Spring Slow Food Supper
On May 7, I was lucky enough to attend the Slow Food Nova Scotia Spring Supper in Dartmouth. It was a church dinner of sorts, long tables running the width and length of the Christ Church hall in Dartmouth. Brown paper table coverings stamped with green leaves hinted at the Springtime theme, while rain tapped against the windows in a never-ending stream.
The night was comprised of seven courses of locally-inspired dishes prepared by some of the province’s most talented chefs, delivered with the help of some of the best servers in the city, who were kind enough to help out on a Saturday night. The meal was served to a crowd seated family-style, and I was lucky enough to sit near Ruth Daniels, blogger-extraordinaire from Once Upon a Feast, and Margo Riebe-Butt, one of the members of the Board at Slow Food NS. Great conversation added to the great atmosphere. Michael Howell—President of Slow Food NS, chef/owner of Wolfville’s Tempest World Cuisine, and one of the participating chefs—took some time to tell me a bit about the dinner and the idea behind it.
Why do you put on the Spring Dinner? What’s the thought behind it, and what do you hope people take away from it?
“We originally put this on last year as part of the Slow Food Canada National meeting that we hosted here in NS. One of the requirements for hosting the National meeting are to do a fundraising event on behalf of the National association, so this was our contribution. It was based loosely on Slow Food Toronto’s Banquetto the year before. We wanted to play with the theme of a church supper so it felt comfortable to all and not a hoity-toity dinner last years effort was such a sucess that we decided to hold the event annually, to raise money for Slow Motion and Feed Nova Scotia.”
Is the family-style approach to dining—sharing wine, sitting in big groups with friends and strangers—something that you think is integral to the idea behind slow food?
“Yes of course. We call our chapters convivia for that very reason. Sharing at the table—with friends, family and strangers— is integral to Slow Food ethos. We need to dispel the notion that food is simply fuel, and remember that the sharing of bread, wine and conversation is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.”
What were the highlights of the evening for you?
“We were seperated into two teams the hot food and the cold food. As I was doing dessert, I was upstairs with the other cold dishes—Rene’s, Paolo’s and mine. I spent the evening mostly with them upstairs and so got to share lots of stories with two people I haven’t spent a lot of time with and respect. Dennis told a really funny joke too. My highlights was simply to see the room full of happy content people.”
What other events do you guys have coming up?
“Our next event is June 19th – our annual general meeting in Dartmouth where we have a potluck and elect our board. then we head out to East Chezzetcook and go clam tasting and clam digging with Donald Renouf at the BullShit Lodge. In July we are having a sauerkraut and sausage picnic on Tancook Island, and then in August we are participating as the major player at this year’s Incredible Picnic.”
The first four courses of the menu, pictured above, were: Homemade Biscuits & Butter (Kim Stacey, Emma’s Eatery), Curried Indian Point Mussel Chowder, Petit-de-Grat Snow Crab Cake, Preserved Peach Chutney (Darren Lewis & Craig Flinn, Chives), Riverview Arugula Salad, Broken Roasted Garlic & Mustard Vinaigrette Ricotta Wafer, Crispy Black Olive (Paolo Colberto, Jane’s on the Common), and Harpoon Caught Swordfish, Salsa Verde, Wild Rice Risotto, Lobster Chili Oil (Chris Velden, Ryan Duffy’s)
The last four, pictured below, were: Nova Scotia Lamb Shawarma, Tzatziki, Pickled Turnip, Herb Salad, Chickpea Socca (Renee Lavalle, The Feisty Chef), Slow Roasted Windsor Valley Pork Belly, Local Sweet Potato (Dennis Johnston, Fid Resto), “Jigg’s Dinner” Granite Irish Stout Braised Beef Rib, Haddock Brandade,Savoy Cabbage, Fiddlehead Mustard Pickles (Graeme Ruppel, The Brooklyn Warehouse), and Noggins Warm Apple Pocket, Rhubarb Panna Cotta, Fox Hill Gelato (Michael Howell, Tempest).
Some lovely wine pairings from Benjamin Bridge, Blomidon Estate, Domaine de Grand Pre, Jost and Gaspereau Vineyards rounded out the menu. It was a really wonderful night, with incredible food by incredible chefs. This is the type of culinary event that can really ignite excitement over what our province has to offer, from food to wine to chefs and community. Whether it’s finding restaurants that feature menu items that highlight Nova Scotia farms and producers, or attending events that bring a focus to eating seasonal treats, this dinner was a great showcase for how great local food can truly be.