Meal Time on the Via Canadian

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May 28th 2018
Published: May 28th 2018
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Meal time on the train has never been more than mostly average. After all, the food is basically loaded onto the train already cooked, and heated prior to serving. Usually, the best meal is a steak or a hamburger. It was even worse on the Trans Siberian Railway, where the meals are simply awful, and food has not been refrigerated!!!!

So, this trip on the VIA Canadian is, by all indications, a step up. A BIG step up, according to these food bloggers. I will wait and give you a better report when I get to Vancouver. Here goes on the bloggers:

From Food Guy Montreal: In short: the food was excellent. I don’t know many trains, buses, boats, or airplanes where you can get duck confit eggs benedict for brunch, shrimps and scallops with a local (yes, I said local) Saskatoon berry chutney for lunch, or Canadian lake trout in horseradish and panko breading with ravigote sauce (vinaigrette with onions, capers, and herbs). Every dish for lunch and dinner has a recommended wine to pair with it, where each selection is Canadian. The service was fast, friendly, comfortable, and of course incredibly scenic. There aren’t many opportunities to dine with the Rockies, the prairies, or the forests and lakes. Every meal I ate was just as good, if not better than the next. My favorites included the AAA Canadian prime rib of beef, served with a rich rosemary demi-glaze and stuffed potatoes, cheesecake-stuffed French toast with a wild berry compote and whipped cream, and the slowly braised beef short rib with pearl onions and bacon in a thick stout beer sauce. I didn’t expect this level of cuisine on a train, but boy did they deliver.

Well, I can only pray he is correct, as Amtrak and Trans Siberian food was wither marginal (Amtrak), and inedible (Trans Siberian).
From Martine Page', another food blogger: After the beauty of the landscapes, the meals are the second biggest attraction on The Canadian of Via Rail. The food offered to passengers on this legendary route between Toronto and Vancouver was already good reputation, but the menu had not changed for a long time. Give a youth card, it was the responsibility of Martin gem. With a record of the varied experiences in kitchens of Montreal, and the far North, Martin is in charge of planning for the services (food, drink, entertainment, interaction with staff) on trains long course of Via Rail.
The dining car can accommodate 40 guests at a time, into a table of four. The atmosphere is laid-back and the service is equally. Depending on the number of passengers, there are two or three services for lunch and dinner. Assigned you a service the day before with a reservation ticket. For lunch, it's first come, first served. Traveling solo? No way to eat alone. It will assign you a table you will have to share with other passengers. I like this concept, as more places should do this!
More info from Will Travel for Food: Being in a sleeper car means that your meals are included and that you can reserve a table during one of the 3 dinner services. Dinner also comes in 4 delicious choices and although not everything is always local, there’s an effort made to use of some of the specialties of the provinces we were in, like Saskatoon berries in the prairies. The wines are also local, from B.C. and Ontario, and a colour-coded pairing suggestion is done on the menu to make things easier for the diner. Included in your meal for no charge at all are the gorgeous views that surround you and will make you gasp at every twist and turn of the tracks, especially in Jasper National Park.

Being on a train for four days, you can’t help but make a few observations:

• In the prairies, there’s a pond for every duck, seriously!
• Taking a shower on a moving train is actually not that bad
• On the other hand, taking a photo on a moving train is actually very difficult (sorry about the blurry photos!)
• There’s a car attendant in every wagon. They will make your bed, leave a chocolate on your pillow and reconfigure your room the way you want it every morning!
• It’s amazing how little space you actually need to be comfortable (albeit for only 4 nights)
• Ontario is a really wide province and it seemed to take forever to cross it
• Yes, you can take 150 pictures of fields of colza out in the prairies (I couldn’t get enough of that view!)
• When you’re heading west, the train moves forward while time moves backwards, which can be somewhat disconcerting
• It is often hard to keep track of what time it really is. You will find yourself asking questions similar to these: have we changed the time? is it really 7pm or is it only 6 still? Is dinner at 7:30 old time or new time?
• The variety of wild flowers growing by the train tracks is absolutely stunning
• The shaking and feeling of motion does not stop once you get off the train. I’m still feeling it more than a week later!
• It takes about 24 hours to detox from an overload of electronic sensory stimulation. There’s no WiFi or 3G for a big part of the ride and unplugging is part of the charm of being on the train (you’ll be ok, trust me!)

So, the remainder of this trip will have to come in a future email. It shapes up to be a great trip. Perhaps a prelude to the Orient Express, if I win the lottery?


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