The town of Bonavista is known for it’s magnificent lighthouse which holds a commanding presence over the North Atlantic. But my prediction is that very shortly it’s also going to be known as the go-to place to study and experience the culinary history and culture of Newfoundland. The College of the North Atlantic is in the process of reviving real food traditions and the recent opening of the Bonavista Social Club, in the village of Upper Amherst Cove, helps to close the circle.
Katie and Shane Hayes own and operate The Bonavista Social Club, a bakery/restaurant that is one of the neatest tributes to this regions (and Newfoundland’s) food stories. Open Wednesday to Sunday, Katie and Shane share their love of local. From roasted parsnip soup and fresh pasta with Cove asparagus and oven-roasted garlic to partridgeberry pudding and a trio of NL berry sorbets with shortbread, it’s a great introduction of just how good the regional food can be. Katie, a Red Seal Chef, studied at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown and came back, raring to go. She bakes a huge array of real bread from whole wheat and multigrain and wild rice with onion to a variety of sourdoughs. The one I want to try is “Violet Brown’s Raisin Molasses Bread” . Could anything be more Newfoundland?
In keeping with the island’s well-established traditions of wood-working, Katie’s dad, Mike Paterson, built the furniture and many of the serving pieces. He writes, “ We place a strong emphasis on a process which utilizes local materials, labour and tradition. Birch, tamarack, aspen, cherry, pine, balsam fir and spruce are harvested locally and cured, worked and finished on site by local craftsmen. Our philosophy is to engage a high level of human involvement, keeping people working and machinery to a minimum.”
So it follows that Shane and Katie would be immersed in the same idealism. They live it! Totally! The Bonavista Social Club is home to the only commercial wood-fired bread oven in Newfoundland and Labrador. As they explain, “The Bonavista Social Club harnesses the established farm gardens, animal husbandry and self sufficient lifestyle presently at work in Upper Amherst Cove.” It’s rural Newfoundland at its finest. They encourage diners and friends alike to “walk through the gardens of the Cove and stop to visit our goats, lambs and various fowl.”
The gardens of Newfoundland and Labrador bear explanation. Filled with the vegetables that have supported generations over the deep, ofttimes harsh winters, they are unlike others anywhere in Canada. I’ve seen them flourishing in ditches with small flags marking their existence and embedded in wildflower-strewn meadows. They’ve been ringed with fences made of hand cut branches and perched in some of the most precarious places beside the ocean. You’ll find them anywhere the soil is rich and fertile enough to plant carrots, potatoes, turnips, onions and, these days, a lot of garlic.
The other brilliant tradition that has been preserved in this region is the root cellar, buried in the earth and appearing on the landscape as grassy mounds with wooden doors. The nearby community of Elliston has more root cellars per capita than any other town/village in the province and a festival that celebrates it. This year The Bonavista
Social Club is having a food festival of their own, celebrating garlic on Labour Day when they’ll be pit-roasting a pig and firing up the oven to let visitors bake their own pizzas and Shane promises that there will be music. How could a festival get any better?
Food Day Canada 2012 Menu
The Ultimate Moose Burger with old cheddar cheese and bacon and a fresh mixed green salad with partridgeberry ketchup and a roasted garlic aioli.
Pan Seared Cod with a fresh mixed green salad served with a roasted garlic aioli.
Bonavista Social Club est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs .