Canada. The Great White North. For many Americans, it’s the closest country to visit (Mexico for me living in Los Angeles), and yet, beyond a few large cities, few of us have seen much of what this amazing country has to offer. I’ve been to Canada at least eight times I can easily recall, but there is so much more to see, do, experience, and yes, even eat. The country isn’t known for its food, but you’ll enjoy the menu here!
Both A and my brother in law are Canadian citizens, so this also had a special place in my heart, to do right by their country. So if you, like me, are eager to get back to exploring an amazing country, use this date night to help you until Covid ends and the border reopens – or even after!
Canadian-Themed Date Night
Eat: Poutine, Maple-Butter Tarts, and Nanaimo Bars
Let me preface this by saying that for the past few years, my sister and I have made Thanksgiving dinner for our family. We got sick of the normal fare, though, and started adding themes: German, French, Caribbean. This year, we were supposed to do a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner – for American Thanksgiving – but instead sent recipes to everyone and met via zoom. It just made sense to tie it in to date night, so the maple glazed turkey I made became turkey poutine for its second go-around.
Poutine is perhaps the only Canadian food most can name, consisting of French fries (oven baked red potato wedges in my case), topped with cheese curds (I substituted full fat mozzarella) and gravy, plus meat at various points. My maple turkey and turkey gravy went really well!
Poutine freshly out from under the broiler
A made two different desserts, both recipes coming from my brother in law’s mom (though similar ones can easily be found on the web), though as always A doctored them up with her own style. Let’s start with the tarts. Take puff pastry (or a premade pastry shell), and add a fairly simple filling of maple syrup, butter, and flour to thicken. Bake, and eat!
These tarts are so amazing!
Nanaimo bars, on the other hand, are much more complicated. Named for the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, they involve three distinct layers, each of which has to set before the next can be added: a mixture of Graham crackers and chocolate, vanilla custard made with custard powder – I’d never seen the stuff before but it’s nifty – and a hard chocolate top. Advice from our mistakes? Pre-cut them in the pan before they set in the fridge, as otherwise it takes a bit of time for them to come to temperature enough to cut through. They are sweet, but pretty incredible!
Learn: The History of Canada
We certainly don’t learn the history of our neighbor in school, except as it relates to a couple wars fought with the French and English, respectively, when they owned the place. I was astonished to find, watching this animated short documentary, that much of Canada was privately owned by the Hudson Bay Company for decades! I will be researching Canadian history more, for sure.
Explore: Banff; and Newfoundland
I’ve been to Banff, once as a child, and remember it being about the most beautiful place on Earth. This short series of 360 degree videos reinforces those memories of this most stunning national park in the Canadian Rockies.
Who wants to go to Banff?
Newfoundland is much more of a mystery to me, but I stumbled upon a YouTube video of an iceberg tour – apparently this is where icebergs that break off Greenland end up. I was intrigued, so I reached out to Captain Bob of Trinity Eco Tours, and I am so thrilled to announce that when spring thaw comes to Canada, we will be doing a full feature on Newfoundland with him, and planning a visit when all is safe. If you think the place is as beautiful as I do, you’ll love it!
I can’t wait to do more in Newfoundland!
Watch: One Week
This Canadian indie film is the story of a man diagnosed with cancer who decides to take a week to see the country before getting treatment. It is both heavy and whimsical, light and serious, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus, it shows some really fascinating things across Canada!
The main character and the Toronto skyline
That was our Canadian date night. Please try those things that speak to you, and let me know what you decided to do for yours!
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