Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Drink in the memories with the Drink Atlantic highlight video

For an event that takes alcohol education seriously, the cocktail festival sure looks like fun.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 at 11:28 AM

Was the inaugural Drink Atlantic Cocktail Festival a great way to kick off the summer? We'd definitely like to think so, because it was a Coast co-production with The Clever Barkeep. But you should take this one-minute video trip down memory lane and decide for yourself.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

DRINK THIS: Planters Ridge's Infatuation

An off-beat rosé frizzante, you’ll go gaga for.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 5:49 AM


Planters Ridge
, still a new kid on the wine block in Nova Scotia, has been releasing an array of clean, innovative, high-quality wines since opening in 2014. It seems the winery nails it every season with at least one wine, and in very competitive categories— last year Planters Ridge made my favourite Tidal Bay by including the little-used grape Frontenac Blanc in the blend. The year before, the winery's Rosé killed it. And the year before that, its Riesling was a triumph.

But Planters Ridge does well by off-beat wines, too. The Port Williams winery just released its latest vintage of Infatuation, a rosé frizzante, made from the German Dornfelder grape. Given that Dornfelder is known for its intense pigment, it’s impressive that the wine is such a delicate pink. The grapes were pressed whole-cluster and the must (skins, seeds, stems and pulp) discarded immediately, leaving the juice only slightly stained.

Dornfelder is a smart vinifera (European species) grape to experiment with in Nova Scotia, being disease resistant and early to ripen, with strong canes and consistent yield. It is also known for its good acidity, its florality and its textural richness. Infatuation smells like chamomile and ripe, ripe raspberry. It fills the mouth with an almost-creamy apple-rhubarb experience, acidity and sweetness (only very slight) in excellent balance. It’s a no-brainer for this summer's patio sipping.

Get it while you can: supplies are limited. Infatuation ($24) is sold at the winery and at farmers markets in Truro and Wolfville, as well as the Brewery Farmers’ Market (1496 Lower Water Street) and Seaport Farmers’ Market (1209 Marginal Road).
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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Middle Spoon's delivering drinks

The downtown desserterie is taking their cakes, and cocktails, on the road

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 12:21 PM

  • via Facebook

Knock knock. Who’s there? Cocktails.

Yup, thanks to The Middle Spoon Desserterie (1563 Barrington Street and 1595 Bedford Highway) you can now get a bottle of mixed drink delivered directly to your doorstep. The source of sweets and boozy concoctions added delivery to its resume at the end of July, giving folks the opportunity to have their date nights and just desserts at home in their jammies if the mood strikes. But alongside the cakes, pies, salads and sandwiches on its online order form are 500ml, pre-mixed cocktails.

“Over the years since we opened lots of people have said, ‘Hey I wish you guys could bottle this stuff so we could have it at home,’” says the Spoon’s co-owner Ciaran Doherty, who’s been working on the logistics of delivering alcoholic drinks since last fall. “We didn’t want to get into delivering food until we could deliver cocktails as well.”

And now he’s doing just that with two of the longest running cocktails on the bar’s menu—the sweet Aphrodite’s Weakness and Black Currant Press. Each bottle pours the equivalent of over three drinks (and costs $19.99), but the catch is you can only buy it online via The Middle Spoon, no-can-do with take-away. Doherty hopes to add more cocktail options to the mix once the dust settles. 
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Monday, August 13, 2018

NRA’s recipe for moose donair meat takes a shot at Maritimers

Plus you can take the “What is donair sauce made of?” quiz.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 4:19 PM

America's National Rifle Association sets its sights on Halifax history with the Wild Game Donair.
  • America's National Rifle Association sets its sights on Halifax history with the Wild Game Donair.

The National Rifle Association’s ongoing efforts to make guns a totally normal lifestyle choice in the USA have now taken aim at Halifax’s official totally normal lifestyle choice, the donair.

An NRA magazine called American Hunter published a recipe for Wild Game Donair on its website this weekend. Apparently meat from moose, deer and elk works “exceptionally well” in donairs, writes Brad Fenson, as long as you remember “it’s critical to emulsify the meat by grinding it three or more times or using a food processor to break the meat down into a paste.” Which sounds appetizing-as-heck and all, but the real reason this recipe caught my eye is its snide attitude towards east coasters.

On the subject of the donair’s background, American Hunter is not content to acknowledge this particular beef-and-sweet-sauce spin on a kebab is a true Halifax dish. Instead, the recipe blends some vague dispute about where the donair came from, with a sweeping generalization about the famous lying nature of people in the Maritimes, to deny the Haligonian heritage of donairs:

A restaurant dubbed “King of Donair” in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada claims to be the inventor of this east coast donair delicacy, but there are others who allege the same. Maritimers are great storytellers, and rumor has it a Greek immigrated to Atlantic Canada and opened a traditional restaurant with the Mediterranean flavors of his native country. The old standbys at home didn’t seem to hit the mark with east coast Canadian appetites, so recipes were adapted using beef and spices preferred by locals to create a unique meal. Add a sweet garlic sauce to the mix, and you have an authentic Canadian donair.
Is the deliberate and unnecessary divisiveness on display in this article straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook? That question’s too easy. For harder sport, do you know the three ingredients in donair sauce? Take the following quiz to find out.
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Thursday, August 2, 2018

DRINK THIS: Avondale Sky’s Benediction

The Geisenheim-based bubbly that packs a gentle punch is back.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 1:00 AM


Avondale Sky Winery just released a new vintage of its Benediction, a traditional (Champagne) method sparkling wine made from Geisenheim 318—a grape hybrid bred at (and named for) the Geisenheim Research Centre, from parents Riesling and Chancellor.

The grape may have originated in Germany, but the wine is all Nova Scotia. Apple cider and rising bread on the inhale, and in the mouth green apple and a long, clean finish with a slight bitter pop at the back of the tongue. Though the wine was finished with 24 grams-per-litre of residual sugar, you’d never know it; The balancing acidity makes it feel entirely dry. This wine packs a gentle punch.

One of three grape varieties permitted to be the majority grape in the province’s appellation wine Tidal Bay, Geisenheim is an important varietal in Nova Scotia. (The others being l’Acadie Blanc and Seyval Blanc.) Avondale Sky uses Geisenheim in its Tidal Bay and in other wines, such as its oh-so-popular Bliss, a light, gentle white.

Notes from the vineyard describe a brutal vintage with a happy ending for the Geisenheim-based bubbly. That’s because 2014 saw a colder than average winter that damaged buds, a late spring frost that killed shoots, a tropical storm that destroyed flowers and an average summer. But a good autumn can turn any vintage around, and in 2014 the fall was warm and dry, allowing grapes to ripen fully before frost.

Get it while you can—the last vintage of Benediction sold out years ago—at Avondale Sky’s winery in Newport Landing or the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. It’s $30 a bottle.

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Katch Seafood opens on Pizza Corner

Late night fish and chips anyone?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 11:04 AM

  • Danielle McCreadie
Downtown Halifax’s infamous Pizza Corner is reeling in a new clientele.

Katch Seafood, a fast-casual twist on the traditional fish and chips, is opening under the same roof as Pizza Girls (1560 Grafton Street). The new brand will have six different kinds of batters, as well as fish tacos and salads.

Business partner Connor Stoilov is excited to showcase the new brand.

“Pizza corner is our flagship location and we've spent a lot of the last few months getting this ramped up and ready to launch, so we're definitely really excited,” he says.

The company opened its first co-branded location in Tantallon in February 2017 and is excited to start rolling it out across the province. It also hopes to franchise the brand across Canada in the future.

“Putting them together down in Tantallon, we've seen a lot of grandparents and parents bringing their kids down, and the kids love the pizza and the adults love the seafood, so it works really well,” says Stoilov.

“What we think is really unique is there's never been any late-night places for fish and chips. It’s something that’s missing downtown,” he says.

The new location will be open until 5am, so you'll be able to get fish and chips after your night out.

Katch also has a location on the waterfront, and will be launching locations in the Halifax Shopping Centre, Scotia Square and in downtown Moncton later this summer.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Obladee’s thirst for knowledge

Want to learn about wine from certified experts? Class is in session with sommeliers Erin Beazley and Heather Rankin.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 5:34 PM

Introduction to Wine
Tuesdays July 31- August 28
Obladee, A Wine Bar, 1600 Barrington Street
eventbrite.ca or reserve@obladee.ca. $285

For its population, Halifax graduates an impressive number of sommeliers. Nova Scotia is also a very young wine region and most local drinkers of wine are new to the beverage. Starting at the end of this month, a course in Halifax will bring those worlds closer together, giving people the opportunity to learn the basics of wine and ask all the questions that neither Google nor Robert Parker seem willing to answer.

"I'm really interested in helping people navigate the wine world on their own, instead of relying on 'experts,'" says Heather Rankin, owner of Obladee. As one of the co-creators of the course, Rankin designed it "for real world application, for people who are really interested in wine and will be drinking it themselves and serving it to friends and family."

The five-week introduction to wine course starts July 31, and runs every Tuesday night 6-8pm at Obladee. Classes will be capped at 12 students, the "magic number" for wine education group dynamics, says Rankin, who regularly hosts wine appreciation nights at the downtown Halifax wine bar.

Wine education is not new to our region; Sommelier certification began in Nova Scotia in 2000 when Adam Dial, son of Roger Dial, widely held to be the father of Nova Scotia wine, taught the first course at Mount Saint Vincent University. That year, Dial's graduates earned the top two marks in Canada on national exams.

Sommelier certification today is offered through the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers-Atlantic Chapter. The courses, taught by Mark DeWolf, Carman Mills, Simon Rafuse and Alanna Steele, are rigorous and rewarding. They generally take two years to complete and cost just under $4,000, clearly aimed at those who seek a profession in wine stewardship.

A recent graduate, Erin Beazley, is the co-creator of Obladee's wine course, which complements the region's formal accreditation in that it extends wine education to people for less investment. Beazley will be leading the first series of classes, using a manual she designed with Rankin, who is particularly keen to teach the economics around wine.

"I think it confuses a lot of people, they think still that the best wines are from France and the best wines are expensive," she says.

Obladee's course, intended to be fun and inspiring, will also give students a comprehensive sense of wine from people who are deeply knowledgable.

"You need the foundation to understand things on a basic level. It's difficult to glaze over such a complex topic, so you have to go there a little bit," says Rankin. "This course is professional, and comprehensive, and it's also very practical and inclusive, and current. We're in it, we know what's going on and we're passing that on in real time."

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

DRINK THIS: Chain Yard's Drunken Cherry cider

An earthy, aromatic and rum-infused new release

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 4:37 AM

  • lenny mullins

Jay Hildybrant
isn’t afraid to play around with ingredients, but the head cidermaker at Chain Yard Urban Cidery never wants to bury the best parts of cider under too much sugar.

“For the longest time there’s been a stigmatic idea cider needs to be sweet and needs to taste like apples. To me, it’s time we change that perception. We want to create a wine-like product,” he says. “My passion is definitely with cider but we always try to use winemaking techniques. It’s very much like saying wine has to taste like grapes, it doesn’t make much sense.”

It’s his storied background in (and contagious passion for) cider that keeps the taps at Chain Yard so carefully considered, meticulously crafted—and full of creative ferments like the latest Drunken Cherry. Made with cherry wine and aged with Compass Distillers’ rhumb (spelled funny, but it’s an un-aged white rum), Hildybrant calls this 9.4 percent drink robust and earthy, with a hint of sour cherry, too.

“We do something that’s fairly unique here at Chain Yard. Whenever we get in a fruit juice, we actually create a wine from that. It pulls out interesting flavours and aromatics. So we’ll ferment the cherry and get notes like cinnamon and nutmeg and really interesting nuances,” he says of the blend which he anticipated
would ring in at around 8.5 percent ABV. “The cherry went farther than we thought and hit 9.4 percent but I didn’t want to stop it because there were really unique notes coming out.”

You can taste all those nuances for yourself at Chain Yard (2606 Agricola Street) this weekend, Drunken Cherry is pouring now.
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Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Exchange has big plans for Hollis Street

The folks behind the St. John's Fish Exchange are bringing something massive to town

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 4:32 PM

  • via FAcebook

“Halifax is on fire right now,” says Andrew Flynn, the GM of The Maple’s soon-to-be in-house restaurant, The Exchange on Hollis (1583 Hollis Street). A spin-off of popular Newfoundland spot St. John’s Fish Exchange, the Halifax take on the concept will offer a “premium casual” space that’s seafood forward and aimed at satisfying a cross-section of demographics.

The 300-seater restaurant plans to open sometime next month—hopefully with enough time left for folks to enjoy the 2,000 square foot seater patio—offering up a private room, a massive bar and laser-sharp focus on experience. “It’s in the centre of that old downtown, that waterfront business area. We’re going back to mercantile cuisine, following trade routes,” teases Flynn of Caribbean Italian, Spanish influences on the large menu. “Like, you’ll have lobster but rather than a generic lobster, there’ll be a Caribbean rum butter.” He also promises craft cocktails and beer, Tidal Bay on tap and an eight-seater champagne and oyster bar.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cafe Lara is moving in on the corner of Agricola and Woodill

Soon that empty old laundromat is finally not going to be an empty old laundromat anymore

Posted By on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 3:27 PM

Lara Cusson and Ruthy Shvalbe want to have a coffee with you - IAN SELIG
  • Lara Cusson and Ruthy Shvalbe want to have a coffee with you
  • ian selig
At long last the dilapidated laundromat on the corner of Agricola and Woodill Streets is being picked up, dusted off and reimagined. Later this summer Cafe Lara will come to life in a renovated version of the 2347 Agricola Street building, aiming to be a neighbourhood space that’s comfortable, inviting and a celebration of the social side of coffee culture.

“I think everyone has a story of the first coffee shop they started going regularly,” says Lara Cusson—the cafe’s owner and namesake, who’ll be working alongside manager Ruthy Shvalbe to open it. “I remember the first coffee shop I liked going to was in 2005 and it really became my home away from home, and luckily I chose a place with the best coffee.”

A Montrealer who’s made Halifax her home, she has worked in the food and drink industry since falling in love with that first cafe. And now she’s fallen in love with Halifax, in particular, the north end.

“I really like the idea of bringing people together, and community, and I think coffee is a great way of doing that,” she says of her project. “I think it’s something that appeals to everyone and people from all walks of life.”

Since deciding she wants to leave her mark on the local small business community, Cusson has spent time researching coffee shops of all types, scoping out as many as possible in other cities she visits. Cafe Lara will focus on serving top-notch java drinks, a well-curated menu of food (that’ll also be convenient for grab and go customers), LF Bakery pastries and providing a space that’s a lot of different things to the different people who stop by.

“I want to create seating for every type of person that might come in—a young mother with a stroller, a bar area for people looking for a few drinks, space for students who might want to study,” says Cusson. “I’m trying to keep the type of customer and what their needs might be in mind.” 
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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Aly Mae's Bread Basket brings Mary's cinnamon buns back to life

Legendary desserts for Dartmouth

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 1:00 AM

The days of Mary’s Bread Basket’s line-up-worthy cinnamon buns and nostalgia-inducing aromas are not behind us. The legendary staple that most folks remember from days of yore at the Historic Farmers’ Market (1496 Lower Water Street) disappeared from the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market (1209 Marginal Road) about two years ago but is back in action as of last week. The next iteration of the classic is called Aly Mae’s Bread Basket (11 Mount Hope Avenue, near the Dartmouth General Hospital). “They’ve been selling out like crazy,” says Gabrielle McNeill of the famous buns. She helps her sister Alysha Mae McNeill (AKA Aly Mae) run the business, which their family took over from their aunt Mary Mohammed. The new Dartmouth location sells cookies, squares, croissants and other baked goodness for now, alongside the cinnamon buns, with bread and English muffins to come later. Aly Mae’s aims to be back at the Seaport and Alderney Farmers’ Markets (2 Ochterloney Street) in the next couple of weeks.
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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Former Smiling Goat workers are opening Glitter Bean Cafe

The cooperatively run, queer-centred coffee shop opens in July

Posted By on Sat, Jun 23, 2018 at 11:19 AM

  • via @glitterbeancafe

Glitter Bean Cafe is the newest cooperative cafe to hit Halifax, started by the same baristas who worked at the Smiling Goat.

“It’s a model that we think empowers workers, it’s also a model we think shares the workload and minimizes hierarchy,” says Charlie Huntley, vice-president of the cooperative and a barista.

The idea to start their own cafe was talked about between the workers at the Smiling Goat for years, but after the 5896 Spring Garden Road location (which was formerly a Just Us!) closed in April, its staff decided to make it a reality.

“We signed an agreement with Just Us! for a reduced rent if we carry their coffee, and some funding from our union, and we found some personal funding as well,” says Huntley. “So we were able to pull it off financially which was a major component we were missing before now.”

Glitter Bean is set to be the first queer themed cafe in the city.

“It’s explicitly queer but not exclusively queer,” says Huntley. “It centres on queerness and a queer aesthetic and queer workers and queer customers, but also we want it to be open and welcoming and make other people feel safe as well.”

“Having a queer cafe in the city is important because there are very few queer spaces in Halifax at the moment,” says Huntley. “A cafe is an establishment where younger folks, folks who are underage and queer, can go. It’s also just important to build queer community and have a space where queer folks an feel safe and feel represented and feel reflected in the workforce at the business.”

Glitter Bean plans to open by the second week of July, but the date has not been finalized.

“We wear queerness on our sleeves," says Huntley, "it just made sense for us to open a cafe that aligned with our values and aesthetics.”

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Two Dumb Vegans’ brain food

Inspired by the awesomeness of Mary’s Bread Basket, these farmers’ market bakers have perfected their cinnamon roll recipe.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM

  • DYlan Chew

Two Dumb Vegans

Historic Farmers’ Market, 1496 Lower Water Street
Saturdays, 7am-1pm

When Michael Grove and Kerry Sharp begin the baking process for their bigger-than-your-hand, quadruple-layered cinnamon rolls, a sort of routine settles in: Singing (lots of it), cinnamon-dousing (even more of it) and layering up rectangles of buttery-yet-butter-free dough. “We found ourselves harmonizing all time, singing Weird Al B-sides, Disney songs. We do “‘A Whole New World’ a lot,” Grove says as Sharp laughs.

The partners in life and baking sell their dairy-free cinnamon rolls—and other treats—under the name Two Dumb Vegans at the Historic Brewery Market and, occasionally, the Halifax Forum Farmer’s Market. “Once upon a time at the original Historic Market, there was an almost cult-like following for Mary’s Bread Basket cinnamon rolls. I’ll be the first to admit that when I was young I was in that lineup, which was 20 people long, just to get this mythical cinnamon roll. And it was great. And then Mary’s Bread Basket closed. My whole market experience was based around the cinnamon roll so I set out not to replicate it, but to fill that void,” Grove offers. “I took a really long time developing the recipe, reworking it until I had an incredible cinnamon roll that just happened to be vegan.”

The pair originally met when Sharp got a job at Grove’s now-shuttered Quinpool Road restaurant Red Lunchbox. Though the plant-based eatery didn't last long (its doors were open from February to April of this year), the spark between Sharp and Grove did.

“It was just like, ‘Well that’s it, we can’t run a restaurant so now we’re just two dumb vegans forging forward’,” Grove says. While their visions of the future include launching a subscription service of simple, meat-and-dairy free meals, for now it’s all about the cinnamon rolls.

“I grew up in a quasi-Jewish household where challah was a big deal, and I used to live across the street from a Hong Kong bakery, so something in me wanted to make something with the texture of like a steam bun but the rich, almost umami-ness of egg bread,” Grove says of the pair’s signature roll. “But also a big part of it, too, is the cinnamon,” Sharp adds, estimating that each layer of the four-layer rolls uses at least a quarter cup of cinnamon. (Grove guesses it’s higher.)

Maybe the most special part of all, though, is the eating. Grove says it’s “turned into a huge community. It’s almost like a church, honestly, in that it’s a wonderful community of people that just sit and drink coffee together and eat cinnamon rolls and everyone knows everyone’s name.” 

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Kam-Moon brings Mediterranean eats to Brunswick Street

New restaurant alert.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2018 at 2:28 PM

When Hossam Ramadan says fast food, he's not talking about the junky kind that usually comes to mind. The operations manager at the brand new Kam-Moon says the restaurant aims to “introduce the best of the Mediterranean cuisine” and do so for an affordable price, but the speedy nature doesn’t mean there’s been any rush in concept or creation. “We wanted to redefine the fast food industry with homemade recipes.”

The 2013 Brunswick Street (next to Inkwell Modern Handmade Boutique) spot soft-opened today, bringing tastes from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Greece and Turkey to those looking for a quick and healthy bite. But what sets it the apart the most is the ridiculously fresh bread—baked in-house pita. Egyptian pita pockets—which are similar to the Lebanese kind we’re familiar with, expect thicker—are better known as eish, meaning “to be alive,” says Ramadan. “You walk around the Egyptian markets and it’s what you can smell, it’s really popular there. A lot of people depend on that bread to go through their day.”

Kam-Moon’s pitas will be packed with a variety of fillings (like falafel, kofta and calamari) and will be served from when the early morning baking finishes to around 10pm. And if you’ve got room for dessert Ramadan suggests trying the tulumba, which he likens to a Turkish churro. Um, sold.
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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Three must-eat dishes at this weekend's Halifax Greek Fest

It's souvlaki time

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 6:47 AM


Halifax Greek Fest
St. George’s Greek Orthodox Community
38 Purcell’s Cove Road
June 7-10

It’s year 33 for the Halifax Greek Fest, an annual celebration of culture where music, dancing, church tours and endless good food work together to make a weekend that’s sort of synonymous with summer kick-off. We chatted with George Kapetanakis—The Armview Restaurant and Lounge owner and Greek Fest volunteer—about how to conquer the festival’s menu. His number one tip? Get there early.

“You get the variety pack there, and it’s pretty damn delicious,” says Kapetanakis. A favourite dish from the kitchen, this all-encompassing platter gets you pork or chicken souvlaki, moussaka, spanakopita, salad, lemon roasted potatoes and tzatziki. “The ladies down there have been working their arses off,” he adds.

This snack comes straight from the grill and features hand-cut, long-marinated, grilled-to-perfection pork and fresh tzatziki. Kapetanakis calls it “a labour of love.” “The donair is huge, it was invented by Greeks in Halifax, but the entire population of Greece eats this dish,” he says. Added bonus? It’s only $7.

You can’t not eat this. Phyllo pastry. Walnuts. Honey. “You can’t go wrong really,” says Kapetanakis. “It’s a little bit of sweet, a little bit of bitter, it’s the quintessential Greek dessert.” And if there’s any time to go classic, it’s now.
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In Print This Week

Vol 26, No 25
November 15, 2018

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