NEW BRUNSWICK - The longest lineup at Boyce Farmers' Market in downtown Fredericton wasn't for the lush, organic vegetables from an Amish family farm, or even the bargain-priced fresh-squeezed orange juice and brewed-from-beans coffee.
No, the longest lineup was for samosas, one of India's great contributions to fast food, tasty little deep-fried pastries filled with meat or vegetables.
The Saturday-only market opens at 6 a.m., and there were queues at both Samosa Delite and Yummy Samosa when I arrived for breakfast.
Two of my greatest travel pleasures are eating and chit-chatting with strangers. A couple of hours at this market and it was mission accomplished.
I started with a bang-up breakfast -- eggs, home fries, toast and peameal bacon -- at Huskins' Marketplace (under $8), inhaled the aromas at The Special Blend Coffee Co., where it's a buck a cup, downed the best fresh-squeezed OJ I can remember at Sam The Juice ($1.25), and sampled locally made boursin at The Cheese Market (free).
Along the way I bought a hand-hammered brass pendant from Aldona Grinius of Kaleidoscope Jewelry ($15 and up), learned a bit about wild boars from Rinie Pejnenburg, who raises them and sells their meat ($3.50 for a sausage on a bun), and had a grand old chin-wag with Ann Chudleigh, who was selling door mats made out of lobster trap rope ($45). Marketed as 30 Fathom Doormats, they're made on Grand Manan Island by Ann and some friends. They use both new rope and stuff the fishermen have discarded. "It'll last forever," she promised.
Lunch was supposed to be buffalo sausage on a bun from Elke's BBQ, but they were sold out so I made do with a samosa (under $2) and garlic sausage ($3) from another stand.
Right next door to the market is Science East. Rooms are targeted to different age groups, and it's all very hands-on -- or bottoms-on, in the case of two chairs of nails you can test. The building once housed the county jail, scene of New Brunswick's last hanging in 1949. Don't miss the dungeon in the basement.
The provincial legislature building is a few blocks away; the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is across the street. (For lots more on what to see and do in Fredericton, visit tourismfredericton.ca or phone 1-888-888-4768).
Missed dessert? Drive just upriver from Fredericton to Fackelmann Chocolaterie & Patisserie. It's on Hwy. 102 (Woodstock Rd.), beside Silverwood Inn & Suites. Uwe Kuester made the news last year when he wrote to Buckingham Palace asking if he could send Queen Elizabeth some of his truffles. The palace agreed and Kuester shipped them in a box custom-made from birdseye maple. You can buy six in a regular box for $8.10.
Tips from locals
-- Isaac's Way, 73 Carleton St., was twice recommended by locals. Most of their entrees are under $20 and they have about a dozen beers on tap, including locally brewed Picaroons.
-- Sunshine Diner, across from the Delta Fredericton, is popular with locals. The $6.99 breakfast special came with unlimited tea or coffee and left me stuffed.
-- For an unusual day trip, head to McAdam, 45 minutes southwest of Fredericton, near the Maine border, to see its historic railway station. Commissioned by Sir William Van Horne, who built the Canadian Pacific Railway, it was modelled after a Scottish castle. Sixteen passenger trains used to stop there. Sir Winston Churchill passed through in 1943, on his way back from the Quebec Conference.
Passenger service ended in 1994. New Brunswick's Irving family bought the line two years later and gave it to the community, which is doing an impressive job of restoring this National Historic Site. Guided tours are available mid -June to October. Visit mcadamstation.ca.