Monday, December 28, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 28, 2015

New Year’s Eve at Prairie Harvest 
There are vegetarian/vegan options on the menu for New Year’s Eve at Prairie Harvest Café.

Beer in Lethbridge
There’s a micro brewery in Lethbridge again after a 25-year absence. Theoretically Brewing prides itself on being green-friendly. Some of the spent malt will be going to help power a farm and they hope to integrate solar electricity into their system in a few years time.

Craft Beer Trends 
Jason Foster, in Edmonton’s VueWeekly, takes a look at upcoming craft beer trends:
1. Beers with hop flavour and aroma without the bitterness;
2. A resurgence of malty beers;
3. Barrel-aged beer that isn’t overpowering; and
4. More saison beers.

Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance 
The Slow Food Chef’s Alliance in Canada launched this month and includes chefs from Montreal and Vancouver Island. Slow Food Chefs are committed to sourcing local, sustainable, seasonal food all year round and will be emphasizing food biodiversity and wild foods. The Canadian group is part of an international network involving 500 people in 5 countries.

Happy New Year
And that's it for this week and this year. Thank you for continuing to read Wanderlust and Words and Flavourful Saskatoon. Have a happy new year and all the best in 2016.

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).

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Favourite Books of 2015

I read a lot this year – over 115 books. Here are eight books that I highly recommend plus a bonus of two mysteries that provide an insight into other countries and their politics.

A Life Well Lived 
There was a common theme in many of the books I particularly enjoyed this year as the authors attempted to define a life well lived, where one can look backwards and say, “Well done.”

The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, Molly Peacock 
Mrs. Delany takes what she has learned over the years and turns it into a collection of art that continues to be appreciated.

Circling the Sun, Paula McLean
Beryl Markham reinvents her life over and over again, bringing passion and determination to everything she does. Deserted as a child by her mother and married off at 16 by her father, she comes into her own when she trains and rides horses and becomes one of the world’s first female aviators.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness, Sy Montgomery
We share this universe with such an amazing diversity of other animals. Montgomery describes her interactions with several different octopuses and each one has a distinctive personality. No question about it, they are extremely clever animals.

Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America, Liz Carlisle
A life well lived can be revolutionary as evidenced by a group of farmers who buck the system, growing small-scale organic crops that will feed the soil as well as people.

The Bookshop that Floated Away, Sarah Henshaw 
Sarah Henshaw is another person who refuses to live a conventional life. She buys a barge, stocks it with books, and travels British waterways, opening up shop and hoping to make enough money to survive.

The Year of Pleasures, Elizabeth Berg
The main character’s husband dies and she seeks to create a new life. The emphasis is on the simple pleasures that each day holds.

The Art of Stillness, Pico Iyer
It’s so very, very hard to slow down, but Iyer insists that the “point of gathering stillness is not to enrich the sanctuary or mountaintop but to bring that calm into the motion, the commotion of the world.” He goes on to say, “To me, the point of sitting still is that it helps you see through the very idea of pushing forward; indeed, it strips you of yourself, as of a coat of armor, by leading you into a place where you’re defined by something larger.

Midnight at the Pera Palace, Charles King
Cities have histories and personalities the same as people. And Istanbul’s life story is remarkable: war and politics, refugees and spies, the fall of one empire and the ascent of the next.

Mysterious Travel 
Mysteries are my light reading, when I don’t feel like taxing my brain with non-fiction. But some of the best mysteries help us to explore other countries and the problems faced by their citizens.

Tell No Tales, Eva Dolan 
Agriculture is an extremely important part of the economy in Lincolnshire, Great Britain. It has brought with it a large immigrant worker population with all the related issues – poverty, lousy work conditions, and cultural clashes. Dolan explores these issues while also weaving a compelling police procedural.

Blood Med, Jason Webster
The economic crisis hit Spain hard. Unemployment, mortgage foreclosures, and political corruption form the backdrop for Blood Med, which is set in Valencia.

More Book Suggestions
Favorite Books of 2014

Favorite Books of 2013

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Market in Haverfordwest

The weather forecasters gleefully predicted a one-day break in the torrential rain and gale-force winds that we’ve been having, so I quickly made plans to take the bus to Haverfordwest, the largest town in Pembrokeshire, and visit the market.

green flecks are nettles

The market is set up in and around the pedestrianized shopping mall beside the river. There were about a dozen vendors, smaller than I anticipated, but then it’s a small county town. I happily went home with bread, cheese, baked goods, gherkins and chutney, potatoes, and three bunches of daffodils!

The sun was shining (quite dazzling after 3 weeks of almost steady cloud and rain) as I browsed the pedestrian shopping streets and trekked up the hill to the castle ruins. I ate lunch on a bench by the river watching the seagulls’ antics.

Someone had done an exceptionally fine job of yarn bombing the whole town centre – from posts and trees to bus shelters. Fun.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 21, 2015

Solo Italia Fine Pasta, Ogema
Solo Italia Fine Pasta is owned by a family that moved to Ogema from northern Italy. The make and sell pasta as well as other Italian specialties and are serving espresso and wood-fired pizza.

Hunter Gatherer Vegetarian Diner, Regina
The Hunter Gatherer Vegetarian Diner is expected to open in December in Regina. I’m interested to learn more.

Two Stones Mill
I’m curious to find out more about Two Stones Mill. They are providing The Night Oven Bakery with buckwheat and their packaging says, “Saskatchewan-grown organic grain, stone milled in small batches.”

Black Fox Spirits
Black Fox Spirits are now available at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

New Year’s Eve at the Odd Couple
I’m so impressed that the Odd Couple Restaurant advertises two New Year’s Eve menus – a 4-course Asian meal and a 4-course vegan meal. And the vegan menu looks absolutely fabulous.

Donating Healthy Food
An American crowdfunding platform gives people an opportunity to donate fresh fruit and vegetables rather than processed foods.

Sorghum, an ancient grain from the dry African plains, is finally finding its way into restaurants throughout the United States. Whether it’s a drizzled on top of desserts, mixed into salads, or used in a no-rice risotto, chefs turned onto the ingredient have fallen in love with it.”

Do you remember SweeTarts? I loved them when I was a kid. I also loved the tart apple crisp that Mum made using apples from our garden. I won’t deny that I have a sweet tooth, but I also love tart foods. And England offers far more than Canada. I’m eating stewed Bramley apples (no sugar added), red currant and apple crumble, rhubarb and gooseberry yogurts. Tart foods have a depth of flavour that’s missing when all you can taste is the sugar.

Merry Christmas!
Wishing you a joyful holiday season of friendship, laughter, and good food.

“Love just doesn't sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new.” – Ursula K. LeGuin, The Princess 

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).

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Daily Round: Newport, Pembrokeshire

It’s another wet, wild, and windy day in Wales, and I thought that some of you might be interested in how I spend my days. It’s not a holiday, particularly as I’m in a fairly isolated location with not a great many tourist attractions. Instead, it’s an opportunity to spend two months living in a semi-rural location with a completely different climate, scenery, shops, and activities.

I’m housesitting a cat in a house that is half a mile uphill from the town of Newport, Pembrokeshire. It’s a big house with a large, beautifully landscaped garden out front, a paddock where I hang the laundry to dry (well, if it isn’t raining) above the house, and a woodlot to one side. There are other houses nearby, but they are mostly hidden so it feels very remote, particularly at night when it’s actually dark with no street lights.

Charlie, the cat, is easy to care for. He just needs food, play, and lots and lots of cuddles. There are some household chores though – collecting firewood, ordering heating oil, and watering the large collection of orchids. I even raked the lawn – now that’s something I’ve never done in Canada in the winter.

I don’t have a car, but that’s okay as I can get everything I need in Newport. It does mean frequent shopping trips so that my backpack isn’t too heavy when I trudge back uphill. It’s good exercise but so beautiful as there is a stream with mini waterfalls and tall stone walls covered in moss and ferns and primroses. I’m staying above the cattle grid so I have to make sure the garden gate is closed so the sheep and wild ponies don’t get in.

Newport has a small grocery store with fairly limited options, but it also has a lovely wholefoods store that sells organic, healthy food. There is a small Monday market for about 8 months of the year, and I’ve been enjoying local cauliflower and sprouting broccoli. I’ve been cooking lots as it’s easier to buy fresh than ready-made ingredients.

Newport also has a library, a post office, a bank, and a news agent, and a few craft stores. There are several coffee shops and restaurants although I find the prices very steep ($12 for a bowl of vegetable soup and bread). I’ve been investigating the various pubs to see if they have local cider on tap (with limited success to date, but it’s good to have a rest before tackling the hill).

One of the advantages of housesitting in Great Britain is that there is a dense population to support good public transit. There are hourly buses to both Fishguard and Cardigan with connections to other bigger centres 6 days a week. It’s not perfect as there is no evening or Sunday service, but it’s certainly a lot better than what is available in small Canadian towns.

A little further down the hill is the river estuary and the parrog (harbour). I walk here as often as I can and can’t get enough of the ocean waves and green sloping fields. A lot of the houses in the parrog are holiday lets, and I suspect that there will be more people and activity over Christmas.

Newport is in Britain’s only national coastal park and many people walk the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. The area has a long, long history with Neolithic dolmens, Iron Age forts, Norman castles, Industrial Age lime kilns, and on through the centuries.

So long as I have a computer and wi fi, I can keep working, no matter where I am. I’m grateful for this wonderful opportunity to have an extended stay in a very beautiful part of the world. I’ve been using the Trusted Housesitters website to apply for housesitting positions and have been very happy with all five of my positions.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 14, 2015

Nathan on his own selling veggies last week

Night Market Before Christmas, Dec. 17 
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is hosting an evening market from 7-10 pm, Dec. 17. There will be music, drinking, and shopping.

Griffin Takeaway 
The Griffin Takeaway has expanded its options. You can take home frozen pies, dairy-free/vegan cookie dough, and scones. They’re also serving curries (coconut lentil, aloo gobi) as part of an expanded lunch menu.

Coffee - Try Something Different 
City Perks has a great selection of coffee. There’s 49th Parallel – from Vancouver, Anchored from Dalhousie, Nova Scotia, and Pilot from Toronto.

Crack in Broccoli Form 
I know I’m a broken record, but I wish more chefs would realize what astounding dishes they can make if they start treating vegetables with respect. Dirt Candy’s Korean Fried Broccoli is #1 on the Zagat list of the best things they ate in New York in 2015.

Zagat says, “If you do finally manage to get a table, start with the gochujang-fried Korean broccoli ($6) — the menu describes it as "crack in broccoli form" and they're not kidding. The crispy broccoli fried Korean-style is glazed in the spicy Korean chile paste and yogurt and topped with scallions. Trust us, you'll be begging for a second helping.” 

Bread, Wine and Chocolate 
Simran Sethi, author of Bread, Wine and Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, says that three-quarters of our food comes from 12 plants and five animals. We wouldn’t invest our money in such a narrow portfolio, but that’s exactly what we’re doing with food.

Sethi says that consumers must step up to the plate and support agro biodiversity.If we don’t, she says, we are not only eroding genetic diversity by supporting monocultures, but also settling for varieties grown for productivity and resilience, not necessarily the best flavour. 

“If we want to settle, then just go to the grocery store, go to the supermarket now, and there are aisles of mediocrity.” 

Newport Market 
I was so excited to walk down the hill into Newport and find that Market Street was closed to traffic and lined with bright red and white canopied market stands. In addition to Nathan selling vegetables, there was a baker (individual quiches, vegetarian pasties, Christmas stollen) and a woman selling Welsh cheese, as well as some craft vendors. (No photos as it was raining and I didn't think there would be a market - hopefully next time.

Veggie Deli

On Saturday, I stopped by the Christmas Market at Newport Memorial Hall and was thrilled to discover a woman selling all sorts of vegetarian options from Veggie Deli. I picked up a package of Glamorgan sausages, a veggie sausage roll, a roasted aubergine & red lentil bake, and a bakewell slice.

Now I’m well stocked for Christmas! And it’s all made and purchased locally.

Newport’s Parrog 
In case you missed it, I posted some photos of Newport’s harbour this past week on my alternate (poetry and book reviews mostly) blog.

Market Street - there's a house inside the ruined castle at the top of the street

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 7, 2015

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 7, 2015

Terra Madre Day, Dec. 10
Terra Madre Day is Slow Food’s annual day to promote the diversity of food traditions and production, and show how our network is using its creativity and knowledge to build a better food future. Slow Food Saskatoon suggests celebrating by sharing a meal made of local ingredients with family and friends.

Noche de Posada, Dec. 12
La Taqueria Mexicana and El Mercadito Latino are hosting a Noche de Posada on Dec. 12. There will be Mexican food, Latin DJs, and a piñata smash.

Craft Beer & Cheese Fest, Feb. 26 & 27
Tickets are now on sale for the Craft Beer & Cheese Fest at Prairie Sun Brewery. Tickets sold out in two weeks last year, so you’ll need to move fast if you want to attend.

Slow Food Canada National Meeting, Apr. 6-10
Slow Food Canada will be holding their annual national meeting from April 6-10, 2016, in Invermere, BC.

Bringing Healthy Food to a Food Desert
Neechi Foods, an Aboriginal worker co-op, is trying to bring healthy food to a Winnipeg food desert.

Tea from Cup to Plate Cookbook
Raelene Gannon is one of only 15 certified tea sommeliers in Canada. She’s published the Tea from Cup to Plate Cookbook. The recipes range from Earl Grey shortbread cookies and Chai brownies to meat cooked in Acerola Cherry and Fig tea. Jill says, “I have a copy and it is so good. I am not lending it out. It is so well done with excellent photos and great details.” Copies are available at Chapters Regina and Indigo Saskatoon.

Welsh Markets
It’s been a wet, windy week in Wales, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Fishguard Farmers’ Market on Saturday was tiny, but there was lots of British baking (fairy cakes, jam and cream sponge cakes, Christmas pudding), Welsh dairy products (crumbly Caerphilly, yogurt, milk), some gorgeous cabbages and cauliflowers, a few crafts, and local meat. The weather has been very mild – I’m not sure if there are always fresh daffodils at this time of year.

I bought some lovely fresh vegetables in the pouring rain from the one solitary vendor who had braved the weather in Newport on Monday – and he was packing up and heading home.

For a long-time vegetarian, it’s a shock to shop at the butcher’s, but they have local chutney, milk, and the best fruit and vegetables in Newport.

Fishguard Harbour

Vegetarian Sandwiches #2
I treated myself to lunch out at The Canteen on Friday and had another excellent vegetarian sandwich – a crusty baguette stuffed with grated cheddar, chunks of roasted squash and pesto. Canada – we can do better!

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).