Around the World in 35 Blocks held on 17th Avenue S.E. 

The smells waft your way as soon as you walk through the door of this brick building; it’s the sweet and yeasty fresh bread.

Your eyes search for the loaves but instead you see a glass case, displaying dark-cured sausages and a round of ham, it’s light pink and looks juicy.

Turning around, you’ll notice a few small aisles packed full of German imports like little black-licorice cats and marzipan.

You’re probably thinking you know the place and have been there, done that. Perhaps it’s a little shop in Calgary’s trendy Kensington area or a store in Inglewood.

What is the International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone?
Known as the BRZ, this non-profit group’s aim is to improve and promote shopping and living along 17th Avenue S.E., from 26th Street to 61st Street.

Improvement Projects:

  • The installation of murals to celebrate the community’s history and cultural diversity
  • The planting of trees in special pits designed to increase longevity of trees
  • The installation of benches and trash bins

Upcoming Projects:

  • The building of an 1,000 seat-theatre and cultural centre
  • GreenTRIP – construction of a dedicated bus lane down 17th Avenue S.E.

Special Events:

  • Around the World in 35 Block Food Tour  (Held Monthly)
  • Movies on the Avenue (TBA)
  • Stampede Breakfast (July 12, 2012)
  • GlobalFest (August 16 – 26, 2012)

For more information visit http://internationalavenue.ca.

Not quite. This is Illichmann’s Sausage Shop, just one of the various food-related shops tucked away along 17th Avenue S.E.

International avenue

17th Avenue S.E. is home to a cultural smorgasbord of food. From the superb European pastries at Gunther’s Fine Baking to the imported Fijian delicacies at South Pacific Food Distributors Inc., you can travel to some of the world’s finest food destinations without leaving the comfort of your own city.

Dana Messinger, owner of Illichmann’s Sausage Shop, says that the shops offer quality products that you just can’t buy in your local grocery store, no matter how big.

They serve up authentic food just like “momma made” because that’s exactly who cooks it. Some of the signs and menus often even need translations to English.

Alison Karim-McSwiney, executive director of the International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone, says that this area is one of Calgary’s “jewels.”

“You’ll find a really unique mix here,” she says.

But with so many choices to choose from — Ethiopian curried lentils to sweet Portuguese breads — venturing into this Calgary district can be overwhelming.

Around the World in 35 Blocks food tour

Participants are transported on a classic yellow school bus.

The tour, first established 15 years ago, introduces participants to six or seven family-owned restaurants and specialty food stores.

The family-owned and operated Illichmann’s Sausage Shop serves up homemade sausages.
Photo by: Devon Jolie

While munching on a falafel at Green Cedars Food Market or homemade sauerkraut from Illichmann’s Sausage Shop, tour-goers learn facts about the different countries where the establishment originates from and can chat with the owners.

And of course, they can shop for delicacies to stock their pantries with.

Messinger, who spoke to the tour-goers about her in-house meats, says that the food tour is great because it introduces Calgarians to little specialty shops and restaurants that they may never visit.

“It opens the door a little wider and brings people in to try something new,” she says.

Jane Allan who lives in northwest Calgary called the tour “fabulous.” She says she had never really been out to the east end of 17th Avenue S.E. and didn’t know what to expect.

“It’s awesome to see a different part of the city. It’s a good eye-opener,” she says

The next Around the World in 35 Blocks Food Tour is scheduled for March 17. Tickets are $25 each and to reserve a spot call 403-248-7288.

djolie@cjournal.ca