Savour food & wine Show Highlights

Savour 2011

My first glimpse of the Savour food & wine Show last week was on the press tour before the event opened to the throngs of food zombies that weaved and grunted their way through the second floor of the Westin. “Graiiiiins,” I imagine they would moan. Or, perhaps, if they were really hoping to find a Caesar salad, “Romaiiiine.” Who knows. Anyway, Bishop’s Cellar was doing a demo of their new website and filling us in on their new wine delivery program, a delightful addition to their business that will help me become the shut-in alcoholic I have always known I could be, a plan that I have, in fact, spent many years working towards, but has never felt so gloriously possible as it did when I found out that Canada Post will bring booze straight to my door as long as I have ID on me. (Hooray! Also, uh-oh!) While I stood there listening to the friendly Bishop’s Cellar folks describe how their site will eventually have a search function that allows you to query varietals, regions and prices, their voices eventually dulled into a senseless hum against the sizzles and searing sounds of scallops on a hot pan at the nearby Five Fishermen booth. Once the smell of lobster-stuffed scallops started wafting through the air, I was done listening and ready to eat. And eat I did.

Let’s start with the Five Fisherman booth. Their lobster-stuffed scallops with chardonnay beurre blanc was the first thing I ate, and one of the best things I ate. Insanely decadent, perfectly cooked and obviously tasty, it’s hard to beat something so classic when it’s well-executed. I’ll be totally honest—I didn’t expect Five Fishermen to have one of my favourite dishes of the night. It’s a great restaurant, but always sort of lingers on the fringes of my thoughts when people ask for suggestions of where to eat or ask the dreaded and, frankly kind of annoying, “what’s your favourite restaurant?” question. This reminded me of how good that place can really be. As did their other offering, a lobster and goat cheese cake with basil aioli.

Now, onto some photos. There was a lot of visually interesting stuff going on at Savour this year. Seasons Restaurant had a temperature tasting that used liquid nitrogen and nitrogen dioxide. And while they were freezing things on their end of the venue, The Westin itself made mini burgers that were torched by the chef before plating. (The crab cake was especially good.)

Seasons also had a delicious cocktail which they called “Precious.” Made of raspberry and peach liqueur, ginger soda and blueberry bubbles made from Van Dyke’s delicious blueberry juice, it was outstanding. Texturally it reminded me of the mascarpone shooter from Decadence, though it had a more crisp and less creamy taste. This drink, along with the tasty raspberry daquiri from Morris East, made me excited about the state of cocktailery in Halifax. Also exciting? The desserts:

I’ll be honest. If every single plate at Savour had been nothing but a tiny pile of Scanway’s florentines, this blog entry would say “Savour was an unparalleled success this year!” I am not ashamed to say that I ate, like, six of those cookies at Savour. And I took four home in a napkin to eat later. I love those damn cookies. They’re lucky I didn’t just open my purse, swipe my arm across the table and take all the cookies. This is not to say that the other desserts featured weren’t great, but for me they paled in comparison.

The florentines weren’t the only thing I really loved. There were some other favourites. Here’s a little gallery of my highlights, which include the l’Acadie vine smoked salmon with chilled Fox Hill quark souffle and leek coulis (Le Caveau, Wolfville), the pan-seared Digby scallop with apple-fennel slaw and a dulse seasoned cracker (Port Pub, Port Williams), a potato ravioli with micro greens, and the simple and sublime root vegetable crackers (Morris East, Halifax).