Canada is so vast and its inhabitants come from such different horizons that it would be impossible to sum up its cuisine in just one dish. What you’ll find in Vancouver, where more than 30 per cent of the population is Asian, is completely different from the inspired by tradition food in Quebec.
One word may link the cuisine here: locavoracious, an interest in locally-sourced food. Indeed, fresh, seasonal and local products hugely inspire Canadian chefs. That may explain the popularity of public markets throughout the country, whether it’s St Lawrence Market in Toronto, Marché Jean-Talon in Montréal or Granville Island Market in Vancouver.
Once described as old-fashioned, Canadian gastronomy is now innovative. Forget the meat pies and the maple-syrup-celebrating sugar shacks, and say hello to avant-garde cuisine. Sure it’s great to taste the classics like Montreal’s bagels or smoked meat, Ottawa’s beavertail or Acadian rappie pie, made with grated potato – and you’ll always find a touch of the past on the menus here – but the new generation of chefs are looking forward.
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The most influential foodies now often list Canadian cities including Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver as must-go destinations, thanks to their inspiring restaurants.
For example, Chef Michael Dekker, from Rouge restaurant in Calgary – one the finest in the world – serves a Beet Cured Halibut Gravlax with Pea Shoot Salad and Almond Crunch while Montreal’s Toque! chef Normand Laprise serves a Suckling pig shoulder with onion bacon, celeriac purée and apple sauce.
One of the best ‘locavore’ experiences in Canada may be found two hours outside of Toronto in Singhampton. The pig that Chef Michael Stadtländer serves at Haisai is raised on the land, butchered in the kitchen and smoked and dried for a year on the restaurant’s own farm.
- Don’t look for street food in Montreal, as it is not permitted. But don’t worry, you’ll be able to have a hot dog in the streets of Toronto or Vancouver.
- Canadian cities are among the most cosmopolitan in the world, so you’ll find a lot of good foreign cuisine. Chinatowns in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are amazing.
- Although you’ll find a lot of good microbreweries throughout the country, Canada is not only a beer land. The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia produces the best Canadian wines. In Quebec, you’ll find a sweet delicacy: ice cider and ice wine.