In our commitment to casually lean against every grapevine we stumble upon and then print all the goss that’s fit to ip, we have a little follow-up to our first batch of babble and gabble. That was quick, huh?
Tagged: nova scotia Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts
This summer I decided I wanted to open a camp—a Crystal Lake-minus-the-murders style camp—called Camp Firewood. Ok, so I decided I wanted to pretend that I wanted to open a camp. I’m not going to open a camp. But if you spend any time driving around rural PEI, you’ll understand why my fancy ended up with a bit of a tickle: basically every single roadside sign advertising firewood for sale has “CAMP FIREWOOD” on a piece of plywood in a hand-painted all-caps scrawl. They may think they’re just selling logs, but what they’re selling is the wet, hot Canadian dream of a rustic campground franchise.
Camp Firewood came to life for me a little bit this week down at the Land of Evangeline Campground in Grand Pré, not far from Wolfville. The 2012 Canadian Chef’s Congress rolled into town only to unroll dozens of sleeping bags, pitch a village full of tents and basically go nuts. A flag for the Congress was planted at the top of the campground. The stiff, wrinkled sheet was taped awkwardly to a spindly pole looking for all the world like a project taken from a summer camp arts and crafts cabin and thrust into the ground to declare the birth of a new nation in some kind of a Lord of the Flies fit. Luckily for everybody involved, the only Piggy in sight was the one that they roasted for tonight’s dinner.
Recently, I listened to my favourite food radio show Bien Dans Son Assiette (Plug: it’s worth learning French just for this program, Monday – Friday, 8pm AST) dedicate a whole hour of prime time to the oyster. What an idea!
David McMillan, one of the owners of Montreal’s popular Joe Beef restaurant, talked oyster quality, name dropped many brands, and shucked oysters.
The show got me thinking.
We have quality oysters in Halifax, just not a wide variety of them. Most are local. Really local. Maybe too local. In this case, the 100 mile stance isn’t worth it. We sit on the doorstep of greatness – we have to include more New Bruswick and PEI oysters on our menus.
Rowan Jacobsen wrote a must-read book (if you are into oysters) called Geography of Oysters. Aside from being nearly comprehensive, he lists a dozen oysters to acquaint yourself with. Three of them are close to Halifax: Beausoleil (NB), Colville Bay (PEI) and Glidden Point (Maine).
Question: why don’t I often see many of those oyster brands here? Before I continue my complaint, let me tell you what we do have and where you can get them.
They say that on the path of life, you often end up back where you started. In the case of Jody Nelson, that’s very true. The former Albertan started her life on a farm, moved to get away from it, and now finds herself with her hands in the dirt once more, albeit this time in Nova Scotia. Nelson and her husband, along with their two kids – run Localmotive Farm just outside of Stewiacke. In between picking food for their CSA and running a farm, Jody sat down to talk to Passable.
Squashes from Localmotive website
What is your connection to farming?
I grew up on a small, family beef farm in Northern Alberta. As a little girl, I knew that the best tasting carrots were the ones that still had a bit of fresh dirt on them. In my youth I spent many years getting far, far away from my hometown. I never imagined that I would end up where I started: at the end of a gravel road, on a little farm built out of nothing.
How does it feel to come full circle?
Pretty startling. The older I get , the more I realize how consistent we all are. Not to sound cliché, but you can’t escape who you are or where you come from. It has been a full circle, but this farm bears no resemblance to my family’s farm. For one, I am far away from my extended family, which can be pretty isolating. I grew up among a throng of cousins. That just doesn’t exist for us here. We are also smaller and more intensive than my family’s farm. We are only using one acre to supply a 53 member CSA, a small farmer’s market, and us. The “us” has gotten much larger these days, which is also a difference from my roots. We have taken on many WWOOFers (people who Work World Wide On Organic Farms) and apprentices over the last couple of years. I have loved opening our doors to all sorts of interesting people. It sort of compensates for the lack of family nearby.
Sometimes, it seems like you were meant to be somewhere.
Martin McGurk and Gordon Tingley were meant to live in Nova Scotia. After having lived in Vancouver, the couple moved to Bear River, Nova Scotia and started Sledding Hill Farms. The duo have become known for growing and selling lavender, especially lavender products, such as lavender sugar and jellies. Passable sat down with Martin a little while back.
Image courtesy of Sledding Hill Farms
First, tell me how you ended up living in Bear River?
We both enjoy gardening and being close to nature. We wanted a sizeable portion of land that we could farm. We found the lifestyle we wanted was financially out of reach in BC’s lower mainland. We started looking in the Maritimes because Gord has roots in Saint John, NB and is an Acadia University alumnus. He was familiar with the favourable growing conditions for a wide variety of crops here in NS. We started with a wide property search, but in the end, the property we found in Bear River ticked all the boxes.
What was it about the place that made you want to be there?
We looked at a number of places that were for sale up and down the Annapolis Valley. In the end, the property we bought in Bear River met all our requirements and had that extra something… the village just felt right. It struck us right away like a lively and welcoming community that didn’t take itself too seriously. Our first impression has proven to be true.
Where does the name of the farm come from?
On May 7, I was lucky enough to attend the Slow Food Nova Scotia Spring Supper in Dartmouth. It was a church dinner of sorts, long tables running the width and length of the Christ Church hall in Dartmouth. Brown paper table coverings stamped with green leaves hinted at the Springtime theme, while rain tapped against the windows in a never-ending stream.
The night was comprised of seven courses of locally-inspired dishes prepared by some of the province’s most talented chefs, delivered with the help of some of the best servers in the city, who were kind enough to help out on a Saturday night. The meal was served to a crowd seated family-style, and I was lucky enough to sit near Ruth Daniels, blogger-extraordinaire from Once Upon a Feast, and Margo Riebe-Butt, one of the members of the Board at Slow Food NS. Great conversation added to the great atmosphere. Michael Howell—President of Slow Food NS, chef/owner of Wolfville’s Tempest World Cuisine, and one of the participating chefs—took some time to tell me a bit about the dinner and the idea behind it.
Photos by Kim Keitner
Jeanita and Rick Rand work hard.
They are the brains and the muscle behind Fox Hill Farm and Cheese House. Their cheese and milk products have been served to the Queen, won awards, and are gobbled up by Nova Scotians on a daily basis. Jeanita found a few moments to sit down and answer a few questions for a Passable Interview.
How did Fox Hill Cheese come about?
Fox Hill Cheese House came about in 2002 when our son decided he wanted to farm. It forced us to look very seriously at our financial picture; our cash flow wasn’t great because of the various infrastructure changes we had made to the farm over the years. My husband is the entrepreneur and always wanted to add value to our milk to make cheese, yogurt and ice cream. Late on a Sunday evening in 2002, an elderly lady knocked on our door and asked if we were the people that wanted to make cheese. She knew of a cheese maker going out of business and connected us. This was the beginning of our journey into cheese making. In 2006 we added natural yogurt to our product base and then in 2007 gelato ice cream. All products are made from Foxhill milk.
Every time I show someone a quince, they almost always give me the same look (befuddlement) and ask the same question (“What is it?”). But on rare occasions, someone will know what it is, smile, and tell me how their grandmother would make jellies with this strange, hard fruit.
The quince is an old fruit, and is rumoured to be the mythic golden apple of Greek myths and the Fruit Of Knowledge that is named in the Old Testament. The quince is indeed old and ancient, and its secrets can be unyielding to an impatient and unwilling cook. If you were to bite into a raw quince, it would immediately suck all the saliva out of your mouth, as it is highly astringent, almost tannic in its raw state. It is this lack of preparedness that may have made the quince fall out of favor for home chefs over the last hundred years. It is a fruit made for preserving. Quinces are high in natural pectins, and were often used in making preserves. In fact, the term “marmalade”, originally meant a type of quince jelly or jam. The portugese term for the fruit, marmelo, belies its gastronomic and etymological secret; “melo” meaning honey, as it is indeed a sweet and fragrant fruit that smells of honey.
Two years ago, Natalie Smith and her husband Paul bought 50 acres of land on Roberts Island, just outside of Yarmouth. They had lived in Ontario and Michigan, but wanted something different. The former tech geek who had worked for Motorola and AT&T found herself pulling weeds, growing veggies the local population had never seen, and starting the first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in Yarmouth County, along with several other farmers, called The Yarmouth Food Basket Guild. The CSA is now supplying locally produced food baskets for customers in the area, 17 at last count, but for Smith, this is only the beginning.
Photos via Natalie Smith
Lezlie Lowe is a foodie.
She is also, among many things, a teacher, a mom and a journalist.
Those three things play a role in her being a foodie. In our last post, we spoke with Lezlie about the beginnings of her relationship with food, and her family’s relationship with food. Here, Lezlie talks about how her work as a journalist fed into her world as a foodie.