For a varied food adventure, set your sights on our neighbors to the north. Although parts of Canada can feel like a metric-version extension of the United States, and especially so in the province of Ontario, its unique and varied food landscape lends itself to interesting (and delicious) culinary explorations.
For ideas on planning your Canadian food forays, the focus here is on top destinations from Toronto heading east. You'll find everything from food markets to top notch wineries, from the most urbane restaurants to bucolic farmstands, and, if you decide to visit Montreal, a need to brush off the ol' high school French.
Although it's not impossible, it's not easy to find a bad meal in Montreal. This decidedly French city combines the best of French culinary sensibilities with North American ethnic diversity and produce, for a mélange that is hard to beat. The must-see stops
on any food lover's tour include Jean Talon Market, and, if you're so inclined, Schwartz's smoked meat and one or more of the city's iconic bagel bakeries. There's also an impressive beer scene in Montreal
, and a number of cozy brewpubs where you can spend a shocking amount of time.
Of course, you'll also want to check out the city's newest restaurants and buzzed-about chefs -- check out this list of Montreal food news outlets that keep their finger on the pulse of the city's restaurant scene. If you're visiting town on a busy weekend, and all the best places are booked, do not despair: a few under-the-radar picks will get you through.
The old standby line about Toronto is that it's like New York, as run by the Swiss. This is sometimes taken as a compliment (clean! efficient!) and sometimes as an insult (boring! predictable!) but either way, it's time to put comparisons with the Big Apple aside and take Toronto on its own merits. There's plenty in the city for food lovers to enjoy...and okay, fine, I'll make one last comparison with the metropolis to its south-- Toronto is similar to New York City in the diversity and sophistication of its food scene, but since it's smaller, and slower paced, it can be a less daunting city to get to know.
Any food adventure should start at St. Lawrence Market, and ideally with a pea bacon sandwich, but there are plenty of ways to get behind the scenes with food here, whether you're learning how to make sake or learning how to decorate cupcakes.
Ontario wine country, which includes wineries outside Toronto, is best known for its icewine, but there's a lot more to sip and explore here. Inside the province, there are four appellations: Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island, the Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County, some of which you can do as a day-trip from Toronto, and some that makes more sense to do as a weekend getaway. Plan your trip to Ontario wine country
. (Bonus: although many combine a visit to Ontario wineries with a look at Niagara Falls, go a little further afield and combine with a trip to Stratford, Ontario
, for another terrific food scene.)
Two words for you:
If you like to eat what comes from the ocean, you are going to be happy with your visit to Nova Scotia and Halifax. And you should consider planning your trip so that you can visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in the small town of Lunenberg.
There's more to Nova Scotia food than what comes from the ocean, though, including a thriving beer scene and an emerging, cold climate wine industry. (To try: L'Acadie, a medium-bodied hybrid wine similar to chardonnay, and fruit wines, especially Pomme D'Or from Domaine de Grand Pre.)