“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
– James Beard –
Food is an intricate pathway of connection, a network linking us to our emotional and physical self, our family and friends, to local businesses and global growers. Food is an indulgence, a pleasure, a vital necessity, housing the power to both heal and harm. It is a universal language, a deep-rooted tradition of family recipes, holiday gatherings, cultural celebrations and a desire to share and express love. For me, food is one of the greatest ways to uncover the heart of a destination, to relish in the pride of locals expressing their creativity through fresh, colorful, meaningful ingredients.
ALBERTA FOOD TOURS
I have long admired Karen Anderson, founder and CEO of Alberta Food Tours. A food journalist and award winning cookbook author, her inspirational vision and values are at the core of everything she does in business and in life. We have had the privilege of pairing with Alberta Food Tours on several occasions, and no matter where the tour leads us, several things remain a constant: The clear passion of support for locally based culinary artisans and a focus on businesses that embrace the utilization of Alberta’s signature foods, sourcing from farmers who strive to create healthy soil and ingredients.
Did you know Alberta has 7 signature foods? The list includes Saskatoon berries, canola, Red Fife Wheat, honey, root vegetables, bison and Alberta beef.
Alberta Food Tours operates in Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and Canmore, partnering with over 85 Alberta businesses to offer curated dining experiences for guests, including two Canadian Signature Experiences. So why take a guided food tour? A food tour is all about exploration, indulgence, and education. It is an opportunity to expose yourself to new cuisine and establishments, discovering the highlights and offerings of passionate, hard-working locals. It is an interactive and effective way to explore a new destination, but it is also an incredible way to uncover the hidden gems in your own backyard.
STRATHCONA BRUNCH & BAKERIES
This 3 hour interactive, culinary experience makes for the perfect date, team bonding, family outing or girls day out, and also makes a wonderful gift. Enjoy the best of Whyte Avenue and Old Strathcona, an eclectically vibrant and diverse area that is one of Edmonton’s most beloved neighborhoods.
- The professionally-led tour caters to a wide variety of palettes and choice, ensuring both vegetarians and meat lovers leave full and happy!
- Tours are kept intimate with a maximum of 12 people. The recommended age is 14+.
- The tour indulges the savory and the sweet, and all food and beverages are included.
- Skip the lineups and head straight to your pre-reserved space.
- Meet with owners and employees, getting the background story from the faces behind the spaces.
- Enjoy stops between eateries, sharing in the history and architecture of the area.
** Stops on the Brunch and Bakeries Tour do vary and are subject to change
MEAT , a locally owned and operated smokehouse, is a Whyte Avenue hot spot that embraces all my favorite ‘B’ words: Brisket, Beer, Bourbon….and Brunch. It’s standard to see a line forming on a Sunday morning, patrons primed to indulge in a dish as hearty as the conversation. Here we thoroughly enjoyed a mid-morning mimosa, along with the popular ‘Beef Brisket Benny’ comprised of a cheddar herb biscuit, caramelized onions and housemade hollandaise, complete with a side of hashbrowns. To curate your Benny experience, the tables are set with MEAT’s four iconic homemade sauces: Bourbon, Cherry, Spicy and Mustard.
SUGARED AND SPICED
Oh, the deliciously divine secrets a historic back alley can harbor. Sugared and Spiced is a “husband and wife” establishment with a focus on one thing: Baking. It is a story that begins in 2012 in the world of farmer’s markets and having a chocolate chip-peanut butter-bacon cookie named one of Tomato Magazine’s top 100 things to eat in Edmonton, and transitions into the wildly popular brick and mortar bakeshop that opened its doors in 2017. Welcoming guests with sweet aromas and warm smiles, this is a bakeshop that feels like home. Focusing on quality ingredients and small batches, I promise this will be your new favorite. And did I mention they have a cake club? You’re welcome.
As one of only 9 establishments in the world certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (The Tequila Regulatory Council), El Cortez is colorful Mexican cantina meets artistic Hollywood sound stage. The ultra-cool haunt is a favorite among locals, with a menu offering 140 types of tequila and mezcals, and a modern twist on Latin food that boasts sourcing local and complete in-house creation. Proud to support and promote the community, El Cortez is a scene set to embrace the arts, playing the perfect backdrop to live music, film shoots, fundraisers and epic cellar parties.
When you pair a made-from-scratch, hand rolled, malasada style donut stuffed with coconut cream filling and a steamy Macadamia Macchiato, it’s basically an explosion of Hawaiian vacation for your tastebuds. Ohana Donuts is all about a chill vibe, featuring ocean inspired tones and surf culture adorning the walls. Serving the first donut from a food truck in 2017, the popularity of Ohana may be relatively new, but the commitment to “full-sized, double raised, hot and fresh yeast donuts” and coffee have propelled this locally owned and operated company to a level many businesses can only dream of.
This section of the tour is super fun and hands-on, as fresh, warm donuts are brought to the table to be filled and rolled in cinnamon sugar.
MADE BY MARCUS
Photo courtesy of Made by Marcus IG @madebymarcus (with permission)
What do you get when you mix a food scientist with a micro creamery and a narrow speakeasy entrance? Frozen perfection. With flavors ranging from Whiskey Hazelnut Praline to Monogram Espresso Churro Crumb, Made by Marcus takes the old fashioned world of ice cream and launches it to new heights. From a foundation built on delicate macarons that left owner, Marcus, with a huge excess of yolks, the micro-creamery was born. Made by Marcus sets itself apart with ingeniously unique flavors made entirely from scratch, while proudly supporting local dairy farmers and growers as an ingredient source. And not to brag, but the Whyte Ave (Edmonton) location carries the coveted Earl Grey & Raspberry Financier flavor, and it’s kind of everything.
It’s eclectic and inviting, a diverse world of university students hunched over textbooks, colorful wingback chairs by the fire, steaming samosas, cold beer and creamy mugs of chai. In fact, the entire Remedy Cafe motto is “Be Spicy, Drink Chai“, a slogan born of an age-old, original recipe, brewed over several days. But the true warmth of Remedy Cafe is in the story behind the storefront. Owner, Sohail “Zee” Zaidi, is a rule-breaker by nature, a character trait that sets him apart and contributes to Remedy’s massive success. A ‘serial entrepreneur’, Zee learned to cook at a young age, and brings knowledge and experience from his travels around the globe. But despite the inspirational story, what truly caught my attention on our final stop, was the station in the photo above. This is a space that embodies kindness, understanding, and compassion. Freshly made sandwiches, fruit, and cool drinks adorn shelves for the simple purpose of paying it forward to those in a moment of need. An establishment that not only supports local farmers and growers in product sourcing but supports locals in such a beautiful extension of empathy and genuine humanity is a place I am proud to promote and support in return.
While this tour was compliments of the incredible folks at Alberta Food Tours, the words and opinions within are, as always, my own. Karen, the company you stand behind has become a community of support for so many and is so much bigger than a simple mid-morning tour. It is an appreciation of the history and culture of a much loved neighborhood, a dedication to supporting ethical and inspiring entrepreneurs and it is exposure to places and locals with messages worth the attention. Thank you for carving this beautiful path that connects our community, and our family.