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Union Street Cafe & The Wick Pub – Berwick

19 Jul

While visiting the Annapolis Valley, we met up with some of Drew’s (and now my) family for lunch at the Union Street Cafe (@unionstcafe).  Located in Berwick, this conjoined cafe and pub captures your attention from the moment you walk in.  The rooms are dimly lit (in a comfortable rather than creepy way).  The colour pallet is made of soft greens, deep purples and dark, dark wood.

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Blomidon Provincial Park – Canning

19 Jul

On our last trip to the Annapolis Valley, we stumbled upon Blomidon Provincial Park while checking out the panoramic vista of the Bay of Fundy from Blomidon Ridge.

At the time, it was the first weekend of June, and the campground was packed.  We had to plead a little with the front gate just to get a peek inside.  When planning our recent trip, we made sure to book Blomidon early on.  This park seems to be consistently popular, and we can see why.

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Lysistrata, Temptress of the South

16 Jul
The set-up for Lysistrata

We weren’t able to take photos during the show, so I can’t show you the amazing period costumes…more reason to check it out for yourself!

In the event that you are the kind of person who skims articles, or only reads the 3-line Facebook summary, I am going to put the important stuff upfront. Go see Lysistrata.  If you like good theatre at all, or even if you have only a passing interest in theatre, or if you have anything akin to a sense of humour, you will love this play.

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Le Caveau – Annapolis Valley

15 Jul

Le Caveau Restaurant - OutsideAfter touring nine wineries during our last Annapolis adventure, and recounting the story to friends and family, one of the most common questions we heard was, “Did you eat at Le Caveau?”  Even here on our blog, many readers were finding us through searches for Le Caveau.  So, naturally, on our recent trip back to Annapolis Valley, it was our first stop. Continue reading

Grand Pré National Historic Site

28 Jun

The Grand Pre National Historic Site is just off Exit 10 from Hwy 101, before you get to Wolfville.  For anyone familiar with Nova Scotian history (and if you attended school in Nova Scotia in grades 4-6 you better be or I’m going to have some serious words with your social studies teacher), this was the site of Le Grand Dérangement, or the Great Deportation, of the Acadiens in 1755.

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Fox Hill Cheese House – Annapolis Valley

26 Jun

Fox Hill (@foxhillcheese) cheese and milk are already staples of our weekly Halifax Seaport Market purchases.  For those who aren’t familiar with Fox Hill Cheese House’s products, let me indulge you. The milk is non-homogenized and comes in 1L returnable glass bottles.  They have a wide variety of cheese, including feta, parmesan, gouda, havarti, and some great cheddars.  Honestly, we love cheese more than we should and could easily spend our weekly budget here.

Because of this, it was with great anticipation that we took Exit 11 from Hwy 101 to visit Fox Hill Farm.  We were, after all, in the middle of a winery tour, and how can you try wine without trying some cheese?

We began salivating when we saw the familiar logo on the barn.  There is a wall of refrigerators on the right side as you enter, featuring their wide variety of cheeses, milk, chocolates and assorted products from other local sources.  Directly in front of you is their gelato counter, and to the side is a tray with 20 different samples of cheese.

We grabbed a couple toothpicks and pretzels and went to work trying each of them.  The peppercorn may have edged out herb and garlic for our favourite gouda.  It was hard to choose between the Fenugreek and Italian herbs and spices havarti.  The curry quark was a winner and the three year old cheddar reminded us that we don’t get nearly enough cheddar anymore.

Once we were done sampling we bought a double scoop of gelato, one chocolate and one peanut butter, in a waffle cone and took it outside to enjoy on their deck.  Overlooking a small pond and with several tables, this is a great area to relax for a bit.  They have gift packs of various sizes of cheese and chocolate at great prices, so we bought a gift of a medium pack for ourselves.  In case you’re interested in having your own wine and cheese, the nearest winery is Blomidon.

@DrewMooreNS

Evangeline Inn & Motel – Wolfville

23 Jun

The Evangeline Inn and Motel is located just off Exit 10 from Hwy 101 as you head in to Wolfville.  It is ideally located to be your base of operations as you explore the many attractions in the area.  Within a 10km radius you can reach the Just Us Coffeehouse and Museum, the Grand Pré National Historic Site (post coming soon) and five wineries, including Luckett Vineyards, L’Acadie Vineyards, Gaspereau Vineyards, Muir Murray Estate Winery and Domaine de Grand Pré Vineyards.

The rooms are comfortable and reasonably priced in the $100-$130 range.  The inn is a former home of Prime Minister Robert Borden and includes a bust of the former PM.  We stayed in the King-sized suite in the inn.  It’s a cozy room with antique furniture, a king-sized bed and claw-foot bathtub.  Basically, exactly what you’d want to find in an inn.

The pool area was on the small side but definitely decent for a motel.  One of the cool features is the fireplace next to the pool.  Note that it closes early at 9pm.  Your stay includes breakfast at the café.  We recommend the omelet.  It’s a good size and loaded with ham, peppers and mushrooms.

We also tried the café for dinner the night of our stay.  The selection is not huge, and it is mostly basic options such as sandwiches, but the food is good, the portions are big and the prices are low.  They also skip the flour in their fish cakes, making the female half of our duo one happy girl.

@DrewMooreNS

Just Us Cafe and Coffee Museum – Wolfville

22 Jun

Once upon a time I was a pot-a-day coffee drinker.  My preferred brew was Just Us Colombian Blend.  Then in October I broke my collar bone.  Because caffeine causes calcium to pass right through the body, I quit all caffeinated beverages cold turkey (I was a grumpy bear) and have gone eight months without coffee, tea (except herbal) or cola.

That coffee-drinking hiatus was put on pause (possibly came to an end) when we visited the Just Us Cafe & Museum (@justuscoffee) during our honeymoon.  Because it was a special occasion, I decided to indulge with a large Mexican blend while my better half enjoyed a café au lait.

If you haven’t been to the Just Us flagship shop in Grand Pre, we strongly urge you to make the trip.  To be honest, we went because it was nearby when we were doing a local wineries tour.  We discovered that it far exceeded our expectations and could be a bit of a journey in itself.

“People and the Planet Before Profits”

If you go, make sure to start by getting your choice of a light, medium or dark roast.  Just Us was the first fair trade coffee retailer in Nova Scotia.  The flagship store features a coffee museum, where you can learn about the history of coffee and the importance of fair trade.  The museum is very well done, with the information artfully displayed throughout several rooms. The exhibits detail the benefits of fair trade to coffee producers, consumers, and the planet.  There is a video and some interactive pullouts on the walls for the kids, and you can even open the doors to watch the roasters in action.  We’ve been told that there are plans to add an audio tour.

Instructions on “Cupping”…Essentially a coffee tasting tactic similar to a wine tasting.

Once you’ve taken in all of the fascinating info in the museum, head out back to check out their new vegetable garden.  While this has nothing to do with coffee, it’s still cool to see that little of the fertile Annapolis soil is being wasted.

You can also sit and enjoy your coffee in their little slice of paradise garden area.  Plenty of greenery and flowers, and several tables made of recycled materials.  Read a book, chat with friends, or simply enjoy the fresh air while sipping on some great coffee.

@DrewMooreNS

Land of Evangeline Campsite – Wolfville

14 Jun

The Land of Evangeline Campsite is at the northern end of the Grand Pré Road, past the Grand Pre National Historic Site.  It’s a pretty typical campground with both serviced and non-serviced sites, bathroom and shower facilities, an on-site store and a mini-putt.

The lots are pretty open, but in exchange…

…you get a really amazing view!

The sites are open with nothing really dividing them.  It’s pretty clear that these grounds are more for campers than tents.  Not the sort of campground that appeals to us but the redeeming qualities included the view of the sunset over the Bay of Fundy and the campgrounds’ proximity to the Grand Pré Historic Site, Domaine de Grand Pré winery and the Just Us Coffeehouse and Museum.

Site: $29-$40

Bundle of wood: $4

Shower: 4 quarters minimum*

*We were told during check in that ‘4 quarters gets you about 10 minutes’. Being eco-minded, we typically opt for a 3-5 minute shower. With this in mind, the female half of this blog made the trek to the shower area with only 2 quarters. Hoping that others can avoid our mistake.

Annapolis Valley Wines

10 Jun

Or:  The Wolfville Walking Winery Tour

After our wedding (post coming soon), we had Thursday and Friday to get in a mini-Honeymoon.  We packed the car with what we would need for a potential camping trip around Guysborough and were as far as Fall River when we found out the Rare Bird Pub isn’t open for the season yet and a B&B we were interested in checking out was fully booked.  So, we did the natural thing, and turned around in the exact opposite direction to do an impromptu winery tour in the Annapolis Valley.

It was raining and getting to mid evening so we took refuge at the Evangeline Inn and Motel just off Exit 10 to Wolfville from Hwy 101.  Full post for Evangeline Inn coming soon.  The next morning we woke to a mixed sun and cloud sky and a map of the local wineries.  Looking for a little extra adventure, we mapped out a route to walk a circuit that would bring us to five wineries in a 20km loop.  We packed our bag with water and some snacks, grabbed the camera, and set off south along Grand Pré Road to Luckett Vineyards.

Within minutes we were rewarded for our decision to hoof it, greeted with sites like this unique churchyard wall and the countless shades of green in the Annapolis countryside.  We even saw a mother bird dog fighting in the air with one of her young.  All things that we wouldn’t have been able to notice as well if we were zooming by in the car.

Luckett Vineyards (3.3km from Evangeline Inn, restaurant on-site)

We had a moment of doubt in our decision to walk when we got to the massive hill that leads to Luckett Vineyards. Our doubt disappeared immediately after stepping onto their beautiful grounds.  Pete has really done a great job here, with an inviting veranda overlooking his vines.  He even set up a London-style phone booth in the middle of the field where you can make free calls to anywhere in North America.

It costs $7 to sample five wines here.  We were torn between their L’Acadie Blanc and their Tidal Bay (see here for the significance of Tiday Bay).  Pete has been criticized for putting his vineyards on a north-facing slope, but we found it did not detract from the quality of the wines in any way.  In fact, we found all five wines set the bar for the rest of the day. We’re excited to return in the winter to try the luge that is set up between the rows during ice wine harvest season. (@petestweetsNS)

L’Acadie Certified Organic Vineyards (4.3km from Luckett Vineyards)

The next leg of our hike was on relatively flat terrain.  It took us past Gaspereau Wool (post coming soon).  The grounds of L’Acadie Vineyards are pretty modest compared to Luckett, and this was matched by the owner, Pauline’s humble attitude.  She allowed us to try two of their sparkling wines for free, both of which were crisp and delightful.  The 2010 Vintage Cuvée slightly edged out the 2009 Vintage Cuvée Rosé.

While we were enjoying them, she told us about how she and her husband came across Canada from B.C. in a camper with the intent of setting up a vineyard in Nova Scotia and lived for a month on the beach while looking for the right land.  You can tell this is a labour of love for them, both in the way she spoke and in how the wine tasted. (@lacadiewine)

Gaspereau Vineyards (2.3km from L’Acadie Vineyards)

Next we set out for Gaspereau, taking us across the river of the same name (we hear there is great tubing here).  Our prize for reaching the halfway point of our journey was a free sampling of six of Gaspereau Vineyards’ impressive wines.

The girl working there asked us our wine preferences and took care to describe how each wine might appeal to us.  Her job was made easy by the quality of their wine.  There wasn’t one we didn’t like.  In the end, we went with their Marechal Fosh. (@gaspereauwines)

Muir Murray Estate Winery (5.8km from Gaspereau Vineyards, restaurant on-site)

The next leg to Muir Murray Winery was our longest so we broke it up with lunch at Paddy’s Brew Pub in Wolfville.  After the killer hill leading into town, we needed the break and the food.  We’ve covered Paddy’s before, but their new local focus on their menu made us update our post, so check it out here.

This was the part of our trip where we were really happy with our decision to walk.  By car, you would reach Muir Murray from downtown Wolfville along the Evangeline Trail.  On foot, we were able to step off the main road and take the Old Dyke Road along the water.  Our muscles and spirits were recharged walking on top of the old Acadian dyke, among tall blowing grass along the Bay of Fundy.  We saw several other pedestrians, both human and canine, and cyclists to boot.

Before long, we reached the yellow buildings of Muir Murray, and stepped inside to cool off.  Maybe it was because we’d been walking all day, but by this point we were preferring whites to reds.  However, it was their Atlantic Shore Rosé that stood out, especially when it was mentioned that it would make a great sangria.  Here we were able to each try three wines for free.  So we shared six! (@muirmurraywine)

A newborn kitten from one of the mama cats at Muir Murray.

An Ox enroute to the next winery

Domaine de Grand Pré (2.4 km from Muir Murray Estate Winery, restaurant on-site)

Our final winery of the day was Domaine de Grand Pré, and I really have to say, we saved the best for last.  Grand Pré stood out from these five for a few reasons.  Of the three that had Tidal Bay, this one was the best.  In fact, overall they had the best wine selection of the day.  Also, their grounds are spectacular.  It felt like we were on a Tuscan villa, and we would love to return to dine at their restaurant.  Finally, we enjoyed going downstairs to check out their wine museum.  Here we tried seven wines for $7, with their Tidal Bay and their Muscat coming out on top amongst stiff competition.  We were affably hosted by Catherine and Cacilia Stutz, wife of the winemaker. (@grandprewines)

A beautiful spot for some summer dining outside of the on-site restaurant Le Caveau

From here we only had 300m to return to the Evangeline Inn.  If you choose to retrace our path, we strongly urge to go in the same direction.  This will leave the shortest leg of the trip for the end, and make it easy for you to buy a bottle at Grand Pré to take with you.  We also suggest you consider cycling.