Canada Day is approaching and what better way to celebrate than with a picnic featuring top food picks from all across the country. While some of these offerings aren’t exactly optimal in terms of their SmartPoints values, they can easily be enjoyed in smaller quantities without impeding on your weekly allowance. Look to these picnic options as inspiration for your Canada Day get-together and enjoy everything that our beautiful country has to offer.
The prairie provinces offer a bounty of regional food that work together to make the perfect Canada Day picnic. Vast amounts of grains and pulses are grown in the prairies but these crops are largely sold overseas, leaving Canada with only an imported selection to choose from when shopping at home. Fortunately, there are grassroots companies making it easier to source out homegrown products from Canadian farms. Try making a Canadian grain or pulse based salad to bring on your picnic by combining one or a more different types of grains and pulses, add finely chopped seasonal produce and a light vinaigrette to make a hearty portable salad. For dessert, take advantage of berry season and purchase or bake your own raspberry pie or buckle. Serve with a Saskatoon-berry cocktail; mix 2 ounces of Saskatoon-berry liqueur with club soda, plenty of ice and some mint that's been muddled in the bottom of the glass.
You can't get any more traditional than tourtiere, the classic French Canadian meat pie made with ground pork, potato and spices that is conveniently just as good cold as when it's fresh out of the oven. Tourtiere accompaniments are also ideal for a picnic and are available at most delis, ready to be picked up and eaten with very little preparation. Oka, a smelly but mild cheese from Quebec, and tomato chutney can be served with only a cheese or paring knife and a spoon. Ripe peaches from the Niagara fruit belt finish the meal off, as does a well-chilled fruit-forward gamay wine from a nearby vineyard.
The West Coast
Begin with a log of fresh chevre from Salt Spring Island, either plain or flavoured, or even a large chunk of salty goat's milk feta. Surround the goat cheese with local salmon that's been smoked or cured into gravlax, make sure there's plenty of rye crisp crackers to go with everything and an assortment of pickled vegetables. Fill a bowl with Okanagan cherries and pitted stone fruit, apricots and nectarines make a beautiful accompaniment. Nanaimo bars are about as West coast as you can get when ending a meal so try slicing these rich bars into small pieces for everyone to enjoy. A cold and crisp dry rose wine that's been made in the Okanagan Valley will bring out the sweet citrus notes of the goat cheese and cut through some of the richness of the dessert.
Have a picnic dinner in your own backyard or on the beach by hosting a lobster boil (or any other locally sourced seafood that you like). Serve with boiled Prince Edward Island New potatoes and corn on the cob seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a modest amount of butter. Try serving wine from one of Nova Scotia's burgeoning wineries, an off-dry Riesling served cold would be a lovely pairing with the lobster or try a lager from New Brunswick's Moosehead brewery. Finish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream from PEI's COWS Creamery and a simple but elegant rhubarb compote.
The wild game caught in Northern Canada results in some of the best charcuterie this country has to offer, with savoury creations featuring caribou, venison and elk popping up all over the territories. Not only do these animals provide fantastic charcuterie, the meat tends to be lower in fat and high in flavour making it an ideal alternative to fattier, more traditional charcuterie items made from pork and duck. Serve your charcuterie with a locally made cranberry preserve or cloudberry jam, all heaped onto still-warm pieces of bannock that have been wrapped around a stick and cooked over the fire. An ice cold, slightly bitter India Pale Ale from the Yukon Brewing company is the beverage of choice to serve alongside your charcuterie plate.