Gastronomic happenings around town

a trio of cookbooks

A Spicy Touch Family Favourites from Noorbanu Nimji’s Kitchen,

A Spicy Touch Family Favourites from Noorbanu Nimji’s Kitchen

Noorbanu Nimji and Karen Anderson.
Karen first met Noorbanu when she took a cooking lesson in 1996, then became her recipe tester. The Calgary flood was the push they needed to make a collaboration on Noorbanu’s fourth book. It’s a smart partnership, Noorbanu’s cookbooks are regarded as the bible of Ismaili cooking, while Karen’s experiences on trips to India and with her company Calgary Food Tours brings another perspective. The book is organized as an Indian feast, starting with a tour of the kitchen and the ingredients common to Indian cooking, especially the spices, then chaat (snacks) daal, vegetables, Indian grilling and tandoori, sweets and drinks. There is a chapter dedicated to samosas with step-by-step photos plus a chapter on the British colonial influence called butler cuisine—expect puddings. Find at or Audrey’s.

True North: Canadian Cooking from Coast to Coast,

True North: Canadian Cooking from Coast to Coast

Derek Damman and Chris Johns, Harper Collins.
Chefs who know Derek Damman (chef/owner of Montreal’s Maison Publique) say his name with a bit of reverence; his cooking is that good and that groundbreaking. So is this cookbook.

It’s thoughtful—the book opens with an essay about root vegetables in Newfoundland, not the first thing you think about given the province’s proximity to the sea but logical when you think of its history of isolation. It’s original— True North goes far beyond our usual notions of Canadian cuisine (cedar-planked salmon, butter tarts and Nanaimo bars) yet you will find a recipe for pancakes and bacon. Maybe the Prairie section is a bit tiny, talking—again— about how much things have changed since the ’80’s (you could say that about any region in Canada) and doesn’t focus on the extraordinary food that is being made here these days, but that is a small quibble. What shines brightly from the pages is the lack of pretense—this is the story of two guys who absolutely love food and food people. So dive in and get cooking.

A Profession of Hope Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail,

A Profession of Hope Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail

Jenna Butler, Wolsak & Wynn.
When I first heard about this book, the story of two educators becoming weekend farmers, I thought, great, another book about urbanites lighting out for the territories (apologies to Mark Twain). Shame on me. Jenna Butler’s book, about carving a working farm out of boreal forest and pesky muskeg, is masterful. Heart and soul and a lot of backbreaking labour went into the making of Larch Grove Farm. What they have done is not for the faint of heart. “Nobody tells you when you decide to start growing in a cold climate like ours just how tough a journey it will be… We take a perverse sort of pleasure here when our winter temperatures are worse than those of Siberia.” Whether you care not a whit about farming, or farmers for that matter, read this book for its close-to-the-bone, unsparing and unsentimental writing. Follow the line through Wallace Stegner and Wendell Berry, Jenna Butler’s writing carries the same emotional weight and intellectual rigour. I couldn’t put it down.

get to work at the workshop eatery

Popular Edmonton chef Paul Shufelt (Century Hospitality Group) has opened his own joint on the south side near Ellerslie Crossing in the Mosaic Centre (2003 91 Street SW). It’s a wide-open, bright and modern space with a comfortable menu. The all-beets-all-the-time dish called Beets n’ Barley, red, yellow and Chiogga beets with a bit of goat cheese and barley risotto, was tasty and colourful; the chicken liver parfait creamy smooth and luscious. Best thing so far? The house-made potato chips— crispy, salty, just the amount of greasy, are well worth the indulgence. Open daily, including early in the am for coffee and pastry and weekend brunch.

Paul Schufelt in his newly opened Workshop Eatery
Paul Schufelt in his newly opened Workshop Eatery

heritage hen program takes flight

The UofA heritage egg program has settled into a nice rhythm of registration, adoption, then egg pick-ups for several weeks while the hens are laying. But, it’s as big as it can get. Program leader Agnes Kulinski had to come up with other ways to support the program. She hatched upon the idea of selling heritage chicks to interested hobby farmers and acreage owners.

“Many people expressed an interest in starting their own heritage flocks. We wanted to introduce our genetics, and we can supply small numbers. It’s hard to buy one or two or five chickens and many of our supporters are small farms with one to 20 chickens.

Peavey Mart and Canada Post are the partners. “Our first priority is the egg program, then in the spring, we collect for Peavey. We ship in special boxes designed for the brand new chicks and they reach the buyer within 48 hours. We have chicks across Alberta now and Peavey wants to expand into Regina and Kamloops. We also do seminars on how to raise chickens.”

For all the information on this award-winning program, visit

a Peavey-generation heritage hen struts her stuff in a cosy bespoke sweater-vest
A Peavey-generation heritage hen struts her stuff in a cosy bespoke sweater-vest