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!

 

 

Lunch at EDNA, compliments of Ford

EDNA, located in the north end

EDNA, located in the north end

Last week I was invited to attend a Ford media event, at EDNA, where we would hear about the company’s sustainability efforts and the technologies that are making their vehicles “fuel-economy leaders,” including the all-electric Focus. The event started with a presentation by Dr. Ellen Lee, the lead in plastics research for Ford, with some quick slides near the front of the restaurant. One thing that did impress me during the talk by Dr. Lee was the amount of post-consumer material (recycled plastic bottles, scrap cotton from jeans) that Ford is now using to design the interiors of their vehicles.

We then settled into one large communal table for an impressive four-course lunch, inspired by some of the sustainable materials that the automotive giant is now using inside their vehicles (think corn, soy, rice, etc).

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tortilla salad – roasted sweet potato, edamame, black beans, tomato, sweet corn, greens, cilantro, house made corn chips, citrus vinaigrette

First course was a lovely tortilla salad; small enough, light enough and playful enough with textures to serve as the perfect amuse bouche.

We had choice for the next three courses, and I opted for the seafood on both second and third offerings. A meaty grilled octopus dish with a soy Szechuan glaze was up next. Again, the chef had fun with the mouth feel of the dish, throwing in some popcorn. I enjoyed the octopus itself very much, as I love the dense texture and flavour, and it was grilled nicely, but wished the glaze lived up to its Szechuan title a bit more and offered real heat.

grilled octopus, soy Szechuan glaze, coconut rice, pineapple, scallion, Speerville popcorn

grilled octopus, soy Szechuan glaze, coconut rice, pineapple, scallion, Speerville popcorn

I was very excited to see seared tuna on the menu, because it’s just not that common in Halifax. My third course was a hook-and-line caught albacore tuna, nicely presented in a shallow pool of soy and dashi broth with soba noodles, enoki mushrooms, and a luscious parsnip puree. The puree was exceptionally creamy and offered sweetness, which was contrasted by the umami flavours of the noodles and broth. The tuna could have been more rare, for my taste, but to be fair, I wasn’t asked and didn’t put in a request.

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seared hook-and-line caught albacore tuna

Did I mention during this entire lunch, the Blomidon Tidal Bay was free-flowing? Also, we were greeted at the door with Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 upon our arrival. Ford really knows how to spoil the media (a nod to the amazing PR and marketing professionals they work with at the local branch of agency NATIONAL on these events).

coconut cream tart

coconut cream tart

At this point I was reaching my limit, as I normally eat one course for lunch, not four.  Still, I somehow found room for coffee and a couple bites of my dessert, a coconut cream tart. Although the sweet course is not usually my thing, this tart blew my mind, as it arrived on a perfectly executed melt-in-your-mouth, buttery shortbread crust. A really nice finish to a fantastic lunch, and all in great company, may I add (thanks Kate Watson and Jody Euloth for making our end of the table fun). Thank you to Ford and NATIONAL! I’m definitely heading back to EDNA soon for a long and leisurely dinner.