Saturday, November 11, 2023

Weekend Cooking: What We Ate on Holidays - Canada

Advance notice - this post is photo heavy!!

After the heat of Hawaii, we flew overnight to Seattle and then caught the first ferry from there to Victoria in British Columbia. Apart from having to wait around for a couple of hours for the ferry, this was a very pleasant way of getting to Victoria. We even saw some orcas from the ferry which was cool. This was my first time in Canada so we were very much looking forward to having a look around.

One of the things that we try to do at least once on every trip now is some kind of foodie walking tour. We had contemplated doing one in San Francisco, but we were going to run out of time so we decided to do one in Victoria which focussed on hidden gems, and boy were there some gems in there!

The meeting point was at a groovy cafe which is located near the former Hudson's building which means that straight away you are not getting just food but also history, which is one of the reasons why I love a good walking tour! The building is now home to public market. One of the interesting things about this market was that it had a community space that you could rent out, so you could hold a big get together, do all the cooking in the space and serve it there too

The first tasting was for a smoky corn chowder which I thought was delicious. It's not the kind of thing that I would necessarily have picked on a menu but it was good, but I might now, depending on what else was on there.

From there we went to what I think was my favourite stop which was a Indian cafe which features food from the Kerala region, which is in the south of the country. We tried a hot drink called Sulaimani, which was delicious. It is a tea drink which has spices such as cloves and cardamon added to it. The other thing that we tried here was an egg puff. This is puff pastry which has a masala curry and hard boiled egg filling! It was so good and something I had never seen before.

Our next stop was a Japanese shop which had all sorts of interesting treats in there, and we got to have onigiri. After very specific instructions on how to open the packaging from Brenda, the tour guide, we could choose from multiple different flavours.

The next stop was at a taco place called Maiiz which uses a process called nixtimilization to make their corn tortillas. This method of preparing tacos increases the nutritional values compared to using corn flour. We were even able to meet the chef who was very passionate about using this technique and producing great food.

Part of the tour wandered through China Town, which is the oldest in Canada. It was interesting to hear this history and compare it with the treatment that the Chinese received in Australia during the Gold Rush. There were lots of similarities. The most famous street is called Fan Tan Alley, a very narrow street which has many different shops. There was even a book set in the alley, where a woman enters a shop on the alley and finds herself flung back in time. The book is called White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson. A couple of the people on the tour loved the book apparently.

Other stops included a mother and daughter run chocolate shop, a dumpling store which was a family owned business that grew out out of the pandemic and a local brewery which had some very interesting flavours available. I sampled a Scandinavian ale.

After the tour was finished we caught one of the adorable little water taxis that go all over the harbor. They are super cute and this was one of the highlights of Victoria for us.

From Victoria we caught the ferry across to Vancouver, once again a very civil way to travel, and it was gorgeous sailing through all the islands as part of the trip. We were staying on Robson Street in Vancouver, and there was a lot of food around the hotel. There was a ramen shop opposite the hotel which had queues of people there day and night. At one point, we thought about going there to see what the fuss was, but it didn't quite happen.

In Vancouver we had what was probably the best dinner we had on our trip. We just went to a local Italian place, which was packed even though it was a Monday night. The bread came out and instead of having butter with it there was a marinara sauce, which I haven't seen before. It was so delicious. We then had the Tomato and Bocconcini Salad, which was a lovely mix of different types of tomato. For mains I went retro and had Chicken Marsala which was so good. By this point, we were actually pretty full but everything had been so good that we decided to share a dessert. It was worth it!!

One of the things that we knew we wanted to do in Vancouver was visit Granville Island markets which we had heard about on a travel program a few months ago. It was a really fun place to visit. We bought the jars of Bubble Bombs I talked about last week plus some macarons but there were lots of interesting things to look at. Whilst it is a tourist destination, the food part felt like a place that people who live nearby would really shop at.

The one food thing that we really wanted to try while we were in Canada was Poutine. We asked at the hotel and they directed us to a nearby restaurant which is part of a chain, and not only was there no poutine, but the food was decidedly average! The next day though we found a place that had good reviews and had our first taste of poutine. Yum!!!

My husband enjoyed it so much that he ordered it again for dinner that night, but the one from the poutine place was better!! It's funny because chips and gravy is very much comfort food but I would never have thought to add cheese. We will be in future.

After our very disappointing dinner at the chain restaurant, we said no to dessert there but as we walked back to the hotel we decided to try some Japanese cheesecake tarts. I was most surprised when they were served up to us warm

On our last day in Vancouver we walked around Stanley Park and then found ourselves at Canada Place. My husband decided that he had a hankering for Belgian Waffles so we were wandering around looking for some, when we stumbled across a Dutch place so instead of Belgian Waffles, we had Dutch Pancakes and a hot chocolate which reminded us of those that we had in the Netherlands and France earlier this year.  It was such a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by, especially as we were able to watch the sea planes take off and land right in front of us.

We loved our time in Victoria and Vancouver and we can definitely see ourselves going back to Canada again at some point.

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Chicken Enchiladas
Sunday -  Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta Bake
Monday - Out for dinner
Tuesday - Meatballs
Wednesday - Away
Thursday - Away
Friday - Away

It seems strange to be away again after we have only just got back from our holiday, but unfortunately my dad passed away this week so I had to travel to Perth for his funeral.

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  1. I enjoyed reading about your trip to Canada immensely. All of the food looks and sounds delicious. I love the idea of Marinara sauce with the bread. We were in Canada in Toronto and Montreal once- mostly to visit family.

  2. Victoria is a favorite of mine! I have been a couple of times, and would go back in a heartbeat! Vancouver was the last vacation we took as a family, and I have been able to go back since, your comment about Stanley Park brought back memories of that vacation.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear of your father's passing.
    I am glad you liked Victoria, it is a favourite of mine. And you liked poutine, I love it too. But the original, not with any of that fancy other stuff on it.

  4. Sorry to hear if your dad’s passing.
    Welcome to Canada! But come east next time, and I don’t mean Toronto-east, although Toronto is awesome. Come to PEI! Seafood is awesome, and we are branding ourself as Canada’s food Island. Excited you got some poutine and can’t wait for you to visit us.

  5. So sorry about the loss of your father! I am glad you had such a wonderful holiday before that happened. I am thinking about going to Vancouver in February (not the ideal time but best for other plans). I took that speedy ferry to Victoria from Seattle once and enjoyed my day there although regret not having tea at the famous Empress Hotell). It was very expensive and I was on my own so no one to enjoy it with, although had met an acquaintance for lunch.