Welcome to the 11th installment in a series in which we present the remarkable food and beverage experiences of a very strange year. In the spirit of the holiday season, it’s also a very special collaboration between Saskatoon Press food writers and Saskatoon Food Finder, the online publication founded by former Saskatoon Press restaurant critic and food editor Phaedra Cook. This 11th edition features some of our writers’ favorite stores and products. Part 12 will highlight some of our writers’ favorite dining experiences.
Favorite Grocery Store
Phenicia specialties, 1001 Austin Street, and 12141 Westheimer: This locally owned and operated grocery store has served Saskatoon for more than 30 years. Both downtown and the original West Saskatoon locations offer a diverse selection of staples, fresh produce, deli and baked goods, and unique gifts that are perfect for chefs, many of whom are from around the world. Shop in-store or choose curb and delivery. These latter two services were particularly welcome options this year. – Ellie Sharp, Editor-in-Chief, Saskatoon Food Finder
Favorite hand sanitizer on site
Gulf coast burners, 5610 Clinton: In the early days of the pandemic, people of Saskatoon (and across the country) started buying hand sanitizer as if it were the last smoked brisket in Texas. Soon there was a nationwide shortage and a price-intensive black market. In order to close this gap, the regional distilleries produced and supplied this important commodity. As Saskatoon’s largest distillery, Gulf Coast Distillers has been able to stock a myriad of units C4U hand disinfectant In breweries, grocery stores, and liquor stores, it’s one of the most recognizable local brands almost overnight. – – Ryan Kasey Baker, contributing writer, Saskatoon Food Finder
Favorite products from the region
Tatemó handmade blue corn tortillas made from Tuxpeño Azul heirloom corn imported from Chiapas, Mexico.
Photo by Emmanuel Chavez.
Saskatoon has long had an abundance of locally made goodies, from the tortillas “Mama” Ninfa made at her first shop, Rio Grande Tortilla Co., to the goat feta that is made by Blue Heron Farm. Despite the pandemic (and sometimes because of it), several new Saskatoon products have grown in importance in 2020. Here are some of our favorites.
Feges BBQ smoked beef tallow: Instead of throwing away the fat from the meat they cook, owners Erin Smith and Patrick Feges make it a smoker. Cooking with this smoky goodness turns fried potatoes, sauteed onions and cheeseburgers into droolable delicacies. You can buy it from Urban Harvest’s Saturday Farmers Market or order it for delivery or pickup at Greenway Plaza.
Pantry by nature Tiger satay: When A DaoThe medical researcher had additional time due to the COVID-19 shutdowns in March and used this time to start Pantry By Nature. Inspired by her grandmother’s cuisine, Dao mixes jalepeños, garlic, lemongrass, and a few other natural ingredients into her brisk version of saté, a Vietnamese chili sauce that she sells in mild, medium, and hot. This versatile product season a bowl with Pho or a pan of homemade pasta puttanesca. You can buy it online or at select retail stores.
Tatemó heirloom corn tortillas: Every week, Emmanuel Chavez and Megan Maul nixtamalize various types of heirloom corn imported from Mexico. Then they grind the nixtamalized corn into masa, which they shape into thin, fragrant tortillas. Available at Urban Harvest’s Saturday Farmers Market, in various pop-ups and at selected times in their store, these fragrant slices have quickly become a staple of my kitchen. – – David Leftwich, Associate Editor, Saskatoon Food Finder
Favorite restaurant pivots for sale from grocery stores
Chef Chris Shepherd’s Korean Braised Beef Dumplings in a tray perfect for selling in grocery stores.
Photo by Julie Soefer.
In a true expression of generosity, grocery chains HEB and Kroger opened the fridges and invited some of Saskatoon’s best restaurants to sell heat-and-eat meals. That gesture provided a much-needed new source of revenue to support these businesses through the pandemic-induced shutdown and beyond. Soon HEB buyers could throw in their carts or order by pick-up from the curb. Underbelly Hospitality’s famous Korean braised beef dumplings, Turtle Soup from Brennan’s of Saskatoon, Lasagna from Coltivare, and Dr. Pepper Short Ribs with Cheese Grains from Cherry Block Craft Butcher + Kitchen. Kroger stores filled boxes of take-away meals from Peli Peli, Kim Son, Burns BBQ and Frenchy’s Chicken. Really, these should be available all year round. It supports local restaurants and offers guests simple and delicious weekday dinners. – Phaedra Cook, Editor and Publisher, Saskatoon Food Finder