Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hump Day: Multicultural dining mixed with tradition is best of both worlds

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

There was an article in the newspaper recently about how our local dining scene is becoming more multicultural. Indeed, the question, ‘What’s your favourite sushi place in town?’ wouldn’t have even crossed anyone’s lips 10 years ago. In fact, I doubt many people even knew what sushi was then unless they’d travelled to larger cities in Canada or elsewhere in the world.

I’ve heard really good things about a number of sushi places in the area. It’s funny, though, at how so many people refuse to try it. If you like fish and like rice, you’ll like sushi. Yes, you can skip the raw stuff. There are lots of other options if that’s what turns you off.

These days, there are so many cultural dining choices for us. We have everything from Italian, a number of Asian countries (South Korea, India, Vietnam, etc.) Belgium, Morocco, France – and all the more familiar domestic ones, too, such as Acadian. It wasn’t so long ago that the most exotic place to eat in most towns was the generic Chinese restaurant with Canadian-style offerings. There are still plenty of good ones around, but there’s a growing number of more authentic restaurants for the more sophisticated foodies out there.

When Irestaurant was in school in the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a handful of good Chinese restaurants, including the Palace Grill, House of Lam and Ming Garden. Only House of Lam remains today. By all accounts, it’s still a great place to dine.

My family wasn’t big on Chinese food. We were more of a meat and potatoes family except for on the weekends when we would be treated to some take-out food. Most of the time, we had fries and a bucket of chicken from Deluxe French Fries. We had that often for supper on Sundays.

Then Kraft homemade double pizza kits came along and that seemed to replace Deluxe’s fried chicken in the 1980s. Those pizzas were so good! I still make them once every two or three years. They’re still as delicious as ever, especially since you can load them up with whichever toppings you want. And has anyone actually successfully managed to get two pizzas out of that dough? You’d need the patience of Job to stretch out the dough that thin. I just plunk it all into one pan, now. It’s pretty much a loaf of bread with cheese and pepperoni on top when it comes out, but I least I keep my sanity.

It’s always interesting to eat something from a different country. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t mind trying haggis – a traditional Scottish ‘delicacy,’ if I may call it that. I’ve heard people either love it or hate it. I suppose it’s one of those things you have to grow up eating in order to like it. According to Wikipedia, “haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead.” Hmmm… OK, maybe it doesn’t sound terribly appetizing – at least in writing – but I’m willing to try it.

Even restaurants featuring more common cultural offerings are sprouting up everywhere. I don’t remember seeing Acadian restaurants around when I was a kid. Now, there are a bunch of them – all offering traditional foods such as ‍poutine râpée, râpé pie and fricot. Considering how labour-intensive ‍poutine râpée is to make, it’s a lot easier to buy them rather than work for hours and lose an entire batch if they decide to disintegrate into a pot of grey soup.

I think the restaurant I went to most when I was a kid was the old Blue Circle Restaurant on Main Street in Moncton. My father would bring me there after church on Sundays. I’d have an orange pop and he’d have coffee and gossip with the boys. They’d all smoke like crazy, too – the same bunch every week. I still see a few of them around. Their most popular dish back then seemed to be a hot turkey sandwich with fries as thick as boards covered in gravy and served with peas.

There’s something to be said about new multicultural cuisine restaurants, but we often revert to fond memories of our childhood when it comes to food. But I guess it’s out with the old and in with the new, eh? As long as they keep selling those Kraft pizza kits at the grocery store, I should be able to get the best of both worlds.

Kevin Rice appointed new General Manager of TransAqua

TransAqua logoWinston Pearce, Chairman of TransAqua – the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission, announced today that Kevin Rice has been appointed General Manager. The appointment was made following a comprehensive search over a number of months. Mr. Rice is currently Deputy Commissioner of Transportation and Environment Services for the City of Saint John. He begins with TransAqua on Monday, August 31.

“With our upcoming upgrade required by 2020 to meet changes to federal regulations, we were seeking leadership who knows how to oversee projects and keep things going in the right direction – efficiently, on time and on budget,” said Mr. Pearce. “Mr. Rice’s experience in municipal wastewater management fits in well with our needs and we are looking forward to his contribution as move forward with our planned multi-million-dollar upgrade. He has had a very dynamic career and brings with him a broad spectrum of management experience in many different career fields which will assist in leading TransAqua as we embark on major construction initiatives.”

Kevin Rice has been appointment the new general manager of TransAqua - the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)
Kevin Rice has been appointment the new General Manager of TransAqua – the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

A native of Saint John, Mr. Rice holds a Chemical Technology diploma from NBCC-Saint John and a Bachelor of Science degree from UNB. He has experience with managing municipal wastewater treatment operations with the City of Saint John (2005-2009) and industrial wastewater treatment facilities in Halifax, N.S.; and Kitchener, Toronto and Pickering, Ont. (1999-2002), and environmental compliance and industrial cleaning services with J.D. Irving, Limited (1998 and 2002-2005). Most recently, he served as Deputy Commissioner of Transportation and Environmental Services (2009-2015) with the City of Saint John, managing five very public-facing services (roadway maintenance, sidewalk maintenance, pedestrian and traffic, storm water management and solid waste management) with an annual budget of approximately $23 million.

Mr. Rice brings wastewater treatment facility expansion experience to TransAqua from Saint John where he was a team member in the design and construction startup of the Eastern Wastewater Treatment Facility (Harbour Cleanup) and the Millidgeville Wastewater Treatment Facility expansion. He is a certified Atlantic Canada Water and Wastewater Association (ACWWA) Wastewater Treatment Class II Operator.

“TransAqua has highly skilled and dedicated staff in place who I’m confident will easily adapt to the future expansion,” Mr. Rice said. “I look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders in Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview to ensure that ratepayers receive the best value for their dollar that TransAqua can provide as we grow to meet the wastewater treatment needs of the three municipalities. I am very excited about this opportunity of integrating myself and my family into such a dynamic organization and community.”

Mr. Rice is a Certified Engineering Technologist and a volunteer member of the Canadian Technology Accreditation Board participating as a team member to accredit NBCC-Moncton’s Electronic Engineering Technology and NBCC-Saint John’s Chemical Technology programs. He has been a member of the Maritime Provinces Water and Wastewater Association (MPWWA), Atlantic Canada Water and Wastewater Association (ACWWA), Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) and Water Environment Federation (WEF) since 2005 and is a past member of the CWWA’s Fats, Oil and Grease National Committee.

As well, he has completed all provincial levels of basic emergency preparedness and emergency operations centre, including emergency site management with the Canadian Emergency Management College. He recently served as Deputy Director with the Saint John Emergency Management Organization (EMO) and brings strong emergency management and business continuity skills to TransAqua.

About TransAqua

TransAqua, the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission (www.transaqua.ca) was established in 1983 to support the wastewater collection and treatment needs of the Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview tri-community. Since then, it has developed a 31-kilometre collection network and a treatment facility to best deliver on this mandate. It has also become a leader in the reuse of bio-solids through the generation of type ‘AA’ compost (the highest grade currently achieved in Canada) as opposed to disposal in a landfill site. The organization is now positioning itself to further upgrade its facilities to provide an enhanced secondary treatment approach that will allow it to meet recently introduced mandatory federal regulations prior to the 2020 deadline.

Hump Day: No mufflers and loud bass no recipe for summer fun

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

It’s a sure sign of summer when the boys come out with their big trucks and motorcycles – many of which have no muffler or are somehow altered to make the most noise possible.

Isn’t it just a joy to listen to them drive down the street revving their engines? They’re all so intelligent, handsome and virile when they make all that noise, aren’t they? Well, actually that’s what they think they seem like to others. Actually, I think the rest of us are pretty much thinking of a word other than ‘cool.’

If you drive through neighbourhoods revving your mufflerless engine and blaring your car stereo with the bass turned up so high that paintings are falling off walls in Australia, then I can assure you that we’re not all looking at you in admiration. It’s more like we hope a big sinkhole opens up in the middle of the road and swallows you, your bass and your wheels.

suvI always get a kick when I see men driving big 4X4 rigs. Half of the time, you practically need a ladder to climb into them. I’m not even sure how they get in there. They’ve got the big ol’ tires that can drive through anything – at least that’s what they want you to think. Actually, I think a lot of it is for show, because I’ll often see them slam on the brakes before they drive over a leaf on the road.

I have a small SUV and I can’t tell you the number of times a much larger 4X4 in front of me has braked and swerved for the tiniest groove or bump in the road. It always makes me laugh because the vehicle is so large that they could probably drive it off a cliff at the Grand Canyon and not even suffer a scratch since the truck is so rugged. But that leaf in the middle of the road? Screeeeeech go the brakes! You’d think they were trying not to hit a baby carriage being pushed across the street.

I shouldn’t criticize, because a couple of times I’ve been in small cars and driven them like I should be racing in the Indy 500 – like that time I decided to pass a long line of cars going uphill with my 1981 Chevette. Oh what fun it was to leave all those nicer and newer cars in the dust as I slowly but surely crawled by them to get to the front of the line. Move aside, slowpokes! Make room for Captain Chevette!

I was feeling pretty good about myself until I saw the 18-wheeler barrelling toward me – and me clearly without enough time to pass everyone. Luckily, some kind soul decided to let me squeeze back in line before I ended up looking like a spent red paintball splattered across the big rig’s front grill.

The occupants of the car that let me back in line were even cheering for me! Uhm – or maybe the kids in the car were crying and the wife was screaming that she was too young to die and that should have married her high school boyfriend instead of her husband who was driving the car. Oh well, I’m sure it ended up being a pleasant drive back for them. They didn’t die – and some nice divorce lawyer     somewhere made a few bucks off of them.

Then there was that 1986 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Diesel I owned for a few years. I could drive nearly 1,000 kilometres after filling up. It was incredible. It was built like a tank, thankfully, because I got broadsided by a car in Fredericton once and I got out without a scratch. The car, though, was never the same. After it was fixed, the back seat would fill with snow during winter because the back doors never quite fit right after that.

And then there was the 2003 white Toyota Matrix. Oh my goodness, I loved that car! I believe I was one of the first 10 people in Moncton to get one. It was stunning. A few weeks after I got it, though, I saw someone else with another white one and I didn’t want mine anymore. Fickle much? I guess so.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what you drive as long as it gets you from point A to point B. If it happens to look good, too, well then that’s just an extra bonus. But let’s all agree, though, that we could all do without the loud bass and no muffler. Remember, boys, be ‘cool’ instead of just thinking you are.

Hump Day: Summer memories of drive-in experiences gone by

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

My cousin and I have a tradition of taking each out for supper on our birthdays. It was her birthday in June, but because of conflicting schedules we were only able to make it out to supper last Saturday. We decided on the popular Fred’s Restaurant in Cap-Pelé, where we each enjoyed a very nice seafood meal. My treat, of course.

Afterwards, we accidentally (I’m not sure how! Honest! Is my nose growing yet?) ended up at Dairy Queen on Main Street in Shediac. Now, if you’ve ever been to Shediac during the summer, you’ll know that traffic can be atrocious at the best of times, but it’s even worse during the Shediac Lobster Festival. We saw the traffic increase quite a bit as we neared the town on our way to Dairy Queen (accidentally, of course).

The opening of the movie The Minions was also last weekend and, according to news reports, it scored the second-largest opening weekend ever in North America for an animated feature film just behind Shrek the Third (2007) and ahead of Toy Story 3 (2010). Why is this important to my story? Well, because Main Street in Shediac is also home to the Neptune Drive-In, one of only about 50 drive-ins left in Canada. Each year, it attracts thousands of movie-goers wanting that old-fashioned drive-in experience like many of us had when we were kids.

So, add in all the tourists who were in Shediac anyway, include the Shediac Lobster Festival and then tack on The Minions playing at the Neptune and you had a perfect storm for an epic traffic jam. When my cousin and I drove by, the traffic to get into the Neptune was backed up the Ohio Road and all the way down Main Street for a few kilometres in every direction. Summer traffic in Shediac is often frustrating, but those funny little yellow Minions managed to get more than a few drivers a tad more upset than usual.

When we (accidentally) turned into the Dairy Queen parking lot, we both got a bit lost and ended up in front of a cashier inside. Not wanting to be rude, we both ordered a treat for ourselves. When we sat down to enjoy our frosty goodies, my cousin noticed that one driver stuck in traffic was getting testy and had stepped out of his vehicle to wag an accusatory finger at another driver. I’m not really sure what happened, but the confrontation didn’t make traffic flow any faster. There wasn’t anything anyone could do except wait for cars at the Neptune’s bottleneck up the street to pay and enter.

drive-inActually, I’d been reading updates on Facebook since Friday night from friends who’d brought their kids to the Neptune to see The Minions. It’s a summer tradition for many to go to the drive-in. For others, it was a first-time experience – one that everyone should have, quite frankly. My Face-book newsfeed was rife with stories of exasperated parents caught in traffic and kids freaking out in the back seat because they didn’t want to miss any of the movie. Like I said, it was the perfect storm. Hopefully, most people got to see the movie without having a complete meltdown.

Having grown up in the Lewisville area of Moncton, I remember the Skyway Drive-In which was located on Kenmore Drive not far from the Crossman Community Centre-Kay Arena. My family went there a number of times and had the typical experience. Kids in pyjamas who invariably fell asleep during the movie. A clunky speaker hung on the window with terrible sound which made the dialogue unintelligible at times. A trip to the canteen for fries, hamburgers, hotdogs, candy and pop. The kids in the back seat not being able to see the entire screen because their parents’heads were in the way. Ah, the drive-in! The one movie I vividly remember seeing at the Skyway was the 1976 remake of King Kong. The big screen made Mr. Kong look even more imposing – and scary!

Eventually, we got too old to go with parents and went with friends. Of course, we had to try to save money by sneaking in a buddy or two hidden in the trunk, often unsuccessfully. It was a stunt that got you thrown out if you were caught.

It’s sad that the drive-in experience is dying across the country. It’s a family outing which everyone should have at one time or another. Fond memories! The old Skyway Drive-In land is now a built-up neighbourhood, but I still think of King Kong whenever I drive by.