Pilgrimage to Narcisse: World’s largest snake den

Pleassssed to meet you. (photo robin summerfield)
Pleassssed to meet you. (photos robin summerfield)


Vehicles lined both sides of the highway for at least a kilometre or more.

We eased our compact SUV through the squeeze of parked cars. People walked alongside on the pavement with strollers, coolers, kids and dogs in tow.

A ride on Thomas the Train? No.

A Wiggles concert? Nope.

Folk Festival? Not even.

No, we teaming masses had made this 90-minute pilgrimage north of Winnipeg to visit a den of snakes.

Indeed, we were visiting the world’s largest population of snakes. And we were about to watch their annual mating frenzy.

Narcisse, Manitoba is a wonder of the world.

Every Spring ten of thousands of red-sided garter snakes emerge from their winter hibernation and do what feels natural.

They’ve spent months underground in limestone cracks, caves and fissures waiting out the cold. They wake up, slither topside and spend two to three weeks trying to woo available females in a feverish mating dance. The males vastly outnumber the females, who are plumper than the fellas. The boys curl around a female, trying to capture her attention in a big slithering ball. (Once mating season is over everyone disperses to the nearby marshlands for summer and return to the dens in fall.)

It looks like a bad night at the (insert any dance-club name here).

The snakes are fascinating to watch and any aversion you may have had to the reptiles is cured swiftly. The sheer volume pretty much eliminates any lingering heebie jeebies.

Visitors are welcome to pick up the snakes but they must be gentle and not take them away from the den. Interpreters walk around the three-kilometre trail to answer questions.

Their are several dens on the site. Crushed limestone pathways criss-cross the fields, leading guests to the dens. For prime viewing, pick a warm, sunny day.

We chose the warmest day in a five-day stretch to make our run to the snakes. We weren’t alone. An estimated 8,000 people had the same plan one recent Sunday in mid May.

The frenzy in the dens mirrored the frenzy of snake seekers above jostling for the best view from platforms along the trail. Toddlers, teenagers, moms, dads, grandparents and folks of every description wandered the trails.

But it was all good.

People shared their snakes, handing them off to each other and helping the squeamish get comfortable.

And no one left without seeing the snakes, a whole lot of snakes.

PicMonkey Collage










Here’s a great website about the snakes; how to get to Narcisse; and what to expect. And check out Nature North’s site for additional intell on Manitoba snakes and other local creatures. 

Slim pickings for Mother’s Day brunch spots in Winnipeg


Hundreds of orange milk chocolates will be made for Mother's Day brunch at Winnipeg's Fort Garry Hotel (Robin Summerfield)
Hundreds of orange milk chocolates will be made for Mother’s Day brunch at Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel (Robin Summerfield)


She gave you life and you’re trying desperately to give her a nice meal.

Good luck. Finding brunch reservations in Winnipeg for Mother’s Day this Sunday is a tall order.

Local favourites have already filled up while many others have limited space during off-peak hours.

But pick up the phone and start calling because tables can still be found in the city.

As of Thursday morning, Chaise Café and Lounge still had space available but it’s tight. Chaise has reservations for 200 confirmed but executive chef Jason Sopel expects 350 guests to come for brunch Sunday.

“It’s definitely going to be busier partly because we’ve built our reputation on brunch,” said Sopel.

Chaise is serving a $25, three-course menu featuring several salads, smoked apple wood bacon, smoked trout, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, potato croquettes, banana pancakes and cinnamon buns, among other dishes.

Sopel and his sous chef are pulling an all-nighter Saturday to make final preparations. He also vowed to keep serving brunch into the dinner hour for as long as customers want it.

Meanwhile, brunch heavyweight the Fort Garry Hotel has sold-out its 1,000 or so seats for Sunday’s main event, one of their busiest days of the year.

“We’re working harder. We’re working longer hours and everyone’s pulling together,” said Richard Warren, the hotel’s pastry chef and three-year Mother’s Day brunch veteran. His staff of nine are pumping out cakes, tarts, squares, slices, chocolates of all description.

“We’re making three or four times what we normally do,” Warren said.

Fifteen dozen cakes (in eight flavours), 20 dozen chocolates and truffles and 16 dozen lemon tarts are just a slice of what Warren’s crew will be serving. The team also makes all the bread, croissants and pastries for the hotel.

Back on the hunt for reservations, take heart: as of Thursday there were still limited seats for the taking at The Velvet Glove, Pasquale’s (dinner), Bistro 7 1/4 and Elements. But you may be eating very early in the morning or closer to dinner time.

So get cracking. Don’t forget to buy Mom a card. And next year, make reservations earlier.

Fort Garry Hotel pastry chef Richard Warren stands in the walk-in cooler amongst racks of cookies, slices, cakes and bread. (Robin Summerfield)
Fort Garry Hotel pastry chef Richard Warren stands in the walk-in cooler amongst racks of cookies, slices and cakes. (Robin Summerfield)
St. Boniface's Chaise Café will serve an estimated 500 croquettes during Mother's Day brunch. (Robin Summerfield)
St. Boniface’s Chaise Café will serve an estimated 500 croquettes during Mother’s Day brunch. (Robin Summerfield)
Fort Garry Hotel pastry chef Richard Warren pours over his to-do list. The Mother's Day brunch at the hotel attracts about 1,000 people and is one of the busiest days of the year. (Robin Summerfield)
Fort Garry Hotel pastry chef Richard Warren pours over his to-do list. The Mother’s Day brunch at the hotel attracts about 1,000 people and is one of the busiest days of the year. (Robin Summerfield)


This story first appeared on CBC Manitoba’s website Scene. Here’s a link to the original story.

Winnipeg restaurant owners roll dice on business

Clinton Skibitzky (left) and Olaf Pyttlik hope their new games-restaurant in Winnipeg's Exchange District sparks a gaming trend in the city. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)
Clinton Skibitzky (left) and Olaf Pyttlik hope their new games-restaurant in Winnipeg’s Exchange District sparks a gaming trend in the city. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

New Exchange District restaurant owner Olaf Pyttlik would hate to see bored customers.

Instead, he wants customers at the boards. That’s why he’s opening Across the Board game café, a licensed eatery and games room Pyttlik hopes will fuel an emerging trend in the city.

“The market is growing and we just thought it was time for Winnipeg to have this kind of thing,” said Pyttlik.

Across the Board opens 5 p.m. on Thursday at 93 Albert Street, the former home of The Fyxx and Urban Forest.

Neither Pyttlik—a longtime games enthusiast who began collecting games as a youngster in Germany—nor his business partner Clinton Skibitzky have restaurant experience but they do own a production company.

“This is basically a crime of passion,” Pyttlik said.

For $5 per person per visit, guests will have unlimited time to play any of the estimated 700 games in the café’s library.

The duo doesn’t have the monopoly on the games room and restaurant mash-up in Winnipeg.

In early April, games café Meeplesopened inside Kay’s Deli a few blocks away. There, Meeples’ gamers take over the deli after it closes.

Winnipeg is slow to get on the board games café trend. Toronto is already home to about a dozen games cafés including Snakes and Lagers andRoll Play Café.

Meanwhile, Pyttlik is ready to roll the dice on his new business. The 45-year-old and his wife have been hosting games nights at their Wolseley-area home for years, attracting 30 to 40 players for their twice monthly party.

“We were shocked at the number of people,” he admitted. “There was a real appetite to get away from the digital experience.”


Across the Board co-owner Olaf Pyttlik stands in front of his library of board games. The games enthusiast began amassing his collection as a youngster in his native Germany. (Robin Summerfield)
Across the Board co-owner Olaf Pyttlik stands in front of his library of board games. The games enthusiast began amassing his collection as a youngster in his native Germany. (Robin Summerfield)
Old school family games likeMonopoly, Sorry and Yahtzee are stocked alongside modern games like Settlers of Catan, A Few Acres of Snow and Cards Against Humanity. (Photo by Robin Summerfield)
Old school family games likeMonopoly, Sorry and Yahtzee are stocked alongside modern games like Settlers of Catan, A Few Acres of Snow and Cards Against Humanity. (Photo by Robin Summerfield)

My story about Across the Board first appeared on CBC’s arts and culture website Scene. Here’s the link to the original story.

Manitoba farmers get into the beer biz

Prodigal Sons Brewery, Derek Trinke (left) and Toban Dyck. (Photo courtesy Toban Dyck.)
Prodigal Sons Brewery, Derek Trinke (left) and Toban Dyck. (Photo courtesy Toban Dyck.)

Toban Dyck and Derek Trinke are drafting a plan and planning to draught.

If the plan works, the two Manitoban men will be making their own craft beer within a year.

Called Prodigal Sons Brewery, both have returned to their family’s farms just north of Winkler to start their beer business.

“We’re very pumped about this. It’s very exciting,” said Dyck. “It’s been a dream of mine.”

The pair will build a brewery on Dyck’s family farm just north of Winkler. The 1,200 acre wheat and soy bean farm has been in the family for 130 years.

In mid-April, the duo also launched an online crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo.com to raise $20,000 to help build a smaller tap house on the property. They are also currently finalizing their business plan and will use it to find major investors, said Dyck.

Neither Trinke, nor Dyck has experience in the beer business.

Dyck is a magazine, newspaper and online journalist while Trinke, who lives across the lane on his own family farm, is an environmental consultant. Both men moved back to Manitoba several years ago from Toronto and Vancouver.

“The farm lifestyle was really appealing to both of us,” Dyck said.

They have already started brewing beer in a friend’s garage in Winkler. They plan to brew a lager, stout and a cream or pale ale to start.

Dyck pointed to Winnipeg’s Half Pints Brewery as inspiration and a model on how to build a successful craft beer business.

Indeed, last month Half Pints expanded its business by adding six 4,000 litre tanks to its St. James facility. The additional tanks will boost production by 56 per cent or roughly 1,500 24-bottle boxes per brew.

In the next few months, Half Pints also hopes to start selling in British Columbia. They currently sell beer in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

“It’s going to keep us busy that’s for sure,” said Half Pints general manager Zach Mesman.

He also welcomed Prodigal Sons Brewery to the local craft brewing industry.

As Mesman said: “There’s lots of room for everyone. It’s only good for the industry.”

Back in Winkler, Dyck knows starting a brewery from the ground up will be a big challenge.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, that’s for sure.”

This story first appeared on CBC’s The Scene. Here’s the link.

Bonfire Bistro: Pizza za za zing

Spicy La Bomba Chicken Pizza at Bonfire Bistro (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)
Spicy La Bomba Chicken Pizza at Bonfire Bistro (photo robin summerfield.)

Bonfire Bistro
1433 Corydon Avenue
Neighbourhood: River Heights
Website: www.bonfirebistro.ca
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Bonfire-Bistro/133356493358574
Twitter: twitter.com/BonfireBistro

Bonfire Bistro is one of those neighbourhood haunts that the locals would probably prefer to keep on the down low.

If everyone knew how good this bistro was, no one would ever get a table.

As it is, this River Heights eatery is a very popular spot. Arrive early on Friday and Saturday evenings if you have to make it in time for the puck drop, the curtain rising or the opening credits.

If you’ve got no pressing engagements, settle in for a little linger over an outstanding wood-fired pizza, pasta or daily special. The pizzas are all made inside the large stone oven at the back of the main dining room.

Modern pizza ingredients like Serrano ham, fennel, pear, Stilton blue cheese, arugula, balsamic glaze, hot Italian sausage and preserved lemon make the cut here. Choose from nine customized pizzas. Even though you might recognize some ‘classics’ (think pepperoni, Hawaiian, Margherita, vegetarian and mushroom), all the pies have been modified and jazzed up with additional, out-of-the-box ingredients. Five of the nine pizzas also bring the heat.

Enter the Spicy La Bomba Chicken pizza. A generous layer of spicy La Bomba sauce starts the madness. Fresh roasted red peppers, a generous helping of fresh jalapeño slivers and scads of  chicken breast tossed in additional spices come next. (Confession: I couldn’t tell if the heat was just coming from the sauce or the chicken, or both.)

A canopy of oozing mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of cilantro topped the pie. Drizzles of yogurt citronette were definitely there but hard to discern on my scorched tongue.

Bring the heat. No wimpy pizzas, I say. When Bonfire says ‘spicy,’ they mean it. You’ve been warned.

Pizza is just the beginning here. Bonfire has a great menu of pastas and entrées too. Daily specials are worth a try as well. Take a look at the menu here.

Also of note: Bonfire Bistro has some of the best food photography around. One look at the website and you may find yourself heading straight there. (Even as I write this post I’m planning my next visit.) The photos are fantastic and the real dishes certainly live up to their pictures.

Insider’s tip: Bonfire Bistro doesn’t take reservations.

My post on Bonfire Bistro first appeared at Pegcitygrub.com, Tourism Winnipeg’s culinary tourism blog. Follow me on Twitter @RSummerfield and @PegCityGrub

Pizza party at Bonfire Bistro. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)
Pizza party at Bonfire Bistro. (photo robin summerfield.)

Winnipeg 2014: Food trends to watch for

Diversity Foods executive chef Ben Kramer inside his new greenhouse at the University of Winnipeg. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)
Diversity Foods executive chef Ben Kramer inside his new greenhouse at the University of Winnipeg. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

Winnipeg’s food scene is never dull. Insiders keep the city’s food lovers satisfied with new foods and new food experiences. Winnipeg’s culture of cuisine continued to evolve in 2013, most notably with the addition of RAW:almond, the pop-up on ice, and the opening of Prairie 360˚, the city’s revolving restaurant and boutique coffee houses like Thom Bargen and Little Sister Coffee Maker. New additions, like The Grove’s Osborne Village location, are on the horizon. The coming year holds much promise too from local food purveyors, restaurateurs and chefs. Here are a few trends we’d like to see evolve in 2014 in Winnipeg.

Party Planners
Several years ago Bistro 7¼ launched School Nights, a weekly Sunday night get together at the South Osborne bistro. The party was free, everyone was invited and themes were reflected in food, drink and entertainment. The lively nights, which are still hosted each week, brought out diners of all stripes. It was (and still is) a fantastic way to spend a Sunday night meeting new people. More and more restaurateurs, chefs and foodies are introducing their own cuisine-themed parties hosted in-house or at secret locations. The professionals will look for creative ways to get bums in seats, especially on off-peak days and hours. We foodies want restaurant-hosted book clubs, themed tasting menus, food-fetes, tea parties and beer pairing dinners. If you build it, we will come.

Grow your own
Chaise Café and Lounge owner Shea Ritchie is one of several Winnipeg restaurateurs and chefs growing their own ingredients in the summer and winter. Ritchie’s Provencher Avenue eatery has a garden and container gardens in the summer and a hydroponic garden in the basement year round. (Robin Summerfield)

University of Winnipeg’s Diversity Foods, with chef Ben Kramer at the helm, is in the midst of starting his own indoor garden on campus inside a largely abandoned greenhouse. He is one of several local chefs growing (or trying to grow) his own greens and herbs. Johnny Kien at Saigon Jon’s and Shea Ritchie at Chaise Café and Lounge have also acquired green thumbs. Sure, Manitoba has a short growing season that severally limits using local produce but we’d still like to see more kitchens putting that ‘eat local’ mantra to the test.

Home-based kitcheneers, many with 9 to 5 lives, have started more small-batch, artisanal food companies in recent years. Flora and Farmer, Andorah’s Feast, Delicious Kicks are just a few newbies on the market. They sell their wares at farmers’ and makers’ markets, and boutique food shops. Taste, local ingredients and little or no preservatives are key in these jams, pickles, specialty baked treats, sauces and salsas. Quality and word-of-mouth is the key to success. There’s plenty more room in Winnipeg’s food scene for more artisanal food stuffs made by home-based foodies cum entrepreneurs. Bring on the pickles people.

Canning and Preserving
Peasant Cookery, a restaurant in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, started the in-house preserving and pickling trend. Or, in the least, they were the first business locals noticed embracing this trend. In either case, more local food emporiums are pickling, preserving and making jams to serve in-house. This annual Fall tradition preserves locally grown ingredients for service during the winter months and into spring. The jarred delicacies (pickles, asparagus, carrots and beets, berry jams et al) add new dimension to plates on cold winter days.

More pop-ups popping up
Secret dinners, backdoor bistros, alley burgers and supper clubs will continue to spike in 2014 as more professional foodies and food lovers get together on the side. Some pop-ups will be advertised on Facebook and Twitter and open to all. Others will remain on the down-low, skirting liquor laws and keeping those-in-the-know to a limited number. Whatever their form, pop-ups add life to a city’s food scene. The more the merrier.

Big thinkers
In 2013, Chef Mandel Hitzer and architect Joe Kalturnyk launched RAW: almond, Winnipeg’s pop-up restaurant on ice at The Forks. It was and is a resounding success. Diners came out in droves, bundled up in their finest cold-weather gear to experience some magic inside the big white tent. Winnipeg’s roster of chefs isn’t short on big thinkers with great ideas. The ongoing success of RAW: almond has opened the door for other big ideas. There have been rumblings about a winter food festival to celebrate the uncelebrated season. It’s time. Winnipeg can be a renowned food city. It’s on the cusp and the city’s talented crew of food makers and lovers will make it so.

Little Sister Coffee Maker's Vanessa Stachiw opened her Osborne Village coffee house in 2013. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)
Little Sister Coffee Maker’s Vanessa Stachiw opened her Osborne Village coffee house in 2013. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

My story first appeared on cbc.ca/manitoba/scene, an arts and culture website for Winnipeg and Manitoba.

Food-truck builder on a roll

Steve Moynes, owner Pizza Trucks of Canada
Steve Moynes, owner Pizza Trucks of Canada (photo robin summerfield)

As many great ideas go, this one started over a beer with a buddy.

In 1998, Steve Moynes and a friend with a great pizza recipe, hatched a plan: ‘let’s build a mobile pizza truck.’

And with that, Expressway Pizza, a restaurant and delivery service all in one, was born. Eleven franchisee trucks later and Moynes, who built the trucks himself, was definitely on to something.

Word got around that Moynes had quite a talent for building food trucks. After that, “people kept calling,” says the 59-year-old.

Today, Moynes and his family-owned company Pizza Trucks of Canada in Dugald, Manitoba, have built an estimated 100 food trucks and have orders to fill for a year and counting.

Two years ago, the food truck boom hit with Food Network shows likeEat Street and The Great Food Truck Race, says Sandy, Moynes’ wife and co-owner along with their three sons Trevor, Kevin and Steve Jr.

“Now we don’t even have to sell them anymore we just have to be competitive,” she says. The cost for a new, empty food truck starts at $50,000 and custom details go up from there.

Their restaurants on wheels are on streets across the U.S., Canada and Australia. He recently landed an order to build a pizza truck to send to Kenya. The company, Naked Pizza, is co-owned by Shark Tank shark and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Moynes also recently salvaged a circa 1937 blue school bus in Tok, Alaska. The bus will be transformed into a New York Fries food truck for Toronto streets.

Closer to home, Moynes and his family recently finished Habanero Sombrero and Vilai’s Spice Box, which both hit Winnipeg streets this spring.

Moynes–along with his sons–builds every interior inch of the trucks including electrical, plumbing and insulating. And the team works on two or three trucks or trailers at a time in their Dugald shop.

The key to making a great food truck is a great floor plan that uses every inch, gives workers their own space and creates ideal work flow, Moynes says.

“You have to lay out the floor properly or it just won’t work.”

That can be tricky when you’re limited to 130-square-feet, the foot print of the average 18-by-7-foot food truck.

But every truck has its own charms and challenges, Moynes says. “I love designing these things. Every one is different.”

My story first appeared on cbc.ca/manitoba/scene. Here’s the link.

For a guide to Winnipeg’s food trucks click here.

For all the insider news on Winnipeg’s food, restaurant and chef scene follow me on Twitter @RSummerfield and @PegCityGrub.

Steve Moynes, owner Pizza Trucks of Canada
Steve Moynes, owner Pizza Trucks of Canada (photo by robin summerfield

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. 

CBC The Scene: Winnipeg food scene strikes oil

Lise Belanger at Frescolio
Lise Belanger at Frescolio


For most folks, slurping olive oil in tiny shots seems like something you might do on a bet. For Lise Belanger it’s the next wave in Winnipeg’s ever evolving local food scene.

In June, Belanger and her husband Michael Graham opened Frescolio, Winnipeg’s first extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar.

“People are excited about this,” Belanger says. “This is where we’re at in the Winnipeg food scene, it feels like it’s exploding right now,” she says. “People are indulging and [olive oil and vinegar] is a pretty inexpensive indulgence.”

It looks like she’s on to something.

Less than a month later, in late July, OLiV Tasting Room, a Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan-based oil business with eight shops across Canada, opened a Winnipeg location on Academy Road.

But Steinbach-based Prairie Oils & Vinegars Tasting Room was Manitoba’s first olive oil tasting bar, opening in November 2012.

“[Business] has been amazing. People come here and they say ‘I don’t ever want to go back to a grocery store’,” says Prairie Oils owner Bev Penner. Unlike the grocery store, customers can taste a variety of oils and get a quick or more involved tasting lesson.

“I’m not a retail store, I’m an experience,” she says.

The shops in Manitoba join an estimated 500 olive oil tasting bars already in business across Canada and the States.

The olive oil industry “is one of the fastest growing segments of the global food industry, showing significant growth year after year,” according to a May 2013 report by Olive Oil Market, a industry-led group.

“The olive industry has followed the wine industry,” says Belanger, whose bottles sell for $5 for 60 mL up to $28 for 750 mL.

Like wine, oils are made using a variety of olives, grown in different countries and harvested at different times in the fruit’s growth cycle and aged. Those crush dates are also printed on the labels at Frescolio and Prairie Oils.

The local bars, which have the feel of boutiques rather than grocery stores, stock a variety of unflavoured and naturally flavoured extra virgin olive oils and vinegars.

Inside OLiv Tasting Room, 24 extra virgin olive oils include an eclectic mix of flavours including parmesan, roasted garlic, Persian lime and lemon pepper. White and red balsamic vinegars also come in a variety of flavours like juniper berry, mango, tangerine, fig and jalapeno lime.

Back at Frescolio, Belanger praises the versatility of oils and vinegars in cooking, which can act as both a base or provide a flourish of extra flavour.

It’s all about experimenting with the oils, their flavours and cooking properties in the kitchen and combining oils and vinegars to find what tastes best, says Belanger.

“It’s another tool in the kitchen.”

Frescolio’s Lise Belanger offers these tips for how to taste olive oil:
• Pour about 1 tablespoon into a small tasting cup. (Frescolio uses small, shot-sized stainless steel cups.)
• Through your nose, take a large sniff of the oil. Extra virgin olive oil has notes of earth, grass and herbs which vary with variety. (Olive oils are also rated as mild, medium or robust for their heat and peppery notes.)
• Place the cup in the palm of one hand and cover with the other hand. The heat from your hands will warm the oil and release the aromas. Wait about 20 seconds.
• Breathe in the aroma of the oil paying attention to any scents.
• Take all the oil into your mouth, take a quick breath and immediately swallow. (It should almost feel like you’re slurping.)
• Note all the flavours, tastes and physical properties of the oil. Robust oils may create heat in your throat and have an almost spicy and peppery flavour.


My story first appeared on CBC’s The Scene. Here’s the link to the story. 

For all the latest news on Winnipeg’s food scene follow @RSummerfield on Twitter.