Edmonton’s annual Indulgence event is one of the best food festivals of the year. Presented by Slow Food in Canada and organized by volunteers, 2015 marks Indulgence’s fifteenth year, an outstanding Canadian epic of food and wine. Ticket holders were able to taste plates by 18 local restaurants, collaborating with some of the best producers and farmers Alberta has to offer. Each vendor was also paired with a Canadian VGA winery or brewery, making the night —you guessed it— indulgent!
Tickets were $80pp this year, a slight increase from the last, but for the amount of food and drinks offered, Indulgence 2015 is still one of the better priced food events in Edmonton. Proceeds go to The Junior League of Edmonton, an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism and improving the community. With a quick sell out, you definitely need to be on the ball with this one. Hosted at the Delta Edmonton South, I had a fantastic night meandering through the tables, grabbing delicious bites, talking with chefs, producers, the wineries, and of course, bumping into food friends.
What was unique to Indulgence 2015 was the People’s Choice Award, each guest given a gold token to give to the chef’s station that served the best dish of the night. The prize: $500 donated to the charity of chef’s choice, a $250 gift certificate to Knifewear Edmonton, and registration fees waived for the producer and winery for the following year. Loved the new incentive for some friendly competition!
One of the heavy hitters of the night: Chef Brad Smoliak’s (of Kitchen by Brad) Bubbles and Balls Irving’s Farm Fresh bacon and ground pork, mixed with cabbage and rice and rolled into a ball and simmered in tomato sauce and topped with house-made Ukrainian cheese. Don’t be fooled by the simple meatball, there’s a reason why it’s a comfort food!
I’m always in love with Gull Valley Greenhouses‘ display of tomatoes. You can always tell which table they’re at from a mile away!
Red Ox Inn’s warm beignets last year was my all-time favourite dish, making me do laps around the table and convincing my dinner mates to grab seconds so I could steal a bite. This year’s BBQ Pork Steam Bun with Avocado and Pickles was no inferior dish, one of my favourites for the night!
I’m positive that Rostizado did Tangled Ridge Farms proud by braising their lamb with chiles, spices, tomatoes, and fresh herbs and served in a steamed corn-ricotta cake, the Tamales de Barbacoa y Queso. Full of flavour and paired fantastically with Fernie Brewing Huckleberry Wheat Ale.
If there was an award for creativity, it definitely went to Tzin Wine & Tapas — a Ramen Terrine featuring Nature’s Green Acres’ Tamworth pork and eggs, accompanied by homemade ramen noodles, pickled wood ear mushrooms, and smoked porkfat and nori dust. I noticed a lot of puzzled looks from diners but the equivalent amount of smiles when the dish was broken into!
I had way too many favourites, I probably shouldn’t even be allowed to use the word. From Royal Glenora Club: Moose Wood Acres Duck with Vesta Gardens pea greens, French breakfast radish, dandelion blossoms, cattail hearts & asparagus pickle with a glass of Cedarcreek Estate Riesling 2013 absolutely delicious!
My favourite of the night (I swear, I gave them my coin): XIX Nineteen’s Four Whistle Farm chicken liver pâté, Saskatoon Berry gastric, julienne pears from BC and homemade crostini. I’m a sucker for well-made pâté and paired with the sweeter components, this dish was stuck in my mind by the end of the night. They should just sell it by the jar, really.
By 8pm, a few tables had already run out of food, a good sign (people definitely had seconds!) A majority of the crowd had dispersed by 8:30pm, leaving the event to calmly wind down to 9pm. Two and a half hours seemed to fly by! Announced the next day, the winner for People’s Choice Award was…
Ampersand 27 for their Chicken Galantine from Sunworks Farm with char siu sauce, charred scallion aioli, sweet sesame snap and micro coriander! Their charity of choice: Camp fYrefly, supporting Canada’s only national leadership retreat for sexual and gender minority youth. Congratulations to the team at Ampersand 27!
Indulgence is must for those seeking great Edmonton food, local producers and farmers, and endless glasses of wines. I’m not even sure if I’ll ever complete the full wine pairings, let alone the additional one or two wines that each winery brings along. Thank goodness for Uber, a free ride (of $20) for first-time users with the code “INDULGENCE”. An amazing job by the Indulgence committee, volunteers, and Delta Edmonton South’s staff and management for such a smooth night and great event! Follow Indulgence on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribe to their mailing list for news and updates.
Tip: I keep my Monday evenings clear every June for Indulgence! See you next year!