Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Season: Rhubarb

No doubt most of the northern hemisphere is in rhubarb season. We are too. It is one of the things we can actually grow pretty well out here. I have a rhubarb bed, which is competing for nutrients with several cedars, but I've been harvesting it for a few weeks now. I'm on the lookout for how local chefs are using rhubarb and I'll post the results here after I've scoped them. I'm a fan of simple stewed rhubarb, lightly sweetened on its own or perhaps with yoghurt or ice cream, but some compote recipes have caught my attention.

First I tried this recipe for Orange Rhubarb Compote from The Tasting Menu. It was delicious and just a little goes a long way to flavour what you add it too. The addition of orange liquor makes it a tad pricey for this writer's budget, so I may try it with orange juice concentrate.

Then this recipe for Yvette's rhubarb compote from Pia Jane Bijkerk's blog caught my eye. I didn't have any clementines so used regular navel oranges. Vanilla pods are a challenge to find in Tofino, but I managed to track them down. (See below.) Yvette's recipe looked tasty (anything with cardamom and vanilla will catch my attention) and it is delicious but oh, oh, oh — my teeth are aching just thinking about it — there's too much sugar. If you give it a go with your rhubarb haul, I'd suggest going easy on the sugar. Adjust as you go.

Looking for vanilla beans and other exotic ingredients?

If you are visiting Tofino and need something which, for a small town might seem out of the ordinary, go to Beaches grocery first. The owner clearly loves to cook and seems to intuit just what the travelling chef might be looking for. Beaches looks a little rough around the edges in this photo, but it's a useful shop to know about, particularly if you're staying at the Chesterman Beach end of town.


  1. Beaches is one of my favourite shops in Tofino! It is surrounded by a number of other shops - most particularly the ice cream/gelato/chocolate place!

  2. Oh yes, Chocolate Tofino. I'll have to post about them soon -- perhaps on our first really hot gelato-worthy day! There's quite a complex of shops and restaurants in that little "Beaches Pod" down by Chesterman Beach -- the chocolate shop, a hair stylists, Tofitian Cafe, Wildside Grill, etc., but take care driving in an out. It gets bonkers in the summer!