Another year, another IncrEDIBLE Picnic by Select Nova Scotia. On Sunday, August 21, at the newly launched Sands at Salter—a sandy waterfront area that bumps up against the boardwalk around the corner from Bishop’s Landing—I spent the afternoon eating some incredible treats from local vendors, enjoying music by some fantastic local artists, and giving a few cuddles to some adorable animals at the petting zoo.
First of all, if I’m going to pick my favourite thing about the picnic, it’s probably the little gal that danced her way from top to tail of the Whiskey Kisses set that closed the picnic. When she wasn’t twisting, she was shaking; there wasn’t a beat that didn’t set her foot to stomping. It was a pure delight. My least favourite thing? The ridiculous sunburn I managed to get, even after slathering on SPF 70 throughout the day. I can’t complain about that too much, though, as you really couldn’t have asked for better weather or a better location for this year’s picnic. The only logistical snafus seemed to be the lack of on-site water (solved by buying bottles at Sugah!), and the city’s inability to get their shit together and give Select Nova Scotia a liquor license. It’s lame beyond the telling of it that such a great community event—an event put on by a terrific governmental body, at that!—is unable to get through what is essentially a sticky, stupid barricade of red tape that keeps them from being able to really showcase some of the province’s great winemakers, breweries and vineyards to the thousands of locals and tourists that meander their way through the event. Thankfully there were some great iced teas, coffees and cider. But it would have been nice to have broader options.
On to the food. Sandwiches, in particular. There were plenty of tasty, summery hand-held options in the big food tent. My favourite of the day was the cold water shrimp sandwich served on a “mini” Two if By Sea Café croissant. (Quotes around “mini” simply because a TIBS “mini” is basically a regular sized croissant.) The heaviness of the buttery croissant was nicely offset by the sweet shrimp, light dressing and crisp veggies. It was just heavenly. So was the other full-size seafood sandwich I sampled, the lobster roll from Scanway. It had a lemony brightness to it, and the tender lobster and fluffy roll easily made it one of the best lobster rolls I’ve tasted all summer. My favourite booth, though, was The St. Lawrence Kitchen, which provided bite-sized samples for a bargain $1.25 each. Though many still consider mackerel a poor-man’s fish, I adore it. And their tiny portions of smoked mackerel tucked into chive biscuits was another favourite; those small bites had a depth and robustness that you only find in a well-smoked mackerel. There was also a good effort made with pork products at a number of the booths, but at the end of the day it’s always going to be the seafood sandwiches that make my heart go pitter-pat and my stomach grumble with anticipation.
I could go on and on, but I’ve basically decided to let pictures from this event speak for themselves. In this little gallery you’ll see some of the incrEDIBLE food from the various talented vendors, along with some pictures of some of the fun features of the picnic—agricultural exhibits like a petting zoo and the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia’s fish tank—and some of the great takeaways like free locally grown cantaloupes from Vermeulen Farms, and perhaps my favourite discovery at the Picnic: candy pink, delicately sweet honeycrisp apple cider.
Simply stated, this event is amazing. I all ready can’t wait until next year.
Pictured above: cold water shrimp croissandwich (Feisty Chef/TIBS), lobster roll (Scanway), pulled pork with a maple-based BBQ sauce on a Julien’s sesame brioche (Chives), flatbread wrap with Oulton’s chorizo, Four Season’s Farm arugula and roasted vegetables (Morris East), Vermeulen Farms cantaloupe, pulled pork sandwich assembly at Taste of Nova Scotia table, land and sea animals at the agricultural exhibits, smoked mackerel mini sandwiches, beef carpaccio and other assorted canapés (St. Lawrence Kitchen), agua fresca (Morris East), FID smokies (Fid Resto), honeycrisp apple cider, and an assortment of Dee Dee’s Ice Cream flavours.
Full disclosure: I booked the music for this year’s IncrEDIBLE Picnic. I’m really happy to have participated in making this picnic a great one, but my participation in that part of the event organization doesn’t really have any bearing on how much I loved the food. In any case, I want to be upfront about my involvement. I wish I could take credit for more than that, but really it’s the musicians themselves who made that part of the event wonderful, and Select Nova Scotia and the participating vendors who make this event one of the best food events in the province every year.