With Canada Day celebrations on deck this coming Wednesday, July 1, 2015, I decided to take a culinary-inspired road trip across my home and native land to discover a few specialties from a half dozen or so of our most beloved red and white provinces.
The following delectables from Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nunavut, and Prince Edward Island are just the icing on the proverbial Canadian donut (always Tim Horton’s) or if you’d prefer, gravy on the poutine (always beef), when it comes to the best this country has to offer…
Canada is a country filled with stunning waterfront vistas. However, none are quite as impressive as in the province of British Columbia—where the sky meets the mountains and the mountains meet the ocean. It’s here that you’ll find the city of Nanaimo, located on Vancouver Island, and perhaps be fortunate enough to enjoy a Nanaimo bar (pronounced like “nuh-neye-moe”). This winning triple layered combination of rich chocolate; creamy butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar; and butter, cocoa, egg, graham wafer crumbs, chopped almonds and coconut, and more sugar comes to you direct from the friendly folks at the City of Nanaimo, B.C.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba folks take advantage of the summer months to get outside with family and friends to throw some juicy, ground Manitoba bison burgers on the grill. This simple yet satisfying recipe calls for 2-pounds of locally-ground bison, 1/3-cup of breadcrumbs, 1 egg, and a mouth-watering spice blend to suit your palette. Top burgers with freshly grilled local items—like Manitoba onions, plump tomato slices, cheese, thick butcher bacon, and mom’s homemade pickles.
As a proud Ontarian, we pride ourselves on 2 things—our hockey team…is not one of them! Hopefully this recipe for sweet-as-can-be butter tarts will make up for my joke in poor taste. You certainly won’t have misgivings when you bite into one of these flakey tarts running over with the sticky taste of brown sugar, raisins and sweet currants, chopped pecans, and real Ontario maple syrup (or you can substitute corn syrup if that’s all you have available). But use the maple syrup, trust a Canuck, it’s better!
Even though those who don’t hail from Quebec like to refer to smoked meat as “Montreal’s answer to pastrami,” those of us from Quebec actually know better. Nowhere else in the world can you get a succulent whole brisket, rubbed with an addictive salty yet smoky, specially seasoned garlic, peppercorn, and coriander crust. Pop your rubbed-down and thoroughly cured brisket into a hot smoker until the meat is cooked all the way through.
While I was not lucky enough to have been born or bred in Newfoundland, my father, Leo, was born and grew up in the city of St. John’s—where both fishing boats and lobster pulled right from the ocean were plentiful. This touton lobster roll is distinctly c/o Newfoundland because it incorporates sweet, tender Atlantic lobster and the traditional touton (a type of fry-bread pancake) vs. the baked roll you’d get in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.
The Maritime provinces—those of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland—are literally bursting with blueberries come summer. That’s why a Canada tour wouldn’t be complete without a heaping bowl of blueberry grunt. This traditional grunt, from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, features juicy wild blueberries, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice, warm flour dumplings, and thick whipped cream.
Living near the coast of Prince Edward Island, or PEI, means that fresh seafood is almost always available and ripe for the picking. Take for example this simple yet traditional seafood recipe. You don’t need to overwhelm your mussels with flavor. A simple pinch of basil, a chopped shallot, a bit of fresh garlic, a splash of oil and a snort of wine will bring the beautiful, briny flavors to life.
Similar in hue and flavor to salmon and trout, the delicate, flaky arctic char is not only sustainable, but also heart-healthy. In the territory of Nunavut, where arctic char has been a food staple for thousands of years, this salt and freshwater fish is pulled from the depths of Canada’s Arctic North. The fish is then slow baked in herb butter made with fresh parsley, shallots, chives, capers, and lemon zest alongside smoky pancetta (or bacon), shitake mushrooms, and crispy potatoes.