Nova Scotia – Food and Philanthropy

This Canadian Maritime Province has always been a haven for people wanting a better life and that spirit continues with their culinary outreach program
Peter Morrell reports

Pier 21 in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, has been the welcoming point and gateway for the hopes and aspirations of the bulk immigrants into Canada. Many of them stayed in the Province, they had come from Ireland, Scotland, Northern France and Scandinavia, so the bonds between North West Europe and Nova Scotia are still very strong.

Amateur genealogists make the journey, a short five hour flight away from London, to find the records of their antecedents. When they arrive, like all other visitors, they also find a lot of other things to explore; the history, dramatic scenery, a mix of Celtic and other cultures, fine wines and above all some of the best seafood in the world.

And it’s the food which is the basis of a recent initiative by Taste of Nova Scotia who are working with the Jamie Oliver Foundation. The initiative will see two of the apprentices at Jamie’s restaurant Fifteen spend time with two top chefs in Nova Scotia. This will help the apprentices, who are drawn from some of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK, to develop their skills and careers.

Two chefs who are participating in the scheme, Alain Bosse, The Kilted Chef and Michael Howell, chef and proprietor of the Tempest World Cuisine restaurant. Alan and Michael were in London recently and spent time with the apprentices at Fifteen. While they were at the restaurant they and Taste of Nova Scotia hosted a dinner featuring the food of the Province.

The evening started with Alan and Michael giving cookery demonstrations and talking about why so many top chefs are attracted to Nova Scotia. The answer is that apart from it being a good environment to live there is ready access to some of the world’s best ingredients and as every chef knows you can’t create excellent dishes from poor food. While watching canapés being prepared and a lesson in how to crack open a lobster the guests sipped on kirs and cocktails made with wild blueberry juice, vodka and sparkling wine, all made in Nova Scotia.

The meal itself had been prepared by the apprentices with food and wine that had been specially flown in for the occasion. The first course was a plate of the most succulent scallops imaginable with Jerusalem artichokes, crispy shallots and a maple syrup dressing, it was an auspicious start.

Continuing the theme of ultra fresh and seasonal the entree was a creamy risotto with snow crab, summer peas and tarragon, the dish was a powerful mix of flavours that worked well together.

The starter had been matched with the Benjamin Bridge Nova 7, a white wine with aromatic and fruity notes.  The risotto was paired with another white, the Avondale Sky Tidal Bay. Tidal Bay is the newly announced appellation which describes the white wine of Nova Scotia and gives wine drinkers an assurance of quality. Avondale Sky is owned by Stewart Creaser and Lorraine Vassalo a husband and wife team who are committed to quality. During the meal Stewart spoke passionately about the new appellation and the care that is taken in producing wine in Nova Scotia.

The main course was lobster, a crustacean that slowly matures in the cold waters of Atlantic Canada and results in one of the ultimate gourmet dining experiences. Simply served with vegetables, potatoes, seaweed and a citrus aioli all the ingredients shone with their own personalities. The two wine options for this course were Luckett Vineyards Tidal Bay and the red Grand Pre 2008 Maréchel Foch, another two fine examples of the Nova Scotia ‘terroir’.

All good things must come to an end, the finale was chocolate and whisky tart with maple syrup ice cream, the whisky which we also drank with the tart was the Nova Scotia Glen Breton Rare 10 year old, from the Glenora distillery, it’s North America’s first single malt. For the non spirit drinkers the delightful and highly concentrated Jost Vidal Ice Wine was their treat.

During this year and into next the Taste of Nova Scotia will work with the Jamie Oliver Foundation to select two apprentices to go and work with Alan and Michael. This philanthropic program will strengthen the culinary bonds between the UK and Nova Scotia and prove that the common enjoyment of good food brings us all closer together

You can read more about visiting Nova Scotia in the article by Liz Gill, which was published on AMG last year, by clicking here…


Taste of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Tourism
The Jamie Oliver Foundation
Alain Bosse
Michael Howell
Fifteen Restaurant