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In fact, seafood is the main reason that settlers from Europe came to the island in the first place.
Just five years after Columbus sailed the ocean blue, King Henry VII of England sent the Venetian explorer Zuan Cabotto in search of new lands to the north of Christopher’s discovery.
Those fish were cod, and cod became the backbone of the economy, as well as the staple of the diet. This was a slightly fancier version of the Newfoundland classic Fish & Brewis, which consists of salt cod and hardtack, boiled, broken up, and mixed together. Just in case we hadn’t had enough the night before, breakfast was focused on the fish too, cod cakes and eggs. Then at lunch with Paul and Ruth Gale at Pirate's Haven was another Newfoundland favorite, cod au gratin.
The next day we got to catch, and even kiss, a cod with Darren Park of Four Seasons Tours when he took us for a spin in his traditional dory around the Bay of Islands and Cox's Cove. We are happy to report that all tongues stayed in their mouths, and the fish were set free. Darren grabbed a bucket of mussels he had gathered nearby and scooped some water from the bay into it.
Toss in some fresh snow crab, give it a few minutes on the stove, and we were ready for a feast. This was the first of several times that we would eat a meal fit for the finest gourmet restaurant while sitting at a picnic table by the water’s edge.
At some point we had to eat something other than seafood, and we finally found a time-honored alternative at an establishment with an unlikely name, Fisherman's Landing in Gros Morne National Park. The special of the day was Jiggs Dinner, which features salt beef, and is kind of like a Newfoundland version of the good ole Irish corned beef and cabbage.
Both of the dishes date back to the days before refrigeration, so they are based on easily kept ingredients like salted meat, root vegetables, and dried bread or hardtack. In the town of Twillingate we discovered another classic Newfoundland treat served during intermission of The Split Peas show at the Touton House. Toutons are a traditional fried bread, served with molasses or partridge berry jam and washed down with tea.
Between sets of homespun humor and harmonies by this group of women who have been entertaining for over twenty years, we tried toutons, a traditional fried bread accompanied by molasses or partridge berry jam. After our break from seafood we realized that we had not sampled the island’s most popular non-cod offering from the water, lobster.
They are so common in the area around Twillingate that folks remember it in their lunch boxes as children. There are signs all along the roads advertising lobster pools, so we stopped off to check one out.


The name is quite accurate, think swimming pool filled with lobsters, hundreds if not thousands of them just waiting for someone from a restaurant or store to haul them away.
As a sideline, and happily for those of us who are not sick of lobster, most of the pools sell steamed lobsters to curious wanderers like us. Of course food is not the only thing consumed in Newfoundland, libations have a long history too. Distilled spirits played a big part in the early fishing trade as salt cod was shipped down to the Caribbean and rum made its way back up.
One of the most common types became known as Screech, allegedly for the sound a person makes after downing a shot. After a week or more crisscrossing the land we felt pretty close to real live locals, so we took the plunge, and the pledge. We would never dream of tampering with tradition, but we did wish that perhaps one of the island’s iceberg infused beverages could have been substituted for the Screech.
Yes, up in iceberg alley, as the sea along the northern coast is called, vodka and beer are made with melted icebergs. We were definitely noticing that land animals were rarely found on the bill of fare in Newfoundland, so when we saw moose steak on the menu at Chucky’s Seafood and Wildgame Restaurant in the town of Happy Adventure. One problem, moose are supposed to be thick all over the island -- warning signs for motorists are everywhere -- but the only time we got a good look at one was on our plate. So this meal had no bearing on Veronica’s long held belief that the existence of moose is actually a myth perpetuated to fool tourists. He was most certainly right about the restaurant, fantastic fresh, crispy, lightly breaded fish right out of the nearby water. A problem leapt to our minds -- above and beyond our doubts that moose actually exist, or perhaps this confirms them -- how could one fit in a bottle? We are so grateful to Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism for making this adventure possible.
Each of these 3 sheet Toppers sets comes with one A4 Foiled Die Cut Topper sheet and two sheets of co-ordinating A4 card. Thanks to Go Western Newfoundland and Adventure Central Newfoundland for providing much of this journey. We met Darren Park, who runs Four Seasons Tours, for a spin around the bay in his traditional dory.
Mama eagle was not about to allow some gull to steal her baby's food, so she honed in on the gull like a fighter jet. From there we made our way to a few of Darren's favorite fishing spots to try our hand at jigging a cod. He made it look simple, just drop the line all the way to the bottom, (nearly three hundred feet!) then reel it up a couple turns and give it a few good tugs.
WATCH: Eagles, cod jigging, wild land-and-seascapes and a visit to Darren's fish cabin - all in a traditional Newfoundland dory! Needless to say, it took us a bit longer to hook one, but we did get the hang of it and before long everyone had caught a good sized fish.
Once we were all successful cod fishermen it was time for a little sustenance, shellfish boiled in sea water.


We beached the boat right in front of Darren's fishing cabin and he grabbed a bucket of mussels and scooped some water from the bay into it.
With some fresh snow crab tossed in, and a few minutes on the stove, we were ready for a feast.
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Well, we can truthfully testify that not only will a Newfoundlander kiss a cod, they aren’t shy about using some tongue. Fried tidbits straight from the fish's mouth, served with scrunchions; deep fried bits of pork fat. Christopher's Hotel in Port aux Basque, Newfoundland We were starting to feel like real live locals, so we ordered up the Fisherman's Brewis for the main course.
Christopher's Hotel in Port aux Basques was dressed up with potatoes and corn, and a handful of scrunchions for added flavor.
Jiggs Dinner includes carrots, turnips, and pease pudding -- a pudding in the British use of the term. This is a revered practice on the island, and as such must be performed properly by a registered screecher.
Resourceful captains have created a cottage industry of harvesting the bergs, hauling them ashore, and selling the pristine water. Mary's Ecological Reserve recommended the nearby Gannet's Nest restaurant for the best fish & chips in Newfoundland. You'd be hard pressed to take a simple picture without some humpback spoiling it for you. Darren knows his home cove like the back of his hand and immediately took us to a nesting sight with two baby eagles. He tossed a fish out for the birds, but before they could swoop down a seagull snatched it.
We had heard about kissing the cod, and for some reason Veronica thought it was a great idea, so we puckered up and smooched our catches right on the lips.
We had to keep reminding ourselves that this was the ocean, because the bay looked for all the world like a freshwater lake up in the North Woods. From people like Darren, who has lived there all of his life.Beautiful scenery, unbelievable fresh seafood, gorgeous water, and most of all, fantastic people.
Don’t get us wrong, -- we love it -- but as non-Newfoundlanders, our bodies craved a little variety. Made from split yellow peas and cooked in a pudding bag along with the rest of the ingredients, it is almost like a dumpling. Later we learned that cod kissing is part of an induction ceremony for honorary Newfoundlanders. Of simple construction, with elegant lines, dories were cheap to construct, highly functional, and incredibly seaworthy.



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