Loose leaf Speaking…

One of the most exciting developments here at The European Pantry is our TEA BOX organic loose leaf teas.  We have been partnering with Organic Connections to build the best loose leaf tea collection in Niagara.  Our collection includes a choice of 20 black, green and herbal base teas. You can create your own personal blends with an additional 20 spices, herbs and fruits.  Jacqui will specially measure and mix to your specifications and keep your unique recipe on file to refill the same or adjust in the future.

Or you can try Jacqui’s special house blends:

  • Summer Bouquet Green
  • Gingersnap Cookie Honeybush
  • Rootbeer Rooibos
  • Orange Creamsicle Grey
  • Smores Black
  • Ms. Grey

If looseleaf isn’t your cup of tea,  we will have your tea in a bag: choose from 50 types.

Come on in! We have something for everyone!IMG_3745

 

The Tea Box

When I visit a certain friend, an offer of tea means looking through her tea box. The anticipation of something new makes those cups of tea extra exciting.  Here at The Pantry we are unveiling a new line of hand blended organic teas. We mix of small batches of special blends that you won’t find anywhere else. We will also try to recreate a tea that you once had and can no longer find.

Our tea blends are crafted using more than 10 different tea bases and over 15 spices and fruits.  Last week we created Gingersnap Cookie Honeybush tea for a special tea gift donated to Welland’s Rose Festival Day in the Park. It is now available at The Pantry.

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A Little Lamb

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Our Pantry is located next to the Welland Farmers Market so when I come into work on Saturdays, I often see bumper stickers with slogans like: “Thank a Farmer Today” or “Farmers Feed Cities”. Good reminders that no matter how processed our food is, it still must be grown on the farm.  A movement is developing that encourages people to give a nod to the farmers who feed us.  There is also increased awareness that our food dollars should be spent ethically.  We should educate ourselves about how our food is grown and raised. Children should be taught where their food comes from.

Faye Dykstra has worked at The Pantry for over 12 years. It you talk to the Dykstras for any length of time you will catch how much they love their animals. I recall hearing stories about the barn cats draping themselves across  Marten Dykstra’s shoulders as he bent over to milk the cows. We have followed the family’s transition from being dairy farmers to shepherds; from being a single family farm to being a multi-generational farm family. So we are excited to announce that Dykstra lamb will now be available at The Pantry.  Dykstra lambs are silage and oat fed and are not forced to reach full weight early through the introduction of grain feeding. That means they stay with their mothers longer and the resulting meat is leaner and more flavourful. For our customers it also means they can enjoy good quality lamb with a clear conscience because they know every little lamb was cared for with love and gentleness.

Check out our slideshow of Broad Creek Lamb Farm:

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Welland: A Special Place to Call Home

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If you ask Naomie Cesar how she ended up in Welland, she will tell you it was because she ran out of money. If you ask her why she stayed in Welland, she will tell you it was because of the people. After leaving Haiti Naomie lived in Miami for 7 years.  In 2008, she left a warm Miami and was welcomed by frigid January temperatures when she arrived in Fort Erie. She had finally made it to Canada but she had only $50 dollars in her pocket.  No where near enough money to get to her intended destination, Montreal.  Just enough to get a ride to Welland.  Naomie will also tell you about all the people in Welland who helped her finish her education to finalize her residency requirements. She will tell you about Mary, her Welsh adoptive Mom, who continues to help Naomie strive for new dreams. Naomie can’t stop talking about what a special place Welland is.

Eventually Naomie was able to afford a trip to Montreal but it didn’t take her long to realize that it wasn’t the place she wanted to raise her children. A friend suggested she check out Toronto but by then there was no place like Welland in Naomie’s heart. It was home. The people of Welland had helped her when she needed help desperately and now it was her dream to give back to the community that had given so much to her.

DSCF9422In the past few years, Naomie has helped others who are new to Canada.  Besides being a RPN at the Niagara Falls hospital she volunteers with Niagara Victim Support Services. She also travels to people’s homes to give foot care.  That’s how she started providing  difficult to find hair products her clients are always looking for.  A dream to open a shop offering imported hair & beauty supplies as well as Caribbean foods started to form in her mind.  Welland’s Heritage Council provided training through their Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Programme that helps immigrant women reach their dreams.  That is how I met Naomie when the programme asked me to provide mentorship to her.  Although we serve different ethnic communities, our product lines present  the same challenge of finding and providing hard to source items people are seeking.  Like Naomie, we also started our business from the ground up.  It was a good fit immediately.

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I have been impressed with Naomie’s strong work ethic, her caring heart and her amazing courage.  We are fortunate to have her call Welland home.  Even more we are fortunate that she is helping to revitalize Downtown Welland and contributing to the wonderful diversity that makes Welland the special city it is.

Join her May 13 to celebrate the opening of her dream store:  CaribAfrican Specialty Shop.  You will find it near the Tribune offices at 234 East Main St.

Jensen Cheese – A Welland Market Tradition

Since the 1940’s the Jensen cheese counter has been a familiar fixture at the Welland Farmer’s Market. IMG_4874 I remember pushing our oldest daughter in her stroller down the center aisle of the historic older market building and hoping the line up in front of their counter wouldn’t be too long. When you finally got to the front of the queue you could count on seeing Ed Coulson’s friendly face smiling at you over the counter. In those days, I never imagined that we would join the market vendors to sell wares and later be running a cheese and import shop just a stone’s throw from that very spot. Although we never were located in the venerable historic building, our business had it’s start about 18 years ago at the market.

We were sorry to hear that Ed was retiring and Jensen Cheese would no longer be selling their cheese at the market. It marks the end of a significant era.  We were thrilled, therefore, when Jensen cheese asked if we would be willing to continue to market their cheese in Welland. There have been many meetings, phone calls and emails as the details were worked out by Glen Echo Fine Foods who handle the distribution of Jensen Cheese in the rest of the province. We are happy and proud that we can now announce that the Jensen Cheese market tradition will continue right here next to the Welland Market at The European Pantry.

Our first delivery of Jensen Cheese arrived today. The boxes are emptyIMG_4876 and the cooler is stocked with Jensen’s traditional cheddars.  It was a bit of a challenge fitting it all in with the 75 other types of cheese we have in stock but with a bit of creative rearrangement we did it. When you see the large Jensen banner Saturday flying outside our store you will know you have come to right place.

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We look forward to welcoming Jensen’s faithful customers and hope to make their cheese buying experience as friendly and as pleasant as the Jensen family have since the 1940’s.  We also take this opportunity to wish Ed Coulson all the best as he enjoys sleeping in on Saturday mornings now!! You can read more about Jensen Cheese by clicking here.

Coffee Time!

IMG_4751There’s a chill wind blowing outside. Time to pull out a mug and fill it with your favourite coffee! I am a latte girl myself so dipping biscotti might be a bit of sweet over kill…but I love the scene in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” where Judi Dench explains the perfect technique of dunking one’s biscuit in a hot drink. You need to dip just long enough to soften your cookie but not so long that the cookie falls into the drink. My good friend Jane in Somerset told me of the morning she didn’t pull her digestive out of her coffee quick enough and it sank as a sodden lump to the bottom of her cup.  Her husband offered to switch cups….That’s love!

But I am enjoying my favourite joe in a new birthday mug and theseIMG_4746 great biscotti are a perfect bit of sweet to dip in and out in just that perfect “Exotic Marigold” way. Did The European Pantry really need to add another cookie to our current selection of over 30? Yes, Tuscan biscotti are too good to pass up. These Cantuccini Almond cookies made by Dolciaria Gadeschi in Corte De’ Frati near Milan, Italy are perfect dunkers.IMG_4747 Loaded with almonds and just the right about of sweetness to dip in your espresso IMG_4755and pull out at that right moment to enjoy. Thankfully we don’t have to go to Italy to get them…they are here for us to enjoy in Welland!

“A Taste of Heaven”

That’s how one customer just described out new “Sticky Toffee” cheese! This delight is the creation of Combe Castle Dairy who descIMG_4737ribe their cheeses as adventures. Think creamy cheddar with raisons, chopped dates and toffee pieces. A decadent dessert offering. The British know how to make great toffee and cheeses. Who would have thought combining these would taste so dangerously good….what do you think, is it cheese or candy? It’s definitely dessert!