When contemplating moving from Toronto to Dawson 14 months ago, I thought a lot about what I’d be giving up. What I didn’t anticipate was all the “firsts” the move would bring.
First time experiencing 24-hour daylight. First time sleeping in a wall tent. First time walking across a frozen river as the thermometer dips to -46. First aurora borealis. First time firing a rifle. First time wishing I had a dog. First time working as a cashier. First time writing a column. First time having a domestic life.
I’d like to say that domestic life includes me cooking at home. But because Michael, the man who lured me away from the big city, did not – as I did – spend his 20s working in restaurants and then rely on a corporate credit card for meals in his 30s and early 40s, my efforts in our Dawson kitchen are restricted to making coffee and washing dishes.
Michael loves to cook, and I love to eat. I can cook only one dish – chicken pot pie – but I’ve eaten at some of the best restaurants in Toronto, Hong Kong, Paris, London, Milan, New York and Washington, DC. I’ll try anything once, and so far the only thing I really don’t like is toasted crickets (sorry Lulu).
Thanks to my years as a waiter, I know my pinot noir from my amarone, and a bit about everything in between. But am I a foodie? I’m not sure.
What I do know is that my favourite meal ever wasn’t Susur Lee’s seven-course tasting menu, or any other restaurant meal anywhere in the world (though many have been incredible). It was the home-made rabbit ravioli Michael made about a week after I moved to Dawson.
Michael would like me to say he snared the rabbit himself, but he actually bought it frozen at the deli on Hanson Street in Whitehorse. He slow-cooked it whole for six hours in half a bottle of Prosecco (we were still honeymooning) and stock made from local morel mushrooms, onions and green herbs.
That day, for the first time, I was kind of reeling from the enormity of the move I’d just made. After living my entire adult life in Toronto, what was I thinking, moving to a small town where I had no career, no friends, no big-city distractions?
I was comforted by the smell of the rabbit cooking, and later, sitting at the scarred wooden table I’d brought from Toronto- my family’s kitchen table when I was five – talking with Michael about some of our adventures when we’d dated in Toronto 20 years ago (a lifetime ago). He deboned the rabbit while we talked and mixed the meat with morels and asparagus and some “secret ingredients”.
I felt at home in a way I never quite did in my solitary apartment in Toronto.
We talked about our future in Dawson while I watched him mix flour, eggs, water and olive oil, roll it out and use a juice glass to cut ravioli on the kitchen counter.
It’s not that complicated, but I had never thought about the possibility of pasta being made from scratch at home. I had also never talked about my future with a man before.
By the time Michael served the perfect little bunny raviolis, topped with a thyme parsley brown butter sauce (as rich and delicious as it sounds), I knew that moving to Dawson was the right decision, even before I’d had a chance to fall in love with the town and the river and the mountains and the quiet routine of sharing a life.