All posts filed under: Canada


A Food Lovers Road Trip in Nova Scotia: Halifax to Pictou

This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Coming soon: road tripping in Cape Breton with all the lobster! The photo above is from the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. If it were possible to unravel the coastline of Nova Scotia, it is said that it would stretch across Canada. This can’t be true when you look at the map but it is indicative of the length of coastline that there is to explore of the Eastern Canadian province and it makes for a terrific road trip. Almost an island, but not quite, the coast line of Nova Scotia clinging on to the side of Canada, almost like a hinge.  I love Nova Scotia, I have been several times to see friends. I love the easy charm of the place, the friendly people, the vibrant local wines (particularly the sparkling and white wines) and the produce. It reminds me so much of home, yet it is different. The accent is similar yet different. The seafood is so good. Lobster and scallops are in abundance …


Christmas in Nova Scotia, A Quick Stop in Montreal & Hello 2016!

Good morning, everyone! And Happy New Year. I hope you had a very good break, if you managed to take one.  I am so excited about 2016. I will finally publish my next tome, Project Bacon. It has been a forever friend and sometimes frenemy. As you know, I made the decision to self publish it and kickstart it. I don’t regret that, but life intervened and there have been several (at times, crushing) delays. But now, after an intense end to 2015, I feel I am almost at the top of the hill. And I can’t wait for you to see it. Project Bacon Recipe Photo Previews :)  My Kickstarter backers have had lots of recipe previews, and design and photography previews too. I will share some here with you soon, and there will be a limited amount available to buy when they go to press. So, keep an eye out for those. Now that the book is almost done, I will have lots more time here, and lots more freedom for other projects. …


Great Train Journeys: Over the Canadian Rockies from Banff to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer

Mountaineering? No, that is not for me. Unless of course you mean Rocky Mountaineering through the Canadian Rockies with an old school dining car and upper level viewing car to soak it all in? Well, yes, of course! That is a different thing.  My journey started in Banff at 6am at the end of September, and a sharp -2 deg C. That day would take me through the Rockies in late Autumn, with its turning leaves, cascading waterfalls and rushing rivers. We were headed towards Kamloops heralded by the bright early Autumn sky and the crisp sharp air. I boarded the mountaineer, greeted by cheerful hosts at dawn, the sky dressed to match with a splash of pink ribbon light. I was excited, I adore trains and slow travel and I was allowing myself a couple of days to just be. How rare is that? For the next two days, that Rocky Mountaineer carriage would be my world. All travel on the Rocky Mountaineer is in daylight so that you can absorb and appreciate the views. In …


A Postcard from Canada (Alberta -> British Colombia -> Nova Scotia)

Greetings lovely readers! I have just returned from an 18 day trip exploring Canada. It was pretty epic, starting in Alberta (Calgary & Banff), moving to BC (Vancouver & the Okanagan) and finishing in Nova Scotia (Halifax & Cape Breton mainly). Here is a little postcard – enjoy! Back soon with recipes, stories and details. I had less than a day in Calgary but I did it justice in the time visiting Pigeonhole, The Nash, Corbeaux Bakehouse, the Yellow Door Bistro and Charcut. I also managed a little spice shopping in the wonder that is the Silk Road Spice Shop. The food scene in Calgary is thriving and has been growing enthusiastically for the last 5 years. As is common now there was lots of local sourcing, cocktails are popular and well executed. Calgary is inland and is famous for beef, but there are interesting takes on fish too. Did you know that there are cowboys in Calgary? Yeah, and one of the worlds largest rodeos! Boutique bitters are a thing, and there are lots of interesting …

Waterford Lane, in St John's Newfoundland

Hunting Down the Waterford Blaa in Newfoundland (and a recipe for you to make it at home)

Do I need to reintroduce you to the blaa? I probably do. The humble bread roll from Waterford, it is fluffy, square and white with a flour crust, and we are a little obsessed with it. It is thought that it came to Waterford with the Huguenots who called it blanc (because it was a simple white roll), but with our accent and a little time to erode it, it became a blaa. It is a simple bread, slightly sweet with a little sugar and fluffy with a little butter. Allowed to rise slowly, it is the perfect vehicle for our traditional (and my favourite) chicken and stuffing sandwich. Also, for the occasional tayto (cheese & onion) crisp sandwich with butter to cushion the crisp. There used to be 60 bakeries in Waterford that baked the blaa, and it never really left it. You never used to see the blaa anywhere else. This has changed recently, in no small part due to the efforts of the remaining bakers, now only 4, who are trying to …

A Postcard from Niagara

I am working backwards, feeling slightly justified as I am still in Canada, even if I am writing about it the wrong way round. But hey, you have come to expect that now, haven’t you?! I am a mite passionate about wine. I love the stuff, and I love to visit vineyards, do tastings, and explore the wine culture of any country I visit that has one. I am in awe, and worried for, people that can deny themselves wine and/or pasta. Why? Just, why? Life is short, bring the joy, and buckets of wine and shovel loads of (great) pasta. Carbonara or tagliatelle with ragu for me please! With a gutsy delicious wine. Several Canadian provences make wine, and I have visited a few, the Okanagan, Nova Scotia and Niagara. My trip to Toronto was short, just 3 days, and I devoted one of these to a trip to Niagara for a little explore. Niagara (famous for the falls) is also a well established wine region, producing some excellent wines including ice wine. I visited …

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 3]

Yesterday, I wrote a post extolling the virtues of a little sleep. This morning, or rather this afternoon, following far too little sleep and an overnight flight from Victoria via Vancouver, I am a shell. Restless legs are my permanent accomplice. I don’t even have the mind to cook. I need to sleep. But not yet, I want to write first. The past 9 days in British Columbia flew by and I am left with such a positive impression. What I saw was food with such integrity, and people preparing it and serving it who really cared. They care about the provenance of their ingredients, not just because it is trendy, but because it is good. They care about sustainability both in fishing and agriculture / viticulture. The cooking and execution, in the main was great too. These pictures are from Tuesday, when I visited terrific Whole Beast Meats who use the whole pig carcass and make lots of charcuterie, bacons etc. I then travelled to Salt Spring Island in the Gulf Islands between the …

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 2]

Good morning folks! Doesn’t some sleep make the biggest difference? I felt at the end of my tether last night. I woke up thinking “oh my god, won’t that guy just stop talking about that toaster?!”. In my dream someone was talking incessantly about one. Only I quickly realised that the guy was on TV and had thus invaded my sleepy head. I fell asleep with the TV on. I am off this morning to Salt Spring Island with Island Time Tours (who I also travelled with yesterday). A wonderful day lies ahead. For now, and for you, the second part of my photo post. I decided to make it three as I had too many to squeeze in here. So, come back tomorrow for the finale.

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 1]

I have so many things that I wanted to write about, and I had planned to today. After a day of visiting vineyards and then an evening editing photos I am all out of energy. Rather than write something dull and uninteresting and lacking any passion, I thought I would share some of my photos from the trip with you instead. There are some I really love, and not all would actually fit in with any post I might write. I have taken hundreds. This is the first of two posts. Enjoy, and I will be back soon with the next photo post and then some lovely detail. When I am a little more awake and have the energy to enjoy it. Because one thing is for sure, if I don’t enjoy writing it, you won’t enjoy reading it. Niamh


Eating Victoria: Red Fish Blue Fish

I have been in British Colombia a week now, and it has been wonderful. It has also been very busy. I have spent the last week in Vancouver doing the urban thing, in Richmond exploring Asian food, the Okanagan visiting wineries and tasting lots of (delicious) wines, and for the coming three days I am on Vancouver Island, based in Victoria. Pretty busy. So I took today, my first day in Victoria, in my stride, visiting the museum (highly recommended for the First Nations gallery alone), and wandering about, poking my head in here and there, taking turns that would take me somewhere I didn’t know, and in general following my nose. Exactly how I like to travel. My nose brought me to Red Fish, Blue Fish. A local and modern interpretation of the humble fish and chip shop, in a shipping container by the harbour. A few people had mentioned it on twitter, so I had a look. The menu was everything I have come to expect of one on the West Coast. Vibrant, …

Some Toronto Food Highlights: Part 2

My naming conventions for my Toronto posts are even confusing me now. But I wrote a Part 1 then – HAD TO, JUST HAD TO WRITE – that bacon post, which has screwed things up a little. I am back now with the second and final part of my Toronto food highlights round up. To re iterate, as it has been a little while, I was very impressed with the quality and variety of restaurants there and these are a few highlights. And their playlists! That’s a bit random I know but each one could have been playing from my iPod. There’s a strong indie buzz running through Tornto, both in fashion and music and I like it. Here you go! As soon as I get some time, I hope soon, I will publish a proper piece on my favourite places so that you can find them when you visit.

Tasting Toronto: Peameal Bacon at Carousel Bakery, St Lawrence Market

One of the many joys of travelling is discovering the hidden local food gems. Those foodstuffs that have developed there through local customs, locally grown or caught products or immigration. Everywhere has them, and Toronto has peameal bacon. The name alone is enough for me to want to take a bite – something I haven’t eaten yet – an unexplored food joy. I find I am constantly seeking new experiences and I always find that first bite a wonder. Almost always good, sometimes – and rarely – awful. Tuna Salami I am looking at you, please don’t darken my door again! It’s attributed to English influence – England at one point had a pork shortage and so imported bacon sides from Canada. I do wonder if we Irish had a hand in it though. Back bacon (which this is) is the favoured cut in Ireland, and it really reminds me of gammon. Toronto used to be called little Belfast too, and has a suburb which was once full of Cork people called Corktown. There is …

Some Toronto Food Highlights: Part 1

Toronto had a lot of great food to offer. Burrata frequented more menus than I have seen anywhere else, and there is doubtless many strong multicultural influences (Greek, Japanese, Korean to name but a few). I had several very good meals while I was there and tried as much local food and local Niagaran and Ontarian wine as I could. It was a wonderful few days. Here’s a few highlights before I board my flight back.

A Postcard from Toronto

Greetings from Toronto folks! It’s hot-hot-hot here, if you are looking for summer, we definitely have it. I’ve been having a brilliant week, firstly visiting the Niagara Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration – a huge tasting and celebration of chardonnays made at 45 latitude. Really interesting, lovely wines and lots of winemakers who are only delighted to introduce you to their wines. There was lots of great food – smoked barbecued pork chops with local peaches, ribs, pulled pork in buttermilk and corn bread, peach tarts (they’re in season!), blueberry french toast and so much more. And, those falls. Wow. Then to food in Toronto which I have been very impressed with so far. Brilliant ingredients and a simplicity and elegance in cooking and presentation has really stood out. Lots of attention is paid to seasonality and local produce. It’s all about flavour here, and they have it in spades. I have one more day here to cram lots in. So many places will have to wait until my next visit. Some photo highlights for you …

Video: Making Fiddlehead Soup & Pickling Fiddleheads (Canning) in New Brunswick, Canada

So, we picked the fiddleheads and washed them (as per the video in my last post). We then brought them back to O’Donnells Cottages and made a delicious fiddlehead soup for lunch. We preserved some of the rest and took a jar back home with us. I am saving mine for dirty fiddlehead martinis. Yes you did read right,and yes, isn’t that genius? I got the idea from a lovely lady in New Brunswick. Apologies for the camera flash in the middle of the pickling video, I didn’t spot it until I rendered it and am struck down with a chest infection so can’t face doing it again. Hope you like!


Video: Fiddlehead Foraging in New Brunswick, Canada

A fun little video for you from our fiddlehead forage in New Brunswick last weekend! Recipes and more soon. fid·dle·head [fid-l-hed] –noun 1. Nautical . a billethead having a form similar to the volute carved at the upper end of a violin. 2. the young, coiled frond of various species of ferns, eaten as a vegetable. for·age [fawr-ij, for-] 1. the act of searching for provisions of any kind. 2. to collect forage from; strip of supplies; plunder: to forage the countryside. 3. to supply with forage. 4. to obtain by foraging.

Farewell New Brunswick!

I am on my way back to London now and very sad to leave Canada behind. It was a wonderful trip, a perfect combination of catching up with old friends and doing fun things with them in Nova Scotia, to a terrific food trip around New Brunswick centred on the humble twisting fiddlehead. I need to adapt and already as I sit in the airport reality is starting to nip, deadlines are shouting at me, I am wondering about how I can do x, y & z. It’s just like Sunday night before school when you don’t want to do your homework. Hey-ho. I will miss a few things after my 2 week trip here. The people, well they are as nice as everyone says, they’re funny too! It has been lots of fun. The seafood is sensational, the lobster, mussels and scallops particularly so. I’ll miss those darn fiddleheads! I’ve taken to it here and have even started sticking an odd “eh” at the end of my sentences. I must really stop doing that …

A Postcard from New Brunswick

Greetings once again from Canada! This time from New Brunswick where I have been on a food trip. We started the weekend foraging for those fiddleheads that I love. We sped along the river to a little island where the ostrich ferns had just peeped their heads up. We snapped the heads off and bagged them for soup, dinner and jarring later. Violent, me? Only with fiddleheads. Other highlights are listed below with, as always, more details soon.

A Postcard from Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is suffering an unusual bout of grey weather and rain for this time of year so not many pictures of the landscape for you, but a small selection of some things that I liked as I made my way around. I think they capture the spirit. It’s still a superb place to visit. Like Ireland, they are used to the bad weather and so have a vibrant indoors culture. A bubbling local brewing culture and lots of vineyards pair beautifully with great local seafood. Live traditional music and jazz sits comfortably beside. Looking forward to getting back here in the summer sometime too. I would love to head up to Cape Breton and also over to Newfoundland. It has to be done, right?