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).

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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

 

Croatia’s Pelješac Peninsula

Salt pans from Napoleon's road, Croatia
Photo credit: C. Van Brunschot

If I could design a perfect day in food-travel heaven, this would be it:

A gentle hike on a mountain trail, overlooking vineyards heavy with fruit. A meet-up with a winemaker and a lingering visit to his cellars and tasting room. Perhaps a breezy float on the bay to take the heat out of the day. Then a long picnic lunch of shellfish just plucked from the sea.

Lucky for me, today IS that day.

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

The Allure of Les Alpilles

View from Chateau des Baux
Photo credit: C. Van Brunschot

“It’s a virus,”  says Jean-Benoît Hugues, as we gaze over the olive trees twinkling silver in the breeze beneath a hot September sky.  “It gets in your skin.  And it pulls you back”…

READ MORE

Driving and Dodging

Taste & Travel, Summer 2016

Follow me as I road-trip a gastronomic trail through Provence (in The Allure of Les Alpilles) and dodge motorbikes and flatbread-throwers on a high octane food tour in Lucknow, India (in Awadhi Adventures).

You can read both articles in the Summer Issue of Taste & Travel International – now on shelves at Chapters/Indigo stores across Canada and online at zinio.com.