Another Adventure in Tofino, BC

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We recently flew off to Vancouver Island to seek refuge from the freezing winter temperatures in Toronto. We were also traveling to welcome a new addition to my friend’s family, Liam, who was a little over a week old.

In true BC style, we were only there a day or two when we set out on an adventure with the baby in tow. We drove to Tofino on the other side of the island so that my friend Joseph and his son-in-law, Wade, could set off in search of a crashed 1945 plane. The RCAF Canso Flight 11007 took off from the RCAF Air Station in Tofino on February 8, 1945 but crashed in the woods not far south of the airport. Miraculously, the 12 crew members survived and made it out to safety but the plane remains at the crash site deep in the woods south of town.

For the past 70 years, hikers have braved the deep woods, unmarked trails and muddy marshland to find the plane just so that they can say they made it. It is a tough 3 hour hike through mud and marshland best made wearing rubber boots. That said, our fellows decided to try it without waterproof gear. Close to the crash site Joseph slipped off a fallen wet tree trunk, while traversing it across a gully, falling 4 feet  and hitting it on his way down. They made it back to the road hobbling and covered in mud, Wade’s pants showing wear and tear of the journey.

Photo by J.S.Swider

Photo by J.S.Swider

Photo by J.S.Swider

Photo by J.S.Swider

While the guys were hiking Mom, and Baby and I relaxed over a deliciious lunch at Sobo Restaurant and shopped around town. I love the atmosphere in Tofino where locals enjoy life with a true sense of adventure.

We waited for a call that they had made it back the highway and drove down to pick them up. I was surprised to see Joseph walking with a tall walking stick, since he is quite an athlete, but both had smiles of accomplishment on their faces.  I surmised that the hike was much more difficult than they had expected.

Wolf in the Fog

We ended our day over a relaxing dinner at The Wolf in the Fog. We were excited to experience this wonderful place after it was named Canada’s Best New Restaurant 2014 by Air Canada’s Enroute magazine. We wanted to know what the fuss was about.

When we arrived Joseph was still muddy up to one knee and a little worse for wear. Nevertheless; the staff welcomed us and found us a spot in the cafe where we could snuggle up for dinner.

 

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Chef Nicholas Nutting prepared wonderful West Coast comfort food from local ingredients. We decided to order 2 plates to share. The first was the French Bombshell consisting of scallops, shellfish “Bourguignon”, black cod, baguette and endive salad. Our second choice was the Mighty Duck featuring whole BC duck, beetroot and Gorgonzola lasagna with blood orange. The flavour combinations on these platters were amazing!

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I love that the plates and the serving platters were vintage china, making it all feel very like Sunday dinner at Grandma’s place. I loved the casual ambience and the feeling that we could just relax and enjoy the wonderful food with friends and family. It had been a long day and we were ready for a feeling of comfort and some great food.

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In spite of its more modern decor, Wolf in the Fog has a retro feel to it. The staff were attentive and the service was good. I enjoyed the full size LPs playing classic rock music in the ground floor cafe. It reminded us of simpler times.The evening was filled with stories of the day, laughter and memories.

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The restaurant deserves it’s great reviews. The staff were welcoming and the food was amazing. I cannot wait until our next trip to Tofino so we can go back.

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Grilled Watermelon and Shrimp Salad Tofino Style

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As many of you will remember I spent some time on Vancouver Island in the summer of 2013. One of the places that we experienced, while on the island, was Tofino, British Columbia. This place is often referred to as the very west end of Canada.

Tofino had long been on my dream list of places to see. It is known for its rugged beaches, often filled with surfers catching waves. You can wander out on the sandy beaches feeling the energy of the ocean as it crashes against the shore. Travelers make their way to this rugged seaside town to watch the storms come in from the Pacific. There is a wild and remote feeling about Tofino, possibly because the road is long and winding and mountainous to get there, also because the coastline is relatively unspoiled.

Watermelon-and-Shrimp

Once you are there you can see a few well placed luxury inns on the beach but that is not the heart of Tofino. The heart of Tofino, to me, is the local food culture which is anything but fine dining. It is all about the Pacific style of using fresh and local ingredients to create amazing flavours. Food trucks are found in unusual spots and a few have made a name for themselves as the best places to east in this part of Vancouver Island.

One restaurant called the SoBo started as a food truck and has now become a restaurant in downtown Tofino. It has earned some very high praise from critics and travelers alike. The best news is that the owners have published a cookbook with a sampling of some wonderful recipes from their menus. The book is full of mouth-watering dishes with chapters featuring ideas for you next meal of breakfast, salad, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, appetizers and snacks, mains, sides, and desserts.

The book is nothing short of beautiful. Not only does it include vibrant shots of the food, it also includes some fabulous landscape and seascape photographs by Jeremy Koreski, a local photographer. It also features a foreword written by Sarah McLachlan, the wonderfully talented Canadian recording artist who has spent a fair bit of time experiencing the mysteries of Tofino.

I chose to feature this recipe from the book because grilling watermelon intrigued me. I was not sure if it would like the taste of warm grilled watermelon with grilled shrimp but I am pleased to tell you that it was a taste experience that I hope to repeat again and again. It was a perfect flavour combination and the result was a light and sumptuous salad.

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Grilled Watermelon and Shrimp Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 small watermelon cut into 1 inch thick wheels, skin removed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. olive oil for grilling
1 cucumber, sliced to 1/4 inch rounds and refrigerate to keep cold
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tsp. salt
12-20 large shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds toasted

Directions:

Preheat BBQ or grill pan to high.

Brush the watermelon lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking. Lay the slices directly on the grill racks and grill for 2 to 3 minutes. The slices should be easily lifted from the grill. Turn them over and grill on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly salt then remove them from the grill and cut into 1 inch sized chunks.

In a large bowl gently toss the warm watermelon with the cold cucumber, mint, lime juice and salt and the 1/4 cup olive oil.
Lightly brush the shrimp with olive oil and grill for 30 seconds per side or until they turn pink or red. Divide the salad between 4 serving plates, top with the shrimp and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Recipe from the Sobo Cookbook by Lisa Ahier with Andrew Morrison

I bought mine here:

http://www.amazon.ca/Lisa-Ahier-Cookbook-Restaurant-Canadian/dp/B00IBP7PCM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1407805714&sr=8-2&keywords=the+sobo+cookbook