I’m baaackkk! I’ve been home from Europe for about two weeks and have been crazy busy with making the big move to Calgary to start my new job (I got here on Monday!). But don’t worry – I’ve started to compile all of my photos, and over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting some here. I’ll also be telling stories, sharing my favourite places to eat/shop/explore, and whatever else happens to come up. So please don’t mind me while this blog temporarily shifts to more of a travel focus, as opposed to recipe sharing. I promise there will be lots of new, exciting things going on (at least I think so!)
For now, in honour of my last weeks in Edmonton having passed, I’m going to share some of my very favourite places in the city – in case you happen to live there, or ever stop by, or are maybe just curious about the sorta places that get me excited. I personally find Edmonton to be very underrated – yes, it gets very cold in the winter, yes, some parts of it tend to be a bit dirty, and no, it’s not very close to the ocean or the mountains or anything else overly exciting. But there are some really, really lovely spots, and although I am very excited to get to know a new city, I’m a little bit sad to leave.
In no particular order:
1. The City Market Downtown (aka the 104th Street Market) – this market is quite big, by Alberta standards, and my favourite venders range from The Cheesiry to The Violet Chocolate Co. to fresh flower stands. Dogs are allowed, and even though I do not currently have one, I love seeing everyone else’s. Plus, the samples that some of the stands give away are insane – I’ve gotten a full sushi roll on more than one occasion! I can hardly think of a more perfect Saturday morning activity.
2. Duchess Bake Shop/Duchess Provisions – This place speaks to my soul, I swear. They have the best macaron’s I have ever had (and yes, I just got home from Paris). They also serve a huge selection of other world-class (seriously) pastries – brioche, pies, florentines, and galettes, and lunch options such as quiche, soup, and sandwiches and good coffee/tea. Plus the interior is fancy and adorable and I love it. It’s always busy, but for good reason. The adjacent store sells hard to find baking ingredients, cookbooks, and baking tools. I used to have a strict rule of visiting every time I was in the area (also a lovely and very “happening” place on 124th street) but then I moved closer to it and I thought that it might start getting excessive. Still, I come here pretty often and it will be one of the places that I insist on going whenever I’m in town in the future.
3. The River Valley – According to the website, the beautiful, expansive Edmonton River Valley includes 22 major parks and over 150 km of trails. It’s the perfect place for a jog or a picnic, or for cross country skiing in the winter. There are endless spots to explore, and it adds a lot of much needed green space to the city. I’ve always lived really close to the river valley, and I hope I can find a place near one of the rivers in Calgary!
4. Oak & Fort/Noul – I would guess that at least 50% of my wardrobe comes from one of these stores on Whyte Avenue. The clothing is on trend, good quality, and affordable, plus the stores themselves are really cute, and the staff are always helpful. Thankfully, an Oak & Fort just opened in Calgary, and they have online stores now, otherwise I might feel seriously deprived.
5. The Italian Centre Shop – (The Little Italy location, of course). This is a specialty grocery store with 3 locations in the city, but the best one is right downtown. It has a huge deli, a great cheese selection, an olive bar, a bakery, tons of European food products (not just Italian) that can be hard to find elsewhere, and all sorts of other little delights. Also attached is Spinelli’s Bar/Cafe, where you can get a (super fresh, super italian) slice of pizza, 2 pieces of biscotti (the best you’ll ever have) and a large cappuccino (very comparable) for under $10. Most of the food is made to order, and it is all crazy delicious and cheap. In fact, it might be the best value cafe in the city.
6. The Old Strathcona Antique Mall – Over 100 antique dealers have permanent booths set up in this huge antique mall, and I love spending an afternoon browsing through old knick knacks, furniture, and art. There really is something here for everyone, and most of it is really reasonably priced. Plus, they sell Sara’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, which might be the best in the city.
7. Leva Cafe – I’ve been coming here for four years, since I moved to Edmonton, because it’s really close to the University, in a very quaint residential area with tree-lined streets and charming old houses. During the day, it’s a casual, order at the counter kind of place, but in the evening it gets ever so slightly more formal (and they are open late, making it the perfect place to share a bottle of wine on a warm summer night). Pretty much everything they sell here is amazing (seriously – one time I ordered toast with butter and it was the most perfect thing ever) but I would most recommend the coffee (a lavender latte, if I’m being specific), pizzas, gelato, and tiramiso. And also their breakfast and salads. So yeah, basically everything.
8. Whyte Avenue – This charming avenue a few blocks south of the river has a little bit of everything. The interesting part of it stretches for about 6 or 7 blocks. It’s always bustling, especially in the summer, with street performers and quite few festivals hosted here throughout the year. I’ve also seen horse drawn carriages going up and down it around Christmas time. The shopping is above average, the food options are numerous, and the nightlife is lively. It’s really close to the university, so I’ve spent a lot of time around here over the past few years, and it’s one of the coolest places in the city.
9. The Sugarbowl – This is my go-to brunch spot in the city. It’s always busy, so expect to wait, but the food is amazing and the atmosphere is great. My pick is their eggs benedict (which is on cornbread – yum), but their cinnamon buns are massive and totally delicious. They also have a pretty impressive list of beers on tap, and their dinner options are very good as well.
10. Transcend Coffee – Okay. I know there are technically 2 other cafes on this list, but a good cup of coffee in a nice atmosphere really just gets me excited. Plus, transcend sources and roasts their own coffee beans, and they are particularly delightful. While I love other popular cafes like District Coffee Co. and Elm Cafe almost equally as much, they are the kind of places where I would usually stop in quickly. Transcend is the perfect place to bring your laptop and textbooks to study, or a novel to sit and read, or a date to chat with and stay a while. Their baking tends to be hit or miss for me, but it certainly beats most other cafes. I’ll definitely continue to buy their beans when I visit the city!