Defining Canadian cuisine may not be as straightforward as some might think. Should it focus on wild foods such as salmon, mushrooms, berries, and game? Perhaps the phrase evokes images of Prairie grains, maple syrup, and poutine. For some, it brings to mind butter tarts and flapper pie.
It’s all of those, of course, and so much more. “Canadian cuisine” means different things to different people, but at its very heart, it is food with a distinct sense of place—whether that place is an ocean, a lake, a river, a forest, or a field.
Food Day Canada highlights and honours the flavours of our country.
Founded by culinary activist Anita Stewart, the event grew out of the self-proclaimed “World’s Longest Barbeque”, which was held in 2003 in response to the U.S. sanction of Canadian beef exports. It has gone on to become a national celebration that takes place annually on the Saturday of the August long weekend. Its purpose is simple: to encourage people to gather over a meal—whether at a restaurant or home, in a back yard or on a beach—made with purely Canadian ingredients.
Hundreds of dining establishments across the country are participating in Food Day Canada 2019, which occurs on August 3. Look for special menus from places that are proud to convey their true patriot love on a plate. Here are a few suggestions from across the country.
Tucked at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, the Wildflower in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler celebrates with a seven-course menu consisting exclusively of items sourced at the Whistler Farmers’ Market and the resort’s own grounds. Think nasturtium and honey from the hotel’s rooftop, zucchini blossoms and peas from local farms, pork from Lillooet’s Spray Creek Ranch, and more. The palate cleanser alone is an exquisite example of what’s possible using hyper-local foods: a pretty-in-pink granité is made with Pemberton Distillery’s organic potato-based Elderflower Liqueur, spruce tips, and alpine fireweed.
Kelowna’s Waterfront Wines has earned a stellar reputation for its unwavering commitment to all things local and sustainable, with chef-sommelier Mark Filatow knowing all of his restaurant’s farmers, foragers, fishers, and other producers on a first-name basis. He’ll have the freshest Okanagan ingredients for dishes that may well mirror those served last year: morel, lobster, and chestnut mushrooms on country loaf with grilled beef tongue, Harmony Farms’ lamb with pakoras made of okra and onions from nearby Amazia Farm, and even a whole roast pig.
Cree chef Shane Mederic Chartrand will showcase progressive Indigenous cuisine at his SC Restaurant at River Cree Resort in Enoch, Alberta. Consider some of his signature dishes: leg of venison rubbed with sage and accompanied by root-vegetable salad with juniper dressing, and leek-ash coated Arctic char with grilled forest mushrooms and a bundle of herbs.
Rural Saskatchewan is the home of Harvest Eatery and Fresh Market, which bursts with Prairie pride—perhaps best exemplified by deep-purple perogies made by hand with local-beet juice, stuffed with Hutterite colony yam, and served with pure maple syrup. Crab apples, Saskatoon berries, chick peas, and Speckle Park beef (a made-in-Saskatchewan purebred) all show up on the award-winning Shaunavon restaurant’s menu.
Showcasing Canadian ingredients is an ever-present principle at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Peller Estates Winery Restaurant. Executive chef Jason Parson hosts a resplendent Food Day Canada barbecue on the back lawn featuring Quebec Matane shrimp poached in sparkling wine, PEI grass-fed striploin, Brome Lake duck leg confit, and cedar-plank Manitoulin Island trout. To finish, guests get to roast the winery’s signature icewine marshmallows over an open fire.
Ever since Les Jardins Sauvages in Saint-Roch de L’Achigan, Quebec, opened 32 years ago, chef Nancy Hinton and forager/farmer Francois Brouillard have focused on wild and wildly delicious ingredients. Their creativity shines through on the restaurant’s Journée des Terroirs menu, with dishes such as green bean and sea lettuce soup, pan-seared foie gras with mead and elderberry sauce, summer succotash with corn and lamb’s quarters, and regional Quebec cheese with local nuts and cloudberry, a tart raspberry relative.
Situated in a tiny coastal community called Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo Island’s Scoff Restaurant celebrates Newfoundland culture and cuisine year-round, its name derived from local slang for “a cooked meal at sea or ashore, especially at night and often part of an impromptu party”. Food Day Canada diners can expect seasonal, local fare such as salt cod perogies, smoked herring with orange marmalade and buttered toast, and blueberry-onion bread pudding.
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