Welcome back to “Street Eats” where we discover some of the best, and worst, street foods from around the world. Today, we’re taking a trip to Canada’s capital city. Ottawa, a city whose name is actually derived from the Algonquin word adawe, meaning “to trade” takes a lot of flack when compared to the bigger, more “exciting” neighbouring cities of Toronto and Montreal. In truth however, Ottawa is a wonderful place to enjoy a weekend getaway or summer escape when visitors can enjoy one of the many festivals taking place throughout the year, a great selection of museums and historical monuments, a stroll through Byward Market, or a visit to Gatineau; just a hop, skip and a jump across the St.Lawrence River.
An international hub and home to many diplomats and parliamentarians, the city boasts exquisite cuisine, from fine dining to some of my favourite Canadian street foods. From the specialty cheese shops and fruit stands that clutter the market on the weekends, to restaurants like The Black Tomato or afternoon tea at the historic Fairmont Chateau Laurier, there really is something for every visitor to enjoy. That being said, when it comes to tasting typically Canadian cuisine, my vote goes to…
#1 Street Snack in Ottawa: Beaver Tails
I wanted to say poutine, I really did. But the fact is, it was up against a beaver tail for goodness sake. Seriously, does it get more Canadian than that?
A Beaver Tail is not really a beaver’s tail – we’re not that barbaric (most of us). It is however, a delicious pastry somewhere in between a crepe and Hungarian Lángos. It’s fried and not at all healthy, but topped with your choice of sweet or savoury (cinnamon and sugar is by far the most popular) it’s the perfect way to end a skate on a winter’s day, or provide you with that extra boost of energy during summer months.
Where can you find it?
Beaver Tails can be found smack downtown Ottawa, near the entrance to Byward Market or scattered along the Rideau Canal during the skating season. If you’re visiting other tourist hot-spots in Ontario, keep an eye out, they have known to pop up near ski-hills and other winter attractions. Coupled with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, enjoying a Beaver Tail is really the best way to get in touch with your inner Canuck.
Second prize goes to: Poutine
What happens when you blend freshly cut fries with cheese curds topped with steaming hot gravy? You get a bowl of deliciousness unknown to any people besides the residents of the great white north; you get poutine.
Poutine is yet another typically Canadian delight that few have heard of and even less find as satisfying as the average Canuck. Poutine, pronounced poo-teen, and not to be confused with Russian president, is actually something native to Quebec but popular with people on either side of the linguistic divide.
For lovers of nightlife, it is truly the best after-bar snack and makes any trip to the nation’s capital complete. The best poutine in Ottawa? Check out the chip truck between Zaphods and Kinkis, called Sasha’s Chip Wagon. Grab a fork (and a napkin) and enjoy!