adventures in the far east — of canada!

The Irish Loop, pt. 2

In culture, food, st. john's on June 17, 2009 at 2:11 am

First off…can anyone (everyone…?) tell me whether they can see the pictures in “The Irish Loop, pt. 1”? I mean, besides the grid of clickable photos–how about the individual ones before and after that? I ask because sometimes I see them myself, and sometimes I don’t. It makes me cry inside.

Anyone, to conclude…

I Don’t Remember Where This Was
…but it was cool. I will have to ask my brother (he’s returned to Calgary now, since early Tuesday morning), and hopefully I can correct this…

I guess I have a thing for rocks, particularly if they’re in the sea, and the waves crash upon them. It’s like…I dunno, almost like an innate attraction, like how everyone is entranced by campfires, and can contentedly stare into one for a long time. Or is it maybe just me when it comes to waves?

Well anyway, one place we saw before Trepassey (I believe….) was this very rugged coastline. It had a placard and such, and explained that it wrecked a great many ships, and advised that should we hike a certain road in one of the upcoming towns, people can find a shipwreck that’s still there at the end of it. How cool is that? I have no idea to what extent it is wrecked or whole because we didn’t travel that path (it was getting late), but I’d like to go back some day.

Rocky coast

Rocky coast

More rocks

More rocks

Even more rocks

Even more rocks

Sea critters on the rocks

Sea critters on the rocks

between Trepassey and St. Vincent
We didn’t find much at Trepassey, but it was more interesting to see what lay between that community and St. Vincent–the barren lands!

Yes, this is the area I mentioned was once used to simulate moonwalks. I couldn’t believe my eyes…we were traveling from such richly forested and lush areas, I was honestly skeptical about the whole thing. “How can this give way to something that looks like the moon?” I said.

Well, it happened surprisingly quickly. There were trees, and then…they got shorter and shorter (I mean it–a person was taller than these pines), and they all grew sharply leaning away from the direction of the wind (a strange sight, indeed) before they disappeared altogether. Then there were shrubs, and even those vanished, and only ground-hugging lichen and rocks remained. It was absolutely eerie–as the vegetation thinned, we could see in the car the temperature dropping gradually, 1 at a time. It was in the low teens, but when we were in the thick of the barren lands, it was like 8 degrees or so.

It was dim, and felt so empty. Here and there was the rare house, and I thought, “Who would live in a place so bleak?” For all I know, they could be abandoned, but I think at least one had a car by it. Truly, it was a weird feeling, having emerged from such thick flora. I don’t believe in it, but I fancied it would not be a bad depiction of the Biblical limbo.

This area on either side of the Loop was like this (going south away from St. John’s, and then as the trip completed, heading back northwards). One placard in the barrens going back to St. John’s said you could potentially see the most southernmost herd of caribou, who typically live further up north. They eat a ton of lichen, and this place had plenty–so from this, I think it’s a reasonable inference that the land past the treeline in Canada’s Arctic would look similar, and we’ve learned so.

As a plains-dweller…you think the plains or Saskatchewan especially is flat? This area gave flat a whole new meaning! Despite being otherworldly and bizarre, I found it very interesting. The area is also called the Maritime Barrens if you want to look it up further.

Maritime barrens

Maritime barrens

Welcome to the moon

Welcome to the moon

St. Vincent
If I’m not mistaken, this is where we saw a lighthouse. It was fairly high up, and the rocks below (again) were fantastic, and the waves especially crashy! You can’t appreciate the height from the picture, but those rocks were a good ways down.

Nowadays, lighthouses don’t have to be attended by a person 24/7, but the station had a very nearby house with the government (signs warned that it was illegal to enter or mess with lighthouses without granted authority) that undoubtedly housed a “guard” if you will, in case something screws up. Anyway, we took pictures quickly and left, because there was also a warning that its fog horn may sound unexpectedly, and it’s volume is high enough to be dangerous. And as it were, it was getting foggy fast, so we wanted to be away from the thing before it was deemed foggy enough to switch on!

Especially crashy

Especially crashy



Riverhead and Salmonier
…unfortunately, by the time we left the lighthouse, it was very, VERY foggy. Like, could see only about 5-8 meters ahead of the car kind of foggy, so what could you see anyway? It was also getting pretty late, and we wanted to get back to St. John’s and catch a late dinner. So we skipped Riverhead. Further out, the fog cleared a lot by the time we reached Salmonier, but the park’s gates were shut, anyway, so even if we wanted to….

That concluded our Irish Loop adventure. Arriving back in St. John’s at about 9 pm, we decided to eat at St. John’s #1 restaurant–the Indian place, India Gate!

India Gate
Lemme start with a brief description of what I think of Indian food. I like it. Generally, however, I think it is often too strong, and so boldly flavoured that they’re sort of one-hit wonders–tasty, but straightforward and lacking subtlety. Plus, it’s often very spicy. Not that I mind that, but it’s another thing to distract from really tasting Indian food. But I like it, I visit places in Calgary every now and then.

But India Gate was pure awesome. OH–and it seems to be the thing in St. John’s restaurants to give some sort of free appetizer. As I mentioned, free miso soup for all customers. Here, we were surprised by a basket of very thinly baked things, almost like giant tortilla chips but spiced with Indian spices, accompanied by a lovely chutney and…carrot cubes. I thought that was stupid, but when you eat one…it’s like a mini flavour explosion. These carrots were still crisp, but were marinated very dynamically; together with the “chips” and chutney, it just sung.

What IS it about St. John’s? I’ve never been in a city with such consistent good eats! Duckworth and Water Street are a foodie’s dream destination!

I’m not saying this stuff just because of its rating. Actually, going in, I was skeptical. As the top restaurant, it better be pretty ridiculously awesome. And it was. All that stuff I said about Indian food, they did right here.

We tried a number of things–fish curry (halibut), curry prawns in almond sauce, a lamb curry, and sorta a roasted platter with fish, prawns, peppers, lamb, chicken, and onions. In that order: we could not believe the fish curry! Fish are so light-flavoured, I fully expected it to be lost, but their halibut was so sweet and tender. You could taste it, and the subtle curry as well. The prawns–and as a general aside, every time we’ve had prawns in St. John’s, they’ve been like this–are similarly unbelievable. I’m not kidding–the side of it was nearly as big as the side of my fist, thumb-side. And the edge–my brother and I cut it in half, and the two portions were still thicker than any prawn we’ve had! The texture is exceedingly crisp and juicy–what a treat. The sauce with almonds was to die for–very spicy, but wonderfully offset by a honey sweetness, making for a very nutty, fragrant flavour. The roast platter was all delicious–Indian meats to me are typically way too dried out (tandoori chicken, for example, but even those not done in a tandoori oven), but these were all juicy and perfectly seasoned. Bell peppers have never tasted better, and there were more prawns….

There is no better way to describe India Gate’s flavour than: it was Indian food, with Thai brilliance. I’ve always much preferred Thai curry for their amazing depth of flavour and range, but have never until then experienced something similar with Indian curry. Fantastic.

And as another Thai connection…my favourite Thai place in Calgary, the Rose Garden, is, as you know if you’ve gone, decorated to the max with cultural artifacts and art. It’s like you’ve entered a temple. This place had a similar thing going for the interior, but with Indian culture. Not as much (that would be hard to do) as the Rose Garden, but still all very beautiful and eclectic.

Overall, my personal bias and preference is still for sushi and Japanese food, but India Gate is hands down the best Indian food I’ve ever had. That night, I was so full I could burst! What a day…

The next day I’ll write up is Sunday, Johnson’s Geo Centre, another fantastic attraction. And then more work impressions, stories, and the last restaurant my brother and I dined in on The Rock (as the province is called), Blue on Water. SEAFOOD! 🙂

  1. Before I say anyting —–Do you know what time it is? superboy !!
    Take care!!

  2. But are they alive with the sound of music?…

  3. I could see all the pictures, but only the first – fourth were clickable. I love these rocks so much and the sea critters are so beautiful!! The “Maritime Barrens” looks just like the name…. Indian food is OK for me, the only thing that I love—– It’s the bread.HaHa : )

    • Okay, that’s alright, sometimes it looked like the pictures were missing altogether!

      I think you’d still love this Indian food if you could try it. Took your siblings to Thai yet? 😮

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