Liam Tayler is an Englishman man whose fate was to be washed up on the shores of Nova Scotia via South Africa who is growing berries from Siberia that are popular in Japan. And he’s delighted it’s worked out that way. Through a series of events, including the acquisition of a Canadian wife, Tayler is the Commercial Director for Haskapa, a company that promotes the growing of, and uses for, a kind of honeysuckle berry native to Northeastern Russia called haskap. Haskapa is developing strains of the plant that do well to be grown across Canada, but they’re also developing products, like flash frozen berries and haskap juice, so the growers have a market to sell to. This where Tayler comes in.
Unlike other growers that tout the health benefits of their fruit (pomegranate, açai, wild blue berries, etc.), Haksapa’s strategy is focus on flavour. Haskap is a common, and distinct, flavour in Japan for things like ice cream, candies, drinks and so on. It’s often described as a cross or mix between raspberry and blueberry. The Haskapa Haskap Juice that Tayler sent me to try tasted more like cassis, or blackcurrants, than anything else, although it seems very much to be it’s own flavour – it was delicious and equally enjoyed by the consumer tasting panel I had on hand (otherwise known as my kids).
Tayler has been targetting chefs and mixologists to spread the word about haksap. In Halifax, he’s convinced chefs like Chives Bistro’s Craig Flinn to incorporate this new ingredient, and on January 30, the Haskapa made entry won ‘Best Cocktail’ at th Imbibe Cocktail Event at the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia’s Savour Food & Wine Festival. Tayler is looking for curious chefs and mixologists across Canada, and found two Ontario retailers to stock the haskap juice: Scheffler’s in the Saint Lawrence Market, and Seasons Fine Foods in Napanee (as of March 1).
He plans on being in Toronto in early March. Chefs and restaurateurs interested in trying Haskapa Haskap Juice can contact him here.
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley.