On Saturday the weather was more favourable, so we took our bikes to the Heritage Festival which is how we prefer to travel there. It was already hot at 10am so we knew it was going to be busier than the day before, and we weren’t wrong. Line-ups at the food tents were much longer, but most tents are pretty efficient at getting people through in a jiffy.
We started our food-a-palooza at the Turkey pavilion and ordered one of our favourites, dolmas. These are stuffed grape leaves with rice, meat, and mild spices. Several countries make them, or something similar (like a smaller, milder version of a cabbage roll). This whet our appetite for more Mediterranean fare, so we headed to the Egypt tent for some beef shawerma. We were a bit disappointed with the size and lack of filling for 7 tickets though, usually anything over 6 tickets constitutes a meal. The Egypt pavilion had other things to offer though, such as a dress-up photo op:
Since we were still following our rule of “two spicy/savoury dishes followed by a dessert,” we walked around looking for something sweet. Somehow we ended up back at the Scandinavian tent, where we indulged in a second helping of the riskrem in as many days. If there was an award for the pavilion who has the most fun with its cultural theme, I kind of think it should go to these guys:
Plus, they have a boat. It was built in 2002 for Klondike Days, but it now resides at Hawrelak Park permanently, so the Scandinavian pavilion always sets up shop beside it.
Back to the spicy/savoury foods! We decided to try the pakoras at the Bangladesh pavilion next. But so did the 7 people in front of us, and the three people behind us. Apparently this was THE thing to try, and everyone wanted the same thing, even though they had 9 different menu items. They ran out and we had to wait for the next batch to finish cooking before we could find out for ourselves what the fuss was all about.
Luckily it wasn’t a long wait. The volunteers quickly refilled the pakora tray and there was much rejoicing. The pakoras are spiced cabbage and onions, which are then battered and deep fried:
We also added a bit of dipping sauce. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it tasted like tamarind with spices added. This was our hands-down favourite meal of the day. The line-up was completely justified.
Since it was an incredibly hot day, we decided to order something cool and refreshing next. When we were last at the Heritage Festival two years ago, I had ordered something called a rainbow ice flakes cooler from the Cambodia pavilion. Mark remembered enjoying it and figured the slushy dessert would be a good choice. Meanwhile. I spied a sweet treat at the Azerbaijan tent that I wanted to try. Luckily the two pavilions were next to each other. We went our separate ways and agreed to meet in the middle with our goodies. Mark came back with this:
The puff cake was only 3 tickets so he couldn’t resist. It was very similar to the elephant ears offered at the Croatia tent.
As an aside, the Croatia tent only offers three menu items. But really, 9 times out of 10, people are lined up for the elephant ears. In fact we saw a guy in line for the elephant ears, while he was already eating an elephant ear. So as a future Heritage Festival tip, you can forego the Croatia line-up and go to the Cambodia tent for something similar.
The rainbow ice flake cooler has red beans, basil seeds and shaved ice with flavoured syrup and a drizzle of condensed milk on top. It really helped cool us off, and I like the texture of the basil seeds. They have sort of a gelatinous coating:
My dessert from Azerbaijan was also quite lovely. Called urmia paldasi, it’s starch noodles with ice cream, rose flower and willow extracts. I’m partial to anything with rose water in it so this one sold me even though the colour was bland:
Interestingly, on their menu the photo of the dessert showed three different colours of noodles. So this “white on white on white” combination was a bit disappointing, but only aesthetically. Taste-wise it was delicately flavoured and the noodles were sloppy and fun to slurp. So, definitely still a winner.
We decided at that point to quit while we were ahead, since the festival was on for one more day. Plus, we wanted to have the strength to bike all the way back home (uphill)! Review of Day Three to come shortly…