Friday, May 4, 2012

Fredericton: Warmth, Whiskey & Gourmet Cuisine

The tediousness of flying across our vast land to reach Fredericton was quickly washed away by New Brunswick’s warmth and hospitality. What a TMAC conference! Who would have thought the city would throw open the doors of its historic Government House, which we reached by a lovely, sun-warmed stroll alongside Canada’s most storied river. En route, Andrew and I even encountered some delightful rascals, one of whom wore a scarlet tunic and kept ringing a loud brass bell.

To the screech of bagpipes the horde of TMACers entered the not-so-modest domicile of the Lieutenant Governor. Sipping a cranberry sparkling wine I wandered through three floors of history encountering an attractive belle playing a harp, painters painting and a duo playing fiddle music. Everyone was smiling and laughing; Government House overflowed with good cheer.

But the best part was the food! Gourmet culinary stations were sprinkled throughout this formidable manse. Freshly harvested oysters, shucked right before me, slid down my throat. I tried to concentrate — unsuccessfully — on the chat of a striking lady representing Manitoba, or was it Edmonton, or perhaps Montreal, while the tastes of poached lobster topped with caviar cream lingered on my palate. Around each corner awaited scrumptuous gourmet snacks: fresh smoked salmon, succulent crabcakes, bacon-wrapped turkey – all produced locally. Finally, I reached the desert table. Nirvana! Ecstasy! Calories be damned, I dove into the truffles, devouring about ten. Oh yes, the cheesecakes and chocolate tort weren’t bad either.

As the crowd began to thin, Andrew and I headed into the town centre, lured by rumours that a certain pub, the Lunar Rogue, served 400 different whiskeys from around the globe. Soon we were happily sipping a dram washed down by a pint of best bitter, chatting, somewhat incoherently, with the locals.

Stumbling back to the hotel with the moon reflecting from the still waters of the St. John River, I emitted a small belch. A memorable evening indeed.

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