Winnipeg is known for its incredible support of local businesses, helping small start-up initiatives grow and thrive. Strolling through the Exchange District downtown, you’re guaranteed to walk by a number of shops that sell locally made clothing, hats, furniture (did you know EQ3 is based here?) and, of course, delicious artisan foods. If you’re visiting this remarkable Canadian city, here are 10 interesting edibles and drinkables worth making room for in your suitcase.
Shut Ur Pie Hole's Pie-in-a-Jar
Since a piece of pie doesn’t travel too well, these cute Mason jar pies are an ideal little treat to pack up and take home. Choose between two sugary fillings (or buy both): pecan pie or butter tart. The latter of which I should note does have raisins — always a point of contention for some Canadians. If one of the pie-in-a-jar varieties doesn’t make it home before being eaten, at least it’s portion controlled!
Available at The Forks Market as well as seasonal craft markets, like Third and Bird, or online.
Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company’s Cinnamon Buns
Winnipeg has a few notable bakeshops like Jenna Rae Cakes and Oh Doughnuts, so what makes the baked goods from Tall Grass so notable? The bakery has its own flour mill and grinds its whole grain flour daily before using it in everything from bread to their famous cinnamon buns. Sweet, sticky and just gooey enough, it’s hard to walk away with a box of these bad boys and not open it up on the way home. Be strong, be strong.
Available inside The Forks Market and at their Wolseley neighbourhood bakery.
Capital K Distillery’s Liquor
The city’s first boutique distillery hit the ground running when it launched several months ago. Starting with a smooth vodka made of Manitoba rye and wheat, the most recent spirit to be released is the floral-flavoured Tall Grass gin that’s infused with rose hip, chamomile and cardamom, among other aromatics. Try it on ice or with a splash of soda to get a full appreciation for its nuances.
Available at all Manitoba Liquor Marts.
Bee Project's Urban Honey
Urban beekeeping is hotter than ever these days and Bee Project is the company leading the charge in Manitoba. They have a nice mix of honey products (including lip balm and beeswax bars) that can be purchased around town, but the most unique is their Urban Honey line, which offers up four types of honey produced in four different neighbourhoods around the city: Silver Heights, Wolseley, Windsor Park and Fort Rouge.
Urban Honey is available at specialty markets, like Third and Bird, and online.
Chocolatier Constance Popp's Manitoba Chocolates
Walking into Winnipeg’s premier chocolate shop in St. Boniface is a feast for all the senses. Get a whiff of the drinking chocolate sitting warm on the counter, glance at shelves brimming with all sorts of chocolaty creations, from vibrantly painted bonbons to the striking dark chocolate mould of The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and more. The Manitoba chocolate bar, which just debuted this month, is an edible memento made from single origin Mexican cocoa beans. Another creative treat is the one-of-a-kind birch syrup chocolate bar; a blend of white and milk chocolate with a birch syrup ganache filling, which was created using a mould that was formed from actual pieces of birch wood.
Available exclusively at Chocolatier Constance Popp.
Dogwood Coffee Varieties
Technically an American coffee roaster (their original setup is in Minneapolis), Dogwood’s Canadian side of the business roasts and sells out of Forth, a European-style multi-concept space in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. Sample it freshly brewed at Forth Café, before picking up a pound or two to keep you well caffeinated at home. The roaster also sells Cascara — a tea made from the dried berries of the coffee plant — that’s especially unique.
You can also find it at various cafes in Winnipeg.
Dr. Beetroot’s Beet Ketchup
If you think beet ketchup sounds a little strange, trust me, you’re not alone. This combination of beets, onion, garlic, vinegar and sugar may not be the “Heinz” of Canada, but it makes for an interesting addition to a charcuterie board, or sandwich in lieu of mustard. Dr. Beetroot is available in a variety of specialty markets in Canada now, but it’s nice to buy it in Winnipeg, where this quirky food company is located.
Find it at most specialty food shops and boutique grocers in Winnipeg.
Flora and Farmer Preserves
There are your standard (yet still delicious) jams, jellies and pickles, and then there are creative, small-batch preserves made by small companies like Winnipeg’s Flora and Farmer. The savoury fig spread, made with caramelized onion, garlic and balsamic vinegar, is practically Brie’s soulmate, and Flora’s strawberry, beet and vanilla spread is a one-of-a-kind jam perfect for slathering on your morning toast.
Available at specialty food shops like Chew-The Store Next Door, Bouchée Boucher and more.
Folkways Apothecary’s Aromatic Bitters
Folkways, Manitoba’s first bitters producer, is starting out small-batch, but worth noting. They’re offering up one type of bitters that’s made from corn vodka (making it gluten-free for those with extremely high gluten sensitivities) and infused with clove, yarrow blossom, licorice root, cardamom and fennel seeds. Cocktail fanatics will know there are hardly any Canadian bitters companies, so this little bottle makes for the perfect liquid memento to take home from Winnipeg.
Available at Public General Store Inc.
Wildman Ricing's Wild Rice
Grown in Northern Manitoba, Wildman produces a high-quality, organic wild rice that boasts a flavour far more robust than the standard bags at grocery stores. A lot of work goes into these bags of rice: after harvesting grains on one of the company’s seven lakes they grow in, rice is cleaned, cured, roasted and husked. Use it in any broth-based soup, or try it in a simple salad with roasted squash and dried cranberries.
Available at Generation Green at The Forks Market.
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.