Recap: Edmonton Heritage Festival 2014

On Monday, Mike, his mom and I went to one of my favourite summer events – Heritage Festival! I have a system to get the most out of Heritage Festival and it goes a little something like this:

We went first thing in the morning – which I recommend everyone should do – so as to avoid intense heat, crazy line-ups and crowds. Thanks to the excellent transit shuttle system, we arrived exactly when the festival opened (10 a.m.) and were done/left just after 1 p.m. I was told by a friend later that the crowds were insane after we left so I’m really glad we did it bright and early.

Bright and early at Heritage Fest! Hi Vietnam Pavilion.

Bright and early at Heritage Fest! Hi Vietnam Pavilion.

After we get our tickets (this year we had the pleasure of getting some tickets in advance at Servus Credit Union, but we still had to stop at the ticket line to get some more for Mike’s mom. It’s okay though because if you go first thing in the morning, again there are no line-ups!) we choose a direction to go in (in this case we turned right) and then we follow along past each pavilion and food tent until we make it back to our original starting spot.

The most delicious chicken and veggie shish kebabs from Sudan, put on the grill early in the morning!

The most delicious chicken and veggie shish kebabs from Sudan, put on the grill early in the morning!

Along the way we take in a few performances, check out a few of the non-food items being sold, and of course – EAT!!! We try to be very efficient and don’t like to double back (but sometimes this happens because you’re just not sure if you want to commit the number of tickets for a dish because there might be something better later on, and then you realize you really wanted the previous dish and nothing else after it has piqued your interest enough, so in that case you HAVE to double back).

The Irish/Gaelic song and dance to Cups/When I’m Gone was my absolute favourite performance of the fest!

Big crowd for the amazing Irish dancers!

Big crowd for the amazing Irish dancers!

Between the three of us we had a total of 90 tickets (three sheets) and your best bet really is to go with a few people (but not too many) so you can share and really try to taste as much as you can! I don’t really like how some of the dishes can cost so many tickets (very different from Taste of Edmonton in that sense) but some of the portion sizes are definitely worth it (some however are not, so it can be hit or miss).

Some of the great dishes we tried at Heritage Festival 2014!

Some of the great dishes we tried at Heritage Festival 2014!

We tried:

  • Jerk Pork from the Carribean (8 tickets)
  • The Combo Plate – Bigos Polish Hunter’s Stew, Sausage, Pierogis and Bread – from Poland (10 tickets)
  • Mango’s Loco – Mango on a stick in lime juice & spices – from Guatemala (7 tickets)
  • Pan Con Lechon – Pulled Pork Slider – from Cuba (6 tickets)
  • Beef Soujok – Egyptian sausage, onions, tomatos, lettuce, parsley, pita with secret garlic sauce – from Egypt (6 tickets)
  • Potato Stew from Ireland (7 tickets)
  • Potato Pancakes – Mashed potatoes cooked in flour – from Ireland (3 tickets)
  • Lahmacun – Ground beef ‘pizza’ – from Turkey (7 tickets)
  • Suya – Beef skewer – from Nigeria (6 tickets)
  • Sarmale – Cabbage rolls – from Romania (3 tickets)
  • Empanadas from Ecuador (4 tickets)
  • Chicken & Veggie Shish Kebab from Sudan (5 tickets)
  • Chicken Combo – chicken with rice, fulaura, momo and tomato pickle – from Nepal (10 tickets)
Some of the great dishes we tried at Heritage Festival 2014!

Some of the great dishes we tried at Heritage Festival 2014!

All three of us agreed that the Chicken & Veggie Shish Kebab from Sudan was the absolute tastiest but I also loved the Sarmale Cabbage Rolls from Romania and the Beef Soujok from Egypt was pretty tasty though presentation could have been better, lol. The Potato Pancakes from Ireland were also great and Mike’s mom really liked the Lahmacun Turkish pizza. Side note about the cabbage rolls – SO good, I loved them last year and had to come back again for more this year.

Mango's Loco - mango on a stick with lime juice and spices from Guatemala.

Mango’s Loco – mango on a stick with lime juice and spices from Guatemala.

I’d say my least favourite was probably the Mango’s Loco from Guatemala and the Chicken Combo from Nepal. I really should have just waited as we went along our walk for just regular mango on a stick – as the lime juice and spices weren’t really to my liking. The Chicken Combo I didn’t really like I think partially because it was the last thing I tried and I was already pretty stuffed – but I think the sauces just didn’t sit too well with me either.

Munching on some Suya from Nigeria.

Munching on some Suya from Nigeria.

Wooden shoes! Love the different cultural displays.

Wooden shoes! Love the different cultural displays.

Romanian folk dancers at Heritage Festival!

Romanian folk dancers at Heritage Festival!

We made a rule not to eat any Southeast Asian food because we just have that all the time and really wanted to focus on trying new foods from different countries. Overall we had a fantastic time at Heritage Festival (as usual). It really is such a great event and lets you take a “trip around the world” without even leaving our fine city. :)

Summary of how to Heritage Fest my way:

  • Take the shuttle (remember to bring change for transit fare)
  • Go first thing in the morning (avoid heat, crowds and crazy line-ups)
  • Bring bottles of water (I hate wasting tickets on drinks – only spend it on food! Lol)
  • Go with a small group (better for sharing and trying as much as possible)
  • Determine a route that lets you stop at all pavilions (because you should check out everything even if just passing by!)
  • Try new food!!!!!!!!!

As an aside, I’ve always wanted to take my mom to Heritage Festival but it’s always only ever been on the Saturday, Sunday, Monday – and my mom only gets Tuesdays off! I am really hoping she can take one of those days off next year to go though because next year will be Heritage Festival’s 40th anniversary – so it’s sure to be spectacular!

Did you go to Heritage Festival this year? What were your favourite dishes??

Linda


Review: Afghan Chopan Kebab

Afghan Chopan Kebab at 10756 101 Street.

Afghan Chopan Kebab at 10756 101 Street.

On Monday, my friend Breanna took me out for a belated birthday lunch because she wasn’t able to attend my actual birthday celebrations (#lindorkfest)!

Whenever we make lunch plans, I always ask if she has anywhere in mind, and she always says she trusts me. (Thanks Breanna!)

As I’ve been itching to try some more ethnic restaurants in the city, for our lunch I chose one that I drive by often: Afghan Chopan Kebab on 10756 101 Street. Their website says they are the first Afghani restaurant in our city, serving up the healthiest, freshest and most authentic Afghani cuisine.

Inside Afghan Chopan Kebab at 10756 101 Street.

Inside Afghan Chopan Kebab at 10756 101 Street.

Afghan Chopan Kebab has a really nice interior. It’s pretty spacious and tidy, with slick floors. There’s a TV screen in the back that plays Afghanistan TV shows which makes for a nice authentic addition to the room.

We were the only ones in for lunch, so it was quiet (except for the Afghanistan TV show), and we had the full attention of Mohammed, the owner! He’s a very friendly man, who immediately recommended we share the Kebab Platter. He said because it was Eid, if we ordered the platter, he would throw in a large Qabeli Pallaw for free.

The Kebab Platter with Qabeli Pallaw (seasoned basmati rice, carrot & raisins) at Afghan Chopan Kebab!

The Kebab Platter with Qabeli Pallaw (seasoned basmati rice, carrot & raisins) at Afghan Chopan Kebab! ($39.95)

The Kebab Platter is $39.95 and includes a mixed variety of big skewers of chicken, beef and seekh kebabs, two chapel kebab patties, three pieces of chicken legs marinated with herbs and special spices served with challaw. The Qabeli Pallaw is basically just seasoned basmati rice topped with carrots and raisins and normally costs $19.95 for the large size.

I wish we had taken a photo where we had something to compare the platter with, just to really show it to scale, because this platter was gigantic and this photo doesn’t do it justice. Breanna and kept eating and eating but felt like we weren’t making a dent in the platter at all! They are very generous with their portion sizes here.

The food was delicious! I don’t have any experience with Afghanistan food so I really have nothing to compare to in that sense, but I think a lot of it has to do with the spices and seasoning and everything we ate was packed full of flavour.

Mohammed says the restaurant has been open just over a year, so I wish them lots of luck! It’s always a bit worrying to see restaurants empty during the lunch hour but he also told us that all of their tables were fully reserved for that evening’s Eid celebrations. Hooray!

A tasty lunch at Afghan Chopan Kebab!

A tasty lunch at Afghan Chopan Kebab!

Mohammed also offered us some tea on the house too, which was a perfect complement to the meal.

Some perks to Afghan Chopan Kebab: Free parking, friendly server is also the owner (family restaurant), great value for your dollar (i.e. huge portions!) and tasty food with great seasoning and spices. They also have a lunch buffet typically, but that day they didn’t because of Eid.

Plus, it’s the only place of its kind in town!

The only downside I would say, and this is really just because we ordered the gigantic platter, is that because it was so large, our food did get cold pretty quick because it was taking us so long to eat.

If you’re looking to be a bit more diverse in your restaurant outings in Edmonton, you must give Afghan Chopan Kebab a try!

Hopefully this is the first in a series of reviews on different ethnic restaurants in Edmonton :) You could say I’m channeling my inner Baconhound Phil Wilson (of Burger Odyssey & Patio Hop fame). I just won’t have a fancy name for it (because something like Ethnic Restaurant Wars sounds really weird lol) The point is I just want to try more diverse places! :-)

So have you been to Afghan Chopan Kebab? How did you like it?!

Linda


Afghan Chopan Kebab on Urbanspoon

Review: Three Amigos

Three Amigos at 4035 - 106 Street.

Three Amigos at 4035 – 106 Street.

On Friday, Mike and I went to try out Three Amigos (4035 106 Street) with Mike’s sister and mom. I’ve been on a real Mexican food kick lately, making frequent visits to Mucho Burrito (yes, yes, fast food Mexican. Laugh if you want, but their taco salad is awesome and it’s very quick and convenient!) We bought a Three Amigos Groupon recently and had been looking forward to using it!

Inside Three Amigos (so cute!) with adorable singer!

Inside Three Amigos (so cute!) with adorable singer!

Three Amigos is located in a strip mall off Whitemud, and doesn’t look like much from the outside, but my face lit up as soon as we walked in and saw Three Amigos had its very own singer, belting out authentic Mexican tunes! As well, the walls are brightly coloured and decorated with Mexican-themed posters, photos of lucha libre wrestlers, flags and more. So much fun. It’s a small, adorable space that makes you feel like you’ve stepped out of Edmonton.

The menu at Three Amigos.

The menu at Three Amigos.

I’d read some pretty mixed reviews about Three Amigos. I was pretty enamoured with the atmosphere but will admit our service was pretty slow and the food was just okay.

The Bull Dog El Grande at Three Amigos!

The Bull Dog El Grande at Three Amigos! $17.99

Mike was won over by the option to get this Bull Dog El Grande. At $17.99, this drink is massive and just plain fun to have and look at. Check out some of the dishes we tried below – overall thoughts after that!

Amigos Nachos - freshly made crispy tortilla chips covered with mozza, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, olives & peppers, with sour cream and salsa. $12.99

Amigos Nachos – freshly made crispy tortilla chips covered with mozza, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, olives & peppers, with sour cream and salsa. $12.99

Enchiladas Borrachas - soft corn tortillas stuffed with chopped steak marinated in Corona, sauteed with green pepper, onion, mushroom, and tomato, with green sauce.  $17.99

Enchiladas Borrachas – soft corn tortillas stuffed with chopped steak marinated in Corona, sauteed with green pepper, onion, mushroom, and tomato, with green sauce. $17.99

Inside the Enchiladas Borrachas!

Inside the Enchiladas Borrachas!

Enchilada with steak, red sauce, with feta cheese and sliced onions. $15.99

Enchilada with steak, red sauce, with feta cheese and sliced onions. $15.99

Embarrassingly, we can't remember what this is and I missed taking a photo of this particular part of the menu to try and make an educated guess.

Embarrassingly, we can’t remember what this is and I missed taking a photo of this particular part of the menu to try and make an educated guess.

I like that they make the tortilla chips from scratch, and the Corona-marinated steak bites were quite tasty, but overall there wasn’t any particularly stand-out flavours in any of the dishes we tried and from a presentation point of view, the slop of beans and generally beige colour theme of the plates didn’t make us too excited to eat. I had also ordered the ‘green sauce’ with my enchiladas and it came out dark browny-red. It was super spicy, so that part does what it’s meant to do, but wasn’t overly appealing to the eye. Just not very bursting with flavour overall. We also waited quite awhile to get our starter nachos, and it took a long time to flag our server down to take our main orders. He was quite nice but I think probably new, he came back a few times at the start to clarify about drinks (which was still appreciated – rather have him get it right by clarifying, than guess and get it wrong!)

Fried Plantain - plantain sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and drizzled with lechera and caramel, served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. $6.99

Fried Plantain – plantain sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and drizzled with lechera and caramel, served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. $6.99

We topped off the night with fried plantains dessert which was pretty good and you get quite a bit for the price. I was pretty full by the end though and couldn’t finish (are fried plantains good as leftovers because I took one home and haven’t eaten it yet ;)).

Three Amigos has top-notch ambience and I really enjoyed just being there for the evening. Customers applauded the singer after each one of his songs, which I thought was just so lovely, and I just spent a lot of time taking in the decor. Very nice. But when it comes to the food, it doesn’t really impress. It sort of satisfies the Mexican craving, but won’t thrill you. Still I can’t speak enough about how wonderful the atmosphere is! I guess I’ll add my mixed review into the bag of current mixed reviews out there!

So have you been to Three Amigos? How did you like it?!

Linda


The Three Amigos Authentic Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon