Blueberry-Huckleberry Crumble and Tacofino


The property surrounding my parents’ house is thick with all things growing, as you might find most anywhere in BC – green things growing between the toes of other green things. I am not one for identifying plants, like my mom and sister are; they are the type to walk down the street and coo: “ooh, look at those hostas! Mine just aren’t happy this year. I’ve never seen asters that colour!” (I don’t even know if asters come in colours – see, I don’t even know enough about gardening to make fun of their smarts.)

But I do know my edibles. I scanned the grounds for any sign of blackberries (some, but not ready yet), blueberries or red currants. Halfway down the stairs I found a pair of treeish shrubs covered with ripe red berries, one so heavy it reminded me of a cow we saw at the dairy on the way here, her udder so full it nearly touched the ground. We had seen someone walking along the side of the road, branch of such in hand, snacking on the berries, so we figured they were edible. I still wanted to know what they were.

A flip through a copy of Mom’s PLANTS OF COASTAL BRITISH COLUMBIA identified them as red huckleberries – sort of a happy combination of red currant and Nanking cherry, without the pit. When I excitedly reported our positive ID to Mike, a look fluttered across his eyes that I recognized as “great. I’ve lost her for the rest of the trip to a tree.” He knows me too well.

Yes, I do tend to become obsessive in the presence of ripe, free-for-all berries. When we lived in Vancouver we had our secret spots where we’d go and pick blackberries for hours (I always wondered why more people didn’t do this – do they realize the street value of those berries in Calgary?) and I have been known to jump out of the car at a red light or make Mike pull over by the train tracks to go load up an empty Starbucks cup. Here, the loaded tree was just beyond reach of the wooden walkway, so that I had to venture out onto a fallen tree that was so deeply surrounded by ground cover I had no idea how far down it went below. I crept out further and further, lured by berry-covered branches, closer to a known raccoon den, until I half-filled my basket. (Actually the insert from the salad spinner – perfect for rinsing berries afterward.)

My dad suggested they might make a nice crumble paired with blueberries, and he was right. They are tart but not so much that they need sweetening, especially with blueberries as a buffer. I filled a larger bowl for us and a smaller one for our neighbours, one of whom is celebrating his 87th birthday tomorrow, and did absolutely nothing to them but scatter a crumble mixture over top – this time it was soft butter the size of an egg (this is the way my grandma would measure it in her hand-written recipes), about twice as much dark brown sugar, two or three times as much flour, and a shake of oat bran.

I never measure the crumble part – you can always add more flour or more butter or oil if you need it until you get a crumbly consistency – something that holds together when you squeeze it. I loved the addition of oat bran – not as much texture as full-on oats, but with the nuttiness and fiber. I baked them both at 375F until the topping was golden and the berries bubbled up around the edges.

I don’t think I quite captured the colour here – the berries burst and turned into a sticky, jammy, brilliant red-indigo sauce. We ate it by the fire, with whipped cream. (Oh whipped cream, I’m going to miss you most when we go home.) I was hoping for leftovers to eat for breakfast with vanilla yogurt – no such luck.

And – I’ve been holding out on you – we have been eating more than just fruity crumbles and coffee. We ate, for one, at the new Tacofino – (not actually the old purple SoBo bus, despite rumours to the contrary) – a catering truck painted orange, parked in the same place (at the back of the Tofino “mall”) and doling out burritos, tacos, salads (next time I’ll try the chipotle Caesar) and the like. My favourite, I think, were the bean gringas – sort of like a creamy, cheesy folded quesadilla, made, as all menu items, with chicken, pork or beans. The burrito was pretty fantastic too, and I liked that you had the option of a whole wheat tortilla. The tacos were made using soft corn tortillas. You had the option to add rice and beans, sour cream or guacamole. (I missed that part until it was too late.)

My favourite is W’s shot of the bus and sky – shot from our stump seats where we ate. I particularly like that little bird sitting in the tree.

One Year Ago: Pad Thai and Vanilla Barley Risotto with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote


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15 comments on “Blueberry-Huckleberry Crumble and Tacofino

  1. Morgan
    July 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Oh boy…you are making my mouth water for blackberries! Whenever I visit family in Seattle in August we always have a day where we just walk down the street and pick them (they’re EVERYWHERE!) We usually end up with enough to make two pies PLUS have some for over ice cream or on cereal in the morning. And that’s just halfway down the block! Fresh blackberries just scream SUMMER to me! And they always make me wish I was eating them right off the tree with family in Seattle!

  2. Barb
    July 23, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    ooooo everything looks so nice there! I am loving your vacation. 🙂

  3. Erica B.
    July 23, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I think reading about your vacation is the only one I’m going to get this summer(been living vicariously) … if all goes according to plan we move to Sylvan Lake in just under a month. I know what I’m making for dessert tonight (although I’ll have to make do without huckleberries) 🙂

  4. pauline
    July 23, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I would kill for a big bowl of that delish crumble with lots of whipping cream. I am trying to be good and only eat when I am hungry its only day two, and I really really really want to run and make a crumble. Sounds like you are having a terrific holiday Julie. Can’t wait till August to go and visit my mum. I always hit up Red Fish Blue fish they make the best fish and chips. I love picking blackberries one for me and one for the bowl. Mum makes the best blackberry and apple pies. Roll on August. No I don’t mean that, summer is so short I am enjoying every minute.

  5. Karen
    July 23, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, that crumble looks delicious, but that close-up of the overstuffed, juicy, filled with good things burrito just made my stomach growl…

  6. Charmian Christie
    July 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Red huckleberries? Never heard of them but they do look good. Do they taste different than the blue ones? I tired the blue ones only once and didn’t think they had much flavour, but these look delicious.

    I’m with Karen on the burrito. Recipe? Please?

  7. Cory Lievers
    July 23, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Love the pics. great colours.

  8. angiebean
    July 23, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Everyday I look forward to your updates from vacation. The food looks amazing!

    There’s just something about found, free berries that make them taste even better than store bought. I love mulberries and have always found secret spots in all the towns I have lived to go picking. Eating them warm from the tree is the best.

    My current job has a mulberry tree on its property. The biggest tree of its kind I have ever seen in my life. You can pick for hours days at a time and never touch all the berries that are ripe. It’s a great pick me up at coffee break

  9. Elaine
    July 24, 2009 at 6:13 am

    Holy cow. I’m fairly certain that serving food (in my case, homemade sausage) out of an old, orange bus would be the greatest job on the planet. Provided the bus was air conditioned, or we had one hell of a set of fans. Sounds like your vacation continues to be stellar–hooray!

  10. Thepinkpeppercorn
    July 24, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Looks like you are having a nice time out on the coast. Finally have a bit of Internet, hello from Montepulciano! Looking forward to catching up with your blog when I get back.

  11. Beverley
    July 24, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Alright. That’s it. I’m going to take my family to Tofino next weekend for August long. (Seriously!)

    And I think I’m going to have to take along a printout of your blog so I can find all these yummy places to eat while we’re there! I’ve been craving that cod club ever since you posted it. What’s a 4-hour drive with a 14-month old, anyway? 🙂 (Answer: probably a 6-hour drive!)

  12. foodnfit
    July 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Mmmmm everything looks great–so pretty!

  13. Lynda
    July 25, 2009 at 7:56 am

    The color of the crumble is so incredibly deep and gorgeous. We are in the middle of enjoying Danish summer berries, and love the idea of a dessert like this.

  14. Susan from Food Blogga
    July 26, 2009 at 5:34 am

    These are the first red huckleberries I have ever seen, and I’m smitten! They’re so richly colored and beautiful. I can just imagine how delightful they taste in that crumble.

  15. sharon
    August 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

    If Calgary park plantings are like here, you will find red Huckleberry in city parks. For pollination purposes they are planted in groups of five or so. I’m watching the clumps I know about, determined to get enough berries for red berry tea. Most years, some avid gleaners beat me to them, filling pails and pails and leaving only the high up berries. Take a little step ladder because the city will prune the trees to clear walker’s heads.

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