Barry’s Tea

IMG_3764           I often speculate about what I would do if I had nine lives like a cat. Years ago my mother predicted that choosing a life path would be difficult because of my many interests. I remember my 18th year as being a time of paralyzing choice.  Robert Frost might have written about two roads diverging in the woods but what if there were far more roads to choose from?  What if one of those roads not taken was really the right choice??

Thankfully sometimes the raod one chooses in life is found more by following pebbles and crumbs than moments of epiphany. Doors open; Others close. Suddenly you find yourself in a place you never would have imagined when you were on the cusp of adulthood. At least that is the story of my life. If one is blessed…and I consider myself such…one finds oneself doing what one loves. And so I find myself in a “sweet” place.

Customers come into our store looking for products. If I had those nine feline lives, one would be spent as a researcher. So I always welcome the opportunity to snoop about online and ravel the mysteries of product sources. I must admit that such searches are not always successful, however, I imagine it is the thrill of the hunt that draws me.

Barry’s Tea is one of my success stories. My search online netted me an email address to the Irish producers of this tea.  I sent off an inquiry on the weekend and was greeted Monday with a personal reply from the folks on the Emerald Isle.  They kindly connected me with a distributor of their teas here in Canada. Within barely a week I was meeting the local sales rep who not only could offer me Barry’s Tea but a whole plethora of new products from the British Isles.

Back to Barry’s Tea.  This family business can boast a history of blending tea for over a century right back to 1901. Their tea is sourced from the Assam Valley of India and the mountain slopes of Kenya. The people on Kinsale Road, in Cork Ireland produce a tea that is described as brisk and refreshing. We are glad to include it in our selection of over 40 teas.

Jewels of Summer

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Berries are the jewels of summer!  I was leaving work the other day and realized…after I had locked the door and didn’t want to go back inside…that my currants in the back yard were ripe. So my hat came off to make a handy bowl conjuring up memories of impromptu berry picking when I was a child.

The tartness of many berries make them an excellent addition to sweeter desserts. Strands of currants will beautifully garnish a cake. On one such creation I also added a few mint leaves which pleasantly surprised  us by giving the frosting hints of mint.  All it needed then was a bit of dark chocolate….

When it’s hot, who wants to bake so this time I used my berries to make a trifle. Custard, some left over pound cake,  whipped cream or frozen whipped topping plus the berries…and you have a quick attractive dessert.  If I haven’t baked pound cake I will use one of Kuchenmeister pound cakes that we sell here at the Pantry. They are available in a number of flavours; each can add something special to your dessert

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When I make custard, I only heat up about half the required milk.  Some is reserved for mixing the custard powder but I leave more on the side to whisk in once the pudding starts to thicken.  I also whisk in some 10% coffee cream for a richer flavour. It preps faster this way and I can control the thickness of the pudding by adding milk until it is just right.

The instructions for Koopman’s Custard mix are very easy to follow. Two cups of milk  will give you about 4 servings.  To that I add 2-3 slices of the pound cake and about a cup or more of whipped cream.  All you need is about a half cup of berries.  Any type will do. If they are sweeter you can increase the amount but it is better not to over do it with particularly tart berries.

Start assembling your dessert before the custard has time to cool and set. After spooning in a bit of custard on the bottom a clear bowl or into 4 tall glasses crumble some pound cake in pieces. (The larger your dessert, the larger the pieces of cake can be. Otherwise an inch square is about right.) Spoon a bit of custard on top of the pieces of cake. Then drop your berries into the custard. Dollop some whipped cream then repeat your layers again starting with another layer of pound cake. Garnish with extra berries on top.  You can serve it immediately or chill it first.

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Feta Fun

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We have fun trying different tastes here at the European Pantry. Today, we offered customers a chance to compare two different ways of using feta.  We started with “kajmak” style feta. This is a smooth creamy feta that is very amenable to making spreads with. First, we added pesto for an antipasto option. We served this on whole wheat Paris toasts but this spread can hold its own on any savoury cracker that brings its own flavour to the table, too. Next, we mixed wild lingonberries to the feta. The tart berries compliment the salty tones of the feta but offer a totally different taste experience than the pesto option. We served this with Nairn’s roughly milled Scottish oat crackers. But it would be great on a bagel!  Of course, you don’t need to add anything to feta which is a versatile cheese with so many uses…you can find both the creamy “kajmak” style or a Balkan style crumbly feta here at the European Pantry.

IMG_3900“KEEPER OF THE KEYS” HINT: Your jar of pesto will keep in your fridge longer it you scrape the pesto down off the sides with a spoon and then pour a thin layer of olive oil to cover. The olive oil will congeal in the fridge and seal off the pesto.  The oil will also take on the pesto flavour and can be used to season a salad or can be brushed on bread.  Just remember to add more oil as you use some.

Dip into luxurious flavour!

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Blended in the UK these dipping olive oils from International Collection will add flavour and pizazz to your all your gatherings.  Three flavours to experience:

  • garlic and chili
  • balsamic vinegar with Italian herbs
  • basil and sundried tomato

Backyard chefs will want to try International Collection flavoured olive oils.  Imagine Blood Orange infused olive oil drizzled over grilled chicken breast. My mouth is watering!

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Or make your own mixtures with imported Italian Balsamic Vinegar.  Monari Federzoni has been crafting their vinegars since 1912.

Bike Trips

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We have had this towel for a long time.  I am not sure if it was a gift or if we “inherited” it from family. Friesche Elfsteden refers to a “tocht” which translates into English as a journey or trip. In this case it is a 235 kilometer journey through eleven cities in Friesland, The Netherlands. The “Elfsteden Tocht” can be completed by bike, car, ice skates or by boat. This morning my eye fell on the bicycle pictured on the towel.  It got me thinking about Niagara’s Circle Route. Visitors completing the route won’t be taking home a towel like this. Perhaps bottles of Niagara wine? What else can they bring home that will remind them of their trip years from now?

The Elfsteden Tocht has been challenging people for over 100 years. Our Niagara Circle Route is a babe in arms compared to that. However, we obviously are part of an old tradition. Let’s make our visitors welcome so they go home with many special memories and hopefully some of momentos made right here in Niagara.

Do you produce something special here in Niagara? This is a call out to you or anyone who can suggest products that visitors can take home with them. Message us and we will post as many as we can here!

For more about the Elfsteden tocht  click here

It Was a Blue Kind of Day

IMG_2710Nothing sad about it.  I enjoyed packaging Extra Creamy Danish Blue Cheese today. Castello has been making cheese since 1893 and you can taste the tradition in their Creamy Danish Blue. Even the crumbs left over from packaging spread on Wasa thin rosemary and sea salt crisp bread make for a luxurious snack…but then Wasa has been doing their thing since 1919. Not as long as Castello but they definitely have ironed out any wrinkles, too. Oh did I say I was working today? Sounds more like I have been on a tasting holiday!

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It’s our job to help you enjoy your cheese.  So we try to give you help pairing our great cheeses with foods and beverages.  Last Sunday I enjoyed little dollops of Delice de Bourgoyne spread on fresh cherries. So simple and yet so lux. To find some great pairings for Danish Blue Click here.

You don’t have to plan a party to relish these simple pleasures. Pick lunch size pieces of cheese from our lunch basket. You can also pick up small servings of  meats and olives.

The tea is stacking up!

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We’ve been waiting for a shipment of some of our favourite teas as well as some new ones.  We now have over 40 choices in stock. Here are a few:

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