FOOD: A TASTE OF CANADA

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY MAR­GARET SWAINE

Culi­nary tourism is a force of na­ture in Canada. From walk­ing food tours of cities to tasty ru­ral trails, there’s a cor­nu­copia of good eats on the road. Cre­ative young chefs rein­ter­pret Canada’s re­gional dishes, show­case eth­nic in­flu­ences and play with ex­otic spic­ing.

Heirloom pro­duce from lo­cal farms, indige­nous wild foods for­aged from the forests, or­ganic meats and fresh seafood fished from the oceans and lakes are among their cher­ished in­gre­di­ents. Sus­tain­able, ar­ti­sanal and lo­ca­vore are their buzz words.

BRI­TISH CO­LUM­BIA BOUNTY FROM THE OCEAN, FORESTS & LAND

Spe­cial­ties on the menu in Bri­tish Co­lum­bia in­clude wild salmon, golden honey mus­sels, spot prawns, geo­duck, BC bi­son, Fraser Val­ley duck and Salt Spring Is­land lamb.

There is a wide range of guided culi­nary tours—some­times led by chefs—in south­ern B.C., par­tic­u­larly near the Okana­gan Val­ley, Cowichan Val­ley and Fraser Val­ley. City tast­ing tours in Vic­to­ria, Van­cou­ver and Whistler visit restau­rants and culi­nary neigh­bour­hoods (www.hel­lobc.com).

Cor­nu­copia Whistler, cel­e­brat­ing 21 years in Novem­ber, is an an­nual 11-day in­dul­gence of lo­cal food and drink, that pairs home­grown chefs with top B.C. pro­duc­ers, brew­eries, dis­til­leries, and winer­ies (www. whistler­cor­nu­copia.com).

Kissa Tanto, a jewel of a place that fuses Ja­panese with Ital­ian in Van­cou­ver’s Chi­na­town, was named Canada’s Best New Res­tau­rant in 2016 by Air Canada’s en Route mag­a­zine (www.kissa­tanto.com).

Off the Eaten Track of­fers fun foodie tours such as the Gourmet Ice Cream Tour of Van­cou­ver and the Craft Beer and Culi­nary Tour of Vic­to­ria (www.offtheeat­en­track­tours.ca/van­cou­ver). On the Wild For­ag­ing – BC Rain­for­est Lunch & Walk, of­fered by Swal­low Tail Culi­nary Tours, par­tic­i­pants dis­cover na­tive B.C. in­gre­di­ents in the for­est: fid­dle­heads, licorice fern, big leaf maple flow­ers, net­tles, oys­ter mush­rooms and wild chamomile, to name a few (www. swal­low­tail.ca). Ed­i­ble Canada on Granville Is­land of­fers a res­tau­rant, ar­ti­san re­tail shop and an ap­pe­tiz­ing se­lec­tion of culi­nary tours, events and ad­ven­tures in Van­cou­ver (www.ed­i­ble­canada.com).

THE PRAIRIES GRASS­LAND GRAINS AND RANCHLAND MEATS

Man­i­toba’s Park­land re­gion has a self-guided Flavour Trail with about 14 trail stops along the way, in­clud­ing Elkhorn Re­sort where lo­cal spe­cial­ties such as North­ern Man­i­toba pick­erel, wild rice and saska­toon berries are on the menu (www.flavour­trail.ca).

In sea­son, Win­nipeg’s Ex­change District BIZ of­fers tours to some of their de­lec­ta­ble oneof-a-kind restau­rants (www.ex­changedis­trict.org/tours/food-tours). West End BIZ cov­ers the eater­ies in the west of the city (www. wes­t­end­biz.ca/vis­it­ing-the-west-end/tours/ food-tours-4). Eat­ing and drink­ing tours of the down­town area fea­ture pa­tio crawls, move­able feasts and even break­fast sam­plings (www.down­town­win­nipeg­biz.com/tours).

The rolling grass­land plains of Saskatchewan are best known for grow­ing grains. The most ex­otic is wild rice, an aquatic grass grown in shal­low wa­ters. Saska­toon berries are baked into all kinds of desserts at places such as The Berry Barn, near the shores of the South Saskatchewan River (www.berry­barn.ca).

In Al­berta, as Canada’s ranch heart­land, elk, bi­son, wild boar, caribou and beef— which many re­fer to as Cana­dian Rocky Moun­tain Cui­sine—are plen­ti­ful. Cana­dian Rocky Moun­tain Re­sorts has their own 500 acre game ranch to pro­vide for their four restau­rants in the city of Cal­gary and din­ing at the lodges in Banff, Lake Louise and Emer­ald Lake (www.crmr.com/moun­tain-cityrestau­rants-rock­ies). In Cal­gary, at The Guild, Chef Ryan O’Flynn, who spent time learn­ing cook­ing tech­niques from the Dene, of­fers Indige­nous-in­spired Ja­cob’s Lad­der Bi­son served Saska­toon style with wild rice and prairie corn (www.theguil­drestau­rant.com).

ON­TARIO

COUNT­LESS TASTE TRAILS AND FOOD FES­TI­VALS

Home to the On­tario Pork Coun­cil, Strat­ford, fa­mous for the Strat­ford Fes­ti­val, boasts a Ba­con & Ale Trail along with a Choco­late Trail and sea­sonal trails such as the Savour Strat­ford Maple Trail.

On Prince Ed­ward County’s Taste Trail, vis­i­tors can pop into a cidery, brew­ery, or ice cream shop for a cold treat or sam­ple fine pinots and chardon­nays at winer­ies in this pic­turesque area on the north shore of Lake On­tario (www.taste­trail.ca). Check out the cool cock­tail and food scene at the Drake Devon­shire (www.drakede­von­shire.ca), en­joy fresh laid eggs for break­fast at one of the bu­colic B&Bs such as Wil­frid Bou­tique Farm­house (www.thewil­frid.com ) or sign up for a cook­ing class to learn the tools of the trade at The War­ing House (www.war­ing­house.com).

But­ter tarts were a sta­ple of pioneer cook­ing in both Up­per and Lower Canada (now On­tario and Québec). The town­ships of Minto, South­gate and Welling­ton North’s self-guided But­ter Tarts and Bug­gies Trail com­bines these sweetly de­li­cious pas­tries with in­sights into the Men­non­ite cul­ture (www.but­ter­tart­sand­bug­gies.com).

Ot­tawa is home to the only Cana­dian cam­pus of the renowned Le Cor­don Bleu French cook­ing school (www.lcbot­tawa.com). C’est Bon’s gourmet walk­ing tours are an ideal in­tro­duc­tion to the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion’s vi­brant food scene (www.ces­t­bon­cook­ing.ca/gourmet-food-tours).

On­tario has some 450 an­nual culi­nary­themed fes­ti­vals and events listed in their on-line cal­en­dar (www.on­tar­i­o­culi­nary.com).

QUÉBEC A GOLD­MINE OF FRENCH-CANA­DIAN SPE­CIAL­TIES

New France’s first in­hab­i­tants ate hearty meals to cope with the rigours of ev­ery­day life and the cold win­ter cli­mate—evolv­ing a dis­tinct home-cook­ing style over the cen­turies, that be­came Québec clas­sics, such as: tour­tière, meat and pork pie; cipaille, a lay­ered wild meat pie; fèves au lard, baked beans; cre­tons, a fatty pork spread; tarte au su­cre, sugar pie; and soupe aux gour­ganes, broad bean soup (www.que­beco­rig­i­nal.com/en-ca/food#lo­cal-spe­cial­ties).

Maple syrup plays a big role in tra­di­tional food with more than 10,000 pro­duc­ers in the prov­ince. In spring, Québé­cois gather at some 400 ca­banes à su­cre (sugar shacks) to en­joy baked beans, or­eilles des crisse (crispy pork rinds), and pan­cakes

all drenched in maple syrup (www.que­beco­rig­i­nal.com/en).

A dish that has gained North Amer­i­can recog­ni­tion is pou­tine—french fries topped with cheese curds, then slathered in gravy. On the Route to Gourmet De­lights in cen­tral Québec (www.touris­me­cen­tre­duque­bec.com), Fro­magerie Le­maire of­fers pou­tine in its coun­try-style res­tau­rant and still warm curd cheese to eat while watch­ing the cheese­mak­ers at work through a panoramic win­dow.

From Petite-Rivière-Saint-François to La Mal­baie, epi­cure­ans treat them­selves to a gas­tro­nomic ad­ven­ture on the Charlevoix Flavour Trail which fea­tures some 23 spe­cialty pro­duc­ers and 15 restau­rants (www.tourisme-charlevoix.com/en/whatto-do/routes-and-cir­cuits/flavour-trail).

The East­ern Town­ships, renowned for its gourmet cui­sine, has over 100 “Cre­ators of Flavours,” as well as a num­ber of Cre­ative Chef Restau­rants and Vil­lage Cafés—brands cre­ated by Tourism East­ern Town­ships to rec­og­nize spe­cial prod­ucts, agri­tourism, cafés and restau­rants in the re­gion (www.east­ern­town­ships.org/res­tau­rant).

Mon­tréal counts more than 400 chefs in­clud­ing many top names. But it is also fa­mous for bagels (St-Vi­a­teur and Fair­mount) and smoked meat (Schwartz’ and Main Deli). The city is host to around 40 an­nual Food Fes­ti­vals and events, from the most fa­mous Mon­tréal High­lights Fes­ti­val to La Pou­tine Week (mon­treal. lapou­tine­week.com).

In the Lau­ren­tians, the Chemin du Ter­roir is a sign­posted trail that takes trav­ellers through more than 226 km of coun­try back­roads and by­ways, with de­li­cious food and drink dis­cov­er­ies at ev­ery turn (www.lau­ren­tides.com/en/chemin-du-ter­roir).

THE MAR­ITIMES

THE GLORY OF SEAFOOD

The culi­nary scene has ex­ploded in Nova Sco­tia. The Chow­der Trail merged into The Seafood Trail, bring­ing to­gether a col­lec­tion of res­tau­rant, re­tail and fish­ery ex­pe­ri­ences that high­light the prov­ince’s in­cred­i­ble seafood prod­ucts (www.no­vas­co­ti­a­c­uli­nary­trails.com/seafood-trail/overview). The High­way­man in Hal­i­fax, named one of Canada’s Best New Restau­rants in 2016 by EN­ROUTE mag­a­zine, is a resto­bar that cel­e­brates the provinces sea­side ties (www.high­way­man­hfx.com).

In New Brunswick, trav­ellers can build their own trail to farm­ers’ mar­kets, restau­rants and sites via the web­site (www. tourism­new­brunswick.ca ). There are tasty snacks hard to find any­where else, like dulse—a salty sea treat—and hearty Aca­dian dishes. Vis­i­tors to Aca­dian Stur­geon and Caviar will meet owner Dr. Cor­nel Ceapa (a PhD in stur­geon bi­ol­ogy) who raises stur­geon to sell around the world.

The PEI Flavours Culi­nary Trail guides peo­ple to the Is­land’s dis­tinct re­gions, each with its own culi­nary tra­di­tions, as well as to restau­rants, farm­ers, fish­ers and lo­cal mar­kets (www.pei­flavours.ca). In For­tune Bay, long-time Is­lan­der and Food Net­work Chef Michael Smith has trans­formed the res­tau­rant at The Inn at Bay For­tune into FIRE­WORKS, where a 25-foot brick-lined, wood-burn­ing fire­place in the cen­tre of the res­tau­rant is the an­chor for the “Fire Kitchen” —ev­ery dish is cooked over fire (www. in­nat­bay­for­tune.com). The In­ter­na­tional Shell­fish Fes­ti­val in­cludes shuck­ing com­pe­ti­tions us­ing lo­cal Malpeque, one of the world’s finest oys­ters; about ten mil­lion are har­vested ev­ery year (www.peishell­fish.com).

New­found­land is known for its seafood and tra­di­tional dishes such as salt fish and brewis (made with hard tack or dry bread) and Jiggs din­ner (boiled salted beef and veg­eta­bles). At re­mote and gor­geous Fogo Is­land Inn, ev­ery­thing com­ing out of the Inn’s kitchen is house made: caribou sausages, pick­led quail eggs, grainy mus­tards and berry-jew­elled break­fast scones (www.fo­go­is­landinn.ca).

THE NORTH

WILD HAR­VESTS UN­DER THE MID­NIGHT SUN

In the Yukon, Michele Gen­est and Bev­er­ley Gray are au­thors of the books The Bo­real Gourmet and The Bo­real Her­bal, re­spec­tively. They ex­plain what you can har­vest in the Land of the Mid­night Sun. At Gray’s Aroma Bo­re­alis Herb Shop in White­horse, vis­i­tors can ar­range to join her on a for­ag­ing out­ing (www.aroma­bo­re­alis.com). Michele Gen­est of­fers work­shops and events, along with her lat­est cook book, The Bo­real Feast (www. bo­re­al­go­urmet.com). In the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries “Shop­ping in the Bo­real For­est” is an in­ter­pre­tive walk with bi­ol­o­gist Rosanna Strong (www.ex­pe­ri­enceyel­low knife.com/pack­aged-tours/#tour-73).

What­ever their fancy, wher­ever trav­ellers go in Canada, they are sure to find their taste nir­vana.

NEW GLAS­GOW LOB­STER BOIL • TOURISM PEI/YVONNE DUIVENVOORDEN

LE COR­DON BLEU CULI­NARY ARTS IN­STI­TUTE, OT­TAWA, ON

CAPE D’OR LIGHT­HOUSE • NS TOURISM/SCOTT MUNN

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