We take food seriously up in the north. So it may sound funny, but by the time you sit down to your first lodge meal, a lot of planning has already gone into making sure the moment feels cozy and welcoming. It begins when you first connect with staff—and they make note of your dietary needs and preferences. Then comes the pre-departure welcome dinner in Winnipeg, where you’ll meet your travel companions and start to share the excitement of the trip to come.
Once at the lodge, you may catch the nostalgic aroma of Red River Cereal bread baking in the oven or maybe the scent of a slow simmering Curried Butternut Squash soup. If we’ve planned it right, not long after you arrive, you’ll start to relax and feel like you’re at home—albeit one with polar bears.
And this is even before you taste the food.
Served family-style, our hearty meals start with a casual atmosphere. Before dinner cocktails give you the chance to mingle with staff and guests; sharing photos and talking about the day. Once the food is ready, you can keep your conversation going as you choose your table and settle in for the meal.
What you won’t find as you share meals inspired by the tundra landscape are delicate little dishes that don’t stand up to the weather. Sue Brown, part of the sales and marketing team who went on a trip, discovered this is the sort of nourishing fare you’ll want to slip into a pair of slippers and pull out your stretchy pants for.
Serving comforting soups and stews, freshly baked rolls, tasty salads, and show stoppers like Almond-Crusted Trout with Leek and Lemon Cream, or Cranberry-glazed Roast Turkey, the meals are nurturing and delicious. Very much the kind of thing you’ll be saying, “please give me the recipe” for (happily these are easy to find with Helen Webber and Marie Woolsey’s Blueberries and Polar Bear Cookbooks).
Capping off the meal is always dessert. One of the favourites is Wild Arctic Cranberry Cake with Warm Butter Sauce, a dessert that’s rich, tart and sweet, and oh, so memorable.
Spending the day out on the tundra is hungry work and the cooks work hard to make sure every meal is wholesome and warming, as well as ethically and sustainably produced. Sourcing supplies from Prairie Wild, a sustainable orchard and produce farm located in southern Manitoba; lodge gardens, where we grow herbs, tomatoes and rhubarb; and the tundra itself, staff love harvesting wild blueberries, cloudberries, and cranberries the ingredients are fresh and nourishing.
Using tundra-tested recipes, almost every dish comes with a story. Morning may start with Sour Cream Pancakes with a topping of just-collected wild blueberries. Lunch might include a hamburger soup that’s popular with kids and adults alike.
Many of the dishes are flavoured with Dymond Lake Seasoning, a spice mix you may find yourself becoming addicted to. This seemingly simple combination of spices including pepper, paprika, basil, parsley, thyme, coriander, and nutmeg is so popular that many guests buy a few jars for themselves, and to give as gifts.
By the time the end of your trip rolls around—the people you met at your welcome dinner will feel like old friends: You’ll have seen extraordinary things together, encouraged each other to “make just a little more room” for dessert, and shared far more than just meals.
For Sue’s group, the friendships had become so strong that on the final night everyone wanted to sit together. So the tables were pushed into one long line and the special meal was shared as a big, boisterous family dinner. It felt like I’d made forever friends,” she says.