Hildegard’s Bakery Will Have you Bingi(e)n’

For the last two or three years I’ve been having people ask me if I was familiar with the pizza nights put on by Integrity Foods.¬†Only by people talking about them (one thing about not driving, rural events are mainly missed). Then one day I was talking with my friend Travis Unger. Travis and his wife Stephanie, run a small property management firm in the Spence Nieghbourhood, and are friends of mine from my days back at St. Vital Evangelical Mennonite Church.

Hildegards Oven

The wood-fired oven that is the heart of Hildegards Bakery.

On this occasion he told me that the son of the owners of Integrity Foods was looking at opening a bakery in town, including offering pizzas. As time went by I started to more about this new bakery, as the owners also have connections to some of the people I know at St. Margaret’s.

Over the last few months I’ve watched the southwest corner of Portage Avenue and Maryland Street. During this time I’ve had some contact with Dave Newsom one of the owner’s of Hildegard’s, and have anxiously awaited it’s opening. Continue reading


Shawarma Time – Ellice Avenue

Shawarma Time on the corner of Ellice Avenue and Sherbrook Street is one of the oldest Shawarma places in Winnipeg. Despite having lived in the area for the best part of 13 years, I’ve only gone in a couple of times over the years. The main reason for not stopping in was that although the food was quite good, I found the place to be a little on the run down side, and not a particularly pleasant space.

Shawarma Time Grape Leaves

The stuffed grape leaves from Shawarma Time

However, recently I went back because I was looking for something good and cheap. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in to see that they have made some changes to the decor. The most notable thing is large, flat screens that display the menu and catch your eye as you walk in. This has reduced the number of unattractive pictures that lined the one wall. In general the tables and chairs also look much better and the general cleanliness of the place is much higher.

I was quite hungry my first visit, so I decided I would order a couple of appetizers and one of their pies. I chose Stuffed Grape Leaves, Kibbe, and one of the their Cheese and Spinach Pies. Continue reading

Bell Tower Community Cafe

It’s a typical scene that you see at many food banks. People come in the door, line-up and wait as they proceed along to the table, where they register to receive a food hamper. However, it’s what happens after they’ve registered that make this food bank a little different. This food bank is the Bell Tower Community Cafe, operating out of Westminster United Church

Once the clients have registered they are encouraged to go and grab a bowl of soup, or now that it’s summertime, head back outside and grab a hot dog and hamburger along with some salad, bread, or cookies. ¬†Then there’s coffee and tea. Not the add one cup of grounds for 100 cups of water type either. The coffee is likely to be from Thom Bargen’s and the tea from DAVIDsTea.

If you hang around long enough you’ll see the auditorium transformed. There’s a band up on the stage. While people enjoy the music and conversation a line of children will snake its way around the tables, or they’ll be out in front dancing. Often some of the adults will join them in dancing. Among the noises, laughter and shrieks of delight will also be frequently heard.

This is not some idyllic scene. After all, many of the people here are clients whose income makes feeding themselves and their families difficult. Since it began it February, right up to last Friday, the Bell Tower Community Cafe, has shared over 800 hampers for more than 1,600 people, about 600 of whom are children. Yet, despite this there is more laughter and pleasure here than you will see at many other food banks. How did this happen? Continue reading