We’ll all remember the summer of 2020 as the season of canceled vacations. Dreams of lounging in a Parisian café with a freshly baked croissant, touring a vineyard in Tuscany or navigating the winding Tsukiji fish market in Japan have all vanished as we’ve become confined to our own kitchens.
In this new series of Tabletop Traveling, we’re turning your kitchen into an airplane and jetting you off on culinary adventures, all in the comfort of your safe home. We’ll provide the menu, decoration ideas and more to help you create your own destination dinner.
For our first trip, we’re staying in North America and going across the closed border to Canada. While we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th, Canadians celebrate their national holiday, Canada Day, on July 1st. The holiday commemorates the joining of Canada’s original three provinces into one nation in 1867.
The festivities feel very familiar to ours, with barbecues, parades, fireworks and people wearing the nation’s colors of red and white. For our own Canada Day celebration, we’re taking it to the backyard, with a barbecue full of Canadian pride.
Menu: Fire up the grill and grab Canada’s sweetest treat: maple syrup. Instead of steaming the squash in this recipe, grill slices for a Warm Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Maple Pumpkin Seeds. You can prep everything in a large bowl, adding in the warm squash to wilt the kale. Make the maple pumpkin seeds in advance to sprinkle on top of the salad.
You can’t have a Canadian celebration without the famous poutine. This traditional dish of French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy originates from Quebec. To keep things kosher, make a vegan mushroom gravy and use either vegan mozzarella “cheese” curds or real cheese curds if you aren’t vegan. Make your own fried potatoes or pick up your favorite ones from a nearby restaurant. Hold off on topping the fries with the gravy until you serve the poutine. Nobody wants soggy fries!
To go with your food, you’ll need something to drink. The Bloody Caesar is a classic Canadian brunch drink that is similar to a Bloody Mary, but made with clam juice. In our case, we’ll be subbing in olive brine to get the same flavor. Follow this recipe and make a large batch, letting your guests add their own garnishes to keep things safe. If you’re able to find it, grab a 6-pack of one of these Canadian beers as well.
For dessert, head to your nearest Tim Horton’s and pick up some Timbits. Or, forge ahead with frying and make your own donuts. Beaver Tails are a popular treat of deep fried dough covered with cinnamon and chili. This recipe for Zalabia is very similar—just top with some cinnamon sugar and chili, and you’ve got yourself a beaver tail.
Décor: Now that the menu is all set, it’s time to deck out your patio or dining area to display your borrowed Canadian pride. If eating outdoors, which is recommended during COVID-19 times, hang up some red and white streamers (you can purchase July 4 decorations and remove the blue parts) and ask all your guests to dress in red and white clothing.
We’re all going on long walks right now, so keep your eyes peeled for a maple tree. If you find one, grab a few leaves and use those as drink coasters or tape them together for table decorations.
The last step is to hang up a Canadian flag, blast a playlist of Canadian musicians—such as Celine Dion, Alanis Morissette, Drake and Bryan Adams—and light up some sparklers to end the festivities. Think of this as practice for July 4th only a few days later!
Photo by Guillaume Jaillet on Unsplash