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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.
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At 23 June 2014 at 20:10 , Blogger Karen S Booth said...

Another wonderful post about your fabulous trip to Atlantic Canada, and having been to Halifax now, albeit for less time than you, I can see why it is so easy navigate on the grid system......but, it was great to have your expertise on hand!! Love the food you enjoyed and the board walk really is so pretty and photogenic, Karen

At 23 June 2014 at 23:31 , Anonymous Wee Sweetie said...

Sounds like another fantastical foodie adventure

At 24 June 2014 at 09:15 , Anonymous London Unattached said...

This all looks fabulous Janice. And, best of all relatively healthy!!! It does sound like an amazing trip

At 24 June 2014 at 15:11 , Blogger Unknown said...

Not jealous, not jeal... ah, who am I kidding! Love everything about this tour, and especially peach pizzas! I need to try this Janice.
Janie x

At 24 June 2014 at 20:10 , Blogger Janice said...

Ha ha! We nearly got lost at one point but soon got back on track!

At 24 June 2014 at 20:13 , Blogger Janice said...

Thanks #sweetie

At 24 June 2014 at 20:13 , Blogger Janice said...

Thanks Fiona, yes the food was healthy but I seemed to be eating ALL the time!

At 24 June 2014 at 20:14 , Blogger Janice said...

Hey, I'm making myself jealous just reliving it through the posts! The pizza base was to die for, best I've ever tasted.

At 26 June 2014 at 17:21 , Blogger Choclette said...

It sounds like you had a cracking time of it Janice and I really want some of that seaweed chocolate.

At 8 July 2014 at 12:03 , Blogger Actually Mummy... said...

Goodness all those dishes look absolutely stunning and delicious!


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