3 Foodie Trails To Follow In Canada

Great routes through Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador.

23/10/2017 12:09 PM AEDT | Updated 26/10/2017 1:40 PM AEDT
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Never has food and travel been more closely entwined. An authentic form of experiential travel, exploring the food and drink culture of a country is the best way to step off the tourist trail, go beyond the museums and peel away any differences and language barriers. And in Canada -- a country of provinces and regions with unique culinary traditions -- there's something different to eat at almost every turn.

Working with local foodie experts we've put together three different food maps that take in everything from local delicacies, to culinary heavy hitters -- lip-smacking road trips that are guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding of gourmands.

1. A Newfoundland And Labrador Food Journey By Land and Sea

With a history and culture unlike any other part of Canada, it's unsurprising that the food in Newfoundland and Labrador is especially unique. So yummy is the fare from this province that its cuisine has spread across the country's east coast.

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St John's

Where To Eat

Start in Newfoundland and Labrador's capital city, St. John's where -- according to local foodie expert, cookbook author and founder of rockrecipes.com, Barry C. Parsons -- the food scene has exploded in the last decade.

A must-visit example of the local, sustainable 'terroir' cuisine (a French concept based on environmental factors surrounding growing produce) is Mallard Cottage restaurant.

"They do a fantastic brunch featuring house made sausage and local root vegetable hash," Parsons said.

"The dinner menu changes daily, but any of the seafood or local big game dishes are a must-try as are their whole hog pig roasts and lobster boils."

Port Rexton

Where To Stay

Drive for a few hours (approximately 250 kilometres) and you'll hit Port Rexton and its inn-cum-restautant, Fisher's Loft. Overlooking the picturesque harbour, staying here means a short stumble back to your bed after gorging on dishes prepared with produce from the Loft's extensive vegetable gardens and greenhouse.

Where To Eat

"(Fisher's Loft) has great dining with a changing seasonal local menu," Parsons said. "Picks include the cod with roasted leeks, potato puree and sesame brown butter."

What To Do

While here, you can work off some of the calories by hiking the incredibly scenic trails along the coast.

Bonavista

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The lighthouse at Cape Bonavista.

What To Eat

Leaving in the morning and travelling to Bonavista (less than an hour away) make a pitstop for lunch at The Bonavista Social Club for great wood fired pizza or their speciality -- the 'ultimate moose burger', which is renowned as one of the best burgers in Canada.

Fogo Island

Where To Stay

Back on the road, begin the journey to your final destination: Fogo Island. A few hours' drive and a short car ferry away and you'll arrive at the Fogo Island Inn.

Recently featured on BBC's "Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby" TV series, the emphasis here is on paddock-to-plate and the aforementioned terroir cuisine. There's also killer views of the surrounding Atlantic Ocean from the dining room.

Where To Eat

"There's nothing permanent on the menu," Parsons said of the restaurant at Fogo Island Inn.

"But unique things like local partridgeberry scones for breakfast are great. You'll also find everything from salt cod dishes to caribou sausages."

2. Pasta To Tapas in Alberta: Edmonton to Calgary's International Cuisine On A Plate

A melting pot of culinary influences from all over the world, thanks to a diverse multicultural population, Edmonton and Calgary in the Westcoast Province of Alberta both have an international flavour.

Bolstered by a thriving agricultural industry, producing everything from hops to honey, and a raft of lauded restaurants; the area is considered one of Canada's finest foodie destinations.

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Edmonton

Where To Stay

Starting in Edmonton, check into downtown's Matrix Hotel and then make a beeline for nearby lauded Italian restaurant, Uccellino for fresh, handmade pasta.

Where To Eat

"When you want complete satisfaction in a meal, you go to Uccellino," food blogger, Linda Hoang said.

"Everything is seasoned just right and tastes fresh. The gnocchi is the fluffiest and the ricotta crostini is the most delicious crostini you'll ever have."

Red Deer

What To Drink

Drive a further 150 kilometres south, and take a trip to local craft beer mecca Troubled Monk Brewery in Red Deer.

Positioned in the heart of hops and barley country, the award-winning brewery is the first in the area. To get an overview of their offering Hoang suggested trying a sampler paddle.

"It includes faves like the Golden Gaetz Golden Ale, Open Road Brown Ale, and Pesky Pig Pale Ale," Hoang said. "Non-drinkers can enjoy their craft root beer, ginger ale and cream soda. Pair your drinks with Sylvan Star cheese and sausages from Red Deer's Viva Deli."

Calgary

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Calgary at sunrise.

Where To Stay

Drive an hour and a half (around 150-kilometres) to Calgary and drop your bags at the upscale Hotel Arts, which is fresh from a multi-million dollar makeover.

Where To Eat

Head over to hip tapas bar, Ox Bar de Tapas on Calgary's buzzing 17th Avenue.

"It's ridiculously good," said Hoang. "A must try is the patas bravas with the housemade ox bravas sauce and aioli. For drinks, order the the Dingle gin from Ireland -- three will go down very easily."

3. The Foodie Delights of Southern Alberta's Cowboy Trail

A pretty route that skirts the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, the prairies, badlands and backroads of Southern Alberta is serious cowboy country.

Named for the string of ranches it winds past, the province has close to two million more cattle than it does humans, and is known for producing some of the highest quality beef on the planet.

So when travelling here -- as you'd expect -- there's plenty of it on the menu. And while you don't necessarily need a hat to do this trail, a fork and a healthy appetite are essential pieces of kit.

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Turner Valley

Where To Eat

Kicking off the trail in the town of Turner Valley, nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, make tracks to the bright red barn that houses local favourite, Chuckwagon Cafe. There, owner Terry Myhre's own herd of cattle is the focal point of the menu.

"They serve up burgers that are some of the best in Alberta," Alberta-based food blogger and founder of dinnerwithjulie.com, Julie Van Rosendaal said.

"Made with aged beef that's hand-ground, seasoned and shaped and served with their own homemade relish and hand-cut fries."

"Try the locally made pies too -- you can sidle up to the bar and have a slice, diner-style. They close in the early afternoon, so plan to stop in early."

What To Drink

Next door, the Eau Claire Distillery uses glacier water and grains from a local farm to distill gin, vodka and other spirits. They're also about to become Alberta's first single malt whiskey distillery.

"Pop in for a tour and taste and have a cocktail," Van Rosendaal said. "Try the Prickly Pear EquineOx -- it's the first spirit made by distilling local prickly pears."

Longview

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Bar U Ranch National Historic Site in Longview, Alberta.

What To See

Drive a short 19 kilometres from Turner Valley to the village of Longview. At its preserved historic Bar U Ranch, which is the only site commemorating the history of ranching in Canada, you'll get an understanding of the importance of ranching in the region.

Where To Eat

While in Longview you can also get a taste of a by-product of ranching at the famed Longview Steakhouse -- widely named as the best place to try the famed Alberta beef in the province.

"You'll need to make reservations here," Van Rosendaal said. "Also, head nearby to the Longview Jerky Shop. An entire shop dedicated to beef jerky, which they make in-house and sell in dozens of flavours. It's the perfect car snack for the road trip back."

Bragg Creek

Where To Stay

When it comes to picking base for your Alberta foodie adventure, try the picturesque Azuridge Estate Hotel nestled in the woods of Bragg Creek.

Where To Eat

"(Azuridge Estate Hotel) have an amazing restaurant," Van Rosendaal said. "And the general manager is Canada's only guilded butler, which is a definite claim to fame."

If your foodie adventures through Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador leave you wanting more, try a tour of Newfoundland and Labrador or an extended stay on Fogo Island, Alberta. Adventure World's Circle Newfoundland and Labrador package will take you on a 12 night trip through "the Far East of the Western World". You'll learn about ancient peoples -- the Maritime Archaic, Vikings, and Basques -- and get the chance to spot whales as you travel to coastal fishing communities to meet the friendly locals. Alternatively, World Journeys offer a three day/four night package to the stunning Fogo Island Inn. Staying in one of 29 exclusive suites -- each with floor to ceiling windows offering spectacular views of the Atlantic -- you can investigate the welcoming wilderness of the island all year round.

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