Soft round notes of a hidden flute rise as the early summer sun sets over the Pacific. The shores become shadowy; frogs take over, singing their hearts out. Offshore a line of breakers surge onto a reef connecting the islands.
This is Tofino, more specifically, The Wickaninnish Inn, the long time dream of the McDiarmid family located in an area that is now an official UNESCO World Biosphere. It is also, according to the readers of Travel & Leisure, North America’s premier travel magazine, the #1 resort in Canada for 2012! Condé Nast Traveler ranks it on their Gold List 2012 for Best Leisure Facilities. BRAVO!
On all three sides of the inn there is the often-pounding ocean, the backdrop is an old growth forest. When I think of The “Wick” I think of whales and storms and fabulous surf and equally fabulous food. At night the only lights on the beach are from glimmering masses of stars, the lighthouse that flashes rhythmically and a few flickering campfires.
Tofino is rich in great ingredients. Crab is harvested all year round; there are wild berries by the ton; the salmon stocks are healthy; the halibut that’s on the menu is landed almost in front of the inn. There are gooseneck barnacles, fresh clams and fat, briny beach oysters. The inn’s tremendously talented chefs from newly-appointed Executive Chef Warren Barr (at left), Chef de Cuisine Nick Nutting and Restaurant Chef David Sider, use them all in The Pointe Restaurant, a dining room with a 240’ view of the Pacific.
They buy cheeses from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks where not only are traditional cows (Brown Swiss, Ayershire, Holstein) milked but so are a small herd of Canadiennes, the hardy breed brought over by Champlain in the early 1600s and which adapted so well to frigid Canadian winters. They also serves forth David Wood’s near-legendary goats milk cheeses from Salt Spring Island. Fraser Canyon rabbit is sourced from the province’s northern interior while the fallow deer on the menu comes from the wild herd on Sidney Island, near Victoria, where it was first introduced in the 1920’s. The entire inn holds the ‘nose to tail’ philosophy dearly and it purchases whole animals from the heritage breeds of pork (Tamworth, Berkshire, Hampshire) pastured at Sloping Hill Farm to be cured and alder-smoked into a variety of charcuterie including bacon and the sausages – all made in-house and varying “with the whim of the chef/saucier”.
From the first gray whales that roll and spout on their way north in the spring to the raging storms of winter, the Wickaninnish is quintessential, coastal Canada.
The Wickaninnish is one of about 250 restaurants that celebrate Food Day across Canada. Contact them at the number below to reserve a table.
The Wickaninnish est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs. Contactez The Wickaninnish directement, au numéro ci-dessous, afin de faire votre réservation.
The Pointe Restaurant
The Wickaninnish Inn
500 Osprey Lane at Chesterman
Tofino, BC V0R 2Z0
T: 250 725 3100