Saturday Morning Raw:Almond

As a priest, Saturday’s are generally a semi day off. Generally this means I catch up on my sleep in the mornings. However there are some things that will get me moving early on a Saturday, and the annual brunch at Raw:Almond is definitely one of them. Last year, unfortunately I didn’t manage to get there, but this year I was determined to get back on track.

Saturday greenery.

A little greenery in a Winnipeg winter.

This year with the warmer winter, Raw:Almond had to be moved off of the river and onto the railroad bridge at The Forks. This meant a change in the space and layout. I quite liked the change, as it is a little smaller and combined with the warmer weather, a little easier to keep warm while dining.

Saturday Dream Team:

Although the brunch this week was headlined by Talia Syrie of The Tallest Poppy, she had plenty of help including Chef Ben Kramer, and Pam from Cake-ology. Saturday morning is for super heroes and these chefs are among Winnipeg culinary super heroes.

I arrived a little early for the 9:00 am start time, and so I walked over to the Johnston Terminal to get a coffee from Espresso Junction. I headed back just after 9:00 and took my seat. After having a brief chat with Ben, I was headed back to my seat, when I was stopped by the other diners. It was Primrose MK. Primrose is a Winnipeg playwright and novelist who I had the pleasure of first meeting at the 2014 brunch. So, I joined her, and later a co-worker of hers and the co-workers mother and aunt also joined us. It was good being able to catch up with a little of what Primrose has been up to.

Saturday Brunch:

As expected, the food was fantastic. We started out with Red River Cereal with a Berry Sauce. Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t eat Red River Cereal when I was young. We were an oatmeal for winter breakfast kind of family. Somehow though, if left to my own devices I don’t think I could prepare the cereal this well. This is a dish I could easily start every morning with. The fruit adds a great little touch of sweetness to the dish.

Saturday cereal.

Red River Cereal with a Berry Compote topping, good for giving you energy on a busy Saturday.

The next dish was our main course, A Mexican Hash. One of the things I like best about The Tallest Poppy is their free range eggs. The yolks are a brilliant orange which adds a wonderful dash of colour to their dishes. There was little bit of kick to the salsa, and I liked the mini potatoes in place of regular hash-browns.

Mexican Hash on a Saturday.

Mexican Hash highlighting the Saturday Brunch as main course.

Orange yolks on a Saturday.

I love the brilliant orange of the yolks.

The  main course was followed up by a Saturday brunch classic with a twist. There was a Belgian Waffle with cranberries and apples in a sauce, along with whipped creamed. The twist was that it was served with duck along side. The waffle itself was terrific. Crispy when you bite into, and moist when you chew it. I’ve often found Belgian waffles a little on the dry side. Not this one. The duck was also very moist and offered a contrast to the sweet of the waffle and the tart of the sauce.

Saturday waffle.

Belgian Waffle with Cranberry-Apple sauce, whipped cream and duck.

I thought that was the last item to come, but found out there was dessert. I thought the waffle was dessert, but hey if one dessert is good, two are better. The final item to come out was a Berry Crumble Cake with a Nutmeg Whipped Cream. I’m not a huge Nutmeg fan, but this was done exceptionally well, with a rather mild Nutmeg flavouring that didn’t overwhelm the whipped cream.

Saturday Brunch cake

Berry Crumble Cake with Nutmeg Whipped Cream to top off the Saturday Brunch

One of the other things I love about the Raw:Almond brunch is that it wasn’t rushed. It started at 9:00 and we had a good hour and a half to enjoy our brunch and the conversations that went with it. Also, the coffee cups were kept refilled on a regular basis during the brunch. The service throughout was friendly and relaxed, just like the brunch.

The brunch is running again tomorrow, and Saturday and Sunday next week. If you have the chance, plunk down the $30.00 and take in this brunch. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Pint – Garry Street

The Pint on Garry Street is one of the newer downtown pub style restaurant/sports bars. It’s part of a small change that operates primarily in Western Canada.

Therre's a good selection of beer on tap at The Pint.

There’s a good selection of beer on tap at The Pint.

I have to admit it took me a long time to warm up to the idea of visiting The Pint. That’s because the building it’s in is the former home of Aqua Books and Eat! Bistro. Both the bookstore and the bistro were among my favourite places to visit. Kelly Hughes’s creation of a cultural city hall has been missed over the past few year. I like sports bars, but I like bookstores even more.

Pint in a Hurry

My first trip in I was in between a morning pastoral visit and an afternoon service, so I was really hoping to be able to get in and out in a hurry. I walked in and sat down at the bar. Wanting something that should be fairly quick for them to make, Continue reading

1958 Community Cafe

Often when I am at St. Margaret’s, my trip there and/or back takes me down Westminster Avenue, often on my way to/from Thom Bargen. During the last year as I wandered, I noticed a new little place called 1958 Community Cafe. Much like Wannabees however, I never seemed to go by when it was open. Then late last year I read about the Kickstarter campaign 1958 Community Cafe was running to keep it’s doors open.

1958 Community Cafe French Press

French Press Refill for bottomless cup of coffee

Fortunately the campaign was successful, so I moved visiting 1958 higher on my priority list. My first visit was during the lunch service.

1958 Community Cafe Lunch

I arrived toward the end of the day, Saturday close is 4:00 pm, but there were still a few customers in when I got there. The interior of the building gives you  a diner kind of feeling. A few table, some counter seats. The tables give you the impression of home rather than restaurant. One thing I liked about the setup is the pictures that hang seem to by and large by the work of local artists. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. A nicer evoking of the era than the typical pictures of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, et al. Continue reading

Centre Place Cafe – Convention Centre

When I was working at L.C. Taylor, I would occasionally wander down to the Convention Centre for lunch at the Centre Place Cafe. I went back recently to see what may have changed in the course of the renovations to the centre itself. The biggest change is that the cafe location has moved from the east to the west side of the second floor. At least as far as the place where you order and collect your food is concerned.

Napkins at Centre Place Cafe

Naming rights napkins, in case wiping your mouth wipes your memory as well.

My visits were taken in the middle of fairly cold weather. The first was one just after the noon hour communion at Holy Trinity. I appreciated being able to get in the skywalk system at the library and travelling indoors to the cafe. Continue reading

Feast Cafe Bistro

Feast Cafe Bistro is the newest restaurant to have opened up in the West End. It’s only been open for a few week in the old Ellice Cafe location. I’ve lived in the West End for what’s heading towards a dozen years. The Ellice Cafe was one of my favourite places to eat during the time it was open. It was a favourite for more than the food. Over the years, several of the staff and customers became friends and remain so even after the cafe closed.

Feast Cafe Bistro.

Coffee’s always on at Feast Cafe Bistro.

I was excited when I first heard about the new cafe that would be going in, but it seemed to be taking forever to get off the ground. I began to wonder if it would ever open. Fortunately it did. When I first walked into Feast Cafe Bistro, the sense I got was different but the same. The pictures over the counter had changed, and there were some different table setups, but the cozy, homey feeling was still there.

The same is true for the menu. Owner Christa Bruneau-Guenther has created a comfort food menu based on traditional Indigenous ingredients. So, there are a few things on the menu that the average diner may not be familiar with, but the menu still very much resembles a classic cafe type menu. Continue reading

Standage: An Edible History of Humanity

I’ve always been a bit of a history buff. So, when I started writing about food, I naturally found myself reading books about food history. There seems to be an increasing number of writers looking back at how our eating habits have shaped our communities and lives going back to the beginning of time. Some of these books such as Catching Fire by Richard Wrangham take cover vast areas of history and geography. Others, such as Pepperby Marjory Schaffer cover a long time period but are more focused in the foods they write about. An Edible History of Humanityby Tom Standage falls into the former category.

Standage, History

Tom Standage: An Edible History of Humanity

Standage’s introductory paragraph states well what he is attempting to do:

There are many ways to look at the past:  As a list of important dates, a conveyor belt of kings and queens, a series of rising and falling empires, or a narrative of political, philosophical, or technological progress. This book looks at history in another way entirely: as a series of transformations caused, enabled, or influenced by food. Throughout history, food has done more than simply provide sustenance. It has acted as a catalyst of social transformation, societal organization, geopolitical competition. industrial development, military conflict and economic expansion. From prehistory to the present, the stories of these transformations form a narrative that encompasses the whole of human history.

On the whole I’d say Standage does quite well in describing these narratives. One of the strengths of the book is the author’s understanding of various issues and viewpoints. Another strength is that despite writing from a Western European, Continue reading