Monday, August 27, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, August 27, 2012

Local cheese, beautiful eggplants, a vegetarian restaurant - what a welcome home! 
Thank you, Saskatoon.

Herschel Hills Cheese
I am so excited that Saskatoon has its first local cheesemaker. Herschel Hills – Saskatoon’s Artisan Cheese House is owned and operated by Sharon McDaniel, whose passion for cheesemaking has taken her to six different cheesemaking courses, including one in Scotland. She is still scaling up her operation but will soon be selling fresh and Valencay-style (mold-ripened) goat cheese, camembert and ricotta at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

I had the opportunity to taste the Farmer Fresh cheese I had watched her make earlier in the week and liked the smooth texture and fresh, clean flavour. The plain is sweet and mild, while the chive is full of onion flavour, and the peppercorn has a real bite. They all spread easily.

Eggplant Bounty 
There are so many gorgeous shiny, purple eggplants to choose from at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. Floating Gardens has big, plump ones that would be perfect for moussaka or lasagna, while Kaleidoscope Gardens has the most adorable little ones that I’ve ever seen. They are long and skinny, striped, white and green.

Eggplant were first cultivated in India as early as 300 BCE as both food and medicine, spreading to China, Japan, Korea, Persia and Europe. But there was much ambiguity surrounding the eggplant. The Persians blamed them for everything from pimples to leprosy; the Chinese thought they caused uterus injury; while Medieval Europeans thought they caused melancholy and anger. For more information about “mad apples,” read this article from Ecocentric.

Root Down Workers’ Cooperative Café 
I had lunch with a friend at Root Down Workers’ Cooperative Café last week and was very impressed.

The soup/sandwich/salad menu is simple, but the subtle, unexpected flavour combinations and unusual ingredients (eggplant bacon is amazingly good!) will have me going back for more. And it's completely vegetarian (vegan)!

Root Down is open from 8 am to 4 pm on weekdays as well as Farmers’ Market hours on Saturday.

Fresh n Local
Starting September 4, Fresh n Local will be offering next-day delivery. Groceries will be delivered from Tuesday to Saturday. Bread will be picked up fresh every morning and produce won't be more than a day or two off the vine.

Boycott Hershey 
A number of food cooperatives and natural food stores are calling on Hershey (which includes Dagoba, Bliss and Scharffenberger) to take action to end child slave labour on cocoa farms in the Cote D’Ivoire. The US State Department estimates that more than 109,000 children work in the cocoa industry under the “worst forms of child labor.”

Unlike its competitors, Hershey has failed to commit to purchase significant portions of ethically sourced cocoa. Mars and Ferrero have committed to ensure 100% of their cocoa supply is ethically sourced by 2020 and Kraft/Cadbury has taken steps to certify one quarter of its Cadbury Dairy Milk bars globally as fair trade.

Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table
CJ Katz’s book, Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table will be launched on September 26 from 11:30-1 pm at the Conexus Arts Centre in Regina.

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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Prairie Solitude

St. John’s Protestant Separate School Division #9 

As I travelled home from British Columbia on Sunday, I tired very quickly of the Trans Canada Highway and turned off onto Highway 21 to take the back roads home to Saskatoon. Grain fields stretched to the horizon with very few interruptions from human settlements.

South of Leader, I was surprised to come across a deserted school with a sign inviting me to stop and visit. According to the write-ups in the classroom, the Lutheran church came first and quickly became a hub for the far-flung community of farming families. The minister started a school in the church, but it outgrew the space, and the community built a separate school building.

The one-room schoolhouse is on the honour system. Just lift the latch and enter through the cloakroom. The wooden desks are still in place, as if the students left just yesterday. 

The original church is no longer standing, but there is a half-size replica. Even at twice the size, the church would have been very tiny.

Further down the road is the church cemetery. Life and death within a few feet of each other.

There was very little traffic on Highway 21 – a few large trucks hauling grain, a few farmers. But as I travelled north towards Leader, I passed through Liebenthal. At the crossroads was what looked like a large, modern church. There were plenty of cars in the parking lot and more arriving on the crossroad. Obviously, the church is still a central part of this rural community.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, August 20, 2012

From Spicy Sensations to Saskatchewan Mustard and Quinoa 
with some Propaganda Gardening thrown in for extra flavour! 

Premala’s Spicy Sensations
SaskMade Marketplace is hosting a tasting of Premala’s Spicy Sensations chili bites along with a variety of their sauces and chutneys on Thursday, August 23 from 4-8 pm.

Mustard Festival 
The Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival will be held on September 16 at the Willows on Wascana in Regina. You can follow the event on Facebook or Twitter.

I wrote an article about quinoa for SaskMade Marketplace’s August newsletter.

What do the Andes Mountains of South America have in common with Northern Saskatchewan? As it turns out, they are both good places to grow quinoa. Quinoa (keen-wah) has been grown in South America for 3000 years, but it has only recently become popular in North America." [read more]

Incredible Edible
Pam Warhurt gives a powerful TED talk on propaganda gardening and the capacity of small actions to build a different and a kinder future – one vegetable bed at a time. Check out Incredible Edible Todmorden’s website to see all the ways in which they are growing and campaigning for local food. (Thanks, Linda!)

Landshare Canada
Landshare Canada connects people with garden space and a love of home-grown food with those who are looking for land where they can garden. It appears to be quite active in a number of provinces but not yet in Saskatchewan.

On the Road
If you’re an avid viewer of all the Food Network’s television programs, you are sure to want their restaurant finder and recommendation guide app for iPhone and iPad. The contents are drawn from the Food Network’s television and magazine features. (Thanks, Andrew!)

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, August 13, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, August 13, 2012

Celebrating local pies delivered to your doorstep, Simon’s ready-made meals, and WiFi at Souleio. Not to mention a talk by Frances Moore Lappe, an organic trade show, and a CSA in Harlem 

Korean War Vets, August 14 
Seoul Korean Restaurant is inviting Korean war veterans and their families to a dinner at 6:30 pm on August 14.

Simon’s Fine Foods
Ready-to-eat meals from Simon’s Fine Foods are now available at the SaskMade Marketplace. Here’s a list of Simon’s excellent products, all of which are made from scratch.

Chef Simon Reynolds also offers an astonishing variety of cooking classes (Zombie Food???). The fall schedule is now available online.

Pies from Fresh n Local
Fresh n Local delivers local, organic food to your doorstep. They now sell fruit pies, fresh baked by Hounjet Orchards the day before they are delivered.

Souleio has WiFi At last! 
You can enjoy a drink or a meal at Souleio – and check your email.

Organic Connections, Nov. 2 & 3
The Organic Connections Conference and Trade Show will be held in Regina on November 2 and 3. Dr. Donald Huber will speak about the impact of glysophate and GMOs on November 1.

Harvest and Hunger, Nov. 9 & 10
The Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation is holding Harvest and Hunger, a provincial forum on local and global food issues at Mayfair United Church. There will be a keynote address by Frances Moore Lappe on November 9 and a panel discussion and skill-building workshops on how to create a sustainable food system on November 10.

Farmers’ Markets Keep Growing
A recent USDA report states that there are now 7,864 farmers’ markets in the US – an increase of 9.6% since last year. The number has more than doubled since 2004. It would be interesting to know the statistics for Canada, but I'm assuming we follow the same trend.

In Harlem, a Farm Share for the People
Corbin Hill Farms is offering a community-supported agriculture program specifically designed for low-income families.

Food Trucks vs. Restaurants 
The battle is heating up between food trucks and restaurants. Whose side are you on?

Does Food Writing Matter? 
Why do some of us persist in writing about food? Monica Bhide discusses why food writing matters. (Thanks, Andrew!)

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.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kootenay Co-op, Nelson, BC

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 30 years, and British Columbia has always had a stronger vegetarian focus than other parts of Canada.

The Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, BC, is a prime example. The store is a member-owned co-operative that opened in 1975. They offer a full range of natural, organic foods and products.

My favorite section is the deli, which has everything from salads to burgers, to burritos, to lasagna and wraps – and that’s before you even reach the dessert section!

There is a large produce section as well as a dairy section.

The emphasis is on local products as much as possible, so you can buy locally-grown vegetables, baked goods and deli items from local producers, and coffee beans from Nelson’s Oso Negro and Warfield’s Seven Summits.

The Co-op continues to expand, and they have recently purchased the Extra Foods building at the end of Baker Street. For once, a downtown supermarket closure is a good news story! I’m looking forward to seeing how they utilize the additional space.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, August 6, 2012

It’s looking good! Saskatoon’s first vegetarian restaurant, cooking classes for university students, and a sustainable gourmet feast 

At Last! A Vegetarian Restaurant
Turning the Tide bookstore is opening a cafe with a tentative opening date of August 10 in the old Encore (Cava) space in the Ideas Inc. building adjacent to the Saskatoon Farmers' Market building.

The yet-to-be-named café will be a 'pop-up' for 3 months to give the workers’ cooperative a chance to get their feet wet at both running a cafe and functioning as a workers' cooperative. They will be serving vegetarian and vegan food with a focus on local, organic ingredients and excellent taste.

Sustainable Gourmet, September 22
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is hosting their annual fundraising dinner on September 22 at the Saskatoon Club. All the main ingredients are grown by local producers. Candace Savage is the keynote speaker.

Start from Scratch – Saskatoon-style
Start from Scratch has been offering 10 weeks of free, hands-on cooking classes to University of Calgary students since January 2011. Dan Clapson is now expanding the program to include his home town of Saskatoon. The course is designed to show university students how easy it is to prepare a quality, home-cooked meal – and have fun in the process.

Mogul Divaan
Renee Kohlman, aka sweetsugarbean, had a meal at the Mogul Divaan on 22nd Street last week. She says they have a good selection of yummy Pakistani food and suggests ordering from the menu rather than having the buffet. Their online menu included a good variety of vegetarian dishes. (Thanks, Renee!)

Organic Farming on the Prairies 
The second edition of Organic Farming on the Prairies will be available this fall from the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate. Additional resources will be available online. Contact SOD for additional information.

Wallnuts Catering, Regina
@thekyleguy recommended the take-out meals from Wallnuts Expressive Catering, Regina, as gifts at times of birth or mourning. He also sent me a link to an article in the Regina Leader Post.

I like the fact that Laurie Wall, the owner, makes all her dishes from scratch. On Tuesdays, you can deliver your empty crock pot in the morning and pick it up full of something tasty in the evening. And her Christmas cake and pumpkin maple breakfast bread are so popular that she ships them across Canada. (Thanks, Kyle!)

LEED for Food?
LEED is a voluntary green building certification program. The US Healthful Food Council has recently released a similar certification program for restaurants, caterers and food service providers. Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) will award points to restaurants that use nutrition best practices, such as organic and local foods, restricted dietary offerings, fresh fruits and vegetables, free-range meats, and moderate or multiple portion sizes. The entire menu, rather than just a few menu items, will be expected to meet key nutrition standards. They hope this will help businesses attract customers who are looking for healthy, nutritious meals. (Thanks, Mike!)

Seaweed Snacks 
I’ve been enjoying munching on seaweed snacks because they are low-cal and healthy. But they may not be so healthy for the people harvesting the seaweed. A recent study of female seaweed farmers on the island of Zanzibar identified serious health problems and low income. The researchers hope that they can identify ways to improve the situation as it has implications for thousands of poor households worldwide.

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.