Cloudberries, Tea Buns & Chocolate Shoes: A Postcard from Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada

 

Cloudberries, Tea Buns & Chocolate Shoes: A Postcard from Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada

Cloudberries, Tea Buns & Chocolate Shoes:

A Postcard from Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada

Bakeapples aka Cloudberries

Bakeapples aka Cloudberries

Dreams are made of this…….

Bite-sized Chunks of my Culinary Adventures in Newfoundland:

Part Two – Friendship and the Journey Continues……

Lori Butler, the Island Chef making Newfoundland Fish Cakes

Lori Butler, the Island Chef making Newfoundland Fish Cakes

The light seeped through the curtains in my hotel room and as I opened my eyes I realised it wasn’t raining…….in fact there appeared to be rays of early morning sun streaking over the walls and bouncing off the bedside table. Day two in St John’s Newfoundland had arrived and on blearily checking the time, I released with a shock that it wasn’t so much early morning, but the crack of dawn as it was only 5:30 am – I was obviously still on UK and French time. (They were 4 and 5 hours ahead respectively) I opened the curtains and the magic of St John’s was laid out before me……the rosy glow of sugar-coated clapboard houses in a myriad of jelly bean colours glowed warm in the sun’s early rays, and I could just see the lapping of water against the hulls of boats in the port, it was different, exciting and almost looked like an old tapestry, faded here and there with the odd splash of bright hues and colours.

Dawn over St John's, Newfoundland

Dawn stealing over St John’s, Newfoundland

Today was my first full day since arriving and I so looking forward to meeting Lori Butler, the Island Chef and cooking alongside her, whilst we explored Newfoundland recipes and  ingredients through her pantry, in fact Lori described it as “A tasting tour through my pantry. This will include bottled rabbit, bottled moose and other various preserves. I will show her the many berries that grow here including bakeapples, partridgeberries, blueberries, black currants and gooseberries. We will choose some of the berries to make a dessert”…..

tasting tour through my pantry,  including bakeapples, partridgeberries, blueberries, black currants and gooseberries.

Some of Lori’s Preserved Recipes

…….Amy Fisher from the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism board collected me after a rather stunning breakfast of Lobster Benedict was enjoyed at the Sheraton Hotel’s excellent OPPIDAN restaurant…..tender chunks of fresh local lobster were sat provocatively on a toasted muffin with a poached egg, all doused in Hollandaise sauce and served with “breakfast potatoes” which were crispy little morsels of fried potatoes with a crumb and black pepper coating – it was an excellent start to the day.

Lobster Benedict

Lobster Benedict

Amy drove me to Lori’s home where her mother-in-law was also waiting to greet me, Regina and the three of us never stopped “gassing” and laughing all day! The table was set for breakfast and I was immediately struck about how “British” it all looked……blue willow pattern plates were set out along with cups and sauces and a big teapot was filled and refilled all day…….the food I was about to learn about and enjoy may not have been familiar, but the hospitality and friendship that Lori and Regina offered me was wonderfully warm and welcoming,  as we discussed, debated and delighted in familiar and some unfamiliar recipes (and ingredients) common to all of us.

Blue Willow Breakfast Table

Blue Willow Breakfast Table

There is something very comforting about the realisation that traditional and family recipes are  loved and cherished wherever you travel in the world, and I was surprised and delighted to see that many traditional Newfoundland recipes most definitely have their roots in Ireland and Great Britain, but with the addition of some popular local ingredients that make it their own. As well as some familiar names such as Figgy Duff, Raisin Bread, Fish Cakes, Fruit Cakes, Scones, Peas Pudding and Date Squares, I learned about (and watched Lori make) Fish and Brewis, Newfoundland style Fish Cakes with Summer Savoury, Toutons, Molasses Raisin Bread and Tea Buns, and then in time-honoured fashion, we all sat down around the table to enjoy what had been made, with a pot of tea!

Toutons with Molasses, Fish and Brewis, Tea Buns with Fussell's Cream and Fish Cakes with home-made Bread and White Pudding

Top left to bottom right: Toutons with Molasses, Fish and Brewis, Tea Buns with Fussell’s Cream and Fish Cakes with home-made Bread, Pickles and White Pudding

So, what are these wonderful Newfoundland recipes? Well, here’s a list of what they are, what they are made of and how you would serve them: 

Toutons:

Pronounced tout(rhymes with pout)-ens and NOT toot-ons as I pronounced it, French style! 

Fried white bread dough in the style of pancakes or hotcakes; serve with butter and molasses, traditionally made with leftover bread dough for a filling after work or school snack – also made for breakfast and brunch. Lori made hers with some freshly made white bread, she shaped them into a pancake and then fried them in pork fat that she had rendered from some back fat.  We then enjoyed them with butter and molasses.

Freshly made Toutons

Freshly made Toutons

Fish and Brewis:

Pronounced: Fish and Bruise or Brews

Fish is always cod in Newfoundland and this is a traditional recipe made with salt cod and hard bread (Hard Tack or Ship’s Biscuits) both of which are soaked overnight; the cooked dish is then served with Scrunchions, which are small pieces of fried pork fat similar to pork scratchings in the UK. It is thought that the recipe was devised by fisherman who were at sea for a long time, and this seems wholly feasible if you look at the ingredients. salt cod and hard tack would have been common on boats and ships.

Fish and Brewis

Fish and Brewis

Newfoundland Fish Cakes:

Traditionally made with salt cod, onions, summer savoury and always mixed with HOT mashed potatoes to make them light and fluffy. Lori made hers with all of the above ingredients, but the recipe varies throughout the province and some people omit the savoury and make them with fresh cod. Again, Lori fried these in rendered pork fat and served them with a selection of home-made pickles – Zucchini Pickle, Rhubarb Relish, Bread and Butter Pickles and Pickled Beets. We also enjoyed some fried White Pudding from Halliday’s Meat Market in St John’s and Lori’s home-made bread.

Newfoundland Fish Cakes:

Newfoundland Fish Cakes:

Tea Buns:

A staple in many Newfoundland kitchens, these are similar to non egg-enriched scones, and have raisins in them. They are often made with evaporated milk and the leavening agent is baking powder, similar to American Biscuits. Lori served hers with molasses, jam and some tinned “Fussell’s Thick Cream”. (There was a shortage of this cream over the Christmas period Lori told me and people took to social media to swap, beg or borrow a tin for the festive period!

Newfoundland Tea Buns

Newfoundland Tea Buns

I will be making all of these recipes over the next few weeks and will share my adapted recipes here, as well as Lori’s notes and recipe ideas too, so keep popping back!  We ended the morning with another cup of tea before Amy came to collect us all for a special trip to the Newfoundland Chocolate Company.……situated in the centre of St John’s this wonderful chocolate company has a very loyal following and having tasted their chocolates, I can see why.

Newfoundland Chocolate Company

Newfoundland Chocolate Company

We were welcomed to the store and chocolaterie by Shaun and Lauren, who sounded very British and were indeed from Blighty! Shaun “came for the girl and stayed for the chocolate” he said, and Lauren’s family were originally from Newfoundland, although she was born in Britain. The shop is an Aladdin’s cave of chocolates; they adorn each and every wall and there are even “bouquet’s” of edible chocolate roses on a central table…….and amongst the elegance and cocoa decadence was a bag of chocolates that made me chortle, a bag of Shag-Ups! The name obviously doesn’t have the same smutty connotations as it does in the UK and apparently it means something that is not quite right………so, it would be appear that all the broken or misshapen chocolates are then made into shag-ups – same delicious taste but not quite the shape they should be!

Chocolate Shoes at the Newfoundland Chocolate Company

Chocolate Shoes at the Newfoundland Chocolate Company

Shaun and Lauren took us “behind the scenes” and then we then ended our tour with a “chocolate tasting” session, which was extremely interesting. With thanks to Shaun and Lauren for my tour, my GORGEOUS goodie bag filled with chocolates and the Newfoundland Chocolate Company for allowing us to see behind the scenes……if you are ever in St John’s, make sure you head for Duckworth! My favourite chocolates from the visit were these delightful “Jelly Bean Houses” all in a row……they look good and they taste delicious, especially the Wild Berry ones.

Newfoundland Chocolate Company Gift Pack

Newfoundland Chocolate Company Gift Pack

Day one may be over, but please check back next week for part three, that’s my NIGHT in St John’s on an amazing St. John’s Food Tour: A taste of Newfoundland, old and new. Follow me on a guided  food tour through the streets of Downtown St. John’s. I visit four of the top restaurants in the city and taste their specially selected offerings with paired beverages and an explanation of each dish, it was nothing short of sublime and I am eager to share it with you in part three. I will also be sharing some notes from Mallard Cottage in Quid Vidi Village too, so stay tuned! Karen

PS: Where do the Cloudberries come in? Well, I baked my OWN Newfoundland dessert at Lori’s house  - she let me loose on her preserves and I made a Bakeapple Pudding with her bottled Bakeapples, which are also known as Cloudberries. Recipe to follow soon. 

Pickles and Raisin Bread

Pickles and Raisin Bread

Disclaimer: I was the guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and  Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism and all my flights, accommodation and meals were included, as well as all trips, excursions and special cookery sessions with local chefs. With profound thanks to all the people and organisations that looked after me and made my trip so memorable and exciting. With a special thanks to Lori and Regina for such a fabulous day, and for making me feel so welcome. 

Links to my other Atlantic Canada Eats Posts are here:

Icebergs, Cod & Beer: A Postcard from Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada

Icebergs, Cod & Beer: A Postcard from Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada

A Photo Diary from Newfoundland: Chocolate, Buns & Cod Tongues…..

Lobster Benedict with Breakfast Potatoes

Atlantic Canada Eats: Newfoundland & Beyond with Recipes that Jumped the Pond!

Atlantic Canada Eats: Newfoundland & Beyond with Recipes that Jumped the Pond!

The  Featured Herb of my Visit – Summer Savoury/Savory:

The  Featured Herb of my Visit - Summer Savoury/Savory:

The Featured Herb of my Visit – Summer Savoury/Savory:

Comments

  1. Janice says

    Fantastic! The recipes are very much those that were in that cookbook I bought before I went to NS. I think you probably tasted more of them than I did! Beautiful photos and delightful stories.

  2. says

    What a delightful post and such a fabulous visit. You deserved it and surely made the best. Everything sounds special with so many new discoveries and people. Can’t wait to read the rest. big hugs, Karin

  3. says

    Toutons are definitely new to me! Here in the US, the only Canadian foods we ever hear about are maple syrup and how people in Quebec put gravy on their fries. Can’t wait to see what you made with the cloudberries–I’ve never tried them before.

  4. says

    Oh Karen. What utter glorious joy you’ve had. This is such a beautiful post. Full of life and gorgeous food. Truly beautiful x

  5. says

    I’ve been loving your pics on IG – but that cloudberries shot takes the biscuit (or the Touton!) I never realised they were real – and they look SO gorgeous. In fact, everything looks gorgeous. When can I come?

  6. says

    What a wonderful time you had Karen. You’ve really brought it alive with this post. It all sounds fantastic, but as you can imagine I am somewhat envious of the chocolate bit ;-)

  7. says

    What a wonderful post, Karen. You tell the story with such detail that I feel transported. I love the title of the post – that word Cloudberry is one of the loveliest in the English language I think. That breakfast you describe is almost too good to be true – I am sure it must have tasted fabulous.

  8. says

    You must have felt so at home with the Newfoundland emphasis on traditional recipes and ingredients. Beautifully and enthusiastically presented for those of us not fortunate enough to visit this beautiful part of the world.

  9. Liz Thomas says

    Lobster Benedict! Oooh Karen, did you manage to get the recipe? In Thailand right now (lovely) en route to France on 16th.

    Love reading all these stories about your Canadian travels, You must have had a wonderful time.

    Cheers!
    Liz

    • says

      Hi Liz!

      Yes, I DID get the recipe as it happens, as this is a popular breakfast dish in Newfoundland!

      Can we try to meet up when you are in France? It would be good……we have plenty of room here in our auberge! ;-)

      Thanks for your comment, and take care, I LOVE Thailand, haven’t been there for years, but love it!

      Karen

      • Liz Thomas says

        Oh good! I’d just love to try it. Can’t wait to have my proper oven again after four months in Macau with just an induction hob and a crock pot!

        Would love to meet up with you. First we have to sort out the car. We cannot afford to run our ancient and much loved Range Rover so need to part ex for something diesel. Will email you.

        Thailand is still great and we love it too. Will eat something for you!

        Just loving your Canadian stories.
        Liz
        xx

  10. says

    What a stunning post Karen. Even the title just whisked me away to another place… cloudberries sound so romantic! I’m glad that you had a lovely culinary adventure in Newfoundland. I haven’t been to Canada since I was a child but both my husband and I are keen to visit one day. Thanks for sharing these beautiful moments and photographs with us. Reading alongside you was a holiday in itself xx

    • says

      Thanks Laura,

      I am so pleased you are enjoying my “Atlantic Canada” posts and the “virtual trip”……and, if you do plan a trip to Canada, make sure you try to fir in a trip to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia too!

      Karen

  11. says

    What a wonderful trip, I love the photographs and it’s interesting to see East Coast cooking, I really only know Toronto. I’m tempted to travel there, though PEI would be my first choice in the region. Thanks for sharing your discoveries.

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