A Food & Travel Blog

Wish You Were Here Postcards – Notre-Dame Basilica Montreal

26/02/2014 | By

Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal

A dramatic example of Gothic Revival architecture, the interior of the Notre-Dame Basilica is one of the most glorious I have ever seen. The ceiling is richly decorated in blue and gold and the church is full of intricately carved statues.

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Wish You Were Here Postcards – The Berlin Wall in Montreal!

12/02/2014 | By

Berlin Wall in Montreal

When I was in Montreal last year I was lucky enough to stay in the Intercontinental Montreal, a deliciously indulgent hotel brilliantly situated just steps away from both the old city and the new and next door to the World Trade Centre Montreal.

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Montreal Mange – A glimpse at How Montreal Eats!

18/11/2013 | By

Sitting on an island in the St. Lawrence River, Montreal is the worlds second largest French-speaking city – and damn proud of it. The French architectural influence makes it a gorgeous looking city and it is very user friendly, with 47 square kilometres of green space, 500 kilometres of bike paths and over 5,000 restaurants. Really, if you can’t find a good feed in this town you are doing something seriously wrong.

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Exploring Canada – Munching my Way Around Moncton, New Brunswick

19/08/2013 | By

Inside The Tide & Boar, Moncton, New Brusnwick

One of my convoluted issues with travel is that when I find somewhere I really love, I have to leave it – simply by virtue of the fact that I’m travelling.  Frequently I then find that I love the next pace I visit just as much, thus adding places I want to revisit to my traveling bucket list rather than ticking them off.  Such is the case with Canada. I have no doubt I am a long way from finished with that wonderful country.

After seeing way too little of Nova Scotia (I know, that sounds greedy doesn’t it?) my next stop was in Moncton, New Brunswick. The city of Moncton is the geographic centre of Atlantic Canada and central to two contrasting coasts; the Fundy Coast (with the highest tides in the world) and the Acadian Coast (with the warmest saltwater beaches north of Virginia and the warmest saltwater beaches in Canada).  With it’s dual French and English heritage it is considered a microcosm of Canadian culture and, indicative of this, hosts the Frye Literary Festival, not only  the largest bilingual literary festival in Canada, but also the largest literary event in the country.

Naturally enough, it is also home to some great culinary traditions of both cultures including the largest wine festival east of Quebec and a commitment both urban beekeeping and the 100 mile diet in the local restaurants. The dining options range from fine dining in the award-winning Windjammer Restaurant of the Delta Beausejour Hotel to beer and pizza in a brewhouse – and all points in between. Here are a few of my food favourites from my time in Moncton.

The Tide and Boar, Moncton

Polenta Fries, The Tide & Boar, Moncton

The Tide and Boar Gastropub was recently featured on The Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here” and has been named one of Canada’s Top 50 Restaurants – with good reason. They specialise in creative food and craft beer and take their Boar (and the rest of the menu) very seriously with the menu showcasing in-house cured meats and charcuterie featuring boar meat.  Our visit was at lunchtime, so it was a little too early in the day for me to contemplate tackling their very substantial Boar Poutine, but the Polenta Fries were crisp and tasty.  I’m not surprised this restaurant was voted Best Casual Dining in Atlantic Canada – check it out when you’re in town!

Pizza, Pump House Brewery, Moncton

Pepperoni Pizza, Pump House Brewery, Moncton

Blueberry Ale, Pump House Brewery, Moncton

The Pump House Brewery and Restaurantwas established by Moncton Firefighter and brewer Shaun Fraser in 1999 after he had spent some years travelling the world setting up breweries for others. He must have a trick or two up his sleeves as the Pump House has won Canadian Brewery of the year, while its beer has been awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals in various competitions. The Brew House restaurant menu is sizeable, with all sorts of tempting bar-style food and snacks including buffalo burgers, beer steamed mussels, steaks and wood-oven pizza. The beers are available on-tap or to go and I was startled to find he brews a blueberry ale which I just had to try. The fresh, peppery, sweetness of the blueberries added a surprising and very pleasing element to the ale – it would make it interesting to cook with, I suspect.

bird houses, Moncton Farmers Market

 home-made cinnamon scrills, Moncton Markets

Moncton Market fresh produce 1

Moncton Market maple syrup 1

The Moncton Market is located in the heart of town and features over 130 vendors selling almost exclusively locally produced goods. I had a glorious morning wandering around the crowded market (it’s obviously very popular) checking out the fresh local produce, craft items, baked goods and a heartbreakingly tempting array of maple syrups. The range of maple products available in Canada was a constant torment to me, so I ate it in every possible way I could. It is a weakness of mine and was the source of much weight in my luggage on returning home.

Home-made potato chips, Moncton Market.

home-made earwig trap, Moncton Market

To my utter delight I found a tea shop on the main street of Moncton. It can be quite difficult to get a decent cup of tea when travelling and staying in hotels so this was a bit of a high point in my day – I know, I’m a bit sad when it comes to tea. Atthéa is owned by the delightful, if completely computer-illiterate, Rhea who is a tea sommelier and one of the first 12 graduates in the course from the George Brown College in Toronto. She is as passionate as she is knowledgeable about tea and enormously generous with her time. She serves, and sells, a range of artisan teas, some of which she blends herself, and especially seeks out the traditional teas. The store is open later on Friday evenings and is becoming something of a meeting place for women who gather there after work for a restorative cup or two. Sounds like the perfect way to end the working week!

Atthéa Teas, Moncton 1

Rhea of Atthéa Teas Moncton

Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism New Brunswick.

 

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Lunenburg, Nova Scotia – a UNESCO Heritage Site

12/07/2013 | By

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

I don’t know how odd this is, but I have this quirky thing I do when I’m travelling – I look at each new place I visit and try to decide if I would live there.  Sometimes I just think about the town or city as a whole and decide on the basis of access to good food, what the people seem like and how hot it will get in the summer (I hate the heat) but occasionally I’ll look at individual neighbourhoods to see where I’d like to live.  I’ve got to be honest and say there are a lot of spots in Canada that I’d happily reside in, but while I was visiting Lunenburg I actually picked out a rather nice house, too.  I looked it up on the real estate site on the internet and sent the link to The Bloke, who was quite pleased with the price, but firm in his resolve to live where he actually works. Sigh.

Garden, Lunenburg

You can safely assume I am smitten with this charming, quaint and uniquely historic little fishing village. Lunenburg is classed by UNESCO as the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America. It is extraordinarily well preserved and the locals have managed to conserve it’s identity as a model British colonial settlement, without compromising it’s ability to function as a community in the modern world.  The layout of the town is almost entirely that of the original 18th century design and over 95% of the buildings  are timber, with two thirds of them dating from the 19th century.  And it is utterly and irresistibly appealing.

Lunenburg stores

Buildings, Lunenburg

Old school, Lunenburg

St. John's Lunenburg

Interior St. John's Lunenburg

Ceiling, St. John's Lunenburg

The old school building is simply breathtaking.  It looks like something from a Gothic horror film set which would have an axe-carrying Jack Nicholson striding through the rooms.  All signs of the devastating fire that tore through St John’s Anglican Church in 2001, the second oldest protestant church building in Canada, are gone now and the historic restoration has reinstated what is considered by many experts to be a classic example of “Carpenter Gothic”.  I was particularly taken with all of the colours in this town.  Many of the houses are brightly painted and most sport delightful and completely individual trims around the windows and porches – perfect fodder for a snapping rubber-neck (i.e. me).

Lunenburg trims 1

Lunenburg trims 2

The town has a rich fishing history, the cost of which is chillingly brought home by the sombre but touching memorial which lists the names of those lost at sea and it’s shipyards and foundry played important roles in the repair of damaged vessels in WW1 and WW2.  It continued as a major fishing centre after WW2, and it is home to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, but tourism is what really brings home the bacon to Lunenburg these days.

As is only fitting, Lunenburg has plenty of great places for a seafood meal and we were treated to a fine example of that at The Salt Shaker Deli – noted for it’s award-winning smoked seafood chowder. There are not many frills in this modest little diner, but they seem to save all the effort for the food – which was fabulous.  I couldn’t resist the chowder and was glad I didn’t.  It was rich and creamy, bulging with fresh mussels, scallops and shrimp and imbued with a deep smoky flavour.  I also managed to find room for their lobster roll – generously full of delicious fresh lobster, tarragon mayo and greens. A truly indulgent lunch, but then I am a greedy girl.

The Salt Shaker Deli, Lunenburg

Lobster Roll, Lunenburg

Lunenburg is a relatively small place and easily investigated by foot on a fine day.  We got to know quite a lot about it thanks to the encyclopaedic knowledge of Lunenburg Town Walking Tours owner/operator, and local girl,  Shelah Allen who led us around this delightful corner of Nova Scotia. Again, this is a spot I knew nothing of and am so very glad that has now been rectified.  I can’t wait to get back there again one day.

Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and Nova Scotia Tourism.

 

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Picture Perfect – Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

27/06/2013 | By

Barn Mahone Bay

Nova Scotia was the site of the first European settlements in Canada and was originally colonised by the French, who were later brutally ejected from the region by the British, but more about that story on another day. It is a maritime province and has a rich seafaring history, magnificent coastal scenery and is also a cultural and artistic centre with an extraordinarily long list of artists,  crafts-people, musicians, authors and film makers who call it home.  It is a beautiful place and I greedily wanted to see it all.  I hope to get back again one day to spend more time there, but have some lovely memories of a couple of very special places which will have to keep me going until then.

Mahone Bay

On leaving Halifax we headed along the Lighthouse Route on the south shore region and enjoyed an all too brief stop at the picturesque fishing and craft village of Mahone Bay.  Nova Scotia Tourism did us proud and managed to serve up a day that started romantically soft and misty – surely the very best light in which to see this charming little village.  We wandered past what I am told is a very common site in the area – a US television film crew  filming a series – and checked out the wharf, gazing wistfully at some of the delightful local buildings.

Mahone Bay is just about as pretty and as appealing as a small town can get. In fact it’s almost as though someone made a list of all the requirements for the ideal sleepy coastal town and went ahead and built it – and did a great job of it, too.   The bay itself is beautiful and edged around with boatsheds, landings and the colourful clapboard homes of the area.  I was completely seduced by the architecture around this region and couldn’t stop snapping pictures of all of the brightly painted, elegant timber homes.  Of course, it is a coastal village and as such is popular with the boating fraternity. It is noted for it’s annual wooden boat festival which it now combines with a pirate festival, based upon the local legends of pirates in Atlantic Canada.

The town is a hub for a variety of craftspeople, many of whom have seductive little shops which line the main street.  There are also antique stores, inns, romantic little restaurants and fascinating  shops with loads of rooms full of deeply desirable, interesting little things.  I found one or two, including the knitting store Have a Yarn and Zac and Nemo Mercantile, where I could have done the credit card some severe damage, but was saved by the fact that we only had limited time.  Sigh.  To be honest, I’d go back there just to spend a day or two in the stores.

Mahone Bay was also the first place I saw a couple of the local culinary treats – dulse (dried seaweed) and fiddleheads, which are the furled heads of a local fern.  The former is an acquired taste as far as I’m concerned and the latter are a seasonal delicacy much anticipated by the locals who rejoice in their short season.  We tried them a few days later and, while not unpleasant, they didn’t really rock my world either.  Happily, I found some rather splendid butter pecan fudge which really did push all of my buttons – and all I can say is it’s just as well I can’t get my hands on it regularly.

 

Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and Nova Scotia Tourism.

 

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