Thursday, June 28, 2018

Aly Mae's Bread Basket brings Mary's cinnamon buns back to life

Legendary desserts for Dartmouth

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 1:00 AM

The days of Mary’s Bread Basket’s line-up-worthy cinnamon buns and nostalgia-inducing aromas are not behind us. The legendary staple that most folks remember from days of yore at the Historic Farmers’ Market (1496 Lower Water Street) disappeared from the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market (1209 Marginal Road) about two years ago but is back in action as of last week. The next iteration of the classic is called Aly Mae’s Bread Basket (11 Mount Hope Avenue, near the Dartmouth General Hospital). “They’ve been selling out like crazy,” says Gabrielle McNeill of the famous buns. She helps her sister Alysha Mae McNeill (AKA Aly Mae) run the business, which their family took over from their aunt Mary Mohammed. The new Dartmouth location sells cookies, squares, croissants and other baked goodness for now, alongside the cinnamon buns, with bread and English muffins to come later. Aly Mae’s aims to be back at the Seaport and Alderney Farmers’ Markets (2 Ochterloney Street) in the next couple of weeks.
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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Former Smiling Goat workers are opening Glitter Bean Cafe

The cooperatively run, queer-centred coffee shop opens in July

Posted By on Sat, Jun 23, 2018 at 11:19 AM

  • via @glitterbeancafe

Glitter Bean Cafe is the newest cooperative cafe to hit Halifax, started by the same baristas who worked at the Smiling Goat.

“It’s a model that we think empowers workers, it’s also a model we think shares the workload and minimizes hierarchy,” says Charlie Huntley, vice-president of the cooperative and a barista.

The idea to start their own cafe was talked about between the workers at the Smiling Goat for years, but after the 5896 Spring Garden Road location (which was formerly a Just Us!) closed in April, its staff decided to make it a reality.

“We signed an agreement with Just Us! for a reduced rent if we carry their coffee, and some funding from our union, and we found some personal funding as well,” says Huntley. “So we were able to pull it off financially which was a major component we were missing before now.”

Glitter Bean is set to be the first queer themed cafe in the city.

“It’s explicitly queer but not exclusively queer,” says Huntley. “It centres on queerness and a queer aesthetic and queer workers and queer customers, but also we want it to be open and welcoming and make other people feel safe as well.”

“Having a queer cafe in the city is important because there are very few queer spaces in Halifax at the moment,” says Huntley. “A cafe is an establishment where younger folks, folks who are underage and queer, can go. It’s also just important to build queer community and have a space where queer folks an feel safe and feel represented and feel reflected in the workforce at the business.”

Glitter Bean plans to open by the second week of July, but the date has not been finalized.

“We wear queerness on our sleeves," says Huntley, "it just made sense for us to open a cafe that aligned with our values and aesthetics.”

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Two Dumb Vegans’ brain food

Inspired by the awesomeness of Mary’s Bread Basket, these farmers’ market bakers have perfected their cinnamon roll recipe.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM

  • DYlan Chew

Two Dumb Vegans

Historic Farmers’ Market, 1496 Lower Water Street
Saturdays, 7am-1pm

When Michael Grove and Kerry Sharp begin the baking process for their bigger-than-your-hand, quadruple-layered cinnamon rolls, a sort of routine settles in: Singing (lots of it), cinnamon-dousing (even more of it) and layering up rectangles of buttery-yet-butter-free dough. “We found ourselves harmonizing all time, singing Weird Al B-sides, Disney songs. We do “‘A Whole New World’ a lot,” Grove says as Sharp laughs.

The partners in life and baking sell their dairy-free cinnamon rolls—and other treats—under the name Two Dumb Vegans at the Historic Brewery Market and, occasionally, the Halifax Forum Farmer’s Market. “Once upon a time at the original Historic Market, there was an almost cult-like following for Mary’s Bread Basket cinnamon rolls. I’ll be the first to admit that when I was young I was in that lineup, which was 20 people long, just to get this mythical cinnamon roll. And it was great. And then Mary’s Bread Basket closed. My whole market experience was based around the cinnamon roll so I set out not to replicate it, but to fill that void,” Grove offers. “I took a really long time developing the recipe, reworking it until I had an incredible cinnamon roll that just happened to be vegan.”

The pair originally met when Sharp got a job at Grove’s now-shuttered Quinpool Road restaurant Red Lunchbox. Though the plant-based eatery didn't last long (its doors were open from February to April of this year), the spark between Sharp and Grove did.

“It was just like, ‘Well that’s it, we can’t run a restaurant so now we’re just two dumb vegans forging forward’,” Grove says. While their visions of the future include launching a subscription service of simple, meat-and-dairy free meals, for now it’s all about the cinnamon rolls.

“I grew up in a quasi-Jewish household where challah was a big deal, and I used to live across the street from a Hong Kong bakery, so something in me wanted to make something with the texture of like a steam bun but the rich, almost umami-ness of egg bread,” Grove says of the pair’s signature roll. “But also a big part of it, too, is the cinnamon,” Sharp adds, estimating that each layer of the four-layer rolls uses at least a quarter cup of cinnamon. (Grove guesses it’s higher.)

Maybe the most special part of all, though, is the eating. Grove says it’s “turned into a huge community. It’s almost like a church, honestly, in that it’s a wonderful community of people that just sit and drink coffee together and eat cinnamon rolls and everyone knows everyone’s name.” 

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Kam-Moon brings Mediterranean eats to Brunswick Street

New restaurant alert.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2018 at 2:28 PM

When Hossam Ramadan says fast food, he's not talking about the junky kind that usually comes to mind. The operations manager at the brand new Kam-Moon says the restaurant aims to “introduce the best of the Mediterranean cuisine” and do so for an affordable price, but the speedy nature doesn’t mean there’s been any rush in concept or creation. “We wanted to redefine the fast food industry with homemade recipes.”

The 2013 Brunswick Street (next to Inkwell Modern Handmade Boutique) spot soft-opened today, bringing tastes from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Greece and Turkey to those looking for a quick and healthy bite. But what sets it the apart the most is the ridiculously fresh bread—baked in-house pita. Egyptian pita pockets—which are similar to the Lebanese kind we’re familiar with, expect thicker—are better known as eish, meaning “to be alive,” says Ramadan. “You walk around the Egyptian markets and it’s what you can smell, it’s really popular there. A lot of people depend on that bread to go through their day.”

Kam-Moon’s pitas will be packed with a variety of fillings (like falafel, kofta and calamari) and will be served from when the early morning baking finishes to around 10pm. And if you’ve got room for dessert Ramadan suggests trying the tulumba, which he likens to a Turkish churro. Um, sold.
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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Three must-eat dishes at this weekend's Halifax Greek Fest

It's souvlaki time

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 6:47 AM


Halifax Greek Fest
St. George’s Greek Orthodox Community
38 Purcell’s Cove Road
June 7-10

It’s year 33 for the Halifax Greek Fest, an annual celebration of culture where music, dancing, church tours and endless good food work together to make a weekend that’s sort of synonymous with summer kick-off. We chatted with George Kapetanakis—The Armview Restaurant and Lounge owner and Greek Fest volunteer—about how to conquer the festival’s menu. His number one tip? Get there early.

“You get the variety pack there, and it’s pretty damn delicious,” says Kapetanakis. A favourite dish from the kitchen, this all-encompassing platter gets you pork or chicken souvlaki, moussaka, spanakopita, salad, lemon roasted potatoes and tzatziki. “The ladies down there have been working their arses off,” he adds.

This snack comes straight from the grill and features hand-cut, long-marinated, grilled-to-perfection pork and fresh tzatziki. Kapetanakis calls it “a labour of love.” “The donair is huge, it was invented by Greeks in Halifax, but the entire population of Greece eats this dish,” he says. Added bonus? It’s only $7.

You can’t not eat this. Phyllo pastry. Walnuts. Honey. “You can’t go wrong really,” says Kapetanakis. “It’s a little bit of sweet, a little bit of bitter, it’s the quintessential Greek dessert.” And if there’s any time to go classic, it’s now.
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Seedlip's here in spirit

Seedlip’s game-changing, distilled non-alcoholic spirits are coming to Halifax.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 3:46 AM


The world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits are set to make their east coast
debut this week at the first Drink Atlantic Cocktail Festival—and they’re guaranteed to stir up some debate, and great-tasting beverages. But who’s behind all of this and what does it mean for cocktail culture?

Established in 2015, UK-based distilling company Seedlip was born in founder Ben Branson’s kitchen out of a desire to capture the essence of the natural world. By removing the initial alcohol necessary for flavour extraction from his distillates post-extraction and forgoing fermentation, Branson has effectively created a remedy to “rid the world of horribly fruity mocktails.” Today, Seedlip products are available in 17 countries, served by Michelin-starred restaurants and offered at many of the world’s top 50 cocktail bars.

“It’s definitely sparking a conversation around how much alcohol people need to drink, and why can’t we cater to people who, for whatever reason, don’t want an alcoholic drink,” says Branson.

And with two refreshing spirit offerings, Seedlip is catering no doubt. Garden 108, an herbal blend of hand-picked peas and traditional garden herbs pairs wonderfully with simple tonic and garnish, lending its spearmint, rosemary and thyme base to a clean tasting beverage. Spice 94, an aromatic and complex blend of all spice, bark and citrus makes for a great NoGroni (Seedlip’s alcohol-free take on Negroni). And it’s not just alcohol that’s missing, Seedlip products are also free of sugar, calories, sweetener, artificial flavours and allergens.

However, the brand is by no means pushing a restrictive beverage agenda, rather it offers balance in a world of extremes. “We believe in the power of amazing flavour and wonderful experiences—that’s possible with a non-alcoholic cocktail and a low-alcohol content,” says Branson whose search for equilibrium-inspired Nolo: Seedlip’s two-night international pop-up bar event, featuring beverages with an alcohol content of no to low in 15 major cities (including Toronto) beginning July 24.

With a new Seedlip product set to hit the Canadian market later this year, Branson is “just scratching the surface of what’s possible with non-alcoholic cocktails.” Canadian ambassador for Seedlip, Sarah Parniak, will be in town for Drink Atlantic Cocktail Festival this weekend—Branson will there in spirit. (And for those not attending the event, you can find Seedlip at Pete's on Dresden Row.) He hopes his vision for more (and better) drink options will be embraced on the east coast.

“I enjoy giving people in the industry a new approach to thinking about hospitality for those who aren’t drinking and sparking a little debate,” says Branson. “I’m happy Seedlip is there—I’m always excited to show people that there is another way.” 

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Vol 28, No 1
July 9, 2020

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