Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Big Day Downtown: The Series

Two summers ago, I was invited by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission to participate in their newest initiative, 'Big Day Downtown', which served to highlight business in Halifax's downtown core.  The premise of the campain was to give 30 bloggers in Halifax $100 to spend in downtown Halifax.  We filmed my BDDT and here is how I spent it:

Then, in the summer of 2011, I was asked again to participate - this time, the tag line of the BDDT campaign was 'Try Something New', and so I did.  You can check that experience out here.

Find out what's happening in Downtown Halifax. Discover hidden gems or rediscover old favourites. This series explores food, music, events, fashion, art, culture, entertainment, issues, good causes and cool products and services.

The inagural episode, of course, is all about food!   In  this episode, we travel to Morris St. to visit Morris East, a wood-fire grilled pizza place with tons of personality an great food!  I chat with owner Jenni Dobbs and Head Chef, Lauren Marshall, AND, I get to try one of their incredible pizzas!  Next, I travel to Bistro Le Coq, on Argyle St. so sample some french fare.  This is a lovely resto, full of charm, and cream...and butter!  I'll with Chef de Cuisine, Ashley Davis  and get to try Le Coq's incredible Poulet Roti.  Bon appetit!

Get your city fix with Big Day Downtown: The Series on EastLink TV. EastLink Magazipremieres on EastLink TV Sundays at 7:00 pm and is also available in HD on EastLink OnDemand.

Check the full schedule:

Also, check out Big Day Downtown: The Series on the Facebook page, LinkedIn and on Twitter!

We’ve also linked the episode to Facebook:


For Tweeting:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hart & Thistle - TeamBuy's new deal!

I’m super excited to write this post as a first-time TeamGal!  I’ve been recruited to write and do reviews of various restos, cafes, etc. in Halifax and then report the experience as the TeamBuy deal goes live.

The Hart & Thistle on Halifax’s waterfront is a favorite spot of mine during the summer, when I can sip one of their micro beers on the sun-drenched patio.  I’ve even done some writing there from time to time – with beer in hand, of course.

This time, it’s 4:00 pm on a Saturday and there are only a few people inside.  It’s really nice though; a bright, comfortable spot to get some work done as I wait for my company.  The piano player seems to have a fondness for Elton John – which is fine by me.

I ask to order a micro-brew and the server describes the two current brews; Mad Man – at 7% alcohol, an IPA and Rocket Man – at 8%, a double IPA.  Appropriate, given the tunes!  I taste them both and decide I’m partial to the Mad Man; it’s a bit more zippy than the other, and with nothing yet in my stomach, I’m wise not to start on a 8% brew!

When my bf arrives, he orders a Muddled Cucumber ($6.09) and the Calamari immediately; panko crusted, it's served with tomato jam and sweet chili mayo.  Served on a slate tile, the pile of squid is tender and the batter, crisp.  We gobble them up quickly, piling each bite with the sweet mayo and yummy tomato jam.

As the server clears our plates, I order a pint of Stella Artois, while Mitch gets a Keith's.  We put in our orders for the 2-piece Maritime Fish n' Chips ($12) and an 8 oz. NY Striploin ($18).   

The lightly battered haddock is tasty; it's crisp and not too greasy.  Served with PEI russet fries and a house-made tartar sauce, I managed to eat one whole piece and then pick the batter off the other.  The quality of fish is excellent and the tartar sauce is delish.  

Mitch's steak is served with frizzled onions, vegetables of the day and horseradish potatoes. The steak is great - full of flavour.  The vegetables are the highlight of this dish for me though; they're al dente, so the carrots, cauliflower, asparagus and green beans still have a slight crunch.  The horseradish potatoes are OK - we think that they're not that fresh.

Believe it or not, after all that, we're still able to consume, so we decide on the dessert sampler platter ($15).  Another tile appears with a selection of the Hart & Thistle's desserts; a piece of bread pudding, a chocolate brownie in a pool of caramel sauce and a lovely oval-shaped disk of chocolate pate.  In the center, there's a small bowl of vanilla bean ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream with fruit.  This is a bad idea...but oh, so good!  I normally go for salty over sweet, but having had my fare share of salt tonight, this is a lovely change.  The brownie is dense and chewy, the bread pudding has a subtle caramel flavour and the chocolate pate tastes like the centre of a Lindt truffle.

We practically roll out of the restaurant, but it was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.  I love the Hart & Thistle on a hot summer's day, but now I love it on a cold winter's night as well!  

Make sure to check out today's TeamBuy: $35 of food for $17!  Click on the following link to see today's deal! 

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Birthday Dinner at Morris East

I love birthdays.  I enjoy buying presents for people and wrapping them up into beautiful parcels to present to them on their special day.  I (obviously) also relish the dining aspect of birthdays; whether it's a simple cake or an elaborate 5-course meal, I love the celebration that's involved and making the Bday boy/girl feel special.

And I love it when it's MY birthday!  I'm one of those people whose birthday falls right on the cusp of the Christmas season.  That's right - my bday falls within the 12 days of Christmas, on January 5th.  When I was younger, I always guilt-tripped my parents into a really good birthday present.  Of course, I did offer the obligatory, "thanks mom for your 9 months of incubation, labour and putting up with me during my teens", but I also got away with making my birthday last a whole week instead of just one day.

I've since met a little bird who makes her Bday last a whole month - but that's another story all together!  This broad did help me celebrate one of my birthday days, as did my colleagues, and then my boyfriend's colleagues... 4 birthday cakes/desserts in all!  Needless to say, I was birthday'd out by mid-January, so I think a week's worth of celebrating is still fine enough for me.

The best part about this Bday though, was my dinner at Morris East.  I agonized over this decision for several days prior - pouring over menus at Gio, Da Maurizio, The Bicycle Thief, CUT, etc... But when I sat back and thought about what I wanted, it was something simple; something that I don't eat very often: CARBS! I wanted to unabashedly eat them with no care for the aftermath.  So where to go in this city for a good feed of carbs?  Morris East- for some wood-fire grilled pizzas.

When we arrived at 8:30 pm on the Saturday night following my Bday, we started off with some tasty cocktails.  I had the Patsy ($11) with citadelle gin, St. Germain elderflower, rosemary syrup, lemon and sparkling wine, while Mitch had the Winter Mojito ($10.50) with amber rum, muddled limes, fresh mint, drunken cranberries and soda.  I think my drink was so delicious because it combined some of my favorite bevys all-in-one; gin, St. Germain and sparkling wine.

As we sipped, we put in some orders for appetizers to share; the Vinaigrette Caesar ($9) and the Stuffed Portobello Cap ($9).  I'd had the Caesar before and it's my favorite one in Halifax.  Made with a light, lemony vinaigrette as opposed to a heavy creamy dressing, the simple flavours really stand out here.  The portobello mushroom  cap was delicious - I had a hard time passing the plate over.  The tender mushroom was topped with creamy melted bocconcini cheese, a smokey roasted tomato and an inventive pesto.

Vinaigrette Caesar   
Caesar w/ smoked bacon, sourdough croutons & preserved lemon

Stuffed Portobello Cap
w/ wood-fired Portobello mushroom, bocconcini cheese, 
artichoke cashew pesto, slow cooked tomato & herbs

With the appetizers cleared away, there was just a minute's wait before our pizzas arrived.  They were huge - divvied up into 6 slices each.  I knew what I wanted days before; the mushroom pizza ($16) with 3 different mushrooms and truffle oil.  Mitch ordered the Off The Bone ($18) with 3 kinds of meat and house smoked cheddar.  The pizza crusts were soft and irresistible.  Once the toppings were gone, I drizzled the crust in Morris East's chili oil and enjoyed every last crumb.  We swapped several slices before packing up a couple to go.  

Off The Bone
braised pork, Oulton's Farm sausage, sopressata, 
house smoked cheddar, Propeller Bitter Tomato Sauce

portobello, button & oyster mushroom, garlic, 
Parmesean, microgreens & truffle oil

I would have been happy finishing the meal with coffee, but Mitch likes to go all out on special occasions, so we ordered two specialty coffees with a macadamia nut liqueur and asked them to surprise us for dessert.  They chose the rich chocolate torte, and it certainly was rich.  The plate was drizzled in freshly sqeezed OJ and dusted with cocoa, then topped with a slice of chocolate-dipped cake.  That was the best part - the hard chocolate shell on the outside that cracked beneath my fork.

Rich Chocolate Torte
citrus caramel, canilla bean chantilly

And then I made a wish - but that's a secret!

We had a great night out at Morris East and the food was fantastic.  And while we did feel that some items were a little steeply priced, the meal was a good value overall.  We also brought our own wine - a pinot noir to go with my mushroom pizza - and the corkage fee was just $15. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Satisfying standard fare at Trapeze

I love a good burger, like love.  The unfortunate thing is that: though you often expect this standard fare to be good, sometimes it's unpalatable; you have a dry patty or a bun that tastes like sawdust.  And then, there's the burger at Trapeze restaurant at the Casino, which is none of these things.  

I went with a large group a couple months back, eight of us in fact, and the food and the service was great.  We started the night with a bunch of appetizers: bruschetta, nachos and calamari that were all pretty good, though I only had a bite of each because I was saving room for the burger.  The apps were gone in an instant.

For my meal, I ordered the Mozzarella and mushroom burger with a side spinach salad.  I love the spinach salad at Trapeze, and I've had a large one several times since.  With a generous helping of spinach, it's dressed with marinated butternut squash, carrot ribbons, red pepper strips and a tangy goat cheese - I usually get the cilantro ginger vinaigrette on the side.

Anyway, on to the burger.  As I said above, it was delicious; the juicy patty was topped with a generous portion of melty cheese and succulent fried mushrooms.  Add to that, the usual fare of lettuce, tomato, onion and a pickle spear, the burger was filling and satisfying.  

This was a tasty meal indeed.  We finished the night off by sharing some awesome desserts: chocolate cake and a yummy blueberry-based one too. I only had a couple bites of those as well; I was full, but I had to try them...for research purposes, of course! ;)