Thursday, June 16, 2016


June 2nd

Last night's million-dollar lifehack was that standard is the new exceptional. We ordered safely at Shelter on the way out of Tofino.

Fried lingcod and chips. Try this at home using fishsticks and funnel cake batter. Actually, don't! 

The fries were pretty good but the tartar sauce was top shelf, flush with herbs and shallots, like the enigmatic remoulade served with the grilled artichokes at Houston's. The server kept it coming; we piled it on like savages.

A serviceable kale and romaine Caesar with fried capers and pan-fried lingcod. Lacked smack. This had that vegan "tastes like the real thing" quality, which is why nobody ever believes vegans. Anchovies and garlic. Use them. Abuse them.

Meares Island chowder with Manila clams, Arctic surf clams, smoked salmon, and mussels. No discernible seafood here; instead, pink clots that made me think of canned cream of chicken soup, or the liquid diet of a cat. 

Must admit to not loving the roux-thickened chowders of today and yesterday. They wobbled like loose pudding, and tasted murky, like gumbo you'd get in an airport. 

Drove five hours all the way back to Sooke (with a stop in Port Alberni for every last box of licorice gum from the award-winning gas station where I discovered it two days ago). 

We had come all the way back because of dinner- one I had plotted so eagerly that I booked the nearest lodging. The restaurant wasn't open on the days we were already in Sooke, so we shoehorned in a return.

Over drinks in the hotel bar, we tried to get excited about another potential heartbreak. The duds my research had so far yielded almost moved us to cancel the booking and drink dinner instead. 

But under the spell of hunger- and a menu that reads like a love letter to some of my most cherished ingredients- we scraped together our appetites and our idealism and forged ahead to a restaurant named Wild Mountain, to which I felt drawn with the force of a calling. 

And it was the best move we made on the whole trip.  

The greatest meals are never just about the food. But food helps- and Wild Mountain's was as faultless as any I've had, and the people behind it are among the finest we've ever had the good fortune to meet. 

A faith-restoring, life-affirming night. 

We ordered everything under "Snacks" (6), all the appetizers that weren't soup or salad (3),  and the lingcod main course. And two Diet Cokes. 

Yeah, not really. 

To begin, g&ts. Peter's had Ampersand gin from Duncan, BC and Phillips cucumber-mint tonic and mine had smoked rosemary gin from Legend Distilling in Naramata, BC.

My spirit animals


Snacks at sunset. Crispy Saamich polenta with Grand Fir aioli was Last Meal level, shout-it-from-the-rooftop great. 

We drank a sparkling Gamay Noir from Bella, BC's only house of exclusively bubbles. 

Wild Sidestripe shrimp. Sublimely sweet and rich and a bit like crawfish in that slinky dark-meat way.

Clams. Pickled bull kelp says "ooooo" and so will I. Soooo gooood. 

Favorite things: food, view, and you.

Duck rillettes, smoked duck breast, and the most voluptuous duck liver mousse with quince mostarda, pickled asparagus, and cornichons. Pure dope on toast, all of it. 

Lingod with red quinoa in a prawn and kombu broth- with sea beans and radishes and spinach and sweet cicely. 

The whole experience will be filed squarely under "Best Of' in multiple categories.

We floated home at 2am. 

Thank you.

June 3rd

Order Everything, Regret Nothing. A policy suspended just 24 hours ago, now back in service. 


Lunch at Uchida, thanks to Wild Mountain. <3

Grilled mackerel.

Beer-pickled daikon. 

Goma-ae with more than just the usual spinach, and root veg in a miso and tomato sauce.

Pressed sushi with mackerel made me tear up, like when you encounter an amazingly special puppy that you know you'll never meet again. 

Salmon donburi.

Cold ramen with chicken and the finest kinshi tamago (shredded egg) ever, almost like savory cotton candy. 

Reliving Italy, getting sunburns. Potato chips (these were homemade) with an Aperol Spritz is my idea of a happy Happy Hour.

Stopped in for a drink at Clive's around 8, before our planned dinner at Fishhook. And this was my only legit muttonhead moment after weeks of exhaustive planning... the sun sets so late up here... that I forgot to check my watch until 9:08pm. Eight minutes after Fishhook closed. Oops.

Guess we're drinking, then. 

Fried calamari steaks with tons of mayo hit a spot, not sure where.

I had planned to introduce Peter to his first poutine with more ceremony ie. in a Montreal greasy spoon at 2am, but nothing accompanies a sloppy order of poutine better than poor impulse control. 

Good sense, we hardly knew ye. 

Final cocktail was our server's rec, and from now on, I'm saying no to fat-washing booze. Or anything else. 

Combined, our cholesterol at this point is definitely > 1,000.

Parliament lit up like a party.

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