Epicure Extravaganza

In the past 2 days, I’ve visited 5 foodie stores that I’ve never been to before. For some people, these stores are everyday places but they were all new for me.

1. Popular Bakery (118 Ave x 93 St)

Popular Bakery

Popular Bakery on 118 Ave

This is a Portuguese bakery and grocery store. I didn’t know this before, but salt cod is a traditional Portuguese meal around Christmas so this store had loads of salt cod available. I should have taken pictures – there were big boxes full of it.

I’ve never eaten, let alone prepared, salt cod so I was going to bypass it but then I remembered: The whole point of Savoury Staycation is to try new things. The staff person behind the bakery counter offered some tips on soaking and cooking the cod, and then a customer (you can see her in the photo with me above; you can also see the big ol’ cod that I’m holding in my bare hands – which was weird) stepped in. She’s originally from Portugal and shared some of her favourite ways to prepare salt cod. I love when this happens, when you run into someone who is willing to share their enthusiasm and expertise with you. She wrote down the names of a couple recipes. One (bacalhau com natas) is basically cod in cream sauce, and looks like it could stop your heart! The other (bacalhau à braz) is shredded cod and shredded potato mixed together and fried. I got a couple additional recipes from a friend who went with me to the store (hi Wade!) so now I just have to decide which ones to make. I’ll report back on this blog about it later.

BTW, holding a slab of salt cod feels exactly like holding an enormous sour gummy candy. After I set it down I nearly licked the sour sugar off my fingers before remembering it’s fishy salt, and wiping it off on my jeans like a civilized person. 😉

I also picked up some sausages, mini pasta, a coconut bun, and two Portuguese egg tarts. My plan was to share the tarts with my husband but that didn’t happen. I devoured them both as soon as I got home – omgyum.

If you’re wondering (because I’d be interested in this) the total cost was $22.16 (the cod was just over $12).

2. Kasoa Tropical Food Market (118 Ave x 93 St)

Items from Kasoa

Items from Kasoa

Kasoa is a small African food store. Some of the foods there are variations on what you would get at a larger grocery store, but I picked up a few unusual (to me) items: green lentils (ok you can get these anywhere but I’ve never had them and I’ve been thinking of trying them), a sweet & spicy sauce, lemon cookies, and tamarind balls. Total: $6.10 – each item cost $1.20 except the sauce which was $2.50. Very reasonable! I’ll try some of the items later and report back.

3. Paraiso Tropical (118 Ave x 91 St)

Items from Paraiso Tropical

Items from Paraiso Tropical

It just occurred to me why 118 Ave is called the Avenue of Nations. This little pocket of 118 Ave is like a mini trip around the world: Portugal, Africa, and now Latin America.

Paraiso is bigger than Kasoa and specializes in a wide range of Latin foods. I picked up some fresh, locally made corn tortillas (can’t wait to try these!), dulce de leche pudding, hot sauce, a creamy white beverage called horchata, lime soda, and caramel-filled figs. Total: $24.24 (the tortillas were $6.50).

The horchata is a mix of rice, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and a couple other things. It’s concentrated so you mix it with water. I’m drinking some right now as I write this and… have you ever had something where you honestly can’t tell if you like it or not? That’s how I feel. It’s got a lot of sugar in it, but it’s not sweet. There’s a bit of heat from the cinnamon but not in a way that I really like. I’m puzzled. Have to keep trying it I guess. Has anyone else ever tried horchata?

BTW, before we leave 118 Ave, if you ever have a chance to go to Plaza Bowl on 104 St, do it! It’s a wonderful old-school 5-pin bowling alley.

4. Sunterra (57 Ave x 111 St)

Sunterra purchases

Sunterra purchases

Sunterra is pretty much Edmonton’s foodie mecca, and if you have an unlimited budget you should shop there for every meal, every day. The rest of us have to be a bit selective. I picked up some venison sausages, Atlantic salmon, Meyer lemons, multigrain wraps, and a Caribbean spice rub. Total: $26.56. I’m excited to try the Meyer lemons – I love citrus in general, and I’ve heard these are sweeter than regular lemons.

5. Italian Centre (50 Ave x 104A St)

Items from the Italian Centre

Items from the Italian Centre

I found some gorgeous black rye bread, mini pandoros (a cross between bread and cake), more pfeffernussen, Italian seasoning (I figure Italian seasoning from an Italian store is somehow more authentic), tomato paste in a tube, and two meats and two cheeses. Total: $42.73.

The two cheeses that I got are both sharp, hard cheeses (aged provolone and piave vecchio). I wanted to get a couple more cheeses but the woman behind the meat & cheese counter made it completely clear that my requests were an unacceptable inconvenience in her life, so I stopped at 2 cheeses. Too bad – I would have liked to try a blue cheese and maybe a creamy cheese. The friend I was with (hi Kelly!) got great service from a guy working behind the counter, but a supremely crabby old lady tried to butt in front of her and steal the nice cheese man. Wait in line, crabby lady!

And for good measure… Superstore Liquorstore (48 Ave x Calgary Trail)

White wine

White wine

I picked up a white wine so I can attempt a white sangria. I fussed over which wine to get – I nearly bought one just because it had a cool blue bottle, then a different one because I liked the label. In the end I settled on this inexpensive ($9) Canadian pinot grigio.

Well, that’s my epicurean shopping adventure. I’ll be doing lots of cooking and experimenting in the next few days – who wants to be a taste tester? 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Epicure Extravaganza

  1. Looking forward to hearing all about your cooking adventures. It was fun trolling 118th with you (perhaps I should rephrase that, nah).

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