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Nova Scotia

The Winter Feast

 

The annual Savour celebration of Nova Scotian cuisine is a favourite with visitors and locals alike
By Trevor J. Adams

Savour Food & Wine festival

The Savour Food & Wine Festival has become a highlight of winter in Halifax. The year’s biggest celebration of Nova Scotia’s culinary scene runs through February and March, bringing together talented mixologists, innovative brewers, award-winning winemakers, and chefs, sharing their creations at several events.

“Since 2003, the Savour Food & Wine Festival has grown from a small show to a series of the exciting events that captures the essence of the food and beverage culture in Nova Scotia” says Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which organizes the event. “Our 16th year marks the Savour Food & Wine Show as the best and largest restaurant and beverage show in Canada.”

Dine Around (continuing through February) is one of the cornerstones of Savour. The unique program invites restaurants around Nova Scotia to showcase local products, with offerings ranging in price from $25 to $45. Dishes will be a mix of three course prix-fixe menus, plus small plates. At press time, participating Halifax restaurants include Five Fishermen, Ryan Duffy’s, and The Auction House on Argyle Street.

On Feb. 7, the Lord Nelson Hotel on South Park Street hosts city’s definitive event for cocktail lovers: Imbibe. Nova Scotia’s top bartenders come together for one night to create 30+ sample-size cocktails, many showcasing local spirits and ingredients. Some 25 restaurants and bars are slated to take part.

Up next on Feb. 15 is the Rare & Fine Wine show at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street. This event is a must for serious wine aficionados. Sample top-scoring wines from Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa Valley, Piedmonte, Veneto, and Tuscany, amongst others. Relax to live jazz as you sample from our selection of 40+ wines, rated 90+ points by major wine publications—all available in Nova Scotia for the first time. Throughout the night, Bishop’s Cellar staff will be on hand to sell any wines you want to take home.

And just a night later on Feb. 16, head to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Marginal Road for the Craft Beer Cottage Party. Sample beers from local and nearby craft breweries while you play summer games like washer toss, or chill in an Adirondack chair and enjoy the live music. There will be picnic tables and delicious beer-friendly food available for purchase. Ticket price includes unlimited beer samples.

The eponymous Savour Food & Wine Show on Feb. 28 is the biggest night of the festival. The Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street hosts some 100+ Nova Scotian restaurants and wine and beverage producers. Meet chefs and the people behind the creations while your taste buds run wild as you sample of local foods, cocktails, and wine presented by Nova Scotia’s finest.

Capping the festival on March 7 at the Prince George Hotel on Market Street is Decadence, a unique tasting event pairing wines with delectable savoury dishes and luscious desserts. Discover how wine pairings enhance both the sweet and savoury creations crafted by Nova Scotia Community College culinary-arts students. All dishes are designed and prepared by students of the Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts programs, under the direction of their chef-instructors.

HOT ENTERTAINMENT

MUSICAL MIX
• Jan. 18: The Dartmouth Community Concert Association hosts mezzo soprano Paula Rockwell and pianist Jennifer King. See them at Woodlawn United Church.
• Jan. 23: Rocker Bryan Adams returns to Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street, performing greatest hits like “Summer of ‘69” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.”
• Jan. 24: Indie-rock singer/songwriter Dan Mangan is always a Halifax favourite. See him this time in the cozy confines of the Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street.

DREAM ON
Jan. 12
Every year, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir honours the work of Martin Luther King Jr. with The Dream Continues, a special concert at the Dalhousie Arts Centre featuring a selection of established and rising local musical talents performing music to stir the soul.

IN FOCUS
Feb. 7 to March 3
Visit The Craig Gallery at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, where the Halifax Transit ferries dock, to discover art in a variety of media by talents from around the region. In February, it hosts Cellular Expressions, an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Maria Doering.

JOINING FORCES
Feb. 24
Halifax pianist Marc Djokic returns to his hometown stage at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing arts on Chebucto Road to join forces with Trio Tangere. Cecilia Concert Series presents the matinee concert, featuring works by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Astor Piazzolla, Claude Debussy, Christine Donkin, Matthias Maute, Béla Bartók, and Clarice Assad.

BRIDGING TWO WORLDS
Jan. 11, 12
With Man, Norwegian choreographer Sølvi Edvardsen marries his Nordic culture with the vibrancy of Southeast Asia. Live Art Dance presents Indian dancer Sudesh Adhana in a unique and provocative solo performance at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. He explores the concept of “man” in terms of masculinity and humanity as a whole.

Brides 2019/Photo: Alex MacAulay

SHOW TIME
• Jan. 20: Brides 2019 hosts some 135 wedding-related exhibitors. You’ll find florists, photographers, planners, decorators, caterers, and more. Discover it all for one day only at the Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street.
• Jan. 24 to 27: The Halifax RV Show at Halifax Exhibition Centre on Prospect Road is Atlantic Canada’s largest indoor RV event, featuring the latest models, destinations, products, and all the info you need for life on the open road.
• Feb. 7 to 10: The long-running Halifax International Boat Show returns to Halifax Exhibition Centre, showcasing the latest boats, marine equipment, and services. Plus: expert speakers offer advice aplenty.

JANUARY

Jan. 4
Who’s Bad The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience
Front man James Times III and his band pay homage to one of the greatest performers of all time, show-casing spot-on vocals and blazing choreography.

Jan. 13
Neptune Theatre
It’s your last night to see Cinderella, reinterpreted as a musical comedy starring Samantha Walkes.

Jan. 24
Symphony Nova Scotia
Finnish violin sensation Elina Vähälä joins the Symphony at the Dalhousie Arts Centre for Superb Sibelius and Great Schubert.

FEBRUARY

Photo: David Leyes

Feb. 4
Steven Page
The acclaimed and influential singer/songwriter shares the stage with Symphony New Brunswick at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Feb. 17
Halifax Hurricanes
Representing the city in the minor-pro National Basketball League of Canada, the Hurricanes take on Saint John at Scotiabank Centre.

Photo: Nick Hubley

Feb. 27
Halifax Mooseheads
The pursuit of the national major-junior hockey championship continues, as Halifax battles Maritime rivals Acadie-Bathurst at Scotiabank Centre.

HOT SHOPPING

Photo: Jeremy Tsang

FOODIE FAVOURITES
• In the heart of the North End’s stylish Hydrostone neighbourhood, you’ll find Liquid Gold on Young Street. Specializing in high-quality extra-virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world, this unique shop is a favourite with local foodies.
• A stay in Nova Scotia isn’t complete without a feed of lobster. But Clearwater Seafood on the Bedford Highway or at Halifax Stanfield International Airport also packs up fresh crustaceans for your trip home. Other fresh seafood selections include scallops, crab, shrimp, and clams.

PITCH PERFECT
Any musician will love to shop at the Halifax Folklore Centre on Brunswick Street. Situated in a 136-year-old Victorian home, the shop is packed with stringed musical instruments, including banjoes, guitars, mandolins, and fiddles. There is also a selection of harmonicas, tin whistles, and Appalachian dulcimers. All the staff are musicians who can offer expert advice.

Pier 21 Gift Shop

ONE-OF-A-KIND
• The Pier 21 Gift Shop at the Canadian Museum of Immigration, on Marginal Road offers local art and books, pewter gifts, and museum-branded swag aplenty.
• Nearby at the Designer Craft Shop on Marginal Road, Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council members display their creations. Browse through artistic etchings, silk clothing, and handmade jewelry. An expert jury approves
every item.

GOOD THINGS IN SMALL PACKAGES
In a Box on Dresden Row is a unique little department store specializing in edgy fashions for women and the ideal spot to freshen up your look. In addition to fresh new clothing designs, you’ll find stylish accessories such as bracelets, scarves, and handbags.

HOT DINING

 

 

Morris East

PIZZA PERFECTION
• New York-Italian cuisine rules at Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo Trattoria on Young Street in the historic Hydrostone Market. If you’re not in the mood for the signature pie, the hearty meatball hero is one of Halifax’s most popular sandwiches.
• Intimate Morris East, just steps from the waterfront on Morris Street and in a new location on Vernon Street, pairs wood-fired gourmet pizza with local beer and wine. Not venturing downtown? Visit the newer location on Nine Mile Drive in Bedford West.

Boneheads BBQ

CASUAL FAVOURITES
• A Southern-style smokehouse tucked away in a tiny Barrington Street spot, Boneheads BBQ is beloved by locals. The menu includes all the slow-smoked mainstays you’d expect: ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and more. Indecisive? Try the mammoth (and ideal for sharing) Pit Boss Sampler and get a little bit of everything.
• Just around the corner from the Atlantica Hotel on Quinpool Road, Relish Gourmet Burgers offers creative takes on the classic burger and fries. The house specialty is the Halifax Explosion: a flash-grilled pineapple ring dusted in habanero powder, plus pancetta bacon, curried onion frites, and aged cheddar.

DESSERT FIRST
If you’re the sort of person who skips dinner to save room for dessert, proceed directly to The Middle Spoon on Barrington Street and at Sunnyside Mall. This stylish spot specializes in decadent desserts paired with creative cocktails. It’s the ideal place to while away an evening with friends.

CONCIERGE Q & A

Todd Young joined Southwest Properties as a concierge at the Bishop’s Landing location seven years ago, before moving to Maple on Hollis Street as lead concierge. He’s a member of Les Clefs d’Or and his favourite thing about the job is the people he meets and the opportunity to help them to the best of his abilities.

What’s the best thing about winter in Halifax?
The best thing about winter in Halifax has to be all the cozy pubs, bars, and restaurants where you can get out of the weather and get something exquisitely warm. Getting the short end of the weather stick means you have to make the most of being inside sometimes and luckily we have no shortage of fantastic establishments in Halifax!

Where should visitors go for a romantic dinner for two?
Wonderful décor, fantastic food, and a downtown Halifax staple the romantic dinner go to has to be da Maurizio in the Brewery Market on Lower Water Street. Perfectly intimate, it allows couples to enjoy private conversations, paired with some of the city’s finest Northern Italian cuisine and a decadent wine list.

What’s your favourite way to spend a blustery day in Halifax?
Grab an old-fashioned hot chocolate and one of the numerous amazing baked goods from The Old Apothecary bakery and café on Barrington Street. Watch Jack Frost safely from a cozy window while sipping something absolutely indulgent.

Where can cross-country skiers go to explore Nova Scotia?
To get a wonderful piece of Nova Scotia without journeying too far outside the city, skiers can enjoy the Salt Marsh Trail. Located in Cole Harbour, this section of the Great Trail (AKA the Trans Canada Trail) offers beautiful scenery at a difficulty level the whole family can enjoy. PS: No rental facilities; bring your own skis.

Where can visitors go to explore work by local artists?
My favourite spot in the city to discover Local Art is the Khyber Centre for the Arts on Hollis Street Halifax; there is always something amazing to find there. It is an artist-run centre for non-commercial work. Everything from painting to plays can be found there at different points in
the season.

 

East Coast Holidays

Live Music, Theatre, Parades, and More—Christmas Celebrations Abound in the Halifax Area

 

Grand Parade in Halifax (Photo Credit: Tammy Fancy)

FAMILY FIRST
The Holiday Parade of Lights on Nov. 17 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as thousands of spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts (and, of course, Santa Claus). Back downtown on Nov. 24, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. Also on Nov. 24 (and 25), Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing holiday traditions dating back to colonial days. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 1, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.

 

The Celtic Tenors

SEASONAL SYMPHONY
Symphony Nova Scotia offers a full calendar of holiday concerts at the Dalhousie Arts Centre, starting Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 with A Celtic Tenors Christmas. Up next is perennial favourite The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) running from Dec. 7 to 9 and 13 to 16. As usual, things reach a crescendo on Dec. 21, 22, with Handel’s magnificent Messiah. This year presented in the historic “Dublin” arrangement, it features Mezzo-soprano Marion Newman, tenor Michael Colvin, and baritone Alexander Dobson.

 

The Ennis Sisters

MERRY MUSIC
Oh What A Night—The Christmas Show takes the stage at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on Nov. 18. The cast of the Oh What A Night tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons offer audience favourites from the original production, plus a musical tribute to “Mr. Christmas” Andy Williams. Prefer your holidays with an East Coast twist? On Nov. 30, The Ennis Sisters from Newfoundland combine original songs and holiday classics in a show that features stunning harmonies, recitations, lively step dancing, and playful humour. See them at St. Matthew’s United Church on Barrington Street. And on Dec. 6, Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street hosts Serena Ryder Christmas. The eponymous singer/songwriter offers a mix of new material, old hits, and holiday classics.

 

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

FESTIVE THEATRE
Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on Nov. 27 and continues through Jan. 5. Artistic director Jeremy Webb adapts Cinderella as a musical comedy for the stage, starring Samantha Walkes as the title hero. Concurrently, Neptune’s studio stage hosts another holiday mainstay: Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a one-man show starring Rhys Bevan-John. The pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is another annual family favourite. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, see Sleeping Beauty from Nov. 22 to Dec. 8.

 

Neon Dreams

AULD LANG SYNE
Join thousands of revellers at Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall for the East Coast’s largest New Year’s Eve party. The family-friendly celebration begins at 10:30 p.m., with headliners Neon Dreams and A Tribe Called Red offering live musical performances, followed by a giant fireworks show at midnight.

 

Hot Dining

Photo Credit: Emma Smith

LOCAL FAVOURITE
Go back in time at the True North Diner in Bedford Place mall. This 1950s-themed dinner dishes up burgers, fries, shakes, and more. The “Classic Diner” section of the menu highlights home-style fare such as meatloaf, liver and onions, chicken pot pie, fish cakes, and all-day breakfast.

 

BEER LOVERS’ TRIO
• At cozy RockBottom Brew Pub on Spring Garden Road, you’ll find six different beers brewed on site, plus a selection of other local beers, wines, and ciders. Pair with a tasty dish from the kitchen; highlights include pork-belly sandwich, lobster carbonara, pad thai, and more.
• Before the craft-beer scene exploded, there was The Maxwell’s Plum on Grafton Street. This friendly neighbourhood pub features a broad selection of local brews, plus highlights from around the world.
• Don’t let the strip-mall exterior fool you. Jamieson’s Irish-House & Grill on Cole Harbour Drive boasts 16 taps pouring local beers (and the Irish offerings you’d expect) paired with traditional Emerald Isle pub grub.

 

HEAD OF THE CLASS
Every year, Where magazines across Canada present a series of awards feting Canada’s Best New Restaurants. When it came to picking this city’s representative last year, the Where Halifax team had an easy choice: Rinaldo’s on Windsor Street. This intimate, casual spot—run by two brothers—offers an array of Italian-American favourites. Old family recipes are the key; they’re the sons of the couple that founded Halifax pizza mainstay Salvatore’s in the historic Hydrostone neighbourhood.

 

DESSERT FIRST
If you’re the sort of person who skips dinner to save room for dessert, proceed directly to The Middle Spoon on Barrington Street and at Sunnyside Mall. This stylish spot specializes in decadent desserts paired with creative cocktails. It’s the ideal place to while away an evening with friends.

 

PIZZA PERFECTION
Intimate Morris East, just steps from the waterfront on Morris Street, pairs artfully crafted wood-fired gourmet pizza with creative cocktails and local beer and wine. Not venturing downtown? Visit the newer locations on Nine Mile Drive in Bedford West and on Vernon Street (just off Quinpool Road) in Central Halifax.

 

CASUAL FAVOURITES
• A Southern-style smokehouse tucked away in a tiny Barrington Street spot, Boneheads BBQ is beloved by locals. The menu includes all the slow-smoked mainstays you’d expect: ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and more. Indecisive? Try the mammoth (and ideal for sharing) Pit Boss Sampler and get a little bit of everything.
• Just around the corner from the Atlantica Hotel on Quinpool Road, Relish Gourmet Burgers offers creative takes on the classic burger and fries. The house specialty is the Halifax Explosion: a flash-grilled pineapple ring dusted in habanero powder, plus pancetta bacon, curried onion frites, and aged cheddar.

 

EDITOR’S PICK: CLASSIC CUISINE
At Mappatura Bistro on Spring Garden Road, just steps from the Halifax Public Gardens, co-owners Simone Mombourquette and Chef Terry Vassallo combine their experience working in several world-class restaurants to offer a dynamic Italian menu, showcasing farm-fresh seasonal ingredients. Local favourites include calamari, home-style pasta with hearty ragù, and fresh seafood (delivered twice daily). The carefully chosen wine list embraces the Old World aperitivo tradition, pairing each course with the vintage that best complements it.

Hot Shopping

UNIQUE CHRISTMAS GIFTS
• Christmas at the Forum at the Halifax Forum on Windsor Street has been a holiday tradition in the city for four decades. Running from Nov. 2 to 4, this annual festival hosts dozens of vendors, offering gifts, decorations, food, antiques, and more. Discover quality arts and crafts from around the region. On Saturday, admission is two-for-one after 5 p.m.
• Visit the Christkindlmarket from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at Alderney Market on downtown Dartmouth’s waterfront, where the Halifax Transit ferries dock. This traditional German-style market features crafts, toys, and other arts and crafts, plus lots of holiday entertainment—marionettes, carousel, and musical acts.
• From Nov. 16 to 18, Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council hosts its annual Christmas Show at the Cunard Centre on Halifax’s waterfront. The juried selection includes top-quality textiles, jewelry, and crafts in a variety of media.
• Dalplex Christmas Craft Market is another perennial favourite. Dating back 30 years, it features vendors from across Atlantic Canada selling wares such as pottery, toys, food, and woodwork. Visit Dalplex on South Street from Nov. 23 to 25.
• From Nov. 9 to 11, take a drive to the Halifax Exhibition Centre on Prospect Road for the Christmas Craft Village. It’s another ideal spot to support local artisans while finding unique holiday gifts for everyone on your list.

 

HOW SWEET IT IS
Inspired by the distinctive culture of Canada’s easternmost province, Newfoundland Chocolate Company mixes its sweet treats with whimsy and fun. The packaging features Newfoundland sayings such as “oh me nerves” and the colourful jellybean homes of St. John’s. Inside the chocolate are Newfoundland flavours like partridgeberries or bakeapple. The gelato and truffles are made at the Sunnyside Mall location. Also located at Mic Mac Mall and Halifax Shopping Centre.

 

THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Bass Pro Shops is known for its huge stores with indoor ponds featuring local fish, taxidermy displays, Outdoor Skills Workshops, and vast array of hunting, camping, fishing, and recreation gear. Nova Scotia’s first Bass Pro opened in September (sans pond) on Cabela Drive in Dartmouth. It’s an ideal spot to gear up for wilderness adventures in any season.

 

EFFORTLESS STYLE
Sweet Pea Boutique on Queen Street has stylish dresses for any occasion. Find a basic style for everyday wear, flirtier styles for weekends, or the perfect dress for a holiday celebration. Choose from accessories such as shoes, jewelry, and hair pieces to complete your look.

 

LOCAL HARVEST
Located in a stylish (and environmentally-friendly) new home on the waterfront, Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market is Nova Scotia’s largest and oldest farmers’ market. Browse through a huge array of local produce, meat, cheese, crafts, baked goods, beer, wine, cider, and more.

 

LIBATION LOVERS
• Just steps from the waterfront on Lower Water Street, Bishop’s Cellar is a must-visit boutique for aficionados of fine wine, spirits, and beer, specializing in varieties and vintages you won’t find anywhere else in Nova Scotia.
• The North End’s Rockhead Wine & Beer Market on Windsor Street boasts a selection of beverages from around the world, alongside local creations.
• West Side Beer Wine Spirits on Lacewood Drive is the city’s newest private liquor store, with a heavy emphasis on local craft beers.

 

EDITOR’S PICK: GOLDFINGER
Visit Touch of Gold on Spring Garden Road for the finest engagement and wedding rings. The experienced and knowledgeable staff will help you find the best fit and designs and offers a line of luxury watches including Rolex, Tudor, TAG Heuer, and Frederique Constant.

 

Hot Entertainment

A MIGHTY WIND
Nov. 10
Starting with the philosophy that “music should be fun,” Fifth Wind unites Jack Chen (flute), Suzanne Lemieux (oboe), Eileen Walsh (clarinet), Ivor Rothwell (bassoon), and Mary Lee (horn). The Dartmouth Community Concert Association hosts the talented ensemble at Woodlawn United Church.

Ken Jeong

COMEDY NIGHT
Nov. 29
It’s a good night for comedy fans in Halifax, with two big stand-up shows to choose from.
• He was once a doctor but Ken Jeong found his true calling in comedy, showcasing an uninhibited and razor-sharp wit. He first appeared in hits like Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, and The Hangover, and recently created the ABC sit-com Dr. Ken. See him in the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street.
• A veteran of the famous Second City club and the influential Just For Laughs festival, Ron James has been a mainstay of the Canadian comedy scene for a generation. The native Nova Scotian brings his wry and acerbic stand-up style to the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

REMEMBERING OUR HISTORY
Dec. 6
Some 101 years ago, two ships (one laden with ammunition) collided in Halifax Harbour, sparking an explosion that devastated the city, levelled the North End, and killed some 2,000 people. The Halifax Explosion Memorial ceremony at Fort Needham Memorial Bell Tower marks the tragedy from 8:50 to 9:20 a.m.

TIME TRAVEL
Continuing
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Hollis Street takes visitors back to a fast-fading era of Japanese history with Hiroshige: The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō. This unique exhibition showcases woodcut prints by ukiyo master Utagawa Hiroshige depicting middle-class Japanese life in the early 1800s.

DON’T FORGET ME
Nov. 27
Ever since they won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1986, powered by the breakout album The Thin Red Line, pop-rockers Glass Tiger have stood atop the Canadian music scene. They recently marked 31 years together with the aptly titled album 31. Expect a high-energy mix of classic hits and new material when they take over the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue.

Photo Credit: E.S. Cheah

EDITOR”S PICK: HOT HIP HOP
Dec. 7, 8
Two of the nation’s most exciting hip-hop companies collide, as Live Art Dance presents Halifax dance rebels The Woods unleashing the world premiere of ______Interrupted—paired with Klorofyl (billed as a “multi-sensorial roller-coaster”) by Toronto’s Gadfly, featuring original music by world-renowned violinist Dr. Draw.

NOVEMBER EVENTS

Nov. 4
CECILIA CONCERT SERIES
Mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah joins pianist Robert Kortgaard for a performance of Italian art songs, ballads, and musical-theatre curiosities.

Sterling Scott

Nov. 9
LAST LAUGH COMEDY CLUB
The pop-up comedy club returns to the Atlantica Hotel on Robie Street, hosting Mike Delamont, Sterling Scott, and Michelle Shaughnessy.

Photo Credit: David Leyes

Nov. 23, 24
SYMPHONY NOVA SCOTIA
Sarah Slean joins the Symphony, combining some of her biggest hits with new music by Christos Hatzis.

DECEMBER EVENTS

Dec. 1
HALIFAX HURRICANES
As the National Basketball League of Canada season continues, the hometown hoopsters take on Kitchener Waterloo at Scotiabank Centre.

Dec. 15
HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS
In their final home game before the Christmas break, Halifax’s major junior hockey heroes host Maritime rivals Charlottetown.

Dec. 31
BRETT KISSEL NEW YEAR’S EVE
The Canadian country star rings in the new year with two performances (7 p.m. and 11 p.m.) in the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia.

Concierge Q & A

Roger Poirier has been in the service industry for 40 years. For more than half that time, he’s been with Delta Hotels by Marriott Beausejour in Moncton, New Brunswick. He’s a member of Les Clefs d’Or Canada (an international concierge organization dedicated to high-quality service) and regular visitor to Halifax, staying atop the latest developments and attractions.

For Remembrance Day, where can a visitor go to learn more about Nova Scotia’s military history?

My two favorite places for history in Halifax are the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Both have great exhibits on Nova Scotia’s military history. Although its closed for the season, the Army Museum opens on Nov. 11 from 10 a.m. to
2 p.m., giving visitors a chance to explore it’s many exhibits on Canada’s military experiences in war and peace.

What’s your favourite event to celebrate the Christmas holidays in the Halifax area?

The Holiday Parade of Lights on Nov. 17 marks the start of the Christmas season in Halifax. Full of joy and light, this parade begins on Barrington Street and winds through the downtown and up Spring Garden Road to Robie Street, featuring dozens of floats, entertainers, and of course Santa Claus. The next weekend, return downtown to Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall for the Christmas Tree Lighting—live music, fireworks, and another visit with Santa Claus.

What’s an ideal place to find a unique gift?

Plaid Place on Barrington Street boasts an assortment of gifts reflecting Nova Scotia’s Gaelic heritage. You can find all manner of tartan-themed apparel, traditional Highland clothes, jewelry, Buchan pottery, and much more.

What’s a good way for a family to spend a blustery day in the Halifax area?

The Discovery Centre is always a good place to visit regardless of the weather. This hands-on science centre offers hours of learning (for all ages) disguised as entertainment. This season’s highlights include the Towers of Tomorrow exhibition, showcasing the amazing things creators can do with Lego. You’ll see intricate depictions of the world’s iconic towers, with 200,000 loose pieces on hand for young creators to follow their own muse.

What’s one experience every visitor to Halifax should have in November/December?

Over the holidays, I always enjoy walking on Barrington Street to Spring Garden Road to shop, dine, go for coffee or a drink. There are dozens of unique little stops on the way—boutiques, cafés, restaurants, galleries, and more. There are lots of festive lights and holiday displays along the way; it puts you in the holiday spirit!

HAVING A BLAST: The Halifax Pop Explosion showcases indie music in a variety of genres

Port Cities plays the Halifax Pop Explosion.

By Trevor J. Adams

From October 17 to 20, Halifax is a haven for fans of edgy indie music, innovative talents who create works you’re not hearing on the radio or top-40 play lists. The Halifax Pop Explosion presents 150 musical acts, comedians, and speakers at venues around the city. After marking its 25th anniversary last year, HPX is bigger than ever, with organizers putting a bigger focus on reflecting a diverse array of cultural communities. Organizers were still finalizing the festival schedule at press time, but have given fans a tantalizing preview of the year’s artists.

As usual, one of the biggest highlights of the festival is sure to be the annual collaboration with Symphony Nova Scotia. This year, the all-star trio Port Cities (comprised of Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro, and Breagh MacKinnon) join the orchestra to perform new orchestral arrangements of their works. Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser conducts at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 19 and 20.

Local talents also get their share of the limelight. Made-in-Halifax talents include DJ Uncle Fester, a 15-year veteran of the local hip-hop scene, and Juno-nominee Ghettosocks, described as a “true disciple of Golden Era rap music.”

Reuben and the Dark is one of the biggest acts on this year’s roster. The Calgary-based folk-rock group led by songwriter/vocalist Reuben Bullock, are best known for their acclaimed songs “Bow & Arrow” and “Heart in Two.” Their sound is contemplative, passionate, and expansive; expect a memorable show.

Headliner Zaki Ibrahim is a two-time Polaris Prize nominee (shortlisted in 2013 and longlisted in 2018) who has quickly emerged as one of Canada’s top hip-hop and soul talents. She released her much-anticipated second full-length album The Secret Lives of Planets earlier this year.

Gaelynn Lea is another artist generating tons of buzz. After two decades of hard work, she won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest. Since then, she’s played over 250 shows in 42 states and seven countries. Critics hail her for her unique voice and violin virtuosity, exploring “the contrasting nature of existence: dark and light, birth and death, anger and forgiveness, sorrow and joy.”

Ontario’s Born Ruffians are sure to put on a rollicking show. Together since 2014, the group recently released their fifth studio album Uncle, Duke & The Chief. Continually reinventing their unique rock sound, they’ve drawn comparisons to the Strokes, the Pixies, and David Bowie.

Victoria, B.C. musician and vocalist AppleCat is sure to keep fans grooving into the wee smalls, with a uniquely poetic and graceful sound combining deep dubstep, fairytale bass, trap, world, and IDM influences. Fans may recall her as the subject of the recent documentary Amplify Her about women in the electronica scene.

THE DETAILS
This is just a small sample of what the Halifax Pop Explosion has to offer. For a complete lineup, plus schedule and ticket info, surf to halifaxpopexplosion.com.

 

HOT DINING

Bar Kismet is a new addition to the Halifax scene, but already becoming a favourite.

By Trevor J. Adams.

COCKTAIL HOUR
If you’re serious about your cocktails, you must visit stylish Bar Kismet on Agricola Street. The ever-changing menu features premium ingredients from around the world. At press time, the drink selection included Cinematographers Party (bonded bourbon whiskey, Italian Digestif, fresh yellow plum and lemon, honey, red wine float), 2 Of Americano’s Most Wanted (bottled carbonated cocktail: French and Italian aperitif, red vermouth, French aperitif wine), and Cartoon Graveyard (mezcal, arugula, pineau des charantes, bogarts bitters).

A RESTO WITH A STORY
The Watch That Ends The Night pairs an ambitious name with an ambitious concept. 2016 Gold Medal Plates winner Mark Gray helms the kitchen at the Dartmouth cocktail and wine bar. He focuses on “developing a new Canadian cuisine” through curing and fermenting local seasonal ingredients. It’s named for Hugh MacLennan’s eponymous 1958 novel, sharing an aesthetic with the same North American late-modern tastes.

ASIAN APPETITE
• In a historic building on the corner of Morris and Hollis streets, Talay Thai serves up heaping portions of traditional dishes like Gung Pad Pik Pow (basil prawn with chili paste), Pla Muek Tod Katem (garlic shrimp), and curries aplenty.
• Japanese fine dining, showcasing traditional and fusion dishes, is on offer at Sushi Nami Royale. Check it out at locations on Queen Street in the heart of the downtown, Lacewood Drive in Clayton Park, Hector Gate in Dartmouth Crossing, and the Bedford Highway.
• Don’t let the strip-mall exterior or industrial-park cul-de-sac location deter you: Dhaba Casual Fine Dining & Express on Oland Crescent serves some of the tastiest Indian food around. The volcanic chicken vindaloo is a Halifax favourite.

STEAK EXPECTIONS
For an opulent and unforgettable dining experience, Cut Steakhouse is the downtown’s go-to destination. Contemporary and classy, Cut emphasizes world-class service, with beef dry-aged on site. By Robert Risley, the restaurateur behind popular Halifax spots like Bistro Le Coq, East of Grafton Tavern, and Waterfront Warehouse.

THE FINER THINGS
Tucked away in historic Brewery Market on Lower Water Street, da Maurizio Fine Dining is a perennial local favourite. The rustic cuisine of Northern Italy inspires Chef Andrew King, as he offers classics like veal scaloppine sautéed with fresh lobster, seared breast of Brome Lake duck, and spicecrusted rack of lamb. An expertly curated wine list and top-notch service complement the experience.

SMALL PLATES, BIG TASTES
Foodies flock to Highwayman Restaurant & Bar on Barrington Street for Spanish-inspired share plates and original cocktails. This cozy, up-market option serves a menu of seafood, cured meats, cheeses, and more. Pair your meal with a selection from the carefully-curated wine list and save room for a decadent dessert.

EDITOR’S PICK: FLAVOUR FIESTA
Don’t let the humble exterior fool you: loyal foodies jam Mexico Lindo on Dutch Village Road every night. Fiery home-style Mexican cuisine is the house specialty. The menu includes explosively flavourful offerings like burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, tacos, and more.