May 10, 2014

Classic Cinnamon Buns

On my way to Port Hardy the northernmost terminus of Vancouver Island, I would often pass by Roberts Lake Resort.  Located alongside a woody section of Highway 19, between the Sayward Village turnoff and the small city of Campbell River, what you will really see when driving is the resort’s restaurant.    The lake is further down the slope partially obscured by trees.

More like a campground than “resort” the place has that wonderful aura and architecture reminiscent of the 1950s.  One time I decided to stop and with permission looked in at the empty cabins.  I found out the oldest was built in 1945 (cabin #5).  With their own kitchen, the cabins can accommodate 2 – 5 people (ranging from $90 to $120 per night per cabin).   Not bad eh? 

There is also an area for pitching tents nearer the lake but there are no shower facilities.  If you need to, I was told laughingly, “jump in the (freezing) lake” No cell phone service and no Wi-Fi.  Named after a surveyor, and surrounded by spruce, hemlock, pine and alder trees, Roberts Lake is one of those sceneries where you will not be rushing to grab your camera.  It is not as handsome as the others.

When I walked inside the empty café that sunny summer late afternoon, I was not impressed.  Although the only other person, a young lady, was very helpful, and in a friendly way said the place was closing soon for the day.  There were some to go items: ordinary looking cookies, and on a table against a wall: a couple of chunky glazed blocks whose four walls were wrapped with peaking aluminum foil.  

 “What are they?”
“Cinnamon Buns”

Bought one to try, and the following morning, in a riverfront campground in Zeballos, I unwrapped my brekkie.  A bite, a chew, and a wolf, “This is good.”

Lorna Duncan and me (after a heavy heavy meal) showing her classic Cinnamon Buns (with a couple Lorna touches)
On my way back, I knew I had to have two to go for my return trip to the city of Vancouver across the water, but I was told the buns were all gone early that day. 

Two weeks later I was back after driving two hours from the 11 am ferry arrival in Nanaimo, and bingo, they still had a few.

Those cinnamon buns are huge.  Imagine the size of a loaf of bread you buy at the supermarket.   Cut in half, each cinnamon cube or bun sells at $4.25 (or $4.45 tax included).  I have eaten cinnamon buns in many venues in North America, and most recent in the Vancouver metropolis, many claiming to be the best.  Often it is the cream cheese icing which stimulates further craving for these treats.  But at Roberts Lake café – none of the white stuff.  Just pure glaze.  When you tear out a piece, revealing the inner core filled with syrupy golden brown sweetness, cinnamon and raisins, you know you have a classic. 

The lady behind this superb creation is the affable down-to-earth gracious proprietor and cook/baker Lorna Duncan.    Lorna’s great and good character was manifested when she did not withheld any secrets and revealed why inspite of having no icing or any nuts, her cinnamon bun has locals calling in the morning requesting a hold.  The 3 ladies kitchen (only two or one at any given time) will only bake so much at the start of the day as they have other things to prep for the dining menu. 

The two ingredients Lorna mentioned?  Write to my e-mail and I will send you the info.  (I hope you understand, this is just one way I track my readership). 

In case you missed the buns, don’t despair – Roberts Lake menu, though not that long, presents classic and bountiful meals that are cooked just like a loving grandma would.  Lorna’s staff, always smiling mom and daughter Rose and Joan Martel, would do their best to cater to your whims. 

“How do you want your eggs?”

“Basted”  (truly Canadiana)

“Soft basted, medium basted, hard basted?”

Most breakfast items come with thick slices of their own hand-kneaded kitchen baked bread which you will sometimes see from the outside - a row of loaves cooling.   With the bread, a dessert cup of their own kitchen-made jam – a sweet tart tangy delicious concoction of blackberry, strawberry, rhubarb “or whatever is in season, a bumbleberry,” Lorna said.

Good Food, Good Folks                     Wrong!

Good Folks, Good Food                     Right!

The food may be yummy but if served without a genuine heart, it is just an exclamation.  With sincere folks, it becomes a wonderful memory yearning to be relived again and again.

Thanks Lorna, Rose and Joan.  I’ll be back!


If you would like to know more see 

For the cinnamon buns, it might be good to call ahead for a possible hold, Tel: (250) 287-9421 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 

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