Canadian Cuisine: Alberta

From Rocky Mountain proteins to Prairie produce, Alberta cuisine is has to do with what is happening on the farms now. Canada beef is the pride of menus across the country, and renowned throughout the world. More than 40 percent of Canada beef comes from Alberta. Game meats like elk and lamb are very high quality in Alberta, but the iconic protein in this province is the bison. Bison are an integral part of shaping the grassland and the history of Alberta.

Cattle ranching demands wheat, and so Alberta is a major producer of red fife and barley. Alberta produces nearly half of all Canadian malted barley exports. Barley production feeds the local beer industry, and the beer pairs with the beef and game meats. Alberta’s craft beer scene is exploding. Saskatoon berries, wild berries and mushrooms all proliferate across the Rockies, and local farmers produce high quality crops from root vegetables and summer vegetables to canola, to a thriving dairy industry. Longer daylight hours in summer and expansive alfalfa and canola farms, keep bees happy. Alberta is the largest producer of honey in Canada; fifth largest in the world. There is a developing mead industry, as well as very high quality bee products like bee pollen. “The First Nations thrived between the bison and the berries,” says Sal Howell (River Café). She captures the spirit of Alberta with a dish of Bison tartare in beer vinegar with canola, oats, Saskatoon berries, puffed red fife, smoked cucumber and wild garlic.

One of Canada’s most popular cocktails, the Bloody Caesar, (more commonly known as Caesar), was invented in Calgary. Distinguished from the Bloody Mary by adding clam broth, creative variations can be found in every major bar and gastro-pub across Canada. Cheers!

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