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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

My to-do list 2014: New Brunswick

With Summer 2014 just around the corner, I'll be doing a series of posts throughout April to give you ideas, background information, and tips and tricks to prepare for travelling to/in the Maritimes this summer. On Mondays, look out for my 2014 to-do lists for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Cape Breton Island, and Prince Edward Island. On Fridays, stay tuned for a variety of articles about local culture, regional food specialties, and some travel tips. Suggestions for articles are always welcome! For the past few years I've had the opportunity to visit almost every nook and cranny of New Brunswick for work. I feel very fortunate to have gotten to see so much of the province, and discover so many places that are off the beaten path (and to be sharing those with you!). Unfortunately, the downside to travelling for work is that I often have to go right past places where I'd love to spend the entire day. This list includes places around the province that I hope to get to visit in 2014. As always, let me know what you think of the places that are on the list-and those that aren't! Fundy Region New Brunswick Museum The New Brunswick Museum is located downtown Saint John, in the Market Square building. This museum covers the history of New Brunswick, and would make a great stop for anyone in the area who wants to know a little more about the province. This is near the top of my must-see list for the year. Saint John City Market The City Market is one of Saint John's biggest attractions. Located downtown, the market is full of stalls selling all kinds of different ingredients and meals. Capital Region King's Landing I feel kind of silly, having spent three years in Fredericton and never having gotten to King's Landing. This site includes an historical re-enactment of the loyalist settlers to New Brunswick. King's Landing also participates in several EdVentures, a program in Fredericton that offers a variety of interesting leisure courses (ongoing or one-off). King's Landing: EdVentures: Moncton Region Tidal Bore The Petitcodiac river is the muddy body of water that runs through the centre of Moncton. Coming off of the Bay of Fundy (with the world's highest tides), the river itself is also tidal, and that gives rise to an interesting natural phenomenon: the daily tidal bore, where the Petitcodiac goes from damp and muddy to a running river very quickly. This year, the tidal bore made headlines when surfers started riding the wave down the river-even CBC comedian Shaun Majumder joined in on the fun! The tidal bore times can be found here Note that, as a natural phenomenon, these times are only approximate and change daily. Northumberland Shore Pays de la Sagouine Pays de la sagouine is a reenactment/theater combination, bringing to life characters from Acadian Author Atonine Maillet's book of the same name. Located outside of the beautiful town of Bouctouche, it's an interesting opportunity to experience a bit of Acadian culture. Miramichi Metepenagiag Heritage Park Metepenagiage Heritage Park, located in the Miramichi area, features and information centre and walking trails showcasing the Mi'kmaw heritage of New Brunswick. It offers a unique opportunity to learn more about one of the First Nations cultures in New Brunswick, and is definitely one of the places I most want to visit in 2014. North Shore Village Historique Acadien Village Historiue Acadien is a re-enactment of Acadian communities, and is located near Caraquet. The village is meant to represent Acadian history in New Brunswick over the period since the Deportation in 1755.

Monday, 31 March 2014

My to do list: Nova Scotia

With Summer 2014 just around the corner, I'll be doing a series of posts throughout April to give you ideas, background information, and tips and tricks to prepare for travelling to/in the Maritimes this summer. On Mondays, look out for my 2014 to-do lists for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Cape Breton Island, and Prince Edward Island. On Fridays, stay tuned for a variety of articles about local culture, regional food specialties, and some travel tips. Suggestions for articles are always welcome! Travelling frequently for work means that I get to see a lot of the region, and taste of lot of its food. The trade-off, however, is that I often have to drive right by places that I'd love to spend the day exploring. It also means that I often find great spots I'll never see again. These lists include the places I hope to get to stop this year, and the places I hope to get back to. Today, we'll be starting with Mainland Nova Scotia (Cape Breton Island will be covered in a separate article). Attractions To see: Grand-Pré National Historic Site Last summer, I had the opportunity to head to the Annapolis Valley and the South Shore of Nova Scotia for the first time in a long, long while. As someone who is passionate about history and politics, I made a point of stopping ever so briefly at Grand-Pré. Briefly not because I wasn't interested,but because we passed through late and it was closed. For those who don't know, Grand-Pré National Historic Site commemorates the Acadian settlement of Nova Scotia, as well as Expulsion- a dark moment in Nova Scotia's history when, in 1755, the British removed the Acadian farmers who had been in Nova Scotia, forcefully deporting thousands of people from their homes. A UNESCO world heritage site, Grand-Pré teaches about an important chapter of the region's history. Drives To See: The Eastern Shore It's been a very long time since I've been to Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore- the region in the lower half of the province between Dartmouth and Canso. The Eastern Shore is a little further off the tourist path-you won't find any major highways out here- but nonetheless is bound to include some memorable adventures. To Return to: The Evangeline Trail I drove the Evangline Trail, a beautiful route along Nova Scotia's Fundy Shore, in bits and pieces last year. Following through the communities of the Annapolis Valley and down to Digby and Yarmouth, the Evangeline Trail provides a scenic alternative to Highway 101, and takes you by some of the more interesting and picturesque communities in the province. Food Must Return Those who've read through my blog know that I've had some great meals in NS. Picking just one would be impossible: the good news is, since this is my blog, I don't have to! So instead, here are my top picks by region (each of these has an article of its own: Halifax: Chaa Baa Thai South Shore: Dan's Ice Cream Annapolis Valley: Paddy's Pub Amherst: Duncan's Pub

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Local Specialty: Poutine Râpée (Hertiage week)

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

Downtown Fredericton walk (Heritage Week)

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.
Across the street, you'll also find one of Fredericton's most popular attractions: the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. This is a must-see if you're an art fan. Continuing down the Street, you'll come to the Fredericton Playhouse, on your left, and the old York County Courthouse, now a government building, on your right. Officer's Square and the Garrison District Just passed the corner of Queen and Regent, you'll come to Officers' Square and the Garrison District. Officers' Square is a large open area where a wide variety of events take place. In the Summer, you may see a concert or the Fredericton Multicultural Festival here. In the Winter, you'll see skating. During the Summers, a changing of the guard ceremony takes place daily.
The nearby barracks have been turned into a variety of small artisans' shops, perfect for perusing. History buffs will also want to take a gander through the York-Sunbury Museum. Queen Street Shops and Picaroons Economusée If you're interested in doing a bit of shopping, head back onto Queen street, where you'll find a variety of cute little shops, which continue down York Street and King Street as well. Queen Street is also home to the Picaroons Economusée, a mini museum explaining the story of Picaroons, a local brewery. The New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame is also located nearby. Lighthouse and Saint Anne's Point A giant walking bridge will take you over the road back to the walking paths by the river. Here, you'll also find Lighthouse on the Green, a lighthouse built as a tourism information centre (it also sells ice cream!). The Road which passes behind officer's square (the one the foot bridge takes you over) is named St. Anne's Point Boulevard; Saint Anne's Point was an Acadian Community that was built several decades before Fredericton was founded; it, along with many other Acadian communities, was destroyed by British Forces in the mid to late 1700s. Old Government House I'll end my walking tour at the Old Government. This beautiful and stately building once served as residence to NB's Governors. No longer an official residence, it is now open for visitors. Bonus: Marrysville If you have a car, take a drive over to Marrysville, on Fredericton's North Side. Marrysville is a historic mill town, and much of the old architecture remains. The community is built along the Nashwaak river, and is located within 15 minutes of downtown.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Covered Bridges (Heritage Week)

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.
Great for a quick stop: Covered Bridge Visitors Centre If you're driving along the TransCanada between Moncton and Fredericton, consider stopping at the Covered Bridge VIC. Here, you'll find a a visitor's centre built in the shape of a covered bridge, complete with information, washrooms (which have won awards online), and a gift shop. This is the perfect opportunity to see a covered bridge if you don't have the time to take a trip out to one, and is located very close to the main highway. The centre is a non-for-profit and accepts donations. Find out more here
Did I really say there was a snackfood? Yes! Covered Bridge Potato Chips are a delicious, and quintessentially New Brunswick, snack that you can pick up across the province (and, I'm told, sometimes outside of it as well). They come in a variety of flavours and are made from NB potatoes. Their factory is also located in Heartland, home of NB's most famous covered bridge.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Boneheads BBQ

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.
Boneheads BBQ on Urbanspoon

Monday, 13 January 2014

Hiltop Grill

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! Hilltop Grill & BeverageCo. on Urbanspoon