I missed the festival last year, so was looking forward to heading over with friends to check it out this past Saturday. Fortunately a rainy afternoon turned into the nicest 25 °C evening and we made our way on foot to Hawrelak Park, a huge park in the North Saskatchewan River Valley. The festival was bustling with people of all ages and backgrounds -- there must have been thousands there (a third of a million attended last year!).
From Serbia we started with raznjici, a marinated BBQ'd pork skewer with green peppers and onions. It was uniquely spiced and tasty.
Also from Serbia we got chevapi, meatballs with bread -- juicy and delicious!
Over at the Nicaragua pavilion we tried a nacatamale, chicken cooked with corn flour, wrapped in a banana leaf. It was much tastier than it sounds and also contained (unadvertised) chickpeas.
Also from Nicaragua and less tasty than the nacatamale was chanco con yuca, boiled cassava root with stewed pork ribs, topped with cabbage salad. It was interesting to try cassava, which I later learned is tapioca root -- and apparently contains enough cyanide to kill you if not properly cooked. Boiled, I thought it resembled a cauliflower stem in both texture and taste.
|and this is cassava|
From Eritrea (which I learned last month, after meeting a patient from there, is just north of Ethiopia) we sampled two stews served with injera (the flatbread that I'd first tried at Langano Skies): tzebhi zigni, stewed meat in pepper sauce; and timtmo, lentils with onions, peppers, and spices. Both were so flavourful and spicy -- probably my favourite dishes of the day!
The Arab countries collectively offered an extensive menu; we went for a combo plate with a sirloin shish kabob, fattouch salad, hummus, and a pita. A little less unique than the rest of our menu, but no less delicious.
|eaten whilst watching some pretty energetic Arabian dancing|
Drinkwise, we tried mango juice from Peru (the one thing I'm realizing I didn't photograph...because I was too busy trying on all of their finger puppets)
and kvas, a malt beverage from Russia. The kvas tasted yeasty and was not unpleasant. (Sorry, it's harder than I'd thought to describe tastes -- props to food bloggers who know all the right adjectives!)
Seeing churros at several pavilions, we traded tickets for oreo ones at Guatamala. I'd never tried a churro before and am a new fan -- who doesn't like chewy stick-shaped (oreo-flavoured!) doughnuts?
Finally, we used our last tickets on lokma tatlisi, Turkish mini doughnuts coated in syrup and icing sugar. Crustier and less cake-like than your honey-glazed Tim's doughnut, they reminded me of those long Chinese doughnuts. Though a little too oily for my liking (I'm a loyal fan of cinnamon-sugar mini doughnuts), there were worse ways we could have capped off our food sampling.
Although I haven't been to too many of Edmonton's festivals (yet!), I'm sure that the Heritage Festival will be one of my favourites. I think it'd be hard to beat its summer festival vibe, venue, or what it stands for (discrediting the Albertan redneck stereotype). Overall, it was one of the best things I've seen in Edmonton so far!
|until next year|
|and we came over the rim of the valley just as the sun was setting (9:28 pm!)|