Natasha's Pick of the Week. Duchess Bake Shop. (Need I say more?)

Today I had lunch in heaven. Or at least as close as I can get to heaven here in Edmonton!

I had lunch with our interior designer, the very talented Dawn Stiles, at the Duchess Bake Shop today.

Duchess is one of those places that you walk into and you feel like you are immediately transported to another era and quite possibly another place. In this case it is a little bakery on a side street in Paris, circa 1957.

In reality, Duchess Bake Shop is on 124 Street just north of 107 Avenue right here in our own lovely city. They make ALL of their fabulous pastries in-house every day from scratch and use only the freshest and finest ingredients!

I am pretty sure EVERYTHING there tastes divine, but I definitely know that their signature cake 'The Duchess' is fan-freakin-tastic. Today Dawn introduced me to the Salted Caramel Macaroon and it was like a sweet, decadent party, complete with streamers and lutes, was happening in my mouth! In other words, it was really, really GOOD. I only had one, but I am pretty sure I could have easily eaten a dozen of them (luckily they come in a nice box all packed up and ready to go in case that is exactly what you want to do)!

I also had one of their lovely croissant sandwiches today (the pastrami and pickle) and it was so simple, yet so yummy. Maybe it has something to do with the specially imported butter they use to make the croissants! Maybe it was because I was imagining I was eating it on a cobblestone street in Paris. Whatever the case, I will be back there again for another one. Soon!

You can eat in at Duchess or take your goodies to go and you can special order cakes and pastries for special occasions as well. I feel that a Mother's Day cake from Duchess might be in order, or some yummy grown up Easter treats if I can't wait that long!

So for something a little different, a nice date night dessert or an afternoon coffee with your girlfriends, check this place out. I promise you will not be disappointed! Expect maybe if you don't get a table, it really is a popular little boulangerie!

Enjoy!

Natasha~

P.S. And of course, you can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter too!

These are a few of my favourite things... Day THREE: Serben Free Range

"Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels...

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles"

~ Maria, The Sound of Music

Food, food, food!!  'Tis the season people!  Christmas parties, Christmas dinners, baking, cooking, roasting, basting.....and on and on it goes.  But do you ever stop to think about where exactly all that food you are consuming is coming from?  Where does Mrs. Butterball get all those turkeys that are pre-buttered, pre-stuffed and dare I say it pre-packaged?  How many Christmas hams are going in the oven this year and do you know how those hams came to be or where they are from?  I think about these things a lot....

About a year ago I met a lovely man named Jered Serben.  He is a fourth generation farmer.  He raises pigs, chickens, turkeys and lamb.  I told him how I could not handle the smell of pork anymore and was wondering why.  And then he told me about how most pork is farmed and brought to the shelves at your local supermarket.  It is really not a pretty picture (these places are called piggeries, think factory for pigs!) and it explains a lot.

NOT a Free-Range farm!

 

He challenged me to try his pork and taste (smell?) the difference.  I did and I am SO glad!  Because I really do like pork and bacon and ham and bacon and sausages and bacon. (Wait, did I say that already?)  Needless to say, one tenderloin later, I was a complete convert and I no longer buy pork products from the grocery store.

Serben Free Range is a family-owned, fourth generation farm, near Smoky Lake, Alberta (about an hour northeast of Edmonton). They supply free-range meat to Edmonton and surrounding areas. In their own words:

We produce free-range pork, lamb, turkey and chicken.  We also supply pastured, grass-fed beef. No hormones, antibiotics or additives are used, and animals are free to roam. We raise our poultry only through the summer, as we like them to be out in the grass and sunshine, not inside a barn.

If you live in Edmonton or surrounding areas, and are looking for local, farm-fresh, free-range meat from humanely-raised animals, you can purchase online, or contact us for delivery options. We can deliver your product to your home (Mondays 5-8 p.m), or you can pick it up at some of the various city and surrounding area Farmer's Market's (see website for updates).

I received another delivery a few weeks ago from Serben Free Range and have since had another fabulous pork tenderloin, some very delicious pork chops that I simply pan-fried with Greek spices and we had the bacon this weekend (you SERIOUSLY have to try the bacon!!).  I also have a huge free-range chicken just waiting for the right night to be cooked and some of these amazing sausages that I think I might break out this weekend.

Actual sausages from Serben Free Range. Mmmm....Good!

 

Jered and his girlfriend Julia are forging ahead with Serben Free Range and are looking at getting some if not all of their products Certified Organic as well.  I am also looking forward to tasting some of their garden produce next year!  In the mean time, I believe that buying from our local farmers is very important and I like knowing exactly where my food is coming from.  And I also appreciate the farmers, like Jered and Julia, that strive to use natural, sustainable farming practices.

Serben Free Range farm in the winter
Pigs.... well, being pigs!!

 

They have a very user-friendly online ordering system on the Serben Free Range website and you simply have to click on your favourite products and pay via Paypal (credit card) or cash/cheque and choose either to have your items delivered right to your door, or you can pick them up at the local farmers markets on Saturdays (St. Albert and City Centre Markets until December 18, 2010).

Serben Free Range is offering Natural Urban Mamas fans and friends
FREE Delivery on all orders over $50.00.

Please mention Natural Urban Mamas in the Additional Comments section of the online check-out system at www.serbenfreerange.com.

Now go get yourself some bacon and a Christmas ham too!

Cheers,

Natasha~