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  • simonathibault 8:59 am on September 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Sandor Katz,   

    Assis Toi: Fermentation Fun 

    I didn’t believe it when I heard that Sandor Katz was coming to Halifax.

    One of Katz's books

    One of Katz’s books

    The author of The Art Of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation recently paid a visit to Nova Scotia to teach classes on fermentation, including classes at enVie and the Wolfville Farmers Market.

    Katz is pretty much known as THE guy to talk to about fermentation in North America, and so his coming to the province was a big coup to those of us who live for sauerkraut, kefirs, and kimchis. And so I was very excited to have the opportunity to sit down with him and chat about fermentation. Take a listen to it here via Information Morning Nova Scotia’s website or download the podcast.

    Next week is my last edition of Assis Toi, so stay tuned for a little nightcap (hint hint).

  • simonathibault 10:02 am on August 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Assis Toi: When food doesn't taste good 

    This week’s edition of Assis Toi looks at food in a different way: as a chore.

    This episode is very personal, as it involves a family member going through cancer treatments. The treatments essentially robbed her of her sense of taste and smell, and made eating a less than pleasant experience.

    Seeing someone who loves food becoming someone who laments the very notion of eating made me look at food in a completely different way.

    These are two of the reasons my sister holds on to as she fights cancer

    These are two of the reasons my sister held on to when fighting cancer. Their names are Sophie and Ella.

    You can listen to the episode by streaming on Information Morning’s website.

  • simonathibault 5:55 pm on August 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Halifax Cookie Cravings, Pies,   

    Assis Toi: Pie and Cookies. 

    It’s a baking extravaganza on “Assis Toi”!

    My mom's pie does not look like this. It looks much better.

    My mom’s pie does not look like this. It looks much better.

    Last year’s final episode of “Assis Toi” took me all the way back home, proverbially speaking. I interviewed my mother, Jeanne, about her pie-making skills. Last week, I revisited that episode on CBC Radio’s Information Morning. You can download that podcast here from iTunes.

    This week on “Assis Toi”, I visit with Diana from Halifax Cookie Cravings. She recounts her love of baking, her beautiful Pashley Britannia Bicycle, and how people like to hug her when she comes around. Why? Because she is delivering cookies! You can stream the episode here or download the podcast here.

  • MB 10:00 pm on August 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bourdain, cosplay, fish, goss, , Michael Smith   

    All the Goss: August 7 

    Gossip Time!!!


    I guess Guy Fieri was busy, because Devour: The Food Film Fest has had to settle for his BFF, boring ol’ Anthony “I Wear My Sunglasses On the Front of My Face Like a Boring Non-Guy-Fieri Person” Bourdain, as a special guest this November. I guess Wolfville will never get to be renamed Flavourtown now. THANKS, BOURDAIN. Anyway, I hope he refuses to eat anything that isn’t served to him on one of those awful little ceramic spoons they use on The Taste. I also hope he glares at something.

    Wingdings is closed. A new chicken wing restaurant will be popping up in its place, and unfortunately it is not called Wingdings2 or Wingdings3 or Dingbats or even Zapf. Way to go, marketing geniuses. Instead this place will be called Wing N It. Which, let’s be honest, is Blow N It. Who is going to delight typeface designers now?!

    Afishionado Fishmongers will be opening at Local Source later this summer, and then, I’m assuming lording their name over every other fish store in Nova Scotia for the rest of their lives. They should call up that wing restaurant and give them some help. Because that is a great name. Whoever came up with that is Nail N It.

    With the closure of Crumbs causing food industry types to immediately sandblast the year 2014 in the year-of-death space on the tombstone marked CUPCAKES, it should come as no surprise that the Dresden Row location of Susie’s Shortbreads has closed. But just hold on a minute before you throw yourself into any open graves while screaming “take me with you, buttercreammmm!” — the Bayer’s Lake and Purdy’s Wharf locations are still open. So don’t look so smug, cronuts. You haven’t won yet.

    Not content with Boom Burger darkening our doorsteps, those wily Islanders are sending Gahan House this-a-way, too. Our pal Halifax ReTales suspected it would be in the old Hart & Thistle location, and it is. Meanwhile, I suspect Celebrity Chef Michael Smith, long-time Northern Exposure cosplayer and Crown Prince of Prince Edward Island, is playing some sort of game of Risk with Atlantic Canadian chefs and is shoring up his occupation of Bedford with troops on the peninsula. I can only hope that Celebrity Chef Craig Flinn will roll the dice, gain some territory near Stanley Bridge or New London, and DESTROY HIM.

    Picnic Halifax, a roving pop-up business, launched. Dinners will be on Thursdays, and Picnic will change menus and locations every six weeks. If Dr. Richard Kimble hadn’t found that one-armed man, I bet he would have totally stolen this business idea.

    Certainly Cinnamon‘s secret is out: they are expanding their catering business. The Coast found out all the biz. The only thing that matters to me is that ain’t nothin’ gonna get in the way of my cinnamon rolls. The cafe is business as usual.

    The Seahorse will be moving out of its historic location because—I’m not sure if any of you know this—the developers in Halifax are actually a team of producers who are remaking 28 Days Later and want to make this production run as smoothly as possible so are doing their best to ensure that downtown Halifax is TOTALLY FUCKING EMPTY. Jesus. Anyway, the part of Jim, originated by Cillian Murphy, will be played by one of Bubbles’ cats from Trailer Park Boys. It should be great!

    Edited to add:

    My condolences to fans of club sandwiches, as the Midday Bistro in downtown Dartmouth is under new ownership now, and no longer trades in pork products. So that’s the end of the line for you, bacon. To make up for this loss, the menu is going to be featuring more Middle Eastern specialties, like the stuffed grape leaves that have been added to the display case. This is a classic case of Boo/Yay. I’m gonna miss those sausages, though.

    And it’s good news for fans of Steve’s Hotdogs, the work-a-day, classic hot dog cart that used to be at Piercy’s on Robie Street. While the dummies at RONA didn’t keep him around because they hate greatness, Steve’s will now be just up the road in a space behind the Forum.



    • Allan 8:28 am on August 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I wish I had gone with our original name now “Picity-nickity-wickwack-ty” just to fit in better!

  • simonathibault 6:36 pm on August 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Sea Urchin, , Uni   

    Assis Toi: You say whore’s eggs, I say uni 

    The first time I tasted it, I didn’t understand it.

    Food should not melt like this in my mouth. It’s like a briny foam peanut.

    The second time, I knew what to expect, and appreciated it a bit more. My other half, did not.

    Now, I have to say that I enjoy fresh sea urchin roe, often known by its japanese name, uni.

    A few years ago, I had the chance to meet Nick Budreski, who told me a rather interesting story about how his father came to harvest the spiny little guys. In this episode of “Assis Toi”, Budreski tells that story, as well as some of the difficulties in gathering the revered and reviled seafood.

    (More …)

  • simonathibault 10:54 am on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Stillwell Beer Bar   

    Assis Toi: It’s five o’clock somewhere… 

    For the latest episode of Assis Toi, I sat down for a beer with Chris Reynolds from Stillwell Beer Bar.


    Located on Barrington Street, Reynolds and the rest of the crew have a great devotion to beer in all its forms. In their infinite wisdom, they decided that a form that might work for me is a lambic beer.

    Essentially, lambics are beers brewed with wild yeasts that are present in the air. In this case, it was an Oude Kriek Vielle, a fruit lambic made with cherries.

    The instant I tasted it I understood it, or rather it understood me.

    My brain didn’t register that I was drinking a beer – something generally malty, yeasty – but something dry and crisp, with a mild sourness in its finish, but not unpleasantly so.

    Take a listen to Chris wax poetic about beers in the latest episode of Assis Toi, which you can stream here. or download the podcast here.


    • Jayme 12:57 pm on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      As a beer nerd (and one of the few BJCP certified beer judges in the region), I was thrilled to hear your piece during my morning commute on Information Morning. Sour beers are all the rage these days in many parts of the United States but have just barely begun to show up in the Canadian beer scene (there are some breweries in Quebec, Ontario, and BC brewing sours to my knowledge – not lambics though, that is a term exclusive to a region in Belgium).

      Lambics are a complex, beautiful style of beer. I recommend you try a Gueuze (sometimes spelled Geuze), which is a blend of 1, 2 and 3 year old lambics (no fruit added). Oud Beersel makes an excellent version of the style, though Cantillon’s various blends are probably the most sought after. After blending the various ages beers, the depth of flavour takes on a whole new dimension. Another interesting sour beer style which would be similar to the Kriek you tried, would be a Flanders Red. They tend to be somewhat hard to find locally (not that lambics are easy to find either), but you come across a Rodenbach Grand Cru, I think you will thoroughly enjoy it.


      • simonathibault 12:59 pm on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Many thanks! And now I know where to dig/drink.

  • simonathibault 11:00 am on July 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dharma Sushi, ,   

    Assis Toi: Oishii Agedashi! 

    Oishii means “yummy” or “tasty” in japanese, and agedashi tofu is tasty indeed.


    But more importantly, agedashi tofu is a great example of washoku, a tradition in Japan that encompasses the knowledge, practices and making of food. Washoku was recently added to the United Nations Intangible Cultural Heritage List, but by many accounts, the knowledge and traditions around washoku are in danger of being lost.

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  • MB 8:34 pm on July 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    All the Goss: July 16 


    Grab your favourite condiments and get ready to party! There’s a Food Truck Party on July 31 at the Museum of Natural History. There’ll be tons o’ trucks: Cheese Gypsy, The Firefly Feast, FoodStruck, The Food Wolf, Halifax Press, Ol’ School Donuts, Tin Pan Alley. And Lemon Dogs and Mortiscycle, the edible sideshow will also be there. CKDU will be providing some tunes, so there is a $2.00 cover to this party. And, of course, the Museum is right there, ya ding dongs. Get a hot dog and get some culture, already.

    Ray’s Lebanese is re-opening tomorrow in Burnside. Get thee to 75 Akerley Blvd!!

    July 30 will be sad day for macrons in Halifax, as MŌDA Urban Dining is closing down. The owners, Melissa and Matthew Pridham, are moving to Bermuda. The space will have a new restaurant opening this fall, with new owners. Stay safe, umlauts.

    A coffee shop is dropping anchor in the middle of Pro Skates at the beginning of August: Anchored Coffee! See what I did there? They will have a 20-seat cafe tucked away in Quinpool’s coolest shop, along with some outdoor seating. This cafe is going to be focusing on trendy ol’ toast as well. The bread will be courtesy of one of the fanastic bakers from The Canteen and will served with homemade butters and other tasty spreads. If that toast is more than, like, two dollars, I’ll be serving up some real attitude right back at them. The other plan is to make super tasty snacks that are the mostessest like Hostess’s, making homespun versions of corner store favourites like Twinkies, Joe Louis cakes, Pop Tarts, and Rice Krispie squares. Those goodies will be baked up in the Halifax TIBS bakery, special for the Anchored cafe.

    Certainly Cinnamon is hinting at some big news on their Twitter (@cinnamonmanHFX). WHAT IS IT????

    Those adorable kids at Hope Blooms got a letter from Prince Charles because they gave him some salad dressing, making each of those kids cooler than Cool Hand Luke.

    The Mic Mac Bar & Grill has closed its old location and should be open for business in the new place on Friday! I’ll miss you, sticky tables and gross floors! You were the best! RIP!

    A new all-day-breakfast place called Robie Street Station is opening in the old Jane’s on the Common spot, with a little take-out joint called Robie Street Express next door. Yay! Nice to see something in that rad space again.

    Apparently Bootz in Burnside — the revamped Rodeo Lounge — has also closed. I guess I’ll never see my dream of a Super Friendz reunion show there, which is a real bummerz.

    Also done: the Bluenose II Restaurant up on Bayers Road.

    And, after two weeks in business, Sushi Jet has closed. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL J/K J/K J/K NO IT HASN’T!!! I just couldn’t resist that big of Granville/Salter humour. It is, however, all-you-can-eat sushi, which is something I didn’t know until today. I’m guessing it’s a tribute to the fact that that building is an all-you-can-close restaurant location?


  • simonathibault 3:58 pm on July 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gateaux Rose, ,   

    Assis Toi: Remembering Rose 

    The whole time I was working on this story, all I could to was think of this song by the B-52’s. And no, you’re not about to click on Rock Lobster.

    This time “Assis Toi” heads off to visit Crystal Ross from Gateaux Rose. Gateaux Rose isn’t a bricks-and-mortar cake shop, it’s a side project that Ross does on her off hours to keep her sanity. Or maybe her day job functions to fund Gateaux Rose. In any case, Ross was kind enough to sit down with me to teach me how to make a proper buttercream. Not that stuff you find on cupcakes, which is just butter whipped with sugar and flavourings. No, we’re talking whipped egg whites, sugar syrup and flavours that sing, rather than scream.

    You can stream the episode from Information Morning Nova Scotia’s website, or you can download the podcast here.

    On a personal note, I once tried to make this very same recipe and totally screwed it up. I then took a class with Ross where I discovered my fatal flaw: I hadn’t read the instructions properly and tried to use cold butter. Room temperature butter is a must to make this work. Otherwise, expect to whip your buttercream into oblivion before it reaches the right consistency.

    Ross flavouring some buttercream. Image courtesy of Michelle Doucette/Gateaux Rose's blog

    Ross flavouring some buttercream. Image courtesy of Michelle Doucette/Gateaux Rose

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  • simonathibault 6:43 am on July 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Renee Lavalle,   

    Assis Toi: A Feisty Succotash 

    First, a promise: I will try my best not to make corn-y puns in this post.

    For the second episode of my summer series for CBC Radio, “Assis Toi”  invites listeners to Prince Edward Island, as Bedford resident Nancy Johnston takes us for a trip down memory lane as she talks about summer corn boils on the island.

    But soon listeners are taken for a walk around my neighbourhood in Dartmouth and head to The Canteen. There I meet up with Feisty Chef Renée Lavallée, who whips up a beautiful summer succotash and gives great tips on how to use every last morsel of corn in your pantry.

    Renée Lavallée's summeru succotash, (photo via

    Renée Lavallée’s summeru succotash, (photo via

    You can find a version of the succotash on Lavallée’s website here.

    You can stream the episode on Information Morning’s website, or you can download the podcast on iTunes here.

    Bon appetit!

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