Culinary-based tours more popular each year
It’s 11 a.m. and I’m rushing into the Rodd Grand Yarmouth, just in time to join the Yarmouth Foodie Tour where I’m greeted by our exuberant tour guide, Carole Bojarski. After a round of introductions, our motley crew moseys into Gale’s Eatery Restaurant in the hotel. I have high expectations of this tour, but run out of superlatives before our sixth stop.
For starters, at all locations the portions are generous and you don’t have to deal with measly morsels on toothpicks. Aside from ample servings, the selections showcase the region’s cultural and culinary diversity.
For example, starting off at the hotel, Acadian fare is featured, including seafood chowder, traditional bread pudding, and rappie pie—which is not really a “pie,” (nor is it pretty), but it’s one of Southwest Nova Scotia’s most popular comfort foods.
Along the way you can expect to have a plethora of tastes from Cuban and Middle Eastern foods, to French crêpes, some “wow” fish & chips, lobster bisque, locally made brews, and hand-made, hand-dipped dark chocolate oatcakes.
En route, Carole serves fascinating tidbits of information. For example: there are several brass plaques depicting various ships that sailed from Yarmouth that are imbedded in the sidewalk in front of TD Canada Trust on Main Street. (Though I’ve lived in Yarmouth most of my life, I’ve never noticed them.) If there’s time, she’ll include the Yarmouth Farmer’s Market, located on Hawthorne Street, where Maud Lewis—Canada’s most celebrated folk artist—once lived.
While in Halifax, check out “Local Tasting Tours.” There are several; my favourite is the “Open Kitchen Food Tour” where you really get a bird’s eye view into the heart of food establishments.
I fondly remember visiting the Agricola Street Brasserie where we sat overlooking the kitchen while chef/owner Ludovic Eveno prepared a mouth-watering bean dish with pulled pork.
At some point I happened to mention that earlier on the tour we saw a pig’s head at a butcher, and how I recalled my mother buying a pig’s head each fall to make head cheese. Chef’s eyes lit up and before I knew it, he presented me with a plate that had two slices of head cheese accompanied by some gorgeous grainy mustard—all made on site.
Moving up to Cape Breton Island, there are several quirky foodie things that will pique your interest, such as the Point of View Beggar’s Banquet in Louisbourg where you dress up in period clothing and feast away while 18th century-style musicians perform and tell tales. louisbourgpointofview.com/dining)
Should you be staying at the Chanterelle Inn & Cottages in Baddeck when chanterelles are in season, for a small fee, innkeeper and chef Earlene Busch will take you foraging for these tasty treasures. If you’re lucky, she may serve a New York style cheesecake for dessert with Chanterelle Cheesecake Topping. No kidding!
Paddlers go gaga over a full moon adventure, which includes paddling to Kidston Island at sunset followed by dining in a private gazebo where you are wined and dined by celebrated chef, Brian Picard of the Bite House. The only thing that could top this off is to have live musicians playing some lively Cape Breton music. Wait! They’re also part of the experience: we’re talking Cape Breton here. (novascotia.com/packages/experiences/lighthouse-bites-full-moon-adventure/203634)
And what better way to learn how cook (and eat) lobsters than taking part in a hands-on lobster boil at Cape Breton Highland National Park! Bonus: you’ll also have a chance to learn some local tunes, stories and pick up some recipes.
Throughout the province some hotels and resorts have geared up for foodie experiences, like White Point Beach Resort. They’ve teamed up with Greg Sutcliffe from Chestnut Hill Farms, who’s set up two beehives inside the resort’s vegetable garden.
Greg gives weekly demos showing the inside of the hives, explaining what the bees are doing. Some guests have suited up to get up close and personal with the bees.
On-site horticulturalist Wendy Coolen appreciates having the bees around as it helps pollinate what she grows for the resort. She manages outdoor raised beds, an herb garden and a greenhouse. Wendy also loves “garden talk” and frequently gives tours and demos. She’s also known to share seeds and plants with guests.
These, dear reader, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to foodie experiences in Nova Scotia. By the way—remember how we started off this story with the Yarmouth Foodie Tour? There’s a brand new experience hot off the press titled “Eat, Drink—Look Up!” It combines Carole’s tour, a sumptuous dinner featuring the region’s famous creamed hot lobster sandwich at the Hatfield House in Tusket, and a stargazing experience with Tim Doucette at his Deep Sky Observatory in Quinan.
Bonus: While at the Hatfield House, you’ll learn about the origin of the hot lobster sandwich, which is unique to the area. But in case you can’t wait to be there in person, Laura Muise has graciously provided the recipe below. It just doesn’t get better than this.