Canada… good enough to eat
Head to Canada for the breathtaking scenery, the friendly locals, the vibrant dynamic cities and the ultimate road trip. But did you ever consider heading to Canada for the food? You should. Canada produces world-class ingredients such as Nova Scotia lobster, Alberta beef and West Coast salmon: you’ll find specialities in every province. And a new generation of chefs, excited by the diversity of quality, local, seasonal produce, makes Canada a terrific foodie destination.
Newfoundland is a gem, known affectionately by locals as The Rock. Far from barren, the cod has returned to these waters: don’t miss the Newfoundlanders’ favourite cod tongues with scruncheons (crispy cubes of juicy, fried bacon fat). In autumn, forage for wild berries – blueberries, cranberries, partridge berries, cloudberries – with Lori McCarthy of Cod Sounds, a company specialising in culinary tours in St John’s. In winter, try local moose sausage – rich and almost beefy – or sample a Jiggs Dinner or a boil up, the Newfoundland equivalent of a Sunday roast and best shared with locals, their stories and songs.
Street with colorful houses in St John’s, Newfoundland
When you think of Atlantic Canada you think of seafood. With a year-round season, gorgeous fresh lobster is always available, and at a fraction of the price you’d pay here. Locals will tell you to look for a canner, a lobster that weighs less than a pound, which is always the most succulent and delicious (only tourists eat the large lobsters). Lobster rolls are good everywhere, even at a roadside diner. The town of Digby is famous for its scallops, celebrated in the scallop festival each August. Pair everything with excellent white or sparkling Nova Scotian wine, developing an international reputation for its quality and taste.
Quebec produces 70% of the world’s maple syrup, and visiting a sugar shack in season is a brilliant experience. Sugar shacks are where maple sap is funnelled from the trees and gently boiled to make syrup. The real joy is sampling food made using the new season maple syrup. Maple syrup taffy 9a type of candy) is a treat: hot maple syrup poured onto snow where it instantly cools and becomes taffy. Ice cider is a local delicacy too: apples are allowed to freeze in the orchards so when pressed only the nectar is squeezed through. It is a very special Quebecois drink, drank as a dessert wine or aperitif. The Quebecois know how to make the best of winter.
Maple toffee at a sugar shack in Quebec
Toronto has one of Canada’s most dynamic restaurant scenes, with contemporary restaurants and emerging indigenous fusion eateries inspired by outstanding local produce. Pow Wow Café in bustling Kensington Market serves Indian tacos: deep fried bannock bread topped with the likes of chilli and jerk chicken. Kūkŭm creates terrific fine dining dishes showcasing wild meats, fruits and vegetables. Ontario also has four outstanding wine regions, and produces the very special ice wine (and festival!), similar to apple cider. Here the grapes are frozen on the vine, each grape producing just a couple of drops of juice, making this more elixir than wine.
Alberta is synonymous with beef. The vast plains are home to more than 5 million cows, more than 40% of the Canadian beef herd. Grain and pasture fed, Alberta cattle are also noted for being barley fed, which adds to the flavour of the beef. You might be surprised to hear that Alberta has cowboys too, but when you think about it, with so many cows on that enormous landscape, it makes sense. The Calgary Stampede is Canada’s annual rodeo, held every year for 10 days in July. There is lots of food available here too: monster ice cream sandwiches, clam chowder poutine, Canadian bacon pickle balls and deep-fried pork belly will start you off in 2018.
Bow River & Castle Mountain, Banff National Park
One of the most diverse provinces of Canada, ‘BC’ has an impressive wine region in the semi-desert Osoyoos with over 130 wineries and some of the best Chinese food outside China in Richmond. Downtown Vancouver boasts an excellent dining and cocktail scene. Then there are the many islands including the largest of them, Vancouver Island, home to excellent local produce including wine, cheese and a balsamic-style vinegar made by a Modena native who relocated to the area. Wild BC spot prawns are a delicacy here and they are celebrated with the annual spot prawn festival every May. Often longer than 20cm, they are reddish brown turning pink when cooked, and taste sweet and delicate.
Brown colored black bear eating buffalo berries
Find out more about Cox & Kings’ holidays to Canada here.