adventures in the far east — of canada!

The Basilica of St. John the Baptist…and LOBSTER!

In food, internship, st. john's on June 19, 2009 at 12:53 am

On Monday, my first day of work, my brother went off to see the basilica himself, and to buy me even more groceries. I have so much food right now, and I dunno when I’ll get to it; when I cook, I cook in batches. Right now, I’m working through a load of pasta and sauce I made all at once early on, and I’ve successfully used it for lunch this whole week (including tomorrow). I still have one more portion left, I guess for Saturday…

I keep thinking it’s boring, but then I eat it. Forgive the boast, but it’s delicious. 🙂 Shrimp, carrots, mushrooms, pollack, and miso in a light cream base. A small mound of carrots and an apple as well. Cereal for a quick breakfast–by the way, Kashi’s Probiotic cereal is so tasty! All my favourite cereals are quite low in sugar and high in fiber, so it sounds bland, but that one’s amazing…

Anyway, the Basilica first. I don’t know much about it other than it’s the centre of Catholicism in the province and an icon, but Wikipedia does a good summary of things:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._John_the_Baptist

And a dump of some of my brother’s pictures. They’re quite beautiful…I plan to go there myself some time when I have the time.

After work, we went to have a real seafood dinner at Blue On Water, a fine dining establishment. It was classy and modern inside, and located on Water Street–that’s what the “On Water” part of their name comes from–the same street Target Marketing is located along. Talking to Karen, it seems it’s Water Street and Duckworth Street that’s known to be the nicest, and where most of the restaurants are located. They’re right beside each other, and as all “good” roads tend to be in St. John’s, they run perpendicular to the slope (so it doesn’t threaten to pitch you forward or back), so they’re relatively level across.

I’d forgotten about restaurants here, and their tendency to give free food, so I was surprised by a basket of bread, and olive oil and vinegar to dip it. A fairly average freebie, because while it’s lovely, it’s not special–Chianti’s in Calgary does the same.

Anyway, my brother ordered us both some bubbly and knocked glasses, wishing me the beginning and endurance of a long career. 🙂

Then we ordered. Well, what can be said? Fantastic food, as always. But my bias is always towards exotic ethnic food, so while the eats there were top-notch, I’d generally go to a Japanese, Thai, or Indian place first. Again, just preference, but for a fine dining place, it was impressive.

We ordered pretty much all seafood; him a smoked seafood chowder (had just about every kind of sea creature), and I had a broth-ier one, and it was stacked up with mussels, prawn (!!! as always over here–UNRIVALED prawns!), fish, and so on. Very tasty, very crisp (I hate mushy seafood), very fresh.

This is the sort of place it was: we were initially disappointed at the menu because there was no lobster! But the waiter listed it off as part of the specials–one lobster plus a steak with mashed potatoes, or minust the steak and TWO lobsters–and said it’s not on the menu because if they can’t get lobster fresh, they won’t serve it! You won’t find frozen knock-offs here…

We planned it out. We wanted to eat more seafood, and maybe try something Newfoundland-ish. So as an appetizer, a local delicacy, cod tongues! We determined that my brother would get the double lobster, give me one, and I’d get a cod main (the body, not just the tongues this time) and pass him half.

Cod tongues are good! They were lightly fried, served with some custom tartar sauce on the side, peppered, and a lemon wedge. To make sure we tried it all, we: ate it plain; ate it with tartar sauce; squeezed lemon over it and tried it; and had it with lemon and the sauce. It was good all ways–it just tasted like fish, but much softer, almost gooey (but not gross), but very buttery. My cod filet was tasty as well–restaurants in St. John’s really knows how to prepare seafood so it’s not overcooked or too raw, but just right–very tender, with very fine, moist fibers. It came draped over a fine risoto, with a nuanced, herb-infused, chunky tomato sauce. Excellent.

But the real story is of course, the lobster. After all the hype…

YES. It is indeed better than Pacific lobster! It is a popular thing, in fact, for visitors to the Maritimes to fly back home with a box of Atlantic lobsters, iced and packed for them from wherever shop they bought it from as a piece of carry-on luggage. One of my teachers does this whenever she visits Halifax, and when she wants it bad enough, you can have it shipped over and you pick it up at your hometown airport. My brother got 7, and my family had it Tuesday night for dinner, and my visiting aunt, a longtime Vancouverite, confirmed Atlantic lobster’s superiority.

What makes it better? It is quite quantifiable. They’re big, for one–not much huger, but big nonetheless. They taste much more strongly of lobster–imagine the taste of lobster as you know it (probably from the Pacific), and intensify it. Mmmm. The flesh is far crisper–it almost pushes back, so it is never mushy, but so meaty! And its fat and juices taste richer, more buttery. Buy females; they’re bigger than males, and may have roe in them. Over here, lobsters typically sell for $5 or $6 a pound, depending on where you go!

Just thinking about them lobsters is making me hungry! Best seafood I’ve had, plain or with their brilliant melted garlic butter they provide…

Anyway, Karen told us why seafood places aren’t the natural top places here–obviously, because it’s so common. Locals typically will not go to such fine dining places to eat lobster, as it’s expensive, considering they can buy it themselves so much more cheaply; it’s more common for newcomers like us. An apt observation, but no regrets whatsoever…

Well, I will be finishing up my first week at Target today! Fridays seem to be soft days–I’ll be looking forward to watching Pixar’s Up in the afternoon as a company outing, and then maybe get some drinks and go home! My next post will be to summarize my time so far at Target, be sure to look for it.

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  1. WoW!!! Superb!! The lobsters is making me so hungry! I will come one day for sure……..It’s quite silly that you are eating pasta
    for a whole week. Why don’t you leave some for next week?? : )

  2. Because I don’t have much fridge space! I could make something else and switch between that, but it’s not a problem, I’m almost done…and again, it’s good! 🙂

    Try to come while I’m still here!

  3. Damn, I want lobster. Haha. Did you know that “Basilica” kind of sounds like “Battlestar Galactica” crammed into one word? Oh the things I think about at work…

  4. That comment was made of all kinds of win! XD

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