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?

 

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.

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!

 

 

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!

Caribbean Bliss brings the heat

On my last day at TD Halifax Jazz Fest, I was treated to a generous feed from Caribbean Bliss. Although the best-selling stewed oxtail was already sold out, they were super excited for me to try a variety of items from the menu they were serving out of their food stall, including: veggie Jamaican patty, chicken curry, jerk chicken, mango punch and coconut cream pie.

The Jamaican veggie patty, which they make from scratch, was filled with peas, corn, curried potato and spinach, all enclosed in a flaky pastry shell. I really enjoyed the chicken curry, mild yet very flavourful with just a touch of background heat after a few bites; the meat just fell from the bone. The sauce was vibrant in colour, with lots of it, and was accompanied by rice and peas.

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It was the jerk chicken that really impressed me; when I opened the container it was covered in a deep brown sauce with a reddish hue. It just looked spicy. When I dug in with my fork there was the most tender chicken underneath, no knife needed. I’m not privy to their recipe, but I can only guess that they use a stewing or braising method for this, it’s that fall-off-the-bone. I started to sweat while I ate it, the satisfying kind of heat, from the jerk spice, that slowly raises your body temperature. All of these dishes were perfectly complemented by the refreshing mango punch. I had to take the coconut cream pie home with me, because of my ambitious attempt at eating everything else I was given, but when I did try it, it tasted every bit as home made as I’d expected.

Everything from Caribbean Bliss was so obviously made with care, from scratch, with distinct, vibrant flavours. I’m definitely going back their location on Novalea Drive to get the oxtail.

Big Brass and Dumplings

My third TD Halifax Jazz Fest “feed,” as I like to call them, was a big ol’ plate of Chinese food from Cheelin’s booth. Cheelin Restaurant is well-known in Halifax for their lunch specials and Friday buffet, which is frequented by many people who work downtown. They’ve been open in the historic brewery building on Lower Water Street for over 20 years, where owner Fanny Chen serves up Szechuan and Beijing style Chinese food. They also have a stall, Cheelin Express, at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market.

I was served a heaping plate of a few of the offerings: pork dumplings, mixed vegetable stir-fry with beef, vegetable spring roll with crunchy cabbage and glass noodles, and chow mien noodles. I just love handmade Chinese dumplings like these…

SORRY! This is just a teaser. The full post and photos can be found at TD Halifax Jazz Fest Blog!

Pizza, Wine and Jazz

There’s something so nice about strolling into the main stage area at TD Halifax Jazz Festival during the day. Especially when it’s sunny. There’s a mix of locals and tourists, everyone is eating or drinking, enjoying some chill, free jazz music, and it’s all right on the waterfront. There’s lots of places to sit. So yesterday I grabbed a slice of pizza from Bramoso, a glass of wine from the bar and took it all in for a little while.

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If you’re not familiar with Bramoso Pizza, their eat-in restaurant and takeout counter is located on Quinpool Road, in the same strip mall as the NSLC. When you walk in, though, it’s quite charming and there’s a real brick pizza oven, churning out creative pizzas that feature local ingredients

SORRY. This post is just a teaser. For the full post and photos, head on over to the TD Halifax Jazz Fest blog.

Tasty food truck action at Jazz Fest

Today I kicked off my official food blogging gig for the TD Halifax Jazz Festival. Not a bad assignment, given they’ve got food trucks and stalls onsite serving up everything from Caribbean oxtail curry to pizza to made-from-scratch egg rolls. Not to mention a beer tent serving Bulwark Cider (my favourite), wines and Garrison Brewing beer on tap. I’m a food blogger, not a music blogger, but anyone that lives in Halifax knows this festival brings in some major talent and incredible shows on not just the main stage, but venues throughout the city. So yeah, I’m pretty happy with the situation.

Good news for locals and tourists – the food trucks are not just for ticket holders. The festival is open to the public with free admission throughout the daytime hours on the waterfront at the Main Stage (Lower Water and Salter). This means anyone can come in and enjoy food from the vendors.

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Day One  – I met the lovely Chelsea Lund, owner and operator of Roll With It, a shiny black food truck with a charming hand-written chalk menu. Although the name of the truck makes sense, the menu was not what I was expecting. Roll With It does, in fact, make a weekly rotating feature: a from-scratch, original egg roll. Judging from their Instagram account (rollwithitHFX) they’ve done some pretty unique egg rolls. On top of the rolls, they’ve got burgers, panko-crusted fish and chips (or have it as a taco), poutine, and fresh cut fries.

SORRY. This post is just a teaser! For the full post and more photos, you’re going to the TD Halifax Jazz Fest blog.

Check back tomorrow for Day Two!