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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Driving New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast—Good Eating in Caraquet

Continuing north from the Acadian Peninsula, the town of Caraquet is best known as the home of Festival acadien de Caraquet, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this August. The two-week event, one of the most popular festivals in the Atlantic provinces pays tribute to the vibrant Acadian culture through music, cabaret, poetry, and wild parades. Yet, there’s another event happening here the rest of the year that food lovers in particular will cherish. Thanks to chef Karen Mersereau, Caraquet has become a hotbed of gastronomy. 
 
Mersereau was a food marketing rep in Toronto when she met Gerard Paulin, the third-generation hotelier of Hotel Paulin, a Victorian-era gem perched on a hill above the water of Caraquet Bay. A dozen years later, the couple are parents of a boy, Jules, and Karen is firmly entrenched at the helm of the hotel’s kitchen. She has wisely aligned herself with the top food harvesters in the region. 
 
The forests surrounding Caraquet are ripe with morels, chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, and other goodies like the foot of the cattail. Jean Patenaude made a name for himself scouring the countryside for edibles, bringing home laundry baskets full of wild mushrooms on ideal days in summer. Out on the water, Gaetan Dugas’ Caraquet Bay oysters are a prized commodity in high demand from chefs around North America. Especially the petites, small oysters that are both succulent and briny. Dugas’ ancestors include a pirate who commandeered a ship against the British in the 1750s, but it’s his father who taught him how to oyster farm and his grandfather who taught him the traditional ways of the local Mi’kmaq people. 
 
Mersereau takes advantage of both these men’s expertise to create a memorable wild mushroom oyster bisque. To ensure that every spoonful is chockful of meat, she throws in the native palourdes clam, similar to a quahaug. The bevy of local supplies would make most chefs weep with joy. Snow crabs, tuna, Atlantic salmon, shrimp, lobster, and halibut right off the boat, goat cheese and spring-fed lamb found in nearby farms, and blueberries and cloudberries grow wild along the coast, perfect for making a sublime pie. At Hotel Paulin, the locavore movement has reached its crescendo.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/14/12 at 07:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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