For those who don’t know, YEG originally, and is still, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) code for the Edmonton International Airport (EIA). Back in the day when I was in Travel Agent School, I had to memorize all the airport codes in the world, which served me well in my 10 years with Time Air, Canadian Regional and Canadian Airlines. After I left, I would only show-off my IATA airport code skills when travelling or writing in short hand, but now it has found a whole new use in Twitter. You are probably very familiar with #YEG after all. The fine people at EIA invited a bunch of us food bloggers out for a Taste of EIA, give us a sample of what’s available, and give us some interesting facts about the EIA to share with our readers. I pause here to make special mention of the pen we all got at the bottom of our swag bags. It is a pen of q-u-a-l-i-t-y… it has a real weight behind it, and came in a fancy velvet-like pouch. No, you may not borrow my pen. Anyways, now that I’ve identified that I can be easily bought with a promo pen (quality promo pens, mind you), let’s get on with food experience! Come this way….
First stop – Chili’s: We were greeted with a table full of Very Large Alcoholic Drinks (they knew I was coming). I selected the Coronita Beer Caesar, which is a new offering at Chili’s. You’ve seen the margarita’s with inverted beers, yes? Well, this is the same thing, but in Caesar form. It was delicious. I also tried a wee bit of a Platinum Presidente Margarita – a big sized traditional margarita that is hand-shaken and served over ice. For food, we were provided plates of delicious deep-fried goodness – onion rings, southwestern eggrolls, chicken wings, dry ribs, tostada chips, and the show stopper…. White Spinach Queso – which is white queso (cheese) and chopped spinach topped with shredded Monterey Jack, house-made pico de gallo (salsa), fresh guacamole, queso fresca (more cheese) and chopped cilantro, and wait for it….. served warm. This oooey gooey splodge was crazy delicious. Lactose intolerance be damned. I ate it anyway. Second stop – Heineken: If you want to try something that is unique to Canada, try the Heineken lounge. It is the only one in Canada! And they serve more than beer. The menu offered some delicious food options, and around the table we had a generous serving of good old Mac ‘n Cheese (not the Mack Male and Graham Hicks kind either, but they would have been welcome), beside this was a decidedly smaller serving of cheese on a cheese board… but who wants to load up on cheese before a flight anyway? Also spotted was a chicken satay, waffle fries, a salad, a burger and my dish, the chicken curry served with pillowy soft naan, basmati rice and a mango/apple chutney. It was good, filling food.
Last stop – Caffe Sorrentino’s: Now Caffe Sorrentino’s is interesting. As you pass by it, you might think they just serve coffee, gelato and a few beers. You would be wrong. They serve DELICIOUS coffee and gelato, yes, but they also serve grilled pannini, soup, salad, pasta, breakfast and desserts. By this time though, all I wanted was a decaf Americano, which was one of the best decaf/caffeinated Americano’s I ever had. So much so, I have decided to switch to Sorrentino’s downtown at Edmonton Centre East instead of Starbucks for my coffee fix. Arrivederci Starbucks (but I’ll still see you at Omega). My blood orange sorbetto was a perfect sweet end to the evening. Was this it? No! Despite being full to bursting, who could say no when we were presented with an assortment of delicious desserts… I scored a dark chocolate layer cake which had to come home with me because at the table I poo-poo’d the idea of eating more that evening (but naturally the moment I got home and tea was poured, split the cake with Michael and finished it off in less than 30 seconds). I am not a fan of dense chocolate cakes, and although this LOOKED dense, it was quite light and not too sweet. It was perfect. I have become a new fan of Caffe Sorrentino’s. I look forward to my next visit. Although I can’t speak for all Edmontonians, I suspect most of us race to the airport, race through security, race to the gate, and then sit and wait and fiddle with our phones for 45 minutes or more until our flight is ready to board. Next time, I will try to arrive a few minutes earlier and relax over a coffee and enjoy a nice meal before boarding. EIA has made the departure lounge a thing of beauty. Although they still have an abundance of the ubiquitous airport seating, they have also brought in comfortable seating where you can sit by yourself, NOT next to someone who carries all their luggage plus a cello plus a cat in a carrier and tries to read the free National Post while talking on their phone and eating a bagel. There is also cafe-style seating for those who want a table without having to buy a meal. Best of all, is the indoor vertical garden. It’s a 1,400 square foot Living Wall with 8,000 different plants which helps purify the airport’s air. You will find this right next to the Heineken Lounge, the Belgian Beer Cafe and Sorrentino’s. My thanks to EIA’s delightful Jacquie and Gillian for the invitation, as well as to fellow bloggers, Edible Woman, Marlow Moo and The Tiffin Box for the great company.