Thursday, August 28, 2014

East Coast highlights

Apparently I've been elsewhere, enjoying my summer, for six weeks or so and forgot I had a blog. Apologies! I am back and I have a few posts percolating in my head. I shall try to catch up in some semblance of order (and also I had a request from a loyal reader to talk about what we ate on the East Coast, so here we are).

We ate many delicious things that came from the sea on our nine-day adventure in Halifax and Charlottetown with our good friends Megan and Jackie. The first, near the end of a very long day of driving, was an unexpected and delicious scallop and bacon burger at a tiny jewel of a coffee shop in Sackville, NB (itself a bit of a tiny jewel of a town, best known as the home of Mount Allison University). We drove onto the sleepy main street at 8 p.m on a summer Sunday, hoping for the best (an open restaurant) and expecting the worst (terrible fast food or nothing at all open). We ducked our heads into the pub at the end of the commercial section and asked if they served food. The bartender said no, but we could order food from the place next door, which he described as "the best restaurant in town." Since we didn't want alcohol we thanked him and headed next door to the Black Duck to see what they could feed us.

The Black Duck is very much a student haven, with many inexpensive vegetarian options on its small but varied menu. However, as soon as I read the words "bacon scallop burger" I was blind to anything else they might have on offer. "Oh yeah, that's our most popular item," said the kind and friendly girl behind the cash. The moment I bit into it I knew why. The thick-cut bacon and the sweet, firm, perfectly seared scallops (from Cap-Pélé, about an hour's drive away) were both so tasty, and complimented one another so beautifully, that I could imagine myself driving great distances to eat such a thing again. A smear of aioli and a soft bun sealed the deal, with a tiny but delicious salad on the side so one could feel virtuous. Once I finished eating it I went back to the counter and asked to speak to the person who cooked the scallops so that I might perhaps make out with him or her.

The cook, a gregarious and funny woman about my age, came out to chat and I complimented her mad skills. We did not make out, in the end, but whoever she cooks for at home is a lucky man or woman. As if the sandwich wasn't enough, I snagged a chocolate-coconut macaroon for dessert and it was just as good. If you ever find yourself in Sackville, don't miss this place.

A few days later we spent a sunny afternoon in Lunenberg, NS, strolling the town's quaint narrow streets and poking our noses into colourful buildings. However, since we'd spent the morning on the rocks at Peggy's Cove, we got there hungry, so the first order of business was lunch. Fortunately for us, the Knot Pub still sits at the entrance to the village, so humble and cozy that we drove right past it on the first try. Chris and I went to Nova Scotia on our honeymoon nearly 13 years ago, and a local recommended the Knot to us that time. We had superlative chowder and mussel soup, which we have described many a time in loving detail to friends headed east. We were thrilled to have a second chance to enjoy it, and enjoy we did.

Now THAT is a bowl of chowder. Laden with haddock and potatoes in a creamy broth, with toast for dipping, it kept me fortified for many hours to come. Insert sigh of happiness here.

I don't have a photo of the dinner we made at Megan's aunt's home in Halifax, but rest assured that the scallops we bought to feed five of us cost less than a three-scallop serving at a restaurant here in Ottawa. Alongside roasted potatoes, sauteed veggies and coleslaw, it made for a very fine communal meal. I really need to move to the ocean.

Onward to Charlottetown we went, via the Northumberland Ferry (a fine way to travel, with lovely views):

So soothing.

Our greatest culinary adventure of the trip, we saved for the final evening on PEI: Lobster.

That's all I left behind of my 1.5-pounder at the Water-Prince Corner Shop, recommended to us by our delightful bed and breakfast hosts at the Elmwood Heritage Inn. It's a rustic, tiny place with seating inside and out, and a brisk lobster shipping business on the side. Our lobster dinners came with a bowl of perfect mussels and a small bowl of potato salad as well as the crustacean whose husk you see above. They even split it for you and crack the claws, making it less of a battle with the red menace on your plate. I hadn't eaten a whole lobster since our honeymoon and this was such a treat. I know not everyone likes it, but I sure as heck do. If I could eat a lobster once a month, instead of once a decade, I'd be a very happy human.

This concludes our seafood adventures. Join us next time as we explore all the delightful things you can make with the vegetables your generous friends give you from their gardens. How lucky are we? SO lucky.


Deddy Hidayat said...
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Xine said...

I agree with you Alison! With such delicious bounty available by the ocean, it's almost a sin to live inland. Francis and I are going to take the opportunity to explore the Maritimes next year after the conference in Saint John. That scallop burger is a must and officially the first item on my itinerary so far!