Acadian Fricot and Rappie Pie with Fresh Haddock in Lobster Sauce
It wasn’t until The Canadian Food Experience Project started a little over a year ago now, that I first heard of Rappie Pie. My mouth was agape. I couldn’t wrap my head around what it was the way it was described to me. But, I was completely enamored. At that time, I had understood it as a dish from the Atlantic Provinces, which it is… but, more specifically, it is Traditional Acadian Canadian recipe. Isn’t that a mouthful?
After this amazing day, leaving Lunenburg, visiting Hirtle Beach, crossing the ferry, eating an unforgettable forever oatcake The LaHave Bakery, driving through the South Shore through Shelburne, arriving at Pubnico just in time for Lobster Fishing.… then Lobster eating…. we are finally sitting in The Red Cap Restaurant where we are also staying, at the end of this phenomenal day. And the cherry on top of this day: Rappie Pie!
This little village has few people living in it – counting the East and the West sides of Pubnico, yet most houses and businesses are strung along the main road and are not so close together like the little towns on the prairies. Vanja and I noticed that some of the villages have only one street and that it can go for a few kilometers with houses and a business here and there scattered along the one main road. Sometimes there maybe another one or two. This is a very casual restaurant, and I was blown away by how many people it could hold. I could not imagine there being enough people here to fill it, yet that must happen often enough for it to be this size.
Walking in, there is a chalkboard with the lengthy and very appealing menu dancing across it in colourful chalk. I found the little boxes above, charming. Now, Bernice had recommended the fresh Haddock with Lobster Sauce so that is what I was having. Period. Then I got the menu. Rappie Pie. I must!
The gal serving us was so friendly. “Do you think I could just get a little Rappie Pie sampler? I am happy to pay the full price. Just hate to waste the food and there is no way I can eat two mains.” I was so conflicted. I did not expect to like the Rappie Pie, at all, from what I had been told. I didn’t remember what it was made with, but I did remember the off putting description I had in my head. Our waiter explained that it was mainly grated potatoes with chicken and chicken stock and a little bit of pork fat on top. She said the potatoes were raw, grated and then wrung out to expel all liquid, then mixed with a chicken broth and a little chicken and baked. That sounded tasty enough. She came back with my piece, above, which was apparently “a sliver” and then gifted it to me to experience. I was deeply touched. And when she served it, I thought it was my fish! Take another look at the photo, above. Doesn’t it look like fish to you? Imagine it before I cut into it.
She had served the butter and molasses prior and explained that the people in the area usually eat it with both. She said she prefers a tiny amount of molasses, but some people smother it in it. Hmmmm…. I had already been served molasses with biscuits. Molasses is certainly much bigger in the East than on the prairies. We never eat it as a condiment. This was fascinating.
My first taste was plain without either. I liked it. The texture was indescribable. Seriously. The only way you can understand this texture is to eat it. Some people find it very off putting. To me, it was addictive. Having never experienced anything similar, I kept going back for more and running it over my palate. When I added the butter, well. Give me a minute. Think about corn on the cob without butter and with butter. Think of popcorn without butter and with butter. That is what butter does to Rappie Pie: it brings it to life. The butter breathes life into the flavour and texture of the Rappie Pie, and I was all in from that moment forward.
Take a look at the texture. It is gelatinous, yet in a very appealing way. However in the world did these people transform a simple potato into this kind of texture? And what would ever motivate them to? I understand the history and heritage of a lot of foods, but this one is mystifying.
With the molasses. I started with a smidgen, and above is the maximum slathered on taste. A hint of molasses added a dimension of flavour that was absolutely unexpected. What? I will always eat it like that. The above amount was just too much, but you never know what you like until you try. And, as I had another whole plate of food coming, I didn’t eat any more of it. I thought I would have some more in Cheticamp, Cape Breton, but there wasn’t anything open there that served traditional Acadian food while we were there. So, this was it. This was my one and only Rappie Pie experience during my time in Nova Scotia. Seriously, I long for more.
Fricot is another Traditional Acadian recipe that is very similar to a homemade chicken soup flavoured with Summer Savoury and has homemade dumplings swimming alongside the chicken. Vanja had this before his meal. It was delicious. We had many versions of Fricot in Nova Scotia during our trip and this was defnitely the very best. The broth was rich and the dumplings were scrumptious.
The Haddock and Lobster Sauce? O. M. G. Decadent does not begin to describe this plate. First, the fish was so fresh it smelled like the sea and so delicious it didn’t even need any sauce. We usually have our fish “in the nude” as it is such a treat coming from the prairies…. but this sauce was outrageously scrumptious: buttery, creamy and laced with lobster. My eyeballs are rolling back in my head as I think of it. I took more than half of it back to the room and finished it the following day driving to Cape Breton. It was every bit as good cold.
Can you see the fish?
Here’s a closer look…. as I am longing for more.
Vanja was delighted to find Schnitzel on the menu. He almost licked the plate.
But this meal and this experience, my friends, was all about The Rappie Pie. And the next morning, I got to see how it was made. Thank you so much to Bernice d’Entremont for providing these amazing experiences. Hang in there. The next post will be about how the D’Eon family makes Rappie Pie in Pubnico. (Well, right after the post about the Acadian Breakfast at the Dennis Point Cafe where I arrived at 6am to hear the Fishermen chatter and banter in a combination of English smattered with French coupled with a cadence that one has to hear. It cannot be described, or understood, unless you are one of them. That was a highlight. Believe me.)