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What to do next

Well. After all the baby beets and fancy farro and salmon straight from the boat, I think you’ll be somehow pleased to know that our diet for the next ten days consisted of a lot of French fries, and beer, and Frosted Mini Wheats. I should also mention the Newman’s Own Arrowroot Alphabet Cookies, and the one night that we ate salt-and-vinegar potato chips, cornichons, and an oatmeal cookie for dinner, in our rental car, waiting for a ferry.

After all the hullabaloo, it was really kind of nice.

It’s hard, let me tell you, to plan a honeymoon. I mean, planning a wedding is hard, but planning a honeymoon is not much easier. Not for us, anyway. We felt as though we had so many options, and so many places we wanted to go, but none of them felt quite right. A honeymoon, so it goes, is supposed to be some sort of exotic, romantic, sun-drenched escape with bottomless piña coladas, the proverbial trip of a lifetime. It’s an exciting proposition to go away like that, with no obligations or agendas. It’s also pretty daunting. We didn’t want to waste our chance, or blow it on something only so-so. For a while there, we felt sort of paralyzed. One night - on the way to look at proofs of our wedding invitations, no less - we even fought about it. I’m not proud to say it, but I actually cried. Honeymoons are not for the faint of heart. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

We wanted a road-trippy kind of honeymoon, but one without too much driving, and we wanted to be outside, and we wanted to walk a lot, and we wanted it to be pretty. First, we thought about Scotland, but being the land of haggis, it wasn’t the best idea, food-wise. Then we thought about New Zealand, but it would be winter there. We thought about Italy or parts of France, but they would be packed with tourists. Then I saw an article in Saveur - it was last September’s issue, I think - about Vancouver Island, a long strip of land off the coast of British Columbia. Apparently, we could find mushroom foragers there, and a farmhouse bed-and-breakfast, and even water buffalo. Needless to say, we were smitten. It felt a little silly to honeymoon so close to home, but it sounded just right. Plus, it might be nearby, but neither of us had been there, and anyway, it’s hard to think of a better place to be in August than the Pacific Northwest. So we made our reservations, and on July 31, two days after the wedding - just enough time, you know, for doing our laundry - we boarded the Victoria Clipper, and away we went.

I understand now why people go on honeymoons. For one, you’re exhausted. Second, you’re really exhausted. And third, it’s hard to do all that planning, and put in all that work, and party so happily with all the people you love, and then have it just - ta daaa! - be over. It’s really sort of traumatic. Nobody warns you about that part. They just cheer and wave goodbye. I guess some newlyweds feel nothing but happy, but we felt a lot of things. We felt relieved, and of course ecstatic, and triumphant, and newly wed. But we also felt weepy and out of sorts, with no idea what to do next. That’s why, we learned, there are honeymoons. We needed ten days to nap, to read, to play cards, to pet water buffalo, eat fries, and get used to ourselves again, just us two.

We started in Victoria. It’s a pretty little city, the provincial capital, on the southern tip of the island. We arrived to sunshine and rolled our suitcases along the harbor to Swan’s Hotel, our stop for the night. Our room had tall ceilings and exposed wooden beams, and I’m sure we would have really enjoyed it, had we not fallen asleep right after dinner. I blame that on the beer at Spinnakers, a pub just cross the Johnson Street Bridge. Their beer was stunningly good. We shared samplers of six different kinds - they were small glasses, I assure you - and by the last sip, we had quite a crush on British Columbia. I like to think that Washington and Oregon make wonderful beers, but these were stunners, every one. The food wasn’t so nice, not unless you like your fries with a lump of pink aioli, but the beer warrants a return trip.

But the next day, we picked up our rental car and drove 30 minutes north, to a town called Brentwood Bay, where we had booked a night at the Boathouse.

To get there, you drive through a residential neighborhood to a particular house, and you park in the driveway. Then you knock on the front door, and Harvey and Jean, the couple who live there, help you carry your bags down the hill behind the house, 89 wooden steps in all, to a one-room house on the water. It’s painted red, with a dartboard hung on the deck, a queen bed and a table for two, a tiny kitchen, and a sitting room the size of a closet, with two armchairs and big windows that tilt open to the bay. On the counter is a plate of homemade cookies from Jean, and the small refrigerator holds a pitcher of milk, to go with your coffee or tea.

The bathhouse is next door, about 10 steps up the hill, and the rowboat is right out front, at the end of the dock. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a few seals through the binoculars on the ottoman, and maybe some giant purple jellyfish under the house, and then, later, your husband will row - row! - you to dinner at the restaurant across the cove, and your heart will burst, core to cockles, clean out of your chest.

Never mind that said dinner isn’t particularly good. (Shrimp + andouille + canned tomato sauce does not equal jambalaya, in case you ever wondered. Blessed be the convenience store nearby that sells Frosted Mini Wheats, a sturdy stomach filler in such emergencies.) When you’ve been rowed to dinner, such things can be excused.

We would have stayed longer, but the Boathouse was booked, so we headed to our next stop, in the Cowichan Valley, the agricultural heart of the island. We had reserved two nights at Fairburn Farm, the idyllic bed-and-breakfast profiled in Saveur, not far from the town of Cowichan Bay. It was at the end of a long, unpaved road, a white-and-red farmhouse with three guest rooms, a wood-burning brick oven, thirty-odd water buffalo, goats, sheep, chickens, a mutt named AJ, a wraparound porch, and a gray-haired farmer who rips around on a dirt bike. We were met at the door by Mara Jernigan, a professional chef, cooking teacher, and leading voice for the Slow Food movement in Canada, who also doubles as the keeper of the guesthouse. She was the reason we came.

Each morning, we woke to eat breakfast on the porch. It started with a spread of homemade granola, yogurt, fresh blueberry compote, and a pitcher of juice on the sideboard. Then Mara made a second course, hot this time: a frittata, say, made with farm eggs, their yolks like liquid goldenrod, or thin, crepe-like pancakes with a length of turkey sausage.

At night, Mara was in the kitchen again, cooking four- or seven-course meals for her guests on the porch. For us, she served heirloom tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella made nearby from the farm’s own milk, doused with balsamic vinegar from Venturi-Schulze Vineyard, just down the road. (It’s an amazing vinegar, by the way, totally worth the price and shipping.) Then she served a corn-leek soup topped with a single zucchini blossom. It tasted pure corn milk, what you get when you give the cob a good scraping, sweet and slushy and delicious. Then came a choice of lamb, again from the farm’s own stock, or sablefish poached in miso from Denman Island, and finally a light, buttery cake layered with mascarpone and fresh berries. Then the stars come out over the mountain up ahead, and we drank mugs of the house mint “tea,” fresh mint leaves steeped in boiling water. Then we slept, until we did it all over again.

The best part, though, was when AJ came zipping up the yard on his short, unlikely legs, chasing the buffalo from their pastures to the barn for milking.

Water buffalo are like big dogs, friendly and affectionate. They’re enormous, really, so you have to be careful when they nuzzle you, lest they knock you over or skewer you with their horns. If there happens to be a calf running around, hold out your hand, and he’ll lick it. Certain types of water buffalo, we learned, have purple tongues, the color of dried lavender.

But then, of course, it was time to leave. We had a reservation in Tofino, a little to the north and then three hours west, straight across the waistline of the island, on the coast. For fortifications, we stopped by Hilary’s Cheese in Cowichan Bay, the shop-slash-deli of a local cheesemaker, as well as True Grain Bread, next door, for a baguette.

(Just so you know, The Udder Guy’s Ice Cream Company, just a few doors up, also is worth a stop. We shared scoops of the mint chocolate ice cream, and of raspberry with chocolate. Pay no attention to the jelly bean they smash, willy-nilly, into the top of the scoop. No idea what that’s all about.)

And then we came to Tofino. If you’ve ever been to Boulder, Colorado, imagine that, but with surfers instead of hikers and skiers. It’s relaxed, welcoming, and a little touristy, and everyone there is outdoorsy and attractive, and all the little boys have long hair and tans. The beaches are lined with white sand and rimmed with evergreens, and the water goes on forever.

We stayed at a place called the Middle Beach Lodge, one of the more affordable options in a town of very expensive lodging, and nestled high on the rocks between two beaches, it was just what we wanted. In fact, unless you happen to dislike tide pools and sea anemones and beaches shrouded in morning fog and sunsets on the back deck and waking to the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls - which, I have to say, would make you straight-up wrong - it’s close to heaven.

We took naps and peered into tide pools, and Brandon thrashed me at Double Solitaire. We bought our second box of Mini Wheats - who knew they were such a good snack? - and we also found SoBo. Short for Sophisticated Bohemian, it’s a phenomenon not to be missed, a purple lunch truck in the parking lot of the Tofino Botanical Gardens that churns out everything from ceviche to soba noodles, cornmeal-crusted oysters, and polenta fries so stupendously good that I spoiled my lunch. At night, service moves to a cozy building in the garden, where they pour good wines and foamy beers. For a chilly evening, I especially recommend the hot soup - carrot-ginger with coconut milk, if they’re making it - and a hunk of warm cornbread.

One day, we took a float plane out to a natural hot springs cove nearby, and had the water not been so crazily, ferociously hot, and had I not been savagely bitten - I still have scars - by giant(!) mosquitos(!) in the rainforest(!) there, oh Tofino, I might never have left you. And woe that we did, really, because we had a terrible time getting back to the mainland, waiting in parking lots at three different ferry terminals because it was the end of (what we had no idea was) a provincial holiday, and everyone was traveling. But one could do much worse, I think, than a dashboard dinner of vinegar-laced potato chips (bought in Cowichan Bay), cornichons (brought from Seattle), and an oatmeal cookie from SoBo, washed down with some water from a vending machine.

We did get to our last destinations, eventually - to Halfmoon Bay, on the Sunshine Coast, and then on Vancouver - and honestly, I could go on and on and on. We loved it all, and then, even more, we loved coming home to find our friend Sam at our kitchen table, with fixings for tabouli and mint juleps. But I brought home a souvenir for you, and rather than make you spend any more time in these rare, fleeting last days of summer - the very best part, the filet mignon of seasons - reading my never-ending honeymoon treatise, I want to hurry up and give it to you already.

I think you might know what it is.

It’s those polenta fries. The recipe, at least. I know you’re going to love them. Imagine creamy polenta with a cup of asiago stirred in, and plenty of butter to boot. Imagine, then, that you let it cool, and then you cut it into fat, sturdy batons - like Lincoln Logs, only edible. Then you fry them until they’re golden and crisp and a little puffed at the seams, and then you eat them, alongside a hamburger, say, or another something hot from the grill. I hope you might want to make them for Labor Day - those of you in the U.S., anyway. I know I will.

Thank you, friends, for making this trip with me through our wedding, and what came before and after. You’ve indulged me, and for that I am so grateful. Coming here has bolstered, calmed, and inspired me. It’s been a great summer.

Onward, September.

Polenta Fries
Adapted from Lisa Barber-Ahier, SoBo, and Saveur

SoBo serves these with a creamy garlic sauce - a cross, flavor-wise, between aioli and Ranch dressing - but we like them plain. We made them for a dinner party the week after we got home, and everyone agreed. (They also inhaled them.) These fries don’t need any help.

Also, if you happen to have an outdoor grill with burner on the side, consider frying your polenta there. It’ll keep that nagging fried-food smell out of your house. Or, if you don’t feel like frying at all, you could just eat the hot, cheesed-up polenta on its own. It’s spectacular.

4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups coarse cornmeal
1 cup finely shredded asiago cheese
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
Canola oil, for frying

Combine the vegetable stock and salt to taste in a heavy medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and slowly, whisking constantly, add the cornmeal in a thin stream. Cook, stirring constantly, until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cheese and butter.

Transfer the polenta to a nonstick 8-inch or 9-inch square pan. (Or, alternatively, pour the polenta onto a sheet pan, and quickly shape it into a 9-inch square.) Smooth the top with a rubber spatula, and allow to cool slightly at room temperature. Then refrigerate, uncovered – you want it to dry out a little – until chilled and set, about 2-3 hours.

When you’re ready to fry the polenta, pour oil into a heavy, large pot to a depth of 2 inches. Place over medium heat until the temperature hits 375 degrees Fahrenheit on a deep-fry thermometer. Meanwhile, turn the polenta out of the pan, and cut it into twenty 1”-x-4” sticks. Working with 4 polenta sticks at a time and taking great care - oil spatters are dangerous, and they hurt! - fry without stirring until the sticks are deep gold, a pretty shade of amber, about 4 minutes. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined sheet pan. (If any fries are stuck together, gently separate them.)

Serve immediately.

Yield: 20 fries, serving about 6 to 8 people


Anonymous kellypea said...

I must be the only person on the planet who didn't know of your lovely blog. I truly enjoyed your post, and belated congratulations.

11:56 PM, August 27, 2007  
Blogger Pille said...

Oh Molly, there's so much more to Scottish food than haggis (and haggis can be surprisingly & addictively delicious), but it sounds like you had a perfect honeymoon closer to home after all. Very pleased for you two!!

12:12 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger deborah said...

oh, what a pleasure to read about that holiday. it sounds perfect... stopping from one place to the next. i noticed that they got better and better with each stop!

i'd love to give those polenta fries a go very soon. i wonder if a peppery pecorino would go well ...

1:21 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Mevrouw Cupcake said...

What a spectacular honeymoon! Look out Vancouver Island here I come. The polenta fries sound (and look) so good and I can't wait to try them out!

2:59 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Michèle said...

Molly, it sounds like a perfect honeymoon--and oy those water buffalo! They are kind of intimidating. Congrats again to you and Brandon and here's to a lifetime full of polenta fries ;)

6:47 AM, August 28, 2007  
Anonymous RA said...

What a wonderful honeymoon! It all sounds lovely, of course, but I do want to put in a hearty fist pump for frosted mini-wheats as a snack. I don't know how I would have gotten through high school without my daily baggie of them.

7:05 AM, August 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you had a nice time! I love Vancouver Island. We did it as a second trip when we visited Seattle in 2003.


7:21 AM, August 28, 2007  
Anonymous Not a Scot said...

Poor old Scotland, it really gets a bad rap food-wise.. seriously, haggis is actually pretty nice on a winter's night with a big dollop of creamy mash and a glass of robust red (or a dram of single malt, to be fair!) There's also amazing seafood here - salmon, mussels, Arboath smoked haddock, plus first class Aberdeen Angus beef and Highland venison, a host of locally produced cheeses, including Cheddars from Galloway.. the list goes on. You should give Scotland a try for your second honeymoon! :)

To the Haggis:
'Fair fa' yer honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudden race!'

7:44 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Tara said...

Sounds lovely. Congratulations.

7:45 AM, August 28, 2007  
Anonymous jenn in ks said...

Labor Day it is! Or perhaps sooner ...tonight? Thanks for the yummy sounding souvenir ...much better than the usual "My blogger friend went to Vancouver and all I got was..." t-shirt.

8:00 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, kellypea!

Pille, you know, I should rephrase what I said about Scotland. What I meant was that it's not a great place for a vegetarian - not that haggis, or any other traditional Scottish foods, are bad. Brandon traveled there with his family several years ago, and his sister lived there for a while, and they all had quite a bit of difficulty finding much in the way of vegetarian options. Honeymoon-wise, it wouldn't have been the best choice for him. That's all I meant. I mean, geez, girl, with my love of blood sausage and chicken livers and so on, I would probably love haggis!

Thanks, Deborah. They did get better with each stop - or maybe it's that we felt more and more relaxed. That makes anything feel better.

Seriously, Mevrouw Cupcake, get thee to Vancouver Island! It really is wonderful. So beautiful, and so many little treats to find...

Michele, they were just a teensy bit intimidating, but I walked out into the barn with them - it had no door, anyway - and they were so curious and friendly and nuzzly. Oh, if only we had a bigger yard...

I hear you, RA. We ate so many handfuls of those things! Gah. Oh, sweet, crunchy, delicious Frosted Mini Wheats...

So you know exactly what I mean, Ani! It is such a lovely place.

Not to worry, Not a Scot! Please see my comment to Pille, above. I meant no offense to dear old Scotland, whose food I am sure I would like very much. I really do hope to get there one day - and soon.

Thank you, Tara. It was.

And Jenn, you're welcome! Hope you enjoy those polenta fries.

8:18 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Tea said...

Lovely, lovely, my dear. Core to cockles, indeed!

And polenta fries, we must talk...

8:43 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger hannah said...

i'm just sighing and sighing over here. it all is so good. i know i keep saying this, but it is true. as i am sure you know. so glad you are rested and ready for september. i have sudden hankerin' for root vegetables. hello fall! and hello polenta fries!!

8:47 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger christianne said...

What a fun honeymoon! And I agree with everyone else regarding Scotland - it gets a bad rap. I've had some of the greatest seafood meals of my life in Scotland! Congrats!

9:52 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Mercedes said...

Oh, it all just sounds wonderful. I love that you eschewed the trend for fancy honeymoons and far-off destinations and chose somewhere closer to home, it just sounds so right.

More, and more you make me want to visit the PNW, I've only been once, and it sounds like there's so much to explore. And all the local produce, beer and wine. And frosted mini-wheats.

10:36 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Marriage-101 said...

Oh wow what a wonderful honeymoon! Hope you're not feeling the post-wedding blues as much as I did. Of course, mine didn't kick in until AFTER the honeymoon.

Vancouver Island is now on my list of places to visit.

10:51 AM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Dre said...

wow, looks like an amazing time! i was able to visit victoria about 5 years ago
and i, too , loved it.

those polenta fries sound delish!

11:27 AM, August 28, 2007  
Anonymous Maxine said...

Polenta fries are my newest obsession, but I've been lazy and usually just slice up a shelf-stable log. I think I might have to try out this recipe and pair it with a portobello mushroom burger! mmm!

Thanks for the tour through your honeymoon - it sounds heavenly! I think Torfino may have to be my next vacation spot! :)

12:19 PM, August 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long time lurker but have to comment- while you were being married in WA we were celebrating our FIRST anniversary, after which we spent our honeymoon in VANCOUVER! It's no wonder I enjoy your blog above all Molly...

1:51 PM, August 28, 2007  
Anonymous swirlingnotions said...

I've been following your journey to the altar anonymously and have been looking forward to stopping by with a congratulations(!) to you both.

Had to laugh at your comments on honeymoons . . . my hub and I are ardent travelers and went through similar deliberations. And I distinctly remember a fight (with tears) when we were looking through a "Best Places to Stay in the Caribbean" and I honed into the "Romantic Picks" chapter while Christopher flipped to "Best Dives." Our first big lesson in compromise ;-).

4:03 PM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Chicago Sarah said...

Oh mercy, I want to get married to go on such a honeymoon!

7:36 PM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hi Molly,
All sounds like cool fun.
You should come to New Zealand some time, January - April are the best months. I'll take you guys out for dinner!

7:38 PM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Shauna said...

"...and your heart will burst, core to cockles, clean out of your chest."

molly, my dearest, everything you wrote and shared here is lovely. of course. it's you. and brandon. i adore you.

but this phrase? it stopped my breath. this is the heart of the honeymoon, the wedding, the daily life of loving someone.

i can't wait to breathe in italy, with my love, starting next week. i don't think there will be a boat for him to row me in. But there will be some amazing moment that will leave me a little weak, and more than grateful, that i have him by my side.

at that moment, i will think of this phrase.

8:21 PM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger eatme_delicious said...

Ooo I've had those fries from SoBo! I thought they sounded familiar. :) Your honeymoon sounds wonderful.

10:42 PM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Victoria said...

I had a flat-out day yesterday. (According to my Australian friend Mandi that means swamped at work.) It never stopped for twelve hours. So it is with particular delight that I am sitting here with my first cup of tea of the day, very happy after reading about your wonderful honeymoon. There are so many of us you have never met that you shared this lovely adventure with from the beginning. And now you're back at another beginning. I wish you abundant joy, everlasting happiness, fortitude through any difficulties you may encounter (since life does always throw a few little curves along the way), and hope that all your dreams come true.

4:06 AM, August 29, 2007  
Blogger shari said...

being rowed to dinner! romantic. your honeymoon sounds beyond lovely. t and i really want a water buffalo now. or perhaps we should just visit the b and b. polenta fries does sound like just the perfect labor day treat. xox

7:13 AM, August 29, 2007  
Anonymous Melissa said...

What a spectacular trip - I had a hunch that Vancouver Island would fit the honeymoon bill perfectly. I think it was a wise decision, even if it did mean postponing a trip to Scotland! (And yes, haggis is indeed delicious but I think you know my opinions on Scotland as a culinary destination, vegetarian or not... ;)

And oh my goodness, I can't tell you how fast those polenta fries are going to be on our table. Yum!

7:48 AM, August 29, 2007  
Blogger iamchanelle said...

oh wow. i do believe your writing get more beautiful and poetic every day. what a wonderful account of your honeymoon! thank you very much for taking the time to share all the sweet details.

(ps - and i love salt and vinegar chips. they accompany me on most road trips. )

9:36 AM, August 29, 2007  
Blogger Christina said...

Molly- so many congratulations! I'm glad you had a beautiful time. :)

4:47 PM, August 29, 2007  
Blogger LadyConcierge said...

Happy one month Anniversary, Molly and Brandon!

The polenta fries sound great. I had to start a 3-ring binder for all the recipes of yours I've printed out in the last few months of reading your archives and getting caught up. Yours is a lovely story, thanks for sharing it with us.

5:54 PM, August 29, 2007  
Blogger shaun.marie said...

oh, lordy. i need to hurry up and find someone to marry so i can take an amazing honeymoon. congratulations!

9:31 PM, August 29, 2007  
Blogger Verilian said...

I live right in Vancouver, and somehow have become a lot more smitten with your blog after finding out that you've visited Vancouver Island as your honeymoon spot. (Even more smitten than when I read about all the delicious pickles, and banana cakes.)

(You should have checked out the llama/alpaca/goat ranches and hippy communities on Salt Spring!)

I'm glad that Vancouver was such a nice experience for you. :)

The polenta fries sound good, but I have never deep-fried food before, so I think I'll skip out on these.

2:47 AM, August 30, 2007  
Anonymous emily said...

i've been so busy with end-of-summer-ness that i couldn't sit down to read this post until today (when, usually, i scramble to read your new postings as quickly as i can). and boy am i glad i waited to enjoy this one. except that now i'd like to have a new honeymoon - too bad they don't let you do that eleven years later.

and though i haven't thought about labor day meal planning one bit, i'm quite sure that, somehow, it will now include polenta fries. thank you very much!

10:18 AM, August 30, 2007  
Blogger Naomi said...

How perfectly lovely, Molly. I haven't commented before, I don't think, but I've been reading for ages. So - a belated congratulations on the wedding! And now I'm aching for some polenta fries... time to start experimenting with deep-frying!

1:04 PM, August 30, 2007  
Blogger Shauna said...

It's polenta! It's fried! What's not to love? Genius. Will be trying these for a dinner party this weekend.

2:03 PM, August 30, 2007  
Anonymous Rain said...

I so enjoy reading your blog :) I live in Vancouver and I would move to Vancouver Island in a heartbeat. My favourite place is Chesterman Beach near Tofino. We're heading up that way (for a vacation) in a few more weeks and you've made me want to head out the door right now.
Congratulations on your wedding! May you have a wonderful life. I've been married to my `bestest bud` and `love of my life` for over 40 years.

2:17 PM, August 30, 2007  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm a big fan of BC and thoroughly enjoyed Vancouver and Victoria when I visited a while back. Your post made me want to get a new trip planned very soon. Thanks for sharing your honeymoon adventure. Cheers.

2:27 PM, August 30, 2007  
Blogger kristy said...

Have you ever really wanted to be someone else? To eat what they eat? To go where they go? To get married the EXACT same way that they did!?!

I want you life so very much. Your wedding looked so perfet - and now your honeymoon - oh my!

5:07 PM, August 30, 2007  
Anonymous Julie said...

Hmmm. We just came back from (in our case belated) honeymoon as well. AND we went to Canada, also (Quebec for us). And we stayed on an agrotourisme farm for part of our stay as well. And I blogged about it. Parallel existence, once again -- but different enough that you've persuaded me to put BC on our "must-travel" list...

7:29 PM, August 30, 2007  
Anonymous Jennifer Dery said...

Been lurking for while enjoying your fabulous blog. But since your wonderful wedding warrants a huge congratulations and your honeymoon description has put BC on the map for me I want to say CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU!!! add polenta fries to the mix and I'm speechless.
Jen Dery

10:14 PM, August 30, 2007  
Anonymous lynn said...

How lovely. I'm so happy for you that it was such a wonderful time (and place).

9:35 AM, August 31, 2007  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Molly, I've been a lurker for a month or two now, but reading of your wedding and honeymoon has finally prompted me to speak up. They both looked amazing, beautiful, and magazine-spread worthy. You looked like such an INDIVIDUAL bride. Radiant, yes, ecstatic, yes, but more importantly, you looked like every detail was so thought-out and pored-over, so specifically tailored to you and to your husband, that put together they created that special something like serendipity.

I too am recently married, and I will admit, I too cried about honeymoon planning. Our honeymoon was delayed; there was so much out of town family around after the wedding that we would have felt so guilty leaving, and then it just got pushed back until 4 months later, when my husband's company downsized and laid him off with a lovely severance package. Basically, we were paid to take a honeymoon! How perfect! At first our ideas were a little different...American Orient Express, too expensive. He became caught up in the idea of Vegas, and I tried to get excited for it. Don't get me wrong, I want to go eventually and see some of the amazing shows and restaurants, but it wasn't my dream of a honeymoon. That's when I cried a little, I'm ashamed to admit. Eventually we hit on the idea of California. We planned it in 3 days and left 2 days later, and we both agree, it was nothing short of perfect. This post has been far too long, and I apologize. I truly enjoy reading your blog, and I offer all of my best wishes to you and Brandon.

9:43 AM, August 31, 2007  
Blogger Lydia said...

Oh my god, Molly, I just went to Tofino for my first time too (which is awful considering I live in Vancouver and grew up in Victoria), and I also had the polenta fries at Sobo. I also was so gob-smacked I photographed them. Weren't they wonderful? I'd just made them myself last week, but these were a totally different experience.

For more than just Sobo, my boyfriend and I are seriously daydreaming about moving there.

Also, we ate at the best place ever in Victoria. Have you heard of Go Fish in Vancouver? This is the same idea, but better. A small shack on the waterfront, near the Inner Harbour. Fresh fish, everything's recycled- we had tempura-battered dill pickles. Best things ever. You have to go back.

I'm going to blog about it all and post pictures shortly...

1:37 PM, August 31, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

Beautiful honeymoon! I can't believe how entertaining it is that I stumbled upon your blog, sharing my name, getting married at the same time and our honeymoons! Here's my post about ours, taken in Alaska:


4:41 PM, August 31, 2007  
Blogger Sophia said...

Yes, I completely remember that feeling right after the wedding -- worse, we stayed in the same hotel as the wedding, and when all our family and friends left I almost cried. We took a close-by honeymoon as well (Yosemite Valley, and we live in the Bay Area), and it was worth it just to be a in a pretty place and rest by ourselves without having to travel very far or do too much. So glad you were able to have the same experience!

9:58 AM, September 01, 2007  
Blogger Tartelette said...

We did the same thing: we hoped in our car and drove the outerbanks of North Carolina, we live in South Carolina. We spend 5 days relaxing, reading, playig cards. We were exhausted, happy, in love, and still are after 10 years. Many happy years to you and Brandon!

11:36 AM, September 01, 2007  
Anonymous Katherine said...

Reading about your honeymoon made me think of mine - my husband and I went to Vancouver Island eight years ago in October. We went to the Middle Beach Lodge in Tofino because we wanted to relax completely. It worked. And I've never had fresher halibut, simply and perfectly prepared. I still think about it (Tofino and the halibut).

2:28 PM, September 01, 2007  
Anonymous Emily said...

Such a beautiful read - your time away sounds great. Thank you for sharing.

3:21 PM, September 01, 2007  
Blogger Barbara said...

Who knew Vancouver Island was so interesting. We have friends there who keep asking us to visit. Perhaps we will make it there someday. I'm glad you had such a wonderful honeymoon. I've been with my husband for 35 years and with our children now adults and left home we've recently enjoyed some great road trips in a motor home throughout NZ. I can't believe how much fun we have even after after 35 years.

9:06 PM, September 01, 2007  
Anonymous Eric said...

Considering Brandon's vegetarian bent, I supprised that your tour of the island didn't include a stop at ReBar, in Victoria. It's a brilliant vegetarian restaurant, located downtown a few blocks from the legislature grounds. If you need an excuse to pop back across the ferries to the island for a quick weekend getaway, I'd suggest remedying the oversight, as their food is delicious.

9:34 PM, September 01, 2007  
Blogger Midsummer night's knitter said...

Hey - gotta stick up for Scotalnd here! While it might not be up in the same league as Italy in terms of culinary heritage, we're doing well now!! http://www.threechimneys.co.uk/ off the top of my head - great scenery AND great eating.
http://www.lochfyne.com/ The orignal oyster bar, independent of the now-sold Loch Fyne chain If you do a little looking, there are great places to eat here.
Anyway, be that as it may, hope your honeymoon is all you hope it to be.

3:27 AM, September 02, 2007  
Blogger Emilie said...

The polenta fries sound wonderful! I'll have to try making the recipe, soon. Glad you had a good time on your honeymoon.

10:08 PM, September 02, 2007  
Anonymous crystal said...

I just wanted to de-lurk to say congratulations, and to thank you for sharing your oh-so-special wedding and honeymoon with us. Your words are like butter...so smooth and wonderful. Thank you!

9:04 AM, September 03, 2007  
Blogger Meg said...

If you go back to Tofino (or down the road to Ucluelet), renting a place is quite a bit less prohibitive than staying in one of the hotels (plus, if you surf, or decide to try, you'll have some space to put your board in, and probably be able to stay on or in very easy walking distance of the beach). There are a pretty ridiculous number of nice places to choose from.
Fairburn Farm, I'm sure you noticed, also has a little cottage, so that if by chance you feel like frosted mini wheats (or cheese and a baguette from Cowichan Bay) one evening for dinner instead of the delicious but many-coursed meals, it's a pretty simple matter to prepare it there. And if you go with friends of family, although it is indeed a cottage instead of a "cottage" you won't feel as if you're keeping other guests up by chatting.

10:19 AM, September 03, 2007  
Blogger Meg said...

I was so busy holding forth about Vancouver Island that I forgot to ask about the polenta fries (duh). It sort of looks like you'd do best making yourself a double batch of the regular polenta one day, and with the leftovers, making the fries a day or two later. Have you tried that? Does it work best for you with day (or more) old? Or is it better with made that day but left to sit and cool?

10:26 AM, September 03, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

You guys are terrific! Thank you for the sweet, sweet words - and for all the great suggestions for future trips to B.C.! You won't have to twist our arms to get us back there again. No sir.

And to those of you who suggested great foods and spots in Scotland, thank you, thank you. I really do want to get there one day, and hopefully soon.

And Eric, fear not! We did go to ReBar in Victoria; it's just that, for the sake of space, I didn't mention it here. We went there for breakfast one morning, and it was very good. We didn't love it as much as we thought we would, but I would certainly recommend it.

And Meg, re: polenta fries, we've only made them once, so I haven't been able to make any comparisons. We made the polenta the afternoon of the day we wanted to fry it, but I doubt it would make a difference, good or bad, to cook it further ahead than that. Give it a go!

11:53 AM, September 03, 2007  
Blogger The Skinny Gourmet said...

I too am just discovering your adorable blog. Congrats on a job well done, and on just getting married! My husband and I just celebrated our 2 year anniversary in late august, and I could definitely relate to your honeymoon post. The wedding used up every ounce of planning I had in my brain, so the honeymoon was in danger of short shrift. I thought your solution was lovely!

6:34 PM, September 03, 2007  
Anonymous erin said...

my family lives in cowichan valley and i spend a lot of time there. your honeymoon post made me want to explore it a lot more. i've known about that herd of water buffalo for months but keep NOT going to see them. i think have have to now. next weekend!

i'm so glad you had such a great stay here!

6:55 PM, September 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmm sounds delicious...if you noticed BC's license plates Beautiful British Columbia and there is lots of yummy food there but nothing beats La Belle Province (the beautiful province)when it comes to food...I've been to both and am from neither and Quebec is just out of this world when it come to food tourism...Being from modest Wildrose Country though I've come to realize there are specialites to be found everywhere. Congratulations!

2:13 PM, September 04, 2007  
Blogger Midsummer night's knitter said...

I was surprised about the vegetarian problem - while it is true that some places think that vegetarian means leaving the meat off, or serving frozen vegetable lasagne, it is possible to eat very well as a vegetarian in Scotland.

12:42 PM, September 06, 2007  
Anonymous Erin said...

I've been lurking here forever... time to out myself to give you and Brandon a hearty congratulations. It's one year and counting to my own wedding, so I paid extra special attention to these last few posts (especially can relate to the honeymoon conundrum). Thank you for the amazing photos, and for sharing your story!

8:47 PM, September 06, 2007  
Anonymous Susie West said...

I absolutely love your blog. As an Italian, a food and wine enthusiast, and a member of the recently married and honeymooner club (August), I loved this post! The honeymoon sounds absolutely beautiful and the food...delicious. It's true as you said, no one tells you that honeymoons are absolutely crucial.
Something you can laugh at...my husband and I went on a Disney Cruise which came highly recommended by several people we trust. We went into it hesitantly, but came out true believers. Disney created some sort of mesmerizing magic every day with their cuisine -- all of which was inclusive. One restaurant, Palo, was absolutely UNBELIEVABLE. I have done nothing but daydreamed of it ever since. The best stuffed mushrooms and chocolate souffle I have ever feasted upon. Anyway, thanks for the blogging, and I will be back!

1:36 PM, September 10, 2007  
Blogger Christine said...

Hi, Molly. I've read your blog for some time and have made several recipes. This is now a favorite. 'Made these last night for a party, doubling the recipe and frying in peanut oil in a counter-top deep fryer. My friends agreed that the sweet chili sauce I served with them really made the dish, although they are awesome plain with some kosher salt. I just used the stuff that comes in a big bottle from Asian food markets... a delicious discovery. Thanks, Christine from Minneapolis.

1:40 PM, September 23, 2007  
Blogger Thea said...

I love reading your blog, and I particularly love this post because my husband and I made the trek up to Vancouver Island for our honeymoon - we spent the whole week in Tofino and loved it, even though it was December and off-season and everything was closed.

What a beautiful place! The polenta fries look amazing - I can't wait to give them a try.

9:43 AM, October 19, 2007  
Blogger second floor dweller said...

I've been waiting for some time to read up on all the details of your wedding, and couldn't believe my eyes when I scanned through the pictures and recognized the shots from the Boathouse. My husband and I honeymooned there in late September 2000, and it was so tranquil and perfect after the madness of the festivities. We were lucky enough to stay several nights, and enjoyed glasses of wine on the dock in the evenings, watching the seals at play. We boated to Butchart Gardens one day, and boated to dinner at the same place I'm sure you visited. We ate outdoors, under the heaters, and I don't remember the food at all, but I do remember the setting...the whole visit was fantastic. Thanks for your recount of it.

11:01 AM, November 07, 2007  
Blogger Christine Collins said...

Hi Molly!
I like your blog, it's very interesting. I hope you don't mind if I use your quote from this article in my article about honeymoon destinations. I've added a link back to you there.
Thank you!

9:41 AM, May 23, 2008  
Blogger Lael said...

Molly, I've had this recipe filed in the back of my mind ever since I read it when first posted and finally tried it out (with a few spontaneous adaptations) a couple weeks ago. I linked back to you on my blog. They were delicious, so thank you!

10:55 PM, June 06, 2008  
Blogger Rosebud said...

As a part-time resident in Cowichan Bay I can attest to ALL the amazing facts! The jelly bean is to stop drips from the bottom of the cone bye the way...
So glad you enjoyed the Cowichan Valley. I did for 3 weeks this summer and leave a pc. of my heart there everytime I visit. Next time make a run into Duncan ( 8 min. from Cow Bay) and what appears to be small town with Walmart,gas stations etc actually has a downtown with some amazing specialty shops where you can spend an afternoon. Not to be mised are the local wineries and vinyards, our favs being Blue Grousse, Cherry Point ( oh the Ortega, a wonderful white)and Godfrey-Brownell( a red named "The Scarlatti Sisters" is memorable)....the list has over 10 within 10 minutes of anywhere! We made a birthday appointment at Venturie-Schultze and yes, their balsamic is stellar, almost as fine as one tasted in Reggio-Emilia last year! Their wines are first class and their sparkling varieties are amazing for summer dining!
As you can see I could go on and on. Better yet, come out and see for yourself. The Cowichan Valley has been dubbed "the new Provence" and I can see why...did I forget to mention the lavender farm, the saskatoon berry farm and the glass blowers?.....
Congrats on the big step into marriage. I made the step 31 years ago and it is amazing. You need to return for your first anniversary!

6:08 AM, September 05, 2008  
Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said...

Hi Molly! I just serendipitously met Mara tonight on the bus on the way to dinner at the Gourmet Institute, and she reminded me that you'd been to her farm on your honeymoon, so of course I had to come back and read this again. She is really great, and the place looks wonderful - I really hope to go sometime. We basically eloped on Whidbey Island, the few days we spent up there were wonderfully relaxed, much like your trip!

10:17 PM, October 18, 2008  
Anonymous Livia said...

Did the carrot ginger coconut milk soup have curry seasonings, too? It looks so tempting, I think I'll take a stab at making a version.

8:35 PM, November 17, 2008  
Anonymous wedding photographer in San Dego said...

Wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

1:05 PM, October 01, 2009  
Anonymous balunov24 said...

Thanks for share good post. I like your post. I follow your blog.

1:27 AM, November 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Molly and Brandon,

It's my last year at Fairburn Farm and I think you should come and see me! I can't believe all you have accomplished and I'd love to catch up and I am absolutely sure you need the break!Sorry for this very public message, it's the only way I know to get a hold of you. Contact me!

All my best,


12:05 AM, August 13, 2010  
Blogger Pat said...

About Polenta fries! When I was a kid we had "corn meal mush" for breakfast on cold mornings. My mom always cooked extra for chilling and frying the next day. We ate it with syrup (if available. During WW11 we never knew for sure what would be available..jelly, honey, syrup or a homemade syrup my mom made with brown sugar and water, or syrup made with the remnants in several jelly jars mixed with some water and boiled down). Pat

4:16 PM, August 25, 2010  

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