Well... it started with a door. A most beautiful door...
Behind every door is a story. And here's mine... or should I say Toulouse's and mine... :)
This door belongs to the Mariner King Historic Inn in the charming fishing port of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, an UNESCO designated World Heritage town. Lunenburg was settled by mostly German farmers in the mid 1700s. Home to the racing schooner Bluenose II and known for its vernacular architecture, Lunenburg’s charming lanes and dominant hillside setting have remained largely unchanged since the 1700s. A friend of mine described Lunenburg as a “small San Francisco”. While this is a good description, it doesn’t accurately portray the town’s character: its European-style maritime charm and Canadian influence; its steep lanes and historic buildings; its charming cafes where salty characters in woolen hats mingle with world-known avant-garde artists and discuss projects in London, Toronto and New York; and its small eclectic shops with names like The Laughing Whale, Adam & Knickle, EmOcean, Large Marge’s Diner, Jenny Jib, The Tin Fish, The Scuttlebutt, The Black Duck, and Windbag Company.
Since recently relocating to Lunenburg, I was instantly charmed by the heritage houses. Many of the two-story British classical Georgian houses were remodeled in eclectic Victorian Gothic or Italianate styles, with mansard roofs that featured what’s called a “Lunenburg Bump” (usually an overhang or front piece above the central doorway) and flanked by two attractive dormers. What struck me also was that these elegant homes were painted in bold but tasteful colors. I saw bright red, green, salmon, pink, lavender and, of course, light yellow (worthy of a whole post) forming a cheerful and tasteful tapestry of color.
Inspired by a poster I’d seen in one of the shops that showed many of Lunenburg’s artful doors, I went out on a photo-shoot, looking for some myself. I discovered many (you’ll see in a later post) and many were gateways to some beautiful buildings. One of them was the Mariner King Historic Inn with its elegant restaurant, the King’s Plate, where I decided to eat on some occasion.
That occasion came soon when a good friend of mine and her friend dropped in on me for a few days in Lunenburg; I invited them to join Toulouse and I for some fine dining—a Christmas Dinner—at the King’s Plate.
Susan Reibling, the owner, had earlier taken me on a tour of the historic hotel and had introduced me to all her staff, including their chef from Meunster Germany, Konrad. While on tour I was offered excellent coffee and my first eggnog of the season! Woohoo! Geez... all I did was photograph the door and tell them I was a writer... I could get to like this writing thing stuff.
The Mariner King was built in a Georgian style by Dr. Charles Bolman in 1830 to mark the coronation of King William IV of England, the “Mariner King”, and the first British Royal to come to Nova Scotia. Six years later it was purchased by the Zwicker family who "Victorianized" it along with the famous Lunenburg "bump" over the entrance. The Reiblings bought the hotel in 2007 and remodeled it as a boutique hotel decorated with tasteful eclectic furnishings and art obtained from all over the world.
We had some time before supper so we lounged in the front parlor where our hostess, Joanna, recommended that I order a "Sagittarius". The Sagittarius is a cocktail of limejuice, dill, cracked pepper, muddled, with a shot of vodka, shaken over ice, strained over ice and topped with tonic. It was SUPERB! Toulouse, of course, had to give it a try. Being the discerning French cat that he is, of course he liked it too. A little too much. Next thing I knew he was IN my drink doing the Locust pose!
"Doesn't take much to get him drunk," my friend Teresa quipped, raising her brow at Toulouse's aromatic wet fur as I pulled him out of the drink. "He doesn't have much body weight." Can you tell she's an engineer?
We were called into supper, which consisted (for me anyway) of creamy mushroom soup with morels (Oohlala! It was good! This rivaled the mushroom cream soup I’d had in Brio, a Tuscan Grill in a posh mall in Detroit, a while ago, where another “Toulouse” incident occurred). Toulouse, of course, had to taste everything. As entré I had Beef Tenderloin Stroganoff with pearl onions and mushrooms. That was followed by a Bavarian Cream, drizzled with caramel sauce.
While Toulouse and I fought for the last spoon of desert, Konrad Haumering, the chef, joined us. Luckily, by then Toulouse was acting decently (in other words, he didn't have his head in the cocktail--mainly because I'd drunk it all). Toulouse charmed our chef, like he does everyone, and Konrad took him to the back for a private tour of the kitchen facility. Geez! They didn't give ME that tour....
For more on The Adventures with Toulouse, check out his very own blog, Toulouse LeTrek, the COOL Travel Cat.
1. Front door of The Mariner King Historic Inn
2. Historic Lunenburg waterfront
3. The Dory Shop on the Lunenburg waterfront
4. Yours truly standing at the Lunenburg waterfront and enjoying the winter snow in Lunenburg
5. The lobby of The Mariner King Inn
6. The parlor of The Mariner King Inn
7. Toulouse oogles the delicious mushroom soup at the King's Plate, The Mariner King Inn
8. Toulouse doing one of his Yoga Stretches--or trying to wear the entre at the King's Plate
9. Konrad Haumering, chef at The King's Plate, makes friends with Toulouse
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit www.ninamunteanu.me. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for more about her writing.