Monday, September 5, 2011

My New York Times story on Halifax Farmer's Market August 14th, 2011

A photo I took on a busy Saturday in mid-June at the Seaport Halifax Farmer's Market.
I wrote a story for the New York Times on the new Seaport Halifax Farmer's Market.
Here's the link:

--Monica Forrestall

Monday, May 16, 2011

I've got a little whale caught in my teeth: From Tundra to Table

Never thought I'd hear myself saying that---until the Arctic Foraging dinner I went to at the James Beard Foundation last Saturday night. And during the appetizer reception hour I was offered Duet of Whale an egg dish dish with a side of whale Bacon bits and fried whale blubber. In twenty years of some pretty esoteric dining where I sometimes feel I've tasted everything (twice), whale was a first.

Before anyone dashes off comments about endangered mammals, let me explain the complicated journey this proffered whale meat had taken to get here. Once every two years a lottery is held for Inuit hunters, who had a historical tradition of whale hunting, and one chosen hunter is allowed to hunt and kill a whale. The conditions are rules are lengthy, one of which is that the whale meat MUST be shared with the entire village that the hunter belongs to.
A small portion of this meat was gifted to a man who is a self-described forager, Steven Cooper, who has lived in the far north since he was eight years old. He was invited to the Beard Foundation to help prepare Saturday's meal, and generously chose to share his gift of whale meat with the guests of the foundation. Considering the rarity of this ingredient, this generous gesture wasn't lost on me.
Duet of Whale, served on porcelain hors d'oeuvres spoons.
The dish above, The Duet of  Whale, Beluga and Bowhead whale with Davis Straight shrimp caviar, had an unusual texture, the whale was chewy  and the caviar was semi-hard texture. 
The other novelty ingredient for me, was Musk Ox, and having it served thinly sliced, 
frozen and lollipop-style. It is the traditional way to eat it, and the Ninuyet find it peculiar 
to eat it any other way.

Berber dusted musk ox cube with cilantro yoghurt and papaya paste.
Up in the dining room, my eyebrows went up a few more times, when we were served smoked musk ox tongues, then pickerel topped with whitefish caviar with Haida Gwaii herring roe 
and finally dandelion te'j ice cream. 
Everyone at the table couldn't get enough of the salty Baffin Island bread, a First Nations flatbread. The texture was a little like pound cake, moist and dense. 

I was really touched to have seen some of the thirty high school students who came down from Ontario, where they are studying in a culinary mentoring program with Canada Food Network's chef Finkelstein. They were working so hard, side by side, in the tiny kitchen of the Beard Foundation.

A recent graduate (right) and a current culinary student  from Ontario work side by side on a tray of Sunny side up quail egg, fried crouton, smoked whale bits with cherry tomato.
Chef Finklestein and some of the students from his culinary mentoring program. 
It's a wonderful thing when you can come away from a local event having genuinely learnt something about a different culture that you may never have the opportunity to experience. This introduction to some First Nations culinary traditions was done in a most honoring way, motivated by a desire
 to share information their fascinating culture.  
---Monica Forrestall

Friday, April 29, 2011

To Market, To Market in Annapolis Royal for Over Thirty Years: Feature story in April/May 2011 issue of Coastal Life Magazine

While I was in Nova Scotia last summer, I scouted out a lot of stories for the future. I did a roundup story on three new businesses in Bear River, but took a lot of photos of the Annapolis Royal Farmer's Market (where I am every Saturday). I got to write a feature on this remarkably successful market for the current April/May issue of Coastal Life magazine. (If you double click on each page, it magnifies the copy for easier reading.) Enjoy!

--Monica Forrestall

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A cupcake inspires trips to two amazing NYC shops this week: New York Cakes and Baking Supply and Economy Candy

A Panda cupcake. That's where it started. Inspired by my sons desire for cupcakes shaped and decorated to look like Panda bears, I made my list and headed out to two old-timey NYC shops that have the absolute best selection of baking and candy in the city.

First stop, New York Cakes & Baking Supply on 22nd Street at 6th Avenue. I've been coming here for years, it's my go to place for cake decorating supplies, ingredients, tools and obscure stuff you just can't find anywhere else, like "sugar eyes." The big, wooden carved double doors are the first hint that you're entering a real NY classic store, with merchandise everywhere you look. In the aisles, climbing the walls. Handwritten signs calling out lollipop sticks, cupcake liners, liquid frosting, etc...

I overhear the man behind the counter ringing up a customer saying, "Ever since those cake shows started on TV,  it's been crazy here." I find the dark chocolate disks, the sugar eyes and the brown cupcake tin lines I came for, but they don't have the nonpareils! "We're out," I'm told.  Never mind, I know where to go next for those. In the meantime I wander the narrow aisles getting an eyeful of all the fascinating tins, rolling pins, cake toppers and more.

To source the nonpareils and some chocolate covered peanuts, I had the perfect excuse to plan a visit to my favorite candy store in the city, Economy Candy on Rivington at Ludlow Street.
Economy Candy storefront.
Economy Candy is located in the newly hip gallery district of the lower east side of Manhattan, 
a couple of blocks below Houston Street.

All photographs: Copyright of Monica Forrestall. 
May not be used without Monica Forrestall's written permission.