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Blazing Winnipeg’s culinary trail

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Sides at Market Burger include delicious deep-fried pickles and shoestring fries.

PHOTO BY KATHRYNE GRISIM Enlarge Image

Sides at Market Burger include delicious deep-fried pickles and shoestring fries. Photo Store

In answer to the question "Where should we eat in Winnipeg?" there are just too many choices, so Tourism Winnipeg’s put together a Culinary Trail.

We began the trail at Fusion Grill where owner Scot McTaggart’s culinary philosophy has always been a passion for "local", years before the trend was in vogue. Scot declares that his wish has always been a simple one: "to sell carrots from my own backyard." He recalls raiding a garden for carrots and scraping off the dirt with his hands. He remembers the sweetness and the crunch and adds "even the dirt tasted good."  

On this day, the sample of panko-crusted pickerel cheeks was sublime. Gutsy Scot was the first of Winnipeg’s restaurateurs to deliver Manitoba regional cuisine like lamb, pickerel cheeks, arctic char, northern pike caviar and grass-fed beef. The all-Canadian wine list was also a bold move when he first opened, but feels vindicated now with the focus on both food and wine from closer to home. He believes that Canadian wines are the perfect pairing to Chef Lorna Murdoch’s cuisine.

The next stop on this mini-tour was Market Burger. As soon as we sat down a platter of "sides" arrived at the table. I had a difficult time deciding which I loved the best between their excellent onion rings, hand-cut fries, hickory shoestring fries or their deep-fried pickles. I have been unimpressed with fried pickles in the past but this authentic kosher dill pickle (I suspected it was an Elman’s) was elevated by the crunchy batter that adorned it.

I had to stop myself from eating all of the tasty sides as no less than six sliders arrived soon thereafter including the desi (spiced Pakistani-style beef), the mac ‘n cheese, the banh mi (reminiscent of my favourite Vietnamese dishes) and the smothered chili burger. I was about to declare the butter chicken burger my favourite until I bit into the piece de résistance: the peanut butter bacon burger! Sweet, salty and savoury all in one compact taste. I was in heaven.

Our last (but certainly not least) stop on the tour was at Peasant Cookery which serves "real food from the land." I have tasted many of award-winning Chef Tristan Foucault’s dishes but never had room for dessert, being satiated by his charcuterie, poutine, pickerel or gnocchi. This stop though was just for dessert and although I thought that I could not possibly consume another thing, I gleefully managed to slurp down all of the berry sorbet and goat milk cheesecake. The piggy-shaped shortbread cookies were the "icing on the cake" so to speak.

Tourism Winnipeg’s Culinary Trails await you, whether you are a visitor to our fair city or "homegrown" like me.

Kathryne Grisim’s foodmusings.ca blog was named best local blog in Uptown Magazine’s Best of Winnipeg readers’ poll    

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