It seems odd to be writing about Canada for this blog, but it is indeed one of the 196 countries on the list — so here we are. Poutine probably would have been the obvious choice, but I figured this might be a bit more interesting.
It’s pretty simple: spiced beef, cooked on a spit and thinly shaved, topped with tomato, onion, and a healthy dollop of sweet donair sauce. It’s served in a pita that can just barely contain the almost comically large pile of meat.
There’s no classy way to eat this; it’s a delicious mess of contrasting textures, an absolute barrage of sweet and savoury flavours, and pretty much the purest example of comfort food that I can think of. There’s nothing delicate here; aside from the sheer mess factor (which is intense), the flavours are the opposite of subtle. They’re a full-out assault; they’re grabbing you by the collar and screaming in your face.
It’s so good.
The beef itself is really nicely spiced — this particular style of donair was originally created by a Greek immigrant in Halifax, and tastes a lot like what you’d find in a gyro. It’s tender and packed with flavour, and has an abundance of the crispy bits that you’re looking for in this sort of thing. Combined with the chewy pita, it’s a delightful contrast of textures.
Then there’s the garlicky, sugary-sweet sauce — it seems insanely sweet at first. And on most things, it would probably be overwhelmingly cloying. But here? It totally works. The sweet sauce and the very savoury meat mingle together and turn into something magical. I don’t even know that I can explain why it works so well; it probably shouldn’t. But it does.
The tomatoes and onions bring some freshness to the very heavy dish. I’m normally not a fan of raw onions, but here they’re so thoroughly backgrounded by the wrap’s other assertive flavours that they pretty much just add a bit of crunch.
What a bummer this place is so far, though — Milton’s a bit of a drive. But it’s totally worth it.