The Date and Time: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
The Event: Devour! (Seventh edition) Opening Gala Reception (presented by Taste of Nova Scotia)
The Venue: Acadia University, Fountain Commons, Wolfville Nova Scotia.
The Target Audience: well-wishers and foodies.
The Availability/Catalogue: In style, the gala was much like similar benefits in Toronto – a walkaround with beverage stations (wine, beer, cider and spirits) and food stations. It was the usual grazing pattern, except in our case, it is in Nova Scotia. So most of the beverages and all of the food were mostly available only locally.
The Quote/Background: This Opening Gala used to be part of a package with the Opening Gala Film, but this year the two got split (you could do one or both), which suited our personal timetable better. Twelve of Nova Scotia's finest chefs came together to create sensory explorations that celebrated local cuisine. Participating were: Renee Lavallee (The Canteen on Portland), Charlie Burtt (The Port Pub), Margie Lamb (Meadowbrook Meat Market), Stephanie Ogilvie (Brooklyn Warehouse), Ludovic Eveno (Agricola Street Brasserie), Martin Ruiz Salvador (Fleur de Sel), Matthew Krizan (Mateus Bistro), Chris Bolt (The Press Gang Restaurant and Oyster Bar), Virginia Fynes (The Union Street, with a unique venison slider), Ingrid Dunsworth (The Cake Lady), Peter Welton (Chartwells at Acadia University). Plus Jonathan Joseph from Argyler Lodge and Restaurant was there – a delicious smoked salmon cake [from Willy Krauch?} AND the Argyler Lodge was the Judge's Choice at this year's Chowder Smackdown. They did a terrific smoked haddock and corn chowder. But the best food I had there (and I went back for seconds) was from Brooklyn Warehouse and Chef Stephanie Ogilvie. She had prepared pastrami cured salmon, pimento cheese, salmon roe, "everything spiced" smoked creme fraiche, and pickled quail egg, on a sprouted rye eclair. Dy-no-mite!! I gave her the "Award For Best Food Given to an Outlander who Comes from Away"
The Beverages: Drinks came from The Good Cheer Trail featuring Domaine de Grand Pre, Planters Ridge Winery, Avondale Sky Winery, Benjamin Bridge, Saint-Famille Wines, L'Acadie Vineyards, Barrelling Tide Distillery, Halifax Distilling Co., Tangled Garden (herb liqueurs and fruit cordials), Boxing Rock Brewing Company (Double IPA was terrific, so was Daskai Keji Black IPA), and Bulwark Cider (best was their Bulwark Original, followed by Bulwark Blush and People's Cider). I sampled the wines and some of the beers/ciders, but did not have any distilled spirits or cocktails.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Benjamin Bridge Brut NV Methode Traditionnelle $28 NS
-Domaine de Grand Pre Haskap Sparkling 11.5% ABV $27.50 NS
-L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvee Sparkling MT 2014 $31 NS
-L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvee Rose MT 2015 $30
-Planters Ridge Quintessential Red $24 NS PN/Lucy Kuhlman/Marquette/Castel [gold medalist]
-Lightfoot & Wolfville Ancienne Chardonnay 2015 $40 [biodynamic principles, Demeter next year]
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Planters Ridge Elevation Sparkling 2016 $24 NS Muscat ottonel/L'acadie/Frontera blanc
-Planters Ridge Chardonnay 2015 $25 NS
-Lightfoot & Wolfville Fauna (off-dry Marechal Foch and Leon Millot, presented here as matched with "red velvety truffle" made with Fair Trade and organic chocolate via Just Us).
-Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 $25 NS (also available in Ontario)
-Domaine de Grand Pre Castel Vintner's Reserve 2016 13.5% ABV
-Domaine de Grand Pre Tidal Bay 2016 $20
-Sainte-Famille Wines Fundy Fizz 2015 $19 NS
-Sainte-Famille Wines Siegfried 2014 $16 NS
-Avondale Sky Tennycape 2015 $19 NS
-Avondale Sky Leon Millot Rose 2016 $18 NS
-Avondale Sky Leon Millot Red 2015 $25 NS
The Downside: are you kidding? If anything, people had to leave the Gala early in order to get a seat at the film, which was followed by a cocktail party.
The Upside: There was a chance to speak with actor Gordon Pinsent who presented his fave food film, "The Hundred-Foot Journey". He curated it with a discussion. His daughter, actor Leah Pinsent (Made in Canada), was also along, and she told us of her impending rom-com/drama series "Savoury".
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 95.