I’m headed back to the sweet, sweet Nanaimo Bar Trail.
That’s right ladies and gents. Right now, I’m headed off on a sugar packed adventure with Evening Magazine’s Joan Kinsey.
In May, I spent two days exploring this harbour city. I discovered lots of amazing things including tea at the Grand Hotel, lunch at Crow & Gate, beers at the Dinghy Dock, breakfast at Blanket and Spoon and so much more.
But, one of the best – one the ‘must-dos’ when you visit Nanaimo – was the Nanaimo Bar Trail.
This year there are 34 stops on the Nanaimo Bar Trail. To hit all of them would take a good deal of time and quite the appetite. As it was, I needed a lot of room in my belly for the seven I did visit. It was totally worth finding the room.
Guided by the Naniamo Bar Trail’s inventor, Chelsea Barr (yes, Barr is really her last name), I visited:
- Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake from Minnoz Steak & Seafood
- A Nanaimo Bar Pedicure from Kiyo Salon & Day Spa
- A gluten free version from Mon Petit Choux
- A deep-fried Nanaimo Bar from Pirate Chips
- The History of the Nanaimo Bar at the Nanaimo Museum
- A Nanaimo Bar Cake from Real Food
- A Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bar from Bocca Cafe
- A Nanaimo Bar Martini from Modern Café
Let's break it down folks.
The Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake is big enough to be a meal. I highly recommend sharing, especially if you plan to have dinner first. It’s crafted by the folks at Minnoz Steak & Seafood, one of Nanaimo’s best restaurants where dishes are made with locally sourced ingredients and dinner comes with a view.
Calorie free, the Nanaimo Bar Pedicure is no less indulgent than its edible sisters. This multi-stage pedicure includes a chocolate mask that smells so good you – or those you meet post-pedicure – might think about licking your toes. (The rest of the day after my pedicure, I was constantly stopped on the street and complimented for how good I smelled.)
I don’t normally jump on the gluten free bandwagon, but at Mon Petit Choux I’m all aboard. Here the Nanaimo Bar isn’t overly sweet. A touch of cinnamon adds an extra flavor layer and the chocolate ganache top is dark and smooth.
Like a fried Twinkie, a fried Nanaimo Bar seems a little strange. Strange is such a good thing. While it may not be a lot at which to look, this treat is worth every plate licking calorie.
The wholesome goodness of Real Food may make you a little hesitant to try dessert. But, you’ll be thankful for their waist friendly salads once you see their Nanaimo Bar Cake. This towering monstrosity of cake, custard and chocolate is a sight to behold. It tastes as good as it looks. As hard as I tried to only have a few bites, I nearly finished the entire slice by myself. (Sorry for hogging all the goodness Chelsea!)
The Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bar from Bocca Café wasn’t the most traditional. But, this small café didn’t win the 2013 Nanaimo Street Fair competition for nothing. They’re uniquely flavored bars are sweet, smooth and packed with flavor.
Our final stop on the trip was Modern Café where the bartender whipped up a Nanaimo Bar Martini with all kinds of flare. Here, the brick walls and wood tabletops are impressive. But, it’s the chocolate drizzled, coconut infused libation that’ll make you weak in the knees.
Stay tuned. There will be more Nanaimo Bar Trail insights.
Plus, we’re headed to Tofino for surf lessons, a tour of the Wickaninnish Inn and more!