Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fun Eats and Cool Treats in Nova Scotia Canada!

By: Finance Foodie

During my 5 plus years of living in the East Coast, I had been to Canada a grand total of… times. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always wondered what mysteries were contained in our great big Northern neighbor, but somehow life (and maybe a bit of poor planning) always seemed to get in the way of actually crossing that proverbial border bridge. That is until last week.
Photo Source: wikimedia commons
A few months ago, the tourism board of Canada asked me if I wanted to take a week-long trip to visit sites along the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with a few other writers. At first, I almost passed on the opportunity. Now I’m sure at this point you’re probably wondering, “What?!? Is Finance Foodie really passing up a fully guided and sponsored tour of Canada? Is she on drugs?” Let me explain. During the time of the Canada offer, I was fully immersed in an 80 work week, plus applying for grad schools (which in itself is another full time job). Basically, this translated into an uncertain plate that left no room for dessert.
But of course in the world of Finance Foodie, there is always room for dessert (and sometimes it comes first). So I decided to go on the trip – grad school uncertainly be damned! And man am I so glad I did – because it was totally was an adventure of a lifetime! From rafting on the tidal bores in a red mud river to indulging on fresh and locally sourced food on a daily basis, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my week!  Check out some of the highlights from the first part of my trip in Nova Scotia, after the jump.

~Fun Eats~
Domanie de Grand Pre, one of the Grand Pre’s best known wineries, was started not by an Arcadian, but by a Swiss-German financier named Hans Peter Sturz. The winery is known not only for producing wines using the specialty grapes that are developed for Nova Scotia’s specific climate and landscape, but also its extreme precision in the property design (be sure to check out the stone walkways and iron fencing inlayed with grapevine clusters!).
Photo Source: Domaine Grand Pre Winery
The on-site winery restaurant, La Caveau, also uses this same attention to detail in its cooking. Chef Jason Lynch is known for making the classic dish using locally sourced ingredients perfected to a tee. My steak frites, a fairly common and standard dish, was absolutely flawless -- the meat was tender and the potato shoots were crisp. I recommend pairing this dish with the winery’s 2010 Ortega, a fairly versatile white with bold notes of pear, dried apricot and honey mixed with a hint of rose petal.
Even though the main course was amazing, I had to save room dessert. What was my favorite? The fresh out the oven Valley Apple Galette – another classic done exceptionally well. Paired with the winery's Pomme d’Or, a complexly flavored dessert wine with notes of baked apple, apricot and caramel, with a long, sweet finish of preserves, this was for sure a little bit of heaven on earth.

Also don’t miss:
--Saltscapes Restaurant and General Store, the Canadian Cracker Barrel home to some of the best made from scratch fish cakes in Millbrook -- and maybe the world (secret: more fish, less filling).
--Bare Bones Bistro, a lovely eatery in the heart of small town Parrsboro that serves upscale Big City cuisine in a casual and relaxed setting. Not to be missed: the Lady Jessica (aptly named after the Chef’s grandmother) – a warm blueberry cake made with fresh local blueberries, soaked in an ooey-gooey decedent brown sugar sauce.
--Churchill’s Restaurant and Lounge, the official dining hall in the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa. Get the Sandy Cove Lobster and Wild Mushroom Risotto – this hearty dish is filled with gigantic chunks o’ lobster (and comes topped with two meaty lobster claws!).

~Cool Treats~
I’ll be the first to admit -- I am a creature of comfort and I don’t do rustic living. So when I heard we would be spending a night in an Abe Lincoln century log cabin in the middle of the woods without cable TV, reliable internet service, and a high sheet count - -well, this made me very nervous (terrified to be exact).**
So why were we being thrown into the woods for a night? Well the very next morning, we got to experience the adventure of a lifetime – tidal bore rafting in the Shubenacadie red mud river. What is a tidal bore you ask? It’s when an advancing tide becomes a wave – varying from a ripple to up to 10ft in height. And what is tidal bore rafting? It’s riding in Zodiacs – whitewater rafting-type boats powered by a motor instead of paddles – on these waves.

It’s an experience only found in Canada – and specifically at Tidal Bore Rafting Park. And dude, it was EXTREME! Imagine plunging a boat head first in 3ft tidal rapids, riding over whirlpools of currents at a rip roaring speed, and getting really freaking soaked – well, you’ll get all this and more on one of these 2-4 hour river trips.
**As for the cabin – it was actually quite modern and cozy, complete with working toilets, sinks, shower and full kitchen. And being cut off from the web for a night was ironically incredibly stress relieving. My only (slightly high maintenance) qualm: the sheets were a bit stiff, but I guess that’s what made the experience rustic ;)

Also don’t miss:
--Glooscap Herritage Center, a museum on the outskirts of Truro dedicated to celebrating the heritage of the Mi’kmaw Indians - the Aboriginal group of Nova Scotia. Be sure to ask for tour guide Gordon – he might be young, but his knowledge of the Mi’kmaw tribe is extensive beyond his years.
--Fundy Geological Museum, a center of knowledge that showcases such wonders as the skeleton of a Prosauropod (Canada’s largest dinosaur) as well as other fossils, mineral, and amethysts found along the Bay of Fundy.
--Fundy Adventures Clamming Experience, where you spend the first part of your day digging up live clams along the beach (FYI, I was terrible at this and ended up digging up more worms then clams), then spend the second part of the day eating your (or your more experienced group leaders’) clam catches. Trust me, nothing is sweeter and more flavorful than a steam clam fresh from the water – you’ll never want to eat a clam from a restaurant again!

Be sure to check out Part 2 of my Canadian adventure, where I take the beautiful New Brunswick for a spin.

With ocean tides the height of a four story building and a discharge of water that exceeds that of every brook, stream and river on the planet in a single day, it is little wonder that the Bay of Fundy is  Canada’s only entry into the New 7 Wonders of the World competition. The Bay of Fundy made the cut for the top 20 finalists -- to help them win the big prize, vote for them at Hurry though - voting ends 11.11.11! 

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