Photo Story | Atlantic Canada, Sable Island and Gulf of Saint Lawrence

Five Dishes You've Gotta Try from Tadoussac to Bonavista

© Victoria Polsoni

Gastronomic delights are a highlight of our Atlantic Canada expeditions and the Adventure Canada Taste of Place culinary program. From tourtière in Québec to moose stew in Newfoundland, these are five dishes (and beverage pairings!) that you shouldn’t miss in this tasty region of the world.
Tourtiere slice on plate

Tourtière: More than a Special Occasion Treat

An iconic Québecois dish served on Christmas Eve, tourtière has a rich and flavourful history. Some food historians claim that a version of this savoury meat pie dates back to a fifth century French pastry, filled with the meat of the “tourte” or passenger pigeon. Others insist tourtière made with wild game dates back to 1700s New France.


Today, tourtière is usually made with a filling of ground beef, veal, and pork, as well as potatoes, onion, savoury, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon, all tucked between two deliciously flakey blankets of pastry. Green tomato relish, traditionally served alongside tourtière, is the perfect foil for its richness. Gravy and ketchup are also popular modern-day accoutrements. But, don’t wait until Christmas Eve—tourtière is too delicious to eat only once a year!


The Perfect Pairing:

Before you walk into that charming Québecois café with the scrumptious tourtière in the window, make sure they have the perfect pairing: a full-bodied pinot noir. Choose a pinot noir that has those light notes of star anise, ripe fruit, and dark cherries to complement the rich meat pie.

PEI mussels with citrus and white wine

© Dennis Minty

East Coast Moules-Frites: Darlings of the Sea and Soil

Sustainably farmed and Ocean Wise-certified, Prince Edward Island blue mussels are steamed over open fires at the beach, eaten around kitchen tables, and featured on restaurant menus all around Canada’s beloved island province. The demand for mussels has skyrocketed in recent years, making P.E.I. the largest producer of cultured mussels in North America, highly sought after by Canadian chefs.

Cultivated in longline nets in the clean, cool meroir of the island’s inlets and bays, P.E.I. mussels are plump and sweet and easy to prepare. While the possibilities are endless, we sure love a steaming bowl of mussels bathed in a garlicky, white wine broth with a side of crispy, thin frites; marrying P.E.I’s darling of the sea with her darling of the soil.

The Perfect Pairing:

White wine not only in the broth—but to pair with the dish—is a match made in heaven. What’s the best white wine for the job? The white wine that you’ve used to cook the mussels of course!

Sturgeon caviar on blini

© Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc.

Sturgeon Caviar: A Good News Story

It’s not often you hear a good news story about species extinction, so when we learned of the revival of two sturgeon species, we definitely danced a jig. This prehistoric fish has changed little in the past 200 million years, but it sure has a storied past. Fished heavily in North America in the 1880s, its caviar was so plentiful that tavern keepers comped dishes of the salty salver to keep their patrons thirsting for more beer. Atlantic caviar shipped to Europe in the early 1900s gained a regal reputation, fetching an enormous sum and bringing the mighty sturgeon to the brink of extinction.

Fast forward about a hundred years and you’ll find both Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon species making a comeback, thanks to the efforts of Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. and their Ocean Wise-certified sustainable wild sturgeon fishery in New Brunswick. The good news: the savoury meat and rich roe of the sturgeon are making a healthy comeback. The bad: don’t expect a freebie the next time you pop into your local pub any time soon!

The Perfect Pairing:

A rich fish like this deserves a strong cocktail to pair, with champagne to celebrate, and citrus to tie it all together: a French 75.
1 oz. gin
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
1⁄2 oz. lemon juice
(shaken over ice)
Top it off with champagne and enjoy!

Cooked atlantic lobster

© Dennis Minty

Atlantic Lobster: Food for Thought

At one time, when lobster sandwiches were sent to school in a child’s lunchbox, they were seen as punishment, not prize. Why? Lobster was considered “poor man’s food.” Yet simultaneously, Atlantic lobster held star status at posh restaurants everywhere, with diners tucking into high priced classics like lobster thermador. More recently, the humble lobster was at the centre of a legal contradiction when Nova Scotia provincial law forbade Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters to sell their catch—while their treaty rights, established in the 1700s and affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999, permitted them to legally trap those same lobsters for a moderate livelihood.

Atlantic lobster is Canada’s most lucrative seafood and the Maritime provinces’ most valuable tourist draw, attracting thousands of visitors every year to feast on its sweet, succulent meat. Whatever side of the proverbial lobster coin you are on, one thing is for sure: there’s nothing like a lobster roll washed down with a cold beer in the salty Atlantic breeze.

The Perfect Pairing:

Whether in a bottle, pint, or can, you want that beer to be cold, crisp, and filled with citrus. First pick would be a citrus-forward IPA. Next up could be a citrusy blonde. And as a last (but still delicious!) resort, try a saison brew.

Moose stew and dumplings

© Lori McCarthy

Moose Stew: A Gastronomical Rite of Passage

The annual moose hunt in Newfoundland is about more than just getting meat for the winter. It’s about time spent with fellow hunters, family, and friends passing on tradition, culture, and craft—and cultivating the next generation of hunters. Traditionally the meat is ground, turned into sausages, cut into steaks and roasts, or even bottled. (Yes, that’s one huge bottle, or many, many small ones!) The preserved bottled moose finds itself heated over the fire in the woods during rabbit hunting season and made into delicious stews for the family table. Served up with lots of thickly sliced homemade bread slathered with butter, it’s a taste of home and a treasured meal.

In recent years in the Newfoundland culinary scene, this beautiful wild game has risen to great heights. The province allows the meat to be prepared and served in restaurants under strict regulations, taking it from subsistence eating to culinary centre stage. Today you can find it turned into dry-cured bresaola, delicious ragu, ravioli, carpaccio, and tartar—a taste of the old made new.

The Perfect Pairing:

Wild game, rich dumplings, root vegetables—in many ways, moose stew is like the Newfoundland version of a beef bourguignon. So what do you pair with a bourguignon? You know: a deep, luscious Bordeaux. Those left bank of Bordeaux notes will deepen the flavours of the stew and elevate any of its hidden flavours.

About the Author

Alison Bell

Alison Bell

Chef and Food Educator

Alison Bell is a Red Seal Chef and an educator who holds a Le Cordon Bleu Master of Arts in Gastronomy. It was while on a school trip to Europe when she was seventeen that the proverbial food seed was planted and grew into a decades-long culinary life for Alison, and she still happily follows any path that leads to delicious food.

Her culinary career includes leading an innovative professional cooking program where she instilled a passion for food and cooking in scores of young cooks, running a successful café, local food systems advocacy, culinary travel, and dabbling in food writing and photography. You can read more on her blog.

About the Author

Lori McCarthy

Lori McCarthy

Taste of Place Ambassador

Lori McCarthy is a wild chef, forager, hunter, educator, chronic outdoorsperson, and—most fiercely—a Newfoundlander. Her passion for the land is matched only by her passion for food culture. Lori grew up watching her mother make bread, pick berries, and preparing and preserving wild foods, and her father’s skills as a hunter and fisherman.

She is proud to keep those traditions alive, especially through her company Cod Sounds, which hosts workshops introducing people to the joys of food from the land and sea, connecting people and food to place, and ensuring the next generation will keep alive these most basic elements of culture.

About the Author

Alexandra Blagdon

Alexandra Blagdon

Taste of Place Ambassador

Alexandra Blagdon is a forager, chef, and mixologist who grew up hiking the trails that wind along the coast of Newfoundland. Whether deep in the woods picking mushrooms or in a restaurant kitchen, Alexandra feels most at home in the culinary world.

She is the owner of the Alder Cottage that offers online cookery classes, outdoor foraging experiences, and lots more! Here she gets to share her passion for food and nature, truly connecting the literal roots behind what makes a good dish—the true ingredients that ignite your passion.