I’ve discovered yet another fabulous food growing locally here in St. John’s – chanterelle mushrooms. They’re in all the local restaurants, they taste amazing, but I’d never tried picking or cooking them myself.
Enter my friend Jess. This girl is like a bloodhound when it comes to finding food in the wild; she’s the one I went berry picking with a few weeks ago. She’d found some chanterelles on her own and offered to go foraging with me to show me where she found them and teach me how to look for them on my own. Unfortunately it was a particularly yucky day – hot, muggy, and overcast – and we were soaked from the water droplets on the trees and tall grass we were walking through. But we did find a LOT of wild chanterelles – plenty for both of us – and we had a really fun time chatting away about everything and nothing.
Some of my stash of chanterelles.
Chanterelles are a bit of a pain in the butt to clean, but it’s so worth it (don’t soak them in water – give them a quick dip in cold water, dry them thoroughly right away, and I used a soft toothbrush to remove any difficult bits of dirt). That night Tyler and I made a delicious ravioli entirely from scratch: homemade dough filled with minced chanterelles, prosciutto, and shallots cooked in a little olive oil and butter and mixed with ricotta and a bit of goat cheese. We topped it off with some fresh pesto made using basil from our hydroponic garden. It was as amazing as it sounds (and looks!) Needless to say I am definitely a new fan of picking and cooking with local chanterelles and hopefully can harvest a bit more before the season is over.
Homemade ravioli completely from scratch, filled with chanterelles, prosciutto, shallots, ricotta and goat cheese and topped with homemade pesto using basil from our hydroponic garden.
After waiting weeks for an opening, we got lucky and were able to secure a reservation with Lighthouse Picnics at Ferryland Lighthouse. We’d been looking forward to this for a while after reading about the amazing view and delicious food (especially the lemonade!)
It’s about an hour to an hour and a half drive from St. John’s to Ferryland along the lovely Irish Loop. The drive alone is worth it on a beautiful day, with wonderful views of the coastline and the charming towns you pass through along the way. The weather the day of our picnic was supposed to be terrible – overcast and rainy – but we figured we’d at least drive down and take our chances. Someone sure was looking out for us on Sunday because despite driving through some grey clouds along the way, when we arrived in Ferryland it was just gorgeous! Bright sunny day with a smattering of clouds in the sky and warm with a cool breeze off the water.
The view upon arrival, before starting the short hike out to the lighthouse from the parking lot.
The lighthouse itself was easy to find – visible from the road as soon as you rounded the bend into Ferryland – and there were signs for Lighthouse Picnics along the road just to make sure you didn’t miss your turn out to the parking lot on the peninsula. Once you make it down the little one lane gravel road and park in the grass at the end, it’s about a 15 minute hike up a wide gravel path to get to the lighthouse itself (longer if you stop to admire the scenery). You go into the little house next to the lighthouse, place your order, and they hand you a nice blanket and a semaphore flag. Then you go outside, pick your spot, lay out your blanket and stick your flag in the ground and when your picnic is ready they look for your flag and bring your basket to you. All the food is made fresh, on-site every day and it was so good! We had sandwiches made with thick cut ham, brie, and slices of green apple along with an orzo salad and tasty desserts: I picked an assortment of mini local berry tarts and Tyler had a local blueberry upside down cake. And yes, the lemonade (served in a mason jar with a few mint leaves in it) was as yummy as all the reviews had said.
Our picnic basket and the view from our blanket.
After enjoying our picnic and laying in the sun for a bit, we wandered around and enjoyed the beautiful views and how peaceful it was. It tends to be a little more crowded closer to the lighthouse itself, but once you walk down to the coast itself all you hear are the wind and the waves. But our luck couldn’t hold out forever and after about an hour and a half enjoying the sunshine the clouds started to roll in. We made our way back to the car and managed to make it back home AND take the girls to the dog park before the rain came.
Enjoying the sunshine
This was a great, little day-trip that I would certainly do again. The food was yummy, but it’s also nice to note that there were no signs indicating that you couldn’t just bring your own picnic lunch with you if you’d prefer. Also a plus was that there were at least two restrooms available onsite. But again, this is definitely something we said we look forward to doing again.