enjoying chocolate in Newfoundland

I had the pleasure of receiving some amazing chocolate from Brent Smith, “Chief Chocolate Officer” at the Newfoundland Chocolate Company in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The chocolates were not only good and highly creative, they reminded me of the love I have for Canada’s most easterly province, Newfoundland & Labrador.

Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s, Newfoundland

Canadians (or anyone) can’t really feel they’ve seen our great country until they’ve spent some time on The Rock. It’s different than any other part of Canada. In a really nice way. People speak with quite an accent, especially “the townies” from St. John’s. They almost have a different language!

In fact, when writing the first edition of the Frommer’s Guide to Newfoundland & Labrador in 2003, I often referred to my trusty massive 770-page Dictionary of Newfoundland English for insight and guidance. The Newfies (I’m told by a Newfoundland friend that it’s OK to call them that) have their own words, terms and phraseology for just about everything. But they speak the universal language of friendliness.

Coming from the province of Manitoba (whose nickname is “Friendly Manitoba”) I’m used to a friendly, smiling people and can honestly say I feel right at home when I’m among friends in Newfoundland. I think it was because our first-ever hosts in the province were Don & Yvonne Bradbury, a lovely couple who ran the Maunder Manor B&B until recently when they officially retired. They were the ultimate B&B hosts and became good friends of ours.

But back to the chocolate. The Newfoundland Chocolate Company is located in the heart of St. John’s and justifiably considered the best chocolatier in the province. What I really like about Brent’s chocolates is that they come with a map of Newfoundland! The “Lighthouse Series” is named after villages, sites and outposts where you’ll find the province’s iconic lighthouses.

Newfoundland Chocolate Company's great chocolates come with a map

Newfoundland Chocolate Company’s great chocolates come with a map

Although the enrobing of the chocolate is a bit thick for my liking, it is delicious and the chocolates feature local berries such as bakeapples, partridgeberries, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, and imported nuts blended with fine chocolate couverture. Is your mouth watering yet? If you can’t make it to The Rock this year, you can purchase Brent’s chocolates on the various maritime ferries throughout Atlantic Canada. They’re now available online and at selected shops. Just one more reason to head to The Rock!

My husband, Reg (pictured above at Bird Rock, one of our favourite places on the island) can’t keep his hand out of the box. These just may be his favourite chocolates yet, and believe me, he’s tried most of the ones I have had in the house.

Have you been to Newfoundland & Labrador? What has been your favourite taste of The Rock? Have you had the pleasure of tasting the chocolates from the Newfoundland Chocolate Company? Please help me reminisce about the only province with a time zone named after it, always one step ahead of the rest of us.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

45 Responses

  1. Oh Doreen, I luv’s Newfoundland and Labrador. I luv’s the language, the people, the food … I luv’s everything about ‘er!

    Husband Barrie MacGregor and I drove across Labrador last summer and down the entire west coast of NL. Oh my. Labrador is so vast (did you know you can put NB, NS, PEI and NL all inside Labrador and still have room left over? The culture there is beyond wonderful (Inu and Innuit). We have so much to learn from them. And where else but Newfoundland can you find meals with names like Jigg’s Dinner, Figgy Duff, Fish & Brewis or have toutons (friend bread) for breakfast? I yearn to go back (and plan to in June!) I’ll be writing a travel series about our trek last year for Life As A Human starting in two weeks so perhaps your readers would like to check in: http://www.lifeasahuman.com

    Cheers,
    Sandra

  2. Doreen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Right on, Sandra! Thanks for joining us, and for sharing your link.

    Labrador is indeed vast. I haven’t travelled all of it, but certainly liked what I saw. And had the best fish & chips EVER at a little place in Red Bay, Labrador called the Whaler’s restaurant.

    Have a great trip in June, and don’t forget to try the chocolates!

  3. The Newfies are friendly alright, and tough as nails. I will never forget my kayaking trip with fellow PWAC member and St John’s resident Alison Dyer, who thinks nothing of doing Eskimo rolls amid the swells of the frigid Atlantic, with nothing between her, Ireland and the sheer cliff faces of Newfoundland’s east coast, except some playful humpback whales! It was a terrifying but exhilarating experience for this inland girl and the Guinness at “The Ship” sure tasted good after three days at sea (Newfoundland has the best Guinness outside of Ireland from what I can tell). Too bad I missed out on Brent’s chocolate! Next time.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Yes, I really admire you for having taken that kayaking trip. I’ve swam with the humpbacks in Hawaii, in the lovely tropical water, but I can’t imagine being in that frigid Atlantic!

      Yikes! In just over 2 weeks who knows what travel challenges we’ll be facing as we make our way thru the Amazon jungle! Let’s hope we live to tell the tales.

  4. Irene Gordon says:

    We lived in Newfoundland from 1965 to 1970. Speaking of accents, there was nothing like teaching English in Newfoundland at that time. With some of the students it was like teaching English as a second language. We arrived on the Rock in early April, just after a blizzard, before the Trans Canada Highway was completed. We had to follow snow plows a good part of the way, so it took us something like three days to drive across the island to St. John’s.

  5. Doreen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for joining the discussion, Irene. Sounds like you had some very interesting experiences on The Rock. It’s amazing how simple (and primitive) life still is in the tiny outposts around the province. I was speaking to a friend who has a place in St. Vincent’s where the humpback whale watching is unsurpassed, yet she says there are still no services there to feed or accommodate visitors.

  6. Candice says:

    Oh I love NL Chocolates, they’re so good! And I’m ashamed to say I haven’t even been to Labrador yet. Getting there is one heck of a mission.

    Glad you enjoyed your stay, though! The next time you’re back, look me up!
    Candice recently posted…Candice is doing at least 1/100th of the world in 2012My Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      I definitely will, Candice. It’s been a number of years since I was last on The Rock. I think the last time may have been 5 years ago for the TMAC conference and it was Feb and a brief stay. So I’d love to come back and visit. And my new friend with a place in St. Vincent’s has invited me, so it just may happen later this year!

  7. Pierce says:

    I’ll definitely add these places in my to-visit list. I’ll also wait for the post on public transport. Thanks for the share!
    Pierce recently posted…dance dvdsMy Profile

  8. Irene Way says:

    I grew up in Newfoundland and your mention of the word “townies” and the language of the island brought back so many memories.

    I was very proud to be a ‘townie’ as we spoke differently than people from out around the bay or “baywops” as people who lived along the beautiful shore were called in relation to us “townies’. I felt as a “townie’ that I spoke more like a Canadian. As a young teacher when I left Newfoundland for Ontario, I practiced every day speaking like a Canadian because I wanted to lose my Newfy accent. Somehow back then I thought I would be the brunt of jokes for the way I spoke. However, I have learned since that the people of Newfoundland are some of the most kind and friendly people on earth and that I am so proud to be a Newfy. I see now that people from outside Newfoundland don’t laugh at Newfies. They laugh because they are happy to be the company of such “nice ” people. I went back to St John’s to have my children so that they too could be Newfies, and now I practice speaking in my Newfy tongue to try to claim back the accent that is my heritage.
    Irene

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Irene, and following the blog.

      It’s terrific hearing your personal insights of what it was like growing up in NL and the intense memories that have stayed with you. I know you have lived in many places throughout North America, but I can see that Newfoundland holds a very special place in your heart.

      I think it is the kind of place that touches each one of us once we have set foot on it and stayed long enough to smell the salt air, brace for that crazy wind on our faces (I’m thinking Cape Spear), and feel the warmth of the people who surround us.

  9. What a great tour you’re on. Glad that our very own Brent and gang are included. They do some spectacular work. They have created a specialty label for us here at the hotel so that we have our very own personalized box of chocolates. We use them for guests purchasing specialty packages and for all sorts of special occasions. We twin it with the taster sized bottles from Auk Island Winery in Twillingate. Makes it a great splash of Newfoundland!
    Have fun with your tour. I’ll be following.
    Hilary

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Hilary. I remember meeting you back in 2002 when the hotel was first opened. I had the pleasure of staying in room 305 and it was a magnificent loft room overlooking the harbour. How I long to return!

      That’s very cool that you have a relationship with the NL Chocolate Company. It always impresses me when a first-rate hotel partners with local specialty providers and adds a personalized touch to the guest’s stay. Those little touches are what memories are made of and what makes a property like yours stand out from others.

  10. Hi Doreen,

    My family explored The Rock in 2006 and I fell in love with the place. My favourite food was the bannock with bakeapple jam that our kayak guide cooked for us after we paddled through hundreds of jellyfish in Newman Sound. Kids were selling homemade bakeapple jam walking along the roadside near Rocky Harbour. The mere description of Fish & Brewis put me off, so I didn’t try it. I don’t remember finding any chocolate, rats!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jane.

      The NF Chocolate Company is relatively new (they’ve only been selling their chocolates commercially since 2008.) You’ll have to check them out on your next visit.

      Yes, the berries are abundant on The Rock and enhance many dishes (and the chocolates!) You and Virginia will have to share kayaking stories! It sounds like kayaking was a highlight of her visit as well.

    • Arlene says:

      Jane, if you are ever back in NL, you should try the Fish & Brewis. The description also put off a friend of mine, but once he tried it, it became one of his favourite meals. Whenever my mother visits me in Manitoba, she has to cook it for him.

  11. Newfoundland and Labrador are places where one truly feels connected to the land. I’ve been to Newfoundland a few times, been to Signal Hill (love the view even with fog), visiting some of the fishing villages, collecting rocks along the ocean and just sitting on the shore absorbing the land and sea. First time I ever had “cod cheeks” was on my first visit to St. John’s, Newfoundland — they are s-o-o-o good.

    During one visit went out on a commercial fishing tug and went cod jigging. Fog rolled in, engine conked out, fog surrounded us as we bobbed on the ocean for a while. Really appreciate the hard and dangerous work of Newfoundland’s fishermen and women.

    Also been fly-fishing at Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge in Labrador and enjoyed kayaking on the beautiful Eagle River.

    And yes, I’ve been ”screeched” in already!

    What a great idea for the NL chocolates to be packaged in a lighthouse series (I love lighthouses as you know!).

    Elle.

  12. Doreen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Elle, and for sharing some lovely NL memories with us.

    Yes, LOVE those cod cheeks! We have pickerel cheeks here in MB and they are equally as good, but different.

    I can see I’ll have to start writing about NL again. This blog post and the conversations that are resulting are bringing back so many wonderful memories. Cheers!

  13. Bo Kauffmann says:

    Sweet…. I just LOVE chocolate, its one of my real weeknesses. Thanks for sharing this, Doreen
    Bo Kauffmann recently posted…Sexy Boudoir: Beautiful Bedrooms Pictures on Wordless SundayMy Profile

  14. Doreen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Bo. Nice to have you join the conversation. Usually it’s we women monopolizing the conversation when it comes to chocolate, but it’s nice to know that some of you men can’t get enough of it either.

  15. Orla Hegarty says:

    I’ve been told multiple times from locals that Newfoundlander is the preferred term! Since I reside there part time I will stick to that term 🙂

    I think St.John’s is quickly becoming a new Canadian Culinary Hotspot with endeavours like this (and award winning locally sourced Raymond’s restaurant). There is also the Quifi Vidi Brewery and a NL blueberry wine.

    I like to say NL is Canada’s best kept secret and with all of the beautiful food, drink and scenery we both know why 🙂

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Orla and thanks for joining the conversation.

      Yes, I agree that NL has some tremendous culinary offerings. I’ve enjoyed the blueberry wine and the Quidi Vidi beer as well as some very fine restaurants during visits to St. John’s and beyond. Haven’t been to Raymond’s, so will have to add that to my list the next time I’m in town!

    • Arlene says:

      Rodrigues Winery in Whitbourne, NL is another great place that makes wine from local berries. The history of the building also add to the location. It was a cottage hospital until the late 80’s/early 90’s. The Rodrigues’ have kept pictures, door name plates, and a few pieces of hospital equipment in the building.

      • Doreen
        Twitter:
        says:

        Thanks for dropping in and sharing some of your favourite NL treats, Arlene. I find berry wines to be a bit sweet for my liking, so am curious how the Rodrigues Wines stack up on the sweetness scale. I shall definitely have to try them the next time I’m on the Rock!

  16. Janet says:

    Just a note to say that the terms Newfoundlanders and/or Labradorians are preferred, and not Newfie. The term has derogatory roots and there are many, many people in this province who find it offensive. While I have no doubt another Newfoundlander said it was okay to use that term, the very manner of your phrasing suggests you know that this is not a good term to use. I would strongly suggest you avoid using it in the future. For too many people, the term serves as reminder of when we were considered the laughingstock of Canada and the butt of numerous jokes. Thank you.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks, Janet. Yes, it was indeed a Newfoundlander I know who calls herself a Newfie and that is the only reason I use the term in the post. I have nothing but respect for Newfoundland and its lovely people.

      It’s just like here in Manitoba. People all across the country call Winnipeg “Winterpeg.” Most us hate hearing that term, as although we do indeed get winter and are certainly in the midst of it still, we get 3 other seasons with which I’d prefer to be associated. Cheerio, and thanks again for dropping by.

  17. Choclette says:

    I’ve never even been to Canada, never mind the Rock, but would love to go. There’s so much to see. Those chocolates sound really good and include berries I’ve never heard of – fascinating!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thx for joining the conversation, Choclette!

      You’d love Canada. Newfoundland would definitely remind you of Ireland. Did you know it’s closer to Ireland than the West Coast of Canada? Lots of redheads, rugged rocks, Celtic music and tantalizing tastes!

      How lucky you are to be in the UK. So many amazing chocolatiers to discover and enjoy.

  18. Choclette says:

    Yes, I guess Canada is rather huge. But not only have I never been to Canada, I’ve never been to Ireland either! I’m very lucky to live in a really beautiful part of the country, so don’t venture out much. The down side of that is that I don’t come across many of the wonderful chocolatiers that we have over here 😉
    Choclette recently posted…Cinnamon Choc Chip FriandsMy Profile

  19. Vivian says:

    I don’t know if I will ever get to physically travel to these place but I enjoy reading blogs like yours that transport me to places I am unlikely to ever see. The chocolates look wonderful. I love dark chocolate. Your idea of travelling with chocolate is fabulous. There should be chocolate routes (like wine routes).

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for visiting, Vivian.

      There are indeed chocolate routes in various locales around the world and I will be highlighting them in my upcoming book. Stay tuned!

  20. Denise Flint says:

    Hi Doreen,

    It’s been over eight years since I left Manitoba for Newfoundland and Labrador. In that time it’s been amazing to watch the changes that have taken place in St. John’s and the surrounding area as prosperity finally hits a place that’s been
    relatively poor for hundreds of years.
    One thing I will never do, after living with and befriending many Newfoundlanders, is call them by the ‘N’ word. Some might consider it inoffensive, but many do not. I compare it to the other ‘n’ word that African Americans can get away with calling themselves and each other but no one else would dream of using. I believe the use of the ‘N’ word in such cases stems from the same source of rebuilding internal pride in a marginalized community. It may be cumbersome on the tongue, but please, use the word Newfoundlanders as we ‘come-from-aways’ who have moved here have learned to do.

    Denise

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Denise, and for sharing your perspective.

      Interesting about the N word: i.e. that it’s OK for Newfoundlanders to call themselves Newfies, but that for the most part, others should not. That was always my sense as well, but my new friend from NL had introduced herself as a “Newfie” and so I thought things may have changed with respect to use of the word.

      It’s unfortunate that the discussion surrounding this post focused on that, as I was so hoping that more readers (including you!) would share what they like most/dislike about living on The Rock or visiting it. And also share their appreciation for the NL Chocolate Company.

      Thanks to you for pointing me in their direction, as they really are a lovely find.

  21. Heather Flores likes Italian food events Auckland says:

    That’s very nice post,thanks for sharing.

  22. Ash says:

    Found your site while trying to replace a lost map to my “Lighthouse Series” chocolates! I’m a Newfoundlander myself (living away, though) and I appreciate your kind words about home!
    Ash recently posted…Nengajou 2013My Profile

  23. Forrest Beck says:

    Okay Doreen, I now have officially read your Newfie post. I left there when I was less than 2 years of age, so have no recollection of Newfoundland. It will be on our stop as we continue to head around the US and Canada in our motorhome. I will have to try some chocolate covered partridgeberries. Hope you’re having fun in St. Lucia!

  24. jony371 says:

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  25. I’m a big fan of Newfoundland and have had the pleasure of visiting there a few times. The scenery is simply spectacular. I have not had the pleasure of trying the chocolate though so will have to keep that in mind for my next visit. 🙂
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Random Acts Of BrandingMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Right on, Debra! The purpose of my blog and my book, is to make travellers realize that there is good chocolate in just about every place you visit. You just have to look for it! And visiting this blog will definitely give you a heads-up! 🙂

  26. DaronOMova says:

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  1. July 3, 2013

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