With snowy months ahead of us, all talk of food turns to comfort. We want big mugs of tea, even bigger bowls of stew and warm bread. Oh, do we want bread.
As we’ve made our way across the country, it feels as though we’ve tried every kind of flour-based food possible, from Yukon sourdough north of Whitehorse to Pet de Soeur pastries (which roughly translates as “Nun’s Farts”) on the L’isle-aux-Coudre. As a nation, we produce everything from conventionally grown flour to heritage varieties, like Red Fife and Acadian (watch for it from PEI in the next few years), and transform them via oven or pan. Here are just a few of the goods worth seeking out from Alberta eastwards:
Sourdough at Sidewalk Citizen, Calgary
Aviv Fried has refined his sourdough alchemy for years, first experimenting in his apartment kitchen and eventually moving on to study under Chad Robertson of Tartine. Now, his organic bread – baked every day at Calgary’s Sidewalk Citizen Bakery – is in high demand, with people willing to go well out of their way for a loaf, a croissant or crusty baguette. His flour is entirely sourced from Alberta farms, including Highwood Crossing and Heritage Harvest.
Bannock from Neechi Commons, Winnipeg
Neechi began as a small grocery store, with the intention of providing affordable, healthy food to local neighbourhood residents. Impressively, it has since expanded to a new location and now includes a bakery, restaurant, and craft store, employing a predominantly Aboriginal team and acting as a community meeting place. The bakery specializes in bannock, a First Nations biscuit-like staple that varies according to geography and culture. Neechi Commons’ version is baked, comes in both whole wheat and white, and includes bannock dogs and bannock pizza.
Bagels from St. Viateur, Montreal
Debates and bagels go hand in hand. In eastern North America, people are fond of arguing “the better bagel” between Montreal and New York. In Montreal, the debate narrows to “the better bagel store,” between St-Viateur and Fairmount. There are fiercely strong opinions, with our preference being the wood-fired oven baked versions of Montreal, specifically the sesame bagels from St-Viateur. They’re chewy, a bit sweet, and almost guaranteed to still be warm when you pick them up. They’re the perfect breakfast any morning! Don’t forget to grab a tub of cream cheese from the cooler next to the counter…
Porridge Bread and Oatcakes from The Dancing Goat, Cape Breton
With two locations on the island, The Dancing Goat is famous for its sweet, soft porridge bread and packages of oatcakes, an East Coast essential. We found the ones in New Brunswick to be thicker and chewier, while the Cape Breton versions were thinner and more biscuit-like. Either way, all go well with old cheddar or dark chocolate and make the perfect autumn snack. Plus, the word ‘oat’ in their name means you can easily convince yourself they’re healthy.
Go forth and carb-load.
FEAST: An Edible Road Trip is a cross-Canada adventure dedicated to sharing vibrant stories of Canadian food culture. Visit www.edibleroadtrip.com to read along. Also check out the perks for keeping FEAST on the road! (@feast_on)
Words and photos by FEAST