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Archive for May, 2012

HotdogThere were fireworks, picnics and people getting away for the long weekend. This past weekend was Victoria Day here in Canada, a public holiday observed on the last Monday before May 25, honoring the birth of Queen Victoria. It is also known as 2-4 day honoring a case of beer. Victoria Day marks the unofficial kickoff of summer. I normally wait to have my first BBQ of the year the following weekend, on Memorial Day, with my fellow Americans. But beautiful summer-like weather prompted me to start my outdoor cooking season, which also coincides with my annual ‘whining because I can’t find a decent hotdog here in Canada’ season.

Many of you know I like to complain about the troubles I have obtaining certain foods here in Toronto. You can add good tasting all-beef hotdogs to that list. This was not always a problem. I used to be able to easily purchase Hebrew National® All Beef Franks (www.hebrewnational.com) in select stores here. This is a delicious piece of meat, plump, juicy with no added fillers-and they’re kosher too. As their slogan used to say they answer to a higher authority. But sadly the stores here have stopped carrying them and I just haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement. The hotdogs found here just don’t have the right spices or flavoring. I’ve tried other all-beef hotdogs. I’ve tried kosher hotdogs from Montreal, and ball park style frankfurters. Some of them taste fairly good but still nothing that really hits a home run with me. I’ve turned to turkey franks. They’re not bad and probably a little healthier too. While I enjoy them, they still can’t replace the taste of an all-beef hotdog straight off the grill.

hotdogs on a grill

I continue to buy hotdogs and turkey franks here in Canada because I enjoy barbecuing. We get so little summer time here; you really do need to experience all you can. Nothing beats the smell of cooking meat outdoors on a charcoal grill, so I make do with what I can get.

Now about the mustard they sell here…

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When I go back home to visit, I always make sure to load up on plenty of my favorite foods as regular readers of this page know, especially, pizza and bagels. When people visit me in Toronto they often ask what special food they should try? Does Canada have a food it is known for? I’m always puzzled for an answer.

Some people say the beer in Canada is pretty good, but I don’t drink so I can’t recommend that. I’ve heard that Canadian bacon is a delicacy but I try to keep kosher and even if I didn’t it wouldn’t look right promoting pork products to my Jewish friends and family. The poutine? That’s really more of a French Canadian tradition and as I mentioned in an earlier post,(see my posting on French Fries) the less said about that the better.

Then I thought about the butter tart. A butter tart is a well-known Canadian treat. I have never tasted a butter tart. Maybe I should try one. Maybe it can become the representative food I can suggest to my American brethren.

What is a butter tart?

A butter tart is a small pastry consisting of butter, sugar, and eggs in a small pastry shell. It is said to be similar to a pecan pie, minus the pecans, which I have also never tasted.

The Canadian Butter Tart

A Canadian Butter Tart

My experience with the butter tart

Like I said, I have no personal experience with the butter tart. By coincidence, my local supermarket had them on special this week – a box of ten of them. It was fate. This was the week I would try my first butter tart.

In these health conscious times, the butter tart does not sound too appealing – a tart of saturated fat- but I was determined to see what this piece of Canadiana tasted like. I took one out of the box and studied it for a while. The sweet smelling pastry felt heavy as I placed it in front of me. I slowly dug in. The first bite was only the crust, but that tasted good. I stared inside at the filling. It was a creamy jelly like substance with a crusty top, quite different. I took another bite and tasted sweetness, almost like an apple pie filling without the apples. I took another bite. Was that a raisin I tasted? I had read that some butter tarts had raisins. Before long, I had finished the entire tart.

The verdict  

So, what did I think of my first butter tart? It was a bit sweet, but it was tasty. I think it would be more of a once in a while treat, but I would recommend it. It’s no Drake’s Coffee Cake or Yankee Doodle (read my previous post on Drake’s Cakes), but if someone wanted to try a unique Canadian snack, I think I might suggest the butter tart. In fact, I may have another one myself. After all, I still have another nine in that box.

What Canadian food do you recommend to out-of-towners?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

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