Travelling across this great, big beautiful country of ours this summer? We asked several great palates to tell us where and what to eat and drink in Toronto, Montréal, Newfoundland and on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. by Mary Bailey
Tauna Eden’s Vancouver Island
So many oysters on Vancouver Island—but the small, sweet and delish kusshi are my favourite. They can be found at a number of seafood stores all over the island. Of course worthy of mention are spot prawns in season, halibut and salmon. It doesn’t get any better than out here for seafood. kusshioysters.com
Vancouver Island Salt Co.
Tasty salts made in Cobble Hill and available in stores. visaltco.com
Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, Salt Spring Island
They are known for their chèvre. All cheeses are handmade, using only local ingredients and traditional methods. I’ve tried most of their cheeses and they are fantastic. I love them! saltspringcheese.com
Victoria and Area
Silk Road Teas, Victoria
Daniela Cubelic, Canada’s Queen of Tea has been creating these teas since 1992. All of the teas are superb. My favourites are the Philosopher’s Brew and the Sour Cherry Green Tea, silkroadteastore.com
This charcuterie shop in downtown Victoria has a great cheese selection as well. Everything is made in house—the truffled foie gras pâté is amazing,
Sea Cider, Saanichton
This artisan cidery and organic apple orchard makes award-winning ciders. Totally authentic and worth trying, seacider.ca
Unsworth Vineyards, Cowichan Valley
They are making great sparkling wines and very fun whites such as Sauvignette and the Petit Milo, unsworthvineyards.com
Averill Creek, Duncan
Andy Johnston came out to the island from Edmonton with the idea of producing great wines and his wines are receiving global recognition. He makes a sublime Pinot Noir, averillcreek.ca.
Qualicum Beach, Parksville and the Comox Valley
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Mooberry Winery, Qualicum Beach
This small family-run operation in Qualicum Beach makes tasty unique cheeses right on site at Morningstar Farms. Check out the petting zoo for the kids and Mooberry Winery fruit wines for the adults, cheeseworks.ca
Tidal Taco Shack, Qualicum Beach
Tiny little taco trailer in Qualicum Bay; you could easily drive right by it. They only make a few things but they are packed all the time. Awesome fish tacos, facebook.com/tidaltacoshack
Love Shack Libations, Qualicum Beach
Our good friend Dave Paul has just started a nano-brewery and the beers are fantastic. The tasting room is in the middle of nowhere near Qualicum, loveshacklibations.com.
Realm Food Co., Parksville
The Qualicum Bowl at this organic restaurant in Parksville is one of my greatest pleasures in life! realmfoodco.com
Wayward Distillation House, Courtenay
They make unique spirits (gins and vodka) from BC honey, waywarddistillationhouse.com
Tofino and Ucluelet
Wolf In the Fog, Tofino
Not to be missed in Tofino. Local everything! They literally forage for their menu items. The menu is always interesting, based on seasonal offerings, wolfinthefog.com
Very small with an amazing chef, Richard Norwood, who also creates a menu with a focus on local ingredients only. High accolades, norwoods.ca
Don’t want to drive?
Victoria’s Harbour City Transportation offers a selection of food and wine tours, as well as the ability to build custom tours for groups of two to six people, goharbourcity.com, 1-888-428-4778.
Hospitality professional Tauna Eden is happiest lounging in a caftan with her husband, her dog and a dirty gin martini.
Top T.O. Picks from Richard Willett
When it’s a special evening (or simply Tuesday) surrender to the set menu experience under the meticulous care of Tobey and Michael, edulisrestaurant.com
Evergreen Brick Works Saturday Market
The best thing to do on a Saturday. Community comes together to celebrate food in one of the most unique spaces in Canada, evergreen.ca
Branzino Crudo at Buca Yorkville
This is why life is beautiful, buca.ca
Peameal Bacon Sandwich at Carousel Bakery in the St. Lawrence Market
The perfect remedy for the morning after the night before while you wander the aisles in search of that perfect combo of herbs for the evening’s grill, stlawrencemarket.com
The patio at George
Truly an urban oasis from the downtown craziness. The fountains and lush greenery, a bottle of rosé and chef Lorenzo Loseto’s appetizers take you to a stress-free state, immediately, georgeonqueen.com
Anything from Nadége’s Patisserie
You are immediately transported to Paris when you walk in the shop and any taste will confirm your arrival, nadege-patisserie.com
The Cheese Boutique
The problem is the time spent here. My partner patiently waits while I scour the labyrinth of yumminess. Don’t miss the vault, cheeseboutique.com
Who doesn’t like drinking Sherry in the afternoon in digs that are Gaudi-inspired, with a pinchos menu that mirrors the best in northern Spain? thisisbarraval.com
The Dirty Bird
To satisfy that craving for fried chicken and waffles, this is the place, thedirtybird.ca
The House on Parliament (aka the HOP)
Every hood needs their Cheers and this is ours. A gastropub that gets food and service. My weekly dose of their chicken liver pâté does nothing for my cholesterol but I am a happier person for it, houseonparliament.com
Richard Willett, VP, food and beverage, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, likes his rosé cold, his Brillat-Savarin runny, his service enlightened and a little saucy (but not sauced).
Robert Beauchemin’s top five reasons to visit Montréal, this summer
Being confined inside for pretty much six months of the year yields an urgency for eating and drinking outside all summer. There were terraces here at the beginning of the century, inspired by eating alfresco in Italy and France. My favorites this year: Sky Terrace in the gay village; the terrace at the Hyatt Regency for a fancy meal and views and Les Terrasses Bonsecours, in the old port. Also look to recommendations from Jean-Philippe Tastet, Le Devoir restaurant critic.
Fruits and vegetables and even meat all have their festivals during the summer months. The strawberry festival takes place in Vaudreuil-Soulanges not far from Montréal; the corn festival takes place in Saint-Damase outside Quebec City; there are cheese festivals, beer feasts, maple fest and a bacon festival in September. Everything is a good reason to celebrate by way of shows, music happenings and sometimes, parades!
Take a tour and taste artisan beers in the setting of the hip (with, more often than not, hipsters) brew pubs that are found throughout the city; montrealcraftbeertours.com.
5. Montréal’s Birthday
All summer long Montréal celebrates its 375th birthday. There are tons of public activities and performances to mark this event, but perhaps none more spectacular than the new lights that are now dressing the Jacques Cartier bridge. According to the season, the mood, the feeling of the moment, the colours might go from pink to purple, to electric blue and give a much needed coup de jeunesse to the 100 year old bridge.
Robert Beauchemin is the senior Gold Medal Plates judge for Quebec.
Newfoundland Summer Pleasures by Karl Wells
Summers in Newfoundland are very short. Warm temperatures don’t arrive until July and inevitably head downward again after Labour Day. During this telescoped balmy season there is an unrelenting parade of food festivals, farm-to-table dinners, restaurant pop-ups and a growing summertime fleet of food trucks. Highlights:
Brigus Blueberry Festival
Held in August, at peak blueberry picking time in one of Newfoundland’s prettiest fishing villages, Brigus in Conception Bay, this four-day amusement affords participants an opportunity to taste every kind of baked blueberry invention, plus the chance to enroll in a blueberry pie-eating contest, brigus.net/Tourist/Blueberry-Festival.html
This popular business in Ferryland prepares mouth-watering lunches to be enjoyed while sitting on the ground—blankets are supplied—around the famous Ferryland Lighthouse. In addition to the great food, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the ocean, which sometimes offers the extra visual treat of whales feeding and breaching below. lighthousepicnics.ca.
Baccalieu Trail Fine Dining
In many small communities, the local B&B may be the only realistic dining option. One of my favourites is Baccalieu Trail Fine Dining Bed and Breakfast in Carbonear. The chef and host, Bruce Brookings, is a veteran of the St. John’s dining scene. He regularly treats guests to memorable three-course dinners. Local seafood and braised lamb shank are specialties, baccalieutrailfinedining.com.
St. John’s Farmers’ Market
A visit to the St. John’s Farmers’ Market is one of summer’s great pleasures. Each Saturday it attracts hundreds of customers eager to enjoy a strong coffee, cooked food from multicultural vendors and a browse of the vegetables, meats, eggs and other produce from local farms. stjohnsfarmersmarket.org.
Freelance writer Karl Wells is The Telegram’s restaurant critic. He also produces and hosts One Chef One Critic on Rogers T, karlwells.com
Sonya Hwang, Sunshine coast and Vancouver Island
Island SodaWorks Bistro, Qualicum Beach
Mandolyn Jonasson is my fermentation guru, the one that makes kvass-based soda in flavours such as salal, ginger, rose and lemonade. Now Island SodaWorks has relocated to downtown Qualicum Beach. The best way to describe what she’s doing at the bistro is to steal these words from my friend Adrian Brijbassi:
“Mandolyn Jonasson, the creator of Island SodaWorks Bistro, is so dedicated to healthy eating she has fashioned a menu of favourite comfort foods and built it with tasty ingredients from farms — including her own — in central Vancouver Island. At Jonasson’s bistro, you’ll enjoy ramen made with root noodles, fermented to soften, cooked in sesame oil, then served with seasonal greens, a hard-boiled egg and a broth made from organic, pastured chickens. Or coconut curry, topped with sprouted rice. The food is flavourful and lovingly presented on antique-looking china by a smiling Jonasson who on occasion will refer to guests as her ‘lovelies.’
‘By using these traditional comfort foods, like tacos, everybody loves tacos, and ramen, which is so popular now, I’m able to slide in these 12th-century ingredients, these ancient grains, healthy foods people may not normally eat or even know exist,’ says Jonasson, who consults recipes from hundreds of years ago to find inspiration for her dishes, replete with sprouted and fermented foods.”’ http://www.facebook.com/IslandSodaWorks
Fergie’s Café, Brackendale
There’s a magical little spot called Fergie’s that makes the best breakfast I have ever had. People drive from Vancouver to have breakfast there. A small little spot, but in the summer time, everyone spills out on to the lawn in front. They also just added this amazing new trailer to extend their seating capacity. www.sunwolf.net/fergies/
Mile One, Pemberton
This place; we drive from Whistler just to go for lunch there. They are firmly committed to supporting the local farmers. Their various Mac and Cheese are amazing, as are their beef burgers (with beef raised just down the road), and my husband has a serious addiction to the Sumo Burger (pork belly, bacon, apple and egg). http://www.mileoneeatinghouse.com/
Sonya Hwang, a PR maven based in BC, is always on the hunt for great food, preferably shared with good people. Most unusual meal? Deep fried crickets on a plate in Taiwan. Chirp, chirp!