Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Day at the Seaside

Norwich is very close to the North Sea so I decided to spend a day at the seaside.

I thoroughly enjoyed my ride on the top of a double decker bus. It takes 40 minutes to reach Great Yarmouth and there was so much to see: forested areas and fields, stone churches and old-fashioned windmills, shaggy ponies and a very self-assured rooster. There were glimpses of the canals and boats of the Norfolk Broads – happy memories of the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome.

Great Yarmouth used to be a major fishing and shipping port when Norwich was the centre of England’s cloth manufacturing trade. It now services the natural gas industry and is a tourist centre.

To an outsider, there is something quintessentially tacky about England’s seaside resorts. I cringe imagining the full English breakfasts being cooked in row after row of guest houses. The streets are lined with souvenir shops and restaurants of every nationality imaginable – not to mention Flutterbie’s Tea Room and the Fallen Angels Lapdancing Club. There’s a fun fair on the pier, a rollerskating rink and several mini golf courses.

For the British, I’m sure it brings back happy childhood memories. And I delighted in the sunshine and fresh breeze. Almost half the stands at the market were selling chips, and I couldn’t resist buying a cone – hot chips on a frosty morning followed by a hot chocolate at a beach café. What a great way to end the year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, Dec. 29, 2014

As you look ahead to 2015, consider attending one or both of these events.

Saskatoon Food Bank Community Consultation, Feb. 4
The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre welcomes your input at their community consultation on Feb. 4:

“At the SFBLC we believe it’s time to look at the issue of community food security with a new lens. For the past year we have been exploring new way of operating that expand our impact beyond redistributing of food and programmatic responses. We believe that by transforming the way our food bank functions we can enhance our contribution to a healthy food system, expand learning opportunities, strengthen social connections and build community wellness. We all want to live in a community where food banks are unnecessary. A community where everyone has access to safe, appropriate, nutritious food. How can we progress to that end?” 

For additional information, contact

Terra Madre St. Laurent & Slow Food Canada National Meeting
Slow Food Canada will be holding its annual meeting from April 23-26 in Montreal. The meeting will be held in conjunction with Terra Madre St. Laurent, the first regional meeting of food communities for northeast America.

There will be 24 Earth workshops (forums), 10 Conferences, 8 Taste workshops, and an exhibit space for local and international Slow Food projects. Here’s the registration information.

Preeceville Restaurant 
A Facebook friend invited me to like Vesela’s International Kitchen in Preeceville. It looks attractive. If you live near there, do check it out and let me know what you think.

Vegan Butchers
There are now at least 4 vegan butchers in Australia, Canada and the United States. It will be interesting to see how they evolve:

“Some people don’t care much for meat and can happily switch teams, but others — the vast majority of us — love the taste of burgers and ribs and Italian sausage with fervor. By identifying their products by what’s not in them (“meat-free meat”), or their businesses by something they’re not doing (animal butchery), these vegan alternatives are fighting a battle that seems difficult to win. It’ll be interesting to see whether they evolve to be more than imitations of beloved foods; the day when we can lose the scare quotes and stand proudly by what they are, not what they’re replacing.” 

300-Year-Old Persimmon Beer 
Craft breweries love to experiment, so many of them are trying out historic recipes, such as one for beer made with persimmons:

“It’s a fun idea; you not only get to play around with recipes and combinations and procedures you may not have tried before, but you also get a sense for what people were drinking way back when — and in turn, how they were living.” 

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, December 28, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Walk in Norwich

 It was sunny today, so I went for a walk along the River Wensum.

Cow Tower

Ferry Lane

I ended up at Norwich Cathedral.


Julian of Norwich

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Shopping in Norwich

I've been enjoying the sights and sounds of holiday crowds in Norwich's town centre. I continue to be amazed by the crowds of pedestrians.

In addition, there are street vendors (roasted chestnuts) and musicians.

Narrow lanes create a tangled web of passageways leading in every which direction. There are lots of independent stores as well as the typical British chain stores.

I had tea at Caffe Nero yesterday. It's part of a chain, but my tea was served in style on a tray and I could have had a jug of steamed milk (the British are always surprised that I don't want milk in my tea).

I've spent the last few days picking up assorted food items to enjoy over the next few days. Marks and Spencers was crowded, but it was worth it.

I love English yogurt - such a variety of flavours - the 12% cream is tasty too!

I bought a variety of local cheeses at the market as well as bread, fresh dates and apricots. A bunch of dark pink tulips brightens my work table.

I munched on a grilled halloumi and guacamole sandwich outside on a bench. It's a long time since I've been able to eat lunch outdoors on Christmas Eve!

Wishing all of you a happy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

England: Food and Immigrants

I’m spending seven weeks house sitting in England. As always, travel is a learning experience.

Strangers in a Strange Land
I spent a week visiting my cousins in Lincolnshire, which is a major agricultural area. There are fields full of vegetables and spring wheat. The roads are packed with trucks carrying produce to market and factories for food processing. And the food production plants are many and huge.

Farming and food production require large numbers of workers, so Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas have large immigrant populations. There is tension. Working and housing conditions can be very poor, and the British often resent the foreign-speaking people who crowd their streets.

Low-Income Neighbourhood
Immigration was only of passing interest until I moved to Norwich to house and dog sit for a young Portuguese couple who were going home to spend Christmas with their families. They’ve been here for 4 years, working in a food production facility (they warned me not to eat the products), but England is not and likely never will be home.

They are a lovely couple and welcomed me to their home with a meal out and a Christmas present, but they are seen as foreigners and find it difficult to become part of British society.

I’m staying in a low-income neighbourhood. The streets are lined with terrace houses (long and narrow – just one room wide) and many are in very poor condition. The population density in this area is astounding and it’s easily visible in the number of pedestrians and the vast number of pubs, small restaurants and convenience stores.

There is a shopping centre, but two thirds of the stores are cut-price dollar stores. It’s cheap stuff that people can afford to buy, but it won’t last, so they will be caught in a perpetual cycle of replacing it with more cheap stuff.

I was feeling a little sorry for myself because I would be spending Christmas in a somewhat unattractive place. But I went to a church service in Norwich Cathedral on Sunday evening and was reminded that Joseph and Mary were strangers in a strange land and Jesus was born in a stable.

Whether or not you are Christian, there’s a lesson there for all of us to try and walk a mile in another person’s shoes before judging them. They may speak a different language, but they’re willing to do jobs that many of us would refuse to accept.

P.S. Don't get me wrong. I’m having a fabulous time in England. I love the old buildings, the food, the politically incorrect television programs – and the fact that I can buy tulips and daffodils at outdoor markets! More news to follow.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Flavourful Christmas Greetings from England

No big news this week so I thought I’d share a few photos from my English adventure.

This photo is for Michelle Zimmer, Wild Serendipity Foods

Here are a couple of photos from the Spalding Market for all my friends at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

I have been staying in an old cottage surrounded by fields full of cabbages, Brussel sprouts and leeks.

The land is extremely flat (flatter than the Prairies) as it has been recovered from the sea. Last winter there were flood warnings as the dykes and ditches overflowed their banks.

These Brussel sprouts are sure to have come from a local farmer’s field.

The weather has been mild, so I sat and read in the garden behind Ayscoughfee Hall, Spalding.

Wishing you all a happy, peaceful Christmas with friends and family – and lots of good food!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 15, 2014

Norwich Market

Prairie Sun Brewery Kitchen Opening, Dec. 16 
Tom Brown, Wild Cuisine Catering, has opened a kitchen at Prairie Sun Brewery, so you can enjoy a meal along with your beer. The launch of the Moose Tracks beer and the kitchen opening are being celebrated with a 3-course beer dining menu on Dec. 16.

Vegan New Year’s Eve Dinner, Dec. 31 
The Odd Couple restaurant will be serving a five-course vegan New Year’s Eve dinner (and a 5-course Oriental menu), including Stuffed Asian Eggplant, Hot Pot, and Dark Chocolate Jin Duei.

Beer & Pizza 
The Woods Alehouse has started a crowdfunding campaign to help them purchase a pizza oven. Perks range from a piece of pie to a pizza party.

Norwich Market

Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks
Vancouver’s neighbourhood food networks are collaborating on food initiatives and programs – from community gardens to emergency food programs and food-based education and celebrations. It's interesting to see neighbourhoods (as opposed to cities or government organizations) taking responsibility for food.

BC Ice Wines 
2014 is a good year for BC’s ice wines. “When asked about the outlook for this year’s harvest CEO of Summerhill, Ezra Cipes, commented that, ‘to make outstanding Icewine you need to start with outstanding grapes, and 2014 was one of the best Okanagan growing seasons ever. Now to have this cold snap so early in November, and harvest our Icewine grapes before the birds get them is making us all smile and sing around the winery. This is a blessed vintage.”

Ordinary People Can Make a Difference 
One palm-oil trader after another has committed to halting deforestation in response to public pressure. Here’s how and why the consumer lobby movement has succeeded.

Norwich covered market is open 6 days a week

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, December 8, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 8, 2014

Paddock Wood is 10 Years Old! 
Congratulations to Steve Cavan and Paddock Wood Brewing on their 10th anniversary. They’re offering Growler Specials from Dec. 8-12.

Read my profile for a look at the company’s evolution.

Boxcar Café 
The Boxcar Café at Station 20 West is re-launching January 5 with Chef Jenni (@newgroundcafe) as Executive Chef. I wish them every success.

The Night Oven Bakery 
It’s that wonderful time of year when the bakeries are full of seasonal goodies. The Night Oven Bakery is offering panettone and stollen made from organic flour, citrus, sugar and nuts with natural yeast. Pre-order and pre-pay to pick up on Saturdays, Dec. 13, 20 and 24.

Riversdale Deli 
The new vegetarian sandwich at Riversdale Deli sounds intriguing – sweet ‘n spicy melon puree, sherry vinegar roasted carrots, and toasted fennel polenta. If you sample it, please report back as I’m very curious.

Cappana Pizzeria is now on Facebook and Twitter (@yxepizza). They’ll be opening soon.

English Flavours
I leave for 7 weeks in England on Wednesday. I’ve arranged housesitting gigs through Trusted Housesitters in Norwich and Winchcombe. From a brick rowhouse in a cathedral town to a picturesque Anglo Saxon village in the Cotswolds – it should be fun! I promise to report regularly on pub lunches, bakeries and gargoyles.

Colman’s Mustard got its start in Norwich in 1815. 60% of the seeds are still locally sourced. Check out their ads.

Christopher Merret (1614-1695) was born and raised in Winchcombe. An English physician and scientist, he was the first to document the deliberate addition of sugar for the production of sparkling wine – 20 years before Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk, introduced champagne.

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, December 1, 2014

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 1, 2014

Only 9 days until I leave for 7 weeks in England!

Night Market, Dec. 4 
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market will be bustling with activity on Dec. 4 from 4:30-8 pm. Chef Jenni will be cooking in the kitchen and Amy Jo Ehman will be selling copies of her new book, Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens.

Vikram Vij, Feb. 26 
Vikram Vij – chef, producer, and the newest dragon on The Dragon’s Den – will be the guest speaker at the Raj Manek Banquet on Feb. 26.

You can buy Vij’s curries at Dad’s Organic Market on 8th Street.

Vegetable Fermentation Seminar, Feb. 27
The Saskatchewan Food Centre will be offering a Fermentation of Vegetables Seminar on Feb. 27. It will cover spontaneous fermentation, accelerated lactic fermentation and commercial franchise.

Lots of treats available at Churchill's British Imports

Locally-Grown Mustard 
Marc Loiselle, Loiselle Organic Family Farm, is supplying ground yellow mustard seed to several Saskatoon customers, including Congress Beerhouse, Riversdale Delicatessen, and The Night Oven. Locally grown and locally made!

Marc says, “It's a chore milling it up as we do it in small batches now using our Nutribullet (the old Krups coffee mill burned out doing it earlier this week)”.

High Tech Cheese 
Cheese-making is a fascinating combination of technology and personal creativity. You never know what flavour Sharon McDaniel of Herschel Hills will come up with next (the Tele Gouda with Herbs is fabulous). However, like the majority of artisan cheesemakers in North America, she relies on technology to assist her.

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).