Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Au Pétrin Moissagais, Bordeaux

Bakeries abound in the Chartrons district of Bordeaux. But one of them is very special. For over 250 years, the bakers Au Pétrin Moissagais have been making bread and baking it in a wood oven built in 1765 during the reign of King Louis XV.

The recipe remains unchanged as well. Following a Gascon tradition (Moissagais refers to residents of Moissac in Tarn et Garonne) of only buying bread every two weeks, the bread is made with a thick crust to keep it from drying out. They use their own yeast culture, adding no preservatives.

The stone-walled bakery is filled to the brim with loaves of every shape and size (walnuts, stone-ground grain, baguettes, large and small rounds). This is bread with flavour and body to savour on its own or with cheese and other toppings.

But it doesn’t end there. The bakery also sells croissants, cakes, and pastries of every possible variety. At the back of the bakery is the oven, which is still used to bake three-quarters of their products.

If you’re in Bordeaux, be sure to visit Au Pétrin Moissagais, 72 Cours de la Martinique. You won’t regret it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Sunday Market on the Banks of the Garonne

My first full day back in France was a Sunday and there was a huge outdoor market just a few blocks down the street from where I was staying in Chartrons, Bordeaux. I spent several happy hours there (in the sunshine!) exploring all the different offerings and wishing I could buy bags and bags of lovely products. The Chartrons market isn’t a farmers’ market, so I spent some time deciphering why I rated it so highly.

First of all, there were a significant number of local producers. I was very impressed to be able to buy wine (not the one pictured above) from Château Grand Brun in the Haut-Médoc (an area better known for large wineries with a rich, international audience). The grapes are picked by hand and the wine is sold at several local markets as well as online. It’s a lovely wine and they emphasized that they grow it, produce it, and sell it. The wine is classified as a Grand Cru Artisan and has won a number of awards.

Another vendor was selling fresh goat (and some cow) cheese as well as aged varieties. I was blown away by the variety (well over 30 different kinds) and by the artistic finish on each and every one of the cheeses. Given the nature of fresh goat cheese, it has to be a local producer.

Those of you who aren’t goat cheese fanatics will have to forgive the number of photographs, but they truly are works of art.

A good market also has to be a place where local residents can pick up a good portion of their weekly groceries. The market had 70 vendors – from fish, meat, and cheese to bread, pastries, fruit, and vegetables. People were loading up their bags and bicycle baskets. There was a tram stop across the street and I saw people taking their groceries home by tram.

Good markets are a communal gathering place and form the basis of community as people return and meet week after week. The Quays Market is situated on the banks of the Garonne river where cycle and walking paths, skateboard park, playground, and discount fashion outlets ensure there is something for everyone within a 30-minute walk. In addition, many of the vendors had set up outdoor tables and chairs where people were gathering to slurp oysters, paella, or fried chicken.

There is variety at a quality market and that was certainly the case here with books and paintings for sale alongside “cider pressed in the city of wine,” fresh fruit juices, dried fruit, and olives.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only tourist enjoying the market, but we weren’t the primary audience. This was a local market for local people. And thank goodness for that!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 12, 2018

Caturdays, Nov. 17 & 24, Dec. 1 
Enjoy tea in a cat-themed, cat-friendly art gallery at 1 pm, Nov. 17 and 24 and Dec. 1 at BAM Art Gallery. All the cats will be adoptable from Street Cat Rescue.

Local Indigenous Food, Nov. 29 
Enjoy supper and a presentation on local Indigenous foods at Station 20 West on Nov. 29. Register in advance with Janet at CHEP (306-655-4575 or

Marshmallows by Sarah, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 
Sarah Galvin, FoodCraft by Sarah, is an excellent cook and baker who puts time and quality ingredients into all her products. She’ll be selling handcrafted marshmallows at Wilson’s 17th Annual Christmas Craft and Trade Show from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. Marshmallow flavours include Crème Brulée and Rocky Road with Peace by Chocolate Chunks.

Deluxe marshmallows - photo credit Sarah Galvin

Make Your Own Chocolate Kit 
Make your own raw chocolate with a kit from Harmonic Arts - now available at Dad’s Organic Market.

From Fruit to Burger
If you like to make fresh fruit juice but hate the waste, here’s a recipe using the pulp to make a veggie burger.

A Little Tea Book
Enjoy the illustrations and learn about the different kinds of tea in a  review of A Little Tea Book: All the Essentials from Leaf to Cup by Sebastian Beckwith and Caroline Paul.

Tomatoes in all the colours of the rainbow from Grandora Gardens

Chocolate History
Researchers have discovered that cocoa trees were domesticated in the upper Amazon over 5,300 years ago. “For hundreds of years, the people of the Amazon have been portrayed as these very simple people, intellectually but also in their social formation — living in small tribes, moving from place to place, barely eking out a living, always on the brink of death,” Zarrillo says. “And what’s been emerging is that, no, these people had very sophisticated culture. They weren’t just barely surviving in the Amazon; they’d actually transformed the Amazon into their living garden.

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).

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

European Travel Tips

I’ve spent the past 4 winters in Europe, travelling frequently between different housesitting destinations by train and coach, and I’ve learned a lot. Here are a few tips that will save you time and money.

Rome2Rio is an amazing resource. Plug in two cities and the site lists all your different travel options. I use it extensively to see how difficult it will be to get somewhere and identify the best route and train company. I don’t know how I’d manage without it.

I don’t usually book tickets on Rome2Rio, but last winter I was stumped. The European train sites wanted me to book using Canadian information, but the Canadian options would only work if I was still in Canada. Fortunately, I was able to book through Rome2Rio without a hitch.

Not all train stations are as beautiful as this one in Valencia, Spain
Trains in the UK and Europe are awesome compared to our hopeless Canadian options. But there are some tricks:
  • Check how often you’ll have to change trains before booking a trip. And check how long it will take. Some trains stop at every little town; others are more direct. 
  • Book your train tickets in advance online for approximately half the price of a ticket purchased on the day. You can book your seat too, and there are reduced rates for seniors. 
  • Hold on to all the parts of your ticket in the UK. I didn’t wait for all the pieces of my ticket to emerge from the machine one day and ended up without a return ticket. 
  • In France you need to get your ticket punched in a machine before boarding – although this doesn’t apply if you’ve booked online. 
  • A city may have more than one train station so be sure you know which one to use. Ghent has train stations in the centre of town and in a couple of suburbs. Valence has a regular train station and a high-speed train station – and they’re miles apart – fortunately there’s a shuttle bus between the two. 
  • If it’s really windy, trains may be delayed or cancelled. That’s when you check all the notice boards to try and work out an alternate route where the trains are still running. Don’t rely on train personnel to do it for you. 
  • Be prepared for flights of stairs as you change platforms as well as lots of chilly outdoor platforms. 
  • Don’t let A and B platforms confuse you. It’s the same platform, but A is at the front and B is at the rear. 
  • Sometimes only half the train goes to the final destination. Some carriages will only go partway or may go somewhere else altogether. Make sure you’re in the right carriage or you could end up in Geneva instead of Grenoble (yeah, another true story!). 

Coaches are often a good alternative to trains in the UK as you can avoid the long journey into and out of London and the hassle of changing train stations. National Express coaches often go via Heathrow, so it provides a central hub for travelling between two centres.
  • Book your coach travel in advance too. 
  • There is a wide array of cheap long-distance coach options. I haven’t tried them out, but if you need to travel as cheaply as possible, this may be the way to go. 

Public Transit is for Everyone 
Don’t hesitate to take the train or a coach in Europe for both day trips and long-distance travel. Everyone travels that way – from guys heading to a football match to teenagers going on a camping trip. The locals may complain about expensive fares and delays, but they haven’t experienced the 36-hour delays and exorbitant prices if you take Via Rail in Western Canada.

One last piece of advice. Don’t hesitate to travel in Europe. Yes, there have been terrorist attacks. Yes, it’s scary to see soldiers with machine guns patrolling the train stations. But you’re far more likely to be in a car accident in Canada than a terrorist attack in Europe. And you’ll see and learn and do so much! I can’t wait to be on the road again.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 5, 2018

Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens, Nov. 10 
Amy Jo Ehman will be presenting and signing her books – Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens and Saskatoon: A History in Words and Pictures – at 1 pm, Nov. 10, at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Farideh’s Preserves & Pickled Goods
If you’re a fan of Botte Chai Bar, you’ll want to pick up some of Farideh’s pickles and preserves at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. These are authentic Persian recipes from Botte's owner and her daughter. There are so many unusual flavours; I'm eager to try the eggplant and sweet potato jams.

Challah on a Sunday (or Wednesday) 
Don’t miss Prairie Challah & Pastries’ kosher treats at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Sundays and Wednesdays. I picked up a loaf of Kokosh Cake – I couldn’t resist the chocolatey deliciousness. The chocolate rugelach also looked fantastic as did the Challah.

The Saskatoon Farmers' Market plays such a key role in giving people a chance to establish a new business and for Saskatoon residents to explore new flavours and meet people from other cultures.

All the Sweet Things is a Prize-Winner 
Congratulations Renée Kohlman on winning gold in your category at Taste Canada’s Food Writing Awards ceremony for All the Sweet Things.

Our Farm CSA 
Sign up now for a weekly box of local organic vegetables from the Our Farm CSA.

New Nut Cheese 
I couldn’t resist purchasing a semi-firm almond gruyere from Pulse Kitchen at Dad’s Organic Market. It has a sweet nutty flavour and texture and is made with white wine “for depth of flavour.” Pulse Kitchen is a Canadian company based in Penticton.

The Wolfville Farmers Market has grown from 3 to 75 vendors at a year-round market. But they didn’t stop there. Instead, they initiated FM2Go, "an online store that brings together 25 WFM vendors so that collectively they can offer over 250 local products year-round to 9 communities in Nova Scotia. . . . ‘If you cannot make it to the Market, we’ll bring the Market to you.’" 

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, October 29, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 29, 2018

Crepe Bar Pop-Up, Nov. 3 
Crossing Cultures Catering is hosting a pop-up crepe bar at Revolve Café from 11 am-2 pm, Nov. 3.

Rosco’s Roti, Nov. 9
Rosco’s Roti is hosting a pop-up lunch at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market from 11 am-2 pm, Nov. 9, with both vegan and meat curries.

CHEP Good Food Box 
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is now a depot for CHEP’s Good Food Box program offering good quality, fresh produce at affordable prices every two weeks.

Kit Kat in Japan
The New York Times offers an in-depth look at how Kit Kat chocolate bars became a booming business in Japan, changing expectations about what a candy bar should be. The flavour options are astonishing and are often only available in one particular city. What started out as the British workingman’s chocolate bar has achieved cult status with gift-wrapped packages of luxury varieties.

Tea presented well at City Perks coffee shop - and don't miss the peanut butter and white chocolate cookies - yum!

Fall Reading 
Food Tank offers readers  a list of 19 books to read this fall. I’d like to read: Cocoa by Kristy Leissle, One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl’s Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture by Stephanie Anderson, The Truth About Food: Why Pandas Eat Bamboo and People Get Bamboozled by David Katz, and two new books by Gary Paul Nabhan – Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair and Food from the Radical Center.

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, October 22, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 22, 2018

Spudtacular, Oct. 26 
Frisk Market is hosting a Spudtacular from 6-9 pm, Oct. 26, so adults can dress up and enjoy some special spud-based vegan dishes.

Locally Made Yogurt 
Prairie Sun Orchard is now selling housemade yogurt, no gelatin and sweetened with honey, at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. They’re also offering yogurt sundaes with unsweetened cherries and blueberries.

HomeQuarter Coffeehouse & Bakery 
I had lunch at HomeQuarter Coffeehouse & Bakery across from the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market last week. It’s an open, light-filled space with additional seating on a second level. The Spicy Thai Soup was filling and flavourful. But, vegetarians beware! My egg salad sandwich, normally a safe bet, was stuffed with bacon – yuck! Ask before you order.

Sal Pita 
You can buy locally baked pita at Sal Pita on 51st Street. They plan to make naan bread as well in future.

Saskatchewan Honey
Jenn Sharp introduces some of Saskatchewan’s beekeepers. It’s good to know honey production is doing so well in Saskatchewan.

Maps, Markets, and Matzo Ball Soup 
Gail Hall was a prominent member of Edmonton’s food scene before she died in 2016. Maps, Markets, and Matzo Ball Soup: The inspiring life of Chef Gail Hall by Twyla Campbell will be released October 28 and chronicles her life as a chef, writer, culinary instructor, and international food tour guide.

I interviewed Gail Hall in 2010 (Part One, Part Two).

Foundations of Flavour 
Enjoy an interview with René Redzepi about his new book, Foundations of Flavour: The Noma Guide to Fermentation. This moves way beyond kimchi and kombucha to black fruits, miso, and garum.

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).