Thursday, July 24, 2014

Newfoundland Food Favourites

When I go on vacation I love to sample regional specialty dishes and interesting new foods (although we are frugal so we cook for ourselves lots of the time as well, to cut costs).  While Newfoundland is known for some rather dubious foods such as fried bologna and vienna sausages, it also has fine seafood and delicious traditional baked goods available and we were fortunate to be able to sample some of each.

We had several delicious fish dinners - some we bought and some we cooked ourselves.  A couple of highlights include the fish cakes at The Treasure Box in Rocky Harbour (Gros Morne Park).  They were delicious and served with toutons (more about them later), molasses, baked beans, and mustard pickles.  The Treasure Box is both a craft shop and a relaxed cheerful eatery.




We also had amazing fish and chips from The Little Red Chip Wagon in the parking lot of the Bonne Bay Marine Station in Norris Point (Gros Morne Park).  It was raining the day we had the fish and chips so we ate in our car looking out over the harbour.  The fish and chips with cole slaw were perfect.  The fish was crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside and the fries were homemade. Mmmm, wish I had some right now in fact.

  

We also had the most delicious salmon cakes when we stayed on Quirpon Island in a Lighthouse Keeper's Inn .  They gave me the recipe so when I make them I will let you know.




We also had a Jiggs dinner when we stayed on Quirpon Island.  It is a traditional boiled dinner consisting of corned beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, turnips, pease pudding, and dumplings all boiled together.  It was served with molasses for the dumplings and mustard pickles for the corned beef.  I know there are many variations to this dinner, both around Newfoundland and all down the eastern seaboard of Canada and the USA.  I'm not sure how they vary - anyone know?  I think one of the more unusual elements in this boiled dinner was the pease pudding, which was made by boiling split peas in a bag along with the rest of the dinner.


We also tried a few traditional baked goods. Touton which is a like a pancake made by frying bread dough in a pan with butter or pork fat was often made by the fisherman as a quick way to get some bread ready for the lunch meal.  It is served with molasses or corn syrup.  The first time we had touton they had a more homemade appearance (which you can see below as compared to the breadish rounds on my plate with the fish cakes in the first photo).  



I just had to show you the charming 1940s fishing cabin where we first discovered toutons. The toutons had been cooked as part of a demonstration by one of the Parks Canada staff in Gros Morne National Park.  I love the laundry billowing out on the clothes line behind the cabin.  Boy was it windy there! 



And finally we had molasses buns which tasted a bit like gingerbread, although they don't have any ginger in them.  I guess molasses and cinnamon together trick the brain into thinking it is gingerbread. The molasses buns tasted delicious heated up with a bit of butter on them with a cup of tea.  I also have the recipe for these and will give them a try soon.



Newfoundland is famous for its bakeapples which ripen at the end of the summer.  You can buy bakeapple jams, spreads, syrups, and desserts all over the province.  We bought many containers of bakeapple spread and had it on bread every day for lunch.  Yummy!  


We also bought a few jars of jam as gifts when we visited the Dark Tickle company in St. Lunaire-Griquet in Northern Newfoundland. Don't you love the name - Dark Tickle (although really it has a more maritime meaning than one would initially think because a tickle is a Newfoundland word for a narrow channel of water).  You could buy Dark Tickle products all over Western Newfoundland.  





And finally we couldn't resist bringing these bags of chips home for the kids to try.  I feel like you could have your whole meal and it would just involve eating chips with different flavours on them.  We've tried the roasted chicken and it was popular with 50% of us - the other 50% not so much.  Have you ever had these flavours?  Do you have unique chip flavours where you live?  Do tell.  We have barbecue, salt and vinegar, sour cream and onion, and ketchup, and plain, of course.



So there you have it - some of the food highlights from our trip.  I'm keen to cook up the salmon loaf and the molasses buns so I'll let you know how they taste once I've made them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Icebergs Galore


One of the things we were really looking forward to was seeing in Newfoundland was icebergs.  Well, did we see icebergs!  They came in all shapes and sizes and just filled our iceberg bucket.  

A couple of times we heard a loud thunderous sound and then an iceberg would break apart right in front of your eyes.  I just happened to have my camera pointed at the one above so captured it (although the quality wasn't the best because I didn't have time to change lenses to my telephoto) and made my very first GIF to show the iceberg breaking apart.

I learned a lot about icebergs while I was there.  The icebergs that float past Newfoundland formed 10,000 years ago in glaciers in Greenland.  They take several years to make the journey from Greenland to Newfoundland before breaking apart.   The little pieces of ice that break off from the main iceberg are called bergy bits or growlers depending on their size (bergy bits being smaller).

This was another iceberg that broke apart while we were there and you can see all the growlers floating away from it.  They actually pop and snap like a bowl of Rice Krispies which is the sound of air being released from the ice as they melt.




Naturally I pulled some of the ice out of the water and tasted it.  It is supposedly some of the purest water in the world and is used for making beer and alcohol.

We saw lots of icebergs from the shore, but wanted to get up close and personal with some too (well in a safe and careful manner that is) so we took a trip with Northland Discovery Boat Tours from St. Anthony and loved it.  We saw several whales and were taken out to see two icebergs - one so enormous that even the crew were impressed and were taking photos.  It was approximately 200 feet high and 300 feet long.


And the other one was a lovely curved striated one.


They also pulled a piece of ice out of the water so everyone could taste some iceberg water.



And the photo below was taken by the staff on the boat tour - that's me in the grey hoodie and my mother in the red polar fleece.  They put the photo on their Facebook page and tweeted it on Iceberg finder - which is a mighty thrill given that I stalked that website daily for two months before going to Newfoundland to see what was happening with the icebergs.  You can see a screenshot below of the website with the tweeted photo on the left-hand side.  I feel famous!



Icebergs are quite difficult to photograph because when they are in the sun the light bleaches out the details.  So, although I loved seeing the turquoise blues and gleaming whites when the sun was shining, 



I also loved the soft details you could see when the sun was low in the sky or the sky was cloudy.




Are icebergs on your bucket list?  Have you ever seen one?  This was definitely a thrill for us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Western Newfoundland Trip




Oh my goodness - Newfoundland is wonderful!  It was one of those trips that fell into place perfectly.  We had sunny days for almost our entire two-week trip in a province that that has a reputation for plenty of rain, mist, and cloud.  Our accommodations were great and some of them were spectacular (more about that later).  

The three photos above were some of the highlights of the trip.  We saw all kinds of icebergs - enormous ones, blocky ones, bent ones, ones with blue veins in them, and we even saw a few breaking apart.  How awesome is that!  We stayed in a lighthouse keeper's inn on a gorgeous island and spent the day walking over the hills and valleys watching icebergs and whales.  And everywhere we went we saw fields of the most beautiful wildflowers.  

I'm busy sorting through my photos and will share more as I get them organized.

Have you been to Newfoundland?  This is my third trip, but the first time to western Newfoundland and man, oh man, is it a treasure.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Grand Seduction


The Grand Seduction is a film that has it all - it's sweet and funny and charming - very, very charming.  It recently opened in theatres across the US and Canada so I wanted to make sure to let you know about it while you still have a chance to see it.

The Grand Seduction was filmed in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland and is loaded with gorgeous shots of rocky cliffs and rugged coastlines and, of course, the endearing town of Tickle Head.





There is an adorable cast of likable characters who you can't help rooting for even if they do have to lie through their teeth to try and save the struggling town.  The fictitious harbour of Tickle Head needs a doctor to land the contract for a petrochemical recycling plant. The townspeople may not know what the plant makes, but they do know it will make much-needed jobs.  

The whole town bands together to seduce the doctor into staying in town - they make the town look more attractive by painting and repairing the buildings; they learn about cricket, the doctor's favourite sport; and they attempt to provide the doctor with a love interest.

The cast features some of the best Canadian actors such as Gordon Pinset and Taylor Kitsch along with the Irish actor Brendan Gleeson (remember "Mad-Eye" Moody from Harry Potter).


Brendan Gleeson, Gordon Pinset, Taylor Kitsch in The Grand Seduction

If all that heart-warming good humour wasn't enough to convince me to see The Grand Seduction, then knowing that it was directed by my cousin Don McKellar would definitely win me over.  Two thumbs up Don - you did a great job!

Don McKellar at the premiere of The Grand Seduction at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

Here's the trailer to whet your appetite for the movie and let you see a bit more gorgeous Newfoundland scenery.  If you haven't already seen The Grand Seduction, I encourage you to go and watch it on the big screen - it will definitely put a smile on your face and possibly having you wanting to move to Tickle Head yourself.



Monday, May 26, 2014

For Iceberg Lovers Everywhere

As I mentioned in my last post we are going to Newfoundland this summer and one of the things I'm really looking forward to is seeing icebergs.  I have been reading about them, Googling them, and generally developing a full on iceberg infatuation. 

Anyone else keen on icebergs?  No, eh?  Well just in case you want a new addiction, here are the websites I check daily (and I do mean daily):


The Iceberg Finder is a website run by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador tourism department and tracks icebergs both by satellite and by reports from people living in the area.


Iceberg Finder
The ice chart (below) is put out daily by the government of Canada and is used for shipping ( ... and iceberg addicts).  Do you see the red areas - that means those stretches of ocean still have 90-100% sea ice.  The screen shot I took was from yesterday, so yes, there is still a lot of ice around Newfoundland.  There are icebergs embedded in the sea ice which helps to keep the icebergs from melting and being broken apart.   If you feel you have had a cool spring where you live, you need to pause for a moment and think on the hardy Newfoundlander who is living beside an ocean full of ice cubes.   

By the way, do you know the difference between icebergs and sea ice.  I didn't.  Icebergs are chunks of frozen fresh water that have drifted down from the glaciers in Greenland, while sea ice is frozen salt water that formed over the past winter. 


Government of Canada Ice Chart

The webcam from Forteau Bay is from Labrador which is across the straight from Newfoundland, but the weather is close to where we are going so I check it out daily.  At the end of the day you can watch a time-lapse video of the days weather, ocean tides, and until recently the ice.  If you go on soon you can see the ice bobbing around the bay in the videos from earlier this week.


Forteau Bay Webcam

And I Google for any news about icebergs and find articles like this:


The Telegram, May 24, 2014

And one of my favourite Newfoundland blogs is called Newfoundsander.  He takes amazing photos of wildlife, scenery, and ... icebergs.
Newfoundsander

So there you have it.  My full and complete description of iceberg info.  I can't wait to see some of my own.