Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wind, Waves & Flowers

It’s been an exceptionally mild winter in Wales, so all sorts of spring flowers are beginning to pop up in the garden and around Newport.

Daffodils are the most prolific, but I’ve also seen snowdrops and miniature iris.

The sun was shining so I headed down to the Parrog (harbour or port). Although the houses have filled in, you can tell that it was originally a separate community and there is still only one road connecting Newport and the Parrog.

The estuary and inner harbour were quite calm, but the waves were fierce once I reached the mouth of the harbour.

I enjoyed watching the gulls soaring on the air currents and the swans feeding in the estuary.

This is such a beautiful place. I’ll be sad to leave.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 25, 2016

City Centre Food Co-op, Jan. 28
The next CHEP Community Fresh Food Market is from 10:30 am - 4:30 pm, Jan. 28, at the Saskatoon Community Service Village.

Wine & Cheese, Feb. 14
Tickets are now available for Valentine’s Day wine and cheese pairings at 6 pm, Feb. 13 & 14, at Riversdale Delicatessen – 3 wines, 3 cheeses and antipasti, and a 20% discount on all store items.

Out Of Your Tree
Out Of Your Tree in Saskatoon was established to harvest and share otherwise unwanted fruit. The Facebook moderator has moved and the group needs a new coordinator.

This type of project has done extremely well in other cities. Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton not only picks and shares fruit but also cans and preserves it. They’re creating a micro orchard and are offering educational classes. There is so much potential for something similar in Saskatoon. Why not thinking about helping out?

Eating Right Can Save the World
Our food choices have environmental consequences, but we’re bombarded with information, making it difficult to make wise decisions. Eating Right Can Save the World is a comprehensive look at how our food choices have an impact on the planet.

The author concludes that, “Sustainability, it seems, is a little like religion: we’re all striving for an ideal, but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to achieve perfection. . . . Still, a few simple adjustments help a lot. Stop worrying so much about not getting enough protein, and remember that plant-based protein is a lot easier on the planet than animal protein. Buy organic food whenever you can. Source your food as locally as possible, and eat seasonally to avoid racking up major food miles. Eat less and waste less. Be open-minded and creative about new cuisines. Relax. Have fun. Sustainable eating isn’t synonymous with masochism.” 

I was interested to learn that omnivores eat 60% more protein than they require and vegetarians, who people often suspect of not getting enough protein, eat 20% more than required. And the excess is excreted – a complete waste.

Good Reads
I came across lots of interesting articles this past week. Here are just a few.

Interview with Chef Darren Craddock, Riverside Country Club, in Good Life Vancouver 

Bingeing on health foods won’t affect your immune system, but cold, stress, age, and exercise (it’s good for you!) will.

The Herbivorous Butcher, Minneapolis, will stock “hickory-smoked ribs, pepperoni, sausages, jerky, brats, ham, maple-glazed bacon, deli turkey, pastrami, corned beef, salami and a host of other sleight-of-hand items, all prepared minus the benefit of pork, beef, poultry and other animal proteins.” The owners say they’re hoping to give omnivores an easy, comfortable way to switch to a vegan diet, even if it’s only one day a week. 

Practically every banana grown in the western world is descended from a plant grown in the greenhouse of an English stately home. But their death is imminent.

Ffwrn, Fishguard
I had lunch at Ffwrn, the most delightfully eccentric restaurant in Fishguard on Saturday. The Women’s Institute Hall has been turned into a restaurant cum bakery with a large wood oven at the back. The owners are welcoming, and the husband struck me as quite a character. The menu is limited at this time of year, but I enjoyed a potato-leek-camembert pie and a glass of mulled wine. And I was finally able to buy a loaf of dense whole wheat bread straight from the wood-fired oven.

Ffwrn, pronounced “foorn” is “four” in French and “oven” in English.

Here’s a lovely review with more photos.

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, January 21, 2016

St. David's, Wales

As you approach most of Great Britain’s cathedral towns, the first thing you see is the cathedral spire. But that’s not the case in St. David’s, Wales.

St. David’s Cathedral is tucked away in a valley below the city’s High Street. Follow one of the narrow lanes that leads to the wall dividing city and cathedral, and you’ll find yourself looking down over a lush green lawn to the cathedral and the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace. Head over the green hills in the background and you’d reach the coast.

The Cathedral has a lovely latticed oak ceiling that was installed to hide 16th-century emergency repairs.

The Bishop’s Palace was once the largest and finest in all of Britain. It’s now in ruins – a reminder to us all that worldly goods have a very short life span.

Because it has a cathedral, St. David’s has the right to call itself a city, but it’s really a village of under 1700 inhabitants. It’s a quiet, sleepy place in mid-winter, but in summer it bustles with tourists visiting the cathedral and art galleries or surfing at the coast.

Many of the galleries were closed, but The Glass Studio was open and had some really lovely pieces of glass.

There are two excellent places to shop for food. The Veg Patch has organic whole foods, while St. David’s Food & Wine has a wide range of international food, a large wine and beer collection, and a deli.

I had a tasty Welsh lunch sourced almost completely from local suppliers at the cathedral’s Refectory: potato-leek soup, Welsh cheddar and chutney sandwich.

The sky was blue; the sun was shining; and the daffodils were in bloom. It was a perfectly lovely day.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 18, 2016

Cognac, Jan. 30 
Sample a range of Cognacs and learn about the history of the region from 7-9 pm, Jan. 30, at Saskatoon Co-op Liquor.

Wine Tastings 
Fine Wines Sask is hosting wine tastings on the following dates across the province:
Jan. 27 – JT’s Pub, Prince Albert
Jan. 29 – Highway Host Family Restaurant, Rosetown
Jan. 30 – Tilli Beans Bakery & Coffee Shop, Wolseley

Paint Nites, Rook & Raven 
The Rook & Raven will be hosting paint nights on Jan. 24, Feb. 7, and Feb. 21. PaintNite is an international franchise that “invites you to create art over cocktails at a local hotspot, guided by a professional artist and party host.”

Downtown Food Options 
Downtown grocery stores face multiple challenges. They aren’t big enough or popular enough – and so they are shut down. The Good Food Junction was established 3 years ago to provide fresh food to core neighbourhoods, but poor sales are forcing them to shut down.

The Shop Easy in City Park shut down a few months ago. Local residents have formed the City Centre Food Co-operative and are offering a bi-weekly pop-up grocery market at the Saskatoon Community Service Village. Their long-term plan is to establish a co-operative grocery store in the City Park area, but that could be several years away.

Neechi Foods, an Aboriginal worker co-operative in Winnipeg is fighting to stay open: “One challenge unique to one of Neechi Foods' primary markets is the unique cash situation for many of its customers. ’It's around income-assistance days or child tax credit days. So what happens, when people get their total month income in one lump sum, the temptation is very high to jump into a cab and find some cousin who has a car and head to where they think they're going to get the best deals. That's part of what we're up against,’ said Rothney….He says Neechi Foods' growth strategy revolves around filling the small market gaps that large grocers will not fill by selling local foods such as fresh caught fish, wild blueberries and competing on price where possible with major grocers. Rothney said it's possible to make a profit in the core area. ‘It's not a matter of whether you can make a profit, it's where can you make the highest rate of profit. So that's what motivates stores to move out of the area. Even if they're actually still doing better than break even."

License to Farm 
License to Farm, a 30-minute documentary produced by SaskCanola, explores issues related to food production in Saskatchewan and is available online.

National School Food Program 
The Coalition for Healthy School Food is advocating for a universal school food program. They say, “Despite an abundance of research that shows how school food programs make a vital contribution to students’ physical and mental health, school food has yet to be embraced as a universal education strategy.” 

Winter Reading 
There’s something for everyone on Food Tank’s winter reading list that ranges from permaculture and women farmers to Senegalese and food truck recipes.

Brit Food of the Week
And, finally, my favorite new flavours of the week were Marmalade Ice Cream at the Harbourmaster Hotel and Restaurant (highly recommended) in Aberaeron and Good Life vegetarian sausages. And the only thing these sausages have in common with ordinary sausages are their shape. Mine were stuffed with peas, green beans, and Wensleydale cheese.

Good Life's mission is to make vegetables the star of the show: “So join us in championing the humble pea, the bashful parsnip and the shy beetroot! Nobody puts veg in the corner…” 

Photos: The last two photographs are of Aberaeron on a very wild, windy day. The first is of Newport.

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, January 11, 2016

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 11, 2016

The sheep did NOT appreciate having to share the road.

Culture Café, Jan. 23 
Learn how to make kefir at Intuitive Path Super Foods’ Culture Café at 2 pm, Jan. 23.

Robbie Burns’ Day, Jan. 25
The Woods Ale House is celebrating Robbie Burns’ Day on Jan. 25 with a dinner paired with Scotch (hosted by Laphroaig).

You can also attend a Scotch tasting at Saskatoon Co-op Liquor from 7-9 pm, Jan. 25, or have a taste of Auchentoshan and Bowmore Scotch from western Scotland on Jan. 22.

Tomato Geeks 
If you’re enthralled by tomatoes with names like Pink Boar, Spudakee, Absinthe, you should be following Tomato Geeks on Facebook. It makes me lust after growing a garden with row after row of gorgeous, unusual tomatoes.

Quebec Beer 
Have you ever taken a close look at the labels on Quebec’s craft beer? There’s a lot of history and politics in those names and images.

10 Ways to Celebrate the Annual Year of Pulses
"Pulses can contribute significantly in addressing hunger, food security, malnutrition, environmental challenges and human health," adds UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.” Plus they’re grown locally and lend themselves to such a variety of different dishes. Here are 10 ways we can celebrate the Year of Pulses, including donating pulses to the food bank, growing them in our garden, or cooking a variety we’ve never tried before.

No Diet, No Detox: Relearning the Art of Eating
This is a lengthy but thought-provoking read about our attitudes towards food and our search for quick fixes rather than relearning the art of eating.

“So many of our anxieties around diet take the form of a search for the perfect food, the one that will cure all our ills. Eat this! Don’t eat that! We obsess about the properties of various ingredients: the protein, the omega oils, the vitamins. But nutrients only count when a person picks up food and eats it. How we eat – how we approach food – is what really matters. If we are going to change our diets, we first have to relearn the art of eating, which is a question of psychology as much as nutrition. We have to find a way to want to eat what’s good for us.”

Indoor Farming
Is indoor farming the way of the future? “It’s not hard to find people who don’t believe that indoor farming is a panacea. In a presentation this September, Bruce Bugbee from Utah State University’s Department of Plants, Soils and Climate made the case that the fossil fuels needed to support the crops would add up to about $400,000 per acre. And even though lights are getting more efficient, the amount of solar panels needed would take up about five times the area as the cropland itself.” 

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, January 7, 2016

Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Fishguard is a pretty little town, just a short bus ride from where I’m staying in Newport, Pembrokeshire. It’s built on a steep hill and the descent into Lower Town and then up into the main square includes some interesting corners that can only be negotiated by single-lane traffic. I don’t envy the bus drivers.

I particularly enjoy the brightly-painted old buildings around the main square.

Fishguard is a quiet town nowadays, but in the late 18th century it was an important trading port with over 50 small vessels carrying coal, lime, slate, and herrings. It was also a centre of shipbuilding.

Nowadays, Goodwick, just around the point from Fishguard, is a port for ferries travelling to and from Rosslare, Ireland.

Old Fort 
In 1779, an American privateer fired on Fishguard from his ship. This prompted the construction of the Old Fort with an array of 8 9-pounder guns.

The Last Invasion 
In 1797, a squadron of 4 French ships drew up and disembarked 4 miles west of Fishguard. 600 regulars and 800 convicts disembarked and started raiding local farms. A British force was assembled, assisted by regulars such as Jemima Nicholas who captured 12 soldiers and locked them up in St. Mary’s Church.

The invasion has been captured with detail and humour in a 105-foot-long tapestry designed and made by local women. It’s an amazing accomplishment and I plan to visit it 2 or 3 times to try and take in all the detail.

There are weekly markets in the town hall on Thursdays and Saturdays with a small collection of producers selling vegetables, dairy products, and baked goods.

I’ve discovered two natural food stores. Fruit & Veg is the larger.

The Gourmet Pig is a very pleasant delicatessen. I had an excellent bowl of lemon-lentil soup for lunch at Pepper's.

Credit: Historical information is from local tourist brochures.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 4, 2016

Winter Holidays 
The Griffin Takeaway will be closed from Jan. 1-10.

The Odd Couple Restaurant will be closed from Jan. 1-31.

UNA Pizza & Wine
Calgary-based UNA Pizza & Wine is opening a second restaurant on Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon in about 10 days time. I’ll be curious to see what it’s like and how it tries to differentiate itself from all the other pizza places that have recently opened in Saskatoon.

Calgary’s wine list looks very interesting, emphasizing small boutique wineries and specifying which ones are organic, sustainable, or biodynamic. I visited Parés Baltà winery in Spain and would highly recommend their wines.

The Calgary take-out menu shows quite a few vegetarian options (vegans would need to ask for the dishes without the cheese).

Craig Campbell introduced Choo-It cereal in 2007. He’s now ceased production and it looks like he’s beginning a new adventure as Rock Paper Coffee Roasting Company.

Chain Reaction Urban Farm
There are so many community-supported agriculture businesses in Saskatoon and area. I wish that we had a complete list. Chain Reaction Urban Farm has just announced three different CSA options, depending on whether you want to stick with the familiar, try a wider range of vegetables, or buy in bulk.

Eat Your Beans! 
U of S students are looking for ways to fight malnutrition in Ethiopia by growing and eating more pulses (peas, beans, lentils). 2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses.

There’s More Than One Way to Run a Business 
These two entrepreneurs prove that opening a shop is only one way to run a business.

Urban Agriculture 
Sara Ward of Hen Corner in West London offers classes encouraging people to explore urban farming and self-sufficiency (urban hens, toast and marmalade, fruit wines & liqueurs), using her own smallholding as an example. Sara and a friend also run a micro bakery taking online orders from their local community for bread and baked goods that are available for pickup on Friday afternoons.

Opening a Bakery was Stupid 
Zachary Golper feels like an idiot for opening a Brooklyn bakery. “I thought that I would get to do what I love. And in the end, you have to get other people to do what you love," Golper says. He is now promoting slow, cool fermentation and crusty bread via his cookbook. He’s also issued a Grains Challenge, inviting bakers across the country to try one of his recipes and send him an account. "This isn’t just one bakery that does awesome stuff—this is a bakery doing awesome stuff that’s got a book that represents awesome stuff being done by many places."

Recipe Round-ups
One Green Planet has published their 40 most popular vegan recipes of 2015. They range from Blueberry and Granola Breakfast Popsicles to Chili Lime Lentil Tacos with Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa.

And here are 25 more vegetarian options. I’d like to try the Butternut Squash Farinata (made with chickpea flour for extra protein) and the Phyllo Veggie Pockets.

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). 

Photos are of  Parés Baltà winery