BeaverTails Pastry Shop
Prior to traveling to Ottawa, I tried to do a little bit of research on Ottawa food specialties. More often than not, the cuisine of a location can tell you what you need to know about the location, the people, the culture. It’s like escargot immediately brings to mind French food, crab cakes brings to mind Baltimore, dim sum reminds people of Chinese food. So, I was curious as to whether or not there was any sort of food specialty in Ottawa and all I kept running across was something called BeaverTails. Intrigued, I read tales of how this pastry is especially popular during the winter months when the famous Rideau Canal in Ottawa freezes over and is turned into one large, public ice skating rink. BeaverTails sets up stands along the bank of the Rideau Canal and these BeaverTails become the perfect treat for those refueling and coming in form the cold after an afternoon of ice skating. You know I couldn’t go to Ottawa after having read about these delicious pastries without trying them for myself.
The brainchild of the Hooker family in the late 1970s, BeaverTails pastries were created when the Hookers decided to turn an old family recipe for fried dough into a business. They started in 1978 by selling their creations at a craft fair in Killaloe, Ontario, Canada. After the popularity of their newly created pastry treat at the craft fair, they decided to open up a brick-and-mortar store.
Only a couple of years later, the first permanent BeaverTails stand opened at the famous ByWard Market in Ottawa, Canada’s capital. These pastries have become so popular that during President Obama’s inauguration, the Canadian embassy served these treats to their guests. In 2009 when President Obama visited the Canadian capital city he made a stop at ByWard Market on his way to the airport specifically to purchase a BeaverTails pastry. Since then, BeaverTails have become synonymous with being a truly Canadian treat. Today, in addition to operating stands in Canada, BeaverTails can also be found in the United States, South Korea and Japan.
So what’s a BeaverTail? It’s basically a dough that’s stretched out and then deep-fried. The end product resembles the shape of a beaver’s tail. The deep-fried dough is then topped with a variety of sweet, savory and fresh fruit treats based upon the customer’s order. The pastry is easy enough to eat a table right next to the stand or to take away with you and enjoy as we wander through the various stalls at ByWard Market.
What kinds of toppings can you put on your BeaverTail? Well, here is just a sampling of what was on the menu to choose from: cinnamon & sugar, chocolate hazelnut, maple butter (we are in Canada after all), apple cinnamon, something called an Avalanche which is a SKOR cheesecake made with a SKOR candy bar, Coco Vanil which is cookies and vanilla cream made with Oreos, banana chocolate, and an homage to Killaloe called the Killaloe sunrise made with cinnamon sugar and lemon.
Since these BeaverTails were to be our lunch for the day, my husband and I decided to order 2 BeaverTails, one savory and one sweet and a couple of bottles of soda to go with our pastry treats.
BeaverTails was serving up Stewart’s soda, which is a brand I’d never heard of before. Turns out that Stewart’s started in 1924 with a root beer stand created as a way to provide supplemental income to a struggling school teacher. Stewart’s root beer as finally bottled for the first time in 1990 and in 2000 was acquired by Cadbury Schweppes. Through the years, other flavors such as cream soda, ginger beer and others were introduced as part of the Stewart’s brand. For lunch, my husband and I ordered 2 bottles of Stewart’s to share. I ordered the root beer, my husband ordered the black cherry soda. But by the end of our lunch, I was the one drinking the black cherry soda and my husband was the one who had gravitated towards the root beer. Funny how that works. We both agreed that the sodas had a great creamy, small brewery taste that we both enjoyed and went well with our BeaverTails pastries.
Since this was to be our lunch, we decided to have lunch and desert all in one stop. This means that we ordered one savory BeaverTail and one sweet BeaverTail.
For the savory, we chose the BeaverTail with the garlic butter and cheese topping. Deep-fried dough topped with melted garlic butter and sprinkled with shredded cheese. The deep-fried dough is light and airy and the garlic butter just kind of melted into those airy pockets within the dough so that the flavor hits your tongue with every bite into the crispy goodness of the fried-dough. The shredded cheese was mild and light in flavor, not overly salty, so it paired well with the garlic butter. The cheese gives the BeaverTail creaminess and softness to contrast with the crispy dough. It was just a terrific pairing with garlic butter and cheese and made the BeaverTail oh so good!
My husband chose the sweet BeaverTail called the Triple Trip. Made with chocolate, peanut butter and Reese’s Pieces, it was a chocoholic’s heaven. As soon as the BeaverTail comes out of the deep fryer, it’s slathered in sweet chocolate sauce. On top of that, a peanut butter sauce is drizzled over giving the BeaverTail just the hint of sweet and salty from the peanut butter. And everyone knows that the combination of chocolate and peanut butter is like a match made in heaven. The whole BeaverTail is then sprinkled with Reese’s Pieces candies. The BeaverTail is a bit messy, but it’s the perfect combination of sweet chocolate, salty peanut butter and a crunchy candy surprise with the Reese’s Pieces. If you’re a fan of the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, this dessert is a real winner.
BeaverTails, now something new I can add to my growing list of things I like about Canada. Pretty scenery, friendly people, some good food. While I thought that the idea of BeaverTails was a bit of a hokey one when I first read about these treats, I knew I’d need to try them regardless because of how much they’re associated with the city of Ottawa. And while calling them a BeaverTail may be a bit of a stretch, it fits. But beyond that, these fried dough pastries topped with all sorts of interesting concoctions are pretty darn tasty. A savory and sweet treat to go along with some flavorful and creamy soda to fill us up for the rest of our day exploring Canada’s capital, that’s exactly what we were looking for and what we got.