Countries around the world are proud of their national dishes; curries in India, ceviche in Peru, Nasi Goreng in Indonesia. When asked what Canada’s national dish is you could say Poutine, Canadian bacon, pancakes with REAL Canadian maple syrup. But if you live in Ottawa the answer is simple, Beaver Tails.
I love the look on people’s faces when I mention Beaver Tails. Despite what the name suggests, no Beavers were harmed in the making of a good beaver tail. Beaver Tails are whole wheat pastries stretched out by hand to resemble the tail of the beaver and then cooked in oil and served fresh and hot with a choice of toppings. The best topping in my opinion is the Killaloe sunrise, which simply has cinnamon, sugar and a little squeeze of lemon added. There is always a long line of tourists and locals looking for their Beaver Tail fix. The little wooden cabin in the beautiful Byward market in downtown Ottawa serves them year round but if you visit in the winter you should make your way down to the Rideau Canal, the longest skating rink in the world. Along the 7.8km of the Rideau Canal Skateway are a handful of small beaver tail cabins and these pastries are the perfect fuel to help you get through your skate.
We ordered our Beaver Tails and a hot chocolate because this has always been the tradition. The hot chocolate was simple but good, not sweet like you’d expect but more of a subtle malty chocolate flavour that is a good accompaniment to the Beaver Tails, especially when it’s below freezing outside. The Beaver Tail of course is one of my favourite things in the world…maybe even better than the ultimate hot chocolate!
Verdict: My official vote for national dish is the Beaver Tail accompanied by a hot chocolate. When it is cold outside (which it often is in Ottawa), this is a perfect combination. Beaver Tails Pastry, Byward Market, Ottawa