Hunter Valley, Australia

Gundog Estate WineryJust a two hour drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is not only Australia’s oldest, but its most visited, wine region.  With fall markets, year-round food and wine festivals, and concerts featuring international pop stars to chamber music virtuosos, it’s easy to see why.  A covey of stellar vineyard restaurants and artisanal food producers cements the Hunter’s place as a food-lovers haven.

READ ON HERE to learn more about my favourite discoveries in the Hunter Valley – or check out the full Summer issue of Taste & Travel International magazine HERE.

Fringing in Adelaide

Yabarra Spirit Trees, Adelaide

If you’re feeling a little blue about more months without travel and all of your favourite local festivals being cancelled, you’re not alone.

And if you’re a particular fan of fringe festivals, you’re probably also concerned about how those performing artists you’ve been waiting to see are making out.

Build a Rocket - before the performanceTruth is, they’re not going to be travelling to any festivals for the foreseeable future through this 2020 festival drought.

But there’s a wee bit of good news from Adelaide Fringe (the world’s second-largest annual arts festival), which managed to eke out its 2020 festival in February and March just ahead of the covid crisis’ descent on Australia.  It’s launching a new online pilot platform called Adelaide FringeVIEW, encouraging local and international performing artists to submit a digital version of their show to be presented to online audiences around the world.

“We want to help the artists who are unable to perform live or have had their shows cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO, Heather Croall.  “There is a need for the arts industry to band together and come up with new ideas, and with people at home and more time than ever to experience new shows, we want to provide an opportunity for people to access entertainment while supporting artists who have been impacted”.

Adelaide FringeVIEW  is designed to create an income stream for artists still looking to perform while restrictions are in place, with audiences asked to buy a ticket to help support the industry.  Artist registrations for the new platform have been open since April 15 and are free.  All proceeds from ticket sales are given back to the artist.

Fringe handbills - AdelaideThe Adelaide FringeVIEW platform will be live to the general viewing public starting this Friday, May 1 through to the end of May 2020.

“We are truly heartbroken to see so many livelihoods impacted,” Ms. Croall said, “but together we can continue to support and connect artists and audiences from around the world during a time where isolation is the new norm.”

So if you’re craving your fringe fix and want to support the artists who bring their innovative shows to you, see https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringeview for more info, and for tickets starting this Friday.

And to help satisfy your wanderlust  in the meantime (or at least soothe your clipped wings), check out “Fringing in Adelaide” – my take on Australia’s fabulous festival city when I ventured there in March 2019.  It’s an opportunity to look back and look forward to better days, and you can read it here or in the Spring issue of Taste & Travel International magazine.

TandT-Issue-37_Cover-web-730x944There’s also a few recipes to expand your kitchen repertoire (and don’t we ALL need that at this point?), including a delicious vegetarian dish from Adelaide Central Market, and a bright prawn and pineapple Thai curry developed by one of Adelaide’s premier chefs, Chef Nu Suandokmai.

(And in case you’re wondering:  Adelaide Fringe has no idea who I am and certainly did not subsidize the article or this post in any way 🙂 )

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).

Delicious Solidarity: Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of Food Day Canada

Berry harvest

In 2003, when international borders were closed to Canadian beef by our largest trading partners, Canadians responded with the World’s Longest Barbecue.  Chefs across the country came on board, sanctions were lifted over time, and that show of solidarity with our beef farmers morphed into Food Day Canada/Journée des terroirs, a nationwide party held every August long weekend in celebration of Canadian food.

Food Day Canada logoFifteen years on, with our blustery neighbour once again preoccupied with building walls, and our food producers under fire (from those, I believe, who would be allies if they better understood the reality), I have to agree with Food Day Canada founder, Anita Stewart, when she says that “Today we face similar, perhaps even graver, challenges”.

And I’m definitely on board with her call to all Canadians to not linger on lament but to throw a party instead, to “honour our own ingredients”.

Perhaps it’s my usual giddiness at the bounty that’s all around us at this time of year, but my personal Food Day Canada will be a celebration of delight as much as solidarity.  I’ll be pulling out some sweet discoveries that I made for my Canada Day barbecue in 2017.

spruce tip and rose hip syrup - webI’ll start things out with my favourite summertime cocktail, the Dominion Dram, created by Calgary mixologist, Myles Petley.  This drink has me gleefully picking new spruce tips in my backyard, and features a gin with botanicals traditionally used by the First Nations of the Arctic tundra.

We’ll nibble crostini baked from Canadian wheat flour, topped with aged Ontario cheddar and a drizzle of birch syrup that I sourced from a producer on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.  We’ll crunch through more than we should of Lobster Roll Bites (riffed from the delectable lobster rolls of Atlantic Canada, via George Brown culinary school alum/instructor, Annabelle Waugh).

Birch syrupMy husband will rule the grill with his famous West Coast Salmon (from a recipe shared by an old friend in Nanaimo) and *Nish Kabobs created by Aboriginal Television’s Chef David Wolfman (another George Brown notable. *Note:  “Nish” is slang for Anishinaabe First Nations).  With a few more mouths at the table, we might add Quebec Maple Pork Skewers to the platter, or some Bison Cherry Burgers (always a family favourite).

I’ll turn to Chef Wolfman again for Three Sisters Corn Relish salad, loaded with zucchini, onions, and peppers from my favourite Calgary Farmers’ Market producers.  And there will be heaps of Alberta-grown greens, carrots, and cucumbers, and sweet tiny tomatoes picked fresh from my garden pots.

Still to be determined are which Okanagan wines to drink.  So, too, is dessert – although it’s likely to feature the just-ripened fruit from my Juliet sour cherry tree (bred for Canadian prairie hardiness by the diligent researchers at the University of Saskatchewan).

Before the Plate film
“Before the Plate” directed by Sagi Kahane-Rapport; produced by Dylan Sher (Photo credit: Before the Plate)

To mark this 15th anniversary of Food Day Canada, Toronto’s CN Tower will light up the sky, and the film Before the Plate will make its sold-out premiere at that city’s Isabel Bader Theatre.  (This documentary, which takes one plate created by Chef John Horne at Canoe restaurant and traces each ingredient back to its Canadian source,  includes revelations about modern farming and distribution that are sure to surprise.  Watch for it – this doc is destined to appear at film festivals and indie cinemas everywhere).

Chefs will be hosting Food Day Canada events across the country; look for one near you from the list of restaurant partners at fooddaycanada.ca.

SO REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU’RE INCLINED TO CELEBRATE – be it solidarity with our country’s farmers, delight for Canadian-grown/raised/fished/foraged/brewed/distilled/aged or otherwise-crafted ingredients, or simply a glorious long weekend in our oh-so-short summer – be sure to rustle up some culinary treasures from your local farmers and food artisans this weekend or hustle down to the digs of your favourite chef-creator of Canadian cuisine.  There’s a patio or deck with your name on it somewhere and a cornucopia of Great White North flavours close at hand.

Wherever you are, be sure to share your discoveries on your favourite social media platforms using the hashtags #FoodDayCanada and #CanadaIsFood.

Food Artisans of Alberta

 (And for my Alberta homies, there’s a brand new resource out there to help you find all that delicious local goodness.  Food Artisans of Alberta by Karen Anderson and Matilde Sanchez-Turri combs every corner of the province to highlight the best growers and producers harnessing and nurturing our unique terroir from land and water to plate, jar, and bottle.  Once you read their stories, you’ll want to track them down – and much of their fare is closer than you think!  Find this guide at bookstores, cafes, cooking schools, food artisans – even the odd gas station around the province – or online at Chapters/Indigo.)

 

 

Text and photos © 2018 Catherine Van Brunschot (except where noted)

 

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.

Following Vernon’s Culinary Trail

Paddling with ELEMENTS Adventure Company
Photo credit: ELEMENTS Adventure Company

When I came in search of food experiences in British Columbia’s North Okanagan Valley, I didn’t expect to find myself HERE.

Pine forests tumble down the Monashee mountains and cottonwoods throw shadows over the canoe, as I float with seven other paddlers down the Shuswap River.  Other shadows flit below the water:  Chinook and Sockeye salmon returning to their birthplace to spawn.  A Bald eagle whistles from a tall snag, but before I can locate his partner, my guide, Charles Ruechel, sounds his call to stroke hard on my side of the canoe.  By the time we clear the “sweeper” – a tree laid low over the water – we’ve left the eagle behind.  No matter.  Minutes later, another eagle splits the October sky.

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

Eating India

Surjit Singh in Amritsar
Credit: C. Van Brunschot

Thanks to Karen Anderson for the shout-out on her Savour It All blog about my “Eating India” article in the newest issue of City Palate.  The article highlights my travels through northern India in late 2015 with Alberta Food Tours   a truly delicious adventure.

I’m happy to say I’ll be making a return trip with them in the fall – this time to Mumbai, Goa, Kerala, and the Cardamom Hills!

You can read Karen’s post here – and see my full article in blazing colour in the digital edition of City Palate here.

Awadhi Adventures

Chowk at night, Lucknow
Photo credit: C. Van Brunschot

“Do you always do this tour at night?” I shout.

My voice is lost in the din as a motorbike threads the gap between my guide, Cyrus, and me, and I’m forced to repeat the question when I catch up to him in an alcove minutes later.

“Yes, usually at night,” he smiles.  “So that visitors are able to get the full atmosphere.”  I take in the crush of shoppers and diners, awash in the fluorescent light and savoury aromas spilling from the open shop fronts into the ancient lane. And I have to concede:  Cyrus has got the “atmosphere” part nailed…

Read more of my column from the last issue of Taste & Travel International HERE (page 78) and  HERE (page 79).

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

Uncommon Medley

Waterfall Joy, Brownsberg Nature ParkSURINAME.

It’s a name that draws a blank from even the most well-travelled.  Call it the former Dutch Guiana, and some can place it in the western hemisphere:  a wedge pencilled off the northern reaches of the Amazon rainforest; a mangrove-armoured coastline, barely accessible but for the rivers that pierce their way to the Atlantic.  It’s a country in South America, but not of it – peopled originally by the Caribs and Arawaks, mostly bypassed by the Spanish, and thus sharing little, culturally, with the majority of the continent.  Instead, the vagaries of history brought Dutch plantation owners and West African slaves to its shores; after abolition, workers from India, China, and Java.  Centuries of mingling and mixing have created a true cultural pastiche – and a unique cuisine to match…

Harvesting cassava, SurinameREAD MORE of my article in the Winter 2016 issue of Taste & Travel International magazine – on shelves now at Chapters/Indigo stores across Canada and online at zinio.com.

Subscriptions at http://www.TasteAndTravelMagazine.com.