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.