Wednesday, May 31, 2017

North Brewing Company wins two Canadian Brewing Awards

And the CBAs are coming to Halifax next year!

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 4:19 PM

North Brewing Co's hardware - ROZINA DARVESH
  • North Brewing Co's hardware
  • Rozina Darvesh

Rozina Darvesh and Peter Burbridge struck gold last weekend. The co-owners of North Brewing Company took home two gold trophies with their first-time entries at the Canadian Brewing Awards, which took place in Ottawa. North’s Gus’ 65m Ale was the victor in the Belgian Abbey/Pale category and its Midnight Glenora Barrel-Aged in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (dark) category.

The awards are Canada’s premier competition among beer and cider manufacturers. This year marks 15 years since the Canadian Brewing Awards started judging the finest beers the country has to offer. This year’s awards weren’t just a win for North, but Nova Scotia, too—the event will take place in Halifax for the first time in 2018. To the folks at North Brewing, having the event take place here puts Nova Scotia on the map in the world of craft beer. “It shows just how the industry has evolved,” said Burbridge. “Halifax now has more breweries per-capita than anywhere else in the country.”

Starting a brewery was a way for Darvesh and Burbridge to stay and build roots in Nova Scotia. The art of making beer helped combine the food science degree Darvesh received from Dalhousie University with Burbridge’s MBA into a family business. The two beers that took home gold in Ottawa were conceived by the couple in the company’s first year. “They’ve been with us since the beginning,” said Darvesh.

Gus’ 65m Ale is a Belgian-style “patio beer”, blonde with citrus notes, created and named for North’s neighbour Gus’ Pub and the 65-metre distance between them. Midnight, a strong brew with tones of cherry, dark-chocolate, whiskey and vanilla is barrel-aged in Cape Breton and bottled in Halifax.

Three other Nova Scotian breweries—Uncle Leo’s Brewing, Boxing Rock and Propeller—took home awards over the weekend as well, while Bulwark Cider and Sid’s Cider took multiple honours in the cider categories.

Darvesh says she is pumped to show what Nova Scotian craft brewers are capable of at the awards next year. “We, as a brewing company, get to showcase what we do to the rest of the country,” she says, “open our doors and show-off our province and reciprocate the welcome we received in Ottawa.”

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mexican eats and patio plans from the Stubborn Goat

Cooking up new establishments downtown

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 2:14 PM

The soon-to-be location of this summer's newest patio bar, The Rooftop - RILEY SMITH
  • The soon-to-be location of this summer's newest patio bar, The Rooftop
  • Riley Smith

“We really believe in the downtown core of Halifax and we want to add something that’ll help make downtown Halifax a destination,” says Geir Simensen. He and his Stubborn Goat Gastropub co-owners Joe McGuinness and Kyle Drake are putting wheels in motion this summer to add not just one new place to eat and drink downtown, but two.

First, The Rooftop. In the next week or so, the literal rooftop above Blowers Street’s Sicilian Pizza—which has operated as an outdoor space for Scanway in past summers—will re-launch as one of the sunniest new patios in the city. The Rooftop will serve a small menu of “flavourful, tasty and seasonal” barbecue-style eats, all cooked on the roof, says Simensen, as well as craft beer, cider and wine.

“It’ll be very different from the Goat experience,” he says. “We don’t want to offer the same experience in two places.” Once summer winds down, the Goat family will prepare to launch another new restaurant—this one indoors—in the renovated former home of The Foggy Goggle (1667 Argyle Street), which will overlook both Argyle and Barrington Streets.

“The concept is Mexican. It’s not going to be Tex-Mex, it’ll be authentic. Joe, Kyle and I all share an appreciation for that style of food,” says Simensen, who’s been spending time exploring Mexico, its culture and its cuisine for nearly 20 years. “It’ll be nice, simple food. Fresh masa tortillas. Real Mexican products.”

The restaurant—which doesn’t have a name just yet—will seat about 120, and aims to open in late September. Think Spanish music, good tequila, homey atmosphere and flavorful food.

“We like to stay very true to our concepts. With this one, we feel like there isn’t this being done anywhere in Halifax and we think it’s going to be a great addition to what’s downtown already,” says Simensen.

“I want people to smell the fresh masa when they walk into the place.”

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Rotisserie chicken heats up on North Street this summer

EDNA owner Jenna Mooers and restaurant builder Andrew Flood team up in the name of charcoal rotisserie chicken

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 11:45 AM

spinning_chicken.gif


When Robin’s flew the coop, Jenna Mooers and Andrew Flood quickly took flight and locked down the North Street location for a new restaurant.

“We jumped on the space before we even had a business plan because in place just because we wanted the space so badly,” says Mooers. Her partner, Flood, helped build the neighbouring Unfiltered Brewing, so they knew the space was ripe with opportunity.

Flood has worked on a lot of cool spaces in town in his time at Five by Five Renovations, including Stillwell and their beer garden and Good Robot. “He’s well-versed in the realm of building restaurants and bars,” says Mooers, who is herself well versed in operating them.

It didn’t take long to come up with the concept.

“Andrew and I lived together in Montreal for eight years. When we go back, one of our favourite types of food to eat is Portuguese charcoal rotisserie chicken,” Mooers says. “Romados is usually one of the first stops that we make.”

Portuguese chicken has the punch of piri piri sauce, addictively peppery, garlicky and tangy. The rotisserie chicken is kissed by charcoal heat, generally meaning it is moist as hell with perfectly crisped — hopefully singed! — skin since it bastes in its own tasty juices.

That said, Mooers makes it clear that her new place isn’t a Portuguese restaurant. It’s just about the chicken.

“It will be in that style and will have that influence, but we are not going to put a cultural tag on it,” Mooers says. “Obviously we are not Portuguese.” So, basically, when it comes to natas, expect nada.

It’s going to be a casual place. “A joint,” says Mooers. The menu will be focused on take-out, the chicken and fries or salads. Maybe sandwiches. The real focus is the eight-foot charcoal pit where the chicken will be roasting. “Other than that, it will be a pretty small menu,” she says. “We’ll have a couple of local beers and a couple a local wines on tap. And we’ll have a little patio out front and a little bit of seating inside, but it’ll primarily be a take-out restaurant.”

The name is still under wraps. “Every time I told someone I was naming my restaurant EDNA they looked at me and said ‘What?’” she says with a laugh. “So I’m keeping this to myself for a while longer.”

Mooers hopes to be open in July or August.
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Monday, May 15, 2017

Where's the beef? Not at Benny's Burgers

New street food business to offer a variety of vegan burgers.

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 2:55 PM

click image The Nacho Macho in all its glory. - VIA INSTAGRAM
  • The Nacho Macho in all its glory.
  • Via Instagram


Ben O’Toole and Morgan Zwicker are challenging the idea that there’s no such thing as vegan comfort food. Later this week, they’ll start slinging all sorts of tasty creations at Benny’s Burgers.

“We realized there’s a lack of vegan street food in Halifax,” says O’Toole. He adds that there are some great “clean eating” and raw options out there, that’s not always what people are looking for—particularly if they’re hungover.

O’Toole has had an interest in cooking since he was a kid, and he’s held a couple different jobs in the food industry. He already owns one food truck, Benny’s Ice Cream, which he started six years ago. That’s where he initially hired Zwicker. O’Toole 's starting to roll out vegan options through that business as well.

“People around here actually do want this stuff, but you don’t really know it because you just see meat everywhere,” says Zwicker.

Benny’s Burgers will soon be hitting up the corner of Spring Garden Road and Grafton Street, featuring burgers topped with hummus, guacamole or even pineapple. The Elvis is Zwicker’s personal favourite menu item.

“It’s a burger with peanut butter, jam, coconut bacon and dried banana pieces,” he says. “It’s kind of sweet but it also has a savoury crunch from the bacon at the same time.”

Is it enough to change the minds of local carnivores? We’ll see.

The patties are gluten free and vegetable-based, with different types of protein such as soy and pea protein. There are gluten-free options for the buns as well.

“When you eat this burger, we don’t want you to know it’s a veggie burger. It tastes really similar to a typical burger. We’re trying to bridge that gap.”

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Seven Open City stops to explore

If we were at a bookstore, these would all have stickers that say "Staff Pick: Becky."

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Wine, dine and climb (maybe not in that order) at this year's Open City. - JORDAN BLACKBURN
  • Wine, dine and climb (maybe not in that order) at this year's Open City.
  • Jordan Blackburn

Here’s hoping the rain stays away for this year’s Open City. Dozens of local businesses are providing good eats and store sales, so you may need to do some running around to get the most of it. The full schedule is on the I Love Local (HFX) website. I honed in on several of my favourites here, because I’m nice like that. 

1. Back Door Takeout at Humble Pie Kitchen
There are tons of things to chow down on during Open City and I would love to eat everything. If you’re trying to narrow it down, though, Dartmouth’s Humble Pie is amazing. Five-dollar pies are on offer starting at 9am and folk musician Jen Miller will be there for entertainment around noon. 77 King Street
For those who aren't venturing to Dartmouth, Humble Pie will be set up and slinging pies at Ocean Optometry. 5240 Blowers Street

2. World Tea House
Deals on tea all around, as well as ten-dollar tarot “speed readings” if you’re feeling spiritual. Is there more tea in my future? Yes. Yes, there is. 1592 Argyle Street

3. Seven Bays Bouldering
I guess we should include some exercise here, eh? In all seriousness, rock climbing is fun, but it can get pricey. Luckily, Seven Bays is charging just five bucks on Saturday, with two-dollar espresso drinks if you need that extra boost to work your way to the top of the wall. 2019 Gottingen Street

4. Back Lot Party at Cyclesmith
There’s going to be a bunch of things going on here, but let’s not beat around the bush. Hatfield Farms is bringing a petting zoo, and that alone is reason enough to go. 2553 Agricola Street

5. Bishop’s Cellar
Drink local and participate in some free tastings from 11am to 3pm. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. 1477 Lower Water Street

6. Made in the Maritimes
Ideal if you haven’t gotten your mom a Mother’s Day gift yet, you terrible child (just kidding, I haven’t either). A free mother’s day card by Dartmouth-based artist Sarah Duggan comes with purchase. On top of that, Nova Scotia Fisherman skincare will be offering up free samples and folk artist Shelagh Duffett will be live painting. 5527 Young Street

7. Roll On Two Bakery
Now’s the time to try one of those chimney cakes if you haven’t—you get a coffee for $1 with your purchase. 1810 Granville Street







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Monday, May 8, 2017

Bonjour, Mon Cerise

This lager is the first in a series of collaborative beers in honour of Garrison's 20th anniversary.

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 5:11 PM

ALEX PEARSON
  • Alex Pearson

As Garrison Brewing Co. marks its 20th year in the beer business, the company is rolling out some new brews—the first of which is the aptly-named Mon Cerise. It's a collaboration between Garrison, North Brewing, Good Robot and Spindrift.

Justin Zinck, retail manager at Garrison, says they wanted to celebrate how the industry has grown over the last 20 years. After deciding to do a collaboration, they realized there were far too many craft breweries in the province to collaborate on one beer. As a result, they're splitting things up regionally, starting with this joint effort in Halifax.

"It was a pleasure working with all these guys," says Zinck. "Everyone bruought a different set of expertise to the table."

Mon Cerise combines Spindrift's specialty in lager and North's expertise in Belgian beer to create (what else?) a Belgian lager. It's made with cherries too, of course, but Zinck stresses it's not a maraschino taste.

"There's a lot of care and technique going into it to make sure we balance the cherry flavour, make sure we get the best extracts and purees that we could."

It's been available at the companies' respective taprooms, but according to Zinck, Mon Cerise is almost gone. No need to fear, though: Garrison plans on launching one more anniversary beer before the summer and another two around summer's end.




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