Canada’s Own…the ‘Nanaimo Bar’

Canadian cuisine varies widely from region to region. A cross-country culinary tour from the west coast to the east represents these diverse origins. Canadian cuisine is the fusion of modern culinary techniques and uniquely Canadian ingredients. Each Province and Territory has something to offer that is exclusively Canadian.

Starting on the west coast in British Columbia, we find a diverse type of cookery. It is in Nanaimo, British Columbia we find the home of the famous and uniquely Canadian dessert called the ‘Nanaimo Bar’. The chocolate slice of heaven as it is referred to, first became known in the 1930′s. It consists of a crumb-based layer, covered with buttery custard and topped with a soft chocolate. In 1985, Major Graeme Roberts of the City of Nanaimo ran a contest to find the greatest ‘Nanaimo Bar’ recipe. Local resident Joyce Hardcastle’s recipe won and has now become the legendary ‘Nanaimo Bar’. You can read all about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanaimo_bar . There are many versions of the recipe online but this is the official recipe courtesy of The Mayor’s Office, Nanaimo, BC http://www.nanaimo.ca/visitors/index_inside.asp?id=189

Nanaimo Bars Recipe

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Chelsea Barr, Media Relations & Travel Trade Destination Nanaimo was extremely helpful with providing me with more current information regarding a new brochure titled the Nanaimo Bar Trail, that let’s the visitor indulge in a self-guided sugary adventure throughout Nanaimo where you can taste many versions of the Nanaimo Bar. The first stop is at the local Nanaimo Museum where you can learn first hand all about the bar’s history. Along the way are a series of stops that serve the Traditional Nanaimo Bar. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy what about; The Peanut Butter Nanaimo bar, Deep Fried Nanaimo Bar, Nanaimo Bar ice-cream, fudge or cheesecake. There is a bar for everyone including a Gluten Free Nanaimo Bar as well as a Vegan version. The brochures are available at the Tourism visitor centres

By the end of your tour you might be thirsty so why not sit down at the Modern Café http://www.themoderncafe.ca/ for a Nanaimo Bar Martini. Owner Scott Cooper says that, “I cannot take credit for the invention of the Nanaimo Bar Martini. The honour would go to one of the bartenders that work here; however, as the Nanaimo Bar Martini is a closely guarded secret, we cannot even divulge any history or give any credit to whom it is so richly deserved.” He did however tell me what the ingredients were in the Nanaimo Bar Martini: Vanilla Vodka, Crème de Cacao, Espresso and Coconut Syrup laced with Chocolate.

The Nanaimo Bar is truly a unique Canadian dessert and deserves a place as part of our culinary heritage. TREASURED RECIPES

Many thanks to: Chelsea Barr, Elizabeth Williams, Jan Kemp, & Scott Cooper for their help with this article and the photographs.

courtesy – Tempt Every Palate blog

I refer to Nanaimo BC as Vancouver Island’s “front door” because it opens up to a variety of diving activities to suit any­one’s needs. There are 8 to 12 excellent boat dives and several good shore dives to pick from.

Winking seal

Popular wrecks include the retired naval ships Saskatchewan (111m/366f) and Cape Breton (122m/400f) scuttled as artificial reefs in 1997 and 2001 by the local dive community and the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC). The latest edition is a 47m/157ft North Sea Rescue Tug Rivtow Lion scut­tled in 2005. Technical and extended range divers like to practice their skills in and on the two larger wrecks while photographers and naturalists enjoy them all. Maximum depth on the Saskatchewan is 36m/120ft, the Cape Breton – 43m/142ft and the Rivtow Lion – 24m/80ft.

If wall diving is your pleasure, huge deep walls can be found at Snake Island and Orlebar, on Gabriola Island. The Snake Island wall has enormous white plumose anemones cascading down sandstone formations, dotted with bright pink snakelock anemones, red blood stars and orange finger sponge. I have also seen wolf eels out in the open at 12m/40ft and clusters of cloud sponge at depth. In between dives, snorkeling with resident harbour seals is always an option. Orlebar is steeper, hosting an array of odd shaped chimney sponge (boot sponge), tiger and quillback rockfish and an assortment of crustaceans. This is also a shore-accessible site utilized by technical divers.

As for drift diving, there are two narrow pas­sageways where the currents reach 8 knots at full flow. This in turn provides a nutrient-rich environ­ment for a multitude of invertebrate life to flour­ish. Both are divable during slack times (when the water stops to change direction). Dodd Narrows is located southeast of town between Nanaimo and Mudge Island.

Brilliant giant green anemones and aggregat­ing green anemones with pink tips line the shore of Mudge in the shallows, along with yellow zoanthids, orange cup corals, and metridium anemones on the boulders below. Patches of orange colonial tunicates, burrowing sea cucumbers and several species of rockfish can also be found at depth.

Gabriola Passage is equally as picturesque, hosting a population array similar to Dodd. In addition I have found red sea urchins, gray encrusting lobed ascidians, cabezon fish, grunt sculpins hiding in empty giant barnacle shells and the ever brave little painted greenlings. Small healthy aquarium-like kelp forests are located at both ends of both channels.

Long Lake Waterfront B&B offers qulaity private accomadations and is an excellent day trip center to all activities on Vancouver Island.

http://www.xray-mag.com/pdfs/xray13/X-Ray13_part2.pdf

Text by Barb Roy

, , ,

nanaimo-massage-view-from-deck Hammond Bay Massage Therapy Relax and recharge … perched high above sparkling Hammond Bay in Nanaimo B.C., a secluded hot tub deck and outdoor massage room await your arrival. In a private, park-like garden, warm basalt stones are laid upon the muscles of your back as the tension in your leg and feet muscles are kneaded out … you take your first full breath in months and begin to unwind.

At the same time … your senses come alive. Open your eyes to an exotic flower floating in a vase beneath you. Breathe in the rich healing properties of lavender, geranium, and bergamot oils released by the heat of the stones. The sounds of the pond fountain and bamboo wind chimes drift to you, and if you have the energy, lift your head out of the face rest to watch a palm tree sway in the soft ocean breeze. Or turn your head the other way and gaze at the coastal mountains across the Strait of Georgia …

Your normally busy mind begins to let go as soft music lulls you. The warm stones that have been on your back have prepared each muscle for deeper work, and your therapist addresses your problem areas using deep tissue massage and Trigger Point Therapy.

At this point, you will almost feel at one with the table, but after a soothing hot compress to your back, it’s time to turn over. A heated towel is slipped under your neck and your legs are massaged while aromatherapy drifts deeper into your nervous system. Before each arm is massaged, enjoy a misting of sweet orange while lavender infused hot towels are gently applied to your face, taking you to an even deeper level of relaxation. Not only will your muscle pain be relieved, but you’ll feel as if you’ve had a blissful vacation.

This magical massage by RMT  Maia Caron can be held in the privacy of your suite overlooking Long Lake at Long Lake Waterfront Bed and Breakfast .

, ,

There are many great ways to spend your day in Nanaimo; from scuba diving in a sunken navy ship, testing yourself at an indoor rock climbing wall, challenging yourself on the golf course, to watching a performance of the Vancouver Island Symphony at the Port Theatre. Whatever you do for fun, you’ll find attractions in Nanaimo that satisfy your needs, along with many activities you might not have tried before.

Nanaimo’s island coastal setting makes it a great place to spend the day outdoors. Here you can hike a rainforest mountain, take panoramic pictures of Georgia Strait, and cool off in a river canyon all in the same day. There are also several great ocean swimming and snorkeling spots along the city’s waterfront, including Departure Bay, Neck Point, Jack Point, and Snake Island. For the more adventurous types, there are activities such as bungy jumping, zip-lining, and ATVing.

For deep water enthusiasts, the ocean floor just outside Nanaimo Harbour has a number of popular scuba diving spots. The area is home to three artificial diving reefs made from sunken ships, including the Canadian Supply Ship HMCS Cape Breton, the largest upright man-made diving reef in the world.

, , , , , , ,