If you’re serious about Nova Scotian food and drink, this is the happiest time of the year. The Savour Food & Wine Festival, featuring a variety of convivial events, returns from January 28 to March 10.
“Savour is bigger than ever this year,” says Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which organizes the festival. “It’s grown from a midwinter festival to something much larger. We’re holding it over a longer period, with more and bigger events.”
The festival launches with Decadence: Chocolate, Wine & Cheese. This event showcases culinary students from the Nova Scotia Community College’s Pastry Arts Program, as they pair chocolate and cheese creations with
carefully selected fine wines. The World Trade and Convention Centre on Argyle Street hosts on January 28.
In addition to the unique tasting opportunities, Decadence is special because it offers students a chance to showcase their talents on a big stage. “Those students are the new blood in the industry and this is a chance
for them to show themselves off,” Stewart says. “They’ve done some amazing stuff in the past.”
Savour returns to the centre on February 11 for Imbibe: A Cocktail Event. Celebrating the art of mixology, this intimate event brings together some of Nova Scotia’s best bartenders to create unique premium cocktails, pair with hors d’oeuvres and live music. “This year, we’ve moved the event into a bigger space,” Stewart says. “There’s more room for people to relax and hang out.”
If you’re really serious about your wine, the Rare & Fine Wine Tasting in the Compass Room at Casino Nova Scotia is mandatory.
This intimate wine tasting boasts a selection of over 40 wines rated above 90+ points and above by the world’s major wine publications. All wines on offer have never been available in Nova Scotia before. The selection includes Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa Valley, Piedmonte, Veneto, and Tuscany, and more. Bishop’s Cellar will have a store on site, if you want to take any home.
The festival also features something special for beer lovers this year. “We’re having a Craft Beer Cottage Party that focuses on Nova Scotia’s thriving craft-beer scene,” Stewart says. The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market hosts the event on February 27.
Organizing committee member Jeff Green, also sales manager with Garrison Brewing, promises attendees a unique event. “I’m really excited about the setting,” he says. “The Market is going to totally transform into this summer-party space. We’re going to have outdoorsy games like washer toss and live entertainment.”
At press time, organizers had 20 Maritime breweries lined up for the event. The broad selection of the region’s best beer-makers includes farm-cum-brewery Meander River, Cape Breton newcomer Breton Brewing, and New Brunswick’s Red Rover Craft Cider.
Seldom available outside New Brunswick, Red Rover cider is a particular treat for attendees. “They bring a traditional English style and it’s just fantastic,” says Green. “It’s a real authentic craft cider.”
Green says brewers will bring two to five varieties of beer each, promising a variety of craft beers. Local restaurants will also have booths on site, selling small dishes to pair with the brews.
“This event and the selection we’re going to offer is a real testament to the importance of the craft beer scene for Nova Scotian restaurants,” Green says. “There’s a lot going on with the craft-beer scene, and it’s really something special for restaurants to be able to offer.”
Capping the festival is the signature Savour Food & Wine Show at the World Trade and Convention Centre on March 10. The show spotlights local chefs, brewers, wine makers, and food producers, all included in
the price of admission.
“This is our biggest Savour show ever,” Stewart says. “We’re going to have 80 plus exhibitors. We’re taking over the whole World Trade Centre.” The show offers diners a unique opportunity to sample the province’s finest culinary creations, while meeting the people responsible for them.
Stewart believes the growth of Savour reflects a transformation in Nova Scotian restaurants.
“Ten years ago, most menus might have been 10 per cent local,” he says. “It’s been a fast pace of change and the participation in Savour reflects that. Now it’s more like 80 per cent. And it’s the people going into restaurants
driving that change. The people want local.“
Complementing the events, Savour also includes the Dine Out program. Restaurants across the province showcase an array of Nova Scotian with special three-course prix-fixe menus priced at $25, $35, or $45 per dinner.
CORRECTION: Due to a fact-checking error, the version of this story that ran in the January/February 2016 edition of Halifax Magazine gave an incorrect location for the Savour Food & Wine Show. The information above is correct. We regret the error.
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