Monday, April 21, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, April 21, 2014

 Roasted Chickpeas 
Three Farmers is testing a new product – roasted chickpeas. They’re currently considering the following flavours: Sea Salt & Lime, Balsamic & Cracked Pepper, Barbecue. I’m particularly eager to try the first two.

I visited Simon Reynolds at Souplicious Creations this past week. Of course, I had to pick up some sticky toffee pudding (amazingly generous portions). I also bought Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese soup and Minestrone. Yummy. If you’re in Avalon at lunch time, Souplicious is a great place to pick up a hot lunch.

Pedal Power
Check out this East Vancouver coffee shop. It serves organic, locally sourced groceries and fair trade meals. And you can you create your own electricity to power your laptop by pedalling.

Haute Cuisine
Imagine cooking for the president of France! Hortense Laborie did just that, serving the dishes her grandmother used to make. I highly recommend Haute Cuisine; it’s available on Netflix (with French sub-titles).

Labelling GMOs
Three states now require the labelling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. They are Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont. Vermont is the only state prepared to act on its own, and they expect to be sued by the food industry.

Palm Oil Isn’t the Enemy
Palm oil is highly productive, yielding 4-10 times more oil per hectare than other oilseed crops, including soybean and canola. But it’s seen as the enemy when it displaces Indonesian tropical forest and orangutans. The solution? As consumers we must demand certified sustainable palm oil from suppliers who have made a commitment to halting deforestation.

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, April 14, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, April 14, 2014

Films & Fermentation

I’m looking forward to attending the opening session of the Saskatoon Environmental Film Festival at 7 pm, April 24, at the Frances Morrison Library. Following a screening of the film Growing Cities, Noelle Chorney, Slow Food Saskatoon, will lead a workshop on fermentation. Participants will learn about the fermentation process, its health benefits, and get to taste a few samples as well as taking home a little fermentation project of their own.

At 7:30 pm, April 26, at the Roxy Theatre, you can watch GMO OMG, a look at how the loss of seed diversity and the growth of genetically modified food affects our health.

Saskatoon’s Terra Madre Delegate 
Photo credit: Daybreak Mill
Nicole Davis, Daybreak Mill, will be attending Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto on behalf of Slow Food Saskatoon.

The diversity of food producers and food products from around the world showcased at Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto is truly amazing. I’m thrilled that one of Saskatchewan’s young women farmers and business owners will have an opportunity to participate and share her story.

Daybreak Mill grows, cleans, mills, and processes a wide variety of organic grains, flours, and cereals. Flours are stoneground, resulting in high nutrition retention. Their products are available online as well as at stores such as Dad's Organic Market in Saskatoon.

Local Businesses
Meadowlark Farm near Elbow, SK, grows 20 varieties of heirloom garlic as well as an additional one-quarter acre of market vegetables and herbs. They don’t use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.

Photo credit: Meadowlark Farm

If you live in Regina, you may want to start purchasing sustainable farm products from The Farmers’ Table, a non-profit organization made up of independent family farmers working together to distribute their produce.

Closure of Cereal Research Centre
The federal government is closing the Cereal Research Centre and winding down all public funding for spring wheat breeding to make way for private sector investment. The National Farmers Union believes this will create a massive new revenue stream for large corporations, such as Bayer, Syngenta, Monsanto, and Dow, and will lead to higher seed prices and increased royalty costs for farmers.

Cheap, Organic Food? 
Walmart has partnered with Wild Oats to offer a line of cheap, organic goods. It sounds great, except organic food is more expensive because organic farmers can’t access the subsidies received by conventional farmers. Walmart’s decision may also encourage large-scale organic production, which tends to follow the bare minimum organic standards, depleting the soil, abandoning it, and moving on.

I’ll stick to buying as many products as possible from local farmers with small operations. I believe it’s my best option if I want to eat healthy food and protect the environment.

Quinoa Salad
Megan, the Gluten Free Vegan, a Saskatoon food blogger, posted a recipe for an Apple, Spinach & Dried Cherry Quinoa Salad that looks really tasty.

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, April 9, 2014

Petra Market: A Mediterranean Grocery

Tucked away in a strip mall on Primrose Drive (north of Lawson Heights Mall) is Petra Market, a treasure trove of food products from the Arabic countries in the Mediterranean. I’m fascinated by grocery stores full of unknown-to-me products but also a little nervous about trying things, so I was really happy when Nour Dabbour, the owner of Petra Market, showed me around and told me about the different items.

Nour is trying to stock products from as many Middle Eastern countries as possible. He even stocks the same product from a number of different countries because he says that each country’s product tastes slightly different. Za’atar, a spice mix, is a prime example with packages from Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and each one is a slightly different colour with a slightly different taste.

The most popular areas of the store are the nut and treats bars with an amazing assortment of Middle Eastern candies and mildly spiced nuts. Nour gave me a variety to try and I’m really enjoying them. The giant, cheese-covered cashews are my absolute favorite. The candied fruit looks like European glacé fruits but is quite different. The fruit has been dried whole and then preserved in a honey syrup, so there is still a pit in the apricot and a stem on the crab apple. They’re really tasty and not too sweet; I’ll be going back for more.

Nuts are popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, so there are nuts in the nougat and halvah, as well as nuts to add to rice dishes, and mildly spiced nuts for snacking. The three most popular nuts in the Middle East are cashews, almonds and pistachios.

The candies are really interesting as they offer different combinations of jelly (as in Turkish Delight), nougat and fruit. Then they’re usually rolled in nuts, but there is one that is rolled in rose petals. You can also buy a jar of rose petals to make tea. Mixed herbs and rose petals are a traditional remedy for stomachache.

The Arabic countries have a long history of pickling vegetables in order to preserve them. I was fascinated by the pickled wild cucumber from Lebanon, the pickled thyme and the pickled okra. Nour says that many of his store’s products come from Lebanon, which is a major food producer in the region.

If you like to experiment in the kitchen, you’ll find lots of ingredients that are hard to find anywhere else. There are grape leaves and grenadine molasses, green raisins from the Persian Gulf to be used in rice dishes, lots of beans (lupins, fava, chickpeas, lentils), frozen okra and molokhia, and much, much more.

You can buy a huge variety of different spices, and Nour says that the spice mixes are particularly popular. The mixes are blends of 5-7 spices that work well together when marinating meat or fish, making falafel or egg dishes.

I definitely recommend visiting Petra Market (Bay 6-A – 234 Primrose Drive). There are all sorts of tasty products to discover and Nour Dabbour is a charming, helpful host who will happily answer any questions you may have.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, April 7, 2014

Wayward Ginger 
Take a look at Jasmin Fookes’ Wayward Ginger podcasts. Jasmin talks with food entrepreneurs across North America. In the most recent episode, she talks to Ashala Daniel of Three Feet Below, an organic canning CSA in Richmond, BC.

Three Feet Below [sea level] sell a variety of products, ranging from Rosemary Pear Preserves to Pickled Oyster Mushrooms and Kimchi.

Southern Prairie Railway 
I would love to take a trip on the Southern Prairie Railway, an old-fashioned steam train with a 1922 Pullman passenger car that runs from Ogema to Horizon. This year’s trips include Art and History in Southern Saskatchewan, an overnight trip with a wine and food pairing in the Shurniak Art Gallery; the Pangman Market Train which departs every Saturday morning; a Pitchfork Fondue; and the Train Eggs-travaganza Brunch. Doesn’t it sound like fun!

Grape Expectations 
A young couple with two young children decide to invest all their savings to buy a vineyard in France. Grape Expectations by Caro Feely is the story of the blood, gut and tears that they invest in their organic, biodynamic winery.

“We couldn’t afford new things, the girls had hand-me-down clothes, as did I, Sean’s gear was more hole than cloth, but we were living and feeling more deeply than ever before. . . . We were taking a risk but we were living. This was not the safe option but it was our option. It was more than a job. It was our lives. Yes, there were no weekends off but there was also fulfillment that you could not put a price on. Not only that, we were living our philosophy, contributing to what we believed in through our organic practices.”

The book reminded me of how much I admire Saskatoon’s food entrepreneurs who give their all in providing us with fresh, flavourful, healthy products. Thank you.

If you can’t get enough of reading about France, Martin Walker writes a mystery series set in the same area of France as the Feely’s winery, Chateau Haut Garrigue. His most recent book is The Resistance Man. Never fear! There are lots of descriptions of French food and wine!

Tottenham’s Local Cheesemaker
Here’s another awesome local entrepreneur who quit his job as a management consultant to make and sell cheese. And his goal isn’t to get rich – it’s to serve his local community:

“I want to be an artisan producer to my neighbourhood, not a supplier for the whole country, so turn down a lot of non-London sales. For me, it's about reaffirming a sense of locality. Where I live might've had a bad press in recent years, but I'm so happy to have been able to build my business in my own community – I've always been here to stay.”

Mexican Cheese Myths
I consider myself a cheese aficionado, but I have a lot to learn about Mexican cheese. This article on the myths about Mexican cheese is a good starting point.

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, March 31, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, March 31, 2014

Black Summer Bok Choy
Chris Buhler says that Floating Gardens’ Black Summer Bok Choy is the star of their greenhouse crops. As an owner, Chris should know, so I was delighted to give it a try.

First of all, bok choy is super nutritious with loads of Vitamin A, C, and K. It’s also a good source of calcium, potassium, and manganese. You can eat it raw or cooked, and it’s a common ingredient in Chinese, Philippine, and Thai recipes.

I tried the younger leaves raw in a salad and liked the added texture and flavour - the lettuce seemed very limp and bland in comparison. I also cooked them; they had a touch of lemon as well as a peppery bite. I'll definitely buy it again.

Variety is the spice of life, so change things up a little this week by trying a vegetable you’ve never eaten before. I’m glad I did.

Hill Berry Acres 
Dehydrated fruit is a convenient way to include fruit in your diet, especially in the winter. I’ve been adding dehydrated sour cherries from Hill Berry Acres to my morning cereal for the last few months.

The cherries are locally grown by Charlene and Bruce Hill near Imperial, SK, and I really appreciate the fact that they do not add anything to the fruit as so many producers coat dehydrated fruit with oil or add extra sweetener.

100 gram bags are available in Saskatoon at SaskMade Marketplace and Dad’s Organic Grocery. 500 gram bags are available at a lower cost – contact the Hills for further information.

Hot cross buns are back at Earth Bound Bakery. And the Night Oven Bakery has lots and lots of sweet goodies. I particularly enjoyed the Messy Morning Bun – pastry with just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon.

Chef Kevin Tetz 
Chef Kevin Tetz (aka Executive Chef) from Christopher Lake has been finding a variety of different ways to offer his services without opening a restaurant. His latest venture is a series of underground suppers in various locations around the province.

The Cheesiry 
If you live near Lloydminster, be sure to visit The Cheesiry. Their pecorino cheese is getting rave reviews (well deserved; I particularly like the aged pecorino) in The Globe and Mail.
Rhonda Headon studied sheep’s milk cheesemaking in Italy.

Food Banks & Food Deserts
Food banks have evolved from a stop-gap measure to a long-lasting institution. And yet, they are such a pitiful bandaid solution to a persisting societal problem.

When Nick Saul started working at The Stop in Toronto, he was determined to do things differently. The Stop started offering healthier food, initiated cooking classes, community gardens and markets, and community activism. I highly recommend reading The Stop: How the fight for good food transformed a community and inspired a movement.

There’s a lot to consider when you open a grocery store in a former food desert. People don’t change their food habits overnight. You have to give people what they want (dog food, toilet paper), encourage people to buy healthy food (cooking classes, rewards cards), and practise patience.

Successful Farmers’ Markets 
Julie Flynn visited 20 markets across South America and has put together a list of recommendations for North American markets. The recommendations include an accessible, central location; a broad selection of affordable goods; prepared food and seating; multi-level vending; and integration of public space and/or pedestrian streets.

Eggs in Portugal 
Portugal is on my wish list of places I would love to visit. So I was intrigued by this article about the history of eggs in Portuguese cooking. From Moorish traditions to nuns who starched their gowns with egg whites and made sweets with the leftover egg yolks, it’s a fascinating story.

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, March 24, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, March 24, 2014

Night Oven Bakery 
What a treat to have a new bakery just a few blocks from where I live. Night Oven Bakery opened last Tuesday with an assortment of breads and pastries.

I particularly like the canelés de Bordeaux, a moderately sweet cake with a crusty exterior and a soft, moist interior. There are a multitude of legends about the origins of canelés, suffice to know that they are currently a star item from France to New York – and now available right here at home in Saskatoon (photo courtesy of The Night Oven).

Earth Bound Bakery
Earth Bound Bakery reopened on Saturday after its expansion. There’s added seating, lots of blond wood trim, and a nice food preparation area. Plus all the usual delicious products – the savory croissants with asparagus and  lemon were very tasty.

Farmers’ Market
Floating Gardens has tomatoes – yeah!

Michelle at Wild Serendipity Foods had made lemon madeleines as well as a spicy Senegalese Peanut soup this past Saturday.

Thrive Juice Co. is selling cold-pressed juice blends. Their website explains that, “The cold-press extraction process ensures that vitamins, minerals, and live enzymes contained in the fruits and vegetables are extracted without heat or friction, thereby maximizing nutrient and enzyme activity.” I sampled several of their juices and decided that my favorite was Sweet Envy, made with kale, spinach, pineapple, apple, lemon, and parsley. I also liked the ones with ginger and thought they’d be good if you had a cold.

Betty Forbes, Northern Vigor Berries, and Chef Darren Craddock were on CTV Morning Live with seabuckthorn berries.

Brit Foods
I was really sorry to learn that Brit Foods is closing. I enjoyed picking up some English specialties from time to time.

If you’re a coffee drinker, Grist says the most environmentally friendly versions are the Bird Friendly products certified by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.

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, March 17, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, March 17, 2014

Community Gardens, Mar. 18
Gord Androsoff, CHEP`s Urban Agriculture Coordinator, will talk about Saskatoon’s community gardens – their past, present, and future from 7-8:30 pm, March 18, at the Frances Morrison Library, as part of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s Library Speaker series.

Seed Security in Canada, Mar. 23 
Karen Farmer will speak about seed security and a new Canadian seed saving program at the Slow Food Salon from 4-6 pm, March 23, at City Perks.

Meewasin 80, Mar. 27
Meewasin 80 White Ale has been custom brewed to support extending the Meewasin Trail to 80 kilometres. Live spruce and pine from the Trail have been put directly into the brew. Prairie Sun Brewery will be launching the beer at a fundraising event for the Meewasin Valley Authority at 7 pm, March 27. There will be musical entertainment by Sarah Farthing. Tickets aren’t cheap, but it’s a really good cause.

Jacek Chocolate Couture
Feast your eyes and your taste buds with these beautiful chocolates from Jacek Chocolate Couture in Edmonton – now available at City Perks and Essence Floral Design. So far my favorite is the lemon and champagne dark chocolate ganache with hand-painted fleur de lis.

Colourful Nosh
I had lunch at Nosh Eatery & Tap last week. Apart from one meat dish and a couple of fish dishes, the entire menu is vegetarian, and mostly vegan. I was particularly delighted by their use of colour in the presentation of the dishes. The beet pannacotta was dramatic, while the chipotle mayo on my beet burger was a vibrant combination of red and orange.

Oolong Tea
I insist on starting every day with two large cups of oolong tea. And Camellia Sinensis in Montreal has the best selection of oolong from small-scale farmers in Taiwan, China, and even New Zealand. The unroasted teas are light and floral, while the roasted ones are more substantial.

Oolong tea was the first tribute tea, designed to be offered as a gift at the royal court of China. The tea is semi-fermented and goes through 7 different processing steps – from withering in the sun, to bruising, oxidization, fixing, rolling, drying, and firing.

Camellia Sinensis usually tucks in a gift when shipping your purchases, like this small container of Bancha Shizuoka green tea.

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).