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!

Travel Review: MTL’s historic Dominion Square Tavern

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Inside the scotch egg, with “Swedish” sauce.

After a short 13-hour drive (with only one stop for gas, and the best road trip snacks ever) we arrived in Montreal from Halifax, for an IKEA run. We had left before the sun came up and made very good time. The first nice spring weather we’d seen (having come from Halifax, in early May) got us excited; so immediately after checking into the Sheraton Centre-ville, we walked a couple blocks to Crescent Street for beverages on a patio.

Cocktails - Tom Collins, Basil & Rye

Cocktails – Tom Collins, Basil & Rye

The highlight meal of our very short Quebec adventure was dinner at the Dominion Square Tavern later than night. Having been a restaurant or lounge in one way or another since 1927, this historic establishment in the heart of downtown was on our list for a while. Favouring the sharing plates format, we opted to order a silly amount of appetizers between the two of us and asked that they come out staggered. We tried a lot of different dishes, some fantastic wine, and left very happy. Also, the cocktails we started with were expertly prepared and super refreshing.

Pate de campagne (rustic pork terrine)

Pate de campagne (rustic pork terrine)

A couple favourites during dinner were the country pȃté (made with pork), served with dressed greens and homemade crostini, as well as their impeccably executed scotch egg. The smoked trout salad with curry oil was the perfect spring dish, and a great way to start off our meal.

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smoked trout

homemade nutmeg donuts with sour cream

homemade nutmeg donuts with sour cream

We even pushed ourselves to order dessert, and I genuinely enjoyed the freshly made nutmeg donuts (and donut holes) with sour cream. The tartness of the sour cream made this dish for me — a dessert I would actually come back for!

Classified as a gastropub, the Dominion Square Tavern has a lot to offer. The interior pays homage to their lengthy history, achieving a classy, not hipster, vibe, the service was more than personable, and the high-level English-inspired comfort food menu  brings it all together. On top of that, with the wine list and cocktails…  I like everything about this place. Thank you MTL for another fantastic visit — even if it was too short.