Salvage, Newfoundland – Newfoundland’s appeal is linkedto its rugged coastal scenery, an engaging cultural scene, friendly people – not so often to gourmet food. But our recent trip added this last to our list of reasons to return.
This year we’re going primarily to visit with my sister and brother-in-law, attend the Winterset In Summer literary festival in nearby Eastport and hike on the many coastal paths that surround the peninsula. We’re told to stock up on groceries in Gander as the shopping in Salvage and Eastport is in the first case non-existent and in the second case leaves much to be desired.
What we aren’t told is how much fun we can have foraging for food on the hiking trails and accepting the gracious gifts of the sea.
Because of a judicious mix of warm sunshine and rain, wild blueberries are especially plentiful. We could set up a roadside stand – if there were a busy road nearby. Since there isn’t, we eat them on cereal, with yogurt, in blueberry cobblers, in tarts – I even scrounge some jars and make jam to bring home.
Other berries are ripening but not quite ready yet, in particular a bumper crop of partridge berries. The excess of these makes me wish I could fly back in September, if only to make more jam and that favourite of foodies, partridge berry vinegar.
But let me tell you about the chanterelle mushroom hunt. Venturing out early one August morning, four of us find enough to fill six of those very large Ziploc bags.
If you haven’t picked chanterelles before, make sure you go with someone who knows where to find them and exactly what they look like. Described as one of the most distinctively flavoured mushrooms in the world and certainly one of the most expensive, we eat them on fettucine, in scrambled eggs, in salads – all mouth-watering.
We can see the fishers out jigging for squid from the porch of my sister’s house, so we have to boat it out there to get some digital pictures to send to our young grandson, who is currently enamoured of squid.
Gord tosses a few our way while unloading his hundreds of pounds at the fish plant dock. Another lunch of calamari on basmati rice. Or maybe some more of that delicious marinated calamari salad.
Since the cod food fishery has just been launched, my brother-in-law is invited to go out with two fisher friends. For a few weeks, local residents are allowed to catch five fish a day for their own use, to a maximum of 15 per boat.
Within a couple of hours, Peter arrives at our dock with our supper. Caught by him and expertly filleted by his fisher friend Patsy, it is pan-fried lickity split. Nothing compares with fish that has been swimming just a few hours before consumption.
So the next time someone tells you to stock up in the big-city grocery store on your way into a small Newfoundland outport, buy your vegetables and other staples, sure.
But count on some additional bounty freshly picked in the hills, jigged or caught in the sea or found hiding under a juniper bush.