Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Selbach-Oster Riesling

"the juiciness of biting into fresh fruit"

The Selbach family has been cultivating Riesling grapes in the Middle Mosel valley of Germany since 1600. Johannes Selbach’s great-grandfather owned a Mosel steamship and shipped his wines in oak barrels down the Mosel and the Rhine to the North Sea ports. The barrels were made by Matthias Oster, a cooper and the great-grandfather on the paternal side of the family. The family still has three businesses – the vineyard, a négociant firm supplying a broad range of high-quality Riesling wines, and a brokerage agency.

Johannes Selbach and his wife Barbara are the latest members of the family to work the soil, and I spoke with Johannes when he was in Saskatoon with Doug Reichel of Fine Wines Sask.

Family Heritage
Johannes Selbach is the oldest of three brothers. There was an unspoken expectation that he would join the family business, but he says he was given a long leash. As he grew up, he was expected to help in the height of the season, and it wasn’t always voluntary. But, over time, he changed his mind.

“I can remember working with my father in the vineyard on a beautiful day when I was 17 1/2,” Johannes says. “I decided then that I would come home and join the family business, but I didn’t tell my parents right away because I wanted to keep my options open.” Johannes started working in the winery in 1988, and his father handed over responsibility in 1993, although they ran it together until his father died in 2005. Johannes’ wife and mother are also active partners.

Johannes’ son is 21 and has already decided that he will join the family business. He is currently studying winemaking at another German winery. “The wine business opens a door to the world,” Johannes says. “We export our wine to every continent except Antarctica. We entertain visitors from all over the world, and this sparked my children’s interest.”

Old World Approach
When he started working at the winery, Johannes was full of new ideas. “My father let me do my own thing,” he says, “but I soon realized that the landscape doesn’t change, and it’s best suited to Riesling.”

“There has been almost 2000 years of viticulture in the region and, in our family, several generations have worked out the best sites,” Johannes says. “If you go to the best land and farm carefully, you will have fantastic fruit. We practise hands-off winemaking: you want to taste the flavour of the fruit and the land.”

The Selbach-Oster estate is located near the town of Zeltingen in the Mosel Valley, quite close to Germany’s border with Luxembourg. A patchwork of small plots of land on steep, south-facing slopes overlooking the river adds up to 20 hectares (49 acres).

This is not soil as we know it on the Prairies. It’s rocky, with just the tiniest amount of loam and organic matter. Johannes explains that the area is comprised of old blue Devonian slate. Over time, the ancient ocean floor was transformed into compressed layers of rock that are very brittle. “It’s rich in minerals and has a low Ph,” Johannes says. “It’s ideal for growing grapes, particularly Riesling.” A moderate Atlantic- and Gulf Stream-influenced climate ensures a long growing season that is warm rather than hot.

Fruit and Minerals 
Riesling is a light, delicate white wine with a low alcohol content. It’s often presumed to be sweet or semi-sweet, but Johannes emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between sugary and fruity. “We’re trying to capture the juiciness of biting into fresh fruit,” he explains.

As the fields are in different locations and at different elevations, the grapes don’t ripen evenly, so the harvest extends over four weeks.

The first grapes that are picked are crisper and have more acidity. These grapes are used to make the Kabinett wine.

Next come the Spatlese wines. The grapes have had more time to ripen, so the wine is richer and has more body. You can expect the wine to be fruity with some residual sugar if the label doesn’t indicate trocken (dry) or halbtrocken (half-dry).

Finally, there are the late-harvest Auslese wines from grapes that have been carefully selected cluster by cluster. This is a dessert wine, and Johannes says it goes well with pâté or aged/blue cheeses as well as sweets.

Labels and Logic
At first glance, German wine labels are very confusing. However, the names are actually very logical. First, you will see the name of the nearest town, then the name of the vineyard, and then an indication of when the grapes were picked (Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese).

If the label includes the word “Prädikatswein,” you will know that this is a high-quality German wine. Chapitalization is illegal with Prädikat wines, so you are guaranteed that no additional sugar has been added during the winemaking process. QbA wines can employ chapitalization, but they don’t always do so.

Reliable & Consistent
Change comes slowly, one step at a time, in a long-standing family business, thus ensuring consistency and reliability.

As the winery’s public face, Johannes spends a great deal of time on the road. Although this can be tiring, he appreciates the opportunity to get feedback and to not lose touch with the public. “The right mix makes it fun,” he says.

In 2002, the Selbachs decided to commission a new label for their Kabinett wine. Customers had indicated that they were intimidated by the language barrier and the words, and the Selbachs wanted to make it easier for consumers to find their wines on the shelf. The fish label was created by a Vancouver designer and has caught on at home and abroad.

Selbach-Oster introduced a Pinot Blanc in 2003. “I was playing in the sandbox,” Johannes explains. “I wanted to make a sparkling wine, but the vineyard was too good, and the grapes were too ripe for sparkling wine.”

Johannes says that they may experiment with Gewuerztraminer. “But it will just be a hobby on the side,” he says. “Our land is too well suited to Riesling. That’s our serious crop.”

“I must like every wine that leaves the house,” Johannes says. “And we want high quality and a relatively consistent flavour. That is why we are still in business after 400 years.”

Photo credit:  Selbach-Oster

Monday, June 25, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, June 25, 2012

A little local flavour to get your week off to a good start – melons and pomegranates, bouncy castles and alligator filets 

New Restaurants 
Saskatoon has at least two new restaurants. I have not yet been to either of them, so do let me know what you think after you’ve tried them out.

Curry Garden Restaurant, 2107 – 22nd Street West

Mardi Gras Grill, 239 Idylwyld Drive South (including alligator filets from Louisiana)

I enjoyed my quesadillas at Las Palapas on Saturday. It was strictly research - finding out more about Mexican beer before I go to Baja in September!

Toonie Tuesdays 
Keith Jorgensen of Fruition Orchards has initiated Toonie Tuesdays at the Saskatoon Food Bank. He hopes to make it easier for people on social assistance to access healthy food by connecting them with farmers who have an abundance of produce.

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market 
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market will be open as usual from 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday, July 1. Weather permitting, there will be a bouncy castle for the children and Canada Day activities from 11 am to 2 pm.

The Children’s Discovery Museum will be set up at the Market on Wednesday, July 4, from 10 am to 3 pm.

See Also: Sundays at the Market

Local Micro Distilleries
Last Mountain Distillery has started selling their vodka and whisky at the Saskatoon and Regina Farmers’ Markets.

Saskatoon-based LB Distillers had also hoped to sell their wares at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, and I was surprised and disappointed to hear that they had been turned down. Head on over to their distillery for a tour instead.

Floating Gardens 
I bought a delicious ripe, perfumed melon from Floating Gardens at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday. Check out this video where Rachel and Chris discuss using recyclable materials, biological controls and food safety measures. “We’re confident our food is clean,” Rachel says.

Prince Albert
Two by Dahlsjo’s cooking classes will be starting up again. Contact Kevin Dahlsjo to register (922-2992,

If you’re ever in Lumsden, do take the opportunity to visit Over the Hill Orchards. They are open from 10 am to 5 pm on weekends with tours every day at 1 pm.

Maman’s Homesick Pie
Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan is a delightful culinary mix of Iranian, American and French culture. Bijan was born and lived in Iran until she was 15, and she loved to watch her mother cook with cardamom, pomegranate and fava beans.

The family was forced to leave Iran and moved to the United States, where her mother proudly learned how to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings. Much to her parent’s dismay, Bijan abandoned her university studies and headed to the Cordon Bleu in Paris, later working in several Michelin-starred restaurants. The work combines personal memories and recipes and is truly a delight to read.

“Paris, San Francisco, Tehran, all claim a part of me. As I looked out the window on the plane home from Paris, I thought about how the kitchens where I was shaped belong to all these places, and yet none claim to be the centre. I’ll always negotiate that in-between culture. And I’ll always rely on the longing for these places, and I’ll always be learning to move between them without falling through the gaps.” 

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sundays at the Market

Take your time – relax, talk to the vendors, lick an ice cream cone 

I’m a Saturday regular at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, and I love it. I run from one vendor to the next, making sure that I have enough cherry tomatoes to last the week, lettuce for my budgies, a lentil pie, macarons (an essential item!) and fresh vegetables. It’s busy; it’s crowded, and I don’t linger.

There’s a completely different feel to the Market on Sundays. Sure, there are less vendors, but it’s also less crowded. I had a good chat with Chris at Floating Gardens (be sure to pick up a colourful bag of edible flowers), and I met two new vendors.

Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens 
Adi and Jennifer, Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens, are urban farmers with six plots around Saskatoon. “We’re following the “Wally model” [SPIN Farming],” Adi says. When I stopped by at the beginning of June, they had lots of greens, and I was particularly intrigued by their mixed bags.

I picked up the stir fry mix (rapini, kale, tatsoi) and really appreciated being able to sample a variety of different greens without having to buy individual bags of each. They also had a salad mix with lettuce and Japanese greens.

Soon they’ll have beets, peas, specialty potatoes, okra, and eggplants (green, white, egg-shaped, tiny Japanese ones). Their greens include spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potato greens, Asian greens, and Jamaican sorrel.

Conan the Vegetarian
Andrew and Anne both work full time in the city (Marc is also a partner), but they have six acres of land outside of Saskatoon. When I visited with them last month, they were selling worms and vermicomposting kits for a friend as none of their vegetables were ready yet. They’re excited about growing sugarsnap watermelons, and they hope to revitalize an old orchard, so keep your eye out for apple chips. Pickles are another possibility.

Conan the Vegetarian has partnered with We Are Many and are providing seeds and supplies for one section of the Saskatoon Food Bank’s Garden Patch on 2nd Avenue. They also plan to donate extra produce to the Food Bank.

Ice Cream & Gelato
Now, all this talking is thirsty work, so you’ll be ready to take a break, listen to the buskers and enjoy an ice-cold treat. Northern Vigor Berries offers individual portions (one, two or five scoops) of their seabuckthorn gelato, while Prairie Sun Orchard has a full range of delicious ice creams. My favourite flavour combines chocolate fudge and sour cherries.

sweetsugarbean – Chef’s Tasting, June 24 

There’s an extra treat in store at the Market this coming Sunday. Renée Kohlman, aka sweetsugarbean, will be serving up samples of fabulous food from 11:30-2:30. With fresh ingredients from Floating Gardens, Hestia Organics, Living Soil Farms, Northern Vigor Berries, Rusty’s Wild Rice, Wally’s Urban Market Garden, and the Little Market Store, she’s planning a mouth-watering menu.

There will be Seabuckthorn Berry and Basil Cream Scones, Beluga Lentil Salad with Sorrel and Asparagus, Tzatziki Potato Salad, Strawberry, Ricotta and Pea Shoot Crostini, and Wild Rice Pudding with Brown Sugar Crust.

Canada Day
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market will be open on Canada Day, July 1. Weather permitting, there will be a bouncy castle for the kids in Market Square and Canada Day activities from 11-2.

Wednesday and Sunday markets are from 10 am to 3 pm.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, June 18, 2012

A little local flavour to get your week off to a great start – Seabuckthorn Berry and Basil Cream Scones, Roasted Dandelion Root Mousse in Chocolate Shooters, and Sonome Nomine Champagne Beer 

Good Food Boxes, June 20 
CHEP is looking for volunteers to help them pack Good Food Boxes from 9 to noon on June 20. They’ll supply lunch. Email to sign up.

sweetsugarbean – Chef’s Tasting, June 24
Renée Kohlman, aka sweetsugarbean, will be serving up samples of fabulous food at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Sunday, June 24 from 11-3 or until supplies run out.

With fresh ingredients from Floating Gardens, Hestia Organics, Living Soil Farms, Northern Vigor Berries, and Rusty’s Wild Rice, she’s planning to make Seabuckthorn Berry and Basil Cream Scones, Beluga Lentil Salad with Sorrel and Asparagus, Tzatziki Potato Salad, Strawberry, Ricotta and Pea Shoot Crostini, and Wild Rice Pudding with Brown Sugar Crust. I’ll be there – my mouth is already watering!

Over the Hill Orchards Vendor Night, June 28
 SaskMade Marketplace is hosting a Vendor Night with Dean Kreutzer of Over the Hill Orchards on June 28. It’s a great opportunity to taste their organic fruit products.

Beer Tasting, June 29
Souleio is hosting a beer tasting on June 29 from 6-9 pm. The “guests of honour” are: Paddock Wood Sonome Nomine Champagne Beer, Paddock Wood Loki, Bombardier English Ale, and St. Ambroise Apricot Ale. Email or call 979-8102 to reserve.

Slow Food Saskatoon
Slow Food Saskatoon is a reality! Thank you for signing up as members and as part of the leadership team. I know everyone is eager to start holding some public events. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s a link to my interview on CBC Radio prior to the Slow Food planning meeting.

Go Local with a Boreal Tasting
Chef Kevin Tetz is planning a Saskatchewan Boreal tasting menu: spruce bark crackers with goat cheese and wild berry chutney, roasted dandelion root ice cream mini cakes, roasted dandelion root mousse in chocolate shooters, and more. He’s looking for a place or places to hold this event – let him know if you’re interested.

Cross-Country Cookbook Shelf
Vote for your favourite Saskatchewan cookbook on CBC Books’ Cross-Country Cookbook Shelf.

Eradicating Food Deserts
Philadephia has the highest obesity rate and poorest population of America’s big cities. They’re hoping to turn corner stores into green grocers by supplying some stores with new fridges to store produce and connecting them with wholesalers from whom they can buy at lower prices. They’re also working with schools to improve nutrition and helping neighbourhoods to launch farmers markets.

If you’re planning or even daydreaming about a trip to Montreal, you will definitely want to sign up for Eat Montréal’s newsletter. You’ll find out about micro brewery tours, innovative food events and Montreal’s culinary map.

Clif Bar's Panforte
Clif Bar is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new, limited-run flavour. The Panforte bar contains 23 different ingredients, including orange peel, almonds, currants, hazelnuts, pistachios, orange peel, coriander, ginger and white pepper. I wonder if it will be available in Canada.

Photos: Saskatoon Farmers’ Market – Kristen’s Homemade Preserves, Mistik Acres, Peasant’s Pick

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Friday, June 15, 2012

We wish you were here in Saskatchewan - the food is great!

Saskatoon and Saskatchewan have some amazing culinary entrepreneurs and fabulous food products. Visit us – the food is great!

Start your day off right at Poached Breakfast Bistro. It’s an oasis of tranquillity and luxury.

Have lunch on the deck at Prairie Harvest Café. The food is fresh, local and delicious with lots of vegetarian and vegan options.

In the afternoon, why not tour Paddock Wood Brewing Co. or LB Distillers? I highly recommend Paddock Wood’s London Porter. And LB Distillers’ liqueurs are made from local, organic fruit.

Now, if you’re ready for an afternoon snack, you have several excellent options.

You can stroll down Broadway Avenue, pick up some cheese from the Bulk Cheese Warehouse or some salsa from Las Palapas Mercado, and munch on a whoopie pie from Crave Cookies and Cupcakes.

Alternatively, head over to Earth Bound Bakery on 8th Street East for a coffee and croissant. All the baked goods are made with local, organic ingredients.

Then head across the street to SaskMade Marketplace to pick up some Saskatchewan food products. I highly recommend the Three Farmers camelina oil, Petrofka Bridge apple cider vinegar, the organic flour from Daybreak Scheresky Mill, and the dried mushrooms from Prairie Infusions.

In the evening, settle down with a glass of wine and an assortment of tapas at Duck Duck Goose. You’ll enjoy the eclectic atmosphere that includes a chandelier and matching wall sconces from a hotel in Cairo.

P.S. The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is a community treasure. From eggplants and cherry tomatoes, to macarons and seabuckthorn gelato, there’s something for everyone.

For more ideas, check out:
Great Saskatchewan Food Products
Great Food Places in Saskatoon
Riversdale: Great Food Places
Broadway: Great Food Places

#WeWishYouWereHere     #Saskatchewan

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

LB Distillers: Saskatoon Spirits & Liqueurs

Saskatoon's First Micro Distillery

“I was flying to Europe, and I read an article about micro distilleries,” says Cary Bowman, co-owner of LB Distillers. “I came back and discussed it with Michael Goldney and his wife, Lacey Crocker. They jumped on board, and we started doing research.”

Setting Up Shop
LB Distillers was incorporated in October 2010, and by February 2011 they had found a building. “Finding a building was tough,” explains Michael. “We produce 100% alcohol, so they treat us like an ethanol plant. We would have liked to be located downtown or by the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, but instead we had to find a building in an industrial area.”

Once the renovations were completed, they applied to the City of Saskatoon for a business license. Once they had the license, they could apply to SLGA for approval to manufacture alcohol. “SLGA was really efficient and helpful,” says Cary. “They hadn’t dealt with this before, so they had to write the policy. There was lots of bantering back and forth.”

Cary, Lacey and Michael hope that whiskey will form the centrepiece of their product lineup. But whiskey requires aging, and the first batch won’t be ready until March 2015. In the meantime, they are bottling gin, vodka and liqueurs.

Gin has an alcohol base that has been distilled over botanicals. LB Distillers has chosen to use far less juniper than is found in a traditional London Dry gin. Instead, they’re following the New Western Dry style that was developed by Aviation Gin in Portland.

Vodka is so finely distilled that it lacks flavour. Instead, distillers focus on developing an ultra-smooth product. “We’re meticulous when it comes to taste,” Lacey explains. “We really want the best of the best, and Mike will allow no compromise. Nothing goes into a bottle until it’s absolutely perfect.”

LB Distillers is developing its own bitters, which Mike describes as the “salt and pepper of a cocktail.” “They’re not intended to change the flavour,” he says, “They bind the flavours together and give them more prominence.”

Michael says that whiskey is far more complex than wine. “So many factors affect the taste,” he says. “The variability is huge.”

They decided to focus on a pure rye whiskey (most whiskey is made from corn). They looked into purchasing the malt from Prairie Malt in Biggar, but Cargill was unable to guarantee that the grain would come from Saskatchewan or even Canada. Instead, they’re purchasing the malt from Alberta where they have a guarantee that it come from Canadian Prairie grain.

The whiskey is aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels. The partners are currently debating whether they wait patiently until 2015 when it will be fully aged or whether they should market some of it as unaged White Dog Whiskey.

In a New York Times article, Robert Simonson says, “White dog, or white whiskey, is, basically, moonshine. It’s newborn whiskey, crystal-clear grain distillate, as yet unkissed by the barrel, the vessel that lends whiskey some or all of its color and much of its flavor. And white dog is currently having its day.” The article goes on to quote Max Watman, who has written a book about white dog whiskey: “It’s obviously a boon to small distilleries,” Mr. Watman said. “If you’re making whiskey, you’ve got to keep the lights on and wait. It helps to be able to sell something right away. But that’s not the end of the story. I think anybody who’s ever toured a distillery and tasted this stuff coming right off the line is surprised at how delicious it is. Everybody says, ‘Wow, you should sell this!’ ”

LB Distillers is producing four liqueurs from organic, local fruit. Following a French technique, they press the whole fruit, add alcohol and sugar, blend it and age it from 4-8 weeks. The trickiest part of the process appears to be straining the fruit, and Cary laughingly says that one of their first upgrades will be a better filtration system.

They deliberately cut down substantially on the sugar, so the liqueurs have a rich, fruit flavour that isn’t masked by the sweetness. My favourites were the Carmine Jewel, with its glorious ripe cherry flavour, and the Seabuckthorn, which was tart and complex.

Mike is particularly proud of the Saskatoon berry liqueur: “They told us that Saskatoon berries didn’t make a good liqueur, but I insisted. We’re from Saskatoon; we have to have a Saskatoon berry liqueur.”

The crème de cassis is still waiting to be bottled and labelled. It’s made from black currants that are grown on Valley Road, just outside of Saskatoon.

Tasting Room and Tours 
From the outside, the distillery is a mundane warehouse. But step inside, and you’re in an elegant tasting room that rivals the best of the BC wineries. Even the work area out back has lovely barn wood siding and two Mexican chandeliers.

The still has pride of place. It’s a German still based on a 100-year-old design. The hand-hammered copper finish is functional as well as decorative as the copper binds with sulphur to produce a lighter-tasting product.

LB Distillers is a hands-on operation. Cary laughingly says that he spends half his time washing bottles and mopping the floor. They can bottle a maximum of four bottles at a time, and the labels are applied by hand.

LB Distillers is planning a grand opening in June or July, but in the meantime just phone (979-7280), email or drop by if you would like a tour or want to make a purchase.

Photo credit: Photo of liqueur bottles by P. McKinlay, all others courtesy of LB Distillers

Monday, June 11, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, June 11, 2012

Food news and events in and around Saskatoon – Soup on Broadway, Seabuckthorn Splash, Persian Lime Olive Oil, and Sweets in Paris 

Soup on Broadway
I wandered into Herbs ‘n’ Health on Broadway Avenue last week to see how their expansion was progressing. They’ve added a small kitchen and a lunch counter beside the window. You can order soup, salads and fresh muffins six days a week, either to eat in or take out. Borscht and quinoa salad were on offer when I was there, and the muffins looked like they had just come out of the oven.

Speaking of soup, Herbs ‘n’ Health is selling frozen vegetarian soups from That Guy’s Soup. I first ran into these soups at a farmers’ market in Vancouver, and I’m delighted to see that at least some of them are now available in Saskatoon. A Taste of Mexico is chipotle corn chowder, while A Taste of India is golden curried lentil.

Quench Your Thirst
Northern Vigor Berries, who are at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, are now selling seabuckthorn drinks.

Seabuckthorn Splash is made with seabuckthorn purée, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and citric acid, while the Seabuckthorn Iced Tea is tea made from the seabuckthorn leaves with cranberry juice, lemon and honey.

Seabuckthorn fruit and leaves are both rich in antioxidants.

Slow Food Saskatoon
Slow Food Saskatoon needs two more members today - Monday, June 11 - to be a full-fledged convivium and send a delegate to Terra Madre. Join now and notify me so I can inform Slow Food Canada.

Oil & Vinegar
We dropped into Oliv on Broadway Avenue last week and sampled a few of their olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

The store offers a wide range of both plain and flavoured olive oils and vinegars. I particularly enjoyed the peppery, organic Olio Nuovo from California, and I purchased the Porcini flavoured olive oil, which I’m using to add an extra layer of rich flavour to rice and pulses. Shelley purchased the Persian Lime flavoured oil, which has a wonderful citrus tang.

Roasted Reisling Asparagus
Roasted Reisling Asparagus is a simple, tasty spring recipe. Do use Reisling wine as the touch of sweetness is a good match for the earthy asparagus.

Paris, My Sweet
I’ve just finished reading the most delicious book. Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas combines the story of an America woman who moves to Paris with her search for the best bakeries and sweets in both Paris and New York. It’s sure to make you hunger for croissants, macarons and chocolate!

Canadian Wine Industry
It’s been an uphill battle to change Canadian law and make it legal to purchase wine in another province and carry it home for personal consumption, but we’re one step closer with the passing of Bill C-311 on June 6, 2012.

An article on the BC Wine Lover website suggests that government could provide greater support for the wine industry by providing financial support for a Canadian school of viticulture and winemaking.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fresh n Local: Home Delivery

Shopping at a farmers’ market is fun. The stands are heaped with lettuce and carrots and tomatoes. Maybe you’re really lucky, and there is fresh asparagus or garden-ripe strawberries.

But it’s not always easy to get to the market. Perhaps you don’t have a car, and you can’t imagine toting everything home on the bus. Or you have kids and spend weekends dashing from soccer games to music lessons. Maybe the weekend is your only opportunity to sleep in, and you really aren’t eager to head off to the market first thing Saturday morning.

Well, you’re in luck. You can now buy fresh, local products, and Fresh n Local will deliver them to your door.

Fresh n Local
Curtis Coleman was working as the facilities manager for Floating Gardens last year. Once the system was set up, he started helping to sell their vegetables at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. He overheard people saying, “I love your products, but I can’t always get to the Market. It’s just not practical.” Curtis thought he had the solution. If people couldn’t make it to the Market, why not take the food to them?

Curtis looked online and nearly every major centre across Canada had a local and/or organic food delivery service – except for Saskatoon and Regina. He set out to fill the gap.

Local First 
Curtis grew up in Saskatoon. His parents weren’t farmers. In fact, they didn’t even have a backyard garden when he was growing up. But, over time, his diet changed as he and his friends focused on eating locally-grown and produced food. “It doesn’t make sense to me,” Curtis says. “We can grow tomatoes. Why are we getting them from Mexico? It’s not sustainable either.”

Fresh n Local promises to supply its customers with local food products. If possible, the products will be both local and organic. If that’s not possible, they will be as local as possible. If particular products can’t be found locally, Curtis is sourcing organic, fair trade products.

The list of products being delivered by Fresh n Local is amazing. There are crusty loaves of bread from Earth Bound Bakery (organic, made with Saskatchewan wheat, and totally delicious), cucumbers from Grandora Gardens, tomatoes and eggplants from Floating Gardens, carrots from Living Soil Farms, and spinach from Wally’s Market Garden. There are lentils from Hestia Organics, seabuckthorn gelato from Northern Vigor Berries, ice cream from Prairie Sun Orchard, and yogurt from Legacy Yogurt.

These are some of my favourite Saskatoon Farmers’ Market vendors (and baker), and their products are now available online and will be delivered to my doorstep. Amazing!

Fresh vegetables are great, but we need other food products as well. You can already purchase meat, breakfast cereal and oil from Fresh n Local, but Curtis hopes to expand the line to include staple grocery items, such as pet food, toothpaste and bathroom products.

“I’m planning to add a minimum of one new product a week,” he says.

Online Experience
“Fresh n Local doesn’t have a physical store,” Curtis explains. “It’s all about the online experience. It had to be simple, clear and yet bold.” He worked with Daren McLean and the Deezine team to develop the website. “I gave them the concept, and they did the work,” he says. The result is very user-friendly with great visuals.

How It Works
Fresh n Local is currently providing weekly Wednesday deliveries. You order online before midnight on Monday. The farmers and producers receive the orders on Tuesday, and Curtis picks up all the fresh produce at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Wednesday morning. You’ll be receiving farm-fresh produce – even the ice cream is made on Tuesday, ready for you to eat on Wednesday.

The food is packaged in two containers. The coolers are made out of recycled cardboard. The totes are made of 70% recycled plastic, and Curtis hopes to eventually replace them with a greener choice. In any case, if you are using Fresh n Local on a regular basis, Curtis will pick up last week’s containers when he delivers your new order.

You can choose to have your order delivered in the afternoon or the evening. If you won’t be home, you can leave instructions for where the food can be dropped off. There is a $6 delivery fee if your order is under $50; after that, it’s free.

Curtis has signed up with and will be purchasing carbon offsets for every aspect of his business, from mileage to office supplies.

Looking Ahead
Curtis is already looking ahead. He would like to start making bicycle deliveries. And, if there is enough interest, he will start providing Saturday as well as Wednesday deliveries.

“My goal is to help people eat local,” Curtis says. “If I can make money doing it, that’s perfect.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, June 4, 2012

Food news and events in and around Saskatoon – Gluten-Free Food Fair, Birch Butter, Paddock Wood Beer, Twoonie Tuesdays

Slow Food Saskatoon, June 7 
Everyone is invited to attend the first planning meeting for Slow Food Saskatoon from 7-8:30 pm on Thursday, June 7 at Caffe Sola (corner of 23rd Street and Pacific Avenue).

Email me if you’re unable to attend the meeting, and I will add your name to the Slow Food Saskatoon mailing list.

Gluten-Free Food Fair, June 10
Don’t miss the Gluten-Free Food Fair sponsored by The Garlic Guru at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Sunday, June 10 from 5-8 pm. Sample plates are $2; wine or beer is $5. (Photo of a previous gluten-free event courtesy of Victor Das – thanks!)

Twoonie Tuesdays 
Twoonie Tuesdays at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is a special market for low income people. Customers will be asked to present their health services card for verification.

The Tuesday market will run from 11 am to 4 pm from June 12 to September 25. The food services tenants will be offering specials.

Chef Jenni 
I had the good fortune to bump into Chef Jenni (New Ground Café, Birch Hills) at River Landing on Sunday. She was serving delicious but somewhat unexpected small plates at the Saskatoon Fashion and Design Festival.

There are NO nuts in a BB&J – a birch butter and Saskatoon jelly sandwich on whole wheat bannock. The birch butter is made by mixing Prairie Infusions’ birch syrup with butter and has a lovely nutty flavour. There was also red lentil potato salad with all the flavours of a samosa and hand pies served with roasted dandelion root aioli.

Chef Jenni is honouring rhubarb on June 16 at the Kerry Vickar Centre in Melfort. There will be rhubarb in every course, music by Carrie Catherine and Hal Screnk, and art by Gordon Bland. Tickets are $50.

Beer Tasting, June 29
Souleio is kicking off the summer with a beer tasting on June 29 featuring Paddock Wood’s Sine Nomine champagne beer. Contact Souleio to make a reservation.

City Perks
City Perks has a brand new look with a logo designed by their neighbours at St Solo. Very nice – but not half as nice as the fresh-baked goodies on offer at City Perks every day of the week.

Red Fife: Testament to Terroir 
Valerie Lugonja provides an in-depth report on the Red Fife Wheat Bread Tasting at the Slow Food Canada National Meeting at the beginning of May. Please note: we all patriotically preferred the wheat grown in our own province!

Chef, La Bodega
La Bodega, Regina, is looking for a full-time chef with experience in international fine dining with a Latin accent. Contact La Bodega if you are interested.

Taste of Montreal 
Taste of Montreal is a free iPad app from National Geographic that will have you planning a trip to Montreal.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

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