Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sweets Etc. adds homemade flavours to Steveston Farmer's and Artisan Market

I follow the Steveston Farmer’s and Artisan Market schedule religiously. The two weeks between events feels like an eternity to me. I can’t wait to ride my bike down to the village and meet those enterprising vendors who add so much colour and creativity to our community. On August 28th, I had the pleasure of chatting with Daisy and Precilla.

Sweets Etc. broke into the community event scene at the Vancouver Baker's Market earlier this year. Since then, it has been serving up baked goods that delight the eye and palate.

The chiffon collection:

A.Grand Marnier orange chiffon cake
B.Lemon chiffon cake
C.Key lime chiffon cake
D.Dark banana chiffon cake
E.Gateau Chocolat (lovely but not really a chiffon creation)
--Photos courtesy of Sweets Etc.--

The pound cake collection:

B.Mocha pound cake
C.Fig pound cake
D.Prune cake
--Photos courtesy of Sweets Etc.--

On May 23rd, Daisy and Precilla signed up for the Steveston Farmer's and Artisan Market and have been serving cookies, cakes, and bread a few times when I stopped by their tent.

So, what was on the menu that day?

Sweets such as:
· The citrus collection: featuring lemon, orange, and lime cookies
· The decadent collection: consisting of frostbite, mocha mocha, and cream drop dainties
· The heartwarming collection: offering apple cranberry and banana cinnamon buns

And savouries such as cheese knots, veggie curry buns, escargot, and other must-try creations.

According to Daisy and Precilla, their big movers include – not surprisingly – cinnamon buns and Fougasse Provencale, a type of bread that hailed all the way from Provence, France.

The ones being sold that day were baked with roasted garlic and olive but they can also come embedded with caramelized onion. Either version can be eaten by itself, or served with soup or stew as comfort food par excellence.

Such an eclectic menu reflects Daisy and Precilla’s ongoing experimentation to come up with a menu that pleases a wide range of tastes. Instead of focusing on a niche, they are still happily exploring what’s right for their customers. And it all comes down to giving people choices.

At the end of our informal interview, I turned my attention back to the display table and picked up a few treats to be enjoyed later at home, preferably with a cup of coffee. After all, shouldn’t an investigative blogger try out samples of what she is featuring on a post? It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it.

You can find out more about Daisy and Priscilla's baking by visiting them at

Monday, September 6, 2010

Steveston drew crowds of salmon lovers

If nothing else, the recent salmon buying frenzy in Steveston had taught me a couple of lessons.

First of all, a heck of a lot of folks really fancy this singularly unattractive-looking fish.

The constant stream of vehicles beelining it to the landing and threading their way back out of the village reminded me of the usual crush at the Salmon Festival each July 1st. Instead of waving maple-leaf emblazoned paper flags, however, everyone's hand is grasping heavy-looking plastic bags containing the rich sea harvest.

The air was charged with a sense of urgency to get the fresh kill home. No more leisurely pace back to one's car, except for those who had the foresight to trot down the gangplank with a cooler firmly in hand.

I didn't join the horde of people lining up in front of boats moored at the dock. From the craning of necks and nervous milling about, it was apparent that people couldn't wait to pick out their fish before all the best ones were gone.

These were serious shoppers. And probably great cooks to boot! Me, I would be happy to pick my salmon from a grocery store, nicely beheaded, scaled, and gutted of course!

Yes, I know, you can't compete with freshness.

According to one sign propped atop a boat, their fish were of "sashimi quality" and the fisher even provided a definition to what this meant.

For the uninitiated like me, the term means "not frozen." But, as I found out when I Googled the term, its definition is actually quite precise. For example, to the Japanese, "sashimi quality" means less than 24 hours after a fish was caught. In addition, the fish must also have been killed, gutted, and stored on ice until sold.

For you math whizzes, try this on for size! For every hour a freshly caught fish is not stored on ice, it loses one day of shelf life. So, which is of better quality - a freshly caught fish that has not been chilled for four hours or a five-day old fish that has been kept on ice since it was caught? did you know that a fish that is stored correctly has a usable life up to ten days?

Of course, ideally, you should instantly haul your catch home, cut it, let it float on a bath of herb and melted butter, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and shove it in the oven. Just the way Mark Bittman - my favourite chef - recommended it done.

Although the buying frenzy is now over, I really enjoyed it while it lasted. What a treat to see wave after wave of cars, some sporting Washington license plates, descending on our neighbourhood. Kind of like the 2010 winter Olympics back in February, but happening right at our doorstep. Hm, is it possible to have post salmon-run depression?