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  • MB 6:04 pm on July 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , food day, ,   

    Food Day! 

    Annapolis Valley

    Tomorrow, July 31, is the 8th annual celebration of Food Day, which in a local sense celebrates the food we produce and offer here in Halifax and Nova Scotia, and on the whole celebrates diversity, creativity and the wonderful cuisine that is available to and from different communities across the country. Whether it’s at a restaurant that is committed to local food, meat and vegetables you purchase from a local farmer at a nearby market, or food grown in your own garden, this is a chance to celebrate Nova Scotia’s amazing culinary landscape.

    “The genesis of Food Day was in  2003 when the BSE crisis was at it height,” Anita Stewart, the culinary activist (not to mention award-winning author, CBC broadcaster and gastronomy superstar) behind the day of action, tells me. “Whole families were ruined and communities, particularly in the Prairies, were devastated. I called my friends and colleagues from across Canada to their barbecues to have a national party on the August long weekend. I asked them to grill at 6 pm in whatever time zone they were in so we could join hands in a virtual fashion and show solidarity for our farmers. In 2004 the request went out again but I felt that we should just cook and grill ALL Canadian ingredients. It became very apparent that that weekend was THE time in the summer that Canadians from  all regions had parties and reunions and camping trips…and local/regional food was constantly involved. It hit me…hey…this IS Canada’s food day so why not name it?”

    “I believe strongly that we must be in control of our own food supply and this is one way of raising awareness….and besides, food from here tastes better. There are 136 restaurants across Canada participating…they were chosen because they walk the talk.  Many have risked a lot financially to use local ingredients.” In Nova Scotia this includes Fid Resto, Le Caveau, Tempest, Fleur de Sel, Chives, the Wooden Monkey and Chanterelle Country Inn all have Food Day celebrations.

    “It demonstrates that chefs and restaurateurs from across the breadth of this great land are united in their belief that regional cuisines borne of great local products are to be celebrated with those who love to dine out,” says Chef Michael Howell, from Wolfville’s Tempest Restaurant. Howell is a huge proponent of local food and the leader of the slow food movement here in Nova Scotia.

    “We have the bounty of both the land AND the sea at our doorstep. Showcasing both Lobster AND Pork from local producers is an easy and delicious way for me to let my customers know that far from Canada’s largest cities we can have great food too!” Along with local lobster and pork, the Tempest menu includes sorbets made from seasonal fruits, and lots of greens that were doubtlessly purchased from Wolfville’s amazing farmers’ market.

    One note: tomorrow is also the last day that the Brewery Market as we know it will be operating, so make sure you take a bit of time to celebrate local food with your last trip to that delightful little labyrinth. Next week the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market opens and the Brewery Market becomes the Historic Farmers’ Market Co-operative Ltd. There will still be around 60 vendors there, while around 100 will be at the new Seaport market, which will only be open on Saturdays for the first month or so, but will eventually extend to weekdays as well.

  • MB 3:05 pm on July 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: culinary crack cocaine, junk food,   

    Corn Pop Explosion 

    I honestly think that anybody who says they hate childrens’ cereals is nothing more than a lying liar who lies. Whether it’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Froot Loops or Corn Pops, there is some bowl of sugar out there that you can’t resist. I know it. Deep down inside, I know it. Because it’s a truth more universally acknowledged than anything Jane Austen ever wrote.

    But as much as I love a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (ok, I love a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, because that stuff is like heroin), a local product has totally eclipsed everything the Superstore cereal aisle has to offer. I present to you Hennigar’s Corn Pops, my new drug of choice:

    Hennigar's Corn Pops

    I can not leave the town of Wolfville without a bag of these in my possession.

    Light, crispy and with a honeyed taste that would make bees clutch their pearls and pass out from delight, these corn pops are, I declare, the best local junk food ever.

    Hennigar's Corn Pops

    SO GOOD.

    If there is another Nova Scotia junk food that you think rivals this, I’d be interested in hearing about it. And then telling you that you’re wrong.

  • MB 2:28 pm on July 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: caibbean twist, drama, free the patty!   

    Let’s Twist Again 

    So it’s good news for Caribbean Twist, as they are now well on their way towards a zoning change, thanks to the support of a vocal and hungry community in Halifax who made it clear that they didn’t want anybody jerking around their favourite jerk chicken joint. (It had to be done. The pun was unavoidable. I apologize.)

    When I went there earlier this week, hundreds had all ready signed the petition, and though I had an exasperating few phone calls with Jerry Blumenthal and HRM Planning & Development Service, who seemed to be on different pages while talking to them, ultimately Blumenthal was incredibly supportive, saying “I don’t think they’ll close it down as long as the process is moving forward,” and really seemed to hold out hope for success in discussions with Andrew Faulkner, Development Planner at Planning & Development Services which were supposed to start yesterday.

    When I delivered a little report to The Coast on Tuesday, I had heard from Planning & Development Services that they had rejected an occupancy application for the space as it is currently zoned (thus my exasperation), and had two weeks to appeal that decision. The restaurant has an extension until the end of August to deal with the rezoning, but need the building owner — who is reportedly on vacation — to be a part of the rezoning application. But with Blumenthal, Peter Kelly and Planning & Development Services seemingly on the side of the restaurant, it looks like Halifax’s only source of Juici Patties might be safe, and I may never have to use another “jerk” pun again.

  • MB 11:24 pm on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    That’s IncrEDIBLE 

    One of my favourite events of the year, the IncrEDIBLE Picnic put on by Select Nova Scotia, is coming back to exhibition halls, parks, markets and community centres across Nova Scotia in August. Picnic fans may remember that in the past the Halifax picnic has been on Citadel Hill’s Garrison Grounds, and that last year there was no Halifax picnic due to weather that was so consistently dastardly that you’d think Mother Nature had tied sunshine to some train tracks, and spent the last half of August twirling her moustache.

    If it’s not clear by now, I am pretty excited about the prospect of this year’s community get-together.

    In case you’re not familiar with the IncrEDIBLE Picnic, it brings together local farmers, producers and restaurants at a picnic site where members of the community can sit down in a big communal picnic and enjoy some excellent Nova Scotian food. The picnics are peppered throughout the province, so ants are going to get a workout wandering from one location to another. If while the ants are carrying 20 times their body weight from picnic to picnic, you want to try to eat 20 times your body weight by hitting all of them, here’s when and where they’re happening:

    August 1 – Windsor
    Hants County Exhibition

    August 8 – Truro
    Downtown Civic Square

    August 15 – Wolfville
    Noggins Corner Farm
    Muir Murray Winery

    August  22 – Dartmouth
    Alderney Landing

    August 22 – Mabou
    Mabou Community Centre

    August 22 – Musquodoboit Harbour
    Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers Market

    August 22 – Annapolis Royal
    Annapolis Royal Farmers and Traders Market

    Incidentally, there was just a report on CBC about how Nova Scotia’s don’t eat local. This is our chance to ’em wrong!

    • Christine 4:39 pm on August 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great event and we can’t wait to go either! Taste of Nova Scotia and Adventures in Taste will be at the Alderney Landing Picnic. Taste will be selling a Scotian Gold Apple, Fox Hill Cheese Fenugreek Salad with a blueberry honey vinaigrette. See you there!

  • Andy Murdoch 2:55 pm on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Caribbean Twist threatened with closure 

    Caribbean Twist, the only Caribbean restaurant on the Halifax peninsula, if not the entire HRM now, is threatened with closure. Apparently, the space isn’t zoned for restaurants. The previous occupant, Toulany’s, went from being a corner store to cafe and according to the city councillor for the area, Jerry Blumenthal, they did not have the proper zoning permit, either. Blumenthal is working with Twist owner Lyndon Hibbert to get the zoning changed. This means getting ahold of the building owner, who must submit a zone change plan to the city. “It’s going to be hard, but not impossible,” to change the zoning, says Blumenthal. Caribbean Twist has an extension to stay open until the end of August.

    It’s an rookie mistake on the part of a new business owner, but I sure hope it can stay open. I was there for lunch with another Passable writer, Melissa Buote, and the place was crawling with journalists from Metro and the CBC. Please go to the restaurant (3081 Gottingen), have some killer jerk pork (read Passable writer Melissa Buote’s review in The Coast) and help Hibbert by signing the petition to save the restaurant.

    • MB 6:15 pm on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      So much dramz. I hope it all works out. That food is too delicious to disappear.

    • carterflinn 11:59 pm on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sorry I missed the junket, but I will definitely go to eat again and sign the petition. Any restaurant with such a community and family vibe (that isn’t afraid to use heat) gets my signature.

  • simonathibault 9:55 am on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sorbet,   

    Scoop me up the summer 

    So far I’ve given you three great ideas for what to do with all this summer fruit: make booze with it, freeze it or dry it for later.

    Another of my favorite things to make with summer fruit are sorbets. For this you will need an ice cream maker, which can range from the inexpensive to the obscene. I use an attachment for my mixer and have also used an inexpensive counter top ice cream maker*. All you need to make sorbet are four simple things: fruit, sugar, lemon juice and a ridiculously cold ice cream maker.

    (More …)

  • simonathibault 9:41 am on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    A quick tip for freezing 

    With all of our recent posts on preserving and saving summer fruit, we here at Passable neglected to mention one of the most obvious ways to save fruit: freezing.

    One of the major problems with freezing fruit is what happens once it is freezes: it often ends up in a big jumbled mess of berries. One of the easiest things you can do is to freeze the fruit on a cookie sheet, so that the fruit doesn’t buise and release any of its juice. That prevents the berries from sticking together and leaving you with big clumps of mushy berries. This works best for raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.

    And remember to label your fruit with the date and the weight. This makes things much easier when you’re trying to remember how much fruit is in each bag and when you froze them.

  • MB 4:08 pm on July 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bbq, , pork, sauce   

    Headin’ South 

    Q BBQ

    pork rib platter at Q BBQ

    At the end of May, I wrote an article for The Coast about the two BBQ joints here in Halifax — Q Smokehouse & Southern BBQ and Boneheads BBQ. I decided to have a chat with Mark Lambert from Memphis in May world champs Sweet Swine O’ Mine about what makes good barbecue.

    When it comes to competition, and tips for cooking from that perspective, Lambert had lots to say.

    “Balance of flavours is important,” was the most important thing Lambert had to say. “When you taste it you aren’t remembering the smoke, the sweet, the salt or the savoury end of it. It has to be tender and it has to be flavourful. And it has to have hickory on it. It’s not Southern if it doesn’t have hickory on it.”

    “In competition, the sauce doesn’t go on until they serve it,” he continued. “Most teams in competition will season the meat with a dry rub or seasoning, and right when the meat is finished they’ll finish it with a glaze that will tone down the flavours in the rub that make it more balanced and make the meat shine. You put it on at the very end so it creates a bark on the meat.”

    We also talked a lot about side dishes; we really covered what makes for an authentic Southern spread.

    Halifax does pretty good for some of the standard sides—baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, mac & cheese—but we are missing a few essentials. Tamales, for instance.. And in Memphis, bbq spaghetti is at the top of the list of sides. Deviled eggs, rib tips, hot links and smoked sausage are other dishes you could throw into your own back yard barbecue if you want to do something authentically southern.

    As I quoted in the article, Lambert told me “If they want to get true southern, find an all beef baloney, slice it ½ inch thick, season it, put some sauce on it and smoke it. That is true Southern BBQ. It used to be something people looked at as cheap lunch meat,” Lambert said. “But there are so many good ones that are available now.”

    It was especially interesting since while he sang the praise of such a maligned meat, beef ribs don’t really make the cut in his eyes. “True southern BBQ? Beef ribs don’t really fit into that. You’d be hard pressed to find a beef rib in Memphis… you won’t find a beef brisket worth eating. You’ll get brisket when you go to Kansas City or Texas, though.” But then he laughed, and said “I like them, just because I get sick of pork.”

  • MB 3:01 pm on July 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , culinary tourism, gin, , tours, vodka   

    PEI Adventures: You Say Potato, I say Vodka. 

    I spent the first week of July wandering around Prince Edward Island, enjoying the sunshine, thankful for the fact that even when its incredibly hot, there is always a cool breeze off of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I love food in PEI, from the fresh seafood to the local bakeries and butchers who will give you fresh cuts of bread or beef. One thing I had never explored before was local booze.

    On a particularly hot, sunny Saturday my sister and I decided to head to the Prince Edward Distillery, in Hermanville on the west end of the island. Owned by Arla Johnson and Julie Shore, who moved to PEI around ten years ago and opened the Johnson Shore Inn, the distillery seems to be the product of a childhood in South Carolina where Julie’s family had a whiskey distillery and PEI’s long held fondness for bootlegging. As the producer of the only potato vodka in Canada, my interest was piqued and I had to check it out.

    PEI vodka & gin

    There are three products at Prince Edward Distillery -- potato vodka, blueberry grain vodka and gin.

    It takes 30lbs of potatoes to make one bottle of vodka—6000lbs to make a batch. Which explains why potato vodka isn’t exactly big business these days. In fact, not even all of the vodka out of Prince Edward Distillery is potato vodka; the blueberry vodka is a grain vodka. And the Distillery has also branched out into a grain-based gin and are working on rum and rye whiskey as well. The ladies who run and work at the Distillery actually shovel all of the potatoes into the big mash tub. Ditto for the blueberries. It has all the glamour of being an extra in Back to the Future 3. (More …)

  • Andy Murdoch 12:33 pm on July 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Take Back Your Lunch 

    I recently moved to a job that gave me time for lunch, or rather, a job where people took their lunch hour outside the office more often than they took lunch at their desk. It’s a liberating feeling, to leave the office. Unfortunately, I work in a restaurant dead zone, forcing me to make my lunch, which in any case has its own pleasures. Everyone should take this hour of the day away from their desk. Most work can wait. World productivity will not slow down. In fact, output probably increases, because you won’t substitute that lost lunch hour with multiple short trips to twitter, facebook, et al.


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