Taste of Edmonton: your guide to the best, and worst, food

So you're on Churchill Square and have a few tickets clutched in your hand. So many options, but which are the best? CBC food columnist Twyla Campbell has you covered.

Edmonton AM food columnist gives her best and worst of Taste of Edmonton

For many, summer in Edmonton is about three things: food, festivals and the way the two fit together.

We've already gone through some of the greasy guilty pleasures down on the K-Days midway.  Now, Twyla Campbell, Edmonton AM's food columnist, takes on Taste of Edmonton — she shows you how best to use those precious (and expensive) tickets by offering tips on what to savour and what to skip.

SKIP: Chicken Shawarma w/ Rice - Dedo's Food Truck

Chicken Shawarma w/ Rice from Dedo’s Food Truck (Twyla Campbell)

There's a sign outside this St. Albert-based truck that promises "the Best shawarma in Town." Twyla would like to have a word with whoever made that sign.

What you get:

  • A "sprinkling" of chicken  laid out on a bed of "boring" rice.
  • Flavourless meat, without any of the traditional shawarma toppings.

What it costs:

  • 4 tickets

Twyla's final verdict: "I really have had great shawarma in Edmonton, and I hope this is not how they usually how they serve it from the truck."

SKIP: Chinook Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos - Our Truck is Your Truck

Chinook Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos from Our Truck is Your Truck (Twyla Campbell)

This new Canadian-themed food truck is offering two of our country's storied traditional dishes -- kactus (potato) chips and bacon-wrapped jalapenos. Is the food good enough to make you stop wondering what chinooks have to do with jalapenos? No, it isn't.

What you get:

  • Two Jalapenos filled with a gob of cream cheese.
  • Stringy bacon
  • A meal that falls apart as you try to eat it.

What it costs:

  • 4 tickets

Twyla's final verdict: "If this represents their food, it would not make me want to seek them out." On the plus side, though, the beer tent is just steps away.

SKIP: Reuben FrittersHundred Bar & Kitchen

Reuben Fritters from Hundred Bar & Kitchen (Twyla Campbell)

All the tastiness of a Reuben sandwich packed into a bite-sized little lump. That's the promise, at least. But it falls down in execution.

What you get:

  • Three golf-ball sized fritters, that are lukewarm and chewy.
  • Just "a few specks" of corned beef, "the best part of the ruben."
  • Little to no sauerkraut flavour
  • Dry, grated cheese on top.
  • A grainy mustard that isn't enough to save it.

What it costs:

  • 3 tickets

Twyla's final verdict: "Overall, they were boring, bland and dry."

SAVOUR: Foie Gras Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich - Sandwich and Sons

Foie Gras Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich from Sandwich and Sons. (Twyla Campbell)

Who hasn't had a classic PB&J and thought 'this needs more duck liver?' It's an odd combination, Twyla says, but it's a nice departure from normal fried festival fare.

What you get:

  • Quebec fois gras "beautifully blended" with peanut butter
  • Sweet saskatoon-strawberry balsamic jelly, made by Fruits of Sherbrooke
  • (Very) lightly toasted bread from Vienna bakery, which was a bit too dry.

What it costs:

  • 3 tickets

Twyla's final verdict: "I love the fact that Alex Sneazwell did something creative. He took a chance on these … people might be scared of the fois gras, but don't be."

SAVOUR: Beef Lemongrass Skewer - Hoang Long Casual Fare

Beef Lemongrass Skewer from Hoang Long Casual Fare. (Twyla Campbell)

It's summer. It's a festival. Sometimes, you just want some meat on a stick. Hoang Long's grilled quail was one of Twyla's top picks last year, and they don't disappoint in 2015.

What you get:

  • The name of the dish says it all: a hefty piece of grilled lemon-grass beef on a skewer. "Super tender, lots of flavour, and easy to eat."

What does it cost?

  • 4 tickets

Twyla's final verdict: "Food festivals: everyone loves meat on sticks."

SAVOUR: Pork and Apple Hand Pie - The Pie Eatery

Pork and Apple Hand Pie from The Pie Eatery (Twyla Campbell)

This is the one: you've only a few lonely tickets left and want to grab the finest the festival has to offer. That means it is time to try this pie.

What you get:

  • Light, flaky pastry crust that is rich in flavour.
  • Smoked pork and sweet apple filling.

What it costs:

  • 3 tickets

Tywla's final verdict: "This is the winner by a country mile."

Final verdict on Taste of Edmonton

For the event as a whole, Twyla said this year's Taste of Edmonton still offers a good selection of food, especially with a few new vendors offering some creative concoctions.  But she said it still doesn't fully capture the breadth of the food the city offers.

As well, she said the queues for tickets were "extreme." While they moved faster than she imagined, it still shows the need for the festival to set up more ticket vendors across the festival area.

And, of course, the ticket prices: with most meals hovering around four tickets, it's a pricey tour of Edmonton's culinary landscape.

You can catch Twyla Campbell every second Friday on Edmonton AM. Also be sure to follow her on Twitter at @wanderwoman10 or at Weird, Wild or Wonderful.