If you’ve ever been to Tofino, you know how hard it is to leave.
No matter what the weather, it’s one of those rare places on the planet that’s as jaw-droppingly beautiful as it is peaceful and relaxing. Spending time there is like going to a spa for your soul.
Back in 1996, the Wickaninnish Inn became the first upscale resort on Vancouver Island’s west coast. It remains the only hotel on Chesterman Beach and is still run by the McDiarmids, the same family that had the vision to open a high-end retreat on this stunning, rugged slice of the Pacific Rim. The resort has gone on to become a member of Relaix & Chateaux, an international association of boutique luxury properties.
People come from around the globe as much for the views and the pampering as the food. Over the years, the Pointe Restaurant—with its floor-to-ceiling windows, central fireplace, and hand-adzed cedar posts—has helped shape Tofino into the culinary hot spot it is today.
Some of the country’s most skilled chefs have worked there. They share their experiences working at the Wick along with some of their favourite recipes in The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge. The hard-cover book ($45), written by Joanne Sasvari and featuring food photography by Makito Inomata, is full of the kinds of vivid details that transport you back to that wild coastline--and to its flavours.
It runs the gamut from breakfast dishes like ancient-grain porridge and orchard-stuffed French toast to desserts such as salted-caramel-and-chocolate tart and beet-and-raspberry macarons.
In between are recipes for several types of chowder, casual dishes (fried polenta with spicy aioli, candied salmon, and fish fritters among them), and elegant mains such as pan-seared halibut with avocado risotto, sidestripe-shrimp escabeche (a Spanish dish of fried fish served chilled), elk "with forest flavours", root-vegetable torte, and more.
Ambitious home cooks can use the book as a guide to making their own vinegars (elderflower or kelp), oils (such as hemlock), mustards, and preserves. And if they really want to impress their dinner guests, there are recipes for candied lichen and pickled hemlock tips.
If you can’t physically be in Tofino, at least you can dream about it and drool over it.