It’s time to dust off the blog and get writing again! A lot has happened food-wise since my last post, and today we are going to focus on the Servus Heritage Festival at Hawrelak Park, one of my favorite summer events. I’ve been going to the Heritage Festival for years now. I used to volunteer for ticket with my youth group, and I try and go at least once every year. I have a few stand-by favorites that I make a bee-line for every year: the barbequed whole sardines at the Portuguese pavilion, the mangos loco at the Guatemalan pavilion, and Russian pelmenis.
This year’s festival was especially fun, with tons of delicious options for guests to try out. I worked and had other family commitments on the Saturday and Sunday this year, so I didn’t make it to Hawrelak until the last day of the Festival on the Monday. My sister, Sarah and I took the shuttle from near our place down to the park, just in time for lunch. When we got there, around 11am, the crowds were not too bad; we did not have to wait in line at all really for tickets or food.
Sarah had already been to the Festival on Saturday, and warned me that our beloved barbeque sardines would not be an option, because the Portuguese pavilion was not participating in the Festival this year (SADNESS!!).
After we bought our tickets, Sarah and I made our way to the Iraqi pavilion for an order of Dolma (5 tickets), which included 5 dolma, salad, and a huge, fresh pita bread. The dolma were warm, and were absolutely delicious, some of the nicest I’ve had, and were really great dipped in the accompanying sweetish sauce, wrapped in bits of pita.
Next, came the Borneo pavilion, where Sarah and I ordered the Spicy Laksa Soup (7 tickets). The soup had a spicy coconut milk broth, thin rice noodles, shrimp, bits of chicken, hardboiled egg, and julienned vegetables. All the different ingredients were nice and fresh, and you could tell they were putting the soup together to order, putting all the bits in the bowl, and pouring the broth on top. Because if this, the rice noodles weren’t mushy, the vegetables stayed crisp, and the proteins were perfect.
Our next stop was Venezuela, where Sarah and I got our first taste of Arepas (7 tickets each). Arepas are cooked patties of corn dough that are usually griddled or deep-fried. They are stuffed with yummy fillings like cheese, avocado, slow-cooked pork, whatever you want, really. I first se them made on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and I’ve been dying to try one since. This first one was delicious; crispy outside, and filled with spiced shredded beef. It was served with a green herb salsa, which went with it really nicely. When I squirted a big glob of the salsa on Sarah and my plate, the girl who had served me seemed quite alarmed, and warned me that I’d dumped the extra-hot salsa on my food. When Sarah and I tried the salsa, it wasn’t really spicy at all, so she must have thought I’d grabbed a different bottle.
Russia came next, where Sarah and I got a plate of our beloved Pelmeni (6 tickets), little meat-filled dumplings from Siberia. I love dumplings, especially these ones, and the fact we got the first plate of a freshly cooked batch made them even better. The dough was cooked perfectly, with just a bit of bite, and the filling was perfectly seasoned. You could get them with the traditional sour cream and chopped dill, or with ketchup, which I thought sounded revolting. Needless to say Sarah and I got our pelmeni with sour cream and dill, which worked perfectly.
While we were waiting for our order, I took time out for a photo-op.
After that, I got myself a Cheese Empanada from the Chilean pavilion, which I nommed on before I remembered to take a photo (DAMMIT!). It was great; deep fried and filled with gooey cheese. I wasn’t offered any kind of salsa with mine, and I think that would have made the empanada perfect. We were both really full at that point, so we took a break to sit on a hill and people watch for a while. And soak up the gorgeous sunshine we got that day too.
We stopped by the Aboriginal pavilion a few times to watch the incredible dancing, although I didn’t buy any bannock, because the lines were so long. However, my supervisor at work makes AMAZING bannock, so I am able to get my deep fried bread fix whenever I need!
Sarah and I hit up the Guatemalan pavilion next, me for a Mango Loco (6 tickets): a whole mango on a stick, dipped in lime juice and then rolled in cayenne pepper and salt. Sarah got a Chicken Tamal (4 tickets), which was cooked perfectly.
After meeting up with a friend, and taking a peek through a bunch of the vendor stalls, and me getting my hand hennaed, Sarah and I headed home.
Before we hopped back on the bus, we stopped off at the Ecuadorean pavilion and got a Pan con Carne (5 tickets), a bun filled with sliced beef, tomatoes and onions. The sandwich was really nice, but guess who forgot to take a picture! This girl! By the time we left, at 2pm, the Park was packed with people enjoying the last few hours of the Festival. I had a blast, as always, and I can’t wait for next year.
The Servus Heritage Festival was held from August 6-8, 2011 at William Hawrelak Park