Monday, November 20, 2017

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 20, 2017

Romaine Calm & Party On, Dec. 6 
The City Centre Food Co-operative is hosting a burger & beer fundraiser on Dec. 6.

Celebrate Canadian Winemaking, Dec. 16
Sample wines from Nova Scotia to British Columbia on Dec. 16 at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.

Clearcut Coffeehouse, Martensville 
Clearcut Coffeehouse is opening on Wednesday, Nov. 22, in Martensville. They’ll be serving Wild Serendipity Food's scones, macarons, and a soup.

Ecobain Gardens Expands
Ecobain Gardens will be launching 3 new products over the next 3 weeks – potted herbs, bare root, and larger clamshell basil products. They’ve also taken over distribution of their products to ensure that they’re fresher.

My favorite - pain au raisin!
Rethinking Food Drives
Food drives seem like a good idea – but are they really?

“Put yourself in the place of a food bank that has just accepted an anarchic 40-pound box of random food from an office fundraiser. It’s got pie filling, Kraft Dinner, beans, pumpkin, and chickpeas. All those food items need to be sorted, stored, inventoried and then shoehorned into the food bank’s distribution schedule. 

“So why don't more people give money? Because writing a check isn't nearly as gratifying to the giver as handing over a bag of canned goods. It's not as tangible as donating food. . . . Nor do charities want to ask for money instead of food, since some food is better than none, and they don't want donors to think they're being picky because help isn't badly needed. 

“So, if you really care, be pragmatic in your approach to vanquishing poverty (and food waste): "Suck it up, key in your credit card number and enter the glorious world of anonymous, non-glamourous philanthropy." 

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen 
Sean Sherman has published The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, which he describes as “a great starter book for people to think about ways that they can approach indigenous foods, and to gain a deeper understanding of the foods and flavors of their regions.” 

Food as Entertainment 
Fico Eataly World in Bologna is an enormous agri-food park with restaurants, stores, educational displays and workshops. They hope to attract 6 million tourists a year, but many are questioning its authenticity when compared to visiting a farmers’ market or sampling cheese in a small village. Fico Eataly World has an outstanding selection of producers and educational experiences; however, “the quantity of heavily branded restaurants and bars, and the way in which visitors are directed through the areas past Lamborghini memorabilia, as if at an airport, highlights the mass consumer culture behind the project.” 

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Carcassonne Market

There was a cold wind blowing through the square, but Carcassonne market was bustling with people come to stock up for the week on fruit, vegetables, cheese, bread, and more.

There were so many choices that I had a hard time whittling down my purchases to a reasonable number.

I made sure to buy fresh artichokes, endives (so good in a salad with tomatoes), Vacherin cheese, organic whole wheat bread, clementines, and apples.

My surprise purchase was a large fire-roasted beetroot. And it’s really good – smoky and sweet.

The products were so beautifully displayed, and there was so much colour and life.

I took the train back to Quillan, which was so much fun. We passed through vineyards and forests, 4 tunnels, factories and houses, and made brief stops in small towns and villages along the way. There was often no station – just a chunk of platform in the middle of nowhere or beside a busy highway.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Kissed by Sunshine: Meandering in Perpignan

My third visit to Perpignan and it is fast becoming one of my favorite French cities. Of course, it helps that I’ve always visited on sunny days!

Perpignan is one of France’s southernmost cities with large squares, restaurant terraces, lovely old buildings, market stalls, winding alleys filled with clothing stores and chocolate shops, tea salons and tiny restaurants with brightly-coloured outdoor tables.

In the morning, I visited Les Halles Vauban, a brand-new, up-market collection of food stores and restaurants.

I drooled over the pâtisseries, longed to dip a spoon into the gooey Gorgonzola, and resisted purchasing some of every kind of olive.

The best surprise of the day was the rooftop terrace at Galeries Lafayette with its amazing views in every direction.

Lunch was wine, pizza, sunshine, and the delight of watching all the people crossing back and forth in the square.

This lovely art deco building is a cinema where I gave my feet a break and thoroughly enjoyed the movie Prendre Le Large (Catch the Wind in English). I highly recommend it.

The sun was setting as I made my way back to the bus station.

I applaud the Roussillon regional government for subsidizing inter-city bus fares in order to increase accessibility for residents of the many small towns in this area. I paid 1 euro (less than $1.50) for a two-hour bus journey – a shocking contrast with Saskatchewan where the government did away with provincial bus service.

Earlier posts about Perpignan:
Mediterranean Perpignan
Perpignan à Noël

Monday, November 13, 2017

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 13, 2017

International Bazaar, Nov. 18
Saskatoon Open Door Society is hosting an international bazaar on Nov. 18. There will be food, crafts, and entertainment.

Wine & Chocolate, Dec. 2 
Sample Okanagan’s Karat Chocolate made by former Saskatonian, Julian Helman, paired with wine on Dec. 2 at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer. Helman was recently named the 2017 Chocolatier of the Year.

Most Wanted Food Items 
Saskatoon Food Bank and the Friendship Inn are always looking for donations. Here are lists of their most wanted food items:

Saskatoon Food Bank (from peanut butter and whole-grain pasta to baby food and formula)

Friendship Inn (from home-grown fruit and vegetables to monthly donations or sponsoring a meal)

Getting Kids to Eat the Good Stuff
Plants to Plates Activity Guide includes 8 food-themed sessions with hands-on activities to build kids’ confidence in preparing and growing food and making healthy food choices. It can be downloaded for free.

Are Hydroponics Organic? 
The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. No, they may not be using pesticides, but this opens the door for massive hydroponic operations such as Driscoll’s to call themselves organic without addressing the full organic mandate. “At its core, say those activists, organic food is about an entire ecosystem: taking care of the soil, recharging nutrients with crop rotation, providing for natural pollinators and pest control. It is a way for farming, which can often be ecologically destructive, to work with the planet.”

Shrink Your Carbon Footprint – Eat Plants
Two scientists have done the math and say that switching to a plant-based diet can make a big difference. “Wynes found going from omnivore to vegetarian could reduce your personal carbon emissions by about 0.8 tonnes per year — a bigger difference than replacing your gasoline-powered car with a hybrid. Going from omnivore to vegan would reduce your emissions by 0.9 tonnes per year.”

For those of you who don’t want to give up meat, the arguments for and against grass-fed beef are complicated. But the bottom line remains the same – if you want to protect the environment, you should eat less meat.

2018 Food Trends 
Whole Foods looked into its crystal ball and came up with a list of food trends for 2018. Take a look and see which ones interest you. Root to stem and an increased focus on mushrooms sound good to me.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 6, 2017

City Centre Food Co-operative, Nov. 2Dec. 17 
City Centre Food Co-operative will be open every Thursday from 10:30 am – 6 pm from Nov. 2 to Dec. 17. Stop by the Saskatoon Community Service Village lobby to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at a very reasonable price.

Brew Your Own Coffee – Manually, Nov. 12 
Venn Coffee Roasters is hosting a workshop from 2-3 pm, Nov. 12, to explain how to brew coffee manually at home using Hario V60 and Aeropress extraction. Email to register.

High Key Brewing Co.
High Key Brewing Co., one of Saskatoon’s newest craft breweries, worked with a local artist to create beautifully wrapped growlers that are for sale in their shop. For every purchase, $5 will be donated to the Saskatoon Nature Society to support conservation and education.

Crossmount Cider
Crossmount cider is now available at Saskatoon Co-op Liquor.

Women Cheesemakers 
Historically in the United Kingdom women were the cheesemakers. The word dairy is derived from the Old English word for female servant. Dairymaids were responsible for milking cows and making cheese and butter. Once reviled as feminine mystery, undertaken by strong, rosy-cheeked and hardy women, cheesemaking now seems to be a male-dominated practice. The 19th century saw a shift from farm-produced to factory-produced cheese, and thus from women to men.”

Plant-Based Food 
There’s a growing interest in plant-based food, demonstrated by the fact that Campbell Soup Company has joined the Plant Based Foods Association. They had earlier left the Grocery Manufacturers Association over a disagreement about genetically modified food labelling, which Campbell supports.

Fighting Food Waste 
In New York and Nashville, restaurants, cities, and non-profits are partnering to fight food waste.

Just Don’t Call Them Mocktails 
Non-alcoholic cocktails are catching on, especially in London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. “I consider our nonalcohol cocktails to be as complex and as important as our ones with alcohol and refer to them simply as cocktails . . . . Mocktails, on the other hand, have a negative connotation. They tend to be overly sweet and an afterthought at bars.”

Culturally Relevant School Lunches 
“Cafeterias have begun to incorporate ingredients like wild rice and buffalo and serve items ranging from poi to fajitas. From Vermont to Hawaii, food service directors across the country are devising an array of solutions to the lack of diversity in school food. Whether through catering to traditional dietary cultures or teaching kids about native foods and their preparation, school food programs are beginning to see their students’ once-marginalized cultural traditions and dietary needs of as a wealth of opportunity.”

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

Château de Puilaurens

High up on a rugged mountain peak are the ruins of the medieval castle of Puilaurens. Located in a sparsely populated region of southwest France (a 15-minute drive from Quillan), it comes as a surprise to find a fortified castle. And yet, during the 13th century, the castle played an important role in defending France’s border with Aragon (Spain).

Located at 697 metres above the Boulzane valley, a castle may have existed here as early as the 10th century. For a short time, it was a refuge for the local Cathars who were facing religious persecution.

By the middle of the 13th century, the castle had been substantially reinforced by the French monarchy. The southernmost castle in France, it played an important role in defending France against attacks from Aragon.

The castle’s ruins still evoke the spirits of the soldiers who guarded its walls. Looking down from a southern window, you can imagine mounted soldiers or messengers hurrying along the narrow road that winds its way through the valley.

Windows on the north side of the castle provide a spectacular view of the Lapradelle Viaduct, constructed in 1900 to carry the railway line across the valley.

As I made my way cautiously over the stones and up the rough steps, I was amused to note that there are no guides, no signs warning of danger, or roped-off areas. A young girl skipped down the stairs and older children were left free to roam. I can’t imagine this happening in North America where we are so very, very safety-conscious.

If you happen to take the road between Quillan and Perpignan in the dark, be sure to look up. The floodlit walls of the château are an entrancing sight.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 30, 2017

Lots of flowers for sale at Quillan market prior to All Saint's Day

Congratulations, Chef Jenni, on winning Silver in Saskatoon’s Gold Medal Plates with a vegetarian main course!

Prairie Pours, Nov. 18 
The Glen at Crossmount is hosting Prairie Pours from 6-10 pm, Nov. 18. You can taste everything from Saskatchewan kombucha and coffee to beer and cider.

French Wines, Nov. 24 
Sample wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux in the company of Export Director Guillaume Blisson of Maison Gabriel Meffre and Winemaker Pierre Jhean of Maison Henri de Villamont on Nov. 24 at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer. You can find out more about these wine regions and wineries in my 2014 interview.

Toad Lane Market 
Toad Lane Market, Saskatoon’s newest market where everything is grown or made by the vendors, is looking for your input for next year. Where do you think they should be located? What hours would work best for you? What other advice can you give them as they become established?

Reply to their survey (if you can open it; I couldn't) or send them a message on their Facebook page.

Falafel Wrap 
I had the most amazing falafel wrap from Quillan market yesterday. It was huge and absolutely packed with vegetables. Along with the grated red and white cabbage, onion, and carrot there were cooked carrot slices and curried cauliflower florets, and a spicy red pepper sauce along with the tahini. And I'm probably forgetting some of the ingredients. So don't be shy - throw in a few extra ingredients the next time you make a falafel wrap!

Ancient Corn 
“There is nothing quite like a good tortilla. Unfortunately, almost no one in the U.S. has ever had a good, authentic tortilla—handmade, still warm from the comal it’s been cooked on, from landrace corn grown, nixtamalized, and ground nearby, often by the very same hands making the tortillas.”

Italian Tomatoes 
You may want to think twice about buying a tin of Italian tomatoes. Two of the largest brands sold in the UK (and possibly in Canada?) use tomatoes picked under miserable working conditions.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

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

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 23, 2017

Our Farm CSA
Our Farm is organically certified and grows a wide variety of different vegetables. Sign up now to receive a weekly selection of vegetables from July to October. “It is like having your own garden without the work and veggies showing up fresh picked and in season!”

Cooking Classes
Ah, home-made apple strudel! Simon’s Fine Foods offers such a wide assortment of cooking classes – from apple strudel, Italian torrone, and Christmas cookies to a Moroccan or Spanish meal. There are also pizza and beer or parent and child classes. Sign up yourself or offer someone else a gift certificate.

Slow Food Canada National Meeting, Apr. 19-22
A heads-up for those of you who are interested in food that is good, clean, and fair – Slow Food Saskatoon is hosting the national meeting of Slow Food Canada from Apr. 19-22. Give Slow Food Saskatoon a shout if you would like to help organize the event and be sure to set aside those dates to meet people from across Canada and go on some really interesting field trips.

I continue to be profoundly grateful to the farmers and producers who work crazy hours and take exceptional risks to provide us with good food to eat. I was buying organic goat cheese from a local farmer Saturday morning and she told me that the freshest cheese had been made that morning (there were two others that had been aged for longer periods of time) – and I’m assuming that first she had milked the goats. It was only 10 o’clock in the morning, but she had already put in a full day.

What I’m Thinking: Supermarket Checkout Operator
“I make no judgments about your shopping; your eight cans of lager a day, your chocolate habit, your inability to resist doughnuts, your reliance on sliced white and spread. . . . Sometimes, some of you don’t see us, and after 10 hours of scanning and beeping, your refusal to acknowledge me is upsetting. Carry on your phone conversation, nurture your bad mood, be irritated by not finding what you wanted, and I will carry on smiling. But deny my existence as a person and you will wreck my day.”

Syrian Bakers
Refugees face so many hurdles, and they don’t even have the comfort of familiar food or the ability to carry on in their chosen profession, as a baker, for example. “If you want to destroy a culture, the earth-scorching Romans knew, destroy not only its armies, but also its food sources and traditions.”

Heritage Apples
I am tired of being offered Gala apples no matter what country I live in. We have lost so much of the variety of our heritage fruit through standardization. I am thrilled to learn that Perry Court Farm in Kent, England, grows 150 different varieties of apples and 30 varieties of pears. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a taste test and compare one apple or pear to another!

Photo credit: London Farmers’ Markets Facebook page

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events.

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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mediterranean Perpignan

It’s only a short distance from Quillan in the foothills of the Pyrénées to Perpignan near the Mediterranean coast, but the climate changes dramatically. From forested foothills and tight mountain passes, you pass through villages dedicated entirely to the production of wine, finally arriving in the major urban centre of Perpignan.

Step out the door of the train station and you are greeted by a boulevard of 19th-century bourgeois mansions lined with palm trees. There is bougainvillea blooming by the river in the middle of October.

The city of Perpignan has been in existence since Roman times, but its golden age was 1276-1344 when it was the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca, a kingdom that encompassed parts of both Spain and France.

Perpignan is very close to the Spanish border and many residents consider themselves to be citizens of Catalonia. The Catalan colours were flying on the Castelet when I was there, and all the street signs are in French and Catalan.

The city has close ties with both Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. The shopping centre next to the TGV railway station is entitled El Centre del Mon or the Centre of the World because Dali, in an ecstatic experience, declared that the train station was the centre of the universe.

The newly-renovated art gallery (Musée des Beaux Arts Hyacinthe Rigaud) was previously a privately-owned mansion and Picasso stayed here on various occasions from 1954 to 1956. The gallery is well worth visiting and I plan to go back as I only had time and energy to take in the Picasso exhibit.

It takes a couple of visits to become familiar with the layout of the old city, which consists of several large squares and a large number of narrow streets and alleyways.

There was a small market in the Place de la République, and I loved the colourful display of tins of tea in the Kusmi store.

I recommend lunch at the Crêperie du Théâtre, especially the salted caramel dessert crêpe! Owned and run by a young couple, they serve local, organic, fair trade dishes for a very reasonable price.

For additional photographs, see Perpignan à Noël.