Our roundup of food, culture and travel news for December 2019

Our roundup of food, culture and travel news for December 2019

Terre
The new restaurant in the ALT Hotel St. John’s is all about accommodating.

Most hotel restaurants don’t get me excited. But the newly-opened Terre Restaurant in the Alt Hotel St. John’s is joining the ranks of buzzworthy hotel establishments across Canada that are rapidly changing my mind.

The empty shell of a restaurant had been vacant since the hotel opened in 2017, as if waiting for Terre to take up residence. Local designers Carvel & Helm honed the minimalist design with earthy-hued banquettes, white tile walls and stark black tables, while Stelios Doussis (former restaurant manager of Riviera in Ottawa, The Merchant Tavern in St. John’s and The Fogo Island Inn) has stepped in as general manager to oversee everything front-of-house, from the wine list to the cafe. In the kitchen, chef Matthew Swift came to Newfoundland with a hefty resume, having spent time in heavy-hitter kitchens like Joe Beef, Nota Bene and The Chase.

The food at Terre is truly seasonal; I visited three times between their late-July opening through September and the menu (which consists of small and large plates ranging from $5-$155) is a true reflection of the changing seasons in Newfoundland. July’s menu, for example, was full of fresh seafood and greens with dishes like Ice Shrimp Toast ($14) with housemade 1000-island dressing and basil or the Leeks Vinaigrette with smoked mussels ($13). My latest visit was on a crisp September evening with a few girlfriends. Cocktails came first; my Pimms cup ($16) was punchy and expectedly full of fresh citrus.

While us girls caught up, we munched on Spicy Cucumbers ($5) and Potato Bread ($4) which was really a small loaf served with a thick sour cream & scallion mixture instead of butter. It had the consistency of tzatziki but was a more subtle, less garlicky accompaniment to the hearty bread. Then came the Tomato & Smoked Mussel Panzanella ($15), an earthy and hearty bowl of bread salad, and the 8-ball Squash & Summer Mushrooms ($25) with chanterelles and mixed mushrooms, cheese curds and a jus so tasty we all nearly screamed at the server when he tried to take the bowl away—obviously we wanted to dip our fries ($7) in the jus!

The nightly menu’s ode to Newfoundland this particular evening was the Lettuce & Fried Cod Cheeks ($17). An acidic but perfectly creamy buttermilk dressing bathed the iceberg lettuce that served as a wedge-salad vessel for bulbous cod tongues in a light, flaky coating. The steak ($42) was an off-menu selection; the lamb dish we had first requested was sold out so the accommodating server finagled a delicious steak option for us; just one example of the above-and-beyond hospitality we received that night. It was topped with a chanterelle jus and marinated cauliflower florets so luscious we thought they were mushrooms.

Desserts included fresh-from-the-fryer Beignets ($6) and a chocolate lava cake ($7), both served with cream and local blueberries.

Terre’s exemplary service and delicious big bowls of Newfoundland-inspired food are a welcome addition to the restaurant scene in St. John’s.

Terre Restaurant
125 Water Street, St. John’s, N.L.
Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

To market, to market

Christmas markets across Canada worth jumping on a plane for

Christkindlmarkts, also known as Christmas Markets, have been a treasured German tradition for hundreds of years. Sadly, the direct flights from Halifax to Frankfurt stop at the end of October. Luckily, there are a few Christmas markets across Atlantic Canada where you can sample the gluhwein (mulled wine) or enjoy Victorian carolers.

In Dartmouth, the Alderney Landing market hosts their own Christkindlmarkt every year with craft activities and local choirs singing carols—this year’s market with German-style huts housing vendors selling artisan crafts runs from December 6 to 8. On the Island, Charlottetown hosts the open air Victorian Christmas Market from November 29 to December 1 with horse and wagon rides and artisan crafts and food vendors selling their wares to the tune of Victorian carolers. For busy shoppers in New Brunswick, the Last Minute Holiday Shop is hosted by the Chocolate River Farmers Market on December 18 in Riverview. In St. John’s, the MUN Botanical Gardens turns into a fairy light wonderland for the Merry & Bright Light Festival with hot chocolate, bonfires and crafts from December 4 to 22.

Book at me now

With the cold weather setting in, book clubs have been reinstated and we’ve rounded up the best new and notable Atlantic Canadian works to spark insight and debate

Small Game Hunting at the Local Gun Club
By Megan Gail Coles
In the first novel by Newfoundland playwright Megan Gail Coles, which just made the longlist for the 2019 Giller Prize, a cast of flawed characters (including a love triangle) wait out a storm in a fictional restaurant while trying to deal with the harsh realities of Newfoundland’s current economic constraints. [House of Anansi Press, Paperback, 440 pages, ISBN 9781487001711]

First Degree: From Med School to Murder: The Story Behind the Shocking Will Sandeson Trial
By Kayla Hounsell
Former Dalhousie medical student Will Sandeson was arrested for the murder of fellow student Taylor Samson in August 2015 and this non-fiction work by Nova Scotia journalist Kayla Hounsell documents the trials and tribulations of both the victim and the killer through personal interviews and never-before-seen photos. [Nimbus Publishing, Paperback, 256 pages, ISBN 9781771086660]

Transplanted: My Cystic Fibrosis Double-Lung Transplant Story
By Allison Watson
Both Allison Watson and her older sister Amy grew up with Cystic Fibrosis in Petitcodiac, N.B. In this work, Watson documents her life with this incurable disease, including the life-changing lung transplant she underwent in 2014. [Nimbus Publishing, Paperback, 232 pages, ISBN 9781771087179]

Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript
By Lucy Maud Montgomery
If you haven’t ever read Anne of Green Gables, this newly-collected work edited by Carolyn Strom Collins, a scholar of Lucy Maud Montgomery, is filled with the PEI author’s notes and doodles along with deleted scenes and additions, showing how Montgomery’s transcriptions and notes were put together to form one of the Island’s most famous works. [Nimbus Publishing, Paperback, 352 pages, ISBN: 9781771087216]

State of the Art(ist)

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax is welcoming back Althea Thauberger for a full-scale exhibition. The Saskatoon-born visual artist showed her first piece as part of the Sobey Art Award prize in 2014 and returns with four major works underlining the architecture of institutions (like the Kandahar International Airport and the Capri Cinema in Karachi) in a socio-political context using video, audio and photography. The Althea Thauberger: State of the Situation exhibition opens on November 5, 2019, and runs through April 5, 2020.

2 Comments to “Our roundup of food, culture and travel news for December 2019”

  1. Just wondering if you have PEI content?

    • Avatar Sarah Smellie // January 13, 2020 at 10:24 am // Reply

      Hi Dee,

      We sure do! The picture in this article is from Charlottetown’s awesome Victorian Christmas Market, mentioned in this article. This article also reviews Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript.

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