Travel Manitoba: Eat What You Reap

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Two large pizza pies oozing with melted cheese and loaded with toppings are hungrily eyed by diners.

But it’s no ordinary pizza party. The women seated at the linen-draped picnic-table are about to tuck into pies loaded with vegetables they just picked at a vegetable farm down the road.

Talk about fresh food.

The late-afternoon outdoor garden party is the well-earned reward for work in the field and kitchen.

This is Friends and Lovers, a new two-day retreat at Calder House Bed and Breakfast, located just east of Steinbach in southeastern Manitoba.

The adventure taps into a growing trend—cuisine-focused travelling that connect people with local foods from the dirt up.

Calder House B & B owners Carole Tetreault and Grant Milliner partnered with nearby farmers Kim Shukla and her husband Richard Whitehead of Stonelane Orchard to create a hands-on, yet relaxing retreat for travellers.

Armed with a ‘shopping list,’ guests grab baskets and pick ingredients at Stonelane Orchard. Shukla leads her charges through the fields, greenhouse and orchard, teaching the ins and outs of Manitoba agriculture along the way.

“It sounds funny but we really like to talk about vegetables because it really broadens people’s horizons,” says Shukla. “It’s really about getting back to the land and knowing where your food comes from.”

That food includes a plethora of vegetables including peas and peppers, beans basil and leafy greens, among many other garden-fresh eats.

“People really want to connect with their food,” says Shukla. “And if they can pick their own lettuce and eat it that night they get really excited.”

That’s where husband-and-wife team Tetreault and Milliner come in. Back at Calder House, a circa 1922 farm-house, the duo enlists their vegetable-laden guests to help make dinner using the produce and herbs harvested from Stoneland Orchard. Tetreault leads the kitchen party, teaching any neophytes how to cook and overseeing the action.

Dinner is served on the garden patio (or inside the large dining room if the weather doesn’t cooperate). After reaping the delicious rewards of their garden-fresh feast, Tetreault, a massage therapist and reiki practitioner, can work out the kinks in the upstairs treatment room.

The two-day package is a true food-lovers escape with the added bonus of a peaceful retreat from the buzz of modern life,, says Tetreault.

“I hope (guests) find some peace, reconnect with themselves and just be, be present.”

Friends and Lovers runs mid-July through September. Get dirt under your fingers and eat what you reap. For information visit Calder House B & B’s website.

Calder Healing House

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My story first appeared on Travel Manitoba’s media website. Here’s the link.

Bistro 71/4 host Fall cooking classes

Alex Svenne Bistro 7 1/4
Alex Svenne Bistro 7 1/4

Bistro 7 1/4 chef/owner Alex Svenne has added a new job to his resume: cooking teacher.

The 42-year-old restaurateur and his wife Danielle, also 42, are set to launch in-house cooking classes at their South Osborne eatery.

The classes have been in the works for months but the idea came together in mid-August, after the always busy couple got through July and their annual commitment to feed the performers at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

As a side note: Alex and I go way back. I first met him when we both worked at Chi Chi’s near the now-demolished Winnipeg Arena and Stadium. I was a server (a very bad one with zero short-term memory skills) and he was a pony-tailed dishwasher. He worked his way up in the restaurant business, started a catering business with his then, long-term girlfriend Danielle, and then opened Bistro 7 1/4 a few years ago. The restaurant has been a favourite among critics and diners.

And now we can all learn how to cook like Alex.

Here are all the cooking class details, pinched from Bistro’s Facebook page:

Get into Chef Alex’s kitchen! Come learn to cook some fun dishes, hands on in the Bistro 7 1/4 prep kitchen. Choose one or all 6 classes. Chef Alex will work with you to make great food that you will all enjoy eating as you go. Learn how to make chicken galantine, sear a perfect duck breast, and whip up a souffle! Cook kale 4 different ways! Learn cooking tips and Chef’s secrets.

Classes are approximately 2-3 hours long and will start at 7pm

Duck: Tuesday Sept 10
Fish: Tuesday Sept 17
Chicken: Tuesday Sept 24
Eggs: Tuesday Oct 1
Vegetables: Tuesday Oct 8
Pig: Tuesday Oct 15
12 – 16 students per class

Call 204-777-2525 to sign up for any or all cooking classes.
$60.00 per class or $300.00 for all 6
For more information visit Bistro’s website here.

For all the ins and outs of Winnipeg’s food scene follow me on Twitter @RSummerfield.