Part 2 following on from A New Brunswick Culinary Road Trip: Starting at Saint John [Part 1]
That brisk sea breeze off the Bay of Fundy is enough to clear all cobwebs and signs of jet lag. I was up early the next day and on my way. Headed to Saint Andrews by the Sea with a pit stop by the beach, and for some fried clams. It can be hard to get me out of my bed in the morning especially with jet lag, but not when there is an early lunch of fried clams on the immediate horizon.
Saint John to New River Beach
About a half hour drive out of Saint John lies New River Beach. A gorgeous stretch of coastline, all sandy beach and bright blue ocean and sky. A paddle in the ocean before a feed of fried clams (and other gorgeous fried things) is a joyful thing. The clams were at Ossie’s Lunch. A small diner at the side of the road with lots of picnic tables where you can tuck in outside.
Fried Clams at Ossie’s Lunch
Entering its 61st season, Ossie’s Lunch was opened in 1957 by Osborne and Roseanna Waite and is still going strong under new owner Shawn Saulnier. Roseanna still works there on occasion, as does her daughter Angela. You probably don’t know – I didn’t – that New Brunswickers LOVE fried clams and places like Ossie’s Lunch are packed on public holidays and in season.
Everything is local here. Fresh haddock, scallops and clams from the Bay of Fundy, and homemade rolls to go with their soups and chowders. Angela allowed me in the kitchen to observe and it was there that I upped my order immediately. Everything is so fresh and fried with great care. I love to watch a cook who loves what they do and who cooks with precision using tips and tricks that have been handed down. A tray bearing a heavy load of fried battered scallops and clams and haddock arrived (don’t worry, I shared!). That sea air had cleared my head and whet my appetite. It was all so-very-good, of course it was.
Saint Andrews by the Sea
On then to Saint Andrews by the Sea, another half an hour drive. Saint Andrews by the Sea is a prey small seaside town across the water from Maine in the US. Brightly coloured wood houses perch next to lobster shops looking out over the water. My first stop was at The Rossmount Inn, an 18 guest room manor house just outside town run by Chef Chris Aerni and his wife Graziella. Set on an 87 acre estate set between the forest and the sea, The Rossmount Inn estate is also home to Chamcook Mountain, the highest point in the area, and there are maps available for hikes offering incredible views.
Kitchen Garden, Seashore Foraging and Dinner at the Rossmount Inn
People travel here not just for the hotel and the estate but also to eat – many of them locals who travel here for a treat – and it books up well in advance. At the back of the hotel, just outside the kitchen door is a beautiful kitchen garden which supplies the kitchen with much of its produce in season. This is supplemented by food from local growers, farmers and fishermen, along with much foraged from the seashore by Chris and his team. I accompanied him on a forage of the seashore, which unsurprisingly given it is on the Atlantic was very similar to the one that I grew up on, but I still learned some things. Always learning!
When it was time for dinner we had some wine on the deck as the sun went down and then enjoyed an excellent meal which blended local ingredients and classic cooking with contemporary twists. I started with fun Clamato oyster shooters (have you had a Caesar?), which was followed by a sublime lobster cocktail with beetroot and celeriac remoulade. For the main course, I had yellowfin tuna with chia seed and black peppercorn crust. I never thought of using chia seed in this way, it is a lovely gluten-free alternative, and as with things like this, an improvement on a breadcrumb crust. Also on the menu was a butter poached naked lobster with Parisienne gnocchi and lobster brandy reduction.
A Kitchen Garden set in a 27 Acre Botanical Garden at Savour by the Sea
Nearby is Savour in the Garden where Chef Alex Haun focuses his menu around his kitchen garden which is set in 27 acres of Botanical Gardens. the cooking here is very precise and bright and a celebration of all things local with dishes like Potato Pancake with Salmon Gravlax, 63C egg, Acadian caviar, lemon garlic emulsion and cat tail pearls. 89% of the ingredients that night were sourced locally and detailed in a map that accompanied the menu.
We started with a bright scallop ceviche with nasturtium and lemon confit served in the shell which set the tone for what would be a light, bright and contemporary menu (see photos for details). Alex is definitely one to watch
Whale Watching on the Bay of Fundy and a Lobster Lunch
Whale watching on the Bay of Fundy is a lovely experience even if you are one of the 5% that doesn’t see them. We saw many porpoises and in general it was a beautiful way to spend the morning, departing shrouded in mist and arriving back in sunshine. The most commonly sighted whales on the Bay of Fundy are the Humpback Whale, Minke Whale, and Finback Whale. There is a small chance you might see the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, White-beaked Dolphins, Sei Whales and Pilot Whales too.
Arriving back we stopped for lunch at Spear’s just on the boardwalk. An excellent spot for a local lobster lunch (other options are available like local oysters and crab). You can order a full lobster picnic here, a lobster croissant, have your lobster steamed or buy it live to cook at home.
With thanks to Tourism New Brunswick who sponsored my trip. All editorial is my own.
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