Tasty Eh? My Favorite Canadian Foods

When we go to Canada, these are the kid (and parent)-friendly foods that we pick up:

1. Maple syrup. Of course, maple syrup. This stuff is everywhere. It even grows in trees up here, versus plastic Mrs. Butterworth containers. U.S.-based pancake eaters love the grade A syrup, but in Canada, you can buy grade C/No. 3 syrup, which is harvested at the end of the season. This dark syrup (or No. 3) is richer in minerals and taste. It’s like the superhero of maple syrups.

2. Liberte Yogurt. This dairy company, founded in Montreal, churns out creamy, thick yogurt in a variety of delicious flavors. It’s worthy of dessert status. You can buy Liberte in a few U.S. stores, but they never carry the full range, boo. Try the orange-and-marzipan, hazelnut or dulce de leche.

3. Candied salmon. While Pacific Northwesterners also love the pink-fleshed fish, Canadians get creative with their salmon prep. They smoke it in a variety of ways, turn it into spicy jerky, add maple syrup and even create salmon sausages. Candied salmon perks up dinner salad or an egg scramble.

4. Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps. No way, $8 for a box of crackers? Dang, that’s expensive. But as a treat, these crackers are killer. The hard wafer offers a strong backbone for any cheese you care to top it with; they also go over well as the kids’ afternoon snack. My favorite blend: rosemary, raisin and pecan. But the other flavors are good too.

5. Nanaimo Bars. You’re probably familiar with the four-layered dessert of chocolate, vanilla custard and more chocolate, named after the Vancouver Island community. But the bars just taste better when eaten in Canada.

Other ideas:

  • Canadian chocolate bars like Aero, Coffee Crisp, Cherry Blossom, Crispy Crunch, and Mr. Big.
  • Blackcurrant flavored drinks
  • British import foods (less expensive here)
  • Sparkling elderflower water

Read more about food around the world here.

What are your favorite Canadian foods? And Canadians, what are you always buying from Trader Joe’s?


Vancouver Kid-Friendly Restaurant: Little Nest

Little Nest is Vancouver, BC’s best kid-friendly restaurant.

This cafe in Vancouver, B.C. proves that a kid-friendly restaurant can offer amazing food, decent prices AND a play area. I’ve never had a meal here and thought, “eh.” No. I wonder, “How can I recreate this meal at home? And is it wrong to kidnap the chef?”

The owner, Mary MacIntyre, ensures that the restaurant’s breakfast and lunch menu focuses on local, seasonal and organic produce, so it’s constantly changing. A few items we’ve had include the eggs with local tomatoes, basil, radish and multi-grain baguette, house-made muesli with organic yogurt, fresh fruit “fries” with strawberry jam, and a brie sandwich that knocked my (mismatched) socks off.

The food here’s so good that kid-less grown-ups typically occupy all the two-top tables. And it’s so popular that we try to arrive right at opening; past experience has left us waiting for a place to sit.

Fruit fries!

Little vintage birds and highchairs complement the cafe’s retro, homey interior — wide wooden tables, low-slung couches, a bright white ceiling. The owner’s husband is an artist and salvager; those swank mid-century modern couches and cool tables were found via Craigslist, flea markets, demolitions and yard sales.

Cooking up a storm at Little Nest

Cooking up a storm at Little Nest

Toddlers and preschoolers busily prep and serve the play kitchen area. There’s also an awesome recliner and sweet 70s and 80s toys.

“The family friendly element was just a natural reflection of me, my needs as a parent and my philosophy of food and eating and living in general,” MacIntyre says. “It should be a shared experience.”

It’s a comfortable place. You want to linger, chat and watch the kids play. Unless, of course, waiting diners are eyeing your table hopefully.

Best for: families with younger children and foodies of all ages.

Where is this kid-friendly Vancouver restaurant?

Little Nest is located at 1716 Charles St., just off Vancouver’s countercultural-cool Commercial Drive. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Monday. Combine a breakfast or lunch at Little Nest with the Victoria Park playground, a few blocks away.