Taste of Calgary
Festival Plaza at Eau Claire
Taste of Calgary 2010 has come and gone. I was fortunate enough to go again this year. Twice in fact. Yay for yummy food! After witnessing the amazing Walking with Dinosaurs with Ryan on Saturday afternoon, I decided to strolled on over to Eau Claire to check it out. The weather was sunny, the band was playing and most importantly, the grills were cooking. It was off the hizzy. I headed to the ticket booth with the shortest line and got 20 tickets.
Tickets in hand, I hit up the first booth I saw. Frugal Gourmet - Thyme & Lime. "One steak and onion cake please!" I proclaimed. To which they replied, "Sorry, we're out of steak and smoked salmon!" I was crushed! I settled for an onion cake with caesar salad. I suppose it was for the better as it was the only veggies I had that night. It was decent. Onion cake was pretty crispy, very flavourful but didn't leave you with smelly onion breath. 6.5 stars out of 10.
Next up was the JapDog from Shibuya Izakaya. I stood in line for a solid 5 minutes. As I approached the front of the booth, they announced they only had 1 JapDog left. "I will take it!" I blurted out, threw down my tickets and proceeded to fist pump like a champ (I can't believe there's a wiki page for fist pump). A JapDog is a regular hot dog topped with Japanese garnishes like katsuobushi, nori, cabbage, mayo and possibly a okonomiyaki sauce. It was so delicious! And to have the last one (For the next 10 minutes anyway) made it taste extra sweet. For a mere 4 tickets, I reckon this was the steal of the festival. 9 stars out of 10.
Still on my JapDog high, I rolled on over to Halo Steak, Seafood & Wine Bar. The line at Halo, despite being longer than Shibuya, moved quite quickly. I had the prime rib stuffed baby yorkies. I was a little disappointed as it was very bland, both the prime rib and the yorkshire pudding, despite having a sauce poured over it. 6 stars out of 10.
With only 8 tickets left, I had to choose my last items carefully. For 3 tickets, the pulled pork slider from Tango Bistro seemed like a good choice. It was alright. Sandwiched between a relatively hard bun is pulled pork and carolina coleslaw (which I think is regular coleslaw). Like the baby yorkies before it, the slider was rather bland. 6 Stars out of 10.
I spent my last 5 tickets at the SoHo Bar & Grill booth and got 3 mushroom glazed meatballs. These mini balls of deliciousness were full of flavour and definitely put the Ikea swedish meatballs to shame. Onions and mushrooms and various spices were mixed with the beef to form the balls. It was chewy with a meaty texture. The mushroom dressing complimented it very well. 8.5 stars out of 10.
Because I love food so much, I went back on Sunday to taste test more delicious goodies. First up was La Vita e Bella. For those who haven't been, I highly recommend it. Amazing food. Check out my review here. Unlike most places, La Vita e Bella only offered one item at their booth; Bocconcini stuffed meatball. This thing was so massive that it had to be served in it's own bowl. This was a grapefruit compared to Soho's kumquat sized meatballs. It was super delicious. The tomato sauce was very sweet and the bocconcini added a unique texture to the chewy meatball. Despite being chewy, the meat was tender enough to be broken down to more manageable pieces with a fork. A solid 9 stars out of 10. This gets the nod over the mushroom glazed meatball from Soho due to its shear size. For an extra ticket, this was clearly the better deal. That, and I got a coupon for a complimentary order of meatballs when I purchase a bottle of wine. But really, that totally didn't change the outcome. Not at all.
I hit up Tango Bistro again to try their skewer. Cherry tomatoes, bocconcini balls and Kalamata olives were threaded through a wooden skewer. Two sauces were drizzled on top. Wasn't a super huge fan of it. The sauce was kind of sweet, the olives - salty, bocconcini (not particularly known for their flavour) added substance and texture. 4 stars out 10. Despite two weak entries at Taste of Calgary, I will keep Tango Bistro on my wish list.
Still trying to finish my meatball from La Vita e Bella, I stood in line for some jerk chicken and Ting soda at Caribbean Choice. Apparently jerk is a style of Jamaica cooking. I guess I'll just add that to the growing list of definitions for jerk. Anyway, the spicy chicken was served over rice and kidney beans(?). It was pretty good, decent portions. The chicken was very tender, though I was slightly disappointed that I got mostly bones. : ( The Ting soda was very refreshing. Though Ving would have been a even better offering. : D
7 and 8 stars respectively for the jerk chicken and Ting soda. Special thanks to Hazel for being my Vanna White in this picture.
Take a look at the picture below, what do you see? If you'd guessed well graded washed crushed gravel, you'd be wrong. It's cookie dough flavoured ice cream from Mini Melts. Nothing too crazy here. Just ice cream in crushed gravel form. 7 stars out of 10.
As we strolled by Nubian Express again, the line which was at one point 20 strong has shrunk to zero. I "ditched" my friend and hauled ass over there to order the African styled beef. But they ran out. So I had the chicken instead. It was also spicy but quite delicious. It came with a side of roasted plantain (that's the giant blob looking thing at the front of the plate). It was very malleable and extremely sweet. A solid 8 stars out of 10. On a side note, unfortunately Nubian Express hasn't officially opened yet. If you google-map the address it comes up as a house. In a cul-de-sac. Sort of. It was actually placed on the wrong spot for me. I'm eagerly awaiting the official opening of the restaurant. I hope it's in the north west.
To finish things off, I had a Mojito from SoHo. Down it in 2 seconds and stumbled home. Very refreshing. No picture though. Anyway, that's a run down of all things I had at Taste of Calgary this year. Till next time! Chow (down) for now!