Tag Archives: St John’s

Cod Tongues, Anyone? Eating and Drinking Newfoundland-Style

There’s no getting too fancy with the menu here; simple dishes using local ingredients is what this province is all about. Here’s a run-down.

Seafood:

Seafood is right up there on my list of favourite foods so I knew the fresh-off-the-boat produce would be a highlight of the trip. My favourite seafood haunt was J&J’s Fishmarket in Twillingate. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but hot damn, the food is good! It’s got $6.95 fish ‘n’ chips (with “proper” chips like home), lobster burgers

and a seafood platter for two with lobster, crab and mussels ($30!!!)

Before.

After.

Soup and Sandwich:

This comfort food combo features on most lunch menus, but the best I had was at The Rooms cafe in St John’s. (As a sidebar, the art gallery was great but the museum itself was a little sparsely curated for how big the place is).

Newfoundland pea soup and a sandwich of roasted chicken, crispy pancetta, cheese and apple – amazing!!!

Local Specialties:

Newfies march to the beat of their own drum and food is no exception.

Enter, cod tongues…

Cod tongues

They looked harmless enough (kinda like chicken nuggets) so I jumped right in with gusto! They had a chewy, firm texture and what felt like a gelatinous layer around them; I’m not going to lie, they weren’t my favourite dish. But the locals love them so they must be an acquired taste!

Then there was the fisherman’s brewis (pronounced “brews”. Don’t make the same pronunciation faux pas as I did!). Made from cod, hard bread, and scrunchions (fried salted pork fat), it was a bit more my cup of tea.

Fisherman’s brewis

Alcohol:

With a drinking culture that rivals Australia’s, I can’t really talk about Newfoundland without mentioning the booze.

When it comes to rum, there’s only one real contender.

Screech: apparently named for the sound emitted after knocking back a shot!

There are a couple of microbreweries around as well. The beers from Quidi Vidi were easy to knock back, if a little watery (if you’re a fan of IPA, apparently theirs is rated 90/100. Wasn’t to my taste though!). Yellow Belly was more my style and they do a great wheat ale. The Dominion Ale (now produced by Molson after they bought out a smaller brewery) is a cheap and tasty beer (although all the beer snobs slam it).

Grapes don’t grow in Newfoundland but that doesn’t stop them making wine! Grapes are imported from Ontario and blended with the myriad of berries that grow in abundance in Newfoundland. The result is sweet concoction that can be anywhere from sickly to yummy depending on your tastes and the berry blend that is used. The pick of the bunch for me was the Krooked Cod from Auk Island Winery in Twillingate.

Auk Island wines

If you love simple, homestyle cooking, Newfoundland’s your place. Just don’t try to order avocado at Subway!*

*apparently they had avocado for a week and no-one ordered it so they stopped getting it in!

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Icebergs, Yo!

It’s a pretty amazing experience to see a massive chuck of ice just bobbing away in the ocean, particularly when said iceberg is made from glacial ice more than 10,000 years old!

We were lucky enough to see icebergs in a couple of different places thanks to my eagle-eyed friend, Katie. (If you are travelling through Newfoundland and do not happen to have a friend with superhuman eyesight, you can also locate icebergs with the Iceberg Finder.)

ICEBERG NUMBER 1: Quidi Vidi Cove, St John’s (50 meters from shore!)

 ICEBERG NUMBER 2: Pouch Cove

ICEBERG NUMBER 3, 4, 5, 6 etc etc: Between Terra Nova and Deer Lake

Steadyyyyyyy. Those icebergs are slippery suckers!

Seeing all these icebergs en route, you can imagine our excitement when we finally got to Twillingate, the self-proclaimed iceberg capital of Newfoundland. Here’s what we saw there……….

Yep, that’s right: nothing! Luckily Twillingate redeemed itself in other ways. More on that in a later blog.

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Struggling Up Signal Hill (St John’s)

Our second day in St John’s, we were surprised to wake up to blue skies and sunshine after flying into snow and zero degrees the day before (apparently this swift weather change is typical of Newfoundland). We decided to make the most of this fleeting good weather by checking out the Signal Hill summit overlooking the city.

There are two ways to get to Signal Hill:

  • walk or drive up the paved Signal Hill Rd;
  • do a breathtaking hike that winds along stunning cliff faces (Battery Rd).

While the choice of route may seem obvious, my (presumably) well-meaning guidebook was messing with our decision-making process. Describing the hike as “thigh-burning,” “very dangerous” and only recommended for people who are feeling “really energetic” we weren’t sure we were up to the challenge on a normal day, let alone after getting a little too “Newfie” at Shamrock City the night before. (As an aside, this pub was still going strong at 3am on a Monday night – this would never happen in Toronto!)

But embracing the Irish spirit, we eventually said “feck it” and set off to do the hike.

There was a moment of hesitation when we came across this sign at the start of the trail,

but we were soon rewarded with amazing views of the rugged coastline.

It took us a bit over an hour to reach the summit, stopping for photos and rest stops after each set of steeply ascending stairs (yep, definitely “thigh-burning”). As the top, we were greeted with more stunning views and Cabot Tower.

Cabot Tower: Here in 1901, Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message. It was the letter “S” in Morse Code sent from England.

We descended down the other side of the hill towards the little fishing village of Quidi Vidi, intent on rewarding ourselves with a cold one at their brewery. As we were approaching the village, Katie gave a casual look backwards towards the cove and spotted…

a freakin’ iceberg!!!! 50 meters from shore!!!

All in all, a great St John’s afternoon!

 

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