Devouring the District
There are days when I am so blessed with where I am and the people I know, I could just burst. This post isn’t about saving the world, it’s just about good local food and good local restaurants. What could be bad?
It started when I was fortunate to get an email invitation from the lovely Gillian of Tourism Winnipeg. As a member of the Manitoba Food Bloggers, I sometimes get lucky that way. Gillian wanted me to come and try a mini-version of a new summer initiative in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District, in which local restaurants participate in a walking tour and eating fest. I couldn’t possibly say no to an invitation like that, as you can imagine. So there I was on a drizzly Monday morning, ready to meet the other members of the group and our tour guide, Stephanie.
We donned our ID badges and set off to our first destination, The Underground Cafe. As a recovering vegetarian, I’d been there before but it is always a pleasure. We had a nice chat with Wendy, one of the owners, who explained to us what was in the delicious mini-Sunburgers we enjoyed – sunflower seeds (hence the name) and textured vegetable protein stick in my mind. The Underground Cafe is celebrating its 20th year in business, which is quite the achievement. It has evolved somewhat in its menu – as Wendy commented, there appear to be fewer vegans around than there were in 1993, so some of their specials will occasionally feature meat. It seems I’m not the only one.
Our next stop was the incredible deer+almond. Surprisingly, they don’t seem to have a website, but here is their Facebook page. I must confess that I had never been there before, although of course I had heard many good things. After experiencing the Parmesan kale Caesar salad set before us, I will definitely be back. We were fortunate to spend some time with the gregarious Chef Mandel Hitzer, the almond half of that cryptic name. He says the other half was simply because he likes white-tail deer.
We ended up our mini-tour (the full thing, which will set you back $58/person but is so worth it, is three hours long and involves six restaurants) at the lovely Peasant Cookery. I was particularly struck by the rows of home-made pickles lining the windows. I love anything to do with fermentation, and these were particularly charming.
I had hit it lucky twice with vegetarian offerings, this time we were presented with the most incredible-looking charcuterie, cured, hung and smoked in-house. Alas, pork has not made it onto my personal menu and is not ever likely to, no matter how local and happy the pig may have been. Fortunately, one of my companions was more than happy to prevent my portion from becoming too lonely, once I’d photographed it, of course. The rosé was very pleasant, too, although regretfully I only took a few sips due to driving home.
To top off the experience, those red bags you see in the picture above contained some literature from Tourism Winnipeg and a delicious little gift from Cake-ology.
If you take the full tour, you will experience all of the above and more. Thanks again to Tourism Winnipeg for their kind invitation.