Fun fact: The Nova Scotian term for a non local is a term called a C.F.A. or Comes From Away. There are several ways to avoid being pegged as a C.F.A. Instead of saying "Cheers!" when drinking, try a hearty "Sociable!" instead. The other way of disguising your C.F.A. status is knowing what a Donair is. A Donair is not to be mistaken with its close sister the Doner.
At Brookfield Market and Pizzeria, we watch as they assemble our Donair for us. Sure there's the beef sliced from a vertical rotating log of meat. There's tomato and onion too and cheese if you want it (although no lettuce). And yes it's all served on a toasted round of pita bread. However the main difference is the Donair sauce which is a pure Nova Scotian concoction.
Instead of a tzatziki garlic sauce, the sauce in a Donair is distinctly sweet. Made out of sweetened condensed milk, white vinegar, sugar and garlic powder it reminds me of the sauce in some sweet coleslaws.
The Donair-not pretty but pretty tasty
The Donair creeps into items like poutine too with the beef and sweet sauce topping hot fries, cheese curds and gravy or there's also the donair pizza. Or if you're truly hungry you can also find 2 pound or 1 kilo donairs. Designed as late night food, it is best eaten as an afterthought to drinking or at least as an accompaniment to a beer.
If you're in the area on Brookfield Market, cross the road to Brookfield Bakery, home to some of the best oat cakes of the trip. They come as thin squares of crispy, delicate oaty wholesome goodness.
I've always thought that if you had to judge a pie contest, then the sweet would always win over the savoury. After all, people have a natural predisposition towards sweet and sweets signal a treat or celebration. However the judges of the pie contest in Nova Scotia awarded the honour of the best pie to Atlantic Seafood's Seafood Pie.
To try one of these pies, you need to make your way to Masstown markets, about two hour's drive from Wolfville or just under two hour's drive from Halifax. It was on our way here that we picked up the Donair and oat cakes.
Masstown Market is split into two sections. On the left marked by a lighthouse is a boat that sells fish and chips, fish sandwiches and fried clams. You place your order on the converted boat and take your buzzer-in a lobster shape of course and when it dances with lights it's your cue for pick up.
Fried clams $12.99CAD
The fried clams are excellent. Lightly breaded with the neck and fat, juicy clam body which delivers a tiny burst of brine in every mouthful.
Haddock sandwich $6.99CAD
Haddock is also a very popular fish here and the haddock sandwich is a bestseller at this stand. The haddock sandwich is excellent, filled with a large, flat fillet lightly battered and golden, lettuce and tartare sauce. A lobster potato salad can be added instead of chips for an extra $2 so we opted for that and it's a delicious accompaniment with small pieces of lobster among the potato.
If you want to buy supplies to take away, at the bottom level of the lighthouse there are live lobsters in a tank as well as a plethora of seafood and condiments if you are self catering. You can climb up to the top of the lighthouse-when we did the wind was very strong and it was mainly a view of the surrounding area rather than any water.
Next door is the main Masstown Market which is busy with customers this afternoon. It is here that we try the award winning seafood pie. They can heat it up for you and serve it per slice drenched with chowder. The chowder is a fairly light tasting chowder with a creamy texture. Bought whole, the seafood pie is reasonably priced at $14.99 for a family sized pie.
The seafood in it is plentiful and tender in texture. Described as "seafood chowder in a pie" there is cream cheese added to it which makes it more thicker so that the pie can hold together and the pastry is thin and holds in the filling. I see mussels, white fish, prawns and scallops in the pie.
Tummies completely full, less than an hour later we arrive at Pictou Lodge. Located about 10 minutes from the town of Pictou, the drive up to the lodge is full of breathtaking views.
The original lodge was built in 1926 and has played host to King George V and Princess Juliana of Holland as well as Condoleeza Rice and Babe Ruth.
There are several grades of room and our rooms are the newly renovated area of "The Birches" which are similar to a motel room. The bed is large and comfortable. The bathroom has a shower and bath combination and some basic amenities.
There are a few little issues such as the small body lotion tube in the bathroom is half empty, the small fridge freezes everything, the blinds don't appear to work, and a request for a lemon yields a mushy, rotten lemon wrapped in a cloth napkin.
The main lobby area however is blessed to the magnificent views and the restaurant called Oceanside is welcoming. It is here that we are having dinner.
It's hard to pull our eyes away from the water which gazes out to Prince Edward island on one side and then Pictou Island on the other. And later that night, lights from the herring vessels will shine in the water-it is the beginning of herring season here.
Warm biscuits with molasses butter
The first items to come out are the hot biscuits (or scones as we know them in Australia) with a sweet molasses butter. They're served warm and they're a nice change from plain bread.
The amuse bouche is a tender, tiny forkful of Northumberland lamb, chimmichurri and balsamic vinegar reduction.
Mussels with white wine and garlic
There are no oysters on tonight but the local mussels are excellent. The small black, tender mussels are very similar to the Australian live black mussels. Here they are served with a white wine and garlic sauce and it comes as a very generous serve.
The creamy chowder features haddock, clam, scallop, shrimp and dill and was a creamy number which was also quite filling.
I was tossing up between the Northumberland Lamb as we've had a lot of seafood but I was persuaded to try the halibut as it was just caught that morning. It's a fillet well cooked through and served with an orange butter and buttered vegetables including the most delicious fingerling potatoes which were so sweet and moreish.
Catch of the day: Lobster $34CAD
The catch of the day is lobster and at $34 it was hard to resist too. It was a 1.5 pound lobster or 750 gram lobster, grilled and served with a side of coleslaw, melted butter and buttered vegetables. The lobster is tender and very easy to remove from the shell.
"We'll have one of each!" we said when ordering dessert. There are four desserts on offer and we try them all starting with the maple and blueberry cheesecake with a crisp shortbread topping.
Deep fried apple pie
I'm afraid my heart is stolen by the deep fried apple pie. The crust is delicious as is the filling and it comes with a sweet scoop of vanilla ice cream. And the individual pie was deep fried in its entirety so what's not to love?
Pavlova with berries and lemon curd
The pavlova is actually a crisp meringue ring with a mix of diced berries and a smooth, thick lemon curd. It is good but I do prefer cream with berries and meringue over lemon curd but those who like things tarter would go for this.
I've never seen so many berries in my life! Not that I'm complaining at all, I love it that they're so plentiful here whereas they're so expensive back in Australia. This is a texturally light chocolate mousse served inside a thin chocolate cover with plenty of berries on the side.
And instead of dessert wine, we have a Nova Scotian specialty-wild blueberry juice! It's strong and sweet and the perfect antioxidant rich tonic to help one sleep at night. In the peaceful surrounds it's not hard to do...
So tell me Dear Reader, do you usually go for meat or seafood on a menu? And what do you think of the idea of the Donair with the sweet sauce? Have you ever tried one?
NQN travelled to Canada as a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission, Destination Halifax and Nova Scotia Tourism Agency.
Brookfield Market and Pizzeria
653 Hwy 2, Brookfield, NS B0N 1C0, Canada Phone:+1 902-673-2400
652 #2 Hwy 2, Brookfield, NS B0N 1C0 Phone:+1 (902) 673-2434
10622 Nova Scotia 2 Trunk, Debert, NS B0M 1G0, Canada Phone:+1 902-662-2816
172 Lodge Rd, Braeshore Pictou, NS B0K 1H0, Canada Phone:+1 902-485-4322