This September, Edmontonians have an opportunity to participate in four separate culinary tours of Alberta Avenue restaurants.
Joachim Holtz, executive director of Alberta Avenue Business Association (AABA), explained the idea for the pilot project started in January.
“I talked to the board about the economic situation in the province. I wanted to come up with a promotion to help the businesses out. As a previous banker, my experience is that the hospitality businesses feel the pinch first.”
Holtz explained 118 Avenue is a busy thoroughfare used daily. It’s home to plenty of restaurants, but people don’t always stop to try something new.
It’s hoped that Eats on 118 will introduce people from all over Edmonton to those restaurants. Supported by the City of Edmonton and AABA, Eats on 118 is a month-long culinary tour on Sept. 11, 14, 21, and 28. Tickets are $30 for each tour. Sept. 11 is a brunch tour and the remaining dates are dinner tours, starting at 10 am and 6 pm respectively.
Each tour has samples from four restaurants, giving ticket-holders a chance to try a variety of cuisine.
Some participating restaurants include El Rancho, Koultures, Handy Bakery, Battista’s Calzone Company, Passion de France, and T&D Vietnamese Noodle House.
Battista’s Calzone Company is one of the stops on the Sept. 14 tour. “We’ll offer an assortment of samples,” said Shawn Tse, the marketing manager. The restaurant sells a variety of calzones, including dessert calzones: think Nutella and bananas wrapped in a delicious dough.
Tse said when asked to join the tour, “we didn’t even hesitate. It’s definitely a creative way to engage people in and outside the community,” he said. “We hope people enjoy themselves, know we’re here, and that we make nationally-recognized food.”
The calzones are hand-crafted. The dough itself takes 26 hours to prepare and owner Battista Vecchio is committed to keeping original recipes and traditions passed down from his mother.
“His mom made calzones for him when he was a kid,” explained Tse. “It was always one of his dreams to make food and be of service to the community.”
The restaurant is known nationally. This May, Battista’s Calzone Company was featured on You’ve Got to Eat Here!
Not all the names of the participating restaurants have been released yet. However, Handy Bakery and Passion de France are two of the restaurants on the Sept. 11 brunch tour, and T&D Vietnamese Noodle House is also on the Sept. 14 tour.
Holtz said part of the tour’s purpose is to learn the business owner’s stories.
“You meet the owners, learn what brought them to 118 Avenue and what keep them there, and taste the cuisine,” Holtz explained. “We want people to have a good experience and we want them to tell other people about it. Word of mouth is very important.”
“It’s just getting people down to the Avenue to see what it’s like,” said Judy Allan, the city’s Avenue Initiative Coordinator. “I’m in it to help support it, get it going, and help it become sustainable in the future.”
Holtz said another culinary tour is expected next year, possibly focusing on pubs.
Header Image: The calzones are handcrafted and made using traditional recipes. Credit: Rebecca Lippiatt