Charlotte Lane: delicious!

I was going out to supper with my Ladies, and so I painted my toenails. This is a sure sign of summer. Some people look for sunburns, or black flies, or lawn mowing as signs that summer has fully arrived, but for me? Red toenails.

I do a very bad of painting them, because they are very far away from me and I am just not as bendy as I once was, so it’s  a splash-and-dab kind of process which leaves polish clumpily on my nails, my toes, my feet and often the floor. I paint my toenails outside, to avoid destruction of property.

Another summer ritual is the buying of beer, something I only do in months without R.  R-less months are beer months. Months with R? Wine. I’m a pretty basic creature after all. Easy to please, easy to entertain, easy to inebriate.

One of my favorite rites of summer is my bike. In preparation for the evening meal with my friends, I felt it vital to burn some calories, and so I went for my first big tour around noon when the temperature reached 31 degrees and the asphalt was melting under my tires.

I nearly died.

It required beer afterwards, to bring me back from the brink of dehydrated hallucinating, which probably explains why I don’t bike in any of the R-months. (R-months equal beer, remember?) I was biking feverishly in the sweltering heat with a cloud of bugs keeping time with me. They were actually circling my bike as I rocketed forward, looping around me like demented wolves attempting to hypnotize a buffalo. And when I say ‘rocketed’, I mean wobbled unsteadily up big hills fantasizing about the beer waiting in the fridge at home, whilst elderly octogenarians passed me with their walkers. The bugs relieved me of several chunks of flesh I really didn’t need. The reason I bike is because I really have too, too much flesh, so really, how can I complain about the bugs?

How do you lose weight in Nova Scotia? Stand in your backyard without moving for fifteen minutes at dusk.

I painted my toenails because my Ladies and I went out for supper. I have a group of lovely Ladies who I get together with every day at school to bemoan our fate as high school teachers, and who I get together with outside school to eat delicious treats and laugh like fools.

For this dining adventure, we went to Charlotte Lane, in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Here’s the map, and here’s the website.

This is an intimate, tiny little restaurant and gift shop where I strongly recommend you make reservations because it is Just That Good. The gift shop sells cutesy Nova Scotian bric-a-brac and beautiful jewellery, wind chimes made of forks, and these very cool sinuous wooden fish that you just have to pick up and play with. The journey to Decadent Dining Deliciousness starts by navigating a tiny hallway lined with wine… could there be anything better than an entire wall of wine? I think not… into a warm orangey room with flowers and art and fabric. There’s a patio out back, but since I had recently made a donation to the Bug Lords of NS, we decided to eat indoors. It was very hot in the little room, but who minds the heat when the aroma of garlic and butter and something-amazing-like-summer-itself is drifting lazily in from the kitchen?

We all had the Special of the Day… lobster and scallops with a dreamy-creamy-garlicy sauce that somehow had lavender in it. Yes. Lavender. Roasted potatoes and beautiful steamed vegetables which included… horrors… brussel sprouts.

Flashback: The year is 1975. Hallowe’en. I am nine. My Wicked Stepmother is cooking that horrible, horrible white fish in milk and nutmeg, which she will force me to eat or I won’t be allowed to go trick-or-treating. And what does she offer as a side? The Brussel Sprouts from Hell. Cooked to within a fraction of a second of total disintegration. The sponge used to wash Davey Jones’ Locker is not more sodden, more haggard, more vile than those wee sprouts, which are no longer sprouts but have morphed into a geriatric mimicry of cabbage. I would rather eat Davey’s sponge. My Hallowe’en is filled with terror.

“I painted my toenails for this.” I thought. Still dizzied by the delicious aromas, but now stymied by the gag-reflex from my past which made Brussel Sprouts my mortal enemies, I fought with my Inner Child to peel itself off the wall of my Brussel Bias and buck up. I was surrounded by friends, after all, and I’d had a gin and tonic, and the sprouts looked surprisingly firm and leafy. Leafy? Brussel Sprouts? I remember having to scrape them off my plate with a spoon.

Delicious. I mean, like, freakin’ yum-o-rama! The sprouts were really, really good, and Wicked Stepmother’s mocking, over-cooked shadow fled in shame. Oh, to eat a meal made by someone who knows how to cook Brussel Sprouts! I glanced at my toes, cheekily curled in culinary delight like wee cherries, and devoured my vegetables.

I was glad that I had gone on my bike tour earlier in the day, so I felt entitled to dessert… lemon cheesecake with rhubarb sauce. To die.

Coffee.

So full that moving became an epic accomplishment.

We had a wonderful meal. The wait staff were lovely and cheery, and even though it was a very hot day the small room quickly filled up with people who weren’t barbequeing on the first truly beautiful day of summer. You know the food is good when it gets winter-weary Bluenosers away from the barbeque on a sunny Saturday evening.

It wasn’t a cheap meal; my bill for entrée, cocktail, dessert and coffee rang in at almost $50, but it was absolutely delicious and well worth the price. I enthusiastically recommend Charlotte Lane as a dining experience which satisfies not only your appetite, but also your Inner Child. Did you hate seafood as a child? Go! Go now! Order the scallops!

I can’t eat that way every day, so I went to the grocery store this afternoon… and bought Brussel Sprouts.

Thanks for reading!  Check out my novels on amazon.com.

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