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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'.

      http://buffalovalley.ca/
      http://www.smokinironfarms.com/index.php

      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.