Monday, May 26, 2014

Walking, eating and drinking - Halifax North Craft Beer and Food Tour

Many of you that know me personally know that I am huge fan of hiking, food and good beer, not necessarily in the order. I can usually enjoy one or two but rarely can I indulge in all three and because of this the new tour that started this month at Local Tasting Tours (LTT) really excited me and I knew I had to try it.

LTT started a few years ago here in Halifax and has since expanded to four tours covering downtown, Quinpool Road and now one of the most exciting parts on the city, Halifax North.

I met the guide and owner Emily Forrest at the newly renovated Prince George Hotel in the lobby with the other tour members, Emily gave us name tags (how drunk does she think were getting?) as well as a rundown on her bio, how she came to create LTT and how the tour will work.

The first stop on the tour was just a quick shuffle down a hallway to the uber-classy Gio. There we were met and seated for our first sample, it was a smoked mussel, it was very good. From there began the longest segment of the 2 kilometre tour with stops to relate some local history which I found very interesting even as a local.

After some zigging and zagging through local streets we arrived at Charcuterie Ratinaud. This was not the first time that I visited the great food shop snug in the heart of the Gottingen Street business district. Tom treated us to some coppa and chorizo which is all made on site. The coppa was rich and buttery and the chorizo a spicy delight.

A hop, skip and a jump took us to our next stop on Gottingen, The Nook on Gottingen . This eclectic cafe serves coffee, tea, food and intoxicants as well as being a neighborhood meeting spot and some nights a dance hall. Here we were served a mason jar of Propeller Brewing's, whose original brewery is nearby, IPA and a Beets & Rhymes breakfast wrap. Beer for breakfast? Ok I am in. The Nook is one of many new eateries and businesses opening in this economically depressed area quickly making into a sought after community.

For our next stop we were rewarded with a very sweet treat of mint chocolate chip ice cream at Dee Dee's. This business started about ten years ago and has been at this location since 2010. They  
make their ice cream in small batches with quality ingredients and it sure reflects in their delicious concoctions.

Shortly after leaving Dee Dee's we reached Agricola Street, another area transfoming, and again head north stopping at the Hali Deli. Stepping in here felt a bit like stepping back in time to when chains didn't exist and families were the backbone of the restaurant scene. Surrounded by family pictures and stylish fixtures we were given a cup of borscht that was sweet and delicious.

The next stop on our journey was to be rewarded by three businesses in one building. First was En Vie - A Vegan Kitchen, I figured a vegan kitchen, I can live though this. Well I had to eat my words, the vegan cheese and raw cracker were fantastic. So good in fact I will be returning to learn more. To wash this down our second craft beer we sampled was Garrison Brewing's  Raspberry Wheat Ale. The ale is light and fruity and a great beer for summer.

The next business was Local Source which I was vaguely familiar with but now have a understanding that they are trying to bring good local food directly to the community. We munched through heirloom carrots and tomatoes and cucumbers in a delicious dressing..From here it was a easy transit to Lion & Bright via an archway. This cafe wine bar is large open bright space with customers working in the large central tables with wifi, a coffee bar up the left side and the booze in the back. Here we sampled cheese sandwiches and Big Spruce Brewing Kitchen Party Pale Ale. Kitchen Party is hoppy and very drinkable ale.

After our extended stay at the trio of businesses it was off for our final jaunt up to FRED. For our final stop of the tour we had a cupcake and had the honor to listen to the story of Fred. The owner laid everything on the line to buy a property and start a business in a then marginalized area. The story was inspiring and uplifting and the fact that his success was the areas success even better.

The tour was a lovely two and a half hour walk exploring history, culture, people, food and of course local craft beer. Check out this or one of the other tours on LTT website and explore Halifax with your feet and your tastebuds. One caveat I have to add is the the tour ends a fair distance from the start, so make plans for pick up, jump on a bus or do what I did; walk back soaking up even more of Halifax'x history and culture.

I have a full photo album of my tour here