I Sipped. I Sampled. I Savoured.

To my right, rum-soaked banana flambé flares wildly, threatening any eyebrows and chef hats that lean too close; to my left, spicy tuna and tempura shrimp rolls are nabbed from platters dressed up with carrots carved in the shape of dragons.  Ahead, proud Nova Scotian vintners pour out glass after glass of crisp Tidal Bay and I stand, in total awe, in the middle of my first Savour food & wine Festival.

Perhaps Savour isn’t the operative word for what I did at the festival.  With two hours to sip and taste and slurp and spoon the finest food and drink that countless Nova Scotia restaurants and food producers have to offer, I had to get busy elbowing aside the thousand other foodies in attendance and get serious about stuffing my face.

Not that I didn’t savour the thick cut of local halibut served on local apple slaw with Nova Scotia blueberry syrup and parsnip curls being dished up by the talented chefs from Five Fishermen.  For just a moment, I was lost in tender flakes of fish topped with sweet fruit flavour, despite the loud guffaws from the food truck line behind me.

But then I was on to a smoked salmon-dill-buttermilk biscuit amuse and then a sparkling glass of Prosecco…

And then these little tuna ceviche things in cones from Harbour City Bar & Grill

And then…then there was the Grand Marnier truffle. Scanway Catering’s triangle of dense chocolate scented with orange liquor gave me pause:  a sweet, heady moment before I popped the strawberry garnish in my mouth and headed over to check out the line-up for the apples with foie gras whipped cream and brioche crumbs, because I wasn’t leaving without trying out that strange little concoction.

Armed with my little plate, wine glass, and the ever-so-important little piece of plastic that attached one to the other, I witnessed chefs and winemakers outdoing themselves and each other in the creative use of local ingredients and the presentation of adventurous, fun food.  My favourite savoury dish of the night was a braised short rib with celeriac purée, peas and pancetta served by Saege Bistro:  simple, hearty food bursting with flavour.  Biting into the impossibly tender meat, I had one of those pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-how-good-this-is moments.

The biggest adventure of the evening was figuring out how to get seconds of my favourite things without looking like a complete glutton.  Maybe, if I spaced out my visits to each booth, the vendors wouldn’t recognize me? Something about my approach to each table – in a low crouch, face behind my camera, snap snap snapping away at the beautifully presented food – made me quite identifiable, I think.

Deciding that it was every foodie for himself and that likely no one else cared about taking multiple servings at the expense of others’ opportunity to taste, I darted to Harbour City Bar and Grill’s booth again. While everyone was distracted by the flaming bananas, I reached through the throng of awed onlookers and stole my second Peanut Butter Crunch. Peanut butter whipped cream atop a chocolate biscuit, robed in milk chocolate and served with hot, rum-soaked bananas and silky cream:  a take on Elvis’ famed favourite sandwich for the more discerning palate. Perfect, I might add, when paired with a glass of bubbly.

Despite beginning my evening in a frenetic dash to complete the seemingly impossible mission to taste everything in sight within a two hour time period, I admit that the Savour food & wine Show completely did me in. With ten minutes to go, I set down my wine glass and scarfed my last Austrian apple pear torte with maple rum sauce from Gabrieau’s Bistro.  Inspired, stuffed, and a little tipsy, I bade farewell to this foodie paradise, knowing for sure that I’d be back next year.

Editor’s Note: Many of the items featured in Jessie’s blog were Savour Best of Show winners. Click here to see a complete list of winners.

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