With all the focus and attention on Newfoundland’s ‘Foodie’ scene these days – who would believe I’d be writing a story about a Hot Dog? Goodness knows there are “t’ousands and t’ousands” of additional stories I could share; from Jeremy Charles nomination to MacLean’s Magazine’s ‘Top 50 most Influential People in Canada’ to Mallard Cottage’s run at the honour for ‘Top New Canadian Restaurant’. Not to mention the fact that I ran all of the private tours for my brother Mark this summer and was therefore exposed to a multitude of brilliant new restaurants boasting a litany of traditional Newfoundland dishes infused and invigorated with fresh ingredients imported from the world over. I’ve been exposed to the concept of ‘Pairing’ Newfoundland food with something other than beer or a ‘Rum and Coke’. And there are countless behind the scenes details that only we locals recognize in the new order of chefs and cooks from throughout the province – you should see the attention my sister in law applies to her foraging for unique garnish’s, presentation platters made from wine barrel stays, and the new seal skin aprons she’s designed for many of our restaurants wait staff.
“…. the best part of any meal is the company,”
Of course everyone knows that the best part of any meal is the company and for the purpose of this story I could not ask for better as I was especially blessed with the opportunity to host Mr. Allan and Shirley Taylor for a week long island wide tour this summer. Mr. Taylor is a past President and CEO of RBC Bank and both he and his wife have a long standing relationship with Newfoundland and some of our province’s most influential citizens so you can be certain there were endless topics of dinner conversation. Thankfully, my only responsibility that week was driving and talking since the tour was booked through Maxxim Vacations – for those of you who know Jillian Curran, you can well imagine that her attention to detail, her passion for the province and her true consideration for her guests is unsurpassed (she actually wanted to personally meet and interview me before she’d allow me to host the tour. She reminds me so much of our own mother 25 yrs ago). Needless to say, every second of our trip was seamlessly plotted with surgical precision. And the quality of each experience was unsurpassed – its so satisfying to see that Newfoundland’s tourism infrastructure has matured to match the many natural wonders available throughout the island. We stayed in beautiful Inns, ate decadently at every table, and the province herself cooperated in every way imaginable – from the weather to whales, puffins, icebergs and of course, the many wonderful characters we met. It was an ideal trip and the company was superb.
“… we might have to make do with a Hot Dog…”
In fact the only potential glitch we encountered was when we left Fogo Island without any dinner plans. The idea was to grab something quick on the highway since we were a little jammed for time, trekking half way across the island for our stay at Neddie’s Harbour Inn in Gros Morne National Park. I had initially planned to stop in Lewisporte but we were well ahead of schedule that morning and Grand Falls became a better noon alternative. By the time I reached the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) I still had no idea where we might stop and admitting as much, suggested we might have to make do with a hot dog at the Irving station in Bishop Falls. This evoked a great chuckle from both my guests, though Mrs. Taylor was shaking her head as she laughed while the skipper nodded in obvious anticipation. The Taylor’s are well known for the philanthropic work and Mrs. Taylor explained that Allan has had a weak spot for hot dogs since he and his friends ran a charity hot dog cart at the ball field where they grew up in Saskatchewan. “Yes…” he said, “we would be salivating over the wondrous smells emitting from that cart but wouldn’t dare eat a single dog for fear of cutting into potential sales and the charitable cause. But once the game was finished and the crowd were gone home, whatever was left over was open season for us! I dearly love a hot dog but with all the health concerns these days, it’s not often I find a good enough excuse to eat one.”
“… but we wouldn’t dare eat a single dog…”
Just when he finished his story we crossed the Exploits River and our conversation shifted quickly when we spotted a number of anglers below the bridge. Reminded of Mr. Taylor’s keen interest in Atlantic Salmon fishing it hit me, the little outdoor café at the salmon ladder in Grand Falls would make a perfect stop. Though I hadn’t actually checked out their menu I remember the restaurant looked rather quaint, the view was spectacular and in a worst case scenario I figured they would provide us with a nice sandwich and a bowl of homemade soup. They didn’t. In fact the only thing they offered that didn’t come out of a fat fryer just so happened to be the special of the day – A Hot Dog platter.
“Guess this is as good an excuse as you’ll ever find to indulge yourself Mr. Taylor!”
And we did
Thanks to everyone who made this trip such a wonderful success.
All my best