Thursday, 13 February 2014
This post is the second in a series I'm doing during New Brunswick Heritage Week, the 10th of February 2014, until the 17th. For my third heritage week post, I thought I'd introduce readers to one of the regional cuisines in the Maritimes. Now, I'll bet that when you looked at the title and saw "poutine" many of you were expecting this to be an article about french fries covered in sauce and cheese curds. Good guess,but this poutine is actually quite different. Poutine râpée (râpée meaning grated) is an Acadian specialty that you aren't likely to find outside of Acadian communities-making it a must-try for anyone who wants to sink their teeth into the culinary traditions of the Maritimes. A few years ago, I had to make a quick trip to Northern New Brunswick on short notice. I was rather excited by this, having never had the chance to visit Northern NB before. My trip was to be a short one, but I made it my goal-nay, my mission-to try poutine râpée at least once. I asked the advice of my Acadian friends on where to try it, and was told to stop pretty well anywhere, particularly in Kent County. On this advice, my travelling companion and I pulled off the highway in Bouctouche, a beautiful little community along the Acadian Coastal Drive scenic route. Within minutes we spotted a place called Leo's take-out, which had a great big sign advertising that it sold poutine râpée. Neither of us having tried the dish before, we didn't have the greatest idea as to what to expect. Essentially, poutine râpée is a ball of boiled potato with meat inside. The texture is hard to describe-not dissimilar to mashed potatoes, but definitely not mashed potato like, either. Consisting of meat and potato, it's a pretty filling dish, and while I don't remember the price, is fairly cheap. To my surprise, I would up travelling through Northern NB more than expected that Summer, and made a point of trying poutine râpée again. This time was at a little restaurant somewhere on the side of highway 11. I can't quite remember the name or the location, but darn do I wish I did-the menu was full of different dishes which were on my "must try" list. The poutine râpée here was also fantastic, and confirmed for me that I am indeed a fan of the dish. So, if you're looking to try a filling food that's unique to the region, I definitely recommend poutine râpée. You'll be able to find it at a variety of restaurants in Acadian areas throughout NB, particularly the small take-outs and diners. If you're in the Moncton area, I recommend you try La Poutine à Maman, a nice little restaurant with friendly staff and great prices. And if anyone knows the name of the restaurant I might be thinking of on Highway 11 (between St. Louis de Kent and Miramichi, if I recall correctly), PLEASE let me know!
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
This post is the second in a series I'm doing during New Brunswick Heritage Week, the 10th of February 2014, until the 17th. For day two of heritage week,I thought I'd write about some of my favourite heritage-related places in downtown Fredericton. This post takes the form of a walking tour, mostly along the river, with a few extras thrown in for good measure. Downtown Freddy is fairly easy to navigate, so don't feel like you'd have to follow this tour per se; you'll find all of these places easily enough in whatever order you like. As always, I'm sure to have missed loads, so please fill me in on anything you think should have been on this list! Waterloo Row Right along the river on the eastern edge of downtown, Waterloo Row is my favourite place to start. The attraction here is the houses: big, beautiful, old houses dating back to the earlier days of loyalist settlement in Fredericton. Along the river, you'll find a pathway perfect for strolling along through downtown (and skipping waiting at many of the red lights). For a closer view of some of the older houses, though, you might want to walk along the sidewalk. Either way will bring you under a decommissioned railway bridge-turned-pedestrian pathway: a perfect detour for some of the best picture-taking views of the river and downtown Fredericton. Either side of the bridge is connected to a full network of pathways and green spaces. Christ Church Cathedral and Town Plat Continuing past the bridge, you'll come to a split in the road at a small war memorial. To the left is Christ Church Cathedral, and the Town Plat neighbourhood generally. If you're looking for more of the colonial style architecture that you saw along Waterlow Row, take a stroll through this neighbourhood. If you're interested in Art, Gallery 78 is located on this corner, and the Charlotte Street Arts Centre is nearby. Queen Stret If you continue to the right at the fork in the road (following the river), you'll next come to the New Brunswick Legislature. The Legislature is one of my favourite buildings in town, and not just because I'm a politics junkie-it's also one of the most beautiful in Fredericton.
Monday, 10 February 2014
This post is the first in a series I'll be doing during New Brunswick Heritage Week, starting today, the 10th of February 2014, until the 17th. One of the most iconic symbols of New Brunswick is the covered bridge. You'll see it on advertisements; you'll hear people talking about it; heck, there's even a snack food named for it. Covered bridges dart the province's countryside, often pointed out by a small blue sign on the highway, and frequently bringing you to a nice, secluded landscape. For this first in a series of NB heritage posts, I decided to talk about a few of the covered bridges that I know of in NB. I should note that I stuck to three of my favourites, all for different reasons. There are many covered bridges in NB and staff at tourist centres would be happy to help you find one near where you're staying. New Brunswick's most famous covered bridge is located in Heartland, Carleton County, and was once featured on the google doodle! Handy to the City: Rusagonis Covered Bridge near Fredericton If you find yourself in the Fredericton area, there's a covered bridge no more than 40 minutes from town, in a pretty area called Rusagonis. This was my first covered bridge, to my memory, and was an exciting find. If you're passing through Fredericton but would like to get to see a quintessential covered bridge, this is a good option. It's a little tough to find; luckily, if you follow the exit for Rusagonis and Geary off the TransCanada (Highway 2), you'll find a NB Tourism information centre located inside the Irving, where they should be able to explain the directions a little better than I would. There's also signage indicating the covered bridge. Best Secluded Covered Bridge: Nelson Hollow Through all of my travels in NB, Nelson Hollow covered bridge is one of my favourite discoveries. Located off of Highway 8 just south of Doaktown, look carefully for the sign indicating a covered bridge-it's easily missed. The steep dirt road may be hard on some vehicles, and the bridge is more of a pedestrian one than a road one, so you might prefer to park at the top and walk down. The covered bridge itself is in a pretty little location, surrounded by trees and near the edge of the river. On either side of the water crossed by the covered bridge, there's also the skeleton of another, larger bridge which once spanned the same water.
Sunday, 9 February 2014
Towards the end of the summer, my coworkers and I were looking for a place to head for our last night working in Halifax. When we first started working in metro for a few days, I had made a promise to show my two coworkers some of my favourite restaurants in the city, since neither of them had been before. Boneheads was on that list since the very beginning; I was craving some good, southern-style barbeque. So, saving some of the best for last, we headed out to Boneheads on our last night in Halifax, my coworkers looking for a good meal, and me hoping not to break my streak of suggesting good places in the city. I'm happy to say that Boneheads delivered. We got there towards the late evening. It wasn't too too hard to find parking, though I would imagine that that there South End location might be harder to park at during the lunch rush. The restaurant is a cute little corner place situated towards the end of Barrington Street (just keep driving, you'll find it!). You order at the counter, sort of like a fast food restaurant, but don't let that fool you. While you're waiting for your food, you'll probably notice the entertaining decor of the place-signs and pictures filled with jokes and puns all about BBQ meat. The menu essentially consists of an assortment of BBQ meats, mostly sandwiches, that you can order either individually or as a platter. The platters come with two sides, plus cornbread. The sides are a variety of southern BBQ staples: mac and cheese, potatoes etc. The prices are a little on the higher side-you'll probably wind up paying about 20 dollars for a platter (sandwich, two sides, and cornbread)-but the quality and quantity (the meals are huge, be prepared for that) are worth it. Pretty much everything on the menu I would expect to be fantastic. I've ordered the brisket, and love it. My coworkers were also thoroughly impressed with their meals, to the point of going up to the counter and thanking the staff at the end, and telling me that this was their favourite place we'd been to so far. I echo this endorsement: Bonheads has fantastic food. I also need to add a quick note about the service. When I ordered, there must have been some kind of confusion between me and the man taking my order, since I accidentally wound up with the sandwich and side instead of the platter. I noticed this when I wound up without cornbread (which, secretly, was my entire motivation for going to Boneheads: it's hard to find cornbread that good without going to the South!). When I asked if I was supposed to have cornbread, the guy and I both realized our miscommunication; quickly, he apologized and gave me a piece of cornbread, free of charge. I was thoroughly impressed-not a lot of places would do this, but Boneheads knows that this kind of a simple gesture towards a client will get me back in the door next time I'm in town. Overall, a great place. Friendly staff, entertaining decor, good location, fantastic food-and in large enough quantities that you will leave full. The only caveat is that Boneheads isn't cheap-you get what you pay for. Also, parking could be an issue at busier times.
Monday, 13 January 2014
I've been to the Hilltop a number of times since moving to Fredericton, and so will write about it generally rather than one particular time. I've always thought of the Hilltop as something of a Fredericton institution-we've brought visitors and out-of-town co-workers there for brunch or lunch on numerous occasions. They have a really neat décor, friendly staff, and not-unreasonable prices for breakfast/brunch. It's a shame about the food though. See, the thing is, I keep ordering something different every time I go to the Hilltop, hoping to eventually eat something that helps me understand just why this place is an institution. I started by trying diner staples like Philly cheese steaks-these sorts of things were ok, but not on their own worthy of returning as often as I did. Then, eventually I decided to try their well-known Chinese lunch buffet; this must be what everyone comes here for, I thought. Well, I certainly hope not-I found the variety sorely lacking and the food unenjoyable. Breakfast/brunch is better. They typically do a nice eggs benny and their different breakfast plates are good. I can't recall their prices exactly, but I believe they were pretty reasonable. The one note I'd like to attach is that I have fond memories of the nachos here from when we passed through once in my childhood, and have been told that the nachos are still great. I've yet to try them in recent memory, but I'll update if I do. Overall, you could come to the Hilltop for a nice atmosphere, and super friendly service, in a bit of a Freddy institution. I would recommend that, if you do, you come for breakfast/brunch (and be prepared for a line!) since it's squarely better than lunch. If you do come for lunch, you might try the nachos; if you find something else good, please send me a message or comment on this post and let me know!
I was recently treated to lunch at the Blue Door by a family member. I hadn't been there before myself, but was under the general impression of the place as being sort of ritzy and expensive. That impression turned out more or less correct-the décor is nice, but not necessarily fancy, just classy. The prices, on the other hand, are rather expensive-everything on the lunch menu runs in the $10-20 range, with a tendency towards the top of that scale. The both of us settled on the $15 Blue Door burger. The menu does a good job of gushing about a variety of local and high quality ingredients in the burger (and all of the menu items), and this was what really got my attention. It came with fries and a giant knife stuck through it so you could cut it-a messy job indeed. The burger didn't hold together super well, but it did taste very good. I couldn't really distinguish any of the individual, high quality ingredients I was excited about-the cheese didn't stand out, nor did the sauce-but the whole thing was enjoyable; probably not Fredericton's best burger, but definitely up near the top. The dessert menu ran in the $8 range if I recall correctly, and I'm told it tends to vary. I liked the way in which the menu was divided-a chocolate dessert, a cheesecake dessert, and a cardamom dessert-but found the layout confusing, as descriptions of the dishes weren't really kept separate from the names. I wound up choosing a foam blueberry cheesecake with toffee crumble. I didn't fully appreciate what was meant by the description until it came in a bowl of whipped cheesecake innards and blueberries. To be sure, the individual ingredients were tasty (particularly the toffee) but I wouldn't order a foam cheesecake again-it just lacked the texture. Overall, it was an enjoyable meal and a good place to bring someone if you're looking for something classy, and willing to pay for it.
Saturday, 28 September 2013
I recently had the opportunity to make a very, very quick day trip to PEI for work. I'm talking, maybe four hours spent on the island. Knowing that we'd only have a short stay there, but wanting to get the chance to chow down on some good food, we decided to go to a restaurant that we'd seen on a `You Gotta Eat Here" episode. The Churchill Arms is in a nice little building downtown Charlottetown- pay attention when looking for it; it doesn't stand out, and we definitely walked past it the first time. On entering, one can see the effect that being on tv had- there are signs outside advertising the establishment's tv appearance, and little notes on the menu to show you what food was featured on the show. I have to admit that I wondered a little how the pub's regulars felt about this sort of advertising-it struck me as a little cheap, to be honest; if the place really is that good, the signs shouldn't be necessary. I was, though, tempted by the advertising, and opted for menu items that were indicated as being featured on the episode. The waitress we had was very friendly. She made a point of letting us know that the kitchen was a little backed up, and that our orders would take a little while. We started with an appetizer- chips and curry. Fries and curry (no, not curry mayo- you actually pick a proper curry as your dip) isn't a combination that had ever, ever occurred to me before, but it was a very satisfying appetizer, combining a crunchy, salty fry with a spicy, savory curry. In spite of the warning that our food would take a while, it certainly seemed to come within a reasonable time frame- maybe it's just because I was kept entertained by the appetizer, but I certainly feel like I've waited longer for food without warning. This isn't a complaint- it's most certainly a compliment, that the staff would care about customer service enough to advise of a rather-average waiting time shows a commitment to the customer that many places squarely lack. To the food, then. I ordered the steak and stout pie: a thick potato crust atop a stew made with Guinness as a base. The top of the pie was thick- so much so that I actually just peeled it back to allow the heat to escape- but quite tasty. The stew portion was very, very good: the steak was nice and tender, and you could taste the Guinness in it. My coworker ordered butter chicken: he found it a little different than what he was used to; to my taste, it was closer to the more traditional restaurants I've visited. It was, however, very good, strong flavour, and not overwhelmingly spicy. I need to take a minute to talk about the decor and atmosphere. The pub has that dark, pub like feel, with dark wood walls, and a nice bar. Pictures and newspaper clippings featuring Sir Winston Churchill himself are posted around the dining room, and the bar seems to attract an eclectic mix of patrons. Honestly, this probably ranks in my top ten in the Maritimes on atmosphere. Overall, I enjoyed the Churchill Arms. The food certainly was good, and I'm inclined to return. However, I'm not quite at the point of echoing that you "Gotta" eat here; rather, I'll say that you aren't likely to be let down if you do.