For the last 5 years, any time I came home for vacation or the holidays, I felt the need to cram a lot of people and activities into a short period of time before leaving. Apparently, it hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m not leaving the east coast any time soon, because I am still jampacking my weekends with people and activities. But that’s also how I love to spend my time: with great people, doing fun new things.
And so that’s exactly how this past Saturday went. It was crammed full of delicious local food and drink, an adventure to the valley and some spooky pumpkin carving with some of my favourite people.
Bright and early:
A few weeks ago, Nick and I explored Halifax from the north to the south end. On Gottingen Street, we passed a bakery with a sign on the door that said “Sold out, see you tomorrow”. Now, when I see a “sold out” sign on any food place, I know that it has to be good. So, we added this bakery to our growing list of places to try and kept walking.
On Saturday, I decided that it was finally the day to try out this French-inspired bakery: LF Bakery at 2063 Gottingen Street. I woke up bright and early, packed a reusable bag and a mask, and went on a short trek to the north end of Halifax. At around 8am when I arrived, there was lots of free parking spaces in front of the bakery. Stepping out of the car, the smell of fresh bread hit me immediately.
For early on a Saturday morning, the bakery was absolutely bustling (in a safe way). There was a couple sipping coffee at a table inside, and two men chatting outside the bakery, fresh baguettes in hand. But service was efficient, and I only had to wait momentarily behind one person in a socially-distanced line.
Once I got inside, there was an overwhelmingly delicious variety of bread and pastries to choose from. The person serving me at the cash was very friendly and helpful. I left the bakery with a baguette, a few apple and pear pastries, a fresh pretzel and pain au chocolat. Everything was delicious. The chocolate in the pain au chocolat melted on my hands while I ate it. The pretzel was by far the best I’ve had. And I’m still working through the baguette with my family, but it is delicious… even toasted a few days later.
Next time I go to LF Bakery, I want to sit in and try their coffee as well. And I’ll definitely be ordering another pretzel, that’s for sure.
Later that morning:
Nick and I, full of French-inspired bread and pastries, jumped in the car with a friend of ours and we headed out of the city. We had made plans to go apple picking that day, but we wanted to get an early head-start due to impending rain. Unfortunately, it was the last day of the apple picking season, so we couldn’t change our plans. But it worked out, so I’m glad we didn’t change our minds and stay in Halifax.
The orchard of our choice was Gates U-pick, one hour from Halifax in Port Williams. The family-run farm has great ratings on Google, and is a convenient, scenic drive from the city. Another major highlight: all-you-can-eat apples as you pick! That definitely sold us.
If you go earlier in the season, they have pears, over twenty varieties of apples, sunflowers and u-pick pumpkins; however, we showed up on the last weekend of the season so there was considerably less selection.
But less selection did not hold us back from filling three ten-pound bags of apples. We just had to search a little harder for nice looking apples, and use Nick’s height to reach the tallest branches. “Pro” tip: if you go apple picking late in the season, don’t stick to the trees closest to the entrance. Head to the back end of the orchard and you’ll find untouched trees with big, juicy apples. There was also an option to fill our bags from crates of apples at the cash if we couldn’t fill them on our own, but we challenged ourselves not to use that service.
Gates U-Pick was very beautiful, and service was great. After such a successful trip, we want to make a tradition out of apple picking, so I think we’ll be back next year. Now, we just have to find recipes to use up all 30lbs of apples from our morning in the valley!
In the evening:
Our last plan of the day was to head over to our friends’ house for dinner and pumpkin carving. I hadn’t carved a pumpkin since university, so I was pretty excited! Nick and I showed up with four pumpkins, and a few No Boats on Sunday ciders, perfect for our relaxed evening out.
No Boats on Sunday is a premium cider, made with Canadian apples. I learned after buying that the cider is produced by Peller Estates, a winery in Ontario, but they’ve committed to using local apples from three provinces – BC/ON/NS – and bottle the cider in Truro, NS. I was, of course, super interested in trying the ciders with apples from Nova Scotia: 100% NS Cider, Cranberry Rosé Cider and Mixed Berry Cider.
We only got around to trying the 100% NS Cider and Cranberry Rosé on Saturday, and they were delicious. Not too sweet (I don’t usually like sweet drinks), crisp and easy to drink. The Cranberry Rosé was a very pretty colour, just like an actual rosé wine. I would definitely drink them again!
Our friend had also just been to the Annapolis Valley, and brought back an Earl Grey Blueberry cider from the Annapolis Cider Company. It was really unique and delicious, and comes in a pretty bottle. Definitely recommend picking one up if you’re into dry ciders.
Despite not carving pumpkins in years, we were relatively successful. Relatively, meaning we only made a few grave errors like making the hole on top too large to fit the pumpkin top back on.
For the event, we borrowed some pumpkin carving tools from Nick’s parents that really elevated the experience (lol!). So I recommend investing in a set of carving tools if you’re really passionate about pumpkin carving. I also drew some inspiration from Pinterest, so my pumpkin ended up looking like some creepy character from, I believe, one of Tim Burton’s movies.
And that wraps up my Saturday full of Nova Scotia goodness. The food, the drinks, the views and the time with friends made for an awesome day. And now that it’s Monday, I’m definitely daydreaming about how I’m going to cram my Saturday full of more fun next weekend!
P.S. What’s your favourite bakery on the east coast? Share in the comments below and I’ll find my way there to try more delicious goodies.