A tangy, sweet condiment similar to relish, chow chow is made from pickled vegetables including green tomatoes, onions, carrots, beans, asparagus, and peas. The word ‘chow’ might bring to mind the dog food Puppy Chow, but this kind of chow isn’t for canines – it’s for human consumption. You can buy chow chow in jars at most Nova Scotian grocery stores, or visit a local Nova Scotian farmer’s market and support independent businesses by buying a homemade variety canned in a local cold cellar.
When touring Nova Scotia, try chow chow on potato cakes, or load it onto a hot dog at a local hot dog vendor. You can even eat chow chow by itself, if that’s what you are into.
Brier Island Egg Tarts
Available only on Brier Island and Long Island, these egg tarts are a uniquely sharp-tasting treat best served with coffee or tea after a meal. Like any good tart, egg tarts have a pastry shell, and a thick, custardy filling. Unique to Brier Island tarts is the vinegar, which balances the sweetness of the tart.
The egg tarts of this southern Nova Scotian island are worth the trip to the end of the Digby Neck (be sure to check out Balancing Rock along the way), where you can sample them at Lavena’s Catch Café on Long Island, or at the Lighthouse Café on Brier Island. Be sure to get there early, they sell out quickly.
Lavena’s Catch Café, 15 Hwy 217 West, Freeport, Nova Scotia, Canada, +1 902 839 2517
Lighthouse Café, 225 Water Street, Westport, Nova Scotia, Canada, +1 902 839 2798
Nova Scotian Donairs
You may have heard of the legend, but have you tried one? An east coast donair is a greasy delicacy and a Halifax favorite. This greasy delight consists of a fluffy flour pita wrapped around pieces of spicy carved beef, tomatoes, raw onions, shredded lettuce, and a sweet thickened-milk sauce. Prepare yourself for at least a five-napkin meal – eating a Nova Scotian donair is a messy culinary experience.
King of Donair, 6420 Quinpool Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, +1 902 421 0000
When you think of ‘pudding’, does a bowl of sweet dessert come to mind? Well, put that preconception aside in Nova Scotia – here, pudding is something you buy at the butcher. Yes, Lunenburg pudding is a meat product.
Made from ground up beef, pork, and animal organs (yum!), Lunenburg pudding looks like a greyish sausage with a texture reminiscent of paté. It’s the secret blend of spices mixed in with the meat that makes Lunenburg pudding a divine snack. Slice it and put it on a cracker with cheese, serve it on a charcuterie platter, or just take a bite.
Foodland, 250 Montague Street, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, +1 902 634 8218
In blueberry grunt, local blueberries are the star and dumplings make it just plain fun. Grunt is a standard in local recipe books – and one of the tastiest desserts in the Maritimes. To make blueberry grunt, fill a pot with blueberries, sugar, spices, and cook it all down until you have a thick, sticky blueberry sauce. Often eaten with ice cream, blueberry grunt’s signature move is cooking dumplings right in the pot along with the blueberries.
While visiting Nova Scotia, try blueberry grunt at Salty’s, a popular Halifax restaurant right on the waterfront. If DIY is more your style, here’s a video about how to make traditional Nova Scotian blueberry grunt in your very own kitchen. For a real Nova Scotian taste, use blueberries from Oxford, Nova Scotia – the blueberry capital of Canada.
Salty’s, 1877 Upper Water Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, +1 902 423 6818