20 August 2019
Canada: it’s the land of ice hockey, maple syrup, frosty winters and some of the most breathtaking wildlife and picturesque landscapes on the planet – including Niagara Falls, Banff National Park, The Rockies and Lake Louise.
As the second-largest country in the world, Canada has no trouble serving up a feast for the senses, especially taste because the Canadians really know what they’re doing when it comes to food. Here are some of the foodie experiences you need to try on a trip to Canada, as recommended by our Travel Counsellors.
The Spanish have paella, the Italians have pizza and the Canadians have poutine. This marvellously messy meal may lack the romance of those European examples, but Canada’s national dish isn’t any less delicious. Its genius lies in its simplicity, consisting of just three ingredients: fries, cheese curds and gravy.
Since surfacing in Quebec in the 1950s, the dish has become ubiquitous across Canada with many eateries putting their own spin on traditional poutine by adding other flavours, such as butter chicken or pulled pork.
Other notable Canadian dishes include Montreal smoked meat (salted and cured beef brisket, best served on rye bread with yellow mustard and stacked two inches thick) and butter tart (small pastries with a filling made up of butter, sugar, syrup and egg).
“I tried poutine for the first time during my recent trip to Banff. It’s definitely not low-calorie but is really delicious. If you’re visiting Canada, you have to try it.”
Teresa, Travel Counsellor
Stretched over 17 days towards the start of the year, the Dine Out Vancouver Festival brings together hundreds of chefs and more than 300 restaurants, wineries, craft breweries and suppliers for dining experiences designed to showcase the city’s finest flavours.
First held in 2002, it has grown to be one of the biggest food festivals in Canada, typically pulling in more than 100,000 hungry attendees, keen to sample fixed-price menus from Vancouver’s best restaurants.
Canada has an event to celebrate pretty much any kind of cuisine, so whatever your tastes, there will almost certainly be a food festival that ticks the right boxes for you.
Toronto alone has the street food-focused Taste of the Danforth, the Etobicoke Butter Tart Festival, Taste of India Food Festival, and Winterlicious - which comprises intimate chef workshops, culinary classes, dinner theatre, and demonstrations from 200+ restaurants. The city even has individual events celebrating craft beer, cider, wine and spirits, and Afro-Caribbean vegan food.
Elsewhere, there’s the Ottawa Poutine Fest in early May, July’s Shediac Lobster festival and September’s Prince Edward Island Fall Flavors Festival in Charlottetown.
“Vancouver prides itself as a city that combines the sea and the mountains, and it’s easy to see why it is one of the top 10 cities in the world. I certainly fell in love with it with its outdoor lifestyle and vibrant city life.”
Jim, Travel Counsellor
Finding Canada’s best restaurants is easy thanks to Canadas100Best.com’s annual top 100 rundown. At the top of the 2018 list was Alo - a contemporary French restaurant and cocktail bar located atop a heritage building in downtown Toronto.
Its blind multi-course tasting menus incorporate the finest in seasonal ingredients, complemented by distinctive wines from familiar and little-known regions and producers selected by in-house sommeliers.
Alo’s barroom shakes up classically-inspired cocktails with a sharing-style à la carte menu made up of raw seafood, meat-based entrées, vegetable-focused sides and desserts.
The judges at Canadas100Best.com praised Alo for becoming ‘grander and more ambitious than ever’ since opening in 2015 with a service that’s ‘a lesson in discreet perfection.’ They had kind words for its 10-course tasting menu too, which includes belly of suckling pig, sweet raw scallop from Hokkaido, and light, imaginative desserts that come ‘close to perfection - just like everything else here.’ It seems that dining doesn’t get any finer than at Alo.
Two more Toronto restaurants managed to secure a place in the top 10: Buca Osteria & Bar (#4), Edulis (#9), while Montreal, which made up a fifth of the top 100, managed four top 10 restaurants: Toqué (#2), Joe Beef (#3), Montreal Plaza (#6) and Le Vin Papillon (#8).
Canada is blessed with a sensational street food scene and every major city promises the opportunity to experience its quality and diversity.
Not sure what kind of street eats to try first? How about pierogies (Polish filled dumplings), lobster rolls, beaver tails (hand-pulled fried dough) or just stick with something familiar like burgers or tacos?
In Montreal, there’s First Fridays - North America’s largest food truck gathering. At 4pm on the first Friday of the month between May and October, food trucks descend on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Montreal’s Olympic Park for the ultimate street food celebration.
It’s all soundtracked by live music from local bands and DJs, overlooked by the 165-metre Montreal Tower – the world’s tallest inclined tower, leaning at 45 degrees, considerably more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa’s five-degree tilt. It all culminates in one unmissable summertime party.
Food experiences have boomed in recent years as travellers become increasingly curious about local cuisine.
One shining example is Tours Voir Quebec, whose food tour around Quebec City gives you the chance to learn about the locals, where they live and where they go out to eat.
During this 2.5-hour walking tour, you’ll taste the typical and local specialties from a variety of shops such as La Buche (traditional Quebec cuisine with a modern twist), Le Tournebroche (organic farm-to-table rotisserie), Le Moine Échanson (organic wine bar & bistro), Le Snack Bar (for poutine), Crêperie le Billig (traditional crêpe) and, to top it off, Chocolaterie Érico (chocolate museum and store). All in, the tour offers the chance to sample around 15 products at six different venues.
Book your foodie adventure to Canada by contacting your Travel Counsellor and taking advantage of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.