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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
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Wheel Good Food

Noelle Chorney
Published Thursday July 9, 06:36 pm
Moveable Feast is an awesome way to eat

I don’t know about you, but I suffer from Prairie Summer Syndrome (PSS) — the desperate urge to fit in as much activity and summertime fun as humanly possible, before we get plunged back into winter a short two months later.

Bike rides! Camping trips! Swim in the lake! Wade in the river! Hike! Firepit suppers! Patios! Reunions! There’s so much to do, and so little time.

And here’s another great thing that you should seriously try to fit into your schedule.

Saskatoon Cycles offers a pretty cool (well, possibly hot and sweaty, but that’s okay too) way to multi-task and pack more summer experiences into a small timeframe: their moveable feasts offer a dining experience that involves traveling from restaurant to restaurant by bicycle.

I was invited to attend the most recent moveable feast, which was part of the Canadian Institute of Planners conference last week. Saskatoon Cycles provided bikes to the delegates, and the few locals who attended showed up on their own bikes. It was a smokin’ hot day, and while rain threatened, we got off without a drop.

Cathy Watts, the impetus behind the Moveable Feast, says each dinner is a one-of-a-kind experience. “We make arrangements with different restaurants. Each course is always different, and with a new group of people at every dinner, each feast we’ve had has been completely unique.”

At $50-$55 per multi-course feast, it’s also surprisingly affordable, although there’s some effort required (the biking) on your part.

Our own interesting experience began at the downtown side of the Victoria Bridge, where we mustered before sampling some bannock and enjoying a talk about the history of this land, given by a Métis historian, George Gingraf from the Gabriel Dumont Institute.

We then biked down River Landing to Victoria Park to view the skate park, which was buzzing with activity. Remember, this was a group of city planners — so they were getting a tour of some of our planned elements for citizens. (As a side note, I had no idea that the outdoor gym had been installed. That’s awesome!)

We headed to the Farmers’ Market, where Chef Jenni prepared a beautiful salad of local greens, topped with Three Farmers’ chickpeas, local flax, flatbread made from local flour and a saskatoon berry dressing made with berries harvested in town. Yum.

Then we walked over to 20th St. to check out The Studio, an artists’ collective on the second floor of a building right next to the Two Twenty. It was an amazing place to be, with an antipasto spread provided by the Underground Café, original art for sale on all the walls, and stimulating conversation about cities and how they evolve.

We were encouraged to move on to the next location before we felt quite ready (truly, I could have spent the whole night in that space), but since this was a moveable feast we had to move on. And we had a bit of a trek ahead of us, as the next course was being served at Calories. We cycled over the Broadway Bridge and ended up in the back alley behind Calories, where they had a spread set out for us.

There, we enjoyed a shot of saskatoon berry lemonade and elderflower cordial, small bites of grilled tuna and mango salad, lentil and quinoa curry salad, and marinated watermelon. Everything was delicious, but since that was our main course, I realized too late that I should have tried to fill up a bit more. Instead I was too busy talking again. (Super cool moment: I met another woman named Noelle! That never happens!)

Then we were on our bikes again and back over the bridge, to end our feast at the Drinkle Building, where owner Dave Denny showed off his newly renovated loft apartment and opened his rooftop deck to the feasters. They also offered wine, tea, coffee and dessert at that point. (Probably a good idea to wait ‘til the end for the booze. Forty tipsy bikers taking over Spadina would not be good PR for the Moveable Feast...)

I felt entirely justified to have two or three samplings of the lemon-lavender cookies, berry pie squares and chocolate peanut crispy squares on offer for dessert, considering the miles I’d logged (especially with the additional 10K round trip to get downtown from my house). Even with the dessert, I’m pretty sure it was a zero-sum meal, calorie-wise, which was pretty gratifying.

I never ride my bike that late in the evening, so it was a fascinating trip home, seeing who’s out on Meewasin Trail that time of night . Watts says that’s one of her favourite things about these dinners. “I’ve had the most exquisite Saskatoon evenings doing these events. Every night has been perfect weather, and it has taken me places I haven’t gone to, at times of the day that I wouldn’t normally go there.”

What better way to really dig into your city than cycling around for delicious food? I can’t really think of any. While the moveable feasts began as a fundraiser and awareness-raiser for Saskatoon Cycles, the potential for them seems limitless.

“I started off wanting to show people that cyclists are a lively part of the city, and that they love unique experiences, are sophisticated and are willing to pay top dollar for their experiences,” says Watt. “I wanted to change people’s assumptions about who cyclists are.”

While Watt needs a break after doing four moveable feasts in the last nine months, she’s already talking about regular seasonal feasts, and also themed tours involving historic areas — complete with period recipes for dinner, a winter patio tour including blankets and warm, comforting food, or a family ride that would end at an outdoor theatre production.

“I try to include a special event as our final destination,” says Watt. She’s wrapped up one of her moveable feasts with a PechaKucha (20 slides in six minutes) series on cycling adventures, while another ended with a cycling adventure movie at the Broadway Theatre. There are so many options!

If you’re interested in participating in a Moveable Feast, or if you’re interested in helping out with the planning of one (Watt would love to build a team of moveable feast planners), whether you have your own idea for a theme, or you just want to go along for the ride, drop Cathy a line at 306-668-3908 or e-mail ctwatts@sasktel.net. She’s got the energy, enthusiasm and experience to make Moveable Feasts a regular event all year round — and anyone with a bike and an appetite should be very thankful for that.  

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