It’s been nearly six years since I left Toronto, Canada and migrated to Trinidad (no regrets). It’s been a bitter-sweet adventure with several ups and downs…I even tried to leave once but I returned shortly thereafter (flashback to my infamous surprise”going away party”at Dr!nk).
Though fully immersed and settled in Trinidad, I still carry my Canadian heritage with pride and when Canada day arrives, I do my best to celebrate it low-key here in sweet T&T. This year, I broke my tradition of solitude; I was fortunate to have been invited (for the first time) to the official Canada Day Celebration hosted by our High Commissioner, Gérard Latulippe. The theme this year? “Into the Woods”. According to Mr. Latulippe, nearly half of Canada’s entire land surface are covered by trees and it’s little wonder that forests and their resources touch virtually every aspect of Canadian life.
“Into the Woods” took place in the heart of Fairways Maraval in a beautifully laid out poolside and garden villa.
Guests were greeted with smiles, sliders and ciders upon arrival and a really cool ‘wilderness guide’ (a programme booklet/souvenir).
They created an authentic look, feel and sound emulating all things Canadian.
As you walk past the guest sign in table, there were several booths, each with a wide array of Canadian wine from sparkling to pinot noir, rose and of course ICE WINE!
I was very impressed by the cheese table which featured a variety of Canadian cheese (ordered through All The Best Fine Foods Ltd. in Toronto).
The cheese table included the following:
Blue Benedictin (from Quebec) – A five year old cheddar made near the Bay of Fund. It’s mild, crumbly and goes really well with a steak sandwich.
Ciel de Charlevoix Blue (Quebec) – Another blue cheese but this one is semi-soft and made from whole cow’s milk. It’s a milder blue cheese with a semi-sharp but pleasant flavour.
Gouda Aged Mountainoak (Ontario) – A dessert cheese with a creamy texture with small bubble eyes.
Bothwell Horseradish Cheddar (Manitoba) – The name speaks for itself. This is a pungent yet smooth white cheddar with a balance of horseradish to give us a kick.
Fere Jacque Swiss (Quebec) – There’s even a song about these famous Benedictine monks from the Abbey in Lac Saint Benoit. This cheese has a mild hazelnut flavour and I’ll say quite mind-blowing.
Pallot de Chevre (Quebec) – A pasteurised goat cheese with a soft white rind. It’s sweet yet tart and nice n’ gooey with a bit of flakes and spice thrown in.
The list goes on but with all this cheese, I decided to wash it down with a glass of Tirus Brut sparkling wine to clear my palette and well…cut the cheese–in a non-stinky manner…okay that was cheesy! Sorry not sorry!
**Image courtesy of Hillebrand Estate Winery**
Trius Brut is a sparkling wine with crispy citrus and apple notes. This wine is from the Hillebrand Estate Winery based in the Niagara Peninsula (home of Ontario’s finest wine regions).
After the wine and cheese moment of bliss, the official opening of the event kicked off with a steel pan rendition of the Canadian national anthem, followed by the national anthem of Trinidad and Tobago. This was followed with speeches from the High Commissioner and host, Gerard Latulippe and Ms. Frances Seignoret, Permanent Secretary (Ag.), Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Unfortunately I was unable to see the official Canada Day cake being cut (too busy being mesmerised by the assortment of Canadian goodies all at once).
Okay let’s get straight to the menu. You’re gonna have to use your imagination for this as I was too busy eating to take foodie pics (sorry not sorry).
- Elk and Venison meatballs with spicy maple mustard and onions
- Smoked salmon cream cheese caper logs
- Canadian Kobe beef sliders (I must have had about half a dozen of these bad boys–Yum)!
Okay..pause…They also had POUTINE! My ultimate favourite comfort food in the entire universe. If I had to pick my ‘last meal’, poutine would most definitely be on my list (mind you, over consuming poutine may reduce the length of time for approaching this ‘last meal’). Poutine is a French Canadian delicacy made with french fries, curd cheese and a homemade gravy smothered over the cheese and fries. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
One more thing…you gotta wash this down with a good Canadian beer to my surprise the event had a variety of Canadian beer (get this…stocked inside a canoe with ice)! Talk about a true Canadian celebration!
**This pic btw was closer to the end of the evening–sorry I drank most of the Molson Canadian**
Now to add to the menu, locally made sausages from our very own Stefan Grosberg of Delmano Foods were served. This time the sausages were made with all Canadian meats! Three types of sausages (Elk, Venison and Bison) along with a dijon mustard sauce. This was a show-stopper (at least for me it was).
For dessert, they served a variety of Canadian classics:
- Nanaimo bars (it consists of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of custard flavoured butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate
- Butter tarts
- Waffles with whipped cream, strawberries and Canadian Maple syrup
…and of course the cake(s) and our specially branded cookies!
I decided to take a bit of a break and hit the ice wine bar again.
To top this event off, there was a roasting station where you can roast marshmallows under the moonlight! It doesn’t get much better than that!
**I didn’t burn the marshmallow, I toasted it! Don’t judge me**
This experience was one-of-a-kind for me. It really brought back some fond memories as a kid going camping, hanging out with my friends, enjoying a campfire with close friends and taking in some of life’s simplest pleasures–something that we tend to take for granted as adults.
This was the most memorable Canada Day ever experienced (outside of Canada). For a moment, I actually felt as though I were home..back in Canada, and then I heard a lovely Trinidadian accent next to me asking “wey all di beers gone?”
July 1st reminded me of how much I’m blessed to have the experiences and memories both past and present of life in paradise (in Canada and in Trinidad). The two cultures I’m a part of and most proud of (the multicultural, rustic and genuine friendliness of Canada, and the vibrant, free-flowing, fun-loving and unceasingly rich culture of Trinidad).
Life really is what you make of it. During my tenure here, I’ve grown to appreciate simplicity (something I hope we never outgrow as adults).
Wherever you are, try to take some time and head out into the woods!