THIS HAPPENED TODAY!! A glass for me tonight-I’m WIne and Spirit Trust Level One Certified! Now, on to Level Two….WSET
Our journey to Halifax started with a nineteen hour drive, putting us at our hotel roughly seven hours before our room would be inhabitable. Glam. Thankfully, tattoo family is a compassionate family, and we crashed for hours at the apartment of another tattooer located in town. (Matt O shout out!! Thank You for taking us in!) Much later, we checked in to our hotel, went to the hall to drop things off, and I went back and collapsed into what looked like a partial coma. Woke up after a few much needed, quality sleep hours and worked on finding local things to keep me well occupied into the weekend ahead. The first thing I noticed was how much more there seemed to DO in Halifax than in the past. Lots of local boutiques and interesting little bistro style eateries now inhabit the area. Neighborhoods that were depressed a few years ago have been rebuilt and showcase trendy coffee shops and boutiques. The artists are taking their space back, and the locals are enjoying the resurgence.
We have a couple of amazing clients & friends, that will always steer is into the perfect location for whatever we want to see or do while in the area. Mary, Ghandy, Bruce & Joseph, thank you for your unbelievable hospitality! Too short of a visit this year, we’ll be back…
Our first morning in town when we could function was Saturday, so we hit the showers earlyish and drove to the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. Local produce, meats, cheeses, and artisnal vendors are located inside a very modern structure, but maintain a very locavore feel. I tried a few locally produced wines, and even a single malt whiskey, without leaving the second floor! Great place for either a quick bite or to waste away an afternoon while he works. Saturday morning was packed, but that is also when there are the most vendors available. Growing season had just really started, and the early produce selection of asparagus, beets, greens, and garlic scapes were plentiful already.
Back to the second floor! Saturdays feature local wine and spirit tastings, so I was excited to get in there and taste a few things. Blomidon Estate Winery is located on the shore in Annapolis Valley. The scenic oceanside vineyard is committed to growing grapes and producing wines that are 100% Nova Scotia sourced. While I didn’t have time to go tour the vineyard, it looks to be in an absolutely beautiful spot, nestled by the sea. I tried the 2011 Seyval Blanc, a clean, grassy off dry white that would be delicious with local seafood. The 2011 Ridge Reserve is a red blend, utilizing Baco and Sangiovese. Cooler climate grapes I’m very familiar with, to be sure!
Glenora Distillery are the proud makers of Glen Breton Rare Canadian Single Malt Whiskey, the only single malt produced in Canada. Located in Cape Brenton, NS, the distillery recreates traditional Scottish style Scotch production using copper pot stills, then they age the whiskey over ten years in oak barrels. Smooth, silky, and caramel colored, this luxurious mouthfeel lingered long after a sip. Gold medal award winner, 95points, 2011 International Review of Spirits, Chicago. The distillery also features a beautiful inn, award winning menu, and traditional pub on property, so there would be no need to leave the Celtic music and revelry behind!
Closer to the event, Relish Gourmet Burgers was close and a pre show takeout score. Just a few doors down from the Atlantica Hotel, the popular gourmet burger spot uses quality ingredients and cooks your burger to order. Names like L.A. is my Lady (avacado, goat cheese, and roasted peppers) for specialty burgers are corny to order, but we were the envy of the show. Nothing like walking in with fresh burgers while everyone else eats arena food-hot dogs, nachos and beer will only keep you alive for so long, and happy even less of a measure of time.
The Maritime Tattoo Convention is a show we try to do every year. The Halifax tattoo community is a dedicated bunch that treat this weekend as second only to Christmas. These folks are serious about their tattoos, artists book up, tickets sell out. VIP weekend passes include three days of admission plus a ticket for the evening VIP booze cruise around Halifax Harbor-always a guaranteed shitshow. This year, most of our group sat on the outside deck, happily watching the rowdy (and slightly desperate) antics of a TV ‘freakshow’ act. I saw too many parts of the tail wearing Belladonna this weekend to ever want to voluntarily make eye contact; while shooting darts out of your pussy is a trick that will get TONS of attention, flashing titties on a boat and making out with other tattoo fans is a little high school desperate. Maybe she was trying to inspire us, the weather was chilly, and our group was pretty low key. Either way, cell phones took titty pictures, we made it back to dock, and another year if the boat was in the books. One final day of tattooing, and my husband could have what he really wanted-an end of the convention, banging steak dinner.
We chose Cut Steakhouse as our after show celebration spot, called in our reservations, and made it on time; no small feat for a group of roughly twenty five tattoo artists and a couple of friends and spouses.
Once drinks were ordered, the steak carts were introduced to the table, and our server gave us the low down on beef selection-Alberta free range, USDA, locally pastured Nova Scotia, or Austrailian Waygu (similar to Kobe). I went for NS strip loin, trying to stick with the local theme.
Our meal was very good, and although I’ve had comprable steaks for much less money, I’ve also had worse for way more. Our starters were all over-the oysters Rockefeller appetizer was a disappointment, but the beef marrow served in bone was a hit. I was disappointed that the bones were cleared before I could order shots of whiskey…Bourdaine had recently done a segment wherein the finished bone was used as a booze’luge’ server for a liquor shot. I had several volunteers willing to give it a go, too….maybe next time!
The wine list was well rounded, but nothing specifically local was featured. I tasted a Pinot from British Columbia, an Argentinian Malbec, and an Aussie Shiraz. All three were delicious, but we settled on the Barrel Select, Norton 2009 Malbec from Argentina. Something about Argentinian reds, they really make wines built to handle a beautiful piece of beef. Cowboys know. It paired wonderfully with our steaks, just enough pepper and heat. Post-convention steak happiness had been achieved.
Our last day in town, we tried to eat lobster for every meal. Lobster omlettes were followed by lobster rolls for lunch. We filled a cooler with fiddleheads for the freezer, and hit the ground with the wheels spinning. See ya soon, Hali!
Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market
Maritime Tattoo Festival 2013
High end tattoo artists, as a community, are the most well traveled people in the world. Premiere conventions are located world wide, and more appear every year. Milan, London, NYC, Paris, Amsterdam, Montreal…all have an annual tattoo convention, and reputable artists are often extended an invitation to travel. Networking, recognition, and reputation are all created and maintained through working select shows.
Tattoo Conventions are often a three day event, spanning a Friday-Sunday weekend. Artists flood into town, set up at the venue, tattoo for three days, and tear down. The marathon of work often ends with a celebratory Sunday night steak dinner; a chance for artists and their significant others to socialize, imbibe, and talk shop. And now, a view from the table:
*Tattoo artists will wear black tee shirts and cargo shorts to any restaurant. They might get disapproving looks from other guests. They will not care. Three eighteen hour days have all lead up to the meal ahead. Stare if you would like, just feed us.
*We sit late, so be prepared to stay. Some of us only see each other once a year, so this time together is precious and short. If you’re our server, you’re in for the long haul…BUT WE GUARANTEE THE TIP WILL BE WORTH IT. Have fun with us, you can tell the stories to fellow servers for months. There WILL be stories. Promise.
*Tattooers at this level love to enjoy the finer things, especially in food and drink. WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. Don’t let the body art fool you, most of our crew have
pretty refined palates. Most would rather drink an Argentinian Malbec with dinner, than do tequila shots off a party girl at the bar. Not that that doesn’t happen occasionally, but it’s time and place appropriate…of course.
*We’re loud. Not rowdy, flip the table and punch someone in the face loud, but jovial. There will be laughter, calls between tables, and musical chairs so everyone gets a chance for very valuable face time. Sorry again to the servers, if you bring food we’ll figure out where it goes. Again, worth the hassle. Promise.
What I’ve learned in my few short years with my tattooer husband? Don’t judge a book by its cover, artists are comfortable everywhere and anywhere, and the best compliment to fine dining is enjoying the company of those you’re with.
The 5th annual Roc City Tattoo Expo was held recently, always a great show with a talented, international artist roster. Our shop has participated since the first year, and it is rare to find such a quality convention in our area. We travel a lot, and it’s nice to have one so close! I had the luxury of driving home and sleeping in my own bed, and still spent the day (and a decent portion of the night) with the guys, and enjoying the area.
I drove up early in the day on Saturday, and along the way to Rochester from Ithaca…there are wineries. The west side of the Cayuga Wine Trail is a short jaunt up Rte89. It’s a scenic drive up the lake (versus Rte96 which is inland), and passes Taughannock falls park and overlook. I didn’t have time to stall, and since I’ve worked on the wine trail in the past, I skipped the wineries for a stop that I rarely get a chance to make. I visited the Canandaigua NY Wine & Culinary Center, which houses a fantastic assortment of wines and spirits from a variety of local producers.
Once in Roc City, your options are several. This is such a foodie city, complete with everything from the local delicacy of a ‘garbage plate’- a mess of red hots, fries, macaroni salad, all together, best eaten after 2am.
Roc City Brewpub is a fantastic option for a great meal and some fantastic in house brews. With names like ‘Vern’ and ‘Sex Panther’, the beers are likewise named, quality without pretense-have some fun, relax. I had both, and can agree the beer is well balanced without any hops snobbery.
It’s not booze, but it will make the tattoo wife happy-Hedonist Chocolates has divine chocolates in amazing flavors. This spot I missed somehow, but was gifted by the smart tattoo husband with pistachio ginger dark chocolate bark. The good men know, chocolate will forgive any multitude of sins, even preemptively. He ran into a fellow tattooer there as well, another in the know artist and husband.
As for the Roc City tattoo convention itself, do not miss this one! The artist list is international, exclusive in the best possible way, and truly represents the best in the tattoo industry. HOF has been involved since the inaugural year, and I would go on record as saying its the best show in our area, hands down. Check out the artist list here: artists at Roc City 2013 and look at the work offered. If you want a real tattoo convention without traveling for multiple hours, Upstate New Yorkers…this is it. Jet DiProjetto and his crew at Love Hate Tattoo are responsible for one hell of a weekend of tattoo artistry and entertainment-thank you Roc City, a great time as always…and we’ll see you next year!
I lost my mom to renal cancer less than two months prior to relocating to Ithaca. That was August of 2007. She was my best friend, cheerleader, and support. My life goal as a kid was to be a mermaid; a dream that mom supported whole-heartedly, spending hours at our local YMCA pool, and on the ‘beach’ at countless public lake parks, watching me hold my breath and retrieve rings from the depths of ten feet. I was blessed years later to find a man that would also lend total support to any of my ventures. My mom gave her approval and told me this is the one I would be with forever (very handsome, twinkle in the eye, reminded her a bit of dad….except for those damn tattoos), and she left us after a short but nasty fight before her 61st birthday. I’ve missed her every single day, from sunny mornings to the day of our wedding.
This year, in August, I’ll be swimming across Cayuga Lake, with 349 other women, to raise money for Hospicare and honor my mom’s life and battle. I so excited to be a swimmer in the 10th Annual Women Swimmin for Hospicare! I’ll be marking my progress along the way, and you can pledge $$ to support a great cause here: Women Swimmin Demetra Molina