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 is 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 22 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).

Mak N Ming, a French in­flu­enced Ja­panese restau­rant in Van­cou­ver, was named in the top ten Canada’s Best New Restau­rants 2017 by Air Canada’s en­Route mag­a­zine (www.makn­ming.com).

Off the Eaten Track of­fers fun foodie tours such as the Gourmet Ice Cream & Pizza Tour of Van­cou­ver and the Craft Beer and Culi­nary Tour of Vic­to­ria (www.off theeat­en­track­tours.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 one-of-a-kind restau­rants (www.ex­change district.org/tours/food-tours). West End BIZ cov­ers the eater­ies in the west of the city (www.wes­t­end­biz.ca/vis­it­ing-the-west-end/ restau­rant-guide). Eat­ing and drink­ing tours of the down­town area fea­ture pa­tio crawls, move­able feasts and even break­fast sam­plings (www.down­town­win­nipeg­biz. com/tours).

Saskatchewan has more than 40 per­cent of Canada’s farm­land and Saska­toon’s culi­nary scene takes full ad­van­tage of it. Chef Dale Mackay at Ay­den Kitchen and

Bar, The Food Net­work’s Top Chef Canada sea­son one win­ner, shows off the bounty of the land (www.ay­denkitchenand­bar.com). The Night Oven Bak­ery which uses lo­cal, or­ganic and heir­loom grains such as red fife, mills the flour in-house and bakes in a wood-fired brick oven, puts out the best breads and pas­tries imag­in­able (www. thenightoven.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 three restau­rants in the city of Cal­gary and din­ing at the lodges in Banff, Lake Louise and Emer­ald Lake (www.crmr.com/moun­taincity-restau­rants-rock­ies). Chuck’s Steak House in Banff of­fers a full-on taste of Al­berta raised beef with a plat­ter con­tain­ing 3 oz. each of wagyu, prime and grass fed dry-aged steaks (www.chuckssteak­house.ca).

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 Pump­kin Trail (www. vis­it­strat­ford.ca).

On Prince Ed­ward County’s Taste Trail, 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.art­staste­trail.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 Maple­ton, 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.cor­don­bleu. edu/ottawa). C’est Bon’s gourmet walk­ing tours are an ideal in­tro­duc­tion to the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion’s vi­brant food scene (www.ces­t­bon­cook­ing.ca/gourmet­food-tours).

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

QUÉBEC

A GOLD­MINE OF FRENCHCANADIAN 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 13,000 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 24 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 dozens of “Flavour Creators,” 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’s 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 (www.lapou­tine­week.com).

In the Laurentians, the Chemin du Ter­roir is a sign­posted trail that takes trav­ellers through more than 226 km (140 mi.) 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 Seafood Trails bring to­gether the Chow­der Trail, Lob­ster Trail, Oys­ter Trail, and Fish & Chips Trail to of­fer a col­lec­tion of restau­rant, retail and fish­ery experiences that high­light the prov­ince’s in­cred­i­ble seafood prod­ucts (www.no­vas­co­ti­a­c­uli­nary trails.com/trails/seafood).

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.in­nat bay­for­tune.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 made in-house: 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.

LAKE LOUISE, BANFF NA­TIONAL PARK • BANFF LAKE LOUISE TOURISM

PRAIRIE GAR­DENS AD­VEN­TURE FARM • GOV'T OF AB/CUR­TIS COMEAU

THE ABBEY CAFÉ & GALLERY, FREDERICTON, NB • TOURISM FREDERICTON

MON­TRÉAL FOOD TRUCK • SHUT­TER­STOCK/JANE RIX

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