Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ahh Winter... The Smell of Exams!

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This will most likely be my last post of 2007, as these past couple of days have moved into warp speed and I am busily studying away for those A's. I have just two more exams to go - both are on Friday with the last exam scheduled for 7:00pm. On Saturday I have a simulation/presentation to participate/give and then it's Christmas vacation! Saturday night should be busy since class finishes at 5:00pm, and I have to fit laundry and packing in before I head off to a Christmas party with a bunch of other MUN students. My flight back to Ottawa leaves St. John's on Sunday morning at5:30am. The reality is that I may not get much sleep at all Saturday night. The campus is now down to the last few students who got the short end of the exam schedule stick.

In other news, snow is now just starting to accumulate on the ground. I must point out that we are several feet of snow behind Ontario. I was told that St. John's doesn't typically get snow until late December or early January. So the snow is actually a little early this year. I will have to post some pictures, particularily some with the ducks that call Burtons Pond "home". The ducks now have much less water in which to swim as the pond is beginning to freeze over. In wanting to keep the ducks around all year, the university has designed the pond such that a pipe delivers warm water to keep a portion of the surface ice free. I wonder what this does to the health of the pond?

Should I not get the chance to visit with you while in Ottawa, Toronto, or area over the next couple of weeks, I will take this opportunity to wish you a very merry holiday season and happy new year.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Flipper Pie Update!

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I realize that it has been only a few hours since I posted about my finds from Bidgood's, but it is now lunch time and I really wanted to try the flipper pie. Let me tell you, this is the real meal deal! To summarize this experience...

Looking at the ingredients list, flipper is the fourth item on the list. So, I had anticipated there being a little flipper, but not as much as was actually found. Essentially, flipper should have been listed first on the ingredients list - there is a lot of flipper in the pie! The ratio of flipper to carrot (the ingredient that is actually listed first) is 5:1. This is not an exageration.

So the big question, how does it taste? I am being completely honest when I say that it is actually pretty good! Maybe a little too much flipper for my liking, but I am certainly not complaining as the flipper is the most expensive ingredient. I would buy the flipper pie again.

I was going to upload pictures of the flipper pie experience, but under the flaky crust, it isn't so pretty. The look of the flipper meat does not do the taste justice!

Mmm... Flipper Pie!

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This morning I was off to do some grocery shopping at Bidgood's in nearby Gould's. The mission was two-fold: to take a drive outside St. John's, while also figuring out what sorts of Newfoundland awesomeness I was going to bring back with me to Ottawa for everyone else to sample over the Christmas break.

To summarize, Bidgood's is a traditional Newfoundland foods and craft store. See their website for more information; they do ship across Canada. The store is in a busy shopping plaza, itself called Bidgood's Plaza. In addition to carrying the standard food items you could find at any Dominion, they carry traditional Newfoundland food. While this section of the store is realtively small, they do carry quite a few items, some more interesting than others. For example, there is an entire shelf of seal flippers packed in jars, caribou steaks, and rabbits (which are snared every fall by local residents, cleaned, and sold to Bidgood's). Not to be missed is the large bakery and the Mug Up restaurant, offering daily specials of fish cakes, Jigg's dinner, fish and chips, salt fish and brewis, and toutans. Best of all, the bakery and restaurant items are prepared in the store. You know it's fresh and local when the pies are wrapped in plastic wrap as opposed to being vacuum sealed by a machine! 

So, after spending nearly an hour perusing the aisles, I decided to pick up a few things to taste test. I intend on making another visit to Bidgood's in a couple of weeks with a list of things to bring back to the mainland. Here is what ended up in my cart:


Home style rabbit pie... local rabbits. Tasty!


Home style flipper pie. I am not sure if the flipper is from a seal, but this was a must try! I saw the jars of seal flipper next to the prepared pies. In their raw form, the seal flippers did not look incredibly appetizing. We shall see how they are in a pie format.


There were way to many pies to choose from. I am repeating myself when I say this, but what really struck me was that a lot of the baked goods were hand wrapped!


I decided to try the Bidgood's version of fish and brewis. This looks to be less processed than the version I typically buy at Dominion. Bidgood's is also well known for their spreads. While choosing among the many varieties, there was a sign which explained that for a something to be called jam, the product must contain at least 66% sugar. Bidgood's therefore calls their products spread because they use less sugar and more fruit. Interesting!

With my grocery shopping done, I decided to make a detour to see nearby Maddox Cove and Petty Harbour. For all you Great Big Sea fans, Alan Doyle grew up in Petty Harbour. From the picture, you can see that we have only a dusting of snow on the ground. Fall in St. John's has been great. My fingers are crossed for a nice winter.


A very quiet Petty Harbour.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

St. John's to ... Siem Reap?

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Well, it has been nearly a month since I last posted anything on the blog, let's just say that as the fall semester winds down, the work load has increased considerably. Reports and presentations all come due either this week or next week. Needless to say it has been a very busy November.

The fall semester officially ends on Friday November 30th... tomorrow, with exams following for the next two weeks. All of my exams are scheduled late in the second week, meaning plenty of study time but also a late start to the Christmas break. It's incredible to think that it is almost December and the semester is about to come to an end - where has the time gone? I am definetly looking forward to spending time over the Christmas break with everyone back in Ottawa and southwestern Ontario.

In other news, it has been difficult to keep focused on school work these past couple of weeks as I (along with Lucia and Jen) have decided to make a trip to Asia! What we've decided is that for the three week break that I have in between the winter and spring semesters at MUN, we will get together and spend some time backpacking throughout Hong Kong and Vietnam. 

Here is a quick breakdown of our trip... 

Leaving St. John's on Saturday April 19th, the day after exams end for the winter semester, I fly into Toronto and meet up with Lucia and Jen. From Toronto, we all fly non-stop from Toronto to Hong Kong. After the long 15 hour flight, we take a couple of days out to tour Hong Kong and area. Lucia's Cantonese will certainly help us during our stay in Hong Kong. After a couple of days in Hong Kong, and with our fill of dim sum, we fly into Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. We have a week and a half together in Vietnam, during which time we intend on making a visit to the Mekong Delta, Hue, Hoi An, Hanoi, and Halong Bay. Our travels together end after Halong Bay, as Jen and Lucia return to Ottawa via Hong Kong and Toronto - they are due back at work.

As for me, the MUN spring semester doesn't start until mid-May, so onwards from Halong Bay I continue. My intentions are to take an overnight sleeper car from Hanoi to Sapa, in the northern mountainous region of Vietnam, and spend a few days jungle trekking. Making my way back down into Hanoi, I fly into Siem Reap, Cambodia. I have 5 days in Siem Reap and will be spending a good amount of time touring the famous wats of the region. From Siem Reap I fly into Ho Chi Minh, and then onwards back to St. John's via Hong Kong and Toronto. The whirlwind vacation ends with me arriving back in St. John's on Sunday May 11th at 4:00am, with classes starting the next day!

Airline tickets have already been purchased (Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, and Vietnam Airlines), and now we are searching the many places to see, hostels to stay, and restaurants at which to eat (this of course being Lucia's passion). Besides taking in all of the amazing sites... one of my goals on this trip will be to get my fill of fresh fruit, this in an attempt to make up for the 8 months of a cod filled, vegetable absent diet in St. John's. It's all very exciting, with more details to come as the three of us plan the trip in greater detail over the Christmas break.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, here are some highlights of what we will see on our trip:


Amazing Hong Kong!


Sailing among limestone karsts by junk in Halong Bay.


The incredible Angkor Wat!

Monday, November 5, 2007

St. John Sea Dogs Vs. St. John's Fog Devils

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As promised, here are the highlights from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game myself and many other MUN students attended this past Saturday evening. A bus left MUN at 6:00pm and dropped us off at Mile One Centre. The puck was set to drop at 7:00pm. We thought that if there was enough time after the game, we would swing on over to Ches's for some Newfoundland sui yah... fish n' chips. However, it turned out that the bus was going to pick us up immediately after the end of the third period, and so we were back at MUN by 9:30pm without the fish n' chips. There was the option of heading over to George Street after the game. Believe it or not, I had a fair amount of work to do, so instead of hitting the bar, I hit the books and spent a few hours in front of the computer researching for a report!

As for the game...

The game was between the St. John Sea Dogs (from New Brunswick) and the St. John's Fog Devils (from Newfoundland). Not only did I not know the name of the hockey league (I had to Google QMJHL), it was quite easy to confuse the two teams. Not only that, I had some ethical dilemma as I did not know who to root for - the team from the mainland (being from Ontario and all) or the team from the city in which I currently live. I sat on the fence, but decided to cheer a little louder for St. John's. Regardless, a majority of the players were from Québec. The game was not bad, although St. John's (the team with the 's) was outdone. Few shots on net and a lack of momentum right from the start of the first period resulted in St. John winning 5 to 2. Here are a couple of pictures from the evening...


The very nice Mile One Centre.


St. John scored their first goal 15 seconds into the first period!


Everyone likes a good fight, though very traumatic for the younger fans seated in the first row.


Into the second period we already knew that St. John was going to win the game. At this point in the game we thought we might leave now in order to give us enough time to swing over to Ches's for fish n' chips. We passed on the idea knowing how long a walk Ches's is from Mile One Centre. That and it was pretty cold out Saturday night!


Watching the game with the roommates.

Friday, November 2, 2007

St. John's Historic West End Walking Tour

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Today was a a much needed day off from the constant onslaught of exams and multi page report writing. My initial plans were to take a hike along the East Coast Trail south of St. John's near Maddox Cove, but after consulting the map, I discovered that the trail would require an overnight stay! So, I decided to stay in St. John's and roam the downtown and west end.

The day started with a stop at the Starbucks located on Water Street. There are only two Starbucks on the entire island of Newfoundland - and they close by 5:30pm! So, today I indulged in a grandé caramel macchiato (thank you Kim!) while enjoying views of St. John's harbour. St. John's harbour is a working harbour - not one lined with walking promenades or flowers. Ships can be found docked while cranes unload their cargo - interesting to watch.


The working harbour of St. John's, with Signal Hill, Cabot Tower, and the Battery in view.

From Starbucks I made my way to the tourist information centre to pick up some information on upcoming events. I also found several walking guide brochures. With nothing really planned for the day, I decided to do the historic walk through the historic west end of St. John's. This is a part of the city I had not yet explored, in part because it is located some distance from the major attractions of downtown. The area also has a "rough" appearance.

The tour started at the railway station on Water Street. Newfoundland no longer has a railway but the station is still in use as a terminal for the trans provincial bus service. It also doubles as a museum - very nice! For those who have walked/biked/cross-country skied the Trans Canada trail, mile marker zero is in front of the railway museum.


The railway station located on Water Street.


The Trans Canada trail - it all starts here!

From the museum, I walked down Water Street and could see all of the cargo containers being unloaded off the many ships docked in the harbour. Everything from groceries bound for area Dominion stores to cars and trucks destined for car dealerships. It's something to stop and realize that almost everything that exists on this island has been brought in by air or ship! Of course, I am reminded of this every time I am grocery shopping for bananas as the prices are considerably higher than in the rest of Atlantic Canada. From Water Street I turned north onto Patrick Street and passed by St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church (consecrated in 1881).


Colourful houses along Patrick Street.


Patrick Street with St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in the background.

Turning right on Hamilton Avenue, there was a set of row houses with modest decoration and simple gable roofs - typical of the sort of housing built in St. John's in the 19th century. I later learned that the Hamilton Avenue houses are unique because they are the few houses to survive the Great Fire of 1892. After the fire, most houses were rebuilt in the more fashionable Second Empire style or the simpler bracketted Italianate style.

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West end St. John's, Hamilton Street.

The walking tour followed Brine Street, Plank Road, and returned to the railway station. It was a great walk through one of St. John's unique neighbourhoods. On Brine Street is the Martin McNamara House. This is a special dwelling because of its pyramidal roof that has stood since at least 1849. It is unusual in the neighbourhood because it has a central chimney to allow for all of the rooms in the house to be heated from the same source. It appeared as though someone still lives in this house today.

After the walking tour, I made my way over to the zero mile marker of the Trans Canada highway. Although the Trans Canada highway has been extended further east to Quidi Vidi in recent years, the mile marker has remained in front of St. John's City Hall (near Mile One Centre).


Mile marker zero of the Trans Canada highway.

This coming Saturday, a bunch of us from MUN are off to watch some Quebec major junior hockey at Mile One Centre; St. John's Fog Devils versus Saint John Sea Dogs. This won't be confusing! Sounds like fun. I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

George Street Mardis Gras

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Although the name "Mardis Gras" may have been lost in translation, the George Street Mardis Gras was fun nonetheless! We went down to check out the party Saturday night. George Street was closed off and to get on the street means paying a $10 cover charge. Once on the street, all the bars are open with no cover, and people can roam the street, beer in hand, while taking in the festivities. There was an AC-DC tribute band which really got the crowd going. Hanging out from the windows and balconies of the bars that crowd George Street were people dressed in very creative costumes. It was a chilly Saturday night and so afterwards we went to Tim Hortons for some coffee.


We arrived at 9:00pm and although it was early, there was a good sized crowd. This is looking south along George Street with the stage to the left.


What's a party without an AC-DC tribute band? I think these guys were from Toronto.


Crowds are growing while looking north on George Street.


Me and Mr. Potato Head at the George Street Mardis Gras.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Toutons and MUNscapes

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Today ended what was a very busy week. I had a full day of classes and this evening I wanted to get out and enjoy the very nice fall weather we have been having these past few days. Located not too far from MUN down on Elizabeth Street, the roommates and I decided to walk over to the Guv'nor Inn Pub for dinner.

I ordered the pea soup with dumpling for an appetizer, moose sausages as the entrée, and toutons for dessert. The soup was good and the duff was great. The moose sausages were tasty. This was my first time trying the Newfoundland dessert staple - toutons (fried dough covered in molasses). Although I have no baseline with which to compare, these were mighty fine! I'd certainly order them again.


Mmm... tasty pea soup and dumpling. I prefer this version of pea soup over the French Canadian "Habitant" kind.


Moose sausages... the only disappointing part about this meal was that there were only three sausages. Fries. What can I say? It's a pub!

After all that eating, I decided to take a walk and while doing so I snapped a few night shots around MUN. Later on this evening we made our way downtown to George Street to take in a bit of Mardi Gras - Newfoundland style!


One of the residence buildings of Paton College at MUN.


The heart of MUN - the Queen Elizabeth II library (left), the clocktower, and the university centre (right).


I love MUNdays is a week long event at MUN that carries a theme each day: diversity, ingenuitiy, excellence, kindness, and community. It's a week packed with various events. See: http://www.mun.ca/mundays/index.php for more information.


A full moon on a clear and crisp October evening. Perfect Hallowe'en weather!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making Friends With Sammy The Sea-Hawk

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It has been a busy past couple of weeks with mid-terms and major reports all due at once. There hasn't been much time to post any recent events or to actually get out and do much of anything other than study and write papers. In the meantime, here is a picture of me, Sammy the Sea-Hawk, and one of my roommates, Matt. This picture was taken at the MUN fieldhouse during a basketball skills competition as part of the weeklong event - I Love MUNdays. Stay tuned. More to come...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pineapple Crush And Newfoundland Kool-Aid

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Happy (belated) Thanksgiving everyone!

I wanted to make mention about my latest findings while at the Dominion in Quidi Vidi. Thanks to Jim and Lisa, I now have tried pineapple and birch beer flavoured Crush pop. I've been told that the first of the two are a "must-do" Newfoundland experience.

While I am not a huge fan of Crush pop, the pineapple variety was quite enjoyable. Interestingly enough, this particular flavour has more sugar than the other Crush varieties. There was very little hint of any pineapple in the taste - but an experience none the less. The birch beer was found next to the pineapple and the root beer Crush. I have heard of root beer, but never birch beer Crush. So, I decided to give that one a whirl as well.

I did not enjoy the birch beer flavour as much as the pineapple flavour. One observation I made was that the birch beer pop was coloured pink instead of the traditional root beer brown. The flavour was similar to that of root beer and strawberry Crush combined. Very interesting.

So the verdict is: pineapple Crush tasty; birch beer Crush not so tasty. Unfortunately, neither of these flavours come in a diet alternative. Surprised? So for now, it's pineapple sugar rushes and birch beer burps. Nice!


Birch beer and pineapple flavoured Crush pop.

Further on down the isle I also found the famed "Newfie Kool-Aid", otherwise known as Purity brand flavoured syrup. I have yet to try it though as the Crush experience was enough fun for one night. The directions on the bottle say to add 50mL of syrup to 250mL of water (or your favourite mix). I picked up the raspberry flavour as it seemed to be most popular given how few there were left on the shelf. Stay tuned for updates.


Purity everything! They make salt fish in a can too. Who knew?

One more thing to add, I have also sampled the Purity brand jam-jam cookies. Very tasty! A sweet jam centre sandwiched between two moist cake-like biscuits. These are now on my list of favourite cookies. Thanks again Jim and Lisa.

Before I head out to walk off all of that sugar, I wanted to mention that the Rick Mercer Report did the funniest skit about the "Williams promises bucks for babies" incentive. Check out the Rick Mercer Report at: http://www.cbc.ca/mercerreport/backissues.php and then click on the "Jerry Dooley" video from season 5. If you know about "the over pass", you too will think this is hilarious! Enjoy!


Friday, October 5, 2007

Day Trip To Bell Island And Cape St. Francis

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I decided to start the Thanksgiving weekend off with a day trip to Bell Island and then Cape St. Francis. Both destinations are within an hour drive from St. John's, but once there, certainly feel a world away. The day started early. I left Burtons Pond at 8:30am and made my way (past the overpass) out of the city. I wanted to leave early so that I could stop at Beachy Cove Restaurant in Portugal Cove for some breakfast. I have been wanting to sample toutons - fried bread dough topped with molasses. However, when I arrived, the restaurant was not open. Not wanting to miss the 9:20am ferry, I decided to skip breakfast and head directly to the Portugal Cove - Bell Island ferry terminal.

After being in line for less than 15 minutes, the ferry arrived and we soon boarded. The fare was only $6.25 return! There are typically two small ferries (approximately 25 car capacity) that service Bell Island from Portugal Cove. There are permanent residents on Bell Island in both the communities of Wabana and Lance Cove. Without knowing the exact numbers, I would estimate the island population at 3000. There are many people who live on Bell Island and commute to St. John's. I have heard that the provincial government would like people to move off Bell Island. I would guess the reason is in part due to the cost of maintaining the ferry link and keeping it ice free in the winter, not to mention the general inconvenience of having 3000 residents live 20 minutes away and accessible only by ferry (eg. emergency medical access).

As mentioned, the ferry crossing took 20 minutes. Although there were signs posted saying that it is forbidden to stay in your vehicle while at sea, everyone, including the crew, seemed indifferent. Feeling a little uneasy about the whole situation, I decided to go up on deck and snap a few pictures of Bell Island, otherwise known as the Belle of the Bay. Interesting to note, Bell Island measures only 9km long and 3.5km wide.


From the ferry, Bell Island in the distance.

Once we arrived at Bell Island, I made my way down to the car and was soon off exploring the island. I quickly discovered that the map I had downloaded and printed off from the Bell Island community association website was not detailed enough. I should have realized that this map would not be helpful given that the symbol for area beaches were represented by salt and pepper shakers! Don't ask why. I am still confused.

My first stop was at the Co-Op Bakery in Wabana. Having missed breakfast, I was hoping to find some coffee and a little snack before the day started. Although they did not have coffee at the bakery, they did have an assortment of baked goods made right there in-store. I picked up a bag of cherry crinkle cakes for only $2.99. Lucia would be excited to know that this bakery fit the "mold"of a good bakery. By that I mean it was not too clean, it was staffed by older and very kind ladies, and there were a couple of cars in the parking lot when I arrived. Did I mention that the bakery and local Liberal candidate occupied the same building? As for the proof, let's just say I was unable to resist helping myself to a second cherry crinkle cake before leaving the island at the end of the day. They were that good!


Co-Op Bakery, the home of tasty cherry crinkle cakes (and a hopeful Liberal candidate)!

Onwards, my next stop was Lance Cove. This is a historic site because it is the only community in North America to take a direct hit from a torpedo fired by a German U-boat during World War II. Four ships were sunk and 69 men lost their lives. While you can not see the sunken boats from shore, there are boats which take scuba divers out to the wrecks. Further along from Lance Cove, there were herds of sheep who clearly were enjoying their million dollar view of Conception Bay. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as one of those sheep!


Lance Cove and one of the many old cemeteries on the island.


Sheep - the other residents of Bell Island.


Typical views around Bell Island. Traffic congestion is not an issue here.

Heading north I stopped at Grebes Nest. A hideaway that offers secluded beaches surrounded by cliffs - and is one of the reasons why I decided to make the trip to Bell Island. To get to Grebes Nest involves scaling down a rock covered hill to the ocean. You are immediately greeted by a rock stack and the sound of powerful waves crashing against the shore. Once here, there is a mineshaft inspired tunnel that cuts through the mountain side and allows passage to Grebes Nest. If it were not for the tunnel, the only option would be to swim around the rock face as the cliffs surrounding the beach are impossible to climb. As soon as you exit the tunnel to Grebes Nest and step onto the beach, you are surrounded by towering cliffs on three sides and Conception Bay on the other. Between the cliffs and the ocean is about 100 meters of rocky beach. What was really neat was that the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore was made louder because it reverberated off the cliffs. The best part of this entire experience was that I was alone to take it all in! For me, this was a similar experience to sea kayaking and rock climbing around the cliffs of Railay in the south of Thailand.


Entering the tunnel, looking back at the rock stack and where the path leads down to the ocean.


Grebes Nest? This way...


The tunnel to Grebes Nest.


Yours truly at Grebes Nest.

I have posted two videos: the first video is of the beach just before taking the tunnel to Grebes Nest, and the second video is of Grebes Nest itself. Enjoy!

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After spending nearly two hours at Grebes Nest, I made my way to the Bell Island lighthouse. This location offered views looking back towards Portugal Cove and the northern arm of the Avalon Peninsula. I spent another two hours hiking the trails that meander along the cliff tops near the lighthouse. From the trail I made my way back to the ferry terminal and returned to Portugal Cove at 3:00pm


The trail near the lighthouse looking across Conception Bay to the island of Newfoundland.


Dangerous cliffs. Watch your step!

Back in Portugal Cove, the Beachy Cove Restaurant was open and so I decided to stop in for lunch. Lucia and I had been here before and during that visit I had tried the pan fried cod. Wanting to try something new, I decided to have their cod tongue dinner. It was delicious! The best I've tried so far! The lunch included 9 cod tongues, three scoops of mashed potatoes, and generous helpings of peas and carrots, all for $15.


I love cod tongues!

After lunch I made my way north and checked out the communities of Flat Rock and Pouch Cove, and eventually Cape St. Francis. While passing through Flat Rock, I came across the site Pope John Paul II visited in 1984. From Pouch Cove to Cape St. Francis the road is not paved and is very rough. I was puzzled by the amount of traffic despite there being no houses. There were many cars parked alongside the road - I suspect that they were hiking the many trails in the area? After traveling at 10km/h for 20 minutes, I finally arrived at Cape St. Francis. From this point you can see Bay de Verde and Baccalieu Island to the north. To the south you can see the very rugged and heavily treed coastline that extends down towards St. John's. There is a lighthouse and helicopter pad located here.


The view south from Cape St. Francis.

I left Cape St. Francis with the sun setting. I returned to St. John's and wrapped up what turned out to be a very enjoyable day trip.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Corn On The Cob: Newfoundland Style

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Fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices are a rare find in St. John's. With the little bit of travelling we did prior to arriving in St. John's at the end of August, finding fresh produce is harder still in the smaller villages. Thankfully, MUN is not located in St. Anthony (the extreme north western tip of the island). I can only imagine how much the bananas must cost there!?!

Some things I have discovered while cruising the shelves at the local Dominion:

1.) Macintosh apples are the cheapest apples around at $1.49 per pound.
2.) Bananas are a steal at $0.85 per pound.
3.) Starfruit, guava, and pineapples are available but not on a student's budget.
4.) They have Niagara peaches. However, these are the peaches that we would point and laugh at while picking at the farms in Winona.
5.) The buckets of salted beef out number the lettuce heads 3 to 1. Seriously.
6.) Sweet and fresh corn on the cob is almost a foreign concept (read below).
7.) The discounted rack is where I now shop for produce because I can't bring myself to pay so much for a bunch of carrots or a couple of red peppers.
8.) If not already, the people who came up with the idea of canning and freezing fruits and vegetables should receive an award. Had it not been for Mott's or Knorr I would most likely be afflicted with scurvy by now.
9.) Beer is a food group, no? It's very convenient having beer and liquor stores attached to the grocery store. It truly is one stop shopping. However, if picking up a case of Quidi Vidi Honey Brown slips your mind while grocery shopping, fear not, because beer is essentially sold at every gas station!
10.) I am usually one of the few people who shop at the seafood counter, because everyone else is at the meat counter picking out cuts of beef. I guess everyone here has had their fill of scallops and cod. I wish I could say the same.
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To put all of this into context, whenever there is a luncheon, working meeting, or snacks served while at a networking function with the university, I am the first at the fruit and veggie trays. I have also reconciled with myself that there is no shame in eating tray garnishes if they are leafy and green.
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As for the sweet and fresh corn on the cob, I picked up a can of corn on the cob to try. This is such an odd concept to me. Instead of stripping the kernels off the cob and canning only the kernels, they can the entire cob of corn. There are 4 cobs, each with the tops and bottoms trimmed off so that they can be vacuumed packed and fit into the can. The instructions read: corn on the cob is delicious when it is warmed in boiling water. Delicious, eh? Costing only a $1.99, I was sold!





Can opener in hand, I opened up the can to find 4 cobs. They looked a little soft. Following the directions, I boiled the cobs in water for a few minutes and then sat down for dinner. Conclusion: while not terrible, the kernels are a little soft and there is not much in the way of juice or sweetness. Had I never tried local Ontario corn before, I would have thought that this corn was not that bad. Will I buy the canned corn on the cob again? Probably not - I know what Ontario corn tastes like. The canned kernels or creamed corn is more to my liking. That said, I am happy to have tried a Newfoundland delicacy - canned corn on the cob.

So what's next? Salt beef maybe? Unfortunately, the salt beef comes in large buckets or in large vats that you have to hook yourself, and I don't think I will be able to finish it all. I have no idea how to even eat it. Suggestions anyone?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I Am One Happy Egg!

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Today FedEx delivered a care package from my lovely girlfriend. It was the first such package, but after only a month away, I was anxious to receive something to remind me of all things comfortable and familiar of home.

I would be lying if I said that I was not tracking the package from shipment to delivery. Within minutes of the package arriving at the MUN student services centre, I headed over to claim the box of goodness. The receptionist was surprised by the fact that I arrived within twenty minutes of the package being signed. Things move slowly here in Newfoundland, and so once a package arrives at the university, it is signed for by the receptionist, and then typically a card is placed in the student's mailbox to signal that a package has arrived and for the student to pick it up. This usually happens over the course of a two days and was clearly to slow for this Ontarian.

Nevertheless, I signed for the package and quickly returned to the apartment - walking very quickly, almost running with excitement. What happened next was documented by pictures so that you could see exactly what was in the care package and my reaction to each item.

The care package has arrived and I am very excited!

What the package looked like seconds before the packaging material is torn away.

Puzzled at first, but grateful upon second thought given how expensive orange juice is on the island. If that is 8 litres of orange juice, I'll take it!
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Inside the box lay a treasure of Chinese goodness! It's like Chinese Christmas!

Rice paper to make Vietnamese wraps. Hopefully they have fresh mint at the Dominion. These will be for Thanksgiving dinner.

Hoisin sauce for the Vietnamese wraps. But wait a second, someone has used this hoisin sauce. The bottle is half full!?!

Kaya coconut spread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I can buy this downtown but it is triple the price in St. John's than in Ottawa.
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Who does not like Hong Kong tea? You can never have too much, or enough varieties!
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Among other things were mango jellies, curry pastes, and crackers. Maps of St. John's and a note completed the care package. Mh goi. Awl oy lei Lucia!