Let’s face it, innkeepers have to be a special breed of people, ultimately creative and unusually tenacious. To make this land we call Canada bloom as beautifully as it does, requires strength of purpose and a vision that sees far beyond the horizon of tomorrow. And in Newfoundland it’s especially challenging.
At Fishers’ Loft the gardens are as full and interesting as any I’ve seen in eastern Canada. The property is expansive and beautiful, overlooking the bay where sometimes rather large icebergs lodge themselves on the rocks. The kitchen thrives on their production.
Like many innkeepers will attest, running such an ultimately seasonal property has challenges particularly when the kitchen standards are high. The Fisher family has overcome this obstacle with the help of Roger Pickavance, their wonderful consulting chef who wrote the following prose.
Kitchens and Gardens
My Grandfather, a man of deeply emerald thumbs, once confided to me that while the front garden was all very well for decoration, for flowers “that the ladies like to cut for the house” as he tactfully put it out of earshot of my Grandmother, the real business of a garden was the kitchen garden, at the back of the house, where regimented rows of fruit and vegetables marched in good order towards the kitchen door. As a tender child, and very much on my Grandfather’s side, I agreed with him of course. But looking back, I know that at the time I didn’t grasp his full meaning.
He had been a soldier in the Great War, and like most of his kind rarely spoke of his experiences. But one day we were in the garden where he was showing me the mysteries of transplanting bean seedlings by grasping a leaf (expendable) rather than the delicate stem (irreplaceable). Out of the blue he remarked, loudly and almost angrily, “vegetables were scarce”. He paused, and I knew he was talking about the War; then he added quietly, with a distant look in his eyes “we used to eat bully beef, sometimes with jam on it, sometimes not; but mostly bully beef”.
Now even as a child I could see he was a man who loved his vegetables. He insisted on a variety of vegetables with every meal; even with his traditional breakfast of eggs and bacon he would often have potatoes, sliced tomatoes and broad beans. Lunch and dinner were both cooked, sit-down meals of meat with three or four different vegetables, simply cooked and dressed with little more than butter, salt and pepper.
For him, freshness was everything. He would scoff at tomatoes imported from the next county, all of 50 miles away. He would never pick anything until just before it was needed. One of my childhood tasks was to gather vegetables from the garden, and an indelible vignette from that period was one December day scraping the frost off the Brussels sprouts so that I could slice them neatly off the stem, about 15 minutes before we were to sit down to Christmas lunch.Like many men of his generation, he was no cook himself (I never saw him so much as boil an egg), but he believed that the kitchen should have the freshest available, and that efforts of cooks would be in vain if they used less than perfect ingredients. So neighbours were plied with seasonal vegetables and urged to come back for more, or for the next crop of whatever it was to be in a few days time. Those that paid attention and reported back with comments about marvelous textures and tastes would then stagger away with freshly laden baskets.
Eventually I came to understand and fully grasp what he meant by all that. I think his actions (and his few words) taught me that gardens and kitchens are inextricably intertwined, that gardens and kitchens nourish not only the body but also the soul, and that gardeners need cooks just as much as cooks need gardeners. ~ Roger Pickavance, 2011.
Fisher’s Loft is one of about 250 restaurants that celebrate Food Day across Canada. Contact them at the number below to reserve a table.
Fisher’s Loft est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs. Contactez Fisher’s Loft directement, au numéro ci-dessous, afin de faire votre réservation.
Fishers’ Loft Inn
P.O. Box 36,
Port Rexton, NF, A0C 2H0
T: 877 464 3240