Monday, August 10, 2009

In the spirit of things

I have been going to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival for many years. We won't say how many, that's not important. I go for the tremendous musical experiences, the long-lost friends and the atmosphere of bumping into people, and of course, the food. Some times food vendors at Folk Fest are just local communities that get together and come up with things to deep fry as a fundraiser or what-have-you. But What I really love is the opportunity to taste things fromlocal restaurants who come with an abridged menu of 4 or 6 items. It's exciting to try new places and to return to old favourites.
Yesterday my sisters and I lined up at Homefire Grill's food tent to be transported once again by their bison stew. The local restaurant specializes in grain-fed Alberta bison and AAA Angus beef. Their menu board broadcasts the claim that they specialize in innovative "Canadian" cuisine. I suppose here in Alberta that means flame grilled meat... which I am a-ok with . Every summer we look forward to the saucy, rich bison stew, served with banock and maple butter. Having just returned from the most "Canadian" of cities, Ottawa, the prospect of a new take on "Canadian" food intruiged me.
When we got to the front of the line, my sisters and I discovered that a decision had been made by the fine chefs at Homefire not to sell the bison stew this year. Shock! Horror! We flirted as best as we were able and asked if they would try making some later in the weekend to sell to festival goers. After a one-year hiatus from the festival, we missed this delictable dish so badly that resorting to shameless begging was not beyond the pail. After holding up the line for a sufficiently irritating amount of time, we four ladies moved aside and let those behind us to order the same thing - the pulled chicken sandwich. Smothered and slow cooked in tasty barbeque sauce and piled high un a biscuit-style bun, the sandwiches hit the spot but did not satisfy our craving for bison. As they passed us our food, one of the chefs smiled and winked at my sister Leah, who had been leading the charge for the stew in the first place, and promised that if she returned with a tupperware the next day, there would be bison stew waiting for us.
Well, in all the rush to leave at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, Leah forgot a tupperware. My sisters and I take very seriously the lineup to enter the festival grounds, and could not have arrived any later. *Shudder* Luckily for us, the Korean food vendors were there to save the day. Though I've never been fond of kim chi I will forever think of the masters of the bulgogi for their kindness. They gave us a take out container and would not let us pay for it. Leah marched over to the Homefire tent, where the chefs ladled in the piping hot bison stew which they'd been saving for us all day.
I sat down at the family tarp - 12th in the first group, I might add, what luck! - and ejoyed the late-night meal by the light of a folkfest candle. As the siren voice of Neko Case wafted over me I realized, it is not the music or the people or the food that make the festival, it is the way that all are affected by one another, and that in this place, for a short time, we are all family, sitting down to a delicious meal together, with music and candles illuminating the night.

Please visit Homefire Grill in Edmonton's west end. A true Canadian dining experience is only so because of the truly Canadian attitude of sharing what we have to give. Tell them the curly-headed bison stew girls say hello.
Homefire Grill - 18210 100 Ave
Edmonton, Alberta

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