Frais Catering

Commoner Names, Royalty Tastes: Frais Catering.

I took French through school and I lived in Montreal for 8 years.  So it kind of boggles my mind that I thought Stephane Levac had named his catering company after strawberries.  It seemed oddly seasonal. He tells me he gets that a lot and that, in fact, Frais Catering means FRESH Catering.  Suddenly it all makes sense.  Fresh, local, lovingly prepared, the perfect synergy of what good food is meant to be.

I first encountered the wizardry of Frais Catering last summer, when I got to be a judge for Tastes of the Valley.  M. Levac may be a genius with food, but his naming practices are strictly utilitarian.  His prize-winning dish was Haddock Stew.  He takes the same approach with his weekly offerings at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, which is the only time I am able to sample his wares as Frais is inconveniently located in Wolfville and I work in Kentville.  Rather than, say, “The King’s Hash Browns,” for instance, he labels this fit-for-royalty dish: “Duck Fat Potatoes, Pulled Pork, Sour Cream, and Green Onion.”

Exhibit "A"
Exhibit “A”

It’s almost like a bait-and-switch.  Ordinary name, extraordinary dish.  The “duck fat” gives away the decadence, but only the explosion of flavour truly fulfills the promise of foodie paradise.  I’d forgotten my golden cutlery, but the plastic fork did the trick.

I stole this photo from M. Levac.  I hope he doesn't mind...
I stole this photo from M. Levac. I hope he doesn’t mind…

My sons ordered the bagels with lox, which M. Levac usually puts quotation marks around.  Why? Because it’s not your Bubby’s lox, oh no, it’s a beet and vodka cured salmon from which M. Levac carves generous slices to place atop cream cheese, red onions, and dill on his handmade bagels.  You read that right: he makes the best bagels this side of Montreal (maybe even better, if I’m allowed to say).  Sometimes he even lets me buy one to eat with absolutely no adornments and I need to find a quiet place to fully appreciate the magnitude of the yummyness.  Max and Solomon reported that their bagels were “awesome” and “amazing” and “the best lunch of my life.”

Because my eyes are bigger than my stomach, I also decided I needed to have a bagel to accompany the King’s Palace Fries.  I ordered the goat’s milk yogurt, radish, and green onion option.   I gave half to my friend who had fortunately happened by and she echoed my appraisal: delightful, tart, tangy, and surprising (the thin slices of radish).  I loved the texture combination, too: crisp radish, creamy but light yogurt, and the densely warm richness of the “everything” bagel.   I could weep.

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I must tell you that I had one tiny twinge of disappointment.  See, M. Levac posts food porn photos on Facebook that frequently require me to restrain myself from attempting to lick the screen of my laptop.  One such tease was just a description: Honey Lemon & Vanilla Panna Cotta.  I suggested he should bring some to the market.  He did not.  He has promised to bring me one next week…

As a loving wife, I brought Mike home the Apple Fennel and Celery Slaw.  Mike also adores delicious foods, and wondered aloud how M. Levac sliced his apples “like that.”  Mike is not one for adjectives, though, as he referred to this slaw as “good,” which I’m taking as akin to him describing me in my wedding dress as looking “nice.”  We can’t all be logophiles.

M. Levac can be found crafting Frais Catering deliciousness both at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market and at the Wool ‘n’ Tart in Wolfville.   You, too, can drool on your computer screen at  or on Facebook.






Planters Ridge Wine Delights

A few months back a friend of mine, whom I’ll call Trish, was turning a not-insignificant age, and she decided to throw herself a party.  I decided I needed to bring her a bottle of wine, so I ventured out to the NSLC.  Because I know she likes red, I asked the lovely store employee to recommend something local.  “Well,” she told me, “Planter’s Ridge was here today, offering samples of their Quintessence Red, and  reaction was extremely positive and many people put down the wine they were carrying and chose the Quintessence instead.”  Perfect.  Also, who can argue with such a name?
Speaking of the written word, apparentely I should have read “Trish’s” invitation more closely.  We arrived, only to discover that her party was also a wine-tasting by the good folk of Planter’s Ridge.  They’d chosen three representative wines…including the Quintessence Red.  I’m nothing if not redundant.
This weekend, bright and early, I stopped by the Planter’s Ridge at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market.  Lisa, co-owner of the winery, stepped me through the various whites, the rosé, and the reds.  I chose two bottles, one white, and one red.
The white, named Quintessence White, I chose based on her description of it being big, and fruity, but not sweet.  Lest you mistake me for some kind of Sommelier, I will be upfront in pointing out that my criteria for wine includes local, yummy, and thank you for the excellent suggestion.  QW fits this to a T.  It has a giant smell that crashes into your face when you pop the cork.  And its flavour seems to develop and build with each sip.  I swear it tastes like blueberries, but my (far more sophisticated) friend disagreed, and spoke of tropical fruits and melons.  Whatever it is, it is delicious and perfect for anyone who likes a strongly, assertively, flavour-filled white.  Yum.
The red is called Lucie Kuhlmann (so named for the variety of grape). Lisa suggested this after I outed myself as a novice red-drinker.  My friend, a red aficionado, was quite delighted with it and exclaimed “strawberries!”  I was thrilled that she of the discerning palate, who generally errs on the side of almost-chewy reds, enjoyed this local gem.  I, too, thought it was full of flavour, but unlike many reds, I did not find it overwhelming or thick.  It was light but rich.  Me, of the “I’ll drink that red not to be rude” variety actually liked it enough that I almost went back for a second glass, until I remembered I needed to try the white, too.
If you invite me for a red-wine-needing-dinner, don’t be surprised if I show up with a bottle of Lucie Kuhlmann tucked under my arm…even if the people of Planter’s Ridge are there ahead of me.
Quintessence white will be at home in my fridge, if you’d like to drop by.
Planter’s Ridge wines are available, as mentioned, at the NSLC, at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, and at their winery.  Virtual visits at:
You may note an utter absence of photos within this blog post.  I have no idea why I took none.  Too busy enjoying the wine, I guess!
Farm Girl Preserves

Farm Girl Preserves

(Originally published in The Grapevine on February 15th, 2015)

Our latest trip to the Wolfville Farmers’ Market involved only Clara and me, but she was more than up to the task of choosing from the wide array of goodies on offer at Farm Girl Preserves.  FGP features pickles, relish, chutneys, and jams in expected and unexpected combinations.  Clara was of the opinion that pushing the envelope was the best idea.  She sampled a couple and settled on three jars of joy.

My parents came to visit last night and, as per usual, Clara was still eating.  “Why on earth is the meat on her sandwich purple?” asked my mother.  Clara said “it’s beet relish!”  Chipotle Beet Relish, actually, lovingly prepared by the Farm Girl herself, Vicki McNamara.  Mike had made delicious sandwiches with roast beef, goat cheese, and this relish.  We all loved them, including the kids. I offered a bite of the relish to my parents, who tried to demur, but I bullied them into trying it anyway.  They were both pleasantly surprised.  Can I say they relished it?  I had to.  It is an odd combination that works surprisingly well.  Vicki told me she had worked with a chef to find the right balance between the smokey chipotle and the earthiness of the beet.  I found that both kept their fully unique flavour, but complemented each other in just the right kind of harmony.

Purple meat, please!
Purple meat, please!

A big favourite with our kids was an offering Vicki says is always the pick of kids who stop by her booth for samples.  The cheekily named Mustard Rings ‘n’ Strings is just like those mustardy pickled onions your mother used to make (or maybe it was just my mother?) but the onions are sliced into…rings and strings.  My kids loved the name and the flavour.  They are a creamy, tangy, crunchy, yummy side dish with a lot of visual appeal: the vivid yellow made a beautiful addition to the purple meat sandwiches.  If you love mustard pickles, you will love these. The strings and rings make them less prone to rolling off your plate, which is always a great feature.

Mustard RIngs 'n' Strings for visual (and flavourful) punch!
Mustard RIngs ‘n’ Strings for visual (and flavourful) punch!

Our final sample was the most unusual combination of all.  Pumpkin Marmalade is a really cool concept.  It is made with oranges, ginger, and lemon (in addition to the pumpkin, of course).  I asked Vicki how she’d come up with such a crazy combination.  She shrugged, smiled, and told me she had a lot of pumpkins.  Profusion is the mother of creative concoctions?

My favourite way to eat this delectable marmalade is warmed and used as a nacho chip dip.  It is important, after all, to have options with storm chips.  It is also yummy on toast with some butter.  It’s similar to the most standard style of marmalade but with a twist – the pumpkin gives it a mellow, smooth, and rich flavour.  I really think Paddington would approve.

Farm Girl Preserves are available at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market and you can ‘like’ her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


Too Good to Share: Jayn and T’s Food

(Originally published in The Grapevine’s February 5th, 2015 edition)

It had to happen.  The Wolfville Farmers’ Market is chockablock with the best ingredients a person could ever want.  If you want to have an amazing meal, you grab your ingredients, head home, and make something spectacular.  Jayn had the brilliant idea of closing that loop.  It was only a matter of time.

Almost all of the ingredients in Jayn’s glorious sandwiches are sourced directly from the Market.  She can rattle off which vendor supplies each component.  It’s kind of like found art.  The extra-meta layer comes in when those vendors need some nosh and they head to Jayn’s booth to enjoy the fruits (and meats, breads, veggies) of their own and other vendors’ labours.  It’s like the UN of Market offerings.

Explaining the Resolution on food melding.
Explaining the Resolution on food melding.

As with most works of art, though, the genius lies in the bricolage (a fancy art term that perfectly describes this phenomenon.  Bricolage, as defined by Merriam Webster is the “construction (as of a sculpture or a structure of ideas) achieved by using whatever comes to hand”). It’s from a French word that means “to putter about.” 

Perfect.  Jayn putters about with some absolutely excellent ingredients from the market, tosses them in with some goodies she has grown herself (and some condiments) and makes food fusions that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Clara is enraptured with the thought of a good meaty sandwich with pickles!!!
Clara is enraptured with the thought of a good meaty sandwich with pickles!!!

I chose a sandwich Jayn created and which she assembled before my wondering eyes: shaved pork shoulder, cheese, apples, onion, and maple mustard on baguette.  Solomon chose the croissant breakfast sandwich which is named the Early Riser until 10:30 at which point it magically transforms into the Sleepyhead Croissant (no word on what happens if you order it at exactly 10:30 – it’s like 0 degrees – is it the melting point or the freezing point?  Early Riser or Sleepyhead??)

It features a free range egg (which I always picture rolling madly about).  Solomon requested it egg free.  With an admirable lack of attachment to her creation, Jayn cheerfully omitted the egg.

Jayn tells me that the croissant sandwiches are among her most popular offerings.  I would like to comment upon their deliciousness, but the best I have is second-hand (in spite of 2/5ths of us having croissant-based lunches).

Get your own.
Get your own.

As the 5 of us ate our sandwiches, Mike bolted his down (as is his wont).  Then, he cast his eyes about the table, prepared to assist in completion of sandwich consumption.  Solomon had the most on his plate.  “I’ll have some,” offered Mike.  “No!” Solomon exclaimed, “it’s too good to share!”

He graciously allowed me to use his spontaneous utterance as the title of this article.

We all ate every single crumb.

I really do love a good sandwich.  I am absolutely lousy at discovering decent combinations, but I am willing to put my faith in other people’s creations.  I admit I would never, in a million years, have thought to put apples slices, meat, and mustard together.  That is because I am an utter dunce, it seems.  It is a magical combination. Amazing ingredients assembled into the perfect meld of tantalizing textures and tastes.

I will put it this way: Solomon was the one who put it into words, but the truth is…none of us shared.  Maybe you think that is terrible, but that’s just too bad.  You should go try one for yourself and see if you’re willing to share.

No sharing happening here.  Nothing to see.  Walk away and no one gets hurt.
No sharing happening here. Nothing to see. Walk away and no one gets hurt.

Jayn and T’s (the T is for her silent partner, Thomas, in case you’re wondering…and he’s not really silent, but that more mysterious) Food Shop is a new fixture at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market.




Alexa Jaffurs: Ironworker Extraordinaire

(Originally appeared in  The Grapevine: January 22nd-February 5th, 2015)

Sometimes, in this world of plastic, disposables, and mass-produced stuff, it’s easy to forget that there are people out there making functional, permanent, and gorgeous products. If I say “blacksmith,” you are probably picturing a grizzled, bearded man with giant arms and a gruff, abrupt manner. Maybe that’s just me. It’s definitely not Alexa Jaffurs.

Alexa is not just a blacksmith, she is an artist par excellence and a quirky crafter. If that seems like a contradiction, it kind of is, but it seems to be what she is all about; challenging assumptions.

If you were lucky enough to spot Alexa at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market in the weeks leading up to Christmas, your eye was no doubt caught by her incredibly funky and functional hook racks. One of these ‘hooks’ is featured on her business card. Each hook, see, is a horse’s head that is a little bit goofy, a little bit gorgeous, and a lot of personality. Each is different and each bears the mark of its creation as part of its charm. They are clearly hammered metal, but they almost seem alive. It occurs to me that I might not ever want to hang anything from these hooks; anything that would cover the heads, at least. I doubt you would, either.

Although I was enamoured of everything at Alexa’s booth, I fought through the crowd of Christmas admirers to select a gift. It was the weekend before Christmas, and everyone and everyone else was at the market. I spotted a dragonfly ornament, and then another. Each was different and each one more awesome than the next. My children helped me choose the “beautifulest” one and Alexa wrapped it up in newspaper for me. It was not an easy gift to give away, I must tell you.

Upon opening it, my sister immediately announced that it would not be going on the Christmas tree, but would be part of her permanent décor. It is just too splendid to hide away for most of the year, and perhaps a bit heavy for less sturdy trees.

Hopefully Joan won't mind me using her lovely photo on this blog...
Hopefully Joan won’t mind me using her lovely photo on this blog…

My appreciation for Alexa’s work, however, absolutely exploded when I visited her website at I love the trivets – a delicately suspended leaf design that belies its extraordinary strength. I love the garden obelisks – tall structures that somehow seem organic and natural even before they become entwined with gardening growth, for which they are designed. And I was rendered absolutely speechless with the most ingenious, glorious, and creative medal display/wall hanging. I will tell you it is based on The Wave by Hokusai, but I cannot possibly do it justice by describing it. You need to visit her site.

Alexa also does custom interior work for the homes of her clients: gorgeous things that seem to float and soar, contradicting their strength, weight, and solidity.

If you are looking for something incredible, and truly unique, you need to check out Alexa’s work. I guarantee you will be amazed.

Alexa can be found, by times, at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market (not in January or February), and always on the Internet at her breathtaking website:


Battling the Teeming Masses of Noodle Fans

(Originally published in The Grapevine in their December 11/14 – January 22/15 edition).

The Noodle Guy (also reportedly known as Ross Patterson) needs no advertising. Nor does he need any more customers. He has nothing to be gained by me writing this. You know those scenes, in old movies, when the piano music is frenzied and staccato and things happens onscreen at a pace that could never actually occur in real life? That’s about what the Noodle Guy looks like every time I’ve ever seen him at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market.

I am pretty sure the Noodle Guy has some sort of deal with the space-time continuum that allows him to move faster and fry up more noodles (and the occasional batch of perogies) than the human body is actually capable of. I’m so overwhelmed, the previous sentence ended in a preposition.

All this activity is prompted by the perpetual line-up that forms next to the Noodle Guy’s stand from the moment he opens until the last item is stricken off the chalkboard. Do you know what terrible agony it is to be standing in line, mouth watering as you anticipate the moment you get to take that first scrumptiously scrumptious mouthful of the Noodle Guy’s Fox Hill garlic quark ravioli with maple caramelized onions only to hear that dreaded scratch as that very thing is subjected to merciless obliteration by coloured chalk? Do you? I bet you do!

See, I often have morning activities (usually consisting of ridiculous runs) so my trips to the market are frequently nearer to closing time than to opening time. This weekend, however, my ridiculous run was not on until 11:00 am, so Clara and I zipped in at about 9:00. No word of a lie – that was the very first time I’d seen the Noodle Guy’s chalkboard entirely marked-out free.

Everything was available. I could hardly breathe. Clara had no problem insisting on the shells – they are one of the few meaty offerings the Noodle Guy makes. As usual, the pasta was unbelievable, and I had to fight Clara for the last pieces (it was early, I didn’t think we could eat two orders, I was wrong). As we walked away from the stand, I witnessed the first item being scratched off. Because pasta at 9:00 is where it is at, if it’s made by the Noodle Guy.

Momentary pause to take photos.
Momentary pause to take photos.

For the sake of journalistic integrity, I felt it would only be fair to see if the Noodle Guy’s magic was all in the wrist, or if I could replicate some of it from the comfort of my own home. The Noodle Guy has a wee fridge next to the frying pan strip and it contains amazing things like bags of handmade ready-to-fry fresh pasta and sauces.

I decided to pick up a tub of Sundried Tomato, Jalapeno, and Coconut Milk sauce to try at home. Noodle Guy’s wife (who shall remain nameless – they were busy – there was no time to ask) gave me a hot tip: not only is it fantastic on pasta, it also goes beautifully on rice with chicken. It is true, friends, that sauce is just to die for and tossing in a few (locally grown) brussels sprouts will almost make you offer to let your kids eat your piece of freshly baked pie just so you can take their shares.

I kind of want to lick the screen right now.  Is that so wrong?
I kind of want to lick the screen right now. Is that so wrong?

But don’t (just) take it from me – if you like an adventure, head to the Wolfville Farmers’ Market and battle the hoards. Otherwise, you can stop by the Noodle Guy’s sweet, sweet restaurant in Port Williams. For more info, check out their really great website at


Peasants Pantry Charcuterie

Charcuterie is one of those words that, for some reason, the English language did not see a need to come up with and so we just stole it from the French.

It seems particularly odd when one considers the popularity of charcuterie in our lives. Prepared meat products, charcuterie, has it most famously prevalent poster-child in the form of bacon. But let me tell you, there is bacon and there is bacon.

There are also hot-dogs and sausages, forms of salami whose name I cannot pronounce, and other items that range from the mild to the put-hair-on-your-chest variety. The Peasant’s Pantry can hook you up.

On the day I decided to sample some goodness from the Peasant’s Pantry, I happened along at the same time as the guy I dubbed “Customer Paul” (based on him being a customer, and his name being Paul). Paul was enthusing about everything on display at the kiosk at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market. He described his many delightful encounters with the varieties on offer, and many that were not. Listening to him wax poetic about the genius behind the operation (a genius by the name of Joseph) was enough to inspire anyone to load up on products. I think he purchased half of what was on display, but I limited myself to three choices: bacon, hot-dogs, and the cumin sausage.

Not overwhelmingly attractive at this point.
Not overwhelmingly attractive at this point.

Our children, particularly our meat-loving daughter, were thrilled to be getting hot-dogs. They’re not an item that appears with any regularity in this household. I will admit the hot-dogs looked a little weird to me – they’re pale and less “firm” looking that what you see in the grocery store. They were perfectly tasty, though, and they did not give me that icky feeling I associate with hot-dogs (no doubt due to their lack of preservatives and other nasty crud that hot-dog manufacturers love to pump into their meat tubes). The kids voted with their mouths, and two thumbs up.


Perfection for the whole family.
Perfection for the whole family.

The bacon was far more nuanced than standard bacon fare. It was far less fatty and far more flavourful than its distant grocery store cousin. It cooked up perfectly: crisp and lip-smackingly yummy.

Finally, the sausage. Mike was only middle of the road on the flavour when we had it with crackers (I loved it) but where it really shone was in the pasta sauce he made the next day. Don’t think fatty, bulbous lumps of gristle, no, these sausages are firm and chewy and absolutely bursting with flavour and verve, dare I say. They made a homemade sauce transform from good to spectacular.  I wish I had a picture!

I think there is a lot to be said for patronizing an unusual vendor such the Peasant’s Pantry. So often the prepared foods we eat have nothing good in them, and cause lots of harm. The Peasant’s Pantry is focused on locally sourced products, on excellent recipes, on superior quality, and just straight up deliciousness. Try it yourself – and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to overhear Customer Paul rhapsodizing on the many ways Joseph transforms meats into works of edible genius.

The Peasant’s Pantry can be found at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, in New Ross at their shop and deli, and other locations you can learn about at their fabulous website:

Glass of tidal bay and a delicious hot-dog: why not!?!
Glass of tidal bay and a delicious hot-dog: why not!?!


Frank and the gang

Caffeine for the Whole Family!

(Originally published in The Grapevine in their November 13 – 27th, 2014 edition)

What could I possibly say about JustUs that has not already been said? For many of us, JustUs introduced us to the very concept of Fair Trade in a way that we could actually access on a regular basis. I decided that the best way to talk about JustUs at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market was to talk about JustUs at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market!

Rarely a visit goes by at the Market without me topping off a goody with a delicious coffee from JustUs made by the cheerfully grinning Frank. Frank seems to love preparing whatever your heart desires and he is every bit as attentive to my 6 year old with her very specific hot chocolate instructions (mostly milk but very chocolate, please) as he is to the grown-ups who toss out phrases like skinny and half-shot and other fancy coffee terms I don’t pretend to comprehend.

Serious discussions, many instructions.
Serious discussions, many instructions.

Having sampled nearly every kind of coffee, chocolate, and tea sold by JustUs over the years, I asked Frank what he would choose if he were to try to ascertain the quality of a coffee shop’s offerings. He told me a simple cappuccino was the perfect test: it is the sweet spot of the ideal ratio of steamed milk to espresso. I accepted his suggestion and he was right, it was perfect.

Beauty embodied.  Deliciousness created.
Beauty embodied. Deliciousness created.

Solomon looked askance at the size of my cup because he is convinced larger portion sizes are always preferable. Not so, friend, not so. Frank knows his stuff.

Max chose a pumpkin spice latte, and I almost feel bad about telling you this, because the season of pumpkin spice lattes has drawn to a close. See, Frank told me that this year JustUs realized that rather than rely on purchasing the flavouring syrup for said lattes, it would make far more sense for the JustUs kitchen wizards to concoct their own brew from locally sourced pumpkins. Not being a fan of pumpkin lattes myself, Max tells me the latte was absolutely scrumptious.

This ought to wake him up...
This ought to wake him up…

Mike concurred, having availed himself of a chai tea with some of the pumpkin spice syrup added (this was a creation devised by he and Frank on the spot).

We all agreed, though, that if you’re looking for the most amazingly perfect hot beverage treat, Solomon’s choice is the way to go. I am convinced that JustUs makes absolutely the best Chai Tea Latte around. It is sweet without being cloying, spicy with just enough zing to make your tongue happy, and smoothly rich. I am trying to resist my favourite word, but dang it all, it IS delicious!

Really, just full of Espresso...
Really, just full of Espresso…

Most days, though, if you spot me at the market, I’ll be sipping on a medium roast medium sized coffee because I’m just that kind of gal. And JustUs coffee is always hot and ready to go at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market.

JustUs is available at the market, at many retail outlets, at their own coffee shops and roastery (in Grand Pre). You can also check out their fantastic website at


Sticky Situations

Max, showing how lovely the dykes seemed to be, how wonderful the bike ride would be…

(Originally written and published in The Grapevine in the Oct 30 – Nov. 13, 2014 Editions)

Sometimes situations are hilarious in retrospect and although at the moment they are happening you may be aware they will be hilarious in retrospect it really does not help you to respond with hilarity as said events unfold.

Last weekend, it occurred to me that in my haste to procure some Pure Infused maple syrup from Hutchinson Acres Farms at the Wolfville Farmers Market, I had neglected to capture the moment on film, er, SD card. Lest I leave you, dear reader, with the inability to imagine what this glorious product might look like, I felt a return visit was warranted. As last weekend was spring-like, young Max and I decided to bike the 12 kilometres to market.

Inspired, perhaps, by a patriotic fervour that comes of dining on fine maple products, I decided we should complete part of our journey via the historic and picturesque dyke system from Port Williams to Wolfville. At first, our trip was lovely, if bumpy.

Max, showing how lovely the dykes seemed to be, how wonderful the bike ride would be...
Max, showing how lovely the dykes seemed to be, how wonderful the bike ride would be…

However, it seems to be the case that the dykes are repaired from time to time (who knew) requiring heavy layers of, well, mud. Mud and straw.

Dyke Mud + Straw: Exhibit A
Dyke Mud + Straw: Exhibit A
Dyke Mud + Straw: Exhibit B
Dyke Mud + Straw: Exhibit B

This Nova Scotian mud is particularly good for dyke-making, seeing as how it is actually more clay than anything. It makes excellent building materials when combined with straw. Alas, when it is fresh it also builds marvellously on bike tires and inside moving bike parts…which soon are no longer moving.

You cannot stop us, you sucking mud vision of loveliness!!!
You cannot stop us, you sucking mud vision of loveliness!!!

Eventually, mud-spattered and aching of muscle, Max and I arrived, and I snapped some pictures. Take a good long look: we suffered for this photographic art.

I am glad to tell you that in spite of this messy adventure, if it had to be part of the Pure Infused maple journey, I would gladly do it again.

I honestly had thought, until a couple of weeks ago, that nothing could possibly improve upon the perfection that is maple syrup. Particularly the way we Nova Scotians like it: thick and dark. None of that thin, watery mild-flavoured sap sold in other parts of the world, no sir. How could anything be better?

As it happens – infusing maple syrup with amazing combinations like lavender and chai (my personal favourite…and now the entire family’s favourite) is a marriage so fine it makes me want to weep for the joy of it all.

If you are scared to commit to a full bottle of any one of the 5 varieties on offer, you may purchase a sample pack containing all 5, which is what we did. We spent a maple soaked week enjoying desserty types like the aforementioned lavender + chai, the vanilla + cinnamon + star anise (excellent with pumpkin pie, FYI), and the cinnamon + nutmeg + cloves, and also the two savoury-style syrups namely, chipotle + lemongrass (so succulent on chicken) and Gastrique -Ginger & Apple Cider Vinegar. It was a week of bliss.

Bottles of this most delightful of delights would make an excellent gift and I would like to remind everyone that Christmas is coming. As my husband is Jewish, I feel I may also accept Channukah gifts. Please talk amongst yourselves to divvy up the varieties, thank you.You may find Pure Infused maple syrup at the Wolfville Farmers market from time to time, and other locations. Check out their amazing website at Enjoy!


Do Not Eat the Soap

* Originally written on October 12th, 2014

Well, it only took 6 1/2 months of dedicated training, but today I finished my very first half marathon. And what does every runner crave after a long, hard run? That’s right: a long relaxing shower. Fortunately, this edition’s focus is Slice Soapworks.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel I should tell you (and the good people of Slice Soapworks) that I first acquired a product from Slice a little over three weeks ago in stealth mode. I figured something like a body lotion should have a good long time to soak in (see what I did there) in order for me to give a proper evaluation of the effectiveness of said product.

Now. There is a certain judge in town, who shall remain nameless, who is not fond of scented products*. In fact, she has been known to close Court to allow scent offenders to clean up their act. Fortunately, I am also a member of the less-is-more and none-is-perfect school of thought when it comes to befouling our shared airspace. While Slice makes many delightfully scented products, they also produce an array of exciting products for the minimalist (noneist?) camp.

I asked whether they produced an unscented body lotion and while the knowledgeable and friendly daughter to the chief soap cook (Taylor) told me that they do manufacture unscented lotion, they were sold out at the time I made my request. Excitingly, however, they make a wonderful peppermint lotion!

The lotion is just about the greatest thing I can think of for a post-run shower. It is soothing and refreshing and it leaves no scent to irritate anyone. I have extremely dry sky and this lotion has been amazing. The other fantastic part is that it comes in glass bottles, which you can return for refills and/or refunds**. I am a convert.

The week after I had procured said loveliness, I returned to Slice and introduced myself, this time in search of their raison d’être: soap. Soap has gotten a bad rap over the years and no wonder. The cakes of crud offered by supermarkets and drugstores is nasty, harsh, chemically badness. Handmade cold-pressed soap, on the other hand, is a wonder to behold.

Slice Soapworks starts with a base of goat milk from their very own goats! I can tell you, when goats are involved, life is just better. And here is the really cool part: their soap is also available in unscented but exciting varieties. Nothing has made me more thrilled than to see their “Valley Vineyards” variety. This soap has a lovely swirly colour and just the faintest hint of a lovely red wine. I love the combination of local goodies and fun options for the unscented crowd. I am told, too, it has extra wonderful benefits for my skin.

I let Clara choose a second soap and she selected one called “Forest.” Forest has cedarwood, balsam fir and pine oils and it smells like a hike to Cape Split. Clara held it to her nose most of the way home, sighing “Oh WHY does it smell SO GOOD!!!”

Clara would have chosen one of each, if Id let her.
Clara would have chosen one of each, if I’d let her.

As for me, I decided to go with the theme of the week at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, which was Pumpkin Palooza. Slice had whipped up a delicious smelling Sweet Pumpkin Chai. This soap smells so good it makes me want to bite it (a lifelong challenge of mine, as my mother will tell you: I love soap). I have resisted, however, as experience has taught me that even the best smelling soap is not edible.

In short – do not eat the soap, do not lick the lotion, but DO rush out and get your own delightful soap, lotion (and bath bombs and lip balms) to let your skin drink in. Slice is available at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, and other locations you can discover on their lovely website:

* A (different) certain Judge greeted me with peals of laughter when I entered her courtroom after she’d read this in The Grapevine. After I got over being slightly discombobulated, we carried on with the business at hand.

** Today I learned that they are (sadly) needing to phase out the glass bottles as they have become unavailable.  Sad news.

New packaging.  Im sure the contents are as divine as always.
New packaging. Im sure the contents are as divine as always.

Annapolis Valley Food & Craft