Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Folklorama 2015

Have you ever wanted to travel the world in a night? I know it seems impossible, but bear with me here. For anyone not familiar with Winnipeg, we have a festival that runs for two weeks every August that allows you to do just that. Folklorama is a celebration of life and culture; it's the longest running multicultural festival of its kind in the world. Essentially, it allows you to experience the food, the life, the history, and more of over 40 cultures every summer. 

The festival is a staple of a Winnipeg summer. Year after year, I find myself visiting pavilions old and new. Year after year, I learn something new about Winnipeg's many people. I was lucky enough this year to hit five pavilions in one day. Are you ready to hear about my adventure? Well buckle up, because here we go!

UK Pavilion - 1770 King Edward St.
3:45 PM

My family history is closely tied to the UK. On both sides, I have English and Irish heritage respectively. I'm a huge fan of all things UK. The BBC, Benedict Cumberbatch, The Beatles, the food...

My first stop was the tea room. I chose the earl grey tea and a sample of the vegan chocolate cake, the custard tart, and an imperial cookie. My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach. But oh how delicious it was. The cake was moist and chocolately (not a word but it needs to be), the imperial cookie literally melted in my mouth, and the tart had fresh berries all over it. With four more pavilions to go I would definitely need to pace myself better.

During the whole experience, I could almost pretend I was in a Jane Austen novel. I felt so proper sipping my tea from a fancy cup, pinky up. The ladies in the tea room were wonderful. Just about the nicest people I've ever met and so attentive. If you go, tell Lisa I sent you!

As I was finishing up, I noticed my elbows were on the table. Jane Austen would not be proud of me…

Hungaria Pavilion – 2055 Ness
5:15 PM

Next stop, Hungary! Leslie greeted me at the door and was the sweetest. She recommended the chimney cake which was new to the pavilion this year. I chose a cinnamon one and went to town. The soft, gooey pastry was still slightly warm and the sugar covering it was the perfect amount to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Of course, what’s Hungary without goulash? Well I wouldn’t know since I’d never tried it. I changed that quickly. Side note: did you know that it`s pronounced goo-yash and not goo-lash? I did not.   

The pavilion opened at 4:45 and when I got there at 5 the line for food was already around the side of the room. I think that tells you what to expect. Hint: it’s great.

On a screen at the front they had a PowerPoint playing on a loop that pointed out things and people that were from Hungary. I thought it was quite interesting. For example, did you know that the Pulitzer prize is named afterJoseph Pultizer, born in Hungary? Or how about the inventor of Excel, Charles Simonyi, having been born in Budapest? Pretty interesting if you ask me and a great touch to the pavilion. 

Slovenija Pavilion – 720 Alverstone

I rolled my way over to Slovenija for dinner. Bar none, this may have been my favorite stop of the night. Not to say it was better than the rest, but because Helen made it such a lovely experience for me. She greeted me at the door and led me around the cultural display. She then set me up with a sampler platter and the Ukrainian girl in me went nuts. Perfectly spiced pork sausage, coleslaw with a light vinaigrette dressing, potato salad to rival my mother’s and a crepe to top it all off. I knew I was in trouble; I was stuffed. So much for pacing myself…

The glass of white wine I had paired really well with what I'd chosen and was the perfect touch to cap off an extraordinary meal.

The entertainment consisted of lots of accordions which made me want to get up and dance pretty bad. I held back though, don't worry. I wasn't quite ready to grace the world with my Elaine Benes dance moves.

Oh, and I will also give five imaginary dollars to the first person who can correctly identify what is in the below picture. Hint: Some seriously cool Slovenian history.

Ethiopia Pavilion – 215 Selkirk Ave

From Europe we jetted off to Africa and landed in Ethiopia. I've been a huge fan of Ethiopian food since I worked in the West End. But come on, any time I am encouraged to eat with my hands I’m on board. I brought my best friend to this pavilion with me as she'd never experienced Ethiopian culture and frankly, I couldn't keep eating on my own. We shared the injera platter and destroyed it in minutes. If you've never tried Ethiopian, I’ll warn you it can be spicy, but trust me when I say the flavors are an explosion of delight in your mouth.

My favorite part about the pavilion was the coffee. I drink a lot of coffee in a day; 8 cups to be exact. So I know my coffee. They were brewing it fresh up at the front and the aroma was incredible. I highly recommend you try it if you can!

While I was stuffing my face, we watched the dancers on stage. The energy they have is incredible. If I only had 1/5 the energy and charisma they do, I'd be unstoppable. Please, I beg of you, go take in this pavilion. They put so much effort into making sure you have a great experience. GO!

German Pavilion – 121 Charles St.
9:45 PM

Folklorama is amazing for many reasons, but where else can you get from Ethiopia to Germany in under two minutes? Seriously, they are only two blocks apart. But since I'd eaten enough to feed an entire family of 5 by this point, I confess I drove to Germany. I know, for shame, for shame... I could have used the walk!

Now, I have a particular soft spot for the German pavilion because my friends and I have a tradition of going to the late night party every single year. We take a limo bus that’s how dedicated we are (safety first folks)! You could say I’m a veteran at this pavilion. I walked right up to the counter to order my food with pure confidence. Schnitzel please. Schnitzel with a side of Apple Strudel. There was no tort left for me by the time I arrived, but I've had it every other year and I highly recommend it as well. I was nice and split the apple strudel with my friends, who yes, had chosen the same night to take in the German Pavilion.

Hands down, the best part about this pavilion is how interactive it is with the audience during the entertainment. Everyone participates and I know the dances by heart now. I told you, we go every year. 
A video posted by Melissa (@melissanicole14) on


I only managed to hit five pavilions in one day. Honestly, if I had more energy, and the stomach capacity, I would have gone to five more (although time definitely would not have permitted this). Learning about and experiencing cultures vastly different from my own is an eye opening experience. I highly recommend you take a trip around the world too. Folklorama runs until August 15th, so put on your party hats and start prepping your stomachs. You're in for a treat!

Now it's your turn; I want to know about your experiences. What pavilions did you see? What did you learn? But most importantly... what did you eat?

Folklorama Info:

Friday, July 31, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Take Me To The Pilot

If you've been around these parts for awhile you'll know I have some pretty talented friends who go by the name of Take Me To The Pilot. This past summer, they played their final show. 

Broadview opened and killed it as per usual, as did my favorite singer/songwriter east of Winnipeg, Nic Dyson

As the final song came to a close, it was a bittersweet moment. More than a few tears were shed and the love in the room was overwhelming. 

Here's to five years of great music, great people and great memories. Thank you Jon, Mike, Eric and Adam for giving us the gift of TMTTP

For photos a million times better than my crappy cellphone ones, head over to Kelsey Giesbrecht Photography.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Inferno's on Academy

I have a confession to make. Until very recently I was a bit of a seafood snob - as in I didn't eat it. I was convinced I hated anything that came from the water unless it was shrimp or a really fresh lobster. I mean who doesn't love shrimp? Come on. 

A few months ago I was at an Italian restaurant with my family when I decided to bite the bullet and shove a mussel in my mouth. I swear I saw fireworks. "Why have I been missing this my whole life?" I thought to myself. From that moment on, I was a seafood convert. I tried scallops, I tried crab cakes, I tried more mussels than my stomach could handle. My life was changed! 

Enter Inferno's Bistro. If you want a new favorite day of the week, I will tell you now it's going to be Thursday. One pound of mussels for $13. I think my eyes popped out of my head like one of those cartoons. Being from Transcona, frugality runs in my blood. I'm cheap and I love food so this was a perfect combo. 

There were at least 10 flavors to choose from; it was a difficult task, let me tell you. I settled on the Herbes de Provence (I think, I'm running off memory here) and my best friend ordered the Green Thai Curry. We then, of course, split a plate of fries. 

I couldn't finish I was so stuffed. It didn't help that we made it in time for happy hour and I loaded up on Caesar's. If you're looking for a patio to set up shop during the week with your friends, do yourself a favor and make it Inferno's on Academy

If you do, I want an invite. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Food Truck Friday: Habanero Sombrero

I have a bit of a thing for Mexican food. And by that I mean if I could I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's my favorite food in the entire world and if you know me, then this is common knowledge. This is why it was no surprise to my cousin that I chose this truck when she met me for lunch. Luckily, she also shares my love of tacos.

Habanero Sombrero is possibly the best taco truck I've ever eaten at, and I've been to a few in my time. My cousin and I decided to try the three tacos combo and I was pleasantly surprised that I could choose three different meats if I wanted to (which I obviously did). The service was quick and the owners were some of the nicest people!

Once we got our tacos, the hardest decision of my life commenced: which salsa do I use? All of the options were fresh and homemade, so I did what any sane person would do... I used them all. By far, the best one was the pineapple salsa. I've never had pineapple salsa and my mouth exploded with flavor. I would definitely say I preferred the chicken to the beef but I'm just not a huge red meat fan.

If you ever see them around stop by and give them a try! Let me know what you think. I'm more than likely going to be returning real soon. Let me know if you want to go for lunch!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Food Truck Friday: Greektown Winnipeg

I've been away for awhile because I've been so darn busy! This city is just full of so many things to occupy my time. Working on Broadway has been seriously bad for my diet and wallet, but man are the food trucks phenomenal.

I'm a sucker for Greek food. If I could, I would put feta and tomatoes on everything. It's no surprise that one of the first trucks I found myself at was Greektown Winnipeg. It's a little pricier than some of the other trucks I've tried but it didn't bother me since the food more than made up for it.

I had a gyro and Greek salad and I didn't need to eat again all day. The portions were big and quite filling. My favorite part had to be the dressing on the salad. Thick, rich and flavorful! I'm a little disappointed I didn't try the stuffed peppers and tomatoes but I guess that gives me an excuse to go back!

I also really loved how they decorated the pavement in front of the truck. It added something to the whole experience.

Be sure to check them out and let me know what you think.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


I can't wait for next week! So, who wants to go for lunch?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Food Truck Friday

It's hard to avoid them; they're everywhere. Am I complaining? Absolutely not. My wallet might be at the end of summer, but we have to take advantage of them while we can.

My first encounter with food trucks began a couple of years ago at my first job on the cusp of Downtown Winnipeg. Granted, not many trucks made their way towards my office, but there was always one parked outside of the CBC I could saunter over to. I think my first food truck was Pimp My Rice. Filipino food at it's finest and quickest.

So I've decided to carve out a little space here on Friday's to showcase the best the city has to offer in restaurants on wheels. The food truck craze is certainly gaining momentum every year; more choices, more competition and more food for me. 

My new job has me on Broadway Ave - food truck central. Both sides of the street are lined up with them and it's a sure sign that summer has made its way to Winnipeg. My goal is to try every single one. A feat I'm sure won't be easy but I'm up to the task.

Today, a coworker and I ventured down the street to find Better Than Baba's. They boasted boiled perogies made fresh daily. I was intrigued.

Ukrainian food is in my blood; my great-grandfather (Didia) was a big part of my life until I was 13 and he had come straight from the Ukraine when he was young. It's safe to say I'm a bit of a perogy snob. I firmly hold the belief that my aunts make the best perogies in Winnipeg.

I ordered the four cheese perogy combo that came with a grilled piece of kielbasa. I was expecting it to be okay, but I was pleasantly surprised - blown away, in fact - by the sheer amazingness (not a word but it needs to be) that were these perogies. Perfectly boiled with soft, fresh dough and smothered in sour cream, bacon and onions.There's really nothing more you can ask for.

While I still hold firm that my family makes the best - Better Than Baba's is a really close second.

Find more information and follow them here: 

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Real Escape

Recently, I participated in an activty that's fairly new to this city of ours. Have you ever heard of an "Escape Room"? If you haven't, you should probably Google it right now. It was the absolute most fun I've had in months.

Are you competitive? Do you like to solve puzzles? Do you like to show your friends how smart you are? Then this is definitely up your alley! 

My friends and I ended up at The Real Escape, located on Portage Avenue. From the moment we walked in our senses were on high alert. We were so excited to try it out; we'd been waiting weeks! The current theme was "Nuclear Meltdown" and the premise was Winnipeg's Nuclear Facility went into lock-down and you had 60 minutes to figure your way out of the room or you died. Obviously you don't really die, but you'd be surprised what that idea has on your psyche the whole time you're in the room. The closer the countdown gets to the end, the more frantic you become. It's a real adrenaline rush!

Luckily I have really smart friends. We pulled our weight fairly evenly and got out of the room with more than 20 minutes to spare. And not to brag (I'm totally bragging), but our team solved the room 3rd fastest out of 600 teams to attempt it. No big deal or anything. With a 31% success rate we were all feeling pretty proud of our teamwork skills. Also, nice to know I didn't die in a nuclear explosion. The current room ends on April 13th and they're back on April 23rd with a brand new room: Escape from Death Row. You bet your bottom dollar we will be heading to that one.

Word to the wise: you need a team name. Come prepared or you'll end up scrambling for something  at the end and settle on Super Sleuths. Come on guys, we can do better than that!

For information check out their website!
You can also find them on  Facebook or Twitter.