Marion St. Eatery's 2015 entry (Brett Howe/Charcoal Collective)

Burger Week kicks off one gluttonous September in Winnipeg

Get your fanciest sweat pants ready, because September is looking like an indulgent month for eating here in Winnipeg.

Starting on the first, Le Burger Week (September 1-7) kicks off a multi-city event which will see 40 Winnipeg restaurants competing with their best effort in a bun.

Then, for one night only on Thursday, September 10th, The Poutine Cup will take place at Fort Gibraltar which will see 10 Winnipeg restaurants competing with their updates on the Quebec classic. Two cups will be up for grabs, with judges choice (with yours truly being one) and people’s choice. Tickets are on sale as of this morning, so get them here before they sell out (which they will).

You can tip your hat and blame the impending waistline expansion on the folks from Charcoal Collaborative, who have once again brought these tasty events to town (I for one will be submitting my yoga membership payment to them for September).

All the Instagram kids are excited about Deer+Almond's "big trouble in little China" burger this year (Brett Howe/Charcoal Collaborative)

All the Instagram kids are excited about Deer+Almond’s “big trouble in little China” burger this year (Brett Howe/Charcoal Collaborative)

Let’s start with burgers, as I’ll be covering The Poutine Cup after the event.

This is the third year Le Burger Week has taken hold of Winnipeg. With 40 competing restaurants, you’d be a mad fool to try and eat every one — but if you do, please let me know so I can shake your hand and take your pulse. #meatsweats.

Over 200 restaurants will be competing this year in host cities Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Last year saw some ridiculous entries in Winnipeg with Nuburger receiving the most votes. Nuburger (when it was still called Unburger) also took top honours in the inaugural year with their Shang-awesome burger — so it is up to the 39 other participants this year to knock them off their two-time defending patty pedestal.

Last year Bernstein's Deli made the top three which their "Don't have a cow man.. Turkey Burger" hopes to better (Brett Howe/Charcoal Collaborative)

Last year Bernstein’s Deli made the top three which their “Don’t have a cow man.. Turkey Burger” hopes to better (Brett Howe/Charcoal Collaborative)

In 2013 there were some ground rules (pun intended) whereby the burgers had to all be $10 and have cheese. Last year they scrapped these rules and opened it right up to entries that could blow away both your tastebuds and do some damage to your credit card statement — a format which continues this year.

This year voting will take place via an app only (and a fancy app at that — it even tells you how close you are to competing burger joints), which you can download here.

In anticipation, Charcoal’s Brett Howe has been busy photographing a lot of this year’s entries which you can find here if this post doesn’t have enough burger porn for you.

The Mitchell Block's 2015 entry looks to involve squid ink aioli which already makes it awesome (Brett Howe/Charcoal Collaborative)

The Mitchell Block’s 2015 entry looks to involve squid ink aioli which already makes it awesome (Brett Howe/Charcoal Collaborative)

So go hit that treadmill, because starting Tuesday you are in for a marathon of meat (and hopefully some veggie options too… )

Note: the top image is of Marion Street Eatery’s entry for 2015.

Around the world in 43 plates at Folklorama

Give your tastebuds a trip around the globe without leaving Winnipeg until August 15 at Folklorama.

The world’s largest and longest running multiculutral festival is now in full swing across the city and offers ample opportunity to knock back some plates, along with a worldly selection of beers, then take a cue from the entertainers and work the dance floors to keep that waistline in check.

This year there are 43 pavilions — which would be an incredible feat of eating if you were to sample them all — so we’ve created this basic guide of hidden gem highlights for you gourmands out there looking for that round the world experience.

At the African Pavilion (Holy Cross Gym, 290 Dubuc St.) you can go grab a cold bottle of Tusker, the beer of Kenya, before sampling offerings like Nigerian moi-moi (a steamed bean pudding) and some plantains, which are always nice, especially if you fry them twice. For dinner reservations call 204-330-7624 or email floxy166@yahoo.ca

Everybody loves deep fried bread — even my wife who is gluten intolerant — and you’d be hard pressed to find a better version than what goes down at the Hungary-Pannonia Pavilion (Burton Cummings Community Centre, 960 Arlington St.). It’s called Lángos, and you should go have some and dip it in your gulyas, because we all need more deep-fried things soaked in paprika-spiced soup in our lives.

A table at the Korean Pavilion where you can get so many good things like gochujang, which is in those red square tubs (PCG)

A table at the Korean Pavilion where you can get so many good things like gochujang, which is in those red square tubs (PCG)

My workmate’s husband from Madrid was at the Korean Pavilion (J.B. Mitchell School | 1720 John Brebeuf Pl.) last night (how Folklorama is that!), and he was raving about both the colourful performances and the food. Now, I love Korean food and I am telling you it is going to be the next big thing in the local culinary scene because once you go gochujang, you can’t go back — those spicy, fermented, red pepper flavours are addictive I tell you. Anyway, they of course also have bulgogi (thinly sliced Korean marinated beef, usually cut from short ribs) which is about as good as grilled meat gets, while the kimchi (which we should all be eating because fermented foods are the best for your gut health) will have almost more kick than their Tae Kwon Do demonstration team.

South Sudan, the newest nation in the world, is also being represented this year (Sudanese Community Cultural & Resource Centre, 129 Dagmar St.) where you can get a taste for Mola Bamiya, a stew-like dish composed of onion, tomato, beef and garlic which gets finished with okra.

Who doesn't like those thin heart-shaped waffles? (Scandinavian Pavilion)

Who doesn’t like those thin heart-shaped waffles? (Scandinavian Pavilion)

Being of Swedish descent I of course have to mention the Scandinavian Pavilion (Scandinavian Cultural Centre, 764 Erin St.) as if is here you can get food from all five Nordic countries (they let the Icelanders and Finns in on the action — a bit of geographic humour for you there) including heart-shaped waffles in the morning.

Finally, this being Winnipeg, I have to give a shout-out to the Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion (Maples Collegiate,1330 Jefferson Ave.). They are celebrating dance this year, which you’ll want to take part in, especially after you tuck into plates made with the loving hands of many babas that include varenyky — which, despite their appearance, I’ve been told are not exactly the same thing as perogies (… something to do with boiling vs never hitting a pan … it was an argument I seemed destined to lose), and everyone’s favourite, holubtsi, those cabbage rolls you always seem to have room for more of. For dinner reservations go to their website.

Of course, I can’t cover them all here, as I am but one small man with one small stomach, so please dear readers, tell us in the comment section about what pavilions and dishes we should be hitting over the next two weeks.

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Eat this now: Taco Tuesdays behind The Fairmont

Today for lunch I ended up pontificating at my co-workers while holding a messy taco.

Surely some braising liquid and cilantro aioli must have hit the office floor because I was animated — and how could you not be when you are eating a taco this good and you’re compelled to let everyone know.

That being said if you are reading this on a Tuesday or Thursday, and you are downtown, and it is lunch time, I suggest you make your way to the back door of The Fairmont — for it is there that you will find such a rave-worthy, hand-held lunch.

Every Tuesday until summer is done The Velvet Glove in The Fairmont is doing a different weekly taco special — while on Thursdays they are doing burgers (hence #backdoorburgers) — all serviced from a kitchen door that looks out on Lombard Ave.

Look for these fine folks at this door between Lombard Ave and Portage Ave (PCG)

Look for these fine folks at this door between Lombard Ave and Portage Ave (PCG)

These are sauced up monster tacos that are so full of flavour you won’t dare share with your co-workers (but you must invite them to come partake, for eating these tasty numbers in front of them will probably not win you any friends).

Today (August 4, picture at top of article), was a chicken adobo taco (2 tacos + cucumber salad for $13), which featured some succulent braised-then-shredded chicken — which had a nice little kick at the end, along with a cilantro aioli that I would contemplate using as toothpaste — if only it could prevent cavities.

It was well worth the four napkins I had to use, while the accompanying cucumber salad offered a cool finish with some added crunch.

the pulled pork (PCG)

The pulled pork taco with kale and roasted cauliflower salad (PCG)

Last week it was one of the best versions of pulled pork I have yet encountered (pictured above) — and I have approached a pretty serious amount of pulled pork in my time. This was about as rich and saucy as it gets when it comes to taco fillings, with an expertly-spiced sauce you could paint the walls with.

It hit all the right notes of sweet/salty/spicy, while the accompanying wilted kale and roasted cauliflower salad was the type of side-dish that would win you all the acclaim were you to bring it to a summer potluck.

And that is the thing with what The Fairmont has going on here: this is elevated street food, executed by a kitchen which regularly does more haute items for a bigger price tag. The Velvet Glove’s dining room is currently closed until September 8 for the summer, so aside from lounge and room service, this is what you get — and I tell you it is all you need.

The Fairmont's sweet pickerel tacos from three weeks ago (via Instagram: @fairmontwinnipeg)

The Fairmont’s sweet pickerel tacos from three weeks ago (via Instagram: @fairmontwinnipeg)

Backdoor kitchens have been around in Winnipeg since, as far as I know, chef Ben Kramer and his Diversity Foods team started serving summer Back Door Lunches at University of Winnipeg a few years back.

Since then, several spots have followed suit, especially during city-wide culinary events like Burger Week.

It’s a fun move, and one you culinary tourists out there won’t want to miss when you are in Winnipeg this summer.