Monday, July 28, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 28, 2014

Phillip’s Beer Tasting, Aug. 13 
Boffin’s is hosting a Fare & Ale event from 5-8 pm, August 13, featuring beer from Phillip’s Brewing in Victoria, BC. The food isn’t vegetarian, but I highly recommend the beer. I’ve visited Phillip’s Brewing; they have good beer and a great sense of humour.

Food Truck Festival, Sept. 6
YXE Street Food is organizing Street Meet, a gathering of Saskatoon’s nine food trucks on September 6. Their website provides a list of all the food trucks and they tweet their locations to help you find them.

Farmers’ Market Dinner, Sept. 20
Chef Jenni Willems is hosting a series of four Solstice dinners at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. I attended the first dinner in May and enjoyed good food and good conversation. The solstice marks a seasonal turning point and is such an appropriate time to pause and appreciate local, seasonal food.

The May dinner was all about rhubarb (tiny chunks in the salad were memorable). The fall dinner will take place on September 20 and the theme is From the Shield to the Field, so it will obviously commemorate our provincial diversity.

Chef Jenni is compiling the recipes and planning to publish a cookbook. Recipes from past tastings and dinners are available on the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market website.

Taste-It Food Tours 
Patti Rodger, a retired principal, has started offering Saskatchewan food tours. The Moose Jaw tours have already started, to be followed by Regina in early August, with plans for Saskatoon at a later date.

The Moose Jaw walking tour includes luncheon (Thursday) or dinner (Tuesday) tours with samples at seven food establishments.

Yorkton – Dad’s Organic Grocery 
The Yorkton branch of Dad’s Organic Grocery has re-opened.

Street Food
I attended Market Fest in Nelson, BC, last Friday and was most impressed by the diversity of food that was on offer. It ranged from burgers and crepes to quesadillas, pad thai and pizza.

I couldn’t resist trying out the individual pizzas made from local, organic, seasonal ingredients and cooked in a wood-burning oven on the Gypsy Wagon. Dessert was organic cotton candy.

Mobile pizza ovens must be a growing trend as I learned that Edmonton has a vintage fire truck outfitted with a wood-burning brick oven. (via Only Here for the Food)

Preserving Seasonal Food 
Local Food in the Kitchen workshops will teach East Kootenay, BC, residents how to preserve seasonal produce. The workshop series is comprehensive, ranging from pickles and jam to teas, apple cider vinegar and fermented condiments. It would be great to see something similar in Saskatoon.

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, July 23, 2014

Scout Mex Hall and Food Truck

Sierra McCann was on holiday in Hawaii with her family and enjoying impromptu meals from the local food trucks. She laughed and said that she was going to drop out of university and start a food truck. It was a joke – until it became a reality.

The Scout Mex Hall and Food Truck has been in operation since May offering Tex-Mex style burritos. I was delighted to see that half the menu was vegetarian with interesting options such as The Naturalist with yam, cheese, beans, rice, fresh salsa, sour cream, and lettuce.

Sierra says she has been a vegetarian for 10 years and Tex-Mex has always been her go-to food when she wanted a quick meal. She loves the food trucks in Vancouver and admires Sailin’ On, Edmonton’s vegan food truck. She decided to do something similar although she didn’t think Saskatoon was ready for an all vegan/vegetarian food truck just yet, so she also has some meat options (The Aviator chicken burrito is proving to be very popular.)

Sierra picked up her food truck in Vancouver and did the wrap herself with help from Hardpressed. The truck’s name is a play on words and all the menu items are named after Boy Scout badges.

Sierra chose vegetarian items that could be vegan without losing any of the flavour. The Lentil and Walnut Ground is her own recipe, and the guacamole and salsa are homemade.

Sierra’s brother, Thane McCann, is helping her out for the summer. “It’s my first summer job,” he says. “People think it’s easy as they only see us selling for a couple of hours a day, but the hard, busy part is the preparation. We are up at 6 to make everything, pack, and find parking. Afterwards we have to clean up, go home, and start prep. for the next day.”

Scout Mex Hall sells approximately 130 burritos a day. There’s an initial rush at 12 noon followed by what Sierra refers to as Lunch 2.0 at 1 or 1:30. The food truck hours are from 11:30 until food runs out from Tuesday to Saturday, although during the Jazz Festival they were open in the evenings during the week and for lunches on weekends. They’ve been invited to set up at The Fringe.

Sierra hopes to stay open late into the fall. She is also daydreaming about hitting the road and continuing to operate during the winter, although the truck isn’t winterized and can get really cold.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 21, 2014

I was on the road this past week, so here is a flavourful assortment from across the Prairies.

I had company this past week and we had excellent meals at three different restaurants:

Odd Couple Restaurant on 20th Street for a look at how Saskatoon is evolving

The Woods Ale House for local beer and a large selection of vegetarian options

Boffin’s at Innovation Place for a quiet meal in a peaceful garden setting (be sure to take the time to admire the flowers)

Hafford, SK
AM Bistro & Bakery in Hafford is a real gem. They opened at the beginning of July and have an excellent selection of homemade pies. I wish they had some vegetarian options on the menu, but I suspect they would improvise if asked. There’s seating indoors as well as on the wraparound porch.

Pincher Creek, AB
I had a very brief overnight stay in Pincher Creek on my way west. The flower displays (see above) are outstanding and maintained by volunteers. I also enjoyed the murals on the Legion Hall depicting families waiting for those who went to war.

The bakery looked attractive but wasn’t open (despite the hours posted on the door) when I stopped by on my way out of town.

Nelson, BC
I stocked up on groceries at one of my favorite stores on Sunday – the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, BC. They have a wonderful deli section with everything from soup and salad to cookies and cake. They are open 7 days a week from 7:30 am to 9 pm – amazing!

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, July 14, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 14, 2014

New Businesses 
Drift Sidewalk Café hopes to open in October next door to Escape Sports. In the meantime, they plan to launch a popsicle bike. Sounds like fun – especially if we have a hot summer.

I know next to nothing about Guerilla Coffee YXE who just started following me on Twitter. They appear to be planning pop-up coffee stands offering “guerilla coffee.” If you can tell me more, please do, as I’m curious.

I had a chance to visit with Tempest Besse of Tempest's Gourmet Grub and sample her curried coconut squash soup and quinoa salad as well as her raw vegan Amaze Balls and brownies. They were all really good and made with local, organic ingredients with lots of health benefits.

Tempest would like to open a coffee shop one day. In the meantime, you can contact her to cater an event.

Tempest will be offering free samples of her wares from 11 to 2 on July 19 and 26 at the 33rd Street Market.

International Farmers Market
The International Farmers' Market & Bazaar (formerly located in the basement of St. James Anglican Church) has moved to a new place and time. Starting this Tuesday, July 15, they will be located at Grace Westminster Church on 10th Street East, just off Broadway, from 11 am to 6 pm. (via Cake Witch Cafe)

Purple Pea Pods
I’m a sucker for anything new. And if it’s purple, that’s even better! So I had to try the purple snow peas (Shiraz) from Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens. They are sweet and tender when lightly cooked. And so pretty!

Three Farmers Roasted Chickpeas
Three Farmers has published a fascinating account of how they developed their newest product: Roasted Chickpeas. I am so looking forward to trying them.

Uncle Mike’s All Natural Products 
I’ve been using Uncle Mike’s Chili Lime Basil Soap, which he says he created in honour of his brother who is a chef. The fragrance is light but lingers and Mike says this is because he uses essential oils, not artificial fragrances.

Mike also reassured me that he purchases his palm oil through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Large-scale palm oil plantations have caused widespread deforestation in the tropics so this was reassuring.

Au Soleil Levant French Canadian Bakery, Nelson, BC
BC Bound 
I’m heading to Nelson, BC at the end of the week, so I’m sure I’ll be posting some BC stories, especially on Facebook. But there will be lots of Saskatoon news as well as I have three or four new business profiles just waiting to be written and posted.

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 10, 2014

Good Food and Drink in Canmore and Banff

I recently spent three days in Canmore and really enjoyed the mix of interesting main street stores and restaurants and trails along the creeks and rivers. Here are a few places that I enjoyed eating and shopping.

El Cafecito
El Cafecito is a brand-new coffee shop just off the main street. The owner is from Mexico City and offers a variety of simple Mexican dishes (limited vegetarian options) as well as a full range of coffee and tea. I loved the clean white décor, the friendly staff, and excellent wifi.

Tapas Restaurant
Tapas is a lovely small restaurant with a wide range of small plates for sharing. The rich chocolate dessert was amazing. Be sure to make a reservation as they fill up fast.

Murrieta’s Bar and Grill is on the second floor with big windows on two sides overlooking the mountains. I enjoyed my Cauliflower Pappardelle with a glass of Black Muscat from Quady Winery for dessert.

Communitea Café
Communitea Café offers really healthy breakfast and lunch options. I had a Buddha Bowl, an enormous serving of marinated tofu, spinach, brown rice, shredded beets, carrots, sprouts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds with a rich tahini garlic dressing.

Café Books
Café Books has a broad selection of books. If you go exploring, you’ll find that they have a small collection of secondhand books and a tea shop on the lower level. The cupcakes are designed especially for them.

Grizzly Paw Brewing Company 
Grizzly Paw Brewing Company offers guided tours of their brewery on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (be sure to reserve in advance). The guide is extremely informative; there are lots of tastings (they make both beer and soda); and we even sampled the different varieties of malt that they use.

Mountain Mercato 
Allow lots of time for browsing in Mountain Mercato. They also have a small coffee shop.

I took the bus from Canmore and spent a day in Banff. There are lots more tourists than in Canmore, but I enjoyed a walk on the Fenland Trail and found some excellent places to shop and eat.

Wild Flour Bakery and Café
Wild Flour Bakery and Café offers organic bread made from local ingredients as well as a full line of baked goods, snacks and meals. Very delicious!

Banff Tea Co. 
The shelves of the Banff Tea Co. are lined with jars, waiting for you to sniff and enjoy. They make a wide range of exclusive tea blends. My current favorite is Pink Grapefruit (white tea, rosebuds, orange peel, natural flavour), which is light and refreshing for summer. My sister in law really likes their chai blend.

Nourish Vegetarian Bistro
Imagine my delight to find a vegetarian restaurant just down the street from Wild Flour Bakery. I had a burger and a beer from Phillips Brewing Company in Victoria.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, July 7, 2014

Tempest’s Gourmet Grub 
Tempest Besse is a trained chef and holistic nutritionist. Tempest's Gourmet Grub is offering cooking classes and catering. Her menu includes a variety of vegan, gluten-free soups and baked goods. Let me know if you've sampled her wares.

Mama G’s Authentic Nigerian Cuisine Crowdfunding Campaign 
Grace Mbuekor grew up on her grandparents’ farm in Nigeria and is a strong supporter of local, chemical-free food. She’s undertaken a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to finance a restaurant in Saskatoon.

You can learn more about Grace's story in this Saskatoon StarPhoenix article.

Local Food Celebration, Aug. 15
The Saskatoon Food Council is hosting a Local Food Celebration showcasing local food producers in Osler on August 15. Dinner will be prepared by members of the Saskatoon Chefs' Association, and you'll have a chance to talk to local food producers.

Prairie Cherry Dinner, Aug. 19 
Prairie Ink Restaurant at McNally Robinson Booksellers is hosting a Prairie Cherry Dinner on August 19. Every course will feature prairie-grown cherries. The University of Saskatchewan breeders who developed the prairie cherry and the authors of Cooking with Cherries from the Prairies will speak.

Olive Odyssey 
In Olive Odyssey: Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit that Seduced the World, author Julie Angus and her family sail around the Mediterranean in search of the history and origin of the olive. It’s a good read.

Summer Cooking
If you’re looking for some fresh ideas for supper, here are a few that I thought looked interesting:

4 Perfect Veggie Burgers

Quick Aubergine Tagine with Bulgur Wheat Pilaf

Fennel recipes (from Fennel Masala to Fennel Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette) – Peasant’s Pick, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, usually has fennel later in the summer

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).