Nova Scotia’s Napa: Eleven Wineries, Farms and Markets
Nova Scotia’s Annapolis County
To say that Nova Scotia is a food lover’s paradise, is an understatement. The Atlantic Canadian province makes it easy for travelers to find just-caught seafood and farm-fresh produce and to sample its award-winning wines. They can follow the Chowder Trail or explore the Annapolis Valley.
Visitors can drive the entire coastline of Nova Scotia – all 4,700 miles of it – sampling seafood chowders at 60 restaurants, inns, resorts, lodges and B&Bs along Nova Scotia’s Chowder Trail. Chefs take seafood from the surrounding clean, cool waters and fresh produce from its lush fertile fields creating tasty recipes – all of them distinctive.
Nova Scotia lobster is world famous, so it is no wonder the province’s lobster chowder is one of its most popular. At Le Caveau at the Domaine de Grand Pre Winery in the Annapolis Valley, Chef Jason Lynch serves his lobster and scallop chowder with Spanish flavors: almond broth and smoked paprika. In Lunenburg, the charming UNESCO World Heritage seaport on Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Route, Chef Shelley Steventon at the Old Fish Factory prepares her chowder with lobster, scallops, mussels, haddock, shrimp, smoked bacon, potatoes and heavy cream.
Last year’s Chowder Cook-off champion was Chef Thomas Carey of Pictou Lodge Beach Resort on the Northumberland Shore. His winning recipe included local double-smoked bacon, mussels, scallops, haddock and fresh chopped tarragon. He finished the dish with a sous-vide egg yolk and red tabiko caviar. Coming in second, Mark Gabrieau of Gabrieau’s Bistro in Antigonish – also on the Northumberland Shore – added a splash of pernod and a puff pastry cover. At Chives Canadian Bistro in Halifax, Chef Craig Flinn, Nova Scotia’s Culinary Ambassador of 2012, was awarded third place for his chowder that boasted jalapeno, red pepper and cilantro oil.
Speaking of lobster, Ye Olde Argyler Lodge, an oceanfront lodge on Lobster Bay in the Yarmouth area is offering a two-night “Lobster Lover’s Getaway” for $325 per couple. The package includes two night’s accommodation, lobster supper for two, two creamed lobster dinners (a traditional Nova Scotia dish), and for breakfast, lobster omelets one morning and Lobster Bay Benedict the other morning. Chef Jonathan Joseph will personally take guests down to the wharf to choose their lobsters fresh off the boat.
While in the area, oyster lovers will want to head for Eel Lake Oyster Farm in Ste. Anne De Ruisseau. Raising Atlantic Oysters since 1996, Nolan D’Eon takes visitors by boat to see the oyster habitat and back on shore they get to taste these succulent delights.
Less than an hour west of Halifax lies the province’s fertile Annapolis Valley dotted with apple orchards, cheese makers and 11 wineries. Visitors can easily spend a weekend tasting wines, visiting farmers markets and apple or blueberry picking.
At Tangled Garden, herbs and fruit are transformed into jewel-like jellies and flavorful liqueurs. Visitors can stroll through the three-acre herb and sculpture garden before heading to the gift shop to sample handcrafted jams, cordials and honey.
Everything is grown, harvested or made by the vendors themselves at the year-round Wolfville Farmer’s Market. Visitors can meet the local farmers and the chefs who bring all the ingredients together. Fox Hill Cheese House crafts over 20 varieties of specialty cheeses, natural yogurt, gelato and milk, all from its own herd of Holstein cows. Visitors can watch the cheese-making process from the viewing window and taste complimentary cheese.
Nova Scotia’s first operating winery, Domaine de Grand Pre has one of the province’s best restaurants in Le Caveau and offers tastings of its award-winning wines in a charming tasting room.
Lucketts Vineyards has become a regular stop on the tasting tours not least because of its delicious wines, the cuisine at Crush Pad Bistro, its scenic views and the charm of its owner Pete Luckett who knows something about food having run the province’s top gourmet food emporiums.