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pork scaloppine sandwich

pork scaloppine sandwichBefore I chat about this insanely delicious pork scaloppine sandwich, I want to give a high five to the farm-to-table experience in Nova Scotia that’s been brewing here for years.  Farm-to-table movement isn’t new nor is it unique to this corner of the world.  But what I will say is this; it’s the reason I started this blog.  We were still living overseas and were deciding where in Canada we’d like to move to.  Our first visit to Nova Scotia was the summer of 2005.  We explored, ate, drank and went away feeling like we had stumbled onto something good.  We decided to take another closer look at Halifax the following year just to make sure our vacation euphoria didn’t cloud reality.  The food scene, local hospitality and a general sense of fitting in welcomed us and we were smitten.  Continue Reading →

primal kitchen – feed your instincts

Primal Kitchen HalifaxThe space is the same but definitely not the menu nor the dining esthetics.  Goodbye Fiasco, hello Primal Kitchen.  Last Friday I was invited by Laura Oakley to a VIP Media Event at PRIMAL Kitchen.  I had heard about the changes in the restaurant (same owners) and was intrigued as to what they would serve.  Continue Reading →

Le Dîner en Blanc – Halifax

diner en blanc Halifax

photo by Le Dîner en Blanc Halifax

The countdown is on! Le Dîner en Blanc returns to Halifax in 47 days. The très chic picnic last year was so successful it attracted over 900 Haligonians and this year the numbers are estimated to easily top that.  That’s a whole lotta people dressed up in white.  It’s a worldwide event spanning 4 continents and over 40 countries. Le Dîner en Blanc, launched in Paris by Françoise Pasquier in 1988, now attracts more than 15,000 people each year. Continue Reading →

Nova Scotia Mussels – Italian style

Mussels - Italian StyleEven though I cook through the week, it’s our weekends that I look forward to the most. Whether we are entertaining or it’s just the two of us, I like to plan a nice meal. And when I say nice, it doesn’t mean a long time in the kitchen…just a few key quality ingredients.  Continue Reading →

Wine Tasting in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Wine RouteAll it took was an invitation from Domaine de Grand Pré to join them for their annual barrel tasting to spur us into action and take a mini vacation – it’s an easy one hour drive north of home.  It’s been a while since we had a ‘real’ vacation and this was just what we needed (a change is as good as a rest).  Wineries began popping up in the early 1980s and since then wine making in Nova Scotia just keeps getting better.  There are 24 wineries (most are within a couple of hours drive from Halifax) allowing for a good mix of wine tasting in Nova Scotia.  And, what’s more, some of these wineries are branching out, offering a place not only to taste wines but to also enjoy a bite to eat.  You’ll find top notch chefs churning out sumptuous food enhanced by a glass of wine making it a winning combination for foodies and oenophiles.   Some of our best dining experiences have been in wineries where the food is as delicious as the wine.

We decided to stay the night which allowed us to fully enjoy the evening of wine tasting without the worry of driving back home.  There are tour companies that will shuttle you from one winery to the next.  If you’re in Wolfville, try the Magic Winery Bus or from Halifax book a tour with Grape Escapes.  Did you know that Nova Scotia and Bordeaux, France have approximately the same latitude?

Luckett Vineyards signOur afternoon saw us eating and sipping wine at Luckett Vineyards on their Crush Pad Bistro.

Luckett VineyardIt’s the only place I know where you’ll find a phone booth in the middle of a vineyard and you can call anywhere in North America for free.

Luckett Vineyard phone booth

Stunning views over Blomidon and the Minas Basin.

Luckett Vineyards view

After a most enjoyable lunch, we dropped by the Tangled Garden and purchased some of their jellies and rhubarb blush liqueur.

Tangled GardenYou know you’re in the country when you smell these guys before you see them!

cowsA short rest was all that was needed to recharge the batteries and we were on our way to taste the new wines from the barrels at Domaine De Grand Pré.

Grand Pre

Jurg guided us through the new vintages and new releases.

Domaine de Grand Preinside Domaine de Grand PreWith their new Riesling icewine still fresh on our taste buds, we left the wine tasting and walked next door to Le Caveau for dinner.  We have eaten here on a few occasions and the food is always amazing.  Our day away was sublime.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Getting away for the night was what the doctor ordered and in turn we were able to support local communities which pleased us.  Be a tourist in your own backyard – the rewards are enormous.

Pavia Gallery – Espresso Bar & Café

fishing village by The Culinary ChaseRou·tine (ro͞oˈtēn) – a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. I am all for a routine…it keeps me grounded, allows me to stay focused on what needs to be done on a regular basis but there are times when a routine can feel like a rut. Our Sunday ritual is pretty basic – breakfast, church then coffee afterwards. The rest of the day is open to whatever we want. To inject a bit of fresh air into our traditional routine, last Sunday after church, John and I checked out a new-to-us cafe in Herring Cove, a small village 15km from downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Pavia Gallery espresso bar and café is styled after a European/Italian style espresso bar and when I read the owners were trained in Florence, Italy to make espresso, cappuccino and caffè latte, I knew it warranted further investigation.  The coffee wasn’t the only lure.  Pavia Gallery bakes their food on-site, sources as much local food as possible, and I was all set to try one of their 5 panini creations.

Pavia cappuccino
breakfast panino

Purcells Cove 1The Culinary Chase’s Note:  The 17 minute scenic drive out to Pavia is well worth it.  Their food is not only scrumptious but well presented, the staff are friendly and the cappuccino, well, let’s just say I thought I was back in Italy! We drove along Herring Cove Road and on the way back took Purcells Cove Road – another chance to see the ocean.  We’ll be back!

Salted Caramels (or so I thought)

sea salt caramels by The Culinary ChaseNew Year’s Day saw us taking a drive along the scenic route to Peggy’s Cove and stopping for a bite to eat at Rhubarb RestaurantI love the name!  It had been highly recommended by Dan from PosterBoy and he was spot on!  My sister Kris was visiting from Toronto and she had never been to Peggy’s Cove so we made a pit stop there before heading off to Rhubarb.  It was a frigid but sunny day and a pleasure to view the sea from the warmth of Rhubarb’s dining room.  As we got acquainted with our surroundings, we asked our waitress about the rooms they had above the restaurant.  She said they’re part of Oceanstone Seaside Resort (voted one of the top 5 wedding destinations in Canada).  After devouring a delicious brunch, we were given house made salted caramels.  These were scrumptious and inspired me to make some.

Making caramels seemed easy enough but candy making is not one of my strengths – patience is a virtue that I have yet to master. I should have done some research and saved me the grief of failed caramels.  The texture was that of peanut butter!  What to do?  It tasted so good I couldn’t waste it.  I could spread it on toast for the foreseeable future but I don’t think that would have been a bright idea.  And then it hit me, what about recipes that use caramel?  I looked in my pantry and came up with pecan caramel sandwich (made a couple, tasted good but too fiddly to make more than a few).  My mind drifted to caramel apple parfait; apple crisp with caramel or baked apple filled with caramel.  The latter seemed the easiest…core an apple, fill center with a dollop of the salted caramel, bake at 350f for 30 minutes.  End result?  A scraped clean dessert bowl!

apples stuffed with caramel by The Culinary ChaseSea Salt Caramels
created by the ladies of Liddabit Sweets

1 3/4 cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Oil or cooking spray

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar, evaporated milk, and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Add corn syrup and continue cooking until mixture reaches 230°.
Add butter and vanilla; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until caramel reaches 240°. Remove from heat, stir in salt, and carefully pour into a lightly oiled 9″ x 13″ baking dish (parchment paper in the bottom of the pan is helpful).

Let cool at least 1 hour. Invert onto a cutting board covered with waxed or parchment paper and cut into 1-inch pieces with a sharp, lightly oiled knife. Caramels can be wrapped in waxed or parchment paper or cellophane. (To serve candy-store style, wrap individual pieces in parchment paper and secure the ends with a simple twist.) Store airtight at cool room temperature (around 65°) or in the refrigerator; will keep up to 3 weeks.

baked caramel apples by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: Two things I learned from this debacle: 1. calibrate my candy thermometer (say what?)  2. test caramel by dropping it into a bowl of icy cold water and checking the hardness. When it forms a solid lump that’s the texture that you like, stop cooking it and pour it into your lined pan and let it sit.  If only I had known about #2…  What’s your caramel story?

Spanish Baked Chicken

Spanish Baked Chicken by The Culinary ChaseWe’ve been in our new home now for nine days and it feels as though we never left Nova Scotia! I love how easily we slipped back into our routine…and for me part of that means entertaining. I made this Spanish baked chicken while we were still in NY and knew this would be a hit here, too.  The Spanish know how to cook and the ingredients for this dish go so well together.

When we entertain, we like to keep things as simple as possible which means prep work is done the day before or the morning of the dinner party.  This allows me to be with our friends and not stuck in the kitchen.  I chose to start the evening off with homemade tapenade and a beet and goat cheese terrine followed by grilled romaine salad.  To accompany the chicken, I made an aubergine with mint salsa and Israeli couscous.  John and I had been to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market and picked up a bottle of Pomme d’Or from Grand Pré winery.  Let me say this, we aren’t big fans of  dessert wine or anything remotely similar.  Having said that, we tasted, on the advice of Mr. Stutz (owner of Grand Pré), and immediately knew the Pomme d’Or would be a wonderful way to end the evening.  We paired it with blue cheese, large purple grapes, aged local Gouda and dried apricots.  The evening was a huge success and our friends were a little merrier when they left.

Serves 4
adapted from Simply Recipes

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sliced green olives
3 lbs. chicken parts (I used chicken thighs)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine

In a bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, garlic, pepper, bay leaves, raisins and olives. Prick the skin of the chicken with fork tines and add to the marinade, coating well. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

chicken Collage by The Culinary ChasePreheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken in a baking dish. Combine wine with the marinade and pour over chicken. Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar. Bake uncovered basting occasionally, until chicken is tender (about 50 minutes). Remove bay leaves and serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Finger-lickin’ good! I was a bit hesitant to sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken as I thought it might be too sweet but fondly enough it helped calm the sharpness of the vinegar.  The photo of the chicken was taken when we were back in NY and I cut the ingredients in half as it was just the two of us. Enjoy!