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Published October 30th 2017
Take a bite of local dish, get a zest of Fogo s life …
Nicole s Cafe, Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada
Swayed by the cold Labrador current, just off the north eastern shore of Newfoundland, Canada, lies a small patch of land called Fogo Island…
Yep, that name might ring a bell, maybe you heard about the Fogo Island Inn, or was it the 7 seasons that got you thinking or maybe standing on one of the 4 corners of the earth…
Now, here you are, and no matter what took you to those shores you are tickled and get the urge to know more…
For centuries, Fogo islanders have developed a way of life in harmony with their wild environment, making the best of each and everything, strongly anchored in the past, looking forward, creating a sustainable future.
As Nicole says, "today we still fish, forage and farm"…
As a local kid, Nicole grew up on the island with 2 siblings, her dad Peter was a local fisherman and her mom, Margaret, used to bake her famous Molasses Partridgeberry Tart. Guess what, the recipe manuscript is at the Memorial University of Newfoundland! It can't get more local!
Buying local, making from scratch, repurposing might sound like a new trend for us as we are slowly awakening to nature's call but, here on Fogo, it's just common sense that people have been using forever and Nicole's cafe follows that same old rule.
Not only the food is local and sustainable but the building has its own story too - from an old local school, Nicole and her husband Dave, moved and extended the building to host a welcoming cafe.
Nicole s Cafe, Fogo Island
Today, not only Tokyo, Paris or New York, know about chlorination and despite living on a small island of about 2250 souls in a remote location, off northern Newfoundland, Nicole doesn't want her guests to drink chlorinated water which alters taste and is recognized not to be that healthy according to the cancer society.
The kitchen uses a UV filter to treat their tap water. It's especially noticeable in coffee, tea or cocktails as your ice cubes are not chlorine flavoured.
If water is not your thing, pair your meal with an Iceberg beer, or a white or red wine from around the world, an Australian Wolf Blass, a Californian Pinot Grigio, an Italian red or even an Argentinian organic Malbec amongst others.
Nicole s Cafe, hardworking team, friendly and proud islanders
But, enough talking, let's take a seat at Nicole's cafe where you'll get a proper taste of the island! This bright building overlooking the bay is a must to discover Fogo's traditional dish, local arts and crafts. The cafe's team is made of true islander women eager to share a piece of their island in every one of their dishes.
Their menu is all prepared on site with the freshest local ingredients; the fish, aka cod, and seafood are freshly harvested in the local waters, the wild berries have been picked for centuries on the surrounding hills dating all the way back to the archaic people, and the herbs and root vegetables grown here are a legacy from the European settlers. All those ingredients are reals gems that Nicole and her crew will turn into a memorable experience, where every dish is unique and will take you closer to the Fogo essence of life.
From the menu, what about the Squid and their chilli mayo? The lightly battered rings are matched with a delicate mix of carrot, fennel, red onion and dill with wild blueberry vinaigrette. A nice mix of local vegetables topped with an interesting dressing that happily contrasts with the tender seafood.
Squids at Nicole s Cafe, Fogo Island
Fish & Brewis at Nicole s Cafe, Fogo Island
Next, the traditional fish and brewis. This Newfoundland dish is made with salted cod and scrunchions, which are small pieces of fried salted pork fat. Nicole's twist comes with sweet gherkins, pickled cauliflower, onion and boiled potatoes.
Some kind of comfort food I thought but, when I took a bite, all the fisherman stories I heard since I stepped on the island came back to my mind; the fishing, the cleaning and drying, the foul weather and cold winters, the lack of equipment and struggles with the merchants - all the hardship and pride those people shared were in the dish - a symbolic moment.
More often than not, my friend and I share our meals, so we get to taste more and halfway through, we just switch plates. So, I tried the cod filet, brighten up with crunchy red pepper. This mild flavoured fish was enhanced by the homemade "ketchup". Cooked to perfection, the cod was just flaking off the fork - it had the perfect texture and a delicate flavour.
Cod at Nicole s Cafe, Fogo Island
On the sweet side, the famous Margaret's partridge molasses tart and vanilla ice cream from Growlers was a great finish to this delicious island meal.
Margaret s Partridge Molasses Tart with Growlers Vanilla Ice Cream at Nicole s Cafe, Fogo Island, NFLD
At Nicole's cafe, you'll get your taste buds taken back in time with a clever combination of yesterday's traditions in today's life. Resourceful is another way to describe the islanders. Nicole not only manages the cafe, but she participates in Canada Food Day and every spring, she invites the local school to teach kids about food and cooking. How unique and beautiful is that to put your passion and love for your island into your cooking and in turn share it with your guests.
TIPS: Before you leave, ask your waitress about their local arts and craft to take home or enquire where to meet with the flat earth society,