October brings plenty of Fall fun in Nova Scotia – ranging from frolicking with the pumpkin people, getting lost in a corn maze, to searching for the perfect pumpkin at one of the many U-Picks throughout the Annapolis Valley.
This year during our annual Annapolis Valley road trip (the annual pumpkin run), we visited Noggins Corner Farm Market and took a wagon ride into the apple orchards where we lovingly hand-picked a few bushels for an upcoming post on The Dutch Oven Diaries. We also found a few carve-worthy pumpkins at the nearby Sterling’s u-pick pumpkin patch, got caught up in the amazing aromas, sights and flavors of the preserves and oils found at the Tangled Garden and the many fresh dairy products found at the Fox Hill Cheese House (check out their newest seasonal product – Holiday Quark (made with cranberries) – perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas – you’ve gotta try it!).
Of course the icing on any “road-trip” cake is where we stop to eat; this trip we favored an old favorite – The Port Pub in Port Williams, Nova Scotia. Being celebrity – and local – chef stalkers – we’ve seen the pub’s Chef Welton at the Cutting Edge Challenge the last 2 years at the Saltscapes Expo (Atlantic Canada’s Food and Culture Expo). The cutting edge challenge is Nova Scotia’s answer to The Food Network’s “Top Chef” – a culinary competition where Nova Scotia chefs strut their stuff using all local ingredients. The Port Pub is considered a gastropub, a British term meaning public house (“pub”) which specializes in high-quality food. The name is a combination of pub and gastronomy, and this gastropub prides itself in using as much local product as possible.
The Port Pub menu has a diverse and ample assortment of items to choose from – the only challenge being making a decision between the many delicious options! After some agonizing debate – we’d made our choices. The fish chowder, normally a tried and true Nova Scotia favorite was good but served in a disappointingly shallow bowl. Although the chowder had a nice flavor, there are plenty of better fish chowders in the sea. The DeLello Chicken Penne (bacon added – everything’s bettah with bacon!) – a new menu entry – hit the spot on a cool Fall afternoon, with its creamy garlic and white wine sauce. This newbie is a keeper for sure! Last but certainly not least was the valley mushroom crostini – local valley mushrooms sautéed in fresh rosemary on grilled focaccia was a flavor sensation, and a definite redo! Among some of the menu items we grappled with and will be returning for included the Pulled Pork Pile Up, the Lobster Club (lobster roll with – you guessed it – bacon!), and the Pumpkin Seed & Tomato Linguini (the waitress assured us that the linguini was not just seasonal for Fall).
Knowing we were heading off to the Fox Hill Cheese House, who make their own gelato – we opted out of dessert – although so very tempting. Definitely next time! If you haven’t been to The Port Pub yet – put it on your list of “Must Eats”. We sure have!