The Edmonton International Cat Festival!

Edmonton International Cat Festival

I am finally a MAKER.

I have wanted to “make” something for a very long time. I see so many Edmontonians creating these great events and projects all the time. Oftentimes I’ve done stories about these people and their great work! But in the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to be on the other end – to be the one creating something special, I just really didn’t know what that could be… until now!

I am so excited to be organizing the inaugural Edmonton International Cat Festival!

Inspired by the Walker Arts Centre Cat Video Festival that originated in Minnesota in 2012 (and drew a crowd of 10,000 people!!) the Edmonton International Cat Festival – taking place at NAIT on June 7, 2014 – is at the very core – a celebration of cats. It’s an opportunity for cat lovers (cat people) to come together, watch Internet cat videos, listen in on awesome cat-related presentations, visit cat vendor booths, and much more – all while supporting the Edmonton Humane Society and the incredible work they do to improve cat welfare in our city.

The Edmonton International Cat Festival!

Tickets are only $15 and 100% of ticket sales and any additional donations go directly to the Edmonton Humane Society. We’ve got a great line-up of cat enthusiasts – Omar Mouallem, Marty Chan, Hilary Darrah, Elly & Evelyn (with NAIT, not yet listed on the site!) – all eager to present on paw-sitively purr-fect cat topics. We’re lining up great cat-related vendors – the vendor/booth area is where there will actually be cats! I’ve been wrangling in some of Edmonton’s great food trucks (line-up to be announced soon!) and we’re partnering with the NAIT Animal Health Program as our fantastic venue sponsor.

I’ve also been reaching out to ~celebrity cats~ to see if they can make at the very least a virtual appearance at the festival and so so far I can tell you that it’s looking quite promising!!!!

This festival and the main topic at hand (cats) are very near and dear to my heart. I have two cats – Thor (three years old) & Loki (two years old) – who, while not rescued from the Edmonton Humane Society, were still both rescued. They have brought a ridiculous amount of joy to my life (and my husband Mike’s life) and I could not imagine being without them!

Thor photo collage I created for her third birthday (Loki's in there too!)

Thor photo collage I created for her third birthday (Loki’s in there too!)

On the other hand – Internet cat videos also have a very special place in my heart. Cats, cat memes, cat videos, and celebrity cats, truly dominate the Internet and being a fairly plugged-in / always-on-the-Internet kind of person, this naturally suggests that cats fill a fairly large portion of my Internet usage and lead me to smile and laugh – a lot. I get very excited when @RealGrumpyCat retweets my stuff. I cried when Colonel Meow died. I regularly send Business Cat memes to people!

I do honestly believe that this festival fills a very special niche in the city. The Shaw Theatre at NAIT has a capacity of about 400 people – so if we can get 400 people out to the inaugural Edmonton International Cat Festival that would be AMAZING. I am trying to stay realistic though and thinking the actual attendance number may not be that high but there’s certainly the potential. Edmontonians love their cats!! Dream big!

Please spread the word about this festival!!

And if you would like to volunteer, donate prizes, or be one of the vendors, please email me edmontoncatfest@gmail.com

I would like to also take this opportunity to thank a ton of people who have helped me get this festival off the ground! Travis & Marissa with the Edmonton Humane Society. All of the presenters – Omar, Marty, Hilary, Elly, Evelyn. Elly (again) and Linda with the Animal Health program at NAIT (securing the venue – SO huge!!!). Mike, Brittney, Scott and Frank for helping me work through the whole festival thought process (I needed to talk to them a LOT). Jeff and Chithra for designing the logo. Sheri for putting me in touch with some pet product/food companies (possible sponsors – still working on it). Perry for working on an animated opener for the film fest. And many, many more people I’ve yet to fully tap into their skills and expertise on (I’ll have an even longer thank you list by the end of this fest!)

I suppose to go back to the starting sentence of this blog post, I haven’t quite become a maker just yet. I’ll be able to truly say that after June 7. But I’m very excited that I’ve found that “thing” I was looking for – that “thing” I wanted to make. Again, I hope you can come to the inaugural year of the Edmonton International Cat Festival! I also hope you can help me spread the word.

Cat Fest Cat

Thanks everyone!

Linda


Review: Hart’s Table & Bar

Hart's Table at 14229 23 Ave.

Hart’s Table at 14229 23 Ave.

There’s no restaurant group in Edmonton that’s mastered the successful ‘local chain’ concept quite like Century Hospitality Group. Their latest product: Hart’s Table & Bar located in southwest Edmonton at 14229 23 Ave.

Inside Hart's Table!

Inside Hart’s Table!

Mike and I first experienced Hart’s Table just before it opened in early March. We were so excited to be invited to their preview dinner on March 8th. I hadn’t gotten around to reviewing it before we ended up there again earlier this week so you’re going to see a lot of dishes in this post! Just know that they all weren’t consumed in the same sitting. (I eat a lot of food – but not THAT much food! Haha ;))

Our initial evening at Hart’s Table was really quite pleasant. Our server was very attentive, the atmosphere was really nice, and the food was good – maybe not blown away or great, but good. We didn’t really have any complaints either, there was just nothing overly special or stand-out about the meal. These are the dishes we tried just before Hart’s Table opened:

Tuna Tataki - Fresh Albacore Tuna, Candy Stripe Beets, Orange Segments & Sweet Sambai ($16)

Tuna Tataki – Fresh Albacore Tuna, Candy Stripe Beets, Orange Segments & Sweet Sambai ($16)

Chicken Lollipops (Wings) with Ranch and Snake-bite Hot Suace ($13)

Chicken Lollipops (Wings) with Ranch and Snake-bite Hot Suace ($13)

'Tomahawk' Pork Chop - Grilled Double Chop, Crispy Smashed Yukon Potatoes, Kim Chi Brussel Sprouts, Toastd Sesame Seeds ($33)

‘Tomahawk’ Pork Chop – Grilled Double Chop, Crispy Smashed Yukon Potatoes, Kim Chi Brussel Sprouts, Toastd Sesame Seeds ($33)

Picnic Chicken Club - Fried Chicken, Irvings Farm Bacon, Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, House-made Mayo, Fresh Prairie Mill's Nine Grain Bread with Parlour Caesar ($16)

Picnic Chicken Club – Fried Chicken, Irvings Farm Bacon, Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, House-made Mayo, Fresh Prairie Mill’s Nine Grain Bread with Parlour Caesar ($16)

Chocolate Velvet Bundt Cake - Brown Buttered, Cinnamon Cream Cheese ($9)

Chocolate Velvet Bundt Cake – Brown Buttered, Cinnamon Cream Cheese ($9)

I thought the candy stripe beets mixed great with the Albacore tuna. The glazed Tomahawk pork chop was really tasty and huge if you’re a fan of big quantity. I really liked Hart’s Table take on the Caesar Salad too. It was different, not overly dressed up, but had a good taste. It was just kind of hard to eat with the whole romaine leaf.

Like I said, we had a pleasant time during our first visit but there was nothing that really stood out. Our second visit was much better and we have a few things to rave about! First of all, I need to commend Chef Paul Shufelt on his timely tweeting. Mike and I were initially headed to one of our favourite restaurants XIX Nineteen when we realized half-way there that they were closed on Mondays! Tragedy. I tweeted our disappointment and Chef Shufelt saw the tweet and saw the opportunity.

Sold! Fantastic, timely tweeting – executed in a friendly, clever way – leads to direct sales. Twitter is awesome.

On this visit, our service was again quite good, the food came out quickly, and the dishes we ordered were delicious!

Pulled Pork Sliders wth Avocado (on Special that day for $5!)

Pulled Pork Sliders with Avocado (on Special that day for $5!)

The day’s food special was pulled pork sliders with avocado – three for just $5. How can you say no to that?

Crispy Chicken, Crunchy Wontons, Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers, Sesame, Lettuce Wraps ($15)

Crispy Chicken, Crunchy Wontons, Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers, Sesame, Lettuce Wraps ($15)

Hart’s Table’s Lettuce Wraps – Crispy Chicken, Crunchy Wontons, Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers, Sesame & Romaine ($15) were delicious! Loved the textures, crunch, and flavour of each bite. This is a must order!

Croque Madame - Thinly sliced Gammon Ham, Dijon, Melted Gruyere, Bechamel Sauce, Skillet-fried Prairie Mill's Nine Grain Bread with Fried Egg ($16)

Croque Madame – Thinly sliced Gammon Ham, Dijon, Melted Gruyere, Bechamel Sauce, Skillet-fried Prairie Mill’s Nine Grain Bread with Fried Egg ($16)

They must have changed their Parlour Caesar from when we tried it the first time because the lettuce was chopped up this time around – which made it much easier to eat, the bacon was chopped, and croutons were slightly thinner than before. Still quite tasty! I also love radishes in salad.

The Croque Madame is really just a grilled ham and cheese sandwich (I added an egg). It didn’t blow me away but it certainly was satisfying.

Hart's Burger - Heritage Angus Beef, Honey-glazed Brioche Bun, Hart's Secret Sauce, Caramelized Onions, Classic Cheddar, Bacon Jam, Tomatoes, Fresh Arugula, Colossal Dill Pickle with Duck Fat Fries ($18)

Hart’s Burger – Heritage Angus Beef, Honey-glazed Brioche Bun, Hart’s Secret Sauce, Caramelized Onions, Classic Cheddar, Bacon Jam, Tomatoes, Fresh Arugula, Colossal Dill Pickle with Duck Fat Fries ($18)

Mike’s Hart’s Burger was decent but perhaps outshining it was the duck fat fries side which unfortunately is not pictured! Just really delicious, skinny crispy fries (my favourite kind!)

Butterfinger Cheesecake - Graham Cracker Streusel, Blueberry Compote ($9)

Butterfinger Cheesecake – Graham Cracker Streusel, Blueberry Compote ($9)

We weren’t overly impressed with either of the two desserts we tried though if I were to pick a winner, I’d go with the bundt cake over the cheesecake (unless you love cheesecake. I just found it too rich – but that’s probably a great quality for others!)

Overall our experiences at Hart’s Table have been pretty good! It’s definitely worth a try. Our service was great, food came out quickly, food was good (some was great, some was okay). Hart’s Table does elevated bar food quite well. There’s a fair bit of different options to appeal to everyone and it’s definitely a welcome addition to that growing neighbourhood. The price points are a bit higher than your average “bar” food, but again, this isn’t your average bar food. I also think they can get away with higher prices given the neighbourhood they’re in. ;) And I’m a big fan of how they handle their social media!

Given the longevity and success of Century Hospitality’s other products (Hundred, Lux, Delux Burger Bar, Century Grill, the list goes on and on!) I have no doubt Hart’s Table will do well in Edmonton.

Go eat your hart out and let me know how your experience was!

Linda


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