local food

peas & carrots

If a friendship lasts longer than seven years, psychologists say it will last a lifetime. ~ Unknown

In 1998 I was invited to a dinner party. A tall, blond, pretty 20 something girl from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia stood in her kitchen and cooked for me while we drank wine and talked about food, restaurants and music. She made a spicy chicken tomato pasta dish and it was fantastic and we became best friends. Her name is Kelly. We are like Oprah and Gayle, or Thelma and Louise, and as Forrest Gump would say “we go together like peas and carrots”. Over the next decade we ate lots of food and tried new things at a variety of restaurants. We visited farmers markets and specialty stores, and roasted local Larsen wieners over bonfires. We talked about life, and hopes, and dreams, all while sharing appetizers and desserts. Heck, she was there laughing her head off when I accidentally split my pants at a fancy restaurant in downtown Halifax! Kelly helped to shape my Halifax life, and in 2007 (seven years ago this month!) when I moved to rural Manitoba with my now husband, I was a bit worried that our friendship might slowly slip away, and leave nothing but a distant memory.  

All that worrying was for nothing. Facebook and Twitter appeared. Texting and Facetime gained popularity, and most importantly, Kelly started blogging. Her blog posts at www.kellyneil.com provided a glimpse into her every day life even if I couldn’t be back home in Nova Scotia. I was able to see her blossom into a well respected food stylist and food photographer. It kept us close even though we were provinces apart. Kelly began to encourage me to blog too, and to start sharing my Manitoba experiences so Nova Scotians could learn about Manitoba. In March 2011, Little Gray Bird was created, and I have been sharing my Manitoba thoughts ever since. Through my blog Kelly has started to view Manitoba differently - my stories and experiences have opened her eyes to Manitoba being a foodie destination - a place where two best friends could hit the road and go on an ultimate food road trip. We have talked about it many times, but we haven’t been able to make it happen quite yet, but some day we will take a Manitoba road trip and I will officially introduce Kelly to my new home province. We will eat lots of local Manitoba foods, discover the foodie culture, and most likely gain 10 pounds from all the amazing Manitoba experiences. It will be fantastic.

So in the spirit of friendship and food, and in hopes of someday taking a Manitoba road trip with my Nova Scotia best friend who has never been to the prairies, I have put together a list of Manitoba foodie adventures I think she would enjoy. Some I have already experienced personally, and others are still on my to do list. These are restaurants and places that I believe friends who love food and exploring would enjoy and would help create long lasting Manitoba memories. So why not grab your best friend, hit the road, and set out to discover a few of these Manitoba foodie adventures. Be sure to make a toast to friendship!

Ultimate Manitoba Foodie Adventures

Prairie Oils & Vinegars. Manitoba’s first oil and vinegar tasting room. Located in Steinbach. Pass me the bread and let’s start dipping! For more information click here.

Parkland Flavour Trail. The perfect way to explore The Parkland area of Manitoba with lots of foodie stops, including a stop at one of my personal favourite Manitoba restaurants, Foxtail Cafe. How about dinner aboard the Martese ship as you cruise around Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park? Lots of options to choose from! For more information click here.

Pizza from Foxtail Cafe in Onanole, Manitoba, part of the Parkland Flavour TrailFusion Grill. Listed as one of Canada’s Top Ten Restaurants by the Globe and Mail (2011), this restaurant offers truffle perogies with duck sausage and walnut cream sauce, chips and cheeks (pickerel), local Arctic Char, and many more with a regional flair. For more information click here

Half Pints Brewing Co. Manitoba beer! Free brewery tour every Saturday at 1:00 pm in Winnipeg. For more information click here

Chocolatier Constance Popp. Artisan chocolates made in Winnipeg using local products. Options include the beautiful Manitobar, Manitoba birch bark chocolate, and Manitoba beer chocolates. So many fantastic choices! For more information click here.

Country Corner Cafe. Located in the tiny rural community of Ninga, this restaurant is like a warm visit to you grandmother’s house. Small menu serving only a few sandwiches, soups, and pies, this cafe is a hidden gem, and has a devote customer base. For more information phone 204-534-2373.

Prairie 360. A Revolving restaurant with fantastic views in the heart of Winnipeg, it boasts an interesting menu with choices such as venison, elk, bison, and their own smoked Berkshire bacon. For more information click here.

Savour The Flavour Culinary Experience. Learn to make easter bread, and eat perogies, sausages, cabbage rolls, borscht, and beet leaf rolls made by Ukrainian Babas in Dauphin. For more information click here.  

Borscht made by Ukrainian Babas in Dauphin, ManitobaThe Wilderness Gourmet Canoeing Trip. Combining the beautiful Manitoba boreal forest experience with gourmet food, Northern Soul provides the ultimate rustic foodie adventure. No need to sacrifice good food just because you are eating around a campfire. For more information click here

Supper In The Field. A festive meal celebrating local Manitoba foods and recipes held every year in The Parkland. For more information click here

Bothwell Cheese. Manitoba’s locally made cheese located just a short drive from Winnipeg. You can visit the factory shop and choose a few cheese favorites to take home. For more information click here

Foraging And Fast Water at Moon Gate B&B. This adventure combines foraging for Manitoba edibles, learning to make your own preserves, and delicious food with the B&B experience. For more information click here

Devour The District Food Tour. Wonderful walking tour through the Exchange District in Winnipeg where you sample foods from some of the best restaurants in the city. For more information click here.

Tourtiere at Peasant Cookery, one of the restaurants on the Devour The District Tour in Winnipeg, ManitobaHoney, Garlic & Maple Syrup Festival. A taste of the Pembina Valley, featuring displays, food vendors, and a large buffet supper. For more information click here.

Kurbis Country Market. Manitoba farm offering locally grown vegetables, pickles, preserves, homemade baking, eggs, free range meats, and Cornell Creme ice cream. For more information click here.

Cinnamon Bun Trail. 41 different stops across rural Manitoba to sample cinnamon buns! Wowza! For more information click here

Baking 101 Retreat at Thistle Lane B&B. Learn to bake delicious treats in a farmhouse kitchen. Perfect for friends who want to share a unique rural foodie experience. For more information click here.

Sausages & Spankings Restaurant. With a name like that it is just begging for a road trip to Fannystelle! Should we order the sausages or the spankings?!? Currently open on Sundays only, it is best to call ahead to confirm before heading out. For more information phone 204-803-5731.

Bridge Drive-In. Described by many as the ultimate Winnipeg ice cream treat, the BDI is one of my favourite food discoveries in Winnipeg. I recommend the cantaberry, the goog special, or the sleeping beauty, followed by a stroll along the bridge. For more information click here.

The Cantaberry at Bridge Drive-In in Winnipeg, ManitobaMorden Corn & Apple Festival. With a variety of activities celebrating the locally grown corn and apples, including free hot buttered corn and ice cold cider, this is a festival designed perfectly for foodies friends. For more information click here.

Friends & Lovers Package At Calder House B&B. Combining time at Stonelane Orchard with a relaxing stay at a beautiful bed & breakfast, you will help pick delicious vegetables straight from the garden and assist with preparing them for your evening meal. For more information click here.

Grazing In The Field. You are transported by motor coach to a local dairy farm where you are treated to a farm tour and have the opportunity to connect with local dairy producers. Afterwards you experience a delicious meal under an open air tent. For more information click here.

St. Norbert’s Farmers Market. The largest farm market in Manitoba, offering a wide range of local  products including saskatoon berries, honey, bison, vegetables, and various baked goods. For more information click here.

Rural Roots Food Cooperative. A small store located in beautiful Boissevain which carries a variety of local Manitoba food products. How about picking up some Naosap Harvest Manitoba wild rice from Cranberry Portage, or Rocky Lake Birchworks syrup from The Pas? For more information click here.

Pizza Night at Integrity Foods. Specialty made pizza is baked in a stone oven in the middle of the yard while you walk around and meet the farmer, visit with the chickens, and enjoy the gardens. When the pizza is ready you sit and enjoy it picnic style. For more information click here

Pizza oven at Integrity Foods near Riverton, ManitobaNeechi Foods. Located in Winnipeg, this Aboriginal grocery sells delicious bannock, Manitoba caught fish, and a variety of local fruits and vegetables. For more information click here

Livery Barn Restaurant. Located at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, this restaurant serves Russian Mennonite traditional cuisine. For more information click here.

Reykavik Cafe. Located in Gimli, and specializing in Icelandic baked goods, this is the perfect place to sample vinetarta or other Icelandic treats. For more information phone 204-642-7598.

So there you have it, my starting list for if/when my Nova Scotia foodie friend finally makes it out to Manitoba to visit. Do you have any suggestions for things we should add to our list? Any great foodie adventures in Manitoba that we should definitely check out? If so, I would love for you to share!

For more information on food photographer/food stylist/food blogger Kelly Neil, and to see her recent honey maple bread recipe using Manitoba products that I sent to her in a care package, please visit click here.