That, my friends, is not meat. That is a Veggie Ciabatta from the Wildside Grill (Wild Food from Wild Dudes) a couple of miles outside of Tofino. I don’t have to tell you what direction outside Tofino it is because there is literally only one road into town and none out of it except the same one, backwards. According to my friend Shahee, who ate said Ciabatta, it was delicious, and according to the bill it was also cheap.
I have had just about enough of this meatless existence at the hippie ecovillage, despite the fact that in two weeks of living off lentils, cheese and eggs as my only protein sources I have lost quite a bit of weight and my skin is glowing. When you’re jonesing for a juicy piece of meat, no cucumber is ever going to substitute, no matter how firm or lengthy.
So a couple of days ago I decided to check out the local dining options. The first place I tried was the Tin Wis Best Western resort. The resort is enormous and spread out, guaranteeing that each room has an ocean view. And my greedy, bath-deprived eyes noted an indoor pool and hot tub, for which I had best make a deal ASAP, as no shower can possibly provide the sensual pleasure of a nice long soak in a tub. And the ocean is too cold to swim in without a wetsuit, and the only wetsuit I have is currently 8 sizes too small for me.
On this diet, though, it’s just a matter of time.
The bistro there looks out on the beach too, and is all soaring cedar and natural materials, with an electric fireplace in the lounge area. Really? A fake fireplace? In the rainforest? Okay, whatever.
The servers were friendly and cheerful, but not in any hurry. I mean, it’s not like you have anywhere else to go from there, right? The menu is solid; plenty of accessible dishes like curry bowls and salmon, at refreshingly less-than-typical-resort prices. Thank god, because everything in Tofino is really expensive. I was pleased to see that the wine list is almost entirely BC, including two sparkling wines. Stellar’s Jay for the win! Cocktails are very affordable, being in the $8 range, which is pretty damn good for a Maker’s Mark Manhattan, you must admit. Odd to find cocktails at a resort cheaper than in Vancouver, but there you are.
They’d recently taken the veggie burger off the menu, and in fact the whole thing was shy on veggie options. Not one non-salad appetizer was veggie safe, for instance. So Shahee ordered a burger but with fried mushrooms instead of a patty, which worked out fine. I ordered a bison burger.
No pictures, because my phone was dead, but the bison burger patty was quite small and, as can happen with bison meat, rather dry. The burger had some garlicky aoli which made a real difference, so the overall effect wasn’t dry, but it could have been better. The fries were okay, not exceptional, and unfortunately short. Stubby. You know the ones, the end of the night fries made up of pieces the size of your thumbnail. I am no size queen, but I like them a bit longer than that.
Next morning I felt like I’d swallowed the sun, or been bitten by a radioactive spider or something, because I felt invincible, with ten times the energy I’ve had lately. I’m putting it down to the meat, not the fries. Please don’t tell me if I’m wrong.
Day after that, Shahee took me to the Beaches, which is a local convenience store around which has sprung up the hippie equivalent of a strip mall. All the buildings are local wood; there’s a yoga studio, a salon, a surf shop, the famous Tacofino taco truck, a chocolateria, and Wildside Grill, a takeout joint with a bunch of picnic tables beside it, tucked under a very funky-looking shelter.
Multiple locals had told me they make the best burgers around, but for once I eschewed the burger and went with the carnitas, for lo, I loves me some carnitas. Again, there could have been more meat in them (is this a Tofino thing?) but they were fantastic. Fan. Tas. Tic. Fresh mild salsa over a tsunami of avocado sauce, and under it all some incredibly tender, tasty pork. It was messier than a bathtub full of peeled mangoes, but it was very much worth it. The contrast between the cool salsa and the hot pork and soft taco is my favorite thing about carnitas. All the flavours were distinct and fresh, although of course the pork had been cooked a very long time and was less porky than, say, a pork chop. It was glorious, even if I ended up wearing half of it. This and the veggie ciabatta came to $19, and then I spent another $2.10 to indulge my root beer addiction with an organic, hippie root beer.
Coming soon: every OTHER resort and restaurant in Tofino. Because life is too short to cook all my own damn meals!