Just Roman Around…

I'm a Maritime monkey on a mission to find adventures in my own backyard. I promote Maritime businesses and local vendors in an effort to show why we live in the greatest place in the world. It's a blog that's truly aPEELing for the whole family!

Having Hope At Home – A Neptune Theatre Review

Having Hope At HomeI was extremely happy to be offered the opportunity to witness a live play on opening night. One of the things I’ve had on my “Halifax Bucket List” over the past couple of years was to see a play at Neptune Theatre, but I just never found the time. Thankfully, when the offer landed in my inbox, I was relieved to find that I was available that night.

19-01-2014 3-49-36 PMMy first impressions on Neptune Theatre as a facility were that I was immediately impressed. Having never been inside of the building, I didn’t know where to go or what to expect. After I picked up my tickets from the box office, I made my way to the stairs…one set going up, the other going down. Not knowing what to do (was it a lounge downstairs?), I kinda stood there for a moment before a nice lady asked me for my ticket. She then directed me downstairs to the “orchestra” section…so I felt like I was off to a good start.

I picked up a beverage and was told that I could order something now for intermission, as the bar becomes quite busy. How awesome is that? I pre-ordered a bottle of water and waited around for the doors to open up to the seating area of Fountain Hall.

The play, Having Hope At Home, is a comedy about a very dysfunctional family who happens to be coming together in a very unique situation. That situation involves a winter storm, an old farmhouse, and a baby that just doesn’t want to wait any longer to make their appearance to the world.

 

The first half of the play was quite funny. The story was set up quickly and it didn’t take long for you to understand just what was going on. The characters weren’t complicated, so you knew who they were right out of the gate.  The two main characters were the impending parents, Carolyn (played by Katie Lawson) and Michel (played by Aidan Desalaiz. Carolyn wanted to put on a dinner for her parents, who she had been estranged from for a few years. The farmhouse was on the old family farm, and Michel was now the one in charge of the cows in the barn.

Living with Carolyn and Michel was, to me anyway, the real star of the play: Carolyn’s grandfather Russell, played by Trailer Park Boys alumni John Dunsworth. Not only was the role of Russell written to have all of the best jokes, but Dunsworth’s portrayal of the character made him seem the most realistic out of all the cast. He was likable, relatable, and delivered punchlines with the perfect blend of timing and emphasis.

Hope lobby 3The rest of the cast was also quite entertaining and played their roles well. Carolyn’s parents William (played extremely well by Michael Spencer-Davis) and Jane (played by Sherry Smith) are complete opposites from their daughter, yet as the conversations progress end up feeling the same way about her as she does about them. The final character, midwife Dawn (played by Mary Colin Chisholm), is the only character with a sense of real purpose and level-headedness…trying to protect Carolyn in both a physical way and an emotional way.

While the second half of the play wasn’t nearly as funny as the first, the drama allowed everyone involved to truly show off their acting chops. The drama felt real and the pain, anger, and sadness all felt genuine. I, for one, could totally relate to the father/son conversation had out by the wood pile by William and Russell.

Hope lobby 2

At the end of the day, this was a fun play to go see and it was great to see a packed house on opening night. Having never been there before, I can only hope that the remainder of the play’s run is just as successful.

One of the great things about living in Halifax is the wonderful sense of community that we all seem to share. We love to buy local and promote our own. Neptune Theatre not only allows us to promote out own, but gives us something that most areas in the Maritimes don’t have: a professional acting theatre that puts on professional shows on a professional level.

You can’t go wrong with 2+ hours of live entertainment. And I not only applaud Neptune for putting on such a great show, but thank them for inviting me so I could tell as many people as I could just how entertaining this was and how everyone should support local arts.

Hope lobby 1

…Downtown Halifax!

Big Day DowntownI was recently invited to take part in an event that has only been going on for a few years but recently has gained a lot in momentum. In fact, I had only heard about it from a fellow blogger last year (my cool author friend, Alison DeLory), so when when the opportunity to take part this year came up I jumped at the chance! The event is called Big Day Downtown and is a really great way to involve local bloggers with Downtown Halifax and help get people interested in supporting the area.

Basically, the idea is that Downtown Halifax provides credit cards to local Halifax bloggers, who are then asked to spend their money in the downtown core and blog about it afterwards. It really is a great way to promote the downtown business district and I was absolutely honoured to take part this year.

This is me with my three "theme cards".

This is me with my three “theme cards”.

There was an added twist thrown into the mix this year, too. This year’s Big Day Downtown theme was “Experience It All” and to make things unique, each blogger got together in a secret location to receive three experience cards…each containing a word that would be used as a “theme” when making downtown purchases.

Have you got all that? Good…because I picked out cards that said “Authentic“, “Happy“, and “Relaxing“.

The only real question for me was: Where would I go?  

I decided that I wanted to go support a local business that I hadn’t visited before. In this case, I wanted to buy something that was authentically local and screamed out Halifax.  Fortunately, I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to get.

Lost Cod Clothing CompanyI made my way to the Lost Cod Clothing Company, which is a clothing and garment company that specializes in producing unique Nova Scotian based designs, celebrating old Nova Scotia industry as well as highlighting some of our current treasures. I asked my new friend, Ben, for a new #DangerWave t-shirt (it has been something that hasn’t only in the local news lately, but is fun and totally fits into my personality). Ben wasn’t only friendly and helpful, he was also pretty knowledgeable about the products and company background. He was happy to pose for a picture with me and my new t-shirt!

Lost Cod #DangerWave

I ended up speaking with Gordon, the owner of Lost Cod, and I asked him why he came up with such a unique and fun idea for a business.

“Essentially we wanted to create a line that was authentic NS, to celebrate old industry, preserve history and perhaps shape our future. It’s amazing to see how many things we used to do/make that have fallen by the wayside. If we can spur conversation about that, then maybe we’ll inspire someone to think about doing it again.”

I can’t wait to talk more about the Lost Cod Clothing Company in a future blog post dedicated to them, but I had other local businesses that I wanted to go visit!

Economy Shoe ShopMy stomach was grumbling so I, again, wanted to eat somewhere I had never gone before. I mean, a monkey’s gotta eat, amiright? I knew that I was going to need to keep my strength up for a day of roaming around and shopping downtown, so I decided to swing on up to The Economy Shoe Shop on Argyle Street. The restaurant got it’s name due to there being a real shoe store that operated on Barrington Street in the 1950s and 1960s. Once that store closed, the sign was saved and when owner Victor Syperek needed a name for his new restaurant, the Economy Shoe Shop was born!

I didn’t want to over-do things (I was already looking forward to having dessert), so I ordered a few different appetizers to try. I had a side Dragon’s Breath Caesar salad that featured That Dutchman’s Farm Dragon Breath blue cheese dressing. I had never had a Caesar salad quite so unique…and it was awesome that they featured a local farmer’s product in their food. I also had some Smoked Salmon Seafood Chowder and what was probably one of the best calamari dishes I have ever had. The interior of the restaurant was made to look like an exterior (which was quite unique) and I’m looking forward to writing more about it in a future post.

Economy Shoe Shop

Sugah After lunch I decided to hit the waterfront, l which is one of my favourite places in the entire city (and yes, it’s considered to be part of the downtown core). After that delicious lunch I felt the need to satisfy my sweet tooth, and what better place to do that than Sugah?

As soon as I walk into Sugah!, I’m in my happy place. Where else in the world can you walk along the beautiful waterfront and walk into a candy & confectionery store that sells hand-paddled ice cream and Pac-Man ghost sours under the same roof? I’ve written about Sugah! before, but I love it so much that I can’t help but visit there time after time. This time I felt like not only getting some incredible ice cream, but also a couple of items that screamed out “Roman” to me: a bar that had buttercrunch (similar to Skor bits) in white chocolate and some banana mints (natch!!). I can’t recommend this awesome place enough!

Sugah

Marine Heritage StoreAs I continued along The Waterfront I happened upon a local “tourist-y” shop, The Nova Scotia Marine Heritage Store, where I was able to snag an item that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time: An authentic Nova Scotia Sou’Wester hat! This will definitely keep my fur dry when I’m out roaming around on those rainy Halifax days. There’s no way I’m going to let a little rain stop me!

My So'Wester!

I continued down along the waterfront, enjoying all of the sights and sounds that the areas has to offer. I wandered in and out of plenty of shops, enjoying the experience of being a tourist in my very own city, spending the better part of the afternoon doing just that.

Cool As A Moose HalifaxMy travels next took me to Historic Properties, where I ended up at Cool As a Moose. I immediately spied products from Acadian Maple Products, including one of my very favourite products of all time: Cinnamon-Infused Maple Syrup! Acadian Maple Syrup can be found in many places around the province, but Cool as a Moose is the only store that I’ve found this delicious concoction in Halifax. There’s nothing I love more than whipping up a batch of banana pancakes on a Sunday morning and serving it with some cinnamon maple syrup. I also decided to try some other Acadian Maple products that I’d never had before: Wild Blueberry Syrup and some Maple BBQ Sauce! I can hardly wait to try them out!

Acadian Maple Products

Baton RougeAs the day began winding down I decided it was time to unwind and relax. It was late in the day and you know what that means? Margarita time! I headed over to Baton Rouge for a drink. I’d never been there before and really enjoyed the decor and the atmosphere. I had a quick peek at the menu and decided that some warm spinach and artichoke dip would be the perfect accompaniment to my tasty strawberry margarita (they didn’t carry banana daiquiris). The dip was warm, cheesy and tasty. I’m already looking forward to going back again another time.

Frozen strawberry margarita

It was quite the Big Day Downtown for me indeed! I’d like to really thank Downtown Halifax for inviting me on this amazing journey. It’s a great idea that they have come up with and I think it’s a great way to promote the downtown core, especially with all of the new buildings going up around the area. I’m looking forward to doing this again!

*****

Have any ideas on where in the Halifax area I should show up next? Know of a great local business that you think should get some exposure? Are you a small business owner who would like to promote your product? I would LOVE to hear from you!

Just send me an email at RomanChimpsky@gmail.com and let me know!

…SausageFest Halifax!

SausageFest!

I love meat. I’m a meat-a-tarian by choice. Meat glorious meat. Am I being clear enough?

So when I heard that the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market was going to host The IncrEdible Picnic & Sausage BBQ as part of SausageFest Halifax, I jumped at the opportunity! I mean, after all…that’s just more meat to choose from!!

Pete's Frootique sausages!

Pete’s Frootique sausages!

I arrived shortly after 11am, hungry and ready to sink my teeth into some locally-made sausage. The first vendor I visited was from Pete’s Frootique. I’ll be honest…I didn’t even know that Pete’s MADE their own sausage! I’ve always thought of them in terms of an amazing gluten-free selection and some incredible fresh produce, but I just walked past their meat section. I was quite impressed by what they had to offer me. They had some very unique sausages, but the one I tried was the Sicilian Sausage. The Sicilian was a pork shoulder sausage made with red wine, garlic, fennel, parsley, and white pepper. It was definitely a unique flavour and a great way to kick off the day.

Halifax Footlongs!

Halifax Footlongs!

My next stop was with “Mr. Halifax Footlong” (you can find him on Twitter at @HFXFL). This guy doesn’t just sell plain ol’ hot dogs every weekend at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. He sells LOVE in the food. No…that’s not just me being cheesy, it’s the absolute truth! Just spend five minutes at his cart and he’ll explain to you why each sauce he has is as good as it is, why each type of dog or sausage he has is so good, and why each flavour tastes the way it does when it’s all combined.  At the end of the day, you can tell that he loves what he sells and when you taste a Hawaiian or one of his foot-longs, you’ll understand his passion.

The wonderful ladies from the Meadowbrook Meat Market!

The wonderful ladies from the Meadowbrook Meat Market!

Needless to say, I was having a GREAT time when I stumbled upon a booth that I wasn’t familiar with: the Meadowbrook Meat Market. They’re from the Berwick area and they grow all-natural omega pork that’s antibiotic free with the majority of their feed made from grain that they actually grow themselves. I swung over and they offered a gluten-free maple/bacon/cheddar sausage. It took all of five seconds for me to jump up and say, “YES, PLEASE!!”

I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this sausage was the best I have EVER tasted! Sure, it was cooked perfectly (that certainly helps things) but the flavours were out of this world!

Mmmm!! My winner!!

Mmmm!! My winner!!

All in all, I would call my outing to SausageFest Halifax an unequivocal success! I arrived hungry, I left full, and I met new friends who had products I would definitely try again. How much better can a day get?

Well…throw in a banana daiquiri or two maybe.

*****

Have any ideas on where in the Halifax area I should show up next? Know of a great local business that you think should get some exposure? Are you a small business owner who would like to promote your product? I would LOVE to hear from you!

Just send me an email at RomanChimpsky@gmail.com and let me know!

…George’s Island

Georges Island - waterfrontOver the weekend I was lucky enough to be the only monkey allowed to participate in “Picnic In The Past“, which was an event co-sponsored by Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, Select Nova Scotia, Parks Canada, Rogers Communications, C100, Aquafina, and Waterfront Development. This was a 2-day event where the public was able to go over to see historic Fort Charlotte up close and personal.

George's IslandWait…you’re unfamiliar with George’s Island? Let me give you a quick history lesson. It’s a small island that is situated smack dab in the middle of Halifax Harbour that got its name from King George II way back in 1749. Because of it’s prime location, fortifications were established there. However, it was used as a prison shortly after its creation during the Seven Years War (1756-1763) before being used again as a fort to protect against privateers during the American Revolution (1763-1776) as part of the “Halifax Defense Complex”, along with Citadel Hill.

Okay…history lesson over. The fun stuff is that this historic property is not normally open to the public, so the opportunity to explore the fort and enjoy some local wares was a tremendous opportunity that I simply could not pass up.

After waiting over an hour to board the boat that would ferry us over (it’s alright…I realize it was the first day and there are bound to be hiccups), I was excited to disembark and start walking along the paths that were initially forged so many years ago. I decided to go straight up to the entrance of Fort Charlotte and ended up with a fantastic view of the famous George’s Island lighthouse.

George's Island lighthouseGeorges IslandI was fortunate enough to be able to chat with some of the great volunteers who were dressed up in authentic historical garb in tremendously high heat (40 degrees with the humidity!). Not only were they seemingly fine and quite comfortable, but they didn’t appear to be sweating nearly as much as I was, which made me wonder about their uniforms and how the soldiers must have felt so many years before.

I took a peak inside what was originally the jail cells before moving on to an area where kids and monkeys alike could try on some of the historical clothing. Not only did I get a great photo op with a lucky volunteer (I am a Halifax celebrity, afterall), I was fortunate enough to find a hat that fit me perfectly!

George's Island - Picnic in the PastGeorge's Island tunnelI then decided to make my way down into the tunnels of Fort Charlotte. It was incredible to really try to comprehend the work that must have gone into digging into this tiny island and constructing tunnels with stones. The tunnels twist and turn throughout the island, suggesting that those who built it really wanted to take advantage of the space that they had.

Lower Battery on George's IslandOne of my favourite spots was the Lower Battery. This area was separately constructed as a way to fortify the island against a sea-based assault. It housed four powerful 10″ rifle muzzle-loaded guns (pictured at right) that were so loud when fired, that those in the Battery had to leave the rooms in order to save their hearing. Each massive gun was situated on a “wheel” of sorts, so that the gun could turn and point in a slightly different direction through a small window overlooking the harbour.

The day was beautiful and the sun was strong, but that didn’t stop the volunteers from showing visitors just how people lived on the island 250 years ago. The costumes were authentic and the stories were many, leaving those of us listening to walk away and imagine what it must have been like…and just how easy life is today in comparison.

Georges Island

View from George's IslandThe island was set up for tourists quite well. There were multiple port-a-potties for folks, multiple guides who were around to answer questions, and an area where one could buy food (either some great BBQ or a pre-purchased picnic box) and water (which was definitely needed on this particular day).

I would like to thank Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, Select Nova Scotia, Parks Canada, Rogers Communications, C100, Aquafina, and Waterfront Development for joining forces as sponsors in order to allow this weekend to happen. It was absolutely worth the $15 price for transportation over as it was not only a learning experience, but an entertaining experience, as well.

Georges Island (5)

*****

Have any ideas on where in the Halifax area I should show up next? Know of a great local business that you think should get some exposure? Are you a small business owner who would like to promote your product? I would LOVE to hear from you!

Just send me an email at RomanChimpsky@gmail.com and let me know!

I’m a multi-media monkey!!

I know, I know…things haven’t quite been “hopping” around there lately. But now things are different.

I think.

While I haven’t been keeping up with the blog NEARLY as much as I should be, I’ve still been quite active on my other social media avenues. I mean, I’m a multi-media monkey people…I’m certainly not going to contain myself to just one form of artistic expression.

So just in case you didn’t already know…

Of course, there’s Twitter. This is probably the place I’m on the most. For me, it’s a great place to gather up information and updates on local businesses and culture without having to go elsewhere and search for it aimlessly. And as some of you may know, I like to re-Tweet posts that I think my readers would find interesting or relevant.

A Twitter-exclusive pic

A Twitter-exclusive pic

On Twitter, I quite often post pictures that I don’t post on Facebook or Flickr. I try to keep all of my followers updated on where I might be found and what I might be doing…y’know, for those so inclined to actually be interested.

I’m on Facebook (link on the right hand side of the page). Sometimes you’ll get a preview pic of an adventure before the adventure is discussed, so that alone should be reason to “like” me.  Right?  AMIRIGHT???

I’m also on Instagram. In fact, the majority of my photos are done via Instagram (i.e. the ones I post in my blog, the ones I post on Facebook, and the ones I post on Twitter). So if you want to see pictures from all around the Maritimes, I’d highly recommend following me there. Seriously…it’s pretty awesome.

And I’m on Flickr, too. This was a place I stored photos before I found Instagram. I’ve since re-tooled the account so that only my favorite pics show up there.

I’m still working on my video editing skills, so a potential Vine account or even YouTube account is always a possibility. But for now, I’m not much of a video kind of monkey. If there’s interest, though, let me know!

I’ve got some fun things coming up over the summer, so please take the time to follow and like me on my various social media outlets. I’ll do whatever I can to make it entertaining for you!

*****

Have any ideas on where in the Halifax area I should show up next? Know of a great local business that you think should get some exposure? Are you a small business owner who would like to promote your product? I would LOVE to hear from you!

Just send me an email at RomanChimpsky@gmail.com and let me know!