Edmonton recently hosted its annual local food festival this past week. As an adventurous gourmand, I toured the outdoor festival on three separate occasions. On certain days even braving an unpredictable forecast to sample freshly-prepared local fare offered by food trucks and restaurants. Here are some of my personal favorites from the week, along with tips to make the most of your summer food festival experience.
Browse before you settle
Arriving at the Edmonton downtown core the first day of the festival, the outdoor tents were jampacked with fellow gastronomes. With the large gathering and lineups, I was able to venture completely through the enclosure while scouting out potential targets. At the end of the walkthrough, I found the Canadian Dairy farmers tent offering sampling of grilled cheese – something I would have missed had I started nibbling on the first sandwich that caught my eye.
Buy your tickets beforehand
Tired of having to replenish your tickets in the midst of a large crowd? Many outdoor events have pre-sales where you can save yourself the lineup and frustration. For me, I purchased my tickets a week in advance saving me some extra cash to spend on quality grub.
Dare to be adventurous
At large-scale events such as local food festivals, there’s bound to be fast-food chains, familiar logos, and stereotypical comfort food. While ordering BLT or ginger beef might satisfy your cravings, challenge yourself to sample the unfamiliar. Food festivals showcase restaurants and food trucks you may have never heard about which means there’re plenty of opportunities to expand your dining experience. For me, I found a Caribbean vendor selling delicious Jamaican jerk chicken on rice.
The downside of savory food is sometimes the aftertaste can be quite strong. As someone who enjoys sampling each food with a fresh palate, bringing a bottle of water helps you survive the summer heat. The water came in handy after we sampled some strong seafood glass noodles and before trying some delicious arancini orbs.
While the small portions might make you think your stomach is invincible, the reality is that you can only eat so much. Be selective when it comes to the menu items and try to avoid having seconds of the same dish. For me, I tried two curry dishes that were similar. The second time being significantly less appetizing than the first.
Experiment on separate days
Depending on the festival itinerary, often there may be different vendors and food trucks available on different days. To maximize your experience, use your tickets on separate days. For me, I found a dimly lit tent that features daily chef competitions and of course, sampling the products of their hard-work. The theme for that day was Italian cuisines and I picked up a slice of the chef’s hand-tossed, salami pizza.
Xin Xu is a post-graduate health-science AU student, aspiring clinician, globe-trotter, parrot-breeder and tea-connoisseur.