Four Airdrie restaurants have been selected to take part in this year’s Alberta on the Plate (AOTP) festival, being held from Aug. 6 to 15 around the province.
AOTP runs for 10 days in conjunction with Alberta Local Food Week as a way to share and celebrate farmers, producers, growers and distillers in the province, according to the festival’s website.
“We are feeling very excited about it because this is our first time [being involved with the festival],” said Nyla Ferraro, who owns Ferraro Truly Italian with her husband Emanuele, the head chef.
“We’re excited about it,” said Carolyn Clarke, owner and cook at Flavours of Montreal. “With COVID over the last year and a half, it’s been tough.”
Participating restaurants are asked to establish multi-course and fixed-price menus that will highlight all that Alberta has to offer the foodscape.
Clarke said she was hesitant to participate at first, concerned that her ingredients were not local enough.
“We’re Flavours of Montreal – most of our stuff comes from the east coast,” she said.
But after an in-person conversation with a festival representative, Clarke said she realized she had a decent number of local products that come together to make her dishes.
“Our beef is all certified angus, our mushrooms come from Crossfield, our cheese is Saputo which is local out of Calgary,” she said.
For the festival, Clarke, who grew up in Newfoundland, has decided to serve a six-inch steak and mushroom sub sandwich, with a tart-sized sugar pie and a choice of drink for her $15 feature.
The Ferraros, meanwhile, have put together a lunch menu in the $25 range and a gourmet dinner for their showing.
The lunch includes a Caesar salad and a Montreal-style pizza flatbread. For dinner, patrons will begin with a Caesar salad, then move to a penne Romanoff – pasta covered in a rose and vodka sauce. They will then enjoy the main course, which is a local pork tenderloin covered in jalapeno marsala with local mushrooms, marsala wine from Sicily and accompanied by local vegetables on the side.
“Anything that has to do with food – obviously to us – is important,” Emanuele laughed. “And especially for highlighting some products from Alberta.”
Being Italian, the Ferraros said the majority of their products are imported from Italy – similar to Clarke’s situation with her ingredients from out east.
“We do use a lot of local meat – beef, pork, chicken,” he said, adding that they also buy their cheese locally and get their mushrooms from Crossfield.
All vendors are excited for the opportunity to be highlighted for a bigger audience, especially following months of unpredictability and isolation due to the pandemic.
There was a huge spike in “support local business” initiatives throughout the last 18 months – as many industries struggled to keep their heads above water. Clarke said Alberta on the Plate is the perfect way to follow through with that promise.
“It’s all about keeping it local. If we can support our own communities first and foremost above others, we’ll thrive and do a lot better. So, as long as we keep it in our own little city, why not?” she said.
Menus for all participating restaurants across the province will be available Aug. 1. For ease of navigation, vendors have been divided into groups by zone – with all of Airdrie’s spots being placed in the Central Alberta zone.
For more information about the restaurants participating in this year’s festival and where you can eat, stay and play for the next 10 days, visit albertaontheplate.com.