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Saturday, 28 June 2014

May and June Slow Cooker Challenge Round Up

The Slow Cooker Challenge ran over two months due to my trip to Nova Scotia  at the end of May.  As usual, I was delighted by the variety of dishes that the 'Challengers' have submitted, something to suit every meal and every mood.  Slow Cooking is such a pleasure, especially when you have been out all day and return to the aroma of your whole meal gently bubbling and ready to serve.

 Ox or Beef Cheeks have become very trendy in fine dining restaurants but they are a really economical as well as a delicious cut of meat. Deon at Food Jam serves us Asian Ox Cheeks

Corina at Searching for Spice combines her Slow Cooker Chicken with some Stir Fried veg to retain the crispness, find out how she did it  Slow Cooker Chinese Chicken Stew with Stir-fried Vegetables

A Girl Eats World brings us a simple dish of BBQ Meatballs  made with frozen meatballs and ready made sauce, coming together in the Slow Cooker.

A lack of red wine led to Caroline Makes making this Orange inspired version of Beef Bourgignon: Slow Cooker Beef in Orange and a new dish was born!

Over at Indo Global Food, the slow cooker is being put to good use to make Mango Jam, what a great idea!

Camilla at Fab Food for All brings us a delicious Slow Cooked Pulled Lamb with White Wine and Root Vegetables. 

Sarah  of Tales from the Kitchen Shed is the Queen of the Slow Cooker, she has her own digital cook book on the subject!  Not surprising then, that she has submitted this delicious looking Peach Melba Rice Delight

Now this is my kind of dessert!  Slow Cooker White Chocolate and Lemon Creme Fraiche Icing and Blueberries.  A great slow cooker recipe from Baking Queen 74.

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best and Sarah has come back with a second offering in the shape of these Slow Cooker Jacket or Baked Potatoes, perfect to come home to.

Many thanks to everyone who entered, look out for the July Slow Cooker Challenge which will include a Slow Cooker Cookbook Giveaway.

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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Because I'm Happy!

I've been told that, no matter how I change my hair and whether I am wearing glasses or not, I am always recognisable as soon as I smile, and I do smile most of the time.  

It's not so hard to smile and I've certainly noticed a lot of 'happiness' meme's e.g. 100 Happy Days. Dorset Cereals have asked me to come up with my five top happiness actions, the things I do that make me happy, the things that make me smile, so here goes:

1. Connecting with people - this has to be my top happiness action, whether it is with my family or close friends or my 'virtual' friends in the land of social media, I love to write, talk, listen, share and laugh with all sorts of people. 
2. Cooking and Baking - not so much the everyday type of 'getting the meal on the table' cooking,  more the weekend, take your time, create and have fun type of kitchen activity.
3. Travelling and Exploring - It doesn't matter if it's only a short distance, I love to visit places I haven't been to before, find out about the history and the stories and if there is food involved then it's even better!  I really  rediscovered my appetite for travel when I recently visited Canada.
4. Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage -  I do love to go for a massage, we are both spa junkies and love being pampered. 
5. My home - I've always been happy in my home, but I realised just how important it was for me this year when we discovered dry rot, had our home invaded by builders for three months and ceilings, floors and walls were demolished and rebuilt.

What is your top happiness action?

Here are a few ideas from Dorset Cereals to help you to find ways to be happy, they do tend to feature breakfast which is, of course, when you can sample the delights of a bowl of Dorset Cereal Muesli or Honey Porridge to set you up for the day:

THINK: As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So focus on the good stuff. What happened yesterday, what’s good about today? And feel the benefits of a little reflection and observation. Miss this at breakfast and you won’t have time to catch up during the day.
TALK: The work/life balance can classically kill off family time, but as you wake up this is the time you are most likely to be together as a family group. Don’t leave it for ‘later’ when ‘later’ inevitably changes shape during the day.
MOVE:  Dorset residents might benefit from acres of coastline and countryside all around, but planning something active shouldn’t rest on this alone. Think as you chew about whether you’re pacing up and down the office when on a call, or actually walking up an escalator. If you plan it before you leave home, you will do it, rather than fall into the fug of routine. And feel good about it.
ENJOY: Quality of life needs some…quality. From a particular coffee smell that beats all others, to ingredients in your food that you can actually savour above the functional, to little moments of pleasure that you can plan into each day. The link again is the planning, the enjoyment factor and the few minutes to work into the day that make everything a little more enjoyable.

I was provided with Dorset Cereals muesli and porridge, I was not paid to write this and all views are my own. 

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Monday, 23 June 2014

A Local Tasting Tour South of Morris Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia is really easy to navigate.  When I met up with my blogging colleagues, Karen, Helen and Aoife, later in the trip, they were amused by how I knew my way around (well most of the time!). It helps that there is a hill behind you leading down to the waterfront and the streets are in a grid pattern, so you can quickly get our bearings, and Halifax is a definitely a place where walking is a good way to get around.

I walked down from Citadel Hill to the waterfront boardwalk and enjoyed seeing the ships, restaurants and the stunning view across to Dartmouth and Fort George.

Fort George

I was heading to the Halifax Seaport Market to meet with up with Emily Forrest proprietor of Local Tasting Tours  and my guide Elena Cremonese,  who was ready to take me on the SOMO (South of Morris Street) Food Tour. "Local Tasting Tours highlights the local side of Halifax cuisine, from the unique culinary style of local chefs, to the diverse dishes offered in locally owned ethnic eateries, to fresh Nova Scotia-grown produce and dishes inspired by our local bounty"  The tour includes visits to six local eateries in the area 'south of Morris Street' to taste dishes prepared especially for you by award winning chefs.

Norbert's Good Food is Halifax’s first and only farm to table eatery sell their own produce grown at their own organic farm, Selwood Green. Norbert's was the first stop on my Food Tour, it's located at the Seaport Farmers’ Market. I had a very tasty salad topped with sprouts and dressed with a simple oil, vinegar and honey dressing.

A short walk along the waterfront and we arrived at Sugah, a store full of chocolate, toffees, sweets, ice cream and Rum Cake!  All of Sugah 's products are crafted by hand in Nova Scotia using traditional methods and using fresh butter, cream sugar and nuts.  The sweets are cooked in the old-fashioned copper kettle and worked on the marble slabs.  The chocolates feature finest Belgian Chocolate and as well as some traditional flavours there are great ideas like the Kracken Krunch, blended with Nova Scotian Seaweed; The Brew Bar made with a unique combination of fruit, nuts and spices and the Fog Burner which combines chocolate with Fog Burner coffee grounds.  I brought home quite a few bars of Sugah chocolate as gifts, they really are unique flavours.

I was offered samples of the S'mores chocolate which was far too sweet for my taste, I preferred the 'Tall and Dark' Brew Bar.  The Bacon Praline was also good, but not a patch on the one made by Wee Sweetie, her praline is just packed with bacon and much more robust than the one at Sugah (I've been spoiled!).  Sugah is owned by The Uncommon Group who also run the Uncommon Grounds coffee shops in Nova Scotia.

Next I returned to The Halliburton (read about it in The Bridge, The Bison and the Four Poster Bed ) and was presented with this beautiful plate of 'Pan seared, rice paper wrapped sea scallops, ginger sesame vinaigrette', oh my goodness what a delight!  I also had a chance to speak to the chef and compliment him on  the meal I had eaten the evening before.

Just up the road from the Halliburton on Morris Street East is the Morris East who specialise in wood-fired pizzas.  My tasting dish was a slice of Peach Woodfired  topped with peaches, goat cheese, shallots,
prosciutto, maple rosemary aioli and microgreens.  I'm not a huge fan of goat cheese but it combined well with the sweet peaches and salty prosciutto. The base of the wood fired pizza was superb, it was thin and managed to be crisp underneath and soft on top, just perfect.

If you are a fan of cocktails, I would recommend you have a look at the Morris East cocktail menu, some great combinations of liquor served there.

I think the place that I warmed to most was Cafe Chianti.  Italian food is my favourite cuisine and the risotto with asparagus and spinach with a parmesan crisp on top was absolutely delicious.  But there is more to a restaurant than just delcious food and Cafe Chianti has that something special.

I was fortunate to meet the owner, Jan Wicha, who gave me a warm welcome and sat with me and Elena as we ate our risotto.  He told me how his restaurant had burned down and he thought his days as a restaurateur were over, however the continued demand from former customers persuaded him to start again. I also learned about the beautifully painted murals on the walls, some of them reclaimed from the original restaurant.  Of all the places on the food tour this is the one that I would most like to revisit as it felt very comfortable and the menus are excellent.

We finished our tour at Elements on Hollis, the restaurant in The Westin, Nova Scotian Hotel.  Chef Steve Galvin brought me this lovely plate of belly pork in a barbecue sauce, a recipe he had recently developed.  I know belly pork is very popular, but it's not my favourite cut of meat, too fatty for me.  However, once again I was proved wrong and I really enjoyed this rich and tender dish.  There will be more about Elements on Hollis in a later post as I ate there again when I returned to Halifax.

A little about my delightful guide:  Elena Cremonese is a recent graduate of Dalhousie University in Halifax and a committed foodie!  Hailing originally from Ottowa, Ontario she has travelled in Europe and Asia and, although she was relatively new to her job with Local Tasting Tours, Elena was a font of knowledge about the restaurants, the history of the SOMO area of Halifax and about food in general.  I enjoyed her company and we chatted easily about all sorts, thanks Elena for making my tour such a pleasure.

It was now time for me get back into my Jeep SUV and head across The Macdonald Bridge towards Pictou, I hope you'll join me on the next leg of my journey in Nova Scotia.

This is the third in a series of posts about my trip to Nova Scotia.  Read the other posts in my Nova Scotia adventure: 

1. The Bridge, The Bison and the Four Poster Bed 
2. The Citadel, Halifax : Sporrans, Rifles and the School Room 

You can follow me on Twitter: @FarmersgirlCook, Facebook: Farmersgirl Kitchen Instagram: FarmersgirlCook and the Pinterest Board  Atlantic Canada Eats which I share with Lavender and Lovage.  You can also follow the hashtags #AtlanticCanadaEats  #VisitNovaScotia and #ExploreCanada to see photos and posts on all of these social media sites.

Disclaimer: I was the guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and  Nova Scotia Tourism and all my flights, car hire, accommodation and meals were included, as well as all trips, excursions and special cookery sessions with local chefs. I'd like to thank the host organisations and everyone who made this a truly memorable trip.
Photo Montage templates from The Coffee Shop   

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Friday, 20 June 2014

Haggis, Sweeties, Jam and magnets

As soon as I knew I was going to Nova Scotia, I wanted to take some Scottish gifts to my hosts.  I was delighted when Wee Sweetie agreed to create a very special Scottish 'sweetie' for me.  You can read all about Wee Sweetie in my post: Wee Sweetie, homemade sweeties and candies. The result of this request was a delicious Scotch Mist Fudge featuring Auchentoshan Whisky, meringue made by local producer 'Dessert Me' and Scottish Strawberries, totally delicious.

I also contacted some producers of iconic Scottish products, Mackays for their fabulous marmalades and jams.  I felt that Mackays Dundee Orange Marmalade was the most representative from the fantastic range of products that Mackays make in traditional ways in their factory just outside Dundee.

I also felt that Haggis just had to be represented and was delighted when Macsween agreed to provide me with some Haggis Bibles to take with me. These little books contain both traditional and modern recipes using haggis.

Finally, I contacted the delightful PRs for OXO Good Grips, not a company with a Scottish heritage but one producing the very best of kitchen gadgets, sure to be appreciated by dedicated foodies.  They supplied me with some really useful kitchen magnets that double up as clips, ideal for securing shopping lists and scraps of paper on which you have written recipes.

I'd like to thank Wee Sweetie, Mackays, Macsween's and OXO Good Grips for their support.  All the feedback I had from my hosts was positive and I was delighted to be able to give them something in return for the fantastic experience I had in Nova Scotia.  

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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

On my June Kitchen Table: Super Speedy Eats!

A collection of the foodie products that I have been sent for review, or simply want to share with you this month. It turns they all fit into the category of quick and easy meals, enjoy!

Terra Nostra is, at first glance, a typical restaurant in the centre of St Ginesio, however they also make and sell high quality pasta and I was able try their Truffle Tagliatelle  and dried tomatoes Papparedelle.  Both were excellent quality pasta, the kind that easily retains a bit of bite and the flavourings in the pasta also adds to the dish.  Each pack also contains a sachet of flavoured oil, which has an authentic taste of the herbs or truffle oil as appropriate to the pasta type.

I made a simple seasonal dish of tomatoes slowly roasted in a pan with a little olive oil and garlic, then I added some sliced olives and at the last minute threw in some feta cheese cubes, this was mixed through the cooked Papparedelle al pomodori with the basil oil and made a really delicious and simple supper.
You can buy the Terra Nostra pasta through the e-shop  the prices are in euros and I have no information about purchasing in the UK.  8/10 

I'm not averse to a ready-meal, I always have a pizza in my freezer.  However, I'm not inclined to buy pasta dishes as ready meals as they are so easy to prepare.  I was intrigued by the blurb from Charlie Bigham's " the posh ready meal brand especially for twosomes. It's perfect for when you and your other half want to spend some quality time together, without having to sacrifice the taste!"  We don't have a Sainsbury's or Waitrose near where we live and Ocado don't deliver to our area,  but I managed to find a Sainsbury's on one of my frequent work trips. 

I was supposed to try out the new range of 'world' meals but there weren't any of those available in this store, so I took the chance to get the Moussaka and the Meatballs al Forno.  Each ready meal feeds two (although I did get the Moussaka to stretch to feed three) and costs £7.00. That's relatively expensive, but they are the best ready meals I have tasted, you could easily have thought they were homemade.  Himself was very impressed and enjoyed both dishes.

Another bonus is that the packaging is environmentally friendly using paper and wood rather than plastic, all of the packaging can be recycled.  Bighams recommend that you bake the dishes in the oven, but on one of the nights I was short of time and microwaved the dish for 6 minutes before finishing it off in the oven to crisp up the top.  9/10

June is the month for Scottish strawberries and they taste so much better than the ones that are imported.  I served my strawberries with Yeo Valley Organic Lemon Curd Yogurt, which I saw in the supermarket.  I love lemon curd and found the contrast between the strawberries and the sharp lemony yogurt worked really well. A nice change from cream or plain greek yogurt. 450g £1.50  9/10

Finally, let me Smooze you!  Summer finally came yesterday and the temperatures reached a high of 24C (this is massive for Scotland) it was time to break out the Smooze Fruit Ices.  Smooze is a 100% natural, freeze at home, fruit ice product that is made up of approximately 50% fresh fruit juice and puree and 40% coconut milk.   I tried the Smooze Coconut and Pineapple and himself had the Smooze Coconut and Mango.  Both were light and fresh and not too sweet, a really pleasant alternative to more traditional ices. 
They are really reasonable at RRP £3.99 for a box of 10, they only seem to be available through Ocado or Amazon at the moment. 8/10

I was sent the pasta, ready meals and fruit ices to review, I was not paid for these reviews and all opinions are my own.  I bought the yogurt myself, I just wanted to share my find with you. 

I'm entering the Pappardelle with cherry tomatoes, olives and feta for Simple and In Season, the blogger challenge run by Renatka (Ren) Behan.

It also works for Pasta Please, this one is run by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes and is being hosted this month by Sarah at Maison Cupcake - the theme is 'Fasta Pasta' and this dish was certainly on the table in under 30 minutes.

This month's #SpeedySuppers is also hosted by Sarah at Maison Cupcake, this challenge is jointly run by Sarah and Katie at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter. This month it's all about pasta. 

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Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Citadel, Halifax: Sporrans, Rifles and the School Room

You could be forgiven for thinking that I am posting about Scotland, but rather it is 'New Scotland': Nova Scotia.  I started my second day in Halifax with a visit to The Citadel Historic site, part of Parks Canada.  I arrived just at the Changing of the Guard, which happens every two hours so most visitors are likely to get the chance to see this impressive display.

My tour guide at The Citadel was Craig, who is the 'School Master' for the Citadel, that's him standing in front of the fire in the soldier's quarters.  When the Citadel was reconstructed and developed into a visitor attraction, they had to choose one regiment to be represented, there were many to choose from but they decided to feature the 78th Highlanders, hence the kilts and sporrans. It was fascinating to hear about the lives of the soldiers, how they cooked and ate and entertained themselves.  The lengths that the Army went to try to keep them at the Citadel rather than visiting the town, including  bringing in locally brewed beer which contributed to the fortune of Alexander Keith's Brewery! It seems that no matter what was provided at the fort, it was unable to compete with the attractions of the town!

What impressed me most about the Citadel were the 'soldiers'.  When I first arrived I thought they really were soldiers, but in fact, they are students who are recruited for the summer season. They are drilled and trained in soldierly skills and also in the history of the Citadel, so they can take visitors on tours of the site.  In addition to the 78th Highlanders, there is  an Artillery Regiment, who were learning how to fire the cannon and going over the drill time and again until  they become skilled enough to fire the 12 o'clock gun each day. The presence of these student soldiers, and other costumed characters, really brings the Citadel to life and makes it a living museum.

As a fan of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe stories (I've read all the books), which are based around the same period of history as the Citadel's hey day, I recognised many aspects of the history of Citadel and the lives of the soldiers and was thrilled to see some rapid load and fire with an original rifle from the late 19th Century.  It was incredibly loud and you will see from the video clip that it made me jump!

One of the benefits of joining the Army was access to education and the School Room at the Citadel was the place where the soldiers  came to learn. Some would have been learning basic reading, writing and arithmetic, but the artillery required a higher level of knowledge including chemistry and geometry to ensure that the canon fire was effective and accurate.    My tour ended with a walk around the moat and the revelation of the remarkable star shape of the Citadel, and other impressive design features which  along with the strength of its position, made it a fort which was never attacked.

I would certainly recommend any visitor to Halifax to head to the Citadel and find out about the military history which is so much a part of the development of the town of Halifax.

This is the second in a series of posts about my trip to Nova Scotia,Read the first part of my Nova Scotia adventure: The Bridge, The Bison and the Four Poster Bed    and the next episode in my adventure involves a Food Tour of Halifax, I'm looking forward to re-living it!

You can follow me on Twitter: @FarmersgirlCook, Facebook: Farmersgirl Kitchen Instagram: FarmersgirlCook and the Pinterest Board  Atlantic Canada Eats which I share with Lavender and Lovage.  You can also follow the hashtags #AtlanticCanadaEats  #VisitNovaScotia and #ExploreCanada to see photos and posts on all of these social media sites.

Disclaimer: I was the guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and  Nova Scotia Tourism and all my flights, car hire, accommodation and meals were included, as well as all trips, excursions and special cookery sessions with local chefs. I'd like to thank the host organisations and everyone who made this a truly memorable trip.
Photo Montage templates from The Coffee Shop   

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

May No Waste Food Challenge Round Up


Apologies for the lateness of the round-up.  Those of you who follow me on social media, will know that I've
been away in Nova Scotia, Canada so am posting a little late.  Thanks to Elizabeth for her patience and kindness.

First up is Deon at Food Jam  with a puff pastry based 'Cheats Pizza' topped with left over bits and pieces from her fridge, perfect No Waste Food Challenge recipe!

Dear Dom at Belleau Kitchen scavenged around in his fridge and freezer and guess what?  He found some chicken thighs!  This dish reminds me of the beautiful cottage garden at Belleau, and I'm sure it tasted just as good as it looks. 

Matty B is a newish blogger at Matty B Bakes and he has embraced the art of food blogging with a vengeance!  There are loads of recipes on his blog already including this "Waste not, want not" Chicken Stock which is his entry for the No Waste Food Challenge.

Helen at Food-Friends-Family brings us a pesto made from spinach from her organic veg box and some bits and pieces in her fridge and store cupboard, to come up with this beautiful green plateful of Spinach Artichoke Pesto and Spaghetti.

Sometimes lunch can be a bit boring, but not at Vohn's Vittles where the provided the ingredients for this Mangetout Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Toastie  I don't think I've ever had mangetout on toast before, but it does look very good.
I wasn't the only one to use up bananas for the challenge this month.  Anne at Anne's Kitchen used her over ripe banana to make Banana and Chocolate Chip Cookies and they proved to be a big success.

Jane at Onions and Paper was very 'punny' with her 'No Waste' Me-USE-li made by clearing out odds and ends from her baking cupboard.  Great idea!

The Gluten-free Alchemist lived up to her name and created this spectacular Tarte au Framboise with an excess of raspberries in the freezer and a couple of lemons that had seen better days from the fridge.  I love raspberries and will be coming back to this recipe very soon!

Ness at Jibber Jabber has baked a tasty looking Chocolate Malt Cake which is a super-frugal cake to make, costing only 95p and used up some Ovaltine which was in danger of being thrown out.

 Another entry from Helen at Family-Friends-Food, this time a Nutella Bread and Butter Pudding.  Looks very tasty.

The ripe banana is definitely the friend of the No Waste Food Challenger.  Corina at Searching for Spice used hers to make Oaty Banana Bites small chewy clusters of oats, held together with sticky banana and raisins.

This looks like such a delicious tart, named the Three Allium Smoked Chilli Tart by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog as it features onions, leeks and garlic as well as the courgettes you can see on top.

Spicy, Quirky, Serendipitous is a blog I haven't come across before, but I like the sound of it!  We are back to our best friend THE BANANA, this time made into a pancake with finger millet or ragi flour, great for breakfast or tea time.

Leftover Lamb and Rosemary Patties, these could have been made for me.  I often roast lamb and prefer it to pork, rosemary is also my favourite herb, so thanks to Annie at A Working Mum's Cookbook for this lovely recipe. 

Thanks to everyone for your amazing entries, head over to Utterly Scrummy for the June No Waste Food Challenge. 

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Saturday, 7 June 2014

Halifax, Nova Scotia - The Bridge, the Bison and the Four Poster Bed

The Bridge

Not the Scandinavian crime drama, but a bit of a drama for me to drive across it at the start of my visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia!  When I was asked by Canadian Tourism Commission to visit Nova Scotia, I was told that I would see much more if I was prepared to drive, so I said YES, I've never driven on the right side of the road before so it was quite a dumb bold move for me!

I arrived at Halifax Airport, after an uneventful flight and, with some trepidation, and crossed over from the terminal to the ground floor of the car park to collect my hire car.  The staff at Dollar Thrifty couldn't have been more helpful and, because I had never visited before, and they wanted me to 'see as much as possible' they upgraded me to a Jeep SUV with only 5K miles on the clock.  They also helped me set up the GPS (Sat Nav) to head to the Halliburton Hotel in downtown Halifax.  Excellent service.

I knew I had to cross the bridge and had my 'Loonie' (Canadian 1 Dollar coin) ready for the toll.  The bridge in question is the Macdonald Bridge, locally known as “the old bridge”, is a suspension bridge crossing Halifax Harbour and connects Dartmouth and the Halifax Peninsula in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is named after the former premier of Nova Scotia, Angus L. Macdonald, who was instrumental in having the bridge built. I crossed the old bridge a total of 5 times, and the new bridge twice, in the week I was in Nova Scotia.

I made it over the old bridge, and other than a wrong turning when I missed the off ramp (quickly corrected by GPS), I found myself in Morris Street, outside The Halliburton.

The Four Poster Bed
Okay, I know it should be the Bison next  but The Bridge, the Four Poster Bed and the Bison just didn't scan!

The Halliburton is Halifax's Historic Boutique Hotel located in downtown Halifax within walking distance of the waterfront and the many restaurants. The Halliburton was built in 1809 as the home of Sir Brenton Halliburton, the first Chief Justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.  From 1885-1887, the building served as Dalhousie University's prestigious law school.

It's an unusual set up as the hotel is in two houses, my room was in the house on the left, Stories Restaurant is in the reddish house on the right.  There was parking for residents at the back of the hotel and this led in to a pretty courtyard, there was also access to the restaurant from the courtyard.  You could pretty much come and go as you please as you have a key for the outside door as well as your own room.  My room also had a little balcony where, had it been warm enough, I could have sat out and had my coffee.

The room was furnished with antiques and reproduction furniture giving it a warm and homely feel.  The chairs and sofa were comfortable and the free wifi was fast and reliable. I loved the four poster bed  and I slept well after my journey. The Halliburton also had the best, in room, coffee machine and coffee of all of the places I stayed.
They also had some of the nicest bathroom products, the soap was particularly lush and the dark brown flannel for 'Cosmetic Removal' just genius!

The Halliburton was the only place I saw one of these little signs, no bottled water here and another really interesting and quirky aspect to this boutique hotel.

The Bison 
I dined at Stories Restaurant at the Halliburton, who pride themselves on their relaxed fine dining and use of local ingredients.  
I perused the menu while munching on some delicious bread, there were two types of butter and I couldn't quite work out what was in the flavoured butter.  It turned out that it was just butter which had been reduced down and the little bits were the scrapings from the pan, it tasted delicious.  

On the menu for Tuesday,  May 27, 2014:

  • Warm goat cheese, Hants County green, honeycrisp apple, spiced cassis, pecan
  • House charcuterie, duck prosciutto, duck rillettes, boar five spice coppa, tamberk coppa and lamb prosciutto, violet mustard, apple chutney
  • Pan seared rice paper wrapped sea scallops, ginger sesame vinaigrette
  • Carpaccio of bacon tenderloin, truffled "grilled cheese", pickled vegetables
  • Sauteed queen crab cakes, avocado and smoked jalapeno lime crema

I was torn between the House charcuterie, the sea scallops and the crab cakes, but in the end opted for the crab cakes.

The crab cakes were sweet with nice chunky pieces of crab, the avocado made a nice creamy contrast and the smoked jalapeno lime crema was very lightly spiced, personally I would have preferred a little more kick.

Principal Dishes
  • Roast wild 'rod and reel' striped bass, new potatoes, caper tomato fennel butter
  • Grilled beef tenderloin, braised beef shank-blue d'Auvergne cap, cabernet rosemary jus
  • Yellowfin tuna grilled 'rare' Shanghai bokchoy, roast pepper, black olive, tomato vinaigrette
  • Bison Hangar Steak 'rare or medium rare', potato parsnip pave, mushroom ragout
  • House stressa wrapped bread of guinea hen, smoked cheddar chive potato mash, madeira thyme jus

Again I was torn, should I have the guinea hen or the bison?  I reckoned I would be unlikely to have the opportunity to try bison again so that was my choice.

Isn't that a beautiful plate of food?  I had my Bison steak medium rare and it was very tender.  The flavour was similar to beef steak, you would have been hard pushed to tell the difference however it is very lean.  The potato and parsnip pave was crisp on the outside and meltingly tender inside, but the stars of the dish were the vegetables, baby beet and turnip, courgette, asparagus, red pepper and carrot, each vegetable had retained it's individual character and flavour. The beet and turnip had been slightly pickled with white wine vinegar, giving a piquancy that cut through the richness of the meat. The mushroom ragout had a depth of flavour that worked well with the steak.

The staff were very knowledgeable about the menu, friendly and welcoming, even offering  me a magazine to read as I was eating alone.

This is the first in a series of posts about my trip to Nova Scotia, you can follow me on Twitter: @FarmersgirlCook, Facebook: Farmersgirl Kitchen Instagram: FarmersgirlCook and the Pinterest Board  Atlantic Canada Eats which I share with Lavender and Lovage.  You can also follow the hashtags #AtlanticCanadaEats  #VisitNovaScotia and #ExploreCanada to see photos and posts on all of these social media sites.

Look out for posts from my fellow travellers Karen at Lavender and Lovage, Aoife at The Daily Spud and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours

Coming up next:  The Halifax Citadel: Sporrans, Rifles and School Rooms

Disclaimer: I was the guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and  Nova Scotia Tourism and all my flights, car hire, accommodation and meals were included, as well as all trips, excursions and special cookery sessions with local chefs. I'd like to thank the host organisations and everyone who made this a truly memorable trip. 
Digital Scrapbook papers and elements by Sherwood Studios, Cottage Arts and Maya de Groot.

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