Monday, July 29, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 29, 2013

Rhubarb Festival, Aug. 4-5 
The Marr Residence is holding its annual Rhubarb Festival from 1-4:30 pm, August 4 and 5.
Who knew!

Preserving Food, August
CHEP Good Food Inc. is sponsoring canning workshops and demos on August 7, 14, and 21.

On August 10 and 24, from 10 am to 4 pm, the kitchen at Station 20 West will be available for 5 people who are experienced in food preservation.

Phone 306.655.4575 to register and for information about additional workshops that are in the planning stage.

Volunteers Wanted: Fruit Harvesting 
Out Of Your Tree is looking for neighbourhood coordinators and volunteers to cooperatively harvest local fruit trees, putting the fruit to good use rather than leaving it to go to waste.

YXE Food Trucks 
Saskatoon’s first food trucks hit the streets this week:

Disco Dogs (@discodogtruck) is serving up hot dogs with a variety of toppings. Rumour has it that they will be offering a vegan/vegetarian version.

Joy Ride (@joyrideyxe) is operated by Dan Walker of Weczeria.

Three Sisters/Nestor’s Bakery has a truck. It’s currently parked in front of the bakery on 20th Street.

And don’t forget the two food trucks at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market serving up East Indian food and french fries.

Souplicious Creations 
Starting this fall, Chef Simon Reynolds will be offering heat-and-serve gourmet soups via Souplicious Creations. Varieties will include local, seasonal, no added salt, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, as well as full-fat hearty soups. There will be a couple of hot soups available, one always being vegetarian. Also available will be chutneys, jams, pasta sauce, dessert, entrees, and dressings.

Prairie Harvest Café 
Prairie Harvest Café is expanding with room for a few more tables and a bar. Chef Mike McKeown is looking forward to being able to offer cocktails.

Taste of Edmonton 
Taste of Edmonton added some new features this year that would be a valuable addition to Taste of Saskatchewan. These included chef-led workshops (e.g. how to make gluten-free bread, tofu 101, cheese-making) and themed pop-up evenings (e.g. Flavours of India, Indigenous cuisine) with a new focus on local chefs and local products (e.g. 10-mile meal). (via Only Here for the Food)

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, July 25, 2013

Prairie Sun Brewery, Saskatoon

“I’m from Colorado, the craft beer capital,” says Heather Williams. “In the United States, everyone knows what craft beer is, and three new breweries are opening every day of the week. Every block has its own brewery – small neighbourhood pubs, just like it was before the Prohibition.”

Heather’s partner, Cameron Ewen, can attest to Canadians’ lack of knowledge about craft beer. “When I started working at Paddock Wood Brewing four years ago, I thought that all beers tasted the same,” Cameron says. “I tasted Paddock Wood’s beer and thought, ‘Wow! This is so good!’ I got hit by the beer bug: I was making beer all day long and reading about it on my lunch hour.”

Cameron worked his way up from washing floors to head brewer at Paddock Wood. Heather was working there as well. “We saw how much fun it was to make beer,” says Heather. “It became our thing, and we believe there’s a huge market for it, so we decided to open our own craft brewery.”

Cameron will be the brewmaster, while Heather will look after administration.

The Location
Prairie Sun Brewery, Heather and Cameron’s micro brewery, is being set up at 2020 Quebec Avenue, where Saskatoon Bakery used to be located. The facility still contained the old baking equipment, so they asked around and ended up partnering with Carmen and Keith of Three Sisters/Nestor’s Bakery.

“It’s a good partnership,” Cameron says. “They have been in business a bit longer than us, and it gives us an opportunity to pair food and drink.”

The Beer
Prairie Sun will have four tanks – three tanks for their standard beers and one for a seasonal beer that will change every month.

Cameron has chosen beers that are suited to Saskatoon’s water. “Saskatoon’s water has a high Ph,” he says. “It wreaks havoc with really hoppy beers.” Instead, Cameron and Heather have chosen to make wheat beers. “Nobody was doing that around here,” Heather explains, “and we love them. They’re very refreshing.”

Saskatoon water is similar to the water in northern France and southern Belgium. Crazy Farm beer will be a Saison beer, a Belgian farmhouse ale. “It will have a bit of spice and have some body and complexity,” Cameron says.

They’ll also be making a banana and clove-style German wheat beer and a European-style lager called Prairie Lily that will be a little more hoppy and complex than the typical lager.

The seasonal beers may not have a long run. “We want it to be exciting,” Heather says. “We may just let people know that we have one keg only for sampling at the brewery on a Friday.”

The Local Connection 
Cameron and Heather recognize that they cannot compete with the big breweries in terms of scale or finances. Their advantage is that they are local and can tailor their product to their home community.

They will be using local products and local companies as much as possible. The wheat and barley will be grown locally, and they’ll be obtaining spices from the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. Even the glassware has been sourced locally, and they’ve had fun working with the local artists who have created their beer labels.

The Experience
For Heather and Cameron, craft beer is all about the experience. They aren’t interested in bulk production as they want to interact with their customers. They plan to focus on the Saskatoon market as they believe that beer should be fresh and local. “They used to say that beer shouldn’t be drunk further than a day’s horse wagon trip from the brewery,” Cameron says. “Beer is perishable. It must be kept cold, and you shouldn’t shake it.”

Prairie Sun hopes that their beer will never be more than a week old and, if there are any problems, they’ll be able to replace it immediately.

Growlers and bottles of beer will be available at the brewery, and their beer will be on tap at various local pubs and bistros that emphasize the quality of their food.

The Party 
Prairie Sun and Three Sisters Bakery plan to create an artisanal marketplace with fresh bread and local meat to accompany the beer. They hope that people will eventually be able to drop by and taste the beer, fill up their growler and have a bite to eat.

Heather and Cameron also hope to establish an annual Oktoberfest on the large lot behind the brewery/bakery. There will be bands, beer, food, and maybe a Brewer’s Olympics (How fast can you put your equipment together or roll a keg of beer? How many perogies can you eat?).

Heather and Cameron are clearly in love with craft beer and want to share their passion with all of us in Saskatoon. Be sure to take advantage of one of their tastings or events to find out more about craft beer. It’s guaranteed to be fun.

Prairie Sun hopes to have beer available for the September long weekend. You can follow their progress on Facebook.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

From Jumilla to the World: Luzon Wines

“We’re an old-style winery producing new-style wines,” says Isidoro Pérez de Tudela, Export Manager for Bodegas Luzon.

I visited the Luzon winery when I was in Spain in 2011, and their wines are distributed in Saskatchewan by Doug Reichel of Fine Wines Sask. I met up with Isidoro when he was in Saskatoon for Top of the Hops, and we discussed the history of wine-making in Jumilla and the Luzon wines.

Isidoro Perez de Tudela at VinExpo, June 2013
Jumilla was first settled, and the first grapes were turned into wine over 4500 years ago by the Iberians. Wine from Jumilla became popular with the Romans when they settled in the Iberian Peninsula, and it is still being produced and sold around the world today.

Monastrell is the primary grape variety grown in the region, linking Jumilla to other wine-growing regions of the Mediterranean where Monastrell, also known as Mourvedre, is grown. Isidoro says that it spread throughout the region because, “If it works for your neighbour, you try it.” However, the grape has evolved somewhat differently in each region in response to different geography and climate. 80% of the Monastrell grown in Spain is grown in Jumilla, which is known as the Monastrell Kingdom.

Luzon Organic
Bodegas Luzon prides itself on being the first winery in Jumilla to produce organic wine with 100% Monastrell grapes.

Jumilla has a very dry climate, which lends itself to producing organic wine as there is no call for pesticides or herbicides. It is, however, necessary to harvest the grapes before the fall rains, so the organic vineyards have been established at the base of hills with a southern exposure. As a result, the grapes are ripe when they are picked around August 15.

“We’re different from other organic wines as we’re able to obtain the sweetness of ripe fruit,” Isidoro explains.

There is no industry around the vineyards and native plants grow between the rows of wines. Luzon currently sells half a million litres of organic wine. They balance how much organic wine they produce with what sells as organic certification costs time and money.

Luzon Red 
Isidoro describes Luzon Red as a “good value wine for drinking on a regular basis.” Made from 70% Monastrell and 30% Syrah, it’s a young, fruity wine with lots of spice and no oak. The Monastrell provides structure and both varietals offer complementary spice notes.

Luzon Selección 12 
Selección 12 is a blend of four different varietals and has been aged in oak (50% French, 50% American, first and second year oak) for 12 months, so it’s a more complex wine. Isidoro says it’s like breakfast as there’s a well-balanced blend of vanilla, roasted, creamy, toasted and cocoa flavours.

All Luzon wines have a minimum of 50% Monastrell as it represents their roots in Jumilla. The Monastrell provides lots of fruit and spices. There is also 20% Tempranillo, another Spanish varietal, with a powerful tannin structure. Isidoro says it provides finesse in the finish. The 20% Cabernet Sauvignon adds a flavour that is familiar, while the 10% Merlot adds roundness and is a good complement to the other varietals.

Selección 12 2007 is only available in Saskatchewan and Doug Reichel says it is like drinking a glorious and much more expensive Rhone or Bordeaux wine.

Altos de Luzon
Now we come to my favorite – Altos de Luzon. It’s more expensive, but it’s worth it for the rich, well-balanced flavour. Isidoro describes the wine as being “from Jumilla to the world” as it is a blend of 50% Monastrell (Jumilla), 25% Tempranillo (Spain) and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon (world). The grapes are hand-picked and represent the best of the crop.

Isidoro believes that Altos pairs well with food because it has a solid after taste that lingers on the tongue even as you eat your meal.

Luzon Dulce 
The very last grapes to be harvested, at the beginning of November, are the Monastrell grapes for the Luzon Dulce dessert wine. Unlike many dessert wines, Luzon Dulce has the consistency of a regular wine and is not at all syrupy. And there is no need for added sugar as by the time the grapes are harvested, they are almost like raisins with a natural sweetness and minimal moisture.

Isidoro recommends pairing the Dulce with a chocolate dessert. “The chocolate coats your tongue and the wine isn’t heavy, so it’s a good combination,” he says. “Plus, there is a bitter note that complements the sweetness of the chocolate.”

Regional Pride
The Luzon winery was established in 1916 but produced primarily bulk wine until 2000 when they decided that it was a shame not to bottle their own wine as it was so good. In 2005, they built a new facility for the top-end wines, Selección and Altos.

The grapes are grown locally; there is a minimum of 50% Monastrell, the local varietal; and the winemaker, Luis Sanchez Sanchez, is also local. After working in Riojas for a number of years, Luis came to Luzon as he is from Jumilla and proud of Monastrell. It is his talent in balancing the different grape varietals that enables Luzon to proudly present their Jumilla wines to the world.

Photo Credit: VinExpo and vineyard: Bodegas Luzon, wine bottles: Fine Wines Sask

Friday, July 5, 2013

Seasoning Your Brand of Food or Wine

What do you get when you combine a love of words with a love of food or wine? A visual essay of brands and the stories they tell about their products.

Penny McKinlay, Communications Consultant

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lakeland Eateries

I recently spent three nights at Anglin Lake with my family and I was, as always, on the lookout for good places to eat. Here are a few that we discovered.

Yellow Fender Eatery, Christopher Lake
What a delight to find a place that serves not one but two vegetarian main courses. The Lentil-Walnut Veggie Burgers are excellent. There are also quesadillas. And there are picnic tables outside.

A review on Flora Bora Forest Lodging’s website provides additional information.

Angry Taco, Waskesiu
So, how can you resist a place that calls itself the Angry Taco? The décor is lots of fun, and we enjoyed the food. Don’t miss the cornbread, which was really good.

Copper Ridge Dining Room, Elk Ridge Resort
 For a more elegant meal in fancier surroundings, head just outside the park to Elk Ridge Resort. The high-ceilinged dining room looks out over a pond surrounded by woods.

We were very impressed to find that our waiter had spoken with the kitchen and made sure that there were several vegetarian options for us to choose from. The Mushroom Ravioli were really good, and they prepared a vegetarian pasta as well.

Elk Ridge

Shananigan’s, Prince Albert
After a rainy couple of days, we were delighted when the sun came out, and we could sit on the outdoor patio at Shananigan’s (2144 6th Avenue West, Prince Albert). The interior was really attractive as well and would be a cosy place for a hot drink and a good book on a rainy day.

I had cream of tomato and basil soup that was obviously made from scratch. Instead of blending everything together, it was a cream soup with chunks of tomato – absolutely delicious!

Where do you like to eat when you head north from Saskatoon to lake country?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 1, 2013

Old Friends 
It was great to catch up with some old friends this weekend. Kevin, formerly of Saskatoon Sous Chef, is now working full time at Earth Bound Bakery. Brad, also of Sous Chef, is using the kitchen facilities and helping out in a pinch.

Lunch at Boffin’s 
I had a great lunch at Boffin’s at Innovation Place last week – and there were 3 or 4 vegetarian main courses to choose from – I’m impressed!

My brother and I enjoyed the roasted bell pepper stuffed with toasted quinoa, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and sautéed spinach with a grilled asparagus and bean salad. My sister had the house-made gnocchi with roasted peach segments, fresh herbs, blue cheese and toasted pecans in a Champagne, shallot butter sauce, while Shelley had the stir fry with jalapeño ginger sauce and rice.

For dessert, the chefs had made their version of a coffee crisp chocolate bar, and it was excellent.

2nd Avenue 
I finally made it to Congress Beer House and will have to go back frequently if I’m to try all the different beers and ciders that they have on tap and in bottles.

I’ve heard that the goat cheese and veggie stuffed bun at Honey Bun Café is very good (thanks, Karen!). There appear to be different soup specials every day as well, and it looks like one of them is always vegetarian.

City Perks 
City Perks is now open from 7 am to 10 pm Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and 9 am to 6 pm on Sundays, with shorter hours on holidays. Their lunch menu of soup and quiche is also available in the evenings.

I was there a couple of times last week, and it was such a pleasant spot to sit and watch the sunlight dapple the trees.

Strawberries & Peas
Oh, I love it when the Saskatoon Farmers' Market starts stocking fresh seasonal produce. Saturday, I purchased asparagus, snow peas, strawberries and cherries. So good!

What Cheese Shall I Buy? 
I am so enjoying Herschel Hills’ locally-made cheese and make sure to sample all the different varieties when I’m at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

Sharon McDaniel will be delighted to tell you about her cheeses, but, if you’re feeling shy, here are some tips for getting the conversation rolling and deciding what cheese you want to buy this week.

Thank you, Shelley, for the great photo - will Saskatoon's food trucks be staffed by virgins?

Farming and Climate Change
Climate variability and crop adaptation, biofuels, and sustainable farming practices – these are just a few of the issues around farming and climate change.

Heading to BC 
I’m heading to BC for a couple of weeks and taking a break from my weekly postings. Flavourful Saskatoon will be back on July 29.

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).