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Shop Like a Tourist, Support Like a Local

Recently, I was among several media-types invited by the Waterfront Development Corporation to be a “Tourist For a Day” on the Halifax Waterfront and “rediscover” some of the seasonal vendors down there.

I have to admit, while I often stroll on the boardwalk there, I have rarely popped in to any of the little kiosks, convinced that they were only for tourists and had little to offer a seasoned Haligonian. Well, my little tour recently proved me wrong. I found some great gems in our whirlwind, hour-and-a-half jaunt…Here are some highlights that you can check out too!

So, we started with a short ride via The Harbour Hopper, and were dropped off by an absolutely darling new kiosk being run by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The kiosk is painted with bright colors and adorned with kitty-cats and folk art flowers in an homage to Maud Lewis, and the inside is like a rustic little gallery! You can score some super Maud Lewis gear here – from T-shirts, to mugs, to small prints. It was truly a delight to browse around (and I got a handy Maud Lewis reusable bag to boot!)

Next, it was onward to another new kiosk, Choose Canadian Quality Made Products. The owner, Glen, explains to us that almost everything in the store is made right here in Nova Scotia. What especially caught my eye was a line of weather-proof totes and bags in nautical colors by Parlee Manufacturing of Liverpool…stylish enough for the city, but rugged enough for a seaside hike!

The booth for Fairwinds Maritime Artisans was our next stop, where the ebullient owner Sue Warren greeted us. I had never been inside this shop, and I was pleasantly surprised! Inside of finding touristy kitch, there was a wide array of hand-crafted artisan products including fine art photos and dazzling diachroic glass jewellery. My favorites items was a hanging vine/wine bottle holder crafted by artist and blacksmith Scott Hamlin of Scotian Ironworks. It was exquisite! Scott was actually on hand outside the store, demonstrated his techniques – it was facinating to watch him turn a hunk of metal into a delicate leaf! (Check out his work at www.ScotianIronWorks.com.)

One of my favorite new shopping spots on the waterfront is now the Amos Pewter store that is down by Murphy’s On the Water. I could browse in there for hours at the finely-detailed pewter work. Not only are there lovely picture frames, ornaments, and tableware, but Amos has several stylish lines of pewter jewellery (my favorite is the Beach Treasure line – featured starfish earrings and sand dollar pendents that are soooo realistic!). Another favoritre – Amos’ new pewter Ikebana vase…what a great housewarming gift!

Now, I know I’m not a food blogger, but I would be truly remiss if I didn’t mention a few of the new snack spots on the waterfront this year. For a new take on the fish and chips stand, you must check out The Battered Fish! Not only is the food a step up from the usual fee-and-chee fare (the batter on the fish is surprisingly light and has a touch of seasoning), but the decor is very appealing, with the bright yellow paint and cute chalkboard sign! One of the owners recommended their lobster salad to me – I have to go back!

If you’re not in the seafood mood, then hop on down a few kiosks to get a pizza that tastes like it was made in Chicago! Waterfront Pizza and Wraps can actually make an individual pizza for you in 3.5 that tastes like it was baked in a stone oven! The secret is a special machine from Chicago (the only one in Halifax so far!)…if you close your eyes when you’re taking a bite, you’d swear you were in an Italian pizza joint!

Of course, dessert is a part of any balanced waterfront meal. You have two choices – ice cream, or a BeaverTail. On my tour, I had both! (I was pretty full, I’ll tell you!) My favorite BeaverTails flav is the Killaloe Sunrise – a tasty combo of lemon and cinnamon sugar. (Did you know President Obama loves BeaverTails, and made an unscheduled visit to a shop in Ottawa during his first official visit to Canada? How cool is that?)

If you’re in more of an ice cream mood, then you can definitely get your fix at Black Bear Ice Cream. This company was the first Certified Organic ice cream manufacturer in Atlantic Canada, and their company has so many amazing flavors!! My pick – Carribean Coconut – is like a pina colada in a cone!! So yummy!! (Although, if you’re a chocoholic, I hear the Chocolate XTC is to die for!)

By the time we wrapped up our tour with a little jaunt on the Ambassatours double decker bus, I was stuffed full of food…and full of new knowledge about some great spots for tourists and locals alike on the waterfront! It pays to be a “tourist” in your own community…not only do you discover new gems…but you’re supporting local businesses, too!!

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