Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A reader asks...about Leoni-Grana cheese in Alberta

We recently got an email from an Edible Prairie Journal subscriber that might be of interest to everyone. The reader was looking for Leoni-Grana cheese, a wonderful Grana (Parmesan) cheese that was made until recently in Camrose (AB).

We're posting our response:

Sorry about the delay, but we have bad news! Leoni Grana is no longer being produced. She shut down her operation about a year ago. We're not sure what the reason was but it seems that she has moved out to BC.

It seems to be the way these days, specialty producers come and go. Some like Whiskey Creek Tomatoes (we wrote about them just two issues ago -- No. 8) say that consumers are still buying on price, not on taste and quality, and smaller niche producers just can't compete with the bulk import prices. Others just burn out with the fact that they have to be producers, sales people, marketers, accountants and several other jobs all rolled into a 24-hour day.

Another reason to go a bit out of our way to support good quality local products...because if we don't, they'll be gone next time we look.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Activity of the Week: Visit a U-Pick Farm

Here in Central Alberta the saskatoons are ripe, full and wonderful this week. We highly suggest that you put a string through an ice cream pail, coat yourself from head to toe in mosquito repellent and load up on berries.

Head to your "secret spot" or check out a U-pick in your area. There are lots of great U-picks, and heck, some of them even serve saskatoon pie!

Find a U-Pick farm near you at the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association's Web site, or by calling 1-800-661-2642.

Please send in links to similar sites for our readers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We'll add it to this post.

Happy picking!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SIP, a Feast of Fields near Whistler, Slow Food Edmonton's Wild Boar and Beer BBQ and a Banff Culinary Festival

There are no shortage of really great food events happening this summer and into the fall. Here's a listing of just a few that we know about, and think that you'll likely want to know about too!

Edmonton - July 20 to July 27: SIP is a 10-day "wine and food experience" in conjunction with the city's annual "Capital Ex" (the old K-days exhibition). Local culinary celebs like Chef Brad Smoliak, Julie van Rosendaal, Judy Schultz and Neil Herbst of Alley Kat Brewery will be giving demos. The SIP events take place each evening from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.in Hall A at the Agricom, and there's plenty of booze and great food to keep you coming back for each evening's offering. The last day of SIP is Friday, July 27.

Pemberton (BC) August 18: The Fairmont Chateau Whistler invites you for a “roll” in the hay - and many other tasty treats they’ve cooked up. Once again, the Chateau is partnering with the FarmFolk/CityFolk Society to offer the 2nd annual Sea-to-Sky “Feast of Fields” - an interactive harvest festival.

Taking place on Saturday, August 18, 2007 at North Arm Farms in Pemberton - 20 minutes north of Whistler - guests can explore, and sample, some of the finest local, organic offerings from top chefs, vintners, farmers and brewers - right in the farmer’s field. That evening, Fairmont Chateau Whistler Executive Chef, Vincent Stufano, will create an entirely sustainable, masterpiece feast complete with wine pairings for each course. After a full day of fresh air and delicious food, guests can look forward to a full night’s rest at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

The Chateau’s “Feast of Fields” package includes entrance to the harvest festival, a 5-course dinner at the farm and one-night accommodation at the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Whistler. “Feast of Fields” starts from CDN $199.00 per person, plus taxes and gratuities, and is based on double occupancy. The package is available exclusively on Saturday, August 18, 2007. Call 1-800-606-8244 for reservations or click www.fairmont.com/whistler.

FarmFolk/CityFolk Society is a non-profit organization that works with food communities toward a local, sustainable food system. Projects include providing access to & protection of foodlands; supporting local, small-scale growers and producers; and educating, communicating and celebrating with local food communities. www.ffcf.bc.ca

Edmonton - September 16: Slow Food Edmonton's annual Wild Boar and Beer BBQ. What has 4 hooves, 200 hungry mouths, and enjoys live music? If you said Slow Food Edmonton’s Wild Boar and Beer BBQ, then you know a great time when you hear one! Tickets for this year’s BBQ, a lavish repast of locally grown organic foods and award-winning microbrewed beer, are now on sale.

The event, which is open to the general public, will be held on Sunday September 16th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at Alley Kat Brewery (9929 60th Avenue). With an accent on regionally produced food and drink, including a wild boar prepared by Mayerthorpe’s Hog Wild Specialties, the event will also include tours of Alley Kat’s Brewery and live music by local musicians Terry Morrison and John Gorham.

Tickets are $40 per person for the general public, $35 for Slow Food members; youth 10 and under are $10. Tickets can now be purchased online at www.slowfoodedmonton.ca; memberships may also be purchased through a secure server. Tickets will also be available for purchase in person at Alley Kat Brewery as of August 1st. Further event updates will be available online at www.slowfoodedmonton.ca between now and the event.

Banff - September 28 to 30th: “Eat Local – Change Global” culinary festival is centred on Alberta’s chefs and our fine food producers in Alberta. The festival will be held at Cascade Lodge at Mt. Norquay on the weekend of September 28th -30th, 2007. Some of the highlights of this culinary weekend adventure include:
·Alberta’s Best Chef Competition – a lively competition that challenges Alberta’s top chefs to create a breakfast, lunch, and dinner using Alberta ingredients. (Saturday)
·Culinary classes - walk away with a new appreciation for food, gain valuable knowledge and hands-on techniques. We hope that consumers will go home with lots of ideas, recipes and armed with new knowledge. (Saturday)
·The Marketplace – an outdoor food event that will be held in Banff. The marketplace will allow consumers to learn and connect with producers and vendors and of course to purchase products produced in Alberta. (Sunday) To register or for more info, go to www.CulinaryFestival.ca

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Edible Prairie Journal goes to Millarville Market

Come visit us at the Millarville Farmers' Market on Saturday, July 28th. Route 40 Soup Company has graciously invited us to share their regular market stall. We'll have the current issue for sale, plus back issues, and our famous 3-packs -- an entire year of Edible Prairie Journal's for $15 (these are issues from previous calendar years.)

We hope to see you there.

The market opens at 8:30 a.m. and runs until noon. For directions to the market, visit the Millarville Farmers' Market home page.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Forage Foods now open in Calgary

We're thrilled to bring you breaking news of the opening of Forage Farm to Fork Food to Go in Calgary. Forage is our good friend, chef Wade Sirois' newest venture. He's also the impeccable palate behind Infuse Catering.

Here's the latest news, straight from Forage!

The new Forage shop is going to offer locally focused prepared foods along with local ingredients to help make eating sustainably more convenient. Every day we are going to have a hot entrée ready to go along with some fresh sandwiches and ready to heat foods. We are also going to have our frozen entrées so you can stock up for the times you can’t make it to the shop. You’ll find things like our Wapiti Ways Elk Meatballs in Mushroom Cranberry Cream Sauce and fully cooked Grilled Sunworks Farm Chicken Breast. Along with the entrées we are going to offer things like our new Forage Tomato Sauces and Salsas featuring Gull Valley Greenhouse produce that we are currently developing. You will also be able to get some of our favorite Alberta foods like Highwood Crossing Canola Oil and Chinook Honey. We have built in a small food bar with stools in the front window so you can eat in the shop too.

And today, we got the great news that the official opening day has been set:

We have our final approvals done, the paint is dry and Forage will open this Thursday, July 19th at 4:00 pm.
Every week you will get an email of the daily hot specials along with any other news on what’s cooking.

Here are this weeks specials:

Thursday – Chicken Chorizo Stew
Grilled Sunworks Farm chicken chorizo, peppers, new potatoes, tomatoes
Friday – Berkshire Pork Potstickers
Broek Pork Acres pork dumplings served with asian slaw
Saturday – Honey Chili Chicken Thighs
Sunworks Farm chicken thighs with a Chinook Honey glaze served with roast new potatoes

We will also have a selection of our breads, a roast lamb sandwich, fresh baking, frozen entrees, local ingredients, and Fraser Valley raspberry lemonade to help you cool off! This week we are also launching our new product – Forage Tomato Sauce and Forage Salsa featuring tomatoes from Gull Valley Greenhouses!

Forage Summer Hours are as follows:

Tues 4pm-8pm
Wed 4pm-8pm
Thurs 4pm-8pm
Friday 4pm-8pm
Sat noon-6pm
Closed Sunday and Monday

We look forward to seeing you soon!

forage - farm to fork foods to go
3508 - 19th street sw
ph (403)269-6551

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sad news for Fans of Whiskey Creek Tomatoes

Just two issues ago, we brought you new of this fantastic greenhouse we had "discovered" just south of Calgary, Whiskey Creek Greenhouse. Carmen and Greg Ditzler grew the most amazing vine-ripened tomatoes we have ever tasted. But apparently, quality doesn't pay (or get adequately paid, as the explain on their web site goes). The Ditzlers are shutting down operations at the end of this month.

But why? This is the question on everyone's lips who has tasted the incredible tomatoes, sprouts and lettuces from Whiskey Creek. Carmen has posted the family's reasons on their web site and we're posting them here. Even though Alberta has come a long way in the past few years in supporting quality local foods, it is apparent that we still have a ways to go to keep good people like the Ditzlers in business.

Excerpt from www.whiskeycreekgreenhouse.net

The reality (hard as it is to swallow) is that growing great food is not good enough.

Input costs such as natural gas, electricity, fertilizer, biologicals, plastic, cardboard, delivery fuel, insurance, …… have all increased. We are small and do not have the economies of scale of large greenhouses. We have not been able to raise our prices enough to cover our costs.

We have increased our efficiency and production but now can not sell our whole crop.

There are very few grocery stores that are allowed by their own policies, to buy from a local grower.

Cheap, lower quality, imported food is still more attractive to many consumers than higher priced, high quality, local food.

We do not have enough hours in our days to grow our crop and sell all of it directly to customers. There is one local year round Farmer’s Market that we are not allowed into.

We wish to use less fossil fuels in our life and decrease our greenhouse gas output, but we have no more capital to convert to an acceptable energy source.