We’re in Tofino at the moment, eating as many summery things as possible – including but not limited to: Roasted Corn + Basil Soup, Dungeness crab we caught ourselves (to great excitement from the cousins) using the scraps left over from our roasted salmon and trout, fresh halibut, lingcod and fish tacos, strawberries from Port Alberni, locally cured bacon and sausage, jelly doughnuts named after the mayor, kale and tiny yellow tomatoes from Catface mountain, peaches, Damson plums and blueberries from the Okanagan, Bamfield Seaweed Salad, eggs from Nanoose bay, Humboldt shrimp, goat cheese and fresh garlic from Salt Spring Island, bunches of fresh basil and as many blackberries as we can pick and carry home.
And the restaurants. There are so many good things to eat here – one of our favourites has always been Shelter, a comfortable space with beautiful woodwork and a fireplace and consistently good food. Yesterday we went after the beach – they do a late lunch – and ordered the daily soup, made with roasted corn and fresh basil. It was so fantastic that I went and introduced myself to the chef and grilled him (nicely) about how he made it. He kindly obliged and walked me through his process.
It wouldn’t have been difficult to go home and attempt a roasted corn chowder with wads of basil, but it was interesting to hear how he did it – a method I wouldn’t have used. He roasted the corn whole, by the cob, still in its husk, then scraped the kernels off while they were still warm and simmered the scraped cobs in vegetable stock while preparing the rest of the soup. He sweated the onions and celery, then added gobs of fresh basil, the stock, and a splash of cream, pureed and strained it to get rid of any bits. I strained the first half, then decided I rather liked the rough puree and added the rest as-is. It was delicious even without the cream, but with a litre in the fridge (for berry crisp emergencies) we had to add a splash. It’s all about ingesting as much of summer as we possibly can.