Did you know that Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world? To put it into context, it would take you the same amount of time to fly from Heathrow to Dubai, as it would to fly from one end of Canada to the other.
Because of its size and British and French roots, the food scene massively varies depending on which region you visit.
I had the privilege of living in one of the most exciting and multicultural cities in the world – Toronto.
Here I’ll take you through a few of my favourite finds, ranging from typical Canadian, to flavours from all around the world.
This is probably the best-known Canadian dish and the top answer if you Googled ‘Canadian cuisine’.
When I first saw the description and images of ‘poutine’, I knew I’d be a fan, and that I was. The perfect combination of chips (or French fries as they call them over there), gravy and cheese – if that doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will.
Originating in the Quebec region of Canada in the 1950’s, this is now one of the most widely offered dishes in Canada, whether as a main dish or a side, with even McDonald’s offering it on their menu.
They love it so much that they have a dedicated poutine festival in the summer. Here vendors from around the country gather in one place all trying to sell you the best poutine – these vary from the traditional to their own creations, with my personal favourite being the caramelised onion and maple bacon poutine – the perfect blend of sweet and salty.
2. CN Tower
One of Toronto’s biggest tourist attractions, this impressive 553m high tower in the downtown area is the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere. At the top is an exclusive restaurant with incredible views out onto the city and Lake Ontario. Firstly, board the high speed all glass lift and look at out as you reach the restaurant 350m above ground. The restaurant itself rotates very slowly ensuring you get 360-degree views, which at sunset are breath-taking. The food is all locally sourced with a big emphasis on traditional recipes, and the menu changes with the seasons. They also have a variety of Canadian wines.
3. Taiwanese Fried Chicken
Fried chicken like I’d never tasted before. Being one of the most renowned street foods in Taiwan, I was excited to try the fried chicken from the chain Monga. Here they take fresh chicken fillets marinade them with honey, dip them in their secret recipe batter, then fry to perfection. This juicy, crisp and tender chicken was so delicious and moreish I kept going back for more. And what’s even better is that I’ve found that they have a restaurant in London, so I know where I’ll be going once we’re allowed.
4. Thai Street Food
Imagine eating at one of the best restaurants in the city, where people struggle to get a booking for months, and you didn’t even know it. This is exactly what happened to me on my first night in Toronto. I ended up at a place across the road from where I was staying, a place called Khao San Road, which I later found out is one of the best rated and loved Thai restaurants in the city. After eating my meal, I could understand why – authentic Thai street food served in a restaurant with a great atmosphere that transported you to Thailand. The food was the most delicious Thai I’ve ever had, with very authentic flavours. My dish here was the Pad Kee Mao, a tasty noodle dish with vegetables, garlic, oyster sauce and soy sauce.
5. Craft Breweries & wineries
Now I know this isn’t food, but I couldn’t write this blog and not include a little bit about the amazing craft breweries and wineries that Toronto and the region have to offer.
The Toronto beer scene is booming with over 40 different breweries around the city offering every type of beer possible. Some of my favourites were Millstreet Brewery, Amsterdam Brewery and Steam Whistle Brewery. Wine wise, the Niagara region (near Niagara Falls) is world renowned for its amazing selection of wines, and with around 88 wineries there’s plenty of choice for every taste. My personal favourite from the few that I got to visit was the Inniskillin Estate, a beautiful estate with great wines (and food).
I could go on and on with many more places that I got to experience in this diverse city. But hopefully I’ve given you a taste of this wonderful city and a few places to try if you ever find yourself in Toronto.