Our roundup of food, culture and travel news for Winter 2021

Our roundup of food, culture and travel news for Winter 2021

En Vie
Where you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy a plant-based meal

As one of Halifax’s best plant-based restaurants, enVie has been a regular date-night destination for me and my husband for years. The space is relaxed and bright, even at night, and the abundance of greenery on the walls and hanging from the ceiling creates a welcoming atmosphere no matter the reason for your visit. Their menu also changes regularly, so there’s almost always something new to try.

After several months of absence due to the pandemic, my husband and I headed across the harbour for a much-needed treat. We arrived with our stomachs grumbling and decided to order a small feast, with drinks to start. As always, our server Kristin was friendly and efficient. The customer service at enVie is truly exceptional.

My Bloody Mary ($11) was refreshing with a nice balance of spicy, while offering a touch of zing from the pickled bean and dehydrated blood orange garnish. Zach’s Old Fashioned ($11) featured a bold whiskey presentation tempered by subtle flavours of orange and cherry. While the initial sip was quite strong, this world-famous cocktail became all the more delicious after sitting for a few minutes.

Our meal kicked off with the Dumplings ($12) and King Wingz ($15). Both portions were generous, with six pieces of each. The dumplings were filled with tempeh, red cabbage, mushroom, carrot and ginger, offering an umami mouthful to be savoured alongside the saltiness of the ponzu sauce. The King Wingz were meaty oyster mushroom, battered to perfection. With half the order coated in spicy Buffalo sauce and the other in smoky BBQ, our appetizers were so incredible they almost made us forget we still had entrées on the way!

My husband’s Mac N Cheeze ($16) was both creamy and hearty. Dominated by the flavourful chunks of roasted mushroom, the brown rice macaroni was further complemented by the caramelized onions and local sprouts. Ultimately, the dish proved to be a satisfying casserole-style take on a popular comfort food.

Being a fan of enVie’s many burgers over the years, I was most excited to tear into their new Nacho Burger ($18). It was beyond massive and could have been a full meal on its own. Setting manners aside, I picked it up and went for a bite. The seitan patty, guacamole, queso, pickled jalapenos, cashew sour cream, and nacho chips immediately burst from the burger, covering my hands in cheeze sauce as half the ingredients fell to the plate. Four napkins later and the top bun discarded, I resumed the task at hand with a fork and knife. I shampooed the rest of the cheeze sauce out of my beard once I got home.

My side order of chili-cheeze fries was a divine mix of chili, gooey cheeze, cashew cream, and chives. Ideal for a cold night and portioned big, my guess is that the appetizer size would make for a decent meal.

Our bellies full, we bought chocolate chip cookies to go, knowing they would be the perfect gooey treat for our Saturday morning coffee routine.

This latest visit to enVie did, however, leave us with a bit of an unfortunate surprise. While enjoying our cookies the next morning, we realized we could smell kitchen grease on our coats. Thankfully, both coats were machine washable, offering a quick fix to our predicament.

Extra laundry aside, we greatly enjoyed our trip to enVie and look forward to checking out their next menu once it is released.

575 Charles Street, Halifax, N.S.
Dine-In/Takeout: Thursday 4pm-8pm; Friday 11am – 8pm;
Saturday 4pm – 8pm
Reservations not required but encouraged

All aboard the Trainyard General Store
Nestled off to the side at 53 Portland Street in downtown Dartmouth, the Trainyard General Store is the place to go for products from independent producers and local small business.

Their bright interior presents an abundance of quality products from across the country with a particular focus on Atlantic Canadian suppliers. The shop is best experienced by an aisle-by-aisle exploration of the clothing, edible treats, greeting cards, and home décor items on offer.

If you’re a socially-conscious shopper looking for recommendations about products from local Black and Indigenous suppliers, or about women-owned businesses and those from the LGBTQ2S+ community, Trainyard staff are happy to help. They know their stock inside and out. Further supporting their community at large, the Trainyard also donates five per cent of profits to various community organizations each year.

A recent visit saw this writer walking home with a curious mix of local treats. My chocoholic self couldn’t resist the temptation of the Coffee & Hazelnut chocolate bar from King & North. Divinely creamy and a perfect coffee kick, it was a great afternoon pick-me-up. From Honey and Lime Candle Co., a cranberry liqueur candle that is sweet yet subtle and perfect for cozy nights with a good book.

Last but not least a toque from My Home Apparel is the perfect winter-wear for any Nova Scotian. Not only will it keep me warm, it left me feeling extra-good about my purchase because it supported the donation of a toque to someone in need.

If you can’t make it to the physical store, the Trainyard’s virtual store is easily accessible. There you can browse hundreds of products and put together an order that they will gladly ship anywhere in Canada.

Cold season survival guide
Four outdoor activities to keep you warm this winter

Outdoor skating at The Loop
(St. John’s, N.L.)
Located in Bannerman Park, the Loop provides old-fashioned fun for the whole family. Skate to your hearts content before capping off with a hot chocolate and treat at the neighbouring Parlour Café across the street. The Loop’s free public skate schedule is online through the City of St. John’s website (stjohns.ca).
Glamping at Tree Top Haven
Disconnect and recharge by immersing yourself in a wireless winter wonderland at Tree Top Haven on Prince Edward Island. This all-season retreat offers the perfect getaway for couples or families who are looking to enjoy nature while glamping in large domes perched nine feet up amongst the trees. For more information, visit treetophaven.ca.
Savour sweet maple taffy
(Earltown, N.S.)
Enjoy one of Canada’s most famous edible products right at the source. Sugar Moon Farms is open year-round and becomes particularly interesting around mid-February with the start of the maple season. The on-site restaurant offers maple-infused comfort foods in a casual setting. Check out their latest activities and book reservations at sugarmoon.ca.
Dog sled adventure
(Allardville, N.B.)
Speed through the forests of northern New Brunswick on a sled pulled by some of the most adorable and hardworking dogs you will ever meet! Sled Dog Adventures provides an extraordinary experience that is both exhilarating and rejuvenating. A variety of packages are available with details online at snowdogadventures.com.

Jeremy Dutcher (Photo by Matt Barnes)

Concerts for home
Two Atlantic Canadian artists to add to your Spotify playlist

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa
Tenor Jeremy Dutcher’s debut album offers a unique musical experience. Winner of the 2018 Polaris Prize and the 2019 Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa is a masterpiece that showcases Dutcher’s creativity and culture to the world.

Sung in Wolastoqey and supported throughout by a compliment of instruments, the album is the outcome of Dutcher’s desire to learn more about his own heritage (he’s a member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick) while also helping to preserve the endangered language for future generations.

Twilight Hour: Collected Stories for Piano
This collection of 12 short piano works inspired by fairy tales is performed by Nova Scotian pianist, Jennifer King. This album takes you on an instrumental journey that is best experienced in front of a fireplace with your beverage of choice in hand.

King’s brilliance and talent are evident throughout, inspiring listeners to indulge in a moment of silence between each piece so as to truly savour this musical delight. Available on Spotify for your listening pleasure, you’ll also want to check out @jenniferkingpiano on YouTube for a special animated version featuring the art of Katrina Westin. •

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