Food local products Reviews and Such

More Manitoba Made Food and Drink

I try and hit the Winnipeg Farmers Markets a few times during the year. I’m generally on the lookout for more Manitoba made products to try. Mainly I’ve been visiting the Downtown Market, either at the Hydro Building, or in winter, indoors at Cityplace. Wednesday I went out to St. Norbert for the Farmers Market there. However, having to wait 45 minutes for a St. Norbert bus in the middle of the day, I’m not as inclined to make return visits out there.
Along with picking up locally raised pork from Ferris Farms, produce from Hearts and Roots, as well as Wild Earth Farms, I enjoy trying items you can take home and store for longer periods of time. A couple of the items in my Winnipeg’s Best Butter Tart post were Farmers Market finds.

Abiding Citizen Bitters

Winnipeg Hot Sauces for a Time of S...
Winnipeg Hot Sauces for a Time of Self-Isolation.

The first item I picked up was one that I didn’t use for a few months after I purchased it. This was the Hot Pepper bitters from Abiding Citizen. I heard about Abiding Citizen because Teri-Lynn Friesen, who along with her husband Chad runs the company, is also a theatre person. She produced the play, Corner of, and was the director of Time’s Fancy, which ran at the 2016 and 2017 Winnipeg Fringe Festivals, respectively.

Manitoba Made bitters
Abiding Citizen Hot Pepper Bitters an interesting addition to your cocktail making.

My original intent was to try create a recipe that would use the bitters in the cooking. However, I put them to the side and they languished on the shelf for several months. Until, one day, I wandered through the downtown market, and figured that it was time to give another Manitoba made product a try.
Since I wrote this post I’ve had several chances to use the bitters in my cooking. They are not overly hot, so it takes about three eye droppers full to add much heat to any substantial sized dish. However, they do deliver a nice bit of heat, and do so without messing up the flavour of the dish. 

Capital K Distillery Gin

I’ve read a lot about Capital K Distillery over the last year. They seemed to hit Winnipeg with quite a bang. Their product has only been for sale for just under two years and they are already winning awards for it. Their vodka was their gold medal winning product. I chose their gin, which won them a silver medal.

More Manitoba made gin
Tall Grass Gin from Capital K Distillery.

Now, I’m no cocktail expert, but I thought I’d give it a try. My first one followed a simple recipe.
1 oz gin
2 oz tonic
juice of half a lime
10 drops of Abiding Citizen Hot Pepper Bitters

20180905 205938 e1537540901238
My first attempt at a gin cocktail.

On the whole this was a relatively pleasant cocktail. The Tall Grass Gin is good and smooth, and the lime and tonic make this pretty refreshing. However, I thought that I could do a better job at creating something. So, a few days later I decided I would give a tomato juice based cocktail a try.
The first thing I did differently was to rim the glass with a salt and pepper combo. I think my first cocktail would have been better if Ihad rimmed the glass with sugar to start.

Manitoba made tomato cocktail
I rimmedd the glass for my tomato juice cocktail with salt and fresh ground pepper

I don’t know to what extent the quality of the tomato juice matters, but I simply went with Compliments Tomato Juice, because I could by a relatively small container of it.

More Manitoba Tomato Juice Cocktail
Compliments Tomato Juice for my cocktail.

I used the same proportions for the gin and tomato juice, but doubled everything so it ended up:
2 oz gin
4 oz tomato juice
20 drops Abiding Citizen Bitters
Salt and Pepper (In addition to what I used for rimming the glass)
After I took a couple of sips I thought it was still missing something, and so I decided I would add some whole rubbed tarragon, which I think perked up the taste a little bit.
For my first attempts at making cocktails I’m relatively pleased with the results, but if readers have any ideas they would like to add, please feel free to include them in the comment section below.

South African Beef Jerky

Biltong is the name for South African Beef Jerky. As it turns out Winnipeg has not one, but two producers of Biltong.

More Manitoba Made Blitong
The taste of Africa Biltong


More Manitoba Habanero Biltong
The Mr. Biltong Red Hot Habanero Jerky

The Taste of Africa was the first of the two that I tried. They were originally developed out of the Knox Community Kitchen and when I first tried them they hadn’t even developed the packaging for them. I tried the Mr. Biltong when I visited the Downtown Winnipeg Night Market. It had been a few years ago that I had tried the Taste of Africa one, and when I found it for sale out in Saint Norbert yesterday, I decided I would refresh my memory of its taste.

I really like both of these products, but if it came right down to it I would choose the Mr. Biltong. I prefer the texture of the Taste of Africa Biltong. The pieces tend to be a little bit thicker and give an added bit of chew beyond that of the Mr. Biltong. In the picture below you can see what the biltong looks like coming out of the bottom of the back just before it was empty. You can see that there were more crumbs in the Mr. Biltong version.

More Manitoba crumbs
the crumbs at the bottom of the Mr. Biltong bag.


20180919 191306 e1537543314555
There is a little less of the product, but almost no crumbs.

When it comes to pricing it’s a saw-off between the two choices. You get 95 grams for $9.95  of the Mr. Biltong versus 75 grams for $7.50 for Taste of Africa.
The big thing that Mr. Biltong has in it’s favour is that it has a variety of flavours. The thing that really tipped the scale in my books, is that Mr. Biltong makes a red hot Habanero jerky. I love heat, and this product delivers in spades.

The biltong has a sneaky bit of heat that creeps up on you as you eat it. I found that one benefir of this was that as I was enjoying the snack, every so often I had to take a little break so that I didn’t eat the whole bag in one go. I ended up coming back to it over the space of about three days.

Either of these though would make for great snack bowl food at a party. If you want to put out M & M’s or peanuts, cheezies, etc., adding a bowlful or two of Biltong is a great way to avoid the monotony of typical party food.

Since I wrote this pot I’ve been trying a variety of Beef Jerky treats. I’ve tried the Jerky from Lorissa’s Kitchen, McSweeney’s, several of the Jack’s links flavours, and even the President’s Choice Free From version. I’m not buying the President’s choice again, because it’s made from U.S. beef. If you want to pride yourself on being owners of the Real Canadian Superstore, you shouldn’t be selling out Canadian Farmers for higher profits.
Anyways, the only one I’ve found that was remotely close to these two, was the Jack Links Sriracha Jerky. It gives a fairly decent kick of heat. However, I’d prefer Mr. Biltong to any of them.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.