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Table for two (hungry writers)
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Table for two (hungry writers)

The Winnipeg Free Press is launching a new newsletter on the latest food and drink news in Winnipeg and beyond. If you would like to receive future editions of Dish in your inbox, just click here to subscribe to the newsletter

 


 

Gourmands, hop heads, foodies, wannabe chefs, oenophiles and everyone else who likes to keep tabs on all things delicious: welcome to the inaugural edition of Dish, a newsletter about what’s cooking in the culinary world and what’s brewing in the drinks industry — both locally and beyond.

My name’s Ben Sigurdson, and one of the many things I do at the Winnipeg Free Press is write about wine, beer, spirits and all that good stuff. My fellow Free Press scribe Eva Wasney, meanwhile, writes plenty about food (and a whole lot more) for the arts and life department. (She’s also a burgeoning superstar video chef for the Free Press’ Homemade feature — read on for more).

Meet the hosts of Dish: Ben Sigurdson writes about wine, beer and spirits, while Eva Wasney writes about food and more. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen some take a heightened interest in cooking as a way to cope/pass the time. My partner got her starter — er, start — early with the sourdough craze. We’ve dabbled with all manner of new recipes over the last year. Our living room looks a bit like a grow op, with herbs, tomatoes and more under grow lights on a rolling rack waiting to be planted outside.

The current restrictions mean dining out indoors or on a restaurant patio is out. The industry is clearly struggling, with many barely scraping by. I’ll admit I’ve not felt brave enough to eat out for over a year, although I’ve done my best to order heaping helpings of delivery and takeout from new-to-me and go-to eateries. It’s just not the same.

On the drinks side of things, it’s no less rocky. Local brewery tap rooms reopened briefly, only to shut down for in-person drinks yet again with the most recent restrictions, forcing a pivot back to curbside pickup and delivery.

Popular outdoor watering holes such as The Beer Can, the Common and Cargo Bar, as well as the soon-to-open Garden at 955 Portage Ave. and Times Changed Outside, are watching the mercury rise with the case count and hoping for the best.

There will be no main public tastings for the Winnipeg Wine Festival or Flatlander’s Beer Festival this year; instead they’ll likely pivot to virtual events, similar to the way the Winnipeg Whisky Festival did in March.

I’ve taken part in more than my fair share of virtual tastings, parked in front of my laptop with miniature samples in hand. It works, but the clinking of glasses and camaraderie are certainly missed.

And while the current situation ain’t great, maybe it won’t be all doom and gloom in the long term. A handful of new Manitoba restaurants and breweries have opened (as much as they can) in the midst of the pandemic. Closures have been minimal. Vaccines are getting in more arms. People have to eat, many like to enjoy a drink or two, and they’ve got to get their fill somewhere.

Eva and I (with help from our Free Press pals) will keep you up to speed on all things food and drink via this newsletter. We can’t quite break bread and raise a glass in person yet — in the meantime, here’s hoping Dish will satiate your cravings.

Ben Sigurdson, Drinks writer

Tasty tidbits

Sous Sol has become an Osborne Village mainstay since they started serving up killer French fare near Confusion Corner in 2016. Now they’ve got their sights set on South Osborne with the forthcoming Tabula Rasa, which will be located at 725 Osborne St. S, in the space formerly occupied by Bistro 7 1/4 and then Hermanos. There’s nothing on their website yet, but keep an eye on their social media accounts for updates.

Tis the season for al fresco dining and Eadha Bread has come up with a fitting new menu item. The sourdough bakery on Ellice Avenue is offering weekend picnic bags filled with sweet and savoury pastries, salads, drinks and flowers from Slow River Gardens, the revamped family farm of Eadha owner Cora Wiens. Vegan options available and bags are $50 or $60 with a cotton tote. To order, call the shop at 204-783-3064 for pick-up on Saturdays.

 

Eadha Bread has added picnic bags to its offerings. (@eadhabread/Instagram)

 

Recommended fare

Ben: As the mercury rises, my tastes change when it comes to what’s in my glass. I recently wrote about the new Good Neighbour Brewing Co. working out of Oxus Brewing Co.’s Sanford St. space, and their hazy pale ale is stellar.

I love wheat beers, and the Trans Canada Brewing Co. Horseshoe Hefeweizen is so refreshing. And Half Pints Brewing Co. has brought back their wildly popular Bikey McBikeface Grapefruit Lager just in time for enjoying on patios, even if it’s just your own.  

Eva: The tacos over at The Beer Cantina taste authentic because they are. I sampled a few menu items at The Beer Can’s new in-house restaurant and will definitely be going back to the pop-up beer garden on Granite Way for seconds.

Head chef Keith Csabak has been working with chef Gina Navarro to develop a rotating taco menu based on Mexican ingredients and culture. The patio is closed due to the new public health restrictions, but the cantina is still open for curbside taco pick-up daily from 4 to 8 p.m. Visit food.thebeercanwpg.com to order.

The Beer Cantina is a Mexican-inspired food stand offering food made with local ingredients to patrons of the patio. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free press)

 

What’s simmering

The arts and life team is working on a major project this year about locally grown food. Over the next few months we’ll be visiting farmers and producers around the province to document the process of growing, hatching, harvesting and aging made-in-Manitoba ingredients.

Post-harvest, Chef Matty Neufeld of Prairie Kitchen Catering will bring all the pieces together for a quintessential fall supper. Keep your eyes on this space for behind-the-scenes updates on the project.

 

Recipes and reviews

The perfect weeknight pasta: In her Homemade series, Eva has been chatting with local chefs about their favourite things to make at home. The latest instalment features a conversation with chef Ashley Hebel from Frenchway Cafe and a recipe for Pasta Aglio e Olio, her go-to after work meal.

You can also head over to the Free Press’ Instagram account to watch a video showing how the dish is made.

Ashley Hebel, head chef at Frenchway Cafe on Corydon, poses for a portrait with a bowl of Pasta Aglio et olio with Gamberi. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

 

Wines worthy of mom: Mother’s Day has come and gone, but there are plenty of tasty wine choices out there to toast mom year-round. Check out Ben’s Uncorked column for tasting notes and reviews of wines to suit his mom's palette — including a cottage-ready 1.5L pouch of rosé.

Bijou 2020 Le Chic Grenache rosé’s lightweight packaging makes it a nice option for lugging to the cottage. (Supplied)

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