Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Great Manitoba Food Bloggers' Bake Sale!

Chocolate dipped marshmallow pops
My presumptuous brownies
 Wow. That was quite the experience. The Manitoba Food Bloggers were having a bake sale in support of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, so I decided to join in. They were being supported by the Manitoba Canola Growers, so I modified the Better Brownies recipe I got through the Fast Paleo website. Paleo frowns on vegetable oils such as canola, but I found some local non-GMO oil and went with that. I also used Cocoa Camino organic fair-trade chocolate chips, which are probably also not strictly paleo as they may contain traces of dairy, etc. Hence, Almost Paleo Brownies ;-). I didn't have time to make a blog post about making them, but that will come.
Chocolate bourbon balls

Man, was I intimidated when I got to Aqua Books and saw what the pros had brought. Some of them actually were professional bakers. I stupidly didn't record the names but just look at these pictures and drool ...

I did receive some kind words from some people who tried the brownies. I wasn't surprised that they didn't sell out ... believe me, those pops above were gone within the first hour!

I also received a very cool white apron, courtesy of the Manitoba Canola Growers, which, as you can see, received very good use when I was cooking for Shabbat after I got home from the bake sale. I hope it washes out, but if it doesn't, it's a well-loved apron and my kids all went gaga over it.

There was a photographer there from the Winnipeg Free Press, who took a picture of those of us who were there in our fancy white aprons, so stay tuned for that.

 Of course, the absolutely best part was hanging out with all these foodies for a few hours. They are very cool, knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming to amateurs like me. The odd chef wandered in and I managed not to fan-girl too badly.

 Thanks again, Shel and others, for letting me play with the big kids and I hope we raised lots of cash for Jamie Oliver's good cause! Looking forward to spending more time with you and learning more about good, local food.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why Blogging About Food in Manitoba is Really Cool

Chef Michael Shafer demonstrates
Sometimes you just have to step out in faith and ask to play with the big kids. I have recently joined a FaceBook group called Manitoba Food Bloggers. I'm fortunate to be in a group there with people like Shel Zolkewich, Rebecca Hadfield, Ron Cantiveros and other luminaries of the Manitoba food blogging world. They talk about food and farming and restaurants in Manitoba and are generally awesome.

Now I am still recovering from an amazing lunch that I enjoyed on Monday, courtesy of Tourism Winnipeg as part of their kickoff of national Tourism Week. In particular, they were launching Peg City Grub, a very cool blog featuring as many as possible of Winnipeg's 1100 restaurants. It is written and photographed by Robin Summerfield, who totally rocks, and not just because she checked out this blog and decided I was a good fit.

The event at the Forks started with a demonstration by Chef Michael Shafer, of Sydney's at the Forks and the newly opened Rudy's Eat and Drink. Not being a pork eater, I am not clear on the details of the tenderloin he was working on, but I do know it involved Fort Garry Dark Ale, and the smell made me hungry.

That was a good thing as we then moved on to an impressive lunch, which I live-tweeted - how nerdy can you get? Luckily so did a few other people, so I didn't feel too freakish. I also got to meet and share a table with some delightful bloggers. Now I have some real-life faces to put to the posts I see in the FB group!

The lunch consisted of a lot of tiny courses, each supplied by a different restaurant at the Forks. I didn't partake of all of them (in particular, I passed on the crab, bison and chicken), but those I had were delectable. A few pictures (by no means everything we were offered!) just to make you hungry, too.

Empanada from Chilean Corner
Greek Salad from Zorba's Pizza

MB pickerel from Fergie's Fish 'n Chips
Seasonal mini-pie from Tall Grass Prairie Bakery

Three-chocolate canolli from Casa Bella

 So now I am really happy I plucked up the courage to ask Robin if this event was only for the important people with big blogs. It wasn't, and that is what this city is like.

Oh, and one more thing. Those awesome folks from Manitoba Food Bloggers are holding a bake sale on Friday at Aqua Books, 274 Garry Street, from 10 am to 2 pm, in support of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day. I will be contributing some almost-paleo brownies, which are currently making my kitchen smell good and about which I will be blogging shortly. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Favourite Grocery Store!

There are quite a few wonderful local grocery stores here in Winnipeg, and this time of year the farmers' markets start popping up like mushrooms after the rain, too. But I want to tell you about my favourite of all, year-round.

It's a little operation on Wall St., just north of Portage, if you happen to be local and want to check it out. It's called, because it started purely as a website, but branched out into a real store.

It started as a family operation, but was bought up by Vita Health, also a local company, a couple of years ago. I was a little concerned when the original owners burned out, but Ryan, the current manager, has done an excellent job of keeping the atmosphere and the high standards that were its hallmark. Most of the original staff are still there, which I think is quite telling.

Local tomatoes, yay! One of the many things I love about this store is its emphasis on locally grown produce. Living in Winnipeg, that is not something we take for granted. For six months of the year, the ground is covered in snow and all we have by way of local produce is carrots and potatoes from last year, and of course the local mushrooms. But when the tomatoes come in, we know spring is on its way. These are hothouse tomatoes, it is still too early to hope for field ones. But they make my heart sing anyway.

But here is the real kicker - fiddlehead ferns. They are only available for a couple of weeks every year. They aren't even the tastiest greens around. But they are local, they grow outside without plastic or heating, and if you blink, you'll miss them. Every year without fail, I find them at, and my spring is just not complete without them.

Of course the store also carries local organic milk and local free-run or organic eggs, pickerel and pike from the local lakes, as well as salmon that didn't come from China, bison and elk and halal chickens. You can find most of the organic big names on the shelves, but also Manitoba maple syrup (not this year, alas) and locally grown and ground flour. Most of the produce is still from far away, but those "Manitoba Grown" signs are becoming more and more frequent. I can't wait till they cover the whole cooler.

If you visit that little store at 603 Wall St., be sure to say hello to the staff from me. If all else fails, there's always

What is your favourite grocery store?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quick test post

Trying out the Blogger app on my iPhone. My laptop charger died and I can't use my computer, so sad.

Let me know if you can see this!