Rediscovering the Annapolis Valley in Ford's C-Max

When we land I pick up our Ford C-Max, which is our ride for the week. It’s not the most stylish hatchback, but what it lacks in sex appeal it makes up in spades with regards to fuel efficiency and practicality.

By Travis Persaud Wheels.ca

Oct 18, 2016 7 min. read

Article was updated 7 years ago

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We’re jetting around in our Ford C-Max. The 160 billion tonnes of seawater has flowed out; we stare at the bare and beautiful ocean floor. And everywhere we go we hear the same thing: “We’ve been opened for a few months.” “We’re less than a year old.” “We just opened a couple weeks ago.”

As an outsider, it feels as if this entire region is going through a food and drink explosion. For locals, it might just feel like a natural evolution. Regardless, we’re feeling blessed to be here.

Entering Halifax


Halifax has turned into a yearly summer destination for my wife and I.

With my sister and her family living on the east coast, we have a great excuse to make it out there each year. The time is filled with backyard hangouts, running around with my nieces and enjoying the laidback east-coast lifestyle.

This year, however, we make a concerted effort to revisit the sights and sounds of Halifax and beyond, and (re)discover the province’s growing food and drink scene—making us fall in love with the region that much more.

Ford C-Max Does the East Coast

We’ve done the Toronto to Halifax drive previous years, but this time around we decide to fly and have more time to explore.

When we land I pick up our Ford C-Max, which is our ride for the week. It’s not the most stylish hatchback, but what it lacks in sex appeal it makes up in spades with regards to fuel efficiency and practicality. We pack fairly light, so we don’t need a lot of cargo space and we only use about three-quarters of a tank of gas the entire week—it’s a budget saviour and its small and nimble nature ensures we can zip through bustling downtown Halifax with nary a problem.

Our first few days are spent reintroducing ourselves to the city. Of course, it’s hard not to start with the tried-and-true spots that we love. Stillwell remains one of the best beer bars in the city. Their tap lineup features a wide breadth of what the region has to offer and their bottle list is solid through and through. Thankfully we are there when their Beergarden is open. The outdoor space gives you a moment to have a great pint in the sun, amidst picnic tables and tasty snacks. And it’s an eclectic crowd: people on their own enjoying a good read and pint; young couples galavanting through, full of love and needing lubrication; big, loud groups, moving down the entire beer menu; boomers who grasp the beauty of this simple space.

[caption id="attachment_98818" align="alignnone" width="5312"]stillwell Stillwell beer garden[/caption]

We also make our way back to Lion and Bright Cafe, which exudes a wholly different—but equally pleasant—vibe. Part cafe, part bar, the space is littered with people either working on their laptops or moms enjoying a midday caffeine (or beer?) jolt. The space has that woodsy, hipstery vibe, without coming across too pretentious. We pass by during lunch, so wraps and tacos are the big highlights to choose from. The food is simple, clean and delicious. And, they have a healthy amount of rotating taps, meaning you’ll likely find something new and interesting on subsequent visits.

Another boon for Lion and Bright is the surrounding area. Lots of great shops to stroll through, including North Brewing Co. They specialize in Belgian-inspired beers, and the ones I taste (Belgian IPA, Farmhouse Ale, Belgian Blonde and Summer Saison) demonstrate they know what they’re doing. And the service is unreal. The woman at the shop spent a lot of time with us, answering all of our questions and making sure we had enough samples on the go. We are so pleased, in fact, that we zip across to Battery Park in Dartmouth, which is their beer bar and eatery created in collaboration with The Brooklyn Warehouse and AceBurgerCo.

After a late night, the idea of waking up to make breakfast seems borderline ludacris. My sister suggests Edna for brunch. But warns us to get there early or risk waiting awhile for a table. We arrive 20 minutes before their 10 a.m. open and are thankful for that piece of advice. A line is already in place, as couples and groups of friends wait anxiously to get in and find a seat.

The doors open and we snag a two-seater by the window. Despite it being filled-to-capacity, our waitress is incredibly kind, attentive and always around when needed. I order the pork loin special, my wife gets the Sweet & Salty, which comes with ricotta pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. The food is absolutely spectacular. It is a win on all fronts.

At this point, we clearly recognize just how diverse Halifax is—or has become—with regard to food and drink options. Breweries are popping up everywhere. New food joints seem to be opening on a consistent basis. And these are but a few places we are able to visit during our time in the city, with many others still on our to-visit list.
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Annapolis Valley

anapolis wine country annapolis

We’re on the road, driving toward Nova Scotia’s wine country. The Ford C-Max fits nicely behind a faster moving SUV, relaxing a bit. The cabin isn’t filled with as much road noise as I would expect; another plus for this little guy.

You might assume we’re tired of eating and drinking, trying to find the next best thing. We’re not. My sister suggests heading to Wolfville for lunch at Luckett Vineyards. We have enough time to sit outside on their gorgeous patio to take in the vineyards, enjoy lunch and a glass of wine, before they have to take the kids back home.

My wife and I linger, figuring we can drive around to a few other wineries. A great plan, until we notice there’s a lot more to experience alongside the wineries. We do a quick search on our phones and my wife immediately notices that the Annapolis Cider Company is nearby. Once inside we learn they’ve only been opened for about a month. Their cider tastes as if they’re old pros. Their Crisp & Dry cider comes in at 7.7%, but the higher ABV is barely noticeable. It’s true to its name; tart, crisp, carbonated to a pleasant level and quite dry. It’s a winner.


Not too far away in Port Williams, we stumble onto Wayfarers’ Ale, across the parking lot from Sea Level Brewing, and learn it’s only a few weeks old. The beer is fine, although I expect them to fine tune their recipes in the coming months. The real gem is the upstairs space that overlooks the Minas Basin, which is part of the Bay Of Fundy. The tide is out. The sea floor is bare and we’re afforded a moment of silence to stare at this wonder and take in the beauty of the area.

The kind folks at Wayfarers’ give us a tip to head over to Barreling Tide Distillery, a couple minutes away, which also opened a few months ago. We’re greeted with the same East Coast hospitality we’ve come to expect; it’s as if we’re old friends who are visiting their home.

One of the owners is at the bar, and makes sure we have an opportunity to sample everything they have on hand. She tells us that whiskey is in the works but, of course, they have to wait at least three years before it’s ready. We try their vodka, gin and fruit liqueurs. They’re all quite pleasant. We walk away with a bottle of gin and their blueberry liqueur, after brainstorming different ways we can use it with their staff (a blueberry liqueur syrup is in the works for an upcoming brunch).

It feels as if the Valley is undergoing a food and drink explosion. Their wineries are becoming more and more established, and now they have a cidery, distillery and breweries to complement them. We feel like there’s something special happening here; locals might argue there’s always been something special here, and now they’re bringing it to light.

[caption id="attachment_98823" align="alignnone" width="5312"]c-max Barreling tide Distillery[/caption]

Nova Scotia On Our Hearts

There’s always a bittersweet feeling when we leave. Even moreso this time, as my wife and I feel a stronger connection with Halifax—and a newfound love for Annapolis Valley—that now has our minds on whether full-time East Coast living is in our future.

Thankfully we have some Barreling Tide gin to accompany us as we contemplate, and a longer list of places we need to visit next year.
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