Wednesday, October 07, 2015

When In Rome… or Nova Scotia

So, as I mentioned yesterday, the Nova Scotian eats deserved their own post.  And here it is.

I’m a lover of food, plain and simple, so of course I was looking forward to sampling the Eastern Coast fare on our trip.  I was probably a teensy bit too excited about it.  I had visions of fish & chips just dancing in my head for weeks in advance!  The funny thing is, just a few years ago, the thought of seafood anything would have made me curl up my nose in disgust.  For the first 30 years of my life, the only fishy thing I would even think about eating was tuna.  From a can.  Mixed with lots of mayo, celery, and onion.  (Get yo stinky salmon sandwiches away from me!! Tuna only!!)

The shift came when I started eating healthier leading up to my 30th birthday.  When you’re eating healthy and reading up on it, you hear a lot about how fish is a lean, healthy source of protein.  I tentatively tried baked white fish and grilled salmon filets… and found that I actually kind of liked them.  Then, on a whim, out for dinner with the girls for my 30th, I ordered the fish & chips at the Hard Rock Café.

And I loved it.  I haven’t looked back since.  

So yeah… I was excited to go all fish, all the time in Nova Scotia. And that I did!

Before I begin with the food reviews, I must apologize for the pics.  I tried channeling Nicole (my bloggy pal who takes pics of food all the time, and makes me drool when I read her posts!) – but most of the time, I forgot to take a pic before the food was half-eaten, or I’d forget to take one at all.  That’s me, though…always so eager to dive into a plate of yumminess that I don’t even think! haha!

I definitely started out on a bad foot, completely forgetting to take a picture of the delicious pepperoni and bacon pizza & breaded chicken wings with honey garlic dipping sauce from Pizzatown that we ordered in on our first night!  Whoops!  (But trust me… YUM!!!!)  This was  a place that Lindsay has ordered from on previous trips down there, so she knew it was good!!

The first place we sat down to eat at in Nova Scotia was another favourite of Lindsay’s, which we stopped at  for a late lunch on our way home from Peggy’s Cove:  The Finer Diner.  This place had a fun retro feel to it, with a vintage look and hits from the 50’s and 60’s piped in over the speakers.  We sat on the sun porch, and I chose a seat with a view of the boats bobbing in the bay.

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I decided to be adventurous, and ordered a cup of Seafood Chowder to start.  I’d never had Seafood Chowder before, but it came highly recommended by Linds.  Unfortunately, it was just a bit too “fishy” still for me – I liked the creamy consistency, but the combo of lobster, scallops, and haddock was just too much fish in one spot for this kid.  I didn’t hate it, though – I ate it all!  And the warm biscuit they serve with it was wonderful – the closest I’ve come to having a tea biscuit as good as my Mom’s!

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For my main course, I just had to do it… FISH & CHIPS!  It was going to be a challenge not to order it at every meal, because pretty much every place in Nova Scotia claims they serve the best Fish & Chips. ;) At the Finer Diner, they were absolutely delish!  Two big pieces of haddock in a light beer batter, served with tartar sauce, a lemon wedge, fries, and coleslaw.

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The pieces of fish were huge!  I’m glad I didn’t order the “extra piece” the menu offered! haha!

While at the cottage, we tended to have a breakfast shake before leaving the house, a bigger late lunch, and then snacked in the evenings… so you’ll notice my pics are all from lunchtime.

The next day, we were in Lunenburg, and decided to eat at the Old Fish Factory Restaurant and Ice House Bar.  It was right on the harbour, and we ate outside, with yet another beautiful oceanfront view!

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For an appetizer, I ordered the Lobster and Crab Dip, after Lindsay assured me she’d share it with me (just in case… I still wasn’t sure if I’d like it haha!)  It was a creamy mixture of lobster, crab, roasted red peppers, and cream cheese, served with tortilla chips.  Almost reminded me of a seafood version of nacho dip!

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As you can see – so yummy it was almost gone before I remembered to snap the pic!

It was a gorgeous sunny day in Lunenburg, but we were finding it cool out on the patio.  Still, I didn’t regret it, because we got to watch the Bluenose taking off on tour while we sat there enjoying our leisurely late lunch!

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For my main course, I resisted the temptation of Fish & Chips again, and instead ordered the Fish Factory Tacos.  OMG… YUMMMY! I’ve enjoyed several different versions of fish tacos over the past few years, but these rank at the top of the list!  You could choose between white fish or lobster as your filling, and I went with the safer choice of white fish.  Two soft taco shells filled with crispy white fish, chipotle lime mayo, topped with house-made cabbage slaw and pickled wild blueberry onions, finished with cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime, and a pinch of sea salt.  Served with their natural thin-cut “chippers”. 

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I’ve eaten some good fish tacos in my day… but I’ve literally been dreaming of these ones!!  Savoury, with a bit of kick, and even a hint of sweet… mmmmm… I’m dying here!!

The next day, we were in Halifax, and I finally had a recommendation to bring to the table!  Before we left, our minister Rev. Nancy and her husband Reg had strongly encouraged me to go to Henry House in Halifax.  Nancy attended the Atlantic School of Theology during the summer months over the course of five years, working towards her MDiv., and she claimed Henry House was their favourite Friday night haunt.  I really wanted to try it out, and so Linds and I made our way to Barrington Street for our late lunch that day, and boy, were we happy we did!

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We chose to sit downstairs in the dark pub, but we were right at one of the open windows and noticed tour buses stopping at regular intervals.  Linds googled it on her phone, and discovered Henry House is a National Historic Site of Canada! William Alexander Henry lived there from 1854-1864, and he was a Father of Confederation, a co-author of the British North America Act, a provincial Attorney General, a Member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, a Mayor of Halifax and the first Nova Scotian to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.   Who knew?!

This time it was Lindsay who suggested starting with the Lobster Dip. I liked it the day before at the Old Fish Factory, so said, sure, why not?  Sooooo glad we tried this one, too!  As good as it was the day before, this one trumped it.  It was totally different – a rich, creamy, garlicky, parmesany dip served with tortilla chips and wedges of flatbread.  I’d go back there just for this dip.  Seriously.

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Now, Nancy had told me Henry House had the best fish & chips, so I didn’t even really bother reading the menu.  I just ordered it.  And they didn’t disappoint!  A nice light beer battered white fish, hand-cut fries, house-made tartar sauce (the best tartar sauce I’ve ever had!) and coleslaw… everything tasted so fresh, not greasy… amazeballs!

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Both Lindsay and I have said if we ever get back down there for another girls weekend, Henry House will be a MUST!!!

Our last full day in Nova Scotia found us on the patio of a little bistro in Mahone Bay called Mateus Bistro, for – you guessed it - yet another late lunch.  We had scouted out all of the little restaurants along the waterfront, and settled on this one because they had live entertainment!  Two guys were out on the patio playing music, and they were great.  It was nice to sit and listen to them while we chatted, especially since service here was kind of on the slower side.

I decided to forego an app that day (I had ice cream on my mind and wanted to save room!), but Lindsay started with their soup of the day – some kind of curry zuchinni something or other topped with homemade tszatziki?? – that she said was maybe the best bowl of soup she’d ever had.

For my meal, I stuck with my “down East go big or go home” theme and had the Crispy Haddock Burger.  Local fresh crispy haddock, with lettuce, tomato & a dill creme fraiche. I subbed the organic greens salad for a side caesar, and of course it came with house slaw too.

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The burger was amazing, and although a similar fish dish to those I’d already had (lightly breaded haddock appeared every day, I do believe!), it tasted totally different because of the dill crème fraiche.  It was a light-tasting, fresh sandwich that I enjoyed immensely!  The caesar salad was also amazing – probably the most garlicky salad I’ve ever had in my life, but so so so good!  Loaded with bacon, croutons, and parmesan cheese, they sure didn’t skimp on this salad!

We spent probably two solid hours on this patio, and I appreciated the vibe at this place.  The two guys playing music were wonderful (I was too shy to snap a pic – it was a small patio, they definitely would have noticed!), and I thought it was cute that there was a basket of blankets at the door for anyone who needed one to keep warm.  (I had dressed for the chillier day, though, so I was OK!)

And that was it!  We actually did make dinner that night at the cottage – well, Lindsay made dinner… her famous pumpkin tortellini, and it was soooo yummy!  So yummy that I didn’t take a pic in time! haha!

My last meal in Nova Scotia was pretty ho-hum – we didn’t make it to the airport with much time to spare, so my last bite to eat on Atlantic soil was a Grilled Chicken Tuscan Panini, a Pumpkin Spice Donut, and a Creamy Chocolate Chill beverage at the airport Tim Horton’s, gobbled down quickly before we boarded. ;)

So yeah… the eats in Nova Scotia were awesome.  I’m drooling right now just thinking about them.  Anyone wanna take me back?? ;)

One thing I noted – nobody knows how to make good coleslaw down there!  I’d take a creamy coleslaw from St. Hubert’s (or my mom’s homemade!) any day.  But since the rest of the meals were so enjoyable, the coleslaw never brought me down lol.

I also never had a meal of lobster, which was one of my goals to check off the ol’ bucket list in Nova Scotia.  Truthfully, after having it in in the seafood chowder, and twice in dips, I wasn’t sure I liked it enough to “risk” a whole meal on it.  I don’t mind it disguised in chowder and dip, but beyond that, I’m not sure… Next time (maybe).

Now you see why the food needed its own post, eh?  I think it’s as long as the original post… maybe longer!! 

What can I say… I love food!!!!!


Stacy said...

I remember as a kid visiting New Brunswick and eating much that I was sick to my stomach all night. Haven't touched it since, but I think if I were in Nova Scotia, it would be a must...maybe more of a in home thing though - buy fresh lobsters and cook them at home...that way you aren't wasting as much money and food!

Jen said...

Thanks...I'm starving Everything sounds delish!

Stacie said...

Ugh, 20 more minutes to lunch time and I am starving now!

Nancy said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane to Henry House, and fish and chips! Next time try their Cornish pastie.