The end of summer? Well the real grass part.

Working late tonight. Still at the office actually.

And so, I missed my last outdoor soccer game on real grass of the summer.

In September we’re moving to play on Lamport, which has artificial turf. I’m about 60% sure that it’s still going to be outside, under the lights. But it’s not the same as real dirt and grass.

Running around on real grass is great. It smells better. It feels better. And it’s more forgiving when you fall. If you haven’t done it in a while, I highly recommend it. Preferably if you have a soccer ball and cleats to enjoy it.

Bourdain

In the past couple of weeks just finished reading both “Medium Raw” and “Kitchen Confidential” by author/cook/chef Anthony Bourdain.

Yes, I’ve read the oft-quoted “Don’t order fish on Monday” part in Confidential, and Bourdain retracts that maxim in Medium Raw saying it was essentially about a time and place and things have changed.

I don’t eat seafood, so it’s N/A to me.

But one of the most interesting parts of the book was all about seafood. The work of one man in one very high-end restaurant.

Bourdain went and spent part of a day with Justo Thomas, the man who filets and prepares fish in a restaurant called Le Bernardin in New York.

It was impressive to hear how this one one man goes through seven hundred pounds of fish. A day. Some days 1,000.

Every piece needs to be perfect. Meticulous.

Bourdain reports that it doesn’t smell of fish in the prep area. “Not even the vestigial smell of seafood you get at even the best wholesalers or Japanese fish-markets. The fish is exquisitely fresh.”

Bourdain writes, “Any piece of fish you are likely to see at your supermarket or fishmonger’s would be sniffed out and thrown away immediately here.”

While I’m not interested in eating fish, I’ve read enough by Bourdain that I’m curious to see his “Les Halles Cookbook” which I have requested from the library so I can perhaps make Steak et frites chez moi. Or at least read it and get hungry.

Eat the province.

Just had blueberries with granola and yogurt. Fresh Ontario blueberries.

I love this time of year. It’s when you can’t avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that are locally (read: provincially) grown — and not driven in from the US or Mexico. It’s great. And it tastes, better.

We start get a taste of it in June with Ontario strawberries, but it’s now when you get the blueberries and peaches and cream corn coming in that Ontario produce really hits its stride. I know there’s a sweet spot for Ontario asparagus, but I think that was earlier as well.

Okay, still hungry. So I’ll continue to eat breakfast and stop blogging about eating.

Some trip stats/lists

Total number of days travelled: 16

Total provinces visited: 5 (Ont, Que, PEI, NS, NB)

Vehicle: 2011 Chev Impala

The car says averaged 8.5L/100 km. (That could be the average of the entire life of the car.)

Total distance travelled on trip: 5261 km.

Top 3 favourite hotels:

1. Number One Grafton Street, Charlottetown PEI: The perfect stay. Great breakfasts, great decor, great location, and great hosts. Drawbacks? That the Grafton experience isn’t available in every city you stay in.

2. Chocolate Lake Best Western, Halifax, NS: Relaxing. Right on a lake. Inviting. Unpretentious. Drawbacks? Just that it’s not downtown. But then again, it’s great because it isn’t. The roundabout to get there is rather tricky too (but that’s not the hotel’s fault.)

3. Hotel 71. Quebec City: Amazing shower. Modern decor in old Quebec. New (so it’s not musty like some other old town hotels.) Drawbacks? Windows don”t open to let in the outside air.

Top 3 favourite dinners:

1. Gahan House, Charlottetown PEI.

2. Il Mercato, Halifax NS.

3. Portofino, Quebec QC.

Honorable mention to the Keg in Moncton. You can count on the Keg to get your steak right. And an honourable appetizer mention to the house dressing at Grubstake restaurant in Louisbourg, NS. And a location honourable mention to the Sou’Wester at Peggy’s Cove.

Top 3 favourite lunches:

1. Fortress of Louisbourg: lunches on both days. 18th Century Yum.

2.  Leonhard’s, Charlottetown PEI. Yummy. Quaint.

3. Le Lapin Saute, Quebec PQ. Not for the food, but for its location, which was great.

Honourable mention goes to the picnic lunch in the park in Edmundston NB, and the double dipping-sauce of the St. Hubert in Cornwall.

Best breakfasts:

1., 2., and 3.:  Number One Grafton Street. We stayed 4 days so they’ve earned all three, and even the 4th spot. And if you count the treats that the hosts’ sent us away with, well, that might even qualify for number 5.

Worst shirtless guy: The guy  in a Cape Breton convenience store who was wearing pyjama bottoms with a questionable elastic waistband, checking his lottery tickets really early in the morning.

Best customer service at a store: The clerk in Boucherville who let me know I was entitled to a free cd.

Best $2 we spent on the trip: The “Men’s Grab Bag” I bought at Peggy’s Harbour. It contained a random sea-scene coffee mug, a seagull keychain, a robin/cardinal made of wood, a sandstone beaver that was carved in China, a “Canada” travel alarm clock (“battery not included”), and a “Dartmouth Nova Scotia” ash tray with pictures of seagulls on it.

Best t-shirt we bought: The bird shirts from PEI artist Luke Leunes.

Best t-shirt we didn’t buy: The one with the beaver that said “Dam it”.

A t-shirt that it’s best we didn’t buy: Any of the COWS stuff.

And speaking of, the worst smells of the trip:

2. (the runner-up) One of the Lucy Maud Montgomery museums we visited on PEI (it was really musty, dusty, and stinky).

1. (the worst) Any COWS ice-cream location. Headache inducing sweet stink.

Quick note: Travelling Companion thought the Theme Lounge at Louisbourg was dusty. I didn’t dislike it’s smell as it didnt’ stink, it just smelled cottagy which I think added to its charm.

Number of LottoMax tickets we purchased while on vacation, in the hopes of winning and staying on vacation indefinitely: 2

Number of times we won the LottoMax: 0

Number of people who just finished their road trip but are looking forward to their next Canadian vacation adventure: 2

Day 16: The drive home

Yesterday we left Quebec City in the morning.

It’s a great drive along Boulevard Champlain to the bridge. You go right beside the river. Looking at some of the houses along the way, I wondered how often rocks fall off of Cap Diamont.

On the drive towards Montreal we stopped in the suburb of Boucherville. I picked up some music and subjected Travelling Companion to some francophone rock: Jean LeLoup, Les Colocs, and Les Trois Accords. I also picked up a two-disk Smiths compilation.

We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner in Cornwall. In a nod to our first night of the trip, (and perhaps because we were just in Quebec), we went to St. Hubert. I’m happy to report you get tw0 dipping sauces with a half-chicken at St. Hube.

Day 17 (today) will be spent doing laundry and eating home cooked food.

Day 15: Quebec City

We had a pleasant dinner on the night of the 14th (in trip calendar terms) at Aux Anciens Canadiens. I had a huge meal of Quebecois Stew. The serve a lot of traditional French dishes (think wild game meats). I didn’t feel like eating from the forest – so my stew came with beef, pork, and an entire garden’s worth of vegetables.

We woke up and went for a great brunch on Petit Champlain at Le Lapin Sauté. They serve a lot of rabbit. Again, not feeling like eating from the forest (or a pet store) I went with a burger. The location was perfect – we were covered by trees and essentially in a garden — while getting to people watch as we had our lunch.

Right after lunch we went up to Upper Town and toured the remains of Fort Saint-Louis. It is the remains of the Governor’s residence (and forts) and its right beside the Chateau Frontenac hotel. On all my previous visits to Quebec City the area was covered by the wood walkway of the Dufferin Terrace. But, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Quebec, archaeologists unearthed the buried ruins from underneath the boardwalk.

They also found remains of the fort that Samuel de Champlain made in the 1620s. (Quebec was founded in 1608 – by 1620 Champlain moved to the top of the hill and lived in Fort Saint-Louis.)

The Parcs Canada employee was telling us that they couldn’t dig down further to see the remants of the Champlain era (the earliest era) because the subsequent governor’s had built on top of the remnants of Champlain’s site. Therefore, most of the ruins we were looking at were from the early 1700s.

Which placed them at the same time as the ruins we looked at at Louisbourg.

The ruins in Quebec City were in much better condition than the ones we looked at in Louisbourg. Showing again how damaging the environment was on the Louisbourg site.

You can see Fort Saint-Louis here.

In the afternoon Travelling Companion and I went on a walk up to the walls, to the Plains of Abraham, and back down the Promenade des Gouverneurs — which gives you a spectacular view of the river.

We had a nice dinner at the Portofino. The service and food were good. And walked around Cote de la Fabrique. I think the combination of sun and the walking knocked me out — as I was ready for an early night’s sleep.

Today we begin our journey home.

Day 14: Quebec City

We woke up in Moncton. It was very foggy.

Drove up through New Brunswick. NB is very nice to look at. And, once again, really enjoyed the highways.

But, once again, I saw a NB driver littering from their vehicle as we drove! (I saw this on the way through the province.) Such a clean province – and someone littering from their car.

We stopped for lunch in Edmundston. We actually ate at a gazebo in the University of Moncton Edmundston campus.

I saw a building, a residence”Louis Cyr” and I thought it was for the famous French-Canadian strongman. But no, I just googled it and it turns out that this Louis Cyr is named for a musicologist.

Speaking of music, it was great to have the CBC going as we drove up through NB. CBC’s Jono was guest hosting today on Q and interviewed the guy who wrote “Sugar Sugar”, Andy Kim.

Also listened to my first ever episode of Afghanada. It’s a CBC radio-play. The plot was a little predictable today, but it was well acted out. Here’s the swear word they use in place of, well, you know: “Frig.” This episode even had a ball-hockey game in it.

Good work out there Lt. Petrovsky.

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