Quidi Vidi is about a five-minute drive from downtown St. John’s, but it feels worlds (and ages) away from the capital. The village (whose name is pronounced “kiddy viddy”) is all charm, craggy cliffs and fish flakes. Yet what has sustained it since the 17th century – including fishing, foraging and fierce local pride – is finally catching the attention of an international audience that heads to the Atlantic coast with a hearty appetite for authenticity and attention to detail.
Located in one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America, a restored 18th-century Irish-Newfoundland vernacular home, Mallard Cottage restaurant is a hub for Quidi Vidi’s cultural renaissance. Chef Todd Perrin’s terroir-driven cuisine, which favours traditional practices like smoking, preserving and pickling – is a natural fit for Newfoundland ingredients. The menu changes daily depending on what’s in season, and classic dishes are done with a twist: Think corn-fried cod belly, stinging-nettle spätzle and pappardelle with cod cheeks and chanterelles. Even the wildflower bouquets come from the grounds outside, bringing a sense of place to every nook and cranny. This local flavour is sure to be found at Perrin’s next venture, an inn set to open in St. John’s later this year. Those craving simpler comfort food needn’t look further than Mallard Cottage neighbour Inn of Olde pub, where turkey soup and chowder are on the menu and diners feel right at home – the pub is attached to owner Linda L. Hennebury’s house.
Foraging has been essential for survival in Quidi Vidi for centuries, long before it became a fashionable activity for adventurous foodies – and Lori McCarthy capitalizes on both the trend and the local bounty with her Cod Sounds culinary expeditions. Every summer, McCarthy leads groups to the hills around the village in search of ingredients like kelp, sorrel, juniper and caribou moss, capping things off on the beach with a Newfoundland boil-up. She also offers monthly cooking classes and is a supplier for many of the region’s top chefs, providing the crucial ingredients for dishes at various St. John’s hot spots, like the spruce-tip and milk-chocolate streusel at Raymonds.
Opened in 2012 on its own wharf, Quidi Vidi Village Plantation is a studio incubator designed to give emerging artisans a space to create and connect with customers. Craftspeople specializing in textiles, jewellery, pottery, printmaking and accessories work year-round in the open-air atrium space, creating pieces that reflect on and even critique Newfoundland culture. Find pottery from former Fogo Island artist-in-residence Erin Callahan St. John, and watercolour, ink, gouache and machine-embroidered paintings by Kumi Stoddart that depict scenes of resettlement. For a fashionable souvenir, check out Jessica McDonald’s handwoven and leather wallets and Katherine Walters’ labradorite pendants, made using ancient Viking wire-knitting techniques.
Quidi Vidi Brewery boldly bottles history and geography with its Iceberg Beer, made using 20,000-year-old water extracted via hydraulic claw from the mammoth, multimillion-ton icebergs that dot the coastline every spring. Visitors can sample it along with Honey Brown Ale or British IPA (Gold Medal winner at the World Beer Championships in Chicago) on brewery tours. Can’t make it? Not to worry: The brewery keeps the taps of St. John’s flowing, including at the Merchant Tavern and the Adelaide Oyster House. They also regularly put out specialty brews, like Fogtown Lager, created in partnership with Fogtown Barber & Shop to raise money for men’s health. The brewery isn’t the only place bottling Newfoundland’s bounty. Taste Newfoundland’s Iceberg Vodka in Mallard’s Classic Caesar, or try locally distilled Third Place Tonic in the Hibiscus Gin Fizz.