A TRAVEL NEWS ARTICLE ABOUT CANADA
Apart from tucking into lobster for lunch James Litston also found himself enjoying other edible delights and admiring the scenery of New Brunswick on Canada’s Atlantic seaboard.
Like beluga caviar or the finest champagne, fresh lobster is one of life’s little luxuries; something you might associate with a special occasion, perhaps, or a posh restaurant frequented by the upper crust. Unless, that is, you’re in Shediac – in the eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick – where lobsters are so ubiquitous they’re practically two a penny.
As the self-styled ‘lobster capital of the world’, Shediac is the ultimate place to get to grips with this succulent delicacy – and nowhere more so than on a lobster-fishing tour with Shediac Bay Cruises. What with hauling in the lobster traps and collecting the fearsomely-armed creatures from within, the tours offer a pretty hands-on experience: especially when it comes to pulling apart your very own lobster for lunch.
It's informative, messy and great fun, though it's worth noting that lunch comes ready prepared so you don’t have to physically dispatch any lobsters yourself!
Delicious they may be, but lobsters are not the only gourmet highlight of a visit to Canada's Atlantic seaboard. The region is made up of the four provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) whose coastlines face the mighty Atlantic. With so much ocean frontage, it's little wonder that seafood features prominently on many menus. Clams and fresh crab are commonplace, while mussels are a particular speciality of Prince Edward Island where they are cultivated in the surrounding, pristine waters.
Steamed Jumbo Crabs
Other regional specialities include familiar items like maple syrup and wild blueberries, but for something really unique it's worth tracking down the more unusual delicacies like fiddlehead greens. These attractive vegetables are actually the tightly coiled fronds of a type of fern that's most commonly found in New Brunswick. Steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, the fiddleheads are tasty, healthy and one of the region's most distinctive delicacies.
Clearly they take food very seriously in this part of Canada and there are some amazing restaurants throughout the maritime provinces. The Rossmount Inn, a renowned restaurant-with-rooms near the New Brunswick resort of St Andrews by-the-Sea, is a particular gem. Here the Swiss-born chef creates superlative dishes - from a decadent lobster bisque to the most exquisite salmon tartare - using fresh, local, seasonal and organic ingredients (including many grown in the on-site kitchen garden).
In addition to prodigious amounts of fantastic food, the region's other major draw is its stunning natural scenery, with the rugged and beautiful Atlantic coastline taking pride of place.
St Andrews by-the-Sea actually makes an ideal base from which to explore this coastline. During the summer months, the town's waterfront is a hive of activity as it's a major departure point for a number of whale-watching excursions into the Bay of Fundy. The bay is extremely bio-diverse, holding healthy populations of four species of great whale as well as porpoises, seals and magnificent bald eagles.
Minke whales are the most frequently encountered species, though rare Northern right whales (up to half the world population lives here), energetic humpbacks and enormous fin whales can also be spotted in season.
Besides the whales, the Bay of Fundy’s other major claim to fame is its massive tidal range. Every twelve hours, one hundred billion tonnes of seawater roll in and out of the bay, pulled by the gravitational force of the moon. Tides operate in the same manner the world over, but here in the enclosed, funnel-shaped Bay of Fundy their effect is extraordinarily dramatic. In fact with a difference between the high- and low-water mark that’s taller than a four-storey building, the Bay of Fundy is renowned for having the highest tides on the planet.
High Tide at Hopewell Rocks
Nowhere is this tidal range more evident than at Hopewell Rocks, a remarkable series of rock formations that are as symbolic of this stretch of coastline as the Twelve Apostles are of Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Scoured and sculpted over the centuries by tremendous tidal forces, these chimney-like stacks of rock (known locally as ‘flowerpot islands’ on account of their vegetated summits) are a testament to the awesome powers at work beneath the Bay of Fundy’s surface.
Low tide at Hopewell Rocks
The bay's natural attributes are impressive enough to have earned it a nomination as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, a project designed to drive awareness of and respect for the planet's natural beauty and fragility. The shortlist of nominees finds the Bay of Fundy pitted against such obvious contenders as the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon (plus some less well-known locations like the Sundarbans forest in Bangladesh). The seven finalists will be selected by popular vote, with the announcement being made in 2011 .
With nature's bounty - both edible and otherwise - being very much a feature of Canada's Atlantic seaboard, a visit to this beautiful region makes a very appealing option - and whether you'd prefer to tuck into sumptuous seafood or gaze in wonder at leaping leviathans, the Atlantic Canada region offers a world of possibilities.
Air Transat flies twice-weekly from London Gatwick to Halifax, Nova Scotia, with connections throughout Atlantic Canada. Visit www.airtransat.com for details.
Air Canada flies from London Heathrow to Montreal, Toronto and Halifax. See their schedules and fares at www.aircanada.com .
Try Canadian Affair at www.canadianaffair.co.uk for great price packages.
A great way to arrive in New Brunswick is by cruise ship into the Province’s main Atlantic gateway - the Port and City of Saint John on the Bay of Fundy. Carnival are running a series of short break cruises from New York to Saint John in 2011 and it is only one day’s sailing from New York. For more information visit www.carnival.com/cms/fun/destination/Canada
Please visit www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca
For more on the New Seven Wonders of Nature, visit www.new7wonders.com
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