studio that is perfect for private parties. They serve a sauted shrimp in devil’s butter that is hazardously addictive. Juicy shrimp are coated in a special rub that Brad makes, and then sauted with devil’s butter, which is a mix of ingredients including hot sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire, lemon juice and butter. So spicy, so good!”
Remedy Caf (8631 109 St., 780-433-3096)
(10404 82 Ave., 780-760-1001)
(10279 Jasper Ave., 780-757-7720) remedycafe.ca
She’s the principal of Manasc Isaac, one of the city’s top design and architecture firms. Vivian Manasc is a past president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. She knows a lot about building structures. She also knows a little bit about building a good lunch.
Her spot of choice is Remedy, the part bar, part coffee house, part decadent Indian snack shack that’s transformed itself into a mini-empire spanning the city, with a new 124th Street location to open soon.
“My favourite day-to-day thing to eat in an Edmonton restaurant is the palak chicken wrap at Remedy,” says Manasc. “This crisp, hot, creamy, spicy, flavourful and generally delightful wrap always seems to hit the spot.”
Think of it as a southeast Asian take on the beef dip. The wrap is filled with a blend of spinach, chickpeas, cheese and spices – with chicken. The wrap is absolutely stuffed, and it’s hard to squeeze it without some of the wonderfully floral-yet-savoury stew spilling over your fingers. But it comes with a dipping sauce that’s light yet sweet. Dip the wrap and get flavour dimensions that feel like cinnamon and tamarind.
Kings Noodle & Hot Pot (10939 101 St., 780-498-0988)
The Edmonton-based author recently won the Giller Prize for Hellgoing, her collection of short stories. By winning the Giller, she joined an elite group of honoured Canadian authors, including Michael Ondaatje, Will Ferguson and Alice Munro.
And, like a great story, a good hot pot has lots of ingredients. And, you can edit what you eat. The adventurous part of getting a hot pot is that it can be different each time you visit.
“It’s the most delicious, convivial and fun dining out experience in Edmonton,” writes Coady. “Just a big pot of broth bubbling away at your table and they bring all the strangest and yummiest things in the world to throw in there at will – everything from fish balls to octopus to black fungus, my favourite. You can make it as healthy or as decadent as you want – all red meat vs. vegetarian, for example. It’s like communal soup-making, and the more people the better the soup/experience.”
And who wouldn’t want to sit down to hot pot with such an interesting dining companion?
Upper Crust Café (10909 86 Ave., 780-758-5599, cafeuppercrust.ca)
Stantec Vice President Simon O’Byrne is an urban planner and designer who has worked on the downtown arena, and projects that have revitalized the Bronx in New York. He understands the way cities should look. But he also knows a really good pie when he sees it.
He’s been eating the same pie – the strawberry and rhubarb – at the same cafe since he was a kid, sitting on the same chairs. He’s even left his mark on the place. If you look up at the ceiling, you’ll see the decorative moulding where the owners asked O’Byrne and many other neighbourhood kids to help create its curve by sitting on it.
The Upper Crust Caf is a vintage-style diner that looks a lot like an old-style grocery store when you enter the awning-covered front door. The front counter doubles as a glass showcase full of desserts, and the restaurant has a casual feel contrasting its name.
There’s nothing crusty about it – even the pie hand-picked by O’Byrne, who is also the chair of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce board, is lacking a traditional dough top crust. Instead, the flavours of strawberry and rhubarb are delicately sweet and the top is covered with oats, giving a slight crunch and subtle flavour that doesn’t compete with the ingredients inside. O’Byrne’s taste in architecture is as fine as his sweet tooth.
Cibo Bistro (11244 104 Ave., 780-757-2426)
The FC Edmonton midfielder is an Italian food enthusiast, and there’s one go-to dish that he never gets tired of eating. And that’s arancini, those wonderful fried balls of rice and cheese. Done right, they’re lightly crisp on the outside and soft and delicious within.
And he says that Cibo Bistro does it better than anyone else.
“I get arancini everywhere I go, but that’s the most authentic I’ve had.”
The arancini at Cibo is filled with two cheeses – fontina and pecorino Romano – dotted with wild mushrooms and herbed with fresh sage. They’re addictive, and it’s easy to order another plate of them after the first one is gone.
They’re the ultimate Italian finger food even though, of course, a refined diner will use a knife and fork.
Hlavaty is an American who is a veteran of professional soccer. He played in the Twin Cities before coming to Edmonton in 2013. He’s also played in Chicago, Cleveland, Sweden and Poland. As a guy who’s been on the road a lot, going from game to game, saying that chef Rosario Caputo’s arancini is the best he’s had is high praise indeed.
(And we won’t tell his coach that his favourite dish is fried food that’s stuffed with cheese).
Accent Lounge (8223 104 St., 780-431-0179)
Malorie Urbanovitch is well known in the design community for her collections that showcase simple and elegant aesthetics. When it comes to her taste in food, it also follows a refined and completely understandable line of thought.
She loves the tenderloin sandwich from Accent Lounge – it’s a classic comfort-food dish, but with a few surprises that elevate it far beyond an everyday steak from your barbecue. Fresh bread gives way to lightly seasoned tenderloin topped with mushrooms, thick bacon slices and a generous layer of goat cheese. The sharp hit of goat cheese pairs well with the saltiness of the bacon and the subtle smokiness in the mushrooms. It comes with baby potatoes and a house salad on the side, rounding out the meal in a way that’s rarely found in comfort food.
It’s a dish Urbanovitch has been enjoying for years, but she’s also a fan of the rest of the Accent menu. “I always think Accent is one of the most underrated restaurants in the city,” she says.
Don Antonio (Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market)
Who doesn’t like chips and salsa? And, for many of us, the stuff we get from supermarkets is fine; even the “hot” variety is fairly inoffensive, and the tomato-heavy sauce is chunky and holds well to the chips.
But for those who want a little more out of their snacks, salsa made from scratch is the preferred option.
For Dana DiTomaso, member of the 2012 Top 40 Under 40 and partner of Kick Point, getting chips and salsa from Don Antonio is the way to go.
Don Antonio used to be a restaurant on 124th Street, but closed in 2011. It then became a staple of the downtown farmers’ market, serving Mexican hot dishes, plus chips and salsa to take home. In 2014, the little Mexican eatery that could moved to the Strathcona Farmers’ Market.
Now what makes the salsa special? Well, when it says “picante” on the label, it means it’s actually spicy. Tomatoes don’t dominate like they do in supermarket salsa. You can taste the herbs and the peppers. It’s more of a sauce than a stew, too; you’ll notice that the Don Antonio salsa isn’t nearly as chunky as what you might find in a jar.
And the green salsa, well it’s darn good on chips or with a meat dish. The tomatilloes don’t have the same kind of sweetness as the red salsa; green salsa is more subtle, but in a lot of cases, especially with white meat, it works better as an accompanying sauce than the red.
Bul Go Gi House(8813 92 St., 780-466-2330)
The faded sign of the Bul Go Gi House directs you to a creaky door that leads into an uneven floor where servers navigate through narrow confines. “I love the unassuming nature of the restaurant and the delicious food that it serves up,” says Mary Pinkoski, a poet whose work is known throughout the city.
Along with consistently producing her own work, she encourages others to do the same, especially youth. She’s the founder and facilitator of YOURS, the Edmonton Youth Open Mic Series, where young people are encouraged to share their writing and create more.
Anyone who knows Pinkoski, or the work she does in the community, probably wouldn’t be surprised by her choice of the bul-gal-bee at the Bul Go Gi House as her favourite dish in the city. She doesn’t uphold any of the stereotypes of a stuffy poet; instead she loves the barbecue beef that’s served on a bed of rice alongside kimchee and bean sprouts. It’s classic and it’s good – the tender meat is perfectly seasoned. And, while the majority of the dish is subtle, the kimchee provides plenty of spicy kick.
Duchess Bake Shop (10718 124 St., 780-488-4999, duchessbakeshop.com)
A layer of thick, dark chocolate icing gives way to a light chocolate cake with more chocolate swirled around the sides. With three different types of chocolate, the Duke Cake from Duchess is a triple threat. It’s one of those treats you might get once a year; but it’s one you’ll be anticipating for months before that special day arrives.
So, when the president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta, Indira Samarasekera, chose the dessert as her favourite, no one batted an eye. Who wouldn’t line up out the door at the busiest bakery in town for a bite of this cake? You’ll probably be tempted to purchase the largest size – the more the better, right? – but it’s not necessary. The smaller, modest size is more than sufficient to satisfy even the biggest chocolate lover.
Samarasekera’s everyday work is intense – during her time as its first woman president, the university has completed nearly $1.5 billion in capital construction, including the National Institute for Nanotechnology and Enterprise Square, a new downtown campus. She works hard, and deserves something sweet at the end of the day – the Duke Cake is perfect for that.
Tzin Wine and Tapas (10115 104 St., 780-428-8946, tzin.ca)
Jennifer Crosby is familiar to many Edmontonians as one of the anchors on the Global Morning News. But the newlywed Crosby and her husband, David Scharff, are also in love with Edmonton’s food scene.
When asked to pick a single dish from her field of favourites, Crosby picks an unusual but delectable steak offering from Tzin, one of the establishments that have spurred a food renaissance on 104th Street.
“We are lucky to have so many great local restaurants,” says Crosby. “But Tzin Wine and Tapas is one of my all-time favourite spots. Chef Corey McGuire makes a steak with salted caramel sauce and mushrooms – it sounds like an unusual combination, but it tastes incredible – and it’s Alberta beef, of course.”
And Tzin is the restaurant that Crosby and Scharff use to introduce Edmonton to newcomers.
“When friends come from out of town, we always try to take them here,” says Crosby. “Everything on the menu is delicious.”
Sicilian Pasta Kitchen (11239 Jasper Ave., 780-488-3838, spkdowntown.com/)
A good bowl of penne arrabiata is the result of a delicate balancing act between the sweet tomatoes and the kick of the chili peppers.
Too much sweetness, and the bowl is disappointingly dull. Too many peppers and chili seeds, and the meal becomes unpleasantly spicy and very bitter.
The Sicilian Pasta Kitchen’s offering manages to stay on the tightrope. The penne is satisfying, with a hearty kick, but it’s not overpowering. There are generous bits of chicken and melted cheese that help to balance the spice.
And, to Edmonton Public Library Writer-in-Residence Jason Lee Norman, the Sicilian Pasta Kitchen’s penne is worth many encore performances.
“This is pure comfort food to me – spicy tomato sauce with chicken and penne,” he says. “Simple but absolutely heartwarming. I eat this so often that the servers at SPK know me by name.”
One tip: If you’re a little timid to try Italy’s famous “angry” pasta dish (that’s what arrabiata means, by the way), ask the server for a generous helping of fresh cheese on top. The cheese helps keep the spices from overpowering more sensitive palates.
Chianti (10501 82 Ave., 780-429-9829, chianticafe.ca)
A love affair with Italian cuisine has lasted three decades for Alberta Minister of Culture and Community Spirit Heather Klimchuk. As an active supporter in the community and MLA for Edmonton-Glenora, figuratively speaking, Klimchuk is well-versed in finding ingredients that enhance daily life. What better way to add pleasure to a day than with a powerful, hearty pasta dish? Klimchuk named the Fettuccine Supremo from Chianti on Whyte Avenue as her absolute favourite.
” [I’ve] been enjoying Chianti for 27 years; always delicious! Absolutely love the atmosphere!”Loyal to this dining spot inside the old post office, Klimchuk is enthusiastic about pasta coated in a spicy, yellow curry sauce that leaves just enough room for a seafood fix. With each bite, you taste scallop, alongside tender salmon pieces and a pinch of Parmesan.
Doan’s (10130 107 St., 780-424-3034)
(7909 104 St., 780-434-4448, doans.ca)
It was once thought that chicken soup would soothe the soul and heal the sick; now we know that’s pho. Noodle bowls provide comfort that we can’t get enough of, with Vietnamese food trending like never before. And Global Morning News personality Mike Sobel, is one step ahead.
“Nothing tastes better on a frigid Edmonton evening (or any night for that matter) than a big bowl of Sate beef soup,” says Sobel.
With many favourite Vietnamese restaurants in town, Sobel selected H Tieu Sate with beef from Doan’s as his favourite dish. Slivers of cucumbers, complemented with tomatoes and cilantro, soak with tender pieces of beef, layered on top of rice noodles in a hot, flavourful broth. The warmth of the larger-than-average bowl is comparable to crawling under a warm blanket, and its spice is capable of clearing out the sinuses. Sometimes it’s hard to trust the weatherman, but this selection is solid.
Kobe Bistro(6655 178 St., 780-444-7878, website n/a)
Top 40 Under 40 alumnus Aaryn Flynn works with a lot of young people who are right out of university. But it’s not a challenge for him because, 14 years ago, he was in the exact same position. He started out at BioWare as a junior programmer and, over the next several years, he worked his way up. He now holds the position of Bioware Canada’s general manager and vice president of the company, so he understands what it takes to create engaging video games while mentoring students who are just like he was not so long ago.
His favourite thing to eat in the city is Kobe Bistro’s deluxe sushi combination, which includes big pieces of tuna, salmon, shrimp, scallops, spicy tuna, eel and either a tekka or salmon roll. It’s a substantial plate of food that’s reflects a simple and classic taste. And it’d be the perfect midnight snack after a long night of creating video games.
Woodwork(10132 100 St., 780-757-4100, woodworkyeg.com)
She’s a funny woman whose sense of humour is well known through her improvisation work with Rapid Fire Theatre. But when it comes to food, she’s not joking around. Not everyone would go for a salad as their favourite thing to eat; but Amy Shostak’s not everyone. She’s unique and stands on her own, just like the brassica salad from Woodwork – a generous portion of kale is mixed with charred cauliflower, aged farm cheese and a poached egg. It’s hearty, exceptionally healthy and completely unexpected.
“I feel like this is one of the only kale salads in the city where the kale is actually served in a delicious way – not just tough and raw on a plate. The charred cauliflower is my favourite part of this dish,” says Shostak, a Top 40 Under 40 alumna. Slivers of hard cheese give an edge to the brightness of the kale, while the egg adds some protein. Woodwork is known more for its cocktails and its wood-grilled options – confit pork shoulder, steak frites, grilled brisket – than its salad. But Shostak is used to deviating from the norm – she does something new every time she gets on stage.
Pinocchio Ice Cream (Available at select markets and restaurants in Edmonton; 780-455-1905, pinocchioicecream.ca)
Other than LRT funding or a Star Trek marathon, what could transform sad Don Iveson into happy Don Iveson? Locally made Pinocchio ice cream.
Pinocchio is a local sensation; the ice cream is available at select shops and eateries throughout the Edmonton region. Since 1981, Pinocchio has been making ice cream that’s free of the gums and preservatives you’ll find in many of the other supermarket brands.
And the flavours satisfy both kids and those with more adult tastes. Dulce de leche, amaretto, cappuccino and cinnamon flavours show that Pinocchio is more than strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. During the Christmas season, look for the eggnog variety; in October, celebrate Halloween with pumpkin spice ice cream.
But, like any good politician, Iveson doesn’t play favourites. When asked what’s his favourite flavour, he replied with a simple: “They’re all so good.” (With a big emphasis on the “soooooooo.”) After all, you wouldn’t want to offend the vanilla voters by putting your support behind chocolate. That could be as bad as raising taxes – or leaving some potholes unfilled.
RGE RD (10643 123 St., 780-447-4577, rgerd.ca)
Beth Allard-Clough is a catalyst in Edmonton. As director of community relations and a board member of the Allard Foundation, she carries on her family legacy. The Allard Foundation, born in 1978, provides financial assistance to organizations in Alberta, particularly ones focused on healthcare, education, family and arts programs. From her involvement in the Sign of Hope campaign in support of Catholic Social Services to her background in public relations, Allard-Clough is passionate about people, like those at RGE RD.
“I had the best waiter I have had in a very long time!” says Allard-Clough. “In fact, I went twice in one week.”
The caring staff personalizes each dining experience, creating a casual atmosphere at this upscale, rurally inspired restaurant. But what good is service and ambience without a delicious meal?
Allard-Clough’s favourite dish is RGE RD’s Gouda and potato perogies. These perfectly prepared, golden perogies melt in your mouth. When the rich Gouda meets the white onion cream sauce and soaks the potato with onion flavour, each bite is culinary bliss. A wise foodie gets the full order with four perogies, rather than the small serving with two because it’s likely your dinner companion will see that you’re far beyond satisfied and want a little taste, too. Complete with a dill coleslaw and twin bacon strips on top, Allard-Clough isn’t messing around naming this traditionally Ukrainian dish as her absolute favourite.