Sunday, September 7, 2014

back to school

well - not exactly but as close as we get being in our sixth decade now- LOL... we had come to New Brunswick because we had been in Lafayette LA last year to learn about Cajun history and culture and food and music - and we had LOVED the class (put on by Road Scholar via University of Louisiana at Lafayette) - so we thought we would come to the place it all began and visit the Acadian area of Canada from which the Cajuns had been brutally expelled for failing to swear allegiance to the British Crown... a rough history which we will learn more about in Nova Scotia when we visit Grand Pre...

back to school...this class bills itself as Epicurean New Brunswick - and here is the course description:

Revel in the Bay of Fundy’s culinary and musical bounty — two wonderfully intertwined elements of maritime culture. Go beyond the kitchen as lobster and scallop fishermen share their knowledge of the area’s most sought-after foods. Uncover the secrets behind delectable seafood through dining and demonstration workshops with chefs, fishermen and food lovers. Each night, Acadian and Celtic culture comes to life with recitals and discussions with local musicians. The sounds and tastes of New Brunswick will linger in your memory long after your return.

• Collect recipes for sauces and spreads, sample local specialty wines, and learn how salmon is smoked.
• Join a naturalist for a walk across the ocean floor at low tide out to sea caves carved into dramatic red sandstone cliffs.
• Sample a traditional Acadian brunch
as you learn how the early Acadians once farmed and fished in the region.

so off we head - to St Martin location for the class- it turns out this once prosperous town (the wealthiest in NB during the era of sailing ship building) is now a shadow of its former self... the once mansion filled and apparently lively town is now a sleep burg of less than 300 people.  There are more lobster traps on the dock awaiting the fall lobster season than there are people. Despite this there are six restaurants listed in the town directory -

sadly we did not get to try the world famous chowder at the Caves Restaurant - we actually got eat only one place - the Inn where the class was held- so we can't speak for the food at any of the four listed at the top of the page above - nor for the Vaughans Patio at the St Martins Country Inn.... but more on that as we progress...

the leader/coordinator was not around the Inn when we arrived to check in (admitted about 45 minutes before the 3 PM time given) so we decided to explore the town (LOL - OK - with less than 300 people you can imagine that the exploring was somewhat limited but - we did take a look around...)

at the end of the lane where our "hotel" is located there is a cabin up on blocks - we later learn that this is the former railway depot - now the line abandoned for so long has been completely removed but it used to run right along the shore...

we head to the harbor (about 1/4 mile away) and find the lobster traps waiting for November season - all cleaned up and ready - along with lots of buoys which could double as pool toys- LOL - a quaint covered bridge (one of two in town) crosses over to the cliff side drive to the sea caves about another 1/4 mile on down the road)

Dulse in its natural state- LOL

the tide is fairly low- as you will see in the next few photos of the area of the sea caves which get covered at high tide-

 a cute lighthouse that is across the street from the water and hidden from the sea by some buildings - not sure how that works--- LOL

the sea caves - they are more like holes in the rock face than caves really- as they don't go any further than what you can see...

the small white objects are people walking on the sea floor - when the tide comes in this whole area will be covered with water - up to the top of the dark cave areas on the rock face-

I will add that we have now (in the span of twenty minutes or so) seen the entirety of St Martins--- so somethings I show you from the class are going to look repetitive LOL

the group meets up at dinner time, after hiking up to the third floor to our room with an excellent view (but steep steps and minimal AC) - a number of folks from Florida and New York and some from the west coast... a few from the middle of the U.S. and one lady from Toronto, Ontario.  the class begins in earnest on Monday morning with a trip to the Quaco Museum (Quaco was the old name of St Martins)

the museum building is located in the old seaside motors building - minus the covered pull through-

the harbor area we have photos of above-

although only basically two rooms the museum has a couple of fine displays (especially on ship building) and the lecture by Jackie and Eric Bartlett (locals who have formed a local historical society) covered the background of the town and the basics of ship building (sailing ships) from the St Martins era of greatness... we then head back to the Inn for lunch of salad (after a breakfast of luke-warm pancakes)

a small but excellent exhibit on ship terms that have passed into current English usage-

a house from the "era"

the lunch-

after lunch we have a lecture on sea vegetables (including the ever popular Dulse) and along the way we have some cold and hot smoked salmon... each night where there is a choice for dinner we choose the fish/seafood and the meals are usually good- kind of like the meals you would serve at a dinner party at your house- very good for home cooking but hardly "epicurean" in my opinion...

we check out the tide again in the afternoon- at the end of the lane-

the locals of course follow the tide very closely- and want us to notice every point along the change--

tomorrow we do the town walk (think the photos of our twenty minute tour...LOL) back again soon!

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