Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Look - New Pages

Wanderlust has had a facelift (thanks, Andrew!), and I’ve added some new pages to make it easier to find information about Saskatoon’s culinary establishments and great food products. Enjoy!

Great Saskatchewan Food Products

Broadway: Great Food Places

Riversdale: Great Food Places

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Greetings and Highlights of 2011

Thank You
I would like to thank all the culinary entrepreneurs (farmers, chefs, winemakers, food producers and store owners) who shared their passion for good food and drink with me this year.

I am awed by your hard work and dedication – not to mention your fabulous products. You help make Saskatoon and Saskatchewan a great place to live.

I would also like to thank all of you who have read my blog over the past year. It has been a pleasure to share my ideas with you, and your positive feedback has been extremely rewarding.

I am grateful to be part of Saskatoon’s foodie community. Happy holidays and all the best to you and your families in 2012. Thank you.

Wine for Christmas
I’ll be enjoying some of my favourite wines from some of my favourite wineries this Christmas. They include:

Altos de Luzon, Bodegas Luzon, Jumilla, Spain (SLGA)

Biancco, Morning Bay Winery, Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada (Cava Wines)

Blanc de Pacs, Parés Balta Winery, Penedès, Spain (Cava Wines and Duck Duck Goose) - shown in photograph

Top Ten Posts for 2011
Over 14,000 people made 18,000 visits to Wanderlust and Words in 2011, and I posted over 125 articles. Below is a list, in order, of the 10 most popular articles this year:

Il Secondo, Saskatoon: Christie’s Bakery Opens a Second Location

McKeown’s Ready-Made Meals and Catering (soon to open Prairie Harvest Café)

A Warm Welcome to Sawaddee Bistro

Sushiro and Duck Duck Goose: Bringing Japanese pub food and Spanish tapas to Saskatoon

Opening Day at The Hollows

Raw Canvas, Yaletown, Vancouver

Fol Epi Bakery, Victoria (tie)

Bulk Cheese Warehouse (tie)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 19, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon – from quail eggs to cheese-making, market dinners and an edible education

Chef’s Dinner, January 19
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market will be hosting monthly Chef’s Dinners in 2012. Anthony McCarthy, Executive Chef at the Saskatoon Club and Saskatchewan’s 2011 Gold Medal Plate winner, will prepare a five-course meal and wine pairing on January 19. Chefs Brent Lloyd and Mike McKeown (Prairie Harvest Café) are lined up for later in the year.

Market Cooking Classes, January
Judy Thiesson, the Market’s Events Coordinator, also has plans for cooking classes, starting with a Mexican cooking class in January with Linda Ortiz who sells fresh salsas, flour and corn tortillas at the Market.

I sampled Linda’s quesadillas with a nopal (cactus) filling this week, and they were delicious.

Cheese-Making 101, January 30-31
The Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc. will be offering a cheese-making workshop on January 30 and 31 at the Food Centre in Saskatoon. The workshop will focus on the fundamentals of cheese-making incorporating hands-on and classroom training. Additional information will be available from the Food Centre in January (info@foodcentre.sk.ca).

Something’s Cooking, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
The Agrium Market Kitchen is now open at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, and Chef Eli has been transforming the vendors’ fresh produce into fabulous meals.

Take a look at the marinated tomato salad with micro greens that I sampled on Wednesday. Cutting the carrots from Wally’s Urban Garden on an angle enhanced their colourfulness. The lentil dahl topped with yogurt from Hounjet Orchards was fabulous, and so was the Sea Buckthorn Cheesecake with Wild Cherry Compote. And all the ingredients can be purchased from local producers selling their products weekly at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

Another local blogger wrote about the dishes she sampled on Saturday in Stewing at the Agrium Market Kitchen.

It’s definitely worth your while to visit the Market at lunchtime – you never know what tasty treats you may enjoy!

Quail Eggs, Souleio
Souleio is now selling locally-raised quail eggs.

According to Wikipedia, hard-boiled quail egg is a common topping on hot dogs and hamburgers in Colombia and Venezuela, while kwek-kwek, soft-boiled quail eggs dipped in orange-coloured batter before being skewered and deep fried, is a popular street food in the Philippines. In Vietnam, street stalls sell bags of boiled quail eggs.

I’ve eaten hard-boiled quail eggs several times in Europe and thought they made a great addition to a picnic because of their small size.

An Edible Education, Michael Pollan
Edible Education 101: A Complete Course on Modern Food Production, a University of California, Berkeley, course organized by Michael Pollan is now available on YouTube. The Atlantic has prepared a handy compilation of the presentations by guest speakers, including Raj Patel and Alice Waters.

Hudson’s Tap House, February
A Hudson’s Tap House will be opening at 401 21st Street East in February. They currently have 5 locations in Edmonton and 2 in Calgary and seem to specialize in local artisan beers. Do let me know if you can provide me with any additional information.

I’ve also heard that a Cactus Club Café will be opening on Idylwyld within the next couple of years.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature; however, I will not be posting on December 26. I’ll be back again on January 2. Happy holidays to you all!

Email me (penny@axonsoft.com) if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 12, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon –gift ideas, Farmers' Market events & gingerbread design contests

Demos in New Market Kitchen, December 14
Hold the presses! I have just learned that the Agrium Market Kitchen at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market will be hosting its first event at 11 am on Wednesday, December 14. Two cooking demos – one Spanish and one Mexican – unmissable if you’re a Hispanophile like me.

The licensed commercial kitchen will hold its official grand opening in the second week of January. Contact Judy Thiesson, the Market’s Events Organizer, (sfmevents1@gmail.com) for more information and to make a booking for cooking classes, food preparation, catering, etc. Here are the Market’s Kitchen Rules. (via Judy and Wally – thanks!)

Holiday Lunch Buffets, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, December 15 & 16
Riverbend Plantation and The Garlic Guru are holding holiday lunch buffets with turkey and all the trimmings at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on December 15 and 16 from 11:45 am to 1:15 pm. By reservation only. (Dates on attached menu are out of date.)

Christmas Happy Hour, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, December 21
Don’t miss the Christmas Happy Hour at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on December 21 from 4 to 6:30 pm. Vendors will remain open while you enjoy a glass of Living Sky wine and/or pick up a plate of appetizers.

sWHEAT Prairie Architecture Gingerbread Competition
Nine local firms are competing in sWHEAT 2011. The firms must each design a gingerbread laneway house. The winner will be announced on December 16. Each of the architecture firms will auction off their creation. Proceeds will go to the Saskatoon or Regina Food Bank.

Molecular Gastronomy in a Jar
Bulk Cheese Warehouse has some new products that would make a great gift. For example, the French Perles de Saveurs will add a touch of molecular gastronomy to even the simplest salad.

The tiny, spherical jellies have a liquid centre in a variety of sweet and savoury flavours (curaçao, rose, passion fruit, balsamic vinegar) and can be used as a garnish or in a cocktail.

South African Vinegars
Don’t miss the Rozendal Vinegars, imported by FineWinesSask from South Africa. The vinegars are made from a Bordeaux blend of Merlot and Cabernet Grape cultivars, cultured by an indigenous “mother” from the first vinegar made on Rozendal in 1988. There are four flavours: Fynbox, Green Tea, Lavender, and Hibiscus.

Axon staff sampled the hibiscus vinegar in August and gave it high marks for flavour.

Rozendal Vinegars are available at the Bulk Cheese Warehouse in Moose Jaw, the Hollyhock Market in Mortlach, Victoria Square Compounding Pharmacy in Prince Albert, the Italian Star Deli in Regina, and Cava Cuisine in Saskatoon.

Chili Garlic Hot Sauce for Heat Lovers
Chatty’s Indian Spices Inc. has introduced a new product: Chili Garlic Hot Sauce. Arati Chattopadhyay describes it as “pretty warm.” It’s available at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market or online.

Stollen and Turkeys
Good Spirit Bakery, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is taking orders for their Stollen, a traditional Christmas bread with dried fruit and spices. All the ingredients are organic. I’m picking one up on Christmas Eve – the perfect Christmas Day breakfast.

You can also order an organic, free-range turkey. The turkeys range in size from 22 to 35 pounds and cost $3/lb to a maximum of $75.

Ultimate Hostess Gift Package
Living Sky Winery and Crave Cookies and Cupcakes are offering to deliver the ultimate hostess gift. A combination of Cassis wine and Crave cupcakes is sure to delight. For more details and to place an order, contact Sue at info@livingskywinery.com or 306.290.1693.

Evernote Food App
If you enjoy keeping a record of memorable meals at home and around the world, you need the Evernote Food app for iPhone. Each Meal consists of a meal title, as many photos as you like, photo captions, venue (choose from a list or add your own), notes, and tags. They can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, or email straight from the app. (via Andrew - thanks!)

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. Email me (penny@axonsoft.com) if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

See also:
Flavourful Saskatoon December 5, 2011
Daybreak Scheresky Mill
Solar Energy for your Home

Photo credit: iStock_000018106779

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Daybreak-Scheresky Mill

“organic grains, legumes and cereal mixes: grown and made in Saskatchewan”

Alvin Scheresky, one of Saskatchewan’s organic pioneers, started growing and processing organic grains near Glen Ewen on Saskatchewan’s southern border in 1964.

According to the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Scheresky was “one of the first organic farmers in North America to have production facilities on the farm to process and add value to grains, and he operated the first organic flour mill in the province.” He was instrumental in forming the Saskatchewan chapter of the Organic Crop Improvement Association, the first Canadian organization to confer organic certification.

In 2003, Alvin Scheresky was ready to retire. A local farming couple, Ray and Marianne Aspinall, purchased Scheresky’s grain-processing equipment and set about developing a greater variety of packaged consumer products at the Daybreak-Scheresky Mill.

The farm is still completely organic and continues to grow the crops Scheresky had established.

The Farm
The Daybreak farm isn’t very big. The Aspinalls own 4 quarters of land and rent 3 more, but they grow up to 13 different crops – from wheat, rye and kamut, to oats, barley and spelt. Rather than expand the size of the farm, they have chosen to focus on developing and marketing value-added products.

Their first step was packaging the grains and legumes in smaller amounts for household use. Nowadays, all their products come in a range of bag sizes, from 500 grams up to 20 kilograms.

Their next step was to develop packaged mixes: cooked breakfast cereal, granola and pancakes. “People want healthy, organic food, but they also want it to be quick and easy to prepare,” explains Nicole Davis, Daybreak’s office administrator and sales and marketing coordinator.

Daybreak Products
Daybreak sells approximately 18 different kinds of flour (e.g. rye, millet, oat) as well as whole and de-hulled grains (e.g. barley, buckwheat groats), flaked grains, cereals, and legumes (lentils, peas).

The Daystart cereal is made of millet, buckwheat, oat bran, sunflower seeds and brown flax that have been milled so that they cook in under 5 minutes.

I’m enjoying the granola mix. It’s very versatile as you can eat it raw as muesli, use it to make granola or add it to cookies or muffins. It combines flakes of spelt, wheat, buckwheat, rye and barley along with sunflower seeds and flax. All the ingredients are organic and as many as possible are grown on the farm or sourced locally.

The two main ingredients in the Sunrise pancake mix are spelt flour and the Daybreak granola mix. The granola adds crunch and substance, while the spelt flour guarantees moist pancakes. “They’re quite satisfying,” says Nicole.

Daybreak is launching a granola cookie mix just in time for Christmas. The ingredient list is very straightforward with no mystery chemicals to decipher: spelt flour, granola mix, chocolate chips, cane sugar, sultana raisins and cinnamon. Again, everything is organic.

The recipes have been developed by Marianne Aspinall. She has steered away from using wheat flour as so many people cannot tolerate wheat gluten. Spelt is an ancient grain and, although it still contains gluten, it is much easier to digest.

Marketing and Distribution
The Daybreak Scheresky products are primarily available from small retailers (SaskMade Marketplace, Nutter’s) in Western Canada as well as Community Natural Foods, a large health food store in Calgary. They sell their flour directly to bakeries in Regina and Edmonton.

“We want to get our name out there and get people talking about us,” Nicole says. Marianne and Nicole are visiting local stores, and they have established a newsletter and a Facebook page in order to talk directly to customers.

Cleaning the Grain
Before the grain can be packaged and processed it has to be cleaned. This is especially important for organic crops in order to remove weed seeds, hulls or stones.

Daybreak has two sets of grain-cleaning equipment, one dedicated organic and a second set that is primarily for custom work and about 95% organic (the only non-organic grains cleaned are for local farmers).

Healthy Food
Whether you are making bread or whipping up a quick batch of cookies, be sure to try the Daybreak-Scheresky products. They’re local; they’re organic; they’re healthy and, last but definitely not least, they taste great.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 5, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon – Food Sovereignty, Hestia Organics, Christmas Macarons & Rainbow Carrots

Food Sovereignty in Canada, December 9
Attend the launch of Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems on Friday, December 9, from 7:30 to 10 pm at Caffe Sola. Several of the authors and editors will be at the event – Nettie Wiebe, Annette Aurélie Desmarais, Darrin Qualman, Kevin Wipf, Rachel Engler-Stringer.

“In case studies of practical action, Food Sovereignty in Canada provides an analysis of indigenous food sovereignty, orderly marketing, community gardens, the political engagement of nutritionists, experiences with urban agriculture and the strengthening of links between rural and urban communities. It also highlights policy-related challenges to building community-based agriculture and food systems that are ecologically sustainable and socially just. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in holistic, healthy and sustainable food production and consumption.”

Winter Wonders Handmade Market, December 9 & 10
The Flock and Gather Craft Collective is hosting the Winter Wonders Handmade Market on December 9 and 10 at St. Joseph’s Hall, Broadway Avenue. The curated handicraft market will be open from 6 to 9 pm on Friday and from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday. The list of participating artists is pretty impressive.

Hestia Organics, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
There was a new vendor at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market this week. Hestia Organics has a 1400-acre, certified organic family farm north of Saskatoon. They are currently selling hemp hearts, small red lentils, beluga lentils, flax seed, and wheat berries. They plan to add a small production facility to their operations with stone-ground floors (wheat, rye, oat), cracked three-grain breakfast cereal, and rolled oats and oat groats in 2012.

Winter Cooking Classes, Simon’s Fine Foods
Simon Reynolds, Simon's Fine Foods, has posted a list of the cooking classes he will be offering in 2012. Here are some of the options: Food for the End of the World, Gluten-Free, Winter Salads, Homemade Pasta, A Trip to Asia, and Culinary Boot Camp.

Prairie Harvest Café
I’m looking forward to the opening of Mike McKeown’s restaurant, Prairie Harvest Café. Mike is currently selling ready-made meals at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. Prairie Harvest Café, at 2917 Early Drive, will maintain the focus on local, seasonal food. Mike is hoping to hold a soft opening in December (to be announced on Facebook) with a full opening in January.

In the meantime, check out Mike’s ready-made meals, such as the Paddock Wood Veggie Pot pie (local veggies braised in Paddock Wood beer with local organic barley and a homemade buttermilk biscuit topping).

Christmas Macarons & Rainbow Carrots
Michelle Zimmer of Wild Serendipity Foods is offering two holiday macaron flavours – Spiced Cranberry-Orange and Chocolate Mint. I tried the Spiced Cranberry-Orange this past weekend, and they’re fabulous.

While you’re at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, don’t miss the rainbow-coloured carrots from Wally’s Urban Market Garden – from white to blood-red to purple.

Salayview Farm Goat Cheese
I was one of the fortunate few to pick up some locally-produced goat cheese from Salayview Farm this past week. I’m enjoying both the chive and herbes de provence flavours. They hope to be able to sell their cheese in Saskatoon next year. But for now, the goats are getting a well-deserved winter holiday.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. Email me (penny@axonsoft.com) if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

See also:
Flavourful Saskatoon November 28, 2011
Brit Foods: Saskatoon’s Very Own British Food Store
Choo-It: Craig’s High Octane Oatmeal

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brit Foods: Saskatoon’s Very Own British Food Store

My parents were British, and I have spent many happy months in England visiting family friends and relatives. I used to enjoy shopping at the Canadian outlets of Marks & Spencer and was very sorry when they closed, so I was delighted to learn that Saskatoon now has its very own British food store.

Brit Foods is located in Cumberland Square, in the covered alleyway just down from Safeway. It’s a treasure trove of British food. The owner, Tony Badger, says they try to stock the national brands, so you’ll find soups by Marks & Spencer and Baxter’s, Yorkshire and Typhoo tea, Heinz beans, Rose’s preserves, Thornton’s chocolates, and Walker’s chips.

In addition to the food products (primarily packaged although there are pork pies and a few other items in the freezer), there is an entire wall devoted to loose candies. You can also pick up a linen tea towel or an English magazine.

There is a second Brit Foods in Parksville on Vancouver Island, but Mr. Badger says that the demographics are quite different. Parksville is a retirement community, whereas Saskatoon has a number of younger British families who came to Canada to take advantage of work opportunities (truck drivers, electricians).

Some of the most popular food items in Saskatoon are the crisps, chocolate, pop and squash as well as the sauces and preserves (Bisto, pickled onions).

Badger says that he brings in 85% of the products himself so as to avoid third-party markups. I assumed that he would be able to place joint orders for his two stores, but that isn’t the case. The products for the Parksville store ship through Vancouver, whereas the products for the Saskatoon store ship through Montreal. And that complicates matters as there can be delays while bilingual labels are prepared.

You don’t have to be British to enjoy shopping at Brit Foods. It’s always fun to sample something new – pickled walnuts, cloudy lemonade, mulligatawny soup. Be sure to try the British chocolate – it’s much richer and tastier than the North American versions. And don’t miss the potato chips that come in an amazing variety of flavours – from roast lamb & mint, to steak & onion, to smoked ham & pickle.

Brit Foods is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Monday to Saturday. They will be open on the first three Sundays in December, 2011 from 11 am to 3 pm.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wild Serendipity Cooking Class

I went to my first-ever cooking class two weeks ago, and I had a blast. Michelle Zimmer (here's my profile) of Wild Serendipity Foods has been offering cooking classes for the past five years. One of her most popular classes is Holiday Appetizers, and this is the one that I was fortunate enough to attend.

There were nine of us in the group. Some people came alone; some were couples; others were friends. And the age range covered the gamut. There were nine recipes, and I wondered how we would ever make them all in one evening, but it wasn’t a problem. Groups of two or three each took on one or two recipes. I worked on the Mushroom & Artichoke Phyllo Triangles, which were fiddly, so we were only responsible for the one recipe.

I was pleasantly surprised by the calm, laid-back atmosphere. People helped each other out, and no one told me I was chopping too slowly. Michelle always seemed to know when someone needed help or was looking for something, so it all flowed extremely smoothly.

Participants had a chance to learn new skills (making puff pastry, working with phyllo) and new recipes. And we feasted on the assortment of tasty treats at the end of the evening.

I highly recommend taking a cooking class. Wild Serendipity Foods will be offering more classes starting in March. And Simon Reynolds (here's my profile) of Simon’s Fine Foods offers a huge assortment of cooking classes.

Go alone or go with a group. You’ll have fun and learn something new. And take some containers as you’ll be sure to go home with leftovers.

Pepita Dip with Rosemary Flatbread

Shrimp & Bacon Puffs with Two Dipping Sauces

Spinach Balls with Mango Yoghurt Dipping Sauce

Mushroom & Artichoke Phyllo Triangles

Cranberry Jalapeno Cheesecake

Click on the slideshow below for more photographs.

Wild Serendipity Cooking Class

Monday, November 28, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 28, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon – cupcakes, craft fairs, chocolate bread, and Christmas cookies

Crave Cookies and Cupcakes, December 1
Crave Cookies and Cupcakes will be opening on Broadway Avenue on December 1. If you're not familiar with this Alberta company, here's my interview with one of the owners.

Salayview Farm Goat Cheese, December 1
Email salayviewfarm@yahoo.ca if you live in Saskatoon and would like to try Saskatchewan goat cheese from a small farm south of Regina. There are 3 flavours – plain, chives, and herbes de Provence. You can purchase 100 grams for $5.00.

They’ll be delivering the cheese to Saskatoon on December 1; email me for location.

Sun Dog Handcraft Faire, December 2-4
You’ll find some of your favourite food producers at Sundog this year. The Prairie Pie Wagon will be serving up Mary’s amazing fruit pies in the Food Court, while Fruition Orchards, Over the Hill Orchards, Prairie Sun Orchard, and Riverbend Plantation are among the many wonderful vendors in the Specialty Food section.

Two by Dahlsjo, Prince Albert, December 7
If you’re in Prince Albert, don’t miss the opportunity to drop by Two by Dahlsjo on Wednesday, December 7, between 11 am and 3 pm. Enjoy house-made apple cider and hot chocolate while checking out the holiday baking.

If you’re not familiar with Two by Dahlsjo, check out the article I wrote last winter and the more recent article in The StarPhoenix by Jenn Sharpe.

Earth Bound Bakery
On Saturdays during December, Trent Loewen, Earth Bound’s baker, is probably/maybe/possibly (creative genius doesn’t like to be bound by rules!) going to be making double chocolate bread with cranberries. I purchased a loaf this weekend, and it’s yummy – dark chocolate flavour with a touch of fruit and sweetness.

Trent also plans to make butter tarts during the holiday season. If you haven’t visited Earth Bound Bakery yet, go immediately! Wonderful organic bread products from local ingredients.

Winston’s English Pub & Grill
Winston’s English Pub & Grill has a new website. You can keep track of beer, food specials and events by signing up for their newsletter. And devoted beer drinkers will want to join Winston’s Royalty Beer Club, which is promising the latest updates, sneak peeks and VIP deals.

Baking in Saskatoon
It’s always good to discover a new Saskatoon food blog. Baking in Saskatoon is currently featuring European Christmas cookie recipes, such as Vanillekipferl. Be forewarned! You’ll need a meat grinder to make Mama’s Christmas cookies. Andrea MacLeod, the blog author, is from Germany.

Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table
CJ Katz, the host of Wheatland Café, a weekly television cooking show (Wednesdays at 12:15 on CTV), will be launching her first book in May 2012. Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table is entirely devoted to Saskatchewan and Prairie ingredients. It is being published by the Canadian Plains Research Centre.

Agricultural Innovation Program
The Agricultural Innovation Program is offering grants to facilitate the commercialization and adoption of innovative products, technologies, processes and/or services that will enhance the Canadian agriculture, agri-food products sector. There are two streams – knowledge creation and transfer and commercialization.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. Email me (penny@axonsoft.com) if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

See also:
Flavourful Saskatoon November 21, 2011
Choo-It: Craig's High-Octane Oatmeal

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Choo-It: Craig's High Octane Oatmeal

Sally Campbell was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, and her sons, Craig and Trent, moved home in order to spend time with their mother and to help out. Craig took charge of shopping for groceries and cooking. His mother’s illness motivated him to seek out healthy, natural foods and he developed a cereal mix which has come to be known as Choo-It.

The cereal mix was developed for Sally Campbell and her family to eat, but Craig handed out samples to friends and acquaintances. The response was immediate: “We like it, and we want more!”

Craig decided to start selling Choo-It, and Trent began helping out with packaging and distribution. This was definitely a small, home-based business – the containers were originally purchased individually at Walmart. The brothers picked up their first two retailers early in 2010 and an additional 20 retailers in the next three months.

Trent had been working as a millwright, but at that point he was between jobs. He responded to Choo-It’s success by turning his attention to making and marketing the cereal on a full-time basis.

Hi-Octane Oatmeal
Choo-It stands for Craig’s High Octane Oatmeal, a very accurate name for a cereal that is designed to provide a good, hearty flavour and long-lasting energy.

There are over 20 ingredients in Choo-It, and all of them have been chosen for their nutritional value. Sunflower seeds contain Vitamins B1 and E. Flax and pumpkin seeds are good sources of Omega-3. Buckwheat is high in protein and fiber, while blueberries and cranberries are rich in Vitamin C. And the list goes on and on. Check out the ingredient list for a full explanation of why each ingredient has been included.

Most of the ingredients are Canadian: the grains, sunflower seeds and berries.

Wheat-Free / Gluten-Free
Choo-It has recently introduced a wheat-free version of Choo-It, which will transition to a gluten-free version in approximately six months.

I recommend trying both versions of Choo-It as they are quite different, although both are designed to be healthy, flavourful and full of energy. The wheat-free version contains chia seeds, a Mayan super food that slows down the digestion, as well as hemp hearts for added protein and healthy oils.

Value for your Money
A super-large container of Choo-It costs $35 while the 400 gram pouches cost $12. At first glance, that seems a bit expensive for a breakfast cereal. But then I started thinking about how much it would cost if I purchased all those ingredients individually – that’s a lot of money.

“A serving from the large container costs less than $1,” Trent says. “One serving for women and two servings for men will sustain your energy for up to 4 hours. Runners have been loving Choo-It for this reason: it's keeping them full, without the bloating and heavyness.”

The more I study food and nutrition, the more I come to realize that the best way to ensure a healthy diet is to eat a wide variety of unprocessed foods. Choo-It takes all the work out of preparing a healthy breakfast with a spectrum of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. You get value for your money.

Baby Steps
After developing the Choo-It recipe, Craig Campbell moved on to other activities and Trent Campbell is now running the show – from purchasing the ingredients, to mixing them, packaging them and delivering them to retailers.

Trent purchased a mixer (resembles a small cement mixer) three months ago to mix up the ingredients in the original Choo-It, but he’s still using a hand-held mixer with the wheat-free version. “We’re taking baby steps,” Trent explains. “As we grow, I add more equipment.”

Choo-It’s warehouse is located in the same building as Caffe Sola. The wheat-free/soon-to-be gluten-free version is made in a separate, dedicated facility. Choo-It recycles or reuses all the cardboard and other packaging used in the warehouse. The cereal containers can be recycled although Trent recommends using the big tub to store children’s crayons or kitchen supplies.

Choo-It is now available from 80 smaller retailers (e.g. health food stores). The majority are located in Saskatchewan, but Trent is also shipping Choo-It to Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

Choo-It grew out of a son’s love for his mother, and the company donates $1 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for every large container sold.

Every package continues to receive Trent’s individual, hands-on attention. If you are like me and prefer to buy food that is locally-grown or produced, be sure to try Choo-It. You’ll be eating tasty, nutritious food – and supporting the local economy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 21, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon – Will it be wine or whiskey, a restaurant apprenticeship, goat cheese, or Christmas shopping?

The Better Bread Box
Looking for unique Christmas gift ideas? Why not purchase a Better Bread Box gift card ($20) at Three Sisters/Nestor’s Bakery?

Your recipient will be delighted to receive a selection of fresh baking, and you’ll be supporting local youth development.

The Rook & Raven
Starting November 22, Tuesday nights are Wine and Cheese Nights at The Rook & Raven. Purchase a bottle of wine and you’ll receive a complimentary cheese platter. And, if you don’t drink all the wine, they’ll recork the bottle so that you can take it home with you.

Whiskey Flight Night starts on Thursday, November 24; sample three premium whiskeys for $20.00. The selection of whiskeys will be posted on The Rook & Raven’s Facebook page.

Salayview Farm Goat Cheese
Don’t forget to contact Salayview Farm if you live in Saskatoon and would like to try their goat cheese. They’ll be delivering cheese to Saskatoon on December 1.

Four Kitchens
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey. The author describes working in a molecular gastronomy restaurant, sampling street food in Hanoi, and spending hours extracting crab meat in Paris.

You catch a glimpse of the disconnect between becoming a chef because you love cooking and feeding others and the sheer drudgery of preparing food in a high-end kitchen.

There are lots of recipes for those of you who like to experiment.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. Email me (penny@axonsoft.com) if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

See also:
Flavourful Saskatoon November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Opening Day at The Hollows

Saskatoon has a new restaurant – The Hollows on the corner of Avenue C and 19th Street. One more great reason to visit Riversdale neighbourhood.

I was really looking forward to eating at The Hollows as their website emphasizes that they serve local, seasonal food that is made from scratch. They also have quite a few vegetarian options – thank you!

The chefs are Kristie Peters and Kyle Michael. They’ve been cooking in Vancouver, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Spain and are bringing what they’ve learned to Saskatoon.

I had rice and beans for lunch, one of the standard dishes on The Hollows’ weekend brunch menu. Rice and beans could sound boring; it was anything but.

Everything was made from scratch – from the refried beans to the guacamole and crème fraîche (from organic cream). The rice and beans were topped with two perfectly-cooked eggs; sweet, ripe tomatoes (from Floating Gardens); and a sprinkle of cheese.

I overheard another customer commenting that the buttercup squash soup (with cheddar, pink lady apple and rosemary oil) was the best soup she’d ever eaten.

I was far too full to eat anything more at the time, so I took one of their lemon tarts home with me. The filling was tart and fruity, and it was topped with a generous portion of whipped cream decorated with tiny lemon thyme leaves.

The Hollows is located in the old Golden Dragon restaurant, and they have retained a fair bit of the original décor.

The restaurant is open for brunch from 11 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays as well as dinner until late. They open from 11:30 am till late on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The restaurant has opened with a short menu but will be expanding to the full menu very shortly. The full dinner menu includes a number of small plates (quinoa and squash rings, poutine with truffle mayo, beet salad, soup) as well as large plates (kale-squash gnocchi, ravioli with pork, steelhead trout and short ribs).

There will eventually be a selection of desserts as well (butterscotch pot de crème, poached pear, lemon tart, chocolate pumpkin cake).

The full brunch menu will include breakfast poutine, quinoa oatmeal, rice and beans, flax seabuckthorn pancakes and benny with steelhead trout.

I am looking forward to talking to Christie and Kyle in more detail about their plans for the restaurant. In the meantime, do go and enjoy a meal at The Hollows. You won’t regret it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 14, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon – coming soon – Salayview Farm goat cheese, The Hollows restaurant, JS Bach on harpsichord, flute and strings

National Food Freedom Rally, November 23
As part of a nation-wide movement, there will be food freedom rallies in Saskatoon and Regina at 12 noon on November 23. The events are tentatively scheduled for the front of Saskatoon City Hall and the Saskatchewan Legislature. It is currently illegal to sell raw milk; many people disagree and want the right to choose the food they eat.

Customer Appreciation, Cava Wines, November 24
Cava Wines & Spirits is holding a Customer Appreciation Night on Thursday, November 24 from 5 to 10 pm. Come and enjoy wine tasting, appetizers and promotions.

Salayview Farm Goat Cheese, December 1
Don’t miss the opportunity to purchase locally-made goat cheese from Salayview Farm. Salayview Farm is a small goat cheese producer located south of Regina. They make three kinds of soft, unaged chèvre: Plain, Chive, and Herbes de Provence.

The cheese is not yet available on a regular basis in Saskatoon, but they will be making a trip to Saskatoon on December 1 and will be delivering cheese to a pick-up location.

If you live in Saskatoon and would like to purchase some of their cheese on December 1, contact me or email Salayview Farm with your order. I’ll keep you posted as to the pick-up location and time.

The Hollows Restaurant
The Hollows restaurant will be opening shortly in the Golden Dragon building in Riversdale neighbourhood. The two young chefs plan to serve contemporary food focused on natural and seasonal products.

Their food will be made with the best ingredients they can find in our area: cultivated plants grown from heirloom seeds, wild-harvested leaves and mushrooms, flowers, sap and roots, local fish, sustainably raised, pastured meat, poultry and eggs from small farmers.

You can like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter (@thehollowsltd).

The Musical Offering: JS Bach, November 20
Don’t miss the opportunity to hear the music of J.S. Bach on November 20 at 2:30 pm at Christ Church Anglican (28th Street W at Avenue E).

The musicians are Ross Carstairs, flute; Scott McKnight, cello; Renée de Moissac, harpsichord; and Joan Savage, violin.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. Email me (penny@axonsoft.com) if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

Photos: Medina Azahara (near Cordoba, Spain)

See also:
Flavourful Saskatoon November 7, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bob Hinitt, Community Artist

I was saddened to learn that Bob Hinitt passed away on Saturday, November 12, but as I reflected on his life, I realized that he had left me, and many others who knew him, with some valuable gifts.

French, a living language
Bob was my French teacher at Aden Bowman Collegiate for four years. Memorizing and singing French songs were a central feature of the classes, and I realize now how important that was. Singing taught me the rhythm of the French language and helped me to realize that it was a living language, not just a classroom exercise.

As a university student, I worked and studied in France for two and a half years, and I’m sure that Bob’s French classes were part of my motivation. I certainly remember singing some of the songs he taught us as I tried to help my young charges to fall asleep.

Express your creativity
Bob was a genius at turning sheets of cardboard into elaborate stage sets. And he didn’t believe in half measures. Cardboard was twisted and turned into three-dimensional buildings. The school auditorium was transformed for high school graduation with European architecture and landmarks that went from floor to ceiling on all four sides of the auditorium.

I can still remember my mother cursing as she sewed an elaborate, extremely authentic Beefeater costume so that I could serve at the graduation banquet.

Share with your community
Christmas wasn’t complete until we visited Bob Hinitt’s house to view the elaborate display set up on his lawn. There were giant cartoon characters, carousels and dancing animals, music and so much more. It was an amazing sight and different every year. The money raised went to UNICEF.

Bob was ahead of his time as he didn’t own a car, and he cycled everywhere.

Bob’s art never hung in an art gallery, but it was a significant contribution to our community. A few years ago, I wrote an article comparing Bob to another Saskatonian who created art through his shop window displays. I reprint it here in honour of Bob and of his predecessor. Thank you, Bob. We’ll miss you.

Thanksgiving window display stops traffic
For many, many Saskatonians, Christmas would not be complete without visiting Bob Hinitt’s Christmas lawn exhibit at his home on Wiggins Avenue. (Mr. Hinitt is a former teacher and theatre director who has been building an elaborate display with buildings, moving pieces and figurines each Christmas for many, many years.) Harold Parr, who lived in Saskatoon from 1913 to 1970, had a similar gift for creating eye-catching displays. In fact, his Thanksgiving display stopped traffic on 2nd Avenue.

Harold Parr created window displays for stores in downtown Saskatoon. His 1913 Thanksgiving display for the front window of Fawcett’s Hardware started out quite simply. He recreated a dining room scene with wallpaper, carpet, fireplace and a heavily-loaded dining room table. But then a young employee of Fawcett’s dared Parr to eat his Thanksgiving dinner in the window. And Parr accepted the bet.

The idea snowballed. Eventually, Parr and five acquaintances would dine in the window dressed in tuxedos loaned by Dunn’s clothing store. Mr. Abell of Abell’s Dairy Lunch Restaurant on 21st Street cooked an elaborate meal which included oysters, halibut, prime rib, turkey and three choices of dessert, and it was served by a waiter from his restaurant. The meal concluded at 10:45 pm with coffee and cigars and Harold Parr declared that it was the best Thanksgiving dinner he had ever had.

The public thoroughly enjoyed the display as well. So many people came to watch the group eating dinner that the sidewalk was impassable, despite the best efforts of two policemen to try and maintain a clear passageway for pedestrians. Traffic on 2nd Avenue almost came to a standstill.

Harold Parr believed that eye-catching window displays were cheap advertising. There was no need to purchase a newspaper ad if the newspaper was already knocking on your door to find out more about the current display. “Whenever I plan a window I strive to put in something original, something the people have not seen before, and it sure does catch them. Every week the question is asked: ‘What has Fawcett got in his window?’” wrote Parr in an article about his advertising techniques.

Parr’s displays certainly were remarkable. A display of bathroom fixtures included a bathtub with a running shower. Two playful young bear cubs were the centre of attention in another display. Baseball fans kept track of the score and the players’ positions in a championship game in Moose Jaw by watching the display in the window of Fawcett’s Hardware.

We don’t ordinarily consider window displays as art. And yet, Parr’s window displays, just like Bob Hinitt’s Christmas displays, were exceptional for their creativity and impeccable attention to detail. Parr created works of art with mundane objects in a very ordinary setting. And they were unforgettable.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Food Shopping on Broadway

I rarely shop at supermarkets any more. I prefer to shop at small stores where I can support local owners and find all sorts of unexpected food pleasures.

One of my favourite streets for shopping is Broadway Avenue. Not only are there lots of great restaurants, there are also some great places to buy food to take home. Here are just a few of my favourites.

Steep Hill Food Co-op
Steep Hill Food Co-op isn’t a big store, but they offer everything from organic, fair trade chocolate bars to veggie sausages and pâté, and a large selection of ready-made Indian dinners.

Take the time to look around because there are always some surprises – like Tyrrell’s English Crips in all sorts of unusual flavours (Worcestershire sauce and sun-dried tomato).

Bulk Cheese Warehouse
Bulk Cheese Warehouse is one of my favourite stores because I love cheese. Cathy Engel, one of the store’s managers, pointed out some of their newer products, such as a wide selection of Greek cheeses and house-smoked Canadian Mapledale cheddar. All the goat and sheep cheeses are on one shelf to make it easier for people with allergies to find them.

The deli section has been expanded, and they sell Mario’s gelati from British Columbia (spumoni, mango, green tea, cappuccino cookie, coconut). There is also locally-made fudge and chocolate bark with peppermint and almond-cranberry flavours for the holiday season.

Herbs ‘N’ Health Foodport
Herbs ‘n’ Health has lots of vitamins and health products, but they also have a large selection of natural beauty products (shampoo, facial cleansers) and food. There are lots of different grains and beans as well as canned soups and sauces.

I was excited to find a bag of dried chestnuts as they’re a great addition to a winter stew. They also had kits and seeds for growing your own sprouts.

Il Secondo
My impulse purchase at Il Secondo was a Saskatoon berry Danish, but I was also pleased to learn that they offer daily soup, salad and sandwich combos – and the soup is always vegetarian!

There was housemade organic whole grain granola, veggie rolls and spelt pies, onion and cracked pepper cream cheese spread, and sundried tomato tapenade in the cooler.

My last stop on Broadway is always Calories so that I can pick up a decadent dessert. The chocolate hazelnut cheesecake is my standard, but it can be hard to resist the other cakes, cheesecakes and squares. You can also take home a loaf of wild rice bread, and there are candies, scones and other treats as well.

Mini Holiday
Don’t forget to stop in at Las Palapas Mercado for a dose of tropical sunshine.

And, if you’re exhausted after all your shopping, sit down, relax and sip a glass of wine at Calories, Duck Duck Goose, or Weczeria’s. Enjoy!

See also:
Sushiro and Duck Duck Goose
Weczeria Reopens
Bulk Cheese Warehouse
Il Secondo
Las Palapas Mercado

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 7, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon – fresh veggies, freezer jam, Last Mountain vodka, crackers and metal

Fresh Veggies, Wednesdays, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
I had an email this week from Jennifer and Adi at Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens asking me to encourage readers to visit the Wednesday Saskatoon Farmers’ Market and pick up some fresh produce.

Grandora Gardens offers peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes. Wally’s Market Garden has arugula, carrots and potatoes. Floating Gardens has everything from strawberries and melons to fresh basil and eggplants, while Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens has spinach, kale, bok choy, tatsoi, and mâche.

Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens is a first-time Market vendor, and they are only at the Market on Wednesdays. They minimize the use of fossil fuels in their sub-acre urban market garden by using tunnels, row covers and other passive, natural methods of season extension.

I had never heard of tatsoi so I asked for more information. Jennifer and Adi tell me that it is a cold-hardy variant of bok choy. It has a much stronger mustard flavour than regular bok choy, and it maintains its texture better in stir fries. It's also more insect-resistant than bok choy.

Kaleidoscope Gardens’ tatsoi is field grown and won't last beyond mid-November, but Floating Gardens will have some greenhouse-grown tatsoi later in the winter. Seed is available from Johnny's Selected Seeds (photo credit).

Freezer Jam Workshop, November 10
Core Neighbourhood Youth Coop (CNYC) is hosting a short interactive tutorial on creating freezer jam on Thursday, November 10 from 7-8:30 pm at CNYC, 905 20th Street East. Register by November 9 via Facebook or by calling 665-3889. (via Transition Saskatoon - thanks!)

Souleio, Holiday Open House, November 17
Souleio is holding an open house on Thursday, November 17 from 2-5 pm with complimentary canapés, egg nog, cider or bubbly for you to enjoy while shopping for holiday candies and gifts.

Last Mountain Distillery
Last Mountain Distillery in Lumsden is Saskatchewan’s first micro distillery. Their vodka is triple distilled in small batches and then filtered. They have plans to start producing rum and whiskey.

The vodka is available in Saskatoon at the Fox and Hounds Brew Pub, Maguire’s Irish Pub and Brewery, and 6Twelve (coming soon).

Check out this short video on Global Regina.

Paddock Wood Brewery
Winter ale is now available at Paddock Wood Brewery.

For the last couple of years, my favourite cracker has been Sesmark's Savory Rice Thins – thin and crispy with a distinctive flavour that doesn’t compete with the cheese toppings.

I may have found another favourite cracker – 34° Crispbread. The crackers are wafer thin and beautifully shaped (see photo).

Both sorts of crackers are available at the Bulk Cheese Warehouse on Broadway Avenue.

Two Shows, Two Days, Two Locations
Don’t miss the metal, ceramic, print handicraft exhibits on Friday, November 11 from 1-9 pm and on Saturday, November 12 from 10 am – 5 pm.

The 330 Design Group Fall Open House (330 Avenue G South) features the work of metal artists Craig Campbell, Glen Grismer, James S. Korpan and Daryl Richardson, ceramic artists Paula Cooley and Ken Wilkinson, and print maker Paul Daniel Siemens.

Hot Stuff (233 Avenue C South) is an exhibit of works in metal and clay by the Sisters of Fire, Nancy Bellegarde, Jacqueline Hunks, Shelley Kaszefski, Jasmine Orr, Vivian Orr, and ceramic artists Teresa Gagne and John Elder. (via Vivian - thanks!)

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. Email me (penny@axonsoft.com) if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

See also:
Flavourful Saskatoon October 31, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Las Palapas Mercado

It’s November. The days are shorter, and the world feels a little grey. But all that changes when I step inside Las Palapas Mercado on Broadway Avenue. All of a sudden, I’m surrounded by colour, warmth and energy.

Las Palapas Mercado is a new initiative from the owners of Las Palapas Resort Grill on Victoria Avenue. The front section of the store is a magical emporium filled with intriguing wall art, handblown glassware, vivid pottery and amusing statues.

Tables made from reclaimed wood have character and weight. There are traditional tortilla presses and Mexican cookware amidst the wealth of colour, shape and feel.

The grocery section is at the rear of the store. You’re invited to touch and smell the Mexican oregano and the hibiscus blossoms, and heat lovers will appreciate the wide variety of dried chili peppers and hot sauces. There’s Mexican cinnamon, epazote and ground annatto seeds as well as enormous cans of hominy corn, crushed tomatillos and green tomatoes.

There are jars of nopalitos (pickled tender cactus), chilpotle pepper in adobo sauce, cuitlacoche (corn truffle), horchata and Abuelita chocolate mixes, and everything you need to make your own tamales.

The large cooler is full of ready-made meals from Las Palapas restaurant. I enjoyed enchiladas frijoles y maiz, but there are also chickpea burritos, tamales, coconut shrimp, carnes and salsas . There are four different kinds of queso fresco. The corn tortillas are fresh daily, and there’s a wide selection of Mexican soft drinks from Coca Cola made with cane sugar to sidral (carbonated apple juice) and virgin sangria.

The candy section will delight your inner child with peanut butter marzipan, guava and tamarind jellies, plastic tubes that grow candy hair, coconut roll-ups and all sorts of other unexpected goodies. At least, they are unexpected to most North Americans, but latino eyes light up with delight to see some of their childhood favourites now available in Saskatoon.

Jaimie, the store’s manager, tells me that they are planning to extend the grocery section and are happy to take requests from the latino community.

Visit Las Palapas Mercado. It’s sure to add a ray of sunshine to your day.