adventures in the far east — of canada!

Auf wiedersehen, meine Freunde!

In food, friends, st. john's on August 12, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Regatta Day had a curious effect on people. Not all, but certainly myself and many others at work.

It felt like a Monday; it felt like we just had a weekend. I called a morning greeting to a coworker, and just stopped short of asking, “So how was your weekend?” I told him what I’d wanted to say, and he told me he had just done some maintenance stuff at the studio, a procedure he only does on Monday…and then he realized that it was actually Thursday. Needless to say, it was an off day, and people were tired. I believe the coworker who rowed took a day off to recuperate.

I don’t recall if I said so, but during our discussions splayed out upon the grassy shade near the lake on Regatta Day, we did come to a decision on where to eat, with the basic goal that the Germans wanted more seafood. They tell me it’s terribly expensive back home, and Maria said she had only had lobster once in her life as a child before coming here. Once! Poor girl…

So off to the Murray Premises I went, a square courtyard I didn’t know existed that grew right off of Water Street until I set out looking for it. There, we waited for everyone to arrive, and for a table at the Hungry Fishermen on small bleachers set up around the courtyard. There was a hotel there as well, and some small shops, and curiously, a few international flags hung bordering the area’s handful of picnic tables. I wonder what that’s all about? Perhaps I’d discovered a new happening place in St. John’s…plays? Performances? I’m not sure, and no one was 100% certain either, including native Newfoundlander Angus.

Our table was ready in about half an hour, and everyone was present except Celine. Before we went in, though…

Leading up to her departure from St. John’s, Maria had a small list of things she’d wanted to do before she left, as it related to Newfoundland and Canada (even though she’s visited the country before). The other day she went to the Regatta and had maple syrup at Angus’s, but there were still a few things she missed, like seeing an iceberg. She was also set on eating moose sausage, and we were light-heartedly recounting some of these things as we got ready to head in. She was extremely mock-disappointed that moose sausage had eluded her (though with these things, I do suspect there is some real regret, of course).

And lo and behold…Philipp hands her a tinfoiled plate. She didn’t know what it was; it couldn’t be, could it?

IT WAS! Haha, she was delighted…Philipp’s roommate’s parents hunt or something, and they had a freezer full of different meats. He said they had plenty of moose, and apparently, sausage is one of the things most people like to make out of it, because it keeps well. Along with the meat was also a generous pool of mustard sauce.

She happily ate it, proclaiming another item struck off her list, and joked that it was her appetizer for the meal. Offering it around, I declined, despite not having tried any moose sausage myself…it was her moment, you know? 🙂

Inside, we chatted and waited for Celine some more, until it just got later and later. Despite the free buns and butter, we were hungry, and she was not answering her phone. Leaving a day after they were (except Philipp), they told me she had endeavoured to pack up, finish up all her own chores here, and bake a lot of treats for the hospital for her last day. She was probably still rushing about.

I can quickly gloss over the food at Hungry Fishermen. As I had said before, Karen told me most Newfoundlanders don’t go to seafood restaurants–it’s much cheaper to buy and prepare it yourself, and many have family out in the bay towns, and they can get freshly caught fish and lobster from them if they wanted for free.

It was a fine restaurant. It was priced very lavishly, but we knew that going in; however, to send off these good friends, we were all more than willing to. The food was good, but there wasn’t very much of it, and for what I paid, I could have had a whole lot more shrimp and scallop! The Germans were very pleased though, so I was, too–they had lobster bisque and a wonderfully chunky seafood chowder, a salad, and a variety entree that had a bit of a lot of different seafoods. For example, it was the first time they’d had halibut and scallops, which to us may sound weird!

Unfortunately, one of their coworkers from the hospital (from NL) had to abruptly leave–as is the case for many hospital staff, he was on call, and while they told me it’s rare after their long day, he got buzzed in and had to leave…the girls packed up his dinner (before it’d even arrived), and would give it to him afterwards.

As we concluded dinner Celine at last arrived! Actually, she’d thought the event was an hour later, and had just finished up her chores. She apologized profusely, we were cool with it, and she ordered some salad, telling us about the berry cupcakes she’d baked after picking a whole bunch here.

At dessert time, the table was too curious not to try Screech Pie, so the table ordered 2 to share…but I must say it was quite disappointing. It was a rich chocolate cake with cookie crumble bottom and tasty fruit reductions drizzled around, but what could have been (I imagine) a very subtle and successful rum accent was in reality far too strong. The flavour of the cake was ruined with how alcoholic it tasted, and we joked that people shouldn’t be allowed to drive after a slice (the not very attendant waitress had joked that we’d still be able to). I bet you the pie was flammable.

After a hefty bill, we headed to George Street! We went to Lottie’s, a place Angus tells us is very disreputable (creepy guys, crazy anything-goes), but it was a Thursday night, and they’re known for $4.50 White Russians every day, all the time. So we had some haha–Maria insisted on buying mine, because I think she felt it was her last opportunity to pay me back a little for the hospitality. I never need to be paid back for kindness, and I was putting up some fight, but I could tell it’d mean a lot to her, so… I gladly accepted. 🙂

Throughout Regatta Day and today (still), Lisa was rounding up the last signatures for Maria’s gift mug, and it was at last time to present it. They tasked my with the job of chatting with Maria until 10 to 12 or something (11:50 pm), while Lisa, Celine, and Philipp set up by a stand of trees across the street. Jeanne and Angus were still with me, and I carried on the conversation…with some difficulty! We’d spoken a lot already these past few days, and were comfortable, so there were no more getting-to-know-you-more kinda topics…so there was weather…plans and things she’ll have to do in Germany…uh….

I kept making these less than discreet yapping motions at Jeanne and Angus, who both either did not see, or did not care lol. Angus was busy, mind elsewhere with mime-drumming some live music heard from within a bar, and Jeanne later told me she just wanted to see me struggle! Maria at one point asked what I was doing. “Oh, nothing…” I rolled my wrist to the flow of the music (as you would typically do with an index finger), and bobbed my head more. Haha.

At last, we were retrieved! And Maria was surprised with a mini cake (more a cupcake) impaled with a handful of candles, but only a few were lit (Lisa was having a lot of trouble in the wind). There was also some champaign that Philipp brought, and her gifts arrayed around the set up, and they sang “Happy Birthday” in German, and us in English.

And then all too soon, the night was over…the rest of us had work to return to the next day, and Lisa and Maria’s separate flights were both long; one even had a stopover in Ottawa for 10 hours! Yes, it’s true–flying somewhere from St. John’s is tough, and usually ends up with you flying away from where you want to go for a distance (if you’re lucky, the shortest delay is to Halifax), and then flying to your destination…and on the way traveling back over St. John’s! It’s not a huge enough city that all the big destinations go there, so you connect via cities like Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa.

Alas I did not bring a camera that night–forgot! Hopefully I will receive some pictures from the others soon.

Well, it’s really no matter–honestly, thinking back, I still hold onto the memories closely and gladly. We only knew each other all briefly, but as we hugged goodbye, I think we all felt we’ve become good friends. It was sad to see them go, and indeed my plans to one day visit Europe seem that much more urgent, with something more to look forward to than just discovery and adventure: meeting old friends again.

Auf widersehen, meine Freunde. We will meet again some day!

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