A new Edmonton.

After a couple of years of living away from Edmonton, we honestly didn’t know what we would think of the city when we came back to it.

The Edmonton we returned to was not the Edmonton we left two and a half years ago.

It was full of surprises… pretty much all of them wonderful.  Honestly, I had not expected the city to have changed that much in the time that we were gone.

Have we changed?  Probably a little.  But has the city changed?  Most definitely.  And we find it truly exciting.

It seems as if the change began with some great people deciding to invest in Edmonton and make it awesome.  What has resulted is the steady emergence of inspiring shops, restaurants, and establishments waiting to be experienced by Edmontonians and visitors to this City of Champions.

In the short time we were there, we found great joy in scoping out and experiencing some of the newest and greatest of what Edmonton has to offer.   Here are some of the things we perceive to be among Edmonton’s best, although this list is by no means exhaustive or complete.

We enjoyed an exquisite dinner out at a new Italian restaurant, Corso 32, with Natasha and Sean.  If you go there, our friend, Chef Ben, will blow your mind with his Stracci Pesto Genovese and fried short rib.  The chocolate torta is also to die for.  *Be aware that you will probably need to make your booking (especially if it’s for a weekend) at least 6 weeks in advance.  For real.  But do not let this deter you from making a booking.  The wait, or shall we say the forward planning, will be totally worth it.

It felt SO good to return to our friends and beverages at Transcend Coffee.  Transcend has been through a gigantic period of growth and change while we have been away, so it has been neat to come back and visit their new locations, as well as meet some of the new additions to the Transcend team.

Transcend Chai, how I have missed you!

I had forgotten how much I enjoy the buzz of Edmonton’s vibrant Whyte Ave.  I have fond memories of strolling up and down this street, most often to and from hip hop dance practices at the Transalta Arts Barn.

While we were there, the Whyte Ave Art Walk was on, and we picked up these cool postcards from Jason Blower, a local Edmonton artist.  I found his quirky and geometrical portrayal of Edmonton very heartwarming.

Of all the new bouqitues and estabishments along Whyte Ave that had popped up since left, the one I was most excited about probably was a frozen yoghurt bar called Tutti Fruiti.  After a trip to California a few years ago, I really got into frozen yoghurt. It’s awesome to see the frozen yoghurt movement catching on in Edmonton.

A new and happening district in Edmonton is 104 Street. On Saturdays, they close off the street to traffic and run the 104 Street Farmers Market.  We had an awesome time strolling the length of the market in the sunshine with our good friends Matt and Amy, who visit the market every Saturday.

The number of stalls was quite impressive, as was the balance between fresh produce and local arts and crafts.  It was exciting to see so many local artists and designers present at this market.

Along 104 St, one will also find Dauphine, a super cute bakery formerly Queen of Tarts.  As you descend the staircase leading to Dauphine, you will immediately notice the presence of an attractive chandellier and a bare decidious tree branch, and sophisticated decor.  Their white chocolate raspberry tart is also pretty unforgettable.

Evoolution was another gem of a find along 104 St.  This unique establishment offers the opportunity to taste an extensive variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and then fill your own bottle(s) with your favorite varieties.  We thought this was really awesome, and do plan on stocking our pantry here when we come back.

Edmonton’s River Valley is a great place to take a stroll, especially with a good friend.

It is extra beautiful when the soft light of the early morning peaks through the trees.

Edmonton is one of the sunniest northern cities in Canada.  For those who are into statistics, it comes fifth for the most sunlight hours, behind Calgary, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Regina.  I have come to LOVE the sun and perhaps could never live in a place where its appearance was rare.

Perhaps there is just something about the light of the Prairies that is quite enchanting.  Can you really beat a sunset on the massive prairie sky?

When the summer sun heats things up, you can always take a dip in the fountains at the Alberta Legislature Grounds.  This urban oasis tends to be the place where Edmontonians flock to cool off on the hottest of days, and pretend they’re actually somewhere else.

The grounds surrounding the Legislature Building, adorned with an abundance of decidious trees and plantlife, are really quite lovely, and can serve as the perfect place for an afternoon siesta, a game of frisbee, or a vintage picnic party.  (Pics of Morgan’s party to come in a future post.)

Our visit to Edmonton rekindled our love and appreciation for the city that is our home, making us increasingly excited to return to Edmonton again one day.


6 thoughts on “A new Edmonton.

  1. Hi Mel

    We just returned as well and feel the same way. It is really growing and changing for the better.

    Alastair and I are researching ways to get back more often and 1 of the ways is to maybe import our favorite foods and goodie and start a internet business selling to expats.

    What would you say would be things you would like to get over here?


    • Hi Julia,
      Cool that you guys were just home as well! Neat idea with the business. To be honest, I didn’t bring back much as far as products you can only get in Canada. My diet/eating habits have changed a fair bit since we last lived at home, and I find that many of the products I used to love and miss are full of too many chemicals and ingredients I don’t recognize to want to eat them anymore. A year ago, i would have had a big list for you, but I have since come to enjoy eating more naturally, and most products I can just get here. Although dill pickles are a real treat every once in a while! 🙂

  2. Can’t wait to visit!! The markets – do they run in winter? I wonder if we should arrange to have our final Sat there before flying out Sunday – stock up on local wares and gourmet products. We were looking at staying at a motel on Whyte Ave as that was recommended by someone else too – looks like a good central location!

    • Do it!! 🙂 The markets do run in the winter- the 104 Ave market moves indoors, inside City Hall, I believe. There is also Strathcona Farmers Market, which runs indoors year-round, and is right on Whyte Ave! Staying on or near Whyte Ave would definitely be the best location. Easy transport routes to downtown, or wherever you need to go! I’m glad you will get to visit!! Just a little sad we won’t be there to host you or show you around. You will have to come back next year once we have returned… and we’ll show you a great time!

      • I love your reply to Julia. Is it NZ that has made you more conscious of your food? Because going to North America we have been kinda shocked by how no one seems to care – the reverse of what you guys have experienced! You know what? We might just hold off our stay in Edmonton until next vacation (March?) when we can spend a good week there, and yes, hang out with you two! When do you finish up in NZ and head back for good?

  3. Christina, I think we became more conscious about looking at labels and such once we moved over here. We also realized how easy it is to eat local here, and have become more intentional about doing so. For example, I LOVE that the yoghurt in my fridge was made right here in Auckland! It is MUCH harder to find products made right in your very own city in Canada. We had some friends bring over a few things for us in January, and were shocked to see the very looooong list of unrecognizable ingredients on the bag of our favorite potato chips from back home. They suddenly became less appearling, and needless to say, we didn’t bring any back with us this time. As for when we will be returning, it is still uncertain at this time. I will keep you posted though. 🙂

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