Twillingate is a town of about 2500 people on a small island off north-central Newfoundland. It’s famous for two (very literally) big things: icebergs and whales.
The region is known as “Iceberg Alley” during the summer, when behemoth chunks of ice lumber down from the north, carried by the cold Labrador current. There are also migrating whales, including humpbacks, fin whales, sperm whales, blue whales, minke whales, pilot whales, and potheads.
The town is also known as the birthplace of Georgina Stirling, a world-renowned opera singer – Newfoundland’s first - born in 1866.
She became known as The Nightingale of the North, and her stage name was Marie Toulinguet, Toulinguet being the French version of “Twillingate.”
While were too late in the season to catch the ‘bergs and whales (and approximately a century too late to catch Georgina), we can tell you that Twillingate is a worthy visit any time of year. It’s exactly what I’d imagined Newfoundland to be; dramatic rocky coastline with small, colourful houses scattered along it, with the blue of the ocean running into the blue of the sky. And of course wind. There are almost always gusty winds.
While in Twillingate, we visited chefs Megan Beairsto and Edward Lambert at the Anchor Inn.
There, they run Georgie’s Restaurant, named for the town’s dear and famous singer. They welcome us into their kitchen for a cooking lesson, though if we’re honest, they mainly cooked, and we mainly ate….
First up was partridgeberry sauce; partridgeberries are known as lingonberries elsewhere (as with bakeapples/cloudberries), and are plentiful each year on the island.
They’re related to cranberries, and grow in low-lying shrubs in Newfoundland and Labrador’s dry, acidic soil. The sauce we made was a mixture of cranberries and partridgeberries, and we left with two huge jars to share with friends come (next) Thanksgiving.
Megan and Edward also treated us to a Fogo Pogo - their awesome answer to the traditional corndog.
It’s made with shredded crab from Fogo Island, a settlement even further north that’s now home to the renowned Fogo Island Inn. We dipped it in a ‘million dollar aioli,’ made with million dollar relish, which we had our first taste of in the Yukon. It’s GOOD stuff (here’s a recipe).
Our entree was panko-crusted cod (caught by Edward himself), with pan-fried local potatoes and pickled cabbage.
Cod stocks have returned to a healthy enough size that each year locals are allowed to catch a limited number with a license, within a time frame. There is still huge debate within the province about cod, often calling out the ‘common person’s’ limited access to fish versus the commercial fishing industry’s more regular access, and we felt privileged to get to try the iconic fish from Edward’s personal stock.
Dessert – much to our delight – was toutons! Megan hand-stretched bread dough, fried it up, and served it with macerated Newfoundland strawberries and whipped cream.
We could have eaten about 12 each. I wish I was kidding.
While "we" (they) were cooking, we enjoyed a "Wreck House Breeze" made with local wine, white cranberry juice, apple, spearmint, and more partridgeberries.
Partridgeberries, Fogo crab, cod, and toutons - Megan and Edward couldn’t have cooked us a more northern Newfoundland meal. Thanks so much to the Anchor Inn for having us!