Real Man Travels Presents: 150 of Our Favourite Canadian Things

Follow along as we list off our favourite 150 Canadian things over 150 days to celebrate Canada Day!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A Taste of Halifax - A Guide to Dining in Halifax, Nova Scotia

How good is the food in Halifax? This post could easily been titled how to gain 10 lbs in four days in Halifax. The food is that good. Luckily for my waistline, I was traveling with a foodie companion who doesn't mind sharing, which allowed me to consume everything you see below. If you are a regular reader of our site you've probably already read about my recent trip to Halifax in my five "Must Do" Experiences article. If not, take a couple minutes to get caught up, we'll wait here for you. Now that we're all caught us here is my guide to dining in Halifax.

WARNING: WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WILL MAKE YOU HUNGRY

Breakfast: 

We all know it's the most important meal of the day. Getting your day, or vacation, off to a good start with a delicious meal fit for a king always sets the tone for what lies ahead. So where better to start a dining guide?

Bluenose II - Just a few blocks from the waterfront this small restaurant serves up huge pancakes and classic breakfast food. It's no exaggeration that a pancake here is the size of a dinner plate. Check it out for a casual breakfast while you map out the rest of your day.

The Coastal Cafe - While technically a brunch hot spot, The Coastal Cafe gets the nod for breakfast too. with generous portions of unusual, yet delectable food combinations (including my personal favourite, the Elvis – which includes a waffle adorned with peanut butter, banana and bacon) you will soon realize that the food is worth the wait to get in!

Brunch Halifax
The Elvis!
Brunch Halifax
The McCoastal breakfast sandwich
Lunch: 

All over Halifax there's amazing food waiting to be enjoyed mid day, a good many with views of the ocean. Here's a rundown of the places we enjoyed

Salty's - With a picturesque view of the harbourfront and a comprehensive menu offering many fresh seafood options, I quickly understood why this was a harbourside hotspot amongst locals and tourists alike.

Lunch Halifax
Delicious crab cakes from Salty's
Brooklyn Warehouse - Offering a simple, yet appealing menu including Nova Scotia beef, fish and pork options. Located just outside of the downtown Halifax core, Brooklyn Warehouse provides a relaxing atmosphere for a casual lunch or dinner with friends.

Lunch Halifax
The Brooklyn burger - N.S beef, P.E.I cheddar and beer infused mustard/mayo. So manly, so good.
Rhubarb - Take my advice from the last article and drive out to Peggy's Cove, but do yourself a favour and avoid the tourist trap lunch spots there. Instead, drive five minutes west on the Route 333 coastal highway to this quaint spot with an ocean view. Rhubarb is a great place to enjoy a casual meal after taking in Peggy's Cove. Menu options include gluten-free battered fish, a Propeller soda marinated beef brisket sandwich, and a variety of thin crust pizzas made with Canada Dry Ginger Ale dough.

Dinner:

The Real Man Travels vacation dinner philosophy is simple. Go big or go home. As the trip diva of the group I may take that a little further than others, however, I found a few absolutely amazing restaurants in Halifax that you just have to try for yourself.

McKelvies - A Halifax landmark, this former fire station (how cool is that?) is located right near the harbour. One of their most popular menu items, the lobster thermidor, is sure to send your tastebuds on vacation. With a romantic yet casual atmosphere, McKelvies is a great spot for a date or to enjoy a nice dinner with family.

Dinner Halifax
Lobster poutine! How much more East Coast Canadian can you get?
Dinner Halifax
McKelvies signature seafood platter is a home run for any seafood lover
Dinner Halifax
Surf and turf with lobster thermidor
Bistro Le Coq - For some incredible and decadent French cuisine, Bistro Le Coq is sure to impress even the most meticulous critic. With sharable cheese and charcuterie platters, a variety of French classics (including croque monsieur, quiche and crepes) and foodie favourites, along with understated yet sophisticated atmosphere, Bistro Le Coq is a perfect spot for a leisurely lunch or dinner. Located in the heart of Halifax's lively Argyle Street, its also a great place to dine before taking in a show at the nearby Neptune Theatre. NOTE: Not pictured is an absolutely amazing mussels appetizer that I highly recommend.

Large cheese plate that is to die for
Classic french onion soup
Scallops with ratatouille 
Prime striploin with fingerling potatoes
Chive Canadian Bistro - If locally sourced food is up your alley, Chives Canadian Bistro is a definite must-see. Offering a chic interior that contains beautiful wood, rock and water features, and providing a number of meat, vegetarian and gluten-free options to patrons, guests leave feeling satisfied and attended to. Consistently ranking among the best restaurants in Canada, it will not disappoint any hungry traveler.

dinner halifax
Cape Breton snow crab spring roll with braised pork belly
Dinner Halifax
Lobster gnudi "A La King"
Dinner Halifax
The fish dish - Always local, always fresh
Dinner Halifax
Steak 2 Ways
Dessert- There's a clear cut run away winner for where to get dessert in Halifax. As I type this I can't help but drool all over my keyboard.

The Middle Spoon - The Middle Spoon is the place to go. Period. End of story. The convenient location right off Barrington Street, combined with a romantic atmosphere (decorated with lots of white, black and red fabrics) and desserts that are big enough to share, make this the perfect spot for a late night treat with that special someone. The molten lava chocolate cake is out of this world, and you can build your own sundae with unique and delicious topping choices.

dessert in halifax
Unreal molten lavacake
Sundae with cookie dough, chocolate sauce and peanut butter drizzle
Night Cap - Here's a fun little tidbit you aren't likely to find elsewhere. There's this speakeasy in Halifax called The Noble. If you know the secret phrase you can enjoy unique twists on classic cocktails in a secret bar located right near one of the places mentioned in the article. I really shouldn't even be telling you this. This place is like Fight Club. The first rule of The Noble, is don't talk about The Noble. Even the staff plays dumb when you mention it without the password. Just go to their twitter account and click around. Put your email in, and Thursday morning they will send you the pass phrase. You didn't hear it from me, capeesh?


Well there it is, my guide to dining in Halifax. Whether you enjoy seafood, meat or vegetarian options; have a moderate or exquisite budget; are looking for a large meal or a quick bite, Halifax has something delicious and amazing for you to discover. Bon appetit!

Have a favourite place we didn't mention? Let us know in the comment section below

Sam

Thursday, 19 June 2014

5 “Must Do” Experiences in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Canada’s East Coast is a beautiful place, and it may not get any better than Halifax, Nova Scotia. The good folks at Destination Halifax (check out their website if you are even considering heading east) were kind enough to provide trip planning assistance for this excursion, pointing me to some can't miss spots in the Warden of the North. Some of the "Must Dos" listed below also come care of the staff at the Radisson Suites Halifax. Trevor, the Head Concierge and member of the infamous Les Clefs d’Or (similar to the Society of Crossed Keys from the film, Grand Budapest Hotel), and the team at the front desk were extremely knowledgeable on all things Halifax and provided unbiased insights on anything from where to eat, what to see, and which local chocolate milk you really must try. With so much to see and do, this post will be the first of a three part series detailing my experience in "Happyflax."

Built in 1820 the Alexander Keith's Brewery is the one of the oldest working breweries in North America
1. Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour 

Located in downtown Halifax, right at the waterfront, sits one of North America's oldest working breweries. Built in 1820, a tour of this historic brewery is well worth the visit. While I was a bit hesitant about a tour led by actors in period garb, I left with a greater understanding of Alexander Keith’s rich Nova Scotian history, and a stomach full of his delicious ales.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 near the Seaport Farmers Market
2. Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 

There’s a pretty good chance that if you’re Canadian your family immigrated here at some point in time. Well if that point of time was between 1928-1971, there's a good chance they passed through Pier 21. The museum does a masterful job giving visitors a glimpse into what life for families and individuals immigrating to Canada was like. The Scotiabank Family History Centre will even help you trace your own lineage. They did so for me, and seeing my Great Grandfathers name on the passenger manifest of the ship that brought him over from Wales was icing on the cake for this visit.

Lobster traps and various fishing equipment line the harbour in Peggy's Cove
3. Drive to Peggy’s Cove 

A scenic one hour drive out of downtown Halifax sits the remote fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. Now primarily a tourist destination, it maintains a rustic charm as people flock to see the lighthouse and the view from Peggy’s Point. When you get there you’ll fully understand why. Make sure you take them time to sit on a bench, or a rock, and just watch the ocean roll in. You are on vacation, after all.

Inside the Citadel walls
4. Experience the Halifax Citadel 

Citadel Hill is easy to spot as you make your way through the city. Citadel Hill houses not only the Maritimes’ oldest working town clock, but also a Parks Canada’s National Historic Site. With living history being the centrepiece of the Citadel, you will get a glimpse into a British naval base in the 1850’s. I suggest you visit in the mid-morning to take in the changing of the guard and the firing of the noon cannon.

Georges Island from the Harbourfront boardwalk
5. Walk the Harbourfront 

The Halifax harbour is a truly beautiful site. It’s easy to find a bench from which to watch the ferries run in and out of the Halifax Terminal or just people watch as tourists and locals alike move by on the boardwalk. If you’re looking for a place to take a picturesque jog, look no further. Simply start from the Casino Nova Scotia and run the boardwalk to the Seaport Farmers Market in the early hours of the morning. I promise, at least once during the 2km stretch, will contemplate packing up and moving. With restaurants, shops, museums and a casino, the Halifax harbour has something for everyone.



Check in next week for Part Two of the Halifax series – a guide to dinning in Halifax.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

King City Craft Beer and Food Truck Festival Recap

A post by Ed Arsenault

Beer festivals are generally common to those living in a city, but for those that live in smaller communities they don’t happen too often. Starting what will hopefully be a growing trend, the Parks, Recreation and Culture department of King Township hosted a Craft Beer and Food Truck Festival on Saturday June 14, 2014. I had the pleasure of being a guest and joining in on the festivities.

Along for the ride was our resident beer expert, Scott Fry (@SFRealManTravels) and representing Real Girl Travels was Sarah (@sarahe05). The three of us made the rounds sampling as much as we could in our relatively short time frame.



So what is different about this festival from any other?

The number one difference was that it was intended for an entire community. Knowing very well that families were the demographic, the team at King Township made sure the event catered to them. Families could be found lying in the grass on blankets with rock n roll music as the soundtrack of the day. This is the only festival I have ever attended where dogs were permitted onto the grounds. Because of that I found my own dog’s doppelganger and made some new friends (on two legs and four).



While some bigger brewers were missing from the event, the selection of good tasting beer was not. Some notables in attendance included: Flying Monkeys (@FlyingMonkeys), Steam Whistle (@Steamwhistle), Double Trouble Brewery (@HopsandRobbers), Arch Brewing Company (@ArchBrewingCo), , Hockley Valley Brewing Company, Highlander Brew Company (@HighlanderBrew) and King City's own King Brewery (@KingBrewery)

A quick recap of our favourite flavours on the day were: Orange Mungus by Flying Monkeys, an orange infused beer that tasted much more like a mimosa. I’ve declared it would be the perfect starter drink on a weekend cottage trip in lieu of orange juice. Arch Brewery's Dinner Jacket delivered a red India Pale Ale that was softened by infused oats. Highland Brewery stole the show for us with their BlackSmith Smoked Porter. Maybe it was the espresso taste, or the hints of maple and dark chocolate, or perhaps it was simply because it was the end of our drinking day. Either way we had to have more and visited the fine folks of Highlander Brewing multiple times for this drink.

Orange Mungus by Flying Monkeys
Food choices were excellent as well, with the options ranging from Mexican to Italian to Greek to smoked meats. For us the clear winner of tastiest food belonged to Gourmet Gringos and their fish tacos.

Fish Tacos from Gourmet Gringos
I hope that King Township keeps the tradition of the Craft Beer and Food Truck Festival alive and returns next year. I'd be sure to visit again, this time with my dog! Thanks to King City's Parks, Recreation and Culture team (@ParksRecCulture) for the invite out and all their hard work organizing the event.


Did you attend? Let us know below in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

This Week in Beer – Ale-Induced Anecdotals Part Deux

A post by Scott F

People do crazy things with beer: they put strange things in it, consume nothing but it, put it in things where it normally isn't, and regularly drink far too much of it in too short of time – with varied results. Ale-induced anecdotals captures the weird and wacky from the world of beer and distills it for the Real Man Travels faithful.

Let’s play a good ol’ game of hide the beer.

Some dude (or dudette) is going around hiding beer in Vancouver and tweeting about it. This is on the heels of other similar accounts that have hidden money or “other intoxicants.” I hereby grant this individual the title: Sudsy Games Master of the Thirsty Games!


Rebuilding bones... with beer!

Some sophisticated Spaniards realized that brewing waste is made up of the same chemical components found in bone, like, calcium and stuff. So they decided to go ahead and make bones out of it (well, kind of). Read more.

Check out that fancy picture of beer bone goodness.
Japanese Bee Yeast.

The good folks that bring you Sapporo (actually in Japan, not Guelph, ON) discovered a yeast that appears on bees as they do bee stuff. Evidently Sapporo is a huge supporter of bees and bee culture in Japan. They say the yeast imparts a unique cinnamon flavour and they've managed to harvest enough of the stuff to make beer. Joke for this section: “where does a bee hang out it Japan? At the clubzzzzzzz.” Boom! 

Dill Pickle Beer.

Canadians do crazy stuff with beer too! Ben Johnson, of the exceptional Ben’s Beer Blog, teamed up with Great Lakes Brewery to create Dill Hole IPA. Who needs a bag of chips with your beer when you can have it all-in-one? Convenience. Value. Taste. Fierce. 

And to wrap things up, this guy.



Drink safe, friends. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

A Step in the Right Direction - The Unveiling of our Logo

There comes a time when all leaders will face challenges, how that leader reacts to those challenges may define them. 


That is what I had going through my head last June when I invited my friends to join me and start contributing to Real Man Travels. I would have to lead these guys down my path and show them the ropes and the light, and it seemed a daunting task as I was unsure of how it would work.  Looking back it was one of the best choices I have ever made. Definitely a step in the right direction. There would of course be creative differences down the road and other challenges that come with growth.

The Birth of our Logo: A challenge had arisen after having a few pints at a round table discussion (a.k.a. local bar). We decided to make a logo for our brand and website. We asked our Friend Linnea at Neat Design for her help, shared our vision with her and let her see what she could come up with.  

We were nervous about the outcome. We wanted it to be awesome but all had our own separate ideas of what it would look like. Our group had several discussions about the logo: some productive and some, not so productive. But we pushed through, acted like a team, compromised like adults and eventually came up with our finished product, which you see below. Thanks again to Linnea for all her work and to my team who work hard to keep our readers entertained.

  
Let us know what you think!

Cheers,

Chris

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Ale Up There - Lake of The Woods Brewing Company

Recently I took a trip through northwestern Ontario with a few stops along the way. While the BBQ at Buster's BBQ in Vermilion Bay was a definite highlight (try the Carolina pulled pork sandwich, it's unreal) the best part of my trip was the beer from a brewery located way up in the heart of Kenora, ON. Near the shores of Lake of the Woods, far from the prying eyes of beer enthusiasts, lies a little known gem of a brewery: Lake of The Woods Brewing Company (check them out on Twitter @lowbrewco).

kenora beer
a couple of growlers for home

This is easily one of my favourite places to visit when I'm in Kenora, and possibly my favourite in all of northwestern Ontario. I'm not quite sure which I like more about these guys, the fact that they brew unbelievable beers, or that they've renovated the old Kenora fire house into a spectacular little brew pub. Lake of The Woods Brewing Company typically features three staple beers and a seasonal on tap. The Firehouse Amber Ale, Sultana Gold Ale and Papermaker Pilsner make up this fine stable of beers and during my recent visit the seasonal was an unfiltered 'kellerbier' version of their sultana gold ale. Now, you really can't go wrong with any of these brews (they've all scored four or higher in my Untappd account) but the cream of the crop for me is definitely the Firehouse Amber Ale, aptly named after their stronghold.

Combining a great beer with local history
This well balanced pint of awesomeness perfectly combines the full flavour that beer lovers crave with the drink-ability of the easiest of easy drinking beers. Pair that with some of their signature walleye bites and you've got yourself just about everything you're going to need for a stay at the pub. "What about entertainment?", you might ask. Well the crew Lake of The Woods Brewing Company thought of that too! The second floor of this joint has been artfully renovated into a full-on games room fit for the man cave of your dreams. including pool and foosball tables, darts, and for us gamers, a few arcade games too. They've also got a retail store where you can fill your very own growler (64 oz. beer jug) with any of their beers on tap. All that's left to do is grab a pint and make your way through the large glass roll up doors onto the sweet patio and enjoy some sunshine at your new favourite hang out.

Front view of Lake of the Woods Brewing Company Tap Room Patio

I bet you're all wondering where you can get your mitts on these beers. Here's some good news: this remote brewery is now servicing several pubs in both Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. They even ship their seasonal brews out to the local pubs (the blueberry ale was on tap at Lot 66 as recently as a couple of weekends ago). So if you're not in the area, you still get the opportunity to sample the best creations their brewmaster can offer up (my personal favourite was their dopplebock offered late last fall).

After Kenora I made a stop at the Rendezvous hotel in Fort Frances, for some food and drink. To my delight the rendezvous also offered up all of the Lake of The Woods Brewing Company's beers on their patio overlooking a the lake. There is so much beauty in the scenery of northern Ontario (Sioux Narrows, I'm looking at you!). You owe it to yourself to come check it out.

beer, fort frances
perfect view to cap the day

-Justin

Monday, 2 June 2014

A Real Man Travels Guide To BBQ Etiquette

With the warm weather here to stay you're probably fielding more than a few invites for backyard BBQs with your friends and colleagues. Here at Real Man Travels, we too enjoy the age old pass time of touching meat to flame. That said, there's an etiquette that must be abided when attending another man's BBQ; a few simple rules to show respect to the grill master of the house. We've compiled the list to assist you in avoiding any flaming faux pas.

1. Never ever ever ever ever, not even if it's a ball of flames, touch another man's grill. Really, who are you to touch another man's grill? I don't care if you're the Man of The Year, don't do it.

Charbroiled to perfection!

2. If you are going to approach the grill master, make it a social visit. He doesn't need your advice on when to flip a burger. So keep your eyes off his meat.

3. Do not debate the merits of propane vs. natural gas. This is not the time or the place. If you have to ask if it IS the time or the place, then it is still not the time or the place.

4. BYOB. Simple enough, but bring something share worthy. A unique beer can be a great icebreaker when meeting new people. Your beer will say a lot about you, so don't get too carried away or you might come off  a bit snobby. Though you do want to stand out from the other six guys holding silver bullets.

Double Trouble Brewing Co. is a favourite in the Real Man beer fridge

5. If your beer needs a refill, see if your grill master needs one too. Real men look out for one another.

6. Be a side dish sidekick. When accepting the invite to a BBQ make sure you ask if there's anything you can bring. While this is good manners, it also reduces the chances of eight bowls of potato salad finding there way into the garbage.

7. Dress appropriately. If you're doing some grilling with your buds you can wear almost anything, but when you're invited as a guest try not look like a hobo (unless the BBQ is hobo-themed). I'm not saying you have to dress like you're partying with The Great Gatsby, but just because the sun's out, doesn't mean you should to bring the guns out either.

8. Use your manners. Something I notice almost everyday regardless of where I am is how little people say a simple "please" or "thank you." Bring your manners when you hit the summer BBQ circuit.

9. Your mom isn't here, so clean up after yourself. It's not a lot of work cleaning up after a BBQ but helping bottles and cans make it into the recycling bin on your way out goes a long way with your host. Note, if your mom is the host, help clean up anyway, you ingrate!

10. Secure transportation BEFORE you start drinking. We all know there is no excuse for drinking and driving. Real men don't drink and drive. Plan ahead: get picked up, take a cab, walk, or crash on the couch.



Think we are out of line? Have a guideline of your own? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below

-Sam