It has been said I have the best stocked pantry in Saskatchewan, and there may be some truth in that. Does everyone have three different brands of truffle spray, sumac, and instant grits in their larder? Seriously though, my obsession with condiments and arcane ingredients can go a little far at times.
I think I was born with this fascination for exotic food, but I certainly started developing my collection when we moved to Maple Creek ten years ago. In those days, if I wanted durum semolina or filé powder, I had to go to Calgary or Toronto or somewhere to get it. This meant that if I got the urge to make a gumbo or fresh pasta, I had better have the ingredients on hand. And so my food stash was born.
This stash of great ingredients is a help at the Star, because I can fill in the blanks when Chef Joel and his team are creating dishes outside the menu. I routinely bring in saffron, truffle oil, tahini and the like to help in their creative process, and until now, I was the sole local source for their supplies. But all that has changed; my pantry of goodies is finally safe from pilfering.
Until the summer of 2010 the Daily Grind, our coffee shop, sold specialty and high-end food. The flood changed all that. People were no longer interested in buying great ingredients. They were spending money fixing their basements and replacing lost household items rather than experimenting in the kitchen. The Daily Grind’s supplies slowly dwindled and for several years we only sold small-batch jams, jellies and the like, primarily at Christmas.
Lately we have had more requests for saffron, truffle oil and other high-end ingredients, as well as such staples as olive oil and coconut milk. We sense the time is right and have re-entered the specialty grocery market. We stock a wide range of specialty food, and yes, we have saffron, truffle oil, filé powder and durum semolina. We carry coconut milk, anchovies, salt-packed capers, nori and ponzu (lemon or lime). We have products from England, Italy, and the Middle East. We also have a good selection of cookbooks to help you use all this bounty. I feel right at home!
Next week we will start work on a website for the store, and will offer mail order supplies to those people who, like I once did, find themselves far from their foodie cravings. Eventually we will have Saturday demonstrations and discussions about bringing food diversity to your table. Of course, we will always try to find the things you need if we don’t already have them.
So drop in, have a look, tell us what we’re missing and start cooking up a storm this winter. We certainly will be.