You don’t have to go far to find an adventure. That’s been the unofficial mantra behind most of our local travels, trips just around the corner, around the province, or a short road trip to our sister provinces. At the end of the day, the feeling of having traveled is related to new experiences, new people, and a little bit of the unexpected.
That travel trifecta was exactly what I found this week, just 10 minutes from my home, at the launch of Right Some Good. Now headed into its third year, Right Some Good is a 10 day festival that pairs award winning and Michelin star chefs with local culinary leaders and local foods for a feast around Cape Breton Island. The launch mimicked the event itself. Chef Michael E. Reidt flew in from Miami and partnered with Chef Ardon Moffard and Chef Alain Bosse (The Kilted Chef) to orchestrate a two-hour pop-up dining experience in the heart of Halifax.
My two-hour vacation was kicked off right when I was seated at a table with one old friend and one new. We made introductions and caught up over sweet potato ‘panzanella’ topped with Sweet Williams sausage, Fox Hill smoked gouda and shaved crudités paired with a Just Us! vanilla rooibos iced tea, a delicious, if not unexpected, pairing.
By course two, my table was deep in the throes of dining fever, that unique elation and conversation that can only come from a delicious shared meal. As the plates circulated, Chef Michael prepared us saying, “It’s going to dribble down your face it is so good!” As if I wasn’t already excited enough…
A plate was set in front of me with Ferguson Farm tenderloin and braised veal cheek paired with pureed carrots with curry and topped with a cardamom granola. As we took our first bite, Michael explained that the most flavorful parts of a cow are cheek and tail because “cows are always chewing and that tail is always wagging”.
The meat was divine. I have never had a softer, sweeter cut. Our table bursted into a discussion on where we can get local veal cheek, because how could we go back to steak now? By this point in the meal, we were all questioning every culinary decision we had ever made before that lunch. “I don’t know why I never thought of pairing walnuts with beef before!” one of my tablemates proclaimed. We all agreed, mouths full, new taste after new taste hitting the palate. Course two was also paired with tea, this time a hot oolong tea from the foothills of the Himalayas, which somehow paired as well as a nice wine.
By the time dessert arrived, I was not sure how much more I could take. Everything was simple and unexpected, and my tongue was starting to get taste fatigue. But dessert was a dulce du leche panna cotta, one of my favourite desserts. And of course, it wasn’t just any traditional dessert. Chef Michael and his expert local team had paired it with blueberry marshmallows made with Nova Scotia blueberry juice from Van Dyke, and topped the whole thing with NS strawberries and just a touch of Oreo cookie crumble. I love the way that Chef Michael described this dish, “It is all about the texture, and the mouth feel. It makes you want to giggle as you eat it because it is just so much fun in your mouth.”
My table mates dove in just before I did, and so I already had a sense of what would happen when I popped the handmade marshmallow into my mouth. It was light and fizzy and it disappeared almost as quickly as it hit my tongue, leaving the taste of fresh picked blueberry behind. The dulce du leche was heavy and creamy and while I wanted to devour the whole dish I tapped out about a third of the way in, wanting to end my adventure on a good note.
Like the other dishes, dessert, too, was paired with a Just Us! tea, this one a light orange and ginger latte with maple syrup and organic frothed milk that, like the marshmallow, was light and airy on the tongue, a perfect compliment. (PLEASE let me know if this is a regular menu item, I want more!).
Too soon, it was time to get back to real life, and leave our mini-escape behind. I’m not the only one who felt this way, “I feel like I’ve just been on vacation,” my new friend proclaimed. That is the power of a great meal and a great team of chefs, artists able to take you on an unexpected journey right in the heart of your own city.
Chef Michael will be back for Right Some Good, “North America’s original gourmet pop-up dining festival, along with 12 other international, high profile chefs. They’ll be “popping-up” all around Cape Breton Island, in unique settings paired with local music to boot!
In addition to some amazing pop-up dining opportunities, you can take cooking classes with a Michelin star chef, or check out the Garland Canada Master Chef Face Off, a free-to-attend event where you’ll see 8 world-class chefs go head-to-head in a black box reveal style competition (that is where the chef does not know what ingredients they will have to use in advance of the competition, the ultimate creative challenge!).
Tickets are now on sale and are expected to sell out. Click here to visit the website where you can browse through the many events and purchase tickets.
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