Fish and Tall Ships

Tall ShipsI don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a bunch of ships docked in the harbour. Their defining characteristic: tallness. Yep, that’s right: they’re finally here. The town crier can finally put his hand bell back in the box, rest his weary eyes and save his oyez-es for another day. Because: TALL SHIPS!

A walk down the waterfront is quite a sight. Tense cables crisscross around skyscraping masts, like game after game of cat’s cradle. Tiny flags flap and wave in the constant harbour breeze. Waves slap the sides of boats like thousands of tiny pats on a shoulder: “Good job, you guys,” says the Ocean. “You’re pretty boats, all right!”

And they are pretty. You should go look at those ships! Those tall, tall ships! Just take a deep breath and power through the hordes of slow-walkers who dozily stop for every fiddle player and old-timey, top-hatted day player they come across. Just stop being so cool for five minutes, ok Fonzie? Soak in the saltiness. Steep in Maritime-iness. Boats! Water! Beer! It’s summah: just shut up and enjoy yourself, ya big jerk.

Poor Theodore Tugboat, though. All that guy does is bring joy to an entire generation of children and how do we, as a city, thank him? We put some terrible jazz-lite bands on the Harbour Cruise ships that are docked next to him. Poor guy. I’m no expert on anthropomorphized boats, but I’m guessing there isn’t a tugboat-with-eyeballs in the world that wants to stare blankly and unblinkingly at some middle aged guy slapping a bass all weekend. Sorry, Theodore. Annnnyway…

In the area between the Waterfront Warehouse and Bishop’s Landing—a little patch of land that has become a pretty rad venue for events from the IncrEdible Picnic to JazzFest—Taste of Nova Scotia is putting on “Food Fare by the Sea,” a summery food court that is taking full advantage of Tall Ship Fever. (Previously known as scurvy?)

A horseshoe of vendors are perched around an unfortunate path of sand (which is going to be removed tonight, I guess, and thank god) that circles a beer tent area and a seating area that looks onto a stage where cooks cook and tap dancers tap dance, depending on the time of day. I guess at some point celebrity chefs Anna Olson and Chuck Hughes will be on stage baking lobster cookies and crossing their arms in a tough no-nonsense manner or something. So don’t miss that! Not sure if you’re in the right place? Don’t worry: you enter through a lobster trap. LOL: Maritimes! (Deep breath. Steep.)

There are a lot of great offerings. Cheelin, who is—to the surprise of many—one of the biggest buyers at local farmers’ markets, has a booth with some standard Chinese fare. White Point Beach Resort is offering jerk chicken and fish cakes. Meadowbrook Meat Market has all-pork “jimmie dogs,” their housemade hot dogs, which one of the guys working the booth convinced me to try with peanut butter: a thing that… happened. There is also wine from Domaine de Grand Pre and some delicious new rhubarb liqueur from Ironworks Distillery. Basically, there is a lot to try.

I didn’t have time to try everything—hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back and enjoy the sunshine and snacks as the weekend goes on—but from the bits and bites I had today, my two favourite foods were the bánh mì from Fid Resto and the incredibly delicious haddock burger from Ace Burger Company. I love the simplicity of a sandwich at an event like this, and I really like that the former took local ingredients and made something a little bit outside of the box for your average tall shipper, while the latter took a classic Atlantic Canadian dish—pan fried haddock—and made something that is really in the spirit of a sunny, summer picnic. There were a few things I didn’t like, but I don’t know if you remember: “shut up and enjoy yourself, ya jerk.”

What I love the most about this event is the fact that it really is more of a food court than a sampling set-up, unlike most food festivals that happen around here. As much as I know that this kind of an event is incredibly taxing on restaurants, and incredibly difficult to set up from a logistical standpoint, having a Smorgasburg kind of outdoor food market is something that delights me to my core. I wish it is something our city could embrace more fully in the summer. But if wishes were things our city did, our city would do things. If you know what I mean.

So, while that may never happen, I’m happy to at least try to embrace the city a little more this summer, starting with this event. It was really nice wandering around, looking at ships and dreaming about stealing away on a sailboat some sunny day. And it was definitely really nice looking at that totally creepy unicorn figurehead on, you guessed it, the Tallship Unicorn. But after a few hours of wandering around, I decided to do what I do best: get a drink at the Bicycle Thief. I’d admit that this was actually my favourite part of the day, but loose lips sink tall ships.