Traversing the Rocky mountains by train is on every Canadian’s wish list.
Though we may stare up at city skyscrapers day after day, the rugged peaks, thundering waterfalls, acres of wilderness and stately rivers are etched in our brains.
We’ve heard about the domed cars for sightseeing, and the white linen tablecloths in the first-class dining room.
I’d always assumed VIA Rail’s storied train The Canadian – four days from Toronto to Vancouver – was the only way to explore the Rockies.
Then I met the team behind the Rocky Mountaineer, Canada’s very own version of the Orient Express.
In 1990, this private company whisked 4,000 passengers between Banff and Calgary. In 2011, 110,000 passengers from around the world discovered the luxury of train travel on one of the Mountaineer’s four Western routes.
The newest route passes through the rainforest of northern B.C. and overnights in the gold rush city of Quesnel.
Regional business manager Aline Zafirian said 75% of customers from Eastern Canada choose the train’s GoldLeaf service to make their two-day trip truly memorable.
That’s where Jean Pierre Guerin and his dream team of European chefs come in. They’re responsible for the lavish three-course meals served in the train’s main-floor dining room, below the bright and comfortable domed car.
To tease our taste buds, Guerin took over chef/owner Paul Boehmer’s kitchen at Böhmer, on trendy Ossington Avenue, and whipped up three dishes similar to those Rocky Mountaineer voyagers will sample between April and October when the train runs.
Guerin rolled creamy scrambled eggs in spring roll wrappers and pan-fried them to a crisp flakiness. He baked ham into a muffin-sized egg soufflé, accompanied by Dungeness crab fritters and a sprinkle of “caviar” made from West Coast kelp.
For the main course, he roasted wild Pacific sockeye salmon cured with smoked maple sugar crushed to a powder. Cedar jelly, made of sap from the Western red cedar, infused a vinaigrette dabbed on the plate and dressed a microgreen salad.
Guerin called the dish, served on wild mushroom barley risotto, the train-friendly version of native cedar-planked salmon.
A glass of lively Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay from the Okanagan complemented the rich salmon deliciously.
For a taste of the scenery while you’re dining on board, check out the rmountaineer train videos on YouTube.
For more information, visit www.rockymountaineer.com