Le Billig – Quebec City, QC

Le Billig
526 St. Jean
Quebec, QC
G1R 1P6
(416) 524-8341

Before leaving the province of Quebec, we wanted to experience a great creperie.  Scouring the web – we decided on this establishment located just outside the historic Vieux Quebec (Old Quebec) neighborhood.


The namesake of this creperie-bistro, is a large circular flat-top grill used primarily for cooking pancakes or crepes.  At Le Billig, they have three displayed in their open-concept kitchen  – which churn out crepes and galettes authentic to the Brittany region of France.

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Servus Heritage Festival – Edmonton, AB

Servus Heritage Festival
William Hawrelak Park
Edmonton, AB

This year marks the 34th annual Heritage Festival, continuing to celebrate Canada’s multicultural heritage.  As a small child – I can remember helping out within my cultural pavilion, and later as a participant in one of the cultural presentations.  Some 20 years later, I now attend only as a patron – armed with my trusty fork (my contribution to being green, as I plan on sampling a LOT of food).

Foodosopher:  I have the same memories, working with my cultural pavilion – being a patron is much better! My biggest wish with the Heritage Festival is that they were a little more green – so much waste with plastic and wooden forks and plates, but hopefully over time they will implement better measures.

This may seem like a slightly odd place for a review for foodosophy – but it is well known that one of the major elements of this festival is to showcase various eats from the participating countries, thus making this my favorite festival held in Edmonton.

Foodosopher: My friends and I may joke about it as meat on a stick, and meat in dough festival, but you’re right that it does a wonderful job of showcasing many new dishes and cuisines in a town that doesnt have the population base to support restaurants for all the different ethnicities whom live here.


I can put down my fair share of food – but with over 60 participating regions (all with a food offering in some form or another), even I have to admit defeat.  A few years back – together with a group of friends, managed to sample over half of everything on the various menus, but we were much younger then…

Arriving fresh off the bus (as there is no parking on-site), we headed straight to the festival grounds.  Armed with my fork, my food-bank donation, no plans, and following only the smells of bbq meats, and cooking sweets – we found ourselves at the France pavilion.

Foodosopher: personal rant inserted – it is the biggest food drive for the Edmonton Food Bank each year. Please everyone, if you attend Hertiage Festival, bring a nice donation. If you are a foodosophy reader, chances are you’re very lucky relative to many people who struggle to feed their families each day. I know how lucky i am!


France was offering crepes with one of four options:  chantilly (whipped cream), nature (sugar), suzette (Grand Marnier sauce), and chocolat.   With my wife leading the way – there was no debate – chocolat all the way.  They even had a cute café tent set up so you could sit down and enjoy your crepes and a cup of coffee.  Not the same as sitting at a café along Champs-Elysees, but nonetheless a great start to the day.

Foodosopher: we met our friends outside the French Pavilion as well. I passed on starting with dessert, and decided to dive in with some meat instead.

A few tents down – Japan was offering Hiyayakko, Okonomi-Yaki, Takoyaki, and Yakitori. Nothing against the options, but with all of the various bbq’s cooking away -my immediate need to satisfy my weakness for meat on a stick led me to the yakitori.

Foodosopher: Interesting note – there are some food vendors who do not belong to any cultural pavilion – they offer food as well, but as a stand alone enterprise. The churros station, and the fried potato station were both unattached. I sampled both, and they were decent, but overpriced.


Ecuador.  This caught my eye as some friends recently returned from a trip to the Galapagos Islands.  Reading the menu with my limited Spanish, I saw an item that I didn’t recognize – so I had to give it a try.  Caucara con Papas (beef strips with potatoes).  Upon receiving a dish with thinly sliced potatoes, an onion heavy salsa, and marinated beef strips, we found the closest picnic table and dug in.  This was excellent – cilantro/lime flavours dominant in the salsa, thinly sliced potatoes with red and green peppers, and tender beef strips marinated in a mild cumin/chili spice.

Foodosopher: My first stop was the Peruvian pavillion for anticuchos – marinated beef hearts. While many people are put off by the thought of organ meat, there is nothing tastier than marinated, grilled, beef heart. Seriously one of the best dishes all day. I fell in love with these in Peru – give them a shot.

I followed this up with an Arepa from the Ecuadorian pavillion – it wasnt on the original menu, but I was curious how their take on the traditionally Venezualan dish would be. It was a crispy flat puck of corn – with a tasty version of chimchurri and grilled beef. Very good, if a bit of a bastardization.


Taking a short break from the eats – we toured pavilion after pavilion, each selling an assortment of clothing, crafts, and gifts.  Outside of the various tents – many also provided entertainment in the form of dance or music.


Continuing to sample various eats along the way;  Green Papaya Salad from Lao, Pyrohy from the Ukraine and a Serbian Cevapi, we eventually hit our first food shortage in Mexico – as they sold out of their tamales.

Foodosopher: I had just missed the tamales as well – by about 10 minutes.  People walked by me with the tantalizing morsels. I wasnt pleased. Instead, i had to settle for beef curry from Sri Lanka (good), Samosas from Fiji, Empanadas from a variety of South American countries.

The Korean pavilion was host to an artist who was painting on site – which had me entertained for some time.  The cooking bulgogi got me hooked, so we slid in line for their combo offering of beef, kimchi and rice.  This was so good – we were tempted to go back for seconds.

Foodosopher: The bulgogi was excellent – better than any Korean restaurant in town. Tender, flavourful, perfect taste and texture. Must try!


As we sat enjoying this meal, we struck up conversations with our picnic table companions.  They raved about the scovergi they had at the Romania pavilion.  Fried dough & icing sugar?  Twist my arm.


Having seen these before in other settings — I was a little curious whether this item has morphed towards carnival fare, rather than being a true cultural food representation.  Especially due to the fact – we Canadians like our donuts (we have the most donut stores per capita in the world).

My curiosity increased when I noticed the Croatia pavilion was also offering an identical item.  So after some post trip reading, I discovered that the Romanian scovergi to be the closest in representation – where the only Croatian reference to fried dough I found was  the krafna, which didn’t quite matchup to the dish they were serving.  This item was definitely a crowd grabber – as the lineups for this got larger and larger throughout the day.  I’m surprised it’s not on the local Timmy’s lineup yet.

Foodosopher: I passed on the scovergi, as tempting as it was. Had some plantain from the Afrika pavilion, and Burek from Bosnian pavillion. Burek was covered off in in the post on European Deli and was sadly not as good at Heritage Festival as the European Deli, nor as good as last year. The dough was limp, the meat overcooked and not spiced well enough, this was disappointing.

Deciding to scout out something a little more true to the spirit of the event, I scanned the festival menu for something else to satisfy my sweet tooth.  The Dutch pavilion, tucked away on the far end of the festival grounds were serving poffertjes (small pancakes with icing sugar).    Bite-sized pancakes, light and fluffy, and doused with icing sugar.  (Note to self – turn your back to the wind, as a small gust of wind covered my shirt with icing sugar).

Foodosopher: had these last year – wasnt super thrilled with them.


Overall – a great day, good food, mixed with a nice long walk in the sun.  I heard a couple people groaning about the cost of food – but I see this event from the perspective of being a fund-raiser for each of these cultural societies, and will gladly support them to keep events like this going!

Foodosopher: finished with some mango, and jerk pork. I fell in love with jerk pork at Scotchies in Mo’Bay, Sadly, this pork was average at best. One piece was excellent, though without sufficient kick, but the other two pieces were overly dry and unflavourful. The fetival that came with it was good as well.

Held annually on the August long-weekend (first Monday of August is ‘Heritage Day’ in Alberta), I hope this post entices some of you to visit next year!

Foodosopher: Amen to that. One of the best festivals anywhere in Canada. Well worth the visit.

Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus – Calgary, AB

Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus
2439-54 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 243-7757

Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus on Urbanspoon

My lack of enthusiasm for breakfast and brunch foods is fairly well documented, and, it seems, there are voices in the wilderness that concur. While i enjoy certain elements that make up breakfast, I just find the overall the entire meal to be unsatisfying. Instead, as i advance in years, I generally take advantage of the meal to get as much healthy stuff out of the way – fibre, fruits and veggies, dairy, so i can concentrate my remaining two meals on things i really like. Like meat. And soup. And meat. However, every once in a while, you’re reminded why breakfast can be so great. An amazing hollandaise on a perfectly poached egg, a nice fatty strip of crisp and soft bacon, bratwurst, crisp and fragrant hash browns, perfectly ripe fruit. Or, you can just have foods that take great elements from lunch and dinner and incorporate them into breakfast! Pfantastic Pannenkoek Haus does a little bit of both.


Pannenkoek is a Dutch pancake. More like a crepe than a traditional pancake, they come in two types of basic flavours – sweet, and savoury, or often served as a combination of both.  With a wide variety of different toppings, as well as the ability to customize your own, Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus has a little bit of something for everyone. Located in a strip mall off Crowchild Trail in SW Calgary, it is a bit difficult to get to. People heading North on Crowchild Trail have a simple turn into the complex. For people heading south, a roundabout trip through the local side streets is needed.  This small snag aside, clearly enough people know where it is, as weekends have a very very long lineup. I typically show up very early, or very late, otherwise i expect a 45 minute wait out the door.

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IHOP Restaurant – Las Vegas, NV

IHOP Restaurant
7490 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 617 0077

IHOP on Urbanspoon

I recently read that approximately two-thirds of American adults are considered obese. That’s a pretty striking statistic.

I know that Las Vegas cannot seriously be considered an accurate sample of a population, given that a good part of it that you see in public, are visitors from out of state, or out of country. For anyone who’s ever been there, you know that the availability of large quantities (and varying quality) of food in “America’s Playground” is a 24/7 proposition. Being responsible, meaning not overeating, can be a challenge with the never ending temptations from the numerous restaurants and all-you-can-eat buffets especially along Las Vegas Boulevard. And with most people staying awake for longer hours each day, it also leaves the possibility of sneaking in a few more snacks than usual. All a deadly combination for those who want to avoid gaining significant weight during a vacation.

With that in mind, on my recent trip to Sin City, I tried to keep an eye on what I was eating. For some reason, during my whole stay, I didn’t feel like having more than two meals a day – which was probably helped by my getting up a bit later each day than I usually do at home. I had in mind some potential places to eat during the time I was there, but in the end, I completely ignored my list and just ate when I was hungry, someplace close by at the time, and I tried to keep it simple and affordable. I can hear the Foodosopher groaning at me already for passing on some of his suggestions (although the Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay was shut down due to lack of power). (SMILE)

The International House of Pancakes (better known as IHOP) has been in business for fifty years and according to their website, they have 1,375 IHOP restaurants located in 49 US states, Canada and Mexico. 14 of those are in Las Vegas, and I was surprised to learn that 12 exist in British Columbia. Until this trip, I have never stepped foot in any of them. In fact my only exposure to it was probably seeing it appear in the feature film staring Sean Penn, “I am Sam”. My breakfast choices, when I even choose to have this morning meal, is usually a combination of some toast and coffee. Not since my high school days have I really had a huge appetite in the morning, and thus this bare bones combination tides me over til lunchtime. Driving up the Strip at the noon hour in search of some caffeine to start my day, I spotted the distinct sign and decided I’d make my virgin visit to the place that boasts serving up “700 million pancakes per year”.

Believing that the crepes at least would be on the lighter side, I chose something off the “international crepes” section of the menu in the Danish Fruit Crepes. I should have stopped it right there, but when asked for what topping I wanted, I looked down and said “cool strawberry”, with the warm blueberry, and the cinnamon apple being left aside. What was a light meal turned into a heavily sugar coated mess, as the strawberry compote just overwhelmed the more delicate crepes. I wish it had come in a separate pouring container rather than lathered on top by the kitchen. Add in the squirts of cream cheese, and the dollop of whipped cream, it was a sucrose bonanza that I would have preferred to have avoided.

Also at our table was the Double Blueberry Pancakes, which I had a taste of and frankly don’t see what the fuss is about. If this place is known for pancakes and this is their offering, I am puzzled by the apparent success of this franchise which uses this as their flagship dish.

Lastly, the simple combination of eggs and hash, was the most comforting dish that I had some bites from. Perhaps its my advancing age, but for breakfast, I am into more savory items rather than anything sweet anymore. And will remind myself of this the next time I am having my morning meal outside. IHOP sure was a popular place though, as the room was packed with people, and with all the other breakfast/brunch places in town, this was pretty surprising. I suppose its capitalizing on its strong name value in America, and the de facto choice in some households for their breakfast fix. With the size of servings, heavy influx of sugar in many of their dishes, I think this is working to contribute to that obesity figure that is plaguing modern day society in this part of the world.

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