take a culinary trip across canada

Woman sampling baked goods at an outdoor market.

When you think of Canadian food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Ask ten Canadians and they’ll probably tell you ten different things, depending on where they live. So, in honour of Canada Day, we are breaking it down to some of our favourite regional dishes.

Think of this as a day-long tasting menu that starts in Thunder Bay for breakfast and ends up in Saskatoon for dessert, with stops along the way in Winnipeg and Ottawa. And, since we haven’t figured out teleportation yet, we’ve provided all the recipes you need to eat your way across three provinces.


Breakfast in Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay is home to a curious pastry that, by all accounts, can be found nowhere else in the world. We’re talking about the Thunder Bay Persian. A cross between a cinnamon bun and a doughnut, what really sets the Persian apart from other sweet rolls is the unexpected addition of pink, berry flavoured frosting.

The original Thunder Bay Persian was invented in the 1940s by Art Bennet of Bennet’s Bakery and, despite its popularity it has never really made it out of the Lakehead. While Persians exist in other forms elsewhere—unfrosted, or topped with a chocolate frosting—the pink berry frosting is unique to Thunder Bay.

If you are from Thunder Bay or have stopped on your way through town, you know exactly what we’re talking about. If not, we highly recommend making a batch of this popular treat for a special weekend breakfast. As a close cousin of the donut, Persians are traditionally deep fried, but we won’t tell if you bake yours. A Whirlpool range with True Convection, like the one above, will give you perfectly browned, even results every time, and has three racks which can only mean one thing—more Persians!

To make your own Persians at home, follow this recipe for baked Pershings. Then, once your buns are cooled, top with whipped berry icing (recipe below). Only frost as many as you plan to serve, reserving leftover icing in a covered bowl in the fridge.

Pink Icing for Persians
½ cup frozen raspberries or strawberries, thawed
½ cup butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp whipping cream (35%)

In large bowl, beat together the raspberries and butter. Don’t panic if the mixture looks separated—it will come together. Gradually beat in sugar in three additions, alternating with the cream. Spread over the tops of your baked, cooled rolls.

Persians are best eaten fresh, but if you have day-old, unfrosted Persians, try this trick from Thunder Bay locals: split, butter, and pan fry your Persians on one side until golden brown, then serve with the pink icing as a spread.

Loaded Caesars in Ottawa
Although Walter Chell of Calgary gets full credit for inventing the Caesar, we think the torch has been passed to Ottawa who has taken Canada’s favourite cocktail to a whole new level—and we mean over the top with crazy, delicious garnishes and secret ingredients!

Here are some notable additions to our unofficial (and completely imaginary) Canadian Caesar Hall of Fame:

  • Copper Spirits and Sights' Caesar. Perched at the top of the Andaz Ottawa, this bar not only boasts some of the best views in Ottawa, they have invented what sounds like the most Canadian thing ever—a Caesar rimmed in crushed ketchup chips with a pinch of dried Atlantic seaweed.
  • The Marcus Brutus at The Albion Rooms. Red wine? Dill vodka? Sriracha? Honey? Bacon? It sounds crazy, but it works. Named for the man who led the assassination of Julius Caesar, this award winning libation kills its competition.
  • The Fairmont Chateau Laurier’s epic Surf & Turf Caesar. Made with a base of Walter’s Caesar mix, these monstrous cocktails-for-two are topped with beef and cheddar sliders, fresh veggies, and jumbo shrimp. Good news for fans of the Surf & Turf Caesar, La Tarrasse at the Fairmont Laurier has announced that they will be back on the menu for Summer 2021!

As you can see, the Caesar has come a long way since its birth in 1969 and Canadians are estimated to drink more than 400 million of them annually. If you aren’t craving one by now, are you even from here?

The Classic Canadian Caesar
1 oz vodka
2 dashes of your favourite hot sauce
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes salt and pepper
4 oz Mott’s Clamato or Walter Caesar mix, chilled
Garnish—celery stalk, pepperoni stick, pickled beans, dill pickle spear, etc.
Lime wedges
Celery salt, or spice blend/creative rimmer of your choice

Rim a highball glass or mason jar with lime juice, then dip in the rimmer of your choice. Fill the glass with ice. Add vodka, hot sauce, Worchestershire, salt and pepper. Top with Caesar mix, stir well, and garnish with wild abandon.

*If you are as serious about the Caesar as Ottawa is, we recommend using slow melting craft ice, to protect the delicate balance of ingredients. The LG counter-depth French door fridge (above) will keep you fully stocked with enough craft ice balls to keep you on top of your annual Caesar consumption and then some.

Dinner in Winnipeg
From the Fat Boy (a loaded hamburger with “secret” chili sauce) to the Goog (an upside down blueberry milkshake topped with a hot fudge Sundae), Manitoba’s capital city is known for some pretty iconic eats. One of our favourites in this category is Winnipeg’s famous honey dill sauce. Served with crispy chicken fingers, this peculiar, but addictive sauce is so quintessentially Winnipeg that you’d be hard-pressed to find it anywhere outside of the province.

Honey dill sauce was the result of a restaurateur’s failed attempt to recreate a sauce that he had tried elsewhere. One of his tries—a sweet, creamy mixture of mayonnaise, honey, lemon and dill—was so good that he stopped experimenting right then and there. He served his new sauce to guests at his (you guessed it) chicken finger restaurant, and the rest is history.

Nowadays, you’ll find variations on the sauce in restaurants all over Winnipeg. Some are thicker and more mayo-y, some contain mustard, and occasionally you’ll come across one that is literally just honey and dill. The real purists, however, follow the original recipe or purchase the sauce at local grocery stores and food service outlets.

To help you experience this Winnipeg-exclusive, we’ve provided the authentic honey dill recipe below. For the full effect, we recommend serving it alongside crispy chicken fingers. If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to deep-fried fingers, the Frigidaire range above has a built in air fryer that gives you all of the flavour and crunch of a restaurant chicken finger with none of the added fat. Say goodbye to soggy chicken fingers!

Winnipeg's Famous Honey Dill Sauce
3 Tbsp mayonnaise, regular or light
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
Squeeze of lemon

Mix mayonnaise and honey until completely blended, then stir in dill in lemon. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to blend flavours. (Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools.)

Recipe can be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, as needed. Trust us, you can never have too much honey dill sauce. Not into chicken fingers? This also makes a great dip for sweet potato fries!

Dessert in Saskatoon
It may be low-hanging fruit (sorry!), but we can’t think about Saskatoon without thinking of its namesake berry. Saskatoon berries are grown in all three prairie provinces, but nowhere in the world are they celebrated like they are in Saskatchewan.

Although they can be confused with blueberries by the uninitiated, Saskatoon berries are actually a relative of the apple! They have a unique nutty flavour and a deep, purple juice when cooked down, making them a beautiful choice for pies, crumbles, and Mennonite platz.

We had our first taste of Saskatoon pie at a café located on a Saskatoon Saskatoon farm—that is to say, it was a farm just outside Saskatoon that grows Saskatoons. We’ll try to make this less confusing and get right to the pie.

This recipe for Saskatoon pie from Food Meanderings is everything we’ve been dreaming about since that trip to the berry farm. You’ll notice that unlike fruit pies that use raw fruit, Saskatoon pies call for berries that have been cooked down on the stovetop into a thick, dark, jammy filling. To get the best results and avoid scorching your berries, make sure to use a heavy-bottomed pot and a burner that provides low, even heat.

The KitchenAid TrueConvection range above has five burners that range from 5,000 to 19,000 BTU, letting you choose exactly the right one for the job, to give you the delicate simmer you need for sauces or, in this case, pie filling. When it comes time to bake your pie, the oven’s TrueConvection feature will ensure flakey, flawless pastry every time and, if you’re new to convection cooking, it will even do the conversions for you.

Saskatoons are usually ready to pick in July, but if you can’t wait for this year’s Saskatoon harvest or don't live near a berry farm (or secret picking spot), check the frozen section of your grocery store. And, if you can, make plans to attend the 2022 Saskatoon Berry Festival next summer in Mortlach, 70 minutes east of Swift Current.

We hope this celebration of Canadian food has your mouth watering. For more local food inspo, check out our friends at Eat North. Eat North reports on all aspects of the Canadian food and drink scene on a daily basis and keeps us inspired with tasty recipes, news, and trends from across the country.


We’d love to see your culinary creations this Canada Day! Tag #DufresneStyle on Instagram and show us what you’re cooking.