Monday, December 30, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 30, 2013

Bogart’s Bay Coffee 
Bogart’s Bay Coffee is now available at Dad’s Organic Market as well as Twig and Squirrel’s Wild Goods. They’re a “small, hand operated, charcoal-fired coffee roaster located on a bay of Birch Lake, in NW Saskatchewan.”

Heritage Society Dinner, Feb. 8 
The Saskatoon Heritage Society annual fundraising dinner is scheduled for February 8 at the U of S Faculty Club. The guest speaker is Frank Korvemaker, co-author of Legacy of Stone: Saskatchewan's Stone Buildings. He will be speaking on Heritage Conservation – The Right Project at the Right Time. The Heritage Society can be reached at

Look to the Future 
Fast Company’s top food stories of 2013 include one about the kitchen of the future (e.g. faucets that detect bacteria on produce), a look inside Chipotle’s organic tofu factory, and the three companies that Bill Gates thinks are shaping the future of food.

Food Tank has compiled a list of 14 food resolutions for 2014. They include supporting family farmers, ending food waste, and calculating the true cost of food.

And last, but not least, four ways to fix the fast food industry (e.g. lessons from food trucks).

Chocolate in London
The “chocolate houses of the 17th and 18th century [London,England] were dens of iniquity where noblemen plotted the downfall of kings and gambled their fortunes away. One of the first to open, in 1693, was the Cocoa Tree, its interior reminiscent of a Viennese coffee house, its atmosphere more Machiavellian court. When builders drilled down into the foundations, they found a tunnel leading to a tavern in Piccadilly – providing traitors with an escape route.”

And 17th century hot chocolate “was an extravagant brew infused with citrus peel, jasmine, vanilla, musk and ambergris”.

Unreal City Audio offers a variety of historic walking tours of London, including the Chocolate House Tour. (photo: Unreal City Audio)

A California winery is using the iPad to gather data on soil hydration and nutrient profiles and to automate the fermentation process. “They spend less time collecting data and more time crafting the wine.”

You can create one-minute videos about your favorite food or restaurants with the Tastemade app. The app is specifically designed to guide you through the process and help you create a title slide, add music, and filter.

Copenhagen Goes Organic
Copenhagen has been named the 2014 European Green Capital. They have a well-developed organic food network. 75% of the food served in public-sector kitchens currently comes from organic sources, and they plan to raise that figure to 90% by 2015.

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, December 23, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 23, 2013

New Year’s Eve 
Earth Bound Bakery and Christie’s Il Secondo are joining forces to serve a multi-course feast on New Year’s Eve. More details are available at either bakery.

Craft Beer & Tapas, Jan. 23 
Prairie Sun Brewery, Wild Cuisine Catering and Garlic Guru are hosting a Craft Beer & Tapas Night on January 23 at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. Six food courses will be paired with three of Prairie Sun’s beers.

Two Stinkers Cheese
Entrepreneurial spirit is strong in the Campbell family. Craig Campbell developed Choo-It cereal, now available in three different formats. His son Jade, who is only 6 years old, has created his own product and was marketing it just last week at SaskMade Marketplace.

Jade has developed a spicy dry rub mix that he uses to prepare a hickory-smoked cheese. Ken Neuman, who manages SaskMade, says that Jade has been well trained by his dad. He shakes hands with his customers and writes out his own receipts.

Night Oven Bakery
Amy Jo Ehman visited Bryn Rawlyk at his soon-to-open bakery and took photographs of the wood oven, which Bryn has been building from scratch. Night Oven Bakery is due to open in January at 629b 1st Avenue North in City Park.

Hummus Appetizer
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to taste Garlic Guru’s hummus. Garlic Guru now sells five different kinds of hummus –roasted red pepper, roma tomato, lime and chili, smokey garbanzo, and extreme garlic & onion. Teresa had made a delicious appetizer, which I’ll be trying out this Christmas.

Take a Tostito scoop, add a little Lime and Chili Hummus, a spoonful of scrambled egg, a little grated parmesan and a pinch of taco seasoning. 

Merry Christmas
With best wishes to you all for a happy Christmas and a joyful New Year.

Christmas graphics: Jacquie Lawson Edwardian Advent Calendar

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Saskatoon Food Trends 2014

I was asked by Valerie Lugonja, A Canadian Foodie, to comment on upcoming food trends for a composite blog post she prepares every year. Here’s what I came up with. Let me know what you think.

1. What surprised you most about food trends in 2013? 
Buying local food has becoming increasingly popular. Even large grocery chains are beginning to purchase locally.

Four new microbreweries (Prairie Sun Brewery, Saskatoon; District Brewing Co., Regina; Bin Brewing Co. and Black Bridge Brewery in Swift Current) opened in Saskatchewan this year – a huge jump, indicating increased popularity for local, craft beer.

Urban agriculture is surprisingly popular – from school gardens, to community gardens, to the Saskatoon Food Bank’s Garden Patch.

Food bloggers are increasingly working for industry with sponsored posts and giveaways. I believe this will result in bloggers as a group losing their independence and their credibility.

There is a growing divide between celebrity chefs (Gold Medal Plates, television cooking shows) and the provision of healthy, local food to the population as a whole (cooking classes, farmers’ markets). The more we emphasize the former, the less attention we will be able to give to the latter.

2. What do you see as the major food trend(s) locally (wherever you are from) for 2014? 
Support for local food and urban agriculture will continue to grow.

A specialty restaurant offering organic, gluten-free food opened in 2013 (Leyda’s) and has proved popular. Hopefully this will lead to the opening of more specialty restaurants.

Saskatoon is ready for a wide range of pop-up restaurants, supper clubs, and other impromptu food events. Prairie Sun Brewery is already combining hyper-local beer production with monthly launches of seasonal beers accompanied by local music and food. Prairie Sun sponsored an Oktoberfest with beer, food and games this past fall. A Cheese & Beer Festival in February will feature 5 local chefs preparing dishes with 5 local cheeses.

3. What do you see as a major trend(s) throughout Canada and or the US for 2014? 
Meat consumption in the US has been declining for nearly a decade. Restaurants and the food industry will devote increasing attention to meatless/vegetarian/vegan options.

Food waste is a huge issue world-wide. We will begin to address the issue on all levels – production, distribution and consumption.

There will be increased awareness of the risks of monoculture food production due to disease and pests (e.g. oranges, bananas) and an increased emphasis on local food production and greater biodiversity.

Food banks will put increasing effort into providing healthy food (locally-grown fresh produce rather than boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese).

Healthy school food programs will be expanded with an emphasis on healthy food (less fast food fundraisers), cooking classes, and less waste (disposable plates and cutlery, individually-packaged foods).

Fizzy drinks will continue to be popular, but we’ll switch from mainstream pop to specialty brands and do-it-yourself soft drinks.

4. What would your most sincere hope, wish, or desire be to see as a food trend in 2014? 
Saskatoon and Saskatchewan’s restaurant industry will respond to the increased demand for vegetarian/vegan meals with a classy vegetarian restaurant, a vegetarian tasting menu, and/or a greater variety of vegetarian/vegan options.

People will focus on all-round healthy eating rather than fixating on specific trends (e.g. gluten-free) and fad diets (paleo).

5. Any other comments…
Our dreams for the future are always firmly rooted in our values and past experience. So here’s a little background information to help you interpret my thoughts on future food trends. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years. I am convivium leader for Slow Food Saskatoon and a passionate supporter of local food entrepreneurs, the smaller the better. Wanderlust and Words emphasizes local, healthy food and food businesses. My brother and I operate EcoFriendly Sask, which supports and encourages local environmental initiatives through an online publication and small grants.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 16, 2013

Location of Citizen Café
Oops! I made a mistake. Thank you to the reader who let me know that the soon-to-open Citizen Café and Bakery will be located in the old Dance Street location (18 23rd Street East), NOT in the former Caffe Sola location. They hope to open early in the new year.

Healthy Eating on a Budget
I mentioned last week that lentils are a cheap, nutritious source of protein. A reader pointed out that not everyone knows how to cook lentils. True enough, and it points to the importance of cooking classes at school and in the community. But it also points to the need for a culture change, so our community as a whole becomes less meat-centric and has a more widespread knowledge of alternative protein sources.

Here are 5 tips for stretching a tight budget as well as practical suggestions for going organic from Alternatives Journal – including a link to recipes for beans and lentils.

Fermented Food
And, while we’re talking about healthy food, here are 6 reasons why fermented foods are good for you – from energy efficiency to increased nutrient availability and fermented medicine.

Go Nuts!
Did you know that people who eat nuts tend to gain less weight and live longer? This article goes on to say that nuts are full of healthy micronutrients and omega 3 fatty acids. So add a few nuts to your salad or breakfast cereal in 2014. (via Linda – thanks!)

Feast on Words
I bought a wild plum and cardamom scone at Earth Bound Bakery on Saturday, partially because I fell in love with the name. Would I become just a little bit wilder by munching on wild plum?

Similarly, I’m intrigued by the chocolate bar collection at Dad’s Organic Market. Zazubean invites you enjoy chocolate with personality (Cheeky: Be the Sassy Banana). Wild B(o)ar suggests you savagely feast on their single-origin bars. Bissinger’s offers a Banana Pecan Caramel Peruvian Pink Salt chocolate bar (it’s the Peruvian pink salt that captured my attention). And, depending on your mood, you may want to try Giddy Yoyo’s raw chocolate bars.

Check out my Slideshare presentation, Seasoning Your Brand of Food and Wine, for more flavourful combinations of food and words.

Last-Minute Shopping
If you’re still looking for a few Christmas gifts, the Globe and Mail lists 10 tempting treats for the foodie in your life. There’s everything from edible skin care to sriracha candy canes and a catered breakfast in bed.

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 9, 2013

Slow Food Salon, Dec. 15
Join me at the Slow Food Salon from 3-5 pm on Sunday, December 15, at City Perks Coffeehouse. Our conversation will centre on Food and Festivities: What role does food play in your family’s and culture’s celebrations? Everyone is welcome.

Boffins Events
If you work at Innovation Place, don’t miss the Holiday Baking Class on December 11, Fare & Ale on December 12, and In Vino Veritas on December 19.

Cheese & Beer Fest, Feb. 1
Prairie Sun Brewery is introducing a completely new way of doing business. They not only brew their beer, but they host regular events. Monthly launches of their newest beer combine meals catered by local businesses and musical entertainment as well as sale of 1- and 2-litre growlers.

On February 1, they’ll be holding a Cheese and Beer Festival, and it’s all about celebrating local. Five local chefs will prepare dishes with cheese from three Saskatchewan businesses (Bulk Cheese Warehouse, Herschel Hills, Salayview Farm) as well as a Manitoba and an Alberta cheese producer. I’m sure there will be music as well. I applaud the creativity behind these pop-up events. And I'm glad they share my love of cheese. 

Food Trends 2014
I’m putting together some predictions about upcoming or desired food trends. What would you like to see happen in the local food scene? Please send me your ideas.

Ready-Made Vegan Meals
Here’s an interesting Edmonton business. VegPalette offers prepared vegan meals delivered to your door weekly. Meals are made from scratch, and they emphasize local and organic food. (via Only Here for the Food)

The Price of Healthy
A recent research report in the British Medical Journal says that a family on a healthy diet can expect to pay $2000 more a year for food than a family eating less nutritious meals. They reported that healthy meat and protein showed the highest price difference, and I question that result. Certainly, meat is expensive, but lentils and beans are excellent sources of protein and they’re very inexpensive.

Rediscovering the Deliciousness of the Earth
In this article, Frances Moore Lappe explains the delight and benefits from a plant-based diet: “I have realized that delicious eating is not an indulgence. It is the body’s way of reminding us how we can solve the ecological crises we face. All of us long for good food, and I believe that it’s possible for a groundswell of food lovers to heal the Earth—as millions of us align our taste buds with what the planet and people need."  

Food Ads & Kids 
Should we ban junk food ads aimed at children? If so, what is the best way to go about it? Check out this thought-provoking article from The Economist that looks at the different approaches being taken around the world. Consumer pressure is perhaps the most effective tool we have, so let your healthy food purchases speak for you.

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Food and Festivities, December 15, 2013

You are invited to a Slow Food Salon 
Sunday, December 15, 2013, 3 to 5 pm 
City Perks Coffeehouse, 801 7th Avenue North 

Food and Festivities: What role does food play in your culture’s and family’s celebrations? 

Birthday cakes and funeral meats; a Seder meal and a Persian New Year’s dinner; lunch with friends or a family supper. Food is part of our culture and our family life. It brings us together and creates lasting ties.

Each culture and family celebrates differently. Join us from 3-5 pm on December 15  at City Perks Coffeehouse and share your most cherished memories of food, family and culture in a respectful and open atmosphere.

Coffee, tea and snacks will be available for purchase.

What is a salon?
A conversational salon is an ongoing gathering of people who share a passion for ideas. Conversational salons can be frontiers for social and cultural change. Less formal than facilitated meetings, salons feed the human need for connection and rely on natural synergies.

What is Slow Food? 
Slow Food Saskatoon is the local chapter of an international movement that links quality of food with quality of life. Slow Food believes that agriculture and food production should be based on the wisdom of local communities in harmony with their surrounding ecosystems.

For more information about Slow Food, go to

* Slow Food Saskatoon hosts a Salon on the third Sunday of every month. Like our Facebook page to receive notification of future Slow Food Salons.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 2, 2013

Toffee Porter, Dec. 6
Prairie Sun Brewery is launching their Toffee Porter on December 6 between 11 and 6. Lunch will be served from 11-2 and supper from 5-8 (catered by Garlic Guru). Shoeless Joes will be performing at 8 pm. I really like the rich flavour of porter, so I’m hoping to attend.

In the 1700s, porter was aged for up to a year, so brewers needed very large vats. “One of these vats, owned by Richard Meux's brewery, erupted back in 1814 releasing 320,000 gallons of Porter which demolished part of the brewery, a line of small homes and killed eight people in the wave of beer.” (What The Hell Is A Porter?, Beer Advocate)

Prairie Pie Company 
I picked up a piece of savoury squash, purple onion and goat cheese pie (walnuts and raisins too!) from the Prairie Pie Company at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market. I understand that Mary Uzelman will be offering special seasonal pies and baked oatmeal on a regular basis. And, if you haven’t tried Mary’s individual lentil pies, do. They’re so good. She makes wonderful pastry.

Bulk Cheese Warehouse
Cathy Engel, who does the ordering for Bulk Cheese Warehouse, tells me that all the shelves should be fully stocked by this coming Friday. Bulk Cheese always has a full array of cheese for the Christmas season, so I’m looking forward to visiting and picking up a few extra treats.

Floating Gardens
So, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Floating Gardens is determined to grow as organically as possible and not use any chemical pesticides.

The bad news is that their tomatoes aren’t very healthy, so after Christmas they are going to have to completely empty and thoroughly clean that section of the greenhouse, which will mean no tomatoes, cucumbers or eggplants for a while. Enjoy those fresh vegetables while you can!

Labelling Local Food 
Good Food Junction has teamed up with Localize and will be labelling all the Saskatchewan and Canada-made food on their shelves.

Organic Fair
Check out this VEGAN milk chocolate bar from Organic Fair. It's made with dried coconut, coconut oil and coconut sugar. Organic Fair is a Vancouver Island company and the only certified organic bean to bar chocolate maker in Western Canada.

What is that? 
Have you ever looked at a food label and wondered what the heck some (or all!) of the ingredients were. Apparently, there is very little real milk in “modified milk ingredients.” “If you’re lucky, the modified milk ingredient in your ice cream is simply powdered milk. More likely it’s casein (factory-extracted milk proteins), or whey proteins, or a butter oil compound, which is comprised of 49% butter-oil and 51% sugar.” (Factory Goop, Adventures in Local Food)

Winter Vegetables 
What a delight to find a thoughtful, loving ode to winter vegetables. This one is for the writers in the crowd who appreciate carefully crafted words:

“The vegetables of summer are easy to love, as it is easy to find young men and women beautiful, to promise commitment before it has been tested, to be happy beneath a cloudless sky. I’m still not sure it’s natural to prefer what’s difficult and unwieldy, to feel affection warts-and-all. But the world is older and slower and more patient than we ever will be. These vegetables keep, and have helped every generation before ours survive long winters. They are part of the great practice of not having what we want, but wanting what we have, and after years of trying – of trying and trying – my husband and I have both come to love, even crave, beets and butternut squash, the hard vegetables of fall. We appreciate their complexity. We find them very good.” (Katrina Vandenberg, Orion magazine)

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, November 25, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 25, 2013

Night Market, Dec. 12 
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market will be holding a holiday night market on Thursday, December 12 from 4-9 pm. Wine, appies, carols and a butter tart competition. (via @tammyrobert)

Earth Bound Expansion
Earth Bound Bakery now has permission from the City for its renovations: a new kitchen space and a larger dining area. In his blog, Trent says, “We plan to soon offer breakfast, more lunch options, more take away meal options and perhaps in the future some special event dinner functions.”

Seabuckthorn Recipes 
Chef Jenni was cooking with Northern Vigor seabuckthorn berries on Saturday at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. She shared her recipes for Seabuckthorn Tomato Sauce, Seabuckthorn White Chocolate Mousse and Seabuckthorn Lemon Chai Cider.

Here’s the recipe for the tomato sauce. Email me if you’d like one of the other recipes and I’ll send it to you.
*1 cup Seabuckthorn purée
*796 ml can whole tomatoes or four whole fresh tomatoes
*two stalks celery, finely chopped
*1 medium onion, chopped
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*4 tablespoons oil
*2 Tbsp each fresh or dried basil and oregano
A few pinches of cinnamon
1/8th cup brown sugar (small handful)
Salt and pepper to taste
To make: 
*Sauté garlic and onions in oil. Add celery, then tomatoes and Seabuckthorn purée. Add spices and simmer till slightly thickened. Blend with an immersion blender, leaving some tomato chunks. Freezes well!

Britain’s First Tea Plantation
Did you know that there was a 10-year-old tea plantation in England? Their rate of plant loss is around 80% - talk about perseverance. The article includes a recipe for Darjeeling-Roasted Sweet Potatoes which intrigued me.

Middle Eastern Recipes
I know. It’s highly unusual for me to include recipes in Flavourful Saskatoon. But why not? And most of these Middle Eastern recipes from The Guardian are vegetarian: Muhamara (crimson dip), Bourekas (puff pastries), Cauliflower & Chickpea Tagine with Harissa and Preserved Lemon, and Pistachio Baklava would make an excellent meal. Please invite me.

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 18, 2013

Edible City, Nov. 21
Slow Food Saskatoon and the Saskatchewan Eco Network are showing the movie Edible City: Grow the Revolution at the Frances Morrison Public Library at 7 pm, November 21. Edible City profiles a diverse group of people who are challenging the status quo food system through edible education, grassroots activism and building local economies.

Christmas at the Marr, Dec. 3 & 4 
Actor John Huston will perform A Christmas Carol at 7:30 pm, December 3 and 4, at the Marr Residence (326 11th Street East). The performance will be followed by dessert and musical entertainment. Tickets are $15 and available by calling 652-1201.

The Prairie Pantry 
I’m of an age where I don’t need any more “stuff,” but I’ll always welcome gifts of food and wine, especially ones purchased and/or made by local entrepreneurs. I attended The Prairie Pantry’s Customer Appreciation Event at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market last week, and they have brought in lots of tasty new items for Christmas.

Riverbend Plantation has a four-jar sampler – I really liked the Cherry Salsa (zippy!) and the Mango Saskatoon Sauce (milder, really fruity).

I’m definitely ready to buy local mustard – after all, we grow most of the world’s supply of mustard seed right here in Saskatchewan – and I particularly like Gravelbourg Mustard’s Saskatoon Berry (very mild and fruity) and Cranberry (stronger) flavours.

Do check out the jars of spices – powdered lemongrass, fire-roasted garlic, Vietnamese cinnamon, truffle salt, dill pollen.

And there are some delectable looking chocolates as well as mixes in wonderful Christmas packaging (I sampled the Cinnamon Swirl Muffins, and they’re really good – I kept going back for more).

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Persian - Swiss Feast

Persian rice and eggplant accompanied by raclette and boiled potatoes? Why not? There is no better way to share our cultures and traditions than through food. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our differences rather than fight over them.

Mahyar Behnami is the owner of the Saskatoon Persian Store. She has transformed an old grocery store just around the corner from the bus barns in Caswell Hill with an intriguing array of Iranian groceries.

She recently completely some renovations and her friend Cathy Engel suggested that they host a dinner to celebrate. I was fortunate enough to be invited.

The Remembrance Day meal was a surprising, but delicious, juxtaposition of Swiss raclette and a savory array of Persian dishes.

Rice is a staple of Iranian cuisine, and it’s so different from Chinese rice. The grains are almost an inch long, and they are dry and fluffy, with a topping of nuts and berries.

Cathy Engel works at the Bulk Cheese Warehouse, so there was a wonderful assortment of cheese. Two of my favorites were the goat cheese raclette and the pungent St. Nectaire. Floury potatoes topped with melted cheese is the perfect winter dish.

A fragrant cardamom pound cake, made by one of the Iranian guests, was the perfect finishing touch to a delightful meal with new-found friends.

Do stop by and visit Mahyar at the Saskatoon Persian Store and Cathy at the Bulk Cheese Warehouse. If you’re really lucky, they’ll invite you to one of their feasts.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 11, 2013

Local HOPtion Launch Party, Nov. 15
Prairie Sun Brewery is launching the first IPA made with locally grown hops on Friday, November 15, from 11 am to 10 pm. There will be pints of beer, cheese, music, and brewery tours at 2, 5, 7 and 9 pm

Collectively Green Holiday Sale, Nov. 16
The Collectively Green Holiday Sale from 10 am to 6 pm, November 16, at Grace-Westminster United Church offers earth-friendly wares and a silent auction to benefit the Saskatoon Food Bank.

Slow Food Salon, Nov. 17
Slow Food Saskatoon will be hosting a conversational Slow Food Salon every third Sunday at City Perks Coffeehouse. On Sunday, November 17, from 5-7 pm, we’ll be discussing “What foodie book has changed the way you cook/think about food?”

Edible City, Nov. 21
Slow Food Saskatoon and the Saskatchewan Eco Network are showing the movie Edible City: Grow the Revolution at the Frances Morrison Public Library at 7 pm, November 21. Edible City profiles a diverse group of people who are challenging the status quo food system through edible education, grassroots activism and building local economies.

Business Opportunity 
Fresh n Local has suspended services while they restructure. Curtis is looking for a business partner with strong marketing, communication and accounting skills. The individual is being asked to provide sweat equity rather than a financial investment.

Food Bank Cooking Classes
The Saskatoon Food Bank is offering free family cooking classes on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from October to December. What a great idea to involve the whole family.

Boffins, Innovation Place
Order a dozen seasonal goodies (peppermint patties, cranberry pecan butter tarts, red velvet brownies, etc.) or reserve a spot for your office at the small business holiday celebrations on December 8 and 15 at Boffins, Innovation Place.

Regina Weekend 
Air Canada’s enRoute magazine describes a foodie weekend in Regina – from beer at Bushwakker Brewpub to lunch at the Lajord Hutterite Colony.

Want to create a Canadian job? Buy Beer
Beer accounts for 45% of all beverage alcohol sales in Canada and supports 163,200 jobs across the country. 85% of the beer consumed in Canada is produced here. In addition, small brewers are the innovators of the industry and are the ones attracting new customers.

Mastering the Art of French Eating
Was it Lyon’s washerwomen who invented the Salade Lyonnaise? What is the correct topping for a Breton buckwheat crepe? If you’re infatuated with France and food, be sure to read Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah and try out the recipes for cassoulet, choucroute, soupe pistou and more.

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 4, 2013

Root Down Sunday Brunch, Nov. 10 
The Root Down Workers’ Cooperative will be serving vegan/vegetarian Sunday brunch from 10 am to 2 pm on November 3, 10, 17 and December 8 and 15 at Station 20 West. Gluten-free items will be available.

Prairie Pantry Customer Appreciation, Nov. 13 
The Prairie Pantry, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, is holding a customer appreciation event in honour of their one-year anniversary from 5-8 pm, November 13. Check out the new products, sample a few goodies and meet some of their local producers.

 In addition, there is a 10% discount on all items (except the new Christmas items) during the month of November.

SaskMade’s Xmas Kick-Off, Nov. 16 
SaskMade Marketplace will be kicking off the Christmas season on November 16 with samples, contests and in-store specials.

Cake Witch, Nov. 16 
The Cake Witch’s delicious German baking will be available at St. Joseph’s Craft Fair from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, November 16.

Developing an Organizational Food Policy, Nov. 27
CHEP is hosting a workshop on developing a food policy for the board members and staff of organizations providing programs and services with Aboriginal people from 10 am to 3 pm, November 27. The workshop will focus on the quality and safety of the food provided, whether it’s a snack, group cooking classes, or a special event.

Restaurant Closures 
I am sorry to learn that Taj Mahal and Weczeria restaurants have closed.

Chef Dan Walker of Weczeria was one of the first Saskatoon chefs to really promote local foods and to showcase the farmers who provided the raw ingredients.

Rano and Nitu Vasani opened the Taj Mahal restaurant in 1989 and were the first to introduce Saskatoon to quality Indian cuisine.

District Brewing Co., Regina
Regina has its first locally owned and operated brewery, the District Brewing Co. Just one variety of beer available at the moment – Müs Knuckle. It’s on tap at Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar, Regina’s newest farm-to-table restaurant.

Foodshed Wins International Award
Dee Hobsbawn-Smith, a former chef, cooking educator and food advocate, has become the first Saskatchewan writer to win a prize at the High Plains Book Awards. Hobsbawn-Smith’s book Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet, won the culinary award at the High Plains Book Festival, which celebrates writing in various disciplines and genres from across the American northern plains states and Canada’s three Prairie provinces.

Restaurants Go Green
Restaurants can save thousands of dollars through going green. LEAF helps Canadian food service businesses to reduce their environmental impact and makes it easier for diners to find certified green restaurants. There are no LEAF certified restaurants in Saskatchewan as yet, but there are lots in Alberta and many others across the country.

Small Farm Support Group 
Running a small farm is a challenging undertaking. Alberta is holding a Small Farm Summit on November 9. It will be an opportunity to share information, ask questions and meet other farmers. A Farm Small website is currently being set up.

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

From Farm to Table: Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar

What does it take to successfully open a new restaurant, particularly a hotel restaurant? Geoffrey Caswell-Murphy, Executive Chef of Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar in Regina’s newly-opened DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, David McQuinn, Vice-President, Food & Beverages, and Brigitte Diem-Guy, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Silver Birch Hotels and Resorts, outlined for me some of the ingredients they are relying on for success.

First and foremost, the focus is on local food. “We want the restaurant to tell the story of our community by serving unique dishes made from organic products from local growers,” David says.

Local Products
Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar, which opens on November 5, will serve products from Cactus Organics, Pine View Farms, All Natural Meats, Prairie Meats, Duck Farm, Timber Creek Farm, and Living Soil Farms. Müs Knuckle beer from the District Brewing Co., Regina’s first locally owned and operated brewery, will be on tap. “We were the first people to contact District Brewing and the second to have them on tap,” David says.

Chef Geoffrey is a newcomer to Saskatchewan, so he has relied on local chefs and producers to suggest names of local food growers. The Radisson Hotel in Saskatoon is part of the Silver Birch chain, so Chef Trevor Robertson has been a valuable resource, even sharing his supply of root vegetables from Living Soil Farms.

Opening late in the season has posed a challenge as there hasn’t been time to preserve fruits and vegetables. Chef Geoffrey says that he would normally can everything from carrots and beets to caramelized onions. He’ll make his own jam in future as well.

Hotel Restaurants
Many people have a pre-conceived notion that hotel restaurants aren’t as classy as stand-alone restaurants. In order to counter this myth, Chef Geoffrey says, “We have to do such a good job that positive word of mouth spreads like wildfire. We need to really deliver on the experience because we don’t get a ton of chances.” David McQuinn emphasized that the Silver Birch chain has experience in managing high-quality, stand-alone restaurants. The Fish House in Stanley Park is part of the chain, and I can testify to its classy atmosphere and good food.

Vegetarian Dishes 
There are very few vegetarian main courses on the Wild Sage menu. However, there are lots of veggie appetizers that sound really good (Aged White Cheddar and Caramelized Shallot Perogies, Pave Truffled Potato Cubes, Edamame Beans, Vegetable Chips with Roasted Eggplant Dip) and Chef Geoffrey says that they will happily accommodate individual requests.

“We embrace the ‘our kitchen is your kitchen’ philosophy. We accommodate all of our guests’ special dietary needs. If you see it on the menu, you can have it,” he says. So don’t be afraid to order a salad without the meat or a side of Sea Salt Fries with Chipotle Mayo and Jalapeno Jack Cheese or Saskatoon Ketchup.

Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar has installed a gas-fired forno pizza oven. It’s very similar to the one in the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon but located in the kitchen. The Bruschetta Pizza with arugula and balsamic vinegar is vegetarian. Requests for gluten-free pizza can also be accommodated.

Developing the Menu 
One of the biggest tasks for a new restaurant is developing the menu. David explained that the first step is to study the demographics – who will be your primary guests and what kind of food will be most successful with this group. Then you look at what products can be obtained locally. And last, but not least, you test and test and test and test.

“We made pizza in Saskatoon at the Radisson for eight hours straight to come up with five pizza options that were representative of our customer, our market and our profile,” David explains.

The menu will be available in the restaurant, bar or in your hotel room. “Our goal is to make in-room dining special,” David explains. “What you get downstairs, you can also get upstairs.”

The Broad Street hotel and conference centre has been completely renovated, and it promises to deliver a unique conference package. “We offer a variety of all-inclusive meeting packages,” says Brigitte Diem-Guy. “The daily meeting package includes meeting rooms, built-in audiovisual equipment, internet access, buffet lunch, all service charges and access to our Connections Café® for continuous, all-day refreshments – everything for one price per person. This model is very popular in the States, but we’re pioneering it in Canada by building Silver Birch Conference Centres from coast to coast.”

All-day refreshments will include homemade healthy treats and baked goods, fresh vegetables and fruit, smoothies, lattes and cappuccinos, and 100-calorie and gluten-free options.

The hotel and restaurant open on November 5. The grand opening is scheduled for December 10, and they’ll be planting a birch tree rather than cutting a ribbon. “We do this at all our hotels,” Brigitte explains. “It’s a sign of our commitment to the environment.” There will also be entertainment with an Olympics theme as Hilton HHonors™ is a sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Committee and the official hotel supplier of the Canadian Olympic Team.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 28, 2013

Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar, Regina 
Regina will soon have a new restaurant. Wild Sage Kitchen & Bar will open on November 1 in the DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Centre at 1975 Broad Street. Advance publicity states that Chef Geoffrey Caswell-Murphy will profile the Farmer to Chef relationship using as many locally sourced, artisan and organic ingredients as possible. The chef is East Coast born and raised so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a focus on seafood.

I'm pleased to see that the trend towards locally-sourced restaurant meals continues in both Regina and Saskatoon.

Seeds of Diversity AGM, Nov. 9 
Seeds of Diversity is holding their annual general meeting at Station 20 West on November 9 from 3-8:30 pm. The event will include a seed exchange, a seed-saving workshop and a gala dinner.

Luscious Desserts 
Never let it be said that I am derelict in my responsibility to seek out all decadent desserts available in Saskatoon.

Dad’s Organic Market is now selling two Gü Desserts – lemon cheesecake and chocolate ganache. These luscious English desserts come in glass ramekins and are delicious.

So, as the Gu website, suggests, “Seek Delight; Give in to Happiness; Pleasure is Everything.

Food History on the Prairies
Culinaria: A Taste of Food History on the Prairies is an online exhibit of cookbooks and information about “food’s development and depth of influence in Canada’s Prairie provinces.” Do take a look. There are numerous old cookbooks, and the curators have scanned not only their covers but many of their recipes.

“Food history is not simply about ingredients and their preparation; it is about the cultural networks and narratives within which every step of the food cycle is embedded, from farm (or wilderness) to table. Although often overlooked in literary, historical, and cultural studies, food offers insight into topics as diverse as cultural and social identity, agricultural history, economics, geography, political movements, and health.”

Veggie Day 
The City of Ghent in Belgium has declared every Thursday Veggie Day in order to address climate change. Schools and public offices serve a vegetarian meal as do many local restaurants.

Fair Trade Bananas
UK supermarkets frequently sell loose bananas for less than it cost to purchase them. The losers are the banana growers and workers but also the environment as farmers can’t afford to farm sustainably: “Producers are not able to invest in, for example, an integrated pest management system if the price is really too low. They are likely to use whatever pesticides they have, even if they are low quality or dangerous. If retailers raise the price, it becomes easier for producers to invest in sustainable production methods."

FairTrade bananas provide growers with collective bargaining power and a better chance of receiving a fair price.

40 Stories of Hope
Around the world, people are working to build a healthier food system. Here are 40 stories of hope.

Photos: Granada, Nicaragua

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 21, 2013

SK Wine Tastings 
Doug Reichel of Fine Wines Sask has a number of upcoming events:
October 24 – Rozendal Winemaker Dinner at Amy’s, Prince Albert
October 25 – Rozendal Winemaker Dinner at Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina
October 30 – Wine Wednesday with Paul Bosc Jr., Château des Charmes, at Temple Gardens Resort & Spa, Moose Jaw
November 5 – International Wines & Local Appetizers at Eddie Webster’s Dining Room, Estevan
December 6 – 5 Food Courses Paired with 5 Wines at Highway Host Restaurant, Rosetown

SK Micro Breweries 
Canadian micro breweries are experiencing sales growth of 15-20%, and Saskatchewan is no exception. Prairie Sun Brewery is Saskatoon’s newest brewery and appears to be doing really well. And Swift Current will soon have two micro breweries.

Bin Brewing Co. prides itself on being all-Canadian. Everything in their brewery was sourced in Canada, from the water system to the energy-efficient lighting. Their beers emphasize local ingredients – barley, wheat and berries.

Black Bridge Brewery has purchased a lot in the Munro Industrial Park and plan to construct a 2,000 litre brewhouse, a taproom with off-sale beer and kegs, and a future hospitality suite.

From Beer to Cider 
My favorite British tipple is cider, so I’m pleased to see that it is becoming more popular world-wide (cider sales grew by over 50% in Australia and the USA in 2011-12).

“The American beer market has changed dramatically with the rise of craft beers. Consumers are experimenting with different flavours, and looking at the provenance of their drinks. Cider is jumping on the back of that, offering a natural background, the direct link with apples. And men and women both like it, which is important because more drinking is in mixed groups." 

“Henry Chevalier of Suffolk's Aspall Cyder pointed out that cider is being sold at the top end of the market in America. Restaurants, he said, include Aspall cider on their wine lists, at $26 a bottle, considerably more than its £2.59 UK price tag. Waiters show the label to drinkers before offering a taste, and they store it in ice buckets.” 

Personally, I’m far more interested in sampling cider from small-scale, preferably local businesses, than supporting international companies and the price of imported ciders horrifies me (check the prices at Wood’s Alehouse and Congress Beer House).

Vegetarian Fine Dining
I’m delighted to learn (Thank you, Sarah!) that Muse Restaurant in Calgary is now offering 5- and 8-course vegetarian tasting menus. Let’s hope a Saskatoon restaurant will follow their lead soon.

Heritage Food Recovery
Here’s a good news story for a change. Over the past 25 years, over 640 foods have been rescued from obscurity and returned to the North American foodscape. To find out how, download Conservation You Can Taste: Best Practices in Heritage Food Recovery and Successes in Restoring Agricultural Biodiversity Over the Last Quarter Century.

Food Rituals 
In my opinion, the only way to eat a macaron is one layer at a time. And obviously I’m not alone in having ritual ways of eating my food. Researchers have determined that people who follow ritualized behaviours report “greater enjoyment of subsequent food consumption experiences”.

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 14, 2013

Slow Food Salon, Oct. 20 
Slow Food Saskatoon is hosting a Slow Food Salon from 7-9:30 pm, October 20, at City Perks Coffeehouse. A conversational salon is an ongoing gathering of people who share a passion for ideas. Conversational salons can be frontiers for social and cultural change. Less formal than facilitated meetings, salons feed the human need for connection and rely on natural synergies.

 The topic for the October salon is: What does Slow Food mean in the Saskatchewan context? What is our local agricultural/food wisdom? What should we protect? What should we taste? How can we connect all the wisdom and resources in our local community to strengthen our food system?

Slow-Cooked SK, Oct. 26 
Stop by SaskMade Marketplace between 10:30 am and 4:30 pm on October 26 and pick up some easy recipes and tasty samples.

And, if you live in Regina, be sure to visit SaskMade Marketplace in the Cornwall Centre from November to January.

Home Delivery 
I’m relying on family and friends to do my shopping while I recover from surgery, so I was delighted to find a couple of great home delivery services this week.

Bottega Trattoria is now delivering pizza. The vegetarian pizza was great with a chewy crust and lots of toppings, including sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes and broccoli.

Barbara Harder-Lutz, the Cake Witch from Rosthern, brought me a wonderful selection of cherry truffle brownies, apple strudel, chai biscotti, pumpkin orange spice cake and lemon cranberry pound cake. She is planning to start a weekly home delivery service to Saskatoon, so be sure to like and follow her on Facebook.

Boffins Club 
If you work at Innovation Place (or even if you don't!), be sure to check out all the special events at the Boffins Club, including wine and beer tastings (with food pairings) and cooking classes.

Food Not Bombs
Food Not Bombs Saskatoon served up a salvaged vegan Thanksgiving dinner on the corner of 22nd Street and 2nd Avenue this past weekend. If you are interested in helping out, join their Facebook group and help cook most Saturday afternoons at 2 pm at the Core Neighbourhood Youth Co-op.

Photos: Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, October 7, 2013

Hey, folks! I’m back at my computer but still not out in the coffee shops and restaurants, so be sure to send me news of any events or great places to eat so that I can share the information.

Citizen Café and Bakery
A new coffee shop is emerging at the former site of Caffe Sola. Citizen Café and Bakery, at 16 – 23 Street East, will open in November and plans to serve quality espresso and from scratch baking that is vegan and gluten-free friendly.

Food Truck Boom and Bust
Food trucks are all the rage, right across North America, but it’s not a sure-fire winner. The Modern Drive Through Food Trucks explores some of the challenges faced by food truck owners in Vancouver, including municipal regulations and location.

Why Did Cavemen Die Young?
I don’t understand the current craze for the Paleo Diet. Does it mean you should cook your meat outside over an open fire? And cavemen certainly weren’t eating cake and chocolate or drinking wine, so I’m not interested.

As a result, I was interested to read this article expressing concern about the Paleo Diet. Experts fault the lack of dairy and grains and the potential risks to heart health due to high meat intake and point out that there has not been enough research to know if it actually promotes weight loss.

Bananas Don’t Come Cheap
Bananas are one of the cheapest fruit options in North American supermarkets. But that’s because there’s a hidden cost that will someday slap us in the face.

Large monoculture plantations in South and Central America all grow Cavendish bananas, a variety that was initially resistant to the blight that wiped out the Mont Michel bananas between 1906 and 1960. But there are new strains of blight, and the Cavendish bananas are now dying off as well.

There are hundreds of varieties of bananas, many of which are much tastier, but the multinational corporations grow just one variety to keep the price down. Didn’t we learn the value of varying our crops from the Irish Potato Famine?

Costa Rica has done a great job of setting up parks and preserving natural areas, but they also grow a lot of bananas – 25% of the United Kingdom’s banana imports in 2007 and top exporter to the United States. Unfortunately, the monoculture crop is susceptible to pests, so the banana plantations are heavily sprayed, with the pesticide runoff steadily making its way into Costa Rica’s conserved waters, harming the caimans and indicating that other aquatic species are also at risk.

Photos: Cordoba, Spain

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, September 16, 2013

Thank Ewes Festival, Sept. 21 
If you’ve never tried The Cheesiry’s cheese, this is your chance – it’s great! Head over to the Cheesiry (Highway 16 between Kitscotty and Lloydminster, south ¼ mile on Range Road 24 to the farm with three silos on September 21 for two different events.

They’re hosting a family festival in the afternoon with lots of fun family activities, including riding a sheep, craft, milking and tours. In the evening, there will be a four-course meal and wine pairing.

Chilean Winemaker & Riedel Glass Seminar, Sept. 26
 Join Doug Reichel and Alvaro Paredes, Winemaker for Torreon de Paredes at 6 pm, September 26 for a winetasting and demonstration of the Riedel glassware. The event is part of Premier. I’ve attended in the past and have thoroughly enjoyed the quiet, relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to meet and talk with a leading winemaker.

Choose Your Favorite, Sept. 28 
There are so many Saskatoon berry products now available. Come sample the full line-up at SaskMade Marketplace's Fans' Choice Open House on September 28 and cast a vote for your favorite. The top picks will be announced on Facebook and featured in the store.

Novel-licious, Nov. 5 
McNally Robinson Booksellers is hosting a 3-course, locally-themed fundraiser dinner to benefit the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre on November 5.

Mary Harelkin Bishop, Beverley Brenna, Carey Rigby-Wilcox, Craig Silliphant and Cassie Stocks will read from their work.

Sea Cider
Ingredients Artisan Market is now selling cider from Vancouver Island’s Sea Cider Farm. Sea Cider makes wonderful cider from organic, heritage apples – from fresh and fruity Pippin and Wild English to darker, sweeter Rumrunner that has been fermented in Kentucky bourbon barrels that have been soaked in Newfoundland screech.

Ayden Kitchen and Bar 
Ayden Kitchen and Bar hopes to open mid-October to early November.

Alberta’s Bean-to-Bar Chocolate
I was pleased to read about Choklat, an Alberta company that makes chocolate directly from the cacao beans. There are very few Canadian companies that do this. The only other one that I’m aware of is Beanpod in Fernie, BC, and they make awesome chocolate (and gelato).

Choklat has a menu of over 1000 flavour combinations. You choose and they make it on the spot. I confess to being intrigued and look forward to visiting one of their stores (Calgary, Edmonton).

Wanderlust and Words is taking a short break as I’m having hip replacement surgery on September 20. Talk to you again soon!

Photos: Les Hortillonages, Amiens, France

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

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).