If you go through the archives of the shows hosted by the late, great Anthony Bourdain, many of the standout episodes are the ones where he’s joined by his close friend, chef Eric Ripert. When the two were together, they played off each other, and they showed us that food journalism is about the shared experience first, and what’s on the plate comes next.
Jay Ball is the executive director of the Alberta Avenue Business Association. Since he got the job earlier this year, he has consistently been in my ear about the great eateries in the area that I need to try. And he’s more than willing to be our magazine’s version of Eric when he can.
So, last week, I joined him for lunch at Jasmine Belle Café, located at the corner of 118th Avenue and 87th Street. Despite the name, the menu focuses on Colombia, with other latin influences. And it was here that I was introduced to Patacon Pisao, which, well, I decided that the good people of Edmonton need to know about. Like, these were the kinda things that make you stop whatever you’re talking about (Oilers and free agency) and stop and say, what the heck is in these things?
You get a platter of fried plantain, which serve as the “cracker” here. On top of them is guacamole and your choice of pork, beef or shrimp. We had the pork, which comes in strips and adds a salty punch to the sweet plantain and the smooth guac. The balance is fantastic. Of course, we could try and go back to talking about the Oilers and potential free-agent targets, but there’s that uncomfortable discussion that has to come first — are you having the last one? Jay was magnanimous and let me have it.
Alberta Avenue is also hosting Eats on 118th food tours throughout August and into early September, which allows patrons to go on a guided culinary walking tour of the area, to meet local chefs and find out more about restaurants on the Avenue. Jasmine Belle Café was featured on the first tour of the season.