Memories and moments from our recent travels in Newfoundland and Clayoquot Sound.
One of the best parts of exploring a place is the food. Whether that place is a familiar city, or a secluded island, preparing and eating food will be part of the experience.
Earlier this month, Chelsea spent time in her home province of Newfoundland & Labrador, and Sarah went on a kayaking trip in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia. We came back with many stories and photos to share, including those related to food. We are excited to share some of our memorable food moments here, and hope that it makes you think of special food memories.
Newfoundland & Labrador // Chelsea
Being back in St. John’s always elicits food nostalgia for me. I crave wild berries, homemade bread, tea buns, fish cakes, and toutons (fried morsels of dough). Anything my parents cook is tasty, but I am particularly thankful when they make my local favourites. One morning, I was delighted to wake up to a breakfast of fish cakes made from salted cod, and toutons. Some people enjoy a drizzle of molasses over their toutons, but I like them as they are, hot off the frying pan. I would have loved to wake up, walk into my parent’s backyard in my pajamas and pick enough blueberries for pancakes, but I was too early for blueberry season. Thankfully, I did get to enjoy bakeapples, which are tart, orange berries that grow wild in the province. Bakeapples are often made into golden coloured jam, which tastes sweet and sour, and can be purchased from people’s cars along the highway. Another morning, I smeared bakeapple jam on a warm, homemade tea bun for breakfast, and could have happily eaten that combination daily. In addition, I was able to try new ways to enjoy bakeapples, in the form of a craft beer called Bog & Barrens by Quidi Vidi Brewery and Chef Jeremy Charles.
While I do love feeling nostalgic, I also love exploring new places and eating new things. Every time I go back to Newfoundland, I try to visit a new town, and have been excited by all of the new restaurants and breweries popping up all over the province. One evening, we went to the Dildo Brewing Company and drank delicious craft beer next to the ocean. A few days later, we took a road trip to Gros Morne National Park, and enjoyed seafood and fish n’ chips in little restaurants lining the bay. The plan was to hike Gros Morne Mountain, and when we reached the peak, the fog was so thick that you could only catch brief glimpses of the surrounding hills and fjords when the wind changed. To me, one of the best parts of a long hike is the warm reward of coffee. Thankfully, my sister, Meagan, was willing to trek coffee and coffee making supplies up the mountain, so that we could brew a pot at the peak. We huddled inside of a rock shelter, ate cheese, avocado & prosciutto sandwiches, and made coffee roasted by 7th Wave Coffee Roasters. It was divine. Our last evening in Gros Morne was also celebrated with coffee, but this time on the deck of Galliot Studios overlooking the bay.
Of all the wonderful food moments, my favourite occurred on my first day in St. John’s. I happened to be there during the food fishery, which is when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans allows people to cod fish, with stipulations about quantity, for a few days per week, for ten weeks. I was excited about the opportunity to go cod jigging, as I had never tried it before, and it is a large part of Newfoundland culture. Jigging refers to the way you move the fishing line back and forth, to try and attract fish. My first cousin once removed, Allan, agreed to take Nathan, my dad, and my sister’s partner, Jason, out that morning, and we spent a few hours on the water, watching puffins fly overhead and slowly catching our quota of fifteen cod per boat. Once it started to rain, we brought the boat, and the fish, to an uncle’s fishing stage in Quidi Vidi Harbour, which is were my mother’s family have fished and gathered for generations. The fish were cleaned, filleted, and brought back to my parent’s house, where my mom pan-fried the fresh cod fillets. I can’t remember ever having cod that fresh, and it was so delicious. I was grateful to have had this experience so early in the trip, and to have shared it with Nathan, who had never been to the province. It made me feel connected to the land, ocean, culture, and history of Newfoundland.
Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia // Sarah
Myself, Stephen and two friends embarked on a six day ocean kayak trip in Clayoquot Sound, just north of Tofino. I always look forward to these outdoor adventures, and the hiatus from our urban lives and the constant connection to our phones. Kayaking demands presence: a steadfast focus on the weather and water conditions, and a humbling admiration for the stunning landscapes and wildlife that surrounds you. I always feel a sense of calm on the water; within a day of paddling, the tension and weight of daily stress lifts, my perspective shifts and gratitude becomes the undercurrent of my thoughts.
One of the inherent challenges of kayaking is the limited space. This becomes particularly hard with food, as we not only need to pack all our meals, but also enough fresh water for the week. We’ve become strategic packers, calculating precisely how much granola, crackers, cheese, etc. that we need for the trip, to ensure that we’re fully fuelled, but not carrying excess weight. Additionally, our food needs to be shelf stable, as there was no way to keep it cool. Despite these limitations, our food menu was far from deprived. Mornings would start with a fresh cup of coffee and homemade granola to fuel our day. The ocean is often calm at this time, fog hugging the coast and the silence broken by the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. This always is one of my favourite times of day.
The kayaking conditions varied. Some days it felt like we were gliding along the water, the current and wind our ally. Other days it felt like a never-ending battle against the wind and that progress was not easily achieved. Lunches were always an opportunity to recharge, relax and refuel. Often we would have our lunch on one of the stunning, long sandy beaches on Vargas or Flores Island. We had the best seats in the house, overlooking the turquoise and cerulean ocean, catching glimpses of porpoises, seals, sea otters, bald eagles and even a wolf. Our lunch consisted of hard cheese from Les Amis du Fromage, artisanal salami from Moccia Urbani, vegan jerky, an apple and crackers. Food always tastes better when you’re outdoors, have an ocean view and after a long day of paddling.
Dinner marked a sense of accomplishment from a day of paddling. After, packing, paddling, taking in the sights, unpacking, setting up camp, it always feels like you’ve earned that dinner. Our favourite meal was prepared by our friends Maia and Patrick – a Thai, coconut lentil dish, served on a bed of rice. We would sit, savouring every bite of that delicious meal, watching the sun dip down towards the ocean. We were tired physically, but I felt at those moments my soul and belly were so full.
The kayak trip seemed to fly by (as they always do), and before we knew it, we were paddling back to Tofino. I always have conflicting feelings at the end of a trip: I don’t want to leave the ocean, the simplicity of nature, the beauty of the coastline, and yet I can’t wait for a shower and my own bed. In our final evening in Tofino, unwilling to make another lentil dish, we treated ourselves to a dinner at SOBO. There we had local halibut ceviche and bouillabaisse, a classic Provençal seafood stew with fish, mussels and clams. It was a true taste of the Island and the perfect way to finish off our Clayoquot Sound adventure.
I would like to acknowledge that we were kayaking in the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the aaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht), hišqʷiʔatḥ (Hesquiaht) and ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht). We are grateful to have been able to enjoy and travel within their territory. The Ahousaht First Nation has a Resource Guardian Stewardship fund, of which the fees collected support the Ahousaht Chiefs and their efforts to manage their lands and resources for the sustainable enjoyment and benefit of all living beings. If you are planning to camp or hike on Vargas or Flores Island, you can obtain a permit from Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society Reception Office at Unit 9 – 368 Main Street, Tofino.
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