Cana­dian eater­ies spring­ing up ev­ery­where

The Prince George Citizen - - Lifestyles -

Grow­ing up, Paryse Lam­bert spent sum­mers with her mother’s fam­ily in Que­bec in­dulging in French-Cana­dian sta­ples in­clud­ing croque mon­sieur, steak hache, and of course, pou­tine.

After set­tling down in Jack­sonville, Fla., the dual U.S.-Cana­dian cit­i­zen longed for that mouth-wa­ter­ing med­ley of crispy french fries and slinky cheese curds smoth­ered in gravy. What she found were grotesque mu­ta­tions of the dish with shred­ded moz­zarella broiled over what seemed like a spud­based baked ziti.

These Amer­i­can abom­i­na­tions were noth­ing short of “shame­ful,” said Lam­bert. So, she de­cided to rec­tify this culi­nary crime by launch­ing the Stuffed Beaver, one of many estab­lish­ments around the world devoted to an un­ex­pected theme: Canada.

From Japan to Brazil, Canuck­cen­tric bars and restau­rants were busy on Canada Day with fes­tiv­i­ties fea­tur­ing Trag­i­cally Hip cover bands, maple-in­fused menus and a steady flow of cae­sars.

Be­decked in kitsch Cana­di­ana rang­ing from lo­cal li­cence plates to sports jerseys, these redand-white restos are ex­port­ing Cana­dian cul­ture and cui­sine to a global au­di­ence, while serv­ing as a hub for ex­pats to be re­minded of the com­forts of home, pro­pri­etors say.

“(Cana­di­ans) are grow­ing like cock­roaches here, even in north­ern Florida,” said Lam­bert. “We’re an un­der­served mar­ket.”

A stone’s throw away from the In­ter­state 95, which serves as a migration route for snow­birds and other sun-seek­ers, the Stuffed Beaver reg­u­larly caters to Cana­di­ans mak­ing their way across the bor­der, said Lam­bert.

Be­hind the counter hangs a map dot­ted with the home­towns of vis­i­tors from Yukon to Prince Ed­ward Is­land who have savoured her “grandma’s kitchen food” while trav­el­ling through the U.S. South, she said.

“When they hear that there are other Cana­di­ans, they get really ex­cited,” she said. “They say, ‘it feels like be­ing home,’ so I know I’m do­ing something right.”

Hearty fare like crepes, pou­tine and lob­ster rolls also isn’t a tough sell for Amer­i­cans, Lam­bert added.

On Canada Day, the coun­ter­ser­vice joint hosted a spe­cial event for 20 guests to dine on a sev­en­course feast fea­tur­ing vol-au-vent, sal­mon tartare, boeuf bouilli and poor man’s pud­ding by the light of a can­de­labra.

It may lack the star-span­gled flash of the Fourth of July, Lam­bert con­cedes, but she can’t think of a bet­ter way to cel­e­brate Canada’s na­tional pride than with a full stom­ach.

Half­way around the world in Queensland, Aus­tralia, Alana and Mike Van­den­brink toasted pints of Mol­son not only to Canada Day, but the third-an­niver­sary of open­ing Mol­ly­dook­ers Cafe and Bar in the small coun­try town of Ap­ple Tree Creek.

The Aussie-Canuck cou­ple goes all out for the dual cel­e­bra­tion, bol­ster­ing their sprawl­ing menu of cross-hemi­spheric cui­sine with per­o­gies, dry ribs, pickle spears, smoked sal­mon latkes and veni­son.

The eatery also hosts games such as You’re Wel­come/We’re Sorry, in which pho­tos of Cana­dian celebri­ties are tacked to a wall for pa­trons to sort into one of two cat­e­gories: cul­tural am­bas­sadors the world is grate­ful for and those who bring shame on our coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion.

The Trag­i­cally Hip is per­ma­nently fixed in the You’re Wel­come bracket, they said, while Nick­el­back is sta­pled un­der the head­ing, “We sin­cerely apol­o­gize. Please for­give us!”

When he opened BJ’s Cana­dian Bar in south­ern Portugal two decades ago, Pat Fer­reira says the wa­ter­ing hole’s maple-crested brand­ing was a way to set it apart from the Bri­tish and Ir­ish pubs cater­ing to va­ca­tion­ers on the Al­garve coast.

But Fer­reira said the sports bar has evolved into a “home away from home” for the in­creas­ing num­ber of Cana­dian back­pack­ers and re­tirees tak­ing in the nightlife of Al­bufeira.

The bar’s slo­gan is “a taste of the true North in the beau­ti­ful South” – a place to root for Cana­dian sports teams while sip­ping on Cana­dian brews and cock­tails.

For the in­ter­na­tional crowd that flocks to BJ’s, he said the ap­peal is al­most “a con­nec­tion to a dream” for peo­ple en­tranced by Canada’s nat­u­ral beauty.

Oth­ers feel connected through friends and rel­a­tives who have moved there, which Fer­reira sees as em­blem­atic of the mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism that makes Canada Day a global cel­e­bra­tion.

“There’s something about be­ing Cana­dian that brings us all to­gether in a way that I’ve never seen in any other na­tion­al­ity,” Fer­reira said.

“That’s really what makes Canada Day something that ev­ery­body wants to be a part of: It’s just a mix of ev­ery­body to­gether and ac­cep­tance of ev­ery­thing we are.”

CP/HAND­OUT PHO­TOS

A tray of cook­ies, left, and a bagel sand­wich, below left, from Alana and Mike Van­den­brink’s Mol­ly­dook­ers Cafe and Bar in Ap­ple Tree Creek, Aus­tralia. The Van­den­brinks, below right, pose for a photo in their restau­rant, one of many Canuck-themed estab­lish­ments ex­port­ing Cana­dian cui­sine and cul­ture around the world.

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