So, what does one do when they need a break from the workshop and it’s pouring down buckets? Go on a local tasting tour, of course!
We just got back home from an excellent afternoon of “eating our way through Halifax” with Local Tasting Tours, a tasting tour company that “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.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 🙂
Our friendly, knowledable guide, Emily Forrest, took us on a fantastic tour through the rain soaked streets of downtown Halifax stopping at a variety of restaurants and shops to sample their fare. She shared many interesting facts and lots of entertaining, “behind the scenes” tidbits about the places that we visited. Along the short jaunts in between each stop she told us a bit of history of the different areas that we walked through as well as various landmark buildings. Emily sure knows her stuff and as a dedicated walker and a foodie, who better to lead us on this trek!
In addition to the two of us there were five other people on the tour, some from as far away as South Korea and Australia! We all met at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market and after introductions and an overview of the tour we were on our way.
The first place we stopped was right there at the market called Norbert’s Good Food / Selwood Green Farm. We sampled a delicious salad made with organic vegetables from their farm and found out what people say is true, “Norbert really knows his vegetables!”.
From there we walked along the waterfront boardwalk to Bishop’s Landing where we visited Sugah!, a confection lovers delight . We sampled some of their chocolate, including Tijuana Tickler which is a white chocolate infused with lime zest, chili flakes and pistachio. Oh yeah, it was a good as it sounds! They have a glass walled area where you can even watch their small-batch candy making process!
The next stop was right next door at Rum Runners Rum Cake Factory for samples of all three of their rum cakes, the Original Rum Cake, the Chocolate Rum Cake and the (to die for) Glen Breton Whiskey Cake that is infused with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and then covered in a glaze made from Cape Breton’s Glenora Distillery single malt whisky! We were told some stories about prohibition and rum running in Nova Scotia, and even told one ourselves about a ‘little family secret’… 😉
Next, we went to the Historic Farmer’s Market for a ‘picnic style’ tasting. Since the market was closed this day Emily had prepared a delightful tasting for us in the Courtyard. We dipped bread from The Seaport Bread Shop into olive oil from Liquid Gold and then dipped this into several different fresh spice mixtures from Spice Trekkers , represented here at the market on Saturdays by The Spiceman, Costas Halavrezos. It was a winning combination!
From here we went up over the hill to Chives Bistro on Barrington. While there we had a chance to take a peek into probably one of the neatest dining experiences in the city – a table inside a bank vault! Chives is located in the old Bank of Nova Scotia building and offers this experience for two to four diners. (How many people remember standing in line to cash their pay checks here when it was a bank? We do! :)) This wasn’t a sample stop but a shortcut through to their little sister and partner next door, The Ciboulette Cafe. Here we sampled their Roast Beef with Lemon-Basil Aioli, Balsamic-Caramelized Onions, and Baby Arugula sandwich. Yes, it was delicious! Another neat thing is that Ciboulette’s sitting area has an open view and access to The Loop Craft Cafe.
Our next stop was just a short walk down Barrington and across the street to Mezza. This downtown location is just one of several that they have in the area and one of two of their ‘Kitchen’ style restaurants. We sampled their signature chicken swarma and can easily see why it is so. The 100% grain fed chicken is so tender and tasty! We love swarma and this is as good as it gets!
Next, it was up the hill again (where in Halifax isn’t ‘up the hill’?!) on Blowers Street to Burrito Jax where we sampled our choice of a couple of their many varieties of burritos. We have had burritos before but not like this. These are awesome! Their signature recipes are only outdone by their friendly and attentive service. We can’t wait to try more of their menu!
We turned left as we exited Burrito Jax and headed down Blowers, left again on Barrington and then North to Prince Street where we turned left again and stopped in at Le French Fix. Now, as with any great meal it ends with a great dessert and the tour was no different (remember we did start with salad so technically it was a meal :)). We were served our coffee and pastry samples by French pastry chef and owner, Geoffroy Chevallier. We got to experience his Macarons, sweet almond meringue filled with chocolate ganache. A flavour explosion! Since this was the end of the tour and we had a bit more time we purchased and split a piece of Croustillant, decadence on a plate with it’s hazelnut praline base, chocolate ganache, milk chocolate mousse and almond tuille. We think we found our new home. 😉
With each of these stops not only did we get to sample some of their offerings but we also learned about each of the company’s history, how their products are made and their philosophy. We also got to speak with their representatives, and often times, the actual owners of these establishments. This really added to the overall flavour of the tour, giving us more insight into, and thus connection with, our local purveyors of food.
It’s funny, but when one lives in a place we never seem to check out all the different places that are around us. Although we may plan to life often gets in the way. Likewise, as creatures of habit we tend to frequent our old familiar places instead of seeking out new ones. This is not a bad thing but it does make one miss out on a whole lot of good things. We were reminded of this very early in our tour… and at every stop we made – we’ve got to get out more! 🙂
This was a great way to spend a couple of hours downtown. It gave us the chance to try out all of these places and we look forward to returning to each of them. As for the rain, it actually added to the day – hey, it’s Nova Scotia! 🙂
We can now happily say that we took a bite out of Halifax! Only a small bite though because we’re looking forward to going on another Local Tasting Tour real soon! (they have several to choose from…)
Special thanks to Emily who’s exuberance made this more than just a food tour, she made it a true experience! Indeed!