Tasting Nova Scotia, The Tempest Restaurant – On Stormy Shores
Before setting out on my Food Gypsy adventures, I took some time to visit a few of my favourite foodie hang-outs, so that I could pass them on to you. Over the last 5 years, as the proprietor at the Dragonfly Inn in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, I’ve been advising travelers on the best eats in Nova Scotia, the Tempest has wowed even the most discerning palate.
Like the Shakespeare play from which it draws its name, The Tempest is a romance of food and seduction of flavour with the dramatic undertone of a hand that understands subtlety and fusion.
The upscale dining room has a decidedly Italian feel, white table cloths, dark wood and leather club chairs. The mood is serene and the menu boasts local, sustainable product; complete with a list of local suppliers who are an integral part of The Tempest food experience.
Borrowing from Chef Michael Howell’s extensive travels, his World Cuisine lends flare to local fare. An advocate for Slow Food Nova Scotia and honours graduate of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Michael’s passion is obvious.
The artful plating, the sensational parings and a wine list that boasts some truly outstanding vintages, the Tempest is an outstanding culinary treat southwest in Nova Scotia. I keep coming back, again and again to see what new menu Michael offers,year to year, will he thrill me with his Crispy Calamari with lemon aioli? Will he delight me with the Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster with citrus risotto, taproot spinach and lobster au jus?
On rare occasions, family holidays and festive occasions, you find new delights offered in a buffet. This spring I ventured forth on Mother’s Day (Mom in tow) for a Mother’s Day buffet, Tempest style.
Buffets are tricky, they’re notorious for mediocre food left to stand under lights and steam under lids. The wisdom of a truly great chef: “keep it fresh”. The wisdom of a fanatical foodie: “taste everything”.
Fennel Sausage, Eggs Florentine (still soft poached, with a fresh hollandaise), Savoury Crab Cakes with lemon aioli, Asparagus with Prosciutto, Pasta Salad in a tangy vinaigrette, fresh fiddleheads lightly sauteed and a Tourtiere which stopped me in my tracks.
“Is that orange I taste?!” Yes, indeed. Marmalade to be exact. A sweet and savoury interpretation of the classic French Canadian meat pie, in the heart of Acadia country. The Tourtiere sent me back for seconds.
We shared dessert. We had to. After all, we are minding our girlish figures (kind of). Fresh Fruit Salad, tangy Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp and Cheese Cake Brownies, heavy on the cheese, heavy on the chocolate. Just a taste. A wee nibble. A mere morsel.
Serving lunch Friday, Saturday & Sunday and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, The Tempest is closed on Monday. Reservations are strongly recommended in the high season (July – September). Go. Enjoy. Bring your appetite.
One last thing, be sure to pick up Chef Howell’s first cook book “Atlantic Seafood, Recipes from Chef Michael Howell”. Stunning photos, easy to follow recipes and outstanding seafood advice. Here’s an inside, Food Gypsy taste. It’s worth it.
Nova Scotia’s The Tempest – the calm in the storm.
2015 Update: Wolfville’s Tempest is now La Torta Woodfired Pizzeria.
117 Front Street Wolfville, Nova Scotia Canada (902)542-0588 www.tempest.ca