I love a good cookbook: one chock-full of great, tried-tested-and-true recipes, and mouth-watering photos that make you want to get into the kitchen, immediately, to try and recreate what you see before you.
Well, a new one with a local focus just hit bookshelves near you, thanks to the efforts of author and all-around food guru, Liz Feltham, photographer Scott Munn, and Nimbus Publishing.
“Halifax Tastes” was released in late May, and will make a great addition to any home cook’s kitchen. Feltham asked chefs at restaurants from around Halifax to share one recipe with her and, in turn, her readers. I’m guessing it wasn’t an easy feat to get some of the chefs to reveal their secrets (some flat-out refused) — especially for recipes like crab dumplings from the Press Gang. But the collection of recipes Feltham was able to amass is impressive: the book features everything from elegant starters, like the smokey corn and haddock chowder from Fid Resto, to the peppered proscuitto-wrapped halibut with mango salsa, courtesy of Nectar Social House. Just as important (for me, at least), is that each recipe is accompanied by a gorgeous photo of the dish (so home cooks like me can kind of tell if they were successful in replicating the dish, and get tips for presentation and plating!) To be honest, I totally judge a (cook)book by it’s cover, and this one is a winner.
Nimbus generously invited a few local food bloggers — myself included — to go on a tour of a handful of the participating restaurants to sample some of the dishes they featured, and to chat with the author about her latest project. I believe this is at least the fifth book Feltham has authored (I also have her “Chowders and Soups” tome, which served me very well over the bitter cold winter months).
The all-lady crew of food bloggers kick-started the evening at Two If By Sea Cafe (a stop I missed because I was tied up at the office). But I caught up quickly, and met them at the second stop, daMaurizio. There, we were treated to a delicate appetizer of “Gamberi Santa Maria”: spice roasted jumbo shrimp stopped with with a fresg cucumber, mango and red onion salsa and drizzled with smoked chili aioli:
I blissfully sipped away on their ginger margarita, a combination of Patron tequila, ginger-infused syrup, Cointreau and lime), and savoured each bite of the shrimp dish.
After we polished off our cocktails, we hopped in our limo (yep, they hooked us up with a limo; how ballin’ is that?!) and headed to Morris East.
Now, Morris East is one of my FAVOURITE places to go for a bite with friends: it’s cozy and hip without being pretentious, and a has fresh, seasonally-inspired menu. They prepared their peach and prosciutto pizza with maple rosemary aioli for us: topped with sauteed onions, grilled peaches, arugula and goat cheese, it really is the perfect summertime pizza, especially when accompanied by a refreshing wine spritzer with a pineapple ginger syrup.
Liz Feltham actually popped by on this stop to meet with the bloggers, chat, and sign our cookbooks… which was pretty cool, since I grew up on a steady literary diet of her food columns in The Coast, back in the day! It was also a great opportunity to discuss the inspiration and effort that went into her latest project…
After we had eaten our fill of the delicate, thin-crust pizza (with purse snacks to go!) and sipped the last of our cocktails, we happily trundled back to our waiting ride, and headed to Seasons at the Atlantica Hotel on the corner of Quinpool & Robie.
I must admit, I was most excited about this stop on our tour, as I had heard many good things about this restaurant, but had not yet had a chance to visit. We were treated to a table-side visit from head chef, Luis Clavel. I was impressed by the clear passion he has for his craft, and for food, in general. He prepared a kind of deconstructed lobster curry chowder: presenting us with a mason jar filled with cold-poached lobster and sweet potato, all infused with a Carribbean curry. It was presented with a crispy pakora, filled with creamy chickpea puree, and a rich broth was poured into the mason jar, tableside, creating an incredible sensory experience, with the spicy curry scent wafting down the table.
Our last stop on this culinary tour was The Armview, a long-time staple on the Halifax dining scene, which was reinvented/refreshed by new owners a few years back. I love the decor/ambiance of the space: it has a definite diner feel, but with a trendy twist. Think slick, retro colour scheme, bar stools and booths, and funky artwork. There, we were treated to a dish of their incredibly creamy mac n’ cheese, which is riddled with chorizo sausage and manchego cheese, and served with a side of creamy, garlicky Caesar salad: definitely a recipe I would attempt, at home!
It was a whirlwind of great food, drinks and company, and we headed home with our appetites sated and a new cookbook filled with new recipes to add to our repertoire! Thanks to Nimbus for the lovely evening, and to TIBS, daMaurizio, Morris East, Seasons and the Armview for welcoming our group in for the evening!