In late September and early October of last year, I visited Nova Scotia for the first time. I am certain it won’t be my last. I’ve already written about Halifax, The Bay of Fundy and Tatamagouche. Our next destination was Wolfville, where we visited Domaine de Grand Pré for a wine tasting and scrumptious dinner at their Le Caveau restaurant. After dinner we returned to the Blomidon Inn for a good night’s rest and breakfast. The inn was built as a residence in the late 1800s and was purchased by a partnership including the Laceby family in 1988. They have been the inn’s sole proprietors since 1997.
Today, Michael and Sean Laceby run the inn, with Sean preparing incredible meals for the guests and Michael running the day to day operations. Mother Donna heads up the incredible House of Gifts, a gift shop like no other I have seen in any place I have stayed. It goes on and on with room after room filled with unique goods. The House of Gifts alone is worth a visit.
The life of a wine and food journalist isn’t as easy as you might imagine. We started the day with a 9 am visit to Gaspereau Vineyards for a wine and chocolate tasting. Winemaker Gina Haverstock, who was visibly pregnant during our visit, was a wonderful hostess as she showed us the vineyards, let us taste her line up of wines, from regionally suited varietals like Lucie Kuhlman, Baco Noir and L’Acadie Blanc to a relative newcomer to Nova Scotia, Pinot Noir. We also tasted maple wine and found it to be very interesting, sweet, but not overly so. Gina took us into the tank and barrel room for some additional tastings. Her passion for the vine is evident and she gives much of the credit to her mentor Hans Christian Jost of Jost Vineyards.
We left the magnificent Annapolis Valley and drove south across the province to Lunenburg. First stop: Ironworks Distillery. Lynne MacKay and Pierre Guevremont took a blacksmith’s shop in 2009 and transformed it into a world class distillery where they make vodka, rum, blueberry and cranberry liqueurs and eaux de vie. Lynne offered us tastes of her wonderful spirits and showed us her still. I wasn’t expecting short sleeve weather in Nova Scotia in late September, but that’s exactly what we got. We walked the street, soaking up every nook and cranny of this charming town and landed at the Salt Shaker Deli for lunch.
Don’t let the name deli fool you. Although the atmosphere is casual, the food is anything but. Plate after plate of fabulous food came out, mussels, crab cakes, smoked seafood chowder, pad thai, lobster rolls and so much more. We all shared bites of each delicious plate and enjoyed a good visit with co-owner Sylvie MacDonald. She and Chef Martin Ruiz Salvador also own and operate Lunenburg’s Fleur de Sel. With happy bellies we spent some time strolling around Lunenburg, before the afternoon’s next agenda item: a horse drawn buggy tour of the town.
Trot In Time owner Basil Oickle was a bit under the weather, but nonetheless was there to greet us with a smile and a warm welcome. We split into two groups and toured this charming village. Our driver was prolific in the history of Lunenburg and shared several stories with us, pointing out buildings and telling the tales of their past. Basil started the business in 1996 and now has six horses, three carriages and six drivers. Trot In Time is a grand way to experience this unique town.
Only a few steps from Trot In Time is the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. The museum is home to several maritime exhibits celebrating the storied history of the area’s fishermen. The museum is also home to an aquarium and restaurant and the dock just out the back door offers opportunities to explore working decks and passageways. During our visit a couple of old salts were giving demonstrations of scallop shucking. I tried my hand at it and let’s just say their jobs are safe.
We checked into the Lunenburg Arms and then our hosts asked if any of us wanted to take a drive and see the harbor from the other side and visit a place called Blue Rocks. I’m delighted I accepted that offer. Looking across the water at Lunenburg was a spectacular sight. The town’s multi-colored buildings were brilliant and it was great to see the sea birds diving. As we drove to Blue Rocks, the fog began to roll in in a hurry. It was still a great experience. We saw deer and I got within a few feet of them and took some photos. It was also nice to see some old fishing shanties.
The Trattoria Della Nonna Ristorante was just around the corner from our hotel. We had not had a meal in Nova Scotia that wasn’t exceptional and this evening’s experience kept that record intact. Executive Chef Terry Vassallo prepared a superb meal for us and we savored each bite. We enjoyed Fritto Misto; fried artichokes, prawns and white fish with aioli, lamb riblettes, exquisite pastas and delicious seafood paired with Nova Scotia wines. I suggest you visit Nova Scotia with a hearty appetite. You will not leave hungry!
Our visit to this amazing province was drawing to a close, but we still had one full day in store. We returned to the Lunenburg Arms for a good night’s rest before heading off to Mahone Bay, Peggy’s Cove and back to Halifax on our final day.