Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Food Fantasy

Three of my favourite things are food, exploring and walking so I was really excited to head out on the Local Connections North End Fantasy Food Tour on Saturday. I was extra happy because two biz's were featured on the tour that I have been meaning to visit for a long time - Ace Burger Co and DeeDee's.

I lived in the North End for close to 4 years. I had an apartment I loved and it was my first apartment so you can imagine the plethora of memories and emotions that I had tied up in it. When my bf and I decided to shack up we picked suburban Clayton Park to hang our hats, sacrificing character and centrality to get more for our money. I'm happy with that decision, but I sure do miss the NE. I miss being able to walk everywhere, particularly all the wickedly creative small businesses that have cropped up in recent years.

Ah well, perhaps I will move back someday but in the meantime I have to be contented with driving my butt down here to enjoy it. The important thing though, of course, is enjoying it and we sure did on this tour!

One of my favourite NE spots is the Brooklyn Warehouse. I could walk here in 10 minutes from my old apartment, which was dangerous both for my waistline and my wallet. I think George Christakos and gang are doing awesome things for the food culture in Halifax, so when I heard they opened a new establishment, I couldn't wait to try it out.

Gus' Pub was packed to the rafters when we arrived, which meant we had to stand and wait for a table for about 15 minutes. We didn't mind though - we grabbed our Pop Shoppe sodas (the black cherry was delish!), bobbed our heads to the band and chatted up a few other waiting patrons. Clearly this place is popular! The food was worth the wait, though - our Classic and Lamb burgers were both packed with flavour and super-fresh toppings.

The prices are very reasonable, too - about 7 or 8 bucks for most patties and you pay additional for a side but fries are only $3.50 and tax is included in all prices. Warning: They only take cash, but there is an ATM on site.

Sidenote: They had a stack of their "Big F'n Cookies" on the counter when we were ordering and I wanted one sooooo bad! They are half-dipped in chocolate and...well, F'N big! Seriously, the size of my head (and that's saying something). Maybe next time...

Next the group trooped down to Dee Dee's Ice Cream.

I was expecting a treat but not one quite as awesome as we got. Not only did they have special "tasting" options ready for everyone but they had Jim the owner of Java Blend Coffee (another NE fav of mine) making espressos and caps for everyone! For ice cream, everyone had a choice between 3 fruit flavours and 3 sweet (i.e. caramel, chocolate, almond). I, of course, chose the chocolate option and was completely happy with my choice.

First of all, look at the beautiful presentation:

Photo by Me
That pink spiral on the centre one? That's edible! And the third ice cream selection (far right) is a chocolate stout flavour (as in beer), believe it or not. I was not sure what to expect in terms of flavour but I actually didn't mind it! Everything tasted so fresh and had such a great texture - you can tell they make everything with good quality ingredients and a lot of passion. We received a lot of personal attention on our visit and were invited to sample as much ice cream and coffee as we wanted.

My lovely Java Blend espresso finished off my meal nicely. Sidenote: Java Blend was established in 1938! I had no idea it had been around so long!

Photo by Me (the cup looks giant but it's actually quite tiny :)
The tickets for this event were $17, and I definitely think we got a great deal. I may not be able to get much apartment for my money in the North End, but I KNOW I can get great food, drinks and service and that is a suitable substitute :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Glace Bay Miners' Museum

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of the Neptune play, "The Glace Bay Miners' Museum" (missed my review of "Bingo!"? Check it out here).

I went into this play a tad 'blind' - I knew it was the story of a woman living in Cape Breton who falls in love with a man named Neil Currie. I knew that the story was also covered in the mid-90's movie, Margaret's Museum, but have never actually gotten around to seeing the movie or reading much about it. That is basically ALL I knew when I sat in my theatre seat to enjoy the production. In the end, I was actually glad that I went in with few expectations and no knowledge of what was to come - it certainly made the last part of the 2nd act a shocker for me!

(I don't want to give away too much of the plot, in case there are others out there like (past) me who are not aware of it, but suffice to say there is a dark twist that makes the title of the play all make sense!)

What I do want to impart, however, is how much I enjoyed this production. Although the story of Margaret and her family is rather grim overall, I found myself smiling and laughing a lot throughout. Not to mention the actors were all fabulous in their roles.

Francine Deschepper was a lovely mix of sweet and sassy as Margaret. I found her slight quirkiness, social awkwardness, big heart and sharp tongue to be very endearing. She was an interesting mix of childlike innocence and cynical adult, and she really portrayed the sense that she loved her home but at the same time wanted to break out of it and see and do more.

I could hardly take my eyes off Gil Garratt, who played Neil Currie, throughout the production. There was a ton of chemistry between him and Deschepper and their love story warmed my heart. And how many talents can one person have?! As Neil, he plays bagpipes and violin and sings beautifully (in gaelic, no less). He is somebody who is completely himself and doesn't care what anyone has to say about it. I would challenge anyone to not listen and be inspired by his passion when the fire of injustice ignites within him and he espouses his opinions.

Martha Irving infuses Margaret's mother with a great booming voice and a cantankerousness that belies the hardship she has endured in life. You get the sense that she carries a lot of anger, yes, but a lot of pain and regret behind it. And I think Grandpa made the audience laugh the most out of any character, and he did so without saying any words!

I loved the set - and I mean "set", singular (there is only one). I thought the use of a single set made sure that you focused directly on the characters and their nuances, no distractions. The space was used very creatively as well, with the haphazard wooden steps and platforms serving as the family's home, the wharf, a cliffside field and a diner.

The giant looming house silhouetted against the sky was gorgeous - the light coming through the windows, shining through sparkly fabric, gave the structure a dreamlike and slightly ominous feel at the same time. Considering the titular museum is housed inside this house, it makes sense that the set would impart this mix of feelings!

I am always impressed with Neptune's productions and I always leave with a feeling of warmth and a racing mind and this play was no exception! Visit the Glace Bay Miner's Museum today if you can!