Monday, February 26, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 26, 2018

Slow Food National Summit, Apr. 19-22 
The 2018 Slow Food National Summit will be held in Saskatoon from Apr. 19-22. Themes include Indigenous food systems, slow food youth, food waste, adapting ourselves and our food to eat where we live, and biodiversity.

Soul Foods 
Soul Foods will be moving into the former liquor store on 20th Street. The owners say they are “looking for ways to serve every demographic in the neighbourhood, and hope[s] to work with local suppliers to find ‘really reasonable’ prices.”

Redemption Roasters 
Redemption Roasters run a roastery and barista training center at Aylesbury Prison, UK. Prisoners without skills or a job are 50% more likely to reoffend. Redemption hopes to counter that statistic with not only skills but help finding a job.

“Just as our sourcing of coffee is ethical, we’re showing the whole roasting process can be socially responsible too. The result is a finely crafted cup of coffee that raises the bar for everyone.”

Proud to be Dairy-Free 
A commercial airing during the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics promotes the benefits of a dairy-free lifestyle. “I did it for my athletic performance,” says Kara Lang, of the 2008 Canadian Olympic soccer team, “and it worked.”

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, February 25, 2018

Au Revoir et à la Prochaine!

My final week in Paris – and in Europe – was marred by a bout of the flu, so I was grateful to be well enough today to head into Paris to visit two art exhibitions at the Petit Palais.

Paris is having a “cold snap,” but the sky was the most brilliant blue and there were early signs of spring – catkins on a tree by the Seine and early cherry blossoms in a sheltered courtyard at the Petit Palais.

Across the street from where I’ve been staying in Vitry sur Seine, there is a cheerful display of yellow flowers. Can someone identify them for me?

I’m very much looking forward to being at home in my own space with my own possessions. And a change of wardrobe will be wonderful! But a piece of my heart will stay in Europe.

Many thanks to all the wonderful families who invited me into their homes as a guest or housesitter. I’m very grateful.

Au revoir et à la prochaine! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Outstanding European Museums

I visited some outstanding museums in Europe that definitely weren’t your standard, run-of-the-mill affair.

MAS Museum, Antwerp
The MAS Museum is located in Antwerp’s port area and highlights the city’s past, its river, and its port. The first thing you notice is its height. It’s over 10 stories tall with a panorama viewing station on the top floor and walls of windows on every floor. The museum is not only about the port – it’s part of it. Each floor has a different theme and is absolutely jam-packed with material to illustrate that theme – from –in-the-round videos of political leaders to toilets you can sit on (reading material provided).

My favorite floor was Food and the City. Maps showed how food sources had switched from local to global. There were displays of food that had been imported through the port – and of the brawny port workers. And, at the other end of the process, there was a lineup of toilets through the ages. You couldn’t possibly absorb all the information – just browse in amazement.

Very close by is the Red Star Line Museum which recounts the migrants’ journey to a new land. It’s also very well set up.

The Louvre Lens
The Louvre Lens was celebrating its fifth anniversary when I visited. Its collection is sourced from the Louvre in Paris but presented very, very differently. The museum has two long, very wide wings – one for temporary exhibitions and one for its standing collection.

The standing collection is organized chronologically so you proceed from Roman and Greek pieces to European Renaissance. It’s a wonderful jumble of paintings, sculpture, mosaics and the pieces are laid out randomly so you wander back and forth and stumble on something new every time.

When I’m in a museum where the works are divided up by time period and type of work, I tend to focus on certain areas (painting, Renaissance) more than others (sculpture, Greek). The chronological approach opened my eyes to pieces that I would otherwise have missed. And so did the opportunity to wander back and forth rather than proceeding in a straight line through the exhibit.

SS Great Britain, Bristol
A tour of the SS Great Britain includes the sights, sounds, and smells of life aboard ship. It smells bad in the cramped underquarters, you can hear people groaning, and there’s a bowl of bloody water in the cabin where a woman has just given birth. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have been a passenger on a migrant ship to Canada or Australia, this is your chance to find out.

The ship is set up in a sort of dry dock, so you can also walk around the underside of the ship and view the propeller and hull. Museum displays complete the experience.

See Also 
Lens Art Deco 
Bristol’s Waterways and the SS Great Britain

Monday, February 19, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 19, 2018

Good Food Slow Food Challenge, Mar. 4 
The Good Food Slow Food Challenge from 2-5 pm, Mar. 4, will showcase CHEP's Good Food Box program and demonstrate how many people you can feed with good, clean, and fair food. It’s a fundraiser for Slow Food Saskatoon and CHEP.

Canadian Craft Beer, Mar. 10
Sample some new Canadian craft beer on Mar. 10 at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.

Under our Feet, Mar. 23 
Sask Organics is hosting Under our Feet on Mar. 23, a day-long conference with the latest research on soil health and weed management.

Easter Cake Contest for Kids, Mar. 31 
Kids are invited to show off their cake baking and decorating skills on March 31 at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

Food Renew 
A group of Saskatoon volunteers wants to save and renew food that would otherwise be wasted.

Nutrition Symbol Consumer Consultation
Canadians are invited to provide input, by Apr. 26, on the nutrition symbol to be used on the front of food packages.

Ultra-Processed Fake Meat 
Meat alternatives are a booming business, but they’re a far cry from a natural, plant-based diet. Quorn is fermented in vats from fungus found in the soil. “With artful use of additives and hi-tech ingredients in the food manufacturer’s cabinet – factory flavourings and colourings, milk proteins, tapioca starch, palm oil, pea fibre, firming and gelling agents and so on – it seems that many of us will take chameleonic Quorn at face value as a dead ringer for everything from steak and bacon to gammon, chicken supreme and hot dogs.”

Beyond Meat is made of “pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, water, yeast extract, maltodextrin, ‘natural’ flavourings, gum arabic, sunflower oil, salt, succinic acid, acetic acid, modified food starch, cellulose from bamboo, methylcellulose, potato starch, ascorbic acid, annatto extract, citrus fruit extract and glycerin.”

Improving Access to Local Produce
Nova Scotia’s Cost-share CSA Local Food Box programs aim to improve access to affordable, healthy, local produce for low-income individuals and families, by sharing the cost of weekly food boxes with the community through fundraising and sponsorships.”

Craft Beer Drives Social Change
From women brewers and wheelchair-accessible bars to a brewery run by autistic adults, craft beer companies are driving social change.

Should the cheese be called Manchego if it’s made in Mexico? There’s a big difference: “The Mexican manchego is made from cow’s milk within seven days, and the authentic manchego with the milk of ewes of manchega race, is ripened for at least a month.” The Mexican manchego sells for half the price in the United States.

On the Wagon
Non-alcoholic beers, sodas, cocktails“Non-drinkers’ cups may soon be running over.”

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, February 15, 2018

Ghent - Love at First Sight

It was late afternoon when I arrived in Ghent, Belgium, and it was dusk by the time I’d settled into my accommodation and started walking downtown.

Perfect timing as it turns out as Ghent illuminates all its oldest buildings, turning the old city centre into a magical world after dark.

The old buildings, along canals or tucked away in corners, were just as lovely in the next morning’s sunlight.

Ghent has a long history of manufacturing wool and cotton cloth and shipping it out from its port, connected to the city by two rivers. At one point, it rivalled Paris in size and importance.

Today, it’s a lively town with 70,000 students. I’m sure there were tourists in the mix, but they didn’t overwhelm the locals.

I was grateful that so many people spoke English (the official language is Flemish) – from bus drivers to restaurant staff.

I walked until my legs ached and could barely move (cobblestones!) and loved every minute of it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


I was only in Amsterdam for 3 days and it was a mixed experience, perhaps because I was tired and perhaps because I was expecting too much of myself. Spending 5 months living in Europe is very different from a two-week holiday. I may not see all the sights, but I have the opportunity to participate, at least to some degree, in the local way of life.

I really enjoyed being located in the suburbs and seeing something more of the city than the central tourist areas. I was staying in a 6-storey apartment overlooking a canal and I loved watching hundreds of gulls circle above the water outside my window and the lights coming on at dusk in the apartments and canalboats. Living in a canalboat must be very different from living in a house or apartment.

There was a very multicultural population and a huge market on the Saturday where I picked up all sorts of fresh vegetables – okra, green beans, and broad beans.

I went for a walk on my first afternoon along a series of waterways and arrived at a large lake and park. There is so much water in Amsterdam!

I really struggled with not being able to speak the language. It’s not a problem in the downtown core, but I had no idea what the signs meant in the local supermarket (this till is closed or credit card payments only, for example). I had forgotten how fortunate I am to speak the language when I’m in France or Spain.

I found the crowds of tourists in central Amsterdam overwhelming, and I can appreciate how frustrating it must be for the locals. I enjoyed the paintings in the Van Gogh Museum, but the rooms were wall-to-wall tourists.

I did manage to get off the beaten track a little bit by following some walks that a local had written up and posted online. Waterways lined with tall Dutch houses are a delight.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 12, 2018

Seedy Saturday/ Sunday 
Seedy Saturday/Sunday events are always a welcome reminder that spring is on the way. There are two events in Saskatoon this year on Mar. 10 and 18, but be sure to check out the other events around the province.

Pierogi Making with Chef Jenni, Mar. 6 
Try your hand at pierogi making on Mar. 6 with Chef Jenni at The Local Kitchen.

Middle Eastern Pizza 
A visit to Rotterdam’s Markthal was one of my main reasons for visiting Rotterdam. The architecture is interesting, but the market itself is, unfortunately, disappointing. It’s all tourist fixings and quick lunch stands – not a vegetable in sight.

I had lunch at a Lebanese restaurant (it had seating unlike most of the others!) and enjoyed the manakish, which the servers described as Middle Eastern pizza.

Food Docs 
“What the current glut of food documentaries and series proves, in its own backward way, is that the conversation has shifted from celebrity chefdom and heavy-handed moralizing toward a more complex look at the political and socioeconomic issues that plague our global food systems.” 

And, from Food Tank, a list of 18 food and farming films that inspire change.

American-Grown Saffron
“Although there’s a history of saffron-growing in the U.S.—the Pennsylvania Dutch have grown it since the 17th century— the practice is not as widespread in this country as it once was. To bring it back, Arash Ghalehgolabbehbahani, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Vermont, decided to launch an experimental saffron project. Originally from Iran, Ghalehgolabbehbahani worked in the saffron industry in his home country, and thought saffron could do well in Vermont, given the similarity of its climate to Iran.”

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. 

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

Sunday, February 11, 2018


I was beginning to feel very comfortable housesitting in France and Great Britain, so I decided to stir things up a bit and accepted a 3-day housesit in Amsterdam. The only trick was I had an 8-day gap between housesits, so I added in some holiday days in cities I’ve always wanted to visit.

First up was Rotterdam. A port city, Rotterdam was bombed heavily in World War II so there’s lots of exciting modern architecture – and I’m an architecture geek.

I stepped out of the train station and was immediately blown away by the size and scale of the surrounding buildings.

There’s also lots and lots of public art. Don’t get any mistaken ideas – this is a statue of Santa Claus!

I took a boat tour of the port in the morning and was amazed by the size and scale of its activity. Let’s face it – I live in landlocked Saskatoon, where shipments are by truck or train! I’ll try not to bore you with facts, but 300 million tons of goods enter and leave the port every year with 32,000 seagoing vessels and 150,000 inbound vessels, which can travel all the way to Lake Constance in Switzerland on the Rhine River! The port itself covers 105 square kilometers.

Erasmus Bridge
De Rotterdam, Rem Koolhaas

From the port, I walked over to the Markthal as I was really curious about the dramatic building that combines residential apartments with a public market. The market, unfortunately, was a disappointment as it was primarily tourist-oriented stalls and quick lunch spots.

The Netherlands are a delight to visit if you’re a pedestrian – although the cyclists are a little dangerous! There are so many crosswalks and I never had to wait more than a few seconds for a walk light.

You know you’re a Prairie dweller when you’re astounded by the amount of water and boats in every which direction.

I had less than 24 hours in Rotterdam, but it was so much fun. I could definitely have spent more time here.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, February 5, 2018

Clearcut Coffeehouse, Feb. 24 
Clearcut Coffeehouse, Martensville, is holding its grand opening from 10 am-2 pm, Feb. 24.

Napa vs Paso Robles, Feb. 24 
Sample and compare California wines from the Napa Valley and Paso Robles at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer on Feb. 24.

SK Leads Canada’s Organic Sector
Saskatchewan is a key player in Canada’s organic sector with 29% of all certified organic land in Canada and 824 organic farmers.

Food Central Cowork 
Edmonton’s Food Central Cowork “is designed for people who have businesses that are within the realm of culinary, but outside of a traditional kitchen or restaurant, be it food producers and manufacturers, food writers, event planners, or non-profit organizers who need to keep costs low.” 

When Healthy Eating is Undermined by Poor Health
You need healthy teeth to eat healthy food. If you have dementia, meal preparation is a three-times-daily struggle. The same applies to anyone living with long-term illness. “We have still not fully valued healthy eating as a foundation for health and we need policies and programs to shift our food systems so that we all have access to healthy, just and sustainable 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, February 4, 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Bideford, North Devon

A few miles upriver from Appledore is the market town of Bideford. The town was a pleasant surprise and I didn’t have long enough to discover all its treasures.

The Torridge River is still tidal in Bideford and the quays are lined with boats both old and new. In the 16th century, Bideford was Britain’s third largest port and there are still signs of its thriving past.

The impressive bridge linking Bideford with East the Water (i.e. on the other side of the river) was built in 1535.

There are plenty of independent stores in the streets behind the quay selling baked goods, fruit and vegetables, and books.

Bideford’s market hall was built in 1884 and is referred to as the Panier Market as the farmers used to bring their produce to market in large wicker baskets. It’s a very pretty building, but it seems to sell primarily crafts rather than food.

The Burton at Bideford Art Gallery & Museum was an absolute delight, and I could have spent much longer there. They had an exhibit of Carry Akroyd’s work illustrating the poetry of John Clare which was fabulous and I left with two books of Clare’s poetry as well as a calendar and various cards with Carry Akroyd’s woodcuts and paintings. The works both celebrate nature and mourn its demise.

The gift shop has a large selection of work by local artists, and the café is run by a French couple with a menu ranging from cakes to crèpes.