In Uncategorized | By Fogo Island Inn | June 20, 2017

Frozen Assets

Sample the purest ice on Earth in 10,000-year-old hand-cut hunks
By Valerie Howes

Something astonishing you’ll find in drinks on Fogo Island is 10,000-year-old ice. People often keep a chunk of iceberg in their freezer to chip off for their gin and tonic or to fill the cooler for hunting and fishing trips.

“I get iceberg ice for my drinks, because I like how it goes crackety-crack in your glass,” says Phil Foley, an islander whose shed in Tilting is a popular spot to raise a glass and sing an old Irish lament, with friends and neighbours, on a Saturday night.

Traditionally Fogo Islanders go out in spring to the rocks on the edge of the Atlantic—or further out to sea in a speedboat—to haul in 50-60-lb boulders. These sheep-sized pieces of iceberg that break away and float to shore are just the right size to harvest in a dip net, the type of gear intended for pulling fish out of a cod trap.

The ice is formed from the purest possible fresh water, frozen in an era long before industrial pollution. Its whistling, hissing and crackling come from the carbon dioxide bubbles escaping as the ice melts.

“When I bring a boulder in, I spray it with fresh water and then leave it in the sun for a few hours, to let the surface layer and any salt water melt off,” says Phil. “After that I stick a darning needle into the ice to break it into little pieces—when you put the needle in, it just falls apart.

2017 has been a record year for icebergs in eastern Newfoundland, surpassing the number of sightings for all of 2016 by the end of April. Scotch on the ten-millenia-old rocks, Anyone?