Bread! in Nova Scotia

Reader Contribution by Sue Van Slooten
article image

Let me start by saying that the recipe for the Rosemary Olive Oil Sourdough loaf is a hit. I’ve received several emails from folks who really enjoyed it. I find that very gratifying to know, and thank you. It’s certainly one of my favourites too. In the continuing saga of Bread!, Bread! has just returned from beautiful Nova Scotia. For those of you not familiar with Maritime Canada, this is a province off the East coast of Canada. It is a fabulous place to visit. Not only is it gorgeous, but the food is fabulous, and there’s a lot to do there. While this isn’t meant to be a travelogue, it just might entice some of you to check out the food, people and culture. Nova Scotia, as its name implies, means New Scotland, and indeed, a lot of Scots, but some Irish and many others moved there to live. Fishing was the big attraction for many years. While the fish stocks have collapsed (something the folks down in Gloucester, Mass and similar areas can attest to), there is still some fish culture going on. A lot of mussels now farmed. They were delicious; despite what reservations we may have about fish farming.  Lobster of course, a guilty pleasure. Not to mention some scallops and other seafood like halibut.    

We stayed a total of two nights in Halifax this time, and this city is a must if you’re going to NS. It has a strong naval and maritime tradition, with many tour boats:  sail, amphibious, motored, you name it. Yes, the Harbour Hopper is an amphibious ex-U.S. military vehicle converted to civilian use, going all around Halifax itself, then it wades on into the harbor, where you can visit the naval ships, destroyers and the like, from a distance. Lots of fun. Oh, and it is painted to look like a large frog. Lots of good restaurants, if you want high end, there’s McKelvey’s  Restaurant, “Fishes Delishes,” or, there’s the Bluenose II, famous for it’s fantastic lobster dinners, $24, with soup, main, and dessert. How many places offer that? Oh, and good rolls, too. Large. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is well worth a visit, as is a stroll down the boardwalk, and do take a visit to K181, HMS Sackville, the last surviving WWII Canadian corvette. Many of the Titanic victims are buried in Halifax, and for WWI historians, mention should be made of the horrific 1917 Halifax Explosion. This was the largest man-made explosion in history until the atomic bomb. The Citadel is a must. Alexander Keith’s supposedly haunted brewery isn’t fun, the beer at the end is worth it.   

From there we rented a huge Grand Cherokee (never drove such a huge behemouth before) for all our gear. Do you realize just how large a dive bag is? (We flew too.) Made things more interesting. We all drove out to a wonderful resort, White Point Beach Resort, and despite the moniker “resort” it’s a very good travel deal. Definitely sign up for their MAP (Modified American Plan) meal plan. Anything you could want is there: bikes, boogie boards, a spa, trails, and did I mention the one kilometer white sand beach? The restaurant always puts on great meals, offering both buffet (one of the few buffets I actually eat at, as most are very sad affairs. This one is great.) and off the menu. Yes, the seafood lovers among us ate more lobster, but I got hooked on the scallops with jasmine ginger rice with wasabi cream sauce, and tender-crisp veggies. Going to have to try and recreate that one.   

Now, this is Bread! we’re talking about here, and I must say, their dinner rolls were superb. About six or so would come, all different kinds. Multigrain, what seemed like a rye, poppy seed. I always nabbed the multigrain. The only complaint was that they only gave you four butter balls, which really didn’t match the number of rolls, you see. This is a pretty picayune complaint I know.

Breakfast was where I always headed for the buffet. First, it was quick. But second, it was excellent. Artisan cheeses and cold cuts, home fries, bacon, sausage, fruit salad, cereals, a large bowl of pink grapefruit sections, pastries, scrambled eggs (steam table scrambled eggs I bypass) in favour of the much better omelet chef, who would create what ever you desired (even tiny shrimp was a choice, but not my thing). Got into a discussion about the induction one burner. I want one now.  Hm….  Xmas? After eating all this, one was well fortified for hiking, swimming, or a yoga class that I took.    

We took two side trips over the course of the week. One was to Lunenberg, which is a beautiful town, and you really have to see the colours of the houses to believe them. It’s designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I recommend a harbor tour to get a better sense of the place. The Maritime Fisheries Museum is the main highlight now. There are only two ships to tour, after the destruction of the Bluenose II. From what I could tell, the only thing left of this Canadian icon and most noble ship, is her mast. Lunenburg has lost her soul with the passing of the Bluenose. (And to think they claim they’re rebuilding her.) 

The meal at The Old Fish Factory Restaurant was excellent as usual, and again, lobster was the food of choice for the seafood lovers. I have to admit, my son would eat it every day of the week if allowed. If you really want to see what your food fish looks like, albeit some of them would be small specimens because they’re kept in tanks, go to the Museum where they have a good collection of live halibuts, salmon, and the like. It was fascinating to see the baby halibut that kept coming to the surface to be hand fed.  Not a pretty fish.    

A couple of days later we headed down to Ovens Natural Park to check out the sea caves. White Point packed us a box lunch, and the chicken sandwich was huge. We did the trail, going down to the caves, which were very interesting to see. One, Cannon Cave, also “boomed” and you could hear the sound resonating through the area.    

So while I said this wasn’t a travelogue, it is. If you want to experience a province by its food, go to Nova Scotia. This has merely scratched the surface of the great breads, cheeses, fruits, meats, fish, flours, mills and bakeries, and many other food products there. I hope it encourages a number of you to check out Nova Scotia, which is really becoming a foodie’s paradise.     

Photo of Lobster Pots in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, by Bob Van Slooten