August 21st, 2017

Food Notes for August 21, 2017

Summer weekends in Edmonton offer so many choices! We spent ours taking advantage of Open Farm Days. It was great to see some of the farms we shop at weekly first hand, and to be introduced to others – I hope to write about these visits soon! On to this week’s food notes:

King Noodle House

Bun Bo Hue at King Noodle House

August 14th, 2017

Food Notes for August 14, 2017

  • Festival season in the city continues, with the Fringe this week of course, but also the Edmonton Latin Festival on August 19-20, 2017 at Churchill Square.
  • The Edmonton Horticultural Society is hosting a Tomato Extravaganza on August 29, 2017 from 2-8pm at the Enjoy Centre. The event will include a greenhouse tour, cooking demonstrations, tastings, and tomato growing tips and tricks. Adult admission is $5.
  • Mark your calendar for the 8th annual Bacon Day, a fundraiser for Youth Empowerment and Support Services. Hosted at Workshop Eatery, guests will be treated to several swine-inspired items, a bacon dessert cook-off, and drinks. Tickets are $90.
  • Eat North is hosting its inaugural Prairie Grid Dinner Series, taking place in four cities across three provinces. It hits Edmonton on October 1, 2017. Tickets for the five-course dinner are $140.
  • Chef Lindsay Porter is leaving Woodwork to open up her own “English-inspired” restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Cured (2307 Ellwood Drive). She’s aiming to open by October 2017.
  • Die Pie, which claims to be Alberta’s first plant-based pizzeria, officially opens on August 18, 2017. They’re located at 11215 Jasper Avenue.
  • The Downtown Edmonton Community League is stoking the rumour mill that Japanese BBQ chain Gyu-Kaku will be taking over a portion of the former Sobeys space on Jasper Avenue & 104 Street.
  • The Century Hospitality-branded restaurant that will take over the former Piccolino Bistro now has a name: Rebel Food and Drink.
  • Farrow, the popular sandwich shop, has opened up a second location in Ritchie at 9855 76 Avenue.
  • Cartago, a new bar and cocktail lounge, is now open in Forest Heights at 8204 106 Avenue. It’s really great to see these additions made to Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods.
  • The Nook Cafe (which has since replaced Massawa Cafe at 10153 97 Street) is now open.
  • Twyla loved the food at Biera, the new brewpub located in Ritchie Market’s Blind Enthusiasm.
  • Jonny is one of the first to review El Fogon Latino on 118 Avenue.
  • The Journal had a positive experience at Calle Mexico.
  • Crystal enjoyed some aspects of her cook-it-yourself meal at Lava Rock Grille Sushi more than others.
  • Graham ponders the eternal debate, surf or turf, as he contrasts Sabor Divino and Pampa.
  • Vue Weekly enjoyed Prairie Noodle’s version of ramen.
  • St. Viateur fans will be happy to know that Cafe Bicyclette now stocks a few of their bagel varieties. $12.60 a bag.
  • Congratulations to the four Edmonton and area restaurants that made it onto EnRoute’s Best New Restaurants shortlist: Alder Room, Bar Clementine, Cafe Linnea and Chartier.
  • Calgary-based blogger Julie Van Rosendaal came through Edmonton for a weekend, and has plenty of recommendations from her visit.
  • Duchess Atelier just released their Fall class schedule. Classes will go on sale on August 21, 2017.
  • Valerie’s latest Cooking With post features a recipe for a Newfoundland specialty – fried cod tongues.
  • Liane introduces a new cookbook by a local food writer and NAIT professor Kristine Kowalchuk that provides a glimpse of 17th century recipes and techniques.
  • Monument, Block 1912’s sister café north of the river is now open at 10803 Jasper Avenue! It’s always great to have more independent coffee shops around, especially ones that are open later into the evening. It’s great that they serve locally-made products, including Meat Street Pies and Moonshine Donuts. They’ll be hosting their grand opening on August 15, 2017 from 11am-3pm.

Monument

Monument

  • Mack and I finally made it to Dorinku in Old Strathcona on Friday night. It’s a lively place that reminded me a little of Guu in Toronto. We only sampled a handful of dishes, but our favourite by far was the torokeru chashu, a braised pork cheek that did melt in our mouth, as advertised!

Dorinku

Chashu at Dorinku

King Noodle House

#33 at King Noodle

August 13th, 2017

Orchard Tour at the Green & Gold Community Garden

The Green & Gold Community Garden has been in operation at the University of Alberta’s South Campus since 2009. Volunteer-run, the proceeds raised from the two acre farm go towards a not-for-profit organization that supports women in Rwanda. They grow about 50 different types of produce, with the availability posted on their website every week. Though I’d been to the garden early on and a few times over the years, I wasn’t aware that the farm was adjacent to a small orchard. At the end of July, Mack and I attended a free tour of the orchard to learn more about some of the fruits that can be grown in our climate.

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

Green & Gold Community Garden

The tour was led by Gabe Botar, who worked for the U of A as a horticulturalist for 30 years and initiated the orchard. Although he has since retired, he is now a mentor to the Green & Gold volunteers who have taken over the responsibility of caring for the orchard he developed over 25 years ago.

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

Gabe Botar

The hour long tour showcased the variety contained in the orchard. Some of the fruits we encountered are more commonly found around the city – apples, Evans cherries, saskatoons, goji berries – but some were unexpected, such as pears, grapes, apricots and butternut. The Green & Gold Garden sells the apricots collected from the trees, so it’s worth a visit if you’re wondering what they taste like!

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

In the orchard

It was clear Gabe was passionate about this subject, and could have easily extended the tour into the evening hours. And though he is officially retired, he’s still experimenting – his latest breeding project is miniature pears.

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

Grapes

I will admit that as a non-gardener, much of the technical information about grafting and root stocks sailed above my head, but it was still a neat experience to see different types of fruit that can thrive in Edmonton.

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

Evans cherries

The Green & Gold Garden will be hosting three more tours in August, on August 15 (7-8pm), and August 19 & 26 (1-2pm). If you intend to go – plan to arrive early and pick up some produce before the tour begins.

August 7th, 2017

Food Notes for August 7, 2017

I hope you all had a great long weekend! The weather wasn’t entirely co-operative, but the break helped make the most of what’s left of our summer. On to this week’s food notes:

Otto

Our platter at Otto

  • Congratulations to the Heritage Festival for breaking their attendance record this year! Mack and I had a great time on Sunday, making sure to sample from the two new pavilions this year, Liberia and Syria. I had to end our feast with a tradition – langos from Hungary.

Heritage Festival

Langos from Hungary

    August 3rd, 2017

    Update on Edmonton Chinatown Walking Tours

    We’re halfway through our series of free Chinatown walking tours that we introduced back in June, and it’s safe to say that the interest from Edmontonians is alive and well!

    Edmonton Chinatown Tour

    The four tours were fully subscribed in a matter of weeks, and the two groups we’ve led so far have numbered up to 40 people. Nearly all have been attended by locals, most who were not aware that Edmonton had two Chinatowns and many who were looking for a reason to stay and explore the neighbourhood further.

    Edmonton Chinatown Tour

    Although the historic and cultural component provides a key foundation to the tour, it’s been interesting that many of the questions we receive relate to commercial Chinatown. People have appreciated the stops we make to introduce the proprietors of several businesses along the way, and many have asked for restaurant recommendations to extend their time in Chinatown. We understand that for many, food is the gateway into the area, and like some other communities have done, use that to our advantage to encourage more foot traffic.

    Edmonton Chinatown Tour

    We decided to add one more tour date in August to accommodate the demand -  consider joining us on August 27, 2017 if you’ve been curious to learn more about Edmonton’s Chinatown! We’ll be reviewing the pilot after September to determine how we might continue the tours in the future.

    Edmonton Chinatown Tour

    If you aren’t able to make the tour but want an excuse to explore the neighbourhood, consider attending the Moonlight Carnival on September 16, 2017 from noon to 9:30pm at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall (10629 98 Street). Organized by the Chinatown Business Revitalization Zone, you can expect vendors and performances.

    Alternatively, mark your calendar for the Mid-Autumn Festival on September 23, 2017, from 1-9pm, back for its forth year in a new location at the Alberta Legislature grounds. Though not in Chinatown, the cultural event features food, crafts, performances and cumulates with a lantern parade and a beautiful display of floating wishing boats on the water.

    Hope to see you out and about in and around Chinatown this summer!

    August 2nd, 2017

    Schnitzel-mania: Haus Falkenstein

    My friend May was intrigued by the idea of Haus Falkenstein, a small restaurant near Westmount that holds the Guinness World Record for serving the largest variety of pan-fried schnitzels (347, if you were wondering). An article in the Journal back in January reminded the public that the restaurant re-opened after rebuilding from a fire next door, but other than that, there hasn’t been too much buzz about the place. We met up there for dinner a few weeks ago on a Friday night to check it out for ourselves.

    Located in a nondescript strip mall, Haus Falkenstein would have to be sought out; it’s not easily stumbled upon otherwise. It was about half full when we arrived, with several large parties on hand.

    Décor is kitschy, with clothing and beer mugs on display, and a full wall dedicated to their favourite soccer team. It contributes to the overall charm of the family-run restaurant which started in the small town of Lougheed, southeast of Edmonton.

    Haus Falkenstein

    Interior

    May and I were both a bit overwhelmed by the menu, even if it’s been a bit reduced for every day service to only 67 varieties. They range from more traditional schnitzels with fresh lemon, or fried onions and mushrooms, to more creative options topped with shrimp, eggs and cheese, or ham and pineapple. I decided to keep things classic with the Jäger cream schnitzel

    ($18.95 with fries), topped with a mushroom-bacon cream sauce. May was a bit more adventurous with her order of the FC Schalke 04 schnitzel ($21.45 with potato salad), topped with homemade curry sauce.

    The menu promises freshly cut, pounded, and fried schnitzel, which necessitates some patience. The wait was reasonable though (made easier with a simple salad starter, included in the price), and we were rewarded with hot, made to order plates. As expected, the portion size was generous, but not untenable; as the schnitzel had been prepared very thin, the meat itself wasn’t as heavy as I anticipated, crispy with a nice light breading. The Jäger cream sauce, however, was on the salty side for me, and I much prefer fresh to canned mushrooms. The menu reasons that prices and food waste would be higher if they relied on fresh mushrooms, but that’s a choice they made.

    Haus Falkenstein

    Jäger cream schnitzel

    I actually enjoyed the flavour of May’s curry sauce much better, a nice balance of sweetness and a touch of heat.

    Haus Falkenstein

    FC Schalke 04 schnitzel

    We both agreed that in the future, we’d opt for the potato croquettes instead, as our neighbouring parties had done. The fries didn’t remain crispy for long, and while May didn’t mind her potato salad, it was nothing special.

    Service was fine, if perfunctory, though I appreciated that the server asked us how we heard of Haus Falkenstein. She told us it had been full immediately after the Journal piece was published, but only just steady since then. They had recently run some radio ads, but were not certain how else they could increase traffic to the restaurant. It’s not a new challenge in the food business, especially with regards to keeping interest alive in a saturated market. With their central dish seen by some (including me) as an occasional indulgence however, they may have more difficulty securing consistent, repeat business than some other establishments.

    That said – they do have a schnitzel for every craving, so I know I’ll be back at some point, with more than a few left to try.

    Haus Falkenstein
    15215 111 Avenue
    (780) 483-5904
    Wednesday – Sunday 4-9pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays

    July 31st, 2017

    Food Notes for July 31, 2017

    • For all those Harry Potter fans out there: Chartier’s burger night on August 1 is themed after the series.
    • A reminder that the Heritage Festival runs this weekend from August 5-7, 2017. If you’re heading down to take it in, don’t forget to bring a donation for the Edmonton Food Bank.
    • As a part of Festival Place’s community celebration Chautauqua in August, they’ll be hosting a free Craft Beer School and Tasting on August 12, 2017, from 2-9pm.
    • Chix Shack, specializing in Thai chicken, is now open at 10149 109 Street.
    • Vegan pizzeria Die Pie has set their grand opening date: August 18, 2017 at 5pm. They are located at 11215 Jasper Avenue.
    • More pizza to come: Al Centro is a “Roman pizza bar” to open Downtown in 2018.
    • Yuzen in St. Albert will be expanding their operations: Sushi Yuzen in St. Albert and ramen-based Menya Yuzen on Edmonton’s west end. In the meantime, their current St. Albert location has become Menya Yuzen, open from Wednesdays to Sundays.
    • Montreal Hotdogs premiered their menu at K-Days. They will be opening three locations in the Edmonton area – Downtown, Beaumont and Cochrane.
    • While Vue previews what to expect at RE:GRUB, the new Calgary-based burger bar that just opened in Old Strathcona, Sharon recaps her experience.
    • The Journal reviews the Crudo family’s latest restaurant, Bottega 104.
    • Crystal pays Sherwood Park’s Via Cibo a visit.
    • Jonny reminds us that Swiss 2 Go is worth checking out.
    • If now now, when? Check out Linda’s list of 10 cold treats to beat the heat.
    • Made with Love, Canada’s largest mixology competition, landed in Edmonton last week. Congratulations to winners Tyler Gushaty from North 53 and Leland Morrison from the Black Pearl – they’ll be competing in the finals in May 2018.
    • Congratulations to all of the winners in this year’s Canadian Food Championships!
    • The Leftovers Foundation, which rescues food that would otherwise go to waste, was profiled on Global.
    • The Free Press Bistro (10014 104 Street) has been sold, with the new tenant having renamed the space Villa Bistro.

    Villa Bistro

    Villa Bistro

    • On the same street, Munch will fill in a storefront that has been vacant for some time at 10040 104 Street.

    Untitled

    Munch

    • Mack and I had a great time at our annual visit to K-Days (which ended Sunday). There’s nothing like a stroll through the midway! We tried a few new items, including a solid poutine from Montreal Hotdogs, but had to indulge in a bag of Those Little Donuts, too.

    Montreal Hotdogs

    Authentic poutine from Montreal Hotdogs

    Untitled

    The real reason we go to K-Days

    July 27th, 2017

    Recap: Eats on 118, Bowling Edition

    I had such a grand time at the first Eats on 118 in April of this year that I knew I had to sign up for their second event in late June. Su was the perfect dining companion as we ate (and bowled!) our way down the street together.

    Organized by Wild Heart Collective, the tours are designed to showcase businesses that may otherwise be overlooked because of the overall reputation of the area. Although I had been to some of the restaurants prior, it’s always interesting to learn more about the people behind the businesses.

    We started our evening at Lan’s Asian Grill. Named for their mother, Lan’s is operated by three siblings: Tom manages front of house, Monica ably leads the kitchen, and Vince handles all marketing and photography. They’ve been in business since 2008, and though their parents taught them to be great hosts, they didn’t want them to be restaurant owners. But with several generations of chefs and food entrepreneurs in their family, it was in their blood, and it’s clear that this family is passionate about what they do. Tom shared that they just signed another five year lease, and they’re happy with how the neighbourhood has continued to grow since they moved nearly a decade ago.

    Eats on 118

    Vince, Monica, and Tom of Lan’s Asian Grill

    We sampled several small plates at Lan’s. Everything is made from scratch (so they can manage the dietary restrictions of most diners), and pride themselves in using free range chicken and organic vegetables.

    The carrot and green papaya salad was my favourite course – vibrant, crunchy, and refreshing (I had to laugh when Tom said the heat level was “baby spice”, considering it was on the hot side for me).

    Eats on 118

    Green papaya and carrot salad

    We also tried their chicken satay skewers and a lovely dessert of passion fruit and guava panna cotta.

    Eats on 118

    Passion fruit and guava panna cotta

    Our second stop was just around the corner – The Duck (which some may remember as The Blind Duck) is now led by Alex.

    Eats on 118

    Kirsta Franke of the Wild Heart Collective introduces us to The Duck

    He served us a buffet-style Mediterranean spread, including baba ganoush, hummus, and fatayar (meat and spinach pies). Though most items we tried don’t appear on their regular menu, they are often featured as daily specials, and are available through their catering service. Of the samples we tried, the fava bean dip was at the top of my list, creamy and well seasoned.

    Eats on 118

    Bites from The Duck

    I was most excited for our third and final stop. Plaza Bowling Co. has been in the Stride family for three generations since it opened in 1959. The facility has been meticulously maintained for the nearly 60 years they’ve operated, as it changed hands from grandfather, to father, and now to son.

    Although Trevor Stride never thought he’d continue the family business, when his dad told him he’d be putting it up for sale, it just didn’t feel right. So on January 1, 2017 he returned to Edmonton from Vancouver in the hopes of creating a place for people to socialize. He brought in TVs and craft beer, focusing on brews from Alberta and BC on six rotating taps. In the fall, they’ll also be serving up some food prepared by Drift.

    Eats on 118

    Su has great form!

    They have sixteen five-in lanes, and the only remaining wooden lanes in the city. The space feels worn in, laid back, and comfortable, and we had such a great time bowling one game that we stayed for a second.

    Eats on 118

    Five pin bowling!

    Because Plaza Bowl doesn’t have a full kitchen, they allow groups to order food in. In this case, Eats on 118 wanted to showcase another business off the Avenue – Otto.

    Whereas Plaza’s refrain is “craft beer and bowling”, Otto operates on “craft beer and sausages”. It’s a gem of a restaurant in Norwood, relaxed and family friendly. They served up two different kinds of Fuge sausages and coleslaw for us to try – the Otto dog (a bratwurst stuffed with Sylvan Star smoked gouda) was new to me, and will definitely be on order on my next visit to Otto.

    Eats on 118

    Otto dog and coleslaw

    Kudos to Wild Heart Collective for putting together such a fun evening! If you missed it, you have one last chance this year to (re)discover Alberta Avenue – the last Eats on 118 takes place on August 30, and tickets are just $42.

    July 24th, 2017

    Food Notes for July 24, 2017

    We’re in the thick of festival season in Edmonton! Hope you’re out making the most of one of the reasons why the city is the place to be in the summer. On to this week’s food notes:

    • Lacombe is considered a darling of Alberta’s food scene right now – if you’ve been meaning to visit, their upcoming Locavore Lacombe festival on July 30, 2017 may be a good time as any! Sample food and meet producers in this second annual event.
    • Mark your calendars for this year’s Sturgeon County Bounty, taking place on August 11, 2017, from 4-9pm. Expect kids cooking workshops, farmers’ market vendors, and of course, food!
    • The folks behind Mayday Dogs are opening up a new space this fall in the Brewery District, called Frontier Handhelds.
    • Many are sorry to see Piccolino Bistro go, but at least the space won’t sit vacant – Century Hospitality will be opening a new restaurant in the space this fall.
    • Duchess Provisions is back in their original location next to the bake shop at 10718 124 Street.
    • If you’re heading to K-Days and want to know what new items are worth sampling, check out Cindy’s post.
    • If you’re looking for a special occasion, consider the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald’s new high tea, served in the Queen Elizabeth II suite. Lillian shares what you can expect.
    • You may have seen photos of Korean shaved ice on your social media feeds lately – Vue Weekly has more about what makes it special, from Edmonton’s first Bingsu cafe, Snowy Dessert.
    • Crystal wasn’t impressed with her most recent visit to The Needle.
    • Cindy has some recommendations on what to order at Nudoru.
    • Graham had a positive experience with the food but not the service at District.
    • Andrea checked out some of the new dishes to be found on the menu at Lux.
    • If you’re looking for new brunch ideas in Edmonton look no further than Leigh’s post.
    • Liane highlights the collaborative relationship between Chef Ben Staley and Vesta Gardens farmer Deb Krause.
    • Ever wonder who are the people behind Prairie Noodle? Twyla breaks down the team and their talents.
    • Avenue’s Burger Challenge is currently in its second round – vote for your favourite.
    • It’s amazing to learn just how big local gluten-free bakery Kinnikinnick has grown since its inception.
    • Congratulations to Food4Good, who won $1700 from the Fresh Meaet event a few weeks ago. Read about some of the other food-related projects that pitched their ideas here.
    • Local author Jennifer Cockrall-King’s book Food Artisans of the Okanagan, made the Taste Canada Awards shortlist.
    • Did you know that an online map exists that showcases where all of Edmonton’s edible fruit trees are located? Now you do.
    • I met up with a friend at Bundok last week and will definitely be back. The highlight of the evening was the citrus posset, a refreshing dessert that tasted like a cross between a panna cotta and a citrus custard.

    Bundok

    Citrus posset from Bundok

    • Su and I had brunch on the patio at Get Cooking on Saturday. It felt like a well-kept secret since there were so few tables, but Chef Doreen Prei didn’t mind. It was also their last brunch as the studio is closing until mid-August (they just released their fall class schedule). I enjoyed the fried eggs and pisto, and could have eaten many more cheddar chive scones (Doreen’s secret is loads of butter and aged cheddar).

    Get Cooking

    Fried eggs over pisto and cheddar chive scone from Get Cooking

    • Mack and I headed to Vaticano Cucina on Saturday to help Linda celebrate her birthday. Reviews from the group were mixed. Mack thought his pasta was nothing special, and though we were told they were the only restaurant in Canada to offer deep-fried pizza (Montanara style), it was only slightly noticeable in the crust. Though I wasn’t impressed enough to immediately return, I’d consider coming back if I was passing through the area.

    Vaticano Cucina

    St. Patrick pizza from Vaticano Cucina

    • When we have a pho craving on a Sunday (when Tau Bay is closed), Mack and I always head to Pho Hoan Pasteur.

    Pho Hoan Pasteur

    Our usual at Pasteur

    July 20th, 2017

    Recap: Tour of Sunworks Farm

    Over the years, Mack and I have been fortunate to visit many of the farms from which we source our food, including Riverbend Gardens, Bles Wold, and Irvings Farm Fresh. In June, we were able to add another to that list – Sunworks Farm.

    Although our primary chicken and egg supplier is Sunshine Organic, because they’ve become a part-time vendor in the winter incarnation of the City Market, we often find ourselves at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market between October and May. Sunworks Farm has been a staple at that market since for more than 15 years; owners Ron and Sheila Hamilton are a fixture for regulars – Ron tempting passing shoppers with sausage samples and Sheila tending to customers behind the busy counter. Since 2012, their meat and egg products have also been available seven days a week at Blush Lane down the street (in addition to 3 other Edmonton markets and 1 Calgary market). So just how have they managed to grow their business? A few weeks ago, we were invited to learn more about Sunworks from Ron, Sheila, and Issac Fregoso and tour the farm along with a group of other food bloggers.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Sheila, Issac and Ron

    Located about an hour southwest of Edmonton, Sunworks occupies about 400 acres, raising chickens, turkeys, pigs, and beef year-round. When they started back in 1992, Ron shared that he and Sheila raised animals primarily to feed their own family; they had learned about unconventional farming practices and the possibilities of holistic management. This snowballed as friends also wanted their products, and eventually, this led to vending at a farmers’ market in 1998. And while they have grown in that time – from 80 chicks to 130,000 chickens this year – their values have never waivered. Sunworks Farm has been certified organic since 1997, and certified humane since 2005.

    I was actually most interested in seeing their chicken coops. Back in May, I had the chance to visit a conventional egg farm – just how different would Sunworks be?

    Sunworks receives their chicks about 3 hours after hatching. In the summer, they’re raised in a barn until they have enough feathers to handle colder nights outside (of course, birds are raised wholly indoors in the winter).

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Indoor chicks

    When they’re ready, laying hens and meat birds are relocated into moveable shelters, shifted daily so the chickens can access fresh grass. Nesting boxes line the walls of the shelter, and fresh water is always available. Even with 350 chickens per shelter, the space is roughly double what conventional birds have access to.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Moveable shelters

    Sunworks has quota for 5,000 laying hens, and harvest about 300 dozen eggs a day. Their hens start laying after about 20 weeks, and are able to produce for one year before being processed as soup hens.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Laying hens

    Through experience, they’ve found that the plywood walls are cooler than plastic siding, and a roof is necessary on the back end of the shelter to keep out predators like coyotes and owls. When I asked why the shelters were built so high (unlike other mobile shelters that are lower to the ground), Sheila remarked that besides helping with heat management, they’re also more human friendly – all of their eggs are hand picked.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Meat birds

    We did notice a couple of chickens who had “flown the coop”, and were just outside of the shelters. These birds had been pecked and will fully recover after a few weeks apart.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Looking in

    While we couldn’t visit their pigs as they are raised on a separate piece of land, we were able to see the cattle from a distance (they retreated, of course, as our group advanced). Ron said they source their cattle from four different family producers; the breed is less important to them than being able to support other farm families. At present, they have about 65 cattle. They are grass fed their whole lives, supplemented with alfalfa pellets in the winter. Ron believes this produces a leaner product – I can attest to that; we’re big fans of their beef.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Ron with his cattle in the distance

    Like the chickens, the cattle are moved daily so they have access to fresh grass. The other benefit of relocating them frequently is to ensure their manure is spread around as well – Ron remarked that it can take between 50-100 years to create a layer of top soil. Though the land wasn’t in great shape when they moved here 25 years ago, he indicated that much has changed even in that time. It’s important to them that the land is returned in better condition for the next generation.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Cattle

    In 2015, Sunworks was able to open their own meat processing facility on site. They can process up to 3,500 birds a day at 1,000 birds an hour. Ron and Sheila are hands on every step of the way – Ron hangs each bird, while Sheila does the “dispatching” – she stuns each bird to ensure they don’t go into the scalding tank live.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Processing facility

    They are supported by a team of people who help with the cutting, packaging, and processing of the value-added products. They don’t use liquid smoke or heavy cures for their sausages and deli meats, and Ron shared that his current favourite product is their turkey ham.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Sunworks products

    To end our visit, we were treated to a five-course dinner featuring various Sunworks meats, prepared by Chef Kevin Zellweger of the Quarter Section Food Company. They run a catering operation and is in the process of opening a bakery in Leduc.

    We nibbled on a delicious assortment of Sunworks charcuterie, Sylvan Star cheese and freshly baked bread before moving on to a salad spiked with some of the tastiest crumbled bacon I’ve had in some time (from Sunworks, of course).

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Charcuterie and cheese

    Chef Zellweger also prepared chicken leg confit atop asparagus and mushroom risotto, but the resounding favourite was the beef wellington – medium rare and gluten-free to boot.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Beef wellington

    We had also spied the triple chocolate mousse when in the cooler earlier on in the tour, but it was even more appealing plated, served with flecks of edible silver.

    Sunworks Farm Tour

    Triple chocolate mousse

    If Ron and Sheila’s generosity wasn’t enough already, it extended into a parting gift containing several packs of sausage to take home (including Mack’s favourite – chicken garlic and rosemary sausages).

    Thanks again to Ron, Sheila, and Issac for hosting us, and to Jacquie for organizing this opportunity! Sunworks will likely open their doors for a family-friendly public tour in September, so keep your eyes on their Facebook page for details.