Monday, September 29, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 29, 2014


Vietnamese Roll, Stonebridge 
I had lunch at the Vietnamese Roll restaurant (#6 – 215 Stonebridge Boulevard) last week. I love the bright, sunny décor. The vegetables were fresh and crisp and the desserts are homemade. There are lots of vegetarian options and next time I’ll choose something with tofu for a more substantial meal.



Vegetarian Harvest Dinner, Oct. 23
Great news! There will be a vegetarian harvest dinner, hosted by Vinyasa Yoga for Youth, at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on October 23.

Sustainable Gourmet Dinner 
Every year, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society hosts a gourmet dinner with locally-sourced foods. It’s a great way to enjoy local food prepared extremely well. Judy Montgomery has organized the dinner for the past 9 years – the first dinner for 50 people was in her own home! Judy sources all the ingredients, lines up the chefs and even contributes some of her own garden produce. Congratulations!


Lemon Trees for Prairie Windowsills
Winter is fast approaching, so I love the idea of being able to grow a lemon tree on my windowsill. M.P.M. Nair and his wife, Karen Tanino, have been developing a lemon tree that will produce fruit in low light.

“The fruit that Nair finally succeeded in breeding is called the centurion lemon. The fruit looks and smells just like any other lemon, but the plants are small enough they can fit on a windowsill. The fruit grows in clusters, almost like a bouquet of lemons. Nair said the young plant can produce as many as 30 fruits a year.”

Wine Tastings: Saskatoon Co-op 
I am fascinated by wine’s back story – where was it grown, who grew it – so I always enjoy attending wine tastings where winery representatives share their winery’s history and wines. Anthony Taylor, Gabriel Meffre, did a fantastic job of presenting his La Châsse and Laurus wines on September 27 at the Saskatoon Co-op liquor store in Blairmore.


One of my favorites was the La Châsse Cȏtes du Rhȏne Prestige White. It uses some unfamiliar grape varietals (Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette blanche, Roussanne), but they add up to a complex, refreshing wine.

Healthy School Food 
Far too often, parents and classes raise money by selling unhealthy food – pizza lunches and chocolate bars, for example. So it’s refreshing to read about parents and schools that are taking a different approach.

Farmigo distributes produce for local farmers. They’ve introduced a school fundraising campaign. Parents pick up their groceries at the school and the school receives 10% of the proceeds.

FarmRaiser has a list of products schools can sell as a fundraiser. But you won’t find cookies and desserts. Instead, there are local fruits and vegetables, locally sourced honey, artisan breads, jam.

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 22, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 22, 2014

Wild Blueberry and Tomatillo Soup Shooters with Pickled Vegetables and a Chanterelle Crouton
Slow Food Reading, Sept. 28
Amy Jo Ehman and dee Hobsbawn-Smith will be reading from their latest books at a Slow Food Salon from 1-3 pm, September 28, at 543 Sturgeon Drive (home of Noelle Chorney).

Winter Composting, Oct. 1
The SK Waste Reduction Council’s presentation at 7 pm, October 1, at the Frances Morrison Library will cover composting through the winter months, including bokashi fermentation and vermicomposting.

SK Book: Every Bite Affects the World
Catherine Verrall, a Regina author, has just published Every Bite Affects the World, a cookbook that is intended to help you discover “the connections between the food we eat and our own health, also the health of soil, water and climate, of communities and farmers, both here and far away.”

Ryan Meili says, “Combining original recipes, inspirational quotes, and reflections on our relationship with food and the land that produces it, Every Bite Affects the World is at once mouth-watering and thought-provoking.”

The book is available online from Amazon, Chapters, and Friesen Press. Print copies are available in Regina at Eat Healthy Foods, Nature’s Best Market, Hemp Haven, Regina Farmers’ Market, and will be available shortly in Saskatoon.

Smiling for the photographer. Have you ever seen such a giant potato masher?
Adventures with Chef Jenni
Attending one of Chef Jenni’s Solstice dinners at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is always an adventure. There are unexpected ingredients (Cream of Wheatlet Polenta with Roasted Vegetables) and unexpected flavours (Wild Blueberry and Tomatillo Soup Shooters, Corn and Tarragon Ice Cream). It’s a chance to expand your horizons while supporting the Farmers’ Market.

Chef Jenni’s next Solstice meal will be on December 20, and Jenni says that it will be a Dinner in the Dark.

Book: Ice Cream Social
Ice Cream Social: The Struggle for the Soul of Ben & Jerry’s by Brad Edmondson chronicles the challenges that Ben & Jerry's faces as they try to establish a business where the people and the company’s social mission are as important as making a profit. They continue to work towards that goal even after they are taken over by a large multinational.

Corn & Tarragon Ice Cream with a Chocolate Beet Cookie
Video: Wine Geeks
Somm is a fun look at people following their passion as four guys spend every waking moment studying and tasting wine in the hopes of becoming a master sommelier. The movie is available on Netflix.

Community Oven in the Park
Urban parks fulfill so many purposes. People can play, exercise, or visit with their neighbours. They provide wildlife corridors for our furry citizens. One Toronto park got a new life – and it all started with the installation of a tandoor oven. They also started up a weekly market, which gave newcomers a chance to practise their English and make a little extra money.

Hospital Food
Was hospital food in the Middle Ages better than it is today? It’s hard to tell, but we could certainly reintroduce the idea of a hospital garden and re-emphasize the health benefits of food.

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, September 18, 2014

Childhood Places

I’ve been reading Microadventures by Alastair Humphries in which he advocates for taking tiny little adventures close to home. Now, most of the adventures in the book involve hiking or camping out overnight, and that’s never been my choice of activities. However, I do like the idea of breaking out of your routine, getting outdoors and doing things that you don’t normally do.

When I read Humphries’ account of visiting and cycling between his father’s birthplace in Leeds and his mother’s in Liverpool, it made me think. Now, I’m not going to walk or cycle between Ottawa where my mother was born and Southampton where my father was born. But I could take a look at the house where I grew up in Saskatoon, have lunch in the park where I played as a child, and retrace the routes I took when walking to elementary and high schools.


The park is much fancier than it was when I was a child. I was so happy to see all the trees. There were none when I was a child. My old house looks very different with a new front porch and landscaping, but some of the trees are the same, including the evergreen I planted in public school. It’s so tall now!


Everything seemed smaller and the distances seemed shorter, but the different places brought back memories of people and events. I feel sorry for kids who no longer walk to school. I loved walking and visiting with my friends. We even stopped to talk to some of the neighbours, particularly one old gentleman with a wonderful garden. And I remember walking down the back alleys and picking poppies that were growing wild.

Microadventures are fun.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 15, 2014


Nestor’s Bakery Anniversary Sale, Sept. 17-19 
Three Sisters /Nestor’s Bakery is celebrating their fourth anniversary September 17 to 19. Specialty doughnuts will be two for the price of one.

Forestry Farm Fall Supper, Oct. 5
The Friends of the Forestry Farm House are hosting a 3-course meal at 5 and 7 pm on October 5. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance (373-1787, c.bear@sasktel.net).


Herbal Time Tea House 
My Saskatoon had an article about a tea house in Willowgrove (111 – 412 Willowgrove Square). Herbal Time Tea House appears to serve primarily herbal and bubble teas. You can also come for afternoon tea with cake, cookies, finger sandwiches and seasonal fruit.

Fresh Produce at Riversdale Deli 
Riversdale Delicatessen is stocking a new cooler with local vegetables from Floating Gardens and Wally’s Urban Market.

Sobeys Liquor Store 
Sobeys Liquor Store opened this week in Stonebridge (3130 Preston Avenue). I’m looking forward to visiting and seeing how it compares to Co-op’s specialty liquor store.

Photo credit: Riverlot Facebook page

Riverlot Orchards Winery 
I just learned that there is a fruit winery and restaurant just west of St. Louis called Riverlot Orchards Winery. I’m eager to visit, have a meal – or a piece of pie – and maybe buy a bottle of wine. They are open from 1-8 pm, Thursdays to Sundays, until Thanksgiving. Their products are also available at the Prince Albert Farmers’ Market.


Waste at Summer Festivals 
Many, many cities promote and assist in recycling the waste from their summer festivals. For unknown reasons, the City of Saskatoon felt that first they should determine if there was any waste that could be recycled.

The answer, obviously, was yes. 71% of the waste sent to the landfill from four of the city’s summer festivals could have been recycled, according to a report by the city’s environmental advisory committee.

Let’s get up to speed, Saskatoon. We know that protected bike lanes are good for cyclists, drivers and businesses. And we know that there are ways that we could reduce the waste from our summer festivals (Folk Fest, Regina; Greening Your Event, City of Vancouver). Let’s stop talking and reporting and have some action.

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).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Corn, Pumpkins & Blueberries: A Market Celebration of Local Abundance

From Shield to Field Dinner with Chef Jenni, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, September 20, 2014

As Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Chef in Residence, Jenni Willems has an opportunity to share her enjoyment of local food with fellow enthusiasts. In addition to Cook and Learn sessions at the Night Markets, Jenni will be preparing four seasonal meals to coincide with the solstice.

“There’s something special about having a meal in the place the food was sourced,” Jenni says. “It’s a different vibe to be right in the Market and to celebrate that space. You can feel the camaraderie as diners enjoy the fruits of a lot of people’s labours.”

Jenni’s appreciation for local and foraged food dates back to her childhood. “When I was six months old, my parents set me in a clearing in the woods and let me pick the blueberries all around me,” she says. “We left my baby bottle behind and were never able to recover it, so my family likes to believe that a mama bear took it to feed her baby.”

The solstice is a timely opportunity to reflect on the season that has past as well as the season ahead. Although Jenni has prepared a tentative menu, it’s still a work in progress and diners can expect a few wild cards.

But you can be guaranteed that there will be pumpkin on the menu. “Pumpkin is one of my favorite vegetables. I love the colour, the smell, and the sound when you cut into it,” Jenni says. She will also be taking advantage of the last of the fresh herbs, so you can expect touches of dill, thyme and nasturtium flowers.

“I like to under-promise and over-deliver,” Jenni says. One of the highlights of any meal she prepares is her creative, quirky touches. You may be familiar with adding beets to chocolate cake, but there will be chunks of beet in the chocolate cookies. Jenni is also musing about a tarragon corn sweet at the close of the meal, and the appetizer will be served in a corn husk.

When asked what dishes will be the most challenging to prepare, Jenni has to pause and consider: “I never think about difficulty until I start making the food. The stuffed green tomato could be tricky. It should be al dente, not mushy, but you want to make sure it’s sweetened a bit. The corn dessert could be a little tricky as well.”


One of the highlights of the market dinners is watching the chef assemble the food and talk about it. Jenni says that she will also be sending the recipes home with the diners.

If you love good local food, enjoy surprises and support the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, be sure to attend the From Shield to Field Dinner on September 20. Chef Jenni will accommodate special dietary needs as long as she has received advance notification.

My thanks to the Saskatoon Farmers' Market for inviting me to attend the Spring Solstice Supper as their guest.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 8, 2014


It was a pleasure to meet a Wanderlust and Words reader at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market on Sunday. It made me really happy to know that she enjoys reading my blog. Don't hesitate to introduce yourself - and let me know if there are particular topics you'd like me to cover.

Prairie Sun Brewery 
It’s hard to keep up with all the events at Prairie Sun Brewery. They’re launching their Saskatoon Berry Saison over brunch on September 13.

#yxe Oktoberfest, complete with local beer, games and food trucks, is on October 4.

Street Food Fest 2014, Sept. 13 
Don’t forget that Saskatoon’s first street food and music festival takes place from 11:30 am – 10 pm, Saturday, September 13, on Spadina between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. There will be 14 mobile food vendors.

Needs and Yields: A Community Exchange
Some of you may be interested in joining Needs and Yields, a Facebook group that is designed to provide a forum for sharing skills, seeds, plants, etc. with the local permaculture community. If you need something or have something to share, post it.

Sofie’s Solitaires
Helen Woodhouse was my best friend in high school. I can remember long hours listening to music (Cat Stevens and Gordon Lightfoot come to mind) and enjoying her mother’s Mennonite food. Helen remembers that we both wrote poetry (one of mine was even published in the yearbook!).


Helen has just had her first book published. Sofie’s Solitaires is a delightful account of a little girl who is bored and wants a pet. She quickly learns a great deal about freedom versus captivity and the responsibilities that come with owning a pet. The story is set in Costa Rica, where Helen and her husband now live, and offers an intriguing glimpse of Costa Rica, its scenery and wildlife. I love the monkeys who reappear in almost every illustration.

Sofie’s Solitaires is available as an ebook from Amazon. You can order paper copies either online from the publisher or by request at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Bring Your Own Container: Lose All of that Packaging 
I’ve started writing a column about reducing waste and greening our lives for the bi-monthly flow magazine. Here’s my first article from page 45 of the September/October 2014 issue. 

Have you ever looked in the cupboard and wondered how on earth you could have accumulated so many take-out containers? Or maybe you threw them out but felt guilty about creating unnecessary waste.

Here’s one solution: provide your own container.

I try and remember to stash a reusable container in my car or office drawer so that if I pick up soup for lunch or have leftovers after a restaurant meal, I can use my own container. Reusable containers are sturdier so I’m less likely to dribble sauce all over my desk, and I’ve avoided adding to my Styrofoam stash.

There’s a side benefit to providing your own container as it prevents impulse purchases. You’ll be less likely to buy a piece of that decadent chocolate cake if you only purchase it when you have your own container.

I feel sorry for restaurants and other food businesses as there really aren’t any environmentally friendly take-out containers. Recycled paper is one of the better options and some vendors, like Floating Gardens, are paying extra to use clamshells made out of recycled plastic.

But the best option of all is your own container that you can use over and over again.

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).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Flavourful Nelson, BC

I was housesitting and shopping in Nelson, BC, this summer, and it was interesting to identify what was the same and what was different from Saskatoon. Here are just a few of the things I noticed.

Mobile, wood-fired pizza oven

Local Food
The West Kootenay Eco Society hosts two weekly markets during the summer months. Every Wednesday, they close off two blocks of Baker Street (Nelson’s main thoroughfare) and on Saturdays, they host a market at Cottonwood Falls.

Compared to the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, these are much smaller affairs almost equally divided between food and crafts. There are a number of local organic farmers selling their fruit and vegetables, but the range is much more limited.


However, the Kootenay Co-op – and a number of other stores and coffee shops – sells a wide variety of locally prepared foods. For example, I ate Rosemary Rye Wild Onion Nutburgers from Salmo and Ariah’s Chili-Lime Burritos from Glade. And be sure to try Little Miss Gelato ice cream - the chocolate hazelnut flavour consists of layers of rich, dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts.

The Kootenay Co-op has a large deli section, but they do not make the food themselves. Instead, they act as a go-between, providing a space for small local producers to sell their wares.


The local products really celebrate local culture. This is Doukhobour country, so you find lots of borscht and pirahi.

Tea & Coffee
Shock and horrors! There are no Starbucks or Tim Horton’s in Nelson. Instead, there are some excellent independent coffee shops. I recommend John Ward Fine Coffee (hot chocolate made from dark Callebaut chocolate and fresh baking) and Grounded Café.


You can also purchase locally roasted coffee, including Seven Summits from Warfield.

I was super excited to discover Cloud Mountain Tea House. The owner sources a wide variety of loose-leaf teas (black, oolong, green). I purchased several and was really happy with the quality of the teas. I would love to see a tea store in Saskatoon (Sorry. David’s Tea doesn’t count. I’m not interested in flavoured teas and franchises.)


Wine & Spirits
BC Wine Guys stocks over 500 of BC’s VQA wines, and they’re always happy to provide suggestions. I wish we got even half the selection in Saskatchewan.


Micro distilleries are a trend that is sweeping the country. There’s even one in the Slocan Valley – Kootenay Country Craft Distillery.

Bakeries
There are two excellent bakeries in Nelson. I particularly love Au Soleil Levant, a French-Canadian bakery. Tucked away in the alley behind the Bank of Montreal, they make excellent bread with daily specials. The Friday challah with raisins and poppy seeds is excellent, and the brioches are truly decadent (pineapple, apricots, white or dark chocolate, etc.).


The Kootenay Bakery & Café is a worker-run, organic bakery. If you’re looking for a picnic lunch, do try the spelt bun with tofu scrambler and Antoinette’s dip – yum!

Milk
I purchased organic milk in returnable glass jugs from Creston, BC (the other side of the mountains). How I wish that a Saskatoon dairy would offer a similar product.


Kootenay Co-op
The Kootenay Co-op is the largest independent, member-owned, natural food store in Canada; they’ve been in business for 40 years. The range of products that they sell is outstanding, and they pay close attention to quality and business ethics before stocking a product.


A couple of years ago, they purchased the grocery store at the end of Baker Street. They are planning to turn it into a commercial/residential development with condominiums. BC Wine Guys and the Co-op will be key tenants on the ground floor. It’s really exciting to see what they’ve achieved and I love shopping at the Co-op.

Another good place to shop for healthy foods is Ellison’s Market in a one-hundred year-old heritage building.

Baker Street
As many of you know, I was using a walker last summer, so I’m very aware of how cities are laid out and how easy – or not so easy – they are to get around. Nelson has to be one of the best.


There are handicapped parking stalls on every block of Baker Street, so you’re not competing with the whole population for a parking place that is close to where you want to go. In addition, there seems to be a lot more time allotted for crossing the street – you don’t have to run to make it across the street before the lights change – hallelujah!

The parking meters are for varying amounts of time, depending on the location. So on the outskirts of downtown, you can park for 4 hours, whereas prime spots on Baker Street are for anything from 15 minutes to one hour.


Nearly every coffee shop or restaurant has an outdoor patio. And they close off at least part of the main street once or twice a week for markets and other festivals.

In addition, Baker Street is lined with beautifully restored heritage buildings. This is my kind of town!