Canada’s greatest culinary exports

Find Montreal-style bagels at Smoking Gun in Sydney

Find Montreal-style bagels at Smoking Gun in Sydney

From centuries-old recipes to innovations on food culture, we pick our favourite food and drink exports to make it our way from Canada.

Maple syrup, bacon and poutine. What else is there to know? A lot. Canada has a rich and diverse food culture that draws influence from French cuisine, the recipes of the First Nations, and a long history of naval trading and immigration. There are as many unique recipes as there are innovative producers looking to get the best out of their fertile land. We've tried them all. Here's our pick of Canada's best.

Okanagan Valley wines
It's a wonder how poutine and maple syrup have become Canada's leading culinary exports when the country produces such a unique suite of wines. The best of the lot come from the Okanagan Valley and the Niagara Peninsula. Of the enormous number of varietals and styles produced in the two regions, the most distinct is ice wine, a refreshing sweet wine made by harvesting grapes frozen on the vine. As the water in the grapes freeze but the sugars (and other flavour compounds) do not, the result is a surprisingly acidic but syrupy wine with a peach or green-apple like quality.
Try it here: Cave Spring's Beamsville Beach at Rockpool Bar and Grill, Perth.

Montréal-style bagels
These are not ordinary bagels. The doctrine of the Montréal school of bagels says every bagel needs to be first boiled in honeyed water and then baked in a wood-fired oven. While their more famous New York cousins are fluffy and chewy, Montréal bagels have a crunchy crust and denser, sweeter middle. Toppings are also much more basic. You'll find almost exclusively poppy seeds or sesame as far as flavours go (schmears, egg or even garlic are extremely rare) but lack of variety is never an issue when the base product is this good.
Try it here: Smoking Gun Bagels, Wolloomoolloo.

Related: how to spend 48 hours in Montréal.

Nanaimo bars
Canada's very own chocolate bar. The three-layer treat is made by crafting a layer of chocolatey wafer crumbs with nuts, biscuits, coconut and butter then topping that with custard buttercream and a final layer of semi-sweet chocolate. Birthed in Nanaimo, British Colombia (specifically where or who is a typically complicated battle) the cakes have become enormously popular all over Canada and, increasing, outside of it as well.
Try it here: Love Dem Apples, Bondi, or The Baker's Arms, Wolloongabba. 

Joe Beef
Not a single food item or drink but a restaurant, started by chefs David McMillan and Fred Morin. Joe Beef is a necessary inclusion though because of its influence on a lot of other edible things in and outside of Canada. The reason for their success and wide-ranging influence is a focus on taste. That may seem overly simple but if you unpack what that involves you get a complete reversion of the traditional fine-dining approach. The menu features indulgent mainstays like lobster, squid-ink, fresh oysters and the finest cuts of rib-eye steak but it is served in a basic and relaxed tavern-like venue that reflects the local community and Montréal's history.
Try it: The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts.

Almost every culture has a style of unleavened bread and this is Canada's. Simply put, it's flour, water, salt and some kind of fat (usually lard) cooked on a griddle to result in a crusty-edged, doughy-centred flatbread. It's easy, delicious and storied, with a long history mixed with influences from pre-colonial Canada and the Scottish oat-cake by the same name which came with the Scottish fur traders. These days it's also being claimed by a new generation of Canadian and international bakers and restauranteurs wanting to bring a slice of history to their craft.
Try it using this recipe.


This article is presented by Destination Canada.

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