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.