2017 David Hawksworth & Friends Culinary Adventure RecapJuly 28, 2017 | 1463 Views
Event Recap: A day by day account from Canada’s 100 Best Editor-in-Chief, Jacob Richler.
It was another successful David Hawksworth & Friends Culinary Adventure on Langara Island. The Clubhouse saw familiar faces and welcomed many new ones. The event was composed of cooking demos, cocktail hours hosted by our guest sommeliers and dinners by the legendary guest chefs. A few lucky guests also managed to slip away on a heli-tour to explore the lighthouse on Langara Island as well as a secluded beach excursion tour. For the guests who stayed on the water, experienced phenomenal weather conditions and managed to bring home fish and new recipes by our guest chefs to prepare their catch. Read the day by day account of the event by Canada’s 100 Best Editor in Chief, Jacob Richler.
Canada’s 100 Best EIC is on location at The West Coast Fishing Club. Jacob Richler. Our helicopter touched down on The West Coast Fishing Clubhouse landing pad at 1:30 pm – and after a quick lunch, we are kitted up in rain gear and in our fishing gear at 2:30. We have been warned that the fishing so far has been slow, or – at best – up and down.
DAY 1: Well, that’s fishing. The best way to go about it is with modest expectations, patience, commitment – and the unrealistic belief that now that you’ve arrived on the scene, things will surely get better. Well, maybe tomorrow. The biggest salmon landed on Sunday was a 24 lb Chinook reeled in by guest chef Normand Laprise’s wife, Sophie. All I got was a single bite – not even a big one, just a tentative swim-by nibble.
But there are consolation prizes afoot. While the 42 odd guests signed in to the West Coast Fishing Club‘s David Hawksworth and Friends Culinary Retreat were out fishing, largely unavailingly, one of those Hawksworth friends was busy cooking up some better results in the Clubhouse kitchen. Normand Laprise of Montreal’s Toqué! – two-time first place finisher on our annual national best restaurant list – had four courses waiting for us. And at eight o’clock we tucked in.
We began with a chilled yellow tomato soup, rich in the inimitable flavour of ripe, sweet tomato, mildly acidulated with vinegar. In it were cast adrift large chunks of sweet and tender lobster form the Magdalen islands, some sea parsley and coriander flowers. It was refreshing and lovely – and paired very successfully with sparkling wine from Jansz in Tasmania.
For the next course, we swung away from summertime to an exceptional foie gras terrine. A thick tranche of pure foie gras, punctuated with dabs of sea buckthorn puree, some lightly pickled girolle mushrooms, and tiny black raspberries. Instead of a predictable sauterne, guest sommelier Mark Davidson served up a glass of Graves (Clos Floridene 2013) and it worked magnificently.
Next, we had tender roast loin of St-Canut suckling pig, with oregano laced-pork jus, braised fennel, and an exceptionally flavoursome purée of Quebec grown lentils (with this we drank 2014 Torbreck, from Australia’s Barossa Valley).
Finally, we checked out with a rich chocolate tart topped with beautiful Quebec strawberries, crimson to the core, and a scattering of honeysuckle berries. After the Banyuls (Domaine Madeloc) it was time for bed. For an early start loomed ahead; we had some fishing to catch up on.
Canada’s 100 Best EIC Jacob Richler is on location at the West Coast Fishing Club‘s annual David Hawksworth and Friends Culinary Adventure.
DAY 2: The fishing is picking up. The morning was flush with Coho. And after lunch, Chinook were taken by nearly every boat. Mine took in four. Not of trophy proportions but, more important, perfect for cooking (high teens, low twenties). The halibut fishing was strong too. Two hally over 100 lbs. were landed and released, as well as a couple of 80s. Much appetite inducing fun all around, in other words.
The new lodge chef – Rob Ratcliffe – is an alumnus of Hawksworth restaurant. And he is committed to and excited about trying to up the food-quality ante at a lodge that was already a culinary over-achiever. For my part, I was hopped up to find sliced blood sausage newly added to the breakfast spread. If that doesn’t excite you as much as does me, well, consider this. Fresh off the water, and famished you collect a cocktail, then head out onto the Clubhouse for a pre-dinner snack. The first stop, at the Yoder smoker, delivers choice portions of duckling, braised to tenderness, then finished on the smoker with a glaze rich with ginger and soy. Next stop, poached octopus charred on the grill and tossed with diced spicy pork sausage.
Inside you can pay a visit to Dino Renaerts, long-time guest chef, who set up a cooking station on the covered snooker table. There, beautiful plates of seafood– a seared Alaskan scallop, firm halibut cheek, and side-stripe shrimp with fluffy basmati rice and a good lashing of green Thai coconut curry. Chef Rob meanwhile was stationed on the pass to his kitchen, carving slices of buffalo loin roasted à point, which he doused with a red wine reduction spiked with sloe gin gastrique. On the side, beautiful salads and…wait for it…marmite focaccia.
Naturally, a good selection of appropriate wines were to be found at the bar. A quality Muscadet Granit Vallet 2015, from Luneau-Papin., a Saath Cab-Merlot blend from B.C., and a new-style Grenache named Tarot (2015), from Australia’s Alpha Box and Dice, that could easily pass for a pinot noir.
The fishing is slow but steady today.
DAY 3: My boat landed 3 Chinooks by lunchtime. The daily tally was twenty-five. No Tyees (30 lbs +) among them, but there were plenty of big fish in the mid-to-high twenties. Slowly but surely the people who want to are filling their quotas, and those who don’t are releasing enough to enhance their karmic footprint.
Meanwhile, there is a problem. In only a couple of days everyone heads home and will no longer have David Hawksworth, Normand Laprise and the rest of the gang working as their personal chefs. Sure, this comes as a relief to the waistline. But it can also be an emotional letdown. Fortunately, the chefs recognise this and want to help. So, every morning they give cooking lessons.
For Hawksworth’s turn, he cooked spaghetti with Manila clams and jalapeño, and to follow, a focus on some fresh local catch in the form of ling cod with bouillabaisse broth (ed. note: stay tuned for recipes!).
Dinner duties fell to Phil Scarfone, head chef at Nightingale. We started with a dish from the Nightingale menu: kale salad with shaved fennel, chickpeas and garlic dressing, topped with grated ricotta salata. It was paired with a stellar Pewsey Vale Riesling, from Eden Valley, Australia.
After that, we had an excellent dish of side-stripe shrimp and grits, the cornmeal toasted for nuttiness and layered with extra levels of corn flavour (built with corn stock, enhanced with fresh corn kernels, etc.).
Slow roast, sweet, tender lamb neck with harissa came with a Musella Amarine 2011 – and in case you weren’t into that, an Alpha Box & Dice Dolcetto 2014.
After the salted caramel pot de crème with a Taylor Fladgate vintage port 1998, it was very much time for bed.
At half past nine, out on the west coast of Langara at Lacy Island, after two-and-a-half hours on the water I got my first strike of the day.
DAY 4: And while I was playing that one, on the other side of the boat chef Phil Scarfone got another hit – and we were into a double header. Five minutes later that translated into 26-pounder for me, and a 24 for him. The fishing might be slow, but the results were fine by me.
Back at the Clubhouse, meanwhile, chef Normand Laprise was demonstrating how to prepare a perennial summertime favourite from his bistro, Brasserie T!: confit of salmon with fennel salad. The low-temperature slow cooking method applies perfectly to the lean, fighting-trim flesh of chinook and coho alike – you should try it (click here for the recipe).
A few hours fishing later and it was time for the last supper – well, until next year anyway. Event headliner David Hawksworth got us going with a refreshing summer salad of compressed watermelon and feta, paired winningly with a tip top blanc de blancs (José Dhondt, NV).
Next, succulent roast sablefish in a delicate nage of mint-accented English pea that sommelier Mark Davidson paired to a banner year of his vanity project – a personally selected single barrel bottling of Puilly-Fuissé (2014 Harvey-Davidson Pouily Fuissé “Les Murgers”).
We then veered to wintry fare with a beef cheek bourguignon (albeit paired not with a Burgundy but a Bordeaux, Chateaux Lafon-Rochet 2010).
After a light dessert of summer fruits with meringue and mint, and a nightcap with our able guides, it was time to pack up for the next day’s flights home – and a dinner of our hard-won fresh fish. The first of many, actually – three chinook and a couple of halibut go a long way.