EAT THE WORLD: CANADA

Boy has this post been a long time coming! We decided a few weeks ago that we would do Canada next, before even doing the UK or the Bahamas, but guess how hard it is to find Cheese curds in South Florida? PRETTY HARD! In fact, impossible. Canada's national dish is most definitely Poutine. Practically everyone I asked or has been to Canada said Poutine without a doubt! Poutine however, has cheese curds. You would think places like Whole Foods, Trader Joes or Fresh Market, or even a cheese store would sell them. NOPE! Well the cheese store closed down, so I can't really fault it, but I ended up having to order cheese curds online, from Wisconsin. So these curds came a long way, and we had to wait for two weeks for them to be fresh and then shipped very quickly! Either way, here we are, at another round of EAT THE WORLD, this time CANADA!

In one of our last challenges, I explained how I understand my heritage (a mix bag of South African, English and a slither of Italian). What I failed to mention, is that a portion of my family is actually Canadian. My Great Uncle moved to Canada, and I have plenty of extended family and relatives now living it up in Calgary, Canada. Which is pretty cool, because that's only a hop skip and a jump away from one of my favorite places in the world - BANFF. 

Banff is well known for its beautiful park, just like the rest of the Canadian wilderness. I've been to Canada twice and both times we explored Banff. Our first time in the Summer, where we saw some big looking goats (I was 12, I don't remember what they are called), and the second time when I was at university, we went in Winter. It was soooo cold! But definitely one of the best family holidays we had. We all went snowboarding for the first time - talk about muscles being sore that I never even knew existed. I wiped out some girl attempting to ski, which my sister got on camera. We also roadtripped through the park and visited Lake Louise which is stunningly beautiful. I was hoping that this year I would be able to do a nice road trip through the north of the states and head into Canada, so we shall see what happens! Do yourself a favor and start following some photographers and explorers on Instagram - they all take to Canada over the summer, and I can tell you it must be some of the most beautiful and inspiring scenery in the world. 

For this eat the world challenge, we decided to make two dishes! Poutine, a chips (fries?), cheese curds and gravy dish, and nanaimo bars, a dessert. I'd like to thank my mom for helping me cream up the Nanaimo bars. This was also an important occasion for us all! The first EAT THE WORLD in MY new home! YAY! 

Recipe for Poutine

adapted from Season and Suppers - serves 4

Poutine gravy

  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 20 oz beef broth
  • 10 oz chicken broth
  1. Dissolve cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside. 
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. 
  3. Add flour and cook, stir regularly for 5 minutes, until the mixture turns golden brown. 
  4. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. 
  5. Add beef and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring with whisk. 
  6. Stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 3 - 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.
  7. Season with pepper/salt to taste. 

Deep Fried Fries

  • 2 lbs Russet potatoes (3-4 medium sized)
  • OR baked fries
  • frying oil
  1. Prepare potatoes by cutting into 1/2 inch thick sticks. 
  2. Place into a large bowl and cover with water completely. Allow to stand for 1 to several hours.
  3. When ready, heat oil in deep fryer to 300 degrees F. 
  4. Remove potatoes and blot with paper to remove as much water/moisture as possible. 
  5. Add fries to oil and cook for 5-8 minutes. Remove potatoes once starting to cook but not yet browned. 
  6. Scatter on wire rack.
  7. Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees F. 
  8. Return potatoes to fryer and cook until golden brown. Remove to paper lined bowl. 

Poutine

  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese curds (substitute with chunks of mozzarella cheese)
  1. Add fries to large clean bowl. 
  2. Season with salt while still warm and add hot poutine grave to the bowl. Toss the fries in the gravy.
  3. Add more to coat fries to desire. 
  4. Add the cheese curds and toss with the fries and gravy
  5. Serve immediately. 

Recipe for Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 Tbsp coca
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut
  1. Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler.
  2. Add egg and stir until it thickens.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. 
  4. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp & 2 tsp cream
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder (substitute vanilla jelly/jello powder)
  • 2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's/powdered sugar)
  1. Cream butter, cream, custard/jello powder and icing sugar together. 
  2. Beat until light and spreadable.
  3. Spread over bottom layer in pan. 

Third Layer

  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat in double boiler. Allow to cool. 
  2. Once cool, and still liquid, pour over second layer. 
  3. Chill in refrigerator. 

adapted from City of Nanaimo

Movie Pairing: Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is a film about the Inuit people in the Canadian Artic, from thousands of years ago. The story and plot itself was developed from the oral stories and traditions passed down thousands of years through healers and rulers of the Inuit people. The director and writer even submitted the film for approval and suggestions from Inuit elders and leaders themselves. It tells a story of a crime that is committed in a clan, which destroys the group and families, and it demonstrates how they cope and heal with the crime and distrust. 

So, much like Will was barred from giving his verdict last week, I have been barred from picking movies (according to him). When I researched Canadian movies, this one was selected as the number one film. I can understand why - it has all the hallmarks and accolades to do so - which I thought was a good sign. It was filmed in the Arctic on digital film, 90% of the cast is Inuit, the film is the first filmed in entirely Inuit language, with input from the people it films etc. All the makings of a fantastic film, yes? BUT, we struggled with it! It was hard to follow, and it was really long. We had to spend considerable time reading the plot online and then checking it to the film to fully understand what was happening. We often had to confer with each other about what we thought was going on. I can see why it is a good film, but we didn't enjoy it personally. Props and respect must however be given to the film, even though we didn't enjoy it. 

The Traveling Ginger Verdict

Ok, Canada! You WIN!

Hands down, my favorite EAT THE WORLD so far.

I've always been a fan of cheese fries since I moved to the States, but cheese curds and gravy? That's a whole other level! And Nanaimo bars - little bars of heaven! Delicious heaven. This is by far my favorite dish we've made so far. The gravy recipe is fantastic, and when it mixes with the chips and cheese curds, the dish becomes a mushy yummy plate of deliciousness. This is perfect comfort/hang over/drunk food. I can see why Poutine is a firm favorite of Canada. It is now going into my permanent food recipe index. I made this dish THREE times this week. THREE! Yes, I ordered too many cheese curds so I can make it three times in a row, but even if I had no cheese curds left I would order more, and make this again. The Nanaimo bars are also incredible. I had one every single day for the past week. And both recipes are relatively easy, apart from having to cream some ingredients in the Nanaimo bars.

My advice to you? MAKE THIS RIGHT NOW!

And you can thank me later! 

Rating: 10/10

The Traveling Ninja Verdict

I could not stop poutine it in my belly! 

Rating: 8.1/10

Have you been to Canada or had Poutine? OMG! What's your favorite Canadian food?

Also... where should we cook next?