HicksBiz Blog

The Humans: Nothing new here - Citadel Theatre review by GRAHAM HICKS, HicksBiz.com

The Humans Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage Edmonton, Alberta, Canada January 6 to 27, 2018 Theatre review by GRAHAM HICKS,  hicksbiz.com What is all the fuss about?   Why is a yet another cliche-filled play about yet another dysfunctional American family considered to have been 2016's hottest Broadway property, winning every award in the book? The Humans, having its Canadian premiere at Edmonton's Citadel Theatre January 6 to 27, is about as American soured-apple pie as it gets. Rebellious aspiring musician younger daughter Brigid, currently bartending, is living in a dingy two-floor apartment with her boyfriend in New York City's Chinatown. Ambitious older daughter Aimee is about to be fired from her  law firm, mainly because her medical problems are eating into her billing hours.  And her girlfriend has broken up with her. Mom and Dad, Deirdre and Erik, are devout but liberal-minded Catholics, on good terms with the daughters but still nagging them a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Rebel Food & Drink a great neighbourhood fit BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, January 2, 2018

REBEL FOOD & DRINK 9112 142 STREET 780-752-7325 CENTURYHOSPITALITY.COM/REBEL Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $30; loaded, $60 Food:  3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Rebel Food & Drink takes the old – the idea of a neighbourhood-based eatery/bar – shines it up, modernizes and makes it trendy.   But it’s still the place to meet your pals for a drink, or bring the family if nobody wants to cook. And if you’re over .05 thanks to half-price wine Wednesdays, you can walk (cab/UBER) home without breaking the bank, then come back in the morning to get your car. It may have been partially circumstantial, but the latest concept from Chris Lachance’s Century Hospitality Group (Lux, Delux, MKT, Hart’s, Parlour) hits all the right buttons. Piccolino’s had been an old-style village Italian eatery, an inner-west end fixture ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Expecting a decent 2018 by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, Dec. 30, 2017

You have to be careful, sticking your head out of the foxhole to gaze out on 2018. The odds on said head being blown off are fairly alarming. Nobody ever gets this prediction game right. But, fingers crossed, luck being with us, global events giving us tailwinds, 2018 should be a reasonably decent year for business, employment and quality of life in northern Alberta (for our purposes, Edmonton and everything north of Edmonton). “Reasonably decent” is highly contextual.  For the province as a whole, the Alberta government’s forecasters are looking at a 2.5 per cent growth rate for 2018. Which will be less than the four per cent growth rate being left behind in 2017. Don’t forget three big factors. It’s terrific the economy did well this year, and will keep growing (hopefully) at 2.5% for 2018. But the previous two years were awful, a negative four per cent economic growth in 2015, and another negative four per cent growth in 2016. We have not caught up to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Looking back at Edmonton cuisine in 2017 BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 27, 2017

Oh the food memories of 2017 … The sweet plantain fries plus spicy shrimp/melted cheese arepas at Rolando Sandrea’s Avila Arepa Urban Venezuelan Kitchen … The lamb shoulder stew on noodles at the Bedouin Experience … Any of the ramen soups at Tokiwa … LOFT Thai Eatery’s Thai-Italian fusion confit duck leg with Thai curry. We lost the Alberta Hotel & Grill’s take on duck breast when that restaurant closed, but the same room has re-opened as the exciting Revel, with Chef Tony Krause’s octopus cassoulet. LUX stepped out of its steak house mentality by adding a deep-fried and battered whole-fish Pacific snapper to the menu. Takami Sushi’s deluxe sashimi floated in a soft bed of dry ice. Tang Bistro has finally offered Edmonton authentic regional Chinese cuisine. Real fish ‘n’ chips came from Jesse Morrison Gauthier’s Grandin Fish ‘n’ Chips. The best dessert ever tasted in Greater Edmonton was in St. Albert, being ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: No coal in Edmonton's stockings this year BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 21, 2017

Santa, you have already given Edmonton the best gift we could have asked for. In 2017, Metro Edmonton somehow avoided slipping into recession. Business-wise, things weren’t great, but they weren’t bad … and way better than 2016 which was an annus horribilis year. The oil patch has learned to live with $50 a barrel oil (the benchmark $50 US for West Texas Intermediate). Of late, oil prices have looked positively balmy, floating up to $55 to $60. Residential construction surprisingly picked up strength as the year went by … pent-up demand, confidence on the part of home-buyers, more young couples with good jobs, readying for kids. As the Stantec and JW Marriott towers reach ever skyward, the Ice District construction employment has been a saving grace. The Valley LRT has also dented the unemployment ranks with that project now in its intensive construction phase. The impact, or lack thereof, of oil and gas on Northern Alberta’s economy is increasingly complex. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Edmonton's food future all about the chefs BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 19, 2017

Matilda, the kudos coming Edmonton’s way for its restaurant renaissance are for real. The facts speak for themselves: City restaurants earned three of Canada’s Top 10 new restaurants in enRoute Magazine, five of Open Table’s 100 Best Canadian Restaurants for 2017, five of Canada’s 100 best restaurants as chosen by Canada100Best.com. Edmonton came out of nowhere to jump onto Resonance Consultancy’s Top 100 World Cities annual rating for this year – at number 60. Our culinary smorgasbord was a “quality of life” factor. The Toronto Sun ran a culinary travel story under the headline “Why your next foodie trip should be Edmonton.” When Air Canada announced non-stop Edmonton-to-San Francisco service (in the spring), the EnRoute Top 10 awards were cited by an Air Canada executive as an example of our city’s “considerable, young, entrepreneurial demographic.” By my count, some 50 young (or young-at-heart) exciting chefs hav ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: LOFT Thai Eatery elevates its food BY GRAHAM HICKS originally published Edmonton Sun: December 12, 2017

LOFT Thai Eatery 5324 75 St. 780-466-5638 Loftthaieatery.com Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Sunday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $30; loaded, $50 Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns The food is beautiful. The space is not. LOFT Thai Eatery chef Shon Vichitvorakul is producing the best Thai “fusion” dishes this city has seen since The King & I Thai Restaurant was one of Edmonton’s Top 10 restaurants. The young Thai, trained in Australia and five-star hotels in Thailand, is producing green curry and pesto pastas, duck leg with fragrant Thai curries and cooked fruit, delicious home-made coconut-infused peanut sauces and dozens of other original Thai-based creations. The LOFT’s rama salad is a mix of soft and crunch. Plus, it should be added, conventional dishes for the meat ‘n’ potatoes crowd. Sadly, the venue does not do the food jus ... Read the rest of entry »

Subtle changes in the 18th edition of the Citadel Theatre's A Christmas Carol: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Subtle changes in the 18th edition of the Citadel Theatre's A Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol At the Maclab Stage, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Dec. 1 to 23, 2017 Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com The changes are subtle, but they are there. For the first time since A Christmas Carol graced the Citadel’s Maclab stage 18 years ago, the grand annual Christmas presentation is not being directed by the now-retired former Citadel Theatre artistic director Bob Baker.   Nor does it star Tom Wood, who wrote the stage adaptation of the story that the Citadel has used to this day, and who has played Scrooge for most of those 18 years. It is the end of an era, but not the end of an era. For if ever a transition was seamless, this is it. Director Wayne Paquette has long been Bob Baker’s assistant director for A Christmas Carol.  The role of Scrooge this year is being alternated between Glenn Nelson – who has played the role before &nda ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Mega-batteries are changing energy economics by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 8, 2017

Is it possible that the biggest challenge to the economics of wind and solar renewable energy is about to be overcome? Missing from the equation, up until this point, have been dependable, last-lasting, environmentally acceptable mega-batteries. Wind farms are great in theory – harnessing the wind, no carbon emissions, etc. etc. But the costs go crazy when the wind doesn’t blow. Mother Nature doesn’t care about when mankind needs that power – like on the coldest and hottest days of the years. But if there were mega-batteries alongside those wind farms, storing wind energy when it was plentiful, supplying it to the grid when the wind died down … now we’re talking. It’s been a pipe dream, until now. Maybe it’s just Elon Musk’s great big mouth, but his electric car/renewable energy/battery company Tesla may have done the economically impossible. Tesla has just installed the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery (actually banks and banks of battery ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Sorrentino’s Staff Lunch by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 5, 2017

A wonderful tradition, entirely unknown outside the restaurant kitchen … and probably not much practiced in North America in any case, is the impromptu staff lunch. After the noon rush at Sorrentino’s Downtown,  executive chef Alberto Alboreggia gathers up food in the kitchen that is  surplus to the customers’ needs: Fish skeletons from which the filets have been cut, what’s left of a primal beef detached of its sirloins and prime rib, vegetable peelings and so on. Every day, Alberto converts them into a delicious, quick staff lunch.   A 22 pound, never-frozen fresh salmon has already been stripped of its salmon steaks and filets.  But left over is the head, the fins, all the meat buried alongside the spine. There are pounds of edible fish here, but it’s of little interest to the front-of-house guest. A few pieces of chicken might be left from the night before. Roasted potatoes – quartered, peeled, sprinkled with olive oil and herbs – remain i ... Read the rest of entry »
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