Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Treat yourself to an evening of indulgence...

On Thursday, February 3, 2011, wine, cheese and chocolate lovers alike will gather for an evening of...well, decadence! Taking place the Westin Hotel from 6:30 to 9:30 pm, Decadence is one of the three upcoming events under the Savour food & wine Festival umbrella. This evening couldn't be more of a deal as tickets are only $49+HST!

The other cool thing about this event is that Savour partners with NSCC's to bring students from both the culinary and pastry arts program together to create the dishes. If only all 'studying' involved wine, cheese and chocolate!

The first hour of the evening begins by enjoying succulent pieces of cheeses, paired with different wines. Each cheese is then transformed into a beautiful dish or hors d'oeuvre, matching the paired wine yet again.

The last part of the evening pairs decadent chocolate with wines, port and dessert wines. Taste the chocolate in its raw form, paired with a wine yet again, then tasting the chocolate transformed into a luscious dessert.

I was pouring at one of the tables last year, and will be this year again...though I fully intend to sneak off at some point in order to sample some of the incredible treats, both savoury and sweet! One of the coolest parts of this event though, is finding out which wines compliment which cheeses, and vise versa - and doing it all over again with chocolate.

Just remember the golden rule at these types of events - pace yourself! Everything will look so amazing that you'll wanna eat everything in sight. Believe me - I know the menu! Anyhow, whether you prefer cheese or chocolate with your wine, this event has it all!

So what are you waiting for? Go on… you deserve it!
Ticket and hotel room packages are now available through the Westin Nova Scotian. Call 1-877-993-7846 and quote Decadence to book your room today. Only $179 plus taxes!

*Multiple ticket packages are available. Please contact 429-5343 ext. 1 for more information.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tasty lunch at Trendz Cafe & Wine Bar

There is one saving grace in the food wasteland that is Burnside Industrial Park, and that's Trendz Cafe & Wine Bar in the Best Western Hotel.

I went to lunch at Trendz recently and was pleasantly surprised at the resto itself as well as the food. This cool little spot has great decor and ambiance, and is one of the few hotel restos that has character. I'll definitely check this place out again soon - and not just because of the limited lunch options around the office!

Though I ordered the soup of the day and a Warm Spinach salad, I ended up feeling pretty full after the soup. Thick, and luscious this soup was just the thing to warm up a crispy, windy winter's day in the park.

Butternut Squash Bisque

After a couple bites of the salad, I had it boxed to go, and devoured it later in the day. This was a nice alternative to the traditional green salad, and had interesting elements like Belgian endive and fresh blueberries. Not usually one to go for dressing, (a good salad doesn't need dressing if the ingredients are of good quality... but that's jsut my opinion) I couldn't pass up the offer of a warm, apple cider vinaigrette.

Warm Spinach Salad
Spinach, orange segments, blueberries, chicken w/ a warm apple cider vinaigrette

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just like a 'home cooked meal' at Henry House

Last weekend, a friend and I were sharing some wine at my place when our tummies started to rumble. Since it's now officially winter in Halifax, we were not enthused to leave the apartment, let alone go very far. So we decided on Henry House, which is practically in my backyard.

Upon arriving in this warm, chatter-filled squaty resto, we found a minuscule piece of real estate on which to park ourselves - practically on top of our neighbouring male diners, but they didn't seem to mind.

As is often the case during the winter months, I was craving a warm bowl of soup, and my friend was in the mood for something spicy to heat things up. Cheese ended up running the show, and we both got exactly what we were looking for.

My friend ordered the tasty (and inexpensive at about $8+HST) chicken quesadilla. The tortilla came filled with cheese, chicken, tomatoes and onions and was served with some thick sour cream and a piquant salsa. On the side, a mixed greens salad with a zesty balsamic-based vinaigrette freshened things up.

Chicken Quesadilla

Mmmmmm, melty cheese, juicy chicken and crispy tortilla!

I ended up with a bowl of Henry House's French Onion Soup. I think melted, ooey gooey cheese just might be one of my favorite foods. The soup was warm and savoury; it filled the void that had taken up residence in my belly since lunchtime. Between the earthy broth, the melt-in-your mouth, soup soaked bread chunks and the lightly-broiled cheese cap, I was glad to have ventured out of my little nest, into the frigid cold and into this inviting home away from home.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Treats from Two If By Sea

A little while ago, my boss celebrated her birthday. If you follow me on Twitter, you might see my tweets describing staff birthday celebrations; Nacho Nacho Day, potato chip buffets, sundae bars, ice cream cakes, etc... If you haven't yet picked up on it, birthdays are a BIG deal in our office.

Anyhow, for this birthday, the bday girl was quite interested in trying out Two if By Sea, a bakery in Dartmouth that she had heard much about. Well, she had no idea what was in store for her! Some of us are well acquainted with this much-loved bakery's gigantor-sized buttery baked goods, but to have an assortment such as this enter our office space was slightly overwhelming!

To say that there were a few 'split-sy's' is an understatement. Generally though, I prefer to relish TIBS baked goods that way; I get one treat, my friend gets another and we trade halves! The process sorta worked in the office as well as we set out a big knife so the staff could slice and dice their way to flaky pastry heaven!

The spread for the whole office....
(aka, a million lbs. of butter)

Pain au Chocolat
(Chocolate Croissant)
OMG- I've been seduced by a baked good! Well, not really...but almost! A lovely balance of soft pastry and luscious chocolate makes this the ultimate treat (and likely the most sought after) at TIBS!

Almond Croissant
As much as I love a good pain au chocolat, I often find that they overshadow the sweet, light, heavenly goodness of the almond croissant. I tend to lean to this side of the croissant choice. Although I love chocolate, there's just something about this croissant's understated simplicity that draws me in.

The best Chocolate Chip Cookies ever!
Sigh...I wish I could get a hold of this cookie dough! I know I'm not alone either! These yummy cookies are the best in town; dense, chewy and with just the right amount of chocolate chips. They pass the bake test too, as the next day (clearly there were leftovers) they are just as good - not having submitted to the hockey puck consistency as so many other cookies often do.

The best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies ever!
I'm not normally a huge fan of oatmeal raisin, but these babies have the perfect balance of oatmeal, raisin, cinnamon and butter, making them rich, chewy and spicy-sweet!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sip 'n' Shuck, 2011

Last year, I went to an event sponsored by Taste of Nova Scotia and the Dept. of Aquaculture and Fisheries entitled Sip 'n' Shuck. I went to check out what was going on with Nova Scotian wines and seafood, and expected simply an evening of wine and seafood pairings focusing on oysters. Unfortunately...I didn't like oysters, and chose to leave earlier than I normally would for this type of an event.

This year, I've been invited back again, and I couldn't be more excited! Withing the past year, with help from one of my favorite oyster-loving gal pals, I have become quite the oyster lover myself! It's incredible to taste something at the epitome of its freshness; slightly salty, clean and luscious. I love the way that an oyster gently glides down your throat, tickling your taste buds on its way down. If you're really fortunate, you'll have the perfect accompanying wine to help wash it down. At this year's event, you can learn how to shuck an oyster and get wine pairing tips from a Sommelier.

Make sure to get your tickets for this year's event by calling Cassie Benjamin at the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia at 902.422.6234. You will be provided a receipt via email, and the pre-paid tickets can be picked up on site. The festivities will take place on Friday, January 28 at the Delta Halifax, and tickets are $35 per person.

Ph: 902-422-6234

Sip n Shuck Event details:
Nova Scotia Oyster, Mussel & Wine Tasting Night
Friday January 28, 2011, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Sip n’ Shuck - $35 per ticket
Delta Halifax, Baronets Ballroom

Presented by: Delta Halifax/Barrington, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, Winery Association of Nova Scotia, Mussel Industry Council, Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thai feed for New Year's Day!

And so, on New Year's Day, after a night of celebrations, the eating continued. The day started off pretty lazy, but later, I insisted on a nice long walk in the brisk evening air. I think I was in danger of slipping into a food coma at that point...

Earlier in the day, we ordered take-out from Talay Thai to munch on as we watched movies and relaxed on the sofa. One of my favorite take-out spots, Talay Thai never disappoints for fresh, well-packaged take out. And packaging is very important!!

We ordered a nice little selection of hot dishes. My fave is the spicy Thai Green Curry with coconut milk, but we also ordered delicious Cashew Chicken and some Thai comfort food; Pad Thai. Because I always feel the need for something green and fresh - especially with this meal to counteract all the sauces - we also ordered some Fresh Spring Rolls.

The Spread...

Fresh Spring Rolls
Accompanied by a sweet and savoury dipping sauce, these spring rolls had the crisp, fresh, unfooled-around with flavour and texture I was looking for. Simplicity at its best!

Vegetarian Green Curry
Yum! With a heat akin to wasabi, this dish was creamy and spicy. I like green curry so much as the heat seems to slowly creep up on you and permeate your mouth. The vegetarian option provides a good mix of both tofu and veggies - a nice alternative to meat.

Cashew Chicken
Cashew chicken is a luscious Thai dish. Though the sauce was slightly on the cloying side, the crisp vegetables and crunchy cashews provided another layer of texture. The sauce itself was a nice contrast to the creamy coconut milk-based curry sauce.

Pad Thai with Chicken

In essence, this is a pretty plain combo; noodles, green onions and bean sprouts. However, the yummy peanut sauce adds the zing that this dish requires to make it a meal. Tossed with chicken and sprinkled with peanuts, Pad Thai is remarkably filling and fills you up without making you feel weighed down.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Last New Year's Eve at Bish

Well, the new year has begun, and at Bish World Cuisine on the Halifax Waterfront, 2011 started with a big party. A farewell party, that is, as New Year's Eve marked Bish's last night of operation. I was fortunate enough to be on the ball when making New Year's Eve plans this year, and made a reservation at the beginning of November. I'll never forget NYE in Newfoundland, trying to get in to the city's best resto the day of. I succeeded, but it taught me the valuable lesson to plan ahead.

Well, this year was a different story. What a night, and what a party! By the time we arrived at 8:30 pm, the party was well past being in full swing. There wasn't a seat to be had, and I practically danced my way to my table to the beat of MJ's Billie Jean. Along with the great tunes - we also heard Destiny's Child and Pink to name a few - the buzz in the air was akin to the bubbles in champagne, as everyone knew that this was a special night; one not soon to be forgotten. The servers scurried around, not looking stressed, but with smiles on their faces as though they might actually be enjoying themselves...Imagine that!

As we had already indulged in the drink beforehand, and were planning on more after dinner, we split a btl. of the Nautilus Sauvingnon Blanc; a crisp, zesty white with tons of citrus. The wine's acidity was the perfect level to cut through the richness of our appetizers, yet also balance the hearty seafood entrees. Though not the best pairing to a steak (!), I'm fortunate enough that my dining companion is always willing to indulge me in whatever wine I'd prefer. ;)

Panko-Crusted Scallops in a
Cognac-Curry Cream Sauce

I thought that my appetizer was a bad omen as to how the night's dinner would play out. Thank goodness that I was dead wrong! I wanted to love this dish, and I was almost there, but the disappointing size of the scallops was less than thrilling and left much to be desired.

Panko-crusted, the scallops' flesh was tender. However, as the server had prepared me for "big scallops", I was immediately unimpressed. Thanks to Bish's variety bread basket with raisin, baguette and cornbread, I had several mechanisms to mop up (yeah, that's right - I mopped up sauce in a fine dining establishment) the sweet curry sauce.

Spinach Tortellini in a Marscapone Cream Sauce
w/ Prosciutto

Gotta admit, I had food envy for this one. Gorgeous, plump spinach-filled tortellinni were filled with a mix of cheese and spinach, and tossed in a slightly sweet and rich Marscapone cream sauce, accented by strips of salty prosciutto.

Herb-Crusted Sea Bass w/ Chorizo Ratatouille

A savoury tomato broth-based ratatouille of peppers and zucchini, embellished by chunks of spicy chorizo sausage was a beautiful, rustic bed for the hearty bass. The meaty fish's flavour was lightened when coated with a refreshing herb crust.

Filet Mignon, Mashed Potato & Red Wine Demi-Glaze
w/ 1/2 Lobster

This was a beautiful steak, cooked medium...and I prefer my steak rare! I even managed to get a few bites of the succulent lobster with the buttery crust. Although I have always thought of mashed potatoes as a waste of stomach space - I like my potatoes of the fried variety - Bish's were smooth, rich and creamy. When mixed with the decadent demi-glace, I reconsidered my aversion to the traditional side-dish.

Bish Peanut Brittle Sundae

For dessert, we chose the Bish Peanut Brittle Sundae; where a lovely combo of traditional sundae ingredients, vanilla ice cream and yummy fudge, was made gourmet by the addition of luscious chocolate mousse and sweet, yet salty house-made peanut brittle. A couple bites, and our sweet tooths were sated...or so I thought!

Specialty Coffee

After deciding "let's just stay here until midnight and keep drinking", we ordered some specialty coffees to perk us up. It's not very often that I indulge in a specialty coffee, but when it's an 'all out night', I see no need for restraint! The espresso certainly did its job as well.

Well, as we say farewell to Bish, renovations for the Bicycle Thief are well underway. The space has already been gutted, renovations are taking place and the new space is set to open on February 21st. Talk about a turn around!

I was saddened to hear of the loss of Bish for Halifax's dining scene. It was one of the few restaurants where I could count on being blown away just by the combo of simple, quality ingredients. There was no showing off in this restaurant, but the food always managed to make me emit some kind of delighted squeak when placed before me.

I have high hopes for the Bicycle Thief, and with Stephanie and Maurizio Bertossi's prior successes, I have no doubt that the Bicycle Thief will be the place to be in Halifax in 2011, and beyond!

Happy New Year! All the best for 2011!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I wanted to start off 2011 with my first post being my New Year's Eve dinner at Bish, on their last night of service. That was my original plan.

I believe that a blog is like an on-line journal - and this one - is generally used to showcase meals had in Halifax and beyond. I can't thank you, my readers, enough for checking in and following my opinionated ramblings about dining in this city. I also can't thank you enough for your patience when you checked in to see so few posts this fall.

This was a challenging couple of months; a roller coaster of amazing ups, but also some desperate downs. With two tragic losses of loved ones, my focus was pulled away from writing and put into comforting myself and my grieving family. The irony here is that I've always considered blogging to be therapeutic, yet during the time that I needed it most, I couldn't find the strength to sit in front of a computer.

But...time heals all wounds, and one should never underestimate the power of comfort food. ;) So here I am again, sitting in front of my computer, preparing shots of several great meals shared over the holidays.

Once again, thank you!
Best wishes for a
happy, healthy, food-filled 2011!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

Just after my Valentines Day blog post, I was contacted with a request for the Butternut Squash recipe.

As often occurs in my kitchen, it was a kind of 'cook-as-you-go' meal, but I do remember the method, and I think I've managed to remember the ingredient quantities. If this doesn't work, don't blame me...but the ingredients themselves are so good that I'm sure you'll figure out some way to make it work!

Serves 6, generously


2 lbs butternut squash cooked and purred
1 small chicken, meat removed and shredded
1/2 block of cream cheese (4 oz.)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 pkg. wonton wrappers
S&P to taste
Shredded Parmesan cheese to garnish
Chopped walnuts, optional

1/2 c. butter
1 lemon


Puree squash, cream cheese, spices and S&P until just smooth. Add shredded chicken. Moisten wonton wrapper on two edges. Place a tsp. of filling to one side and fold over.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the ravioli about 3 minutes until they float to the top.

Melt butter in a medium skillet and add sage leaves. Cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove butter from heat, and add the juice of 1 lemon. Season with S&P.

Place the raviolis on a platter and pour the butter sauce on top. Sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and shredded Parmesan cheese

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Nova Scotia's own IRON CHEF competition!


the Second Annual
Culinary Competition 2011
Sunday March 6th, NSCC Akerley Campus

Last year it was a close battle as 4 teams battled it out in the “TURNIP SHOWDOWN”. What will be the secret ingredient this year?

Join chefs Michael Howell (Tempest), Renee Lavallee (Feisty Chef, Chronicle Herald), Jason Lynch (Le Caveau), Kim Stacey (Emma’s Eatery), and Craig Flinn (Chives) as we head up 5 teams to create a 3-course luncheon menu using local Nova Scotia products.

Participate as a cook or a tasting judge ($15 per member, $20 per guest)
Cash or check only please

Cooks assemble at 12:30 pm at Akerley’s dining room for instructions and unveiling of the secret ingredient...rules will be addressed at this time. Tasting judges will meet at the dining room at 3:00 to begin tasting at 3:30.

Unlike last year, judges will NOT be permitted to watch the cooks prepare the meal due to special considerations in the kitchens as well as secrecy of the teams dishes.

Please note that volunteers are needed to help with the cleanup since NSCC is kindly letting us use their space.

Contact Slow Food Nova Scotia to sign up!