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cuisine

The Winter Feast

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Photo: Kelly Neil

The annual Savour celebration of Nova Scotian cuisine is a favourite with visitors and locals alike

By: Trevor J. Adams

 

Back for it’s 15th year, the Savour Food & Wine Festival is the year’s biggest celebration of Nova Scotia’s culinary scene. The festival brings together talented mixologists, innovative brewers, award-winning winemakers, and chefs aplenty, sharing their creations at several events.

“The Savour Food & Wine Festival has grown from a small show to a series of 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.

The festival starts with Dine Around (January 15 to March 15), a unique program that 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 Gio, Durty Nelly’s, and The Stubborn Goat.

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On February 1, the Lord Nelson Hotel on South Park Street hosts the city’s definitive event for cocktail lovers: Imbibe. Nova Scotia’s top mixologists 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 February 8 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 Scotian Community College (NSCC) 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.

The Rare & Fine Wine show at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street on February 16 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.

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Be among the first to visit the new Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street as it hosts the eponymous Savour Food & Wine Show on February 22. It showcases 100+ Nova Scotian restaurants and wine and beverage producers. Take in the evening and let your taste buds run wild as you explore samples of delectable foods, cocktails, and wine presented by Nova Scotia’s finest.

Capping the festival is the Craft Beer Cottage party on March 3 at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Marginal Road. 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.

Hot Date: Taste of Calgary

Aug 16 – 19 Savour the flavours of Calgary’s delicious and diverse cuisine at this weekend’s annual Taste of Calgary event at the Eau Claire Festival Plaza.

Over 35 restaurants and beverage vendors from across the city serve up bite-sized versions of signature menu items. Sampling tickets are $1 each, and menu items range in price from one to five tickets.

Menu items include sumptuous sliders from the recently opened Black Betty Burgers & Wine Bar, regionally sourced fusion creations from the new upscale Downtownfood, New York strip loin from Ric’s Grill, pub classics from Jameson’s Irish Pub and numerous other delights from Calgary’s best eateries. (more…)

Interview With DobbernationLoves’ Andrew John Virtue Dobson

Dobson at a noodle house in Tokyo, Japan.

Andrew John Virtue Dobson started his blog DobbernationLoves (on Twitter: @dobbernation) after his first solo backpacking trip through Europe. The Toronto-based blogger’s day job is at Planeterra Foundation, the charitable arm of Gap Adventures, the Canadian-based travel company that hosts tours around the globe. The blog’s title is a clever play on Dobber (a nickname) and Nation (which he sees as “an authoritative stance on what I was doing and where I was going”). Dobson describes DobbernationLoves as a “lifestyle blog with an encyclopedia’s worth of information on travel, Toronto-based restaurants, cheese, wine and beer. I post consistently throughout the week all of the things I love, whether it be covering a fashion or arts based event, or some recipe I came up with over the weekend. I share whatever makes me smile.”

(more…)

Eat St.: Find a Food Cart With This App

The rise of the food cart as a gourmet eatery continues, although in Canada, Toronto feels dismally behind the rest of North America compared to Vancouver. For all of you who gastronomical explorers looking for the closest cuisine on the go, the Eat St. app will use your location to link you in to nearby food carts. Click on the individual suggestions and you’ll be given a map, a link to their Twitter, a menu, their hours and a profile that may link to the food cart’s website or Facebook in case you want more info. You can also “like” carts so that other users will know they’re popular, or add a cart if you don’t see it listed.

Keep in mind when searching for nearby carts, many of these aren’t stationary, they’re on the move around the city, so it’s best to use the link to the cart’s twitter feed where the most up-to-date location info is usually posted.

Eat St. also has its own show on the Food Network airing Fridays at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST, which checks out food carts all over North America.

The app: Eat St.
Cost: Free
Where to buy: The iTunes Canada App store.

Canada’s Best New Attractions for Summer 2011

Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

For travellers planning their summer trips in Canada this year, the regional editors of Where magazine have released their top picks for summer travel. The winners of Where Canada’s Best New Attractions for Summer 2011 represent the most exciting attractions – new, significantly improved, or celebrating major milestones this year. A diverse group of attractions from coast to coast, this year’s winners offer a wide range of activities and events suitable for any family, art lover, sports fanatic, nature lover or adventurer. Together, these attractions serve as the top must-see and must-dos for anyone travelling in Canada this summer. (more…)

Road Trip: New Brunswick’s Acadian Coastal Drive

Photo by Tim Johnson

By Tim Johnson

As rich in culture as it is natural beauty, New Brunswick’s Acadian Coastal Drive offers a lovely mix of sun-kissed beaches, delicious roadside cuisine and the wonderful joie de vivre of the Acadiens. Although it’s just 150 kilometres from Moncton to Miramichi, you should take your time and enjoy—split the drive into two or three days to make sure you properly soak up the sun, tucking into some poutine râpée and seafood pizza along the way. (more…)

Wherelist: Best New Restaurants 2009

Where editors from across the country have cast their ballots for the Best New Restaurants to open in Canada in 2009. From creative twists on traditional cuisines to stylish décors and high quality food for reasonable prices, these are the eateries you won’t want to miss from coast to coast.

Veneto Tapa Lounge, Victoria

Victoria’s best new restaurant takes traditional tapas to a whole new level. Led by chef Tod Bosence, the sophisticated, urban Veneto Tapa Lounge offers both a hip bar area and quieter dining room, ideal for enjoying Bosence’s creative dinner menu. Each entree is presented tapas style – those in the mood for beef, for example, will enjoy it three ways: veal ravioli with portabella mushroom ragout and roasted garlic cream sauce; marinated short rib with parmesan polenta cake; and New York strip roulade with spicy lobster stuffing and bordelaise sauce.

Cibo Trattoria, Vancouver

With London’s River Café alumnus Neil Taylor heading up the kitchen and ex-Lumiere general manager/sommelier Sebastien Le Goff in charge, it didn’t take long for Cibo to gain a solid reputation for its vibrant rustic Italian cuisine, thoroughly grounded in West Coast ingredients. Taylor’s dishes, which change by the week (if not the day), are constructed with uncomplicated—but wickedly exacting—flair.

Parker House Grill & Wine Bar, Calgary

Parker House is the kind of place where diners can experience high quality service, ambience and food, for a reasonable price tag. Chef Andrew Keen, known for his excellence in “forgotten fare,” has created a menu inspired by traditional New England comfort dishes with creative twists. For dinner, most entrees (with the exception of their steaks) sit in the mid-twenties range, while diners on a budget can try one of their thin-crust pizzas for as low as $12.88.

Creations Dining Room & Lounge, Sawridge Inn Edmonton South, Edmonton

Artful, delicious dining at Creations—the paint’s barely dry and the buzz is on for the eclectic Canadian fusion cuisine of Creations, the stunning new dining room and lounge in the atrium of the Sawridge Inn Edmonton South. Walls of fire, water, badlands hoodoos and a huge dreamcatcher treat the senses as menu items entice patrons to explore palate pleasers such as Sherried Beef Caprese.

Rustica Steakhouse, Canadian Rockies

Rustic has earned its place as one of the Canadian Rockies’ top restaurants for its elegant ‘mountain lodge’ atmosphere and uncompromising dedication to Canada Prime Beef. But it’s the cuisine of Caribbean-born Chef Stefan Mahon that keeps them coming back for more. Only the top 0.3% of beef in Canada earns Prime designation (a superior grade to AAA)—Stefan’s New York cuts, grand filet mignon and prime rib chops are prepared with a signature dry rub, seared under a 1500°F (815°C) broiler and presented on 500°F (260°C) plates with garlic butter.

Hermanos, Winnipeg

Winnipeggers are feeling the Latin heat thanks to the fiery flavours of South American cuisine at this year’s arrival of Hermanos Restaurant and Wine Bar. Set in a 5,500-square-foot warehouse in the Exchange District, fast lunches, tapas and mains are found on the mainly Argentinean- and Brazilian-influenced menu. The crispy fried empanadas are a must-try.

Raw Aura, Mississauga

Raw Aura, true to its name, offers a menu of entirely raw cuisine—the better to emphasize the natural and nourishing properties of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts. In an intimate yet airy space, friendly staff dish out delectably fresh fare including a “peace wrap” bursting with avocado, tomatoes, carrots, kale, sprouts and hummus, and zesty lo-mein featuring noodles made of zucchini and golden beets.

Loire, Toronto

Loire, a self-described “casual gourmet” spot, well-situated along increasingly foodie-friendly Harbord Street offers fresh, seasonal dishes that could include chili- and cornmeal-crusted Lake Erie whitefish, grilled New York striploin and a succulent beef or lamb burger on challah bread. This intimate restaurant effortlessly straddles the line between relaxed neighbourhood fave and boldface fine-dining destination.

Teca, Muskoka

Overlooking Lake Rosseau is Teca, a fine Italian restaurant located within the luxurious Rosseau Resort & Spa. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Muskoka Lakes, find this decidedly urban dining room and a centrally located open kitchen that dishes up authentic rustic Italian fare. Tuck into freshly made pasta—from papperdelle and gnocchi to spaghetti and meatballs—or thin crust pizza made in a wood-stone oven, as well as veal chops, fish, striploin and rack of lamb.

The Grand Pizzeria & Bar, Ottawa

Nestled on one of the most auspicious corners in Ottawa’s bustling ByWard Market, The Grand Pizzeria is a popular addition to the downtown dining scene. Built in the late 17th century, this enviable location once housed The Grand Hotel. Today, it’s home to the perfect pizza pie. Traditional Italian appetizers (antipasti, salads) make way for the main attraction: authentic Napoletana pizza. The dough is created and hand-pressed by Master Pizzaiolo Pasqualino Oliveri, who placed first in the 2004 European Pizza Championship, among other honours.

Pipa Restaurant & Bar, Halifax

Chef Luis Gaspar and partner Victoria Dunham Gaspar are longtime veterans of Halifax’s dining scene. And when they decided to embark on a project all their own, they saw a glaring omission in the city’s dining scene. Specializing in Portuguese cuisine, with rich, filling and full-flavoured dishes. Pipa is the only restaurant of its type in Halifax, specializing in Old World and Brazilian dishes such as Moqueca (fish stew) and Feijoada (a stew of meats and black beans). Seafood dishes abound, including fresh grilled sardines.

Alphabet Soup: Dining from A to Z

Where Toronto‘s annual dining guide is a veritable encyclopedia of the city’s culinary appetites. Check out our favourite (alphabetized!) restaurants, dishes and culinary trends by clicking on any of the images below.

All in the Family

Father and son at O Bistro

Father and son at O Bistro

The phrase “like father like son” certainly applies to Olivier and Jean Gouin. Growing up, Olivier was influenced by the culinary prowess of his chef father Jean, owner of Chez François. Now, all grown up and with cooking skills of his own, Olivier has followed in his dad’s footsteps with the opening of his own French restaurant, O Bistro. Try the O Clubhouse—brie, grilled chicken, bacon and mixed greens layered on a croissant ($12), for a French take on this American classic.—RM