Surprises on the Road in New Brunswick

One of the reasons I love to travel is that I want to be surprised. When I walked into the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick, I was stunned to find Salvador Dali’s massive masterpiece, Santiago El Grande. The gallery was founded in 1959 by the Canadian media baron Max Aitken, who had received the title of Lord Beaverbrook in 1917. Fortunately, Beaverbrook didn’t forget his roots, endowing his home province with this gallery and many other treasures. The collection at the Beaverbrook is astounding for a gallery of its size. In addition to the Dali, the collection includes J.M.W. Turner’s The Fountain of Indolence, Botticelli’s The Resurrection, Lucien Freud’s Hotel Bedroom, and Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Lucretia. (There is an ongoing legal dispute between the gallery and a UK-based foundation also established by Beaverbrook about the ownership of many of the most famous works; the gallery won a 2007 decision, but that decision is currently under appeal.)

Another surprise for me in Fredericton was a downtown restaurant called the The Blue Door. I was lured by its reputation for fusion-style cooking; its kitchen is well-known for blending Asian spices with Atlantic Canadian seafood. It wasn’t until I arrived there that I discovered the menu is annotated with celiacs in mind. Every appetizer and entrée that is gluten-free is highlighted with a crossed-out wheat sheaf (similar to the symbol that so many celiac societies in Europe use). Vegetarian offerings are also clearly highlighted. There is plenty of choice: the gluten-free appetizers include a house-smoked duck breast with arugula laced with a ginger-pomegranate-watermelon dressing (yum), and Prince Edward Island mussels dressed with sake and mango (which I almost ordered). The main-course choices range from a black-pepper-seared tuna steak with local potatoes and a mango salsa, to a plate of coconut-, pistachio-, and chipotle-pepper-flavored scallops.

The Blue Door is both a restaurant and a cocktail lounge, so it’s no surprise that the drinks are excellent. (I can recommend the Red Velvet, a mix of raspberry, cranberry, and lime with vodka.)

The Blue Door [address] 100 Regent Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada [tel] 506-455-2583 [fax] 506-455-2589 [web]

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