Pat and David

California vermouth? T.W. Hollister answers, Of course!

California vermouth? T.W. Hollister answers, Of course!

You'd have to be living under a rock not to know that vermouth (or vermut) is having a moment, both in Spain and the U.S. Our own history with fortified wine muddled with botanicals and aged in a barrel goes back a few decades when Lillet was still hip in certain suburban settings. We were quite taken with the ice-cold, slightly sweet and bitter aperitif when the late, great mystery and suspense writer Andrew Coburn poured us some on his back deck one evening. He'd picked up the habit on the French set of Un dimanche de flic, a film adaptation of his novel, Off Duty. Lillet is not vermouth, but they are kissing cousins. In today's vermouth fever, almost any aromatized wine passes muster...Read More
Contour Pinot Noir hits sweet spot for casual red

Contour Pinot Noir hits sweet spot for casual red

When the calendar advances to September, our appetites go “click.” Immediately we start craving fall dishes that cry out for red wine. So we're already on the hunt for this year's house red. Ideally, we want a bottle with the fortitude to stand up to fall flavors—at a price suitable for everyday drinking. And because we usually drink white wine, we'd like it to display soft tannins and restrained alcohol. Give us this day our daily red. Contour Pinot Noir 2017 is a contender this year. This vintage tones down the high alcohol of previous years, coming in at 13.8%. That's still nearly two points higher than an entry-level negociant Burgundy, but it does add a nice sweet note. (Around 14%, alcohol can masquerade as...Read More
New Brunswick heritage sweets: Ganong Chocolates

New Brunswick heritage sweets: Ganong Chocolates

[caption id="attachment_6734" align="alignright" width="458"] Staff at Ganong's shop are cheerful as kids in a candy store. [/caption]As we drove home from Saint John, we couldn't resist stopping in Saint Stephen, Canada's self-proclaimed “Chocolate Town.” Located on the banks of the Saint Croix River about 75 miles west of Saint John, the town is home to Ganong Chocoaltier, Canada's oldest family-owned chocolate company (73 Milltown Blvd., St. Stephen, NB; 506-465-5611; ganong.com). In 1999, Ganong opened a Chocolate Museum to tell their story. It's located behind their large storefront candy shop in downtown Saint Stephen. The company was founded in 1873 by two brothers of French Huguenot descent. “Chicken Bones,” their signature sweet of hard cinnamon candy filled with bittersweet chocolate, debuted in 1885. Ganong claims to...Read More
Sturgeon from caviar to smoked to kebabs

Sturgeon from caviar to smoked to kebabs

[caption id="attachment_6694" align="aligncenter" width="916"]As the great sturgeon repast was being readied, we relaxed with some wine and this charcuterie board of sturgeon pâté, smoked shortnose sturgeon (rear), smoked Atlantic sturgeon, and puffed sturgeon cartilage—much like pork rinds.[/caption] A big part of the “safari” experience is the languorous luncheon that follows the harvest expedition. Cornel Ceapa and his wife, Dorina, had everything ready to cook when we returned from the river (see previous post). [caption id="attachment_6709" align="alignright" width="416"] About a zillion three-day-old sturgeon hatchlings swim in a tank at Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar.[/caption]But first we toured the hatchery, where zillions of newly hatched sturgeon swam in huge white tanks and hundreds of juvenile and adult shortnose sturgeon coursed in others. Ceapa hatches both Atlantic sturgeon and...Read More
Stalking the wild Atlantic sturgeon

Stalking the wild Atlantic sturgeon

Cornel Ceapa (above left) knows his sturgeon. He earned a PhD in sturgeon biology from a university in his native Romania. He studied sevruga sturgeon, an overfished species that is critically endangered and on the verge of extinction. Now a Canadian citizen living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Ceapa is determined that the Atlantic sturgeon will not suffer the same fate. His company, Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar, Inc.(www.acadian-sturgeon.com/en), operates one of the last wild commercial sturgeon fisheries in the world. It also restocks the Saint John River with hatchery fish. The company's sturgeon meat appears on high-end menus in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, and small amounts (along with caviar) are available at Saint John fishmongers. The caviar can also be ordered (in Canada only) directly...Read More
Britt’s Pub & Eatery: good bet to quaff and dine

Britt’s Pub & Eatery: good bet to quaff and dine

We sometimes do a presentation that we call “How to Get a Good Meal Anywhere in the World.” We like to think that we've learned a few things over the years that can help guide folks to good food at a fair price. But we ignored some of our own advice one evening in Saint John, New Brunswick. We selected a restaurant more for its location in a popular, touristy area than we did for the menu. We did have a lovely time sitting by the harbor at sunset and enjoyed the local Idol-like talent contest taking place on an outdoor stage. But the food was disappointing. And we'd missed an opportunity to see what a better kitchen might turn out. Fortunately we were able...Read More
Moosehead: Saint John’s very own brewery

Moosehead: Saint John’s very own brewery

Ever since Molson merged with Coors and Anheuser-Busch gobbled up Labatt, Canadians have been hard-pressed to buy a truly Canadian mass-market beer. That is, unless they drank Moosehead, which proudly proclaims that it's the last major brewery still owned by Canadians. The great-great-great grandson of founder Susannah Oland, who launched the business in 1867, remains at the helm of Moosehead Breweries. Andrew Oland's family has steered the operation through fires, the Halifax explosion, Prohibition, two world wars, the Great Depression, and trade barriers. Although the company launched in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it's been part of the Saint John scene for more than a century. We knew Moosehead (89 Main Street West, Saint John, NB; 506-635-7000, ext. 5568, moosehead.ca) from the nicely balanced, crisp Moosehead Lager...Read More
Tap into local creativity at Saint John’s Night Market

Tap into local creativity at Saint John’s Night Market

We made a point of being in Saint John, New Brunswick, on a Thursday so that we could check out the “Night Market” that was launched this year. From spring through summer, a group of about 20 crafters, bakers, and food makers lay out their wares on the south side of the Saint John City Market building. As we cruised the pedestrian street, we couldn't help but marvel at the variety within the small group of vendors. There was, of course, a food truck with fish and chips. Friendly women proudly offered their family's food specialties from as near as the Acadian peninsula or as far as Madagascar. One couple worked as quickly as they could to fill Spanish-style churros with chocolate or caramel sauce...Read More
Auspicious beginnings at East Coast Bistro

Auspicious beginnings at East Coast Bistro

A New Brunswick friend had given us a list of her favorite restaurants in Saint John, but her list was longer than our projected stay. So when places began to open for dinner, we walked around and poked our heads inside. We know better than to judge a place on looks, but we were smitten with the design of East Coast Bistro (60 Prince William St., Saint John; 506-696-EAST, eastcoastbistro.com). Clearly, so were a lot of folks who posted online impressions about the clean lines, brick walls, and fine photography. But the menu was what won us over. It wasn't especially long or unusual, but it was clearly built around local products and made nice use of Maritime provinces seafood. We were hooked. Chef-owners Tim...Read More
Saint John City Market reveals the city’s foodways

Saint John City Market reveals the city’s foodways

One of the first places we visit when we arrive in a new city is the public market. Sure, we're curious about what's in season, what the fishermen are catching, and what local food specialties we might discover. But it's more than that. People who make a living nurturing their neighbors are among the friendliest folk you could hope to meet. We always feel welcomed and at home after spending some time chatting with food market vendors. That's why we found ourselves in the Saint John City Market (http://www.sjcitymarket.ca) on the first morning of a short trip to this small New Brunswick city. Given the hour, we made our first stop at Uptown Donuts, where Melissa Whiting from Grand Bay, New Brunswick, has been brightening...Read More