Firstly an apology for the lack of posts of late. I’ve been in the Americas drinking beer and eating big food, whilst Susie has been busy baking over on her Sticky Pinny site – check it out!
Anyway now I am back in the real world I thought I would share with you some of the stories from my travels. I never thought I would ever say this, but if I’m honest I got a bit sick of eating out! Try it every day for 3 weeks and you’ll get what I mean. I even got to the stage where I was by-passing starters and desserts – what monster have I created?! A positive about eating out in Canada and the US is the HUGE range, ethnic diversity and value for money. The pound was a bit unsteady due to the impending Scottish referendum, but despite that there were no eye watering bills, making everything very affordable and accessible.
We travelled all over the North West coast of North America – starting in Vancouver, popping over to Vancouver island, a quick detour to Seattle, a trek over to the beautiful Canadian Rockies and then finally across the prairies to Calgary – land of oil and cowboys! Vancouver undoubtedly had the best selection and range of delicious Asian food. I had succulent soft shell crab and soft black cod in sweet miso that was of a Chino Latino standard and yet a fraction of the price. However the meal that stood out for us the most was perhaps the most unexpected…
Picture the scene: tall pine trees covered in snow, looming rocky mountains and little wood cabins with roaring log fires. This was our ‘glamping’ site in Jasper. The last thing we expected to find in the camp grounds was a gourmet dining room. A quick check on trip advisor confirmed it was one of the top eateries in the area – what a coincidence!
The Tekarra Lodge is a top of the range dining experience, so exclusive that even Marilyn Monroe has eaten there. It prides itself on sustainability, provenance and unique flavours and cooking techniques.
The dining room was simply decorated with lots of wood and good quality napkins. The tables were adorned with paper tablecloths and pots of crayons. We drew away to our hearts content, as you will see! The seasonal menu was mouth watering and portions coming out of the kitchen were not overfacing but not stingy either. I enjoyed the show stopper starter of salmon three ways. This old school dish often conjures up visions of slimy smoked salmon and stiff salmon fillets. Fear not, none of these were present in my dish. A ponzu marinated salmon was bright red and full of umami flavours. A tempura sushi roll of salmon was the lightest sushi I’ve ever had. The homesmoked salmon (complete with smoke filled closh) was deep, earthy and almost spicy from the delicious smoke. Every mouthful was a joy – a starter to make the other diners very jealous indeed.
My main was a sous vide venison, cinnamon charcoal and game sausage. If I’m honest I did feel that the venison was a little on the tough side and the sausage a bit dry. However it wasn’t until the end that I started to use the cinnamon charcoal as a condiment and I wish I’d tried it earlier. It looked beautiful gleaming away on my plate but I had no idea whether to dare eat it. When I did it gave the meat a lovely sweet and soft flavour and so I started piling it on! I’ve no idea if I was meant to be eating it but it really did transform the dish into something very wonderful.
Wine-wise we wanted a bottle of British Columbian merlot. Now Canada isn’t the most famous wine producer and the wines we did get to try on our travels were not punchy showstoppers but more of the easy drinking variety. The Canadians don’t make enough wine to export lots of it, which is why we don’t see much this side of the Atlantic. They also did not make enough for us to enjoy with our dinner that night! And so we disappointingly opted for a consistent Argentinian Malbec. Lovely all the same but not with the provenance that we wanted for our meal! At least it was from the right continent I guess.
Moving onto dessert I kept it simple with a cocktail glass full of maple ice cream with a shot of maple whiskey poured on top, yum! The whiskey in Canada is a lot cleaner and sweeter than its Scottish smoky counterpart. The addition of maple syrup turned it into a very pleasant liqueur – delicious with the ice cream.
Our waitress was very efficient and non-intrusive, which is a massive skill in the Americas when usually they are working overtime to get their tips from you. This was appreciated as we could just get on with our meal and enjoy it. Richard did manage to get locked in the toilet just as the main courses arrived! In Canada I swear that no door locks worked. They were either broken, non existent or scary and confusing mechanisms! Very stressful in a toilet going situation! Anyway in this case he was ejected quickly with little embarrassment which was a relief!
Overall this was a delicious slap up meal that felt very special indeed, and what’s more it was a mere two second stroll back to our cabin afterwards – perfect! We left the dining room with our present of an artistically doodled tablecloth which I am sure they will treasure. It was a great idea as it made a potentially stuffy venue much more informal and fun. For a bit of unexpected luxury in the rugged, isolated Rockies do check this lovely little gem out.