Thursday, February 26, 2015

Capanna Pizzeria: Comfort Food in a Warm, Welcoming Environment

Pizza is one of my very favorite foods and, when it’s being prepared by the folks who run Riversdale Deli, I know it’s going to be good.

Capanna Pizzeria is located around the corner from Riversdale Deli. Big windows facing east mean that the restaurant is full of sunshine, a welcome sight on one of our cold, wintery days.

Passing by on the street, you can watch the chefs rolling out the pizza dough. Step through the door, and you’ll feel right at home. This isn’t a big, intimidating restaurant. There’s bench seating under the window and a scattering of wooden tables and chairs.

Behind the marble-topped bar is a brick wall lined with bottles of wine and there’s a mural of Italy on the wall in the kitchen area. The kitchen is open so you can chat with Chef Darby Kells and have a look at the pizza oven.

The pizza oven is hi-tech fancy. It has three different heating sources, all of which can be individually controlled. The rotating stone disc heats the pizza crust from below; there’s another heat source up above to cook the pizza toppings; and the flickering flames in the back are designed to ensure that the edges of the crust are cooked to perfection. It’s self-ventilated so the chefs aren’t roasting.

You won’t be kept waiting for your food as pizzas bake in one and a half minutes!

Riversdale Delicatessen prides itself on stocking the finest local and international ingredients. You’ll find that same attention to quality at Capanna Pizzeria.

The tomato sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes and the pizzas are topped with fresh, locally-grown basil from Floating Gardens.

If you like the buffalo mozzarella on your pizza, you can probably take some home with you from the Deli, along with OO flour from Italy, garlic from Elbow (Meadowlark Farm) and fresh greens from Biggar (Jenn's Garden).

Some Saskatoon restaurants offer great food, but their wine list is disappointing. I was delighted to find that Capanna offers a great selection of international wines, all distributed by Doug Reichel, Fine Wines Sask.

Beer drinkers will be pleased to find Nokomis Craft Ales are available on tap, and the gin and vodka are from Lucky Bastard Distillers.

There are five kinds of pizza, a calzone, a variety of appetizers and two desserts. Vegetarians have several different choices.

Cathy and I tried the Margarita and the Wild Mushroom pizzas. The crusts are thin and crisp, and not overdone, which can be a problem in other restaurants. The tomato sauce was lovely and the tart, fresh arugula and basil were an excellent counterpoint.

I recommend Capanna Pizzeria and will definitely be making a return visit. It’s the kind of place I’d feel very comfortable coming on my own for a meal or a glass of wine and an appetizer, but it’s also a great place to go as a couple or with a group of friends.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 23, 2015

Solar Gardens products available at The Prairie Pantry

Urban Ag Films, Feb. 27
The Saskatoon Found Council will be showing the 10 finalist films in this year’s Real Food Media Project at 7 pm, Feb. 27, at Station 20 West. The films showcase individuals who are building a sustainable food system.

Fermentation for Gut Health Workshop, Feb. 27 
Esther Beazer will be offering a Fermentation for Gut Health workshop at The Refinery from 6-9 pm, February 27. There will be another workshop on March 14.

Museo @ Mendel Closing 
The Mendel Art Gallery branch of Museo Coffee will be closing at the end of February. I’ll miss going there.

Saskatchewan-grown quinoa at The Prairie Pantry

Dine in the Dark, Mar. 5 
The CNIB is hosting a Dine in the Dark fundraising dinner at the Parktown Hotel on March 5. You’ll be blindfolded, so the focus will be on the smells, sounds, tastes and textures.

Saskatchewan Organic has a new name and a new Facebook page.

Cauliflower Madness 
“Every winter stands manned by farmers pop up along most of the West Bank’s winding roads …. This is zahara baladi, an ancient local cultivar that takes a full year to grow and is in season for just a few weeks. The plant has a nice, mustardy hue; the flavour is well-rounded, sweet and earthy and the texture irresistibly creamy.” (The Economist)

Organic, Canadian spices with less packaging at The Prairie Pantry

Do It Yourself 
From using a popcorn popper to roast coffee to grinding your own flour and flakes, there’s a whole range of handy, electricity-free devices.

Multi-Stakeholder Food Co-op 
Oregon’s Our Table Cooperative “goes beyond the “know your farmer” ethos of the local food movement to create an environment where you know your cheese maker, truck driver, and grocery store attendant too. In Our Table’s cooperative, people in different parts of the food world work together, negotiate with each other, and share decision-making—all with the intention of creating a fairer and healthier system." (Yes! Magazine)

From Fish to Okra 
When the Vietnamese community near New Orleans could no longer fish because of the BP oil spill, they set up a farming cooperative. (Modern Farmer)

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). 

Solar Gardens oil and vinegar at The Prairie Pantry

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Morning Walk in Salisbury, England

I’ve been visiting family friends in Salisbury for over 40 years, and there are certain places that I try to visit each time I’m there.

A first stop is surely the Cathedral Close. The 404-foot stone spire of Salisbury Cathedral is the tallest in England, and there is a large open-air cloister.

Parks span one side of the Cathedral and you can walk across the water meadows to the old mill in Harnham.

Now a hotel, Harnham Mill is a 15th century building with features dating back to 1250.

Salisbury received a royal charter to hold an outdoor market in 1227, and it has been held continuously ever since.

There are also some lovely old pubs in Salisbury where you can sit and drink tea or cider or have a meal.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Cotswolds: Tewkesbury


Unlike the small villages I visited elsewhere in the Cotswolds, Tewkesbury is a busy town and there were throngs of shoppers on the high street during my Saturday visit.

Tewkesbury is renowned for its medieval black and white buildings, as will quickly become obvious from my photographs.

It’s an ancient settlement founded at the meeting of the Severn and Avon rivers.

The location must have made it ideal for shipping goods by water, as indicated by the large warehouses beside the river.

The canal boats point to the rivers’ popularity for recreational cruising nowadays.

My primary reason for going to Tewkesbury was to visit Tewkesbury Abbey.

Tewkesbury Abbey was founded in 1087 and building commenced in 1102.

The ribs of the roof are decorated with an outstanding array of ornately carved stone bosses. I can see why one person told me I should lie on the floor to admire it as there is so much detail.

The ceiling is also brightly coloured and there is a lovely tiled floor above the altar.

While at the Abbey, I followed the Green Man trail, looking for the carvings surrounded by foliage that were located all over the ceiling and pillars as well as on the central gate. Green Men are regarded by some as a fertility symbol, a carryover from earlier pagan religions. Others believe they represent Lust, one of the seven deadly sins. They fascinate me as they are such a direct link between humans and the natural world.

I had a lovely lunch at The Bell Hotel and enjoyed my wander around the town.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 16, 2015

Citizen Cafe & Bakery

Capanna Pizzeria 
Riversdale Deli hopes to open Capanna Pizzeria on Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Winemaking: Farming and Art, Feb. 22 
Doug Reichel, Fine Wines Sask, will be talking about the connection between quality food and quality wine at the Slow Food Salon, 1:30-3 pm, Sunday, February 22, at The Local Coffee Bar.

Doug says, "In many ways, Saskatchewan people have much in common with the vintners and winemakers of the world because we live close to the world of agriculture. We share the same interest in the soil, weather patterns, and yield. The world's better winemaking is a juxtaposition of farming and art."

Doug Reichel, Fine Wines Sask

Grants for Urban Agriculture, Environment, Recreation 
The Co-op will contribute up to $1 million annually to support urban agriculture, environmental conservation, and recreation spaces in western Canada. Applications must be submitted online between April 1 and May 15.

Saskatoon Ferments 
Share ideas with other Saskatoon residents who ferment their own food in a new Facebook Group, Saskatoon Ferments.

SK Seedy Saturdays
Seedy Saturdays are happening around the province: Regina, Feb. 28; Moose Jaw, Mar. 1; Saskatoon, Mar. 7; Yorkton, Mar. 14.
Citizen Cafe & Bakery

The University’s Own Breakfast Cereal 
Chef James McFarland, Executive Chef, Culinary Services, U of S, worked with the U of S Food Centre to develop a nutritious breakfast cereal that is 75% locally-sourced lentils.

Chains vs. Local Restaurants
As Saskatoon grows, we’re attracting more and more chain restaurants. This is cause for concern if it endangers local, independent restaurants. The ratio of independent to chain restaurants in Canada is 60% independent, 40% chain. The ratio in Saskatchewan is slightly worse with 57% independent, 43% chain.

Healthy Chinese Takeout? 
The City of Philadelphia partnered with local Chinese restaurants to reduce the salt content of Chinese takeout. It worked – and customers didn’t complain.

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, February 9, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 9, 2015


Primal Pasta 
Primal Pasta restaurant, serving handmade pasta made with local grains, will be opening soon at 423 – 20th Street West. Their Facebook page says, “We are influenced by traditions throughout Italy, with inspiration from our gardens, farmers and the variety of heritage grain growing in Saskatchewan.”

Uptown City Perks
Uptown City Perks in the Ens Toyota dealership is now open on Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm.

Prairie Pie Company 
Prairie Pie Company at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is now serving 49th Parallel Small Lots Coffee.

Seabuckthorn Tea
I picked up a large bag of seabuckthorn berries from Northern Vigor Berries on Saturday and sampled their tea made from seabuckthorn leaves. Betty Forbes says it’s full of goodness and the perfect thing to drink if you’re coming down with a cold. The Indian army serves seabuckthorn products to its soldiers to keep them healthy.

BC Tree Fruits 
February is Apple Month and I was lucky enough to receive a box with 4 different varieties of BC apples from BC Tree Fruits. I’m a strong supporter of local products, and fruit is so nutritious.

Ambrosia is a BC original, discovered in the 1990s as a chance seedling. It’s a little bland but has a lovely crunch. Royal Gala is one of my favorite apples. Not quite as crisp as the Ambrosia, it is packed with flavour. The Golden Delicious apple hadn't travelled well, so I stewed it with Saskatchewan sour cherries rehydrated in leftover green tea and added a dollop of seabuckthorn syrup and chopped nuts. It was a delicious way to eat local fruit. The Spartan is another BC original; I’m saving it for tomorrow. My thanks to BC Tree Fruits for reminding me how much I enjoy apples.

Third Wave Tea
There are so many different varieties of tea – green, white, oolong – and they have such individual flavours. A smoky lapsang souchong is so different from a delicate matcha; I see no need to add chocolate, fruit, or nut flavours.

I found an interesting article about the introduction of third wave tea stores in the US, but it points out the difficulty of emphasizing tea in a coffee-drinking culture.

Banning Food Waste 
Food waste accounts for approximately 40% of Metro Vancouver’s garbage. As of January 1, residents are expected to put their food waste in their green compost bin, not in their garbage.

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, February 8, 2015

The Cotswolds: Sunshine and Snowdrops in Painswick

Travelling south from Cheltenham, the bus left the suburbs behind and started climbing. The road twisted and turned through forested slopes. It was a completely different landscape from the gentle rolling hills near Winchcombe.

After half an hour, we arrived in Painswick, a small village with narrow hilly streets that were almost deserted. There were various craft shops, but all of them were closed in January.

The bus stop was right across the street from the church, which is famous for its churchyard with 99 manicured yew trees. Legend has it that the 100th won’t grow.

I was here to visit the Rococo Garden, just a short half-mile walk from the village centre.

Rococo Garden is not a flower garden. Originally designed in the 1730s, it was intended to be a backdrop for decadent garden parties with expansive vistas over the garden and the surrounding countryside and a variety of fanciful buildings scattered around the grounds.

By the 1970s, it had become an overgrown jungle but has been recreated based on a painting done in 1748.

The snowdrops had just started to bloom in profusion across the southern-facing slopes. (They’ve added a bluebell walk, which I’d love to visit if I’m ever in the Cotswolds later in the spring.)

There is a maze at the top of the garden, a pool and a garden with espaliered fruit trees. A stream meanders through the woods at the bottom of the garden and you can climb a hill to visit the pigeon house.

I highly recommend having lunch at the Coach House Restaurant and a browse in the gift shop.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Drift Sidewalk Cafe, Riversdale

Drift Sidewalk Café, next door to Escape Sports on the corner of 19th Street and Avenue A, is warm and filled with sunshine and green plants.

Amy Holowach says she used to be a massage therapist, but the opportunity came up to open a café and she and her family grabbed the idea and ran with it.

“Our family loves travelling and the west coast. We love the river and we wanted to create an atmosphere that would complement Escape Sports,” explains Amy as I admire the wood panelling on the roof, the mosaic decorations and the large tropical plants.

The family did a lot of the work themselves with help from Worldsson Construction. Amy created the mosaics, and she and her friends plastered the walls with Saskatchewan kaolin clay and sand from Gabriel Dumont Park.

The tables are made of bamboo, and there are pictures in the washrooms of paddleboarders on the river.

Crèpes, paninis and sandwiches are the main items on the menu, but there are also munchies and a variety of hot drink and dessert options.

“We’re intrigued by street food and food trucks,” Amy says, “so this is our version of an indoor food truck. In summer, all the windows and doors will be open and we’ll have lots of outdoor seating – a very inside/outside feel.”

Amy says that her grandmother had a big influence on the menu. “My grandma made the best crèpes,” Amy says. “My grandparents owned a motel in Kerrobert, and my childhood memories are all about Kerrobert and crèpes.”

Shelley (my sister in law) and I shared a Kerrobert crèpe with strawberry-rhubarb filling, candied ginger and whipped topping, and it was delicious with lots of real fruit flavour. The candied ginger is house-made, and it packs a punch.

All the food is made from scratch and it’s designed to be wholesome cooking with little indulgences, striking a balance between healthy and excessive. There are lots of vegetarian options. In addition, Amy says that everything on the menu can be modified to your preference (e.g. remove the meat, extra whipped cream).

Drift Sidewalk Café supports its community and has lots of local suppliers. The bread and croissants are from The Night Oven Bakery, the sprouts are from Ecobain Gardens and Wally’s Urban Market Garden, and Northwood Farm will be supplying the vegetables in the summer.

Future Plans
Amy is full of plans for the future. They will be adding extra seating and opening up the ground-floor space so that you can grab a coffee and go next door to Escape Sports.

There will be a take-out window for those who want to picnic by the river. Escape Sports offers paddleboard excursions, so Drift will be offering waterproof packed lunches to take with you as you paddle down river.

We can look forward to an upstairs tapas lounge and a roof-top patio this summer, and Amy has plans for a small garden with herbs and tomatoes for the restaurant.

Ice pops will be available in-house or from Drift’s bicycle cart.

Drift Sidewalk Café is a welcoming addition to Riversdale and the riverfront area. I’ll be heading back for a quiet drink or a lunchtime panini. And I’ll definitely be buying more Power Stacks. The combination of rich, moist chocolate flavour and crunchy, healthy ingredients is addictive.