Taste test: Get your money's worth at Taste of Calgary 2017

By Sarah Sussman

From August 10 to 13, the annual Taste of Calgary food festival takes over Eau Claire Market for a weekend-long taste test of Calgary’s restaurants, food vendors, breweries and more. Menu items at the festival range in price from one to five tickets – so whether you’re looking for a cheap and satisfying cup of chai tea or want to splurge on Nashville hot chicken sliders, here’s a guide to getting your money’s worth at Taste of Calgary 2017. [Photo credit: iStock]

Taste test: Get your money's worth at Taste of Calgary 2017

One ticket

For a decadent thirst-quencher head over to The Curry Leaf, a local hot spot specializing in comforting traditional South Indian cuisine. Masala chai tea is a spiced and sweetened black tea mixed with milk, striking a perfect balance between creamy, spicy and sweet.

If you get thirsty during the day, you’re going to want to make a pit stop at Naina’s Kitchen to get your soda or water fix. Naina’s has the cheapest price on drinks at only 1 ticket per beverage.

Two tickets

One of Calgary’s hidden gem foodie favourites, Heritage Deli carries 10 different kinds of perogies, which are hand-made and hand-pinched and sold by the bag. The blueberry flavour with sweet sauce has been a customer favourite for years now, packed full of juicy blueberries and unexpected sweetness.

Calgary’s first nanobrewery, The Dandy Brewing Company is a small batch brewery specializing in experimental ales. The most popular mainstay on the brewery’s lineup is the Dandy in the Underworld, a light-bodied oyster stout with five per cent alcohol content and wonderfully aromatic notes of coffee, chocolate and light roast. It pairs exceptionally well with seafood.

The goat cheese cake with salted caramel is a rich and creamy treat from One 18 Empire that strikes a perfect balance between sweet and salty, with a strong and savoury cheese flavour, balanced out by the decadent addition of salted caramel.

Located in the heart of the Manchester industrial area, Annex Ale Project is a microbrewery offering Calgarians a constantly rotating menu of seasonal small batch ales. One of two core beers on the Annex menu, the Bitter Division North American Bitter is Annex’s own Canadianized twist on the classic English beer with a strong malt profile and refreshing citrus hop notes.

Three tickets

Pegasus Restaurant is a Calgary institution that has been serving up authentic Greek food for years now and has seemingly perfected the recipe for spanakopita. The classic Greek snack features spinach, feta cheese, herbs and spices oven baked inside of flaky phyllo pastry.

One of the healthier options for take-out in the city, Sals Flatbread is a Mediterranean-inspired eatery specializing in made-to-order calzones and flatbreads, baked fresh using whole wheat dough. The four-cheese flatbread is a cheese-lover’s dream and arrives topped with Monterey jack, old cheddar, mozzarella and feta.

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More fun things to do this August in Calgary:

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Four tickets

Sister restaurants Anejo and Blanco Cantina have become inner city essentials for Calgarians hankering for Mexican food. The restaurants’ signature tacos come packed with red cabbage, onion, jalapenos and cilantro, as well as your choice of beef, pork or chicken. For a gluten-free option, ask for the corn tortilla.

After its recent reopening at its new location in Bridgeland, Grate & Barrel brings its Cowpuncher grilled cheese sandwich to Taste of Calgary 2017. The sandwich is loaded up with an unexpected combination of pulled pork, kimchi, and – of course – mountains of gooey, decadent cheese.

Paper St., an upscale-casual downtown eatery, has become a go-to for fusion street eats in the downtown area. If you’ve been lucky enough to try the full-sized Nashville Hot Sandy on the Paper St. menu, you’ll be excited to see a smaller sized slider version available at Taste of Calgary 2017.

Five tickets

One of the “it” foods of summer 2017, edible cookie dough is a deliciously nostalgic treat that’ll take you back to your childhood memories of sneaking raw cookie dough off the spatula. Served up in scoop-sized portions, the cookie dough is made using pasteurized eggs and heat-treated flour so that it is safe to consume raw. Family Freezed just launched their cookie dough venture at Family Squeezed Lemonade at CrossIron Mills mall with a rotating menu of flavours including classic chocolate chip, sugar cookie and peanut butter cup.

The famous stuffed burgers at Naina’s Kitchen are the stuff of legend and appeared on the Food Network show You Gotta Eat Here in 2015. The burgers feature a half-pound of Alberta beef stuffed with a choice of ingredients (including adventerous options like pulled pork, sun dried tomatoes and pineapple) and topped with lettuce, mayo, ketchup, mustard and pickles.

Simple Irie Caribbean Cuisine is one of few places in the city serving up authentic (and perfectly spicy) jerk chicken with some serious heat. Dished up alongside a generous portion of rice and peas, this five-ticket option will probably keep you satiated through both lunch and dinner.

A local small business success story, Wafflepops was launched by Sara Barreto, who moved to Calgary from Columbia about two years ago. She entered a competition for entrepreneurs called VentureQuest through Bow Valley College and ended up winning the top prize of $10, 000 to launch her business. Wafflepops are basically waffle popsicles, skewered to a stick and served in flavours like Nutty Waffle, Apple Pie and more.

With so many delicious local offerings available to try, head on over to Taste of Calgary 2017 to experience the best in the city. Whether you’re looking for hidden gem food finds or iconic Calgary dishes, load up on tasting tickets and take yourself on the ultimate Calgary food tour.

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