by Stacey Forbes
Do you enjoy downtown Marine? Well, you can do most of your food shopping there. It’s wonderful: start at the north end of Willingdon and purchase properly stored nuts, and gluten-free breads at Kelly’s; move next door to Chopping Block to buy store made lard or tallow, meat and fresh seafood. Heading south on Marine itself, there’s the well-stocked Asian grocery store that is Golden Gate Variety. There are quality Middle Eastern items at The Flying Yellow Bread Bowl just behind. Across the street Aaron service, sells (unfortunately not Canadian) recycled bathroom tissue and “Kleenex” in nice big boxes. Rene’s pasta, next door, makes tender fresh pasta, sauces, soups, baguettes—all takeaway. His homemade gelato is as good as I’ve had.
Another block south and you arrive at BC’s first certified organic food store, Silke’s Organic Market. A pleasure to shop at, Marine Avenue’s newest addition features all organic dairy, chicken, fresh-ground flour and colourful produce, including an array of vegetables, fruit, and eggs from local certified farms. Aside from a very few items—this is real food. For good salami, prosciutto, seasonal cheeses and pastas in many wonderful shapes, stop in just 3 doors down at The Italian Grocery Store.
Unfortunately, south of the popular stores mentioned, there begins a decided lack of food items (hmm... we need a specialty food store and an all-butter organic bakery... anyone?) until you reach Rocky Mountain, lastly, for delicious country breads and fresh ground coffee. Be sure to ask your purveyors if they use any hydrogenated shortenings or margarines—you don’t want these trans fats. Here’s to quality food, and bon appetit!
by Stacey Forbes
Yaaaaay, it’s local strawberry time! The only trouble: there aren’t enough district growers to supply our voracious appetites for the beloved berry. Let’s beg them to grow more. I have succumbed to purchasing one box of un-local strawberries to get the juices flowing on my continuous regional search. And in preparation for next year, have inserted, into my recently amended garden soil, twenty strawberry plantlets. As it is their first year, I was to pick off all the berries—I have been dutiful -and regrettably counted all 87 of the sacrificial buds. But next year…
For your first truly ripe berries of the season, there is only one choice of preparation: eat them straight off their stems, juices dripping. When the excitement of ‘au naturale’ wanes, slice the cored berries in half lengthwise, add a few drops of lemon juice, (or excellent balsamic vinegar), a decent sprinkle of white organic sugar, and a gentle toss. Let sit at room temperature for an hour and serve without adornment.
For an unpretentious, but luscious, dessert find the last of the pink stems of tart rhubarb selling at the Open Air Market. Cut them into chunks, gently tenderize them along with a small scoop of sugar in a saucepan over medium flame until they yield to a blunt knife; cool. Fold rhubarb gingerly with a similar amount of fresh berries done in the macerating-style above and alternate with softly whipped, organic cream in a tall-stemmed glass.
Savour this delightful short visit from the strawberry in its finest hour and happily anticipate forthcoming seasonal gems.
Stacey Forbes is a former chef and a cooking teacher; to add to her field of interest, she is now discovering an intense interest in sustainable food gardens.
by Stacey Forbes
I know you don’t know me yet, as this is only the first issue of my column, however, can you do me a favour? Will you stop buying lettuce greens from California? At least until November, when I will again ask you not to, but give you a new reason. After all, you can grow your own lettuces easily in our climate, or buy them at the Open Air Market from a local producer, or from a BC grower at the supermarket... maybe.
When I picture, in my minds’ eye, a clear plastic box of organic, Californian, “spring greens” taking up space in a fossil-fueled “boxcar” on wheels, spewing greenhouse gases, unsafely passing its way up Interstate 5, I cannot help but wonder if this is logical. Do we really want to buy “easy” greens from a thousand busy highway miles away?
I’m not going to ask for anything else this month—this is a great start, and an easy one, especially at this time of year. For now, until I can figure out how to grow them here, I still buy a few lemons, and more than a few avocados, with the idea that I will allow myself to buy the things that cannot grow here, the awaited treasures of the season. All I can really ask of you, of course, is that you give my ranting some quick thought. And provide you with this caveat emptor: don’t expect to pay less for your local greens than ones from far away. Local farmers work hard, and they need to make a living. The grand scale of the lettuce imports make them relatively cheap, but their grand march lessens their original value.
Stacey Forbes is a graduate of the Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver