Sausage Fest 2016: Morris East

Morris East (downtown) is widely known for two things: wood-fired pizza and keeping the menu very seasonally inspired. Chef Tim Andersen says he likes to do things well and make a simple pizza that lets the ingredients shine. Andersen says the pizza for Sausage Fest Halifax 2016 was inspired by Nova Scotia: “I love Nova Scotia apples and I always try to work them in this time of year.” One flavour led to another, and Andersen found himself incorporating caramel, apple and fennel to create a pork sausage that would go on the pizza loose, outside of casing.

The base of the pizza is a lemony ricotta cheese, it is topped with sliced, spiced apples, crumbled sausage meat, and caramelized onions that are rich in colour and deeply flavoured. The combination of apples baked in the wood-fired oven, hints of cinnamon, super savoury caramelized onions and caramel notes give this pizza a super cozy, autumnal feel. This pizza is perfect for people who love sweeter, aromatic pizzas, and autumn spices.

Sausage Fest 2016: Ace Burger

What happens when you ask a burger joint to participate in a festival of sausages? They find a way to turn a sausage into a hamburger. Which really isn’t  that hard, when you think about it. Take the ground meat out of the casing, form it into a patty, slap it on a burger bun and you’re in business. Ace Burger did much, much more than that for their decadent Sausage Fest Halifax 2016 creation.

Chef Andrew Prince has interpreted a historical sausage recipe, the first ever appearance of hamburg meat (this is not fact checked) in a written recipe. According to Prince the recipe is titled “To Make Hamburgh Sausage”. He says “the ingredients listed are pepper, cloves, nutmeg and a great quantity of garlic, bay salt, red wine and rum. Those are the ingredients I used as well.”

“The 1758” — named after the year the recipe was published — does taste much different than your typical all-beef patty. The additional seasoning and spices give the beef a sausage-like vibe, and the insanely rich toppings bring it to a place of pure indulgence. The bun is buttered with bone marrow, there is a thick slathering of whipped blue cheese, big, crispy bacon bits and the patty itself is smothered in a smoked tomato and onion jam that comes off more like a sauce. Underneath the patty is a crunchy peppercorn cabbage and apple slaw. In the end, the flavours and textures do balance out to make a very memorable… sausage burger?

 

Dinner on the Ocean Floor

About two weeks ago, we were loaded onto a tour bus that was heading to Burntcoat Head Park on the Bay of Fundy, site of the world’s highest tides. There, we were to be treated to a feast on the ocean floor, paired with the new line of Alexander Keith’s small-batch brews, which are being made at the original Lower Water Street location in Halifax.

The bus ride to Hants County, Nova Scotia, took about an hour and a half from Halifax. After arriving at the park we were separated into two smaller groups and taken on tours. The constant mist and generally grey skies didn’t take away from the spectacular topography and stunning formations along the ocean floor, where the world’s highest tides ebb and flow. Most of us were wearing the proper footwear, so we trudged close to the ocean, checking out tidal pools and tiny crabs along the way.

Once returning from the tour we were greeted with an East Coast-style shellfish boil, complete with live Maritime-inspired music and lots of cold beer. We were each given a huge bowl of boiled mussels, clams and lobster claws, topped with fried dulse, accompanied by a delicious homemade biscuit. Lounging in a circle of colourful Adirondack chairs, we took turns throwing our empty shells into galvanized steel buckets that were placed in the centre. We were supplied with a seemingly unlimited amount of Keith’s newest small batch creation, Fundy Lowtide WIPA, a white IPA made with sea lettuce and dulce from the Bay of Fundy.

Second course surf and turf, succotash.

Second course surf and turf, succotash.

We headed back to the ocean floor, where a long white tent was set up for dinner. Tables decorated with tartan and centrepieces made of sea greenery were set up in the sand, waiting for us. First course was a cheese and house-made charcuterie plate with crispy flat bread crackers and mustards, which was intended to pair with Keith’s best-known beer, their India Pale Ale. The main course was a generous surf and turf, featuring a super flavourful poached lobster tail with saffron mayo, toasted barley succotash, and hop-crusted beef tenderloin; this was paired with Keith’s Cornerstone EPA. Dessert was wonderful, a stack of layered airy cinnamon phyllo, chocolate mascarpone cream, and sautéed cherries, topped with crunchy, pure cocoa nibs, paired with Keith’s Lunenburg Coffee & Cocoa Stout. The brewmaster, Stefan Gagliardi, acted as a host of sorts, mingling with guests and introducing each beer before courses at dinner.

This event was catered by Flying Apron Cookery, and was put on by Seaboost and Labatt (who own Keith’s). I was invited complimentary as part of a media and industry group.

One-Night Oceanstone Getaway

Just prior to Nova Scotia’s busy tourist season starting to take off, we snuck away for one precious night in Indian Harbour, at the gorgeous Oceanstone Resort. Located only five minutes from Peggy’s Cove, a trip to Oceanstone from Halifax proves to be just far enough outside the city to let yourself relax, for real.

We stayed in Gray Owl cottage, which allowed us to walk directly onto the beach from the back entrance. A raised deck surrounded by trees and foliage offers privacy without blocking the dreamy, straight-on view of the ocean. Individual fire pits on the beach, along with cozy wood stoves inside, allow for the ultimate cottage experience. The layout of Gray Owl is perfect for a couple: a one room open-concept cottage with high ceilings, decorated with upscale rustic charm.

Although it was foggy when we first arrived, the sun soon burst through and we kicked off our shoes to set up shop in the sand and enjoy a beverage. The early evening sun was hot enough to fight off the cool ocean breeze; the backdrop and soundtrack were absolutely unbeatable. We stayed there until we were too cold, then retreated to enjoy the wood stove inside.

After an extended period of intense relaxing (virtually doing nothing) we got to work on dinner. We used the outdoor barbecue to grill beef tenderloins from Getaway Farms with bone marrow butter (my first time picking this up — delicious), along with grilled vegetables and creamy mash. A perfect evening. We fell asleep on the insanely comfortable bed (which you can see the ocean from, by the way) with the window slightly cracked, the sounds of crashing waves wandering in.

Oceanstone is definitely my new go-to for an easy, calm and quick getaway from Halifax. The perfect place to recharge.

 

Sip ‘n’ Shuck by Taste of Nova Scotia

Despite the pending storm on Friday, January 29, Sip ‘n’ Shuck went ahead that evening, in the panoramic Baronet Ballroom at the Delta Halifax. I arrived with frozen hair and a soaked jacket, having travelled a horizontal route through downtown from Grafton Street, in the very wet snow (which was blowing sideways).

The first half hour provided those on media passes (me!) with exclusive access before the crowd arrived. I took this opportunity to taste every oyster that was there, including Pristine Bay, ShanDaph, Malagash and Eel Lake.

Oysters and cider.

Oysters and cider.

When the doors opened for the masses, I was happy to see that the turnout was still quite high. Despite the forecast, ticket holders were not going to miss this delicious event. Partnering with The Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia and the Delta Halifax, this is a fantastic annual event put on by Taste of Nova Scotia that offers a massive amount of local seafood in one room, and the opportunity to pair them with an array of Nova Scotia beers, wines and ciders (a perfect match). In short, if you love seafood, this is heaven.

I sampled a diverse selection of items that night, from beer steamed mussels with Oulton’s double smoked bacon, to maple-glazed Atlantic salmon on potato latkes to cold smoked halibut. My favourite thing that night was ShanDaph oysters.  These were huge, meaty, beautiful briney things with such incredible flavour. They didn’t need any accoutrements. I enjoyed these with both a Bulwark Gold (an award-winning cider that’s finished with local honey) and Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay.

Browse through the gallery for more photos!

Beverage participants included:

Garrison Brewing Co., Propeller Brewing Co., Ironworks DistilleryBulwark CiderL’Acadie VineyardsAvondale Sky WineryBenjamin BridgeBlomidon Estate WineryDevonian CoastGrand Pré WinesLuckett Vineyards and Planters Ridge.

GLYNNEVAN Whisky Launch

It was a sunny and crisp autumn morning in downtown Halifax when I entered Lot Six on Argyle Street for the GLYNNEVAN Whisky launch. Produced by Authentic Seacoast Company out of Guysborough, Nova Scotia, GLYNNEVAN is another in a long line of products that were thought up and brought to life by serial entrepreneur Glynn Williams.

“About 27 or 28 years ago Mike [Nicholson] and I went on a fly fishing trip in Nova Scotia and ended up in northern Cape Breton and thought: ‘What a place for a distillery!'” Said Williams during his retelling of the extended history of GYLNNEVAN.  “We had had a few scotches at that point,” he added, making the crowd laugh.

Inspiration

On this day, a group of about forty people slowly trickled into the bright atrium space in Lot Six, quickly filling it with lively chatter and anticipation. Williams took the stage to briefly outline what he’s proud of accomplishing in the last few years in regards to Authentic Seacoast products, particularly Fortress Rum and its relationship with Parks Canada. Williams also took the time to introduce and thank his team at Authentic Seacoast, before telling the GYLNNEVAN story in greater depth.

“It’s a story about fathers and sons; it’s a story about the great nation that we live in,” said Williams. The whisky is indeed a tribute to Williams’ son, Evan, both in name and in the spirit of the journeys they’ve taken together all over the world. “It’s about sharing that spirit with someone you love,” said Williams. “It’s about creating new traditions.”

The Canadian rye whisky is made from prairie grain in Western Canada; it journeys across the country, then is second-barrelled on its arrival to the Maritimes. The second barreling is said to add depth and complexity. As described by Authentic Seacoast, GLYNNEVAN Whisky’s “well-balanced taste is sweet and creamy offering vanilla, spice, hazelnut, butter, toffee and caramel sensations.”

Manhattan.

The Fish Hook.

Whisky in Action

Lot Six mixologists Jeffrey Van Horne and Shane Beehan took the stage to describe the cocktails they’d created for GLYNNEVAN, giving the crowd a full demonstration.

“This is an exciting time,” started Beehan, offering some opening remarks. “There’s no other company in Canada right now with the ambition for growth that Authentic Seacoast has.” He then spoke of the creative process for creating cocktails that would showcase the nuances in the whisky. Beehan prepared a shaken cocktail and Van Horne a stirred cocktail, so that the crowd could understand the flavour differences between both methods.

“When I taste a heavy oaked whisky, the first thing that jumps into my mind is a classic Manhattan,” said Van Horne. “We’re going to add a little twist on this drink, called a Red Hook.” Named after the Red Hook neighbourhood in Manhattan, this variation uses a Maraschino cherry liqueur to sweeten the drink. Van Horne chose to use vermouth and also orange bitters. He called his version The Fish Hook; the drink strongly showcased the rich, oaky flavours of the whisky and didn’t mask the booze.

Beehan’s shaken cocktail, High Tides, was inspired by a classic sour. “During high tides, especially in Nova Scotia, you get to see the enormous power that our ocean has.” Said Beehan, “I think in the craft spirit world, Nova Scotia is at it’s first high tide.” High Tides also used fresh lemon juice and fresh honey, creating a light, citrusy, sour cocktail that didn’t overpower the smoky characteristics of the whisky — instead it balanced them.

IMG_6723 — Click to watch the video of Shane Beehan in action!

Last year I attended the Sea Fever Rum launch by Authentic Seacoast, and in my coverage, talked a little bit about Williams, how he ended up in our province, and his passion for growing the Nova Scotia economy and producing export-worthy products. Revisit that post here.

Focus on my City: An exploration of Halifax

Wow, so summer flew by. But before it ended, Ford hooked me up in a big way with a sweet 2015 Ford Focus SE,  to cruise around HRM and (eventually, some day) blog about my experiences. Being me, I agreed, as long as I could explore in an edible way… as in, drive to different neighbourhoods and eat some food. Luckily, they were down with that.

My ride for the day!

My ride for the day!

I started with Quinpool Road area/West End, where I hit up a dumpling and ramen joint I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time: Truly Tasty. Here, we ordered the vegetarian ramen and the spicy braised pork ramen, along with chicken dumplings to start. Awesome food. The dumplings were fantastic, pan-fried and fresh, made in-house. The ramen bowls were huge, beyond what I could eat — with homemade whole wheat ramen noodles, the vegetarian in a soy-based broth and the pork in a meaty broth. We both agreed the pork ramen was better, but the vegetarian still had a lot of great stuff (like delicious steamed mushrooms). I felt like I was eating for an hour and the broth never went down. I still feel like a whole table could split one bowl of ramen here.

The adorable North End.

The adorable North End.

Next up I cruised to the North End where I met an old friend for coffee at Lion & Bright. Nothing fancy, just fantastic coffee in the always-busy atmosphere of this great coffee / wine bar / workspace. Another chance to parallel park the Focus and use the backup cameras with reverse sensing system… a tool that actually helps you park better. I need that.

Spicy spaghetti with mussels, salsa verde.

Spicy spaghetti with mussels, salsa verde.

That night we decided to drive a little further — across the bridge — all the way to King’s Wharf, in Dartmouth, where Il Trullo, a new Italian restaurant had just opened. The place was packed, and it happened to be the same night as a food truck party (by The Coast) in the parking lot across the way. Another great vibe over there with tons of people milling about the area and a busy, hectic restaurant. Here we started with a caprese salad and beef carpaccio. My carpaccio was the star, with a great flavour, texture and powdered truffle on the plate. Our meals were hearty and tasty. Mine was surprisingly spicy — a handmade spaghetti with salsa verde and mussels (lots of them). I wasn’t expecting the rather large sliced chiles, but luckily I love some heat.

During my time with the Ford Focus SE, I tried out Sync, the fully-integrated voice-activated system, using the Bluetooth on my iPhone, the rear view camera (of course), the reverse sensing system I already mentioned, but, luckily didn’t have to use the brake assist. My bright red ride was very fun for a summer day in Halifax, exploring three neighbourhoods (one of which I don’t get to much — Dartmouth) as well as doing my usual business in downtown.

Explore the full photo gallery below!

 

 

What I ate at Dine by Design East Gala

Two weeks ago today, a day of crazy rain showers gave way to a wonderful evening of food, drink and design at the third annual Dine by Design East gala event.  This fundraiser for the NSCAD Amber Harkins Memorial Scholarship is part of the overarching Dine by Design East, a four-day long affair of fashion, design and fantastic food, presented by East Coast Living Magazine. Read more about the event and it’s backstory.  I also attended a cooking demo by Diandra Phipps, vegan chef and owner of Envie: A Vegan Kitchen, on the Saturday afternoon following the gala.

Entering the Olympic Community Centre, this year I was again struck by it’s transformation. Talented and imaginative local designers and architects completely (from scratch) built their spaces (a 10×10 booth), making the hall completely unrecognizable. Each designer or design team is paired with a local chef — I was lucky enough to be on the media tour, so we had early access to the food and drink. Strolling through with East Coast Living’s editor Janice Hudson, and a food-writing colleague of mine Lia Rinaldo, we had the luxury of sipping on the delicious welcome cocktail, chatting with the chefs and getting descriptions of what we were eating. Along with a bubbles bar, a cash bar featuring cocktails made byJeffrey Van Horne of Lot Six (plus local beer and nice wine), music, an upstairs art gallery and silent auction — the Dine by Design East Gala really nailed the atmosphere and offering. Plus the crowd was well-dressed, enthusiastic and really into the food. My kind of people! Here are a few food highlights:

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King oyster”scallops” with charred pepper clay, hana nori, presented on oyster half-shells. By Diandra Phipps with Envie.

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Soy confit duck with curry crumb, five spice BBQ, kimchi foam and fresh cilantro. By chef Luis Clavel.

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Brown sugar-cured salmon, pickled cherries, creme fraiche. By Field Guide. Their food had a theme of Rolling Stones songs.

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Beef brisket with deep-fried gnocchi, curds. By Kitchen Door Catering.

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Dennis Johnstone serving from a chunk of ice. His theme was “no waste”.

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Mascarpone filled local cherry tomatoes with crispy basil, balsamic drizzle. Scanway Catering & Stubborn Goat Gastropub.

Check out the full photo gallery below:

No meat? No problem.

This is the second post in a series I am doing as an official #SausageFestHFX blogger.

I have to admit, I was excited to find out I was covering EnVie: A Vegan Kitchen as part of my official Sausage Fest blogging duties. I’m a big fan of vegetarian and vegan food (when it’s delicious and creative) and it was a way to squeeze a healthy day into my week of sausages.

Today I stopped by for lunch at EnVie, and owner Diandra walked me through the special Sausage Fest creation they put together. I chose the kale caesar salad as my side, and when the plate arrived it was a very generous size for lunch. I couldn’t even finish it all.

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So what we’re looking at here is a white bean and lentil sausage on a toasted white bun from Local Source. The sausage is made with ground miso, smoked paprika, caramelized onions, garlic, balsamic and fresh thyme and sage. The binder (the reason it doesn’t require a casing like a meat sausage) is vital wheat gluten. The sausage is on a bed of crunchy romaine.

On top, there is a grainy dijon “aioli”, a beautiful sweet apple chutney finished with Garrison IPA and crunchy fried green onions. A huge sausage! I had to fork-n-knife it after the first couple bites because of the size. Great flavours and textures coming together here; I thoroughly enjoyed. Shamefully, this was my first visit to EnVie, and I’ll definitely be back. The kale caesar was so garlicky, creamy and delicious, and the coconut “bacon” added a great little twist on the salad.

Vegetarians and vegans rejoice — you, too, can enjoy Sausage Fest 2015!

Pete’s Goes Whole Hog

This is a first of a series of blog posts I’m doing as an official blogger for #SausageFestHFX.

To get more sausage in a shorter period of time, I decided to tag along on Local Tasting Tours Sausage Crawl today. From 2 to 4 PM we hit up four Sausage Fest participants, learning lots of interesting facts about the stores or restaurants, and Halifax, while doing so. Led by the lovely and well-informed Emily Forrest, we were a small but cheerful group today (be sure to sign up for a sausage crawl this week!). Along with two American cruise ship passengers (husband and wife Carolyn and Mike), this tasty walking tour took us to Pete’s Fine Foods on Dresden Row, Durty Nelly’s Authentic Irish PubThe Five Fish Grill, and Stubborn Goat Gastropub.

This post is going to cover our time spent at Pete’s. I learned so much about the British Butcher operation there from the very informative managers in charge, Peter and Alex. First, we were served delicious, pan-fried toulouse sausage on a bun — nothing fancy about this presentation. Two condiments were provided on the table: Dijon and truffle aioli. (Yes and yes.) Peter then gave a description of toulouse and how they make it.

Turns out this was toulouse made from a heritage breed of pig, Berkshire, being raised in our very own agricultural heaven, the Annapolis Valley region. Canaan Lands Pasture raises a very limited number of Berkshire pigs, and Pete’s has been buying half-pigs on a regular basis to craft delicious sausages and bacon. It turns out the farmer (Aaron Hiltz) at Canaan Lands is the son of Randy, who owns Ran-Cher Acres goat farm, who you may know from the Seaport Market and for the best goat’s milk products EVER. Their feta? The best. These Berkshire pigs’ diets are made up from 80% foraged food and 20% whey from the Ran-Cher Acres.

Toulouse sausage is a simple, homestyle sausage (originated in Toulouse, France), in this case made with pork marinated in red wine, fresh garlic, fresh thyme and salt and pepper. They also added some pancetta to give a slightly fattier, richer flavour. Fantastic. I really enjoyed this simple sausage on a bun, with truffle aioli.

Next we visited the British Butcher section, where Peter showed us half the pig’s head (to remind us where meat comes from); he also spoke a lot about trying to use the whole animal and how customers in Halifax are slowly becoming more comfortable with lesser-known cuts of meat. Alex then showed us the hand-cranked sausage maker they still use at this location. I didn’t realize just how much local meat was coming through the doors at Pete’s. Now I know. On the walk out of the store Emily and I gave a serious shout-out to THOSE OLIVES, the chupadelos, telling our American friends that they’re the best, most life-changing olives EVER.

More about the other Sausage Crawl stops tomorrow. To purchase your tickets for a Sausage Crawl this week, visit the Local Tasting Tours website.

Fun fact: Carolyn and Mike’s son, who lives in Atlanta, is in a pretty serious CCR cover band called Fauxgerty (sweet name). I promised to check them out, and they sound kind of awesome:

Shout out to Carolyn and Mike for exploring Halifax on foot and NOT simply loading into a tour bus for the day. (They only had one day in Halifax.) We wish more cruise ship passengers were like you!