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Taste toast

Taste of Nova Scotia held its awards dinner last week.


How is provincial politics like professional wrestling? Taste of Nova Scotia, the organization that shills for Scotia year round, held its first annual Prestige awards ceremony last Thursday at the Prince George Hotel. Folksy agriculture minister Brooke Taylor was there, saying, "It's nice after the cut and thrust of the house to come here and enjoy a great meal." So was the man he hammerlocked at Province House earlier that day, Glace Bay MLA Dave Wilson. They sat at adjacent tables, enjoying themselves like old pals.

At the start of the night, hits to mingle to included L'Acadie vineyards Brut and fantastic little oysters from Eel Lake Oyster Farm. Oyster farmer Nolan D'Eon won the Quality Driven Award. They're from Yarmouth county and you can try the oysters at the Five Fishermen or Little Fish.

Coast taste-tee ribbon goes to Prince George executive chef Ted Grant who designed the menu. Earthy Cape Breton chanterelles stuffed in ravioli sat in a Jerusalem artichoke soup. A tender slip of lobster tail was placed on potato fondant filled with braised short ribs. Passing the taters sharing of Northumberland lamb and fixings on a lazy Susan was fun and of the three types of lamb on offer, slow-cooked shank wrapped in goat cheese, rolled into squash-ball sized croquettes made of dried spinach and breadcrumbs, scored big. Another simple success was the Dragon's Breath blue-cheese cheesecake.

Michael Howell of Wolfville's Tempest emceed. He set the pace by saying fine cuisine is not metro-centric anymore. True 'nuff---out-of-towners cleaned up. Cuisine of the Yearwent to Des Barres Manor Inn in Guysborough County. Good-humoured Heather Richards of the Salmon River House and Lobster Shack restaurant took Server of the Year.

Due south, Fleur de Sel won Restaurant of the Year. Martin Ruiz Salvador, chef and co-owner of the restaurant, said that staying true to local ingredients was worth it, "as long as you push those farmers and say 'come on, get it in on time'." His candour pleased a roomful of restauranteurs. The mild-mannered man from Blandford invited everyone over to the Palace. I wonder if good samaritan---provincial fisheries minister Ron Chisholm---joined him?

After the ceremony, I spoke to the man with the long sideburns: Ruiz Salvador said they recently refurbished a single room in the loft of Fleur. "We put a lot of coin into the room. The deal is, you can come for dinner, stay the night, then come down in the morning and have breakfast with us." He doesn't seem worried about weathering winters in Lunenburg. He stays open all year round.

"It's difficult to get good staff, so you have to take the hit. It's worth it." His sleepover promo costs $269.

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