Monday, October 5, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 5, 2015

Restaurants for Change, Oct. 21
On Oct. 21, more than 50 restaurants in 13 Canadian cities will donate all or part of the proceeds from dinner service to Community Food Centres Canada of which the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre is a member.

In Saskatoon, Riversdale Delicatessen and Wankuskewin Heritage Park Restaurant are participating in Restaurants for Change.

Order a Selection of BC Wines 
Saskatoon’s liquor stores have a limited collection of BC wines. You can now order a shipment of wine from 30 different craft BC wineries through New District, BC’s only online craft wine marketplace. There’s a good assortment of wineries, a fair bit of background information, and the purchasing process looks straightforward.

The Beginner’s Asian Pantry 
The authors of 101 Easy Asian Recipes provide a guide to what you should look for when stocking your pantry with Asian ingredients.

Guide to Organic Coffee 
“Higher-end coffee tends to be slathered with slogans, logos, and banners claiming all sorts of things about the conditions of the farm and the relationship between the farmer and seller. Sometimes there will be photos of happy coffee farmers, or long narratives about how much the CEO of your local coffee roaster cares about his Honduran farms. Proceed with caution.”

Here are some tips for getting an accurate reading of the labels.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Your Office Needs a Personal Barista

Monday mornings can be rough. But not always. Axon Development Corporation invited Daryl Grunau of Vector Coffee Company to their office to serve coffee for two hours. The lineup began immediately for Americanos, Macchiatos, and Lattes. Those of us who don’t drink coffee were happy to receive Earl Grey Lattes and Vanilla Steamers.

There were baked goods from City Perks, where Daryl also works. And seconds, sometimes even thirds, of coffee.

It was a chance for people who don’t usually drink specialty coffees to try them out and to enjoy the personal service. And Daryl’s low-key approach was never intimidating. Tell him what kind of coffee you like (“sweet and frothy”) and he’ll make a drink that suits your taste.

Daryl has a mobile coffee cart and comes prepared to make a variety of specialty coffees. All he needs is a plug-in. The cart is quite remarkable as it comes apart and he manages to squeeze it into the back of his very small car.

Daryl Grunau was named Best Barista in Saskatoon by Planet S and he knows his coffee. You can sign Vector Coffee Company up for a morning coffee party, a conference, or a Christmas party. I know that Axon’s staff are hoping he’ll make a repeat visit.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 28, 2015

Peasant's Pick, Saskatoon Farmers' Market

Cowspiracy, Oct. 8
Intuitive Path SuperFoods is showing the movie Cowspiracy – The Sustainability Secret at 6:30 pm, Oct. 8.

The movie, about how factory farming, cattle and dairy in particular, is decimating the planet’s natural resources, is also available on Netflix.

Global Health Nourishing Equity Conference, Oct. 17
The Global Health Nourishing Equity conference at the University of Saskatchewan on Oct. 17 will look at nutrition, food security, and equity.

Frozen Entrées – Wild Serendipity Foods
Wild Serendipity Foods, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, is now selling frozen entrées – in addition to her ever-popular scones, macarons, and soups. The vegetarian option this past weekend was Yam and Black Bean Enchiladas. Perfect for those days when you don't have time or don't feel like cooking.

Spices Orchard del Sol 
Whole Natural Flavors – Orchard del Sol will only be at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market for a couple more weeks. They sell a wide variety of spices and flavouring mixes from crops they grow in Costa Rica. I really like the Lemon Pepper, and the Holy Smokin’ Chili mix (cocoa, spice, cayenne) sounded interesting.

Kaleidoscope Gardens, Saskatoon Farmers' Market

Cool Weather Crops at the Market
It’s great to see so many of the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market farmers growing cold-weather crops so that we can continue to eat fresh produce into the fall. For example, you’ll find tiny new potatoes at Kaleidoscope Gardens, peas and kale at Belle Plaine, and leeks, celery, and fennel at Peasant’s Pick.

Okanagan Harvest Update
It was a hot summer and most Okanagan wineries started harvesting their grapes 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. Jackson-Triggs, for example, started harvesting their Sauvignon Blanc on Aug. 20, a week ahead of their 2013 vintage and their earliest harvest on record.

Muse Winery, Vancouver Island

A Year in Champagne
A Year in Champagne (on Netflix) follows the wine-making process through the seasons in Champagne. It was moving to realize that champagne, the drink of celebrations, is grown in soil knee-deep in blood from centuries of warfare.

A Guide to the Gut
“The human gut is home to an autonomous brain containing around 500 million neurons of twenty different types. Its job is to sense chemical and mechanical changes, control muscle movements, regulate the secretion of enzymes and hormones, and communicate with gut microbes and the big brain via neurotransmitters and hormones. The gut brain is connected to our limbic system, which represents our emotional brain. It gives us butterflies in our stomach when we are in anguish.” 

“We have to go further than seeing our guts just as plumbing. It is time to give the gut brain a voice in the dialogue between culinary indulgence and health.” (Lucky Peach)

Peasant's Pick, Saskatoon Farmers' Market

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Friday, September 25, 2015

Let's Eat at El Mercado Las Palapas

Wow! What a transformation. It’s been a while since I’ve dropped in at El Mercado Las Palapas on Broadway, and I hadn’t realized that it had become a restaurant as well as a store. But it makes sense. After all, the store is owned by the same people who own Las Palapas Restaurant. And the store always sold lots of Mexican food products.

The bold, bright colours of the tables and chairs in the window seating area will cheer you up on the even darkest, dreariest day. And so will the food.

I had tacos stuffed with Vegetarian Scramble – scrambled eggs tofu with mushrooms and a variety of other vegetables – prepared on the spot by John. You can add your own salsa, giving you the choice of mild, medium or hot. The tacos are fairly small, so they’d make a great mid-afternoon snack as well as a light lunch.

You can also order Tortas on multigrain whole wheat buns or Molletes, open-faced sandwiches topped with broiled cheese. And you can eat in or order take-out.

Next time I plan to try the Waffled Churros. They didn’t want to install a deep fryer, so the churros are baked in a waffle iron and then rolled in Mexican cinnamon sugar.

I had a glass of Agua Fresca, an iced tea made with hibiscus blossoms sweetened with a little brown sugar and orange juice. Another option would be a Mexican pop made with cane sugar rather than corn syrup. Or you could have a Mexican hot chocolate or Mexican fair trade coffee.

El Mercado also has a breakfast menu. You can build your own Tacos or Molletes from a variety of different ingredients (scrambled egg, fried potatoes, refried black beans, cheese).

Every Tuesday there’s a feature taco that’s not on the menu. One week it’s vegetarian, the next it isn’t.

The menu is exclusive to the store although the flavours are similar to those at Las Palapas restaurant.

While you’re there, check out the merchandise. Nadine, the store’s manager, says that if a customer asks for something, she’ll try and find it. Now that they have a freezer, they’ve been able to add banana leaves for tamales and frozen empañada dough to their assortment of Mexican food products. (The freezer is out back: just ask.)

My thanks to Nadine for inviting me to lunch. It was delicious.

PS Here’s an article I wrote about El Mercado Las Palapas when it first opened.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 21, 2015

Grow Your Own Mushrooms, Oct. 4 & 7
Find out how to grow your own mushrooms at the Crossmount Arts Barn from 2-3 pm, Oct. 4, and 7-8 pm, Oct. 7.

Fall Events at Saskatoon Co-op Liquor 
The Saskatoon Co-op Liquor store has published an online event calendar for September, October, and November. It’s a great way to plan ahead and not miss out on upcoming tastings, from the history and styles of rum in October to Portuguese wine in November.

A Food Co-op in City Park? 
A group of community residents wants to set up a food co-op now that Loblaws is closing its store in City Park. But it won’t be easy. Loblaws has placed a caveat on the site to prevent another grocery store from opening there – they want you to drive to another one of their stores. We’ve given way too much power to large corporations – it’s time to take some of it back.

Healthy Food for Kids 
Quizzine, a television show made in Saskatoon, combines a cooking show with a quiz to test what children know about healthy eating.

Veggie Burgers’ Ace in the Hole 
Veggie burgers are the underdog – how unfair! 

“The beauty to be found isn’t in a single flavor but in the balance of flavors and the intricate arrangement of textures and tastes. It isn’t simply the patty, veggie or beef. It’s the way the patty snuggles into the bun, the mutually ennobling contrast of pickle with tomato, tomato with lettuce, lettuce with mustard, mustard with patty. 

"In a veggie burger … the same pleasing fairness one finds in a cheeseburger is present. Those equitable ratios, that age-old ingredient alchemy of a burger, are maintained. But in place of former cow is quinoa, whose harvest caused pain to no one. Instead of clogging one’s arteries, it provides protein and fiber and amino acids. Instead of gumming the atmosphere, this one clears it. And here is the veggie burger’s ace in the hole.”

The Evolution of Canada’s Wine Industry 
Canada’s wine industry is making world-class wines. One wine expert predicts the rise of Gamay, Reisling, Chardonnay, and Syrah.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, September 14, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 14, 2015

Nestor’s Doughnut Sale, Sept. 16-17 
Treat yourself to a doughnut at Nestor’s Bakery. They’re two for the price of one Sept. 16 and 17 to celebrate the bakery's fifth anniversary.

Beer Week at The Woods, Sept. 21-26 
Sept. 21-26 is Beer Week at The Woods Ale House featuring Saskatchewan craft beers. Every day will feature a brewery, a beer style, or a special food-beer pairing.

Winston’s First Annual Cask Festival, Sept. 25
Winston’s Pub is hosting a mini cask event on Sept. 25 featuring 5 of Saskatchewan’s craft brewers. There will be food pairings with each cask.

PayDirt Farm Garlic School, Sept. 27
PayDirt Farm, Wakaw, is offering a garlic school from 1-4 pm, Sept. 27, for people who want to learn how to grow their own organic garlic. The class package will include instruction, seed garlic bulbs, organic sheep manure, and everything else you’ll need for a four-square-metre garlic plot.

Mushrooms – White Raven Foraging 
Text White Raven Foraging at 306.203.1287 if you are interested in purchasing some of the wild mushrooms they’re currently collecting in the forest.

Lobbying for a Neighbourhood Grocery Store 
One of Saskatoon’s few neighbourhood grocery stores is scheduled to close on Nov. 2. Drop by City Perks and sign their petition to try and save the grocery store on 7th Avenue.

If we want livable, sustainable neighbourhoods, we need to fight to maintain our neighbourhood stores. Here’s a useful publication with 10 principles for rebuilding neighbourhood retail. And we might want to remind large grocery store chains that more and more people want options, such as walkable urban grocery stores with a bigger emphasis on prepared foods and produce.

Noting the trend towards more corner grocery stores, another article states, “Small shops are able to dote on customers, and that is something much appreciated by those of us who make good cooking a daily priority. Not only do the keepers of small food shops select the best products to sell to you, but they are also increasingly selecting them with your preferences in mind, making room for the most disparate items on the preciously few shelves available. Beautiful fresh produce is brought in from local farmers' markets, and delicacies are flown in from all corners of the country and the planet.”

The City Park Community Association is hosting a neighbourhood discussion about the store closure at 7:30 pm, Sept. 17, in the City Park Collegiate Library.

Tamarind & Indian Specialties 
I’ve been hunting for tamarind (sweet-sour fruit paste) to try and replicate a tamarind-cashew stir fry that I enjoyed in Victoria. I finally found tamarind (4 different choices!) at Swadesh Super Market (2-1902 8th Street E and 2102 22nd Street W). The store was packed with shoppers, and I noticed they even had a selection of Indian desserts.

Churchill’s British Imports
Churchill’s British Imports is now open at their new location beside McNally Robinson and behind Moxie’s. They don’t have proper signage yet, but their light-filled store is open and attractively laid out.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Oak Bay, Victoria, BC

Downtown Victoria, British Columbia, can get really crowded, especially when there are three or four cruise ships in town. So why go downtown? I found everything I wanted in my own neighbourhood of Oak Bay, in particular the area around Oak Bay and Estevan Villages.

Shopping for Food
Pure Vanilla Bakery & Café on Cadboro Bay Road is amazing and everything I sampled was delicious. There are front and back patios so you have a choice of sun or shade no matter what the time of day.

Across the street from Pure Vanilla is BC Wineguys Victoria selling VQA wines, a sushi restaurant, and a small grocery store with an excellent selection of fresh fruit and vegetables.

On Foul Bay Road, Charelli’s Cheese Shop and Delicatessen has a huge assortment of cheeses and imported goods. You’ll leave with more cheese than you intended because they are so generous with their samples – and once you’ve tasted it, you’ll want to buy it.

Almost next door to Charelli’s is Tomley’s Market – I was surprised to find a good selection of upscale chocolate bars as well as lots of grocery options.

Be sure to visit Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen in Oak Bay Village for olive oils, cheese, gelato, Italian cookies, and much more.

You have your pick of restaurants in Estevan Village, just up from Willows Beach. The Village Restaurant is a lovely spot to have breakfast or lunch with 7 versions of eggs benedict, green or red shakshouka, omelettes, soups, salads, and burgers.

Crumsby’s Cupcake Café is a kid-friendly coffee shop with a good lunch menu. I recommend ordering a panini and salad to go and eating it down the street at Willows Beach.

There’s also a Thai restaurant and a formal Italian restaurant.

I visited Willows Beach and Cattle Point 3 or 4 times a week. You can take a leisurely stroll along the esplanade or scramble over the rocks at Cattle Point. On a clear day you can see Mount Baker. And, if you look carefully, you’re sure to spot a seal or a family of otters.

On a triangular piece of land at the entrance to Estevan Village, you’ll find Lokier Gardens. Initially developed by Thomas Lokier, it’s now under the care of the Oak Bay Parks Department. Sit down on a bench and enjoy the flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Oak Bay Village holds a Night Market once a month during the summer. You can pick up some fresh fruit or fudge, take your pick of international supper options, and enjoy some free entertainment.

Oak Bay is a very large area. To stretch your legs, head to Dallas Road and walk along the seafront.