Spring! I call it the refreshing season, the time to lighten up and change things up. Enjoy celebrating Easter, revel in the freedom of Spring Break and introduce new and exciting flavours into your cooking routine.
Fasten your seat belts and prepare to have your senses dazzled by the sights, tastes and sounds of some of the world’s most inspiring cuisines. A treasure trove of online travel experience includes music, food, culture, games and so much more. Whether you are a family of two or ten, I urge you to check this out: tasteadventure.ca. This Spring Break, travel by your taste buds on a six-day adventure with an itinerary packed full of exciting International recipes along with fun-filled activities and games that explore the culture and history of destinations in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. I was enthralled by the playlist from each country. I learned some new moves with a Bollywood dance lesson; I wrote my name in Chinese calligraphy; and made some pretty nice Lebanese paper tiles, all the while rocking to the music and breaking for marvelous meals and snacks like Spring Rolls or Shawarma Spiced Beef Wrap or Chicken Tika Masala. All meals can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. I can choose a new country each day for six days. These experts in Global cuisine show us how to bring the taste and smell of each country into our own kitchen, courtesy of easy to prepare recipes using Pataks Canada, Blue Dragon, and Al-Fez Canada luscious sauces, pastes and marinades.
Travel impacts all areas of a child’s life, with research demonstrating that Junior Globetrotters tend to do better in school, be more independent, and have higher self-esteem. Sampling global fair, whether on an actual trip or at their own dining table, teaches children about other cultures and traditions making them more empathetic and culturally sensitive. As a mom and a creative cook, my children ate everything, tasted everything, and grew up with adventurous palates which added greatly to their enjoyment of world travel as adults. Now they eat everything–except asparagus.
Are there any among us who have not felt a craving for “a little something to eat” between Zoom calls, for example, or reading a book you can’t put down, or any number of situations where getting up and going into the kitchen is not timely? Go Pure Oat Bars just hits the spot. Made in Montreal with 100% Canadian oats and no artificial flavours or colours and peanut free, they come in enough varieties to exclude boredom. My favourite is Cherry and Real Dark Chocolate Chip, and a close second is Banana and Real Milk Chocolate Chip. Apples and Cinnamon, Mixed Berry, Toasted Coconut and Natural Honey are flavours that may be your choice. The positives are that they are small, soft and fresh tasting, and surprisingly satisfying.
Things have evolved since 1884, when Peanut Butter was invented in Montreal. As it happened, in 2015, two Montrealers, Jason Delis and Haitian born Stanley Dumornay, were on a volunteer trip to Haiti for humanitarian work, and Stanley introduced Jason to Manba. The rest is delicious history. Back home in Montreal they launched their own brand of spicy nut butters. Manba, which means “peanut butter” in Haitian Créole, is a peanut and almond butter brand based on a traditional Haitian recipe. Natural, Vegan, Gluten Free, Made-in-Quebec, Kosher, the recipes do not include oils or preservatives, only natural and organic ingredients and are 100% plant based. But what about the taste? Magnificent would be an understatement. Taste the Spicy Almond Butter and you’ll never go back. Try a spoonful of Spicy ChocoManba and your mouth will say La de da! (I offered my son one spoonful, and he never gave it back!) The classic Crunchy Peanut Butter that I know and love is texture-perfect for me, and as an aficionado of the stuff, I can say very well done boys, very well done. Purchase at manba.ca.
The Bunnies are here! The Bunnies are here! Purdys, Canada’s chocolatier since 1907, has a talented, chocolate loving team who have been inspired this year to create an entire fluffle of chocolate bunnies and Easter-themed treats, and share them with us through The Official Bunny Shop. Bunnies galore in luscious milk chocolate, white chocolate, bunny lollipops, standing and sitting in every size to suit every taste. New this year are adorable little chocolate hedgehogs and ruby chocolate hearts. The dazzling array of chocolate eggs range from Dark Chocolate Vegan, Peanut Butter Filled, Cream Filled, and tiny eggs wrapped in beautiful foil that will be as comfortable in your most elaborate glass bowl, or homemade ceramic. A fluffle of chocolate bunnies can make a gorgeous centerpiece for your Easter table, along with a few fresh flowers (or carrots.)
In the true spirit of Easter, Purdys community outreach programs with local partnerships across Canada, along with various fundraising programs help raise money for what matters to all of us. “All chocolates are made with sustainable cocoa,” say Purdys, “and this commitment not only helps our farmer partners and their communities, but also protects our planet.”
Sara Waxman is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.