Calgary’s Best Summer Eats
ACCORDING TO SOME OF ITS MOST APPRECIATIVE PALATES
by Erin Lawrence
There are some foods that just scream summer: watermelon, corn on the cob, barbecued meats and ice-cream spring immediately to mind. Midway food is always popular in July, when creative Stampede vendors roll out their latest bug-topped breads, or candy confections, dipped in candy, wrapped in more candy.
These days more complex flavours and creative pairings abound, and though Calgary may be short on lovable weather sometimes (who remembers this past winter? Ugh!), its citizens are long on ideas for tasty summer eats. What are the things people really crave? We asked some well-known Calgarians what their picks are for the best that Calgary has to offer for summer food.
“Taiko Taco! It’s one of the few trucks I’ll line up for when I see it at an event. The dreamy pork belly taco on the soft bao bun shell combined with the Asian fusion flavours and crispy veggies makes for a brilliant summer combination I can’t ever refuse. Add in the mango shrimp “lucky fries” and you’ve got yourself a wonderful taste of summer!”
Neil Zeller, photographer and social media darling
“I love grilling anything over charcoal. It’s the most primal of all cooking methods and still the tastiest, I think. Also, every July, I always look forward to Saskatchewan chanterelles. They are the best in the world. Small, dry, perfect buttons. They are amazing with fresh halibut, which is always in season over the summer.”
Chef Michael Allemeier, culinary educator at SAIT and master chef
“Easily my favourite summer food is to grab a poke bowl from Po-Ke and take it over to a bench overlooking the Bow River downtown. If you’ve never had a poke bowl before, poke bowls are basically the perfect union of sushi and a classic rice and veggie dish, without breaking the bank. My go-to combo is deep red ahi tuna, with jalapeño peppers, cucumber, green onion, lettuce and red cabbage, mixed with Po-Ke’s ponzu sauce.”
Chris Ratzlaff, photographer, storm chaser, and the guy who went viral making a frozen bubble
“My boyfriend and I discovered it a couple summers ago and now, every time we go, it feels like summer all over again! Cowtown Beef Shack in McKenzie
Towne is casual, it’s simple and what they do, they do really well. I always get the beef dip, which is fresh roasted beef, fresh onion, fresh bread and super yummy ‘au jus.’ Just make sure you get it with the horseradish and the chipotle mayo.”
Angela Valiant, announcer, X92.9
“I love when Taber corn season comes around. There’s nothing like it; it’s so sweet and crisp and bursting with flavour. It’s so good you can slice it off the cob and eat it raw in salads, which is the perfect side for my other summer favourite – there is nothing like a big plate of BBQ MEATS at the middle of an outdoor feast. Basically, if it has the word ribs in it, it’s National Talky League approved!”
Roger Kingkade, co-host, National Talky League podcast
“Summer is the time when it won’t kill you to stand outside restaurants to wait in lineups for brunch. Basking in the sun for 30 minutes or so and then having the smoked meat hash at Red’s in the Beltline? Sounds like a lazy summer weekend to me.”
Jason Markusoff, Calgary-based writer for Maclean’s magazine
“My favourite summer thing to make is homemade pineapple cucumber salsa, but since I’m not inviting everyone over for salsa and chips, I’ll say I love those mini donut popsicles from Family Freezed.”
Dave Ware, co-host, National Talky League podcast
“I love going to La Tiendona Market. It’s a great spot to grab Latin-style foods; they make wicked good empanadas, plus they have real Mexican Coke. Sitting outside in the sun and biting into a fresh Latin pastry filled with tender meat, and washing it down with Mexican Coke (made with cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup) is pure summer enjoyment. I also love to ride my motorbike out to Turner Valley quite a bit for Moto Burrito.
Bob Sumner, Instagram foodie & CTV news assignment editor
There are so many other summery food picks, I have to get a word in edgewise.
Buying handmade sandwiches from Peppino in Kensington and taking them down to the river for a picnic is a great weekend or afternoon outing. This year I’ve decided I must get my hands on the rolled ice cream from Sweet Tooth Calgary. The roasted rhubarb parfait is also on my must have list this summer, spooned up outdoors on the Alloy restaurant patio, one of the chicest in the city.
I recently discovered what might be the most decadent dark chocolate ice cream on earth, the dairy-free dark chocolate from Fiasco Gelato, available at Co-op stores. It tastes like dark chocolate squares are melting in your mouth, and even though it’s made with coconut milk, you can’t taste that. Take it outside and sit under the stars and nibble it right from the container. It’s pure chocolate enjoyment.
Another recent find that has been going on all my grilled meats and veggies this season is something called Obè sauce. It’s a Nigerian vegetable sauce that can be used as a sauce, a marinade or a dip, since it’s fully cooked. It’s got a powerfully rich taste that I’ve never known before. It tastes like sweet, tangy, and spicy all got together and threw a party in your mouth, then invited cayenne, paprika and garlic. You can pick it up by the jar at Co-op stores and from DeChosen African Market.
Summer doesn’t last long, but fortunately these favourites endure, and you can find many of them year round. Think we missed an amazing summer food? Let me know on Twitter @ErinLYYC so I can start sampling now for next summer’s Best Eats list.