Monday, February 28, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 28, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon –
Farmers’ Market, Nutrition Month, online recipe searches

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
Guiseppi’s Restaurant will be holding a Pasta Night every Saturday evening starting March 5 from 6-9 pm. There will be a choice of 3 types of pasta and 5 sauces.

Riverbend Plantation and The Garlic Guru offer a weekly Friday Lunch Buffet from 11:30-1:30. The menu changes weekly. RSVP is recommended – 370-0033 or 975-2010.

Garlic Guru offers a wide selection of vegan dishes, many of which are gluten-free. Riverbend Plantation has chutney and antipasto in addition to pies and jam.

Nutrition Month
The Food Mentor and Dieticians of Canada will be at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Saturday, March 5 and 19 from 9:30 until noon. Drop by and speak with a nutritionist or take a short tour of the market with a registered dietician.

An Eating for Health Panel with Paulette Millis, Cheryl Thompson, Kent Bailey and Leslie Basky will be held at McNally Robinson on Thursday, March 10 at 7:30 pm. The panel will discuss how eating differently can change not only your health but your entire life. (via Savour Life)

Online Recipe Searches
Finding a recipe on the web just got easier. (via O’Reilly Radar)

Foodily aggregates recipes from around the web and integrates the information with your friends' comments, recommendations, tips and recipes from Facebook.
You can search for a recipe or an ingredient with Google’s Recipe View.

The Spicy Mayo blog has started a weekly series about cocktails. The first article discusses vodka, bourbon and rye – and provides the recipe for a Delilah.

Headhunters, the Saskatoon Home Brew Club, will be meeting at Paddock Wood Brewery on Tuesday, March 9 at 7:30 pm. They’ll be discussing wet hops and hopping traditions.

Beer Commercial
Finally, an amazingly detailed video showing you the different steps involved in making Sapporo beer. Advertising at its creative best (watch full screen).

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. Email me if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brewing Beer: Part Two

A tale of two brewers and a union of North American and European brewing techniques

Chloe Smith and Cedric Dauchot are two young brewmasters who plan to open the Shiny Penny brew pub in Saskatoon in the very near future. They share a passion for beer, but their education and approach to brewing are very different.

Part Two

Cedric’s story
Cedric Dauchot grew up in the French part of Belgium, just south of Brussels. After studying engineering and biochemistry at university for three years, he did an apprenticeship at Interbroue, a large Belgian-based brewing company.

Cedric caught the brewing bug and completed his university degree at Institut Meurice, one of three engineering and brewing schools in Belgium. He obtained a degree in Engineering with a specialization in the fermentation industry, which covered everything to do with yeast (vaccines, beer, cheese, alcohol).

Cedric then moved to London where he worked in a large brewing research lab and completed his thesis on yeast development in small-scale fermentation.

Les Trois Brasseurs, Montreal
Both Chloe and Cedric appreciate the fact that as brewers they can work anywhere in the world. Cedric had hoped to go to Africa, but when those plans didn’t work out, he went to work for Les Trois Brasseurs in northern France. He trained for five months, filled in for people and helped out at various locations before the company sent him to Montreal to open several branches of Les Trois Brasseurs.

Cedric was responsible for supervising the brewing process and solving technical problems. As quality control supervisor, he developed a lab in downtown Montreal to ensure that the beer from each of the branches met company standards.

Complementary approaches
Cedric is an engineer. If there’s a problem, he can solve it. He has a traditional approach to making beer, whereas Chloe is more creative and innovative. “We complement each other and meet in the middle,” says Chloe. “I’ll have an idea for a beer and then we work together to develop it.”

Saskatoon seemed like a good place for them to open their own brew pub. “We want Shiny Penny to be a fun place where people can learn about beer,” says Chloe. “We have a good support network here in Saskatoon and felt we could fill a hole in the market.”

Europe vs. North America
Chloe and Cedric’s individual approaches to brewing mirror the industry as a whole.

Prohibition in North America inhibited the growth of artisan beers. Sugary, fizzy drinks became popular during Prohibition, so breweries made a sweeter beer using corn. It was cheaper and increased the profit margin, so it got copied. “And since then, we’ve been drinking yellow fizzy beer,” says Chloe.

There was a return to artisan beers in the ‘80s, starting with Anchor Steam in San Francisco in the ‘60s. The small-scale breweries copied the European breweries, using them as a base in order to establish their own style.

European breweries had a good thing going for a great many years. Every brewery made a different kind of beer. There was no need to be creative and invent something new when in Belgium alone there were 1200 different kinds of beer.

This has changed. The European breweries are realizing that they’ve become stagnant. Nowadays, it’s North America that is influencing Europe. Several craft breweries are exporting their beer to Europe, and Stone Brewing Co. is planning to open a brewery in Bruges or Berlin.

An article in the Los Angeles Times, The American craft beer scene goes global, provides an interesting look at the shifting dynamics: “James Watt, the 27-year-old co-owner of BrewDog in Fraserburgh, Scotland, credits the absence of longstanding brewing traditions in the United States with encouraging a more creative brewing scene. ‘Beers in the U.K. have become fairly stuffy and old-fashioned, almost as if brewing traditions here have constrained brewers,’ he says. ‘When it comes to beer, we are light-years behind the U.S., and California in particular.’ "

Regina beer and brewers
Cedric and Chloe say that Regina has a big beer culture. Bushwakker Brewing Company is one of the best brew pubs in Canada, and there is a large home brew club (Ale and Lager Enthusiasts of Saskatchewan).

Saskatoon beer and brewers
Both Cedric and Chloe are currently enjoying working at Paddock Wood Brewing Co. in Saskatoon. “Steve is very creative. He’s always trying new things, and he asks for our input,” says Chloe. Paddock Wood is a relatively new brewery, so Cedric can help with its development.

Paddock Wood Brewing provides a meeting space and access to expert advice for Headhunters, the Saskatoon home brew club. The club usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm. Their next meeting is on March 9, and they’ll be discussing wet hops and hopping traditions.

Cedric is also working at Cava Wines and Spirits and enjoys talking to customers and educating people about beer. He hosts a beer tasting every Saturday at 11:30 am.

Chloe and Cedric are looking forward to opening the Shiny Penny Brew Pub later in 2011. I look forward to their first brew off when Cedric and Chloe pit their individual recipes against each other and let the public judge which one they prefer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brewing beer: from shovelling grain and scrubbing tanks to a degree in Engineering

A tale of two brewers and a union of North American and European brewing techniques

Chloe Smith and Cedric Dauchot are two young brewmasters who plan to open the Shiny Penny brew pub in Saskatoon in the very near future. They share a passion for beer, but their education and approach to brewing are very different.

Part One

Chloe’s story 
Chloe Smith grew up in Saskatoon and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Chemistry before heading to Europe. She knew she wanted a job that involved science, but she didn’t want to be a “lab rat,” and she wanted to be able to travel.

Chloe spent two years in Germany, France and Spain and caught the beer bug. “I lived in Edinburgh where they have great beer,” she says. “There are about five breweries in Edinburgh, and the odour overtakes the city.”

Chloe applied for a job at Great Western when she got home from Europe, but when that didn’t work out, she signed up for an online professional brewing course through the American Brewers’ Guild. A one-month apprenticeship at a San Francisco brew pub completed her education.

Chloe’s first job was with McAuslan Brewery in Montreal. “It was a good way to start out as I learned how important it is to be consistent,” Chloe says. But she was following a well-established, automated process which left no room for personal creativity, so after three years Chloe moved on and became the head brewer at one location of Les Trois Brasseurs brew pub chain.

Brew pubs
Brew pubs are small-scale, artisanal breweries attached to a pub. Brew pubs serve their own beer; sometimes they offer guest beers. “You see the customers and get their reaction right away,” explains Chloe, “so you can troubleshoot much more easily.”

Les Trois Brasseurs is a small chain that opened its first brew pub in Place de la Gare a Lille in 1986. They have since expanded to 28 locations in France, with several restaurants in Quebec and Ontario. “They are really making an effort with their beer and only their beer is on tap,” says Chloe. “Their food is really good too,” adds Cedric. “They have a real chef.”

95% janitorial
As head brewer for a branch of Les Trois Brasseurs, Chloe was in charge of everything from ordering grain and hops to unloading supplies, making beer, machinery maintenance, teaching staff how to pour, and talking to clients.

Chloe was Les Trois Brasseur’s first woman brewer, but Chloe doesn’t feel it really matters whether you are a man or a woman in this profession.

“Everybody has to prove themselves in this industry because it is really physical,” she says. “It’s not glorious. You’re mending broken pumps, fixing leaky valves and hoisting 25 kilogram bags of grain on your shoulder. It’s 95% janitorial – cleaning and scrubbing inside the tanks and the brew area. The only difficult thing about making beer is cleanliness. You have to be really diligent.”

Chloe says that many people try to make the jump from home brewing to professional brewing, but she believes that education is really important. “I know the purpose and the science behind the menial jobs,” she says.

Chloe met Cedric when she was working at Les Trois Brasseurs, so this is where we’ll switch to his story.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Collective Coffee

Collective Coffee, Saskatoon’s newest coffee shop at 220 20th Street West, is a small, comfortable place with a focus on excellent coffee and community-building.

Quality coffee
Collective Coffee promises to serve and make quality coffee. If possible, it will also be ethical and organic.

Jackson Wiebe, the coffee shop’s owner, has already established his reputation as the owner of Evrgreen Coffee Shop in Waskesiu.

Intelligentsia coffee, which is directly sourced from individual farms and farmers, will always be available. Other varieties will be offered on a rotating basis.

Tea drinkers like myself will be pleased to know that Collective Coffee is currently serving organic Silk Road tea from Victoria, BC, but they plan to offer David’s teas (another Canadian company) in future.

20th Street in Saskatoon has a bad reputation, and many people avoid it. But others are determined to bring it back to life. The Roxy Theatre was restored and reopened and the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company and PAVED Arts have moved in.

Collective Coffee is housed in The Two Twenty, a shared space for social entrepreneurs and artists, and they believe that “it’s good in the ‘hood” and are proud to be part of the neighbourhood revival.

Collective Coffee also supports the local coffee community. They’re offering baked goods from Caffe Sola and locally-roasted coffee from Museo.

Hours and survey
The coffee shop is currently open from 7 am to 3 pm from Monday to Friday and from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays. They will be open for more extended hours in the future.

Fill out the survey on their website to let them know what hours you would prefer.

Elsewhere in Canada
Other Canadian coffee shops focussing on the production of quality coffee include Credo Coffee in Edmonton (also serving Intelligentsia coffee) and the Black Stilt Coffee Lounge in Victoria.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 21, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon – wine, beer, alphabet soup and urban planning

Cypress Hills Vineyard and Winery
Cypress Hills Winery has started selling its Saskatoon Berry and Sour Cherry wines through the SLGA liquor outlets.

My sister in law really enjoys their Rhubarb Blend wine. Unfortunately, the flood last summer wiped out the winery's big batch of rhubarb, and it will be about 5 years before they’ll have enough to stock the provincial liquor stores. However, they will have a small batch in March that can be delivered by mail within the province.

Children's Program at the Market
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is partnering with Read Saskatoon to provide an 8-week program for children on Wednesdays starting March 2 called Alphabet Soup.

Alphabet Soup will focus on nutrition and local, healthy eating. Each week one of the vendors will do a short presentation geared towards children about their farm or products. They will provide a sample and show pictures. The Read Saskatoon facilitator will do another activity, such as a craft, story or rhymes on the same theme.

Cava Wines & Spirits – Weekly Beer Tastings
Join Cedric Dauchot on Saturdays at 11:30 am for weekly beer tastings at Cava Wines & Spirits.

Cedric has a university degree in Engineering with a specialization in the fermentation industry. Learn more about Cedric and his wife, Chloe Smith, who is also a brewmaster, in a two-part blog post later this week.

Downtown Parks and Squares
Great Places, in partnership with the City of Saskatoon, The University of Saskatchewan Planner in Residence Program, and Prairie Wild Consulting, is sponsoring a public lecture and discussion forum with Cynthia Nikitin on March 2nd at 7:30 pm at the Broadway Theatre. Cynthia, a planner from Project for Public Spaces, New York, will be speaking on Downtown Parks and Squares.

Yoga for Wine Lovers
If you have not yet watched this video from Harold’s Planet (you can subscribe for a daily cartoon), enjoy. I’m looking for volunteers to help me develop a Tai Chi for Wine Lovers routine!

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. Email me if you have products, events or places that you would like me to include.

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 17, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cava Cuisine

Responding to the needs of Saskatoon's home chefs and foodies

The Cava group of stores is expanding as rapidly as Saskatoon’s food culture. What started out as a wine club and retail store has expanded to include Cava Wines and Spirits, Cava Cuisine and Cava Café.

Cava Cuisine has three separate outlets offering a wide range of gourmet food, glassware and kitchenware.

133-21st Street East (half block from Midtown Plaza)
The downtown location of Cava Cuisine opened in December, and it’s immaculately laid out with elegant displays of glassware and china.

I was immediately drawn to the display cabinet offering a mouth-watering range of Harden & Huyse chocolates. Then it was time to browse the assortment of oils from Turkey, Morocco, Crete, Italy and France as well as the balsamic vinegar from France and Italy.

There are whole truffles, truffle-infused oils and cream and truffle sauces.

There is a small, but intriguing selection of cookbooks, and espresso/cappuccino machines were waiting to be unpacked when I dropped by.

“What’s exciting is the rotation of products. There’s always something different; it’s never stagnant,” says James Rayner, the store’s manager. James was a chef for 10 years in Alberta and uses his contacts to research new products. He also visits trade shows, meets with food producers and chefs, and does lots of online research.

Espresso bar
The 23rd Street store has an espresso bar with organic Arabica coffee and serves fresh pastries every morning – a useful thing to know if you work downtown.

Three locations
Each of the three outlets of Cava Cuisine has a slightly different focus. The downtown store is the flagship location and displays the full range of products.

The store inside the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is devoted to food – from 36 varieties of mustard to sauces and cheese.
The neighbouring outlet in Ideas Inc. is undergoing changes and by late spring or early summer will house a delicatessen with specialty meats and cheeses.

Tastings and classes
Cava Cuisine hosted an olive oil tasting in January and is planning a balsamic vinegar tasting. Once the delicatessen opens, there will be cheese tastings, and cooking classes will be offered in the future.

You can follow Cava Cuisine on Facebook or on the web.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 17, 2011

Foodie news and events in and around Saskatoon 

There are so many interesting foodie events around Saskatoon, so I’m going to try and compile them and share them with you on a weekly basis.

I’m planning to post Flavourful Saskatoon news on Mondays, but there are a couple of exciting upcoming events that I didn’t want you to miss so I’m posting early this week.

Please email me to share foodie news and events. I’ll be happy to pass along the information.

Collective Coffee
A new coffee shop is opening at 220 20th Street West on Saturday, February 19 at 10 am. The owner is Jackson Wiebe, and the coffee shop is part of The Two Twenty, a community of social entrepreneurs and artists and has been designed and built by Curtis Olson.

I’ll share more information in a future blog post. For now, Jackson and Curtis just want you to know that “It’s good in the ‘Hood.” So be sure to drop by and say hi to the folks at Collective Coffee.

Slide show – culinary tour of South Vancouver Island
I’m hosting a visual tour of the bakeries, wineries, beaches and gardens of south Vancouver Island on Friday, February 25 at 2 pm at the Frances Morrison Library (downtown location).

The slide presentation is part of the library’s Fridays at Two program. I’d be delighted to see you there. There’s no charge.

Raw chocolate-making classes
Kai Hicks, creator of Arriba Raw Organic Chocolate, is offering raw chocolate-making classes on Saturday, February 19 or Saturday, March 5 from 10:30 am to 1 pm or from 2 pm to 5 pm at The Refinery, St. James Anglican Church (609 Dufferin Avenue). Call the Refinery office at 653-3549 to register.

Wine workshops
The Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council is offering wine education classes. Participants in the Old and New World Blends class on Saturday, March 5 from 1:30-3:30 pm will taste and compare blended wines from Europe and North America. You can register online at

Restaurants serving local, organic food
The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate provides a list by postal code of restaurants serving local and/or organic food.

Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers
Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers is holding a fundraising dinner in honour of International Women’s Day on Friday, March 4 at the Western Development Museum (reception at 5 pm, dinner at 6:30). The tickets cost $35 and must be purchased by February 25. For tickets, call Lily Krause (652-8209) or Julia Davies (374-4357).

Frustrating food trivia
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein, iron and zinc and have many possible health benefits. Unfortunately, the only pumpkin seeds that are available in Saskatoon are grown in China (Steep Hill Co-op has tried but been unable to buy more locally).

I’d be very interested to hear from farmers as to whether we could grow pumpkins for seeds on the Prairies.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kitchenworks: Chef Kevin Dahlsjo, Prince Albert, SK

Chef Kevin Dahlsjo is cooking up a storm – in the community and in the kitchen

Will it be Physics or Home Economics?
Many chefs started cooking as children, so becoming a chef was a natural progression. That wasn’t the case with Chef Kevin Dahlsjo. He laughs and says, “In high school, Home Economics was backed with Physics, and I wasn’t that wild about Physics.”

It turned out to be a good choice, and Kevin went on to obtain his Red Seal from SIAST in Prince Albert. After graduating, he worked in Waskesiu, serving as Executive Chef at the Hawood Inn for five years. He now has his own catering business, Sublime Catering, and opened a restaurant, Two by Dahlsjo, in June 2010.

Kevin represented northern Saskatchewan in the 2010 Saskatchewan Gold Medal Plates and hopes to participate again in the future. “It was a blast,” says Kevin. “It was nice meeting all the other chefs.”

Two by Dahlsjo
Kevin’s restaurant, Two by Dahlsjo, is located south of the Courthouse at 1928 Central Avenue, Prince Albert. At the moment, the restaurant is open for lunch from Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 2 pm and a roast dinner on Sundays from 12 to 3. Kevin hopes to expand the restaurant hours once he has obtained a liquor license.

Kevin sends out a weekly electronic newsletter (contact Kevin at to be added to the list) with the weekly menu and any upcoming events (e.g. a Valentine’s Day dinner). The restaurant also hosts a wide variety of private catering events.

Two by Dahlsjo offers a straightforward chalkboard menu with five options, including dessert. But they are always ready to provide a vegetarian or gluten-free option. The restaurant seats 26 people, and Kevin says he wants to keep it small. “I like being hands on. I’m always there to cook the food.”

Local Products
Nearly all the food that Kevin serves is sourced locally. And if you ask Kevin why he only uses local products, his answer is very simple – “I can taste the difference.”

Kevin tried to serve local food at the Hawood in Waskesiu but said it was difficult. He’s finding it easier to manage on a smaller scale in his own restaurant.

Kevin grew up on a farm near Kinistino, and his father is keeping the restaurant well stocked in potatoes. His brother and sister have their own greenhouses and provide fresh produce in the summer.

Feeding the Community
Kevin loves good food and cooking, and he looks for opportunities to share his enthusiasm with his community.

Last winter, Kevin and a group of students from the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) obtained a small grant and prepared a weekly breakfast at the Salvation Army for homeless people in downtown Prince Albert. “We made really good use of really small funds,” says one of the organizers. The program is now being continued by the Salvation Army.

The breakfast program provided SIIT students with work experience but no educational credit. A project officer for Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and some community volunteers approached the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology - Woodland Campus (SIAST) and asked them to develop an accredited eight-week community-based cooking course. They agreed, setting a precedent in Saskatchewan.

The first course is being offered by Kevin to residents at Riverbend, the minimum security facility at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary. The students obtain day passes and attend the classes five days a week. “We show them some basic skills,” says Kevin, “like roasting a chicken or making a simple meal.”

There are seven students in the initial program, and they are already sharing what they have learned with other Riverbend residents. “They’re going to be coming back into the community,” explains one of the organizers. “Why not have them leave with skills and the beginning of a trade? They can continue studying at SIAST or go to work in a kitchen.”

Future Plans
Kevin has started offering cooking classes at his restaurant and is looking forward to setting up a more organized program. “The kitchen is super tiny,” says Kevin, “so we set up bleacher-style seating in the restaurant where people can watch and get involved in cooking dinner.”

Kevin and his staff prepared Christmas dinner for Westview School, and he is working with the Baptist church to set up a youth food program. He would very much like to organize school cooking programs or work with school cafeterias to promote good, healthy food.

Working Together
Kevin is quick to point out that he doesn’t work in isolation. His restaurant staff as well as a group of friends provide support whenever he undertakes a larger project.

SIAST, SIIT, Service Canada and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation have all been generous with their help and support.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bulk Cheese Warehouse, Saskatoon

Olives, cheese, pasta, chutney and much, much more

Bulk Cheese Warehouse has been one of my favourite haunts for many, many years. I immediately head for the cheese section to see what is new and/or irresistible, but I usually end up buying crackers or olives or fancy jam as well. So, it was a pleasure to meet with Mike Bartlett, the store’s general manager and find out more about the store.

Family business
Mike’s father, Scott Bartlett, started the business over 20 years ago. It was originally a wholesale business selling to restaurants, hotels and pizza parlours between Prince Albert and Regina. When the current location at 732 Broadway Avenue became available, they opened a small retail outlet. Over time, the retail business has expanded and replaced the wholesale business.The family also operates a retail store in Regina on Quance Street.

Mike says that the store’s aim is to provide customers with a food experience, to help them discover new things and enjoy good products. Bulk Cheese Warehouse tries to stock food that is not available elsewhere in Saskatoon and to answer customers’ questions. “We like to educate our customers,” says Mike, “and they educate us.”

Lots and lots of cheese
Mike says that they try to cover the full range of cheeses and not to have too many of the same kind, so there’s lots of variety. The employees are always happy to describe the cheeses or to give you a sample if you’re not sure if you would like a particular kind. “We want people to be confident that the product they buy is the product they want,” says Mike.

I appreciate being able to buy several small pieces of cheese rather than one large chunk. Mike says that this is deliberate. They try to keep all the pieces around the $5 price point so that customers can try something new.

The most popular cheeses are goat cheese, smoked cheese, brie, camembert and three-year-old Gouda. Mike feels that “stinky” cheeses (washed rind cheeses such as morbier, oka, St. Nectaire) and blue cheeses are under-appreciated and urges people to give them a try. “Westerners think that all blue cheeses are the same, but there’s such variety,” he says. “They range from buttery to crumbly and from fruity to salty with hints of mushroom and fresh-cut hay and garlic.”

Dried goods
The Bulk Cheese Warehouse stocks so much more than cheese and pasta. “I’m into slow food,” says Mike, “so I always pump up the dried goods section – the barbeque sauces, mustards, peppercorns, olive oil and vinegar.” The store sells local products if they suit the business and are unique to Bulk Cheese Warehouse. Mike pointed out the camelina seed oil – “It’s very fruity with a distinct flavour similar to fresh asparagus. It’s good for salads or frying.” – and the apple cider vinegar from Petrofka Bridge Orchard.

I’m fascinated by the jars of salsa and jam and dessert sauces, and I can’t resist the hot and spicy olives that taste just like the ones I enjoyed in southern Spain. The olives (calamata; green; Moroccan dried; stuffed with lemon, almond or tomato, etc.) come from a Greek supplier who carries French, Spanish and Greek olives.

Full meal solution
If you’ve had a busy day at work and don’t know what to eat for supper, Bulk Cheese Warehouse can provide you with a full meal. They have everything from pasta and sauces, to pizza and lasagne, to salads and desserts.

Mike says that the demand for ready-made meals has been growing steadily over the past few years, and it’s a good way to put products that might otherwise be wasted to good use.

The Butcher Shop sells a wide range of meat (the cold smoked meats are apparently very popular) and seafood.

Up and coming
Bulk Cheese Warehouse outgrew its kitchen facilities and has recently taken over Anniello’s Pasta Supreme at 811 51st Street East. It has a small retail outlet but isn’t able to offer the full selection because of size restrictions.

Mike is planning some renovations to update the Broadway Avenue location. But the store won’t shut down during renovations. They’ll do the work at night, moving the stock in and out on dollies.

If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask. Mike says that many of the products they stock are a result of customer requests.

And don’t be afraid to try something new. It’s fun.

Note: I have updated the information about the retail and wholesale business after posting the article.

See also:
Cheese, Glorious Cheese
Charelli’s Cheese Shop and Delicatessen, Victoria, BC

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Warm Welcome to Sawaddee Bistro, Saskatoon

Opening a new restaurant is a huge undertaking, but Paul Chantharyvong has what it takes – love of good food, respect for customers and enthusiasm.

Sawaddee is a Thai word for hello and welcome, and you will feel welcome as soon as you step into the cheerful yellow restaurant. Paul and his staff offer a traditional Thai greeting – as a sign of respect and a way to share their culture.

It’s obvious that Paul enjoys food and he wants his customers to enjoy it too.

Paul was born in Thailand, but his family moved to Regina when he was three years old. After high school, he moved to Calgary where he made sushi for four years. This awakened his interest in cooking, and he went back to school, graduating from the cooking program at SAIT. He then worked for a year at the Marriott Hotel in Calgary.

Bangkok and Northern Thai
Sawaddee Bistro serves only Thai food. Paul and his main chef, Jarat Chantanit, emphasize the authentic ingredients and recipes, but Paul says they are also trying to make the food as up to date as possible. “We want to prepare and present food that is more modern to people’s taste and eye,” says Paul.

Paul is particularly proud of his Phad Thai, and I certainly enjoyed the flavourful serving of vegetarian phad thai that Paul sent me home with (photo is of a customer’s serving with meat). “It’s an authentic Phad Thai,” explains Paul. “Not too many vegetables, with peanuts, bean sprouts and lime on the side. The sauce is key, and it depends on technique and recipe. You have to use just the right amount of oil and sugar. We use plum sugar.”

A customer received a complimentary serving of Tung Tongs, or golden purses. Paul describes them as a unique Thai dumpling, tied into a neat little package with a strand of green onion.

The Khao Phad Rot Fi is a tomato-based fried rice that comes with shrimp and crispy barbecued pork if it is available. “There are lots of barbecue stands in Thailand,” explains Paul.

Sawaddee currently offers three coconut-based curries, but Paul tells me that each of them has a different aroma, spice and feeling. “I tell customers to choose the green curry if they want to feel happy,” he says. “It’s a little sweet and has an amazing colour.”

Seafood and Spice
You can look forward to lots of seafood dishes on Sawaddee’s menu. “There are so many ways you can play with seafood,” says Paul, “but it will depend on what seafood I can get.”

Paul encourages customers to try the Phad Nam Pik Pro, mussels with onions, basil and sweet chilli oil sauce. And don’t forget to ask about the daily special – last week it was soft-shelled crabs.

Paul has fond memories of eating a really, really hot Tom Yum soup near the ocean in Laos, and he’s tried to replicate it for his restaurant. “If people like spice, this is the place to be,” Paul says. But it’s up to the customer, so your dish can be as mild or as spicy as you choose.

I have a sweet tooth so I was delighted to see that Sawaddee has a variety of intriguing dessert options. Paul says he was a pastry chef, and he thinks desserts are really interesting. “It adds to your meal,” he says. I’m looking forward to trying the Rommit (sweet coconut milk, shredded tapioca with sliced jackfruit) or the That Teim, which has a creamy coconut base, tapioca and ice. “It’s really common in Thailand,” explains Paul, “because it’s so hot.”

Auntie Keo
Sawaddee Bistro is located at 101-129 2nd Avenue North, where Keo’s used to have a second downtown location. Paul was planning to open a restaurant in Regina, but “my Auntie Keo inspired me to come here instead.” Paul’s aunt told him that she saw something in him and believed that he could be like her. “I really do respect her for giving me this opportunity,” says Paul.

Sawaddee Bistro is open from 12-2:30 and from 4:30-9:00. They are closed on Sundays.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sweet Treats from around the World

French lemon soufflé, sticky toffee pudding from England and fortune cookies from ???

I have fond memories of eating sticky toffee pudding at Simon’s British Flavours restaurant in Saskatoon, so I’m absolutely delighted that Chef Simon Reynolds is now offering fresh, ready-to-serve meals, including single servings of sticky toffee pudding, for pick up or delivery.

I really enjoyed Simon’s creamy Portobello mushroom and goat cheese soup with just a hint of basil last week. And there are lots of other vegetarian dishes for me to look forward to. The ready-made meals can be ordered online.

Simon, a British-trained chef, with many years of experience managing award-winning hotels and restaurants, also offers cooking classes. You can follow him on Facebook.

China or Japan ???
It’s Chinese New Year’s and many of us will be eating fortune cookies. I was intrigued by an article on Cracking Open the History of Fortune Cookies on the Smithsonian’s Food & Think blog.

Fortune cookies are an integral part of Chinese food in America, but both Chinese and Japanese immigrants claim the cookie is theirs. Research seems to indicate that they are Japanese in origin.

“Fortune cookies are most likely of Japanese origin. In the course of her detective work, Nakamatchi [Yasuko Nakamatchi, a Japanese researcher] came upon a handful of family-owned bakeries near a Shinto shrine in Kyoto who continued the local tradition of making tsujiura senbei (“fortune crackers”). Flavored with sesame and miso, the cookies are larger and browner than their American cousins, and the little paper fortunes are found on the outside, held in the cookie’s little “arms.” The clincher was an 1878 Japanese block print of a man preparing senbei using the same hand-operated cookie grills still used in the Kyoto bakeries.”

Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch in Paris (one of my favourite books of 2010), is celebrating the book’s first anniversary and its publication in paperback by sharing some recipes (she makes ample use of social media!). Here is her recipe for lemon soufflé.

Bard and her family are now living in Provence (Lunch in Paris blog), so I’m already looking forward to her next book!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Changing the Way We Eat and Drink

Environmentally sustainable food production and consumption

It’s not easy being green – and there are no black and white rules for operating an environmentally-sustainable business. So it’s interesting to look at some of the factors that influence culinary entrepreneurs and to consider some of our own food choices.

Certified organic vs. sustainable
For Mistaken Identity, a Salt Spring Island winery, there is no choice. Their wine is certified organic because they believe that care for the land is the first step in product delivery.

Erika Heyrman, the owner of Wild Fire Bakery in Victoria, used to be of the same opinion, but the focus is shifting as Erika places increasing weight on sustainable farming practices rather than simply organic products. “It’s a little more flexible, based on where and what you grow,” she explains. “I used to buy organic wheat from Saskatchewan and was paying $2,500 to transport it by truck. Now I’m buying my wheat and rye from two farmers in Metchosin. It’s about a 15-kilometre drive from their place, and they deliver every couple of weeks.”

I’ve also spoken to several small-scale farmers and winemakers who say they cannot afford to complete the organic certification process.

Establishing a relationship
Trent Loewen, the owner of Earth Bound Bakery in Saskatoon, buys almost all his ingredients from just two Saskatchewan farmers. “There is nobody in between,” says Trent. “I like to maintain that conversation with the local producers and support them.”

Cliff Leir, the owner of Fol Epi Bakery in Victoria, is working with a Vancouver Island farmer in order to develop a local source of organic Red Fife wheat. “It takes time to secure land,” says Cliff. “It’s a big commitment from the farmer, especially when land prices are so high.”

Erika agrees and develops mutually satisfactory agreements with her grain farmers. She guarantees to buy their crop at a reasonable price, and they agree to farm as organically as possible.

I love to chat with local people at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market as I purchase their products. Unfortunately, many of them are buying their ingredients at Costco, so in reality the products are neither organic nor local.

Hands-on, artisan products
Raw Canvas, in Vancouver, combines a social space with an art studio. The owner, Steve Merkley, tries to strike a balance between organic, local and handmade. But it’s particularly important that the products are made by hand and not mass produced by machine. “The key for us is knowing that not a lot of machines have touched it,” he says. “It’s made by people like my parents who have farmed their land for generations.”

Fol Epi Bakery grinds its own grain. Cliff feels that this gives him more control over the quality of the grain; it is more sustainable as there is less packaging; and it increases the slim profit margins of bakers and farmers. In addition, he believes it’s more interesting for the baker to be involved in that part of the process.

Fol Epi was built using as many recycled products as possible – from the bricks used to build the bread oven to the wooden beams that now serve as counters.

Raw Canvas is furnished with mismatched wooden chairs, and they buy high-quality paint from a small Granville Island business, even though it costs four times as much as paint from China.

Victoria’s Black Stilt Coffee Lounge has developed an extremely comprehensive approach to running an environmentally-friendly business. Here are just a few examples:

• Maintain their own compost pile and use compostable paper towels and cutlery;

• Purchase recycled and post-consumer paper products;

• Unplug equipment at night to reduce phantom loads;

• Use a low-flow dishwashing wand and the sanitizing dishwasher is only run when full; and

• Increase storage and reorganize deliveries to reduce the number of trips to the Black Stilt.

Black Stilt purchases its coffee directly from two particular farms in Costa Rica. They work directly with the farmers to ensure that the coffee has been grown organically, is bird friendly, grown in the shade, and that the rights and welfare of farm employees are a priority.

Principled flexibility
Plenty Epicurean Pantry in Victoria is an enchanting store full of astonishing array of different products. There are finger puppets from Peru, spices in handwoven grass boxes from Asia and pickles produced by high school students in Powell River.

There is tremendous variety, but the owner, Trevor Walker, has a set of principles that guide his purchases. He looks for products that are organic, biodegradable, clean, diverse, efficient, handcrafted, local, recycled, renewable, repurposed, social and timeless. There’s a lot of flexibility because no one product can meet all the principles, but it’s a set of values that shows respect for the producer, the consumer and the earth.

Many of the bakers and restaurateurs that I have met would agree. They are passionate about producing a quality product and equally passionate about acting responsibly. They fill me with hope for the future.