Tag Archives: nova scotia

Aerial shot of Korean fried chicken and tater tots

10 Best Budget-Friendly Eats in Halifax, Nova Scotia

The best restaurants in Halifax aren’t always fancy seafood spots that’ll cost you a huge chunk of your paycheque (although there’s a time and place for that too!). Some of the best eats in this beautiful Atlantic province have a price tag of less than $20 a person. From standard East Coast grub like donair and fish and chips to Caribbean food, fried chicken and beyond, we got you covered.

CHKN SHOP

This cozy spot on North Street offers fried chicken sammies (try their McCHKN!), yummy sides like roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts, as well as family combo packs. The two-person combo will cost you $27 and it comes with ½ chicken, two sides, coleslaw, gravy and hot sauce.

 

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Cafe Aroma Latino

This Latin American cafe at the corner of North and Agricola serves delish eats like quesadillas, empanadas, tacos (note: their shrimp tacos are popular for a reason!) and much more. A meal will cost you between $10 to $15 and they have a few tables outside for socially distanced eats.

 

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Sushi Shige

This small resto on Almon is arguably the best sushi spot in Halifax. How much you spend is really up to you. The salmon teriyaki dinner is $18, but you can also mix and match with your favourite Japanese eats — from agedashi tofu ($6) and nigiri ($6) to a variety of maki rolls.

 

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Backoos

This restaurant on Birmingham, close to the Halifax Public Gardens and the waterfront, has all your favourite Korean dishes: Korean fried chicken ($13 for chicken bites plus rice and dumplings), vegetarian or beef bibimbap ($11), kimchi fried rice ($12), japchae ($16) and more.

Willman’s Fish and Chips

You didn’t think we’d get through a list on Halifax best restos without including a fish and chips joint, did you? This spot at Isleville and Kane has been serving up East Cost comfort fare since the ‘40s. Their single-piece fish and chips will cost you $11, three pieces will set you back $17.

 

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Chef Abod

This Middle Eastern resto on Kempt Road offers oh-so delish dishes like falafel, kebab, Moroccan lentil soup and more. The special appetizer plate includes hummus, baba ganoush, red lentil kofta, roasted red pepper dip, falafels, grape leaves and warm pita and is only $15.

Jessy’s Pizza

Jessy’s is the largest locally owned pizza franchise in Nova Scotia, with 12 locations across the province and three locations in other major Canadian cities. Operating since the early ‘90s, they serve pizza of course, along with East Coast faves like garlic fingers ($10) and donair ($7 to $13).

Italian Market

Italian Market is a small cafe and grocer located on Young Street. They offer a variety of soups, sandwiches, pizza, pasta and famous deli sandwiches (all the sammies are less than $11). While you’re waiting for your Italian sandwich to get made, browse the grocery and gift sections of the store.

Jamaica Lee

This Caribbean food truck specializes in jerk chicken, curry, oxtail, rice and peas, beef patties and festivals, all which cost $16 or less. Order on your favourite food delivery app or head to the corner of Main Street and Tacoma Drive in Dartmouth to get your fill of Caribbean fare.

Adda Indian Eatery

Located on Spring Garden Road, Adda (which means hangout spot) is serving A+ Indian food like dosas and vada pav. There isn’t a single thing on their menu pricier than $13. Know your dollars are going to a resto with a heart: they’ve raised money to support Palestine and COVID-19 in India.

 

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Acadian rappie pie on green and white plate

This Traditional Acadian Dish Uses Less Than 10 Ingredients

One of the first things you’re asked if you ever venture down to the Acadian communities of southwestern Nova Scotia is, “Have you had rapure?” Rapure or pate a la rapure is more commonly known as rappie pie in English. It is more akin to a casserole than a pie, but even that is using the term loosely. Its ingredients are modest: potatoes, meat, stock, maybe a little bit of salted onions for flavour — and if you’re feeling luxurious, some salted, crunchy and rendered pork fat on the side. Those who have never been exposed to it often wonder what is on their plate and why it’s there. But trust us. We’ve been eating this for almost 200 years and we’re enthusiastic about it. It’s our comfort food. And reheated rappie pie in a skillet with lots of butter is a wonderful thing indeed.

Acadian rappie pie on green and white plate

Râpure / Rappie Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, minced
2 Tbsp oil or butter
2 Tbsp salted onions, plus additional 2 tsp (optional)
1 (4 pound) whole chicken, preferably a stewing hen
12 cups cold water (or enough to cover chicken in the pot)
2 bay leaves
3-4 carrots, diced
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp minced salt pork (optional)

Directions:

1. The first thing to do is make the chicken stock. This can be done the day before. In a pot large enough to accommodate your chicken, saute onions in the butter (or oil) until translucent. Add 1 tsp of salted onions if you have them. If not, add a bit of salt to onions to help them sweat.

2. Add chicken and cover with water. Add the bay leaves and carrots. Cover the pot and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to keep the bird at a gentle simmer. Cook for about 1 hour, or until meat is almost falling off the bone, but not quite.

3. Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the stock through a sieve. (At this point you can refrigerate your stock until you need it or just keep it warm if you plan on making the rappie pie at the same time).

Related: Where to Eat in Nova Scotia: Top Chef Canada’s Renee Lavallee’s Top 5 Restaurants

4. Shred the chicken into small pieces, discarding the bones and skin. Set aside.

5. Grate your potatoes on a box grater or rasp. Take your time or you’ll end up with bloody knuckles. (Alternatively, you can use a juicer to simultaneously pulverize your potatoes and remove much of the water. The texture will be mildly different, but highly comparable).

6. Place portions of the rasped/grated potato into muslin or kitchen towels. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. You will be adding stock to it afterwards, and you want to get out as much of the liquid as possible. (Tip: squeeze the potatoes into a large measuring bowl. Let’s say you squeeze out 7 ½ cups of potato water, you should add back in about 10 cups of stock. This is the ratio you’re trying to achieve. Adjust accordingly).

7. Bring the stock to a rolling boil. You need it to be as hot as possible to scald the potatoes properly. Heat your oven to 425˚F.

Related: The Delicious History of the Halifax Donair

8. Put the potatoes into a large bowl, big enough to accommodate at least twice its volume. (If you don’t have a bowl big enough, do this in batches, making sure to keep your stock as hot as possible for scalding the potatoes.) Break up the potatoes using a hand mixer. Mix in half of the hot stock using a hand mixer and stir it all together, making sure to moisten the potatoes as much as possible. Mix in the rest of the hot stock and keep stirring. The mixture will thicken, but keep stirring for about 2-3 minutes after adding the last of the stock. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and the salted onions as you go.

9. Pour enough of the potato pulp to cover the bottom of your casserole dish. Add roughly ½ of your chicken, tossing it over the potatoes. Add enough potatoes to just cover the chicken and then add more chicken, finally covering that with the rest of the potatoes.

10. Place the rappie pie into your oven. Bake at 425˚F for 30 minutes and then turn down the heat to 375˚F and bake for another 1 ½ to 2 hours. Occasionally baste the top with butter (or small dice of salt pork) to help the crust brown. The dish is ready when the crust on the top is nice and set and golden brown. Serve warm with loads of butter or possibly a little molasses on the side.

Pantry and Palate cookbook coverExcerpted from Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food @2017 Simon Thibault. Reprinted with Permission from Nimbus Publishing.

 

Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, Amazon, $35.

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Halifax Donair

The Delicious History of the Halifax Donair

The next time you’re in Halifax, skip the lobster boil and go straight to the pizza shop instead. After all, that’s where you’ll find the city’s official snack: the Halifax donair.

Unless you’re a native Bluenoser, you may never have tasted this popular late-night snack, and experienced the unavoidable drip of garlicky donair sauce down your chin. The sloppy sandwich is a pita filled with spit roasted shaved beef, served with tomatoes and onions, slathered in the signature sauce.

“It’s spicy, eaten normally at midnight,” says Alain Bossé, a top chef from Pictou, Nova Scotia and ambassador of all things culinary in Atlantic Canada. “After a long night out, you line up at a pizza corner in Halifax. It’s a great hangover food!”

Related: 10+ Canadian First Nations Recipes to Make at Home

Halifax Donair

As the story goes, the Halifax donair was first invented in the 1970s by Peter Gamoulakos. Originally from Greece, he started selling Greek gyros (a pita stuffed with grilled lamb and tzatziki) from his restaurant located off the Bedford Highway. But the sandwich just didn’t jive with the East Coast’s “meat and potatoes” palate.

Swapping lamb for beef, the brothers whipped up a sweet “donair sauce” and tried again. This time, however, a feeding frenzy erupted and Halifax’s signature dish was born. The late-night favourite has become so popular that in 2015, Halifax city council voted to make it the city’s official food.

Related: The Sticky-Sweet History of the Butter Tart

“There’s something about this dish that’s unique to Atlantic Canada,” says Chef Alain Bossé. “People will drive miles for a donair!”

Today, almost every pizza place in the province sells the sloppy and sumptuous late-night eat, some even selling more donairs than pies. Every East Coaster has a favourite spot, but The King of Donair and Tony’s Donair have long been local favourites. Both spots have been serving the snack since the 1970s. Recently though, donair-mania has infiltrated swankier eateries.

Garlic Fingers with Donair SauceGet the recipe for Garlic Fingers with Donair Sauce

“Now that Halifax has proclaimed the donair as the food of choice, restaurants and hotels are serving donairs,” says Chef Alain. “Some are serving miniature canapés with donair meat.”

Playful renditions aside, there are traditional techniques to making the beloved sandwich. First, spiced ground beef is moulded into an elongated log that’s roasted on a spit. The donair meat is then shaved, sautéed and stuffed into a pita, along with fresh tomatoes, raw onions, and a special sweet sauce made with sweetened condensed milk, vinegar and garlic powder. As Chef Alain says, it’s adding the donair sauce that makes it.

“The sweet sauce is what makes a difference between a donair and a gyro,” he says. “My favourite? Sam’s Pizza in New Glasgow. They make their own pita, so it’s always fresh and soft.”

Related: You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Tasted Butter Tart Cinnamon Buns

For decades, the Halifax donair largely remained a hidden treasure, scarcely found on menus outside Nova Scotia. But as more Nova Scotians started settling across the country and with the advent social media, there’s a growing appetite for this late-night nosh outside of the province. Canadian chefs are incorporating this trendy food item onto their menus and even getting creative with the recipe.

Donair PizzaGet the recipe for Donair Pizza

“The donair sauce is being used as an add-on,” says Chef Alain. “A lot of burger places are making burgers with donair sauce. There’s also pepperoni pizza with donair sauce.”

If you’re looking to truly replicate the original recipe, Mr. Donair — once the Gamoulakos brothers’ company — sells a do-it-yourself Halifax Donair kit, complete with pita bread, donair sauce and a pound of donair meat. The kits are sold in grocery stores, frequently used by chefs, and are gaining popularity in every nook and cranny of Canada.

Related: The History of Peameal Bacon — Plus Our Favourite Recipes

“Those kits are really starting to infiltrate the camps in Fort McMurray!” says Chef Alain. “With the kit, sauté the meat in a frying pan, crisping it. Then stuff your pita and just eat away.”

Once the key ingredients are ready to go, get busy adding your own influence to this classic Canadian dish. However, Chef Alain says to stick with some of the core ingredients: “It’s not a donair unless there are onions and tomatoes. And make sure to grill your pita!”

rhubarb relish in white bowl

Rhubarb Relish Recipe is a Breakfast Favourite

Katherine Eisenhauer, a ninth-generation resident of Lunenburg, NS, has been the chef-owner of The Savvy Sailor Cafe in her hometown since 2012. Her unassuming little restaurant, which boasts a view of Lunenburg’s historic UNESCO World Heritage Site waterfront, is a favourite with tourists and locals alike. Fresh locally sourced ingredients and a diverse menu that includes many of her own family’s favourite dishes are the secrets to her success.

rhubarb relish in white bowl

“Rhubarb is definitely a well-loved ingredient in Nova Scotia; it grows in many backyards, including my own,” says Katherine. “I still remember helping my grandmother — my dad’s mum, Josephine — pull rhubarb from the huge patch in the yard of the home she lived in with Gramps when I was a kid. I think they had the best rhubarb patch in town. We would have a great time together gathering it, washing it and chopping it up. Although she made different things with it, Gamma (as I always call her) was most famous for her rhubarb relish. I can hardly remember a family gathering where fish was served when it wasn’t on the table.”

“Hers is the exact recipe I still use today in the cafe. In fact, I followed it right from her own handwriting in the Dutch Oven cookbook just this morning! The Dutch Oven is a Lunenburg classic. It was first published in 1953 by Gamma and her friends in The Ladies Auxiliary of the Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital and it’s full of traditional Nova Scotia recipes. When they created it as a fundraiser back then, the ladies sure didn’t expect it to remain popular all these years later. It’s now in its 21st printing.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Best Savoury Baked Breakfasts

“Around here, rhubarb relish is typically eaten with whitefish, cod or haddock, or with other cod-based dishes, like fish cakes. That’s how we serve it at the cafe: alongside our famous fish cakes and baked beans as part of our Lunenburg Breakfast. It’s one of our most popular items, even though it’s pretty unusual for people to choose fish for breakfast. (I guess when they visit us, they figure: when in Rome?). People really love the relish — they’re always asking me, “Can I buy some? Can I buy some?” So when I have enough on hand, I sell some to customers. When stored properly in the fridge, it lasts many months. We also serve it for dinner alongside fish cakes and salad or pan-seared Atlantic cod and salad.”

“This recipe has so many great personal connections for me, but what really stands out is our family’s annual fish-cake brunch. For as long as anyone can remember, we’ve been gathering for this event between Christmas and New Year’s — both sides of the family, as well as family friends. It’s the sort of meal where we prep about 50 pounds of potatoes and 15 pounds of cod! The relish is always a big part of that meal.”

“We’ve been in Lunenburg since 1753, when the three Eisenhauer brothers first arrived from Germany. Traditions mean a lot to us. Grandma’s 90 now and though she still loves to cook, I make the relish these days and take my relish over to her. She’s given it her stamp of approval! I’m so happy to be keeping her tradition alive.”

The Savvy Sailor’s Rhubarb Relish

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ½ hours (includes chilling time)
Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Servings: 8 cups

Ingredients:

8 cups chopped rhubarb
8 cups onions, thinly sliced
7 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Chop rhubarb into rough dice; set aside.

2. Add onions to separate bowl. Cover with boiling water; let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and discard water.

3. In heavy-bottomed pot, dissolve sugar in cider vinegar on medium heat. Add onions, rhubarb, salt, cloves and cinnamon. Stir well. Cook, stirring often, until it reaches a thick jam-like consistency, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Remove from heat; let cool. Place in jar and refrigerate.

Published May 24, 2016, Updated June 1, 2019

East Coast Inspired Donair Pizza

Donair pizza is one of those crazy mashups that could have only been created on the east coast. Like the beloved donair, it includes all the same fixin’s, but with one important addition; mozzarella cheese. So if you’re having trouble deciding between pizza and a donair, this creative twist on a classic is the way to go!

donair-pizza-new

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:

Donair Meat
1 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Donair Sauce
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Pizza
1 500g package pizza dough
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup finely diced tomato, seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 tsp cornmeal

donair-pizza-new2

Directions:

Donair Meat
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine beef with spices (by hand or in a food processor). Whirl until fully combined, about 30 seconds.
3. Form meat into a loaf shape, then place on pan. Bake, in centre of oven, until meat feels firm to the touch, 40 to 50 minutes.
4. Let cool before slicing length wise as thinly as possible.

Donair Sauce
1. Combine sweetened condensed milk with vinegar and garlic powder.

Pizza
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 14-inch circle.
3. Dust a 15-inch pizza pan with cornmeal. Transfer to pan.
4. Arrange donair meat in one even layer over dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with tomatoes and onion.
5. Bake in centre of oven until crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Drizzle with donair sauce.

Sweet and Simple Lobster Rolls in Old Town Lunenburg

By Adam Bower, as told to Signe Langford

Oh, how times have changed! Back in the 1950s and ’60s, when Adam Bower’s mom was growing up in a small fishing village outside Lunenburg, N.S., the curtains were drawn if lobster was on the table for dinner. In those days, it was considered poor man’s food, a source of shame. Today, it’s with great pride the sommelier-owner of Grand Banker Bar & Grill in Lunenburg serves what is now a highly prized delicacy.

By the time I was growing up in Lunenburg, eating lobster was no longer considered shameful or something you had to do when times were tough. It was a pretty special occasion, and we only had a big lobster feed a couple of times a year. Mom and Dad would make a call, then go and meet a lobsterman at the dock for 10 pounds of the freshest lobster—literally, it had been out of the water for just minutes! Mom would boil it and serve it with potatoes, corn on the cob, salad and lots of melted butter. Dad would break them all down—claws in one bowl, tails in another, legs and all the smaller bits in another—so we kids got to pick our favourite parts. The next day, Mom would turn any leftover lobster meat into lobster rolls. But to be honest, I was a picky eater, and it wasn’t until I was in my early teens and had started working in the restaurant business that I really started to appreciate lobster.

When I was 19, I went to work for Alan Creaser at the Grand Banker Bar & Grill. The place was a fixture in Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The restaurant is on the waterfront, across from where the Bluenose II is docked. When Creaser called to tell me he was selling the restaurant and asked if I wanted to buy it, I leaped at the chance to come back home to take it over. I started hearing from locals and loyal customers. I’d get letters saying, “I hope you’re leaving such-and-such on the menu.” So I left core signature dishes but made many enhancements, including fresh menu items, an in-depth wine list, craft beers and switching over to a local artisanal bakery—Boulangerie la Vendéenne—for all the breads and buns we use. That’s one of the reasons our lobster roll is so special; I serve it in a warm brioche roll that’s eggy and a little bit sweet, and it complements the claw and knuckle meat perfectly.

Our lobster roll is simple: some house-made citrus aioli, green onion, a small amount of lettuce and a good quarter pound of claw and knuckle meat—I want the lobster to shine. When lobster is in season, I take a 20-second walk down to the lobster pound for lobster that’s just come off the boats. We don’t do anything fancy; the lobster meat is so sweet and fresh we don’t need to—just boil them in salted water. And don’t forget a cold Propeller pilsner or one of Nova Scotia’s delicious white wines to wash it down!

Nova Scotia Lobster Roll, courtesy of Adam Bower

nova-scotia-lobster-roll_blogembed

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Yields: 1 sandwich

Ingredients
1¼ lb (565 g) Nova Scotia lobster, bands removed
2 tbsp (30 mL) mayonnaise
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) green onions, chopped
1 artisan-style hotdog bun
1 leaf romaine hearts, chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
lemon wedge

Directions
1. In stockpot, bring water to boil. Add live lobster; cook for about 10 minutes, until lobster is bright red. Remove; let cool. Crack claws and knuckles, removing meat. Reserve remaining meat for future use.
2. In bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice and green onions. Stir in lobster meat.
3. In oven, toast bun (fresh from your local bakery, if possible), until warm and crisp outside. Score down middle; fill with romaine.
4. Place lobster mixture on top of romaine; sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon wedge.

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