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Wolfville interlude 

A drive to the Valley for farm markets and Tempest makes for an enjoyable summer break.

Dirt roads and rough-hewn rows of trees stitch together a patchwork of browns and tans, greens, golds and blues in the Annapolis Valley. A warm wind blows through the cliffside bushes of The Look-Off, where I stand with two friends gazing through the thin cloudy haze that hangs high over the supernal quilt that is the valley. It's the end of a sunny Saturday, a day trip to Wolfville to visit the excellent farm markets and food producers in the area.

After a breezy drive into the small town for a trip to the bright outdoor farmers' market, we cross the street for lunch at Tempest World Cuisine. Housed in a quaint blue building, the dining room is urban and sleek, duskily grey and red.

We're greeted at the door, and sit by the bay of windows that peek at the nearby market. Our server is friendly, but gives us the time and space we want to chat, relax and make our choices. The globetrotting menu marries worldly influences with local ingredients.

We eventually settle on the lobster club ($14), Tuscan pizza ($14) and pad Thai ($12). While we wait for our meals, I sip on a glass of Domaine de Grand Pre L'Acadie Blanc 2007 ($7) and my two friends enjoy the malty, refreshing Rojo Mojo Red Ale ($5.50), a microbrew from Wolfville's Port Pub.

The buttery notes and citrusy crispness of the L'Acadie Blanc are a nice pairing with the sweet, rich chunks of Fundy lobster in the club sandwich, which is also delicious with the fragrant smokiness of Oulton's applewood bacon. The sandwich is not perfect, though. The lettuce and tomato are both sadly wilted and the inside of what was a light and tasty grilled bread is soggy from the moist heat of the meats. I opt to abandon the soggy parts, but enjoy the meats and accompanying home-cut French fries.

There is no disappointment in the Tuscan pizza. The paper-thin crust is fantastic. Airy and crisp, it's a nice foil for the rich toppings. A layer of prosciutto lays a foundation for some chunks of fresh, sweet fig, mozzarella and peppery arugula. It's a wonderful balance of sweetness, salt and spice.

While some restaurants serve pad Thai that taste more of tamarind or tomato, Tempest offers a creamy variation of peanut pad Thai; a mix of tofu, chicken and shrimp is tossed with the rice noodles and a rich peanut sauce. Handfuls of crunchy bean sprouts and vibrant cilantro give it a delicious lightness. The citrusy cilantro combined with the nutty sauce is especially wonderful with the plentiful, succulent shrimp.

To wrap up we split an order of chocolate buenuelos ($8), the restaurant's signature dessert. We also order coffee ($3) and tea ($2), the two coffees served charmingly family-style, in a tall French press.

The slight bitterness of the coffee is great with the mind-melting sweetness of the delicious dessert. The four buenuelas surround a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, in a pool of white chocolate. Molten Belgian chocolate seeps out with a slice through one of the deep-fried pieces. Splitting it three ways leaves us all humming with sugar.

Energized from our meal, we stop by a few more farm markets before that final stop at The Look-Off. Water is just starting to bead on the icepack that sits in a bag with cheeses, our vegetables threaten to wilt in the heat. It's time to drive home. Our bellies are full of good food, and our thoughts are full of corn mazes, apple orchards and pumpkin patches---all of the reasons we'll come back again.

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