36hrs (or so) of eating / Food Travel America / Road Trip

36 hours of eating & drinking in Tofino

Presented with an opportunity to get away from it all in Tofino, how could I say no?

What I didn’t realize that my time there, I’d really be getting away from it all. Spotty cell service and limited ability to connect to wi-fi meant I was forced into disconnecting from the world. Those who know me, understand that I suffer a certain amount of anxiety when I’m out of range.

In my virtual silence, I picked my head up and focused on all the beauty around me. I must admit, that there are not many places in the world where I’d rather not be reachable.

Tofino golden Mackenzie

The purpose of the trip wasn’t about eating but even when a trip is not food focused, I’m still focused on food. I prepped in advance to make most meals in my suite, using local fresh ingredients available in town, but I also knew I’d have opportunities to indulge myself out.

One of the at-home meals I knew I’d make for sure, was a simple feast of boiled crab. I went into town  with thoughts of stopping at a few places to pick up provisions and a crab, but as I drove towards town, I noticed a sign on the side of the road.

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Curiosity got the better of me (as it always should) and I pulled down a driveway and found a lovely woman selling the crab her son catches, out of her home for a very good price. It was a bit early in my journey into town to commit to a crab, so I continued on my way.

I had heard good things about the smoked fish at the Fish Store, so I pulled in to buy samplings of their hot and cold smoked salmon belly and albacore.

Tofino albacore tuna

Cold smoked albacore

Hot smoked salmon belly

Hot smoked salmon belly

Of course while I was at the Fish Shop, I had to pull up at the bar to sample some local oysters.

Tofino Fish Store oysters

I priced out crab at the Fish Store and one other, but found the prices almost double than that being sold down the street, so I hopped in my car and drove back to the woman’s house. Lucky for me, her son had just arrived with his afternoon haul and they had a new stock of very big and feisty crabs.

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The most brilliant thing about eating “at home” in Tofino is being able to take steps out to the beach for a pre-dinner with a glass of wine to watch the sunset.

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Crab is my favourite food, and my favourite way to indulge is a simple crab boil. No sauce, no butter needed. Crab is sweet, salty, tender and delicious all by itself.

Tofino crab

A dinner of crab with a simple salad topped with the cured fish I acquired and washed down with some wine is on the tops of my list of “favourites”, coupled with the sound of the waves crashing in the background, I had all the elements of a wonderful evening.

Tofino Cox Bay sunset

Relaxing nights quickly turn into beautiful mornings and when I go away, I have 2 morning rituals. One I must have (coffee), the other I strive to find (sun rise). I was staying on the west side of Tofino which meant brilliant sunsets, but I knew I’d have to work harder to find the brilliance of sun rise.

Tofino sunrise

Beautiful serene sunrise beach walk. No actual sun rise, but I still love to see the colours in the morning light changing.

I’d heard a lot about a special artisanal bread being baked out of a wood fired oven in Tofino, so I had to seek it out. I was able to find a loaf, freshly delivered at the organic store in town. I am not much of a bread eater, but I allow myself some indulgences on vacation.

Tofino 600 degrees bread

I wish I took a photo of the amazing avocado toast I made with this bread. In my mind, there’s nothing sexier for breakfast than a piece of avocado toast drizzled in a good olive oil and finished with a sprinkling of Maldon salt.

I hadn’t really planned on doing much during my stay in Tofino because I knew I would be happy picking quiet walks through the magnificent forests and down long stretches of beach. Lucky for me, the back of the Tofino Time magazine provided me with a list of easy walks and was all I needed to fill my days.

Tofino trees

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Being a city kid, I’m not used to my hours being filled outside in the fresh air and I found I was continuously working up my appetite.

I’ve always wanted to eat at the Pointe at the Wickanninish Inn, but in previous visits, I’ve never had the opportunity. But the afternoon clouds were looking a little bit unpredictable so I thought it would be the perfect place to see which way the weather would blow.

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West Coast Clam Chowder with wild sidestripe shrimp, fish, corn and potatoes.

West Coast Clam Chowder with wild sidestripe shrimp, fish, corn and potatoes

Tofino Fish & Chips with battered cod, celeriac remoulade and tartar sauce

Tofino Fish & Chips with battered cod, celeriac remoulade and tartar sauce

My simple lunch at the Wickanninish was the perfect experience. I’ve often thought about going there for dinner, but I loved the fact that I was served extraordinary “ordinary” food in the most beautiful setting.

As an added bonus, I was able to wander down Chesterman beach after my meal to work off the residual heaviness I felt from consuming so much goodness.

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After a few hours of walking the beach, I drove into town to grab another bite to eat. I had heard good things about the Ice House, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Tofino Ice House

Conveniently located next to the well-located Whalers Hostel, I was happy the weather was so lovely and that I was able to grab a seat on their sunny patio.

Tofino Brewery Blonde Ale Salt Spring Island Mussels with chorizo, chipotle, oven dried tomato, garlic, fresh basil grilled common loaf bakery focaccia

Tofino Brewery Blonde Ale Salt Spring Island Mussels with chorizo, chipotle, oven dried tomato, garlic, fresh basil grilled common loaf bakery focaccia

IRST SURF PISTACHIO WALNUT CRUSTED GOAT CHEESE SALAD - $13 arugula, mixed greens, local pea shoots, okanagan apple slices organic baby beets, candied pecans cassis & pear vinaigrette

Goat cheese salad with arugula, spinach, mixed greens, Okanagan apple and candied pecans.

On my daily meanderings, I got into some conversations with the locals. One afternoon while walking on the beach, l was told about Pettinger Point, at the north end of Cox Bay Beach. While I knew it was on the west side of Tofino, I also knew it would be high enough up to see the sun come over the mountains.

So on the next morning, I thought I’d try to combine my 2 morning rituals and trekked up to Pettinger Point with my coffee. While the sky was cloudy, the waves crashing into the rocks still made for a magnificent way to start my morning.

First try at Pettinger Point was cloudy. But at least I had my coffee.

First try at Pettinger Point was cloudy. But at least I had my coffee.

Not wanting the grey morning to get me down, I made a trip into town for a sit-down brunch, knowing if I waited the morning out, the clouds would eventually lift.

I drove through town not knowing what would be open for brunch, and saw people sitting inside the Spotted Bear Bistro. Seeing it was on my list of places to try, I didn’t think twice before pulling in.

Eggs benny

Knowing that a few long walks would be in the cards for me for the day, I indulged on eggs benny with a side of bacon and sausage.

Completely full from brunch I noticed the clouds had lifted and it was time to explore the area again. Have I mentioned how beautiful Tofino is?

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And if you drive around long enough, you’re bound to run into some wildlife.

Tofino deer

I had only planned 1 dinner out for my trip, and for that I chose the very new Wolf in the Fog restaurant. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this restaurant, for its menu highly influenced by the surrounding environment and for the (costly) decor. I wanted to catch the sunset, so I ended up at the restaurant for a much earlier seating than I’d normally do. When I sat down on the patio, the giant 2 story space was almost empty.

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The “view” from the patio.

Potato crusted oyster with sweet corn and truffle

Potato crusted oyster with sweet corn and truffle

The service was a bit awkward, so I used the excuse of it getting cold to move inside to sit at the bar. I also hoped to get a better  “feel” for the restaurant while sitting inside.

Rare albacore tuna

Rare albacore tuna with tomato, orange and guanciale.

Pork belly with squid, cucumber and scallion.

Pork belly with squid, cucumber and scallion.

While I didn’t necessarily get a better understanding why the place felt so over-staffed, but at the same time, I felt no one wanted to serve me, I was satisfied with the food and drinks at the Wolf in the Fog. For dessert? Well, I only had one thing on my mind.

Tofino brewing

Ok, so not really dessert, but I was completely motivated to watch the sunset on my last night with a beer from the Tofino Brewing Company.

Tofino brewery sunset

Tofino Mackenzie sunset

My last sunset was epic and I had the chance for one more sun rise before I left Tofino. I made the climb up to Pettinger Point one last time and was treated to a fantastic rise.

Tofino sunrise boots

With the sun rising behind me, I was sad to leave Tofino, but knew I’d be back again soon.  It’s way too beautiful a place to stay away too long.

The Fish Store: 368 Main St, Tofino

The Pointe at the Wickanninish Inn: 500 Osprey Lane, Tofino

Ice House: 81 West St, Tofino 

Spotted Bear: 101 4th St, Tofino

Wolf in the Fog: 150 4th St, Tofino

 

 

 

 

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