Radio Interview on THE INFORMED TRAVELER: Talking about Tuscany

Thanks so much to Randy Sharman for inviting me to chat about Tuscany on the May 5 episode of his radio show, THE INFORMED TRAVELER.

I love the relaxed, conversational way that Randy’s show brings the latest in travel news and tips to his listeners.  Like me, he believes that “there’s no better learning experience than traveling the world and meeting the people who inhabit it”, and he’s dedicated to teasing out stories and insights from his on-air guests.

The INFORMED TRAVELER is heard Sunday’s on 770CHQR in Calgary, 630CHED in Edmonton and on 980 CKNW in Vancouver.

You can also listen to free podcast episodes on curiouscast.ca and omny.fm by searching Google Podcasts,  Apple Podcasts, or Spotify on your electronic device.

In the May 5 segment, Randy uses my City Palate article “Late to the Table: a Culinary Walk Through Italy” as a springboard for discussing why food is special in Tuscany and how best to explore the region’s culinary treasures.

You can listen to my segment here – or hear the full episode (including info on celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Los Cabos or volunteering abroad) on THE INFORMED TRAVELER website.  If you like what you hear, you’ll find past episodes available on the website, too.

I’m looking forward to chatting with Randy again sometime in the future!

Text and photos © 2019 Catherine Van Brunschot

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Late to the Table: A Culinary Walk Through Tuscany

Tuscan countrysideLet me be upfront:  I never read Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun. Never saw the movie. I’m unaccountably indifferent to pasta (and Italian food  in general, if truth be told). Yes, I missed the boat completely on the raptures of Tuscany.

Friends who’d spent time in the popular Italian region said this was a gap in need of remedy. Stat.

So I booked a culinary walking tour of Tuscany, offering hillside rambles and an abundance of wine. Now THAT’S something I could commit to…

Read the full story in the current issue of Calgary’s City Palate magazine.

Tenacious Crete

lunch at taverna monastiri, chaniaI’m here on the water’s edge of what’s considered to be the most beautiful Old Town in Greece.  From my vantage point, I see a Venetian lighthouse standing sentry over a narrow harbour entrance and a Turkish mosque – now serving as an exhibition hall – opening its doors to the morning air.

This is Chania, second-largest city on the island of Crete, where the architecture provides just a sliver of insight into a turbulent history…

Read the full story here and in the new issue of Taste & Travel International magazine.

In Search of Venetian Fare

Gondola at the dockWhen you visit the magnetic city of Venice, two things are for certain:

1)  You will get lost.

2)  You will be hard-pressed to find quality Venetian food in the company of locals.

Thankfully, there’s a way to tackle both – and it’s guaranteed to be more than a little fun.

Find out how, in my latest article “In Search of Venetian Fare“.  You’ll find it on my website here.

Or look for it in the current issue of Taste & Travel International, now fully accessible online here.  (Give these last two links a dozen or so seconds to fully load – then click happily through the great travel content, photographs and recipes that you’ll find in every issue of T&T).

Because what’s better than a little armchair travel as we hunker down for the longest nights of the year?

(With apologies to southern hemisphere readers for my ethnocentricity).

Snapshots of Croatia

Dubrovnik at nightStunning Dubrovnik – with its old city walls jutting into the Adriatic Sea and its evocative Game of Thrones settings – is Croatia’s brightest calling card for good reason. Our early morning walk atop its ramparts brings heart-stirring angles across the red-tiled roofs. A gondola ride up Mt. Srd provides even more great photos – plus an opportunity to peruse the passionate exhibit “Dubrovnik During the Homeland War” housed in the Napoleonic fortress.

But it’s the evenings, when the cruise-ship day-trippers have disappeared and the sun shines rosy on the tiled streets, that the Old Town is most magical…

 

Come along for the ride as I collect “Snapshots of Croatia” from tip to tip of the country’s Adriatic coast – then check out Calgary’s best sources for Croatian food and libations.  You’ll find it all in the current issue of Calgary’s City Palate.

Passion for Perigord

Chefs Fudge and Meret depart Château Montastru
Photo credit – Steve Dunk

It’s 9:30 am and I’m elbow-deep in foie gras in a château in southwest France.  Not literally to the elbows, mind you, but I’m as up-close-and-personal as I’m likely to get, thrilled and terrified in equal measure as I tease vascular tissue free from the prized duck liver.  Despite the cooling armour of the castle’s thick walls, the foie gras seems to be melting under my fingers and I’m beginning to sweat.  My mentor, Chef Thierry Meret, reassures me with his usual bonhomie – and a shot of plum brandy.

Read the full story in the Winter 2018 Issue of Taste & Travel International magazine.

International Recognition for Calgary Pâtissier

Yann Haute Patisserie - Calgary

In a pretty yellow house in Calgary’s Mission district, magic happens.

And now the world has been let in on that little secret.

I’m talking about Yann Haute Patisserie, owned and operated by pastry Chef Yann Blanchard and his wife, Jeraldine, since Christmas Eve 2009. It’s an unlikely slice of Paris on the Canadian prairies – a picture-perfect boutique dedicated to the creation of pastry that is as beautiful as it tastes.

The tiny shop has a reputation for having the best macarons in a city spoiled for choice on that front.  I’m a personal fan of its viennoiserie.

And you should see the cakes.

This past week Chef Yann Blanchard became the first and only Canadian chef to be admitted to the Relais Dessert Association, an organization that recognizes the best in French pastry.  Akin to obtaining a Michelin star, Chef Yann joins an elite group of approximately 100 pastry chefs and chocolatiers from 19 different countries who have been acknowledged for the quality of their ingredients, execution, and artistry, as well as their passion and professionalism.

Yann w Relais Dessert pieceChef Yann excels on all those fronts.  But I’ll let you in on another secret.

Some of those gorgeous pastries are delivered free each week to those wrestling their demons at Alpha House – a non-profit agency that has offered a safe environment for 35 years to clients struggling with addiction.

You see, Yann Haute Patisserie is also a regular donor to LeftOvers Calgary – a grassroots organization that rescues food that would otherwise be thrown into the landfill, and gets that food to service agencies in need.  Each day, the staff at Yann Haute carefully squirrel away unsold pastries into their freezer.  Once a week, a LeftOvers volunteer picks up those pastries and delivers them to Alpha House’s detox and recovery centre.  As a volunteer driver with LeftOvers Calgary, I’ve been a lucky witness to the smiles that appear at the recovery centre when I arrive with that bag of magic.

Yann Blanchard and colleagues at Relais Dessert AssociationSo congratulations to Chef Yann Blanchard for his remarkable Relais Dessert distinction.  It’s time the world knew more about his pastry and passion.

And kudos for extending that passion to the environment  – and to those who might not ever pass through the patisserie doors.

Read more about Yann Haute Patisserie and Chef Yann’s Relais Dessert designation at yannboutique.com or on Facebook .

 

Text © 2017 Catherine Van Brunschot

Photos – Yann Haute Patisserie