Around Town Okanagan

The Cookbook Company

A Mecca for foodies, the cookbook company has been around since the early 80’s I believe and has grown to be a leader in the Calgary food scene. Their beautiful store on 11th Ave has everything a cook may wish for. Specialty and hard to find food items, cheeses, homemade stocks, oils, vinegars and special salts are just a few of the treasures you will find there. They also stock an excellent selection of gadgets and kitchen “stuff” including pots and pans (All Clad and Emile Henri), knives and more. As their name suggests the Cookbook Company is home to an excellent selection of cookbooks, after all this is how they started in business on 17th Ave when I first ran into them.

Aside from things to buy, this is the place to go if you are interested in cooking classes. Held in their newly renovated gorgeous demonstration (and participation) kitchen they attract authors, chefs and cooking instructors from the local, national and international food scene.

In addition they also conduct European tours, catering to the foodies among us. You can go to Italy, France and now Turkey with fabulous itinerary of food and wine activities, cooking classes, market visits and more. Check their website for more information.

Mercato – Italian Gourmet Cultura

The incomparable Cathy and Victor are what make Mercato special, but even if you don’t know them Mercato is a fabulous place to go. Comprised of both a market and a restaurant you can shop for their fresh pasta, homemade sauces, an array of authentic Italian cheeses, specialty produce, meats and more. I find mushrooms there that I don’t see anywhere else, figs when no one else has them and other seasonal produce flown in from Europe. Olive oil is imported from Calabria in Italy; Parmigiano Reggiano is imported by the large wheels and cut into wedges to sell; Italian dried pasta and authentic canned tomatoes from Italy are also available. There is also Cathy’s own home canned tomatoes that she packs into glass jars and are wonderful for soups or sauces. The market includes a deli section where you can buy roasted peppers, a variety of freshly made salads and a selection of deli items prepared in the kitchen at the back, supervised and often lovingly prepared by the one and only Cathy. The deli is where you go for a grilled panini, a bowl of kitchen-made soup and a fresh salad.

The Mercato restaurant is one of the most fun places to go to for lunch or dinner. Open kitchen surrounded by a beautiful Italian style counter is the centerpiece and it’s fun having lunch at the counter watching dishes being prepared by the kitchen staff a few feet away on the Italian cooktops. We met a few interesting people sitting at that counter over the years, as it invites conversation. The restaurant is fabulous, food freshly prepared and there is always a good selection of seasonal vegetables on the menu.

Mercato has recently opened a new location west of the city on 85 Street. It is a large and airy space that duplicates the market/deli/restaurant concept of the original Mercato. I was there within a couple of days of opening and found lemons still attached to the branches with fragrant lemon leaves. What a treat. Mercato is definitely a place I stop at every week to say hi to Cathy and pick up some great ingredients for a pasta dinner.

Inglewood Districts

Bite Groceria & Café

A heaven for foodies this grocery and wholesale market transports you to another place. The store feels like a Mediterranean market and has the products to back it up.  Specialty pasta, olive oils, vinegars, exotic grains (green rice) and specialty prepared products fill the shelves in a happily cramped manner. It’s almost hard to take it all in in just one visit. The cheese counter at the back offers a good selection of cheeses, both local and imported. Even the freezers in the back have things you can’t easily find elsewhere (frozen artichoke hearts). You can take a break with a cup of their freshly brewed espresso and sit at one of the tables at the back of the store and enjoy the experience. A must stop for foodies.

Silk Road Spice Merchant

The place to go for all your kitchen spices needs. A special store, all done in wood with the feel an old spice ship, Silk Road Spice Merchant offers an extensive selection of spices, herbs, chiles and seasoning. From the moment you step in and inhale the lovely spice aromas permeating the air you are hooked. Spices and blends are stored in large apothecary jars and you are allowed to smell, feel and taste the products. Spices for every cuisine are available so you can produce authentic flavours whether you are cooking Mexican, Moroccan, Thai or anything else. Their website provides good information about spices. Click on cinnamon and get an education about the spice with images of the various types of cinnamon available. Knowledgeable and friendly staff makes a trip to silk spice both educational and fun. A must stop for cooks.

Wild Grainz Bakery

A special bakery offering artisanal breads that take 3 days to prepare. Breads are prepared using traditional baking methods that allow them time to develop flavor and texture. Anything from sourdough to multigrain, walnut breads and baguettes their breads are exceptionally good. There is also an enticing selection of pastries from a variety of croissants to New York Style Cheesecake to chocolate caramel tart. All I can say is OY! Grainz also offers bread-making courses to teach and refine your bread making skills. The one week long course is taught right at their bakery and you get to take what you bake home. Check their website for more information. Definitely a destination bakery.


This long and narrow store is the destination when you are looking for Japanese knives. A one of a kind knife shop, their knives are mostly hand forged from Japanese hard steel by master blacksmith in Japan, can slice through just about anything and make paper thin, transparent shavings that you don’t get from just any old knife. Staff is knowledgeable and willing to educate you so go with an open mind and be rewarded with a unique experience and perhaps a couple of excellent new knives for your kitchen. What’s a kitchen without a knife?

Durango Kitchenwares

1336 – 9th Ave. SE Calgary 403-457-5910

A small but special kitchen shop owned by a husband and wife team Tracey and Steven. The lovely Tracey told me they decided to set up shop in Inglewood when they realized that no other kitchen store offered the items they were looking for. Steven crafts gorgeous, one of a kind cutting boards from exotic woods, each a piece of art in its own right. In addition they carry French copper cookware and a variety of other kitchen items that are special and useful. Foodies themselves, they only bring to the store things that they would buy for their own kitchen. A must stop for anyone, especially those who appreciate functional art for the kitchen.

Savour Fine Foods and Kitchenware

A charming kitchen shop offering kitchenware alongside specialty food items, Savour is a fun place to stop on an Inglewood walkabout. Beautiful French ceramics by well-known Emile Henry, La Cafetiere coffee presses and French tablecloths are available alongside artisan pasta from Italy, Israeli couscous, truffle oil and kalamata olive oil made by a Canadian company with an olive grove in Greece.  A small but good selection of cookbooks is also available. The owners Jane and Michelle are friendly and knowledgeable and created a welcoming shop that’s nice to stop by. You won’t leave empty handed.