Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cityfarm Edmonton

Everytime we look, there is something new and exciting happening in the Prairie food scene. We have just learned about a great new project in Edmonton, called Cityfarm Edmonton. The mission of this farm is to have a place where the urban community can connect with agriculture.

"At the core of resources currently available to Cityfarm is the donated 3.5-acres of land by the Visser family, the owners Riverbend Gardens, a long time market garden business located along the North Saskatchewan river within the rural urban fringe in Horse Hill community. Cityfarm, Riverbend Gardens along with Legacy Lands are in the process of creating a long term land disposition that provides permanent occupancy for Cityfarm while protecting this green space from the development pressure of being located on the edge of one of the fastest growing cities in Canada." -- from CityFarm's web site.

This is definitely on our list of places to check out. The farm is open to the public on special days and there are programs for school-age kids too. Check out the website www.city-farm.org and mark your calendars for the Cityfarm Harvest Festival on September 15th.

Eating Locally Just Got Easier!

Check out this newly updated website by the folks at Dine Alberta. Click here for weekly feature producers and weekly feature chefs; a searchable restaurant directory complete with mapping of locations and driving directions to participating Dine Alberta restaurants; weekly food safety tips for producers, 2007 restaurant menus + More!

What is Dine Alberta?

For the month of September, chefs from all corners of the province are whipping up menus with the best, freshest and tastiest local ingredients. Grab your map and your appetite and eat your way around the province for a true taste of Alberta's regional cuisine.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Edible Prairie Journal goes to the Naramata Farmers' Market

The Okanagan Valley is literally crawling with Albertans , Saskatchewanians, and some Manitobans in the summer. I spend a good deal of time there myself, so I decided to set up at the Naramata Farmers' Market last Wednesday.

This is a great little market in the village of Naramata, just 20 minutes north of Penticton. The market runs on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. just on the waterfront near the fruit packing plant that the village is built around. Some of the best vendors from the area attend, and there's always a crowd around Joy Road Catering and Dumplingdale Organic Farm. Vendors come from as far north as Kelowna and from as far away as Cawston.

The market is located within walking distance to the Naramata Centre, a bustling hive of activity in the summer as various groups book retreats and programs through the centre. Just as I suspected, loads of Albertans and Saskatchewanians stopped by the booth (where were the Manitobans??). I sold a few issues, a subscription or two and had a great time.

I mean, really, there are worse ways to spend three hours on a sunny afternoon in the Okanagan.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Calgary's Queen of Smoke & Captain Grill Represent Canada at Jack Daniels International BBQ Competition

BBQ enthusiasts can help send Calgary's Queen of Smoke and Captain Grill -- a.k.a. Sharma Cristie and Richard Fafara -- to the 19th Annual Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue just by eating, drinking and having a great time. Buy your tickets now to the fund-raiser and raise some smoke!

Click on the poster for a larger view.

Like BBQ? Canada's oldest BBQ competition, Calgary's Barbecue on the Bow takes place September 1 & 2, 2007.

Check out Calgary's Rockin' Ronnie's BBQ site.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Charro! Our newest retail location and a fab foodie find in Black Diamond

Last Sunday, we headed to Black Diamond, along the Cowboy Trail in Southern Alberta, in the scorching afternoon heat. Why? Because earlier this spring, we received a package in the mail from a woman there, Jill Marsh, who was starting up a very cool new venture she was calling Provenence Traditional Foodways. The tagline was even more intriguing: fire, food, wine, events, travel. All the things we love!

Jill just happens to be the representative for Mugnaini wood-fired ovens (drool!) in Canada. These are beautiful looking Italian-made refractory clay wood-fired ovens. Her daughter, Heath Waller, is an artist who does incredible collage work as well as other hand-made artisan items. While Jill was busy building up interest in Mugnaini ovens, Heath was creating the space from which he oven demos and cooking classes could happen, and the store, called Charro!, was also going to be a boutique with specialty foods and art could be sold. Together this mother-and-daughter duo seemed like exactly the kind of people we love to meet and the fact that Charro! was just so newly opened it was a must-stop, even given our jam-packed road-trip schedule that weekend.

So, heat-stroked and sweaty we rolled into Black Diamond and found our way to Charro! We must have seemed a bit crazy but we immediately started running around the tiny store (it's actually a cleverly redone 288 square-foot space in what was formerly the house's garage!) oohing and aahing over the incredible items assembled there: from lovely dish towels, to art cards, from premium gourmet snacks to jewelry, all tastefully displayed. We were especially impressed with Heath's own collage creations and artisan items.

Of course, we were also fascinated by the ochre-coloured oven occupying a fairly sizeable chunk of the store. We've already agreed that we MUST come back when we have more time and do some serious cooking that that oh-so-lovely oven. When we could sit still enough to listen, Jill and Heath told us their incredible stories of how they lived in a tent in the Australian outback for an entire year (Jill is originally from Sydney) to other various adventures together...finally having them realize their dream of living in Black Diamond and opening a space geared for people who love food, art and travel. The energy was contagious and we spent well over an hour there just getting to know them and asking a zillion questions about the Mugnaini ovens (pronounced Moon-ya-eeny) and looking over the incredibly well-chosen items stocking the shelves.

Jill and Heath were also fans of The Edible Prairie Journal so we left them with current issues as well as some 3-packs from 2005/6 to sell. We're thrilled to have them as a retailer.

And then, as if on cue, local chef Mark Klaudt of Route 40 Soup Company in Turner Valley popped in officially making this a foodie gathering place! (Remember, it's 35 degrees Celsius as we're posing for this photo...so forgive us if we all look a little wilted.)

All we can say is, get in your car and head to Charro! It's 288 square feet of foodie heaven. If you can't get there, or want more information about the store, visit the store's home page
or check out their blog page (which has great photos of Jill and co. assembling the oven) or call them at (403) 933-8862.

Charro! is located at 202-1 Street SW in Black Diamond, Alberta. The space can accommodate groups of up to 10 for either catered or non-catered events or meetings. Next summer, Charro! will conduct DIY oven-building workshops – perfect for enthusiastic weekend chefs!

Charro! store is open Wednesday 11-4, Thursday 11-4, Friday 11-4, and Saturday 12-3. Beginning Aug 14th, fresh wood-fired oven pizzas to-go will be prepared Tuesday 12-1:30, Friday 6:30-8, and Saturday 6:30-8 (while quantities last). On Sundays between 11-1 Jill will host by-appointment oven cooking demonstrations and tastings.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Two New Calgary-area Retailers for The Edible Prairie Journal...Part One Forage Foods

Wow, we had a great weekend in Calgary. In brief, we're very excited about our two new retail locations for The Edible Prairie Journal. They're both brand new and completely exciting places that everyone needs to know about and visit: Forage Foods in Calgary and Charro! in Black Diamond. Read on for our adventures to both places.

Forage: Farm to Fork Foods to Go

Our big weekend in Calgary started last Friday (almost a week ago!) with a tour of Forage, a brave new foods-to-go commissary in the Marda Loop neighbourhood. It's an extension of chef Wade Sirois' and his business partner Jaclyn Labchuk's (above) philosophy that the best food comes from the amazing array of local products that we have in our backyard. For years, Wade and Jacklyn have been supporting local producers by showcasing the best of the best on their amazing Infuse Catering menus as THE CATERERS in town. Now Calgarians can just whip into Forage on the way home from work and grab an incredible dinner-to-go (specials change daily), a loaf of Forage's incredible bread, a few hand-picked local specialty foods (organic cold-pressed Highwood Crossing canola oil, Edgar Farm's pickled asparagus tips, Chinook Honey honeycomb, etc.), housemade treats (Herbes de Provence crackers, cookies, Gull Valley canned tomato salsa, Gull Valley canned tomato sauce) and some frozen Forage treats (Berkshire Pork potstickers, Cunningham's smoked trout and potato perogies...do we really need to go on?) to stash in the freezer for later. Yes, this is the place where label-reading is encouraged. In fact, we love how the various specialty products all have their "Farm to Forage" food-miles posted right on the signs!

The to-go menu changes weekly, and you can sign up to receive an email of the week's daily specials. The entrees are incredible things like Hoven Farms organic beef, kidney beans, black beans, white beans, onion, garlic, chili spice served with Tres Marias tortillas or grilled chicken Caesar salad made from organic romaine lettuce from Lund’s, grilled Sunworks Farm chicken breast, Forage Caesar dressing, Sylvan Star gouda, crouton made from their signature breads. Yum. And now, Forage also carries The Edible Prairie Journal, both current issues and back-issue-3-packs.

And when we were there, Jaclyn treated us to an incredible housemade raspberry lemonade that was the pure epitome of summer. It was also a lifesaver as the temperature in Calgary that day was a searing 35 degrees Celsius!

Stop in, buy some great food, and grab a copy of The Edible Prairie Journal.

Forage: Farm to Fork, Foods to Go

3508 19th Street SW, Calgary
Phone: 403-269-6551
Note: They are closed Saturday to Monday for the August long weekend!