So we have pretty much moved in. Partially because we LOVE it here and partially because our camper has some serious electrical issues we are trying to get resolved. Which we were heartbroken today to learn HAVE NOT BEEN fixed despite being told they were – being without electricity/heat is becoming a problem in the evenings. Sa souffle! It’s freaking windy! Yeah yeah we are in the middle of the gulf of the St Lawrence in a place known for good kite surfing so why am I surprised? The truth is some nights have been beautifully calm and totally silent and others have been like sleeping in the eye of the hurricane – no joke – our little cavans walled pop up is taking a beating. The sides boom in and whoosh out and everything creaks and shakes. So while I was doing a good job of pretending to not have to pee for 60% of the night now there is no sleepy rolling over and holding it in. I am awake and staggering through the gale in the wee hours to find the loo. I have no idea how the kids sleep through it. Plus the temperature plummets at night – last night I slept in my toque.
We have been busy distracting ourselves during the day. I took my cooking seafood class at the Attelier Johanne Vigneau – Gourmande de Nature. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was a little nervous heading in solo at 9 am. When I said,”Bonjour!” I was given a nervous look and asked if I could speak French – huge confidence booster! But then, once inside I found my peeps!! Oh Jesus – forget the sinewy kite surfing dude slouching around in a towel and flip flops eating a whole plain baked sweet potato between sessions on the beach. Here was a room filled with people who eat for joy and pleasure not just for fuel. Glowing, round, full people at the farthest edge of middle age kibitzing and laughing at the glugs of cream and lashings of butter going into the recipes. We talked olive oils, salt cod, mackerel, sea parsley, tomato confit and moules. We filleted mackerel and poached them in oil, nestled them onto velvet pillows of carrot and ginger purree and topped them with crisp shavings of fennel drenched in orange vinaigrette and decorated with fresh peeled tomato and pastis. We made salt cod fritters and moules two ways. We drank viognier and it was perfect. So much fun to be in a proffesional kitchen and with people who just love food and all the pleasures it contains from the discovery to the creation. Just joy. It helped that Joanne Vigneau and her partner Evaline reminded me of my best cooking partners (Sara and Justine!) – their love for the flavour (taste taste taste as you cook) and their overall eschewing of recipes – because every ingredient tastes different every time – tomatoes more acidy- oranges more bitter…ect so taste and adjust to how you like it. Cook from inspiration. Then Johanne and I bonded over following our employees around and adding salt or more spice because no one tastes it like we do. It was a magical morning and I could happily go back to that breezy kitchen to cook more.
The morning was spent poaching mackerel and the afternoon was spent catching them! We took a little tour on a fishing boat with a capitaine Gerard. Exactly how you image down to his navy blue woollen toque. He showed us pictures of a huge cod he had caught and some giant tuna. He prefers to catch crab but also does the lobster – crab is a three day event but lobster you can be out for 12 days at a time. He was taking us mackerel fishing – which – to my surprise – involves no rods – just a wooden paddle and fish line and a hook – you do it all by hand letting the line down and and slowly pulling it up/ It seemed crazy and also a little dangerous – your hands on the bare line? But – hells bells we caught the mackerel! Captitaine Gereard regaled us with stories (all in French and Iles French so we literally got a about 30%) while he cleaned our catch as it came in, throwing the heads and the innards to the instantly present sea birds – Gannets – easily double the size of sea gulls with black tipped wings and pale yellow heads and necks who dropped head first like bombs into the sea gobbling all the goods. The boat was open and the waves were pretty big – enough to wobble capitaine Chris a few times – it was best after Sabine fell asleep and I could chill out on her flying overboard ( because I had been essentially sitting on her while clamping her in a death grip). Anderson got to drive the boat and we had a wavy, sparkly, ocean sprayed afternoon. We left with at least 10 fillets to cook for dinner – Chris took over that job and he dipped them in panko and fried them crispy. I have to say, if at the beginning of the day anyone had said I was going to be having mackerel for lunch and dinner I would have been disappointed but I went to bed a super satisfied camper. I didn’t even think that I liked mackerel!! I have always been intimidated to buy it let alone cook it. But there you have it – fresh mackerel is crazy yummy!
The next day was taken up with the absolute most beautiful bike ride to what seemed like the end of the earth.
Our extended stay proved a little difficult because of the long weekend and also a crazy festival happening at our camp ground. Luckily they were able to find us a spot so now we are wedged into a strange camper festival where the campers are parked like covered wagons in circles around fire pots. They have managed to get double the campers in.
It is eerily quiet during the day with the people emerging and slowly building to a full all night party with each little covered wagon circle signing their own songs around their pots of fire. They had a kid disco complete with maybe the oldest Dj ever. Sabine had a wonderful time displaying her Elaine style ballet moves and stayed up way too late partying. Then the disco went adult and raged through the night with an endless string of classics from Toto to Luba and all the Micheal Jackson and Elton John you never knew you needed at 3am .