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wine

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.

Best Improved Attraction for 2017: Meet the Market

By Joelle Kidd

With stunning design and a revamped food hall concept, Winnipeg’s most historic meeting place has become its freshest attraction. WHERE editors have named The Forks Market Winnipeg’s Best Improved Attraction for 2017.

26915911563_7c1cfe1a4a_oThe place where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers converge has been a gathering place for 6,000 years, as a a sacred site, a bustling trade centre, and a hub for transportation.

What better place to meet a friend for a locally brewed beer?

In the past year, The Forks—the city’s renowned tourist attraction—underwent an impressive renovation project. What resulted is more than a little facelift on Winnipeg’s favourite food court. The Forks Market is emblematic of Winnipeg and a point of local pride; a place where Winnipeggers bring their guests to say, this is my city.

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DRAMATIC DESIGN
The Forks site and its signature ‘Forks Market’ opened in 1989 as a tourist destination, combining fresh market sensibilities with vendors selling handicrafts and imported wares. Its creation was a massive undertaking, transforming a disused rail yard in the centre of the city into one of its top attractions.

In 2014, as The Forks celebrated its 25th anniversary, it became clear it was time to refresh the look. Brainstorming meetings led to an idea that would keep true to The Market’s spirit while giving it a mod makeover.

“Winnipeggers have a sense of ownership for this space,” says Chelsea Thomson, director of communications for The Forks. In order to preserve the aspects beloved by locals, they recruited designers at Winnipeg-based Number TEN Architecture Group, who began to think of the space as the city’s living room.

“The central atrium […] has a very high ceiling with a glass roof,” says architect Greg Hasiuk, who lead the project. “Our intent was to bring down the scale and change the entire look and feel to be more intimate.”

References to The Forks’ past are blended with warm, welcoming elements and twists of local flavour. Raw steel, blacksmith work, and natural wood meld with the historic building, while sleek charcoal accents and pendant lights pull the space into the future.

The centerpiece of this inviting environment is a line of reclaimed oak tables with collapsible leaves that transform into a 88-seat harvest table, fostering the feel of community dining. Like all materials used for the reno, tables were produced locally by custom fabrication shop Wood Anchor.

Other Manitoba-made items include drum-style light fixtures crafted by Metal-Tech industries, decorative blacksmith work by Cloverdale Forge, and drink flights served on Manitoba-shaped boards carved by Huron Woodwork.

In the glass walled atrium, filled with skate-lacers in the winter, three starburst shaped ornaments hang from the ceiling. Come closer and you’ll realize these impressive decorations (made by Wood Anchor) were created from donated hockey sticks. As Thomson notes, “there’s a little piece of many Winnipeggers in this space.”

It only seems right. Stop in for a bite or a pint at any time of day, and you’ll see families chattering over plates of food, couples holding hands over coffee, and girls nights celebrating over glasses of wine—a kitchen party for all to enjoy.

EATING PLACE
If ‘food court’ conjures up images of greasy fast food and chain restaurants, The Forks is the antidote. The former horse stables house a diverse range of local vendors slinging everything from gourmet burgers to Caribbean cuisine.

On any given day, a bustling crowd of diners peruses the stalls and halls. Laughter and chatter create the atmosphere of a party where the guests are constantly changing. Footlong hotdogs piled with sauerkraut share the table with Argentinean-style empanadas and sushi tacos stuffed with crab and avocado.

Plans are in the works for two new ‘microrestaurant’ concepts that will each have a separate seating area but allow for free movement between the restaurant space and main hall.

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SIPS AND SUDS
While spaces that mix drink kiosks and food vendors are common in Europe and have begun to emerge in cities like New York and Portland, Oregon, the concept is new in Manitoba and rare in Canada. Visitors to The Forks can grab a drink at The Common and wander freely throughout the rest of the main floor, melding a family friendly atmosphere with the convivial vibe of a neighbourhood watering hole.

Local brews and outstanding imports are the focus, seleted to pair well with a meal. On tap, find Winnipeg breweries like Half Pints Brewing, Little Brown Jug, Peg Beer Co, and Barnhammer Brewing. A special wine pouring system ensures all bottles are available by the glass, and a curated selection complements the usual suspects with finds like biodynamic natural orange wine from Ontario and a lively pinot blanc from the Okanagan Valley.

5 Restaurants for Wine Lovers

Courtesy of Fusion Grill

Courtesy of Fusion Grill

Calling all oenophiles: these restaurants are must-visits for wine lovers of all stripes.

At DeLuca’s Cooking School, sip specially paired wines provided by attached DeLuca Fine Wines while chef Anna Paganelli demonstrates how to prepare elaborate Italian dishes. Call for class schedule and to register. 950 Portage Ave, 204‑774‑7617, delucas.ca

529 Wellington, Winnipeg’s most lofty steakhouse, maintains its elevated reputation with an award winning wine list so thick it could have been written by Proust. More than 800 selections pair with anything from porterhouse to prawns. 529 Wellington Cres, 204‑487‑8325, 529wellington.ca

Mona Lisa Restaurant is a top pick for comforting red sauce Italian fare in a sleek yet casual atmosphere. The adjacent cantina is perfect for variety-loving imbibers, with 20 featured wines offered by the glass. 1697 Corydon Ave, 204‑488‑3684, monalisarestaurant.ca

Fusion Grill stokes Canadian pride with its sophisticated use of regional ingredients, and local love doesn’t stop there. Owner Scot McTaggart (pictured) built an extensive wine list that is exclusively Canadian, and sure to win over even old-world enthusiasts to the Canuck terroir. 550 Academy Rd, 204‑489‑6963, fusiongrill.mb.ca

Forget hot cocoa—cap off a day of outdoor activities with a glass of vino at The Common at The Forks. Pours by the glass or in tasting flights are perfect to sip while relaxing in the food hall or even browsing the market’s upper level shops. The Forks Market, 204‑942‑6216, theforks.com

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Cresta Brings a California-Inspired Menu to the St. Lawrence Market Area

A HEARTY MENU AND EXCELLENT WINES AWAIT YOU AT CRESTA

The wine chandelier at Cresta can hold up to 500 bottles.

 

Located in the heart of the historic St Lawrence Market area, Cresta brings a taste of both California and Italy to Toronto. The menu mingles both traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine, paired with a large selection of wines from the Thomas George Estates winery in California. An impressive 35-foot chandelier displaying 500 bottles means you won’t be lacking options for a wine pairing with your meal. Executive chef Tri Tran uses fresh seasonal ingredients in his homemade pastas and entrees, and has perfected the recipe for a crispy, yet satisfyingly chewy, pizza crust. Highlights include Brussels sprouts in a crispy balsamic glaze, steak sirloin with braised potatoes, and the house-made gelato. —Karen Stevens

Best Charcuterie Boards in the Canadian Rockies

April 5, 2016
By Ashley Materi

Charcuterie boards are a trendy, interactive way to share a meal. They allow you to sample cured meats, pâtés, cheeses, preserves and produce that complement one another. Plus there’s a bonus—charcuterie pairs great with wine!

Grapes Wine Bar at the Fairmont Banff Springs is an excellent choice for charcuterie. The former ‘Castle in the Rockies’ library now offers an elegant-yet-relaxed dining atmosphere. It’s perfect for a date night or intimate evening with friends.

By Ashley Materi

By Ashley Materi

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Our Top Jasper Shopping List

By Afton Aikens & Olivia Grecu

Photo: Courtesy of Jasper Source for Sports

Photo: Courtesy of Jasper Source for Sports

Enhance Your Ride

Looking for a new bike after this season? Road and mountain bikes with carbon fibre frames are more popular and affordable than ever, notes Marc Vien of Jasper Source for Sports. Less weight and stiffer construction allow more power to transfer from rider to pedal to wheel for increased efficiency and speed. “The returns if you ride a lot are very positive,” Vien says.

(more…)

May Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

BEST IN BEAN

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•A favourite place for downtown coffee aficionados, The Trident on Hollis Street roasts its beans on-site, offering an array of hot drinks, loose tea and pastries. After you recharge, browse the eclectic mix of used books.

•Veteran coffeehouse Java Blend on North Street has been in the bean business since 1938 and roasts all of its coffee on-site. Unique coffee memorabilia and an old (but still working) coffee roaster add to the cozy, laid-back feel of the café.

•In Dartmouth, Two if by Sea Café is the go-to spot for coffee fiends, offering not just fabulous coffee but also indulgent fresh-baked croissants that can stand in for a meal. The café has a second location on the Halifax side in the Historic Properties near the Halifax Transit ferry terminal.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

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Offering French-inspired cuisine, Bistro le Coq on Argyle Street has the atmosphere of a Parisian bistro, with an ornate tin ceiling, elegant artwork and plush booths. Service en français is always available. Choose from tasty French classics like steak frites and glazed duck. There’s an extensive list of wines, with many served by the glass (including champagne). For dessert, try the layered Nutella crêpe cake.

SAVOUR SPRING

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The brainchild of award-winning Chef Renée Lavallée, The Canteen on Ochterloney Street in Dartmouth serves up flavourful sandwiches, salads and take-out dinners. Lavallée changes the menu daily to highlight fresh local ingredients. Breadmaster Jessica Best bakes all the bread on-site, including tasty gluten-free options.

SPLASH OF LIFE

Photo: Janice Hudson

Photo: Janice Hudson

A newcomer on Halifax’s vibrant diner scene, Robie Street Station has become the it-spot in Central Halifax for all-day breakfast and comfort food with a global twist. Colourful murals and local artwork decorate the charming eatery, located near the Halifax Common on Robie Street. Hit up Robie Street Express next door for a coffee and fresh baked-goods to go.

IN VINO VERITAS

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A stylish yet intimate space, Obladee on Barrington Street offers a range of stellar, hand-chosen wines, including special local vintages. Try the monthly cellar wine special: staff uncork top red and white vintages for customers to enjoy by the glass. Pair your choice with charcuterie from the local artisanal producers.

Wine & Game Pairings

By Afton Aikens

Beef-to-bison converts love the latter’s leanness, while elk is popular with visitors who want to taste ranch-raised cousins of the game animals that adorn our mountain landscapes.

These hoofed fauna are among many types of game you can sample in the Canadian Rockies—but be sure to add a glass of wine. We talked to three restaurants in the region about their favourite wine and game pairings. We hope you brought your appetite!

Elk, Eden

Elk, Eden

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Calgary Pizza: The 5 Best Gourmet Pizzerias in Calgary

Calgary Pizza

A top Calgary pizza with a traditional Neapolitan-style crust from Double Zero (Photo: Double Zero Pizza)

#5 CALGARY PIZZA
Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria

Family-friendly Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria is often busy, and for good reason. Its large selection of affordable, Neopolitan-style pizzas can be personalized with additional toppings. Try a spin on the classic Hawaiian pizza topped with Italian ham and crushed pineapple with feta cheese. There are two locations, one in the Mission district and one in Mackenzie Town.
• Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, 105, 2303 – 4 St. SW, 403-455-3839, famoso.ca, maps and reviews
• Famoso Neapolitain Pizzeria, 5 High St. SE, 587-352-5566, famoso.ca, maps and reviews

(more…)

Hot Dining Halifax: Small Bites, Big Taste

Pair a wine with a delicious cheese and charcuterie board at Obladee.

If you’re planning a special night out with friends or a date, visit Obladee on Barrington Street. The atmosphere is a mix of classy and casual. With a focus on smaller dishes and tasty wines, the menu boasts a wide selection of reds, whites, sparkling, pink and bottles from the cellar. Sip on some Blomidon from Annapolis Valley, or try a glass of pinot noir from New Zealand. Also pair your drink with appetizers, including a variety of cheese and charcuterie boards.

Chic style and fine dining sum up Onyx on Spring Garden Road. Treat yourself and choose from the new small plates menu, including focaccia balls, spicy lobster risotto, Quebec cheeses and more. The restaurant also has a long list of wines, cocktails and champagne. Celebrities Sir Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger have even dined here.

Perfect 10: Savour Food and Wine Festival Celebrates a Decade

The Savour Food & Wine Festival marks a decade of delighting palates and bringing foodies, chefs and winemakers closer together. Photo: Mike Tompkins

Even at the most open of restaurants, you’re getting few chances to really talk with the chefs while they work. You may see them for a quick greeting when you order, or perhaps a brief thank-you at the end of the meal. But odds are good you’re talking to them while they’re really in action, as they’re cooking and plating your food. They’re probably not literally pointing you to the best glass of wine to pair with it.

Unless, of course, you’re at the Savour Food & Wine Festival. Running throughout February, the month-long festival brings diners together with chefs, restaurateurs, vintners, brewers and suppliers from across the province. It all begins on February 1 when the Dine Around program, which runs throughout the month, kicks off. Dine Around gives restaurants a chance to showcase a local project on a three-course prix fixe menu (for either $25, $35 or $45). Participating restaurants weren’t finalized at press time, but you can find all the latest updates at edining.ca.

Throughout the month, Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street in Halifax is hosting several Festival events. Next is Decadence on February 7. The tasting pairs artisanal cheeses, succulent chocolates and wines from around the world. Held in the Schooner Showroom, Decadence is an intimate event, explains Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which organizes Savour. “We expanded Decadence to 225 tickets this year, and that’s really as big as we want it to get,” he says. This year, organizers have also invited a few local restaurants to Decadence, to share food pairings that complement the theme ingredients.

Next on the calendar is the Rare & Fine Wine Tasting in the Casino’s Compass Room on February 15. It’s another intimate event, with attendance capped at 125 people. “These are wines that are unavailable in Nova Scotia,” Stewart says, “wines we wouldn’t normally afford.”

The Savour Food & Wine Festival runs through February, celebrating Nova Scotian cuisine. Photo: Mike Tompkins

Following that, it’s back to the Casino’s Schooner Showroom for Imbibe on February 21. Savour’s newest event, Imbibe debuts this year. “Imbibe is our biggest new change this year,” Stewart says. “There are some restaurants
and bars in Nova Scotia that do a lot of fine cocktails, and they don’t get the attention they deserve. The idea is to celebrate the art of mixology, with 15 booths showcasing specialty brands and demonstrating their signature drinks. Finally, February concludes with the Savour Food & Wine Show on February 28. This year, the event moves to the spacious Cunard Centre on Marginal Road. The flagship event brings 65 exhibitors—restaurants, wineries, bakeries, cheese makers, brewers and suppliers of all sorts—together to celebrate the best of Nova Scotia’s culinary scene. Dozens of chefs are on site, preparing artful little dishes, all included in the ticket price. “It’s the 10th anniversary of Savour,” says Stewart. “And we’re quite happy with how it’s gone. It’s all about bringing restaurants and people together, and getting diners excited about what we do here in Nova Scotia.”

Geir Simensen is head chef with Saege Bistro on Spring Garden Road and Scanway Catering in Halifax. He’s been there for each Savour. “It’s important to me to take part and support our local industry,” he says. “It’s one thing to talk to a table when people are in the restaurant, but it’s different to be at an event like Savour and talk to people who are really there to meet you, and want to talk. It puts a face to the restaurant.”

Figuring out his Savour menu is a highlight of the year, for Simensen. He’s already given it a lot of thought for 2013. “We use the year before as a benchmark,” he says. “I like to think each year is a little better… Now I like to get a little more simple, use the natural seasonal flavours. I guess that’s something chefs learn as they get older. I’ve been doing this for 27 years, but I still feel like I’m learning.” This year, he’s thinking he’ll offer a comforting winter menu, with some sort of braised meat and root vegetables. “I really want to show off those local ingredients.”

September Hot Dates in Halifax

Stars Perform at Summersonic

Stars Perform at Summersonic

September 7 to 9: For three days, the Garrison Grounds at Halifax Citadel will be the must-visit location for serious music fans. Summersonic celebrates indie, alternative and slightly-off-the-mainstream music.This year’slineup includes Stars, Bahamas, Old Man Ludecke, Matt Anderson, K’naan and many others.

September 8: Performing at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street, the Irish super group Celtic Thunder mixes old favourites and modern hits. (more…)