People in Newfoundland move at their own pace. Case and point was Coffee Matters, a little coffee house located kiddy (or maybe I should say Quidi) corner from the Sheraton. During lunch, I went and ordered a quartet of coffees to avoid the hotel brew. They ranked as medium on the difficulty scale (eg. soy milk, double espresso shot). They took an extraordinary amount of time but were pretty decent in the end.
Once the meeting was over, another hike ensued. This one was significantly longer but not as steep as the Signal Hill hike the day before. The weather however, was significantly worse than day one, coming in at 8 degrees Celsius without the wind chill in mid-June. I persevered and experienced a pleasant combination of inclines, declines and long stretches of land peppered with man made steps, bridges and rock paths. That said, I did often wonder what would happen if someone sustained a significant ankle sprain given there is not a road to be found for a number of kilometres. The journey ended at the eastern most part in North America which makes for another bucket list check mark. I even have the picture to prove it.
Again, a good hike calls for a good beer and some of the locals brought us to the Duke of Duckworth, one of the oldest drinking holes in St John’s. With the beer came a few orders of nachos ($15) and the famous cod nuggets and chips ($11.59). The nachos were good. The fish and chips was amazing. Both were golden brown and pub-delicious. I found the staff a bit grumpy but copious amounts of deep fried goodness and cold beer made up for it.
Dinner that night was at Basho. Best described as a sushi joint that took a wrong turn in Albuquerque and ended up in St. John’s, it was initially the joint project of a father and son team which I can best describe as Newfoundlasian. The son (who I met) runs the show. We had a set menu but a sushi sampler was waiting at the table when we sat. It was good sushi but a little lackluster. There were no fun sauces or concoction but it served the purpose. Shortly after another platter arrived filled with a more North American deep fried chips and calamari. Note that this was before the menu appetizers even arrived.
There was a choice of apps that ranged from more sushi rolls to tempura vegetables to a unique surf and turf featuring steak, scallops and onion rings in a tower formation. It was the size of an entree and was ingeniously an odd version of classic land and sea. Both the meat and scallop were cooked to perfection. It was a really enjoyable starter…if you call it that.
I was a little afraid of the entree after the monstrosity that was the appetizer. I was hoping for the halibut promised on the menu but I heard rumours that the shipment was diverted to another in a bidding war so they made a last minute substitution with cod. This dish was a bit of a mess in a Jackson Pollack sort of way. I think the halibut would have held up better among the other ingredients and things could have been a little more seasoned but it was a befitting offering in the end.
I was almost full to capacity but tasted each element of the dessert platter. There was chocolate and green tea ice cream which were ok but the stand out dessert was the cheesecake. It probably made the least sense in relation to the loose theme of the restaurant but was the best component hands down.
The night ended with a late night screech-in ceremony at Christian’s (which didn’t involve a washed up child star, a bar altercation or a knife). For $20 you have the right to become an honorary Newfoundlander. I was a little fearful at first given the first thing I saw was a large man dressed in a slicker and carrying a paddle. My mind wandered to some sort of sadistic, seashore sodomy but when he started speaking, it turned out he was one of the best emcees ever (at least according to the locals who have seen a number of these ceremonies in the past). Essentially, participants have their names read aloud, eat bologna, kiss a cod, take a shot of screech, try and say “Deed I is, me ol’ cock! And long may yer big jib draw!”. Then you are presented with your certificate and quickly rush to wash the taste of screech, fish and bologna out of your mouth with copious amounts of beer.
On a final note, I got the airport and had some time to kill, so I went to the restaurant and finished off the trip with some questionable local blueberry wine while resisting the urge to order something off the glutin free menu. God, I love this place.
A busy second day in Newfoundland involved hiking, drinking, cod, cod and more cod. It started with a traditional fish and chips at one of the most established pubs in the city, continued with a oddish Asian-Newfoundland fusion meal and ended with making out with a fish. The phrase “Deed I is, me ol’ cock! And long may yer big jib draw” which translates to “Yes indeed, my friend, long may your big sail (i.e. jib) draw wind” makes total sense now. The combination of gale forces winds of the Newfoundland cliffs, my big sail (partially the result of too much deep fried cod), the island’s geographical similarity to my hometown of Sudbury and an honorary Newfie status makes this ol’ cock feel at home.