Food Notes: Gourmet soft-serve and picnics in the Gardens

Food Notes: Gourmet soft-serve and picnics in the Gardens thumbnail

Author of the article:

Tom Murray

Ivan Rankic holds Groove by Fleisch's vanilla latte flavour ice cream at Fleisch Delikatessen in Edmonton.
Ivan Rankic holds Groove by Fleisch’s vanilla latte flavour ice cream at Fleisch Delikatessen in Edmonton. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

The pandemic has been responsible for more than a few eyebrow-raising career shifts.

Take the case of Ivan Rankic, a longtime DJ and music producer from Calgary working in such venues as the now-shuttered Hifi Club. Caught in Edmonton last March while visiting his girlfriend, Kim Der, Rankic decided to stay put and help flatten the curve. As the weeks and months went by it began to dawn on him that it might be quite some time before he’d be working in music again.

Thankfully Der, co-owner of Fleisch Delikatessen, had a new job for him: ice-cream maker.

“Initially, I was tasked with cleaning the machine and learning the ins and outs of it,” Rankic says. “I was also learning graphic design and animation, plus social media and design work for Fleisch. I needed more projects, though, and one of them was creating ice-cream flavours.”

Turns out Rankic had an innate flair for the job. With a list of ingredients, he began tinkering with recipes to come up with new soft-serve flavours like Coco Puffs and Vanilla Latte. Thus was born Groove, an ice-cream shop adjunct to Fleisch that Rankic has poured all of his creative skills into.


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Oddly enough, Rankic’s midlife shift to the food industry probably wouldn’t come as much of a shock to his family.

“When I was a kid I was always watching Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network,” he admits. “I loved his energy, and my parents and I thought that I would go into the culinary field. Things changed, though, and I pursued a music career instead. That went well for me, but I can’t do it at the moment so I need something new to be inspired by.”

Groove seems to be doing the trick, as Rankic continues his flavour experiments.

“It has definitely lit a spark in me,” he says. “Finding different flavours is math in a way; I have the answer, and now it’s time to come up with how I get to the answer. The experimenting has been fun, and I feel like there’s lots of flavours that haven’t been attempted yet. Then there’s the other side of it, branding the presentation and curating how it looks on social media. This has given me the sense of purpose I think I lost at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Rankic’s goal is to launch two new flavours every two weeks with apple pie and cinnamon toast crunch as the current offerings. As summer approaches the deli is looking into ways for people to take home ice cream for the freezer. Also in the works are ice cream sandwiches, which Groove has already prepared a trial run of. 

“It’s pretty thrilling to be doing this,” Rankic says. “There’s something classic and nostalgic about soft-serve. I remember the very first time I ever had it at the zoo, how amazing it was, and I want people who try our ice cream to feel the very same way.”


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Brunch Boxes

Indoor dining may be forbidden at the moment but that doesn’t mean we can’t nosh in the great outdoors.

Especially with the help of the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, who are not only offering a perfect picnic basket but also supporting local businesses with their brand new Brunch Box. Arno’s Fine French Pastry, Country Market Gourmet Foods, Chocorrant and Freson Bros. are among the companies providing sweet and savory treats for the tasty deal, which also includes admission to the garden. 

“What makes the experience really unique is the atmosphere,” says Kerry Mulholland, communications and marketing coordinator for the garden, located in Parkland county. “You can sit on your blanket or folding chair in these gorgeous settings, like the Japanese garden or the Aga Khan garden, and if you want to add a mimosa kit with Champagne and orange juice, you can do that as well. It’s a bit of relaxation that we could all use right about now.”

The menu will be tweaked as they go along, but May visitors will find a ham and gruyere croissant, mushroom and asiago quiche, watermelon greek salad, chocolate drizzled pretzels and more in their hamper, along with a few non-alcoholic drink choices. You’ll need to book ahead for the boxes, which are available to enjoy in the gardens every Thursday through Sunday in May from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If supper is more your thing, bookings for the popular Twilight Picnic Experience start May 18 with the Picnic Experience kicking off June 1.


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“Part of enjoying life is eating great food,” says Mulholland, “but this is also about relaxing, rejuvenating and enjoying life in a beautiful place. Nature releases happy hormones and we think that the garden can play an indispensable role in community healing. We’ll also be coming up with safe ways to add a little delight to the experience, so in the summer there we’ll be bringing in live music, like a harp player or the Japanese guitarist that we had last weekend. Every time people come for brunch there’ll be something different happening.”

Brunch Boxes are $35 for children and $60 for adults, available in advance from the Botanic Garden website

The Grand Market Returns to 124 Street

The 124 Grand Market opens with COVID-19 social distancing measure along 108 Avenue between 122 and 124 Streets.
The 124 Grand Market opens with COVID-19 social distancing measure along 108 Avenue between 122 and 124 Streets. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

They’ve been deemed an essential service during these trying times, so the 124 Grand Market will be returning for its 10th anniversary starting today.

The open air market on 108 Avenue and 124 Street will be running Thursday evenings from 4-8 p.m. from May 13 to Oct. 7, and Sunday afternoons on 102 Ave. between 123 and 124 Streets from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from June 6 to Sept. 26. Returning vendors include Steve & Dan’s Fresh BC Fruit, Riverbend Gardens, Good Morning Honey, Sunworks Farm, Misiyo Candle Co., Strathcona Spirits and many more.

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