Monday, December 31, 2018

Lapworth Canal Junction

Happy New Year! I’m heading into 2019 in a new location.

The scenery has changed completely. From the hills and sea in Torquay, I headed inland and am now in Lapworth, Warwickshire, a historically important transportation hub as it is the point at which the Grand Union and Avon Canals meet.

I’m eager to walk the canal paths and visit some of the pubs as well as two National Trust properties.

I’m also off to a Birmingham dentist on Wednesday and hope to make arrangements for a root canal as soon as possible. Wish me luck!

I hope 2019 brings you peace and joy. Best wishes to you all.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Visit from Canadian Friends

It was such a treat to have a visit from my friends, Jennifer and Adi, from Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, this weekend.

We had afternoon tea at The Grand Hotel overlooking the bay. Those of you who know my sweet tooth will be amazed to learn that I ate less than half the pastries on offer!

The hotel is a huge white building dominating the bay and reminded me of the Bessborough in Saskatoon, not in style but in terms of its prominent position on the urban landscape.

The hotel was on the waterfront so we had several walks along the sea at both high tide and low tide.
We had a morning break/early lunch at Visto Lounge. They have a full vegan/gluten-free menu as well as lots of vegetarian options on the main menu. I’m very impressed by the quality of the food and the fun atmosphere and will try to go again.

Jennifer and Adi presented me with the most elegant box of chocolates I have ever received (and they taste good too!). Thank you! Here’s a history of les coussins de Lyon.

Happy Christmas everyone! Enjoy your time with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market

I took the train from Torquay to Exeter last week. It’s a scenic trip as you are right beside the sea for a significant part of the way with the salt spray coating the train windows and tunnels through some of the rockiest sections.

Torquay train station

Exeter is a modern city with a bustling city centre with large department stores and chains. However, you can still trace sections of the old city wall as well as view the remains of a castle.

There are also some narrow alleyways filled with interesting stores, including a delicious chocolate shop, Chococo.

I enjoyed a walk through a large park that is also a green bridge with train tracks and buildings below.

A Christmas market was set up in front of Exeter Cathedral. Most of the crafts and products were locally made. I bought a Christmas pudding and fudge. Fudge appears to be a specialty of this region, possibly because Devon cream is so famous.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 17, 2018

Caribrew Launch Party, Dec. 19
Enjoy a boreal forest stout made with smoked peat moss harvested in northern Saskatchewan. The Caribrew Launch Party will be from 7-11 pm, Dec. 19, at Prairie Sun Brewery. A portion of the proceeds will go to CPAWS-SK.

Entrepreneurial Newcomers
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market has been collaborating with the Saskatoon Open Door Society to introduce some of their entrepreneurial clients to the Market. The Society is investigating the feasibility of a website where Saskatoon residents could purchase a variety of services and would appreciate your feedback.

Chef Scott Dicks
Chef Scott Dicks will be “opening a new restaurant called Odla in spring 2019 in the old Nino's restaurant space in the Broadway neighbourhood. Dicks wants the fun, comfortable atmosphere of his cooking classes to translate to his new home.”

You don’t have to be White to be Vegan
“In Dominican food culture – as in so many others – meat has a central place but going meat-free doesn’t have to mean turning your back on tradition.’ You [don’t] have to be this Mother Teresa when you’re vegan,’ says Mena [a chef from the Dominican Republic]. It’s a diet choice that doesn’t have to include any degree of cultural separation. You eat food that’s healthier for both you and the planet, and you won’t even notice that the sancocho – a stew – lacks seafood and the chopped cheese is actually grains covered with a mix of root vegetables, nutritional yeast and nut milk. You’ll just think, this is delicious.”

Indigenous Food
For Chef Rich Francis, Indigenous cooking is a way to embrace traditional roots and work toward healing. Watch out for his cookbook and television show in 2019.

Chips & Dip
Some tips for making veggie chips (baked not fried) and a Spanish-flavoured dip.

Merry Christmas
This is the last Flavourful Saskatoon in 2018. Have a great holiday and I’ll be back in the New Year. Let me know if you have any suggestions for topics you’d like to see included in Flavourful Saskatoon.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Picnic Lunch on the Beach at Oddicombe Bay

Tuesday was mild, dry, and we even had a little sunshine so I picked up some lunch at a bakery and headed for the beach.

There’s a steep cliff above the beach at Oddicombe Bay, Torquay, but never fear! The cliff railway makes the trip fast and easy. The Babbacombe Cliff Railway was built in 1926 and has transported thousands of people to and from the beach. As one railway car goes up, the other goes down.

Oddicombe is a relatively small beach with a view of rusty red cliffs in one direction and the tiny community on Beach Road in Babbacombe in the other.

I tend to take photographs of flowers, but I was fascinated by the boulders and cliffs of red sandstone containing layers of large rocks and pebbles.

South Devon was at one time a desert broken up by a high mountain range. Deserts are red due to the iron in the soil. The iron leached out of the sand staining the Devonian rocks beneath.

Chunks of rock washed down from the mountains are embedded in the red rock.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 10, 2018

Venezuelan Christmas Dinner, Dec. 13 
D&P Bakery is hosting a Venezuelan Christmas Dinner at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market from 5-9 pm, Dec. 13. The menu sounds very meaty, but you can always just eat dessert – their cakes are yummy!

Posada Mexicana, Dec. 14
La Taqueria Mexicana, Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is hosting a Posada Mexicana for the whole family from 6-10 pm, Dec. 14. There will be music, a piƱata, and “pediremos posada,” which I believe is a Christmas candlelight procession.

Sentinel Bottleworks 
If you’re looking for a local, refreshing, low-alcohol drink over the Christmas holidays, I recommend Sentinel Bottleworks' Cyser (available at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market). It’s made with local apples, local honey, and yeast – and that’s it. I tried the Sour Cherry and it was nice and dry. They’re also offering an Apple Ale if you prefer beer to cider.

Mince Pies
Whether or not you’re a fan of mince pies, you’ll enjoy this tongue-in-cheek discussion on how they should be eaten. “Part of the problem is that most shop-bought mince pies are clumsily spiced, collapsing air-pockets of disappointment. But this is a treat of diminishing returns for other reasons, too. We routinely abuse the mince pie. We fail to treat it with reverence. Which is where HTE – the series identifying how best to eat Britain’s favourite dishes – can help. Merry Christmas!” 

Buy Local 
I went shopping yesterday and was delighted to be able to buy British-grown Brussel sprouts, potatoes, pears, and apples. Of course, I could also have picked up vegetables from Guatemala, Kenya, and Peru.

The Spice Tailor
The Brits love to eat curry, and this is obvious in any supermarket, which offer an amazing variety of spice mixes. I was feeling ambitious so I picked up a Tikka Masala mix from The Spice Tailor. This contains not just one, but 3 packages of spices. There are whole spices, a base, and a sauce. It really didn’t require a great deal of extra work and certainly offered a more subtle combination of spices than a single sauce.

Georgia on my Plate 
Blame it on my insatiable appetite for travel, but Georgia sounds like an interesting place to visit. Often touted as the birthplace of wine, they also appear to love food.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

It's a Wonderful Life

“Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.” — James Thurber 

No question about it. This hasn’t been an easy week – a massive tooth infection, a hacked credit card, and a dog with diarrhea. And yet, it’s been such a good week too: three rainbows stretching across the sky (make that four – another one has appeared as I write), unconditional puppy love, a lovely meal out in a third-floor restaurant overlooking the harbour, and support from family and friends.

We tend to think of holidays as an escape from real life, but they aren’t really. Now six months in Europe is not your typical holiday, but many of the same rules apply. We take life with us wherever we go, and we make choices about how we respond to it. The huge advantage of travel for me is that I feel fully alive. There is no routine to fall back on. Finding a dentist becomes a learning experience as I make phone call after phone call to figure out the system. No details for now as I’ll be devoting a whole post to dental care and customer service in future. Suffice to say I am grateful to have found a dentist with a wicked, understated sense of humour and friendly, courteous staff. And I am super grateful that the second antibiotic is working its magic.

My credit card has been hacked on three occasions over the last 20 years. It’s always a worrying experience, but I’ve had incredible service. BMO Mastercard’s emergency call line works like a charm – no delays and efficient staff. They normally send out new cards to clients’ home addresses, but they made an exception in my case, and I had my new card within 3 days.

Travel can also involve immersing oneself in the local culture. Attending the Christmas pantomime in the UK is a happy experience but wondering how Gilets Jaunes’ roadblocks and riots or the UK’s potential exit from the European Union will affect my travel plans isn’t. It’s not carefully curated experiential travel, but it is real life.

The dog is well again, and Torquay is windy but calm. There’s a lesson in all of this, however. Despite the ups and downs, life is to be lived and enjoyed fully. It’s a wonderful life.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Torre Abbey Gardens, Torquay

“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December. A magical thing and sweet to remember. We are nearer to spring than we were in September.” (I Heard a Bird Sing, Oliver Herford) 

A British garden in winter is a peaceful place: the structural strength of the trees and bushes, the contrasting textures and colours in the foliage, and the occasional flower.

The more austere beauty of Torre Abbey's main gardens frames the exotic blossoms and palms in the tropical greenhouse.

You can also explore the Abbey ruins and wander down to the seafront past the Spanish Barn, which housed Spanish prisoners following the Armada.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 3, 2018

Vegan Comfort, Dec. 8
Enjoy a vegan meal prepared by Brittany Neufeld at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Dec. 8 (red pepper & tomato soup, tofu banh mi, cheddar chive scone, chai oatmeal cookie).

Annual Christmas Baking Walk, Dec. 15 
Fill an ice cream pail with a variety of Christmas goodies from 10 am-12 pm, Dec. 15. The cost is $8/lb. Get there early for the best selection.

Indigenous Food 
Here are two interesting articles about Indigenous food. The first looks at how standard definitions of healthy food overlook cultural differences: “teaching someone healthier eating isn’t about making swaps here and there to fit a patient’s culture into a Eurocentric diet. It should be about having a deep understanding of the way your patients eat, both on a daily basis and at special occasions, how they cook, their practices around preparing and serving food, and any other details about their diets”.

The second article is a conversation with Chef Brit Reed about reconnecting with her roots while also helping Native Americans protect and reclaim their foods: “Indigenous people are finally taking back our cuisine and creating access to those foods we haven’t had since we were taken from our reservations . . . It’s us embracing us and our foods and our culture and our spirituality.”

Food Trends 
An editorial claims that fancy ingredients are simply a means of bumping up the prices while “unpretentious food is great because it is just fine as it is, and it doesn’t need bragging about.” Food trends interest me because I like trying new things, but I can also appreciate this woman’s opinion. What do you think?

Photos: The Night Oven Bakery

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Friday, November 30, 2018

Torquay's Inner Harbour

The sun came out today after two days of gale-force winds and torrential rains so I headed down to the harbour.

Debenham's department store

The inner harbour area is an interesting mix of amusement arcades for tourists, department stores, ferry and pleasure boat facilities, and the town's high street and regional bus stops.

Palm trees on the English Riviera

It was such a delight to sit in the sun and enjoy a pot of tea on an outdoor terrace.

Looking across the bay to the neighbouring communities of Paignton and Brixham

Never fear - it's raining again this evening!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Seagulls & Spires: Torquay

I’m sitting at the top of Sunbury Hill in Torquay admiring the gulls as they soar overhead. Across from me rows of large cream stucco homes mount the opposing hillside. I took advantage of a break in the gale-force winds that have been battering the bushes around the house to head downhill for some groceries (after an unsuccessful search for a bakery).

I’ve been in Torquay for a week now and am beginning to feel settled. The first day is always an avalanche of information as the homeowners offer up information about everything from what to feed the animals to how to heat the house. I take copious notes, but a lot of it is commonsense. Of course, I was still hunting for light switches, pots, and pans for a day or two!

I’m looking after a lively one-year-old Shih Tzu who loves to chase his pink pig and hates to be separated from his humans. There is also a 20-year-old Persian cat who is not in great shape but still able to quietly boss me around. She leaves me in no doubt as to when she wants to be fed and she insists on her morning bowl of milk before I’ve even put the kettle on.

It’s a large, comfortable house and I’ve started establishing my routine: morning tea in a small quasi-sunroom, a work station at the kitchen table, and evenings in the living room where I feed my addiction for British television (I don’t watch television at home, only Netflix, so this is a dramatic change).

I also try to make the place my own by unpacking clothes, putting out magazines and books and a few cards, choosing a favorite mug (I don’t rearrange furniture as I’m very aware it’s not my house). Once that’s done, I go on some outings to stock up on a few groceries (a few days’ at a time as I’m carrying everything in my backpack).

I’m delighted to be close to a Waitrose, a higher-quality British supermarket, especially as the walk is mostly flat and downhill on the way back. There is another store that’s slightly closer, but it’s a steep uphill climb home. I also signed up for a temporary library card and picked up a stash of English magazines.

My first two outings were devoted to finding Torre Abbey. Directions and online maps led me astray. Finally, a kind family drove me to it. It’s easy to find if you stay on the seafront but tricky otherwise.

Torquay is built on a collection of small hills with only a narrow strip of flat land along the seafront. It’s part of Torbay, 3 small communities that face onto a very large bay off the English Channel in South Devon. I can follow the pedestrianized high street down to the seafront. I plan to explore some of the other neighbourhoods, such as Babbacombe where there is a nice walk along the seafront and various tea shops serving cream teas and all-day breakfasts.