HOMEGROWN TRAIL – Winnipeg!

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I had the fortunate pleasure of being invited to the kick off of the Homegrown Trail Trolly on earlier today.  It was a mini-version of the new tour of Manitoba regional cuisine sponsored by Peg City Grub through Tourism Winnipeg.  Taking off from The Forks you board this beautiful trolly and get whisked away to several of Winnipeg’s finest eateries.

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Certainly worth mentioning is that in interior is just as cool and funky as the exterior and YES…. it is air-conditioned…. for those of you not aware… It can get mighty hot here in the city…. As much as we get called ‘winterpeg’ we can sure pack a heated punch in the summer!trolly0056

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This was the first time I had attended any of these kinds of events.  I typically go out, eat and enjoy or sometimes, don’t enjoy food…. sharing the experiences with my family and yes… occasionally you… my reader.  Since my day job consists of some pretty intense encounters with the general public I have often stayed away from too many crowds on my off hours.

This though, was an adventure… so many wonderful like-minded people from tourism, magazines, and bloggers who also love food and are generally very vocal about it… or maybe it was just a general loudness as about 16 of us boarded the trolly…. it was like someone had let the animals out… all laughter, jokes, smiles, hellos and dare I say there was even the threat of twerking… 😉  Thank goodness that didn’t actually happen… but certainly all in very good fun.

It was so nice to go out to eat and NOT have the anxiety of pulling out a camera and taking pictures… not wanting to freak or stress or inconvenience anyone… yes… I do care about those things… and I do sometimes feel awkward… So going out with a bunch of lovely people whose expectations were that we all do these things was so refreshing and liberating.  Thanks to all of you who were on the bus with me today…. it was a fabulous pleasure meeting you… and to those of you who I didn’t get a chance to speak to… I’m sure we’ll get a chance to meet next time.

Before I go on to give you a brief overview of the three places we ate today I’d also like to take an opportunity to thank Tourism Winnipeg for having the good sense to start this amazing initiative… (and thanks so much for inviting me… It was a wonderful tasty break from my day to day life…) our summers though beautiful are so short that it would be a shame to not have this kind of opportunity to showcase some of the great places to eat for tourists and locals alike.  I have to say… who knew that I didn’t have to go outside of this wonderful city of ours to get on a culinary tour.  Had I known this earlier maybe I wouldn’t have booked a trip to New Orleans…. and a bike tour to various NOLA local restaurants…. okay…. not true… I still would have done that and watch for the posts over the next couple of weeks…. All I’m saying is… Good on you Winnipeg… this was a great idea!

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Fusion Grill on Urbanspoon

Our first stop on the trail was Fusion Grill, this little place is on Academy and though small is amazing.  I have to admit that I hadn’t gotten here before this day and I’m sure I’ll be back.  We had a wonderful mini-meal that consisted of Panko Fried Pickerel Cheeks with Pickled Fiddlehead Aioli, beautifully Crispy Sweet Potato Frites and a Coleslaw that was unlike any other I’d had before….the addition of kale and a horseradish dressing were fantastic.

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YES… I KNOW… this isn’t the greatest picture… I apologize… but I was just getting my bearings and neglected to snap this when it was still beautifully wrapped in paper… I was eager… I was starving… I admit… make no mistake this is a stop worth making.

For those of you who aren’t aware Pickerel is a very Manitoba fish, it is also known as Walleye by many Americans … and some Canadians… and yes… they are the cheeks of the fish… mild, tender, boneless…. and at least at Fusion Grill… fried to perfection… crisp and coupled with crispy and perfectly fried sweet potatoes… hmmmmm… seems to be a theme here… they are so darn good at frying things!  I also had the lemonade and was pleasantly surprised to find it actually tasted like fresh lemonade.  For those of you who don’t like a little pucker with lemonade… maybe add a little sugar… I like anything ‘lemon’ to be tart… adding sugar to taste is easy…. taking it away… not so much.  Needless to say this was an impressive first stop!

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Prairie 360 on Urbanspoon

Our second stop on the trail was Prairie 360 a beautiful revolving restaurant in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.  I have to admit that I’m not that well-versed on the history of the restaurant but it has been taken over by new owners in the last couple of years but the view from the 36th floor is amazing.  And yes… it revolves…. you get a full view of the whole (okay almost whole) of the city in the hour that you have for lunch. If you look closely at the glass you can actually see it moving… for some who have issues with dizziness… this can be a bit anxiety provoking… but there are ways to make it work… it moves very slowly folks… and just don’t watch the rail. By the way… that’s the view of the Human Rights Museum as we took our seats.  The view from most of the seats is stunning… we really are a beautiful city…. but who am I?  You should see for yourself!

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I had been here before, in the last year for lunch and had a burger and salad that were wonderful…  as part of this trail we were served Bison Prosciutto Perogies with a Garlic Cream Sauce and Green Onion Sour Cream.

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I have to admit that this was not as impressive as I’d hoped.  The perogies were a little doughy for my liking and I would have liked the filling to have been seasoned more but the sour cream and garlic cream sauce were lovely and the fried onions and picked red pepper were a nice touch.

Last stop… Whew… I have to say this was a bit of a whirlwind… Last stop was Tall Grass Prairie.

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Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company & Deli on Urbanspoon

The owners at Tall Grass Prairie believe that food is sacred and shouldn’t be a commodity and that is partly why they began this endeavour in 1990… during a recession… when the grain growers in Manitoba were struggling.  This place has been a hit ever since. Though instigated by their commitment to providing healthy and tasty bread that supports the local farmers by giving them 14 cents as opposed to 2 cents per loaf it is actually their Cinnamon Buns that have become world famous.  Seriously… I dare you to find better Cinnamon Buns ANYWHERE!

The cookie above is a spin off the multigrain bread, it is the FolkFest Cookie and if you like multigrain bread this will be one of your favourites…. not too sweet and just grainy enough to make you feel less guilty about having dessert!

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And if it’s bread that you’re looking for… look no further… they have a wide variety of breads made fresh daily (as everything else here).  It used to be that their multigrain loaves were the top seller but lately their spelt bread has taken over.  Not part of this taste adventure…and not pictured here… but certainly something I’m familiar with is their veggie bread pudding… seriously… bread pudding with roasted veggies… so soft and luscious… and healthy…. you have to try it if you’re in the neighbourhood. I know it sounds a little strange… but it is very VERY good… almost as good as their Cinnamon Buns.

I’m sorry to say that I had to rush off back to work and wasn’t able to partake in the tour of their processing area…. but I’m sure if anyone is interested in more on any of these great places… all the staff were helpful, informative and just plain friendly… after all… we are and will always be…. “Friendly Manitoba”.

Thanks again to the folks at Tourism Winnipeg and Peg City Grub…. and a special thanks to Gillian for finding and inviting me to this fun adventure… though we had a mini-version the full version includes Mise, Market Burger, Fude, Peasant Cookery and Sonya’s… all great places… for more details…. go here….

And for more food adventures… including ones coming up in NOLA… come back and see me in the weeks to come!

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