If you look at the food cultures in different areas of Canada, it says a lot about the history and it says a lot about the landscape and we think it says a lot about Canada.
—LIndsay Anderson, food blogger
Two food bloggers from Vancouver are eating their way across Canada and writing about their findings on their blog, Feast: An Edible Road Trip.
They spent this last week in Manitoba and were impressed with what the saw, the people they met, and most importantly, what they ate. In fact, Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller were glad to have some of their preconceived ideas blown up.
"I think we're guilty of doing what a lot of people do, which is thinking of the prairies as being strictly grain and canola and not so much berries and cherries and other fruits like seabuckthorn," says Anderson.
"The diversity and variety is pretty outstanding," she adds. "I think the food scene generally speaking in Winnipeg is very underrated by the rest of North America and there's so much happening here, so that's pretty exciting."
The initial inspiration for the cross-Canada tour came from asking the question, 'what is Canadian food?'
"We know that you'd never be able to pin it down to one national dish, but people say that aside from maple syrup and poutine, Canada doesn't really have a food culture," says Anderson.
The writers knew there was a lot more to it than that and decided to do a comprehensive trip across the country to meet local producers and come up with a lot more answers.
"This trip is all about celebrating regional diversity and regional food cultures," she says. "Because if you look at the food cultures in different areas of Canada, it says a lot about the history and it says a lot about the landscape and we think it says a lot about Canada."
In Winnipeg the pair took the "Devour the District" restaurant tour of the Exchange District, then returned to Boon Burger for more.
"It's the first vegan burger café that I've ever seen and we loved it," she says. "I kept thinking, man this place would do so well in Vancouver."
Other firsts include eating at Chez Sophie Sur le Pont, the only restaurant in North America on a bridge, and learning about Raw: Almond, the pop-up restaurant that opened on the river at The Forks this past winter.
"Pop-ups are big, but not pop-ups on a river in a city that hits -40 degrees in the wintertime," she says, laughing.
They also reveled in tapas at Segovia and enjoyed meeting chef Talia Syrie at Neechi Commons, where they tasted wild blueberries that had just come in, as well as wild rice croquettes, wild rice pudding and a bison burger.
"That whole setup and that whole cooperative is a very cool model that I think a lot of others will try to emulate," she says.
Their Manitoba tour began just south of Riding Mountain National Park where they enjoyed a wood-fired pizza at the Foxtail Café.
The northern junket was well timed, because they were able to take in the Harvest Sun Music Festival in Kelwood, MB, and join in on the Supper in the Field. There they enjoyed unique local specialties like birch syrup iced coffee, maple syrup iced coffee, grass-fed beef and an extremely regional dish that they'd never tried before, beet buns. Anderson describes them as light balls of savoury dough, fried like donuts, then wrapped in beet leaves and simmered in a creamy dill sauce.
"They were amazing," she says. "They were really, really tender and they were a huge hit at our table."
They also ate what they described as the best pie they've ever tasted, made by a woman who runs the White Rabbit Café in Kelwood.
"It was raspberry rhubarb pie and we both just completely lost it over this pie, it was so good," she says.
The pair even managed to squeeze in a visit to the 100 Masters show at the WAG and take in the impressive Manito Ahbee pow wow at the MTS Centre, with food catered by Neechi.
Their cross-Canada tour will take them to St. John's, NL by the end of October with a further excursion planned for Nunavut.
Food for Folks sets up at Main Street Farmers' Market in the parking lot of Neechi Commons.