Monday, July 30, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 30, 2012

This week, we’re hitting the road with wine trucks, nutrition trucks, Belgian beer, and a travelling food & culture show. We’re promoting real food and opposing political power brokers. 

Chef Jenni’s Travelling Food & Culture Show 
Chef Jenni is serving California/Saskatchewan fusion food, to the accompaniment of a California-based musician, in the Birch Hills Curl-o-Drome on August 3.

On August 10, she is serving a multicultural meal in the Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Centre with music and art on the side.

On August 15 in the La Ronge Legion Hall, there will be Greekish cuisine with northern ingredients (e.g. Blueberry Wild Rice Spanakopita).

Phone (306) 749-7051 or email to reserve a ticket.

The Woods Alehouse 
The Woods Alehouse, an affiliate of Paddock Wood Brewing, will be opening on 2nd Avenue in August. The focus will be on craft beers, including Paddock Wood. Steve Cavan says he plans to start with some beers that he really respects (e.g. Belgian Krieks) but that are hard to find.

Owing to Saskatchewan’s stringent liquor laws, the Alehouse will have to obtain a nightclub permit and offer musical entertainment every night they are open. They will also provide space, including floor space, for local artists. Artists and musicians who are interested in participating should contact Steve at

The Woods Alehouse is just getting active online with a website and Facebook page.

Swadesh Restaurant 
Friends had a meal at the new Swadesh restaurant on 22nd Street last week.

They reported that there was a good variety of Pakistani, Indian, and Bangladeshi vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, along with a variety of traditional foods.

They enjoyed the buffet (vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes) and felt it was reasonably priced at $14.95. (Thanks for the tip, Steve!)

Slow Food Canada 
Slow Food Canada’s summer newsletter is now out.

Real Food
One family took up Jamie Oliver’s 100 Days of Real Food challenge. Lisa Leake blogs about their experience, sharing tips for eating real food on a budget, tips for picky eaters, meal plans and school lunches.

Power Brokers
The US Department of Agriculture promoted Meatless Monday in an internal newsletter about greening the organization and was fiercely criticized by beef producers. The references to Meatless Monday were quickly removed.

It may be good for the environment, but if powerful industry lobbyists don’t like it, you’re out of luck.

Keep on Trucking 
First there were food trucks, and now there’s a wine truck that moves from one French market to another, offering tastings of the winery’s products.

The New York City Food Bank is using a mobile truck to deliver healthy treats in low-income neighbourhoods – nutrition on wheels.

Photos are of the Wednesday market on Baker Street in Nelson, BC.

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.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 23, 2012

Gravelbourg mustard, South African vinegar, Gangster and Persians – an international food adventure 

SaskMade Vendor Night, July 26 
Sample Saskatchewan's own Gravelbourg mustards in Saskatoon berry, cranberry, German and French varieties, served with J and J Garlic Sausage at SaskMade Marketplace on July 26 from 5-8 pm.

Food Day Canada, August 4
Five Saskatoon restaurants and three Regina restaurants are participating in Food Day Canada. So whether you cook at home or eat out, be sure to celebrate Canadian food from great Canadian farmers and producers on Saturday, August 4.

Raspberries & Black Currants
Rhodes’ Raspberries and Black Currants is a family-run u-pick operation just outside of Saskatoon. They have 10 acres with 8 varieties of raspberries and 2 acres of black currants. Frozen black currants are available year round. (via – thanks!)

Rozendal Vinegar
Rozendal Botanical Vinegars from South Africa are now available at Souleio. They come in four flavours: Fynbos, Green Tea, Lavender and Hibiscus. They’re not cheap, but they’re really good, and my sister in law, Shelley, raves about them.

Gangster-themed Restaurant
Bill Mathews, owner of Giuseppi’s at Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, will be opening a restaurant at 135 -20th Street West in early September. The Two-Gun Quiche House will have a gangster theme inspired by Two-Gun Cohen, a colourful early resident of Saskatoon. The restaurant will feature quiches, Italian sandwiches and soup. (via News Talk 650)

Persian Store
Be sure to visit Saskatoon’s Persian Store for a wide assortment of Middle Eastern food products and ingredients.

Basil, the King of Herbs
Did you know that basil is native to India and Southeast Asia? In India, it was used to ward off evil, but Europeans in the Middle Ages thought that basil caused the spontaneous generation of scorpions and that even smelling basil could lead to an unfortunate case of scorpions in one’s brain.

Basil is a good source of Vitamins A and K. It stores well by mixing olive oil and basil and freezing it in an ice cube tray. For more great information, a recipe and growing tips, read Real Food Right Now and How to Cook It: Basil.

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, July 18, 2012

Saskatoon's Persian Store

Mulberries, Pomegranate Sauce, Dried Lemons, Kashk and Doogh

From the outside, it looks like an old-fashioned corner convenience store. But step inside, and you quickly realize that you’ve discovered a Middle Eastern treasure trove. The Persian Store at 223 – 25th Street West is operated by Mahyar Behnami, who has been in Saskatoon for two years.

The store serves an Iranian/Persian community of approximately 500 people, but it’s an opportunity for all of us to try new things.

Mrs. Behnami kindly gave me a tour of the store and explained how the different dishes and ingredients would be served in Iran.

Canned Goods
There is a large assortment of ready-made, canned dishes. (The stews are always served over rice that is dry, not sticky.)

Ghormeh sabzi is often considered the Iranian national dish. It contains herbs, dried lemon, onion and red beans – you can add your own meat.

The herbs usually include parsley, leeks/green onions, cilantro, spinach and fenugreek, and the store also sells packages of the dried herb mix.

Ash is a thick soup or dip. It contains lots of herbs, noodles and beans. Mrs. Behnami recommended serving it with kashk. Kashk is a sour dairy product, similar to whey or sour cream. It’s usually available as either a liquid or a powder.

There are a couple of eggplant dips that are served with lavash bread, fried onions and kashk. Serving them with a fried egg on top is also recommended.

Fessenjan contains walnuts, pomegranate paste, spices and sugar. Just add chicken and serve it over rice.

Dried Fruit & Pickles
There are lots of pickles, many of them preserved in salt water. Mrs. Behnami explained that Persian people really like sour food, such as the sour plums that are sold as candy.

There are lots of unusual dried fruits, such as mulberries, zereshk (barberries), big golden raisins, plump apricots, peaches and figs.

Pistachios originally came from Iran. There are also melon and pumpkin seeds and ready-to-eat chickpeas (usually eaten with raisins).

I'm really looking forward to using the dried lemons.

Jams include quince, bergamot, orange blossom and fig.

In the cooler, you’ll find halvah and Bulgarian white sheep’s cheese, doogh drinks (yogurt, salt, water), and homemade cheese spreads with yogurt, shallots and mint.

See For Yourself 
I could go on and on listing all the fascinating products that are available at the Persian Store. But I won’t because I want you to go and find out for yourselves.

Have fun – and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Mrs. Behnami was so welcoming and helpful.

P.S. I’ve linked to recipes on various food blogs so that the cooks in the crowd can try their hand at making some of the dishes from scratch.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 16, 2012

A new cookbook, a new wine store, an abundance of saskatoons, a Market dinner, and an opportunity to protect local farms

Dinner at the Market, July 26
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is hosting a dinner on July 26 featuring Chef Darren Craddock of Riverside Country Club. Tickets are $75 and include all food and wine pairings. The full menu is available online.

Saskatoon Berries 
Hounjet Orchards (sell yogurt at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market) have so many saskatoon berries this year that they are struggling to pick them all and are asking for help.

Pick 10 bags – 5 for them and 5 for yourself – and there’s no charge. For more information, call Gerry Hounjet at 978-0926.

Wine and Beer
Brad Laidlaw, owner of Earl’s and Saskatoon Brewery, has purchased Cava’s leftover wine and spirits stock for his store, Ingredients Artisan Market, that will be opening shortly. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix article says that the Market will be opening within the next few months on Second Avenue – I’m assuming it will be next door to Earl’s.

Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table
Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table by CJ Katz will be for sale by the end of the summer, online at Amazon and in McNally Robinson, Chapters, Co-op and Safeway. Book launches will be held in both Saskatoon and Regina in September.

Slow Food Saskatoon
Check out this article about Slow Food Saskatoon (by Jenn Sharp, Bridges newspaper).

Saving our Farmland
The City of Edmonton is in the process of developing a city-wide Food and Agriculture Strategy. Mack Male, a prominent Edmonton blogger, provides an excellent critique of Edmonton’s progress to date.

“The Food & Agriculture Strategy is an opportunity for us to consider the importance of food in Edmonton. It’s an opportunity to increase access to local food, to reduce our ecological footprint, and to contribute significantly to the local economy. But it’s also an opportunity to consider what happens to the agricultural land surrounding Edmonton, and that is ultimately a question about the kind of city we want Edmonton to be.”

Northeast Edmonton contains rich valley-bottom soil that is ideally suited to agriculture and currently includes a great many farms, including Riverbend Gardens, a third-generation family farm. Developers and speculators are anxious to pave it over and create a new residential subdivision. I’ll leave it to Mack to express his deep concerns about this issue. And I hope that Saskatoon will recognize the value of agricultural land and the risks of urban sprawl.

“The bottom line is that the agricultural land on the edge of Edmonton is some of the best land in the province. With more than enough capacity to support anticipated population growth within existing areas, there’s no good reason to relinquish such a valuable asset, especially before a proper analysis of the land and how it fits into Edmonton’s future is completed and a strategy is approved.

"This is not just a battle between land developers and farmers in the city’s Northeast. This is a battle over the kind of City we want Edmonton to be. I want Edmonton to be a economically and environmentally sustainable city that recognizes the importance of food security and the value of a more compact region. How about you?”

A video by a group of Northeast farmers poignantly explains what Edmonton stands to lose if they create a residential suburb on their farms.

Photo: solar-powered roaming sushi truck in Fernie, BC

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.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 9, 2012

A sugar moon, summer salads, picnic and crop tour – so much to discover in this week’s issue of Flavourful Saskatoon

Sugar Moon Cakery
There’s a new bakery on Second Avenue. Sugar Moon Cakery is located just past Starbucks in the same building as the Saskatoon Asian Restaurant. They are open Monday to Friday from 7 am to 3 pm. They weren’t open when I dropped by, but there appeared to be a counter where you can have a hot drink and a snack.

Sugar Moon Cake Co. also designs wedding and special occasion cakes by appointment (e.g. birch bark cake).

Swadesh Restaurant
Sadiqur Rahman, who owns two South Asian supermarkets, has just opened a restaurant. The Swadesh Restaurant on 22nd Street serves Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi dishes. The restaurant is open from 8 am to 11 pm, seven days a week.

Earth Bound Bakery
Trent Loewen is always trying out something new at Earth Bound Bakery. The Black and White Sesame Baguette tastes as good as it looks.

Lunch at Calories
The lunch menu at Calories restaurant on Broadway includes Fattoush Salad, roasted pita bread with local vegetables, garden mint and sumac (fresh goat feta is optional).

There’s also a spinach and strawberry salad with cracked spiced almonds in a black pepper fennel buttermilk dressing. Sounds yummy!

Organic Producers’ Picnic & Crop Tour
Everyone is invited to attend the Saskatchewan Organic Producers Association’s Annual Picnic and Crop Tour at Rockytop Entreprises, Bankend. There will be a wiener roast the evening of July 27 and a pancake breakfast, crop tour and dinner on July 28. There’s space for trailers and campers on the farm.

Lake Country
If you’re holidaying at or near Christopher Lake, the Executive Chef is offering pre-booked Executive Chef dinners for two on Thursdays and Fridays as well as Take-and-Bake Pizzas. Pick up is at the Jewel of the North Resort.

Kootenay Country 
I’m heading west to Nelson, BC, for the next few weeks. So don’t be surprised if upcoming Wanderlust articles are about BC wines and cheeses as well as Nelson institutions, such as the Kootenay Co-op. Have a great summer!

Did you read?
Mardi Gras Grill
Underground Café

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, July 4, 2012

Underground Café

Underground Café has just opened on 20th Street, and it adds more than one creative twist to the Riversdale neighbourhood.

First of all, the street-front façade has been torn down and replaced with a sheltered patio. Enormous vases contain sculptured plant arrangements, so now we can sit outside and bask in our all-too-brief Prairie summer.

Secondly, Underground Café isn’t just one business – it’s two. The coffee shop fills the front of the space, while Beaumont Film & Record is at the back. They’re two friends, supporting each other with complimentary businesses.

Finally, Underground Café has imported a taste of Edmonton. They are the first coffee shop outside of Edmonton to serve Transcend coffee.

Saskatoon’s Coffee Culture
Dallyn Guenther, Underground Café's owner and barista, grew up in Saskatchewan but moved to Australia and New Zealand where he became immersed in the local coffee culture. “After Italy, I figure New Zealand has the best coffee culture,” he says.

But Saskatchewan is evolving, and Dallyn decided to return to his roots and contribute to Saskatoon’s growing coffee culture. He’s delighted that Collective Coffee is just a few blocks away and hopes that the two businesses can work together to bring coffee drinkers to Riversdale.

Rock Star Specialties
In addition to coffee in all its various forms, Underground Café offers a number of specialty drinks named after rock stars. Otis Redding is vanilla gelato and espresso, while Joan Jett contains melted cinnamon hearts, espresso and steamed milk.

But if you’re not a coffee drinker, don’t despair. Dallyn will soon be serving Steeps tea (out of Calgary).

I had an Italian soda and it was the best I’ve ever had. Dallyn uses unsweetened SlushPuppie flavouring with just a touch of vanilla syrup for sweetness, and it is so good!

Dallyn has installed a long bar counter as he hopes to expand into soups and salads for lunch.

Neighbourhood Centre 
Underground Café is next door to Village Guitar & Amp and Paved Arts. So, in addition to their regular hours, the coffee shop will be open whenever there are events at either location.

Beaumont Film & Record is run by Scott Gowen. Shelves of vinyl records line one wall, and there is a collection of CDs, cassettes, DVDs and Blu-Ray.

Dallyn plans to host a games night with a tournament ladder on Thursday evenings. Both Scott and Dallyn are excited about the board game, Settlers of Catan. “It’s a strategy game for people who don’t like strategy,” Scott explains.

Location & Hours
Underground Café is located at 430 20th Street West (between Avenues D and E).

They are open from 7 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday) and will stay open late on Thursday evenings.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mardi Gras Grill

For a taste of New Orleans in downtown Saskatoon, head over to Mardi Gras Grill at 239 Idylwyld Drive South (half a block north of 20th Street).

Scroll down the menu, and you’ll find lots of shrimp, blackened chicken and alligator. This doesn’t look good for three vegetarians, but the server and chef were really helpful.

We had a double helping of fried green tomatoes with Louisiana remoulade dressing without the shrimp. I enjoyed them. The tomatoes were thickly sliced and juicy, and the coating was crispy and not oily.

The blackened catfish salad – minus the catfish – was great. Fresh salad greens were topped with candied pecans, blue cheese and sun-dried cranberries, with raspberry vinaigrette on the side.

The cornbread was still warm from the oven.

Be sure to leave room for dessert as they are fabulous. We had the southern fried banana, which had a light tempura batter and was served with whipped cream, caramel sauce and ice cream.

The beignets are large, piping hot and delicious. Eat them plain or dunk them in the berry sauce.

It was a good meal. I’ll definitely come back.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 2, 2012

A flavourful start to your week – Saskatoon berry chutney, spiced cocoa tea, Terra Madre, and a Cheesepalooza 

Chutney & Cocoa
There are always new products to discover at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. Orchard del Sol, whose owners divide their time between Saskatoon and Costa Rica, are now selling cocoa, spiced cocoa tea and hot chocolate mix (with chili peppers).

Chatty’s Indian Spices has a saskatoon berry chutney, as well as curry seasoning mixes, curried spinach sauce, cilantro hot sauce, and more.

And don’t miss the wonderful succulents from Solar Gardens (Succulents from the Farmers’ Market).

Creekside Orchard, July 18/19
Creekside Orchard, a u-pick apple and cherry orchard in Melfort, is hosting a variety of food and music events this summer starting with a dinner prepared by Chef Jennie of Birch Hills on July 18 and 19.

Terra Madre 
Slow Food Saskatoon continues to move ahead. We held our first leadership team meeting this past week and selected Bryn Rawlyk to represent us at Terra Madre.

Bryn Rawlyk says, "Growing up on a farm south of Saskatoon, my childhood was full of fresh garden produce, eggs and meat from farm chickens, fresh honey from my father’s bees and many of the other treats that I realize now children growing up in our cities may never experience. Moving back to Saskatoon as an adult, I discovered that many of our neighbourhoods are like food deserts with no close-by grocery stores or markets. In trying to find locally produced food for our own young family, I’ve found that in spite of our region’s abundant raw food production, it can be a struggle for individuals in our city to have easy access to that food.

“As a member of Slow Food Saskatoon, I hope to help create a more food-friendly Saskatoon and to connect urban dwellers with local food producers in a meaningful way. I see the experience of going to Terra Madre as an amazing opportunity to learn from others in the global slow food community about unique ways to bring the slow food paradigm back to our local community.”

You can follow Slow Food Saskatoon on Twitter @SlowFoodYXE and on Facebook.

Are you interested in making cheese at home? Edmonton-based Valerie Lugonja, aka A Canadian Foodie, is inviting others to join her in a CheesePalooza, a 9-10 month artisan cheese-making adventure using Mary Karlin’s book, Artisan Cheese Making at Home, as a guide.

Saskatchewan Organic Directorate 
The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate is a non-profit, membership-based umbrella organization for everyone who is involved in growing or selling organic food. You can now follow them on Facebook.

See also: Selbach-Oster Riesling
Johannes Selbach: “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.”

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.