Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the buzz: Nov 29

Big news this week. Well, big in my world anyway.

First up, if you didn't pick up a copy of last week's Coast or didn't check it out online, you totally missed seeing my mug in there! A few weeks ago Allison, the Food and Drink editor at the Coast, asked a few local bloggers their take on the food scene in Hali including our pics for best restaurant of 2012. And wouldn't you know it my top pick was also famed Coast writer Melissa B's fav too. Oh snap. Ace Burger Co right there on the cover. If you  have yet to try one of Ace's sick (as in awesome) burgers, now's the time. We can't all be wrong. GET SOME. For real. I may actually be heading there in a few hours to get my fix.

Also, this week, some food bloggers and I were invited to the Taste of Nova Scotia Prestige Awards Luncheon. Lord knows how I get on these guest lists, but damn, keep em comin! I gotta say, the Taste of NS event was incredible. Not only did we munch on some tasty lunch boxes from Jane's Next Door, but we were apart of something bigger, something magical. There's no way I could convey in words the feeling in the room; that incredible love and pride in NS, the passion of our chefs and producers, the sense that we are shaping our own food culture. I felt all warm and fuzzy and I admit at times I was almost a little teary. But for that I need to thank Doug Townsend, Marketing guru at Taste, for the incredible videos he produced, perfectly capturing the passion of each and every winner in a few short minutes. The videos are now up on YouTube so get those tissues and be prepared to love your province like never before. But without further ado, it is with mad local love that I give you this year's Taste of NS Prestige Awards winners:
  • Essence of NS Restaurant of the Year - Trellis Cafe (Hubbards)
  • Chef Inspired Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year - Wild Caraway (Advocate Harbour)
  • Chef Inspired Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year - Le Caveau (Grand Pre)
  • Innovative Product of the Year - Ironworks Pear Eau de Vie (Lunenburg)
  • Producer of the Year - Fox Hill Cheese House (Port Williams)
  • Server of the Year - Andrea Davidson (Fleur de Sel, Lunenberg)
  • Consumer Choice Product of the Year - Eel Lake Oysters (Ste Anne du Ruisseau)
  • Culinary Ambassador of the Year - Chef Craig Flinn (Chives Bistro)
In other restaurant news, a few openings and closings to note. Apparently, the newest Chickenburger location on Queen St is closing to make way for development. Seems like a whole lotta money went into building that location to simply close mere months later. But word is the Chickenburger will have a new home in the new development, whatever that may be More exciting, however, is word of a Cantonese bakery opening downtown. Now, while I cant say I've ever been to a Cantonese bakery, or any Asian bakery for that matter, I'm certainly stoked for something different. But if they have steamed buns, I'm there.

Lastly this week, is the news over at Food Bloggers of Canada. One very exciting piece is FBC's new Restaurant Roundup feature, a monthly column of the 'bests' from bloggers all over the country. This month was all about the best ramen. You really gotta check out these pics. While you will see my contribution next month, I unfortunately was unable to get into Truly Tasty, the one and only ramen joint in Hali, before the deadline. Ramen, I'm still comin for ya.

And just a reminder for you Xmas shoppers, the Halifax Crafters Holiday Market is this weekend at the Olympic Center on Cunard. I can't even begin to list all the awesome gift ideas you'll find. Last year I scored big so you might as well check it out and keep that money right here in NS. What have you got to lose?

Until next week...keep on eatin on.

cheesetastic

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by Castello Cheese and asked to review a new line of their cheeses, The Bavarian Alps Collection. This was a first for me but when someone offers to give you free cheese, you say yes right?! So last week a few gift certificates arrived and I was off in search of some cheese. However, it seemed our local Superstore had only two of the four Alps varieties but that was the perfect amount for my charcuterie board for that night's party. That's right friends, you were all in on the product testing!

According to the website, the new line is "made from cows that live a life of privilege, grazing on Alpine grasses and herbs high up in the mountains during summer. Come fall, they are paraded back to warm homes and milked with care in a centuries-old tradition. Time-honoured recipes turn their distinctive, herb-infused milk into delicious cheeses that will transport you and everyone you share them with to a Bavarian mountain high." Sounds pretty amazing to me, especially for those cows. And it turns out that both cheeses were pretty darn amazing. And I'm not just saying that.

The Hirten was a harder, crumbly cheese, think parmesan, that is aged for nine months. With wonderful hints of caramel, it was rich and flavorful. Like party in my mouth flavorful. It was remarkably similar to Old Grolwer, a local aged gouda from That Dutchman's Farm. In fact, it was so much like the Old Growler that I would probably lose in a blind taste test of the two. Since I'm a huge Old Growler fan, two thumbs up over here for the Hirten.

The Weissbeir, more of a semi soft cheese, was much milder but creamy, buttery, and slightly nutty. Apparently the cheese is washed with Weissber beer from the oldest brewery in Germany three times a week during its 10-12 week ripening. Yum. I don't think I tasted much of the beer notes but just the thought of beer soaked cheese has me salivating.

Now, because I was in a mad rush to prep for the party, I didn't get a chance to snap a pic. But, luckily, enough cheese was salvaged from that wine-fuelled night that I could make these bad boys:

Mushroom Bruschetta with Hirten and Arugula



Mini Grillers with Local Honey Crisp Apple, Onion Jam, and Weissbeir


One word. Cheesetastic. I know this was a product review for marketing purposes but I'm pretty sure I'm the one that benefited most from this deal. So big thanks Castello. Anytime you need more cheese testers, I'm your gal.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

the buzz: Nov 20

So my life has quickly gone from 0-60 in a few short weeks. After completing the Self Employment Benefits program at CEED, I started doing cooking class a la Superstore as a second source of income. Well, now I find myself running from work to class and back again. But no complaints here. I'm thrilled to be spreading the love of real food and am especially excited to be getting our kids cooking. My six week program with high school students is going so well that it's more fun than work. Seriously. And next week I begin a four week program for students interested in doing a co-op in a local restaurant or hotel. Even if I ignite the passion in one student, I've achieved my goal. But honestly as long as they have fun, I'm happy.

Now on to the reason I started this post, the weekly buzz. First up, Food Bloggers of Canada as always have some great contests running although many are for members only. If you have a food blog and have yet to sign up, get on over there and do your thing. It's not only free to sign up, but it puts you in touch with a whole world of fellow bloggers, gives you access to information on photography and other blog related content, and, like I said, includes a ton of contests. And this lady likes her contests. Mostly cuz I win. Ask Lia, apparently my mojo can rub off!
 
In local news, last week the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia handed out some industry awards at their Restaurant Awards Dinner. Many were some of my favs so without further delay, the winners are...
And be sure to pick up this week's Coast out Thursday. I have a funny feeling I know it's cover story and perhaps a few contributors. ;)

Alright, so I know it's only November but the city is already alive with the Christmas spirit. I'm a firm believer in at least waiting til December 1st but I totally understand the desire to get that shopping done early, especially if it means avoiding the dreaded mall line-ups. But last year, I avoided the malls altogether and went all local on my shopping, opting to keep my money right here in NS instead of giving it to the Walmarts of the world. This year I'll once again be kickin it local and I invite you to do the same. I could go on and on about the importance of shopping locally but honestly, it's simple. When you shop local, you help your local economy grow by keeping small businesses alive. Period. And who runs small businesses? Well, regular folk like you and I. Think of the impact on our local economy if we all simply shifted just 10% of our spending to local biz. If that isn't enough to convince you, head on over to The Coast and sign their Buy Local Pledge. Spend 100 bucks at local, independent businesses this season and be entered for a chance to win one of 6 $500 shopping sprees. Booyah. But I'll make it even easier. Below is a list of awesome local businesses that would rock any wish list, many of which I shopped at last year.

Sugah - chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!
Carbonstok - Lost Cod t's plus a whole store full of cool shit
Inkwell Boutique - hand made cards, letter press and super cool prints
Taz and Obselete Records - vinyl is totally making a come back people
Biscuit General Store- cool clothes, cool stuff, it's where the cool kids shop
J&R Grimsmo - great fashions for the ladies
P`lovers - for the eco-conscious on your list
Bishop`s Cellar - wine. Nuff said. (But may I suggest a NS wine)
Cucina Moderna - for all your houseware needs  (be warned, this place is addictive)
Nurtured - for the wee ones or the expecting mamma
Any of our Farmers Markets - all local, all the time

You'll also wanna hit up the Halifax Crafters Society's Holiday Market Dec 1-2 at the Olympic Centre. Think art, pottery, jewelry, leather, woodwork, handmade chocolates, and clothes all in one place. Last year I scored big. Plus, ain't nuthin better than a gift certificate to any one of our incredible locally owned restaurants or cafes. The ilovelocal site is a great place to start. (And be sure to follow the #shift10 conversation on twitter for more ways you can shift 10% of your spending to local biz.) Lastly, if after all that you still need some ideas, the lovely Drew and Gillian of the Local Traveler NS blog are also compiling their own local wish list complete with pics.You can thank me later for pretty much doing all your holiday shopping for you. I accept all food and wine related payments.

And while I bet there`s loads more news and probably a whole slew of food events that suddenly popped up, this gal is tired. Nuthin like a lil stomach bug to set you straight. So, take care of yourselves people and, like always, eat up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the buzz: Nov 13

Damn time flies. Back at it again.

As always, a bit of news over at Food Bloggers of Canada. They generally have some sweet contests on the go so it's totally worth checkin out. Plus, the new Eat In Eat Out mag is out and, if you have no idea what I'm taking about, all the more reason to click that link. Nuthin but food , food, and more food.

Alright, let's rock the local news. First up, last week I mentioned I was off to the Grand Opening of Tempo Food + Drink, the new restaurant in the Delta Barrington. While I was too busy gettin' my chat on to try many of the tasty eats (and I think we were sitting at the end of the line if ya know what I mean), what I did taste was pretty awesome. Deep fried artichokes? Shit yeah. The buzz so far has been great but it certainly helps that they have quite the social media savvy lady on their staff. (She's actually shorter than I. Apparently that's possible!) Plus, I can't help but love that there's a young women, and a Newfie to boot, at the helm, Chef Leslie Ann Hull. OK, she may also have personally served up bacon cupcakes. Sold. I also just checked out the menu. Waffle sandwich? This Little Piggy? Touche Tempo, touche. Consider yourself on the 'list'.

Speaking of lists, there seems to be a constant supply of restaurants coming and going. Last week we heard of Ela closing, now there's word Robie Food, a longtime fixture in the Chinese food scene, has closed up for good. But don't fret, more restos are on the way with the Hali Deli on Agricola opening Thursday and a new pub, The Hideaway Bar & Grill, to open soon over on Clyde. But don't let me fill you in. Head on over to Shoptalk at The Coast to get the scoop.

Across the harbour, the news gets better. Anchored Coffee, the coffee roastery brainchild of Zane at Two If By Sea (for which he received a woppin $100G BDC award), finally revealed their location. Drumroll please...none other than right next door to the cafe. I can't imagine a better location. After the move back to the D Side, I find myself at TIBS more and more and I am stoked for the day Anchored Coffee cranks up that roaster, filling the hood with the intoxicating aroma of roasting coffee. The reasons to love Dartmouth just keep growing.

Want another reason? Yours truly is thrilled to announce that I'll be joining the Wooden Monkey team at their new Dartmouth location in the old MacAskills space in Alderney Landing. I love everything about the Monkey and now get to share that love with everyone. Look out Dartmouth, I'm comin' atcha! Oh, did I forget to mention I'll be serving?

Lastly, if you're at all tuned into the local social media scene these days, you've probably seen posts/tweets about the Aviva Community Fund. While I won't get into the nitty gritty, essentially the public votes on ideas to better their communities. The more votes, the better the chance of getting to the final round and the better chance of getting the idea completely funded. Folks in the North End are trying hard to establish the Community Carrot Co-op to make affordable, healthy food accessible to their community. Back in the day when Gottingen was the place to be, buying groceries was never an issue. Now residents, many low income, are left with no options but overpriced corner store food, much of which is processed, or a cab ride to the nearest grocery store. Check out a recent article in the Chronicle Herald then do your part by getting your vote on. One click a day could literally change the lives of families and individuals in the North End. Feels good don't it.

And there you have it, your weekly buzz. Read up, eat up.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

the buzz: Nov 6

Back at it again with your weekly news.

First up, some news over at Food Bloggers of Canada. I know much of the news can sometimes center around other parts of Canada but I would really love to have some food blogger workshops and events right here in NS. I was attempting to plan such a meet-up months ago but life got busy. Real busy. Despite my crazy schedule, I hope to get back in the game and continue the planning for the first ever Atlantic Food Bloggers Meet-Up. So, if you're interested, feel free to leave a comment or contact me via email/fb/twitter. Let's do this! And, in fact, this past Sunday some foodie folks and I had our first foodie tweetup. Now I'm not entirely sure what one does at a tweetup but to me it's all about bringing your twitter connections to life. Meeting folks in person to chat about those mutual interests that brought you together on twitter in the first place. Right? Well, regardless, five other food loving folks and I ate some yummy brunch and talked food, food, food. Best conversation ever. We plan to continue the foodie tweetups so if you want in on the action, either follow my food obsessed tweets @kathyjollimore or check back here or on my fb page.

Alright, on to some more tasty news. Today, the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia released the top three nominations in several categories for their 2012 Restaurant Awards. While many of my favs including Morris East and Chives made the short list, I'll let you check out all the nominees on their fb page. Winners will be announced at their Restaurant Awards Dinner Nov 15 at Casino NS. Somehow tickets are still available so get 'em while you can.

Sadly, it was announced today that a fixture in the Halifax Greek restaurant scene Ela, formerly known as Opa, is closing their Argyle St. location after twelve years in the biz. I don't yet know much about the reasons but you can still enjoy their eats at their Dartmouth Crossing and Bayers Lake locations. It is thoroughly disappointing that yet another business is closing downtown. Hopefully there's a silver lining in this cloud with the opportunity for a new business to take over the space and enliven our downtown. Speaking of enriching our downtown, Tempo Food + Drink, a new restaurant in the Delta Barrington has recently opened. I'm actually headed to their Grand Opening tonight so I better make this quick!

If you haven't heard, Easter Seals NS has a pretty sweet-if you're addicted to all things food like me-fundraising on the go with their Out & About Lottery. There's only one grand prize but it includes, among other things, 52 NS dining experiences for 4 people. 52!!!!! My luck better be on my side with this one! Of course, there`s also that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from helping Easter Seals help children and adults with disabilities live happy and fulfilled lives.

Lastly, the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission in the North End, a drop-in centre that offers assistance to Halifax`s homeless, is looking for chefs and volunteers to assist with their holiday dinner this December. If you have some spare time, can donate some food, or help cook up a big scran for the homeless, check out their fb page and get involved. If all goes to plan, I`ll see you there. It`s probably the best Christmas gift I will give this year.

Until next week...Eat Up.


Monday, November 5, 2012

farewell Coastal At Night

While I'll admit this post is weeks late, it is with great sadness that I write that Coastal At Night is no more. The brainchild of Graeme Ruppel, formerly of Brooklyn Warehouse and Getaway Meat Mongers, Coastal at Night was a sort of pop up dinner joint taking over the Coastal Cafe kitchen each weekend. Guests were offered locally inspired set course menus and a small a la carte. What's even sadder is that we, despite living mere minutes away, not once took advantage of the incredible menus ($35-$45 for a five course menu is a sweet deal!). Instead we stopped by on their very last night to sample some items from the a la carte menu. Well, one item to be specific, the famed chicken n' waffles. After seeing it grace the cover of The Coast, I longed for it to be mine. Apparently it took the restaurant closing to get me in there. Shame on me.

a la carte
To our surprise, the place wasn't packed although they did sell out of chicken n' waffles. We started the meal with an IPA and the polenta appy, a course on that week's Organic Menu in honor of organic week. Featuring roasted local sweet peppers, a crispy yet meltingly soft polenta cake and some shaved That Dutchman's Old Growler, this dish was awesome. I'm still learning to love polenta and, if it always tasted like this, I'd be all over the cornmeal. Then came the moment we'd been waiting for. And let me tell you, me and that chicken, we had a moment. The first bite-eyes closed-heart warming-mind blown kinda moment. The chicken was so crispy and juicy and seasoned so perfectly that I'd even go so far as to say it was some of the best fried chicken I've ever had. On it's own, the chicken could have easily satisfied my craving but it was all made exponentially better by the perfectly crunchy exterior and soft interior of the waffle all drizzled in sweet maple syrup and crisp julienned apples. And did I forget to mention the apple butter? Oh, the apple butter. Sweet and buttery and fruity. It added a whole world more flavor and I ate every last buttery bite. That's right. Me and butter? We tight.


I left Coastal at Night so extremely satisfied but saddened by the realization that this would be my first and last meal at the hands of Chef Graeme. It was apparent in every locally sourced ingredient, in the artful yet simple plating, in the perfect execution that this guy has mad love for food. How unfortunate that our city, and I'll include my self, didn't embrace such passion. I won't begin to offer an explanation as to why so I'll simply continue to hold out hope for a Coastal at Night revival or, at the very least, a Chicken n' Waffle Pop-Up (wink wink nudge nudge).

Coastal@Night on Urbanspoon