Nova Scotia Will Leave Road-Trippers Spellbound

A delicious lobster platter loaded and ready for dinner service at Lightfoot & Wolfville. You will discover there is no shortage of fresh lobster in the Annapolis Valley. (Photo courtesy of Destination Canada)

I’ll never forget those wide, spellbound eyes of my South Korean travel companion as he viewed the splendid choices at Halls Harbour Lobster Pound & Restaurant.

Bobbing in a tank were lobsters available at market price and sold live, cooked to go, or prepared for restaurant dining with sizes topping out at “jumbo” (more than three pounds). In Seoul, a small Canadian lobster can start at $60 USD ($80 Canadian). At this restaurant prices begin at $20 Canadian — a savings of 75 per cent for him.

Halls Harbour, located in the charming Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley region, serves a classic east coast seafood menu, including fishermen’s baskets, chowder, lobster rolls, and fish tacos. Our group sampled several items but there was only one thing on our minds.

As the tide rolls out, boats at Halls Harbour rest on the ocean floor. This makes for some very interesting lunchtime viewing at the restaurant. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Nova Scotia/Acorn Art Photography)

With the tide coming in and out every 6.5 hours one of the more interesting features about this part of the world is the ocean. The tide was out as we ate our lunch on the patio so we were able to admire the curious spectacle of moored boats lying on the ocean floor. The scene was lovely, my meal was stupendous. What was unforgettable, though, was watching my companion methodically and deliberately devour every nanometer of plump, buttery meat from that juicy lobster. If shells could be eaten I swear he would have consumed them too.

Owner Sharla Cameron, an import from Saskatchewan who describes herself as a full-fledged Nova Scotian – a recurring theme in this province —, says the madness doesn’t end at three-plus pounds. Lobster boats have brought in 15-pound lobsters to swim into the Halls Harbour tank and one of Cameron’s favourite photos depicts her husband holding a 23-pound crustacean. Clearly, Cameron is accustomed to seeing giddy, spellbound faces in her restaurant.

“You can be served lobster anywhere, but here it’s an education, it’s an experience, it’s very interactive,” Cameron notes.

Nova Scotia History on the Shores

In this Maritime province there are thousands of restaurants that will address your lobster cravings, too many to do justice in one article. Local delicacies are a big reason to tour the province. But the true beauty of Nova Scotia is that visitors can feed their brains and nourish their souls, not just their stomachs.

Grand-Pré National Historic Site features the Evangeline Statue standing in Victorian gardens with the Memorial Church in the background. (Photo courtesy of Grand-Pré National Historic Site)

A 35-minute drive from Halls Harbour is Grand-Pré National Historic Site. Located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the attraction  commemorates the area as a centre of Acadian settlement from 1682 to 1755 and recognizes the Deportation of the Acadians by the British from 1755-62. If you don’t know the history of the Acadians it’s worth reading about before visiting Grand-Pré as you will notice many houses and businesses in the area fly the Acadian flag. Grand-Pré is one of six UNESCO sites, three world heritage sites, two biospheres, and a geopark that exist in Nova Scotia.

A five-minute drive west from Grand Pré is Wolfville, a remarkable town in Kings County that is blessed with eight wineries within 10 kilometres of the town’s centre. It’s also home to Devour! The Food Film Fest, an event held every year in the fall that is famous for being the world’s largest food film festival.

For more than eight years, festival favourite and celebrity chef Bob Blumer (Glutton for Punishment, The Surreal Gourmet) has returned to Nova Scotia to participate in the festival.

Celebrity chef Bob Blumer on stage at “Devour! The Food Film Festival” with best-selling cookbook author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich. (Photo courtesy of Devour! The Food Film Festival/Mark Davidson)

“I really do love the region, Wolfville, the entire Annapolis Valley,” says Blumer, who has also hosted four Devour! events in Los Angeles. “I keep coming back to Devour because it combines the cinematic scope of an international film festival with warmth of the Wolfville community, the beauty and produce of the Annapolis Valley, world-class local wines, and an always-stimulating assembly of filmmakers, chefs, and guests.”

The Annapolis Valley, Bay of Fundy, and the Acadian Shores are teeming with culinary adventures but there are also natural wonders not to be missed.

Make a point to visit the Cliffs of Fundy Geopark,  which was recently designated a UNESCO Global Geopark site by the United Nations. The Geopark stretches roughly 165-kilometre with about 40 designated sites from Debert to the Three Sisters past Eatonville, out to Isle Haute.
There is also an underrated area where you can really get under the stars. Take a journey to the heavens above the Acadian Skies and Mi’kmaq Lands region and zone out underneath some of the darkest and clearest skies in North America. This is the first Starlight Reserve on the continent designated by the International Starlight Foundation.

Eternally Photogenic Peggy’s Cove

With about 150 lighthouses Nova Scotia boasts more lighthouses than any other province. One of the most famous is Peggy’s Cove. Built in 1915, it is a beacon for amateur and professional photographers alike.

A view of Peggy’s Cove from the south shore. Nova Scotia has more lighthouses than any other province in Canada. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Nova Scotia/Acorn Art Photography)

After a day of pictures and buying souvenirs at Peggy’s Cove, make the 43-minute trip to Halifax for fun activities and nightlife.

Stop for lunch at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. Launched by royal decree in 1750, just one year after the establishment of the city itself, Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market is the oldest, continuously operating farmers’ market in North America.

After a wonderful time in Halifax our group visited hopping Argyle Street for dinner and live music. So many choices but for us the highlight was The Five Fisherman, where chef Greg Balingit — a import from Toronto — presented a decadent array of seafood dishes like Asian Seabass ($32) and Arctic Char ($34) as well as prime centre-cut steaks.

The Classic Lobster Dinner ($49) features a 1.5-pound delicacy dominating the plate and the Lobster Carbonara ($32) pairs marvellously with a crisp bottle of the province’s Nova 7 sparkling wine.

An imported Nova Scotian serving an exquisite lobster dinner — haven’t I lived through this recurring theme before? No doubt about it, I was spellbound.

Note: Vacay.ca is partnering with Tourism Nova Scotia on a series of articles featuring road trips to enjoy in the province in 2020 and 2021.

MORE ABOUT NOVA SCOTIA

Nova Scotia Tourism: novascotia.com
Discover Halifax: discoverhalifaxns.com
Devour! The Food Film Fest: devourfest.com
Halls Harbour Lobster Pound & Restaurant: hallsharbourlobster.com
Halifax Seaport Farmers Market: www.halifaxfarmersmarket.com
The Five Fisherman: fivefishermen.com

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Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.