TRAVEL // HAIDA GWAII
Mind you, the items are not all to everyone’s taste, and some require just a little preparation. I had tried licorice fern root—which is prized for tea and grows abundantly on trees in Haida Gwaii’s temperate rainforest—and it tasted like, well, tree bark. And dirt. Then I realized I needed to peel it. I’ve come here to get a taste of Haida Gwaii at a new, Haida-owned luxury ecolodge called Ocean House. The name can be taken at face value: the 12-room hotel, which comes complete with sauna and spa, floats. Revamped in Delta, it was towed (very carefully) to Haida Gwaii over the course of five days last year. It’s now moored in Stads K’uns GawGa, a.k.a. Peel Inlet, about a 15-minute helicopter ride from Sandspit. (The chopper trip, by the way, is short but amazing, with scenery taken right from Jurassic Park.) Fortunately for dirt-chawing rubes like myself, the Haida who created the new resort know the value of pulling in culinary expertise. Our trip has been planned around two feature “demo and dine” dinners by chef David Robertson of the Dirty Apron cooking school in Vancouver, which complement several scene-stealing meals by the resort’s Haida chef, Brodie Swanson. Robertson, often seen giving culinary lessons on CBC and other television stations, started the Dirty Apron in 2009. Coming to Haida Gwaii was amazing, he says, for the immediacy of available victuals. “Here you can have this experience of going out with someone who has a fishing licence and seeing the fish pulled freshly out of the water, and putting that on the plate the very same day. As a chef it’s pretty inspiring.” With the rest of the guests, about 14 in all, I get to cruise through two of Robertson’s inspired, multi-course meals, which feature some of the Haida Gwaii pantry: razor clam motoyaki, served on cockle shells with sea asparagus and a ponzu aioli gratiné; red Thai curry 6 0 j u ly / a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 / westernliving.ca
Island living means looking to the sea for sustenance. Here local crab is harvested just offshore using one of Ocean House’s fleet. Dinner tonight will be as local— and as delicious—as it gets.