When vacationing in Canada this summer, don't forget to immerse yourself in the regional and cultural cuisine. Read our tips on what to look for during your journey towards the perfect meal.
The Charlevoix region of Quebec boasts breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence river and is an excellent place to spot migrating whales from late spring to early fall. Gastronomical delights abound, but in Baie-Saint-Paul, which is known as an artist's community on the bank of the river, one can enjoy simply sumptuous local lamb at Les Saveurs Oubliees. The meat is so fresh that patrons can watch the lamb graze out the restaurant window!
If you want to experience Eigensinn Farm, one of Ontario's most prolific culinary pleasures, you'll have to book in advance. Located in Collingwood, which means 'cottage country' in Ontario-speak, chef and farmer Michael Stadtlander has opened his farmhouse to patrons seeking a deviation from the norm. The detailed meals feature mostly organic meat and produce grown by Stadtlander, and courses run the gamut from oxtail ravioli to beef tongue served with sesame and soy. Patrons are invited to bring their own wine, and can call in ahead for food pairing tips.
Pacific oysters spawn all summer and are a true end-of-season treat in British Columbia - especially when paired with cool vinaigrettes or fiery hot sauces. These oysters are very large and taste sweet and mild. Their firm, plump texture is a mollusk lover's dream come true. The Pacific Crab Co. in downtown Vancouver serves them up in a shot glass, complete with vodka and horseradish infused Clamato juice and the Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar in Yaletown has more than nine types of the regional delicacy.
The name Alberta is synonymous with beef, and there's certainly no shortage of superb places to get it when visiting this province. In Edmonton, check out the Sawmill Restaurant, which was named one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada and is known for pairing flawless steaks with delicious seafood. Calgary's Carvers, located downtown, has won several awards for its tender and substantial cuts of meat which are always grilled to perfection. The Mayfield Grill Steakhouse in West Edmonton is also known for having the choicest of cuts on offer. Or, you can always head straight to the source, and pick up some fresh beef at a butcher or farmers' market, find a barbecue and cook it up yourself. With fresh meat of such high quality, you can't go wrong - unless you cook it for too long, which is a punishable offence in Alberta!
This agriculture rich province boasts some of the freshest and most diverse produce in the country, and serves it up all summer long. Game is also big in Saskatchewan, so look for scrumptious dishes such as smoked goose breast, bison burgers or sausage and braised venison or whitetail deer.
Prince Edward Island
If you can make it to P.E.I. for mid-September, you'll catch the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival, where you can savour the best Maritime enchantments the region has to offer. If not, don't worry! Fresh oysters, clams, mussels, lobster, crab, and fish are always on offer on this lovely little island. Almost every city or town holds a whole lobster dinner on any given night, and restaurant menus are rife with brackish treats. P.E.I. is also home to some of the best seafood chowder on the planet, so order a cup to go with your meal!
New Brunswick is famous for its large, sweet lobster and many visitors have the tasty creatures packed on ice for the trip home. The province is also known for its prizewinning salt fish, a tradition that dates back to the days of the first settlers. Before refrigerators, the only way fish could be transported was to salt it for preservation purposes. These days, locals are quite simply addicted to the cured nuggets and use them in fish cakes, casseroles and salads.
This province of plenty is a great place to enjoy ocean fresh seafood, but it's also the home to some fabled fruit. Annapolis Valley apples are sweet and luscious, while Oxford blueberries are as plump and juicy as they come. Seek out local farmers' markets and stock up on pies, pandowdy and crumbles, or pick your own at an open farm. Local maple syrup makes a great topping for fresh fruit, so you'd better pick up some of that, too!
There's not a seafood dish that can't be had on 'the rock'. From poached Labrador char to cod curry, this place has it all. In St. John's, try the Cellar Restaurant or the Hungry Fisherman or head away from the city and visit the Seaside Restaurant in Gros Morne National Park. Located on a beachfront boardwalk, this quaint bistro is world renowned for its traditionally prepared seafood dishes.
Fresh fish such as Alaskan salmon, halibut, trout and arctic char abound in the Yukon and are served up with little embellishment. The restaurant at The Raven Hotel in Haines Junction, Yukon, has received nods for its first class food from Canadian travel books and restaurant guides alike and offers a menu rich in the local bounty, plus a stunning panoramic view of Kluane National Park's St. Elias Mountains.