Door Games

Our Okanagan Wedding: Door Games & Tea Ceremony

September 18, 2018

It has been quiet around the blog lately, but for a very good reason. Today's post is a very personal one - the first of two posts about our dreamy (read: very smoky) wedding day in the Okanagan. Gordon and I met on our very first day of nursing school back in 2012, and after 5.5 years of dating we chose to tie the knot in Kelowna, a city we find ourselves returning to year after year. A majority of each of our family members live outside of Edmonton, so most of our guests would have to travel to celebrate with us. Seeing as we love the scenery, weather, and cuisine in Kelowna, it seemed like the right place to bring everyone together to celebrate the start of the next chapter in our lives.

The day started bright and early for myself and my bridesmaids, with hair and makeup kicking off at 5:00 AM. We were all quite tired that morning but in good spirits given the excitement of the big day. I had planned for everyone to be ready for 10:00 and I thought that 5 hours to get ready was excessive. Boy, was I wrong! Luckily with the expertise of Kris and her team at Inspirado Designs, all the girls looked absolutely stunning and I was only slightly stressed being behind schedule when I finished getting dressed at 10:45.

Being born and raised in a Chinese family I wanted to pay homage to my heritage and incorporate wedding traditions that made sense for Gordon and me. We chose to host a Chinese Tea Ceremony on the morning of the wedding to honour our families, but not before the Gordon and his groomsmen made it through some challenging door games.

In Chinese tradition the bride is hidden away from the groom on the morning of the wedding and protected by the bridesmaids. Together with his entourage, the groom must arrive where the bride is staying and bribe, pay, or negotiate his way to get through the bridesmaids and claim his bride. In conjunction with paying off the bridesmaids, the groom and groomsmen are challenged with games that have the goal of embarrassing them. It's a fun and lighthearted tradition that we couldn't leave out of our wedding day.

Gordon and his groomsmen attempted to pay their way through with red pockets, but according to my bridesmaids they were so stingy and claimed they had no more money. But in their defence, they did pick out some very thoughtful gifts for each of the bridesmaids, so the girls let it slide.

I didn't have a chance to see a majority of the door games as I was busy getting my final touch ups, but from the sounds and photos my bridesmaids did a fantastic job challenging the boys.

The first task faced by the boys was a game testing their boundaries and personal space - passing a sheet of roasted seaweed from one another using only their lips.

A total of five sheets - one for each of them - were passed down, and they passed pretty quickly! But I was pretty grossed out when I learned that Gordon ate every single sheet of seaweed because he "didn't want them to go to waste."

It is said that a marriage can go through four flavours: sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. So next up was a game to test their stomachs and taste buds that was all based on whether Gordon could answer questions about my family correctly.

Unfortunately he got them all wrong as they were meant to be quite difficult, so the boys all took shots of each flavour made with honey, lemon, bitter melon, and wasabi.

Anyone who knows Gordon knows that he lives and breathes hockey. I often joke that he loves hockey more than me as he spends many nights a week after work inside an arena coaching hockey while I'm at home spending time on my own. So, my bridesmaids put him and his groomsmen's slapshot skills to the test!

The final task the boys faced was to sing me a sweet serenade. At this point I was just about ready and listening from the window at the front of the house. The first attempt looked pretty promising, as shown in their draft above, but it wasn't good enough to win their way into the house.

The second attempt, however, was a winner. Sang to the tune of T-Pain's 'Buy You a Drank', I was in hysterics as Gordon rapped and his groomsmen snapped their fingers to the beat. I can't recall all the words, but I definitely remember Gordon referring to himself as "G-Pain." The serenade was impressive, and Gordon was granted entrance into the house to find me.

As the door games came to an end most of our guests had arrived for the tea ceremony. In Chinese tradition the tea ceremony is a way to present the bride to the groom's family, but the intention of our ceremony was for us to show our respect to our elders on both sides of the family.

In a traditional tea ceremony the bride wears a two piece dress known as a 'kwa.' The dress is red in colour and embroidered with phoenixes and dragons, which symbolize harmony in a marriage according to traditional feng shui. My dress was a beautiful family heirloom, stunning with its hand embroidered gold and silver threads. It was originally worn by my grandmother and passed through my father's sisters, then worn by my mother. It was so special for me to be able to wear it on my wedding day.

During the ceremony, the bride and groom kneel or bend down to present cups of tea to their grandparents, followed by their parents, then to the remaining family members in order of seniority. The elders sip the tea, share blessings and provide gifts of red pockets filled with money or jewelry to the married couple.

It was quite an emotional moment for me to serve tea to my 91 year old grandmother, as she travelled all the way from Hong Kong to take part in our wedding. And don`t get me started about my parents! But it's special moments like these that I will cherish from our wedding day. It meant a lot to Gordon and me to be able to incorporate such important Chinese traditions into our big day, and I wouldn't change a thing.

Photographs in this post: Joelsview PhotographyHair & Makeup: Inspirado Designs
Groom & Groomsmen Suits: RW & Co. | Groomsmen Ties: Le ChateauBridesmaids Dresses: David's Bridal


Your #YEG Summer Checklist: Top 5 Spots for Locally-Made Ice Cream in Edmonton

July 15, 2018

Summers in Edmonton have their fair share of heat waves, and the best way to cool down is with a cold treat. There are many different places to get your ice cream fix but you can't beat the unique handcrafted flavours made by some of the city's best. Here's my list of 5 places you must visit for locally made ice cream this summer.

Revolution Ice Cream Company

Revolution Ice Cream Co. came about when owners Jess & John wanted to bring the ice cream flavours they fell in love with abroad back home to Edmonton. Their ice cream is handmade in small batches with local ingredients then packed into pints and cups for purchase at various farmers markets around the city. The ice creams are creamy without being overly rich, and some of their flavours can also cater to dairy free and vegan diets. My favourite flavours are the Lemon Lavender and Vanilla + Tonka Bean, but their ice cream sandwiches (featuring Milk & Cookies Bakeshop cookies) are one of my bigger weaknesses.

Where to find them: 124 Street Grand Market on Thursdays & Sundays, City Market Downtown on Saturdays (Pints also available through SPUD)

Fan Fan Patisserie

While the name doesn't necessarily allude to it, Fan Fan Patisserie churns out delicious sorbet and gelato in a wide variety of flavours. The sorbets are vibrant in colour and the flavours really shine in each spoonful. The gelato, on the other hand, is beautifully smooth and creamy. I personally love the mango passionfruit sorbet and the chocolate malt gelato, but I don't think you can go wrong with taking your pick at anything. Each order is accompanied with a macaron cookie shell, so go ahead and use it to scoop up your cold treat.

Where to find them: 10330 80 Avenue


Old Strathcona's newest ice cream shop is causing quite the buzz on social media with their perfectly swirled soft serve and charcoal waffle cones. The Filipino-inspired ice cream at Yelo'd is unique and taste true to their flavours. Their secret? Using real, fresh ingredients in their soft serve ice cream base. There's nothing artificial here. Mangga (mango) uses Ataulfo mango purée, Ube (purple yam) is flavoured and coloured with purple sweet potato, and Buko (young coconut) uses activated charcoal and coconut pieces. Despite these additions the ice cream remains incredibly smooth and creamy, just the way it should be. Better yet? They hand-make their waffle cookie cones in house, stuffing marshmallow in the bottom to prevent drips. Genius, if you ask me!

Where to find them: 10150A 82 Avenue NW (Pints also available for purchase)

Black Mountain Microcreamery

New to the ice cream scene this year is Black Mountain Microcreamery, a hidden gem in St. Albert. Their cooler offers a handful of flavours, all of which are delicious - I had a hard time choosing just one! Bits of fruit and spices are evident in every bite and the ice cream has a great creamy texture. To give back to the community, a portion of revenues is donated to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Make the trek out to the St. Albert Market to try it for yourself - but don't go too late in the day as some flavours sell out each weekend!

Where to find them: St. Albert Farmers Market on Saturdays

Pinocchio Ice Cream Company

A veteran in the ice cream industry, Pinocchio Ice Cream is well-known in the city for their fantastic creations. Their classic flavours are found on menus throughout the city and their pints are stocked at a host of local grocery retailers. However, their recent collaboration in making Hawaiian-inspired flavours exclusively for Ono Poke Co. has me really excited. Each flavour I have sampled tasted delicious, but the black sesame and yuzu options are my two favourites on the menu. Enjoy the scoops on their own or as a fun creation in a cup or a cone.

Where to find them: Ono Poke Co. for exclusive flavours, classic flavours available at retail partners listed here

Honourable Mention:

Gelaterie La Carraia

Early this year Edmonton's downtown core became a home to La Carraia, a gelato shop which originated in Florence, Italy, in 1990. La Carraia prides themselves in making their gelato everyday from exclusively Italian ingredients (with exception to the fresh fruit toppings and the milk), and they have a wide assortment of flavours that rotate seasonally. The fruit-forward flavours are delightful - not too sweet, and you don't feel heavy even after having a few scoops, which is likely due to the fact that the gelato is made fresh in the shop with Canadian skim milk. While La Carraia isn't exclusive to Edmonton, they make their product in house and deserve honourable mention because each visit will take you on a tasty trip to Italy.

Where to find them: 10067 109 Street NW


Filipino Food Around the Corner: Kanto 98 Street

June 29, 2018

When it comes to Filipino food there are only about a handful of choices available in our city. I will admit I'm not the most familiar with Filipino dishes, but I'm always up for trying something new.

Kanto 98 St. Eatery - 10636 98 St. NW - Edmonton AB

Lucky for us there's a new spot in Chinatown where Chef Edgar Gutierrez (one of the minds that brought us Tres Carnales and Rostizado) is serving up his take on modern Filipino street food. In Tagalog Kanto means "corner" (where two streets meet), or a busy area in Manila where vendors serve Filipino street food. So if you ask me, the name is perfect for this new eatery. Joining great spots like Tau Bay Restaurant, Van Loc Submarines and Ruby's Bakery, Kanto has found its home on 98 Street.

As you walk into Kanto you really feel the modern, hip vibe of the space. A vintage photo of Edgar's mother back in the Philippines greets you at the door, and Filipino artwork from the 60's mixed with comic book characters from Edgar's childhood adorns the walls. Mix in some hip hop beats and it feels like you're dining at the coolest spot in town.

Garlic Fried Rice

Kanto offers fast-casual service in which you place your order at the counter and your dishes are brought out to you as they're ready. The menu splits its offerings into BBQ, baos, bowls, and a handful of sides. The menu seems small, but the flavours pack a punch. The restaurant has been open for just over 1.5 months and I've eaten my way through the menu over three separate visits. Sharing of plates is highly encouraged, so to get a better taste of the menu bring a few friends for lunch or dinner.

The Chinese term 'bao' is a bit ambiguous as it can refer to a few different food items, but the bao at Kanto are similar to the Taiwanese 'gua bao' in which meat and condiments are sandwiched between a flat steamed bun, resembling a taco of sorts. Bao have become increasingly popular over the last few years and I love that Chef Edgar is putting a Filipino twist on them. Each order comes with three portions, each on a light and soft steamed bun.

The Bao Bae ($15.50) features Kanto's crispy fried chicken garnished with pickled cucumber, spicy red pepper mayo, fried garlic and green onions. The flavours come together nicely, and since the mayo is made with bird's eye chilis it gives the bao a real hefty kick. It's my favourite of all the baos on the menu as I love the contrasting textures.

The Bao Boy ($15) on the other hand features a savoury and tangy pork belly braised in soy and vinegar, finished with fried garlic, pickled cucumber and green onion. The pork belly is so flavourful and literally melts in your mouth as you bite into it.

The Karabao ($15) is similar in texture to the Bao Boy with its fork tender braised beef, but the flavour is markedly different as it mimics the flavours of a classic beef kaldereta stew. Tomato puree, red pepper mayo, fried shallots, green onion and keso (cheese!) round off the flavours to this tasty bao. If you love this bao filling you can order it as a bowl of kaldereta served over rice.

When I see fried chicken on a menu, it's almost impossible for me not to order it. Kanto's take on fried chicken is supposed to be a mix of wings and thighs (the wings being a full wing with the tips) (3pc $5.60/6pc $11.25) available in original or spicy. Unlike a lot of fried chicken out there, Kanto's version is just lightly coated and fried very crispy, so you're not biting through a thick crunchy layer of batter before hitting the meat. The resultant fried chicken isn't overly oily and stays crispy for longer when coated with the sauce. While the original flavour is well seasoned, I love the spicy version - it's well-balanced between savoury, tangy, sweet, and not overly spicy. Order six with half original and half spicy to decide which flavour you like!

When it comes to BBQ meats I'm a bit of a sucker for pork belly. The Liempo ($13.50) is marinated, grilled, and sliced into generous chunks. The pork belly can be quite fatty, but in this case fat is flavour. Each piece is rich and tender and you get a bit of smoky flavour from the grilling process. The pork belly is also served with a small bottle of vinegar that has been steeped with garlic, shallots, and chlli, which you can use to flavour the pork belly and cut through the richness of the fat.

Talangka Fried Rice

On my first visit to Kanto our server recommended that we add a side of rice to our Liempo, so we went with the Garlic Fried Rice ($7). I'm not usually one to eat a lot of rice, but I would fight you for this dish at Kanto. This isn't your ordinary fried rice - Chef Edgar wanted to give his fried rice the same crunchy texture you find in rice at the bottom of the rice cooker pot. The resultant dish is garlicky, full of umami, and has great texture with its chewy crispy bits. To add a bit of funk a small pipette of fish sauce can be added - I recommend squeezing the contents all over the rice.

In the last few weeks Talangka Fried Rice has made it's way onto the menu, which is an amped up version of the garlic fried rice. In Filipino culture Talangka refers to a very small river crab. Being so small they do not have any substantial meat to them, but they are instead savoured for their deep yellow tomalley (fat + roe). The addition of the talangka gives the rice a nice colour and some added depth of flavour, but it's quite subtle so I didn't find a big difference between the two fried rice offerings at Kanto.

Another recent addition to the menu is the Spaghetti & Chicken ($16), which is Kanto's take on Filipino style spaghetti made famous by the fast food chain Jollibee. I grew up eating my parent's versions of spaghetti sauce with soy sauce added into the mix, but the Filipino take is quite different. The tomato sauce base is sweet due to the addition of banana ketchup, which came about in World War II due to a shortage of tomato ketchup and a high production of bananas. The banana ketchup is literally a combination of bananas, sugar, vinegar, spices and red dye, so it isn't your typical ketchup, but it's uniquely Filipino. You will either love or hate this style of spaghetti, but I like it since it has such a fun twist to it. With hot dog slices, cheese, and fried chicken it feels more like a dish for kids, but I can see how nostalgic this dish can be for an adult.

Given the quality of the dishes here at Kanto and the rise in chefs supporting the Filipino Food Movement I wouldn't be surprised to see more establishments open up in the city in the next year. Filipino food is definitely one to watch and Chef Edgar and his team are bringing killer dishes out of the kitchen. At peak times it's going to be harder to find a seat in the restaurant, but Kanto is fully equipped to do takeout orders and has partnered with some food delivery companies to get dishes right to your door. Price points are fairly standard for dining out, but I highly recommend bringing a group of friends to try out a bigger portion of the menu.

Kanto is working towards a liquor license, some new dishes, and cold desserts (namely, Halo Halo) for the summer, so there's lots to look forward to. I'll be coming back on the regular - I just Kanto get enough!

Kanto 98 Street Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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