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.

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