By Trevor J. Adams
When you put on an event like the Savour food and wine show year after year, you can become a victim of your own success. How do you make an event that is—by most accounts, already a popular success—bigger, better and fresher each year?
Organizer Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, and his team may have found a way, though. “We’re changing the length and format,” he says. “We’ve rebranded. We really want to create a great winter festival for Nova Scotia and incorporate the winter wine festival.”
The event, which used to run about four weeks, now spans from January 30 to March 6, and has been renamed the Savour Food & Wine Winter Festival. The main event remains the Savour Food & Wine Show at the Cunard Centre on March 6, which will feature some 75 exhibitors sharing samples (all included in the ticket price) of the province’s best culinary offerings. “The goal of the Savour show is to highlight the diversity of Nova Scotia’s food offerings,” Stewart says. “It gives diners a chance to mingle with chefs and food producers, and really discover new things.”
The show, with three hours of non-stop tasting sensations, has doubled in size since it began a decade ago. “This will be the biggest Savour show ever,” Stewart says. “This year we’re excited to have more artisan cheeses, and tasting options like that. It’s a chance to learn more, have more fun and discover things from around the province.”
Participating chefs are busy considering what they’ll offer. At the Press Gang on Prince Street, Chef Jason Townes is keeping his cards close to his vest, but reveals he’s considering some variation on the pork chop. “I want something that reflects well on the restaurant, and shows what I can do,” he explains. “I want to give people something they’ll remember.”
While you have to wait until March to see what Townes and his fellow exhibitors come up with, the festival offers many other events through the winter to whet your appetite. It begins with the Imbibe cocktail tasting at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street on January 30. The province’s top mixologists will offer some 40 sample cocktails, featuring premium products and paired with hors d’oeuvres and live music.
Throughout February, restaurants around the province will take part in the festival’s Dine Out program, offering special three-course prix fixe menus, showcasing an array of Nova Scotian flavours. And on February 6, action returns to the Casino for the Decadence: Chocolate, Wine & Cheese tasting. Students from the Nova Scotia Community College’s acclaimed Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts programs will strut their stuff, pairing fine chocolate and cheese dishes with carefully chosen wines. And serious wine drinkers mustn’t miss the Rare & Fine Wine tasting at the Casino on February 21. Sample from some 30 rare wines, none of which are usually available in Nova Scotia, and all scoring 90+ points in major wine rankings.