The Food at Fogo Island Inn
Is there anything better than the smell of fresh-baked bread? A nostalgic bouquet familiar all over the world, spanning thousands of years warms the heart and makes you drool. Fogo Island Inn’s bread initiated my love for the place, and within hours I felt at home. When I started researching my stay at Fogo Island Inn, I found dozens of dazzling images of it’s behemoth exterior, the comfy beds (and the spectacular views from them), but there was one huge element lacking. What about the food? While the food at Fogo Island Inn remains an integral part of the experience, there are few Instagram pics and patrons reviews don’t discuss it a whole lot. So you’re in luck…
I ate all the food at Fogo Island Inn.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a late-fall stay at the inn while writing for North American Traveller and took careful tasting notes of every crumb I ate (there were many crumbs). It only takes five seconds to realize how important sense of place is at Fogo Island Inn. Every detail, from the carefully thought out wallpaper and the way your room sounds underlines the culture and traditions of Fogo Island. Newfoundland’s hearty way of life is at the forefront. This sense of place is accentuated by the food at Fogo Island Inn through the traditional dishes and spectacular views from the dining room.
After getting a tour of my room (and a lesson about how to use the Japanese toilet), I cradled the lovely welcome note paired with homemade blueberry jam to take home. Ten seconds later a knock on the door brought a miniature loaf of fresh warm bread and a cup of tea. In Newfoundland whenever you arrive home from a long journey (or a short one, for that matter) someone puts the kettle on and you can bet your bottom dollar there will be bread with butter and molasses. I felt at home in the fancy-pants hotel room immediately (a completely different experience than the last place I reviewed on the blog).
One of my favourite parts of the food at Fogo Island Inn was the daybreak service. When I arrived, the staff asked me how I liked my coffee and before I woke, little elves put a wooden box outside my door. Hot coffee, fresh pastries and fresh juice affectionately called “Fogo Tonic” consumed in bed while staring at the ocean is pretty much the best way to start the day.
Breakfast is served with foamy cappuccinos and sea spray. As if I needed more pastries, a platter of goodies is presented to me at the table. Obviously I can’t resist a blueberry muffin while I wait for breakfast (who cares if I’ve already eaten a pastry in my bed). The food at the Fogo Island Inn reflects the place at every meal, and breakfast is no exception: fish cakes are served with soft poached eggs and mustard pickles, a Newfoundland mainstay, and pancakes are piled with patridgeberries and blueberries picked down the hill. I went with the traditional breakfast with eggs, potatoes, bacon and wild blueberry and fennel pork sausage. I polished off another fresh juice (this time local beet and blueberry), before heading off to explore.
The midday meal at the Fogo Island Inn is the most traditional in the Newfoundland sense: seasonality is top of mind. There are seven seasons on Fogo — winter, pack ice, spring, trap berth, summer, berry, latefall — and my late fall meas were full of preserves and root vegetables. Pea soup and caribou steak (which roam freely on the island) is served with a medley of root veg, while the moose stew (which are nowhere to be found on Fogo)comes with a buttermilk biscuit. The cod chowder presents hand line-caught cod mingling in salty broth with potatoes, carrots and green onion. And you know there was more fresh bread to devour. Tea comes in vintage tea pots and served with traditional yet modernized Figgy Duff, a bag pudding with raisins, or a mixed-berry square swimming in vanilla custard, just like Nan’s house. Everything coming out of the kitchen is homemade, from the grainy mustard to the ketchup for your chips.
The extremely modern dining room screams Scandinavian-trendy, but touches of Newfoundland are everywhere, from the brightly-coloured tablecloths to the hand-woven light installation.
The food at Fogo Island Inn gets more formal for dinner. Three-course dinners are the norm for evening service and gone are the colourful tablecloths, replaced with formal white ones. Sense of place is elevated at dinner, showing what Newfoundland ingredients can look like on a Michelin plate. An amuse bouche of a damsel plum stuffed with goat cheese and juniper oil started the meal followed by some of the freshest crab I’ve ever had with a delicate dressing of cilantro and fennel. The main one evening was agnolotti with crispy sunchoke, swiss chard and quail eggs, the next evening I devoured beef tenderloin.
Many evenings there will be live music in the lounge area. The bar offers a great variety of Canadian wines, local craft beers and inventive cocktails. The smell of wood smoke mingles with fresh bread and you can’t help but be doubly hypnotized by the roaring fire and crashing waves.
On the second floor there’s a theatre to introduces Newfoundland’s culture through film and snacks!! They feature local films as well as any film the National Film Board makes. There’s Netflix too! But honestly the best part of the theatre is the snacks! There’s an array of Newfoundland favourites like Purity’s Peppermint Nobs, Hawkin’s Cheezies and Tunnocks Caramel logs.
I somehow was able to leave this wonderland, but took a piece of the food at Fogo Island Inn with me. Every guest totes a paper lunch bag with a homemade granola bar and innkeeper/entrepreneur extraordinaire Zita Cobb’s favourite travel sandwich. This simple sandwich with fresh grain bread, cheese, butter and crunchy red pepper was a comforting goodbye and provided the sustenance for my roadtrip off the island.
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