Friday, February 26, 2010

Food Matters!

Friday March 26, 2010

9:30-2:30 pm

Victoria Native Friendship Centre

231 Regina Avenue (by Tillicum Mall)

CRFAIR invites you to an annual food and farm networking event and

celebration of Regional Food Security Champions

9:30-11:30 Workshops

· Multimedia and the Web
Part 1: Promotion and Education,
Part 2: Farm Management and Marketing

· Cooking Together: the re-invention of Community Kitchens

· Emerging Local Research on Food and Agriculture Issues

12:00-2:30 pm-Celebration Lunch and 2010 Awards

Welcome, Keynote address Demystifying Social Media with Food Security Digital Stories and Clips. Learn who’s who in the food and farm sector, and join us for “Food Jeopardy!” a game to highlight current issues and trends in the Capital Region. Over lunch we will be celebrating the Food Security Champions and presenting the 2010 Awards.

Videographer on site! Come and make a short clip about your project, issue, story, or business - that you can link to/download/email and distribute to your audience!

$10 Registration includes lunch

prepared by Kitchens of Distinction and the Victoria Native Friendship Centre

Mark your Calendars now! More Details will follow.

Please nominate your food security champions!! Click here to download a nomination form. Tell us about that person or group you know who is doing great work around food related issues - Send nomination forms in by March 5, 2010.

Event RSVP and Nominations to:

tel. (250) 383-6166 or fax. 250 470-9411

Lunch, travel and childcare subsidies available on request.

Financial support for this project provided by Vancouver Island Health Authority's "Community Food Action Initiative" through ActNow BC

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stage in Fernwood

On Valentine's Sheila took me out to dinner at Stage in Fernwood. I am impressed with the quality of the food we got and the atmosphere.

Stage is at 1307 Gladstone, close to Fernwood Road. Parking sucks in the area, park in Gladstone close to the Fernwood Community Centre about 1/2 a block away.

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Fernwood might finally be coming of age and be able to support decent local restaurants. I lived in the area in the late 1980s and nothing managed to survive. The location at Gladstone and Fernwood is a beautiful small streetscape of heritage buildings but for a host of reasons it has never manage to be what it could be.

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Stage is operated by the same people that opened Paprika in Estavan Village, George and Linda Szasz. This is a tasting wine bar, a concept I like and have really not seen in this city.

It was fixed menu with some amazing food and few things that just missed. I started with some pork belly that had been deep fried into little fries with a spicy mayo - very nice. Then came an agnolotti with nice reduction on it - better pasta than I could make, but the sauce could have used some acid to take it from good to brilliant.

My "main" was duck breast with a spinach in phyllo thing and a duck sausage. The breast melted in my mouth, the sausage was drier than I would have like and screamed out for some sort of mustard.

The almond cake at the end was wonderful, I have no idea how they managed to get it out of the pan given how it fell apart on my fork and in my mouth.

I ordered the win pairing to go with the meal and I was impressed at how good the selections were. At Camille's it was our only complaint that the wine pairings using only BC wines was not as good as it could be. Stage made inspired choices with the wines.

We will be going back on a regular basis.

Stage on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Madrona Farm

Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South has posted about where things are at with Madrona Farm. $1,413,000 had been raised by January 14th and only $287,000 to go by March 15th. The Land Conservancy of BC is heading up the campaign. Former MLA David Cubberly has put his money where his mouth is with $10,000

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Victoria too small for Granville Island type food market, consultant tells city

There was an article in the Times Colonist the other day about a report to the City of Victoria council on the viability of a Granville Island type market here in Victoria.

I think the consultant missed the mark with the reasons why a Granville Island type of market would not work here in Victoria. First off there are not enough serious producers in the region. The local farmer's markets either have people that are selling a tiny amount of produce for a very high price, or they have very few fruit and veg producers coming to the market.

The Lower Mainland has producers coming from all over the Fraser Valley and even the interior to sell in the farmer's markets around the city. I know producers that gross over $2000 at a single weekly market, some have reached $4000. When I ran a stall at the Whistler farmer's market I managed to gross $500 a week. We do not have an agricultural area nearby that with many serious producers.

What would draw me to a market is knowing there would be many different producers there selling a large variety of produce. Without knowing there will be the selection I want, I am not going to go to market to buy. A good market would have 10 to 15 produce stalls with over 1000lbs of produce for sale at each one.

Mayfair tried their farmer's market last year and it was very short on produce, but I liked the location. The market needs to be easy for me to get to.

Granville Island took quite a few years to become a success. In the right location with the enough producers, a permanent market would work in Victoria. The city should allow people to experiment with different markets

Victoria is probably a decade or two away from supporting an indoor food market like the one on Vancouver's Granville Island, says a consultant hired by the city.

"There just aren't enough people living really close by to create a lot of demand for fresh, locally grown produce right in downtown," said Jay Wollenberg of Coriolis Consulting Corp., who was asked to review local open-air markets and make suggestions for changes or improvements.

Part-time markets such as the one on Government Street and full-time outdoor markets like those in Bastion Square and the Causeway are a good fit with downtown, Wollenberg told councillors recently.

Coun. Pam Madoff said Market Square was built for vendors, but "none of the owners has ever found it to be really viable. I think you need a strong local population as well as a draw.

"Maybe the model that we've been developing with the neighbourhood markets is the way for Victoria for the moment."

The consultants concluded Bastion Square, the Inner Harbour and the Crystal Gardens area are the best candidates for any permanent, full-time outdoor market.

Increasing the number of outdoor markets downtown might spread customers too thin, the report says. However, sales could be improved at existing markets by adding more vendors of locally grown food, creating a weather-protected setting and consolidating markets.

While the city might at some point want to look at an improved venue for a downtown market, that would require extensive consultation, Wollenberg said.

"You're talking about some combination of relocation and/or consolidation of other markets into a different venue," he said. "It would also take work to figure out what was the right location and to come up with a plan that makes financial sense given that this is, in the end, a seasonal kind of venue."

Successful markets require infrastructure, especially those that sell food, he said.

"Vendors basically have to, on market day, show up with their stuff. They have to find a place to park their vehicle. They have to unload. They have to get their product where they're going to sell it. Possibly they have to move their vehicle again if they have a temporary parking location and then press repeat at the end of the day if there's any unsold product," he said.

"This works not badly if you're selling stuff that's relatively light. If you're selling stuff that's heavy like potatoes, it's a pain and Bastion Square is not particularly well set up for a large number of growers to come in with product and sell in that location."

Several Random Things.....

First off I am saddened to hear that Solomon's has closed. We only had been there once because Max is only now getting old enough to allow us to go our for the evening. It was one the few places that seemed to be really trying.

I liked their scotch sampler, good single malts at affordable prices. Sheila loved the fact they served Fentiman's tonic water with their gin. This is a tonic water with real substance and flavour.

Discovery Coffee sells Fentiman's cola, lemonade and ginger beer but their supply comes to an end as Solomon Siegel has their supplier. We bought some of each to try them out.

Discovery is currently my favorite place for a coffee, this is primarily because I am really liking some of the beans they are bringing in. I also love the taste of the coffee that comes off of the Clover they use. They are the only people on the Island that I know of that have one. They are currently not available for sale, Starbucks bought the company and took them off of the market making them only available for their own stores.

Via Twitter I was made aware of Culinaire. This is a tasting event on Thursday April 22nd at the Crystal Garden. It is only $20 and I plan on going. Here is the list of who will be there:

  • The Bard & Banker Scottish Pub
  • Bistro28 Restaurant
  • Blue Crab Bar & Grill
  • Bon Rouge Bistro & Lounge
  • Canoe Brewpub, Marina, Restaurant
  • Clives Classic Lounge
  • Darcy's Pub
  • The Fairmont Empress Resort Hotel
  • Fiamo Italian Kitchen
  • Haros Restaurant Bar
  • Irish Times Pub
  • The Local Kitchen
  • Neptune Foods
  • The Oyster Bar
  • Penny Farthing Public House & Liquor Store
  • Pescatores Seafood & Grill
  • Pig BBQ Joint
  • Pink Sugar Cupcakery
  • Phillips Brewing Company
  • Prime Steak House
  • Saltspring Island Brewery
  • Sauce Restaurant & Lounge
  • Strathcona Hotel
  • The Superior Cafe
  • The Tapa Bar
  • Vancouver Island Brewery
  • Vantreight Farms
  • Veneto Tapa Lounge
  • Vic's Steak House & Bar
  • Vista 18 Restaurant
Last thing, I am amazed at the cost of canned dog food. If you are buying anything moderately good it is going to run you between $1.90 to $2.70 for a can of about 350ml. I normally make my own dog food, but over the last eight weeks I have not had the time I needed to make it and we had to buy dog food.

One type I bought was Trippet Green Tripe. The price was reasonable but the stuff is green tripe, something I had never heard of before. Green tripe looks vile and bad, it supposed to be good for your dog, but it REALLY puts me off.

Unwashed (or "green") tripe includes some of the stomach's last content, giving it an unpleasant odor and causing it to be considered unfit for human consumption. However, this content is desirable to dogs and many other carnivores and is often used in pet food. Though it is called "green," because it has a high chlorophyll content a green substrate, in reality it is often grayish brown as a result of other undigested compounds.

Borden's has the best prices I have seen for dog food, much better than the pet stores.

I made my own dog food yesterday, a stew of pork, potatoes, onions, carrots and celery. I ended up making it meat heavy as I was too busy to finish it as planned. I ended up with 16 500ml jars of dog food for a total cost of abotu $16. Buying the same amount of canned dog food would cost me over $50. Over a year I would expect to save over $700 making my own dog food. We feed Louie a mix of wet and dry dog food twice a day.

I find it easy to make dog food, I simply buy the cheapest cut of meet I can find, one with a lot of connective tissue. I slow roast the meat until it pulls apart. I then mix it in a large pot with onions and whatever veg I have that needs to be used. It all stews for a long time. I then fill 500ml jars with the dog food and pressure can it.

Anyway, as I said a bunch of small things and thoughts