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Culinary adventures

By Trevor J. Adams

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Restaurants, wineries, breweries and food producers from around the province share their best at the Savour Food & Wine Show on March 5. Photo: Tammy Fancy

The Savour Food & Wine Festival returns, celebrating the best of Nova Scotia’s dining scene.

Each year, the Savour Food & Wine Festival gets a little bigger and better.

Originally conceived as a February event to get diners and restaurants through the mid-winter doldrums, the festival now runs from January 29 to March 5, featuring several signature events and kicking off a yearlong promotion of Nova Scotia’s unique culinary offerings.

“We want to spread the show out further and fill up those slow winter months with events for diners,” says Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which organizes the festival. “We’re doing a few more things each year.”

The festivities begin on January 29 with the Decadence: Chocolate, Wine & Cheese show at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street. At the event, culinary students from Nova Scotia Community College’s Pastry Arts Program create chocolate dishes to pair with artfully chosen wines.

Back at the Casino on February 12, Imbibe: A Cocktail Event offers just what the name promises. Nova Scotia’s top mixologists and bartenders take over the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia for an evening of creative cocktails made with premium liquor, paired with hors d’oeuvres and live music.

Following that on February 27 is the Rare & Fine Wine Tasting. This tasting, in the Compass Room at Casino Nova Scotia, is de rigueur for serious wine aficionados. “Every wine you’ll taste really is rare and fine,” says Stewart. “They’re all wines that have scored 90-plus points in reviews and they aren’t normally available locally.” A live jazz performance sets the tone for this intimate event.

The festival wraps up on March 5 with its signature Savour Food & Wine Show at the World Trade & Convention Centre on Argyle Street. With some 75 booths, the show spotlights Nova Scotian restaurants, brewers, wine makers and food producers. “It’s show-and-tell time for Nova Scotia’s culinary scene,” says Stewart. “Foodies love the show because they get to learn something new, and the exhibitors love it because it’s a chance to meet their customers and do something new.”

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Geir Simensen, Head Chef with Saege Bistro and Scanway Catering, is a long-time booster of the event. “I’ve been part of Savour right from the beginning,” he says. “The people that go are the people who go out to dine, they’re our customers, our guests. At a restaurant, it can be hard to work the room. At Savour, you get to talk with everyone face to face. It’s fun for everyone involved.” He also appreciates the chance to connect with his fellow chefs. “It’s good to see other chefs on that level,” he adds. “I enjoy the camaraderie.”

His 2015 Savour menu isn’t set yet, but Simensen is giving it lots of thought. “It depends on the weather, what’s growing, what’s available,” he says. “All of our ingredients are local, so there are a lot more variables. I’m thinking maybe something braised, something with beer. I’ll talk with my farmer and my butcher when the date gets closer.”

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Running concurrently throughout the festival, the Dine Around program offers a great chance to explore, as restaurants around the province offer special three-course prix fixe menus (for $25, $35 or $45). “Lots of restaurants have signed up for that,” Stewart says. “It’s a great chance for diners to be adventurous, which is what Savour is all about.”

For more details, surf to www.edining.ca.

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