Top 9 foods and drinks you have to try when visiting Canada
Canada is not a place for the diet conscious! I was lulled into a false sense of security on arrival and delighted to find lots of fresh produce from the local farmers markets. My first meal was a beautiful fresh kale salad, and in each town I picked up fresh cherries and berries for the long car journeys. However as I moved upwards through Northern Ontario and Québec, these options seem somewhat less inviting next to the local food and drink delicacies on the menu! Take my advice, diet before you go then forget the calories once you land and get stuck in to the list below!
These tasty beverages are reminiscent of Bloody Mary’s with celery salt in place of regular salt, and clamato juice in place of tomato juice (yes, clamato, as in clam juice and tomato juice). These are served everywhere in a variety of different ways and with different accompaniements – it’s the first time I’ve had bacon served on the side of the glass!
I couldn’t possibly write a list of Canada’s favourite delicacies without including this one. Poutine is what essentially a twist on the British classic ‘chips and gravy’! The chips are drowned in gravy, and topped with cheese curds for the classic, although there are many variations on this with a variety of different and unique toppings. When I tried it in Québec City it was served with a pot of pickled gherkins and a local dark beer – not a combination I would normally have gone for, but incredibly satisfying! I’m glad I took the recommendation!
Thanks to my Canadian friends, I’ve tasted these delightfully sweet creations before. The ultimate camping desert, you basically sandwich one square of Dairy Milk chocolate with a freshly toasted marshmallow in between two Graham crackers – and yes they have to be Grahams crackers, ask any Canadian! The marshmallow melts the chocolate and everything sticks together in the most delectably gooey kind of sandwich.
Montreal smoked meat sandwiches
Wow, they really know how to pile a sandwich up in Canada! The meat was unusual, reminiscent of corned beef and yet so much more tasty than what I remember from corned beef as a child in the UK. Deliciously smokey, thinly sliced and overflowing from the pile stacked between the slices of fresh bread – what more do you need??
I had heard of these (the BeaverTail fast food chain had recently opened in Dubai) but I was not prepared for such calorific deliciousness that I so readily ingested. A BeaverTail looks exactly as described; A large elongated triangular doughnut in the shape of a beaver’s tail, with all manner of sweet stuff to choose from as toppings. On the recommendation of the server I opted for the maple butter option and it was absolutely delicious. Sweet? Yes. Oozing with calories? Absolutely. Worth the indulgence? For sure.
Peameal bacon (with pancakes!)
Now this is a weird one. I had never heard of peameal bacon, but the Canadians were raving about it, and I have to say it was pretty tasty, much leaner and with a crust of what I now know to be cornmeal (thanks Wikipedia!) The most popular way of having your bacon for breakfast appears to be with a couple of thick, homemade pancakes, lashings of butter and maple syrup (and often a couple of eggs too!) which I still struggle to get my head around (I’m more a thick cut bread, butter and brown sauce kind of girl!) While we’re on the subject of breakfast, the typical Canadian breakfast (when ordered at a motel or diner) seems to encompass the fried part, along with potatoes and a side of fresh fruit salad, all on same plate – a calorie-laden way to start your day, but at least you can cleanse your palate with the fruit!
Ice wine and cider
I have never heard of these, but I saw plenty of it as I travelled through Ontario and Quebec. Towards the end of the trip we stayed in Niagra-on-the-Lake, visiting a few of the local wineries and breweries and had the chance to get my questions answered. Basically the grapes and apples are harvested when they freeze on the vine/tree and are pressed frozen, making the resulting beverages very sweet and acidic. You would only want small quantities, but I thought they made a great way to end a meal – particularly the iced rose wine.
As a result of living in a Muslim country, pork is always a popular choice for us and as it happened I was lucky enough to be in Ottawa for the annual ribfest. It’s quite a phenomenon to witness; the one tip I would give though is to go early! I assumed the festival would run throughout the evening and by the time I went back for food, I only just caught the last few stalls as they were packing up. Throughout the afternoon however, the smoky main street was full of huge stands, all with enormous barbecues, and decorated with trophies from counties all over the States and Canada and each with their own secret barbecue sauce. A tray of these, washed down with all the Caesars you could want and you’re set for a great day!
Deep fried pickles
Another item with its origins in the States, but popular in Canada. I was a little unsure how a pickled gherkin would fare in a deep fat fryer, but as I love pickles I thought I would give it a try, and the crispy coating did take it to a whole new level – after the first one I was convinced! A great starter before tucking into a bowl of wings! (And I wonder where the extra kilos came from?!)
Well that’s a round up of my personal favourites, as you may imagine, I came back from my time in Canada several kilos heavier! I would do the same thing all over again though as it was definitely worth the splurge! For any others living in Dubai and keen to taste the delights of Canada, I found this newspaper round up of Canadian eateries, and although it’s a little old, the outlets are still around and worth a try.
Anyway, it’s about time I hit the gym to make room for the next holiday! Drop a line in the comments if you have any more to add!