Monday, November 30, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 30, 2015

Greetings from Newport, Pembrokeshire, Wales. It’s much warmer than Saskatoon, but there’s a howling gale battering against the house from all directions and white caps cover the bay.

There are lots of exciting things happening, as always, in Saskatoon. Let’s start off with four new food businesses.

Vintage Wine Bar on the Corner
The Vintage Wine Bar on the Corner is located in the corner of the Hotel Senator lobby. They offer classic cocktails and “the best wine list in the city.” They’re using a Coravin system so that they can serve wine by the glass and still ensure it stays fresh.

The Brasserie 
The Brasserie, at 226 2nd Avenue S, will be serving coffee, tea, wine by the glass, and a light menu. “There hasn’t been a place downtown where you can go for a dessert and a coffee — whether it’s a boozy coffee or a regular coffee — or a glass of wine. There wasn’t a lot of options out there,” explained owner Daniel Beavis. The Brasserie will showcase art by established and emerging artists.

The Burning Beard 
The Burning Beard expects to open the first week of December at 731 Broadway Avenue. They plan to offer a variety of local and foreign dishes.

The Barley Sandwich Co. 
The Barley Sandwich Co. is an artisan sandwich shop that will be based at The Woods Ale House. They’ll operate as The Barley Sandwich Co. during the day and as The Woods Ale House at night. They plan to open December 19.

Vegetarian Sandwiches 
Pret A Manger is a British chain offering natural food and organic coffee. Sandwiches are freshly made and they have some really interesting options for vegetarians. Pret’s Veggie Christmas Lunch contains “roasted chunks of butternut squash, nutty Christmas pesto, and spicy rocket. Served with a spoonful of yoghurt mayo dressing and a sprinkling of crispy onions on malted bread.” It was so good! Let’s hope that The Barley Sandwich Co. is equally creative.

Tea Farms 
It used to be that tea came from China or India and later Africa. Now you can find tea grown in unexpected places, such as Mississippi, Cornwall, and Vancouver Island.

The Great Mississippi Tea Company’s goal is to provide an ethically and environmentally sustainable product that doesn’t use cheap labour, pesticides, or herbicides.

A New Health Food? 
Corn Gromwell, a member of the borage family, is normally considered a weed, but they’ve started growing it as a crop in Scotland. Research has indicated that the seeds contain really high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

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 29, 2015

Craft in the Bay, Cardiff

Pottery, glass, weaving – all these handicrafts bear the firm imprint of the artisan’s fingers, and I find it easy to feel the connection and relate to their work. And make no mistake about it, this is art, just as much as any Renaissance or Cubist painting. But it’s more grounded, more connected to daily life.

Craft in the Bay, Cardiff, displays and sells the works of the Makers Guild in Wales. It’s almost across the street from the Wales Millenium Centre and other well-visited sites in Cardiff Bay and yet I fear it’s often overlooked. What a shame!

Craft in the Bay is a well-lit gallery displaying an amazing array of handicrafts. I fell in love with at least half a dozen pieces, ranging from pottery to fabric art to glass.

If you’re in Cardiff, be sure to visit.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Cardiff's Arcades

To my mind, a city needs two things if it wants a lively town centre:

1. Pedestrianized streets so that people can wander, stop to chat with their neighbours, or listen to a choir singing Christmas carols.

2. Local, independent stores with character.

Cardiff combines both these elements, along with quirky architectural design, in their arcades.

In addition to at least 3 major pedestrianized streets, Cardiff has over 6 Victorian and Edwardian arcades where you’ll find tea shops, Italian restaurants, delis, art galleries, and so much more.

There’s a covered market as well as modern shopping centres with the whole range of chain stores.

It’s a delight to wander in Cardiff’s town centre, and I’m not surprised to learn that it’s been named one of the top 10 shopping destinations in Britain.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cardiff Christmas Market

I'm convinced that the sun came out from behind the clouds the minute the train crossed the border into Wales. And there was my first Welsh castle in Chepstow (sorry, no photo).

The good weather continued once I'd arrived in Cardiff, and I was delighted to discover a Christmas Market in the pedestrianized city centre.

I sampled local cider, beer and liqueur; tried 3 different brands of local cheese; and bought some Welsh cakes for tomorrow morning's breakfast.

There was also a wide variety of handicrafts - pottery, glass and silver ornaments, and much more.

It's such a shame that the weather doesn't permit a similar market in Saskatoon.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 23, 2015

Plant This Movie, Nov. 27 
Saskatoon Food Council kicks off its monthly Urban Ag Film screening at 7 pm, Nov. 27, with Plant This Movie, showing the state of urban farming around the world.

Hot Sauce Tasting, Nov. 28
El Mercado Las Palapas is holding a tasting of all 16 of their hot sauces between 12 and 5 pm, Nov. 28. Purchase your favourite and receive a 10% discount.

Tea and Warm Elixir Lab, Nov. 28 
Intuitive Path Superfoods is hosting a Tea and Warm Elixir Lab at 2 pm, Nov. 28. Kai Hicks will share his ultimate ingredients for optimal health.

Frostfest, Dec. 12 
The Glen at Crossmount is hosting Frost Fest from 1-5 pm, Dec. 12. There will be craft and baking vendors, a chance to visit with Santa, winter games, and hot apple cider.

Community Greenhouse Feasibility Study 
The Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre commissioned a Community Greenhouse Feasibility Study. A summary of the results is now available online. The proposed Food Discovery Centre would incorporate a year-round greenhouse, seasonal gardens, a food preparation and processing kitchen, retail and training space, and sustainable energy systems.

Here’s additional information from a discussion I had with Brit MacDonald, Community Developer/Urban Agriculture Manager, earlier this year.

Hunger in Saskatoon
The 2015 HungerCount report has been released, showing that 26,727 people received food from a food bank in Saskatchewan in March, an increase of 50.6% from 2008. 45% of those helped were children – the highest among all the provinces.

Café Noir Espresso Bar 
Café Noir Espresso Bar is open from 10 am to 10 pm on Saturdays and from 10 am to 3 pm on Sundays. They’re serving breakfast, brunch, and specialty coffees. The brunch menu includes crepes, cranberry orange & cream clafoutis, raspberry & almond scones, and carrot cake.

Diet & Evolution 
We’ve switched from a high-fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetables to a high-protein-and-fat diet, and in the process we may have permanently altered our intestinal microbes. Unfortunately, that could be affecting our health.

“Scientists suspect our intestinal community of microbes, the human microbiota, calibrates our immune and metabolic function, and that its corruption or depletion can increase the risk of chronic diseases, ranging from asthma to obesity.” How the Western Diet Has Derailed Our Evolution is a lengthy, but interesting, article.

Guide to the Regional Moles of Mexico
“The word “mole” comes from the Nahuatl “mulli,” meaning sauce or stew. Though the word is pre-Hispanic, the moles that we know today are the result of centuries of marrying and modifying regional ingredients and new and old techniques. Most start with a paste made from dried chilies, nuts, seeds, and spices, and are thickened with a starch—masa, tortillas, or bread. The results are eaten alone with tortillas or as a vehicle or sauce for proteins.” And there are many different regional varieties.

Glamorgan Sausages & Bara Brith
I’m heading to Wales tomorrow where I’ll be house (and cat) sitting for two months in Newport, Pembrokeshire. I’m eager to try Glamorgan sausages (a vegetarian sausage made with Caerphilly cheese, leek, and coated in breadcrumbs) and Bara Brith (a traditional Welsh fruit loaf made with tea). I promise to keep you posted on my Welsh adventure. (Photographs are from last year's trip to England.)

And, if you can’t join me in Wales, you could go to Churchill’s British Imports. They are super well-stocked for Christmas.

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 18, 2015

Caboose Catering - At Home and Away

The kitchen on a merchant ship was called a caboose and it wasn’t very grand. It was a simple, portable shelter protecting the stove on the open deck of a ship. In Canada, the galley on a timber raft was also called a caboose. And, of course, a caboose is also a railway car.

Whichever definition you choose, a caboose spells out travel and outdoor adventure, with a close link to cooking and food. It’s the perfect name for Beth Rogers' and Thayne Robstad’s catering company, Caboose Catering.

A Thirst for Travel 
Beth Rogers and Thayne Robstad grew up in Saskatoon and met when they were working in two Broadway restaurants. They both wanted to enhance their culinary skills, and the best way to do that was through travelling and working in restaurants across Canada. “Your learning curve skyrockets at a new restaurant,” Thayne explains.

Their first stop was in Vancouver where Thayne worked in La Quercia, an Italian restaurant. “The chef had a huge influence on me,” Thayne explains. “He had such a zest for life and food and family.” Beth worked at Chambar and favours a more French style of cooking.

Once they had saved enough money, the couple purchased a camper van and spent four months travelling down the west coast of the United States. “We went to all the places along the west coast that we’d always wanted to go,” Beth says. They were particularly impressed by the wild bounty of Northern California, triggering an ongoing passion for foraging and mushrooms.

After heading back north, they moved to Toronto for 18 months. It was another big city with big city restaurant options and a stepping point for Montreal, New York, and Newfoundland. Thayne started working at Enoteca Sociale, an Italian wine bar, while Beth learned the fine art of making coffee and working front of house at Dineen Coffee Co.

The couple also undertook a car camping trip of the Atlantic Provinces and the Northeast States. “Some of the best beer in the world is being brewed in the Northeast,” Thayne says, “especially Vermont.”

Spring 2015 was spent in the North West Territories, picking and selling morel mushrooms. “We love nature and being outdoors and finding the things you can eat around you,” Beth says. “People are terrified of mushrooms and things that come from the ground. It’s such a shame that we’ve lost that connection with nature.”

Homecoming and Catering 
Eventually it was time to return home to Saskatoon. “Saskatoon is home,” Beth says. “We love the city and the province, believe in it, and always intended to be back here.” Thayne agrees, pointing out that Saskatoon is at a turning point. “It’s an exciting time to be here,” he says. “There are tons of restaurants opening or waiting to open when they find the right location.”

Beth and Thayne worked together for the first time a few years ago at Souleio and continue to enjoy this approach. “We split up the workload really nicely,” Beth says. “We’re both fans of playing to our strengths,” Thayne adds. “Beth is extremely good at planning and organizing. That’s critical when running a crew and a kitchen.” Thayne, according to Beth, is amazing under pressure, another essential kitchen skill.

Although the couple would like to eventually open a restaurant, their first step was to set up a catering company – Caboose Catering. “People are more educated about food and interested in trying new things,” Thayne says. “We’re not sure catering has kept up with that. We believe we can offer a different experience with newer food and finesse in display.”

Caboose Catering doesn’t have a set menu. Instead, they go back and forth with the customer, working out what they like/don’t like, get an idea of their budget, and whether the event will be upscale or laid back.

“Caterers become a part of really important moments in people’s lives,” Beth explains. “You can help make it perfect.”

Beth and Thayne emphasize the importance of presentation and display. Beth loves using old platters handed down by their grandparents. “It’s magical serving food on something that’s been used for generations and has a story behind it,” she explains.

They also use a lot of wood and make their own things, which is a good fit with the local, seasonal food that they prefer to serve.

Caboose Catering
Caboose Catering supplied the food for an event I attended in September. The food was beautifully displayed and delicious. And I was delighted to find that all but one of the appetizers was vegetarian.

Do take a look at Caboose Catering’s website. You can also like them on Facebook or follow them on Instagram.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 16, 2015

Fresh, local spinach in November - what a treat!

Cooking Class Dinners, Swift Current 
Sarah Galvin will be hosting cooking class dinners emphasizing local Saskatchewan food this winter in Swift Current. Each evening is limited to 12 people, and tentative dates are Feb. 13, Mar. 26, Apr. 16, and May 21. Gift certificates will be available for Christmas giving. For more information, contact Sarah at

Sarah writes for The Western Producer, is a Swift Current & District Farmers’ Market vendor, and has a blog entitled All Our Fingers in the Pie.

El Brunch Mexicano, Nov. 18 
Saskatchewan Polytechnic is hosting a Mexican brunch from 11-12:30, Nov. 18. Brunch is by reservation only; contact Maureen at 306-659-4057.

Grub and Gab Wheel of Food Safety, Nov. 19 
CHEP Good Food Inc.’s Collective Kitchen Partnership invites the public to join them from 6-8 pm, Nov. 19, to Play the Wheel of Food Safety.

Breakfast with Santa, Dec. 6 
Families are invited to have Breakfast with Santa at 9:30 am, Dec. 6, at Prairie Ink Restaurant, McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Friendship Inn Festive Dinner, Dec. 9 
The Saskatoon Friendship Inn is hosting their fourth annual Festive Dinner fundraiser on Dec. 9. Contact the Friendship Inn to reserve your table.

Parsnip & Squash Sandwich with Carrot & Ginger Soup, Nosh Eatery & Tap

Borrow, Save, Share
Six companies control 63% of the commercial seed market. We can create our own community food systems by borrowing, saving, and sharing seeds.

Sustainable Grocery Service
The Organic Box home processes 2,000 orders for sustainable groceries and local products a week in Edmonton and is now expanding its service to other communities in central and northern Alberta. They have a 17,000 sq. ft. warehouse and share their cooler space with farmers who need reliable, accessible storage. Their next step is to expand their processing facilities.

Is It Possible to Retune Your Taste Buds? 
“According to science, then, there’s no physical reason why we should dislike any particular food, and it’s perfectly possible to come round to tastes that would have once made you gag. The key is persistence, and taking the ‘newness’ out of new food – around 10-15 exposures should do the trick”

Is Urban Foraging Safe?
Are fruit and vegetables you harvest in a city safe to eat? Probably, although more research is required.

Black Bean & Quinoa Burger with Tomato Vegetable Soup, Nosh Eatery & Tap

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 9, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 9, 2015

Taqueria Mexicana opened this weekend at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market
Building a Better Future, One Tasty Donut at a Time
New Community Youth Development Corporation (YDC) wants to start a take-away café, partially run by their students and providing instruction in commercial cooking and sheltered employment and they're asking for our help. This is one of the tastiest Indiegogo campaigns ever. You can receive great perks such as a donut named after you in a flavour of your choice, 10 jars of homemade preserves, a Christmas baking package, a gourmet Italian feast, etc.

As part of their fundraising campaign, YDC is attempting to enter the Guinness Book of World Records with a 20-foot-long donut.

YDC is a finalist in Affinity Credit Union’s Business for Good Social Venture Challenge. The winning enterprise will receive $50,000 in addition to the money raised on Indiegogo.

Raw Dessert Workshop, Nov. 14 
Heather Hedivan and Kalyn Smith will teach you how to make raw Hazelnut Fudge and Vegan Raw Cookie Dough at a Raw Dessert Workshop hosted by Intuitive Path SuperFoods at 2 pm, Nov. 14.

Goverdhan Puja – Festival of Food, Nov. 14 
ISKCON Saskatoon is celebrating Goverdhan Puja at 11 am, Nov. 14. There will be more than 100 different vegetarian foods as well as devotion, meditation, and kirtan.

Taqueria Mexicana: vegetarian options available upon request

Come-and-Go Wine Tasting, Nov. 21 
Sample a selection of wines from Canada, Europe, South Africa, and South America while chatting with Rhȏne winemaker Guillaume Blisson and Doug Reichel of Fine Wines Sask at the Saskatoon Co-op Liquor Store from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm, Nov. 21. Tickets include an individual cheese plate.

Fermentation 101
If you’re new to fermenting food, here is a straightforward explanation and basic recipe.

Bread Baker’s Guide to Flours 
Ready to start experimenting with making different types of bread? Then this article will help you decide what type of flour to use. I was interested to learn that rye adds a note of sweetness and interacts quickly with yeast, jumpstarting and amplifying fermentation.

Stalking Oregano in the Wilds of Mexico 
Most of the oregano that we use is hand-harvested from wild habitats in Greece and Mexico. One of the most fragrant types of oregano has been harvested for centuries by Seri Indian huntergatherers in the Sonoran Desert along the Western Mexican coast of the Gulf of California.

Bored with Apples? Try One of its Cousins
Apples are the second most popular fruit in the US. But apples have cousins who are much less well known but definitely intriguing. They include quince, rowan berries, medlar, serviceberries, loquat, chokeberries, and mayhaw.

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 2, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 2, 2015

Roasted sweet potato and parmesan curls - great additions to a salad (Little Bird Patisserie)

Apple Cider, Herbs & Spices
Learn how to grow herbs and spices on your windowsill this winter from 7-8 pm, Nov. 18, at the Glen at Crossmount’s Art Barn.

On Nov. 25 & 26, you can learn about the history and origins of cider-making around the world and the varieties of commercial cider available today from 2-3 pm, Nov. 25, and 4-5 pm, Nov. 26. Tyler Kaban, Crossmount’s Cider Maker, will also give a guided tour of the cidery and outline his plans for making cider.

City Park Grocery Store
Good news! Darren Hill, Ward 1’s City Councillor, has spoken with Loblaws and they have said that they will NOT impose restrictive language regarding the sale of food products on the pending sale agreement at the location of the Shop Easy on 7th Ave.

Boffins Fall Menu
Boffins Fall menu includes two vegetarian dishes. I’m particularly intrigued by the grainy waffles ‘n’ pulled ‘shroom stack: two appleasauce wheat and grain waffles topped with house-made smoked pulled mushrooms smothered in apple barbeque sauce with a side of Jack Daniel’s maple syrup.

There’s also an autum pizza with a gluten-free sweet potato crust topped with a herbed ricotta cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, and garlic chips.

Brown butter pecan brownie - yum! (Little Bird Patisserie)

Eat Local in Winter
Here’s an interesting infographic demonstrating that it is possible to eat locally even in winter.

Ottolenghi’s Pumpkin & Squash Recipes
It’s that time of year when there’s an abundance of pumpkin and squash for sale. Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipes for roast pumpkin squash with lentils and dolcelatte (similar to gorgonzola) and roasted pumpkin soup with harissa and crisp chickpeas sound 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).