Monday, March 25, 2013

Flavourful North Shore Vancouver, March 2013

Sunny skies, spring flowers, and good food! What more could I ask? Here are a few places that I recommend on the North Shore of Vancouver.

Lemon on the Water
Pier 7 is located right on the water at Lonsdale Quay, the perfect place for a relaxing meal as you watch the light fade over downtown Vancouver’s towers.

The Sous Chef, Theo Varju, is the son of a good friend so we had a chance to sample some of the upcoming menu items as well as the current features. The Mushroom Fricassee was rich in mushrooms and gravy – delicious. And the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake had me begging for seconds.

Morning Tea

I relaxed completely over a pot of tea at the Pinnacle at the Pier Hotel. They have a wonderful selection of teas – you can sniff each container before trying to settle on just one.

Tacos for Total Consciousness

The Café for Contemporary Art on East Esplanade serves the most creative tacos I’ve ever eaten. My burrito was stuffed with sweet potato tamale chunks, pumpkin mole with beans, habanero mango salsa, goat cheese, and guacamole. I can’t say I was impressed by the It’s to Die for Banana Bread though.

Dog Walks & Chocolate

Go for a walk along Coal Harbour, laugh at the dogs in the dog park, and then head over to Thomas Haas Chocolates for a decadent dessert. Tough choices, but I definitely recommend the Pistachio Sour Cherry Tart.

Pecorino Wine

We enjoyed excellent service and good Italian food at Mangia e Bevi, just off the West Vancouver Sea Wall. The Italian Pecorino wine was a completely new varietal for me, and the story behind it fascinates me.

“Pecorino Romano is the name of a famous sheep's milk cheese made in the Latium and Sardinia regions of Italy, while the Pecorino we're concerned with here is a grape grown on the other side of the Italian peninsula in the Marche and Abruzzo regions….The Pecorino grape is so named not because of any kind of direct link to sheep, but because it is said that sheep particularly enjoyed eating the grapes while they were being driven through vineyards from pasture to pasture.” (Fringe Wine) The varietal was reintroduced in the 1980s and is now expanding its range.


It was snowing and raining on the cherry and forsythia blossoms as the bus made its way to Deep Cove, but it cleared up so I could enjoy a walk through the park and watch the clouds rising from the mountain sides.

The fresh-made baked goods at Honey Doughnuts & Goodies are definitely worth a visit.


My very first purchase on arriving in North Vancouver was two bunches of pretty pink tulips. The staff at Margitta’s Flowers in Lonsdale Market were exceptionally helpful. They lent me a vase, added budding huckleberry branches to fill out the display, and reorganized them for me to take with me when I returned the vase and moved on to my next stop.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, March 18, 2013

Brunch at SaskMade, Mar. 23
Don’t miss SaskMade Marketplace’s Brunch celebration from 10-4:30 on Saturday, March 23.

Nicole Davis will be dishing up samples of Daybreak Mill’s Sunrise Pancake and Dayspring Granola mixes. The chef of the day is Renée Kohlman, aka sweetsugarbean. Sample some quiche and enter a draw for Harden Huyse chocolates.

Market Symphony, Apr. 3
The Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra will launch their new season at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market with a free concert from 11:30-12:45, April 3.

Global Access to Nutrition Index 
The Global Access to Nutrition Index, released this past week, assesses nutrition-related commitments, performance and disclosure practices of 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers as measured against international guidelines, norms and accepted best practices. Danone, Unilever and Nestlé top the list, but there is still significant room for improvement, with the highest score being 6.3/10.

Slow Money
Slow Money is holding its third annual conference in Boulder, Colorado, in April. It’s an interesting concept based on investing “as if food, farms and fertility mattered.”

“What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live? What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits? What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?” 

Over the past two years, Slow Money has invested $20 million in over 170 small food enterprises. The Soil Trust is an opportunity for individuals to invest small amounts to support small food enterprises.

Starting Out
I’ve always thought that it would be tough to open a new store. How do you know if it would be successful? How could you work out some of the kinks without falling flat on your face?

A pop-up store in North Amsterdam may be the answer. The store is a small, flexible space that houses a different new business every six months. The entrepreneur can then decide whether to rent a “normal” shop in the neighbourhood, while another starting business can move in and give their business idea a try, and the neighbourhood gets a chance to discover hidden local entrepreneurs.

I’m escaping winter for a week in Vancouver. Be prepared for restaurant and market reviews from Lotus 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.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring on the Prairies

Spring is almost here, with its fresh green shoots and blossoms. The first place to look is the land around us, but then we look backward into our cultural heritage and traditions with its wealth of spring festivals and religious traditions.

Wild Treats 
For early Prairie dwellers, spring brought fresh treats after a long winter of dried food and staples. On the Prairies, wild onions were blooming, adding flavour to a diet that had become bland by winter’s end, while lamb’s quarters were an abundant source of raw and cooked greens.

In the northern forests, the birch trees were ready to be tapped for syrup, while the tender early spruce tips added a generous portion of Vitamin C to salads, stews or soups – not to mention spruce beer. A little later in the season there would be rose petals adding a delicate, perfumed flavour to jellies and baked goods.

Many of these wild foods can still be gathered and eaten in Saskatchewan. Prairie Infusions sells a wide variety of boreal forest food products. Look for fresh or dried mushrooms, wild fiddleheads, birch leaf tea, and pine pollen at SaskMade Marketplace.

Dandelion greens and lamb’s quarters are easy to find in urban areas. If you pick rose petals, be sure to leave the stamens and pistils behind so that there will be rosehips later in the season.

Two Yukon women have compiled cookbooks and plant profiles that provide a wealth of resource material. They are:

Cultural Heritage
Persians celebrate Norouz, the new year, on the first day of spring. Basmati rice pilaf with fresh herbs and rosewater-scented pudding are two traditional Norouz dishes.

Ukrainian Easter bread, or paska, is a rich, slightly sweet egg bread. Some of the dough is reserved and shaped into decorations – braiding, crosses, etc.

A similar treat in British culture is hot cross buns.

Jewish families serve a ritual Seder meal to celebrate Passover. It includes unleavened Matzoh bread, bitter herbs, egg as a symbol of life, as well as a number of other dishes.

Easter Eggs
Decorated eggs represent fertility and new life in both the Persian and Ukrainian cultures.

Homemade dyes are an excellent way to combine new and old Easter traditions. In most cases, you chop or grate fruits and vegetables, add water to cover, and one tablespoon of vinegar as a fixative. Boil for 15 minutes, then submerge your hard-boiled eggs. The longer they sit in the dye, the more vibrant the colour.

Every dye will give different results. Try red cabbage (purple), blueberries (blue), spinach or matcha powder (green), carrots, onions or turmeric (yellow/orange), and beets, cranberries, raspberries or red zinger tea (red).

Did you know?
  • Decorated eggs are a Persian and Ukrainian tradition
  • Birch syrup is a savoury addition to salad dressings or marinades
  • Captain Meriwether Clark, an early European explorer, once gathered half a bushel of wild onions for the camp’s supper

Credits: This article was originally published in the March 2013 edition of the SaskMade Marketplace newsletter

Photo credit: Andrew McKinlay

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, March 11, 2013

Beer & Food Pairings, Mar. 21 
Paddock Wood Brewing and the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market tenants will host monthly beer and food pairings featuring 2 types of beer and 6 appetizers.

The first event is Thursday, March 21, from 6-9 pm. Tickets are $35 and available at Riverbend Market Cafe, Garlic Guru or Wild Cuisine.

Persian Dinner, Mar. 23
Celebrate the first day of spring with a Persian New Year feast at 7 pm, Saturday, March 23, at Christ Church Anglican (28th Street between Avenues E and F North).

The dinner will be prepared by Mahyar Behnami, owner of the Persian Store, with assistance from Cathy Engel who has hosted some amazing dinners. Tickets must be purchased in advance from Mahyar (, 979-8869) or Cathy (, 683-9645).

I’ve tasted some of Mahyar’s cooking – you’re in for a treat!

Wine in Prince Albert, Mar. 27 
Doug Reichel, Fine Wines Saskatchewan, is hosting a tasting of 10 different grape varieties in a selection of 5 wines from 5 different countries at 7 pm, Wednesday, March 27, at My Place Restaurant, Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club.

A selection of hors d’oeuvres will accompany each wine. Advance booking is required (

You know that spring is close when Grandora Gardens returns to the Farmers’ Market with greenhouse lettuce and cucumbers. Welcome back!

In addition, Floating Gardens has begun harvesting lettuce from floating beds in their second greenhouse. They are growing 7 kinds of lettuce as well as 2 kinds of kale, spinach and various herbs.

10-Mile Meal
10-Mile Meal is a new Edmonton initiative. A series of pop-up dinners will celebrate the culinary and cultural traditions of individual farming communities in the greater Edmonton region.

The inaugural event on March 23 will focus on the German cuisine of the Thorsby-Calmar corridor using a collection of hand-written recipes brought to Canada from Eastern Europe by pioneering farm women in the local area.

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, March 4, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, March 4, 2013

Saskatoon’s Food System
A group of concerned stakeholders is collaborating to study the current state of food production in the Saskatoon region and enhance understanding of consumer demand and potential linkages between producers and consumers. The group is conducting a regional food system assessment and engaging with the community to create a plan of action that addresses gaps and improves the regional food system.

Producers and consumers are invited to share their thoughts and ideas through online surveys. The consumer survey looks at shopping patterns and accessibility while the producer survey is designed to assess the size of regional food production and its future potential.

Food Safety 
How do we ensure that the food we buy in the supermarket is safe for human consumption? I was intrigued to read an article comparing the food safety regulations for eggs in the United States and the European Union as they took completely opposing approaches.

In fact, American eggs would be illegal in a British supermarket. The US says that you must thoroughly wash the eggs – Europeans say you must not clean the eggs in any way. The US says that eggs must be kept in coolers – Europeans find their eggs on the shelf at room temperature. Both have solid arguments in their favour, which shows just how difficult it is to maintain food safety on an industrial scale.  (Photo credit: cursedthing on Flickr)

Lunch at Café Noir
Café Noir is now serving lunch – panini, salad and soup – after 11:30, Monday to Friday. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

Hot Cross Buns
Earth Bound Bakery has started selling hot cross buns on Saturdays. They are so good and almost 100% organic – plus locally-grown flour.

Souleio Dinners
Souleio will be open every Friday evening from 6-9 pm for dinner. The focus will be on the food for the first three Fridays, while the last Friday of the month will be reserved for Wine Nights focusing on wine education and pairing.

Dirt Candy 
I get so frustrated with the whole culinary culture that believes that without meat you can’t have a gourmet meal. I want vegetables to be treated seriously, as the centrepiece of outstanding cuisine.

So I absolutely love the Dirty Candy Cookbook by Amanda Cohen and Ryan Dunlavey. Not only does it profile vegetables, but it illustrates how to cook vegetables to get maximum flavour. And “illustrate” is exactly what I mean because this is a graphic novel cookbook!

“Anyone can cook a hamburger. Leave the vegetables to the professionals,” says chef, Amanda Cohen.

The recipes are creative and unusual. There’s Roasted Potato Soup with Tomato Pearls and Crispy Vinegar Potatoes which incorporates molecular technology, Olive Fettucini with Pickled Eggplant and Eggplant Jam, Red Pepper Velvet Cake (yup! it uses red peppers), and Molten Beet Cake with Roasted Pear Sorbet and Pear and Beet Leather.

Cohen’s blog is currently featuring a Lady Chef Stampede showcasing the women who’ve changed the history of food. The most recent post is about female sushi chefs.

The cookbook is available at McNally Robinson and the Saskatoon Public Library.

Classy Beans 
The Guardian newspaper posted an interesting collection of classy bean recipes. I plan to try the Bean Chili with Chocolate and Walnuts, and I was intrigued by the Lebanese Potato, Cucumber and Fava Bean Soup. There is also a very fancy Matcha and Azuki Gateau Roulé for those of you who are four-star bakers.

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.