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What do Poutine, Nanaimo Bars, and a Caesar cocktail all have in common? They are all Canadian dishes invented in Canada, consumed in Canada, but virtually unheard of outside of our borders. In celebration of the 150th year of Confederation, here are our top 5 Canadian foods and where to find them in Victoria, BC

Poutine

What’s the story: Invented in Quebec in the 1950’s and now mostly consumed late at night by drunk college kids. 
What is it? Fries, gravy, and cheese curds. 
Fun Fact: In 2007 CBC declared it one of the top 10 Canadian inventions of all time!
Best places to score a Poutine in Victoria: 1. Smoke & Anchor (Fisherman’s Wharf) 2. La Belle Patate (Esquimalt) 3. North 48 Restaurant (Downtown).

Poutine at Smoke & Anchor

Poutine at Smoke & Anchor

Nanaimo Bar

What’s the story: Claims to have been invented in Nanaimo BC in the late 1950s but this is debatable.
What is it? A sweet no-baked bar with a coconut base, a custard filling, and a chocolate ganache top.
Fun Fact: The town of Nanaimo has a Nanaimo bar trail with 39 stops! That’s a lot of Nanaimo Bars!
Best places to score a Nanaimo Bar in Victoria: 1. Courtyard Cafe (Grand Pacific Hotel) 2. La Roux Patisserie (Chinatown) 3. Roger’s Chocolate (Government Street).

Nanaimo Bar from Courtyard Cafe

Nanaimo Bar from Courtyard Cafe

Caesar Cocktail

What’s the story: Invented by Walter Chell in Calgary in 1969.
What is it? A cocktail with Clamato (a mix of tomato juice and clam nectar), vodka, worcester sauce, tobasco, and a celery salt rim.
Fun Fact: Canadian consume more than 1 million Caesars a day. We REALLY love this cocktail
Best places to score a Caesar cocktail in Victoria: 1. The Blue Crab (Coast Hotel) 2. Hawk & Hen (Yates Street) 3. Jam Cafe (Downtown).

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Maple Syrup

What’s the story: First Nations people have been tapping maple trees in Eastern Canada for 1000’s of years. 
What’s in it? Maple sap. That’s it. Just pure delicious maple sap.
Fun Fact: 80% of the world’s maple syrup is produced in Canada, mostly in Quebec. 
Best place to score some maple syrup in Victoria: 1. Olive This and More (Broughton) 2. Any brunch restaurant that has pancakes on the menu 3. Whole foods Victoria (Uptown). Seriously, they have a great selection!

Maple Syrup infused balsamic vinegar at Olive This and More

Maple Syrup infused balsamic vinegar at Olive This and More

Beavertails

What’s the story: Invented in Ontario in the late 1970’s by a husband and wife duo.
What’s in it: Whole wheat pastry deep fried then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and sometimes a slice of lemon. It’s called a beavertail because of it’s shape.
Fun Fact: When Obama visited Ottawa in the 2000’s he stopped at the original Beavertail booth. They named a tail after him.
Best place to score a beavertail in Victoria: There is only one place…Beavertails owned by Mark on Broughton Street!

Beavertails on Broughton

Beavertails on Broughton

Canada 150 Food Tour

Want to eat like a Canadian and try all of these dishes? Join our Canada 150 Food Tour running Monday-Saturday from 3-5.30pm to experience the food & culture of the true north strong and free! Click HERE for more details!

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It’s our first year participating in Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown in Victoria this weekend! We are offering 50% off our newest tour: Historic Downtown Culinary Tour. Tour runs from 10.30am-12.30pm. How to book?
1. Visit our website at:
http://www.offtheeatentracktours.ca/victoria/historic-downtown-food-tour/
2. Click Buy Ticket widget. Use Promo Code: Victoria2017 to get the discount
3. Choose the right date: Feb 23, 24, or 25th
4. Enjoy a lovely morning of food & beverages with a local guide!

Here is just a taste of what to expect on the tour:
1. Locally roasted coffee from 2% Jazz

2. Bao Buns from Bao Victoria:

3. Unique Poutine from Vij’s Sutra:

4. French Macarons from La Roux Patisserie:

5. Local craft beer from Hawk & Hen:

Plus a guided tour of the historic Hudson Bay Building, Chinatown, and newly renovated Market Square! For more info on Be A tourist visit: https://attractionsvictoria.com/be-a-tourist/

Chinatown in Victoria may be one of the oldest in North America but it has recently seen an influx of new and modern food establishments opening in the past month. From French pastries to Korean steamed buns, the new Victoria Chinatown is fast turning in to an exciting place to eat in the city!

1. Bao Victoria (626 Fisgard Street) – Opened June 2016

Taking over the old Noodle Box location (the owners worked for the company for years),  this new Korean style eatery is serving up all sorts of delicious treats including the mind blowing steamed buns. The flavours are always changing but they always carry a pork based bun and even a vegan version (coming soon).

2. La Roux Patisserie (519 Fisgard Street) – Opened June 2016

This place just screams France! From the fancy black and white decor to the delicate pastries in the window. Emily Hatlelid is one of the owners and the head pastry chef. After attending culinary school and getting a work placement at Murchies, she moved to Paris to further her trade before moving back to Victoria to open this lovely patisserie with her business partner Rebecca Godin.

 3. Kid Sister Ice Cream (10 Fan Tan Alley) – Opened June 2016

This local boutique ice cream company has been in the game for a few years but they now have a shop in the newly renovated Fan Tan Alley. Serving up ice cream and gourmet popsicles (otherwise known as Paletas – fruit popsicles). I have a feeling this place will do very well this summer!

 

 We are very excited to be participating in the upcoming Victoria Dine Around & Stay in Town Festival! We will be offering two culinary tours in partnership with Tourism Victoria. For more information on the festival and to be entered in to win $1000 worth of gift certificates click HERE.

Food-Tography Culinary Tour: Feb 21, Feb 28, March 07 ($65)

Who doesn’t love to take pictures of their food? On this culinary tour of historic and vibrant Victoria, we encourage you to shoot your food and share your pictures with the world. Two local companies, Off the Eaten Track and Victoria Photowalks, have paired up to create this truly unique tour that combines a photography lesson with a culinary tour. Tour participants will eat their way through four local eateries while getting tips and lessons from a seasoned photography pro. So bring your camera and your appetite and learn how to properly capture your favorite food moments. Whether you’re new to photography or looking for some insider tips, all levels are welcome. Same goes for you foodies out there! Cost includes all food & beverage samples and a photography & culinary guide.

For more tour info and tickets click HERE

Knife & Fort Culinary Tour: Feb 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, March 5, 6 ($38.25)

Join this 1.5 hour tour of one of the tastiest streets in Victoria! Known as antique row, Fort street is home to quirky second hand shops, European delis, and tasty locally owned restaurants. This fun and informative tour is a great opportunity to try some new hidden gems and pick up some unique and tasty gifts. On this tour we sip and sample our way along Fort Street stopping at The Little Cheese Shop, Choux Choux Charcuterie, Chorizo & Co, La Taquisa, and Crust Bakery.  Learn about this historic neighbourhood and meet the business owners that make this tasty street thrive! Cost includes all food & beverage samples and tour guide.

For more tour info and tickets click HERE

yaletown distillery

Well hello there dudes, happy Movember! In honour of all the great dudes out there we’ve created a food tour especially for you. This tour has all your culinary favorites; local beer, pizza, tacos, a private distillery tour, and even dude-inspired cupcakes. 5% of all ticket sales will be donated to the Movember Canada Foundation. And ladies, you are definitely welcome to join the tour and support that awesome dude in your life, but only the dudes get to take home a pretty sweet “swag bag” filled with cool dude stuff.

Buy Tickets Here:
Eventbrite - Movember Dude Food Tour

Mussels

We LOVE this tasty and local dish from one of our fantastic tour partners in Victoria, Choux Choux Charcuterie. September is our favorite time to eat sweet ripe tomato’s and paired with some spicy chorizo, this is a perfect dish for a nice dinner. Why not pair it with a local Victoria wine like the 2011 Roussanne from deVine Vineyards.

Steamed Salt Spring Island Mussels with Tomato & Chorizo
Ingredients:

2lbs mussels, cleaned & rinsed
1 link spanish chorizo, cut into rounds
1 jar matiz sofrito (this is a miracle of onions garlic & tomatoes sautéed in olive oil)
1 baguette (we like Fol Epi)

Preparation:

Put a large pot with a tight fitting lid on medium-low heat. Add the chorizo, stir occasionally until fat just starts to render, 3-5mins. Add sofrito and increase heat to high. Once sofrito is bubbling add mussels, cover, reduce heat to medium-high, shaking pot from time to time. Serve with sliced baguette once all the shells have opened, about 8-12 minutes.
serves 4

Who doesn’t love a good beet dip? Who I ask you! We manged to smuggle this recipe out of the new Belgard Kitchen in the uber cool Settlement Building in trendy Railtown. Serve with crudites and a side of almonds, this dish is perfect on a sunny spring day.

Ruby Red Beet Dip from Belgard Kitchen

Ruby Red Beet Dip from Belgard Kitchen

Ruby Red Beet Dip

By Executive Chef Reuben Major

Ingredients:

5 medium beets, peeled and baked

1/2 cup goat cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup tahini

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice

1.5 tsp red wine vinegar

1.5 tsp salt

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Prepare beets by peeling and chopping them into large pieces. Place the beets on a baking sheet and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until beets are tender. Have a fork handy to pierce the beets: they’re done when you feel little to no resistance when piercing the beet. Set aside and let cool completely

In a large bowl, incorporate all remaining ingredients.

Once beets have cooled, add them to the bowl and puree until texture is smooth.

Enjoy!

My two week vacation in Maui is sadly coming to an end! I have spent the last 12 days scouring the island for amazing food and I have not been disappointed. I am not much for buying souvenirs with the exception of buying local food. Here are my top 5 choices for Maui-made products to bring home:

5. Coffee
Though coffee is not native to Hawaii, the climate and topography offers some of the most ideal growing conditions in the world! There are plenty of companies to choose from, including the famous beans grown on the Kona coast. For a local Maui company, I liked Lava Java. The plants were brought over from Kona and now they are nestled on the slopes of the local volcano Haleakala. I visited the shop in Kihei almost everyday for a nice iced latte. http://www.lavajavamaui.com

The Espresso Roast from the local Lava Java company

The Espresso Roast from the local Lava Java company

4. Salt
I have a bit of an obsession with salt and it is one of my favorite souvenirs to buy when I travel. I was very happy to see that Maui has an extensive array of different salts available. One of the most prominent companies was started by a local named Nancy Gove. Her company Pacifica Hawaii has numerous salt flavours from Black Lava to Koloa Rum. These salts are sold in many places but here’s a tip: for the cheapest price, visit the Foodland grocery store in South Kihei! http://www.pacificahawaii.com/index.php

Blush Lava salt from Pacifica Hawaii

Blush Lava salt from Pacifica Hawaii

3. Wine
The winery at Ulupalakua in the Upcountry region of Maui has been around since 1974 and they make both wine and fruit based wines. I have really been enjoying the Maui Splash fruit wine. With it’s pineapple and passion fruit taste, this wine mixed with a bit of soda water and lots of ice is a great sipper in the hot Hawaii sun. And for a lovely $11 price (retails for $13 if you buy it at winery) I have been sipping away perhaps a bit more than I should admit. http://www.mauiwine.com/

The wonderful fruity Maui Splash pineapple wine.

The wonderful fruity Maui Splash pineapple wine.

2. Granola
Okay, I’m cheating a bit on this one. I have totally been digging on Anahola Granola, a company that is actually based on the island of Kauai. I have been having a bowl of the Tropical flavour with ripened papaya, coconut, pineapple, and local Hawaiian honey. You can buy this granola in most stores throughout Maui and they even ship to Canada! http://anaholagranola.com/index.php

The Tropical flavour granola from Anahola Granola

The Tropical flavour granola from Anahola Granola

1. Local Jam/Jelly
I went to the local swap meet in Kahului that happens every Saturday and I discovered one of my favorite things! The company is called Jeff’s Jams and Jellies and he makes local spreads that are to die for. I was partial to the Lilikoi Lavender Jelly (lilikoi is also known as passion fruit) but I also bought the Kula onion jelly, spicy mango jelly and the pineapple coconut jam. Jeff (the owner and chef of the company) was born and raised on Maui and his products really make a fantastic local gift. I am going to have a really hard time parting with these spreads that I bought for friends, I’m hoping they will crack them open when I happen to be around. http://www.jeffsjamsandjellies.com/index.html

Local spreads from Jeff's Jams and Jellies

Local spreads from Jeff’s Jams and Jellies

 

Stacks of the local pineapple

Stacks of the local pineapple

 
Aloha from Hawaii! I have been in Maui for the past week and I have had an incredible time! There is so much to do and see on this beautiful island, not to mention all the amazing food that I have been trying! Here are my top 5 dining experiences so far:

5. Saimin noodles from Sam Sato’s:
Tucked away in an industrial park in the small town of Wailuku, this noodle joint is consistently packed. And not a tourist in site! I tried the Saimin noodles, a tasty chewy salty dish served with a hot dashi broth. Saimin noodles were developed in Hawaii during the plantation era and like most Hawaiian food, they have a distinct Asian influence.

The Saimin noodles from the famous Sam Sato's in Wailuku.

The Saimin noodles from the famous Sam Sato’s in Wailuku.

 

4. BBQ Kalbi from street festival in Makawao
I stumbled on to this cool street festival in the cowboy town of Makawao. The smell of BBQ lured me in and I just had to try what they were cooking on these big open grills. And boy am I glad I tried it. Kalbi marinated beef, sticky white rice, corn, and a green salad, yum! The best short ribs i’ve ever had! Kalbi is a Korean-influenced marinade that has soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and some local cane sugar for some sweetness.

Street festival at Makawao

Street festival at Makawao

Amazing bbq plate with Kalbi pork, sticky rice, and corn.

Amazing bbq plate with Kalbi pork, sticky rice, and corn.

3. Shave Ice:
Take a block of ice and shave off super thin slices. Add local flavours such as guava, pineapple, or coconut. Serve. Refreshing, delicious, and fun. What more can be said?
Shave Ice

 

2. Maui Winery on Ulupalukua Ranch:
At the end of a very winding but beautiful road lies the Maui Winery located on the picturesque Ulupalukua Ranch. They began growing grapes here in 1974 and while they waited for the grapes to mature, they decided to develop a sparkling wine made from the plentiful pineapples grown on the Island. Now they have both grape and pineapple based wine for sale. I bought the fruit forward Maui Splash which I will be saving for a nice hot day!

Assortment of grape and pineapple wines from Maui's winery

Assortment of grape and pineapple wines from Maui’s winery

 

The Ulupalakua Winery in Upcountry

The Ulupalakua Winery in Upcountry

1. Surfing Goat Dairy:
The organic cheese that is produced by this goat farm is fantastic! With over 30 different cheeses and an interesting goat cheese chocolate truffle selection, it was hard to pick what I wanted to sample! I had heard that the mango chevre was delicious so I was sure to get a sample of that in my tasting plate. It definitely lived up to the hype!

Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

Sample of 6 of the soft goat cheeses from Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

Sample of 6 of the soft goat cheeses from Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

Interesting goat cheese flavours from Surfing Goat Dairy farm

Interesting goat cheese flavours from Surfing Goat Dairy farm

Railtown Studios

Railtown Studios

Never heard of Railtown before? Well you soon will! Railtown, the unofficial name for the area just east of Gastown, is an up-and-coming neighbourhood that is quickly becoming a hot spot in the city for amazing restaurants. Gritty, historic, and teeming with artist lofts, design shops, and tech companies, this neighbourhood is an interesting mix of new and old.

Here are our top five foodie reasons you should visit:

1. H.A.V.E Cafe (374 Powell Street)
http://www.have-cafe.ca/

Chef Amber Anderson at H.A.V.E Cafe

Chef Amber Anderson at H.A.V.E Cafe

The HAVE Culinary Training Society is a culinary training school that provides food service job training and work opportunities to individuals in Vancouver who experience barriers to employment. H.A.V.E.‘s students are youth and adults facing mental and physical disabilities, poverty, addiction and homelessness. Over the past 5 years, they have successfully trained 500+ students with over 75% of those students gaining steady employment in the tourism and hospitality industry. Plus they have an amazing cafe serving up all kinds of great food. Try the tomato soup, it will blow your mind!

2. Vancouver Urban Winery (55 Dunlevy Ave)
http://vancouverurbanwinery.com/

The Roaring Twenties Wine at Vancouver Urban Winery

The Roaring Twenties Wine at Vancouver Urban Winery

 

The store at Vancouver Urban Winery

The store at Vancouver Urban Winer

With 24-foot ceilings and over 7,000 square feet of space, even the building (built in 1924 for you history buffs!) is impressive. Even more impressive? The wine on tap concept. Relatively new to Canada, this movement is taking hold all over the city (they currently supply over 70 restaurants throughout  Vancouver). Essentially wineries from all over Canada send in their wine and these guys put it into steel kegs to sell on tap to various establishments. All the flavour of the wine is unchanged with the added benefit of less bottles in the landfill and no corked wine that goes bad!

You can stop in for a wine tasting at their beautiful tasting bar which includes 5 samples of wine including their very own brand, the Roaring Twenties. Pair that with some delicious bites from Railtown Cafe and you’ve got yourself one fantastic night out. P.S they are open late on Friday night!

3. Railtown Cafe (397 Railway Street)
http://railtowncafe.ca/

Railtown Cafe

The beautiful deli counter at Railtown Cafe

This bright and airy cafe opened last summer and it is a great addition to the neighbourhood. They specialize in a cooking technique known as sous vide. For those of you not addicted to reality cooking shows, sous vide is a method of cooking food (mostly proteins) that involves sealing the food in a vacuum pack and then boiling it at a very specific temperature for long periods of time. Yes, it sounds a lot like boil-a-bag but I assure you this is much more complex. The benefits? Perfectly cooked food with no oil and lots of flavour. Railtown cafe has a great assortment of home-made salads, sandwiches, soups, and sweets. They are only open during the week so if you are looking for a new work lunch spot, this is the place to head to!

4. Big Lou’s Butcher Shop (269 Powell Street)
http://www.biglousbutchershop.com/

Sandwich at Big Lou's Butcher Shop

Sandwich at Big Lou’s Butcher Shop

Bonnie & Andy at Big Lou's Butcher Shop

Bonnie & Andy at Big Lou’s Butcher Shop

Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is not owned by Big Lou. Big Lou was the childhood mentor of Karl Gregg who is co-owner of the busy shop along with 2 Chefs and a Table, another popular eatery in the neighbourhood. When asked why local butcher shops are gaining in popularity, Karl answered “I think people are starting to appreciate sustainable and traditional nose-to-tail butchery. Nowadays, people want to know where their meat is coming from.”

The meat at Big Lou’s is sourced from local farms including Polderside, Pemberton Meadows, and Sloping Hills. The display cases and deli counters are a tribute to old-style butcher shops and they have  a wide selection of fresh cut meats on offer and deli sandwiches made fresh. My favorite is the pastrami sandwich. This mammoth of a meal includes one pound of pastrami topped off with house-made pickles, hot mustard, and sauerkraut. Yes please.

5. Cadeaux Bakery (172 Powell Street)
www.cadeauxbakery.com

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Spiced nuts at Cadeaux Bakery

Cadeaux 2

The beautiful display case at Cadeaux Bakery

Do you like delicate sweets that are beautiful to look at and bursting with flavour? Do you like an airy bright bakery with an open kitchen and modern design? How about lovely staff headed by two world-class bakers? Well guess what, Cadeaux bakery has all of that and they are just around the corner! Opened in January 2012, owners Eleanor Chow and Slavita Johnson have impressive resumes (Lumiere, Blue Water Cafe, and Chambar to name a few) and an even more impressive repertoire of recipes. All of their products are seasonal and made on premise and are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Now, want to visit all these places in one amazing afternoon?

We just happen to have a fantastic culinary tour that will go to all these wonderful places where you get to try a sample at each place and meet the owners and staff that make this neighbourhood thrive! The Railtown Tour runs every Thursday and Friday afternoon from 1.30-3.30pm. Cost is $50 with 5% of the ticket price being donated to the HAVE Culinary Training Society.

To book or for more information visit: http://offtheeatentracktours.ca/vancouver/tours/railtown-tour/

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