Canada can frankly boast about almost everything in its country. It’s stunning beautiful, spacious, full of gorgeous animals and lots of lovely people but one of my favourite things has to be all the tasty treats on offer. Now, all of the below I tried whilst on holiday and I would definitely not recommend a full daily diet of the following unless you have the constitution of Rory and Lorelai Gilmore. So you have been warned – this is not a Michelin review, this is not gourmet dining, this is indulge yourself whilst on holiday and it’s -15 outside treats, and they were amazing.
Canada’s big coffee chain is almost the antithesis of Starbucks, or as much as a huge chain corporation can be. Tim Horton’s boasts warm atmospheres in chilly climbs, iconic red cups all year round and an array of pastries and doughnuts so inviting it is tempting to never eat anywhere else. The stereotypical order in a Tim’s is a double double, two creams and two sugars) and being the decaf queen herself, I added a ‘d’ and went for a decaf double double. “Why not add more sugar to my breakfast?” I thought to myself as I placed my order, and added a maple dip donut to my request. It was a holiday after all!
A double double is just as strong and sweet as you’d expect it to be, and the perfect thing to tuck in to when the snow is falling outside. I think that’s the problem (if you can call it that) with Canada, that everything in the Winter seems that touch more magical with the glittering snow outside and you can justify almost any cosy, warm, indulgent food as a necessity to help stave off frostbite. However, that doesn’t stop me enjoying every sip of my coffee and every bite of my maple dip donut (TimBits are also acceptable and of course, delicious).
Canada’s other great culinary pride and joy (I’m definitely doing a disservice to the truly equisitive chefs that definitely live and work in Canada, but bear with me here) is poutine. In its most classic form, a sizzling pile of fries topped with thick gravy and chewy cheese curds but it’s 2018 people, poutine comes in any damn form you want. Somewhat accidentally I ended up trying about five different poutines in the space of just over a week and I could still have happily tucked into another portion at the airport on the way home. In fact, I think I might just have done that.
You can buy poutine in almost any pub around Calgary, and several fast food outlets as well (although the authenticity of the product seems to cause much debate) and I was lucky enough to also visit Ironwood Stage and Grill for the Big Band Brunch with the excellent Prime Time Big Band and there I had the breakfast poutine which is a dish I still dream about to this day. Hash browns, scrambled eggs, a creamy hollandaise sauce, and a sprinkle of perfection. It was everything I wanted on a frozen weekend morning and I loved it.
Moving away from breakfast foods (although why would you ever?) but sticking with poutine, the Mad Rose Pub in the Royal Oak region of Calgary provided me with a satsifyingly greasy pub grub meal of poutine and fried pickles (we shared it, I swear!) all incredibly reasonably priced and of course fills you up no end. Pickles count toward one of your five-a-day, right?
The atmosphere in the Mad Rose is exactly what you want at the end of a day either at work or trekking around the icy lands around you. The menu is comforting and delicious (we returned on my last day for some pancakes and of course, MAPLE SYRUP) and they often have specials and deals available if you’re being super budget conscious. The fried pickles were a revelation to me and now if I ever see them on a menu in London I jump at the chance to order them!
Further out of town, we ventures on a trip to the nearby Rocky Mountains a few times during my stay and on one of these trips I was introduced to probably the culinary highlight of my trip, the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. in Canmore, AB. An array of bagels and fillings so mindbogglingly delicious it was hard to choose just one, I went for the ‘Bagel Garden’ on a cheddar bagel and I have no regrets other than that I don’t live in Canmore and can’t eat there basically every day. It’s a tiny little store, with a cosy but refreshind atmosphere and a recommend enjoying a hot chocolate alongside your bagel and people watching as skiiers and snow boarders traipse past you in the warm.
Whilst chatting away with my friends at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. we discovered I had no idea what on earth a ‘London Fog’ was, and they insisted I had to try one. Turns out, it’s a drink, an earl grey tea latte with a shot of vanilla syrup to sweeten things up a bit. I was whisked to Beamers straight away to try one out, with two pairs of excited eyes watching me take my first sip and reader, I married it. I mean, I would have if I could have.
Finally, I had to sample some Ice Hockey staples including the classic ‘dome foam’ (Budweiser) and of course, nachos and churros. See, I did warn you this blog post wasn’t going to be a vision of low-carb high nutrient wonderment… nevertheless, watching the Calgary Hitmen play, cheering them on with a fist full of nachos seemed appropriate. Yum.