07-21-18 Catching up – Portland, Boston, Mystic Seaport

After a delightful stay in Saint John we headed back to the US of A stopping in Freeport Maine to visit LL Bean.

Some big boots to fill outside the entrance

We visited here many years ago and to say the place has changed would be a mild understatement. LL Bean takes up a LOT of space with different sections for various kinds of merchandise.

You can get lost in this place!

Fortunately there really wasn’t anything we needed so packed up and headed to Portland Maine for lunch at Eventide Oyster Company.

Looking over the menu at Eventide

A great selection of Oysters (duh)

A dozen oysters – could have done this selection all over again.

along with some other treats

Maine Lobster Stew – clearly didn’t skimp on the good stuff
Peekytoe Crab Bun – Piled high!

made lunch very nice. After a quick tour of the City we headed back on the road towards Boxford and our friends Joel and Wendy.

Joel – we have know this clown for over 40 years!
Joel and Wendy

Boxford is just north of Boston and their home is hidden amongst the trees. Beautiful spot right now but gosh all the snow that comes makes it a challenge to get to I’m sure. During our visit we didn’t do very much – ok, one trip into Cambridge for lunch at Bartley’s Burger Cottage.

Onion Rings and Meat – hard to beat at Bartley’s Burger Cottage

They have great burgers and wonderful onion rings!

After a short stop to visit with friends Susanne and Peter in Milton

Peter and Suzanne – we would walk our dogs together when we all loved in Cambridge in the early 70’s.

we found our way to Mystic Seaport. Having not been here before it was a lovely day to explore the seaport and tour the area where they are restoring a wooden ship, get on board the last remaining wooden wailing ship and enjoy the day by the water.

Charles W. Morgan – the last remaining wooden wailing ship
Colorful view along the walkways
Here we are next to the Charles W. Morgan.
The cooper at Mystic Seaport
One of a number of pictures with Janeen and life rings. I think this makes maybe 50 or so different ones.

Afterwards, we went back to Bethlehem and stayed in our friends Jim and Carol’s place while they were at their lake house.   We did discover a wonderful ice cream store -Bethlehem Dairy Store – that existed when we lived there but we didn’t know about.

Sunday with a Cherry on top
Sunday with chocolate

Several days to get all the laundry done, relax a bit and off we went to Springfield Virginia and our home base with our son Jason and his family.

Along the entire trip – both when we did our swing to Savannah Georgia and this last time when we got all the way up to Prince Edward Island we have been scouting out places where we might rent a place for a landing pad. As yet nothing has really jumped out at us but we are still looking.

Now we are getting ready for the trip to California via Macomb Illinois (Janeen’s dad) to do a final clearing of the house in Alhambra (to sell it) and to visit with friends. If you have been following along, and are anywhere between Illinois and California, reach out and we will see if we can stop by!

 

 

07-06-18 Saint John, New Brunswick

After checking into our B&B, The Mahogany Manor,

Mahogany Manor Bed & Breakfast

we decided to take our selves for a walk into the city center. Well, not really what we normally think of as a City Center, but certainly the historical center of Saint John. From the beginnings of the American Revolution in 1774, through 1783 some 40,000 British subjects fled north to escape persecution. Many of these “Loyalists” as they were called arrived in Saint John and created a new home.

Trinity Church
The old Post Office
Typical row houses we walked along during our “tour”
Saint John is known for its pub and restaurant scene throughout uptown. Statistics Canada found the city has the third most pubs per capita in Canada.

The town has a number of historic places including the County Courthouse in King’s Square (1825), City Market (1876)

City Market – The building has been in continuous use since 1876. The interior roof supports are reminiscent of a ships hull.

and a number of other structures that have been around for a while. It was an interesting walk with much to see.

We saw this ‘tug’ and couldn’t resist taking a picture
I couldn’t really believe that this was a cruise ship port of call!

Along the way we passed a number of restaurants – Taco Pica, Taste of Egypt, Rocky’s Sport’s Bar, Churchill’s Bar & Bub, Thandi – but the one that caught our eye was Italian By Night. Who knew we would find a great Italian Restaurant in Saint John New Brunswick Canada..

We arrived early for our 5PM reservation, but we were greeted by Dorothy at the Bar with a wide smile and a hug like we were old friends!

Dorothy – The “greeter” and bar tender. She made an excellent Aperol Spritz

It is always nice to be warmly greeted and certainly starts the evening off on a good setting. We were really the first to arrive for the evening – tables still being set by the staff, kitchen staff preparing for the evening –

The inside of the restaurant – very open.

so we took a seat at the bar and had a glass of wine. While we were there we were able to meet one of the business owners, Gord Hewitt.

Gord – one of the co-owners of the restaurant

He was sampling a new Italian wine they might add to the menu and when I said we had previously had the bottle (which we had not too long ago) he shared a glass with us. Very nice.

 

Once we got to our table, Abby, our waitress, took charge and guided us through the menu and offered her recommendations.

Abby, our waitress, did a great job keeping me in wine!

Along the way, Elizabeth Rowe stopped by the table

Elizabeth – another of the co-owners of the restaurant

– she is one of the owners along with Gord and Michele Hooton (we didn’t get to meet her, she is traveling in Italy at the moment). From Elizabeth we learned about the history of the restaurant (formally a family owned furniture store for over 100 years) and how they developed the menu. They had started with a deli about a block or so away and started doing Italian during the evening – thus the name Italian by NIght. Once the realized there was an actual customer base that would support a restaurant they took the big step and moved from a very small space (1700 SF) to a much larger space of over 4,000 SF (the former furniture store). After personally doing the remodel and getting the menu set they opened about 5 or 6 years ago and never looked back.

The menu has a number of traditional presentations and a few with an interesting twist. To start we had the Panzanella – a Tuscan salad of tomatoes, string beans, red peppers, cucumbers, red onion, capers, arugula, and house-made croutons with a house vinaigrette dressing.

Panzanella

Wonderful. Janeen said, after finishing the dish, “I need to get this into my menu plans.” Janeen followed this with Tagliatelle Alla Vongole – House-made pasta, baby clams, grape tomatoes, pancetta, garlic, white wine, parsley, and fresh focaccia

Tagliatelle Alla Vogole

. I had the Lasagna Grande – Fresh pasta, Bolognese sauce, mozzarella with Parmesan cheese. Janeen’s dish was piled high with clams! While I have had lasagna

Lasagne Grande – Fresh pasta, meat sauce, balsamella, parmesan, mozzarella

any number of places this presentation was one of the best. When sou chef Steven stopped by at our request,

Chef Steven – Originally from England

we made sure he knew how pleased we were with our choices. He was soon away to the UK to visit family, but loves St. John and hopes to stay on in New Brunswick.

Throughout the meal, Abby made sure we had wine to drink and all was well with the world. While I don’t have a clue if I will get back to Saint John I can safely say that if I do it will include a stop at Italian By Night.

There aren’t words…

07-05-18 Prince Edward Island

We had started out on this northern loop with Prince Edward Island (PEI) as our goal. This came about as our friends, who live in Bethlehem PA, Rita and Jim, often talked about his (Jim’s) roots that come from the PEI area. As a result we had it in our heads to at least take a gander at this place in the far east of Canada. PEI is a one of the three Maritime Provinces of Canada and is the smallest province in both land area and population. It is truly an island connected to the mainland by both a ferry and the 8-mile Confederation Bridge. We arrived on July 4th – a Wednesday in Canada (thus no fireworks or other events…) and stayed at a lovely B&B in Miscouche called Prince Country Inn.

Our home for a couple of days on PEI

Our hosts

Our host, Herb at the B&B

Herb and Roger have been operating the B&B for a number of years – however, they are snowbirds heading to Florida for 6-months of the year. It was a nice place to base our couple of days on the Island.

The backbone of the economy is farming; it produces 25% of Canada’s potatoes and you see the fields everywhere you go.

New potatoes starting out

Additionally there are of course the obligatory potato products, pictures and places to visit in most of the little towns.  Fishing also plays a part of the economy as evidence by the various stands, boats and lobster pots we saw stacked around.

Fisheries form one of the major industries of Prince Edward Island.

Without a real agenda, we spent the first day just wandering around the area and having a nice late lunch at Open Eats in Summerside. The following day we headed out to the

The Cavendish Boardwalk – a collection of shops on the eastern side of the island

Cavendish Boardwalk – a collection of various local shops towards the Atlantic side of the Island – and had a wonderful Moo ice cream cone. Since spring came late, peonies are in bloom.

Peonies – getting ready to burst forth with flowers.

From there we just sort of drove around on the eastern side of the island enjoying the warm day,

Here’s a colorful fishing villages, this in French River on the Island
There were light houses all around the Island

the beautiful roadside flowers and the views of the ocean. Along the roadside there were lots of lupine in various colors – red, pink, white and purple.

Lupines were all over the place in a variety of colors.

They grow wild along the roadside and added lovely color to our day. For lunch we headed back to Summerside and grabbed a table at the Deckhouse Pub with a view of the water.

We had a delighful lunch on the upper porch where the green and black umbrella’s are located.
Us – after lunch

We finished our visit to the Island and got ready for our trek the following day (which turned into a blowing rainstorm) to Saint Johns, New Brunswick.

07-02-2018 Dinner at Laurie Raphael – Quebec city

From time to time we like to jump into the deep end for a dining experience. Exploring Quebec City was no exception. When we first came into town I checked several of the websites I’ve used in the past to figure out where we might go. After looking at the options, I discovered Laurie Raphael.   This is a family operation having been started by Chef Daniel some 27 years ago and now managed by his son, Raphael. There are two locations; the original in Quebec City and a second restaurant is now in Montreal. The venue has limited seating and a set menu, either a 3 courses or 5-course selection option. We arrived early, as is our custom and were introduced to chef Pierre and staff before being seated in the bar prior to moving to the dining room. Seems they like to start the experience in the bar with a glass of wine or a cocktail along with a amuse bouche or two. I had a nice Sancerre and Janeen a French Rose to go with our two different presentations.

At this point, Hugo, our food guide for the evening, explained the menu options – of which there are two. A 3-course meal with a “sea” and “land” on each course or a five-course meal again with 2 options on each course. Hugo indicated that the overall portion size would be the same whether we had the 3 or 5 so naturally I chose the 5-course option.

Having decided to do the full tasting menu, we were seated in the dining room, which is relatively small and relaxed. The décor featured laser cut metal panels along the window side and muted colors for the seating, walls and floor. In the middle of the room was a brass “tree” about 8 feet tall with a serving table around it for the wait staff to stage items prior to placement on the table. It is clear they are striving for feeling of being in nature. Bunches of fresh vegetables were displayed near the kitchen.

Hugo, our waiter, explained the menu and presented our wines throughout the evening. Janeen had mostly local Niagara peninsula, wines while David had some French, California and Italian selections. We shared sips on all courses to see how they matched the dish presented. Dinner lasted about 3 ½ hours – just about right for a tasting menu.

Always a good time for bubbles – sparking cider for Janeen and a Champagne for David
Halibut ceviche, rhubarb water, celery and salicornia
Magdelen Island’s scallops, blood orange and pomelo, cilantro oil, fresh shiso and candied lemon zest
More wine please!
Coal grilled green asparagus and foie gras, buckwheat sprouts and green shallot puree
Orleans Island smoked mini lettuce, grilled pork confit and egg salad, papilotte puree and bacon dressing
Wines to go with lobster
Lobster claws, cauliflower and broad bean stew, St-Laurence River seaweed
Lobster tail, kale, spinach and lovage from “ferme des Ruisseaux”, hollandaise sauce
Wines for the second land course
Seared veal, thyme and lemon meat juice, market vegetables
Roasted quail, fir meat juice, forest vegetables
At the end, with desserts, we had both a Canadian and a French dessert wine.
The first dessert – Pied-de-Vent cheese Paris-Brest, Quebec strawberries
The second dessert – Rhubarb and basil sorbet, dried meringue, rhubarb and gin jelly
The final dessert – Sweets

The experience was wonderful, the small bites and presentations done very well and the unique flavors of each seemed to come out in unique ways. Janeen was most impressed with the first course “sashimi” halibut and scallops enlivened with citrus and rhubarb flavors. David enjoyed the quail, prepared two ways, with lovely morel mushrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

07-2-18 Quebec City

We decided to take the Hop-on-hop-off bus around the city and learned a good deal about Quebec and it’s history.  Saw a lot of interesting spots and enjoyed the 2 hours or so of the adventure.

Just another fountain.
Lots of the older buildings have copper roofs – this is the train station.
The mural is about 75 feet tall and covers the entire side of the building. Some of the windows are real but most aren’t.
Lots of people wandering around and enjoying the day

We had a nice lunch along the way and walked back to our hotel to get ready for our dinner.

We had lunch in the place with the awning on the right
Just part of the local color of the city
Here we are in the upper city
Neat fountain (see the water in the middle?) where you could fill up your water bottle
This classic luxury hotel was built at the high point of the city by Railroad Baron’s to bring people to the City.
The Funiculaire went from the old upper city to the lower portion of town.
One more fountain along the way
Lots of the older buildings have copper roofs – this is the train station.

We had a lovely time in this City and decided to have a pre-anniversary dinner at Laurie Rapheal – but more about that on the next post