A cork pops, the trigger pull on a liquid starter's pistol, and the foodie event called Decadence begins with Fresita, a Chilean sparkling wine, glistening ruby-red in a gently fizzing orchestra of champagne flutes. On the Friday before Valentine's Day, Decadence is the first of three keynote events at this month's Savour Food & Wine Festival; the final event is the Savour Show, happening tonight, February 25.
Decadence paired an array of wines with chocolate and cheese---small raptures, like Cabernet Sauvignon paired first with Swiss Gruyère and again with the intensely dark Michel Cluizel Grand Noir 85 percent, both plain and crafted into a divine cocoa-coated truffle created by one of the immensely talented student chefs in the Nova Scotia Community College's baking and pastry arts program.
The sighs and pops of corks were also the soundtrack to the second keynote Savour event, last week's Rare and Fine Wine Show, where wines like Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1998 and the 2005 Rubicon from Francis Ford Coppola's vineyards flowed freely. But these small tastes of future chefs and past vintages have only been snacks on the way to the Savour Show's main course.
Taking place in a traditionally slow season for the restaurant industry, the whole point of the Show, according to event coordinator Anna -Maria Jachimowicz, the operations manager at the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, is "to bring the talent and diversity of the restaurant scene to view."
Chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs from across the province will offer their wares,such as 44 North's duck poutine with local curds to Grand Pré restaurant Le Caveau's deconstructed lamb pastilla and smoked salmon bread pudding with plum salsa from Guysborough's Des Barres Manor Inn.
"Chefs have an opportunity to showcase their style and bring their name to the forefront," says Jachimowicz. "It allows the public to be exposed to what is going on in the culinary scene and visit a restaurant they would sometimes not."
And this is why Michael Howell participates. Chef/owner of Wolfville's Tempest, Howell has participated in five Savour shows in order to "shine a light for other non-HRM restaurants, in an effort to get Haligonians to learn that some of the best dining in Nova Scotia happens outside the city."
Ivan Nickerson, the Hamachi group of restaurants' operations manager, is also excited. Hamachi House has won the "best cold food" award since 2005. "We have the opportunity to showcase what we are proud of: our wide variety of unique cuisine from around the world," says Nickerson, "and talented chefs who are on hand to demonstrate how to roll sushi, the art and entertainment of Teppanyaki and cooking fresh mussels."
Dennis Johnston of Fid is a huge proponent of the local and sustainable food movement. "Fid Resto is local by nature and the Savour Show is one good way for us to continue to promote and support locally sustainable producers and harvesters," he says. "We get a chance to tell the locally sourced ingredients story at the core of Fid. The Savour Show primarily attracts a local audience and is a great way for those who don't already know us to have an introduction."
Nickerson describes the scene as "700 people show up for dinner. Everyone is greeted with open arms, they eat as much as they want, sample wine and spirits and go home knowing so much more about the Nova Scotia culinary scene." That, and a full belly.
Thursday, February 25 - 7:00-9:30pm
Halifax Marriot Waterfront Hotel