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We all have one: that friend who posts pictures of every meal on Instagram; who hosts immaculate dinner parties and amps up the carefully curated cheese board with homemade sourdough and prosciutto cured in their own garage; who frequently visits farmer’s markets or forages for fiddleheads. They’re a foodie.

But who ever said foodies were exclusively adults? With the ubiquity of cooking shows, YouTube tutorials, and wherever else kids get their information these days, Gen Z is ready to make something delicious. And what responsible parent wants to ignore their child’s desire to be in the kitchen? (So long as they learn to clean, anyways.)

Indulge your kid with one of these top-notch cooking classes whether you live in BC or are just visiting; after all, the best way to experience regional cuisine is to make it yourself. Your kids will learn to appreciate different kinds of food and take home some serious life skills too. And, hey, while the kids are in class, maybe you can sneak off to enjoy some nosh or visit a local brewery.

 

Arts Umbrella

Surrey

Image courtesy of Arts Umbrella

Celebrity chef Vikram Vij leads a culinary arts workshop for teens ages 15-19 in his Surrey restaurant, My Shanti. Over the course of this three-hour journey into Indian cooking, youth learn about how to prepare food, what it takes to make it in the restaurant industry, and some super handy kitchen skills. Speaking about his journey from India to Vancouver, Vij shares stories from early in his career, reminding young chefs that everyone starts somewhere and that mistakes are part of the game. Workshops are limited. Check with Arts Umbrella for upcoming dates.

My Shanti
15869 Croydon Dr, Surrey
artsumbrella.com
Suitable for teens 15-19

 

Dirty Apron

Vancouver

Dirty Apron kids cooking class
Image courtesy of Dirty Apron

Designed with young chefs in mind, camps at the Dirty Apron teach kids about food and how to best prepare it. Using fresh, local ingredients, the chefs show participants how to use BC’s bounty to create dishes from around the world like Filipino chicken adobo, French potato rosti, or Mexican soft shell tacos—from scratch! The Dirty Apron is owned by husband-and-wife team Chef David and Sara Robertson, who, with their team, teach over 10,000 students every year. They’ve forged strong relationships with local farmers, growers and suppliers, knowledge they pass down to every students, youth or adult.

Dirty Apron
540 Beatty Street, Vancouver
dirtyapron.com
Suitable for kids 7-11

 

Nourish Café

Vancouver

Nourish Café believes that kids who know how to cook know how to eat better, and they might be on to something there. At their five-day summer camps, participants learn all about food facts but still have plenty of fun with hands-on cooking and silly games. Camps include recipes inspired by world cultures, including Italian, Chinese, Canadian, Japanese, and French cuisine. No matter the inspiration, at Nourish Café the chefs always keep Michael Pollan’s words in mind: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” They believe in using whole, organic foods and use a plant-based approach. They also support local farms and use seasonal ingredients, passing along knowledge about BC’s seasonal harvest to their budding chefs.

Nourish Café & Cooking School
3742 West 10th Ave., Vancouver
nourishvancouver.ca
Suitable for kids 8-13

 

Posh Pantry

Burnaby

Kids in the Posh kitchen learn how to bake and cook classic Western dishes, like mac and cheese, pizza balls, and cupcakes. In other workshops, they’ll get a taste of Mexico with enchiladas and churros, or Spain with delicious, fresh paella. They’ll learn how to mix and measure, incorporate ingredients, and how to be safe in the kitchen. These one-off workshops are perfect for a family that’s in town for just a short while, but summer camps are also available. Posh Pantry provides everything, including aprons, so there’s no need to worry about messes!

Posh Pantry
4548 Hastings Street, North Burnaby, BC
poshpantry.ca
Suitable for kids 4+

 

Sprouting Chefs

Vancouver/Vancouver’s North Shore

Sprouting Chefs cooking classes
Image courtesy of Sprouting Chefs

This non-profit organization is dedicated to the development and cultivation of school garden programs. Founder Barb Koyanagi McMahon teaches not only about kitchen safety, cooking techniques and food preparation, but also about the environmental impacts of choosing local, seasonal ingredients, how healthy food promotes health and wellness, and how to start your own garden. At her five-day summer camps, McMahon incorporates all this and more—like physical activity through foraging, arts and crafts, and team building. All of the recipes are centered on what kids can do at home, with and for their families. Your kid will be doing meal prep in no time!

Sprouting Chefs
Vancouver camp: True Nosh Studios, 2200 Ontario St., Vancouver
North Vancouver camp: Camp Capilano with Fireside Adventures, Capilano Park Rd., North Vancouver
sproutingchefs.com
Suitable for kids 7+

 

Well Fed

Vancouver’s North Shore

Well Fed kids cooking class
Image Courtesy of Well Fed

Being able to cook a delicious meal from scratch is an essential life skill according to Well Fed (they’re right!) and they teach kids the hands-on technical skills they’ll need to succeed in the kitchen. But perhaps more important is that they teach kids how to experiment with food to foster a life-long love of cooking. Recipes used in their five-day cooking camps are well-balanced and use whole foods. Well Fed follows what they like to call the lifestyle eating or 80/20 rule: 80 percent of their meals focus on health, using lean proteins and nutrient-rich vegetables. But that other 20 percent is all about decadence. With summer camps offered most weeks in July and August, you have the flexibility to make the most of your time.

Well Fed Studio
260 1st Street East, North Vancouver, BC
wellfedstudio.com
Suitable for kids 7-17

 

Well Seasoned

Langley

Looking for a short foodie workshop or camp? Well Seasoned offers a variety of one- to three-day camps where kids and teens get hands-on with their cooking. From breakfast and breads, to Japanese, Greek and Thai, to Western-style Sunday dinners and vegetarian feasts, there’s something for everyone. Working with Chef Helena, participants will leave these two-and-a-half hour sessions with plenty of new recipes under their belts. And bonus, the Well Seasoned store carries plenty of gourmet condiments, sauces and snacks, so if you want to bring home flavours from a class, you’re in the right place.

Well Seasoned
117—20353 64 Ave., Langley
wellseasoned.ca
Suitable for kids 7-16

 

By Brittany Tiplady

Although it’s available year-round, spring and summer just feels like the right time to enjoy all of the fresh seafood that BC has to offer. Sure, you can grab a bowl of mussels or a platter of oysters just about anywhere, but where in Metro Vancouver can one go to try BC seafood prepared and served with innovation and uniqueness in mind? We sat down with Jenice Yu, proprietor of Fresh Ideas Start Here, seafood expert, foodie and fish purveyor to get the inside scoop. Let’s eat!

Coquille

181 Carrall Street, Vancouver

Coquille is the brand-new kid on the block, that’s already making quite the impression. When ordering, check out the spaghetti with clams, basil and uni butter, and the roasted lingcod or the extravagant seafood platter.

“Coquille has a different approach to West Coast seafood. They are very innovative; Coquille uses a lingcod collar, which actually has a lot of meat and flavour, but not something you can easily grab from any market,” says Yu.

Seafood platter | Image by Coquille
Seafood platter | Image by Coquille

 

Maenam

1938 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver

This beloved Kitsilano staple serves authentic Thai cuisine with an inventive twist.

“Maenam does their own shrimp chips, which are amazing. You can buy shrimp chips in a store and they are already good, but imagine how good these are made in-house. They use spot prawn heads, grinded down and cooked in rice, and then fried to make spot prawn crackers. They are incredible,” says Yu.

Burdock&Co

2702 Main Street, Vancouver

Come for the natural wines, stay for the exquisite food. It’s highly encouraged that you try the gold beet and herring salad: lovely marriage of between the fresh herring and earthy root veg.

 

Heritage Asian Eatery

1108 West Pender, Vancouver

Tucked away in Vancouver’s financial district, Heritage Asian Eatery, now an Ocean Wise member, is a casual-counter service restaurant that serves beautiful Asian-inspired dishes with locally sourced ingredients.

Recently, Heritage Asian Eatery has been serving smoked uni charcoal ramen, an Ocean Wise life feature that is making mouths water all over the city. Take a lunchtime visit to see what they’ve got on now.

Uni Bowls | Image by Heritage Asian Eatery

 

Masayoshi

4376 Fraser Street, Vancouver

“Chef Masayoshi sees himself as a performer showcasing the best he can offer in front of a live audience, from beginning until the end,” says Yu. This Fraserhood spot is one to be checked off your culinary bucket list. Dining at Masayoshi requires a reservation so be sure to plan your evening well in advance.

During uni season, Masayoshi serves uni sashimi with fresh wasabi–a decadent and inventive treat like none other.

Stem Japanese Eatery

5205 Rumble Street, Burnaby

Stem, an izakaya-style Japanese eatery opened earlier this year, and has been wowing customers with their stunning menu and BC wine selection.

“Stem is but very innovative when it comes to the flavours and using certain parts of the fish as well, especially during Herring season” says Yu.

 

Royal Dinette

905 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver

When at Royal Dinette, you must check out Eva Chin’s spectacular dish: featuring Fresh Ideas Start Here BC ling cod and ikura with clams, Ailsa Craig sweet onion and daikon chowder, and OLD BAY® seasoning butter.

Image by Royal Dinette

Farmer’s Apprentice

1535 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver

Chef owner of Farmer’s Apprentice (also Grapes and Soda and Royal Dinette), David Gunawan, is one of Vancouver’s most celebrated chefs and a true pioneer in the industry.

The Farmer’s menu is always evolving, but watch out for Gunawan’s innovative uses of salmon, crab, tuna, and more when in season.

 

By Kristi Alexandra
& Mary Ann Bell

With indie breweries becoming almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks’ in Vancouver, you’d have to be wearing blinders to miss a brewpub or tasting room on any given block between Boundary Road and Kits Beach. But Vancouver’s not the only city under the influence, as the craft brewing boom has reached through Burnaby to the Valley, taking root in the communities in between.

This year, brews from outlying towns are making a splash at the ninth annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week, running from May 25 to June 5.

Once again this year, it seems communities outside the big city are unofficially on show. The week-long fete’s feature collaboration beer is a shared effort between three breweries found along the spectacular Sea to Sky Highway: North Vancouver’s Beere Brewing, Backcountry Brewing in Squamish and Whistler’s Coast Mountain Brewing.

In keeping with craft beer trends, this year’s VCBW signature beer is a Double Dry Hopped Pilsner. With 7% alcohol and copious amounts of Citra, Mosaic, Vic Secret and Enigma hops this beer is clean and soft, with a “powerful melange of fruit and dankness.”

Sea to Sky Country is just one area outside Vancouver that’s flourishing in beer flow — there’s a whole bevy of brewers that’ll keep you sipping during this seven-day soiree.

Trading Post – Langley

Perhaps an allusion to Fort Langley’s historic trade hub, Trading Post Brewing is all about celebrating community. “It is over a glass of that very creation, a labour of our love, where friendships deepen, family ties strengthen and community unites,” they say.

Beers they’re hawking: Dear James S.M.A.S.H Saison – a single malt, single hop saison with notes of fruit and spice; Hoppy Birthday Bock – inspired by the first beer they ever brewed, the Hop Session Lager, they’ve upped the hops and ABV on this classic style to crate a smooth, easy-drinking Northwest Bock; Raspberry Wheat Ale – sweet, strong and juicy making it seriously crushable during the summer months.

Trading Post beer | Image by Ashley Lockyer

Steel & Oak Brewing Co. – New Westminster

Steel & Oak Brewing Co. is nestled under a passenger bridge near steel and wood train tracks, the most unassuming of places, but one aligned with their brand. “Materials of strength and durability, steel and oak; house, protect and nurture what we stand for most – exceptional tasting craft beer,” as they put it.

Beers they’re hawking: Coorinna – Tasmanian pepper berries and a collection of New Zealand hop varietals create a crisp and dry, oceanic inspired saison with a touch of spice; Simple Things  – crisp, clean, with notes of honey, graham cracker, biscuit and a refreshing and lengthy bitterness; Weekend Plans Sour – light, tart and refreshing, just like you’d want your weekend plans to be. And for 2018 they added passionfruit to one batch and peach to the other … weekend plans two ways.

Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks – Richmond

With a motto like “Keeping Beer Weird”, it’s no wonder that the brewers at Fuggles & Warlock like to push traditional styles of beer to the limit, but adding a West Coast flair to each batch.

Beers they’re hawking: Destiny IPA – a light, easy-going malt profile with hop aromas of mandarin oranges, grapefruit and passionfruit that launch your taste buds into the cosmos; Gin & Lime Pilsner – a crisp, refreshing pilsner brewed with fresh limes and infused with Unruly Gin from Wayward Distillation House; Kiwami Plum Sour – a delicately tart wheat kettle sour brewed with fresh plums.

Red Racer – Surrey

Central City Brewers started out with a single silo in a brewpub and they’ve now “tapped-out” beyond their craft beer limits. Known best by their signature Red Racer beers, the brand has also come to distill high-end spirits as well as break records in beer production. “We approach our spiritual side with the same care and honour as we do with our beer” — or so their mantra goes.

Beers they’re hawking: Red Racer IPA – an iintense aroma and a long lingering finish. A beer for the connoisseur, this is the brewmaster’s choice; Red Racer Pilsner – This light and golden Pilsner has a distinct hop aroma and flavour with a dry, crisp finish; Ruby Sunset Across the Nation – Created in collaboration with Fuggles & Warlock for their Across the Nation Collaboration pack, Ruby Sunset is a delicious sour ale using pomegranate juice that is reminiscent of a west-coast summer sunset.

Mariner Brewing – Coquitlam

Mariner Brewing, Coquitlam’s first craft brewery, is driven by a desire to explore territory unknown and push the boundaries of craft beer. Instead of specializing in one or two styles, they love a lot of different types and want to offer it all … done well, of course. Look for beers ranging from eclectic to classic by merging tradition and new-school style.

Beers they’re hawking: Northeast IPA – lush malt and vibrant yeast temper the intense tropical fruit flavour making for an seriously quaffable beer; Tropical Stout – brewed for summer, this tropical stout is full of rich roasted malt, toasted coconut and blonde roast espresso from Coquitlam’s Creekside Coffee; Venture Blueberry – a sour ale brewed with 1000 pounds of local blueberries, lactose and an aromatic extract of mosaic hops that’s fruity, tart and delicious.

Deep Cove Brewers – Vancouver’s North Shore

This North Vancouver based brewery places an emphasis on providing uniquely distinctive craft beer flavour profiles using only sustainable Canadian ingredients. They provide an array of unconventional pairings that yield seamless, well-balanced beers while paying homage to the creative history of the industry.

What they’re hawking: Method – a dry-hopped pale ale that is being fine-tuned through multiple batches that has a  soft and full mouth feel from a healthy dose of oats; Sentinel –an IPA that boasts big, fragrant hop character with a balancing sweetness; Watershed Witbier – pairs the refreshing flavours of a Belgian-style witbier with the lemon-mandarin profile of the Yuzu fruit.

 

 

By Kristi Alexandra

Meaty, cheesy, messy, mouthwatering. Depending on who you ask, the most savoury junk food treat to come out of French Canada–maudite poutine–roughly translates to “a damn mess” or “a fine mess.” The hodge-podge of ingredients–meat, gravy and fresh cheese curds atop fries–has been around since the 50s. In its younger days, poutine’s appeal was questionable, but twists on this classic comfort dish have been picking up steam on this side of Canada of late. It’s a damn fine mess that we don’t mind translating to our tastebuds, and here’s a few places you can find it.

Big Red’s Poutine

Traveling food truck

Go meat or go home! That’s the way Big Red likes it. This roaming poutine-only food truck serves up 14 meat-based poutines, from “the original” all the way to the spring roll poutine, packed with vegetable spring rolls cut into pieces in a homemade beef gravy and real cheese curds. If you love your poutine to squeal, opt for the bacon poutine: crispy bacon and handmade beef gravy top off real cheese curds and their handmade fries. According to the mobile poutinerie’s website, summer dates and locations will be announced soon.

Big Red’s Poutine Food Truck
Image courtesy of Big Red’s Poutine

The Fat Cow & Oyster Bar

#4 20178 96th Ave, Langley, BC

If upscale comfort food is your jam, find it at Langley The Fat Cow & Oyster Bar. The duck poutine finds a cozy home among the “schnacks” at this eatery, whose menu boasts a bevy of seafood options and game meats. Try their fried with duck confit in a duck gravy, perhaps among a dozen raw oysters on the shell.

Re-Up Barbecue

810 Quayside Dr, New Westminster, BC

Find this southern-style BBQ right on the river at New Westminster’s River Market. The spot is best known for its pulled pork, BBQ ribs, cornbread and homemade sweet tea, but south and northeast meet here in Re-Up BBQ’s Poutine ($6.25). Of course, it just wouldn’t be a BBQ joint without an authentic country gravy. It’s smothered in a pork-based gravy made with cream, or keep it traditional with a beef stock and onion gravy. Dress it up with braised beef or pulled pork for an extra $3.

Re-Up Barbecue Pulled Pork Poutine

Smoke’s Poutinerie

3700 Willingdon Ave, Burnaby, BC
942 Granville Street Vancouver, BC

What would on-campus food be if not ladened with carbs? Find Smoke’s Poutinerie in the middle of BCIT, fueling exams and soaking up sauce after a campus pub night. Or, find it right in the middle of Vancouver’s bar-and-club-laden Granville street. The most fitting? The hangover poutine, topped with scrambled eggs, double-smoked bacon and a hearty Canadian helping of maple syrup. If that’s not your style, there are still 25 other flavours to burn through before semester’s end.

Spud Shack

352-800 Carnarvon St, New Westminster, BC

The Spud Shack creates all ten of their poutine dishes with meat-free gravy, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without protein. Try out the butter chicken, made with marinated chicken thighs simmered in creamy tomato sauce, alongside cucumber raita and cilantro; or stir it up with Uncle Bob, a Jamaican jerk chicken poutine with cilantro slaw and grilled pineapple salsa.

Rocko’s 24 Hour Diner

32786 Lougheed Highway, Mission, BC

Want to explore a bit further? Chow down on some gravy-smothered chips just like Archie and the gang. Rocko’s 24 Hour Diner, known better to TV lovers as the actual film location of Pop Tate’s (Riverdale, anyone?), serves up the classic poutine–home-style fries covered with melted cheddar and mozza smothered with beef gravy–for $8.99. Three more bucks will earn you one of five “premium” poutines, such as the scrambled breakfast poutine or the Montreal poutine with smoked meat, cheese, gravy, pickles and Dijon mustard. Even Papa Poutine would approve.

Image via Rocko’s 24 Hour Diner

Looking for veggie poutine? We’ve got you covered right here! >>

By Sheliza Mitha

If you believe that it takes a passport and a trip to the other side of the world to get yourself an authentic chicken shawarma or any handful of Lebanese mezze (starters), you’d be happily wrong. A little bit of Lebanon can be easily found at the Golden Pita, a quick SkyTrain ride away from Vancouver in the Lougheed Mall neighbourhood.

With a menu that overflows with authentic Lebanese fare, you won’t know where to start or where to stop.  In full disclosure, I am what you would call kind of a regular here. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think about my next Golden Pita meal almost as soon as I’ve finished my last bite.  Then I diligently pour over my calendar, questioning when I can get my next fix.  An addiction?  Kind of.

Golden Pita
Image courtesy of Golden Pita

Originally opened in 1996, this 22-seat eatery celebrates 22 years this July – and without any signs of slowing.  The owners – Imran and Jad – are two cousins from Lebanon who manage every aspect of this ambitious operation.

When they took over the business four years ago from another Lebanese family, it was a turnkey operation with a loyal client base. That base has since grown due to the cousins’ own flair for serving up traditional Lebanese cuisine.  Case in point is their revamped chicken shawarma. Served with garlic paste, pickled turnips and tahini, this is likely their most popular menu item – and the kind of authentic you would find at any Lebanese eatery.

The mezzes are all equally traditional and tempting, making you question whether you’ve actually traversed the globe to find yourself in the heart of Lebanon. Such is the feeling when sampling their handmade, homemade savoury meat pastries – which are what you would find at their local bakeries, as ubiquitous in Lebanon as cafés in Metro Vancouver.

While here, sample the falafel, fatayer (Lebanese mini spinach pies) or the sambousek – an untraditional meat pie flavoured with a special seven-spice blend common to Lebanese and Arab cuisine.  The kebbeh is another must-try: filled with ground beef and surrounded by a shell of bulgur wheat and more ground beef.

And for nearly every meat mezze, there seems to be appetizing and delicious vegetarian versions.  My favourite? The baba ghannouj. Impossibly smooth and smoky, yet with a surprising hint of tang that inevitably forces me to order another to take away with me.

Image courtesy of Golden Pita

With Imran’s marketing background and Jad being a former accountant, I asked these cousins what inspired them to become chefs, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs. Their answers were simple and soulful.

“We wanted to do something creative, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity,” Imran explains, “there’s really no where else in Vancouver that has real Lebanese food, the kind you find in bakeries or homes in Lebanon. That’s what makes the Golden Pita so unique.”

As for Jad, he adds that “it was important for us to bring something from home here – the flavours and spices, but also the feel of Lebanon. This is food that’s meant for sharing, family style. This is what I urge people… please share the food. You don’t have to share the bill, but do try different things and share the food.”

 

Golden Pita
9630 Cameron St.
Burnaby, BC
goldenpita.ca

By Kristi Alexandra

Newly yoked vegetarians may have a hard time breaking their ties with Canada’s favourite comfort food, but good gravy – going meat-free is no reason to quit poutine altogether! We did the legwork to find the best vegetarian poutines beyond Vancouver so you can split a meal with your meat-eating friends, guilt-free! Bon Appetit, as the French Canadians say.

 

Spud Shack

352-800 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster

Breeze into this New Westminster’s poutinerie by way of the Skytrain for a healthy handful of meat-free options. The Spud Shack creates all ten of their poutine dishes with meat-free gravy, including “The Original.” If you’re looking for a few more twists on this classic Eastern Canadian dish, try out The Big V–loaded with vegetarian chili, sour cream, cheese, and green onions. The buffalo chicken poutine also comes with a vegetarian option, complete with Frank’s Hot Sauce, ranch, and green onions. Prices range from $5.75 to $16 – and definitely don’t miss out on Monday Madness, when poutines are half price!

Spud Shack Poutine

 

Anny’s Dairy Bar

722 6th Street, New Westminster

The Anny’s experience is as close as you’ll come to Montreal without the plane ticket. Steamies, maple cones, smoked meat sandwiches and poutine abound at this Sixth Street eatery. All of Anny’s poutines are made with authentic cheese curds and thick, hand-cut french fries. Oh, and meat-free poutine sauce. Snag a regular at $6 or a large for $8.

 

Cockney Kings Fish & Chips

6574 East Hastings Street, Burnaby

All-you-can eat fish and chips may not evoke visions of Quebec, especially at this English-style restaurant in Burnaby, but don’t think they’ve forgotten about us comfort food lovers. You can poutine your chips in your fish-and-chip meal without going back to red meat as Cockney Kings always makes their poutine with a meat-free gravy sauce. Have it on its own for $6.25, or upgrade your chips for just $2.50.

 

Chomp Vegan Eatery

7-201 Morrissey Road, Port Moody

If you’re meat-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, there’s still a way to get pleasure from poutine! Try out Port Moody’s “Fairground Poutine”, made with twice baked hand-cut potatoes topped with dairy-free cheese meatless gravy for just $9.25. Crave variety? Make it chili cheese fries for just a toonie ($2) more! Could anything sound more wholesome… and Canadian?

 

New York Fries

Various locations

Many know that poutine is definitely to be found in any SilverCity movie theatre across Metro Vancouver at a New York Fries kiosk, but few know the chain’s gravy is soy-based. Reach for that bucket of meat-free poutine rather than popcorn on your next movie outing and you won’t be disappointed! The “Veggie Works” isn’t a bad option either, complete with fresh green onions and tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese sauce. A small is $4.99 while a regular is just a loonie ($1) more!

Find New York Fries at Coquitlam Centre, Metropolis at Metrotown, Richmond Centre, Lougheed Town Centre, Tsawassen Mills, Guildford Town Centre, Pacific Centre and Oakridge Centre.

By Sheliza Mitha

When asked what inspires Executive Chef Jason Mok upon creating his seasonal three-course $25 dinner menus for the Burnaby Mountain and Riverway restaurants, his answer is nothing short of precise:

“I love feeding people and seeing a happy, bustling restaurant.”

Indeed, on this cold February evening at the spectacular Riverway Restaurant, the place is hopping. I’ve been told the restaurant is booked solid – a testament to the popularity of his evolving and seasonal menus, both here and at the cozy Burnaby Mountain Restaurant in North Burnaby.

Lobster Burger
Lobster Burger at Riverway Restaurant | Image courtesy of the City of Burnaby

While the dinner menu reflects Chef Mok’s creative flair, it’s his unique three-course menu that often steals the spotlight for his guests. It’s easy to see why with its generous selection of appetizers and entrees (yes, count ’em… five!): New York steak, seafood linguine (with prawns, mussels, lobster and salmon), the vegetarian butternut squash ravioli, a twist on the regular with the oven-roasted Malaysian style half-chicken with toasted almonds, and vegetables and coconut rice with the ever-popular lobster burger.

And then there’s dessert.

But it’s all a labour of love for this award-winning chef, who was inspired at a very early age by his mother and grandmother.

This casual early apprenticeship became a solid foundation for Chef Mok, and inspired him to earn his culinary chops and find his own style in the kitchen – the result of years of schooling and experience at esteemed kitchens across Metro Vancouver, including the VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Shaughnessy Restaurant, the Westin Grand and Richmond’s Quilchena Golf & Country Club.

New York steak at Riverway Restaurant | Image courtesy of the City of Burnaby

Finally, it was in 2011 that Chef Mok joined the culinary team at the City of Burnaby.  Under his leadership as Executive Chef, both the Riverway and Burnaby Mountain restaurants have become among the city’s most popular and highly-regarded dining establishments, earning various accolades including “Favourite Hidden Gem” from A-List Magazine and Dine Out Vancouver Festival’s “Best Menu” award – among many others.

While the industry accolades are nice, he says this is not what drives him.

“Each day I am here, I try to connect with customers and other team members to find out if they’re happy with the food we prepare and serve,” Chef Mok explains. “Their answers are what keep me going, and this is what drives me – feeding people, making them happy and seeing them enjoy our food.”

Burnaby Mountain Restaurant
7600 Halifax Street
Burnaby, BC
Phone: 604.297.4883

Riverway Restaurant
9001 Bill Fox Way
Burnaby, BC
Phone: 604.297.4883

By Brittany Tiplady

Ah, February, the month of all things sweet. Sure, the weather may still be chilly but you can’t deny that love is in the air and the temptation for sweets is stronger than ever. If you’re an inquisitive chocolate lover you’ve come to the right place! Consider learning more about your favourite decadent treat at one of these workshops:

Wild Sweets by Dominic and Cindy Duby

Richmond (12191 Hammersmith Way #2145)

Wild Sweets offers weekly sessions, every Saturday, for attendees 10 years and older. Sessions include an extensive and educational chocolate tasting, appreciation and pairing, (including wine, beer, and spirits) priced at $45.

Image courtesy of Wild Sweets by Dominic and Cindy Duby

Coconama

Vancouver’s North Shore (264 East 1st Street)

In only two hours the chocolate experts at Coconama will teach you how to make chocolate from scratch by hand, and of course, you get to take your treats home with you! Classes are $40 per person; reserve your spot now-they sell out quickly!

Chocolate with Geoseph

Burnaby & Vancouver

Heighten your senses with Geoseph’s Chocolate Sensory Workshops that delve into the world of fine chocolate. His approach is fun, exciting and comprehensive, exploring technique that is typically only practiced at a professional level.  Peruse the website for an in-depth look at the repertoire and menu and find a location and date that works best for you! Classes are 2.5 hours and $60 per person.

Image courtesy of Chocolate with Geoseph

XOXOLAT

Vancouver (1271 Homer, between Davie & Drake)

Located in the heart of Yaletown, XOXOLAT is here to spread the love of chocolate, and offer some fun educational workshops for the curious chocolate pupil. Check out their Chocolate Tasting 101 class to learn about the many “facets of chocolate from the bean to the bar,” and taste some of XOXOLAT’s best selling products. Classes are only $25, running mainly on weekends-or, if you’re looking to treat your Valentine to something special, you can book a spot for their Valentine’s Day class.

Image courtesy of XOXOLAT

Koko Monk Raw Chocolate Tasting & Decoding Class

Vancouver (1849 W 1st Ave)

Join Paul Dincer, Koko Monk’s chocolatier and founder on a raw chocolate tasting expedition. Koko Monk’s classes will explore the history and transformation of chocolate “while sampling a wide range of cacao beans and single origin, stone-ground, bean-to-bar chocolate.” It’s forewarned: this class is for more refined palate. Tasting and classes packages are $45 for two.

Purdy’s Chocolatier South Granville

Vancouver (2705 Granville Street)

Of course we couldn’t forget Purdy’s.  In these private classes you’ll learn how to make a batch of truffles or chocolate bark using 100% sustainable cocoa. You’ll be sent home with the treats you make, and extra recipes to try at on your own. Classes are two hours and the location is customizable! Host a workshop at your office space, your home, or go the traditional route, and book your class at Purdys Factory Kitchen in Vancouver.

By Catherine Dunwoody

Spoil your sweetheart and yourself with one of these sumptuous treats just in time for Cupid’s big day. Remember nothing says “I Love You” more than chocolate. Or cake. Or pastries. You get the idea.

Every Community in Metro Vancouver is whipping up something special this year; have a look at our picks from each:

Fieldstone Bakery
Surrey

Their Heart Shaped Cake for 2, ($16) is a chocolate cake filled with hazelnut mousseline and topped with a chocolate mirror glaze. Available from February 9th –18th at the store, but pre-orders are always recommended.

Chez Christophe
Burnaby

A new Velour dessert has red velvet sponge, lemon yogurt mousse, pistachio ganache, pistachio beet chocolate crunch, and raspberry jam. Available February 9th – 14th.

Chez Christophe
Image courtesy of Chez Christophe

Cakes N Sweets
Coquitlam

Valentines High Tea features buttermilk scones with Devonshire cream and jam, cucumber and lemon aioli finger sandwiches, red pepper and cream cheese croissant, three cheese quiche, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate ganache cups, a macaron, and a mini red velvet cupcake. At $22, be sure and call to reserve in advance.

Thierry
Vancouver

How about his & her Romeo and Juliet cakes? With ingredients like pistachio jaconde, chocolate mousse studded with Kirsch-infused cherries, and pistachio buttercream you can’t go wrong. $22 each and available for in-store pick-up only on February 14th.

Theirry chocolates
Image courtesy of Theirry

Temper Pastry
Vancouver’s North Shore

We love the classic chocolate heart showpieces – filled with creamy caramel.

caramel hearts from Temper
Image courtesy of Temper Pastry

Blacksmith Bakery
Langley

As a part of their sensory “I Do Éclair” line, the bakery is presenting a raspberry champagne meringue éclair. While you’re there, grab some cinnamon heart meringues, Valentine’s cookie necklaces and raspberry white chocolate heart Vienna donuts.

Blacksmith Bakery eclair
Image courtesy of Blacksmith Bakery

Wild Sweets
Richmond

Try the Gianduja & Fruits Heart Collection, from $8.25. Think sweet and melty chocolate with soft orange, lavender, and caramel ganache.

Pink Ribbon Bakery
New Westminster

Grab a “babe cake” – a sweet little cupcake topped with a celebrity babe and a cute message, just for Valentine’s day – $3 each! They also have handmade chocolates and assorted cakes.

 Pink Ribbon Bakery Babe Cakes
Image courtesy of Pink Ribbon Bakery

By Catherine Dunwoody

It’s February – have you made your Valentine’s Day reservations yet? Celebrate your most beloved loved one with a special evening for two at one of these restaurants across Metro Vancouver. Champagne optional (but not really – bubbly is pretty much essential).

My Shanti

Surrey

Considered to be one of the best restaurants for Indian cuisine in the lower mainland, this Vij’s owned eatery has an exotic, dreamy vibe that is sure to set hearts aflame. Plus, spicy food helps.

Interior of My Shanti in Surrey
Interior of My Shanti in Surrey | Image Courtesy of My Shanti

Wild Rice

New Westminster, in River Market

Order the share table for two, $60, with $5 from every meal donated to Ocean Wise. Nibble on sautéed prawns, organic Angus beef carpaccio, seared sablefish and more. A sexy sharesie meal indeed.

Share table at Wild Rice
Share table at Wild Rice | Image courtesy of Wild Rice

Horizons

Burnaby
The view is absolutely spectacular in the gardens of Burnaby Mountain Park. Book soon to reserve a table early in the evening before sunset.

Globe@YVR

Richmond

Their interactive pop-up chocolate bar, $40, includes a hand-rolled truffle station, house-made cakes and candies, and even a liquid nitrogen sundae station. Live music and a special cocktail list will make it a fabulous night out.

Globe@YVR | Image courtesy of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport

H Tasting Lounge at the Westin Bayshore

Vancouver

For $120 per couple, indulge in multi courses including local oysters with caviar, aburi sashimi, beef wellington and dark chocolate fondue. Additional wine pairings are $55 extra and they are so worth it.

Image courtesy of H Tasting Lounge

The Lobby Restaurant at the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier

North Shore

Special for Valentine’s Day, The Lobby Restaurant is offering a five-course dinner, $69 per person, that includes delicious choices like lobster bisque, duck confit, panna cotta and more.

The Fat Cow

Langley

Try a 4 course aphrodisiac dinner for $69 per guest, that includes raw oysters to start (naturally), plus choices of mains including pan roasted salmon and flourless chocolate cake for dessert.

The Fat Cow
Image courtesy of The Fat Cow

Carnivores Rio Brazil Steakhouse

Coquitlam

Why not make your V-Day a carnivore carnival? Meat lovers can share a Rio-style meal with a great glass of red. Who says bubbly and oysters are for everyone, anyways?

Carnivores Rio Brazil Steakhouse
Image Courtesy of Carnivores Rio Brazil Steakhouse

By Kristi Alexandra

If there’s one thing to be known about Burnaby’s Mountain Heights area, it’s that the local eateries are deeply tied to a sense of community. Chez Meme, a resident favourite breakfast and lunch haunt, is no exception.

Isabelle and Ross Spence moved into the neighbourhood eight years ago, opening up the intimate seven-table bistro. The couple hoped to serve up comforting breakfasts and fresh lunches while still maintaining some leisure time in their lives.

Enter Chez Meme, the baguette bistro serving up breakfast, lunch, and a full wine menu from 8 am to 3 pm, Monday to Friday.

“We used to own a creperie in downtown Vancouver, and we were open every day, so we had no life,” Isabelle tells WestCoastFood. “We just had two children, so we decided to sell [the creperie] and try to have a nice lifestyle. We wanted to still have a restaurant but to just do breakfast and lunch.”

The timing was just right, and the response from the neighbourhood has kept them busy ever since. But why breakfast and baguettes?

“We know how much people on the west coast love breakfast,” she says emphatically, “all day long.”

A Baguette Willy breakfast

As a born-and-raised West Coaster, I know she’s not wrong.

Isabelle serves and chats with all of the bistro’s customers, staying true the the haunt’s French roots by peppering her conversations with ouis, d’accords, and bon appetits.

The residents seem to love being regulars here, and Isabelle assures me that the feeling is mutual.

“Here, it’s laid back and has a community feeling. We have people who come back just to say hi because they live in the neighbourhood,” she says. “I’m from a small city in France, so for me, it was really nice to find that here.”

But it’s not just the comforting, European hospitality that keeps diners coming back. It is, without a doubt, the perfectly crusty but perfectly soft baguettes, handmade sides, and homey atmosphere that has Chez Meme always buzzing with patrons.

Kick off your breakfast with a Baguette Willy (an open baguette with scrambled eggs, black forest ham, and a bechamel cheese sauce) with homemade smashed potatoes, or a Pain Au Chocolat. Lunch timers can sit down with a classic cordon bleu or From’ton baguette, and a French onion or soupe du Jour to dip. The simple French fare and family-style service will make you feel like you’ve been whisked off to the simple life in the French countryside.

And it’s a feeling perfectly captured by Isabelle’s own childhood.

“My grandparents had a farm, and I named the restaurant after that: Chez Meme. ‘Meme’ is my grandma, and the idea was that every time my parents were like, ‘Let’s go Chez Meme,’ we knew we were going to have so much good food on the table. My grandma always cooked, and she’d make the chickens she had, and cook with vegetables from her own garden.”

It’s easy to understand why, when you walk into Chez Meme, you feel like you’re having lunch with family. With just a few tables and some spots lined up along the window, the little baguette bistro is not a place to be shy about grabbing a latte and a baguette by oneself – especially when the taste is so transcendent. The shop takes only one reservation every 45 minutes to an hour, so the tables are saved mostly for walk-ins.

“Because we make the baguette all day long, it’s always fresh,” Isabelle says, proudly. And there’s no reason not to take your lunch with libations.

“People come and when they do the brunch, they can come and have a mimosa or a wine with lunch. I mean, come on, we’re French!” she says with a laugh. “A little rose with your lunch is great. It makes you go home happy.”

And “happy” is absolutely the feeling you’ll have upon leaving this Mountain Heights cafe, with a belly full of baguette (and some wine, too).

Chez Meme Baguette Bistro
4016 Hastings Street
Burnaby, BC

By Chef Mike Genest, Hart House Restaurant

With chive and parmesan polenta, fried cauliflower, herbed bread crumb, and sherry reduction.

INGREDIENTS:

Lamb shanks
Lamb shank (4)
Leek, finely diced (1)
Carrots, finely diced (2)
Celery stalks, finely diced (2)
Shallots, finely diced (2)
Garlic, finely diced (2 cloves)
Red wine (300ml)
Beef stock (300ml)
Thyme (1 sprig)
Rosemary (1 sprig)
Sherry vinegar (3 tbsp)
Olive oil (3 tbsp)
Honey (2 tbsp)

Herbed Bread Crumbs
Bread crumbs (250g)
Rosemary, chopped (100g)
Chives, chopped (100g)
Garlic (1 clove)

Parmesan Chive Polenta
Cornmeal (1 cup)
Chicken stock (2.5 cups)
Milk (2.5 cups)
Parmesan cheese, grated (150g)
Chives, chopped (50g)
Unsalted butter (20g)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Fried Cauliflower
Cauliflower (1/2 head)
All-purpose flour (1 cup)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Lamb

  1. Place a large, oven-proof saucepan on a high heat and add a good dash of olive oil.
  2. Add the lamb shanks to the pan, cooking until dark golden all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, sauté the carrots, shallots, leek, and celery until soft.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the red wine; then add the lamb, stock, and fresh herbs.
  6. Cook covered for 3 hours in a 300 F oven, until falling off the bone. Remove from oven and reduce sauce until thick and viscous. Finish with honey and sherry vinegar.

Polenta

  1. Bring milk and chicken stock to a boil.
  2. Add the cornmeal while whisking and cook 20-25 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Finish with the parmesan cheese, chives, salt and pepper, and butter.

Cauliflower

  1. In a pot of boiling water, quickly blanch the cauliflower for 30 seconds.
  2. Cool in ice water.
  3. Strain the cauliflower and toss in salt and pepper and flour.
  4. Deep fry the cauliflower until golden brown.

Herbed Bread Crumbs

  1. Combine ingredients in food processor and pulse until fine. Toast in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes.

To Finish

  1. Divide the polenta onto 4 plates, then add the fried cauliflower.
  2. Remove the lamb from the bone and place on top of the polenta.
  3. Pour some of the reduced lamb sauce on top, and sprinkle with herbed bread crumbs.

By Kristi Alexandra

Tucked away just behind Burnaby’s landmark shopping epicentre, Metrotown, where there’s no shortage of food to wares, is a small culinary enclave to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Beresford Street, between Dow and Willingdon Avenues, is home to several cafes boasting homemade sweets with the saccharine quality of authenticity. From bubble tea and waffles, to gourmet soups, fresh pastries and handmade chocolates, this gastronomic haven is the gourmand’s secret gem — it’s a place to dine, sip, and study in relative quiet just steps away from the bustling crowds.

EStEA Café | 4466 Beresford St. 

An EstEA Café must-try

EStEA Cafe is the eatery to frequent whether you want to stay for five minutes or a few hours. The quaint cafe recalls a Riverdale favorite, Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe, with a modern Taiwanese influence. Seating less than 20, the cafe has an ambiance as adorable as its treats – with spiraling pink art adorning the walls. Bring a date to sit down and share the shop’s staple: A Bubble Waffle cup with ice cream ($6.75), and a side of bubble tea and cakes. If you’re looking for more of a full meal deal, the eatery also serves up fresh hot pot, Taiwanese chicken and rice dishes, and braised beef noodle soup. That meal would not be complete without starters, for which the shop offers up seaweed takoyaki and fish cakes, among others.

Fondway Café | 4462 Beresford St. 

Soup at the Fondway Café

Just a shop over from EStEA Cafe is another haunt for tea drinkers with a sweet tooth. Brunch, lunch, snacks, and desserts are a hot commodity in this woodsy but industrial cafe. Decorated with expertly placed knick-knacks and curios, Fondway Cafe has the homey vibe that welcomes coffee drinking students and the office lunch crowd. Daily homemade soups include the pumpkin chicken, clam chowder, Mediterranean vegetable, and French onion with a croissant, coffee, or pastry on the side. For more sweet toothers, there are combos–aptly named “Waffle Parties”– like the chocolate and banana or the matcha red bean paired with drinks, salads, and more.

Fondway Café snacks

For those who like to pick and choose, there are free-standing desserts like fluffy cheesecakes and creme brulee, and pre-wrapped sandwiches and fresh pastries for the grab-and-go lunch crew.

Mon Paris Patisserie | 4396 Beresford St. 

Treats at Mon Paris Patisserie

You’ve never had chocolate like this before. This Parisian-style confectionary shop knows the meaning of indulgence, and you can taste it in their handcrafted chocolates. With flavours like raspberry balsamic ganache to the earl grey infused dark chocolate, even the healthiest of eaters can spare an indiscretion for these treats. Box up some chocolate gems in pairs of 5, 9, and 12, or snag a few to enjoy in the shop with a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower mural. Besides some seriously rich chocolates, dessert lovers can pick up individual-sized cakes, and the ever-trendy (and oh-so-soft) macarons. The ambiance calls for a stay that’s akin to the patisserie’s treats: small, sweet, and thoroughly enjoyable.

There’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker on Canada’s West Coast. The region is undergoing a craft brewing renaissance and it seems that there is a new craft brewery popping up every week.

Let WestCoastFood and our transportation partner, Burnaby Tours, be your host as we guide you to some of the best craft breweries in the region.

Enjoy an in-depth look at the art of beer making with a behind-the-scenes tour at one of the breweries, and get a full sampling of the breweries’ finest beers. (If you left beer fans at home, be sure to pick up a growler or two!)

On this tour, you’ll visit:  

Mariner Brewing, Coquitlam

One of the new kids on the block, Mariner Brewing opened recently to much fanfare. Beer enthusiasts can expect their first offerings to include a sour weisse, a dry-hopped cream ale and a Northeastern IPA, which is billed as less-bitter than a traditional IPA.

Dageraad Brewing, Burnaby

Dageraad Brewing is named after the Dageraadplaats, a neighbourhood square on the east side of Antwerp, Belgium and in keeping true to their name they brew only Belgian style beers, like the Burnabarian, a Belgian session ale, brewed with oats and lightly spiced with coriander.

Steel & Oak, New Westminster

This brewery in Western Canada’s oldest city uses a mix of North American, English and German brewing styles, techniques and ingredients. Try the Royal City Pale Ale, the Roggen-weizen, Red Pilsner, Dry Hopped IPA or their made-to-order Radler.

BOOK HERE

Your ticket includes transportation, a brewery tour, 3 flights or pints of beer (1 at each brewery), and gratuities for the brewery staff. Price does not include tax (5% gst), driver/guide gratuity, or food and additional liquor purchases.

Must be 19 years of age to partake.

If you are interested in booking a group of 10 or more and would like to customize your own Craft Brewery Tour, please contact Burnaby Tours for alternate breweries and pricing.

Header image by Jackie Dives

By Brittany Tiplady

It goes without saying that Burnaby is the epi-center for Bubble Tea lovers. With bubble tea restaurants and cafes a plenty, the local options are endless, and can be somewhat overwhelming. Here are some choice stops on Burnaby’s “Bubble Tea Way,” a summation of local hot spots serving the popular beverage. 

Bubble World-Burnaby
4300 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 1Z5
11 am-2 am 

This sought after location, often appeals to late-night crowd, serving both sweet and savory dishes and beverages.

Bubble World’s strawberry mango slush with pearls

Pearl Castle Café
4429 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2A1
11 am-12 am 

Tucked away in Old Orchard Shopping Centre, Pearl Castle is an unassuming and quaint spot, specializing in Taiwanese tea and offering over 100 flavours of specialty beverages.

Pearl Castle’s mango slush (no pearls)

Crystal Mall
4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC
9 am-9 pm

Crystal Mall is a wealth of great bubble tea spots. We suggest TMix (unit 1696), Tea Plus (unit 21220, Café Eggstatic (unit 1021), and ComeBuy (unit 1610). 

Cattle Café
4877 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4T2
11 am- 12 am 

This is a bustling restaurant with a large menu including hot pot dishes, bubble teas, curries, and noodles.

Cattle Café’s strawberry mango slush with pearls

Metropolis at Metrotown
4710 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4J5
10 am- 9 pm
When you’re shopping at Metropolis at Metrotown and need a bubble fix, try Big Orange or Desert Dynasty. 

Ki Tea House Café
Royal Oak Ave #105, Burnaby, BC V5J
9 am – 10 pm 

Conveniently re-located next to Royal Oak station, Ki Tea House Café is a student-friendly South Burnaby nook, offering snacks, bubble teas, and Parallel 49 coffee.

Ki Tea House Café’s “Galaxy House Drink”

The One Restaurant
5908 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5J 1H2
11:30 am- 1 am 

A coveted, spacious, busy spot along Kingsway, serving mile-high bubble teas, and Taiwanese cuisine, catering to young night owls, families, and everyone in between.

The One’s Japanese green tea slush with pearls

By BC Association of Farmers Markets

The BC growing season is in full swing, and you can experience the palette of summer with a trip to some of the 145+ BC farmers’ markets. Whether you’re headed here on a weekend with family or friends, or taking the summer to explore Canada’s West Coast, here’s everything you need to build a farmers’ market visit into your summer travels across the province.

Nat Bailey Stadium Farmers’ Market in Vancouver

Step 1: Know your BC farmers’ markets

With over 145 BC farmers’ markets across the province, you’re sure to discover more than a few that you’ll love to return to year after year. This helpful BC Farmers’ Market Finder tool will help you make the tough choices (popsicles in White Rock, or honey in Richmond?) and you might be surprised to see how easy it is to access more than one farmers’ market closer to home. Here’s a tip: BC farmers’ markets are a smart place to stock up on the freshest summer ingredients. Not only is the food fresh and local, you can get great advice from the farmers who grew it! Ask for tips on produce varieties, preparation, storage, preserving, and recipes.

Step 2: Bring your appetite

High summer is prime time for taste, no matter which region you visit in BC. Nectarines, plums and peaches are all must-buys at farmers’ markets from the Vancouver area to the Thompson-Okanagan, and cherry fans can sample their fill fresh from the Kootenay/Rockies. If you’re looking for blueberries, head to Langley, Richmond, and the Fraser Valley – farmers from Richmond to Agassiz supply 97% of Canada’s highbush blueberries. On Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, look for wild crafted delicacies like seaweed and blackberries, along with delicious cheeses from the Cowichan Valley. And if you need a reminder that farmers’ markets are a perfect place to find locally produced baked goods and handmade treasures, check out the farmers’ markets even further north – Prince George’s award-winning year-round farmers’ market features outstanding baked goods and locally roasted coffee, while markets throughout the Cariboo/Chilcotin area offer locally sourced pasture-raised meat…including interesting products like llama!

Step 3: Put your money where your heart is

BC farmers’ markets are tasty and fun, but they also play a vital role in the local economy. Did you know that for the first time in 20 years, the number of farmers aged 35 and younger in BC is on the rise? But expensive land, and high start-up costs can be challenging for new farmers starting out – choosing to shop at BC farmers’ markets is one way to help these new farmers grow (and keep all farmers productive!) The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets runs the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program , which helps increase access to fresh, local food for lower income families and seniors in BC.

Step 4: Take your time

BC farmers’ markets are the ideal place to connect with “slow food”: investing in local crops and taking the time to prepare food carefully. But while the approach is slow, the market isn’t. It’s no surprise that farmers’ markets are a hive of activity: on any given visit you might find live music, chef demos, family activities, new trends like wild harvested food and products, and artisanal food producers. With more evening farmers’ markets popping up across the province, you can enjoy exploring new foods under the stars.

Ready to tour BC farmers’ markets? Take your camera along for the ride and enter the BC Farmers’ Market Road Trip Contest: just share a photo of your farmers’ market adventures with the hashtag #BCFarmersMarketRoadtrip for a chance to win one of five weekly prize draws for a $50 BC farmers’ market shopping trip! This contest runs from July 17 to August 18, 2017. Follow BC Farmers’ Markets on Facebook and Instagram for details.

By Catherine Dunwoody 

It was only a matter of time until The Heights in Burnaby claimed their very own neighbourhood dining showcase.

The festival takes place smack in the middle of summer, August 16-30, 2017 for two weeks of daily deals and special features, entertainment and more. Every day each restaurant and eatery has a different special; some are offering new menu items created just for Crave, while others are doing special happy hour features or after-dinner desserts.

Image by Michele Mateus Photography

The Heights will come to life with live music and street buskers along their section of Hastings Street, opting for an urban, summer atmosphere you just can’t recreate any other season. “The Heights is a special place, rich in multiculturalism,” remarked Isabel Kolic, executive director of the Heights Merchants Association, “Crave is a perfect way to not only experience this strong sense of culture, but also to discover the variety of amazing eateries available in the Heights. We’re expecting this event to continue to grow.”

Participating restaurants are plenty, and include Chez Christophe, Glenburn Soda Fountain, Cioffi’s Cucina, and Gray Olive Cafeteria.

Highly acclaimed The Peartree is anticipated to create a seasonal Crave set menu by Chef Scott Jaeger for $50, as is Cristos Greek Taverna, La Villetta, Baci Ristorante, and Butcher’s Block BBQ.

Image by Michele Mateus Photography

Happy Hour drink specials are being offered by La Villetta, Sfinaki, Anton’s, Chad Thai, and Cristos. And did we have you at dessert?

Nuvola Gelato (only a year old) is owned by Giorgio Barassi, winner of the BEST NEW GELATO award in Cefalu, Italy, in 2012, and serves scoops of local, seasonal, and organic deliciousness. Chez Christophe now features in-house brewed Ginger Mint Tea and Basil Berry Tea for summer, on top of their chocolate collection. Christophe Bonzon is a Swiss trained Pastry Chef/Chocolatier.

#CraveTheHeights | Image by Michele Mateus Photography

Social media savvy? Use #CraveTheHeights in your Instagram posts to be entered to win a $100 gift certificate to the Heights restaurant of your choice. And diners also get a chance to win a $500 Heights prize package by entering online.

Be sure and check out Crave the Heights coming soon, details right here: CraveTheHeights.com

By Jackie Dives

Commercial Drive is a hot spot for food and shopping. Head north from your ride along the Central Valley Greenway for plenty of food options. 

At Commercial Drive and East 7th you can grab a casual yet stacked burger and beer at Relish. It has a bit of a cafeteria vibe, so if that’s not exactly what you’re looking for try Jam Jar.

Burgers galore for omnivores and vegetarians are on the Relish menu. Pictured is one of the veggie options.
Here’s a beefy burger option at Relish.
Welcome to 77k Freeze.

For a completely new experience head a few stores down to 77k Freeze, where they make custom ice cream to order. This is a gem for people who have particular allergies or eating restrictions, as you choose the ingredients and they freeze the ice cream on the spot using liquid nitrogen.

Freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen!

Custom ice cream for any taste.

As the Greenway goes through Burnaby it takes more of a backroad detour. Still, there are a few places to stop and grab some treats to-go that are nearby.

Onwards to Burnaby!

In the summer, you may find blackberries along the way.

If chocolate is what keeps your legs pumping, stop at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory (open weekdays) down Douglas Road and then hang a right on Still Creek Drive.

If you need a sugar jolt you can grab a handful of Mexican treats and a Jarrito from El Comal on the way down to take a rest at nearby Burnaby Lake.

Interior of El Comal.
Some of the Mexican treats available.

I would also highly recommend grabbing some of their made-fresh-daily soft taco shells and any other Mexican food you can manage to carry back on your bike to make dinner with.

Authentic Mexican ingredients to take home.

They hope to be re-opening their restaurant soon so phone ahead, as you may be able to eat lunch there too!  

Elsa Lourdes Nuñez Gleeson, owner of El Comal.

From East Columbia Street, turn down Holmes Street and onto Tenth Avenue on your way to New Westminster and you’ll find Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House, where Vietnamese food goes vegan.

Spicy lemongrass gluten at Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House.
Back on the bicycle and we pedal back to the Greenway an on to New Westminster next!

This is part of a 3-part series.

Part 1: Vancouver Olympic Village
Part 3: New Westminster’s Central Valley Greenway

By Catherine Dunwoody

How cool is it (literally) that this most delicious and special day happens to fall on our very own Canada Day, July 1st? Vancouver and its diverse surrounding communities certainly know how to celebrate two things at once, and the proof is in the cone.

Celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by toasting with one of these super special flavours, and some for a very limited time only. Here’s what they are and where to find them.

“Canadian Maple Bacon” | Image courtesy of Welcome Parlour Ice Cream

Flavour: Canadian Maple Bacon

Where to get it: Welcome Parlour Ice Cream, Vancouver’s North Shore

The scoop: This shop just opened this past spring in a 1909 heritage building, and this special flavour is only available for 1 day. Made with caramelized bacon and real maple syrup. Patriotic and proud!

Flavour: Roasted Strawberry

Where to get it: Rain or Shine, Vancouver

The scoop: Brought back for another summer, this fave 4th Avenue shop roasts local strawberries, adds a dash of balsamic vinegar, and mixes into the creamiest of ice creams to create summer in a cup. Or cone. You get the idea.

“Canada 150” | Image courtesy of Spiritual Ingredients

Flavour: Canada 150

Where to get it: Spiritual Ingredients, White Rock

The scoop: Trendy and from Thailand, “rolled gelato” is all the rage. The folks at Spiritual got the machine sent from the source, taught themselves how to make it, and serve theirs like a sundae. Blueberries and maple syrup are mixed into the actual gelato, which is then topped with fresh blueberries, maple syrup, and whipped cream. Multi-cultural cool – just like Canada.

Flavour: Birthday Cake

Where to get it: The Ice Cream Parlour at Burnaby Village Museum

The scoop: Celebratory indeed. Ice cream with chunks of birthday cake, sprinkles just in time for Canada’s big day.

 Flavour: Melon Bingsoo

Where to get it: Snowy Villages, Richmond

The scoop: This Korean shaved ice dessert is a refreshing treat on a hot summer day. Think balls of honeydew melon atop shaved ice, sprinkled with slivered toasted almonds, whip cream and served in a melon bowl.

Flavour: Creamsicle frozen yogurt

Where to get it: Menchie’s, New Westminster

The scoop: The classic combination of orange popsicle with vanilla ice cream has been around for decades. Top this froyo with anything from sour gummi worms to animal crackers to fresh fruit depending on your tastes and enjoy.

Flavour: Saffron

Where to get it: Urban Gate, Coquitlam

The scoop: Who says ice cream can’t come in unusual flavours? This saffron infused treat has that gorgeous yellow colour you would expect and a subtle flavour. Give it a go.

Flavour: Moose Tracks

Where to get it: Ritual Ice Cream, Langley

The scoop: Can it get a more Canuck-style name? Vanilla ice cream swirled with fudge and peanut butter cup chunks makes for one tasty treat, that’s all we know.

Header image by Lenee Son

By Kristi Alexandra

In a time when $22 avocado toast is the norm, even going out for a casual brunch can feel pretty bourgeois. Fortunately for residents of Burnaby Heights, The Gray Olive Cafeteria has brought classic, casual fare to the neighbourhood — while still maintaining the class.

Located at the corner of Hastings Street and Carleton Avenue, the cafeteria-style, 20-seat eatery opened its doors in February of 2017, serving up comfort food with a refined twist. Founded by brothers Brian, Steve, and Jeremy Wong, the trio of siblings attests they just wanted to dish up mouth-watering food that recalls simple home-style cooking.

The Gray Olive Cafeteria has old-school classy diner style

“We’re such a food-driven family,” Steve, the youngest brother, tells WestCoastFood at the Hastings Street eatery, “all of us are so food-driven. Our mom would cook all our meals and even my friends would come over just to eat dinner with us. All of us are just really into good food, well-cooked meals at home, and, of course, Brian’s a chef. It just works.”

Menu offerings include the “G.O. Breaky Sandwich” which is a breakfast sandwich that includes eggs and smoked shallot aioli, daily house soups with handmade cheddar and chive biscuits, and the inimitable sous vide chicken and waffles. And that’s just a start.

Add a Gray Olive mimosa to your Breaky Sandwich

“I bring the experience,” says Brian, The Gray Olive’s executive chef. With around a decade of hotel and fine-dining knowledge under his apron, Brian crafts and hones the cafeteria’s menu.

“There’s no one cuisine that I don’t like. A lot of the menu items here are from past experiences and dishes I like to eat. I pay homage to certain dishes I like to eat and certain cuisines. Chefs are very much artists and the best stuff comes out when we’re very inspired.”

One particularly inspiring dish is the roast chicken sandwich, which is Brian’s take on an everyday beef dip. Pulled chicken, pea shoots, pickled red onion, havarti, and a black pepper aioli are sandwiched into a crusty baguette, served up with an indulgent gravy to dip.

With all those luxurious ingredients, one might think these kinds of plates belong more in an upscale pub than in a “cafeteria,” but the brothers attest their clientele are loving the tasteful, homey vibe.

“I think [the word cafeteria] signifies a more casual setting,” Brian explains. “I want it to be that you go up and order, and you pull things off the shelf and you bring it to the till as opposed to a sit-down restaurant. For many reasons. For one, the space here is very intimate, but we wanted to give that feeling that it’s very comfortable in here. It should be very relaxing and casual, and we’re not fine dining. It’s something fun and relaxed and something that people can connect with.”

His brother Steve agrees, pointing to the energy of The Gray Olive’s neighbourhood.

“I think it works because of this specific environment in The Heights,” Steve reveals. “It’s such a tight community so the minute we got here, it kind of felt like maybe we were the outsiders in this tight-knit community, but once we opened up, people filed in pretty quick.”

It could be the cafeteria’s signature kitchen sink dish — two eggs atop sauteed vegetables, green onions, sausage, bacon, cheese, and their very own G.O. potatoes. It could be the Gray Olive’s clean, modern ambiance. Or, it could be it’s the only place you can enjoy a palate-pleasing, Instagrammable avocado toast, and still save to buy a home. At $5 a pop, their mashed avocado with oven-roasted tomatoes, drizzled in a balsamic reduction on sourdough is practically a steal.

One can only hope to snag a seat at the Hastings Street canteen, as they’re usually as stuffed as a roasted chicken sandwich.

The Gray Olive Cafeteria
4190 Hastings
Burnaby, BC

Open from 8 am to 3 pm on weekdays (closed Mondays), and 9 am to 3 pm on weekends.

By Brittany Tiplady

The age-old motto “first we eat, then we do everything else,” rings true at North Burnaby’s modern Italian nook, Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria. Serving up generous portions of modernized Italian cuisine, Neapolitan VPN certified pizza, and wine on tap, Cotto Enoteca is the perfect spot to indulge in a bevy of carb-loaded menu options made with sustainability in mind.

Cotto Carbonara at Cotto Enoteca

In true west coast fashion, this pizzeria engages in some unique, eco-friendly initiatives including QWater (filtered water, eliminating bottles), Ocean Wise seafood, and choosing to source their ingredients, specifically produce, locally.

Found on the corner of Hastings and Fell, this Italian joint aims to “[Showcase] the best of BC and Italy, [marrying] the traditional techniques of Italy with the best of local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients.” Still wondering what Neapolitan VPN certified pizza means? This authentic seal of approval is awarded to restaurants by the Naples-based Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana; only upon official observation is a pizzeria eligible for the title.

The patio at Cotto Enoteca

Chef Will Lucas has been with Cotto Enoteca since it’s opening four and a half years ago. He runs his kitchen with a sustainable and community-minded focus, presenting dishes that are abundant with flavour, and indulgent in size.

Chef Will Lucas of Cotto Enoteca

Q: Cotto Enoteca focuses on eco-friendly initiatives. Can you expand more on that?

A: I try to keep everything local – I love to support the local farmers. I get all my fish from my fishermen, instead of ordering from big box companies. I firmly believe in going back to the local people, I’d rather keep the money in the surrounding industry. It’s way better for the customer to get food that’s locally produced here and keep the dollar in British Columbia. And the vegetables that you get from local farmers are so much better. Anything you get from a big box company [abroad] won’t compare to the food grown in BC.

Q: With such a saturated restaurant industry in Metro Vancouver, how does Cotto Enoteca stand out amongst the rest?

A: We are one out of only four or five restaurants in the Lower Mainland that are VPN certified. Also, 95 per cent of the food we make is made in-house. We have a commissary kitchen in the back so we make all of our own tomato sauce, and our meatballs, and we make our own cannelloni. It’s great, and it helps newer people coming in to the industry learn how to make everything in-house.

Q: Where did you earn your culinary chops?

A: I’ve been in the industry for about fifteen years now. Before this, I worked for Glowbal Group – it was very exciting having so many busy, successful restaurants and I learned quite a lot from being there. Before that I worked in major hotels in Vancouver: Hiltons, and the Fairmont Waterfront, which is where I started working with some great local farmers and building those relationships.

Q: Any particular stars of the menu?

A: The beet salad is a wonderful starter. The carbonara pasta is one of the most popular ones. As for pizzas, I would say, the Di Spagna pizza is really great if you are looking for something different, or the Diavola.

Beet Salad at Cotto Enoteca

Q: For those wanting to check it out for the first time, what’s the vibe at Cotto Enoteca?

A: Our restaurant is always up and coming, we are always growing and welcoming new guests. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, it’s a really fun place to be. We encourage you to come out, and enjoy locally grown food, and try new restaurants in the lower mainland.

Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria
6011 Hasting Street, Burnaby, BC
604-299-8002
cotto.ca

By Kristi Alexandra

With indie breweries becoming almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks’ in Vancouver, you’d have to be wearing blinders to miss a brewpub or tasting room on any given block between Boundary Road and Kits Beach. But Vancouver’s not the only city under the influence, as the craft brewing boom has reached through Burnaby to the Valley, taking root in the communities in between.

This year, brews from outlying towns are making a splash at the eighth annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week, running from May 26 to June 4.

“We keep growing and changing every year because we want to create this beer experience that all of us want to experience ourselves,” says co-founder and events director Leah Heneghan.

This year, it seems communities outside the big city are unofficially on show. The week-long fete’s feature collaboration beer is a shared effort between the four breweries that dot Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row: Yellow Dog, Twin Sails, Moody Ales, and Parkside.

Dubbed “Hazy Pale”, VCBW’s signature beer is a hazy pale ale infused with passionfruit and guava – a perfect tithing to summertime. But Port Moody’s not the only city outside Vancouver flourishing in beer flow — there’s a whole bevy of brewers that’ll keep you sipping during this seven-day soiree.

Trading Post – Langley

Perhaps an allusion to Fort Langley’s historic trade hub, Trading Post Brewing is all about celebrating community. “It is over a glass of that very creation, a labour of our love, where friendships deepen, family ties strengthen and community unites,” they say.

Beers they’re hawking: Dear James S.M.A.S.H Saison – a single malt, single hop saison with notes of fruit and spice; Three Bears Breakfast Stout – an oatmeal stout with a strong raspberry flavour will have you feeling just right; West Coast IPA – a traditional West Coast India Pale Ale with tropical fruit fused into Pacific North West pine.

Trading Post beer | Image by Ashley Lockyer

Central City Brewers + Distillers – Surrey

While these brewers started out with a single silo in a brewpub, they’ve now “tapped-out” beyond their craft beer limits. Known best by their signature Red Racer beers, the brand has also come to distill high-end spirits as well as break records in beer production. “We approach our spiritual side with the same care and honour as we do with our beer” — or so their mantra goes.

Beers they’re hawking: Red Racer Amber Ale – From their award-winning line, a blend of Chinook and Centennial hops make a coastal-inspired brew with citrus and pine flavours.

Dageraad Brewing – Burnaby

Brewing up small-batch artisan beers reminiscent of the Dageraadplaats, a neighbourhood square on the east side of Antwerp, Belgium, Dageraad Brewing is a traditional throwback to beer culture from its point of inception.

Beers they’re hawking: Dageraad Blonde – a fruity, spicy, and bubbly blonde with a touch of caramelized sugar sweetness and a floral crown. Just like a dame at Coachella; Dageraad White – a creamy, citrusy wheat ale traditionally from the Brabant region of Belgium.

Steel & Oak – New Westminster

Steel & Oak Brewing Co.  is nestled under a passenger bridge near steel and wood train tracks, the most unassuming of places, but one aligned with their brand. “Materials of strength and durability, steel and oak; house, protect and nurture what we stand for most – exceptional tasting craft beer,” as they put it.

What they’re hawking: Roselle – Hibiscus and rose hips create a crisp and refreshing wheat ale packed with floral notes, banana, raspberry and a touch of spice; Shiny Things IPA – Hallertau Blanc, Huell Melon, and Mandarina Bavaria hops add a new age German twist on this juicy IPA. They seem Oktoberfest-ready; Weekend Plans Sour – light, tart and refreshing, just like you’d want your weekend plans to be. Amarillo, Citra, and Centennial hops with an oat malt.

Image courtesy of the Steel & Oak blog

Dead Frog Brewery – Aldergrove

This award-winning craft brewery from the Fraser Valley caught the attention of drinkers with their slogan “Nothing goes down like a cold, dead frog.” While the comparison is questionable, nothing beats this brewery’s creativity.

Beers they’re hawking: Blueberry Blast – a crisp sour wheat ale bursting with flavours of lemon and fresh local blueberries; Green Magic – a coastal-style IPA with citrus and pine for a crisp finish; Tropic Vice – a refreshing golden ale brimming with flavours of mango and passion fruit, and channeling ‘80s TV cop drama vibes.

Field House Brewing – Abbotsford

Located in Abbotsford on a “magical beer lawn with an outdoor stage,” where musicians are invited to perform weekly, Field House Brewing Co. sounds like the stuff of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Their rotating tap is called the Adventure Tap, and we imagine it always tastes like something out of a Celtic folk tale.

What they’re hawking: Dark Brett – a “dark-as-dusk beer” with dank but citrusy flavours; Light Brett – a sunny alternative to the Dark Brett with white wine and stone fruit notes; Sour Wheat Gose – a 16th century-style German salted sour wheat ale with coriander and elderflower, brewed with hand-harvested sea salt by Vancouver Island Salt Co.

by Catherine Dunwoody

You may be familiar with Left Coast Naturals, a Burnaby-based brand that started back in 1996. Owned by Jason Dorland and Ian Walker, they kicked off with a line of natural nut butters called Skeet & Ike’s that they sold on Granville Island Market on weekends.

Things went well, the company ticked along for a long while, and then in 2005 they launched a variety of tortilla chips, named Hippie Chips, after the 60s hippie movement where people looked to raw, natural foods for better health.

Hippie Foods has grown since then, and now is a whole line of healthy (and tasty!) snacks, cereals and cookies. See? Going way beyond granola. Though their granola is darn good. Here are some goodies to watch for in markets on Canada’s west coast. Bonus? All of these are organic, gluten free and non-GMO too:

Image courtesy of Hippie Snacks

Hippie Snacks Coconut Clusters. Organic roasted coconut is tossed with crunchy, nutrient-packed pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds for an easy snack on the run. I like the Zesty Chili tossed on a salad for extra crunch, and the Nearly Naked flavour straight out of the bag.

Garden Chips. Raw, real vegetable slices with nuts and seeds in flavours like Snacking Stir Fry, Crunchy Coleslaw, and Roots Medley.

Image courtesy of Hippie Snacks

Gluten-Free Granola. Try the grown-up flavours like Brown Rice and Quinoa or Vanilla Almond.

 

Coconut Chips. Slices of young coconut are roasted to a satisfying crunch that’s a bit savoury, not cloyingly sweet, and great as a snack or on dessert or salads. The Tamari and Cracked Pepper or Coconut Bacon flavours are highly addictive.

Hippie Foods are at retailers like IGA, Whole Foods, Urban Fare and more. Visit hippiefoods.com for a complete listing.

by Catherine Dunwoody

Burnaby’s constantly evolving Metrotown just got a little French and we couldn’t be more excited.   Paris-trained Chef Elena Krasnova opened her first standalone shop, “Mon Paris Pâtisserie” and that means delicious pastries, café au lait, and much more.

Goodies in the front window | Image courtesy of Mon Paris Pâtisserie

The 1000 square foot space has a pretty modern, bright Parisian vibe with an open-concept kitchen, and intimate bistro-style seating (plus a patio space will open this spring). Republica Coffee Roasters is the café of choice, plus specialty teas, traditional French pastries, and Cacao Barry chocolate confections are served.

Image courtesy of Mon Paris Pâtisserie

Chef Krasnova trained at the famed Ferrandie Ecole de Gastronomie in Paris, and uses only the best local and international ingredients to create classic French desserts like the ‘Opera’ (intense coffee flavours melded with moist dark chocolate mousse), macarons, plus wedding and special occasion cakes.

Chef Elena Krasnova at work | Image courtesy of Mon Paris Pâtisserie

Feeling like trying your own hand at French deliciousness? We say oui! And with pastry and chocolate making classes scheduled on a regular basis, we suggest you sign up on the website, where a calendar of events is posted.

Image courtesy of Mon Paris Pâtisserie

Open Tuesday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and on Saturday from 8am to 5pm.

Mon Paris Pâtisserie
4396 Beresford Street
Burnaby, BC
www.monparis.ca

With a backyard of clean rivers and lakes, the Pacific Ocean, and rich fertile land, the farmers, chefs, brewers, distillers, fishers, and producers are able to bring their diverse traditions, cultures, and creativity to the plates, cups, and glasses of Canada’s west coast. The taste is hyper local, from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley.

Featured in this video: The Vancouver Aquarium, The Liberty Distillery, Fraser Valley Cider Company, Cherry Lane Farms, Burnaby Village Museum, Bella Gelateria, Crazy Cows, Steveston Seafood House, Campbells Gold, Central City Brewers and Distillers, Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks, Trading Post Brewing, Steel & Oak Brewing, Vij’s

by Catherine Dunwoody

Here’s fun Dine Out Vancouver idea: Book brunch or lunch at one of the participating restaurants and stay the night before at a nearby Vancouver hotel. Remember the festival ends February 5th so make your reservations now!

Brunch Crawl – East Village
January 28, by Vancouver Foodster, this event starts at 10am and during the course of four hours, you’ll visit several restaurants in Vancouver’s East Village neighbourhood (Hastings/Sunrise to Grandview/Woodland) sampling everything from smoothies to brunch pizza. Book online.

Hotel pairing: Waldorf Hotel at 1489 E Hastings Street is also your meeting place for the crawl. Roll out of bed, into the lobby and boom – brunch tour begins.

Explore BC Wine Brunch at Boulevard

On Saturday, February 4 at 11 a.m., brunch-lovers can taste some of BC’s best wines paired with Executive Chef and 2015 BC Gold Medal Plates Champion Alex Chen’s delicious fare. The stand-up, grazing format will have seven winery stations, and seafood-focused canapés. Purchase online.

Hotel pairing: The Sutton Place, 845 Burrard Street, is the adjoining hotel to Boulevard. Since you’re right downtown strolling off a big meal with lots of good wine while you window shop down Robson or Alberni streets should make for a delightful afternoon.

Image by Vision Event Photography courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Vancouver’s Best Roasting, Coffee & Beer Tour
Perhaps a hot cuppa Joe or a hair of the dog is all you can stomach on a weekend morning? Vancouver Coffee Snob & Canadian Craft Tours gets that. On January 28 and February 4, Canadian Craft Tours and the Vancouver Coffee Snob will take you on a carefully curated tour of two of the city’s best coffee stops, followed by a visit to one Vancouver’s best craft breweries.

Hotel pairing: Since you will be starting the tour at Canada Place Bus Zone – 999 Canada Place, why not book a room at the Pan Pacific Hotel right next door?

Explore BC Wine Brunch at Hart House Restaurant
Wines of British Columbia partnered up with this iconic Burnaby restaurant to host their event January 28. Four of BC’s top wineries will pair up perfectly with Pacific Northwest cuisine by Executive Chef Mike Genest. Expect mini eggs Benedict, wild mushroom frittata, and brioche French toast. Purchase tickets.

Hotel pairing: Element Vancouver Metrotown is the first Element Hotel in Western Canada, right in Burnaby. A little brunch, a little shopping – perfect.

The Dine Out Vancouver Festival also has special hotel rates and Dine & Stay packages that are only available until February 5th starting at $110 CAD per night (approx. $85 USD).  Find out more here.

By Catherine Dunwoody

Canada Place hosted the largest gluten-free food trade show in the country recently, the Gluten Free Expo. An opportunity for the consumer to stop and sample the wares and gain information at the many booths, plus check out some cooking demos and presentations – all geared to folks with gluten-allergies or sensitivities.

Newly diagnosed with celiac disease myself, this show intrigued me both professionally and personally as a food writer with a rather refined palette trying to navigate this New Year eating gluten-free. Here’s my ‘best of the fest’ – products I tried and thought worth sharing, and mostly made right here on Canada’s west coast.

Naked Coconuts from Vancouver makes soy-free teriyaki sauces.  Not only gf, but also soy-free, this organic, non-GMO, sauce has that salty, umami flavour we crave when it’s stir-fry time, and this one has 65% less sodium too.

Free Yumm cookies and bars bake their goodies in North Vancouver, and are especially geared to kids with food allergies, often deprived of the yummy baked goods their friends enjoy. Double chocolate cookies, blueberry oat bars and more mean adults love them too.

Hippie Snacks from Hippie Foods in Burnaby had a few goodies to try, but the Nearly Naked Coconut Clusters were that ideal blend of salty / sweet. I would throw these on a salad or eat nibbled from the bowl.

Based in Burnaby, Quesava Kitchen, known for their Brazilian Quejos buns have a bake-at-home dough that means veggie poppers may appear at my house next time I host a wine and cheese party. The cheese, garlic and spring onion flavour was a warm, melty-cheese-in-the-middle treat.

Wendel’s True Foods started off as a café in Langley, and has expanded to a bakery brand sold at every major grocery store in BC. How does gf black forest cake, apple pie, or ginger cookies sound? I thought so…..

NextJen is a brand started by Vancouver Chef Jenn Peters and her partner Chef Hamid Salimian (of Earls restaurants). Flours, mixes and doughs you make at home, including pizza dough, vanilla bean cake and sprouted buckwheat pancake and waffle mix.

Most kettle chips are gf, but oftentimes the powdered flavourings they add are not, nor are the kitchens they make the products at safe from cross contact. Neal Brothers is a brand based out east that clearly knows lucky we BC lower mainlanders are with Vikram Vij’s restaurants right in Surrey and Vancouver, thus introducing Vij’s Delhi-cious kettle chips. Namaste in with a bag of these on movie night.

Delish Gluten Free is a bakery based in Port Coquitlam, but you can find their goodies at farmers markets all over the lower mainland. Try the Quinoa Carrot Cake Muffins.

by Catherine Dunwoody

Such a glorious way for any food aficionado to spend some time – exploring all the bounty Burnaby’s Big Bend offers.

Burnaby Food First, in partnership with the City of Burnaby and with support from Tourism Burnaby, has just released a self-guided map listing participating farms and nurseries that are opened to the public within Burnaby’s Big Bend area.

Photo: Leila Trickey
Photo: Leila Trickey

Talk about buying local. Sustainable food, all grown right in the area, plus Burnaby Food First is offering local workshops on growing and cooking healthy. Fill up your bike basket with the freshest summertime vegetables and fruit around, or pile the family in the SUV and shop big. Soon enough it’ll be pickle and canning season after all, but visit throughout the summer season as the variety will change as produce becomes in-season.

Photo: Leila Trickey
Photo: Leila Trickey

Participating farms and nurseries include, Urban Digs, Hop on Farms, Gardenworks at Mandeville, Wing Wong’s Nursery and more – 43 farms in all.

Photo: Leila Trickey
Photo: Leila Trickey

Where and what exactly is Big Bend? It’s a mash-up community of parks, open spaces, agricultural, residential and industrial areas bounded by Marine Drive (to the North) and located within Boundary Road to Fenwick Street. The Fraser River runs south of the area.

Download the map here: http://bit.ly/BurnabyFarmTour

By Tim Pawsey

Somehow, amidst the never ending tsunami of trends and the revolving door of openings and closings, the buffet endures. An array of tastes and flavours offered at a reasonable price is tempting to the eclectic diner and to parents of choosy children, but to really be a hit, a good buffet needs to not only offer variety but also be well tended, with dishes kept warm and replenished as needed. Perhaps because it remains a bastion of family dining, frequently served only on weekends, the buffet is the one holdover from times past that we not only tolerate but celebrate. In Burnaby, which neighbours Vancouver with a thriving community of families and multiculturalism, there are many to choose from, with a strong focus on international cuisine.

In Burnaby, Indian buffets rule. Four blocks west of Metrotown, contemporary toned Saffron Indian Cuisine yields both lunch and dinner extravaganzas. A wealth of vegetarian and non-vegetarian tastes ranges from daal and paneer to butter or tandoori chicken, with plenty of rice and naan staples. Salads and desserts abound and spicing is moderate. Lunch buffet is offered daily while the dinner buffet runs Wednesday through Sunday evenings.

Agra Tandoori
Agra Tandoori

Arguably the most unusual, definitely affordable, and one of Burnaby’s best-kept-secrets, Govinda’s Vegetarian Buffet is served only between 12:30 and 2:30 pm. This tranquil little escape operated by ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) is adjacent to the Hare Krishna Temple on Marine Way. Healthy, all-vegetarian dishes are offered, with dishes changing daily and dining by donation (suggested $5 for adults).

At Agra Tandoori the weekday buffet (11:30am – 2:30pm, $9.95) reflects the restaurant’s creative, modern approach, with options roaming from tandoori chicken to goat and vegetable curry and more – with plentiful supplies of naan bread, salad and dessert. The setting is comfortable, and the service efficient but friendly.

An all-day Sunday buffet (12:00pm- 8:00pm) is a big draw for ex-pat Eastern Europeans at The Balkan House, which serves an array of southeastern Mediterranean fare, as well as sausages, meats and kebabs in a cozy, traditional hunting lodge setting. ($17.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids.)

For a more westernized take, EBO Restaurant at The Delta Burnaby Hotel offers an impressive Sunday brunch on some days and on holidays (such as Mother’s Day). This sumptuous smorgasbord spans a wealth of worldwide influences, ranging from typical North American breakfast items such as bacon and eggs to local seafood served both warm and chilled, as well as rotisseried meats and Asian specialties.

Next door at Grand Villa Casino, the buffet is on every day for dinner, lunch on weekdays, and brunch on weekends. Italy rules with an Italian spread offered every Tuesday from 4:00pm to 9:00pm, while on Thursdays the theme shifts to sunny Mexico—complete with $5 Margaritas.

If you are looking for a place to appeal to all your friends, your whole family, or just can’t decide exactly what you want, a buffet can be the way to go to sample your way through a meal until you’re satiated… or until you’re bursting full!

By Kathy Mak

In an ideal world, we’d probably all like to make our own preserves; but most of us don’t have the time or the talent. Preserving food requires patience and practice. Making exquisite artisan preserves is an art form, which Geneviève Blanchet has mastered. A cut above ordinary homemade spreads, her handcrafted preserves uniquely capture the vibrant fruit flavours of the seasons by using traditional techniques blended with a holistic approach, wholesome values, and some French flare. When you understand her passion for preserves, you can fully appreciate why so many of us have upgraded our pantry with her remarkable jams, jellies and marmalades.

Designing and creating interesting preserves come naturally to Geneviève. Influenced by nature and neighbours that lived off the land in the Quebec countryside, she learned to forage and use healthy ingredients, as well as make jams, at a young age. An early interest in medicinal plants and botanicals led to her practice as a registered Holistic Nutritionist and Traditional Herbalist. Then, four years ago, she had an epiphany and refashioned herself to specialize in making artisanal preserves. Now based in Burnaby and Vancouver, her company is called Le Meadow’s Pantry.

Images courtesy of Le Meadow’s Pantry

Geneviève’s process is focused firstly on making delicious, superior products inspired by natural and local ingredients (organic when possible) that are mostly sourced from the Fraser Valley. To preserve the vibrancy of the fruit, her products are personally handmade in small batches using French cooper pans (1 pan makes about 12 jars). Hand-cut fruits are cooked in smaller amounts and a shorter timeframe to maximize the fresh taste, nutritional value and structure. Sweetness may be enhanced with pure cane sugar or honey in conservative amounts, while hand-pressed lemon juice is added as a preservative. The fruits of her labour are these beautifully handcrafted, honest-to-goodness preserves that offer more than just a heavenly taste experience.

Images courtesy of Le Meadow’s Pantry
Images courtesy of Le Meadow’s Pantry

The name of her business – Le Meadow’s Pantry – comes from the time when Geneviève lived next to a dreamy meadow on Meadow’s Road in Pemberton. It was a place that greatly inspired her and she hopes that her comforting flavours can also create a happy sense of place and time for everyone. It’s no surprise then that she not only loves making preserves but believes that the joy in cooking creates better products. Think “blissful spring morning” when you try the Orange Blossom Marmalade. Her coveted “Dandelion Confit” is certain to transport you to a quiet mountain meadow where Geneviève is happily picking wild dandelions during the spring. For this special jelly, she follows a yearly French tradition to pick 365 flowers in celebration of 365 suns that have risen and set since the previous spring. From these flowers, only a limited batch of 5-8 jars can be produced; therefore, interested foodies should follow Le Meadow’s Pantry for possible release dates.

Images courtesy of Le Meadow’s Pantry
Images courtesy of Le Meadow’s Pantry

Depending on the time of year, the collection of Le Meadow’s Pantry preserves covers a range of 60+ varieties. While there are some jellies, chutneys, and fruit butter, the majority of her work is jams and marmalades made with pleasing combinations and whimsical names. How could you not love “Orange Vanilla Dream”, “Sunshine In A Jar” or “Midnight Candy”? When fresh herbs are used to complement fruits, they come from Geneviève’s own garden. And, a subtle amount of vodka, gin, vanilla extract or bitters, made from local distilleries, can be found in a few of the preserves, like “Orange Elixir” or “Lemon & Vodka.”

Once you’ve tasted Geneviève’s preserves, it’s easy to understand why her loyal and growing fan base return for more products. She is an artisan with a penchant for creating harmony with an eclectic mix of ingredients. One part is imagination and the other part is intuition, which Geneviève honed in her holistic training. The healthy principles of the 5 Element theory, a Chinese philosophy, is her guide to promoting balance in the body be eating food associated with different types of energy – wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The connection between the seasons, food and body can make a difference. For instance, preserves with mint can provide a cooling affect in the summer whereas cardamom could be warming in the winter.

Because of their superior quality and luscious taste, you’d be inclined to lick these preserved gems off the spoon. But, beyond the breakfast table, her products are even better as an accent flavour to accompany a range of sweet to savoury foods. For an assortment of pairing tips, the website for Le Meadow’s Pantry is full of inspiring ideas to liven up any meal, like Duck Confit matched with “Claire de Lune” jam (made from organic pears, maple syrup and sage)! And for dessert, try Geneviève’s Orange Rice Pudding recipe (provided here) with one of her thick cut orange marmalades.

Le Meadow’s Pantry is foremost about Geneviève’s passion for preserves and spreading the love of seasonal flavours from fruits and other healing plants. You can meet Geneviève and sample her fine products at various Farmers Markets and Fairs around Vancouver. Or, find a selection of her preserves in a range of stores throughout Metro Vancouver, B.C. and Canada.

By Geneviève Blanchet, Le Meadow’s Pantry

This unctuous rice pudding will bring warmth and comfort on cold winter days. A tart blackcurrant or blackberry jam would work equally well during the summer months. I would substitute the cinnamon and saffron for fresh mint and fresh lemon balm for a cooling effect.

 INGREDIENTS

Jasmine rice (1/2 cup)

Sea salt (a pinch)

Fresh almond or nut milk (2 cups)

Saffron (1 teaspoon)

Ground cinnamon (1 teaspoon)

Thick-cut orange marmalade (2 tablespoons)

Pieces of walnut for garnish

Maple syrup or honey for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the rice in a saucepan, cover with cold water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and drain.
  1. Combine milk and saffron in a saucepan and heat over high heat to a boil.
  1. Add the rice, cover, lower the heat to very low, and cook, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick, for 30 minutes or until the rice is soft.
  1. Remove the rice from the heat, add cinnamon and marmalade, stir well, and let cool.
  1. To serve, drizzle maple syrup or honey over each serving of rice pudding and sprinkle with pieces of walnuts.

By Joanne Sasvari

At Urban Digs Farm, the pigs are brown and black and copper coloured, with jauntily spotted wiry coats, twirly tails and alert ears. You’d swear they’re smiling at you. And why not? These are some of the happiest pigs around.

“We carry pigs that make good bacon and have good personalities,” says Julia Smith, co-founder and operations manager of Urban Digs. “Adorableness is one of the important characteristics we look for.”

Smith and her partner Ludo Ferrari started the farm in 2012 on two weed-choked acres in Burnaby. Right from the beginning, they wanted to raise free-range, pasture-fed heritage pigs, not the big, pink commercial pigs we all know so well.

Those commercial pigs have been bred for size, weight, uniformity and a lean, mild meat. They grow quickly and produce many litters of piglets, often without ever leaving the inside of a barn, making them ideal for intensive farming operations that value big, fast and relatively low-cost production.

Heritage pigs, on the other hand, can seem like a whole different species. “Heritage pigs are the original breeds and they all have unique characteristics and qualities,” Smith says.

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There are literally hundreds of heritage pig breeds, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, colours and coats, personalities and temperaments. Because they originated all over the world, they thrive in a wide range of climates, from icy tundra to temperate forest to sweltering dessert, but they need plenty of space, fresh air and good food to thrive. That’s why at Urban Digs and similar farms, the pigs have shelters to protect them from bad weather but are otherwise mostly allowed to range and root freely.

“There are also taste variations,” says Smith.

As any chef can tell you, heritage pigs produce incredibly flavourful meat. The Berkshire, for instance, is succulent and juicy, perfect for chops and roasts. The lusciously fatty Tamworth is known as a bacon pig for its exceptional affinity for smoke. The wild and woolly Hungarian Mangalica has been called the “Kobe beef of pigs” for its rich, tender flesh that makes for luxuriously silky ham; similarly, the Spanish Pata Negra, whose favourite food is acorns, produces jamón ibérico, one of the world’s most precious foodstuffs.

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“It’s kind of funny,” Smith says. “If you want to protect these animals, you have to keep eating them.”

What’s not so funny is that many of the heritage breeds are threatened, endangered and, tragically, extinct. Even the well-known and highly desirable Tamworths, Gloucestershire Old Spots and Large Blacks are on the threatened list. “If we don’t protect the heritage breeds, we might not end up with any options,” Smith says. “If we lose those breeds, we lose a lot of choice and the ability to adapt.”

The problem is that everything that makes heritage pigs so appealing also makes them more difficult and expensive to raise than commercial pigs. The payoff is slower, too, because it takes them longer to reach market weight, and that’s if a farmer can find a heritage pig to raise and breed in the first place.

“It’s really hard finding purebred breeding stock,” says Smith, whose breeding herd is mostly Berkshire, with strains of Tamworth and other breeds. “It’s really hard to find in Canada and importing them from the States is really expensive with the dollar.” That means a heritage pig can retail for triple what a commercial pig does. Still, many consumers are willing to pay those premium prices, not just because heritage pork tastes better, but because it’s almost always sustainably and ethically raised.

So far, that’s proved true for Urban Digs. They opened four years ago with five pigs, a small flock of chickens and a couple of goats on the Burnaby property. Since then, they have added 21 acres in Merritt, which is where the pigs live now, and turned the Burnaby farm over to veggies, a market stand and a few animals for visitors to pet. They also hired a full-time butcher to prepare sausages, bacon, chops and roasts for their “Beasty Box” and web sales.

Their breeding herd has grown to 12 sows and two boars, and each sow gives birth to two litters a year. “Our goal, once we’re up to full production, is to have 200 market-ready pigs per year,” Smith says.

Julia Smith with one of her heritage pigs
Julia Smith with one of her heritage pigs

That’s a lot more than five, but is still tiny compared to a commercial operation, which can produce thousands, even tens of thousands of pigs a year. That’s fine with Smith: “We’re not interested in having a great big pig farm with lots of employees and expensive equipment,” she says. What she wants is simply good bacon and happy pigs.

To learn more, visit:

Urban Digs
4992 Byrne Rd.
Burnaby, BC
778-379-5262
www.urbandigsfarm.com

by Kathy Mak

Winter may seem an unlikely time to visit an outdoor farmers market in Canada, but the milder climate in the Lower Mainland allows the markets and abundance of seasonal products to thrive. Deserving of more recognition, a winter market’s appeal lies not only in the quality and range of offerings, but also in knowing that it’s served by a passionate community of both food artisans/farmers and shopping foodies, all prepared to brave the elements in support of fresh local products. The charm of a winter market is in the smaller and manageable crowds. With shorter line ups, there’s time to sample and chit-chat with merchants. Live entertainment, food trucks and heating stations are also on hand to add some extra warmth.

To visit a winter market is to crave comfy and warming flavours. It’s easy to take inspiration for cozy dishes from the bounty of seasonal products that are locally grown and sourced, from healthy preserves and sturdy root vegetables to hearty ingredients. The vibrant Nat Bailey Winter Market is the largest of the outdoor winter markets in Metro Vancouver, operating on Saturdays from November to April on the perimeter of a popular baseball stadium. Although this market is located in Vancouver, you’ll take pleasure in the sensational range of regional products represented, including Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford.

On this or any Saturday, grab your down jacket and come sample the Valley’s most comforting flavours at the winter market!

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Lorne Stapleton worked in the retail meat market industry of Greater Vancouver for over four decades before launching his handcrafted sausage business, now called Stapleton Sausage, based in Surrey. He and his family (daughter Jennifer and son Michael pictured below) are committed to making sausages that are full of goodness and flavours; therefore, they use quality lean cuts (pork, poultry, lamb, beef and bison) and ingredients that are all local, natural, low in sodium, gluten free and contain no MSG, nitrates or other artificial preservatives. Stapleton sausages have been praised for being non-greasy and for their unique range of family inspired recipes. Choose from over sixteen flavours, such as Chipotle Cheddar, Duck Sausage with Blueberry, Sweet & Sour Pork with Pineapple, South African Boerewors, or Bison Andouille. These mouth-watering flavours and more are available at the winter market plus at select grocery stores throughout Metro Vancouver.

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The Langley Organic Growers is a collective of organic farmers where Julia Sandor is a member. She creates a range of certified organic sauerkraut products, called Biota, that are made with in-season cabbage, carrots, beets, horseradish, and herbs that are all grown on her farm in Abbottsford. These products are alive and naturally lacto-fermented, providing probiotic properties and other health benefits, as well as preserving many of the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables for use in the winter.

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Located in South Burnaby, Urban Digs Farm is the only farm in Metro Vancouver raising pigs in an urban environment. Their heritage breed of Berkshire and Tamworth pigs are nurtured organically in the pasture to be happier, tastier and nutritionally superior. Founded by Julia Smith and Ludo Ferrari, the farm is focused on ethical, sustainable meat products and whole animal butchery with custom cutting/smoking and organic products that include bacon, lard, ribs, steaks, roast, ground pork, chops, hocks to pepperoni. Urban Digs Farm products can be found at the winter markets or online. Visitors are welcome to their farm, opened on Saturdays (10-2) in the winter.

Cook Biota’s sauerkraut, Stapleton’s sausages and Urban Digs Farm’s ham hocks in wine, along with potatoes from Langley Organic Growers, and you’ll have the makings of a hearty Choucroute, a famous Alsatian dish.

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Beautifully handcrafted preserves are the specialty and passion of Genevieve Blanchet at Le Meadow’s Pantry, based in Burnaby and Vancouver. Inspired by a lifelong interest in wholesome living and preserving foods for off-season eating, she transforms local fruits into jewel-like jams, jellies and marmalades with French country flare. Her artisan preserves are made in small batches and copper pans to maintain the nutrition and vibrancy of the fruits. Hand-pressed lemon juice, pure cane sugar and honey are added in conservative amounts with no additional preservatives or colouring. Some of the preserves are combined with vodka, gin, vanilla extract, and bitters from local distilleries. The thick-cut marmalades, especially suited for winter enjoyment, include easy-to-love flavours such as Orange Vanilla Dream, Bitter Sweet Morning, Lemon and Vodka, Midnight Candy, and Grapefruit Smoked Sea Salt. Le Meadow’s Pantry preserves are found at the winter markets and variety of retail shops in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia and other parts of Canada.

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Did you know that it takes over 500 worker honey bees to gather 1 pound of honey? Liz Graham knows as she has owned a bee farm, Jane’s Honey Bees, for fifteen years. While she is based in Surrey, her bees (700 hives, each with 20-50,000 bees) forage for flowers throughout the Fraser Valley – Blueberries in Surrey, Raspberries in Abbotsford, Cranberries and Blackberries in Richmond, and wildflowers in South Surrey and South Langley. The pure local honey products from Jane’s Honey Bees are sold only at farmers markets.

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Winter Farmers Markets in Metro Vancouver

Nat Bailey Winter Market (Vancouver) – Saturday, 10-2 from Nov to April 17

Hastings Park Winter Market (Vancouver) – Sunday, 10-2 from November to May

Port Moody Winter Market (Port Moody) – Sunday, 10 am from November to April

Cannery Farmers’ Market (Steveston, Richmond) – Sunday, certain dates, 10-3 from October to April

Royal City Winter Market (New Westminster) – Saturday, 1st and 3rd, 11-3 from November to April

By Kathy Mak

There’s no denying it, eating counts as sightseeing, and when you have a sweet tooth, bakeries, pastry shops and other sweet stops are the attractions! You don’t have to go far in Vancouver to find every possible sugary delight, from award-winning ice cream, to-die-for pastries, and gourmet macarons to handcrafted chocolates. But, finding some of the unsung sweet treats further afield can be the real taste-adventure. Take this sweet-packed outing to discover a selection of local, laid-back gems in Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond and Vancouver, all easily linked by convenient public transit and short walks.

Your self-guided, sweet tasting spree begins in downtown Vancouver with an early morning stop at Cartems Donuterie (534 West Pender). It’s hard enough to resist regular donuts, but resistance is futile when it comes to Cartems’ donuts as they are dreamy! (And, literally, Cartems was born out of a dream by the owner. ) All ingredients are fresh, locally sourced, and organic when possible. Not only do they offer a higher quality donut experience, they also have gluten-free, baked donuts, and the flavour combinations are off the charts! How could you not like a Canadian Whiskey Bacon donut? By the time you leave, you’ll be all smiles, just like their logo.

Public Transit: Take a short stroll to the Waterfront Station and catch the Skytrain on the Expo Line (direction: King George) or Millennium Line (direction VCC-Clark). In about 18 minutes, detrain at the Metrotown station. Tip: buy a Translink DayPass for greater convenience and flexibility.

Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby is British Columbia’s largest mall and second largest in Canada, with nearly 400 stores. If you can hold back from shopping, make your way through the mall to St. Germain Bakery (located near the Superstore). With their understated mall location, you probably wouldn’t guess that this is a renowned bakery. St. Germain has had a long history of culinary awards, including the International Culinary Olympics in Germany. Most recently, they received the 2015 Chinese Restaurant Awards for Best Bakery Shop in Metro Vancouver. For anyone unfamiliar with Chinese pastries, the top classic choices to try are the egg custard tarts and the coconut tarts. You may also want to try their signature chocolate cake or Fresh Mango cake. Then, there’s the Green Tea Rice cake or Mochi Rice cake for the more adventurous palate.

Public Transit: Tear yourself away from shopping and re-board the Skytrain on the Expo Line (direction King George) or Millennium Line (direction VCC-Clark). In about 11 minutes, disembark at the New Westminster Station.

Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery
Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery

The quaint municipality of New Westminster – also known as “The Royal City” – is historically important for being BC’s original capital city. From the Skytrain station, enjoy a brief 7-min. stroll to Royal Avenue and to the Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery (1025 Royal Avenue), voted the best bakery in the city for many years by the readers of the New West Record. You’ll soon see that Cloud 9 is in the most unlikely of locations for an artsy gluten-free bakery. But once inside, you’ll be in pastry heaven! Unpretentious yet innovative, Cloud 9 specializes in sinfully delicious gluten-free baked goods, from sweet to savoury, with some dairy-free choices. Their popular cupcakes, bars and cinnamon buns are among the favourites of locals! Be tempted by the crowd-pleasing peanut butter bar, a brownie base covered with peanut butter icing and a chocolate topping. And don’t leave without tasting their exquisite cinnamon buns, which they have mastered and may even currently be the only gluten-free cinnamon buns made by a bakery in Metro Vancouver out to the Fraser Valley. Cloud 9 is also the Canadian leader in gluten-free baking mixes, which are sold nationally in several grocery chains, as well as Costco. All this, started by four recreational hockey buddies!

Public Transit: After browsing through the River Market, re-board the Skytrain on the Expo or Millennium Lines (direction Waterfront), disembark at the next stop: 22nd Street Station. Catch the #410 bus to Richmond (approx. 50 minutes) and disembark at Aberdeen Centre in Richmond. Walk 5-min to the next sweet spot.

Excellent Tofu (4231 Hazelbridge Way) is a small, family-run dessert shop with a well-deserved reputation for making some of the best traditional, Chinese-style soy pudding in the region. Made fresh daily, you can choose from hot or cold silky-soft soy pudding with a choice of 25+ sweet toppings. A few of the more interesting flavours include black sesame paste, grass jelly, red beans & coconut milk, and the extra special bird’s nest soy pudding!

Public Transit: Peruse Aberdeen Centre before walking to the Aberdeen Station. Take the Skytrain on the Canada Line (direction Waterfront) and disembark in Downtown Vancouver at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station (18 min.). Walk to Homer Street in stylish, historical Yaletown.

Cap the sweet day with a stop at XOXOLAT (1271 Homer Street), pronounced “sho-sho-la,” an extraordinary boutique shop of all things chocolate! You’ll be instantly enamoured by XOXOLAT’s extensive collection of single origin chocolate bars imported from around the world, which is known as the largest in Canada! Organic and Fair Trade chocolates are also in abundance, plus a line of blended chocolates that are hand-crafted by their chocolatier. As you get carried away by all the choices, try not to miss their “West Coast Breakfast” dark milk chocolate bar, showcasing maple caramelized bacon with a pinch of espresso! It’s bitingly good. And, be sure to save room to taste the cardamom crème brûlée white chocolate bar and the maple bacon caramel dark chocolate bar with a whiskey layer! Your sweet-tooth-satisfying outing is now complete! Sweet!

By Tim Pawsey

Nestled on the shores of Deer Lake, Hart House was built by Frederick Hart well over a century ago. The mock Tudor manor and immaculate gardens were privately owned and developed by the Moore family and others, over the better part of the last century, until being acquired by the City of Burnaby in 1979. The restaurant, which opened in 1988, offers an idyllic escape from the nearby bustle of Burnaby and Vancouver.

In many ways, Hart House’s dining history parallels the story and rise of regional cuisine in Vancouver. For years it specialized in the tried and true formula of continental cuisine, with a solid emphasis on roasted meats and grilled fare. In short, a protein lover’s paradise, with a cellar to match. More recently, though, the restaurant has changed course to embrace the notion of Pacific Northwest cuisine, perhaps no more so than today, with its kitchen in the hands of chef Mike Genest. “Our menu needs to appeal to a wide clientele,” says the chef, “we still appeal to the meat and potatoes crowd, but we’re also very much in tune with adventuresome foodies, who usually want to try something new,” he says.

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Genest revels in the availability of local produce in season, often picked on the same day it’s served, from the likes of Maple Ridge’s Hannah Brook Farm, Barnston Island Herbs, or from local farms just up the road. “Sometimes it can be on the plate as part of our prix fixe menu in just a couple of hours,” he laughs.

The chef turns to his own garden as the season permits, and is always busy pickling and fermenting to put away as much of those true local flavours as possible for the winter and early spring. Much of Genest’s inspiration for preserving comes from world-renowned chefs such as Magnus Nilsson’s Fäviken, in the remote north of Sweden, on a 24,000-acre hunting estate. Nilsson serves a 20-course tasting menu to just 12 diners at a time, with every morsel sourced from the estate.

Very much homegrown himself, Genest hails from North Vancouver and learned his trade here but has travelled extensively to hone his skills. Starting out at just 18 years of age, he soon found himself on a three month master program to study Italian food and wine in Calabria. There, he says, he learned the true value of working with the best of local produce prepared with the utmost simplicity.

One indelible memory, and a dish which he loves to expand upon in a Northwest context, is squid ink spaghetti (al nero di seppio), which might emerge as risotto or ravioli, he claims, “to this day it’s one of the best pastas I’ve ever had in my life.”

Hart House Restauraunt
6664 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby
604-298-4278
harthouserestaurant.com

By Tim Pawsey

Foodies have long known that the stretch of Hastings Street which runs east from Boundary Road (known as Burnaby Heights) is home to a wealth of myriad flavours.

A reviewer once cheekily suggested that The Pear Tree was one of downtown Vancouver’s best dining destinations. (It’s not downtown and never has been, but just sports a certain sophistication that makes it feel that way.)

Over the years, Pear Tree owners Stephanie and Scott Jaeger have won accolades for being very polished, cutting edge, and serving with casual flair in contemporary but comfortable surroundings. Scott’s regionally driven plates features the likes of pan roasted Lois Lake Steelhead salmon, served with pomme Dauphine and butternut squash, or twice cooked ‘Berkshire’ pork belly with white bean Cassoulet.

Also firmly locally focused, Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria features VPN certified Neapolitan pizza (by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana ) and down to earth, truly traditional Italian cuisine. Based on the best of local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients, this cut-above pizzeria cooks its creative pies ( in a classic wood fired brick forno. Plates are traditionally true to form but often with a decidedly west coast twist).

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Ask Chéz Christophe owner Jessica Bonzon why she and her chocolatier husband Christophe Bonzon chose to locate their patisserie in “the Heights” and she’ll tell you it’s because the area reminds them very much of their native Switzerland—especially for its neighbourly, village feeling.

Christophe studied for a decade with some of Europe’s best and was executive pastry chef at Robson Street’s CinCin before opening the store. The patisserie is spotless and the decor pleasingly sparse, with all attention focused on the displays of exquisite hand-made chocolates, intricately decorated cakes, éclairs, tiramisu, mille-feuilles, croissants, brioches and savoury ‘flutes’ for dipping ‘à la Suisse’ in Champagne. All are hand-made in-house (along with superb preserves); and it pays to go early in the day, advises Jessica, before the selection dwindles.

For more savoury daytime tastes, Chez Meme Baguette Bistro obliges with mouthwatering, formidable, meal sized sandwiches, on the freshest of French bread; from Ratatouille to Beef Bourguignon and smoked salmon. Or, to dance up a storm to a live band after a classic Italian dinner, head to red brick and dark beam trimmed Baci Restaurant, filled with generations worth of memorabilia—and a mainstay in the Heights for decades.

The Pear Tree
4120 Hastings St. E., 604-299-2772

Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria
6011 Hastings St. E., 604-299-8002

Chéz Christophe
4712 Hastings St. E., 604-428-4200

Chez Meme Baguette Bistro
4016 Hastings St. E., 604-299-1141

Baci Restaurant
3728 Hastings St. E,. 604-299-7047

By Nikki Bayley

BC is known as a chef’s paradise for the sheer abundance, variety and quality of its produce from the land and sea. From super-sustainable spot prawns and juicy Okanagan peaches to fresh-foraged salmonberries and briny sea asparagus, there is something exciting to taste year-round you just need to know what to look for, and who better to explain the gems of BC seasonal dining than Scott Jaeger, one of Canada’s most respected chefs. Scott represented Canada in the prestigious Bocuse D’Or Culinary Competition in Lyon, France in 2007 and has won a brace of awards for his culinary skills including Chef of the Year and Best Restaurant for his Burnaby-based Peartree.

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“Here in BC we have a short but intense growing season when things ripen all at once; around May or June things start to pop out of the ground for four months. That’s our main season and if you want to honour local produce on your menu you have to get into a preserving and canning mentality so you can enjoy those ingredients year-round. As my restaurant is called the Peartree, I want local pears on the menu all year– whether that’s canned, dried or frozen– so when fall comes it’s go time and we preserve as much as we possibly can. In my opinion a BC-grown Bartlett pear can be as good, if not better, than anything else in the world.

We get a lot of gastronomic tourists coming to experience that taste of Vancouver and participating in food trends and they want to try West Coast cuisine and eat those things that we do so well. In spring, look out for spot prawns, live and fresh, they are a sustainable local catch that’s unique to our coastline. Try Dungeness Crab too; I like to eat it just as it is, maybe dipped in butter or with a squeeze of lemon, Mother Nature did a good job with our crabs!

When summer comes around, I’m in love with the tomatoes here; they’ve hung on the vine to ripen and when we get them delivered to our kitchen that’s when summer really starts. Try them with a local goat cheese, people love that. Our local fruits are amazing; we have an incredible berry season and our currents are delicious too. Something that shouldn’t be missed is the salmonberry, it’s like a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry. No one grows them commercially, but restaurants do forage for them and if you try them, they’re a showstopper!

Fall brings the BC mushroom season, which is fantastic, sure like wine there are good years and bad, but in a good year BC morels and chanterelles are unbeatable. And look out for our wonderful BC apple varieties, my favourites are Ambrosia or Pink Lady, we grow spectacular apples and should be known for them.

December for me, tends to be about duck which dominates my menu throughout the month, we source ours from a great Fraser Valley farm which give us fresh ducks, not frozen and I like to make duck in lots of different ways: liver, confit, roasted, my customers call it ‘Duck Around the World’! Winter is the time that those fruit preserves come out too, our poached pears taste even better made with preserved fruit than fresh, and our pickled green strawberries come out too; we leave them for a full year so they develop their flavours and mature in their jars until they taste beautiful with, for instance, crab.

Of course, we’re known year-round for our amazing seafood, our salmon run is incredible and our halibut is such a crowd pleaser too. If you can find it, try Hawkshaw salmon, which has a wonderful taste. But for me, if you want to taste BC on a plate, try a dish like sockeye salmon gravlax with salmonberries, our sockeye is such an amazing BC treasure.”

By Nikki Bayley

If you want a sweet taste of BC in a glass, leave the downtown core and jump on a 135 bus which will take you straight along Hastings Street and deliver you to Glenburn Soda Fountain and Confectionary in the heart of Burnaby Heights. As a residential area dotted with historic heritage houses, it’s not necessarily somewhere that most visitors would see, but fans of ice cream and soda fountains need to add Glenburn to their itineraries; you’ll be delighted that you did. Once you’re in the parlour and take a seat at the shining counter, prepare to enter a world of delicious indecision: what should you order? So many choices! From milkshakes, malteds and egg creams to piled-high sundaes with a myriad of flavours, everything looks so tempting; but it’s when you discover that it’s you’re getting a truly local flavour that things get interesting…

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Owners Ron and Roberta LaQuaglia opened their doors in 2012 on a mission to create an old-style fountain parlour with all the sauces made from scratch in-house. “We feel really strongly that everything we need to make ice cream treats is right here in BC,” says Ron. “What you get in our sundaes is a taste of BC in a glass: home-made fruit sauces, whipped cream, ice cream–everything we give you is local.” Although they’re a relatively new addition to the neighbourhood, Glenburn looks as though it’s been a much-loved fixture for a while, “Ice cream was an important part of my family life, a fun part of my childhood and we’d all go out for ice cream year-round. We wanted an old-style place and when we found an older building things just clicked,” smiles Ron. “We didn’t want to make it look like a museum though, we wanted a working soda fountain and it was a no-brainer to use local producers to make our treats.”

Using fresh cream from Avalon Dairy in Burnaby and ice cream from Birchwood Dairy in the nearby Fraser Valley, a family-run farm which makes ice cream the old-fashioned way with a high butterfat percentage to give it an extra-creamy texture, Ron and Roberta put local first every time. “Our customers really appreciate that we use Avalon,” says Ron. “We get the cream in glass bottles which keeps it colder and gives it a better flavour, plus, we can send the empties back so they can reuse them and there’s no waste.”

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When it comes to the fruit for the fresh-made sauces, it was a no-brainer to go local, “Roberta is the operations manager for the Vancouver Farmer’s Market, she has great connections to local farmers.” Enthuses Ron, “Here in BC we have an abundance of fruit: peaches, strawberries, apricots, raspberries and blueberries, Roberta keeps on top of whatever is fresh and seasonal and we make that part of our menu.” Ron believes it’s that commitment to seasonal produce that keeps the customers happy, “I think it’s immediately noticeable that the flavour of our sundae sauces is different; our fruit sauces taste fresh and not overly sweet,” Ron laughs, “When you get local fruit and cook it down, then it tastes naturally sweet. It’s real fruit! People don’t expect that and they’re delighted by it.”

Glenburn Soda, 4090 Hastings Street. www.Glenburnsoda.com

Closed Monday, Tuesday–Saturday 2-10pm, Sunday 2-8pm.

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