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High end ingredients - Edmonton

Just wondering if anyone knows of any special places in edmonton that sell luxury items such as:

- Foie Gras
- Black Cod
- Truffles
- Quality spices ie. high end saffron
- Good Cavier
- Fresh game meats like venison etc.

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  1. truffles - in jars at the Italian Centre. Not sure if that is what you are looking for. (is there another way to buy them, as in fresh...don't really like them, so don't pay attention)

    game: do you mean wild? and by venison do you mean specifically deer, or do you include elk in that (some definitions include deer, elk, moose, etc). Farmed elk is available at Strathcona Farmers Market. Not sure if you can buy wild, hunted game anywhere, as it would have to pass inspection before sale. I did see caribou recently, which would have probably been from a cull, but I don't think it was in Edmonton.
    I also bought fresh rabbit at market once (elk guy had some) but only once. Wish I could find it again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dan G

      I think I saw vension at Smokin' Iron Farms and maybe elk.

    2. Besides seeing what is available down at the SFM for meat, I would suggest stopping in at either Smokin' Iron Farms or Buffalo Valley Variety Meats. While I haven't been to SFM personally, they both other quite the selection of 'game'.


      1. Buffalo Valley Meats for elk, bison, musk ox, caribou, char etc. They get their northern meat right from the plants in Nunavut. They are at Whitemud Crossing at the southwest corner of the Calgary Trail South and Whitemud Freeway.

        The old Urban Fare used to carry fresh truffles on occassion. Maybe Urban Fresh downtown has them or can get them. Jarred truffles have no taste.

        Saffron: tough one. They have some decent saffron (Spanish and Iranian) at the Italian Centre Shops, but the REALLY good stuff you have order in from Penzey's (IMHO). I have Afghan saffron I bought from them in NYC last summer. Amazing stuff!

        High end fish can be found at Fin's in Sherwood Park ... maybe Billingsgate although I never go there.

        Hope that helps.

        17 Replies
        1. re: foodiesnorth

          I saw some saffron at T&T and wondered if it was any good. Anyone try ones from there?

          1. re: anonymoose

            I found that there is usually a good correlation between price and quality when it comes to saffron, I use the Spanish saffron they sell at the Italian centre ( the small rectangular plastic container) in paella and risotto milanese and it has good flavour and aroma. In a pinch i have bought the McCormick brand ( available in most supermarkets) and found it to be equally good if not better. I buy the threads, not the powdered kind.
            While inexpensive saffron is sometimes tempting, why risk wasting the other ingredients and the meal?

            1. re: felix the hound

              How does the stuff at Italian centre compare price-wise - I just ran out of saffron (started using it more often) and the McCormicks is close to $12 at my local saveon.

              1. re: Dan G

                If I remember correctly the Spanish saffron at the Italian Centre is about $6.-7 for the little box, and I think it is about the same amount as in the Mc Cormicks. Yes the Mc Cormicks is $11-12 , that's why I buy it only when I can not get to the Italian Centre in time .

                1. re: felix the hound

                  i wasin the Italian Centre on Saturday and asked about saffron, because I had looked when there a couple weeks ago and didn't see it. They told me they don't carry it - this was at the south side one, so maybe it is something they only have iin the original store.

                  I did buy saffron at Bosch Kitchen Centre though - $2.99 for a huge (2" high, 1" diameter) bottle of it. It seems more like flowers than threads. Anyone tried this? Smells ok, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope. I may try to make paella tomorrow, depending on how late I get out of work...see how it is.

                  Italian Centre did have carnaroli rice, which I thougth I might try in my paella instead of the usual arborio

                  1. re: Dan G

                    Italian Centre shop has no saffron???? Maybe I am losing my mind, but I would swar there is always Iranian and often Spanish up front by the tills at both locations.

                    The centre shop carries bomba rice and, I think, calasparra rice which is best for paella (IMHO). I stopped using carnaroli rice for my risotto as we prefer the final texture that good old arborio gives. I wonder what it would be like in paella...but being a slave to culturally specifac food I NEED to use a spanish rice, spanish saffron and a proper spanish chorizo for a spanish dish like paella (made in a proper paellera!). Pathetic I know, but it is hard to argue with hundreds of years of tradition. Gotta top it off with a good rioja or Alhambra beer!

                    1. re: foodiesnorth

                      I wonder if the Little Italy IC doesn't have more selection...I haven't been there in a couple of years, becuase the southside one is far more convenient for me. But the south one doesn't have bomba or calasparra rice. And no, I looked everywhere and asked 2 different people, and no saffron. I thought it was very strange...

                      1. re: Dan G

                        Okay...now I KNOW something is wrong, because I just saw bomba rice at ICS southside two weekend ago and even asked the SO if we needed any (we didn't). I had the white cloth bag in my hands!

                        1. re: foodiesnorth

                          Just called ICS southside. They confirmed they have saffron (threads) and bomba both currently in stock (and they confirmed they alway carry both). Apparently not all staff know this!

                          1. re: foodiesnorth

                            Ok, where was the bomba? I looked all down the rice aisle and don't remember seeing it.

                            And I guess the IC must be suffering the same problem as the rest of Edmonton in terms of customer service because I had 2 people tell me no saffron just 6 days ago.

                            1. re: Dan G

                              bottom shelf in the rice aisle. It is in white cloth bags. Saffron I would bet is right at the tills in clear plastic flat conatiners with yellow backing (which might actually the Iranian) , but that is not something I bought there for a while. I tell you though, after trying the Afghan saffron, it would be hard for me to back except for traditonal Spanish dishes. I picked mine up in NYC last summer at Penzey's but you can order it online.

                              1. re: foodiesnorth

                                OK, got the saffron - yes, at one of the tills, and not the one I have used last few visits. Why no one could tell me it was there I have no idea.

                                Bomba rice...after scouring the rice aisle, wife and I each asked 3 staff (front, back and middle of store) and none of the 6 had ever heard of it.

                                1. re: Dan G

                                  There was a time when Mr Spinelli walked around in his white apron and the men and women behind the counter actually knew the names of the products and knew how to cut and wrap meat and cheese. They would make you a fresh italian sandwich the same way they made it at home (and if you brought a tomato over they would slice it and put in your sandwich, which sometimes was made with too much meat and cheese!). They knew the food because they grew up with it. Those days are long gone...but the Italian Centre ( North) is still one of my favourite places to shop for food. But you have to know what you want as you can no longer rely on the staff.

                                  1. re: felix the hound

                                    At least you don't have to walk six miles uphill both ways through the snow in July to get that sandwich anymore.

                                    1. re: itwillmakeaturd

                                      That's exactly what my 15 year old son often tells me when I reminisce.

                                      The Italian Centre used to be an oasis in the Edmonton desert for people who grew up with the european attitude towards food, before it became a fad and ersatz intimacy became the norm.

                                    2. re: felix the hound

                                      I remember those times, felix. The staff also viewed each other as family. I think that started to change when it was discovered one of the cashiers was stealing cash (before they went electronic). Now, they have a problem with new staff deciding if they will show up for work.

                                      We now shop at the SS location too, and it just isn't as well run as the old location used to be. But I noticed a shift in service a few years before the SS location opened. That said, some of the SS staff have a real attitude. I was waiting to be served on a fairly slow day at the SS deli, and the guy at the counter was slapping meats on paper and folding it. A Polish couple came in, and he wrapped their meat up nicely. Handing it back, he said to them (in Polish) something to the effect of he treated the "beasts" (farm animals), meaning Canadian born customers, in the manner animals deserve to be treated, and of course, the pigs were too stupid to even notice. They all had a good laugh about it, while the woman still waiting to be served (me) didn't acknowledge I understood every singel word. But the attitude was one of smug superiority. Even without the words, you can notice it in the way some of the staff serve customers. There isn't a great oversight of the deli in either location.

                                    3. re: Dan G

                                      oh my! Well I am out of town at the moment, but when I get back I intend to go there this weekend and find it for them! Now it is matter of principal! Maybe after my last post, there was a run on the stuff!

            2. I have also inquired about Fois Gras at Buffalo Valley and know that they do carry it on occasion and if you need it for a specific time then it can be ordered in. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite places for meat!

              1. There was saffron at Sunterra Market the last time I stopped in.

                1. For spices, I would recommend visiting one of the spice/indian variety stores on 34 Ave, between 91 St and 99 St. I can't recall the one I like best, but options include: Millwoods Spice Center 3930-91 St, Spice Bazaar 9236-34 Ave, Spice Center 9217-34 Ave.

                  Superstore also has a surprising array of spices in their baking and ethnic aisles, and Save On has a number in the bulk section which can be convenient. I do not think I have ever seen anything unusual however (grains of paradise, lavender, etc)

                  Bosch Kitchen Center (9766 51 Avenue) does carry some higher end things, such as juniper berry which you may want to use in sauce for all the game meat you are seeking. They only sell pre-weighed amounts, however, so you can get a bit more than you might want sometimes.

                  Saffron I think I have seen alongside high end balsamic, in a locked case in Sobeys Urban Fresh downtown (104 St, Jasper Ave). Bosch may also sell it. I have no clue as to the quality of these ingredients.

                  Fin's in Sherwood Park (298 Cree Rd) may be able to get in black cod. I have seen some other "luxury" fish there, and they do order in. Most of the (high end) restaurants in town use them as their fish supplier and I find them much better than the more visible Billingsgate fish market.

                  For meats, I have seen the "Wild Game Consultant" truck around town. Again, they supply many of the better restaurants in town. I have never ordered, but they have quite a list on their website. http://www.wildgame.ca/ I see they even sell ostrich, which I recently tried and loved. I think they used to supply the downtown Sobeys with frozen game meats, but they have since cut that section back in their store.

                  Personally, I have started buying a lot of the fancier ingredients when I visit other cities. Unusual spices from a spice trader in Vancouver's Granville Market, chilis and mexican ingredients from Las Vegas. Even Calgary has some better selection. I bought ground sumac recently at the Currie Barracks Farmer's Market! Online sources are also better than you might expect. This is an option if you find yourself really hard up.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: kazzy

                    Wild Game Consultants, I believe, is commerical quantities only (I once tried to order caribou and I recall the minimum was something in the 100 lb range!).

                    I always forget about Bosch...they have a great selection of spices. You can usually get ostrich at Urban Fresh and I think they get it at Buffalo Valley Meats too...I know they have snake. We bought both camel and kangaroo at Urban Fresh. Expensive, but a great change form the ordinary.

                    Buy local if you can...it helps ensure the local supply and supports our local businesses. I try to buy from far away only those things not readily available in the nieghbourhood.

                    1. re: foodiesnorth

                      At Sobeys Urban Fresh on Jasper Avenue on the way home from work last night I lingered to examine their spices again. They have (jarred) truffles and balsamic behind a locked case, the saffron is out in the open and seems to be the same variety the Italian Center carries. They do, however, carry some odd spices and may be worth a try. I just rarely need spices when stopping in for my fresh ingredients and hadn't checked closely enough!

                      As I first mentioned they do not seem to carry the same frozen exotic meats they used to. The space has been taken over by seafood mostly. I suspect the turnover wasn't quite high enough to rationalizing stocking it all the time, which is a shame.

                      1. re: foodiesnorth

                        are you sure it was camel at Urban Fresh? I know that a local alpaca farmer told me he was trying to get his product in there - was it that?

                        And does UF really have that good of a selection still? I went once, after they had been open for about 3 or so months, and was extremely disappointed. No rabbit or caribou, both of which I had read they had. They did have bison, but at a way higher price than i can get it at the market, and it isn't hard to find bison in Edmonton anyway. And no elk, which also should be easy for them to get here. The only duck they had was a very dry proscuitto-like smoked duck breast.

                        1. re: Dan G

                          Yes it was definately camel (from Australia I think). They brought it in at my request from their Vancouver stores. Also got kangaroo from them. I suspect you may have to pre order it. Bloody expensive though.

                          As for other meats, all the more reason to support the little butcher who can....Buffalo Valley Variety meats...The owner is Blaine a young guy from Alberta, locally trained. He took a chance on crazy meats for us years ago and always has elk, bison, caribou and musk ox. Sobeys can afford to lose out to the local guy so I encourage all of you chowhounders to go his shop...Whitemud Crossing. He seems to be expanding his product line. He mentioned he can get camel and snake for example. Sobeys seems to be going the other way. Also, check out the Slow Food Edmonton site for other local suppliers (www.slowfoodedmonton.ca).

                          1. re: foodiesnorth

                            Blaine makes a great reasonably priced raw dog food too!

                            You can also get rabbit & duck at ocean oddessy (frozen)

                            i have often been happy with what the meat counter at Andy's IGA can get too, as well as at Ben's

                    2. Thanks for all the great replies everyone! I'll be sure to check out some these places.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: jonproject

                        I have not seen fresh foie gras but in the can I have purchased at the italian market and at Paddy's cheese.

                        for high end fish, check out Ocean Oddessy in the west end. It is all flash frozen, quality is great, all wild, line caught lots of option. I have specifically bought black cod at both here and at billingsgate

                        PS can we all come to whatever you are planning???? ;)

                        1. re: cleopatra999

                          I agree Ocean Oddesey has the best quality seafood in the city, bar none. They also carry an interesting assort of other things...goose and duck eggs, alpaca meat, etc. Because they are so far away from me I forget they are there! Worth the drive though. They are very senstive to the environment, catch and process methods and should be supported over the bigger more commercial places (like the other places listed here)

                          1. re: foodiesnorth

                            Another post indicated there might be a booth for Odyssey at the 104 st downtown market on Saturdays.


                            Not sure if things have changed since then though.

                            Great thread.. I stop by Whitemud crossing regularly, I wonder how I've missed Buffalo all these times!

                            1. re: foodiesnorth

                              I second Ocean Odissey Inland store for frozen wild fish and game. They are on 167th street just north of 100th Ave. They also sell at the 104th street market.

                              You can get reasonably priced frozen fish at the Chinese supermarkets.

                              The meat counter at Andy's is also "a cut above" most supermarket meat counters, including Sunterra, if you have some knowledge of meat cuts and can talk to the butcher. ( At Sunterra they told me once when I was buying ingredients for ossobucco that they freeze their veal shanks "to make it easier to cut")

                              You should also check Acme Meats on 76th Ave and 95th. They have been .selling top quality meats for decades.

                              1. re: felix the hound

                                Is Acme meats still open?
                                I have never driven up to it but it always looks closed when I drive by...maybe they have limited hours??

                                1. re: Bellavino

                                  I suggest you give them a call. The info below is from a Google search:

                                  Acme Meats
                                  9531 76 Ave Nw
                                  Edmonton AB, T6C 0K1

                                  Phone #: 780-433-1812

                                  Key contact: Jack Eldridge , Owner

                                  1. re: felix the hound

                                    Awesome - all this time I thought that they were out of business!

                        2. Another website I would like to add is http://www.keepedmontonoriginal.com/ . It is a great listing of local independent retailers, food, drink and otherwise.