Monday, April 28, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, April 28, 2014

I don’t venture out into the suburbs very often, but I did meet a friend for lunch at Brown’s Socialhouse last week. There aren’t a lot of vegetarian options, but the Veggie Burger is excellent – lots of sauce and cheese and lettuce and tomato in a fresh bun, and the burger has excellent taste and texture. I like the restaurant layout as well. Brown's is a small Canadian chain that originated in BC.

Two doors down from Brown’s Socialhouse is Mortal Sin Foods. They sell single-serving tarts, cakes and cheesecakes. I tried the Lemon Lime Tart and it was excellent. The crust was just the right thickness and it was nice and tangy. But my personal favorite was the Hazelnut Layer Cheesecake. It was light and fluffy like a mousse. The top layer was white chocolate with flecks of hazelnut, then there was a layer of chocolate, and finally a graham wafer crust. It was sweet but not too sweet, had lots of chocolate and hazelnut flavour, and melted in the mouth. It’s worth a trip to Stonebridge just to pick up dessert. There were lots of other options – carrot cake, tiramisu, dark chocolate cake….

I also stopped in at Hygeia. They appear to specialize in gluten-free products. I was intrigued by the Coconut Bacon and the Vegan Parmesan.

Evening Market, May 1
The Saskatoon Farmer’s Market will be holding a monthly evening market on the first Thursday of each month. The first is on May 1 from 4:30 to 9 pm. And I heard that Chef Jenni will be cooking!

Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen, April 30
Mary-Ann Kirkby will be launching her new book, Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen: Unveiling the Rituals, Traditions, and Food of the Hutterite Culture, at McNally Robinson on April 30 at 7 pm.

Churchill’s British Imports 
Brit Foods is re-opening in Saskatoon under a new name – Churchill’s British Imports – but has already run into trouble over the lack of bilingual labelling on some of the items in a recent shipment.

SK Sour Cherries
Canadian Cherry Producers Inc. has completed a study to measure the nutritional value of the sour cherry varieties developed at the University of Saskatchewan. All the cherries scored high for total antioxidants and far better than the sweet cherries, raspberries and green grapes tested.

The Canadian Cherry Producers are offering workshops in recognizing brown rot in Regina on May 2 and in Saskatoon on May 3. The public is welcome to attend.

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, April 23, 2014

Fiesta Pinoy: Colourful and Sweet

I noticed a new store – Fiesta Pinoy – at the corner of Clarence and 8th and decided to investigate. Some online research told me that the word “pinoy” is an informal name for Filipino people and the store was full of food from the Philippines as well as products prepared in a Filipino style.

I was surprised to discover a Filipino Style spaghetti sauce. Apparently, Filipinos add sugar to their spaghetti sauce, and it’s often served with sliced hot dogs as well as ground meat.

There were packages of small cakes in every colour of the rainbow, but I was particularly struck by the purple ones. There were also jars of sweet purple yam spread. Purple yam isn’t unique to the Philippines, but I learned (Jun-blog, Stories from my Filipino Kitchen) that Filipinos use it more than anyone else to flavour and colour their sweet treats and breads. Purple is the colour of a one hundred peso bill and making something purple to serve on New Year’s Eve is believed to bring prosperity.

The Pili tree is a hardy rain forest tree that is native to the Philippines. Pili nuts are supposed to have a rich, buttery flavour. They’re high in protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.

The jackfruit is the largest tree-born fruit in the world, weighing up to 80 pounds. Fiesta Pinoy sells cans of green jackfruit, which some people refer to as “vegetable meat” as it has a similar texture once it's cooked. I found recipes for Pulled Jackfruit Tacos, Portland Jackfruit Reubens, Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes, and Raw Vanilla Jackfruit Custard. Researchers say that the jackfruit may replace staple crops threatened by climate change as it’s easy to grow, survives pests, diseases, high temperatures, and drought.

I had never heard of mangosteen pericarp tea, so again I turned to the internet for further information. The pericarp is the rind of the mangosteen, a tropical fruit. It’s been used for medicinal purposes for generations in southeast Asia.

Fiesta Pinoy is owned by Jon Iacsamana who also runs a janitorial service, AMC Enterprises. He told me that his company had recently been hired to do the final clean-up of the new police station.

Fiesta Pinoy is located at 928 A – 8th Street East.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, April 21, 2014

 Roasted Chickpeas 
Three Farmers is testing a new product – roasted chickpeas. They’re currently considering the following flavours: Sea Salt & Lime, Balsamic & Cracked Pepper, Barbecue. I’m particularly eager to try the first two.

I visited Simon Reynolds at Souplicious Creations this past week. Of course, I had to pick up some sticky toffee pudding (amazingly generous portions). I also bought Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese soup and Minestrone. Yummy. If you’re in Avalon at lunch time, Souplicious is a great place to pick up a hot lunch.

Pedal Power
Check out this East Vancouver coffee shop. It serves organic, locally sourced groceries and fair trade meals. And you can you create your own electricity to power your laptop by pedalling.

Haute Cuisine
Imagine cooking for the president of France! Hortense Laborie did just that, serving the dishes her grandmother used to make. I highly recommend Haute Cuisine; it’s available on Netflix (with French sub-titles).

Labelling GMOs
Three states now require the labelling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. They are Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont. Vermont is the only state prepared to act on its own, and they expect to be sued by the food industry.

Palm Oil Isn’t the Enemy
Palm oil is highly productive, yielding 4-10 times more oil per hectare than other oilseed crops, including soybean and canola. But it’s seen as the enemy when it displaces Indonesian tropical forest and orangutans. The solution? As consumers we must demand certified sustainable palm oil from suppliers who have made a commitment to halting deforestation.

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, April 14, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, April 14, 2014

Films & Fermentation

I’m looking forward to attending the opening session of the Saskatoon Environmental Film Festival at 7 pm, April 24, at the Frances Morrison Library. Following a screening of the film Growing Cities, Noelle Chorney, Slow Food Saskatoon, will lead a workshop on fermentation. Participants will learn about the fermentation process, its health benefits, and get to taste a few samples as well as taking home a little fermentation project of their own.

At 7:30 pm, April 26, at the Roxy Theatre, you can watch GMO OMG, a look at how the loss of seed diversity and the growth of genetically modified food affects our health.

Saskatoon’s Terra Madre Delegate 
Photo credit: Daybreak Mill
Nicole Davis, Daybreak Mill, will be attending Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto on behalf of Slow Food Saskatoon.

The diversity of food producers and food products from around the world showcased at Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto is truly amazing. I’m thrilled that one of Saskatchewan’s young women farmers and business owners will have an opportunity to participate and share her story.

Daybreak Mill grows, cleans, mills, and processes a wide variety of organic grains, flours, and cereals. Flours are stoneground, resulting in high nutrition retention. Their products are available online as well as at stores such as Dad's Organic Market in Saskatoon.

Local Businesses
Meadowlark Farm near Elbow, SK, grows 20 varieties of heirloom garlic as well as an additional one-quarter acre of market vegetables and herbs. They don’t use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.

Photo credit: Meadowlark Farm

If you live in Regina, you may want to start purchasing sustainable farm products from The Farmers’ Table, a non-profit organization made up of independent family farmers working together to distribute their produce.

Closure of Cereal Research Centre
The federal government is closing the Cereal Research Centre and winding down all public funding for spring wheat breeding to make way for private sector investment. The National Farmers Union believes this will create a massive new revenue stream for large corporations, such as Bayer, Syngenta, Monsanto, and Dow, and will lead to higher seed prices and increased royalty costs for farmers.

Cheap, Organic Food? 
Walmart has partnered with Wild Oats to offer a line of cheap, organic goods. It sounds great, except organic food is more expensive because organic farmers can’t access the subsidies received by conventional farmers. Walmart’s decision may also encourage large-scale organic production, which tends to follow the bare minimum organic standards, depleting the soil, abandoning it, and moving on.

I’ll stick to buying as many products as possible from local farmers with small operations. I believe it’s my best option if I want to eat healthy food and protect the environment.

Quinoa Salad
Megan, the Gluten Free Vegan, a Saskatoon food blogger, posted a recipe for an Apple, Spinach & Dried Cherry Quinoa Salad that looks really tasty.

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, April 9, 2014

Petra Market: A Mediterranean Grocery

Tucked away in a strip mall on Primrose Drive (north of Lawson Heights Mall) is Petra Market, a treasure trove of food products from the Arabic countries in the Mediterranean. I’m fascinated by grocery stores full of unknown-to-me products but also a little nervous about trying things, so I was really happy when Nour Dabbour, the owner of Petra Market, showed me around and told me about the different items.

Nour is trying to stock products from as many Middle Eastern countries as possible. He even stocks the same product from a number of different countries because he says that each country’s product tastes slightly different. Za’atar, a spice mix, is a prime example with packages from Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and each one is a slightly different colour with a slightly different taste.

The most popular areas of the store are the nut and treats bars with an amazing assortment of Middle Eastern candies and mildly spiced nuts. Nour gave me a variety to try and I’m really enjoying them. The giant, cheese-covered cashews are my absolute favorite. The candied fruit looks like European glacĂ© fruits but is quite different. The fruit has been dried whole and then preserved in a honey syrup, so there is still a pit in the apricot and a stem on the crab apple. They’re really tasty and not too sweet; I’ll be going back for more.

Nuts are popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, so there are nuts in the nougat and halvah, as well as nuts to add to rice dishes, and mildly spiced nuts for snacking. The three most popular nuts in the Middle East are cashews, almonds and pistachios.

The candies are really interesting as they offer different combinations of jelly (as in Turkish Delight), nougat and fruit. Then they’re usually rolled in nuts, but there is one that is rolled in rose petals. You can also buy a jar of rose petals to make tea. Mixed herbs and rose petals are a traditional remedy for stomachache.

The Arabic countries have a long history of pickling vegetables in order to preserve them. I was fascinated by the pickled wild cucumber from Lebanon, the pickled thyme and the pickled okra. Nour says that many of his store’s products come from Lebanon, which is a major food producer in the region.

If you like to experiment in the kitchen, you’ll find lots of ingredients that are hard to find anywhere else. There are grape leaves and grenadine molasses, green raisins from the Persian Gulf to be used in rice dishes, lots of beans (lupins, fava, chickpeas, lentils), frozen okra and molokhia, and much, much more.

You can buy a huge variety of different spices, and Nour says that the spice mixes are particularly popular. The mixes are blends of 5-7 spices that work well together when marinating meat or fish, making falafel or egg dishes.

I definitely recommend visiting Petra Market (Bay 6-A – 234 Primrose Drive). There are all sorts of tasty products to discover and Nour Dabbour is a charming, helpful host who will happily answer any questions you may have.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, April 7, 2014

Wayward Ginger 
Take a look at Jasmin Fookes’ Wayward Ginger podcasts. Jasmin talks with food entrepreneurs across North America. In the most recent episode, she talks to Ashala Daniel of Three Feet Below, an organic canning CSA in Richmond, BC.

Three Feet Below [sea level] sell a variety of products, ranging from Rosemary Pear Preserves to Pickled Oyster Mushrooms and Kimchi.

Southern Prairie Railway 
I would love to take a trip on the Southern Prairie Railway, an old-fashioned steam train with a 1922 Pullman passenger car that runs from Ogema to Horizon. This year’s trips include Art and History in Southern Saskatchewan, an overnight trip with a wine and food pairing in the Shurniak Art Gallery; the Pangman Market Train which departs every Saturday morning; a Pitchfork Fondue; and the Train Eggs-travaganza Brunch. Doesn’t it sound like fun!

Grape Expectations 
A young couple with two young children decide to invest all their savings to buy a vineyard in France. Grape Expectations by Caro Feely is the story of the blood, gut and tears that they invest in their organic, biodynamic winery.

“We couldn’t afford new things, the girls had hand-me-down clothes, as did I, Sean’s gear was more hole than cloth, but we were living and feeling more deeply than ever before. . . . We were taking a risk but we were living. This was not the safe option but it was our option. It was more than a job. It was our lives. Yes, there were no weekends off but there was also fulfillment that you could not put a price on. Not only that, we were living our philosophy, contributing to what we believed in through our organic practices.”

The book reminded me of how much I admire Saskatoon’s food entrepreneurs who give their all in providing us with fresh, flavourful, healthy products. Thank you.

If you can’t get enough of reading about France, Martin Walker writes a mystery series set in the same area of France as the Feely’s winery, Chateau Haut Garrigue. His most recent book is The Resistance Man. Never fear! There are lots of descriptions of French food and wine!

Tottenham’s Local Cheesemaker
Here’s another awesome local entrepreneur who quit his job as a management consultant to make and sell cheese. And his goal isn’t to get rich – it’s to serve his local community:

“I want to be an artisan producer to my neighbourhood, not a supplier for the whole country, so turn down a lot of non-London sales. For me, it's about reaffirming a sense of locality. Where I live might've had a bad press in recent years, but I'm so happy to have been able to build my business in my own community – I've always been here to stay.”

Mexican Cheese Myths
I consider myself a cheese aficionado, but I have a lot to learn about Mexican cheese. This article on the myths about Mexican cheese is a good starting point.

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).