What do “regular guys” do? I don’t know.
I’ve never been to a football game. I’ve never gone to a sports bar with a bunch of dudes. The idea of a strip club fills me with horror. (Is it a regular-guy thing to sit in front of a naked woman who—no doubt—holds you and everyone else in the room in secret contempt, while the men all around you struggle to conceal secret boners?)
Overnight hunting trips? Poker nights? Road trips? Don’t know them.
I’ve never been to a bachelor party in my life. I see people high-fiving and I generally start backing slowly toward the exit.
But every once in a while on Parts Unknown, I proudly and joyously embark on a bro-tastic bro-cation, a largely all-male adventure in fine dining and excessive drinking, all too often accompanied by an unsuccessful attempt at hunting wild game or fishing. And if one is to venture into the wild with two gentlemen of the world, few could be better companions in, say, the wilds of Newfoundland than noted chefs, restaurateurs, bons vivants, and raconteurs: Dave McMillan and Fred Morin of Montréal’s wonderful restaurant Joe Beef.
OK, so they are not, themselves, Newfoundlanders—they hail proudly from Québec. But they are enthusiastic lovers of Canada, true patriots, and advocates for the unique culture of Newfoundland, the glories of its natural world, and its exciting culinary scene in particular.
As they are both lovers of the great outdoors and classic French cuisine, it should come as no surprise that they dragged an entire dining-room set into the remote wilderness so that we might dine on a lake in an otherwise rustic hunting camp in comfort. We were not lacking in regional specialties: We had fine wines and liqueurs, various sweetmeats, such necessities as fresh truffles and foie gras. Between many enjoyable meals, we paused to take part in the manly arts of skeet shooting, cod fishing, ax throwing, moose hunting, and a local rite of passage called being “screeched in.”
We paused at one point for a brief interval in France—part of which, to my surprise, lies only a few miles off the Canadian coast.
I am grateful to my friends for my new found land, for introducing me (and hopefully you) to the two Jeremys—Charles and Bonia, of the St. John’s restaurant Raymonds—for enlightening me on the subjects of cod fishing and codfish culture—now largely a thing of the past. For the conversation, the company, the entertainment, and the hospitality.
Get ready for a look at a place that is still, if not a part unknown, then certainly a part underappreciated.
I will retire now to my wood shop. I’m working on a bird feeder.
Highlights from Newfoundland on Explore Parts Unknown: