The Tomato

Gerald La Gal, founder of Gourmet Sauvage Inc. is known throughout the country as a pioneer of wild foods. He sells wildcraft harvests to notable restaurants, offers workshops and has worked for decades to safeguard sustainable harvests of forest products. He is a wealth of info and an endearing character to boot. He was in Edmonton several years ago to talk about edible wild plants and mushrooms — now he’s back courtesy of The Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association. Don’t miss Wildcrafting with Gerald La Gal Thursday, February 5. Contact  Connie Kehler or call 306-694-4622  to book.

Want to tell your chenins from your chards? Or learn why some wines taste like vanilla and others like butter? Learn to taste like a pro in a Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) program, taught in 58 countries, and in Edmonton by Natasha Susylinski (WSETAdvanced, FWS) and Mary Bailey (AIWS, FWS). A one day Level One Foundation runs February 21 at the Hardware Grill (9797 Jasper Avenue). Visit winecolleg.ca to book.

WSET Approved Program Provider Autour du Vin (http: autourduvin-bordeaux.com) offers a one-day WSET Level One in Sherwood Park, February 8, at Everything Wine and More (100 Broadview Drive), taught by Everything Wine and More assistant manager, Cheata Nao. Taste 12 styles of wine and experiment with food and wine pairings, $310. For further info and to register visit http://autourduvin-bordeaux.com/en/

Need to brush up on your knife skills? Join chef Richard Toll on January 21 at The Pan Tree (220 Lakeland Drive, Sherwood Park, 780-464-4631, thepantree.ca) Other classes include February 10, Cooking for Your Love with chef Richard Toll; February 11, Gluten Free Breads with Natalie Pepin. Register by phone 780-464-4631. Chef Toll is back January 23 to unveil the secrets of haggis during a Robbie Burns Dinner. Register by phone 780-464-4631 or http://register.thepantree.ca/

There will be beer and sausage, tart flambé and Gewürztraminer during The Marc Restaurant’s (9940-106 Street, 100 Sterling Place, 780-429-2828, http://www.themarc.ca) annual Alsace Week, starting tonight until January 24. Bring your lederhosen and your beret. It’s great to see the Marc back on track after a damaging flood last year.

Learn how to cook like a baba with chef Brad Smoliak, January 27, and how to make delicious comforting soups and stews January 29, at Kitchen by Brad (#101, 10130 105 Street, 780-757-7707, kitchenbybrad.ca). Love to cook and hang out with your friends? Think of creating a custom class with Brad for a minimum of eight people, max 12, $135/person. All classes are $135/person.

The Blue Chair Cafe (9624 76 Avenue, 780-989-2861, bluechair.ca) is ideally suited to become Ritchie’s neigbourhood café, especially with news of breakfast and lunch service starting mid-January — coffee and baked goods at breakfast, and what owner Harold Wollin is calling simple home-cooked comfort lunch specials, meatloaf and the like.

Café Blackbird (9640 142 Street, 780-451-8890, www.cafeblackbird.ca) has opened in the former Jeffery’s Café spot in Crestwood Shopping Centre. Expect live music at night, great coffee, sweets made by the owner’s mother, and a killer signature dish, the deliciously mushroomy Blackbird pie. The owners enlisted Culina founder Brad Lazarenko to help get them up and running — they had met Brad through the Culina Cantina at Edmonton Police HQ. Open daily with brunch available on the weekends,

NAIT Continuing Education’s new event management certificate is one of the most comprehensive in the country. “We completely redeveloped the event management offering,” says Nancy Milakovic, program manager, Business and Hospitality, Continuing Education. The certificate covers everything aspiring planners would need to know including marketing, sponsorship and critical path analysis.

“It prepares people for a meaningful career in events, the depth we’ve gone to, people can hit the ground running. They will be able to walk into any environment and get started,” says Nancy. For the complete course lineup, visit www.nait.ca/docs/ConEdCalendar.pdf

Amaranth Whole Foods Market (101 Riel Drive, St. Albert) in the Enjoy Centre, 780-651-7367 www.amaranthfoods.ca/) stocks PB2, a peanut butter powder with all the flavour and texture of peanut butter with 85 per cent less fat. It’s ideal for traveling; also perfect for smoothies; two sizes, $6 and $11. A staff favourite is the Splendour Garden Cultural giftpack by the Canadian Organic Spice & Herb Company, containing six organically grown spice blends — 5 spice, garam masala, Italian seasoning, Jerk seasoning, Mexican blend, and curry powder, $30.

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