Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sussex Golden Ginger Ale - a Fundy original!

While I'm on the topic of ginger & the Bay of Fundy, you may be interested to know that our easy access to ginger in the late 1800s resulted in several ginger ale bottling plants popping up throughout the region.

Ginger ale comes in two varieties: golden ginger ale and dry ginger ale. Golden ginger ale, dark colored and strong flavored, is the older style. Dry ginger ale was developed during prohibition when ginger ale was used as a mixer for alcholic beverages because the strong flavor of golden ginger ale was undesirable. Dry ginger ale quickly surpassed golden ginger ale in popularity, and today golden ginger ale is an uncommon, and usually regional, drink.

Although I'm not sure that fresh ginger's many health benefits translate to soda pop, we all grew up having it prescribed for many childhood illnesses (flat, de-fizzed ginger ale if you were really sick!). Well, at the very least, it cheered us up by tasting great!

I'm delighted to report that there is still one Golden ginger ale available here that originated here: in the town of Sussex, New Brunswick. If you find yourself visiting the Bay of Fundy, look for Sussex Golden Ginger Ale in all corner stores!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Introducing Ginger .... a Bay of Fundy Favourite!

Ginger came to the Bay of Fundy during the great Age of Sail in the late 1700s/early 1800s when ships from our harbours regularly voyaged to the Caribbean and other ginger-growing areas of the world. Although ginger doesn't grow in our temperate climate it's maintained a close association with our region for generations.

Historically, dry ginger was used as a preservative, medicine and food spice by early immigrants from France and the U.K. Eventually ginger (in powdered, preserved and candied forms) found its way into breads, pies, cakes, marmalades, baked beans, ginger chocolates and even ice cream. As I child I didn't often encounter fresh ginger but I'm sure early tasting favourably disposed me later toward ethnic meals which feature ginger as a central ingredient. Now I use ginger in its many forms - traditional, new and zany.

Speaking of zany... if you're a ginger fan, check out the really great ginger products offered by The Ginger People. These folks are in Australia and California but, truly, produce some of the best ginger products on the planet! Gins-gins and other GP treats are available in many locations around the Bay of Fundy or online. (image of the Ginger Guy borrowed from the Ginger People website!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tips for Cooking Digby Scallops

Eeeeeek, I can't believe I've been Bay of Fundy blogging for a year and a half yet haven't shared my enthusiasm for Digby scallops. Digby, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy on the Nova Scotia side, is world famous for its scallop fishery. Restaurants, fish markets and grocery stores across Canada and parts of the U.S. pride themselves in selling fresh and flash frozen Digby scallops. When buying for home use be sure to purchase either fresh or uncooked frozen scallops. (Pre-cooked frozen scallops are woody and dry).

Our sea scallops may be a bit bigger than others you've previously encountered but they're even more tender and flavourful. One of most common way we locals like to cook them is sliced (to even up the sizes) then fried in butter with minced fresh garlic and a bit of lemon juice squeezed over top. If you like your scallops to brown when cooked pat dry the moisture (with paper towel) on the raw scallops before frying them.

Be really careful not to overcook them. If sliced, they'll only take a minute or so to fry on medium heat. If whole, count on about 2 minutes per side. Overcook 'em and they'll be tough and stringy. (Give them to your dog or the seagulls and start all over - it's not worth it!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fox Point

Not unlike city subdivisions various geographic outcroppings of the Bay of Fundy often end up with evocative nature-names. I recently took this photo of Fox Point in Nova Scotia. The top side of the fox tail-shaped beach edges the bay; the inner side actually shelters a tidal river that fully empties at low tide.

The tide turned about an hour before I took this photo (you can tell by the band of bare beach around the end of the 'tail" below the snow line). This particular beach is connected to the mainland at the far right and never gets fully covered by the tide.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Important Job for Fundy Innkeeper's Dog

I've been keen to add more posts to my blog's "Fundy dogs" category so you can imagine my delight when I received this great story from the operators of Inn on the Cove in Saint John.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are one of the few Canadian dog breeds that truly love to work. My wife Willa and I work our dog as part of our Inn and Spa on the edge of the Bay of Fundy. He can’t do the yard work or clean the rooms but he welcomes guests with a friendly smile and does an even more important task each day. Especially when lashing rain and heavy winds beat across the bay we rely on ‘Pilot’ to do a task that few volunteer to do. On the command “get mum’s newspaper”, he dashes to the front of the property, stands on hind legs and pulls the newspaper from the box. Grabbing it securely he runs back to the Inn. Once inside he proudly prances about showing everyone that the morning paper has arrived. He then drops it at our feet and sits pretty for a well deserved dog treat.

Some years back when we had tour groups dropping in several times a week for tea and scones, our Toller was the main attraction. He always got a round of applause from the groups gathered at the front of the inn to see him get the paper. He loved the accolades.
One day after getting the same paper four times for four different groups, I had a couple of guests who want to see him perform again. On command he ran from the Inn toward the paper box but quickly stopped. There was no crowd gathered waiting to applaud. He looked around apparently disappointed and slowly returned without the paper. Actors: they’re all fickle!

~ Ross Mavis, Inn on the Cove

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Curious Grey Seal Rescue

I'm not sure who was more curious during this recent rescue: the rescuers or the rescuee. Last Sunday a large grey seal was spotted hiking along the roadside on highway 2 about 10 km north of the Bay of Fundy. Although it is not uncommon for seals to take a landward jaunt it was quickly determined that this seal would fare better back in its saltwater home.

Several local folk came to the rescue; a fisheries officer worked with fishermen and RCMP officers to lure the seal safely onto a tarpaulin. The adult seal (about 6 ft long and 400 lbs) was then lifted into a tractor bucket and returned to the Parrsboro harbour by a local farmer. Once at the beach the rescuers released the seal into the harbour.

Much to the delight of a newly assembled crowd of well-wishers the seal appeared not to have suffered from its excursion. It swam calmly for about 15 minutes in the inner harbour before heading out into the open waters of the bay.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Snow-capped Flower Pot

We seem to specialize in weird coastal rock formations around the Bay of Fundy. As you can imagine, 100 billion tonnes of sea water moving in and out of the Bay 2x per day has a significant impact on our coast. In areas of the Bay where sandstone is predominant the tides literally sculpt interesting shapes such as these 'flower pots' (as the locals call 'em). Clearly, this spruce-topped formation was once part of the adjacent mainland now about 100 feet away. This particular flower pot is located in Soley Cove near Bass River, Nova Scotia.

Fundy's best known flower pots are Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick. The Rocks has great coastal walking trails, an interpretive centre showing how these formations are created, and easy coastal access for walking around the flower pots at low tide (see footer photo at the bottom of my blog) or kayaking around them at high tide.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What best-dressed Fundy folk are wearing this year...

A flounder boat T-shirt, of course!

I've mentioned in some of my art posts how the Bay of Fundy inspires creativity amongst citizens and visitors but this is the first time I've heard of a Fundy fishing trip inspiring T-shirt design. Apparently a flounder fishing on the Bay last summer by some folks from Pennsylvania resulted in the creation of this great T-shirt!

Now available to order
should you want follow Fundy couture...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tide out: ice-glazed mud

I'm still adjusting to my new camera but there's one feature I liked immediately - the high res optical zoom. Previously, great little coves like this were tricky to capture; this is Diligent River harbour at half tide. That's ice-glazed mud in the foreground, a flat band of receding tide across the middle and, of course, Cape Split in the background...about 10 km across the mighty Minas Channel (proposed tidal energy zone in the upper Bay of Fundy).

Friday, February 01, 2008

Bay of Fundy Ice Pebbles

When exploring the Bay of Fundy coast it's important to look down at the beach as well as out at the view. While I busily snapped away at the scenery earlier this week, my dog snuffled along the wrack line left by the receding tide.

Wrack is a great place to find little treasures - sea glass, shells, starfish amid the assorted flotsam. This time the wrack line produced something I'd never seen before: ice pebbles! Initially I thought they were bits of opaque white sea glass but, when my dog began eating them I kinda clued in. (Belle usually explores the beach with a large rock in her mouth but never swallows it!). I hope you can catch the cool contrast of the ice pebbles, the sea shells and the tumbled beach stones in this blog-sized photo.