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Casino Nova Scotia

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.

The right notes

By Trevor J. Adams

Natalie MacMaster joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a Maritime Fusion concert.

Natalie MacMaster joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a Maritime Fusion concert.

After giving audiences a taste of the new season during Symphony Week last month, Symphony Nova Scotia takes things into top gear with several big concerts throughout the month. Acclaimed Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster joins the orchestra at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 3 for the year’s first Maritime Fusion concert. The Grammy-winner always puts on a high-energy show of Maritime roots music—jigs and reels abound. There’s an encore performance on October 4.

Up next is someone special for classical purists: legendary Canadian violinist Martin Beaver (whose resumé includes 11 years as first violinist with the Tokyo String Quartet). Maestro Bernhard Gueller conducts as Beaver joins the Symphony at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 16. They’ll perform the Haydn Variations by Brahms, Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 3 (Scottish) and Max Bruch’s Violin Concert in G minor. They repeat the performance on October 19 at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, where the Halifax Transit ferry docks.

On October 24, the Symphony returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for one of its most popular concerts of the year: the Halifax Pop Explosion collaboration. This year, it shares the stage with Canadian indie darlings Whitehorse. With strong arrangements, brilliant songwriting and intense vocal chemistry, it’s no surprise that the husband-and-wife duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland were nominated for the prestigious Polaris Prize in 2013. Their distinctive alt-country sound is sure to hit a new level when they team up with the Symphony. A repeat performance is scheduled for October 25.

And these concerts are just a taste of what the Halifax Pop Explosion offers. Running from October 21 to 25, the festival celebrates the best in alt and indie music, with accomplished veterans sharing stages with rising stars. Some 200 bands will perform in 20 venues, in front of 30,000+ fans.

Venues include public spaces like Government House and Saint Matthew’s United Church and traditional nightspots like Casino Nova Scotia, The Carleton, The Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street, the Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street, the Company House on Gottingen Street, Olympic Community Centre on Hunter Street and Reflections Cabaret on Sackville Street.

Lights

Lights

Although performance schedules weren’t set at press time, organizers are already tantalizing fans with an all-star list of performers. Highlights include Calgary’s Astral Swans, Wu-Tang legend Ghostface Killah, singer/songwriter Mo Kenney, Toronto rockers Tokyo Police Club, pop multi-instrumentalist Lights, and many more.

For schedules and ticket information, surf to halifaxpopexplosion.com

Concierge Q&A

Trevor MacRae joined Casino Nova Scotia in 2004 after completing a commerce degree at Dalhousie University. He started his career at the casino working in the Slots Department where he gained valuable knowledge in customer service and casino management. In 2011, he became an executive host.

TrevorMacRae

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the guests. Walking the casino floor talking with guests, looking for any opportunity to create a great experience or memory for them.

What’s the best place to find a unique Halifax souvenir?

Definitely NovaScotian Crystal. They have some beautiful pieces of crystal, from scotch and wine glasses to vases and everything in between.

What’s your pick for Halifax’s can’t-miss tourist destination?

If you are a history enthusiast Halifax Citadel is the place to go. Partake in a walking tour of the fort and learn its rich history. Also don’t miss out on the firing of the noon gun!

What’s your favourite spot for a romantic dinner downtown?

A little gem that goes overlooked is Trapeze restaurant located here at Casino Nova Scotia. Trapeze has a beautiful view of the waterfront perfect for a romantic dinner. With a newly updated menu the food is superb and the staff is exceptional.

October Hot Dates

By Trevor J. Adams

Bodies in motion

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October 3 to 5: The new Live Art Dance Productions season continues with Phin at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Lisa Phinney Langley interprets Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.

October 18: Ballet in the Studio by Ballet Jörgen Canada features works by Bengt Jörgen, Malgorzata Nowacka, and Robert Desrosiers, plus excerpts from The Nutcracker.

October 28 to 31: With dance and musical performances at venues around the city, the Fall For Flamenco celebrates Spain’s fiery sounds.

 

Living legends

Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani

October 5: Two big music names come to Halifax. Instrumental-rock guitar legend Joe Satriani struts his stuff at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Meanwhile, 1980s R&B/pop star Billy Ocean performs in the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street.

On stage
Photo: Emily Jeuer

Photo: Emily Jeuer

Continuing through October 5: It’s your last chance to see the Theatre Arts Guild season-opener Steel Magnolias at the Pond Playhouse on Parkhill Road in Jollimore.

October 15 to 22: The Studio Stage at Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street hosts the Canadian comedy classic Hockey Mom/Hockey Dad by Nova Scotian playwright Mike Melski.

 

Editor’s choice

Photo: Michelle Doucette

Photo: Michelle Doucette

October 19: An annual festival of art after dark, Nocturne brings exhibitions, performances and special projects to galleries and public spaces around the city, from 6 p.m. until midnight.

 

Toronto Raptors

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October 5: Rudy Gay and his teammates prepare for the NBA season with an intra-squad exhibition game at the Halifax Metro Centre.

 

St. Cecilia concert series

Stéphane Tétreault

October 12: Twenty-year-old cello sensation Stéphane Tétreault performs at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts on Chebucto Road.

 

Matthew Good

Matthew Good Concert

October 18: The Canadian rocker returns to Halifax, performing at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

 

Reba McEntire

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October 19: With 64 top-10 hits, McEntire is one of country’s biggest names. See her at the Halifax Metro Centre. 

Stuart McLean

Photo: Alana Elliot

Photo: Alana Elliot

October 20: The storyteller of CBC Radio fame brings The Vinyl Café tour to the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

 

Red Green

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October 29: Canada’s favourite handyman stars in the How to do Everything Well tour at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Grape expectations 
Photo: WANS

Photo: WANS

Continuing through October: The Nova Scotia Fall Wine Festival celebrates the province’s fast-growing wine scene, with winemakers’ dinners, grape stomps, education seminars, tours and special events at wineries and other venues around the province.

Hot Dining: On the waterfront

Trapeze Restaurant

Trapeze Restaurant

Steps from the waterfront boardwalk, Trapeze Restaurant at Casino Nova Scotia is the perfect place to relax with a drink and watch the ships go past. It boasts a commanding panorama of Halifax Harbour—practically every table has a view of the water.