This year was the first year in a long long time that I was able to go to the Taste of Edmonton festival. In years past there have been menus put forth prior to the festival outlining the Celiac Friendly food items throughout the festival.
2011 Taste of Edmonton Festival went one step further for those of us with dietary restrictions. This year they put on each list of restaurants given to festival goers, the legend "V= vegertarian N= nuts C=Celiac Approved" and this to me was a fantastic option. As well this year the festival organizers went even one step further; in front of each restaurant booth at the Taste of Edmonton, on the sign showing which foods they were showcasing, they also included the legend for those with dietary restrictions.
To my pleasure there were a large variety of food options that were listed as "celiac approved", so many that we simply could not try them all. My mom and I tried the following items:
- Alberta Beef Petit Tender w/ Blue Cheese Potatoes: Zinc restaurant - Just as I always do and just as we always recommend people do, I asked the woman dishing out this item about what is in the sauce they were putting on top of the beef. To my disappointment, she told me that she was not certain if it was truly gluten free friendly and therefore she did not feel I should eat it. When I asked her "why then would it be listed as celiac approved?" she had no answer for me. She told me that they cannot be certain because different people have been making the sauce throughout the festival. Then she went to serve me the beef, with no sauce, but with crispy onion strings on top (obviously not gluten free!) I quickly said no to the onion straws. I must say, this was my first attemp at the foods at the festival and it was very disappointing to me.
- Papusas: El Rancho Spanish restaurant - This was an item I had eaten before and loved so I was very comfortable knowing that it was in fact gluten free friendly. However, while waiting for my papusa, I asked the man serving the foods what they use to coat their Mexican fried Ice cream (also being served at the festival) and when he told me "corn flakes" I sadly walked away thinking; I'm not going to be eating that as I am certain those corn flakes are not going to be gluten free. I later went home and looked at our previous post about this restaurant and found that this dessert is not listed at celiac friendly on their menu.
- Pad Thai: Numchok Wilai restaurant- In my opinon there are certain commonly found foods in various restaurants that for me, tell me whether or not I would like the restaurant and and of their other menu items. Pad Thai is one of those foods. To me, if a restaurant can make a great Pad Thai then I am convinced that other menu items will be successful as well. This particular Pad Thai was fabulous. It wasn't spicy, it was a huge portion and I can say that becuase of it, I would like to try this restaurant out in the future.
- Beef Lemongrass Skewer: Hoang Long Family restaurant- I recall going to this restaurant with friends in my pre-gluten free days and loving it. This booth was by far the most popular booth with the largest continuous line up at the entire festival. It seemed like everyone was walking around with a beef lemongrass skewer or multiples. I loved this booth.
- Butter Chicken w/ Rice: Khazana restaurant- We used to live downtown and we often would pass this restaurant and yet we had never tried it before. I was quite impressed with their Butter Chicken. Similarly to the Pad Thai I described, Butter Chicken is a food item that I personally base my view of a restaurant on. This Butter Chicken dish was full of flavor and had a little kick to it, just the way I like it.
- Home Style Chow Mein: Noodle Noodle restaurant - We did not try this food item, but I was curious about it. I have never thought of chow mein as being gluten free friendly, and to my delight, when we arrived at this booth we noticed that the restaurant had covered up the C on their poster thererby saying "oops we made a mistake and our food item is not celiac approved". Their knowledge of this error pleased me tremendously because this sort of error could be dangerous.
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk: Tra Amica Cafe and Bar- WOW! This dessert was heavenly. I love love loved it. After being told that foods were not truly celiac approved I was leary, so just as I had in other booths I asked the woman serving what was in the Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk. To my pure delight she told me that this item "contains chocolate, peanut butter and cream" ahhhhhh that was music to my ears. I love chocolate an peanut butter together. It's gotta be an all time favourite of mine. It was the best food item in the entire festival as far as I was concerned.
There were many more food items available to try, but by this point we were full and satisfied and I was over the moon excited with my dessert choice. We did not eat any more, guess we'll have to be sure to try again next summer.
The moral of this story is that you should always be extra careful and remember to ask questions even if it's not convenient for those waiting behind you, because your health and safety are top priority and errors do occur.
I would however like to know, who it was that was responsible for determining if the food items being served were "Celiac Approved"? I think it might have been up to the individual restaurants, and that to me is not the best plan when serving food to large crowds of people.