Newfoundland Food III
At the end of the season a lot of places were closed but there were some nice items. The Anchor Inn's Caesar (real bacon bits and a light homemade dressing) and seafood or cod au gratin - more like a souffle with a cheddar topping was rich but tasty on a cool wet night. Wine list disappointing. Newfoundland treat dessert was three scoops of ice cream with three sauces - blueberry, partridge berry and bakeapple made by the chef - very nice.
Next day's lunch at R and J's was tasty but indigestible: fisherman's platter - scallops, shrimps and cod - the first two battered, the last lightly coated with flour and perfectly cooked and a forgettable burger with freezer fries. Dessert might have been good; it looked like it came from the tea room across the road, the Cozy Tea Room and Bakery Cafe where we went for "the best toutons in the country" according to friends. Enjoyed them mightily on the back deck and willing to accept that they are the best - just next time we won't eat beforehand!
Auk Island winery - sadly the tasting guide was a little under the weather so it was not as enjoyable an experience as it might have been. They are experimenting with Niagara, ON and Italian grapes so putting out classic grape varietals and blends - chardonnay, cab sauv, shiraz and amarone, both pure and with a touch of berry - blueberry, rhubarb, partridge berry, bakeapple, etc. as well as traditional berry wines mostly of the aperitif and dessert varieties. Admirable effort and the Republic rose* made with Raspberry-Rhubarb was quite engaging - I bought a bottle but I think I left it behind.
*"Republic is a bold stand-out from other wines, uniting the sharp flavour of rhubarb with the refreshing taste of plump, juicy raspberries. The result is a crisp, fruity wine with an undercurrent of sweetness. Blended with pure iceberg water, together these three elements reflect the pink, white and green of the Newfoundland Republic flag.
Serve Republic ice-cold on its own, or in a glass with ice and sparkling water for a delicious spritzer that makes wine coolers taste lame by comparison. Or use it to make pitchers of sangria at your next party"
Joe Batt's Arm
Nicole's Cafe was an unexpected treat. Friends mentioned it in passing and it is stellar. Don't know if it is the visiting executive chef Robert Bourassa or the usual standard but the mini-burgers - beef, chicken and shrimp were delicious! Even the ketchup - was it homemade? If it wasn't, I have to revise my stand on ketchup as for children only. The grilled steak sandwich was also delicious - an interesting 2004 Aussie wine, Hooley Dooley, with a classic Bordeaux blend of grapes though not quite a classic taste. Dessert was a local tart shell made with molasses - tasted like gingerbread with partridge berry filling and ice cream; not Growlers* ice cream, though they have used theirs in the past. Hope we can taste that, too. Nicole's and Growlers are part of a project by a charity called Shorefast http://www.shorefast.org/ trying to preserve the community.
For dinner, we started with a great but slightly too salty for me duck pate with a partridge berry Cumberland sauce. Paul had the best flank steak ever, if you can imagine - it melted in your mouth. I had a very nice local vegetable and tomato risotto. The challenge was the serving size - too large for old folks who had had a large lunch. The Italian Salice Salentino was a perfect match for the food.
Sunday dinner was a delicious clear broth and fish bits soup for Paul, a lovely fresh pea soup with a goat cheese flan and a perfectly cooked bit of redfish for me - fabulous. Then roast chicken with a wild mushroom fricasse for Paul and roast pod cod with cabbage and frites - the cabbage was just a few strips with the thin strips of carrots, zucchini and onion - delicious and definitely not overpoweringly cabbage for those who were not fans. The potatoes were supposed to be croquettes but the chef hadn't completely mastered them and Robert was gone so she played it safe. Kudos for trying, I thought! We had a Villa Maria NZ sauvignon blanc and a glass of Salice Salentino - very good combo. Dessert was a decent tarte tatin with a scoop of Growler's vanilla ice cream.
We even had room for an ice cream on the way home - since it was our last chance at Growlers (winter hours are limited). Very good chocolate, salty caramel was, you guessed it, too salty. Paul couldn't even finish it. And the first time I passed up partridge berry - the flavour is partridge berry tart with the whole thing mixed in and I just don't like that kind of chunk in my ice cream.
* Bergy Bits and Growlers
Very small chunks of floating ice that rise only about 1 meter / 3 feet out of the water are called "growlers". When trapped air escapes as the iceberg melts, it sometimes makes a sound like the growl of an animal, and that's how growlers got their name.
Small icebergs, rising between 1-4 meters / 3-13 feet out of the water are called "bergy bits". These may be small icebergs in the latter stages of melting, iceberg fragments, or pieces of floebergs or hummocked ice.
Bergy bits may sound cute, but they can still be dangerous to ships because they are harder to see than large icebergs.
The challenge for all NL restaurants - with such a small and widely varied clientele - how do you satisfy those who want classic NL favourites, large portions and a fairly high salt content from traditions of salt cod and beef as well as CFAs*, especially the older ones, who prefer smaller portions (to allow room for three courses), are used to less salt and looking for some variety in the classic dishes that they've been having everywhere they go.
*Come from Aways