Celebrating the table
Culinary tourists constantly seek the next fork in the road, as do wine and beer enthusiasts. The good news is that Canada offers wandering gourmands a bounty of food and drink – from PEI shellfish to Vancouver Island cheeses. Plus, we're old hands at partying. Ink these foodie festivals into your calendar and get your fill this summer.
Hot and Spicy Festival
Think wasabi and chili are food groups? Let your taste buds loose on the sauces, hot sausages and barbecued goods at the Toronto Hot and Spicy Festival. Incendiary global flavours come with music to match and celebrity chefs from all over the world.
Toronto Hot and Spicy Festival, Toronto, Ont., August 18–20, 2006
Candy is dandy
Gumball poodle skirts, anyone? Along with cake-throwing contests, chocolate sculptures, guest speakers and demos, you can sample a candy fashion show at Sweets Expos across the country.
Sweet Expo, Toronto, Ont., May 13–14, 2006; Sweet Expo, Montreal, Que., July 8–9, 2006; Sweet Expo, Vancouver, B.C., October 7–8, 2006
The greats of froth
Santé! Montreal's Mondial de la bière delivers bières galore. This June, “visit” 90 breweries and cider houses, sample over 340 beers and ciders and attend a fine dining soiree and workshops – all under one roof.
Mondial de la biere
New this year is the Canada Cup of Beer featuring an outdoor venue, loads of beer and food-and-brewski pairings at local restaurants.
Held at historic Fort York, Toronto's Festival of Beer serves up copious amounts of lager, stout and pale ale. Hit the grilling tent for BBQ tips and some charbroiled nosh to sop up the suds.
Mondial de la bière, Montreal, Que., May 31–June 4, 2006
Canada Cup of Beer, Vancouver, B.C., July 8, 2006
Toronto's Festival of Beer, Toronto, Ont., August 11–13, 2006
Vines in the valley
B.C. labels now draw global attention: Discover the province's best cellars at the Okanagan Summer Wine Festival this August with winery tours, winemakers' dinners, seminars and more in Canada's Napa Valley.
Okanagan Summer Wine Festival, Vernon, B.C., August 10–12, 2006
Top-notch local chefs, brewers and winemakers join forces at B.C.'s Feasts of Fields. If you like the sound of idling around a sun-soaked meadow (glass and linen napkin in hand), head to these ultimate alfresco events. Local organic fare and stellar chefs share equal billing.
Feast of Fields, Lower Mainland, B.C., August 19 and September 10, 2006; Feast of Fields, Vancouver Island, B.C., September 17, 2006
Shells by the seashore
It's not only the sea air but the buckets and buckets of fresh oysters, mussels, clams, quahogs and other shelly creatures that draw crowds at the PEI International Shellfish Festival. See shucking and chowder champs, pick up cooking tricks, tap your toes to Maritime tunes and join the Shellfish Stumble pub crawl.
PEI International Shellfish Festival, Charlottetown, PEI, September 15–17, 2006
A couple of corkers
Want first dibs at the new 2004 and 2005 vintages? “Passport” in hand, amble from winery to winery – over 30 in all – between Grimsby and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., during the Niagara New Vintage Festival. Tours, tastings, galas and garden parties set the stage for an indolent summer, while the Niagara Wine Festival, in late September, is the perfect way to wind it down.
Niagara New Vintage Festival, Niagara region, Ont., June 10–18, 2006
Niagara Wine Festival, Niagara region, Ont., September 22–October 1, 2006
(Angela Murrills writes about travel and food and spends a disgraceful amount of time indulging in both.)
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TOP PHOTO: PEI INTERNATIONAL SHELLFISH FESTIVAL
OKANAGAN: OKANAGAN WINE FESTIVAL