Sunday, June 21, 2009

Random Research from Newfoundland, Part II: Foods and Fred’s

Cont'd from Part I: A Baker's Dozen

Sitting in the Halifax airport and waiting to board our plane, which is emblazoned with the Maple Leaf and is bound for Boston, my wife unwraps a Maple Nut Clif Bar.

Smell this, she says.

“I don’t like maple,” I say, scrunching up my nose.

“What kind of Canadian spy are you?” she says.

The kind that likes maple syrup on his pancakes but not as a primary flavor in a nutrition bar or as frosting on a donut. And the kind that waits until he has outwitted the authorities —again—to file his findings.

Here then, is the second installment—a baker’s dozen sequel to
Part I—of a two-part report.
1. Best Fish Sandwich: Chaffe’s Landing, Petty Harbour
The AMHL Photographer loved the lightly-bread cod, which the proprietor himself had caught that morning.

2. Best Record Store: Fred’s, St. John’sNo offense to O’Briens, which we’ve never visited, but Fred’s has the welcoming purple storefront, a friendly staff, ample space and selection, and about a half dozen preview stations.

3. Best CD I Bought: Tarahan, Tarahan’s Town
The CD cover, which depicts the Kool-Aid coloured (proposed new flavours: Cheery Cherry, Guffaw Grape, and Laugh-Out-Loud Lime) row houses for which St. John’s is famous, attracted me. Then, the balance buoyed by the bands’ own well-crafted lyrics and splendid renditions of a U2 classic and Newfoundland favourite, hooked me.

4. Best CD I Didn’t Buy: Donnie Dumphy, I Loves Doing Wheelies
Donnie Dumphy’s I Loves Doing Wheelies first commanded my attention as we walked by the announcement (nailed to a telephone pole) of his CD release. His lyrics were, in the words of the AMHL Photographer, “disturbingly catchy.” I liked the album’s title and the cover shot, but the songs were not my cup of Tetley.

5. Best Non-Red Green Pun: Just Desserts
Red Green, the hockey-loving redneck with the Irish-invoking surname, delivered a couple doozies as part of the “Possum Drop” episode, which airs on the CBC (and PBS in the states), but the raspy-voiced rascal’s puns would take to long to explain here. Channeling the Canadian punmaster as I walked past the vacated Just Desserts shop, I said, “It looks deserted.” (“I knew you were going to say that,” my wife replied. “I knew, on some level, you were going to say that.)

6. Best Senior Hockey Team: Clarenville Caribous
Caribou or Caribous? Doesn’t matter what collective noun you use. This team of adult hockey players won the Herder by beating the Conception Bay Cee Bees.

7. Best New Donut at Tim Hortons: The Key Lime
The aroma reaches the olfactory system before the taste buds can take over. I normally don’t go for the filled donuts—too messy—but the sour power of this tangy treat was too much to resist.

8. Best Place to Re-tell Ghost Stories: O’Reilly’s, St. John’s
You need only find a friendly off-duty employee and a bouncer/folklore major.

9. Best Place to See a Ghost: Queen’s Street in St. John’s
I double dog dare you to take the Haunted Hike with Doug Jarvis; follow that up by reading his book; and then—the next night—take a solo tour of Queen’s Road.

10. Best Getaway for a Gluten-free Snack
At The Bookery, you’ll satisfy not only your sweet tooth but will also be beset by beguiling books (many that you won’t necessarily find at Chapters or Borders). I recommend losing yourself in the literary realm for as long as you need, and then enjoying your newfound treasure with an almond cranberry pastry and a white tea.

11. Best Recommendation We Didn’t Follow
The Caribou Burger at Aqua, recommended by The Bookery’s proprietor, sounded tasty. But on our last night in Newfoundland, this Canadian spy opted to keep a low profile.

12. Best Salad in St. John’s
In a province where flavorful fruit and crunchy vegetables are difficult to keep fresh, the YellowBelly Brewery and Public House offers just that. Orange wedges, curly-qued carrot shavings, cranberries, and leafy greens—mix in pecans and drip in maple vinaigrette—and you’ve got a colourful and crunchy salad that’s anything but cowardly.

13. Best Food and Service
At Pasta Plus Café on Water Street, you’ll find a wide variety of temping creations. My favorite is the baked Mac ‘n’ Cheese (go the extra kilometer and add chicken for three bucks). And if you’re lucky, your waiter will be as earnest and friendly as Matthew Hornell.