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edible souvenirs

The Saskatoon Berry: the Prairie Provinces’ Perfect Fruit

By WAHEEDA HARRIS

Photo: Tourism Saskatchewan

A favourite summer taste in Canada’s Prairie provinces, the Saskatoon berry is in season during July and August. Similar to a blueberry in size and colour, the wee berry was gathered by aboriginal people for medicinal purposes—the name comes from the Cree word mis-sask-quah-toomina—and became a staple of the diet of the early farm pioneers.

Modern science has found this purple fruit is high in antioxidants as well as vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium and that it has three times more iron than raisins. Once found only at farmers’ markets or in the wild, the berry it is now the second largest crop in the three Prairie provinces after strawberries, and can be found throughout the Prairies in jam, jelly, syrup and pies as well as in a wide variety of savoury recipes.

Where and how to try Saskatoon berries:

The Riverbend Plantation in Saskatoon offers an array of gourmet treats using Saskatoon berries from its farm—you can even order Saskatoon-berry-and-buffalo pemmican online and have it shipped. If you’re in the Prairies and want to pick your own, check with the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association (Alberta), BuyFromtheFarm.ca (Saskatchewan) or the Prairie Fruit Growers Association (Manitoba).

A Food Lover’s Tour of the Eastern Townships, Quebec

By WAHEEDA HARRIS

Bleu Lavande (Photo: Waheeda Harris)

In Quebec’s bucolic Eastern Townships region near Montreal, you can find plenty of gourmet souvenirs as you wind your way from Sherbrooke down to Lac Brome on Route 112. (more…)

A Food-Lover’s Guide to British Columbia’s Sea to Sky Highway

By WAHEEDA HARRIS

Christine's, on Blackcomb Mountain

Taking the Sea to Sky Highway, travellers are attracted to the vistas of Bowen Island, the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Mountains, and for a food-obsessed tourist, there’s plenty of local tastes to be found along the way. (more…)

Pic-Bois Maple Vinegar, Quebec

By Kat Tancock

If you’re a maple lover, you’re probably already using the syrup on more than just pancakes: on top of plain yogurt, added to salad dressings or as a natural sweetener for your morning oatmeal. But if you’re ready to take things up a notch, reach for a bottle of the latest kid on the maple shelf: sweet and sour maple vinegar from Brigham, Quebec’s Cabane du Pic-Bois. (more…)

Still Waters Hand-Made Single-Malt Vodka—Ontario

A small-batch distillery north of Toronto has started selling its homegrown vodka on-site, and is working on small-batch single-malt, rye, and corn whiskies, to be released in small quantities “as they become mature”.

Still Waters vodka and whisky is made with Ontario-grown grains and distilled in pots by hand, a slow process that yields more precise results than the industrial stills larger manufacturers use. In the case of Still Waters vodka, that means a subtly sweet flavour with a hint of vanilla and no burn.

For now the vodka is only available in person at the distillery (along with some imported whiskies), about 25 km north of downtown Toronto.

Read the full story at TorontoLife.com.

Vista D’oro Farms Preserves, Fraser Valley, BC

By Kat Tancock

About an hour’s drive southeast out of Vancouver in South Langley, BC, Vista D’oro Farms was an escape from corporate life for owners Lee and Patrick Murphy, who have built the 10-acre property just blocks from the U.S. border into a diversified farm and winery where everything is grown naturally, if not certified organic.

The Farmgate Market sells the farm’s wine, produce and fresh baked goods as well as other products from the region, but it’s the artisanal preserves that are the star of the show: “About 80% of what is grown on the farm ends up in a jar or bottle,” says Lee. They cook up about six varieties each season in small batches using traditional recipes and fruit from their farm and nearby farmers they trust.

Flavours such as orchard pear and cocoa nib, caramel apple with dark rum, and green tomato with garam masala are designed to be enjoyed in a variety of settings: with scones or toast, accompanying a cheese board, atop ice cream or as a glaze or sauce for meats. Jars ($8.95 each) can be purchased at the farm, ordered online or found at select retailers and restaurants in the Lower Mainland.

Details:
Vista D’oro Farms
346 208th Street
Langley, BC
www.vistadoro.com

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Evelyn’s Heritage-Grain Crackers, southern Ontario

By Kat Tancock

Wheat has been getting a bad reputation lately, but at southern-Ontario-based Evelyn’s Crackers, it’s quality that matters. Owners Dawn Woodward and Edmund Rek bake with organic, locally grown and nutrient-rich grains including Ontario heritage crop red fife wheat as well as spelt, rye and buckwheat to create a range of crackers that are as tasty and attractive as they are good for your health (and the local economy).

Flavours include the Slightly Seedy, picked as a favourite at the 2011 Great Canadian Cheese Festival, which blends wheat and oatmeal with flaxseeds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds; and Spicy Dal Spelt Sticks, great for dipping in hummus or tapenades, and made with red lentils, Indian spices and a touch of coconut.

You can find the crackers at cheese shops, markets, health-food stores and artisanal and gourmet grocers across southern Ontario and the GTA.

Homegrown Spirits at Ironworks Distillery, Nova Socia

By Kat Tancock

The picturesque town of Lunenburg, NS, is about an hour’s drive south of Halifax and a popular destination for visitors to Atlantic Canada due to its rich German and maritime history and relaxed seaside vibe.

While touring this UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated as a National Historic District by the Canadian government, stop in at the Blacksmith’s Shop on Kempt Street, right near the water, for a visit to Ironworks Distillery, the province’s first micro-distillery. Founded in 2009, it offers tastings and purchases of its spirits, made based on local ingredients.

On our visit, we sampled the apple vodka (it goes down smooth and has a true apple flavour) and blueberry liqueur: like all their fruit liqueurs, it’s made with less sugar so the taste of the fruit shines through. (It goes very well on ice cream, and we’re envisioning a Nova Scotian variation on the Kir Royale.) Apple brandy is also popular, and there’s also a rum from Newfoundland molasses (albeit from imported sugarcane, of course). If you’re flying home, make sure to ask for bubble wrap to keep the bottles protected in your checked luggage.

Details:
Ironworks Distillery
2 Kempt Street, Lunenburg, NS
ironworksdistillery.com

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