Wild Leeks and Leibovitz at AGNS

This podcast was recorded at Wild Leek food and juice bar during the fall of 2013 and features Shannon Parker from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and chef and owner of Wild Leek, Kirsten Taggart.  In this episode, learn how to make seitan sandwiches, hear about the Year of the Corn in the Annapolis Valley, and all about local love for our NS Farmers Markets and the joy of making cookies. Best of all, hear the nitty gritty on the newest stunning donation to the AGNS – an Annie Leibovitz collection 2000 prints strong.

wildleek.ca – artgalleryofnovascotia.ca

wildleeks

 

LOCAL TASTING TOURS:

Hello Halifax!  This is Claire with Local Tasting Tours.  Today we are at Wild Leek food and juice bar on Windsor Street.  And I’m sitting in the light of a lovely afternoon with Kirsten Taggart, who is the owner and chef here at Wild Leek.  And Shannon Parker from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; she is curator of collections at the art gallery.  And we have a beautiful looking meal in front of us:  we have a seitan banh mi, and a little salad with curls of beet and carrot and this incredible looking dill dressing, which I hear Wild Leek is famous for.  And we also have this juice, and it’s called The Energizer.

KIRSTEN TAGGART:

Apples and carrots and ginger.

LTT:

That sounds very energizing to me.  And so seitan is a wheat gluten sort of fake meat, right?  So how do you make that?

KT:

So the process to make the seitan is: you have two bowls, one filled with gluten flour, spices, nutritional yeast; and the other one is with cold water, olive oil, soy sauce, chopped onion.  Pour the cold into the dry, mix it with a wooden spoon.  Eventually you get this bread like mixture that you place into cheesecloth, sausage form, put it into a boiling pot of water for an hour and a half, and you cut it and saute it on a pan.

LTT:

It’s a great texture.  So Shannon – what do you think of this sandwich?

SHANNON PARKER:

This is incredible.  I actually don’t recall eating such a good sandwich before. The flavours and the combination of the crisp and the spice and the fresh bread and everything is fantastic – I may have a new favourite meal in Halifax.

LTT:

Yay!  So what else can we find here at the Wild Leek?

KT:

Our menu changes monthly; you can also find our daily quiches which are made with Acadiana Organic tofu which is local.  Breakfast burritos… we do breakfast and lunch here.

LTT:

That’s great!  Yes, vegan breakfast is I think something that you can’t find too many places in town.

KT:

We do full vegan, so it’s kind of cool that we offer breakfast sandwiches, like the breakfast muffins, pancakes… we do coconut bacon, also, so that’s pretty cool, I think people really enjoy that as well.

LTT:

And is it like the meat of the coconut fried up?

KT:

So it’s not the meat of the coconut, it’s called coconut chips, and we marinade that here and bake it and it tastes like bacon.

LTT:

That’s amazing.  I’m interested in your customer demographic.  Do you have a sense of how many people who come in are vegan?

KT:

I come out and talk to the customers as often as I can, but I really am not concerned with if they are vegan or if they’re not vegan – I just want to serve good food, you know?  So for me, personally, you don’t have to be vegan to eat vegan food.  Like you don’t have to be Italian to go to an Italian restaurant.

LTT:

No that’s a very good point.  So Shannon, can you tell us a little bit about what’s going on this fall at the Art Gallery?

SP:

Probably one of the biggest things happening is the Sobey Art Award exhibition – the exhibition’s just opened up – it will be on exhibition through early January.

LTT:

I just wanted to mention this big donation the gallery received in June of the Annie Leibovitz photographs.

SP:

It’s an amazing donation.  It’s not only an amazing collection of large scale and medium scale prints, but also a collection of over 700 vintage file prints so you can really see, in many cases, examples of the photographs she took before she ended up with the one we all recognize.  And those are really exciting.  Looking at the larger prints, it’s amazing to see how the quality of print makes such a big difference, and the difference of printing in a magazine, versus something that is almost two feet wide is pretty substantial.  It’s incredible, and we do have an exhibition in the works, so we’re talking close to 100 photographs for that first exhibition.  But when you consider that we have over 2000 photographs as part of this gift, it’s just scratching the surface of what this collection is.  It still requires a lot of work on our part to get everything matted and framed and ready to go – so we’re hoping the winter/spring we’ll be re-opening the third floor with an exhibition devoted to the Leibovitz collection.

LTT:

Are there photographs that you’ve been given that haven’t been seen by the public before?

SP:

Yes, in particular the file prints.  In terms of the vintage prints, these archival prints, it’s great – there’s a lot of behind the scenes kind of stuff from her early days in the Rolling Stone magazine, some of the tours.  Some of the very first ones you start seeing is Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, kind of behind the scenes with him and his family, goofing around on the beach.  It’s very exciting to see that work in progress of what led to the final image.  And the stories behind some of the images: the classic Blues Brothers photo, but instead of, in their classic hats and suits and ties, but their faces painted blue instead – that was something that actually Belushi didn’t want to do and so she only got like three shots before he’s like, “That’s it, that’s done.”  John Lennon and Yoko Ono… there’s not just the gorgeous imagery, there’s the stories that Annie Leibovitz has lived through and the connections she’s made.  You start feeling this really weird connection to the people in these images.

LTT:

And obviously this donation means a lot to the gallery.

SP:

It’s one of those life-changing moments for the gallery.  It’s the only collection of its kind in the world; so it sets us up as being not only this great center and resource, but to bring people to Halifax to see this collection, and for us to travel some of these works across Canada.

LTT:

Well thanks for sharing some of the details with us.  I can’t wait until it opens!

KT:

I – one of my focuses when I opened this place was to have a sort of type of community gallery.  The art that I do have is from kids at NASCAD and they’re really good kids, so I would love to have more of a gallery space here.

LTT:

And the high ceilings, yeah, with so much space on the walls.

SP:

I think you could do good here!

LTT:

That’s a great idea. (pause)   This dressing is amazing.  Were you going to say something else?

SP:

I was too busy eating.  It’s too good. (laughs)

LTT:

Yeah – it really is.  Well guys, I’m going to wrap up by asking you each two questions, as we do with all of our guests. And… first I’m just going to take another sip of this juice.  The carrots give it such an incredible colour, too.  So do you have a cherished, childhood food memory?

SP:

My grandfather grew up out west in Saskatchewan, and moved down to the Valley, and always had what we might call a kitchen garden, although a little more substantial than that at times.  And no matter how much he tried, he tried lots of different types of vegetables, and no matter what he did, the one thing that really thrived was the corn.  And there was one summer which my sister and I both remember as the Year of the Corn, where we got so much of it from him, that we had to eat it breakfast, lunch and supper.  Just non-stop.  It was the most ridiculous thing.

LTT:

And what about a local business you like to support Shannon?

SP:

Perhaps one of my favourite ones right now is actually over in the Alderney ferry terminal, the Kings Produce, the Noggins farm that stocks not only valley produce but also Foxhill Cheese, and Tideview Cider, and its location is kind of ideal – it’s the perfect place to stop on the way to or from work and grab my produce for the day.

LTT:

And Kirsten, do you have a treasured childhood food memory you’d like to share?

KT:

So my mom always made cookies – and she made short breads at Christmas which were to die for short bread cookies.  So I think that is, when I think about my childhood, it was definitely the cookie making, the peanut butter cookies, the short bread cookies, the chocoate chip cookies…

LTT:

Yeah, that’s actually how I started cooking as well – my brother taught me to make cookies when I was like five.

KT:

They’re one of the most simplest forms of baking and making something yummy.

LTT:

I think that’s still my favourite thing to cook, of all time, is cookies.  They’re just so easy!  And a favourite local business that you like to support?

KT:

I like going to the farmers market – I used to have a table stall at the farmers market in Hubbards I used to really love – I just loved going there, I loved being there really early in the morning, I loved setting up, I loved talking to the other vendors, I loved getting my flowers.  The first person that got the little flower, the bouquet, you know, it was so beautiful – I was like, “Yes!  I scored!”  (laughs)

LTT:

We love the farmers market too.  Both of our tours in the afternoon stop at the Halifax Seaport Market.  It’s great that Halifax has a real network now of farmers markets – Halifax and of course Nova Scotia.  Thank you both so much for being here today – it’s been a real pleasure.  We have Shannon Parker here from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, she’s the curator of collections – and Kirsten Taggart, owner and chef at Wild Leek food and juice bar – which is where we’ve spent our afternoon, eating these delicious sandwiches.  This is Claire from Local Tasting Tours – take a tour… take a bite out of Halifax!

 

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