Neighbourhood Feature: Quidi Vidi
“We actually have an iceberg guy,” Henry tells us as we sip iceberg beer at a wood table overlooking the quaint east coast inlet outside Quidi Vidi Brewery’s tasting room.
“He goes out and lassos the broken iceberg chunks and harvests them for us.” The story gets better and better.
“Only in Newfoundland,” I reply.
As we move from one tasting glass to the next, a group of local musicians set up their stage in front of the eastern windows looking out at the Atlantic ocean lit with golden hues from the sun setting to the west.
Henry is new to this job, but the stories he shares about each brew are well seasoned. He tells us stories about day boils, a Newfoundland drinking tradition. “Don’t start with this one,” he says taking a sip of their summer IPA, “or you’ll be out of the game before midday.”
He tells us other stories about inlets along the coast, Petty Harbour and Tors Cove.
“Quidi Vidi has a certain charm though,” he says with a faint east coast melody to his voice. He’s right. It does. Only a 15-minute drive from the core of St. John’s harbour, this picturesque village feels like a world of its own. It’s not Ireland, but sure feels like it. Although it’s far more colourful.
The inlet is home to only a few dozen houses; some are amongst the oldest wooden homes in North America. Each has its own character; a red puffin windmill, a sailors anchor, a blue tugboat, a white dory. Each is as memorable as the last.
When the warmth of the flight of beers has worn off and the breeze in the inlet picks up, we take shelter at the Quidi Vidi Plantation, a large chalet-like building at the centre of the bay that serves as an art incubator to a small group of local artisans. We met with Kumi Stoddart, admiring the traditional printing techniques of cyanotype indigo printing, swapping stories about travels in Japan and learning how she turned a passion into a business. Next door we watch artist John Andrews carve nature’s patterns into sheets of copper with delicacy. We take a selection of art home with us.
As I stop to take a picture of a quaint cottage in town, I realize it’s where we’ve planned to eat dinner. Nestled amongst other more colourful shiplap homes, the white cottage sits at roads edge, its windows lit by oil lamps on the tables inside. It’s Mallard Cottage, the quaint east coast restaurant everyone has told me to visit.
We take a table in the front room next to the home’s stone fireplace that is now glowing a deep amber-orange. When chef and owner Todd Perrin comes out to stoke the fire, he stops and introduces himself. His fitted wool toque, denim apron and sea swept features meet the idealised expectations of a rugged east coast fisherman. As does his menu, which stays true to the hearty flavours and history of Newfoundland; cod cheeks, rabbit wings and halibut curry.
We sit fireside watching the embers and soaking in the last drags of red wine as we digest the beauty of the day, never wanting to leave.