blame canada

Well, not quite. But you can’t expect a trip up here to not reference all their hockey hullabaloo (and that bitch Anne Murray, too) - one of the great movie songs of all time.  We must blame them and cause a fuss – before somebody thinks of blaming us!

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a highland fling

The headlands and cliffs of Cape Breton Highlands National Park are a sight to be seen. Home to the famous Cabot Trail – Canada’s answer to Monterey’s 17-mile drive – the park on the northern tip of the island is blessed with a dramatically deciduous landscape. Completed in 1932, it joins a handful of previously isolated fishing villages along an approximate 300 km loop. Today the Trail connects eight major communities with intriguing histories, ranging from the Acadian Region, to Irish and Scottish settlements. At the tail end of the foliage season it’s almost deserted, too, which turns out to be a bonus for anyone seeking little more than silence and sweeping views.

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cabot links

I must take a minute to mention where it is I’ve been staying on Cape Breton Island: Cabot Links, Canada’s only authentic links course. And while regular readers of this site might be aware that my knowledge of and interest in golf ranks right up there with hockey, clad in cedar shingles the Lodge at Cabot Links is a beautifully modern riff on the maritime traditions of the area, with spectacular views of the beach, dunes and Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s luxurious in a low-key way; sensible - Canadian, you might say – with an attention to detail that doesn’t feel compelled to call attention to itself. The fantastic food I’ve been featuring over the last few posts has come from the in-house restaurant, Panorama, which manages to maintain a level of fine dining without feeling pretentious – an impressive achievement in a town with less than a thousand full-time residents. Were I a golfer I’d think I died and gone to heaven. It says something that even a philistine like myself can appreciate how the course – which only opened in June – looks not so much impressed upon the landscape but coaxed out of it, as though the terrain had been merely lying in wait for the right person to come along and scatter a few pins. When a planned second links course opens in 2014 you’ll be hearing a lot more about Cabot Links. And when the bunker spa opens I, too, will be back.

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half the fun of lobster is in the tools

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oysters!

I can’t imagine the saline content of the waters off Cape Breton Island because these plump oysters – from the nearby town of Mabou – are so briny as to practically demand a dash of horseradish or mignonette. Au naturale the effect is not only crisp, but bracingly delicious.

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there’s a reason they named it new scotland

I mean, duh; just look at this beautifully wild and windswept landscape in a little spit of a town called Inverness, halfway up the Northern coast of Cape Breton Island. The region’s Gaelic roots are made obvious in towns throughout the province: Antigonish, Argyle, Truro, Oxford, New Glasgow, Berwick, Colchester. Nearby Prince Edward Island might be known for its mussels but this coastline has me thinking about the prospects for a different kind of mollusk: oysters.

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i’m going on a moose hunt

Not that I’m – as the song goes – out for a kill, but I’ve escaped to our neighbors up north in Nova Scotia where I hear the moose are now in rut. So in addition to enjoying some prime leaf peeping around Cape Breton Island, I will also be keeping my eyes peeled in the hopes of witnessing a bit of locked horns. Go ahead and call me a Peeping Tom – it’s not every day you get to see live moose porn.

 

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