Happy Rodeo Week! (I'm so full right now)

So I'm starting the first day of my attempting to blog more this November a bit late in the day… but that makes a whole lot of sense due to two things: 1. Halloween and 2. The amazing food crawl I partook in as part of the Edmonton Tourism Rodeo Week kickoff with Yelp Elite. And one of today's prompts was the word cow. So I guess I'll type a bit about these two things seeing as they're both somewhat relevant to the word cow.

1. Halloween. Well, Halloween was a pretty full day for me. Not just because of the holiday itself, of course, in this case it was because I was still catching up upon things that I hadn't done during the craziness of working the election, as well as some other things entirely that had popped up. So in the early afternoon, after getting a bunch of things done around the house I went to a funeral. I've been to quite a few funerals over the years that happened to take place on holidays of one sort or another and on a whole I find that this helps me deal with my emotions as there's something to distract me from the finality of death afterward. Well after the funeral and related things were done, I was able to prepare for my evening by dressing in my Halloween costume and then heading to David's Tea to essentially trick or treat for free tea (why not? and it was quite a delicious tea variety too!). The evening was spent at a Halloween party (a pretty low key one but that was A-OK) where we watched some of Beetlejuice followed by all of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie from the early 1990s. It was neat this year to see the little kids trick or treating at the mall (Southgate) and also at the door of the party house. I like to think that my Little Red Riding Hood costume was appropriate for the occasion, especially given that I didn't shop for ideas until Thursday.

2. So if you're not already aware, Yelp is a great review website. I like to review things there enough that I've gained Elite status over the past couple years. And being Elite has some pretty neat perks. One is the existence of Elite events which happen every so often and range from small social gatherings to fancy dinners and activities with free food and/or beverages and everything in between. One such Elite event was the one I attended today to help Edmonton Tourism kick off Rodeo week (which runs from November 6-15 because of the Canadian Finals Rodeo). This meant that a small group of Yelp Elite (6 of us) got to go to 4 different Edmonton restaurants to try their featured menu selections for Rodeo Week. Unfortunately our intrepid leader was ill but one of the most excellent Gold Elite (person who has been Elite for 5+ years) stepped up to help organize us and lead us to our destinations. I'm currently rather full of really good food (especially beef) but I've also had an absolutely stellar time. I'm sure I'll review some of these places in more detail later today… but here's the rundown of some of the delicious we experienced:

1:00pm The Pint DT: We met at The Pint in Downtown Edmonton and sipped on water while we awaited our first entree. Each of us got a full portion of: Beef Stew with Yukon potatoes, served in a large Yorkshire pudding. Normally this is served with buttered corn on the cob but this didn't garnish our plates (which is fine as we had plenty of other places to visit this afternoon). I rather liked the yorkshire especially as the beef stew sauce made it nice and soggy and really quite delicious! The mashed potatoes were pretty good as well in this dish.

1:45pm Central Social Hall: We then ventured over to Central Social Hall were we got to share Roadhouse Oven Roasted Sirloin, 7 oz sterling AAA with crispy red nugget potatoes, seasonal vegetables and red wine gravy. This dish is meant for sharing and is plated as such anyway. The steak was marvelously tender and the brussel sprouts and carrots were divine. I also really loved the potatoes. The restaurant was nice enough (as were all the restaurants actually) to provide us with beverages of our choice to go with our meal and I had a couple of glasses of pineapple juice with my meal here.

2:45pm Chop DT: We thought that we were only going here for beverages, but although they provided us a sampling of: Rodeo Smirnoff Double Black Caesar and the Western Wildrose Barracks Draft, I didn't really have much of either of those (I don't really care for beer or Caesars though this Caesar was remarkably good). Instead I had some absolutely delicious peppermint tea which was served to me in a neat contraption. The tea helped me digest and then we got some hors d'oeuvres: steak bites, tempura vegetables, tuna tataki, and mini yorkshires with meat in them, as well as a couple entrees of 22 oz steaks (18 oz each without the bone) with pesto tomatoes, mashed potatoes, white cheddar mac 'n' cheese and of course a delicious amount of spices including garlic cloves etc. This destination was the highlight of our food crawl, though the other restaurants were amazing too.

4 pm Chateau Lacombe's Bellamy's Lounge: Here we ended our tour, slightly later than originally expected, but this was after we called the restaurant to let them know we would be late due to the other restaurants' timing. Here we shared some Flat Iron Steak Sandwich au jus with some sides of fries, mashed potatoes and salad. There was also a feature beer here, but I didn't partake in that (I don't like beer). By this point we were all overfed… but I liked the fries dipped in the au jus and the steak was wonderfully juicy.

Overall, my favourite parts were the yorkshire from The Pint; the brussel sprouts and pineapple juice from Central Social House; the steak, steak bites, mac 'n' cheese, peppermint tea and tuna tataki from Chop, and the fries dipped in au jus from Bellamy's Lounge. So each restaurant had some great options (and really each restaurant offers different things from experience to price point so it's hard to compare them all directly). I loved it when the chefs came out and chatted with us and when the service seemed personal. I got a couple of hugs at Bellamy's Lounge too as I encountered a childhood friend there in the form of our bartender/server. The photographer who joined us at our first two stops from Edmonton Tourism was also really quite nice. It's not everyday that I eat THIS much (thank goodness) and because the stops were spread out I didn't feel really overfull until after I got home (I'm definitely a bit overfull still, even now). But it was a great experience and certainly one of my more favourite Yelp Elite experiences.

So that's my first blog post of the month. Who knows what I'll write about next month. The amount of cow I saw on Halloween (lots of hamburger costumes and hamburger related costumes), and the amount of beef we ate (at least 6 dishes that I can think of) this afternoon makes the writing prompt make sense.