Christmas in Coburg: discovering the seasonal magic in Germany

The woodsmoke wafts from the bratwurst stall in the Coburg Christmas market, drawing a patient queue of people. For these aren’t just any sausage, they are the famous Coburger Bratwurst, made with the seasoned blend of beef and pork and cooked over an open fire of pine cones, for that authentic smoky flavour. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, it will be soon as you catch the warm, aromatic scent of mulled wine and hear the sizzle of onions and mushrooms cooking in a big metal pan.

Christmas traditions in Germany - Coburg

I was in Coburg at the beginning of December to experience the magic of Christmas in Germany, where they seem to strike just the right balance of festive spirit, local tradition and religious meaning. The air was crisp, but the atmosphere warm, as friends gathered under the statue of Prince Albert in Marktplatz to chat over a steaming mug of Glühwein while parents watched their little ones enjoying a ride on the traditional merry-go-round.

The Christmas market in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Christmas market in Coburg, Germany

This is the season of Christmas markets when you’ll hear a lot about the popular but somewhat overwhelming Christmas markets of Cologne and Munich. What many people don’t realise that every place in Germany has its own Christmas market and as I’ve found, the smaller the town or village, the more charming and authentic the markets become.

Christmas Market in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas Market in Coburg, Germany

We enjoyed walking through the Christmas market in the central Martketplatz of Coburg, surrounded by the 16th century buildings, such as Duke Casimir’s impressive Stadthaus with decorative oriel windows at each corner. The square was just 10 minutes walk from Hotel Villa Victoria where we were staying and had all the ingredients for a fine Christmas Market. We’ve found that the markets in Germany are mainly about delicious things to eat and drink, and there were stalls selling tempting hot dishes, sausages and cheeses as well as gifts destined for someone’s Christmas stocking.

The Seßlach Christmas Market

We also visited the Seßlach Advent Market, just 20 minutes drive from Coburg and at another level of charm and local flavour. The small town is beautiful of course, and the market was just for that weekend so it really felt as if we’d chanced on a local secret. As we walked through the archway in the town wall, the choirs and musicians were filing into church for a musical Advent concert, and we popped back later to stand at the back and listen to the music.

Avent Market in Seßlach, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Avent Market in Seßlach, Germany

There was everything you’d expect at a traditional Christmas market; stalls selling good things to eat and drink, the children’s carousel and the lights strung along the old buildings and on the Christmas tree. But as we walked along the cobbled streets that radiated from the main square, we discovered archways leading to hidden courtyards and barns, where the local shops, businesses and charities had set out their stall with everything that you could possibly need for a magical Christmas.

Advent Market in Seßlach, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Advent Market in Seßlach, Germany

We treated ourselves to a bowl of warming Gulyasuppe, a rich meaty goulash soup and then a  sugary Baumstriezel, the dough wrapped around a metal cylindar and cooked over the open fire, to be pulled apart and eaten with our fingers.

Avent Market in Seßlach, Germany Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Avent Market in Seßlach, Germany

Let there be light

While the Christmas markets in German towns are open throughout the day, it’s in the late afternoon that the magic really starts to happen. As dusk falls, the flat grey skies give way to a warm glow as buildings are illuminated and the strings of fairy lights and bulbs come to life. In these cold winter days, it’s all about creating a warm, cosy feeling in your home, with candles flickering on the mantlepiece and the lights on the Christmas tree. The stalls in the Christmas market are full of candles and star lamps to hang at your window, not only to chase away the cold, but to remind us of the meaning of Advent, the preparing for the baby who was to light up the world.

Candles at the Christmas market in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Candles at the Christmas market in Coburg, Germany

Street Food at the Christmas Market

The Christmas markets bring plenty of hot dishes that seem designed to spread the seasonal cheer. For just a few Euros we tried a dish of Champignonpfanne: button mushrooms sauted with onions as well as Gemüsepfanne:  stir fried vegetables, which could be topped with different sauces – we chose the creamy garlic flavour.

Food in the Christmas market at Coburg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Food in the Christmas market at Coburg

Potatoes were shaved into thin slices and fried to make Kartoffelchips – a home made potato crisp served in twirls on a wooden stick. There was Gulyasuppe, a rich and warming meaty soup, served in a hollowed out crusty roll which you could eat at the end, so as not to waste any of the savoury juices.

Food in the Christmas market at Coburg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Food in the Christmas market at Coburg

We also enjoyed the galettes with ham and cheese freshly cooked on the Hauser’s stand – they are well known in the area, selling galettes at all the markets and festivals. I don’t think any of these dishes set us back more than €3.50 and it was fun to snack on different flavours, all of them warming and delicious. I also love that the eco-conscious Germans serve everything in an edible wafer container, with wooden cutlery, which will quickly bio-degrade.

Food in the Christmas market at Coburg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Food in the Christmas market at Coburg

The sweet taste of Chocolate

After tasting a few different savoury dishes, I found myself looking around for something sweet to finish the meal and of course there was no shortage of options. On some stalls nuts were being mixed in hot praline, giving off a sweet toffee fragrance – we tried some warm in small paper cones.

But I couldn’t resist the chocolate, especially the wooden skewers with fresh fruit covered in chocolate; grapes, strawberries, pineapple and even whole bananas. I enjoyed the way that the fresh, juicy fruit cut through the sweetness of the chocolate, although it was hard to eat without getting chocolate all around your mouth! For something a little more elegant we popped into the Chocolate Coburg Shop just off Marktplatz to buy some marzipan chocolates and other chocolate gifts to take home with us.

Chocolates at Christmas in Coburg

Chocolates at Christmas in Coburg

The Coburg Bratwurst

Following the waft of smoke at one side of the market we joined the queue of locals waiting for their Coburger Bratwurst from the small white van, with a wood fire burning at the back. These bratwurst vans stand on the Marktplatz all year round and the local butchers take it in turn to sell the sausages cooked over a wood fire. They are made with a mixture of beef and pork seasoned with nutmeg and are bound with raw egg (which requires a special exemption from normal food regulations).

The Coburg Bratwurst in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Coburg Bratwurst in Coburg, Germany

The Coburg Bratwurst or Coburger is long and thin and served in a crisp white roll, which is cut along the top, although I got the feeling that the bread is more to hold the sausage than to be eaten. It’s completed with a liberal squirt of mustard, to complement the smoky flavour that comes from being cooked over a fire of pine cones.

Coburg Bratwurst in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Coburg Bratwurst in Coburg, Germany

Mulled wine at the Christmas Market

To drink, it had to be something warming with a bit of a kick to keep out the winter chill. The stalls selling mulled wine, beer or cider were doing a steady trade. Friends of all ages were gathering to buy a steaming mug and take it over to the central area where there were tall tables to rest the drinks. Sometimes there was a wood burning brazier, to take the edge off the cold.

Gluhwein to drink at the Christmas markets in Coburg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gluhwein to drink at the Christmas markets in Coburg

There were also plenty of stalls selling bottles of spicy mulled wine to buy and serve to your guests at home, or mead with animal horns to drink it out of. The stalls have an environmentally friendly system where you pay a couple of Euro extra for a decorative mug which you can later return for a refund. The designs are different each year and some become collectables (or memorabilia gathering dust on the mantlepiece).

Gluhwein to drink at the Christmas markets in Coburg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gluhwein to drink at the Christmas markets in Coburg

A cosy café for coffee and cake

During the day you might need to find a cosy café to retreat from the cold, to warm up with a Kaffee und Kuchen after walking around Coburg. You’ll have plenty of choice in Coburg – we liked the Queen’s Cafe on Albertplatz and the more traditional Feyler who specialise in Coburger Schmätzchen. Most bakeries and cake shops have a café area where you can order (or point at) the cake that takes your fancy and then be served with a milky coffee to warm up before heading out onto the streets again.

Kaffee und Kuchen in Coburg

Kaffee und Kuchen in Coburg

Another German Christmas tradition we discovered is that every place in Germany makes its own special Christmas biscuit. In Coburg the Feyler bakery is the place to buy Coburg’s special biscuit, the Coburger Schmätzchen. It literally means Coburg kisses and I was told that these biscuits made with honey and hazlenuts are quite hard when first baked and need to be left out of the packet for a day or so to soften. They come plain or with a dark chocolate coating which is dotted with specks of gold leaf.

Christmas biscuits in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas biscuits in Coburg, Germany

Another local favourite are the Elisen Lebkuchen – a speciality of nearby Nuremberg which are a soft and slightly spicy biscuit, covered either with chocolate or a light icing. I bought one in the Christmas market and it was quite delicious with a gentle rather than overbearing Chrismas flavour.

Christmas biscuits in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas biscuits in Coburg, Germany

Advent Wreaths in Coburg, Germany

At the beginning of advent you will see Advent wreaths on sale in Germany, which every German family would have in their home. Many are traditional, with evergreen foliage decorated with baubles and pine cones, but others may be more contemporary to fit in with your home decor.

Advent Wreath in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Advent Wreath in Coburg, Germany

On the wreath there are four candles, one for each of the Sundays in Advent, when a new candle would be lit. We saw a lovely wreath in the chapel at Schloss Callanberg, a touch of Christmas decoration in the otherwise simple protestant chapel.

Advent wreath in the chapel at Schloss Callenberg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Advent wreath in the chapel at Schloss Callenberg, Germany

Not too far from Coburg is the town of Lauscha which specialises in making glass Christmas ornaments and although we weren’t able to visit the town, we did buy one of the Lauscha glass baubles from the Chocolate-Coburg shop to add to our collection. I love the vintage look of these baubles, taking us back to the tradition of the Christmas tree that was introduced to England by Prince Albert, who was born in Coburg.

Traditional Christmas baubles in Coburg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Traditional Christmas baubles in Coburg, Germany

I can imagine how homesick Prince Albert must have felt for the pine forests of his native Germany and why wanted to bring some of his own German traditions back to England. Last year in her Christmas message, Queen Elizabeth mentioned that Prince Albert had started the tradition of the Christmas tree, and this gave such pleasure to the people of Coburg that they offered to send a Christmas tree to mark her 90th birthday. The offer was accepted and this Christmas a 40 ft Christmas tree stands proudly in Windsor town centre, next to the statue of Queen Victoria, decorated with glass baubles from Lauscha.

Germany is the place to soak up the festive atmosphere and kick start your Christmas season, with Coburg being a charming place to spend a few days at any time of year, to discover the history, castles and royal connections. Enjoy your Christmas preparations and as you do, remember that many of our English Christmas traditions had their origins in Germany, when Prince Albert and Queen Victoria gathered their family around the Christmas tree.

Read more: 9 German Christmas traditions to enjoy in Heidelberg

Christmas in Coburg

Plan your Visit to Coburg

For more information about what there is to see and do in Coburg, visit the Coburg Tourism website and follow them on their social media channels: Facebook and Twitter. You can also find information to plan your holidays in Germany at the Germany Tourism Website.

From the UK you can reach Coburg via Nuremberg airport (1 hr 15 min drive), Frankfurt (2 hrs 50 mins drive) or Munich (2 hrs 50 mins drive) and we recommend hiring a car, which will enable you to easily visit all the castles and places of interest around Coburg.

Heather and Guy flew from Bristol to Frankfurt with bmi regional who fly up to three times daily between Bristol and Frankfurt. One way fares cost from £93 and as with all bmi flights, include a generous 23kg of hold luggage, a complimentary in-flight drink and breakfast snack, allocated seating and a speedy 30 minute check-in.

Where to stay in Coburg

Heather and Guy stayed at Hotel Villa Victoria in Coburg, which was the perfect place to spend a few days while exploring the town and the castles nearby. The accommodation is in a very pretty turn of the century villa, just outside the old town walls, with convenient parking outside for our hire car (although the spaces quickly filled up). In the villa are 12 rooms and ours was a most delightful suite with adjoining sitting room and view of the city gatehouse.

Hotel Villa Victoria in Coburg

Hotel Villa Victoria in Coburg

The house had been beautifully renovated and we had the use of a guest sitting room on the same floor, with a tea and coffee station on the landing. We especially enjoyed breakfast in the charmingly furnished ground floor room, with pretty floral china and lace tablecloths. Across the road is a more modern residence, and guests staying there can also have breakfast in the villa, but I would check when you book that you can have a room in the older house if possible.

Hotel Villa Victoria in Coburg Breakfast

Hotel Villa Victoria in Coburg Breakfast

Despite the name, you should be aware that Hotel Villa Victoria is more of a guest house than a hotel; for instance when we arrived mid afternoon there was no-one manning the reception and we had to call the owner who gave us instructions on how to find our key. When staying here be sure to let the owners know at what time you will be arriving and make arrangements accordingly.

Sitting room at Hotel Villa Victoria in Coburg

Sitting room at Hotel Villa Victoria in Coburg

Thanks to German National Tourist Board who hosted my visit to Coburg and to BMI Regional who covered my flight via Frankfurt.

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Christmas traditions in Germany

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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3 fab boutique hotels in Bristol – and what to do when staying there

Living in Bristol I often get asked for recommendations on the best places to stay as well as what to do in my lovely home town. For travellers who enjoy taking short city-breaks, I believe that the choice of hotel is a big factor in how you experience a place. I prefer to stay at hotels that are centrally located, with stylish decor and a personal touch with staff who really care. I have my own comfy bed in Bristol, so I haven’t stayed overnight in the hotels I’m going to recommend, but I have visited them all for one event or another and they are hotels that I would choose myself, if I were visiting Bristol.

Where to stay and what to see in Bristol

Where to stay and what to see in Bristol

1. Brooks Guest House – for quirky charm and affordability

This charming guest house is right in the middle of the old city, tucked down a lane by St Nicholas Market. It’s a great choice if you are arriving in Bristol by coach or train since there’s no parking at the hotel, but then you will be bang in the heart of things. There’s a contemporary but slightly retro feel in the decor, with painted woodwork and Cole & Sons wallpaper.

Bedrooms at Brooks Guest House

Bedrooms at Brooks Guest House

The big talking points are the four shiny Rocket caravans on the roof where you can stay in a cosy twosome (and yes they do have bathrooms).  Breakfast is downstairs in the light and airy kitchen area and there’s a pretty paved courtyard which is perfect to sit outside as the weather gets warmer.

Rocket caravans at Brooks Guest House

Rocket caravans at Brooks Guest House

Brooks Guest House, St Nicholas Street, Bristol, BS1 1UB. Check out the best prices and book for Brooks Guest House at HotelLook.com

What do do while staying at Brooks Guest House

  • Wander around St Nicholas Market where the Guest House is located and try something delicious from the food stalls under the glass roof. This is a favourite spot for locals to come and buy their lunch, and you can choose from a multicultural selection, from Jamaican to Portuguese hot dishes, Pieminster pies to pulled pork in a bun. Inside the Covered Market and Exchange Hall are lots of small stalls selling clothes, jewellery and a whole range of interesting things, all run by small indie businesses.
St Nicholas Market in Bristol

St Nicholas Market in Bristol

  • Visit Castle Park which is a short walk through the market. If the weather is fine, this is a great place to take your lunch from St Nick’s market to sit on the grass overlooking the river. The church of St Peter’s was bombed in the war but its shell remains as a monument and there’s a sheltered herb garden and sculpture avenue next to it. There’s also a children’s playground tucked away on the mound beyond the church.
Castle Park in Bristol

Castle Park in Bristol

  • Watch a play at the Theatre Royal close to Queen’s square, where the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company puts on everything from Shakespeare to family shows. The theatre dates back to the 18th century and has an impressive classical facade and original gilded Georgian auditorium so it’s always worth checking on the latest productions.

2. Hotel du Vin – for old school style and luxury

Housed in an old stone sugar warehouse, I love Hotel du Vin for its sense of style and old school luxury. As the name suggests, there’s a wine theme going on in the Bistro restaurant, with polished dark wood, panelled walls and a French inspired menu, as well as a bar area with squashy leather sofas to relax with a cocktail or coffee.

Hotel du Vin in Bristol

Hotel du Vin in Bristol

Due to the character of the old building, no two bedrooms are exactly the same, but all are luxurious with roll-top baths or powerful showers, soft velvet furnishings and antique leather easy chairs. The hotel is centrally located in the oldest part of Bristol, and where the road now runs in front of the hotel was once the original waterfront where ships would have moored.

Room at Hotel du Vin in Bristol

Room at Hotel du Vin in Bristol

Hotel du Vin, The Sugar House, Narrow Lewins Mead, Bristol, BS1 2NU. Check out the best prices and book for Hotel du Vin Bristol at HotelLook.com

What do do while staying at Hotel du Vin

  • Walk up the atmospheric Christmas steps, to imagine how Bristol looked in the 17th and 18th century when the road in front of the hotel was part of the harbour, then check out some of the quirky independent shops. At the top of the steps there’s an old Alms House and plenty of other small arty shops along Colston Street and Perry Road.
Colston Hall in Bristol

Colston Hall in Bristol

  • Colston Hall is just a short walk from the hotel, Bristol’s main music venue hosting an eclectic mix of international performers, community choirs and pop tribute bands. An open copper foyer was added to the original Victorian building a few years ago, often hosting free live music in this space with a stylish cafe too.
Red Lodge Museum in Bristol

Red Lodge Museum in Bristol

  • Visit Red Lodge which is set on Park Row, on the hill above Hotel du Vin and the Colston Hall. It’s one of the oldest houses in Bristol where you can see oak panelled Elizabethan rooms and fireplaces in the Great Oak Room, with views over the city. The wealthy merchants who once lived here would have had a grand view of their ships coming up the harbour as well as being able to take their leisure in the Elizabethan knot garden. Entry is free and the house is open from end March to end December, closed Weds/ Thurs/ Fri.

3. The Bristol – for luxurious rooms overlooking the harbour

From the ouside The Bristol may not be the prettiest of hotels – although there’s something iconic about its listed 1960s facade that was originally built as a motel. Step inside and the rooms are spacious and stylish in relaxing natural tones with luxurious velvet throws in highlight shades of  plum, mushroom or aubergine.

Room at The Bristol

Room at The Bristol

You can take their popular afternoon tea, order some sharing plates in the Lounge or have dinner with a view of the harbour in the River Grille restaurant, with drinks in the Shore Cafe Bar next door. As there’s a multi-story car park next door, this is a convenient choice for those who are driving but want a central location by the harbour in Bristol.

Bristol Hotel and Pero's Bridge

Bristol Hotel and Pero’s Bridge

The Bristol, Prince Street, Bristol, BS1 4QF. Check out the best prices and book for The Bristol at HotelLook.com

What to do while staying at The Bristol

  • Take a Bristol Ferry Company boat from the steps opposite the Watershed Arts Centre which will take you around the harbour with lots of different stops on the way. You could get off at the furthest point for a pleasant walk back along the water or just stay on board for a mini tour which will take around 40 minutes to see harbour sights like the ss Great Britain and Underfall Yard from the water.
Bristol Ferry Company

Bristol Ferry Company

  • Just along the harbour front is M-shed, a free museum that brings to life the history and people of Bristol. With plenty of hands-on exhibits it’s great for all ages and since its free, you can dip in and out depending on how long you’ve got. When your tummy is rumbling it’s time to discover Bristol’s latest foodie hub which is just next door at Wapping Wharf – a pedestrian street full of indie restaurants and bars, including Cargo – a group of food retailers housed in shipping containers.
M-Shed in Bristol

M-Shed in Bristol

  • Take the steam train or walk down to ss Great Britain – from M-shed, there’s a small steam train that runs at weekends, manned by enthusiasts that will take you along the harbourside down to ss Great Britain (of course you can also walk). This historic iron steam ship was built by Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel who also designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the ship was returned to Bristol from the Falklands. Now fully restored, it is one of Bristol’s leading visitor attractions and a great day out for families and those interested in Bristol’s maritime history.
SS Great Britain

SS Great Britain

I hope you enjoyed my mini-tour of some of my favourite places to see and stay in Bristol. If you’re planning a weekend break in Bristol, do check out the best prices and book at  Hotellook.com.

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Read about where to stay and what to do in Bristol

Read about where to stay and what to do in Bristol

Disclosure: This article was brought to you in partnership with HotelLook.com

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Foodie adventures on our Canadian Road Trip – Ontario and Quebec

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Canada, Eating and drinking, featured, Leisure

Our road trip this summer took us through Canada from Toronto to Montreal, eating the freshest of Canadian produce and trying the many craft beers (once the RV was safely parked of course!). We tasted our way through gourmet burgers and poutine, cooked up a storm over the camp fire and enjoyed an occasional sophisticated dinner at in some of Quebec’s finest restaurants, all washed down by the wonderfully varied, locally brewed craft beer.

Food adventures on our Canada Road Trip

Our first taste of Canada was in Toronto where we spent a day exploring the harbour front before picking up our RV from Cruise Canada. Right on the waterfront, the Amsterdam Brewhouse caught our eye, with a double height restaurant space and seating on the deck outside. We bagged a table by the lake-front and ordered a pulled pork bun with sweet potato fries and a flight of their craft beers – with names like Bigwheel Amber Ale and Downtown Brown.

The only one that was a bit odd was the ‘Adventure’ brew – small batches of something a experimental and ours was an orange flavour beer, which tasted… well… like orange juice. The menus here change seasonally but are based around casual burgers, smoked meats and a good selection of hearty salads too – plus the beer is all brewed by the company with natural ingredients and no preservatives. In cosmopolitan Tornoto this felt as close as you’ll get to typical Canadian cuisine and it was a tasty start to our trip. Amsterdam Brewhouse, 245 Queens Quay West, Toronto

Craft Beer at Amsterdam Brewhouse

Craft Beer at Amsterdam Brewhouse

A Road-side stop in Ontario at Weber’s

Picking up our RV from Cruise Canada in Toronto, we drove north towards Algonquin Provincial Park where we would be spending a couple of nights, stopping for a late lunch at Weber’s on Highway 11 near Orillia. It’s a fabulous roadside diner which is the top place to stop if you’re heading north for a camping trip. After parking the RV we joined the fast moving line in the small takeaway area – where burgers and hot-dogs were sizzling over charcoal and the orders with fries, extra cheese, milk shakes or iced tea were being efficiently assembled.

Taking our paper wrapped burgers and cartons of fries we found a shady spot at a picnic table on the grass to enjoy our lunch – there’s also a vintage railway carriage that has been converted into a restaurant car for those who like their air conditioning. If you need something sweet for desert, pop next door to buy an ice cream or frozen yoghurt – we had a tub of berry flavour.

Weber's in Ontario driving north from Toronto Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Weber’s in Ontario driving north from Toronto

Farm shop flavours

Although we’d stocked up at the supermarket at the beginning of our road trip, we quickly realised that the more interesting foodie discoveries were to be found at local farm shops and markets. One such was the Coutts Country Flavor Shop which we stopped at on our way to Murphy Point Camp Ground, close to Perth.

Coutts Country Flavor Shop, Ontario Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Coutts Country Flavor Shop, Ontario Canada

Pulling up in front of the wooden building surrounded by fields, we looked around the store which is part of a 5th generation family farm and sells organic meat, fresh farm veg, local cheeses, their own maple syrup and the famous Ontario butter tarts ( a bit like a treacle tart but not quite as sickly sweet).

Coutts Country Flavor Shop, Ontario Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Coutts Country Flavor Shop, Ontario Canada

Craft beer with a hint of Maple

In nearby Perth we also found the wonderful Perth Brewery to stock up on craft beer to take back to our campground. Surrounded by copper vats and packing benches, the friendly staff at the front counter were more than happy to let us have a taste of the different beers on tap. After trying just a few (we still had to drive the RV) we stocked up on the tins of our choice, to drink later by the campfire. Our favourite was the Canada Maple Ale which had a subtle flavour of maple syrup without too much sweetness – a really enjoyable taste of Canada.

Perth Brewing Company

Perth Brewing Company

A taste of Poutine

Another Canadian speciality that we came to know (but not necessarily love) was Poutine, a dish that’s especially favourite in Quebec. It’s basically french fries, scattered with squeaky curd cheese and drenched in gravy – with variations sold everywhere from roadside food stops to fine dining restaurants. Our first encounter at a roadside food truck was not that promising. Frankly we couldn’t see what the fuss was about, with crispy fries turned into a soggy mess by the gravy (in fact poutine is Québecois slang for mess!).

Poutine at a roadside stop in Ontario Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Poutine at a roadside stop in Ontario Canada

We did give the Poutine another try at Les Brasseurs du Temps in Gatineau and although a slightly more elegant version, we concluded that as a dish it was best saved for those outdoor events in the freezing Canadian winter when you need to carbo-load. In Montreal the ultimate poutine is said to be found at Au Pied de Cochon, where they do a variation with Fois Gras. I could have tasted it at the food truck event in Montreal where the restaurant had a stand but was worried I’d be disappointed again, so I declined – a decision I somewhat regret.

Brasseur de Temps in Gatineau, Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Brasseur de Temps in Gatineau, Canada

Pancakes and Maple Syrup

Another unmissable feature of the Canadian food scene were the pancakes – which were normally served for breakfast with lashings of maple syrup. A meal in themselves, they would keep you going until well after lunchtime – we enjoyed these ones with fresh fruit at a modest roadside diner close to our campground at Parc de Plaissance north of Ottawa.

Parc de Plaisance in Quebec Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Parc de Plaisance in Quebec Canada

A foodie hotspot at Kingston

One of our favourite foodie stops on the road trip through Ontario, was Kingston set beside Lake Ontario. This university town close to historic Fort Henry, punches above its weight when it comes to great artizan food producers, bars and restaurants. As we arrived, a farmer’s market was in full swing, with stall after stall selling perfectly polished peaches and plums, soft fruit, green beans and other fresh produce. We took the opportunity to buy a basket of luscious mixed berries to eat on the go and some butter tarts from the bakery stall as a lunchtime snack.

Farmer's market in Kingston Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Farmer’s market in Kingston Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Kingston had a much more European feel than many of the places we drove through, since the town was established in 1673 at the confluence of the St Lawrence River, at a time before cars (let alone RVs) dominated the town planning. We enjoyed walking around the streets, dipping into coffee shops and meandering through courtyards with secluded restaurant patios like Chez Piggy who also run the Pan Chancho bakery where we stopped for some excellent fresh bread.

Kingston Farmer's market

Kingston Farmer’s market

Beaver Tails in Ottawa

Our road trip next took us north to Canada’s capital Ottawa where we left our RV at the Wesley Clover Campground and took their convenient bus service into the city. After watching the changing of the guards on Parliament hill, our stomachs lead us to Byward Market, the neighbourhood surrounding the covered market building which has numerous food stalls as well as bars and restaurants.

On the recommendation of local blogger Cindy Baker we joined her for lunch at Murray Street, for a delicious plate of local charcuterie and cheeses on their shady patio, before paying the obligatory visit to the BeaverTails stand for desert. The flat pastries (shaped like a Beaver’s Tail) are a cross between a pancake and a doughnut and come with lots of sweet toppings – I was relatively restrained with my choice of buttery maple sauce!

Beavertail Pastry in Ottawa Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Beavertail Pastry in Ottawa Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Craft Beer at Brasseurs de Temps in Gatineau

After our day sightseeing in Ottawa we drove across the river to explore the city from the Quebec side, with an excellent dinner at Brasseurs de Temps in Gatineau. There was definitely a theme developing in the popular restaurants that we visited, being based around breweries offering an ever changing selection of craft beers. Below the restaurant is a quirky little museum about the history of beer in the Outaouais region and you get a look down into area where the beer is being brewed. It was pleasant to sit outside on the patio overlooking the canal and select our beer from from the detailed descriptions on the menu cards – according to which my fruity white beer had aromas of banana and ginger. This is where Guy decided to try the Poutine again but I had a duck salad which was certainly the better choice.

Brasseur de Temps in Gatineau, Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Brasseur de Temps in Gatineau, Canada

Fine dining at Wakefield Inn

A highlight of our foodie quest around the Outaouais region north of Ottawa was the day we spent in Wakefield, a pretty little historic town, full of old houses, craft shops and artizan bakeries and restaurants. After parking the RV in the centre of town, we walked up from the main road to Wakefield Inn, a charming boutique hotel and restaurant which would have made a wonderful spot for a weekend break. The hotel’s restaurant offered a sophisticated alternative to the more casual dining of the brewery restaurants we’d tried.

Wakefield Inn in Wakefield Quebec Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

From our table beside the window, we overlooked the mill stream rushing below and I enjoyed my Arctic Char with a pretty arrangement of mushrooms, green beans and other vegetables. The thick stone walls and open fires of the old mill house make for a cosy atmosphere and I can imagine snuggling up here after a winter snowshoe walk on the paths around the hotel.

Lunch at Wakefield Inn

Lunch at Wakefield Inn

We found that the Outaouais region north of Ottawa especially full of fabulous food stops, like the area of Chelsea just outside Gatineau Park, the outdoor playground for the citizens of Ottawa. At the Chelsea Pub we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, sitting outside on the patio with live music while drinking our beer and ordering a club sandwich with fries and salad. The same establishment runs Biscotti, a cute little cafe around the corner which is the place to go for coffee, cakes and delicious deserts.

Chelsea Pub by Gatineau Park, Quebec Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chelsea Pub by Gatineau Park, Quebec Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chelsea Pub by Gatineau Park, Quebec

While staying at Parc de Plaissance we enjoyed a contrast of luxurious al fresco dining at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello and gourmet burgers at Au Délice Champêtre, although both were marked by a typically Canadian relaxed atmosphere and lack of pretension. Le Chateau Montebello is best known as the world’s largest log cabin, although of course it is no garden shed, but a grand hotel that’s stuffed full of hunting-shooting-fishing memorabilia from the time when it was a private club for the great and the good. We dined in the outdoor restaurant overlooking the potager garden and lawns rolling down to the river, with a delicious buffet that had something for all tastes with a choice of steaks and fish cooked to order over the barbecue.

Chateau Fairmont Montebello

Chateau Fairmont Montebello

More down to earth but equally good was Délice Champêtre right opposite the tourist office in Montebello where we were welcomed by the owner Daniel who cooks up gourmet burgers and Belgian fries, using the best ingredients from local suppliers. Next door was a popular ice cream bar with gelato, frozen yoghurts and other classic deserts made on the premises. They even make all their own sauces and relishes to a secret recipe which unfortunately Daniel wouldn’t reveal even though I promised I’d share it with only a few close friends and readers.

Délice Champêtre Montebello in Quebec, Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Délice Champêtre Montebello in Quebec, Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Délice Champêtre Montebello in Quebec, Canada

Our foodie adventures in Canada wouldn’t be complete if we hadn’t tried a bit of campfire cooking. Since we had an extremely well equiped RV from Cruise Canada with gas hob, fridge and freezer it wasn’t exactly a necessity to cook over the open fire. But since every camping space came with a fire pit and a built in grill it seemed a shame not to give it a go, and on our last night in Mont Tremblant National Park we grilled some juicy steak kebabs over the fire for that smoky BBQ flavour.

Parc Mont-Tremblant in Quebec Canada Photo: Heaetheronhertravels.com

Parc Mont-Tremblant in Quebec Canada

The true Canadian tradition of course is to sit around the camp fire toasting marshmallows or s’mores as they are strangely called over there – the name’s an abreviation of ‘I want some more’. After a few attempts we managed to get the right balance of lightly toasted and deliciously melting as opposed to charred black and set on fire.

Parc Mont-Tremblant in Quebec Canada Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Parc Mont-Tremblant in Quebec Canada

And so we reached our final stop at Montreal and dropped off the RV, leaving us a couple of days to explore the city. If I had tell you about the food in Montreal it would be a whole extra article, since there’s such a thriving and vibrant food scene here – among the best food in Canada (or anywhere). If you’d like to find out more about bagels, tacos and maple syrup you’ll have to read my article – How to have a perfect day in Montreal. And while you’re reading it I’ll be mentally settling down in front of the camp fire with a can of that Canada Maple Ale.

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Food adventures in Canada

Where we stayed on our RV Road Trip

Night 1 –  Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Toronto
Night 2 & 3 Algonquin Provincial Park near Whitney, Ontario
Night 4 Murphy’s Point Provincial Park near Kingston, Ontario
Night 5 & 6 Wesley Clover Camp Ground – south of Ottawa
Night 7 &8 Camping Cantley – north of Ottawa
Night 9 Parc de Plaisance  National Park in Quebec
Night 10,11,12 Mont Tremblant National Park in Quebec
Night 13 Le Centre Sheraton Hotel Montreal

More inspiration for your road trip across Canada

Travel with Kat – The Wildlife of Canada’s Clayoquot Sound
The Quirky Traveller – A dash of History and Culture in the Rocky Mountains
On the Luce – Land of the Lakes: Exploring Ontario’s National Parks

Information for planning your trip to Canada

You can find more information to plan your visit to Montreal on the Ontario Tourism Website, the Quebec Original Website, the Tourism Outaouais Website and also on the Explore Canada Website covering all the things to see and do in Canada.

Our RV (Recreational Vehicle) for the two week Explore Canada Road Trip was provided by Cruise Canada.

To compare prices and book for hotels in Canada, visit the HotelsCombined website where you can find the best prices from a range of different booking sites.

My visit to Canada was part of the Explore Canada Road Trip, a project with Travelator Media and Explore Canada

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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