More Newfoundland, Please

5 Aug

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know Newfoundland is my happy place.

It's June, 1 degree C. Still my happy place.

It’s June, 1 degree C. Still my happy place.

 

I grew up on the East Coast of Scotland, so I think there’s something about the salty air, the wild landscapes and the way random strangers chat to you in the street that makes me feel at home.

I’ve been out several times over the past five years, working on travel stories and on a book on the food of Fogo island. Even though I’ve maybe spent a grand total of a month there, there are more people who recognize and say hi to me on Fogo Island, than in my own Toronto neighbourhood.

Lassy tart - the secret ingredient in the crust is molasses.

Lassy tart from the Flat Earth Coffee Outpost – the secret ingredient in the ginger-tinged crust is molasses.

 

In June, I went to Newfoundland with Cape Race Adventures, on a culinary adventure through St John’s, Heart’s Delight, Bonavista and Fogo Island.

The sunset in Heart's Delight is apparently like this every night. 20 minutes of magic, at the back of our cottage.

The sunset in Heart’s Delight is like this every night. No wonder locals got all romantic when it came to naming their village.

 

It was the first time I had seen icebergs without a telescope. Even after a week, my travelling companion Agatha and I would scream, if we turned a corner and there was a new batch–as big as houses–floating near the road. When they crack, it sounds like a bomb going off, and it makes your heart race. But most of the time, they’re just drifting by extremely slowly. We often sat at the end of the day with cups of tea, not talking, just staring at them in wonder.

There were so many icebergs near Bonavista that it felt air-conditioned when you stepped outside.

There were so many icebergs near Bonavista that it felt air-conditioned when you stepped outside.

On our road trip we saw caribou, foxes and eagles…

We drank in a shed,

The calm before the storm at Phil's Shed. Later that night it became a place of singing, boozing and raucous laughter.

The calm before the storm at Phil’s Shed. Later that night it became a place of singing, boozing and raucous laughter.

milked goats…

One of the goats at the Upper Amherst Cove restaurant Bonavista Social Club, which was possibly the most idyllic and relaxing place on Earth.

My pal at Upper Amherst Cove restaurant Bonavista Social Club

 

and boiled lobsters…

 

Sorry, little guys.

Sorry, little guys.

We lost cell-phone service from our Ontario service providers and rediscovered the art of conversation… and singing in the car.  We slept like it was 1995, with no late-night Facebook-Twitter-Gmail loop to keep us overstimulated.

We bought local-designed jewellery in St John’s, handmade wooden plates at Upper Amherst Cove…

 

Plates handmade by Mike Paterson, seducing us at Bonavista Social Club

Plates handmade by Mike Paterson, whispering our names at Bonavista Social Club

… and homemade bakeapple and partidgeberry jam in a lady’s garden shed, we have no idea where.

We wanted to buy a clock at a yard sale in the town of Dildo, but we couldn’t decide between Hologram Jesus and Sunset Lovers.

 

Clocks
In our dreams, we bought a house

In reality, we bought a lot of ice cream.

Moo Moo's ice cream in St John's

Moo Moo’s ice cream in St John’s

The Clown, at Berg's, near St John's.

The Clown, at Bergs, near(ish) to St John’s.

Bergs

Bergs Famous Ice Cream

 

As well as eating at fantastic restaurants (Fogo Island Inn, Raymonds, Mallard Cottage, Bonavista Social Club, Fishers’ Loft)…

 

Bouillabaisse from Fishers' Loft in Port Rexton--chock-full of Atlantic creatures and tomatoes and herbs from Gabe Fisher's kitchen garden

Bouillabaisse from Fishers’ Loft in Port Rexton–chock-full of Atlantic creatures and tomatoes and herbs from Gabe Fisher’s kitchen garden

The View from Fishers' Loft

The View from Fishers’ Loft

.
…we hit bakeries, tea rooms, pubs, roadside stands, and cafes, in the name of research. We even swung an invitation for lunch at Roy and Christine Dwyers’ place in the Irish community of Tilting, Fogo Island. Best salt-cod cakes ever!

Dwyers' place

Everything at this table is homemade, down to the last pickle.

 

Every evening, I’d sit like a teen on my bed, writing in my journal. I actually came home with over 10,000 words of notes.

My story in the Post is a tenth of that length.

Tip of the iceberg!

So I hope I’m not being your boring uncle now, forcing you to sit through my holiday slideshow. I just wanted you to see why I love this place.

 

This Fish

Wild mussels at Shag It Cafe… Shag Rock in the distance

 

If  you’re interested in seeing a lot more Fogo Island, please subscribe on the homepage for new blog post alerts. I’m going back next week to continue my research.

 

Blueberry lemonade

And the full Cape Race culinary adventure story from the National Post is here.

Impossible not to be this happy when that is your view each day. (Bonavista Social Club)

Katie and Shane of Bonavista Social Club–Upper Amherst Cove is their happy place

 

10 Responses to “More Newfoundland, Please”

  1. Julie August 5th, 2014 at 2:41 AM #

    Wow. I’ve never been that far east, but reading it from the furthest west coast (Tofino!) I want to make the trek!

    • Valerie Howes August 5th, 2014 at 9:26 AM #

      Tofino is not too shabby either. The Wick is also one of my happy places!

  2. Aube Giroux August 5th, 2014 at 6:38 AM #

    Oh this is a magical post Val! Your joie de vivre comes through in full force. I love your love of Newfoundland. I think you should buy a house to match your colourful ice cream cone.

    • Valerie Howes August 5th, 2014 at 9:26 AM #

      I wish, Aube!

  3. melanie August 5th, 2014 at 9:59 AM #

    I want to go back there soon. You really captured it. Plus, so true about rediscovering the art of conversation. I luvs it!

    • Valerie Howes August 5th, 2014 at 2:42 PM #

      We’re about due a sing-song by the fire, Melanie.

  4. Bertha Rousell August 5th, 2014 at 7:57 PM #

    Don’t forget the Southern Shore (The Irish Loop)and up to Trepassey on your next travels Melanie….

    • Valerie Howes August 5th, 2014 at 9:36 PM #

      Bertha, what are your favourite spots there?

  5. Karen August 29th, 2014 at 11:16 AM #

    I visited Newfoundland for the first time this year and was captivated by it and the people! I shared my time in posts on my blog if you are interested! LOVE this post and the images.

    • Valerie Howes October 1st, 2014 at 3:05 AM #

      Thanks for letting us know, Karen. I’ll check out lavenderandlovage.com .

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