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The ham and scalloped potato special from the Esquire in Bedford, NS (Ian Brown/The Globe and Mail)
The ham and scalloped potato special from the Esquire in Bedford, NS (Ian Brown/The Globe and Mail)

21 unexpected delights across our flavourful nation Add to ...

Start with a glass of Flagship or Wild English, move on to Kings and Spies, and from there to glassfuls of Rumrunner or Pippins--oh, hell, have one of everything they make. Bracing and unforgettable, especially alongside the tasting platter at the farm itself, where you can sit outside and look at the sea.

Three acres of English and French spitters at Sea Cider Farm

13) Denman Island Chocolate, distributed out of Sechelt, British Columbia. I know it’s three bucks a bar. I don’t care. Try the Razzle Dazzle (raspberry) and the Holy Mole (chipotle peppers and orange). In fact, try them all.

Scallop tacones and a cod dog from Red Fish Blue Fish in Victoria, BC

14) Fish sandwiches at Red Fish Blue Fish, a stand that operates out of a converted shipping container on the wharf in Victoria. The owners, Simon Sobolewski and Kunal Ghose, were once employees of Gord Martin, the Vancouver chef and wild man who started Go Fish, another gourmet operation in a shipping container, on the wharf near Vancoouver’s Granville Island.

Close up of the scallop tacones at Red Fish Blue Fish in Victoria, BC

The twenty minute lineup, minimum, is worth it at both places. So is the hour-long lineup. At Red Fish Blue Fish I had scallop tacones, grilled scallops in a soft rolled taco, served with a brain-pleasing choice of sauces and slaws.

Then I had a Cod Dog, which is battered and fried cod in a hot dog bun. I would have eaten more but felt greedy. Chef Martin, who has gone on to other restaurant triumphs (such as Vancouver’s Bin 941) in the years since he started Go Fish, still isn’t happy about his former employees snatching his idea and even, he claims, the name of his holding company (Red Fish, Blue Fish Ventures). “If I ever go over there,” he told me one afternoon in Vancouver, “I’m going to drive my car through their window.” If he does, he’ll hit a lot of people.

Ian's cross-country journey on Foursquare:

<iframe width="610" height="300" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&fb=1&gl=ca&hq=thompson&hnear=Toronto,+ON&ei=SzR4TP7tMdKmnQfmhbGdCw&ved=0CCsQnwIwAQ&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103335406819895550235.000489284673973781a5e&ll=50.34546,-89.648437&spn=16.852718,53.613281&z=4&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small>View <a href="http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&fb=1&gl=ca&hq=thompson&hnear=Toronto,+ON&ei=SzR4TP7tMdKmnQfmhbGdCw&ved=0CCsQnwIwAQ&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103335406819895550235.000489284673973781a5e&ll=50.34546,-89.648437&spn=16.852718,53.613281&z=4&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">Ian Brown eats Canada</a> in a larger map</small>

Sweet homemade pastries at Sylvia Main's Fairholme Manor Inn, Victoria, BC

15) The sweet breakfast pastries at Sylvia Main’s Fairholme Manor Inn, a luxurious bed and breakfast with huge rooms in Victoria. Of course, you have to stay there to get them, but they make you feel like Marie Antoinette on a good day.

16) Any of the on-site brewed beers at The Port Gastropub in Port Williams, Nova Scotia. Any of them. Order them from Katrina, the bartendresse, or from the handsome bartenders, whose names I missed, somehow.

What may be the best Atlantic smoked salmon in the country, from Fumoir St. Antoine, near Baie St. Paul, in the Charlevoix, Quebec

17) Breakfast at Café Chez Nous in Malbaie, in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, an hour north of Quebec City. Specifically the smoked salmon with cream cheese on a toasted bagel, which is smoked down the road at Fumoir St.- Antoine in Baie-Saint-Paul. My jaw hurts as I type those words. Easily a contender for best smoked Atlantic salmon I’ve ever eaten. The yogurt, fruit and granola combination at Chez Nous is also first rate, in case you’re feeling delicate. My suggestion is, order both.

18) The pizza at Trattoria Pizza Mia at the Atwater Market in Montreal. Doesn’t matter which one, but I can personally recommend the Genoa salami on arugula with mozza, as they call it in Quebec.

19) You might ant to wash the pizza down with a bottle of Emile’s home-made spruce beer. Eighty calories, as opposed to to the 200 calories in Marco Beverages’ maple beer, which is too sweet for human consumption, and a weird idea to boot. Marco makes a nice birch beer, however.

Beef ribs at Magnan's in Montreal

20) If the pizza doesn’t hold you, walk half a kilometer across the Lachine Canal and have half a rack - or even a full one - of Magnan’s family-recipe beef ribs, which are coated in a prune-based barbecue sauce and slow roasted, and then finished off on the grill.

Feves au lard from La Binerie Mont Royalin Montreal

21) The fèves au lard (baked beans) at La Binerie Mont Royal, where Jocelyn Brunet and her husband devote themselves to recreating traditional Quebec cooking. The beans are prepared on site, and roasted for 15 hours. Have them (in the very comfortable restaurant) as are, then with maple syrup, then with molasses, and then - because this is how Marie-Josée St. Jacques, the restaurant’s brilliant waitress has them - with ketchup. You may need two orders. And breakfast.

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