When Fefe Noir and caribougrrl go foraging for prehistoric water, it's just the tip of the iceberg...
|It's a brilliant year for icebergs in our neck of the woods. The more icebergs that drift down from Greenland, the more likely we are to find bits and pieces washed up on shore.|
Along some parts of Newfoundland's coast, collecting iceberg pieces to use for cold drinks or to melt for fresh water is an annual ritual. Down here in the southeast corner of the island, availability is a bit more hit and miss. It's a good year for icebergs, so we've been scouring the coast for washed up ice and undertaking the terrible job of testing cocktail recipes worthy of ancient ice cubes.
Starting with the obvious ingredient of locally brewed Iceberg Beer (if you can't find this, substitute with a mexican lager), we bring you two cocktails perfect for drinking on the porch after mowing the lawn.
|This beer-garita (left) and michelada (right) are made made with beer brewed with iceberg water and chilled with a few hunks of iceberg in the glass.|
Iceberg Beer Michelada
|Use an ice pick or a chisel to crack up the iceberg bits.|
juice of 1/2 lime
juice from 1/2 small sweet orange (like a satsuma or clementine)
2 tsp jalapeno syrup
most of a bottle of iceberg beer
Salt the rim of a tall glass. Fill glass with ice. Add the other ingredients in the order they are listed, give it a quick stir and garnish with citrus wedges and sliced jalapeno.
|Both cocktails are salty and spicy. The tequila gives the|
beer-garita (left) a bigger kick. The orange juice sweetens
the michelada (right) just enough to temper the salt.
small hunks of ice chipped from an iceberg
juice of 1 lime
3 tsp jalapeno syrup
3/4 oz. silver tequila
Salt the rim of a tall glass and fill with ice. Add lime juice, tequila and syrup. Give it a gentle stir then top up with beer. Garnish with slices of fresh jalapeno and a wedge of lime.
(Ground-based) Iceberg Foraging and Handling
|The icebergs we see along the Avalon peninsula in the|
southeast of Newfoundland have traveled about 3000 km
on their trip from western Greenland.
|As the icebergs melt and crack and fall apart, small pieces|
sometimes drift close enough to shore to capture.
The first day we went out looking for beached iceberg was the hottest day we've had yet this year. The sun was shining, it was warm enough to wear short pants, and it was the Saturday of a long holiday weekend. The holiday weekend when people head out to their cabins and summer homes for the first time in the year. The holiday weekend at the beginning of tourist season. There were people everywhere. Every tiny, barely used side road, every dirt track down to a beach, every lookout. But not one hunk of ice washed up... at least not one that has survived the eye of other iceberg foragers.
So here's another tip: go out on a cold, foggy day. Less competition.
|To increase your chances of being the person in the right place at the right time, go iceberg foraging on cold, foggy days when the competition is low.|
|All those tiny bubbles in the ice are what make icebergs|
appear white in colour. They also contain air from tens
of thousands of years ago when the ice formed.
(Your mother-in-law's job during iceberg foraging trips is, apparently, to provide helpful advice from the back seat of the car. She will be worried about your wet shirt. Pay her no mind, it's not actually possible to catch the flu from an iceberg. Also, unless you only took fist-sized pieces, she is wrong about it melting before you get home.)
|If you wade out at all to retrieve ice, bear in mind that the water is still really cold this time of year. Unless you're geared up with insulated waders, don't stand in it for too long. Even prehistoric ice in your drink is not worth hypothermia.|
Once you get it home, let the ice sit out for several hours to shed the salty seawater and any other surface contaminants. If necessary, use a hammer and chisel to break it into hunks which will easily fit in your freezer. Wrap well and freeze until needed. Use the chisel again (or an actual ice pick) to break into drink-sized hunks.
If you want iceberg water, chisel into pieces small enough to maneuver into food-safe containers and leave it out to melt. Bearing in mind that we've stopped heating the house because it's May (never mind that it's only a few degrees above freezing out, I'm in winter-denial): a large saucepan filled with iceberg pieces took nearly 3 days to melt completely, but there was enough for a pot of coffee by the time a day was gone.
~~~Why bother with icebergs?
There's something incredibly compelling about knowing you are holding the air and water that existed tens of thousands of years ago. If you buy the local propaganda around iceberg products, this is water in it's purest form. The scientist in me would argue that distilled water should be more pure, but there's no romance in distillation. To be fair, this ice was formed before humans started burning petrochemicals and tossing plastic into the ocean, so the air and water is untainted by the industrial age. I'm willing to forgive a bit of volcanic ash and some woolly mammoth farts captured in the Greenland glacial sheet, and think of it as the cleanest water available. Plus, it's really really old, and that's just super cool. (Heh. Get it? Super cool...)
|Get some really good coffee beans and use iceberg water|
to brew up what might be the best cup of coffee you'll ever
Definitely use the ice in cocktails. For one thing, it's a great conversation starter at a party. For another, it's an excellent way to show off in front of your friends. But also melt some water out and make coffee with it. Trust me, it makes a seriously good cup of coffee. Do NOT, however, waste iceberg water on Folgers or Maxwell House. Go out and buy some really good coffee, in the form of fresh-roasted beans and grind it yourself. Serendipitiously, we recently won some great coffee from Got My Beans through a The Food Gays giveway... definitely iceberg-water-worthy.
|Choose ice that is small enough to handle, but big enough to be worth the effort of the expedition. After that, the choice is arbitrary. This one reminded me of Tiktaalik emerging from primordial soup. I left it because, well, it's creepy.|
And it is, this year. Maggoty with 'em. The icebergs. We're having a crummy, cold spring (minus that one Saturday), but it's a spectacular year for bergs. Drop everything else and take advantage of it.
|The best time to visit Newfoundland if you are hoping to see icebergs is during May and into early June.|