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