Sunday, October 28, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: Visitors! Part 2

While Pootie's parents were visiting, we took them out to Cape Spear. We hadn't been yet.

Cape Spear is the Easternmost point on the North American continent. (As an aside, our friends Carol and David happened to be in Vancouver while we were there, and they were visiting the Westernmost point of Canada. We were as far apart as we could be and be in the same country.)

According to our sources, it's an excellent spot for whale watching. In the summer. Not when we were there. Bummer. They have whale identification plaques on the hill overlooking the water.

The place is absolutely gorgeous and we had a perfect day for it. Blue sky, great temperature and not too much wind.

The lighthouse was built in 1839 and is the oldest lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador.

They're obviously working on doing some restoration right now. So we couldn't go in. Also, the gift shop was closed. I was sad.

But it's hard to stay that way with this scenery. Just look at that water!

I crawled to the edge to get that shot. I'm not a fan of heights. Which is mostly because I'm not a fan of falling off a cliff face into churning water and rocks.

Pootie found a WWII gun, so we lost him to that for a good thirty minutes. I let him take the pictures of that. He's leaning against the fortification in the picture below.

From Cape Spear, you can see the entrance to St. John's Harbor. Harbour. Whatever.

You can see how protected it is. The entrance is between those two bluffs. That's Signal Hill on the right with the little pokey-uppy tower. We haven't been there yet either. But we will. Then I'll get a shot of the lighthouse from there. It's hard to tell from this shot, but the water is pretty rough. Not to mention cold. There are caution signs all around about not going too far out on the rocks. They say 8 people have been washed off them and drowned. I took their word from it and stayed back here.

This place is just ridiculous. It's stunning everywhere you go. I still can't quite get over it.

Those were the photographically notable places we went on their visit.

As for food, we ate at home some and out some. I cooked:

Pesto crusted salmon - which is just what it sounds like. Salmon cooked quickly in a pan with a coating of pesto sauce on one side.

Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage - which I've done before here.

We ate out at Atlantica, and Bacaloa.

Atlantica was very fine dining indeed. It's the restaurant that is part of the Reids' Inn.

Atlantica is not for the faint-hearted as far as prices go. But the food is very good. Now, the following statement is not a complaint. At all. But we do notice that restaurant prices tend to be significantly higher here than in the US. And I'm not talking about prices in the booger woods. I'm talking about compared to nice restaurants in New York City, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, etc. I do travel occasionally. Perhaps not willingly, but I do travel. It was a fine meal. Mrs. Reid and I had duck, which is my choice if it's available, usually. Pootie had halibut served in a carrot broth with vegetables. And Mr. Reid had lamb. The desserts were excellent, but now I can't remember what mine was called. It was chocolate and moussy and kind of like a napoleon. The dessert, not the general. Except without the puff pastry. Which probably makes it nothing like a napoleon at all. But it was layered.

We also ate at Bacalao downtown. It was not quite as pricey, but really just as good. There are two or three cozy little dining rooms with fireplaces. It's a snug, comfortable place and the service was outstanding. We felt very welcome. I had a moose sausage penne, and Mrs. Reid and Pootie both had caribou with a partridgeberry sauce. I tasted it and it was delicious. A lot milder than I would have thought. I expected it to taste like venison. It doesn't. My penne was good, but I ordered it just a little too spicy. Mr. Reid had a seafood pot pie that he said was great.

Secondary to the food was some quality time with family. Well, OK, not secondary, but the food was important. It was so good to see faces from home, and get to tour some of this amazing place with Pootie's parents. We're so glad they made the trip.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: Visitors! Part One

We had our first (and possibly only) visitors to Newfoundland! It's not exactly easy or inexpensive to get here.  My in-laws arrived on a Friday evening for a week of fun, food and visiting. Obviously food was the highest priority.

The St. John's Airport. We are right down the road from it. No, his parents didn't come from St. Pierre. Pootie just took a picture because he wants to go there.

Their flight got in a little late, so by the time we got them to the house, it was 7:30 or so. I had some chicken chili waiting for them. It was a cool night and they'd been traveling all day and hadn't eaten a proper lunch, so they were ready for some dinner. We ate, then took them to their Inn. They didn't stay with us because they wanted their own bathroom. I don't blame them. They stayed at The Beach House, which is visible from Coleen's Blue Cottage. I think I'm going to just start calling it CBC.  Anyway, the accomodations there are very nice.

They slept in on Saturday and then we picked them up and brought them to CBC for breakfast. We headed from breakfast to the Memorial University (MUN)Campus for a driving tour.

See? Pootie is legit!

After campus tour, we went to The Rooms. Pootie and I had been, but we hadn't gone into the gallery part. So off we went. We managed to snag a table by the window so we had a view overlooking St. John's Harbour. Not too shabby! The food was good, too. I was most impressed with the Lyndal Osborne's "Where River Meets Sea" exhibit in the gallery. It was a vast construction of found objects along the riversides of Newfoundland. Really striking. (No photos allowed. It was pretty dark in there anyway. It would have been hard to do it justice.)

Then it was back to CBC for dinner, where we had chicken paprika, which you already know about. And a beautiful sunset. Tune in next time for our tour of Cape Spear!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: Exploring Brigus

Brigus is a picturesque little town about 25 miles from us. We took a Saturday and drove the scenic route to go check it out.  It was the home of Captain Robert Bartlett, the Arctic explorer, which was the draw for my husband the historian. Unfortunately, his house was closed for the season. But there was still plenty of rambling to do.

The first thing we did, of course, was eat lunch. Right as we drove into town, we spotted North Street Cafe. It was a tiny little place with four tables and very friendly, accomodating owners. Pootie had hot tea and pea soup, and I got the fish cakes. They came with homemade molasses brown bread and a homemade pickled vegetable side that were absolutely fantastic. I was thrilled. Pootie's pea soup (which was actually bean soup) was also great, and my fish cakes were perfect. Apparently I like fish cakes since I've ordered them twice now.

Well-fed and watered, we set out to wander through Brigus. Really, the pictures say it all. The place is just beautiful.

The old dock houses, the picket fences, and the boats painted such a pretty scene everywhere we went. I stole a rock from the beach. I know... I shouldn't have. But it wanted to go home with me. I could tell.

There was a beautiful old church that has been turned into a local arts and community center.

I was taking pictures of a campsite when I was hailed in true Newfoundland brogue (it sounds Irish). Meet Johnny, owner of the campground and fountain of information on Brigus.

Johnny was born and raised in Brigus, then left for 30 years to go work on the oil rigs all over the world. He was fascinating. And funny. He told us about how Brigus had grown, bemoaned the influx of outsiders with money who built huge homes there, and gave us the scoop on the old houses in town. His is over 100 years old. He had been offered a spot on the Ocean Ranger soon before it sank. He turned it down to go to work on one in Scotland because he said he didn't like the look of the Ranger. He didn't think it looked safe. Lucky for him.

He now owns and runs the campground and told us about all the people from everywhere in the world who come through in the summer. He was the best stationary tour guide ever.

We had a lovely day poking around. A perfect day trip from Portugal Cove.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: Exploring Downtown St. John's NL

Time to check out Downtown St. John's!

It's a lot bigger than I expected. Comparing populations between St. John's and Wilmington/New Hanover County showed them to be similar. But the downtown area looks and feels (and probably is) much bigger and city-like than downtown Wilmington. It's on a very well sheltered and protected natural harbor and there is a lot of commercial waterfront activity.

The houses and buildings are painted bright colors, which I guess helps in the winter when it's grey and dreary. I love it.

There are some beautiful old buildings.

And statues of the official dogs of Newfoundland and Labrador - the Labrador Retriever, and the Newfoundland (Newfie), neither of which I've laid eyes on since we've been here. Bummer.

That face looks familiar. Newfies and Berners are closely related and look a lot a like.
The signs downtown kill me. Note the "Thanks" on the falling snow and ice warning. And I'm not sure what that green sign is. I guess it means "Squirrels ahead". Although I haven't seen any of those since I've been here, either.

Or maybe it's a squirrel evacuation route, and they've all left.

And of course, there are restaurants. See? Food! In a food blog!

While we're here, I'm trying to eat as much traditional fare as possible. Although sorry guys, I'm not going anywhere NEAR poutine. That just sounds revolting. Also, my pants got tighter just thinking about it. At the Duke of Duckworth, we both had traditional pub lunches. Pootie got a classic cold plate, which was roasted turkey, ham, potato salad (which tasted like ours, but the potatoes were mashed, not cut in chunks), coleslaw (which tasted like our coleslaw), homemade brown bread and cheese. And hot English tea. He's become quite fond of having hot tea at restaurants. I had a Ploughman's Lunch, which was a really good sausage, bread and cheese and what appears on many lunches I've had so far - iceberg lettuce and sliced tomatoes. It was all delicious. Well, except the tomatoes. They aren't exactly in season anymore. We've also had non-traditional food elsewhere downtown. At the Gypsy Tea Room, we both needed a salad that day for lunch. It was excellent. At Yellowbelly, I had perfectly done wood-fired pizza. So much for traditional. But I haven't had pizza in ages. Incidentally, while we were eating dinner there with Phillip's advisor Neil, in walked Peter Dinklage. Cool. We also sampled coffee and one of the best (and biggest) profiteroles I've ever had at Rocket - this cool coffee and dessert place down the street.

Also downtown is The Rooms Museum, home of one of the best views of downtown existing. It's a beautiful glass building with some great exhibits about Newfoundland history and wildlife as well as a gallery with changing exhibits. I was very impressed with Lyndal Osborne's "Where River Meets Sea". It was a striking and huge work of found objects. Beautiful. And of course, since The Rooms has a restaurant, we had to have lunch there. I went with the traditional salt fish cakes. Pootie had a roasted red pepper soup and a duck confit salad that were both homemade and delicious. My fish cakes were also very good.

My next mission will be learning to cook some of this stuff. What's the point of living somewhere like this and not finding out how to cook like the locals?

That, and looking for Newfies.