Kamayan/Boodle Fight Festival
Filistix Restaurant (special occasion)
10621 100 Ave.
11 am – 2 pm, 4 pm to 9 pm (seven days a week, closed Sunday evenings)
Kamayan Feast food: 4 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns
Festival dinner: $57 per ticket
When is a fight not a fight?
When it’s a boodle fight feast.
This rural Filipino tradition has been around for a very long time. Whenever an occasion so warranted, large, flat banana leaves would cover the tables, serving as a combination serving platters/tablecloths.
For what was originally known as a Kamayan feast, food (other than soup) would be dished on to the table centre. Guests on either side helped themselves, using their hands and rice as utensils.
The tradition evolved into a handy way of feeding the troops, somehow taking on the name “boodle fight.” One supposes there’d be competition for available food, leading to scuffles.
Modern Filipino restaurants have been embracing Kamayan/boodle fight nights as special occasions for enjoying a wide spectrum of Filipino cuisine … without the fights.
When the Filipino-fusion restaurant Filistix opened its downtown location last year, top-notch Filipino cooking was introduced to the mainstream. When ads for a Kamayan/boodle fight feast at Filistix showed up, we quickly signed up.
It’s fun. For hygiene’s sake, napkins and wipes sit on each table. All present are asked to give their hands a thorough wash.
The food is delivered to the centre of each four-person table on big rattan trays, beautifully presented with gorgeous colours and cleverly arranged so each guest has access to all the food in his or her quarter of the tray.
What a fight, er, feast. In the very centre of the tray was a group-sized rice helping, from which portions were scooped up, formed by your fingers into bite-sized balls, then used (with your fingers) to bring other foods to your mouth.
There was deep-fried-but-not-oily tilapia fish on each side of the tray, hidden under deliciously garlicky sautéed jumbo shrimp, big succulent pork ribs, brined in Filipino BBQ, chicken skewers, fried eggplant, corn on the cob, steamed baby bok choy.
Bowing to necessity, the first and last courses were not Kamayan style, given a sour/savoury salmon sinigang soup led off. Dessert was a sweet, purple-coloured, pounded cassava pudding decorated with shredded coconut.
Side sauces magically enhanced every course – a sharp cane-vinegar with chopped red onion and pepper, a sweet chili sauce, and that most Filipino of tastes, a fermented shrimp paste that, once one is accustomed to the taste, becomes quite addictive.
Great fun, fine food and instant fellowship. Filistix carefully avoids Filipino dishes that might be considered overly exotic by North American standards. Individual Kamayan dishes are available on Filistix’s daily menus.
Another Kamayang/boodle fight evening at Filistix is planned for Saturday, March 28.
The good news is a new and fourth Edmonton area Italian Centre – grocery, bakery, deli and café – is planned for Sherwood Park.
The bad news is it won’t open until the fall of 2021. Cameron Developments hasn’t built the Emerald Hills store yet.
Italian Centre President Teresa Spinelli has opened three more Italian Centre shops (one in Calgary) since inheriting the Little Italy original after her dad Frank Spinelli passed away in 2000. All are imbued with the spirit of the first. Sherwood Park makes for five Italian Centre shops, with a sixth, a second Italian Centre in Calgary, also in the works.
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Not many changes from 2019 in the 2020 version of the popular Avenue Magazine Best Edmonton Restaurants, as picked by a group of media and culinary professionals.
Named as the city’s Best Five restaurants were Biera, RGE RD, Bundok, Corso 32 and its sister restaurant Uccellino. All are oft-cited in such best-of lists, as are specialty category picks like Padmanadi (plant) Otto (neighbourhood), Moth Café (plant), Tzin (sharing) and Sofra (sharing).
Best New picks were Partake, Fox Burger and Braven.
The “Family-style” category could be called “best ethnic” with Guru (South Asian), Langano Skies (Ethiopian) and the above-mentioned Filistix (Filipino) listed in the category.
Also named were An Chay in the plant category, Huma Mexican and Paraiso Tropical in the neighbourhood section, and Hathaway’s, Blue Plate and Route 99 named as “best diners.”
Avenue Magazine celebrates its Best Edmonton Restaurants 2020 selections with a public reception/tasting at the EXPO Centre on Monday, March 16, 2020.