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.