Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Last Invasion Tapestry, Fishguard, Wales

The Invasion 
In February 1797, the British mainland was invaded for the last time. 1400 French soldiers landed just outside of Fishguard in west Wales. The plan was to proceed inland and invade Bristol, drawing the British Navy away from another assault in Ireland. They then planned to turn around and “liberate” Wales from “English tyranny" (French Revolution, 1789).

The plan failed – completely. 190 part-time British soldiers, with help from local residents, captured the soldiers and forced them to surrender.

It was an amateur battle with many amusing episodes, and they are all captured in The Last Invasion Embroidered Tapestry.

One French soldier fired at a clock because he thought someone was hiding in it.

Other soldiers became ill after undercooking the poultry they had stolen.

The French imagined there was a large British army coming to meet them when they saw local women in traditional red shawls and black hats marching round a hill.

The Tapestry 
The Tapestry was commissioned by the Fishguard Arts Society to commemorate the event’s bicentennial. Designed by a professional artist, Elizabeth Cramp, and with advice from three other professional artists, the tapestry, which is 30.4 meters long and 53 centimeters deep, was stitched by 77 local people.

The stitches are mostly the same as those used by medieval embroiderers with some parts worked in outline while others are solid.

The Tapestry is an outstanding demonstration of community collaboration and art. Housed in a gallery next to Fishguard Library, on the second floor of the Town Hall, it’s worth more than one visit to take in the wealth of detail.

Information obtained from: 
The Last Invasion of Britain, BBC Wales 

Pembrokeshire Virtual Museum, Last Invasion Tapestry

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cardigan, Wales: Higgledy-Piggledy Streets, a River, and a Castle

Cardigan is a short bus ride to the west of Newport through green fields and valleys full of sheep. It’s a small shopping centre, and little remains of its illustrious past as one of Wales’ most important ports.

Town Centre
The town is laid out higgledy-piggledy, with streets full of odd twists and turns. There is one long, narrow high street winding its way from one end of the town centre to the other. Stray off this shopping street, however, and you’ll find twisting roads leading nowhere and an unexpected cluster of shops in what may once have been an inn’s inner courtyard.

It doesn’t appear to be a rich town. Many houses are in poor condition, and there are no splashy retail parks or dazzling window displays. But there are a variety of businesses and two larger supermarkets on the outskirts of town.

Not to be missed is Bara Menyn Bakehouse – a lovely bakery and cafĂ© on one of the narrow side streets.

Cardigan, at the mouth of the Teifi River, was founded in 1110, shipping everything from corn and tar to salt, prunes, and limestone.

By the 1800s, many people immigrated to North America from Cardigan – hence the founding of Cardigan, New Brunswick.

The estuary began to silt up in the late 1800s making it difficult for large ships to enter the port and the railway arrived in Cardigan in 1886. Twenty years later, there were few signs of the busy, profitable port it had once been.

You can still see some of the old warehouses and there are lovely views downstream. It’s unfortunate that there are no riverside paths.

Cardigan Castle 
Cardigan Castle dates from the early 12th century and was the site of Wales’ first Eisteddfod (Welsh festival of literature, music, and performance) in 1176. It was largely destroyed by Cromwell’s soldiers during the English Civil War.

Very little remains of the original castle, but it’s been recently renovated and reopened and is well worth visiting for its gardens, castle walls, and the exhibits in Castle Green House.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 1, 2016

Newport's butcher shop - excellent fresh fruit and vegetables

The Changing Politics of Organic Food, Feb. 11 
Lisa Clark, author of The Changing Politics of Organic Food in North America, will be speaking at Innovation Place from 3-5 pm, Feb. 11.

Raw Chocolate Workshop, Feb. 13 
Intuitive Path Superfoods is hosting a raw chocolate workshop including raw chocolate body painting (!) from 2:30-4:30 pm, Feb. 13.

Cooking on a Budget, Feb. 16 (Swift Current) 
Sarah Galvin is offering a free Cooking on a Budget class at 5:30 pm, Feb. 16, in Swift Current. Email to register.

Flavour 101, Mar. 8 (Swift Current) 
Sarah Galvin will share her knowledge of how to add flavour to your food at 6:30 pm, Mar. 8, in Swift Current. Sarah says herbs and spices are just one way to add flavour. Your choice of fat, stock, and vegetables also makes a difference.

Student Iron Chef Competition 
Working in teams of four, with help from a Marquis Chef, students competed in the campus Iron Chef competition on Jan. 28. The event is designed to break up the monotony of the dining hall menu and give students a chance to cook their favorite dishes. Chef McFarland says he particularly enjoys the students’ pride and creativity.

Una Pizza + Wine 
I’m looking forward to trying out the pizza (and the wine!) at Una Pizza + Wine.

Bakery For Sale
Good Spirit Bakery is for sale, equipment included.

Rockstar Chef 
Chef Thomas Brown has launched a new catering company called Rockstar Chef, operating out of Prairie Sun Brewery.

Big Is Not Necessarily Better 
A multinational cider company in Somerset, England, is closing its doors while just down the road Thatcher’s, a fourth-generation family business, is expanding. Martin Thatcher says, "We make cider just the same way as my grandfather did. We use Somerset apples: my favourite is the Somerset Redstreak, which we juice and then ferment. No concentrates, no added sugar, just juice." 

Somerset has over 60 small cider makers. One of them says, “We're part of a change in how people like their food and drink. Everyone wants to know where stuff comes from, how it's made. I don't really think you can become the size of an enormous cider maker and still make cider the way we make it, it's not physically possible." 

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, January 31, 2016

Wind, Waves & Flowers

It’s been an exceptionally mild winter in Wales, so all sorts of spring flowers are beginning to pop up in the garden and around Newport.

Daffodils are the most prolific, but I’ve also seen snowdrops and miniature iris.

The sun was shining so I headed down to the Parrog (harbour or port). Although the houses have filled in, you can tell that it was originally a separate community and there is still only one road connecting Newport and the Parrog.

The estuary and inner harbour were quite calm, but the waves were fierce once I reached the mouth of the harbour.

I enjoyed watching the gulls soaring on the air currents and the swans feeding in the estuary.

This is such a beautiful place. I’ll be sad to leave.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 25, 2016

City Centre Food Co-op, Jan. 28
The next CHEP Community Fresh Food Market is from 10:30 am - 4:30 pm, Jan. 28, at the Saskatoon Community Service Village.

Wine & Cheese, Feb. 14
Tickets are now available for Valentine’s Day wine and cheese pairings at 6 pm, Feb. 13 & 14, at Riversdale Delicatessen – 3 wines, 3 cheeses and antipasti, and a 20% discount on all store items.

Out Of Your Tree
Out Of Your Tree in Saskatoon was established to harvest and share otherwise unwanted fruit. The Facebook moderator has moved and the group needs a new coordinator.

This type of project has done extremely well in other cities. Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton not only picks and shares fruit but also cans and preserves it. They’re creating a micro orchard and are offering educational classes. There is so much potential for something similar in Saskatoon. Why not thinking about helping out?

Eating Right Can Save the World
Our food choices have environmental consequences, but we’re bombarded with information, making it difficult to make wise decisions. Eating Right Can Save the World is a comprehensive look at how our food choices have an impact on the planet.

The author concludes that, “Sustainability, it seems, is a little like religion: we’re all striving for an ideal, but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to achieve perfection. . . . Still, a few simple adjustments help a lot. Stop worrying so much about not getting enough protein, and remember that plant-based protein is a lot easier on the planet than animal protein. Buy organic food whenever you can. Source your food as locally as possible, and eat seasonally to avoid racking up major food miles. Eat less and waste less. Be open-minded and creative about new cuisines. Relax. Have fun. Sustainable eating isn’t synonymous with masochism.” 

I was interested to learn that omnivores eat 60% more protein than they require and vegetarians, who people often suspect of not getting enough protein, eat 20% more than required. And the excess is excreted – a complete waste.

Good Reads
I came across lots of interesting articles this past week. Here are just a few.

Interview with Chef Darren Craddock, Riverside Country Club, in Good Life Vancouver 

Bingeing on health foods won’t affect your immune system, but cold, stress, age, and exercise (it’s good for you!) will.

The Herbivorous Butcher, Minneapolis, will stock “hickory-smoked ribs, pepperoni, sausages, jerky, brats, ham, maple-glazed bacon, deli turkey, pastrami, corned beef, salami and a host of other sleight-of-hand items, all prepared minus the benefit of pork, beef, poultry and other animal proteins.” The owners say they’re hoping to give omnivores an easy, comfortable way to switch to a vegan diet, even if it’s only one day a week. 

Practically every banana grown in the western world is descended from a plant grown in the greenhouse of an English stately home. But their death is imminent.

Ffwrn, Fishguard
I had lunch at Ffwrn, the most delightfully eccentric restaurant in Fishguard on Saturday. The Women’s Institute Hall has been turned into a restaurant cum bakery with a large wood oven at the back. The owners are welcoming, and the husband struck me as quite a character. The menu is limited at this time of year, but I enjoyed a potato-leek-camembert pie and a glass of mulled wine. And I was finally able to buy a loaf of dense whole wheat bread straight from the wood-fired oven.

Ffwrn, pronounced “foorn” is “four” in French and “oven” in English.

Here’s a lovely review with more photos.

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, January 21, 2016

St. David's, Wales

As you approach most of Great Britain’s cathedral towns, the first thing you see is the cathedral spire. But that’s not the case in St. David’s, Wales.

St. David’s Cathedral is tucked away in a valley below the city’s High Street. Follow one of the narrow lanes that leads to the wall dividing city and cathedral, and you’ll find yourself looking down over a lush green lawn to the cathedral and the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace. Head over the green hills in the background and you’d reach the coast.

The Cathedral has a lovely latticed oak ceiling that was installed to hide 16th-century emergency repairs.

The Bishop’s Palace was once the largest and finest in all of Britain. It’s now in ruins – a reminder to us all that worldly goods have a very short life span.

Because it has a cathedral, St. David’s has the right to call itself a city, but it’s really a village of under 1700 inhabitants. It’s a quiet, sleepy place in mid-winter, but in summer it bustles with tourists visiting the cathedral and art galleries or surfing at the coast.

Many of the galleries were closed, but The Glass Studio was open and had some really lovely pieces of glass.

There are two excellent places to shop for food. The Veg Patch has organic whole foods, while St. David’s Food & Wine has a wide range of international food, a large wine and beer collection, and a deli.

I had a tasty Welsh lunch sourced almost completely from local suppliers at the cathedral’s Refectory: potato-leek soup, Welsh cheddar and chutney sandwich.

The sky was blue; the sun was shining; and the daffodils were in bloom. It was a perfectly lovely day.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 18, 2016

Cognac, Jan. 30 
Sample a range of Cognacs and learn about the history of the region from 7-9 pm, Jan. 30, at Saskatoon Co-op Liquor.

Wine Tastings 
Fine Wines Sask is hosting wine tastings on the following dates across the province:
Jan. 27 – JT’s Pub, Prince Albert
Jan. 29 – Highway Host Family Restaurant, Rosetown
Jan. 30 – Tilli Beans Bakery & Coffee Shop, Wolseley

Paint Nites, Rook & Raven 
The Rook & Raven will be hosting paint nights on Jan. 24, Feb. 7, and Feb. 21. PaintNite is an international franchise that “invites you to create art over cocktails at a local hotspot, guided by a professional artist and party host.”

Downtown Food Options 
Downtown grocery stores face multiple challenges. They aren’t big enough or popular enough – and so they are shut down. The Good Food Junction was established 3 years ago to provide fresh food to core neighbourhoods, but poor sales are forcing them to shut down.

The Shop Easy in City Park shut down a few months ago. Local residents have formed the City Centre Food Co-operative and are offering a bi-weekly pop-up grocery market at the Saskatoon Community Service Village. Their long-term plan is to establish a co-operative grocery store in the City Park area, but that could be several years away.

Neechi Foods, an Aboriginal worker co-operative in Winnipeg is fighting to stay open: “One challenge unique to one of Neechi Foods' primary markets is the unique cash situation for many of its customers. ’It's around income-assistance days or child tax credit days. So what happens, when people get their total month income in one lump sum, the temptation is very high to jump into a cab and find some cousin who has a car and head to where they think they're going to get the best deals. That's part of what we're up against,’ said Rothney….He says Neechi Foods' growth strategy revolves around filling the small market gaps that large grocers will not fill by selling local foods such as fresh caught fish, wild blueberries and competing on price where possible with major grocers. Rothney said it's possible to make a profit in the core area. ‘It's not a matter of whether you can make a profit, it's where can you make the highest rate of profit. So that's what motivates stores to move out of the area. Even if they're actually still doing better than break even."

License to Farm 
License to Farm, a 30-minute documentary produced by SaskCanola, explores issues related to food production in Saskatchewan and is available online.

National School Food Program 
The Coalition for Healthy School Food is advocating for a universal school food program. They say, “Despite an abundance of research that shows how school food programs make a vital contribution to students’ physical and mental health, school food has yet to be embraced as a universal education strategy.” 

Winter Reading 
There’s something for everyone on Food Tank’s winter reading list that ranges from permaculture and women farmers to Senegalese and food truck recipes.

Brit Food of the Week
And, finally, my favorite new flavours of the week were Marmalade Ice Cream at the Harbourmaster Hotel and Restaurant (highly recommended) in Aberaeron and Good Life vegetarian sausages. And the only thing these sausages have in common with ordinary sausages are their shape. Mine were stuffed with peas, green beans, and Wensleydale cheese.

Good Life's mission is to make vegetables the star of the show: “So join us in championing the humble pea, the bashful parsnip and the shy beetroot! Nobody puts veg in the corner…” 

Photos: The last two photographs are of Aberaeron on a very wild, windy day. The first is of Newport.

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).