The South Shore Lobster Crawl on Nova Scotia’s South Shore was all about the lobster in the winter. Lobster in all its varieties. Lobster was traditionally portrayed in chowder, rolls, and a no-holds-barred lobster boil, before being artistically rendered in beer, gelato, pizza, and nachos.
To be honest, I enjoyed it all.
Prior to the festival, I’d had lobster tail with a steak supper or during a joyous lobster boil upon a friend’s return from Maine. Yet nothing compares to the South Shore Lobster Crawl on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.
The lobster season on Nova Scotia’s south coast begins the final week of November and ends the last week of May, with those captured in Districts 33 and 34 accounting for over 40% of all lobsters trapped in Canada each year. The South Shore Lobster Crawl in Nova Scotia takes place during the month of February to commemorate the delicious cold-water lobster.
First, let me clear up any misconceptions concerning lobster odor. Lobster is seafood, therefore it should not have a fishy odor. Seafood in general, and lobster in particular, has a saline, ocean-like aroma. The lobster tastes somewhat sweet and is abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids, making it a good protein source.
Although I received many jealous remarks from friends and family about eating nonstop lobster for a week, jails considered that much lobster cruel and unusual punishment in the early twentieth century. A law was approved to prohibit prisons from serving lobster to convicts more than three times each week.
Join me on my sea-to-table lobster trip in Nova Scotia as I learn more about the province and things lobster.
Also- when you're not busy working your way through my list of all things lobster check out this guide to the 101 Best Things to Do in Nova Scotia!
Visiting other parts of Canada? See our other guides:
- 8 Must-Try Salt Spring Island Restaurants
13 Top Things to Do on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
- 0.1 Chester: TheFo’c’sleTavern—Home of the Lobster Chowder Chowdown Showdown
- 0.2 Despite the fact that it is February, Nova Scotia’s South Shore Lobster Crawl is the ideal time to visit the province. The ice-cold water makes the lobster very succulent at that time of year. Moreover, lobster goods that are not accessible at other times, such as lobster beer and lobster gelato, are available then, making it the ideal time for a lobster fan to attend.
- 0.3 Mahone Bay: Saltbox Brewing Company—Home of the Crustacean Elation
- 0.4 Lunenburg: Ironworks Distillery—Home to Around the World Rum
- 0.5 Shag Harbour: Fisher Direct—Home to Live Lobster
- 0.6 Barrington Passage: Capt. Kat’s Lobster Shack—Home to the Lobster Capital of Canada
- 0.7 Hunts Point: White Point Beach Resort—Home of the Great Canadian Lobster Fishing Excursion
- 0.8 Hunts Point: White Point Beach Resort: Lobster 101—A Crash Course
- 0.9 Hunts Point: White Point Beach Resort: The Lobster Roll-Off Challenge
- 0.10 Port Medway: The Port Grocer, Café & Art Space—Home to Lobster Pizza
- 0.11 Indian Harbour: OceanstoneSeaside Resort—Home of the Lobster Boil
- 0.12 Upper Tantallon: Acadian Maple Products—Home to Lobster Gelato
- 1 Which of these lobster adventures do you wish to attempt the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!
Chester: TheFo’c’sleTavern—Home of the Lobster Chowder Chowdown Showdown
|| 902-275-1408 || 42 Queen St.
We took the Lighthouse Way south from Halifax to Chester, an exquisite seaside hamlet.
Chester hosts the Lobster Chowder Chowdown Showdown during the Lobster Crawl. The FocsleTavern won the first-ever Lobster Chowder Chowdown Showdown in 2019, taking home the Golden Ladle Award.
The chowder begins with sautéed onions and celery in butter. For extra taste, the chowder included tri-colored potatoes and charred corn in addition to the lobster.
All of this was cooked in a velvety, award-winning lobster chowder made with whole milk and heavy cream. The entrée was enhanced with a lobster claw garnish.
Chef Scott Youden’s lobster croissant was his spin on a lobster roll. The buttery croissant served as an excellent vehicle for the lobster filling.
I ate a lot of lobster rolls on my trip to Nova Scotia, and this was the only place I discovered a lobster roll on a croissant, which makes sense. Lobster and butter are both traditional combinations, as are croissants and butter.
For a soft, sweet flavor, the filling used lobster knuckles and claws. To highlight the lobster taste, the chef added barely a hint of lemon and mayonnaise.
The lobster mac and cheese came with a quarter-pound of lobster on top of the claw garnish.
A classic roux and lobster stock were used to make the cheese sauce. They then mixed together Monterey Jack, cheddar, and Parmesan cheese. The cheese sauce with elbow macaroni and a quarter pound of lobster. Lastly, a crisp coating of panko breadcrumbs fried with butter, shallots, and herbs combined with additional Parmesan cheese was added to the meal.
It was delicious comfort food, topped with a lobster claw.
Despite the fact that it is February, Nova Scotia’s South Shore Lobster Crawl is the ideal time to visit the province. The ice-cold water makes the lobster very succulent at that time of year. Moreover, lobster goods that are not accessible at other times, such as lobster beer and lobster gelato, are available then, making it the ideal time for a lobster fan to attend.
Mahone Bay: Saltbox Brewing Company—Home of the Crustacean Elation
Mahone Bay || 363 Main St || 902-624-0653
Our next destination is Mahone Bay, a lovely village hailed as “picture-perfect” by the New York Times.
We proceeded on our lobster hunt after stopping for a snap of Mahone Bay’s three churches situated side by side along the coastline. That is, lobster beer!
Saltbox Brewing Company wanted to participate in the South Shore Lobster Crawl, so they produced and released Crustacean Elation. A week into the month-long celebration, this brew honoring Atlantic Canada’s lobster fishing sector was sold out.
The brewing technique is a two-infusion approach. To add the flavor and fragrance of lobster, Saltbox Brewery Company employs fire-roasted shells and entire lobsters. It produces a lightly colored and hopped beer with a touch of citrus, a little sweet flavor, and a saline aftertaste reminiscent of lobster and the sea. Drink it with anything lobster to bring out the taste of the lobster.
Lunenburg: Ironworks Distillery—Home to Around the World Rum
2 Kempt Street || 902-640-2424 The Blacksmiths Shop
We traveled down the Lighthouse Trail to Lunenburg, where Old Town Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We completed our trip at Ironworks Distillery, where we tried another sort of spirit, after a tour of Old Town Lunenburg that included legends of haunting ghosts.
Ironworks is an artisanal micro-distillery in the historic town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The term Ironworks derives from the 1893 historic building, a maritime blacksmith shop that originally manufactured ironworks for the shipbuilding trade, such as anchors. Currently, they make spirits by hand, utilizing only natural ingredients that are as fresh and local as possible.
We began with some delectable drinks matched with typical Lunenburg snacks.
The appetizers featured traditional German food such as Lunenburg sausage, a beef and pig sausage. Lunenburg pudding, which also featured beef and pig, evolved into a pate with onions.
Pickled herring with a pleasant onion taste was served to us. Lastly, we compared two varieties of locally produced sauerkraut, Crispy Kraut and Tancook.
The Crispy Kraut was my personal favorite. It seemed sharper and more tangy to me than the Tancook, but everyone had a preference.
In addition to our snacks, we learned more about the spirits available at Ironworks Distillery. Its specialty spirits include vodka produced from Annapolis Valley apples and liqueurs derived from local fruit like as blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries.
Owners Lynn MacKay and Pierre Guevremont had no intention of selling rum at first. After all, there was no local sugar cane, and they were determined to use only local products. The difficulty was that Lunenburg was a rum-running town, and everyone kept wondering where they got their rum. Its house-made rum, distilled from Canada’s Crosby’s molasses, is the culmination of a lot of problem-solving.
After our sampling with hors d’oeuvres, we sat amid the barrels for a catered meal in the cozy atmosphere of the distillery.
The evening’s entree was lobster chowder with brown bread and butter. We closed the evening with a rum raisin cake made with the distillery’s Blue Nose Rum and topped with a caramel rum sauce.
We resumed our trip to Shag Harbour after spending the night at the Mariner King Hotel, where we learnt what would happen to our lobster catch before it got on our plate.
Shag Harbour: Fisher Direct—Home to Live Lobster
Shag Harbour || 5163 Route 3 || 902-635-2681
Before we caught the lobster, we went to a lobster pound to see where our maritime treasure would end up. Sorting, tubing, and shipping were all tasks we assisted with.
Wesley Nickerson, the owner’s grandson, took us on a tour of Fisher Direct.
Fisher Direct is a contemporary facility with cutting-edge equipment that enables them to effectively keep, sort, grade, and export live lobster to anywhere in the globe.
After a fisherman drops off their harvest, the lobsters spend 48 hours in the first tank, the Purge Tank, to clean themselves out.
Wesley set us to work after we looked over the saltwater tanks, which have a total capacity of 650,000 pounds of lobster. We began by sorting and grading the lobsters. Each lobster is often weighed and sorted by hand by a line of twenty people.
Lobsters require six to eight years to reach market weight, which is around one pound and a quarter to one pound and a half. The largest lobster ever captured was 44 pounds and was taken in Nova Scotia in 1977.
Fisher Direct ships lobster all over the globe, from China to the United States, where it is sometimes labeled as Maine lobster to assist cover a demand vacuum.
Lastly, employees tube each size grouping into crates, after which the containers are either returned to the tanks for up to six months of storage or proceed through the packing process for immediate export. The crustaceans I helped pack were on their way to Japan in 72 hours.
It was time for lunch after all that lobster labor.
Barrington Passage: Capt. Kat’s Lobster Shack—Home to the Lobster Capital of Canada
902-637-3728 || 3723 Highway 3, Barrington Passage
Lucy the Lobster, Nova Scotia’s weather forecaster, lives near Barrington Passage. When the rest of Country celebrates Groundhog Day, Nova Scotia looks to Lucy the Lobster to predict when spring will come.
Capt. Kats Lobster Shack, located in Barrington Passage, the center of Canada’s Lobster Capital, delivers some of the most delectable lobster meals in SouWest Nova Scotia.
We could have chosen a fresh live lobster from the tank for a full cooked lobster supper, but we wanted to taste Capt. Kats Lobster Shack’s famous dishes, which included lobster fondue and lobster nachos.
Creamed lobster is a popular dish in southwest Nova Scotia, made with milk, heavy cream, butter, and a dash of vinegar. At Capt. Kats, the creamed lobster is served on toast with mashed potatoes, or the Fisherman’s Delight is served by placing some within the giant onion ring on top of the haddock fish sandwich.
Hunts Point: White Point Beach Resort—Home of the Great Canadian Lobster Fishing Excursion
902-354-2711 | 75 White Point Beach Resort Road
White Point Beach Resort provides a one-of-a-kind package onboard a lobster fishing boat in Blueberry Bay, departing from a West Berlin pier.
As a crew member aboard the 37-foot lobster fishing boat, the JKC, with Captain Brad Crouse and his crew, which included his sons David and Robert, as well as skipper Joey Oickle, I got a firsthand look at what it’s like to be a lobster fisherman in the winter.
On this February morning, the sun shone brightly. The air was brisk yet warm for this time of year in Nova Scotia. I dressed in layers since I knew it would be colder on the open sea than on land. I started with a short-sleeved cotton shirt, then a collared cotton button down, then my bulkiest sweater, and lastly my heaviest jacket.
I just had two layers on the bottom, a pair of pants topped with hefty leggings. Then there was an infinity scarf, cap with ear flaps, hood up, tied in place with still another scarf; my extremities would hardly flex, which was OK until I needed to make my way down the metal staircase into the boat.
When I backed down the ladder, I couldn’t turn to check my footing. But the team urged me, Just two more inches to the next rung. I was all in. They told me that when we returned, the tide would be high and it would be much simpler to climb up to the pier.
I quickly noticed the salt on the boat’s floor. It kept the water from freezing and slipping on the deck. Eventually, I put on the life jacket. We didn’t need the overalls or the bright yellow slickers since we weren’t going to get wet. We packed everything and set out towards the Atlantic Ocean to go lobster fishing.
This crew’s lobster traps are 12 fathoms deep, as indicated by buoys. Instead of conventional wooden traps, this team employed contemporary wire traps. They take the traps out of the water, and one of the fishermen quickly retrieves their catch, measures it, and places it in buckets.
If the lobster is too little or a berried female (egg-bearing), the fishermen release it back into the water. A female lobster may lay up to ten thousand eggs. When a fisher captures an egg-carrying female lobster, she has a V-notch in her tail to alert other fisherman that she is a breeding female and must be released back into the water. If you come across a bright crimson substance when eating lobster, it’s roe.
The remaining lobsters are rapidly rubber-banded using a banding tool and prepared for landing. The catch may be held in pens at the dock until the correct price is reached, sold to lobster pounds, or sold directly to cooks at the pier.
Another crew member retrieved the skeleton remnants of the discarded bait and dumped it in a container before re-baiting the trap with new haddock.
Once they return to land, the crew will toss the remaining bait back into the water. They don’t want to leave it near their traps since there’s still enough flesh on the bones to prevent a lobster from accepting bait inside.
Other marine species, such as sculpin, were caught in the lobster traps in addition to lobsters. These new species are kept as bait. After re-baiting, the traps were released to the water and marked with a buoy.
When we lifted the trap, we saw that the lobsters were not the bright red hue you see on your dish. Lobsters are typically brown to olive-green when pulled from the sea, but have been known to be yellow or even blue. When you cook them, they all become crimson.
We were starving after all that effort and fresh sea air, so it was the ideal time to judge a lobster roll contest.
Hunts Point: White Point Beach Resort: Lobster 101—A Crash Course
902-354-2711 | 75 White Point Beach Resort Road
After dragging lobster traps all morning, we were ready to have some lobster.
We met Chef Alain Boss, nicknamed The Kilted Chef, at White Point Beach Resorts Founders Lounge for a crash lesson in Lobster 101 before judging the Lobster Roll-Off Competition.
Chef Alain led us on a journey through the life of the North American lobster, from conception to survival and finally to our plate. Since the colder the sea, the sweeter and harder the lobster meat, February is the ideal month for Nova Scotia’s South Shore Lobster Crawl.
The Kilted Chef gave one important tip: while preparing lobster, leave the head intact. Toxins from the lobster’s brain may contaminate the remainder of the flesh if the head is cut. Consuming tainted meat may cause an allergic response, leading you to assume you are allergic to lobster.
Hunts Point: White Point Beach Resort: The Lobster Roll-Off Challenge
902-354-2711 | 75 White Point Beach Resort Road
So we caught lobster, graded and sorted them, tubed them, and transported them. But we weren’t done yet. The afternoon mission was the most challenging of all. We were presiding over the Lobster Roll-Off Challenge.
The Kilted Chef emceed the event, as four judges ate samples of twelve different lobster rolls while fifty onlookers observed our responses to each mouthful.
Each lobster roll was named after a restaurant on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. The most important condition is that the lobster rolls be presented precisely as they are served at the restaurant. Any deviation from their restaurant presentation for the express purpose of impressing the judges results in a point penalty.
We evaluated each of the twelve submissions based on appearance, flavor, and wow factor.
A plated lobster roll, as prepared at the restaurant, was delivered to the panel of judges. There were a total of fifty available points. The presentation criteria included the proportion of bread to lobster flesh, aesthetic attractiveness, and plate presentation. The presentation included a total of fifteen potential points.
The judges were then served with a slice of lobster roll equivalent to around one-quarter of a total roll by a group of culinary students. We each ate as much as we needed to calculate our taste rating.
Taste takes precedence above all other considerations. It should be the ideal flavor combination for everyone’s palate, balancing taste and spices. The maximum number of points available for taste was thirty. Aroma, texture, and color were further factors to evaluate in this area.
Ultimately, everything that sticks out above appearance and flavor was considered the wow factor. For the wow element, judges might give up to five points, for a total of fifty potential points.
During the Lobster Crawl this year, operators throughout the South Shore will be selling lobster rolls. I was on the panel of judges that chose the greatest lobster roll on the South Shore. This was a blind taste test challenge. I was shocked by how much variety there can be in a lobster roll. The first component is the bread. To mention a few, I had classic split-topped buns, a brioche bun dyed black with squid ink, and croissants.
We tried traditional lobster rolls, lobster Bahn mi, and even a deep-fried variation that tasted like a New Orleans shrimp Poboy.
Yet, in this category, the top three were all the original Nova Scotia-style varietya toasted buttered bun with fresh bits of lobster, a dollop of chilled mayo, lemon, and seasoning.
Even the judges were curious to learn where their favorite roll ranked. Chef Alain Boss of The Kilted Chef named the first-place winner as Della Sears-Newell of Capt. Kats Lobster Shack. This made me very happy since it was also my personal favorite.
Following all that eating, it was time to rest up after a full day before beginning our journey back to Halifax in the morning.
Port Medway: The Port Grocer, Café & Art Space—Home to Lobster Pizza
Port Medway || 902-677-2884 1615 Port Medway Rd
Our return trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital, included a stop for lobster pizza.
The Port Grocer is a healthy, environmentally friendly community gathering venue focused on food, music, art, and education. Fast-casual eating does not provide full table service, but rather combines menu boards and counter service with high-quality cuisine and a friendly ambience.
This idea is still relatively new in Canada; it is a realistic eating alternative that falls between between fast food and casual dining.
The Cafe’s menu concentrates on freshly produced deli counter products such as made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and main dishes, as well as soups, fair-trade coffee and teas, and Deb Melansons house-made baked goodies.
During the Lobster Crawl, their special menu item is lobster pizza.
The base is an oat flour crust covered with a white wine garlic sauce and parmesan cheese. The lobster is then sliced into one-inch chunks. They top the pizza with a swiss and cheddar cheese combination. They sometimes add a touch of mozzarella. What about the flavor? Consider lobster linguini with a crust.
We returned to Oceanstone Seaside Resort in time for supper after seeing more of the south beach and the lighthouses that line the coast.
Indian Harbour: OceanstoneSeaside Resort—Home of the Lobster Boil
902-823-2160 | 8650 Peggys Cove Road
Chef Michael Boragina of Oceanstone Resort’s Rhubarb Restaurant prepared the magnificent conclusion to our Nova Scotia South Shore Lobster Crawl.
Fish cakes with green tomato chow, steamed mussels, and a vivid lobster boil were all part of the feast. Since we consume with our eyes first, the hues red, green, and yellow were magnificent.
The fish cakes were created with salt cod, celery, onion, and red peppers and kept together with a homemade mayonnaise. The mixture was seasoned with lime zest and lemon juice.
Chef Michael then breaded and cooked the fish cakes in panko bread crumbs till golden brown. Green tomato chow was served on top of the fish cake to provide taste and color. They were simultaneously sweet and sour.
The mussels, our second course, were cooked with white wine, garlic, and herbs. I hoped I could have eaten more of them, but I needed to save space for the main course. Color was provided using diced tomatoes and finely chopped herbs.
The lobster boil was a rainbow of colors. Chef Michael injected flavor into the lobster by softly poached it in a court bouillon with celery and onions. The lobster has a delicate, sweet taste that complements the sweetness of the corn.
The chef had done the hard work of breaking down the lobster for us and served it with individual pots of melted butter. We ate the lobster with ease. The tray was completed with roasted potatoes and green beans.
Lastly, a strawberry rhubarb crisp with vanilla bean gelato was the perfect finale. Following a restful night’s sleep at Oceanstone Beach Resort, we returned to Halifax as our adventure came to a conclusion.
Upper Tantallon: Acadian Maple Products—Home to Lobster Gelato
902-826-2312 || 13578 Peggys Cove Road
On our way back to the airport, we stopped at Acadian Maple Products for a mid-morning bite.
Although maple is Acadian Maple Products’ main emphasis, they also wanted to participate in the South Shore Lobster Crawl in February. They had maple gelato all year, so they made lobster gelato during the lobster festival.
They mix two cups of knuckle and claw meat into four liters of vanilla gelato. The lobster taste is mild yet noticeable. The coarsely diced lobster flesh provides texture without dominating.
Despite the fact that it is February, Nova Scotia’s South Shore Lobster Crawl is the ideal time to visit Nova Scotia. The lobster is especially succulent at that time of year due to the ice-cold water. Moreover, lobster goods that aren’t accessible at other times, such as lobster beer and lobster gelato, are available then, making it the ideal time for a lobster fan to attend.