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A Taste of Place 

We had the good fortune of a day off this past weekend and so we took full advantage. It’s a bit early to celebrate the bounty of the region but we did our best. 

The best place to start is you want a taste of fresh local food is a farmers market. My favourite in our region is the Penticton market, a sprawling conglomeration of farm booths, food trucks, craft vendors and even a bit of kitsch. Being able to wander Main Street amongst the families with dogs and children while being serenaded by the many buskers along the way is a special experience. I love the chance to enjoy my coffee in a ceramic mug too – local roasters Cherry Hill offer freshly brewed java and you just deposit the mug in one of the bins they provide en route.

I brought my travel mug this time, but another great environmental gesture is their innovative “stir sticks” – biodegradable and low cost!

There is plenty of sustenance to be had – we each got a muffin from Brodo Kitchen and some fresh-picked strawberries (“picked last night” he told us). The fruit galette we got at Joy Road Catering we wanted to save for later, but we also could have munched on Thai food, crepes, tacos, or any one of a myriad of pastry choices. 

This early in the summer the fruits and veggies are not as plentiful of course. However there are plenty of booths offering flower bouquets, homemade preserves, honey, eggs, and even frozen meat from the farm. 

There is something both strong and delicate about fresh seasonal blossoms….

These guys weren’t kidding – you can take home your own guava tree! How cool is that?


Another wing of the market has crafts and artistic products as well as goods sold by what I call “hawkers”. These items are no so much “as seen on TV”, as they are nifty inventions or natural alternatives for household or body maintenance. I feel like I’m at the county fair when I walk this section; it’s entertaining. 

I thought this artist’s commentary was well done – sometimes we don’t recognize just how much heart and soul goes into someone’s creative efforts.


This fellow might be working to expand his demographic- he offers bat boxes for the adventurous, bird houses for the artsy folk, and even redneck bird feeders!

 

Once we had our fill of the market fun, we mosied up the road for some wine. After all, when in Rome – or wine country … We didn’t have much time but I had pre-ordered some wines in the spring. I took a bunch of scenic photos and a few pages of notes, so that will be in a soon-to-be released post. 

Here’s hoping you make time to taste the flavours of where you are this weekend. 

Responsible food choices

local food collage words

There is a great effort to support local businesses especially when it comes to food and often supporting “organic” is seen as a good sign as well. But when we talk of manufactured brands, do we really know where the brands come from? This infographic below shows a bit of “behind the scenes” info on who owns what. I don’t mean to pass judgement on any of these companies, but as the article from TakePart states if we wish to make more of a statement we need to make sure we learn about all the steps in our food’s progress to our table.

Now that the farmers’ markets are opening up and the fruit and vegetable stands will soon follow, it becomes easier to support local growers. How many of us also support local producers when we buy meat or cheese? Do we shop at a local independent store or a large national chain? Do we support brands based in our own country, or province (state)? Often supporting a local effort means paying a bit more… is this decision one that we feel is worth the extra pennies?

I grew up in  a time when food from countries halfway around the world was more expensive and not always available. Nowadays many of those items are always on the shelf and at a price that doesn’t change much (kiwis, pineapple, asparagus and strawberries in winter, citrus fruit in the summer). Big box stores didn’t exist either, and my parents knew the butcher, the greengrocer, the fish monger and the baker. At Costco or Walmart no-one asks to speak to those people, but they do expect the prices will be much lower than at the little local shop – the big guys purchase items by the container-load, so why wouldn’t they be?

I guess it comes down to value… how much would you spend on a pair of designer shoes or an outfit? What brand of smart phone do you prefer? If food is a priority, then likely you spend accordingly to find what you want. What is good wholesome food worth?  The same goes for supporting local; is your community something you value on a personal level – do you want to know and support your neighbours? It truly is up to each of us to decide, hopefully in an informed way. To borrow the phrase, “take part” – get engaged so you can defend your choices and live with a happy conscience!

Inside the Business of Organics: Big Companies That Own Your Organic Brands
Via: TakePart.com

 

What Goes Around…

All gourmands aren't this round, but we do tend to be this satisfied :)

All gourmands aren’t this round, but we do tend to be this satisfied 🙂

I write about the passion I have for food – its tastes and textures, the variations that come with different spices or cultural evolution, and how it affects the rest of my day. All this seems normal to me but every once in a while I do remember that there are people who don’t relate to food in the same way. For some, food is really just a means to an end; eating a meal is just a fuel stop. But I don’t think that means they don’t enjoy the experience, perhaps the company or the memory that might go with a food item. After all, Tim Hortons TV commercials wouldn’t be nearly as poignant if they just showed people drinking coffee without showing us where they are or who they share it with, would they?

So am I a food snob ? Did the enthusiasm from foodies like me inspire the market to offer exotic ingredients on a more regular basis?? Am I to blame for the impression we have as a society that the value of food is only as much as the latest grocery flyer says? This may sound like faulty logic but I have started to wonder if we are reaping the harvest sown from our own greed.

When I was a kid, many of the foods that are imported from faraway places were rare, expensive, and only seen at certain times of year.

papaya, coconut, kiwi, mango, even cherries were a delicacy when I was growing up.

papaya, coconut, kiwi, mango, even cherries were a delicacy when I was growing up.

Gradually it got easier for those foods to become more common on grocery shelves; the world got smaller. And then stores got bigger. And then prices dropped and you could buy a pineapple for $1.99 or kiwi 3 for a dollar. Pretty soon it was cheaper to buy a plastic box of strawberries from Mexico or Chile than it was to buy the ones from the local farmer’s market. Costco strawberriesNow you can get just about anything you want – ingredients or prepared food – at Costco and places like it. So, does this go against the philosophy of supporting your local farmers? Am I committing a foodie sin if I shop at those big box places??

(I’ll continue with part 2 of this post tomorrow. In the meantime, I’d love your comments!)

Breakfast makes the world go round

Muffets was my favourite cereal growing up – especially with hot milk and brown sugar.

When I was young and in a hurry to get out the door, I thought there were more important things than eating breakfast before I left. My Dad thought otherwise, and he made sure my brother and I always had breakfast to start the day. Now I am grateful for that; breakfast is a ritual that I enjoy and on days when I can make the most of it I feel like I am spoiled.

Last week my husband and I took a day away and went on the road to just enjoy each other’s company and spend some quality  time together. We didn’t have breakfast at home but felt sure we could find something fun on the road. We were right.

We stopped at a place I had seen many times from the highway but never had the chance to stop and check out. We took that right turn and wandered into the Lake Country Coffee House. The service was friendly, the menu looked appetizing, the art on the walls was very cool, and the chai latte warmed the cockles of my heart. The  lemon poppyseed loaf and raspberry muffin we ate in the car as we continued on the road were fresh and delectable, full of flavour.  My insides were humming.

We had a fun day in Salmon Arm, lounging around and visiting with friends. The next morning we got up early to check out the local farmer’s market so breakfast started with fresh organic cherries and strawberries from one of the stands. We licked our sticky fingers and headed out to our next stop, Gorts Gouda Cheese Farm. Coffee with fresh farm cream is like a whole new experience, I have to tell you. And their aged gouda will be fun to match with a wine – perhaps a Riesling, or maybe a Merlot? I’ll have fun sampling with the piece I bought. We petted a few super-soft calf noses and then we headed off down the road. 

Just to make sure we wouldn’t be lacking in energy later in the day, we decided to check out a local spot for something more substantial. The Blue Canoe Bakery & Cafe makes a mean breakfast sandwich, with a fried egg that leaks out the side, fresh tomatoes and toast that is crisp but not burnt. We sat and solved the problems of the world as we munched.

The rest of our day was a roaring success, more great memories and relaxing time together, all fueled by a good breakfast. I know ordinary days often don’t have the time that days away do, but at least a good breakfast puts you in the right frame of mind. I highly recommend it.

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