Monday, June 27, 2011

Cape Breton Adventure

Skyline Trail, Cape Breton National Park

We just got back from a week-long vacation in the beautiful Lake Ainslie area of Cape Breton, near Inverness. The only downside to the vacation was the unbelievably lousy weather. Out of seven days, we managed one and a half days of sun. The temperatures were cold and one evening actually had a frost warning for our area. In June. Late June.

Still, bad weather aside, it didn't deter us from travelling, exploring, adventuring and eating our way through some very fine restaurants. We travelled with our good friends and their toddler, so I actually managed only one photo during our rather hectic meal times. Still, you can't travel in Cape Breton without enjoying some of the finest fish and seafood in Canada and all of it minutes from the restaurant.

Our travels took us to Glenora Distillery and the best whiskey in Canada, not to mention the best lunch we had on vacation.

Glenora Distillery

While Jeff enjoyed a pulled chicken sandwich with jalapeno lime dressing and fries, I sampled these salted cod fish cakes with chow and a mesclun salad.

Atlantic Fish Cakes with Salad

We finished off our meal with a very non-local but incredibly tasty chocolate ganache cake with a whiskey sorbet. While I looked on longingly, Jeff and our friends enjoyed some lovely aged whiskey. Not to be forgotten, we were serenaded by the talented Pius MacIssac who entertained our well-past-their-nap-time toddlers and made our meal so enjoyable (click on his name for a little YouTube audio sample). A highly recommended place to eat if you're in the area.

Post-Bite Picture of Dessert

Next, our travels took us to Neil's Harbour in search of the much lauded fish 'n chip restaurant, as suggested by my neighbours. I'm assuming they meant this little gem:

The Chowder House, Neil's Harbour

It's a quaint little restaurant with almost wall-to-wall windows facing the ocean, made rustic with picnic tables. The chowder was thick and hearty, with big chunks of lobster and scallops and while we all thought the fried fish was a little on the oily side, it was light and crispy and almost everything fried fish should be and worth the long drive from our cabin for lunch. The surroundings were equally impressive:

Neil's Harbour, NS
On our one and only full day of sunshine, we took advantage of one of the most famous trails in Cape Breton: The Skyline Trail. The day was incredible and although the 9.2 km hike was a little taxing on a near 21-week pregnant mama and a toddler-wearing Jeff, it was an incredible hike with some majestic views:

Skyline Trail

We finished up the week with a little day trip in Baddeck and in honour of my birthday, we went to my favourite yarn store: Baadeck Yarns - with hand dyed, local yarn in the most sumptuous colour and then off to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Did you know his second home was in Baddeck, NS where he invented lots of interesting things, like the HD-4 Hydrofoil? Me neither, but since Honey Bear made me take her back to that part of the exhibit so she could see the big "plane" over four times, I'm now fully versed in the size, speed and dates of all HD models. Kids will do that to you.

There you have it - Cape Breton: A great place to eat, vacation and adventure!


  1. There's a YA book all about Bell and the Hydrofoil! I had to teach it for one of my ESL classes. I believe it is, appropriately enough, called Hydrofoil.

    Props to you on the hike! You've got some serious stamina girl!

  2. Oh! I wish I were there. I have been to the East Coast in a least 10 years (shame).

  3. Here's an added recommendation to sup at the Glenora Distillery. Their bread pudding was hands down the best I have ever had. It's worth the drive to Glenville. (And we only got to experience the pub menu, not the full dining room menu -- I can only imagine how much more amazing the "real" food must be.)


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