Few things are more Vancouver than the beloved seawall, considered the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path. Cycling the seawall bike lane is one of the most entrenched pastimes of locals and a must-do for newcomers. Some folks ride the Vancouver seawall for exercise, some for the extraordinary views and iconic sights, and some for the novelty; but few may realize the seawall is a string of the best waterside pubs and patios in the city! If pairing tasty bites and beverages with your wheels is a priority, then you’re in for a treat with over 24 waterfront pit stops to please your palette while you pedal!
This suggested “Pubs & Patios Pedal” route will take you on a bikeable feast along Vancouver’s seawall. Start at Canada Place for 11 am and wind along the mostly paved, flat path for 22 km (13.7 miles) via Stanley Park, English Bay, and False Creek to Kitsilano Beach for a sunset (map). Depending on your self-guided pace, the route can be enjoyed at a leisurely time of 5 to 8 hours with photo ops and breaks for tapas and ‘tinis. Here’s a photoscape of what you can expect with some recommendations for refueling. A bike helmet, camera and fun attitude are mandatory!
Here is a list of some of the pubs and patios you can visit on a pedal around the Vancouver Seawall:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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+
Vancouver’s North Shore
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.
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.
A unique twist on the classic Negroni cocktail, Wildebeest’s “Basilisk Negroni” delivers a smoky bite thanks to its blend of Mezcal, Cocchi Americano and Amaro Nonino. The limited-edition cocktail will be on offer during Negroni Week until June 10 – after that you can make it on your own.
Cocchi Americano (20ml)
Amaro Nonino (10ml)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail tin.
Add ice and stir.
Serve in a rocks glass over ice with a grapefruit twist.
As with all classic cocktails, there is a tried and true method to creating the perfect sip, and there will always be those people who say that you shouldn’t mess with perfection. Well, we think that there’s always room for a little creativity, and when it comes to a Negroni, it’s just waiting for a talented bartender to make their mark. June 4-10, 2018 is Negroni Week, and bartenders across Metro Vancouver have thrown their shakers into the ring to showcase their interpretation of this classic Italian cocktail.
Traditionally mixed with equal parts gin, vermouth rosso (red, semi-sweet), and Campari, a classic Negroni is always garnished with an orange peel and is best enjoyed on a sunny patio, while dreaming about Italian vacations.
Negroni week was started in 2013 by Campari and Imbibe Magazine with 120 venues participating and has since grown to include over 7,700 venues from around the world. During Negroni Week, bars and restaurants mix classic Negronis and their own innovative Negroni creations with the ultimate goal of raising funds for the official charity of their choice.
Created by Beverage Director JS Dupuis, “The Duchess and The Queen” is a cheeky reference to the recent Royal wedding and is inspired by the classic Americano cocktail. Offered for $10 ($8 at Happy Hour), the limited-edition drink will benefit Slow Food International.
Bar Manager Cass Darmanovic has created four signature Negroni drinks plus a classic for this year’s event. Juke has selected Surfrider Foundation as its charity of choice. The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots non-profit environmental organization that works to protect and preserve the world’s oceans, waves and beaches.
Classic: Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth Sunset Blvd: Bourbon, Campari, Punt e Mes, Maraschino, Cinnamon Sunday Morning: Campari, Lillet Blanc, Fresh Watermelon, Lemon, Soda Slow Jams: Gin, Campari, Pimms, House Strawberry Preserves, Lemon, Egg White Fast Lane: Fig Infused Rum, Campari, Yellow Chartreuse, Vanilla, Lemon, Bitters
Beverage Director JS Dupuis’ “Le Trompeur” cocktail is a twist on the Sbagliato and features Citadelle Gin, Campari, Dolin Blanc, Cuvée and a grapefruit twist. Offered for $12 ($10 at Happy Hour), the limited-edition drink will benefit Slow Food International.
UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar bartender Lily Duong has created a limited edition “Ahoy Hoy” cocktail. Served with fresh fruit in a wine glass, the summertime sipper features Beefeater Gin, Campari, Noilly Amber and Lambrusco. $2 from each drink ordered will be donated to the BC Hospitality Foundation.
A unique twist on the classic Negroni cocktail, the “Basilisk Negroni”, created by Wildebeest bartender Drew McGuire, delivers a smoky bite thanks to its blend of Mezcal, Cocchi Americano and Amaro Nonino. The limited-edition cocktail is only on offer during Negroni Week and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to WE Charity.
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar is featuring two interpretations of the Negroni – the classic and “The Dahlia” (siete misterios mezcal, lillet blanc, aperol). $2 from each Negroni cocktail sold will be donated to CORE, a non-profit that provides support to children of food and beverage services employees navigating life-altering circumstances.
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 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Vancouver Craft Beer Week is the annual summer beer festival. Now in its 9th year, (VCBW) Festival returns to the PNE Fairgrounds on June 2 and 3. Not a beer lover? Gotta drink gluten-free? Keep reading. The BC Farm Crafted Cider Association has created a brand new “cider row”, and you don’t want to miss out.
Some to check out:
Merridale Cidery & Distillery from Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island is pouring house craft cider, their Mexican-inspired Jalisco, Lime, Merri Berri and a juicy Mo’ Moro Dry Hopped Blood Orange.
Vancouver’s own 33 Acres Brewery is proud to pour their 33 Acres Of Cid3r house cider, which is their interpretation of an old English scrumpy.
Howling Moon Craft Cider is serving up their refreshing Cucumber Mint Maker’s Series, made with cucumber and lime, and both their semi-dry and dry craft ciders from the Okanagan Valley.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
Jenice Yu is a force. You may have seen her live on a CTV or CBC segment, or maybe you’ve followed one of her delightful seasonal recipes on BC Living, MONTECRISTO Magazine, or Western Living. Or, maybe, you’ve stopped into one of her fish shops, Fresh Ideas Start Here (f.i.s.h.), for some fresh seafood and a poke bowl to-go.
Yu is a savvy business woman, an Ocean Wise advocate, seafood expert, a recipe developer and one of the most beloved entrepreneurs in Metro Vancouver. Her accolades are many. She’s been lauded as ‘Supplier of the Year’ by Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, just a few years after opening her first f.i.s.h. location, and is recognized province-wide for her knowledge and passion for sustainable seafood.
At a young age, Yu and her family immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong. The fish processing business became a family business, paving the career path for Yu at an early age. Before the conversation of sustainability became a part of our cultural norm, Yu was invested in local waters–going to school with lunches filled with local seafood: BC spot prawns (not Tiger prawns) local salmon, and lingcod.
Yu’s mission is to elevate and promote the abundance of healthy fish that we have in BC oceans. Her passion came to life when she opened her first f.i.s.h. store in South Burnaby on Market Crossing. She now has a second location in Kitsilano, a thriving wholesale business, and nearly every influential chef in Vancouver on speed dial: everybody wants in on Yu’s fresh, OceanWise, beautiful seafood.
In 2010, Yu launched Sakura Seafood in Richmond, BC: an additional supplier business that would allow her to smoke local, sustainable seafood without additives or preservatives, generating another signature product at f.i.s.h. (called Schmoked Salmon) that has customers returning again, and again.
I sat down with Yu at her Burnaby store to chat about her businesses, sustainable seafood, her involvement with OceanWise, and balancing it all as a new mother.
Can you explain the concept of both of your stores? Jenice Yu: We have two retail stores and also do wholesale. We sell to about 70 high-end restaurants in the city; award winning restaurants. We do healthy seafood bowls ready to go at our fish bar–the fish bar is new, we just started doing this at both stores last year.
We’re finding now that with everyone’s busy schedules, people just love to have things on-the-go. There are two types of customers that come in here: one that comes in to buy a raw piece of fish and start from scratch; the home cooks, the foodies, it’s a new kind of demographic that’s coming through really wanting to cook. These people want to make a salmon wellington on the weekend. The other type of customer we commonly get is someone who wants their products pre-marinated, or they want to grab a bowl from our fish bar that are ready to go. And we can accommodate both!
Where does your fish come from? Yu: For the most part, all of the ingredients we have in our stores are purveyed by us, whether through the direct licenses of the boats that we use, or from fishermen that I’ve known my whole life; we know exactly how they are fishing, how the fish enter our facility and how they are prepped. Nothing is overly processed, and almost everything is done by hand. There’s a lot of care and attention put into the products that we make.
Items carried in the store are OceanWise and that means that they are sustainable, mindfully caught fish that aren’t affecting the environment.
What made you start your wholesale businesses? Yu: When I first opened this store ten years ago, I was doing everything: I was on the floor, I was cutting all the fish, every single thing was me. The first year was really tough because we weren’t getting enough customers coming through; [Market Crossing] was not developed like it is now. I grew up in the fishing community and industry, and a lot of the fisherman I grew up knowing were coming down to the store and showering me with beautiful products and this fish had nowhere to go. I worked in restaurants for years, and began to call up the chefs I had made relationships with, and offer them this beautiful fish I had coming in.
One of my first wholesale customers was Robert Clark: the godfather of sustainable seafood. He was one of my first supporters in buying my beautiful fish and since then we actually have not cold called any customers. They are all by referral and they are all amazing top award-winning restaurants. We have a great repertoire, and it all started with the early supporters.
Can you tell us about some of the unique products on the shelves (and in the fridge) at f.i.s.h? Yu: The smoked salmon (known at Fresh Ideas Start Here as “Shmoked Salmon”) that we have is very unique because it is both sourced and smoked by us. We source the fish directly from the boat, we season it on our own, temper it, and smoke it. The whole process is very transparent and we are quite proud of it. And of course, we carry some beautiful uni during its season.
The cakes that we have (crab, halibut, shrimp, and lingcod) are a hit; on Wednesdays we do a “cake Wednesday” special and it’s buy two get one free. It gets crazy– everything is made by hand so you can really taste the love and attention that goes behind these products.
The salmon sausages are one of our best secret sellers. We don’t advertise them too much, but they silently fly off the shelves. You can cook them like a regular sausage or put them in a hot dog bun. I like to break them open in the casing and turn it into a stir fry because then you have amazing grounded, seasoned, salmon meat. It’s also amazing on some tofu-or sprinkle it on noodles. It’s a really versatile item.
Can you tell us about your involvement with Ocean Wise? Yu: Ocean Wise and I have the same message that we try to get out there: sustainability. Here at f.i.s.h. we focus on sustainability from a local standpoint, but we have worked very closely with Ocean Wise and we communicate a lot. When something drops off the charts, and it’s no longer Ocean Wise we are very active to make sure we get the product out of our store, or when something is announced that it is now Ocean Wise we work to try and promote that product.
What made you decide to expand with a second store in Kitsilano? Yu: Our expansion was basically a demand from people’s request. We also have a lot of restaurant customers that are from Vancouver, so just from our existing core of clients and clientele, we knew that was our next step. And we love Kits!
Do you find yourself dining around Vancouver a lot, seeing as your product is very prominent all over the city? Yu: I’m quite privileged to sell to a lot of great restaurants, so I get invited to try out their new menus and sometimes I am asked to contribute ideas to their new menus. You really have to build a relationship with a restaurant to know what they want. Often I’ll know what’s in season, or things like lingcod collar that aren’t so abundant or popular will come up and I can present them to a chef and a restaurant. [Chefs and the restaurants I work with] have been an integral part of my business. We work with Maenam, Burdock&Co., Farmer’s Apprentice, Ask for Luigi, Hawksworth–amazing places.
How is Fresh Ideas Start Here different from other fish stores or markets? Yu: As a child I remember going to so many fish markets and wanting to plug my nose. That doesn’t usually happen here. Other than when we sell herring, that’s a really strong-smelling fish! I always wanted to achieve having a clean, sleek, friendly, informative store. Our customers know that what we are selling is sustainable, local, and fresh.
Anything else you want to add about your stores and your career, Jenice? Yu: I just gave birth five months ago. My husband is in the family business as well, so that of course really helps. But people keep saying to me ‘I love that you haven’t stopped working,’ but I want to tell them ‘No! I don’t want to be working as much as I am, but when you own a business and people’s livelihoods depend on you, you got to come to work.’ If you give birth to a child, stay home! I do this because this is my business. Let’s not shame any other moms that get to stay home and rest with their baby. Although, I grew up in a fish plant, and I want my son to come with me to work and see that it’s normal to watch mom hustle. It is so nice that we get to do this all as a family, even if we are all working at the office, we’re together.
As our interview ends, Yu sends me off with a box of candied salmon and cod with various flavours to enjoy on the way home. The perfect way to end an exquisite interview? I think so.
Sweet, delicate, light and delicious, British Columbia’s spot prawns are highly coveted by chefs and foodies from around the world. In addition to their unique taste and spotted markings, fresh spot prawns, bred and harvested off the coast of British Columbia, are one of the most sustainable seafood choices on the market.
BC’s spot prawn season is a short 6-8 weeks, which kicks off with an annual Spot Prawn Festival in Vancouver. On May 12, 2018, sun poured over the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf for the 12th Annual Spot Prawn Festival, where chefs, foodies, and seafood lovers gathered together to greet the fishing boats and indulge in the season’s first harvest.
While the festival may be a one-day event, anyone is welcome to partake in the daily spot prawn spectacle at Fisherman’s Wharf. Just two minutes from Granville Island, anyone can walk down to the dock, chat with the fishermen, and buy a few pounds of live spot prawns caught just hours prior. The experience is so nonchalant, but that’s exactly the thrill. The exchange from fisherman to foodie is strikingly simple.
Peter, owner of the Bay Spirit, is a friendly face to look for at the docks. Fisherman’s Wharf is where Peter grew up – his father was a fisherman and these docks are like home to him. Despite more than 30 years of experience under his belt, Peter still greets all those who arrive at the dock with a friendly conversation before sending them on their way with a scoop of fresh spot prawns.
British Columbia is known for its bounty of local ingredients, but spot prawn season is a perfect time to experience what that really means. According to Peter, “between 1 and 2 o’clock is the best time to catch a few boats pulling in.” Peter helps supply the numerous seafood shops at the Granville Island Public Market but also noted that this year, he’s seen more “everyday people” alongside chefs buying directly from the boats. Straight from the Bay Spirit, spot prawns are going for $20 per pound – a steal of a deal, as seafood aficionados can attest.
Though you may see “spotted prawns” at sky-high prices in select stores year-round, these are often farmed overseas in freshwater pools, often exposed to chemicals, and pre-frozen. During May and June, you’ll want to look for “BC Spot Prawns” on local restaurant menus, paired with the Ocean Wise certification symbol.
In Vancouver, Boulevard Restaurant, Maenam and Miku are just a handful of restaurants to feature local spot prawns on their special menus. For an evening of seafood & bubbles, grab a ticket to Edible Canada at the Market’s May 29 event.
Vancouver Foodie Tours is a locally-owned walking food tour company with a passion for Vancouver’s food scene. The Best of Downtown Tour is a must-do for seafood lovers, and includes beer, wine and cocktail pairings. This is the city’s #1 Rated Tour on TripAdvisor! Learn more about Vancouver Foodie Tours at www.foodietours.ca.
Sticky, sweet, and delicious, British Columbia’s honey is an indulgence for food lovers. Each of the over 300 varieties of honey in North America can be a chef’s best weapon, a barista’s secret touch, and home cook’s finest ingredient.
Here are three delicious ways you can try local honey in Vancouver:
The organic floral alfalfa honey from Aldergrove Farm, about 60km east of Vancouver, sweetens the honey lavender ice cream at Rain or Shine Ice Cream. Every scoop also features lavender is sourced from Tuscan Farms in Maple Ridge, BC. Refined and refreshing, the locally grown flavours work perfectly in tandem.
At Tuc Craft Kitchen in Gastown, their supply of local honey is specially reserved for the cocktail bar. James, an owner of Tuc, receives honey from his father’s farm in Langley, just an hour’s drive from his restaurant.
Tuc’s Puebla Margarita wouldn’t be the same without a touch of honey to balance out the punch of Hornidos Resposados Tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde liqueur, lime, and piri piri bitters. This, with a side of crispy parsnip fries and Tuc’s famous pork belly crackling makes for a marvelous afternoon.
Meanwhile at Wildebeest, a Vancouver restaurant known for a meat-centric menu, Hives for Humanity honey bookends their menu. Hives for Humanity is a local non-profit with bee hives at an urban farm located a few blocks away from Wildebeest.
Honey is paired with their house made charcuterie; the sticky and sweet honey contrasts the cured and salty meats. To finish, make it an all sweet finale with an immaculate honey tart, milk ice cream, and fresh honeycomb.
Vancouver Foodie Tours runs food tasting and cultural walking tours to explore to one-of-a-kind dishes that define Vancouver’s culinary scene. Find out more at foodietours.ca.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
Spring is a beautiful time to be in British Columbia. While the flowers start to bud, there’s nothing like getting outside in the crisp air, finding one of Vancouver’s tantalizing food trucks and warming up with a piping hot meal.
For Vancouver’s crisp spring days, these five food truck comfort foods will warm your soul:
This Spicy chicken sandwich is notorious with locals who work in downtown Vancouver. If you love spice, this hefty deep-fried chicken sandwich will bring a pink flush to your cheeks. On those cool spring days, look for cherry blossoms and spicy chicken sandwiches around Burrard SkyTrain station.
It’s always the ideal time of year for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich from Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck. If you’re visiting in winter or spring, there’s a good chance Mom is still serving up her cozy cups of roasted tomato soup. This classic combination is especially delicious with the scenic view from the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The Mushroom poutine is a well-kept secret at Kaboom Box. This little red food cart is most well known for their sustainable seafood – particularly their hot smoked salmon. But on a cool Spring day, savvy foodies will add to their order a helping of crispy fries, squeaky cheese curds, vegetarian gravy, and hearty mushrooms.
When you’re walking around downtown Vancouver, you’re never far from the famous Japanese hot dog stand – Japadog! The decadent smell wafting from the carts comes from their juicy Korubuta pork sausages, which are cooked to perfection before your eyes. The classic Korubuta Terimayo – complete with dried seaweed, Japanese mayonnaise, bonito flakes and teriyaki sauce – has become a comfort food staple for locals.
Pulled pork, French fries, and Korean kimchi; three soul foods have found a place together in one steamy, dreamy dish: Seoul fries. Disco Cheetah’s bright yellow food truck serves up deliciousness in and Vancouver – downtown, farmers markets and beyond.
Vancouver Foodie Tours runs food tasting and cultural walking tours to explore to one-of-a-kind dishes that define Vancouver’s culinary scene. Find out more at foodietours.ca.
Anyone familiar with Vancouver’s Main Street eatery Burdock & Co knows Chef Andrea Carlson has a vision. And one that you can taste in every delicious bite. She sat down to share her story.
What was food like in your growing up household? Andrea Carlson: Low key – we ate out a lot and I fended for myself often with frozen dinners.
Did you cook at home during your childhood? Carlson: When I was 13, I picked up a copy of Craig Clairbourne’s New York Times Cookbook at the book store on a whim and started cooking Julia Child’s chocolate mousse recipe and others when we would have company over.
Where did you study culinary and when? Carlson: I studied in Vancouver way back in the day at The Dubrulle Culinary School. It was the place to go for a less trade school approach.
Was Sooke Harbour House your first job? Carlson: It was not my first job. I already had Star Anise under Adam Busby and C Restaurant under Rob Clark, which were the top-rated French and seafood restaurants in Vancouver at the time.
My partner Kevin and I had also created the Sunflour Bakery on Savary Island for a season before he started architecture school. I worked at Sooke Harbour House with for nearly a year with some greats like Edward Tuscon, Rhonda Viani, and Marc Andre Chocette. We created new menus everyday for our stations while at Sooke Harbour House – It was a really inspiring place – the gardens, the vibe was open and progressive towards food. Sinclair and Frederique had created what was Canada’s “Noma” well before eating locally was commonplace.
Can you be credited for the 100-Mile Menu? Carlson: Yes we created the 100 mile menu while at Raincity Grill, inspired by the writings of James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith.
When were you executive chef at Bishops, and when did the awards happen? Carlson: I started at Bishop’s in 2007 and was there for 4 years. We won Vancouver Magazine’s Best Regional Restaurant award twice.
What was the most rewarding experience in your earlier days? Carlson: Having Alain Passard (3 Michelin star chef) come for lunch unexpectedly (he was recommended to us by Marc-Andre, chef at Lumiere, who I had worked with at Sooke) while I was at Raincity nearly gave me a heart attack!
Tell me about your upcoming cookbook. Carlson: The book is published by Appetite Random House, due out spring 2019 and focuses on Burdock & Co.
Do you have a signature dish? Carlson: People love the buttermilk fried chicken with pickles.
What were your biggest challenges as a chef, especially a female in this industry? Carlson: Vancouver’s staffing shortage is likely the biggest challenge these days – you can only spread yourself so thin.
Any advice for young women who aspire to be chefs or restaurateurs? Carlson: Be true to your passions for food – whether it’s a style or cuisine and seek out opportunities to work with foods and people that inspire you. Never ever stick around toxic people or workplaces – life is too short and it will kill your creativity.
No excuses – our West Coast palette is refined, so waxy chocolate bunnies, rock-hard jellybeans and Peeps (what are those even made of anyway?) are just plain unacceptable. We can do better. And we do! Here, three of BC’s best chocolate makers show us what’s new for Easter 2018.
Wild Sweets By Dominique and Cindy Duby’s Spring limited edition chocolate art collection screams “spring!” with the use of fruits, origin cocoa bean-to-bar chocolate and a palette of spring-like pastel colours. Sophisticated flavours include cassis caramels, pistachio praline and cherry caramel ganache, and a liquid strawberry caramel with dulce de leche. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Shop at their online boutique or at Wild Sweets’ own retail store The Atelier Chocolate Lab Gallery in Richmond.
Purdys Chocolatier is about as old-school and iconic as you get. Founded in 1907 in Vancouver, they have a long history of providing the West Coast with melt-in-your-mouth Easter chocolate. But that doesn’t mean the brand isn’t constantly reinventing its collection and bringing out new products non-stop. New this year is the “Bunny Bag”, a cute tote filled with a mouth-watering selection of their most popular Easter chocolates including Bunny Lollies, a Wooly Lamb, lots of mini foiled eggs & bunnies and that decadent Fudge Egg. And a little bunny told us that the popular Peanut Butter eggs are now available in mini. Visit Purdys stores or shop online.
Thomas Haas Chocolates & Pâtisserie from Vancouver’s North Shore has a delightful way of combining charming classic styles like the laughing bunny, with world-class quality chocolate. This Easter the line up includes a variety of whimsical chocolate-sculpted characters including an Easter Bunny, a hen and chicks, with a mother hen and her chicks filled with chocolate creations, Easter Eggs filled with chocolate surprises, and a flower pot with handcrafted chocolate blooms. Easter also sees the return of the signature Easter Stollen, a seasonal bread made with almonds, pistachios and kirsch-soaked organic cherries. Visit the Kitsilano or North Shore shops, or online.
Mink Chocolates, winners of the 2014 International Chocolate Salon’s best chocolate in the world, have an Easter treat for everyone in the family. Kids will love Kollie the Flop-Eared Bunny (milk chocolate) and her buddy Levi (dark chocolate), while parents will appreciate Easter eggs filled with lime ganache or hazelnut. And for those who don’t quite buy into the bunny, you can pick up a gift box filled with strawberry caramel bunny bonbons and Mink’s stunning bonbon art series, where each bonbon is a tiny piece of art. Visit Mink at their South Surrey or Vancouver locations or online.
Some say pie is making a comeback, but in my book it never left.
Sisters Jenell and Carla Parsons teamed up to open The Pie Hole a few years ago, and in 2017 they opened their first retail location in Vancouver, followed by a second location in Burnaby in January 2018. The bakeries sell whole pies, individual pies and mini pies as well as take & bake options, plus coffee and ice cream.
But lets get back to the pies; the pies you can get right now, whether you dine in, order and pick up or buy in numerous retail food shops throughout Metro Vancouver.
When I asked Jenell where she sourced her ingredients, her answer, “I just drive out to get stuff as needed and when in season – Richmond for all my blueberries, Krause Berry Farms for strawberries, raspberries and blackberries,” sounds like something your mom would say, not the entrepreneur-owner of a growing pie company that has turned out thousands of fresh-baked deliciousness in the past few years.
That down-to -earth charm is likely what makes her pies so flaky and delicious, they’re leaps and bounds better than our moms would make (sorry mama but I cannot lie) and just one taste confirms the sisters’ company is surely a labour of love.
Jenell sources her Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter turkeys for savoury pies from JD Farms in The Fraser Valley. Pumpkins for her bourbon-laced version? “I usually pick them up at either Richmond Country Farms or Aldor Acres Farm in Langley.”
Much like fresh fruit, we like to eat what is in season locally, and that means Vancouver Pie Hole’s pie selection rotates depending on the time of year. Be sure and visit the website for what is available and when. Holy Vancouver Pie Hole! Your pies have ruined me for any other.
If being elbow-deep in the freshest, tastiest seafood around is your kind of feast, then The Captain’s Boil is your new go-to eatery. And with so many options of flavor, spice, and sides, it’s a crowd-pleaser for everyone in the family.
With numerous west coast locations, including Richmond, Coquitlam, Vancouver’s North Shore(coming soon), and Vancouver, this Canadian chain restaurant offers a classic Cajun-inspired seafood boil that you customize to suit your tastes perfectly.
Start with choosing from a variety of freshly caught fish and shellfish, then add sides and sauces from a lengthy menu of options. You’ll be given a plastic bib and gloves to protect your clothes and hands from the delicious mess, and you wont find cutlery on the table either. Shellfish crackers are provided and the fun begins.
Try the Cajun crawfish with a side of okra, or the king crab legs with lotus root, or lobster with corn on the cob. Select your sauce, from mild to smokin’ hot, from lemon pepper to garlic. You get the idea. Mix it up, share with your tablemates, and get set for perhaps the most fun you’ve ever had at a meal.
Eat in, or take the feast to your dining room table.
Cupcakes are little hand-held delights of the baking world. They’re just enough to feel like you’re enjoying a decadent treat, but not so much that you feel like you’ve eaten the entire cake. With as many variations as you can dream up, they come in simple as well as unique flavours, and are topped with everything from frosting and sprinkles to bacon and pickles.
Every February, animal rescue organizations including the BCSPCA are holding their annual National Cupcake Day* to raise money for animals, and what better way to get into the spirit than with a cupcake party?
Bake your own or visit one of these Metro Vancouver bakeshops:
This funky little shop is New West’s go-to spot for cakes and cupcakes. With their newly introduced “flavour of the week” cupcakes like Mountain Dew x Doritos, Nanaimo Bar or Dill Pickle, in addition to their more traditional flavours, you’re guaranteed a flavour explosion.
This cozy, mother-daughter-owned bakeshop & teahouse in Horseshoe Bay has a vanilla cupcake with vanilla bean frosting that will change the way you feel about a “plain” vanilla cupcake. Perfect for settling in for a quiet afternoon with your cupcake and a pot of tea.
Self-proclaimed cupcake lovers, the folks at Cassia Bakeshop know their way around a cupcake. Originally a cupcakery, specializing in all things cupcake (including gluten-free and vegan), Cassia recently expanded to offer cakes, croissants, cookies and a tasty lunch menu, but cupcakes remain their first love.
Is there any dessert happier than a cupcake? The folks at Happy Cakes don’t think so, hence the name of the shop. Choose from filled cupcakes like Caramelicious which is a vanilla cupcake with caramel filling, caramel buttercream and topped with toffee pieces. For a more traditional un-filled cupcake, try their chocolate cupcake topped with their signature blue frosting and sprinkles. At least fifteen different cupcake flavours are offered daily.
Sky-high frosting and mouthwatering flavours are Frosting Cupcakery’s cupcake trademarks. Flavours change daily and seasonal cupcakes like the 100% Canadian Cupcake (all things maple) or the Blueberry Bliss make limited seasonal appearances. Gluten-free cupcakes are also available every day.
Creating an all-natural cupcake with no artificial flavours or colouring, without compromising taste or looks, is the goal of the team at The Clever Cupcakes. And they definitely deliver. Baked daily in a nut-free facility, they offer feature flavours such as raspberry or banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Gluten-free cupcakes are also available, in addition to a wide variety of flavours and sizes. Giant cupcake anyone?
*National Cupcake Day™ is a coordinated Canadian event to support local shelters, SPCAs, and Humane Societies. In 2017, animal lovers across Canada raised over $600,000 in support of their favourite societies. The campaign has raised $2.45 million to date!
Perhaps the groundhogs were mistaken this year. As temperatures are proving winter is here to stay for now, hunkering down with a bowl of comfort food is essential. If you’re looking for some warmth, check out this list of five restaurants in Metro Vancouver that serve up delightful, warm, and nourishing stews, curries, and chilies to hit the spot.
Forkhill House has a bevy of options for traditional Irish cuisine, but in the spirit of all things warm and comforting check out the Irish stew: braised lamb, russet and sweet potatoes, carrot, parsnip, with a red wine demi ($26).
Pop into this eclectic Gastown haunt for Caribbean food, rum drinks and late-night music. Try the jerk beef stew: slow cooked with butternut squash in Calabash jerk sauce, served with rice and peas, seasonal veg and ripe plantain ($19).
This famous Fort Langley staple has a menu that never fails! Staying on the theme of hot and hearty, check out the chicken chili yam bowl: grilled chicken, roasted yams, peppers, onions, cilantro, black beans, sweet chili sauce with crisp tortillas and sriracha aioli ($14). The most sought-after dish at Wendel’s however is most definitely the butter chicken: creamy chicken curry with mild cumin and garam masala, basmati rice, cilantro with garlic naan bread ($14).
It’s doesn’t quite fall under the stew category, but this dish is hearty, warm, and the perfect winter entree. Try the seafood hotpot: salmon, red snapper, prawns, and mussels in a spicy red curry cream broth with rice noodles ($21.99).
It’s tough to pick just one menu item from the generous selection Tasty Indian Bistro has to offer. My personal favourites include the Keema curry masala ($15) and the paneer vindaloo (a great option for vegetarians, at $13) and the chicken Tikka masala ($14). Of course, a generous side of naan bread and rice is a must!
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sweetly spiced and with a dreamy pink hue, UVA’s “In Between Cupid” cocktail will have you falling for bar manager Sabrine Dhaliwal this Valentine’s Day. The bright, citrusy cocktail features gin, Campari, lemon juice, homemade spiced pineapple syrup and Bittered Sling Denman bitters which add complexity and an aromatic kick to this swoon-worthy sipper.
Tanqueray (1.5 oz)
Campari (0.5 oz)
Spiced Pineapple Syrup (0.5 oz)
(The syrup is a blend of vanilla, cinnamon, green cardamom, star anise, peppercorns, pineapple juice and sugar)
Lemon Juice (0.5 oz)
Bittered Sling Denman Bitters (two dashes)
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail tin, add ice and shake vigorously for 7 to 10 seconds.
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).
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.
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.
I dare you to put a jellyfish in your mouth. Double dare! The Blue Water Café makes it easy to brag about your culinary audacity this February with the Unsung Heroes Festival.
The “heroes” of the festival are the locally plentiful, sustainable, yet overlooked and delicious seafood that North American menus have often forgotten. Barnacles for example (yes, those sharp little guys who dig into your bare feet on the beach) actually come in many varieties. Gooseneck barnacles, sourced from Clayoquot sound, have a soft stalk that Executive Chef Frank Pabst has featured in previous years. This year the oddball star of the show is red sea cucumber, a soft creature who lives on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean down to 250 m (820 ft). Try the red sea cucumber “hot dog style” with Asian pear and sweet pepper relish and uni miso mustard on a nori bun.
If you enjoy French escargot, try one of the west coast versions this year. Whelk are ocean snails, which Pabst is poaching with BC endives, slow cooked ham, and mornay sauce. Limpets are also ocean snails with a cone-like shell (they look a bit like barnacles), which you can try in a paella.
For those who frequent Asian restauraunts, some of these ingredients may already be favorites. Jellyfish, sea urchin, fish roe and smelt, all of which will be on offer, are regulars in global cuisine that are underutilized on west coast contemporary menus, and any squeamish tendencies toward these can be conquered with mind-over-matter since each is locally sourced, sustainable, and has been prepared and eaten as a part of family meals for thousands of years.
An easy one to start with is smelt – just tiny little fishes with mild-tasting white meat. Just because they are usually served whole, doesn’t mean you have to eat the head (though you definitely can!) Pabst will be frying them to a crisp and serving them in tacos this year.
During the festival, the sustainable seafoods become heroes in more ways than one – ten percent of the proceeds of the Unsung Heroes Festival go to the Ocean Wise sustainable seafood program, which works with restaurants to promote sustainability all year round.
Now, let’s get back to that jellyfish dare. During February, jellyfish will be served with kimchi, braised chicken, onion and carrot. Give it a try, share it with a friend, and get adventurous.
The Unsung Heroes Festival is on this year from February 1 – 27, 2018
We have Europe to thank for the invention of olive oil and balsamic tasting bars. Now, olive oil specialty shops are popping up around Metro Vancouver and making quite the impression on curious foodies.
Artisanal olive oil shops don’t just have bottles of beautiful oils (and most also have a large selection of vinegars) on display, olive oil tastings bars present an interactive and educational experience. Customers can peruse the lineup of fustis, special stainless-steel jars that store olive oil and balsamics, and learn about the flavours, origins, and make of each oil and vinegar. Tasting olive oils offers a sensory experience for the consumer, bringing the flavour profile we usually read on a label right to your palate.
“Smaller boutique shops get people talking about traceability when it comes to olive oil. Shops like ours educate customers on who you are supporting, and the freshness of the oils; I fell in love with the business concept because of this education. I really enjoy it,” says Vancouver Olive Oil Company owner, Michael-Ann Dodds.
“We started educating the public on extra virgin olive oil and what to look for. When an oil has been made, you should be looking for a harvest date or a crushed date, and consuming the oil within a year of that time.”
Vancouver Olive Oil Company is the first olive oil tasting shop in British Columbia and since, the trend has continued to flourish throughout Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, fueling the farm-to-table food movement right down to the condiment.
Check out the list of artisanal olive oil specialty shops in Metro Vancouver:
The Vancouver Olive Oil Company A family owned business and the first shop of its kind in the province. This Kitsilano staple has a vast selection of artisanal oils and vinegars to sample and purchase. My personal favourite: the wild mushroom and sage olive oil.
2571 West Broadway, Vancouver. Open Tuesday-Sunday. vooc.ca
Coastal Olive Oils A South Delta gem that offers a full tasting room with a bevvy of flavours and varieties to sample and purchase.
1315 56 St Unit 121, Delta (Tsawwassen). Open seven days a week. www.coastaloliveoils.ca
Heringers Meats This Steveston staple is not just a butcher shop. Heringers offers a generous selection of artisanal olive oils to complete your shopping list in our place. No lineup of fustis for sampling here, but premium products available all the same. 190, 12251 No 1 Rd, Richmond. Open Tuesday to Saturday. heringersmeats.com
All of Oils-Wholesome Oils and Vinegars This shop is at the helm of artisanal olive oil shops in the Fraser Valley. Check out their various locations for extra virgin olive oils, flavoured olive oils, speciality oils, balsamic vinegars, and flavoured vinegars. Added bonus: you’ll find many certified organic, gluten free, and kosher products on the shelves. South Surrey location-#160-2940 King George Blvd.
Langley location-20450 Douglas Crescent.
Abbotsford location-#102A-2649 Trethewey St.
All locations open seven days a week.
Olives on Tap
Since opening in 2012, Olives on tap is the North Shores pioneer of artisanal olive oils and tastings, providing guests with a wealth of knowledge on their selection of premium extra virgin oils and vinegars.
928 16th St W, North Vancouver. Open Tuesday to Sunday. olivesontap.com
Rain City Olives Olive oil, like everything in 2017, is now available online. Rain City Olives is an e-commerce shop based in Vancouver that offers naturally fused and infused olive oil from all over the world. Shop online or find Rain City Olives at a local seasonal market. raincityolives.ca
Back by popular demand, Juke Fried Chicken is hosting their second annual New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day events at their Keefer Street location in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
On Sunday, December 31 from noon to 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve partygoers can gear up for a night of cocktails and countdown bubbly by ‘building a base’ with a hearty Southern-style fried chicken meal. But wait for it – it’s gluten-free (which can be ridiculously rare and hard to find) and is all non-GMO-grain-fed and free-range.
A mouthwatering menu of seasonal snacks, salads, sides, desserts and sticky pork ribs are also on offer.
Is a New Year’s Day hangover pretty much inevitable? Monday, January 1, Juke serves just what the doctor ordered from noon to 9 p.m. DJ For The Record will spin music for the soul, and an expanded dining room menu of exclusive breakfast selections includes jalapeno-cheddar waffles and fried chicken, andouille breakfast sausage sandwiches as well as hair-of-the-dog housemade cocktails like Caesars and mimosas.
“Cluck Your Resolutions” service at Juke Fried Chicken will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, plus a full menu of take-out options will be available during both days.
It’s the last “sprint to the finish line” to find a unique and thoughtful gift for everyone on that Christmas list. Luckily, here in Vancouver, we’re blessed with Granville Island – an area filled with Canadian artisans, one-of-a-kind goods, and delicious wares.
The best part? It’s all at your fingertips – no shipping required. Check out these 6 expert tips on how you can find awesome last-minute gifts at Granville Island:
1. Arrive early or late
Granville Island is a hub for Christmas activity, especially in and around the Public Market. If you’re able to shop the Island before 11:00am or after 4:00pm, you’ll avoid the masses and have a chance to chat with the bakers, chefs, artisans and makers.
2. Start at Make Vancouver
Start at Make for a dose of gift inspiration. Start with a Canadiana t-shirt printed with images of Justin Trudeau, hockey and moose and move on to quirky gifts, the coolest patterns of Herschel Supply, and a whole lot of items (wearable and otherwise) that you can customize in their design lab.
3. Check out Edible Canada’s Retail Shop
Tucked behind Edible Canada’s bistro, this little retail shop is filled with delicious Canadian wares. From marshmallows to maple syrup, to chocolates, salts, and jams, each delectable item carries a meaningful story.
4. Surprise! The Kids Market is not just for kids
If you are looking for some scrumptious gifts for the furry ones in your lives, the kid’s market is home to the Granville Island Pet Treatery.
5. Finishing touches at Paper-Ya
Once you’ve picked out that perfect gift, it’s to Paper-Ya for the finishing touches. Tucked inside the blue Net Loft building, you’ll find adorable Christmas cards, holiday tags, and stunning wrapping paper!
6. Treat yourself to a well-deserved Lee’s Donuts
You’re all set! Seal the day of shopping success with a holiday gingerbread donut from Lee’s Donuts in the Public Market!
From one of Vancouver’s favourite scenester hot spots, the Lobby Lounge, to gorgeous new and acclaimed Botanist bar and restaurant, this woman in the wine world is a true game-changer.
Where were you born and where did you study to be a sommelier?
Jill Spoor: [I was born in] Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. I studied in Vancouver at the Art Institute, studying the WSET program.
What was your most rewarding experience in your earlier days?
Spoor: Hosting a series of Italian wine seminars when we had our Italian wine bar here at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. I absolutely love being on the educational side of wine and seminars, which allows me a platform in which to share my passion.
Are you involved with any new projects or collaborations at the restaurant or elsewhere?
Spoor: It’s been a very exciting year and I have had the honour of collaborating on many projects. I released my own wine with the Okanagan Crush Pad this past February with all proceeds going to the BC Hospitality Foundation. I have also participated in All About Me, Ellevate, and Women in Wine which have been all female wine events. Most recently Botanist hosted its first Visa Infinite Dinner.
What were your biggest challenges as a sommelier?
Spoor: In my hotel world, it has been bringing wine programs to the forefront and communicating their importance. It has been my mission from day one to elevate the quality, education and service of wine across the board.
What are a couple of your favourite wines?
Spoor: Just a couple, so many treasures to choose from! Well I will choose red then for the time of year:
BLANKbottle, The Life of a Black Valentine / Syrah / Cinsault / Grenache / Mourvedre / Western Cape, South Africa, 2015
Piaggia, Il Sasso, Sangiovese / Cabernet Sauvignon / 120Cabernet Franc / Carmignano / Tuscany, Italy, 2014
Tell me about your all-female sommelier team at Botanist.
Spoor: Dreams really do come true! Not only do I have the first sommelier team at any Fairmont in BC but I have three superstars! It’s so exciting to be working with an all-female team that share the same passion that I do. It was really important to me to have the opportunity to mentor and develop young women in the industry. There is nothing more rewarding then being a leader and role model.
Vancouver’s L’Abattoir restaurant is housed in a 19th–century heritage building where the city’s first jail once stood. Head bartender Katie Ingram pays homage to the location’s haunted past with a cocktail inspired by a time when whisky followed freely. The bourbon-based drink offers savoury tasting notes that evoke elements of a prisoner’s last meal. Black tea and vermouth add a gamey quality to drink, while the Nightshade cordial bring weight and texture to create a full-bodied libation perfect for slow-sipping in dark corners.
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon (45 mL or 1.5 oz.)
Fermented black tea-infused vermouth (20 mL or 0.75 oz.)
Nightshade cordial (10 mL or 0.25 oz.)
Bittered Sling French Quarter Bitters (2 dashes)
1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice.
“I used to work for an investment firm for 15-plus years,” says Rose Samaniego, co-owner of Coquitlam’s Kulinarya Filipino Eatery. She decided to take the leap and open Kulinarya while still also working her full-time job.
Fast forward from 2009 to today, and Rose clearly feels she made the right decision to leave her day job and focus on this busy restaurant, including plans to open a second location on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.
Rose is passionate about bringing authentic Filipino cuisine to BC, and guides her chef Joemel Gracilla to keep it real when it comes to the dishes served. So much so, that Kulinarya was given honourable mention for Best Southeast Asian restaurant in the 2013 Vancouver Magazine awards.
For those not familiar with Filipino food, think Asian with a strong Spanish influence. Signature dishes? Kaldereta (beef and potato in a spicy tomato sauce), crispy pata (Deep fried pork leg) and kare kare (beef, tripe, and vegetables in peanut sauce) are menu items to watch for.
“We also started kamayan (eaten with your hands) where people eat from banana leaves with their hands, no utensils,” Rose says.
Will the new second location on Commercial Drive offer the same menu? “It will be slightly different with more vegetarian choices and some new Spanish dishes inspired by our recent visit to Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia.”
Even though it’s 2017, it’s hard to believe that women in the restaurant business are not as commonplace as we would like to think. Chef Shelome Bouvette, co-executive chef and co-owner of Chicha shares her story:
Can you tell me about how you started your career as a chef?
Shelome Bouvette: I attended VCC Culinary School and after graduation worked at Delilah’s, Allegro, and Lolita’s but learned the most under Chef Tina Fineza at Bin 942 who was a huge influence.
You’ve been at Chicha for how long now?
Bouvette: We feel honoured and blessed to have been in business for almost five years, in a city where competition is very tough. I am entirely responsible for the concept and menu, always a challenge, but hard work pays off.
How was it cracking the world of male chefs as a female?
Bouvette: You know in hindsight I recognize the scarcity of women chefs and the obstacles to overcome. However I feel very fortunate that when I was growing into my own and working to build a reputation for myself I never felt I was at a disadvantage because I was a woman and I recognized the real women trailblazers before me made that possible for me.
Who are some key women that helped sculpt your career?
Bouvette: Lila Gaylie owner of Lolita’s gave me the opportunity to be the opening executive chef of both her restaurants; Lolita’s and Me and Julio’s. The late Chef Tina Fineza is my mentor as a chef and person. I worked for her at Bin 942 and she had a huge impact on the Vancouver food scene and her motto was always it’s about the work you produce- gender, sexual orientation, race, age has nothing to do with the food you make, so put your head down and put your ego aside and create something amazing.
Have you worked in formal kitchens before?
Bouvette: I always worked in progressive kitchens that were changing the Vancouver dining scene; away from fine dining and very casual to a hybrid of a smaller casual restaurant with different concepts, adding depth and complexity to dishes, movement to local and sustainability – innovation was happening. I feel during that time I was part of a group of young up and coming chefs and we all had endless creativity, the passion for food, and the youthful drive to become the best and we were all such close friends. We worked and motivated each other to be the best. It was an exciting time, I grew into being a chef while making lifelong friends who have done the same. I am very fortunate for the opportunities and community I had growing as a young chef.
Do you have a family?
Bouvette: Yes, for most of my career I have been a single mom and am the mom to a 15-year-old teenage son. My ex and I are on good terms and we share the parenting of our son. We are very lucky and both have amazing and supportive families who have helped us raise a kind happy kid who is a killer baseball player whom we are both really proud of.
What are your signature dishes at Chicha?
Bouvette: So many! Chicha is a modern Peruvian fusion tapas restaurant which is fun for me because I can have fun and create so many dishes. Currently I have 5 different types of ceviche. Many different styles from traditional (citrus, chili, seafood) and traditional Peruvian ceviche accompaniment (corn, onions, poached yam) to more Peruvian Japanese Nikkei style. Everyone loves the empanadas and I change the fillings and create different specials. I’m a trained pastry chef so my dough is really great! [Laughs]
What is the Peruvian dish causa like?
Bouvette: I recommend everyone to try a causa – it’s chilled whipped potatoes layered with seafood and vegetables. The most popular at Chicha is the causa with Peruvian aji Amarillo chili pepper, layered with Dungeness crab, avocado and mango and topped with a cherry tomato corn salsa and poached side stripe prawns.
Do you have any new projects coming up soon?
Bouvette: Last year I was honoured to be inducted into the BC Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a worldwide society of professional women who provide leadership in culinary and similar fields, and I have been devoting some of my (very limited) spare time to a number of our committees. We just raised close to $10,000 at a culinary garage sale that I co-chaired, and on November 9th I am partnering with Isabel Chung from the Fairmont Whistler at Chicha for a special ticketed dinner event. I’m also hosting a Modern Peruvian cooking class at Gourmet Warehouse on November 16th.
After a spot of shopping in the vibrant South Granville strip of Vancouver, step around the corner to find Soffee Café, a dining haven nestled away on a quiet side street. Behold one of the city’s more laid-back, cozy afternoon tea experiences. You’ll feel right at home in this quaint parlour-style café serving a tempting selection of handcrafted sweet and savoury fare, along with Afternoon Tea services done differently.
What makes Soffee Café memorable is its relaxed charm and enticing array of in-house made food. Step inside and you’ll discover comfy interiors adorned with antiques aplenty and an eclectic mix of flowery china. You’ll quickly settle into this inviting space that feels more like an intimate living room than a café.
The vintage ambiance sets the scene for an elegant, but unpretentious, afternoon tea experience that forgoes etiquette for a fresh twist on a posh tradition. There are seven different services with sets of 8 or 13 pieces – afternoon demi tea, afternoon high tea, vegetarian demi tea, vegetarian high tea, pescatarian demi tea, pescatarian high tea, and a kid’s tea (6 pieces). Each service is a lovely multi-stage experience.
Seafood lovers will especially adore the afternoon high tea and pescatarian high tea; the selection of mini canapes include: shrimp cocktail salad, steamed lobster delight, white wine seared scallop and smoked salmon lox brioche.
Of course, afternoon tea would not be afternoon tea without the elegant towers of savoury and sweet morsels, all done Soffee style, including: prosciutto pesto asparagus, caprese salad-bite, crème brûlée/pana cotta, chocolate tart, lemon tart, mini orange cupcakes and house tea scones…just to name a few.
All afternoon tea services include perfectly brewed teas from a large selection of premium Kusmi and the option of a house-made Soffee fresh fruit tea, which has been brewed for 12 hours with tropical fruits. And coffee lovers don’t have to miss out as their extensive menu includes a full range of espresso-style drinks made with fair trade, organic coffee from a local Italian roaster.
In addition to keeping afternoon tea on point, Soffee Café offers the flexibility to reserve the tea services for any 2-hour seating period from 10 am – 4 pm, unlike some tea parlours in the city that have pre-set time slots.
Each offering at the café has a home-made quality and is artfully prepared onsite, except for their croissants. Organic and local ingredients are used whenever possible.
Aside from their unique afternoon tea services, Soffee Café also offers a contemporary a la carte menu with plentiful choices that has everyone covered – from morning baked treats and gourmet pastries to hearty sandwiches.
What stands out in their versatile menu is the substantial number of gluten-free items, such as their carrot ginger cake, chocolate zucchini bread, banana bread, chickpea brownie, and their energy bar.
The delicious spread of sweet choices is not limited to baked items. Resistance is futile when it comes to the Nutella french toast, stuffed with Nutella and brandy-caramelized banana, or the compote french toast, loaded with their house organic berry compote.
Their popular lunch menu has a wide range of salads, grilled paninis and other savoury dishes. You’ll find it hard to decide between standout options like the spicy roasted pulled beef panini, ham & cheese French toast, and roasted pulled chicken crêpe.
All the personal touches, exquisite food and warm service are credited to a small team led by the owners, a mother and son duo – Sophia and Andy (right-hand side of image).
Soffee Café is located on 8th avenue, a short stroll off Granville Street. It’s one of the city’s hidden gems that is worthwhile discovering.
Ice Cream has blown up on Canada’s West Coast and charming new shops and parlours are popping up all over. But what about the folks who have allergies, sensitivities or make choices not to eat gluten or dairy? And who doesn’t like a cooling, sweet, creamy treat? Fret not folks, I did the research for you! Here’s my list of the best, where to go for it, and what to taste.
Try: Most ice creams here are gluten-free so, if you are as well, skip the cone and get a cup. Top your treat with a marshmallow or meringue (also gluten-free). Vegans and the lactose-intolerant will love the Chocohuete, which is made with peanut butter and dark chocolate. It’s dairy-free and made with their own made-in-house cashew milk base.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They hope to be re-opening their restaurant soon so phone ahead, as you may be able to eat lunch there too!
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.
Sure. We have salmon, spot prawns and Dungeness crab aplenty here on the west coast, but that doesn’t mean we don’t crave fresh lobster every summer as well, like our neighbours out east who get to feast on it regularly.
Loving fresh lobster is easy right now on Canada’s west coast. Here’s a hot list of restaurants serving it up in a variety of ways. Lobster. The love is real, people.
Lobster Fest is an annual thing at Provence Marinaside, returning every July and on now ‘til month end. Executive Chef Jean-Francis Quaglia created a three-course menu for a sweet deal at $62 with optional wine pairings for an additional charge. Choices of starters like lobster salad with fresh peas and puree or classic lobster Thermidor whet your palate for even more, with main options offered x3. The whole Atlantic lobster done Provençal style is ridiculously delish finished with a splash of brandy. They add the freshest prettiest summer vegetables, making your platter as pretty as a picture. Dessert? A simple shortcake or sorbet sends you on your way home afterward happy as a clam. Book a table pronto, time’s a tickin’.
Surrey: Crescent Beach
We love this charming eatery and it’s no surprise they keep the lobster love year ‘round by offering lobster ravioli on their regular menu. The Cabin serves this signature stuffed pasta dish with an apple brandy cream sauce, topped with asparagus and juicy prawns.
How about an Asian take on lobster? Neptune Seafood Restaurant does dumplings like nobody’s business, and their lobster dumplings are exceptional. Or, go for the fried rice noodle dish with lobster in soy sauce.
Is lobster considered lucky? Well, we think so considering the The Diamond Buffet at Elements Casino is offering an endless Lobster Tail and Prime Rib Buffet on July 17 & 31st.
If you have ever had a lobster roll, you know they’re easy to find on the east coast, but here? Not so much. S + L offers theirs for a mere $5 each, and served an upscale but still classic way on a soft buttery roll with lemon aioli, and pickled red onions. Lobster chowder also is a get-it-while-it’s-hot addition.
We can always count on The Keg to never let us down when it comes to their summer lobster menu. For a limited time get yourself in for a feast, starting with lobster gratinee, and a choice of mains that include a whole 2 lb lobster, and a steak and lobster medallion which is code for bacon-wrapped lobster. Yep, you read that right. Are you the sharesie type? Lobster-stuffed yorkies sound fun too.
Lobster is making a short but delicious appearance over the summer at Onyx Steak & Seafood Bar. Try the Nova Scotia lobster cobb salad, lobster stuffed wild salmon, garlic steamed lobster tail or truffle lobster mac and cheese. Sigh….
FIVE serves their lobster old-school, with a live saltwater tank so you know yours is super fresh.
The Boathouse is a go-to for fresh fish all over the lower mainland with numerous locations. Their summer Atlantic lobster tail dinner is oven roasted and with hot drawn butter, wild rice, and seasonal veg. Yes please.
The Central Valley Greenway is an all-levels ride that takes you from Vancouver all the way to New Westminster. It’s mostly flat, separated from most vehicle traffic, and it’s easy to detour off for some hidden food gems. The more experienced you are, the more leisurely your food (and beer) stops will be along the way!
Starting at Olympic Village in Vancouver, the food options are plentiful. Tractor is a fresh, healthy, leafy, crispy, hot or cold flavourful option at a good price point. They have salads and sandwich combos that are actually worth buying for both components full of favourites like grilled avocado, various protein options of the veggie and non-veggie variety, nuts, seeds, and cheeses. They are licensed, and also have kombucha on tap.
Alternatively, Terra Breads is nearby if you just need a snack. Hit up Tap and Barrel for beers with a view, and Mario’s Gelato if you need a cold treat.
Just up the street a couple of blocks is one of my favourite local breweries, R&B Brewing, both for their beer and for their scrumptious pizza.
I tend to be a fan of loading a pizza with all the toppings but, I’ve gotta say, that their margarita pizza does something for me that other pizzas just don’t do. I wake up craving this pizza. Bike-friendly, with many lock up spots, and a patio if it’s sunny, this is a great bike-to location.
If it’s crowded, grab a growler for later, such as their “Dude Chilling Park” beer. The actual Dude Chilling Park is just across Main on 7th Ave and is a lively local spot to take a break on a sunny day. (Make sure to take your photo with the sign.)
Next up, we hit the path eastwards past the train station towards Commercial Drive!
Bingsoo Korean shaved ice dessert may make you forget about traditional ice cream forever.
Also known as patbingsu or bingsu, this treat traditionally uses water as its icy main ingredient, however Snowy Village Canada uses 100% Canadian milk which is frozen and shaved to create a snowy consistency. Red bean paste is the traditional topping, however fresh fruit like strawberries, jelly, Oreo cookies, roasted grain powder and other toppings give it a modern texture that is suited to Canadian tastes.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, June 21st marks the 21st Annual Celebration of National Aboriginal Day. Each year, thousands of people head to Vancouver’s Trout Lake Park for a fun-filled day of both traditional and contemporary Indigenous activities, entertainment, and food. And what would a community gathering be without a mouth-watering, stomach-filling feast? With food trucks, caterers, and bannock makers on site – come hungry and get ready to journey into the tastiest National Aboriginal Day festival of all time.
Great gatherings start with great food, and this year the PR Bannock Factory will join the festivities as the featured caterers serving a community favourite: Chef Paul Natrall’s bannock tacos.
For the first time ever, the National Aboriginal Day at Trout Lake site map includes a food truck village open all day from 12pm to 10pm. Park visitors can enjoy plenty of street eats both savory and sweet, full of pizza, poutine, pierogies, and pastries. Some food trucks are even offering special celebration menu items that commemorate the day – with ingredients like juniper berries, bison, and wild salmon on the menu.
If you’re heading to the festival for homemade bannock, don’t panic! From 12pm to 6pm the TWN Business Administration Program from Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations will be on site whipping up family recipes as they fundraise to “assist all Aboriginal People with their Training & Employment needs,” as stated on their website. Enjoy a warm piece of bannock as you wander through the vendor area enjoying the many paintings and crafts made by talented local artists. The Bannock Wagon food truck is also a great option with fresh bannock pieces, sandwiches and desserts served all day long.
Witness the diverse cultures and traditions of Canada’s Indigenous people and join the celebration! Take a canoe tour of Trout Lake, join a mini traditional Pow Wow, witness the talented Git Hayetsk dancers, and spend the evening enjoying Aboriginal Day Live in the park. With events planned for the whole family, there’s plenty to eat so you can keep fuelled all day long.
Wednesday June 21, 2017
Trout Lake, 3300 Victoria Dr.
One of downtown Vancouver’s favourite hotels now offers even more reasons to want to hang here. New restaurant and bar, Botanist, has taken over the former Oru restaurant, and has refreshed the palette of the Fairmont Pacific Rim.
With four diverse spaces made up of a dining room, cocktail bar, glassed-in lab, garden, and a champagne lounge, Botanist wowed me from the get-go.
Executive chef Hector Laguna, formerly of stints at both Toronto’s Susur Lee restaurant and at Vancouver’s Hawksworth, has created a botanical-centric menu that’s bursting off the page and plate with colour, texture and taste. Clearly dialed-in to what our region offers when it comes to its world-class culinary ingredients, organic regional produce, sustainably sourced meat and seafood – Chef Laguna has found his sweet spot running the show here at Botanist.
Signature items include roasted root vegetables, perfect micro spring greens, and fresh seafood like his mother’s recipe for charred octopus (that has a chorizo dressing that will blow your mind).
Wine director Jill Spoor’s boutique terroir-driven wine program supports sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking, while head bartender David Wolowidnyk has built a cocktail list that is as fresh as the daisies that are in one of his signature creations.
Chef Laguna sums it up well: “I believe that food influences us emotionally; it can comfort, calm, satisfy and bring joy, all in one meal. It’s about watching someone take their first bite, and know(ing) that I’ve made their day even a little bit better, and I look forward to bringing that to the plate at the Botanist.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
With floor to ceiling windows overlooking Vancouver’s Library Square, Hendricks Resto-Lounge is just what Robson Street needs. A hotel restaurant that’s not just there to service the guests sleeping in those Westin Grande Hotel Heavenly Beds, but a new eatery for breakfast, lunch and dinner that locals will love as well. Matter of fact, locals already are loving it plenty.
Hendricks sleek bar bisects the room into restaurant to the right, lounge to the left. Serving up old-school drinks updated with fresh, bright flavours, like head bartender Matt’s Robson Roy cocktail with Apothecary Bitters from East Van. Note: check out the live music and DJ nights here too.
Chef Chris Savino’s menus are impressive, with fresh BC seafood front and centre. The Shrimp Cocktail features tiny, tender and meaty Bella Bella humpback shrimp from Organic Oceans, shredded lettuce and green goddess dressing. The west coast salmon salad is a colourful plate with spinach & watercress from Barnston Island Herbs, in Surrey, dotted with pomegranate seeds, pickled radish and goat’s feta with lemongrass and hemp seed vinaigrette.
Tuna poke might be a trend in the culinary scene leaning towards overkill, but who cares when it’s this fresh and delicious? Haida Gwaii albacore tuna is blended with tomato, jalapeño, scallions, and served with taro chips and togarashi spiced guacamole.
Hats off to Hendricks Resto-Lounge. Well worth a visit.
This Year’s BC Spot Prawn Festival is coming up on May 13th, and it’s your chance to try these little local sea creatures that are coveted around the world for their delicate flavour, plump nature, and eye-catching “spotted” markings.
2017 marks the 11th annual Spot Prawn Festival, which will include a spot prawn gala, spot prawn cooking classes and the famous spot prawn boil. Festival founder, seafood entrepreneur and Ocean Wise advocate, Chef Rob Clark, reflects on over a decade that’s gone by.
How it began: Starting the Spot Prawn Festival
When Chef Robert Clark started the Spot Prawn Festival, he was the chef at C Restaurant – a fine dining establishment that until it’s closure in 2014, was known for its impressive seafood menu. The search for sustainable seafood and spot prawns sprouted out of necessity, as Chef Robert wanted to serve the best and freshest seafood available. He began asking questions, visiting fishermen, building relationships and forging new ways to hold onto local seafood that was being shipped overseas.
The first Spot Prawn Festival was really for local chefs to draw their attention to the supply of BC spot prawns that were previously all being shipped overseas. It was a small effort to keep some of the product here for the locals to enjoy.
The evolution of the Spot Prawn Festival
In the last 11 years, the Spot Prawn Festival has been increasingly well received by Vancouver locals and visitors. Chef Robert calls Vancouver’s food scene “exciting and young,” and he’s honoured by the opportunity to help shape the city’s food culture.
Chef Robert’s efforts helped to spur the term “sustainable seafood” which became the platform for the Vancouver Aquarium’sOcean Wise certification. These terms have helped raised awareness for BC seafood, and is now an emblem of pride on many menus. Last year, the celebrations and events were bigger than ever before, with restaurants creating seasonal menus and long-table feasts.
What’s next? The hope for BC Spot Prawn Festivals to come
Excited by the progression of “fluff to substance” in Vancouver’s food scene, Chef Robert noted, “the everyday person may not be able to eat certified Ocean Wise 100% of the time. But my hope is that people become more aware about what they are eating – where it comes from, how it was harvested, and what impact it has on the environment. Choices exist, and the more questions we ask, the more demand and awareness we bring to the issue.”
This year’s Spot Prawn festival is on Saturday May 13, 2017. Have a look at the website (spotprawnfestival.com) for more details.
No excuses – our west coast palette is refined, so waxy chocolate bunnies, rock-hard jellybeans and Peeps (what are those even made of anyway?) are just plain unacceptable. We can do better. And we do! Here, three of BC’s best chocolate makers show us what’s new for Easter 2017.
Wild Sweets By Dominique and Cindy Duby in Richmond have new chocolate art collections with made in-house designs and from origin cocoa bean-to-bar chocolate. Sophisticated flavours include cassis caramels, pistachio praline and cherry caramel ganache, and a liquid strawberry caramel with dulce de leche. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Purdys Chocolatier is about as old-school and iconic as you get. Founded in 1907 in Vancouver, they have a long history of providing the West Coast with melt-in-your-mouth Easter chocolate. But that doesn’t mean the brand isn’t constantly reinventing its collection and bringing out new products non-stop. New this year is “hidden treats”, a cute and customizable tote that you can fill with your choice of chocolates and candy at any of the Purdys locations. Plus, the tote has space to write names on it, because the Easter Bunny is clever like that. Visit Purdys stores or shop online.
Thomas Haas Chocolates & Pâtisserie from Vancouver’s North Shore has a delightful way of combining charming classic styles like the laughing bunny, with world-class quality chocolate. This Easter the line up includes “hen and chicks”, with a mother hen and her chicks filled with surprise chocolate creations, truffle eggs, and an Easter egg nest. Visit the Kitsilano or North Shore shops, or online.
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.
Vancouver’s Granville Island is gearing up for their 12th annual event that celebrates all things winter, taking place February 17-19 this year.
The Winterruption Festival is a fun mix of culture and arts with live music, theatre, dance and street performance, plus art exhibits, film, crafts, family activities and, of course, fabulous food.
The festival has a new hub this year, called The Forge. Historically the former home of Canada Chain and Forge (a supply company from the location’s more industrial beginnings), we now know it as the big covered parking lot under the bridge.
Food-centric events we are super stoked about? The Winterruption Donut Spectacular at Lee’s Donuts, plus maple syrup made into treats on snow, and the best soul-warming soups ever at Rebel Kitchen. Or sign up for a Granville Island Market Tour, or The Liberty Distillery Tour to get an insiders edge and peek behind the scenes. Need to warm up? Sip some traditional Glühwein at the Forge.
Don’t miss out on the fun! For the full schedule of Winterruption events, visit: winterruption.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discover Asian food on Canada’s West Coast. Celebrity Chef Vikram Vij, who has restaurants in Vancouver and Surrey, BC explains how you can “taste cuisines from each and every region of Asia without leaving the lower mainland.”
‘Tis the season for twinkling lights, freshly made goodies, and jingles you love for just a few weeks of the year. One dazzling Vancouver tradition is a visit to the famous VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights. Millions of brilliant bulbs decorate this winter wonderland and there are plenty of mitten-friendly snacks to keep your spirits just as bright.
Bring your friends and family together for tasty treats and watch wide-eyed as magical holiday memories unfold.
The VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights is beaming with everything you love about the season. You can see what fun it is to ride and sing on a carousel ride at night (for ages young to shameless). Or, watch lights dance over Livingstone Lake set to your favourite festive tunes. You’ll also get a chance to exchange holiday puns with the mischievous Scandinavian elves.
All this while you indulge in enough cozy comfort food to keep you warm all winter.
Add the VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights to your annual holiday wish list. Stop by the gardens from December 1 to January 2.
Canada’s favourite brunch cocktail – the Caesar – is enjoyed by some 350 million Canadians every year. If you’ve not tried Walter, the premium, all-natural mix since it first launched in 2013, the time is now. Not only is this most delicious product the brainchild of co-founders Zack Silverman and Aaron Harowitz, both born and raised in Vancouver; Walter is Canada’s first Ocean Wise recommended Caesar mix.
Caesar mix isn’t just amped up tomato juice. In the case of Walter, ocean-friendly clam juice (which is what makes this different from, and arguably way better than a Bloody Mary) is harvested sustainably from the North Atlantic, mixed with all natural ingredients and free of MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colours and flavours.
The Ocean Wise designation is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance for an ocean-friendly seafood choice that helps ensure the health of the oceans for generations to come. The Ocean Wise symbol on Walter’s label helps eco-conscious consumers shop smart.
Cool factoid? The Caesar is a Canadian invention, and first developed in Calgary, Alberta by bartender Walter Chell in 1969. Thus, the ‘Walter’ name for this tasty mixer.
Walter is also the proud winner of 19 Medals at International Spirits Competitions, including 9 Gold Medals.
Available in grocery stores and bars across Canada. Take some home to enjoy a bit of WestCoastFood mixed with your favorite spirit.
Although the concept isn’t new, it certainly is timely. Founded by Victor Straatman who recently partnered with Chef Trevor Bird (Top Chef Canada Runner-up, Fable Kitchen, Fable Diner) to create a ‘meat sharing’ company called Meatme.
Many consumers want to know where their food comes from, especially when it comes to meat, and increasing awareness of the factory farm industry is driving people to want to purchase meat from farmers who raise their beef ethically and humanely. But how can we be sure when we buy it from a supermarket and the grey area of the elusive middle-man makes it challenging?
Enter Meatme. Operating business from Gastown and North Vancouver plus butchering done in Abbotsford, the company supports BC farmers who raise their cattle right – 100% grass fed, free range, no chemicals or antibiotics, locally sourced Angus beef.
Here is how it works:
Buy your beef share
Online, you order a “nose to tail” meat box from a whole animal. The animal will only be slaughtered when it is 100% funded, meaning zero waste. 1 share is 15 lbs, or order the smaller half share of 7.5 lbs. Expect your box to contain either a bone in rib, New York strip or tenderloin, some braising meat like short ribs, minute steaks, flat iron or some other grilling steak, ground beef, and bone broth.
Age & butcher
The meat will be aged for a minimum of two weeks to achieve premium taste and texture.
Approximately three weeks after slaughter, your Meatme package is delivered to your doorstep. Freeze or store in refrigerator for immediate use.
I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Vancouver’s consummate advocate for “Farm to Table” cuisine, Chef Trevor Bird about Meatme. Here’s what he had to say:
CD: How’s consumer response so far?
TB: We have had great feedback from customers, and at my restaurants Fable and Fable Diner I can introduce them to the Meatme concept too. For instance, if I have 30 leftover portions of Meatme ribeye, I can share that on social media, serve it at the restaurants, and people get to try it and love it.
CD: Can you tell me your thoughts on Meatme so it’s clear how it works for interested consumers?
TB: The accessibility to the concept is not new, a lot of websites exist, “Urban Digs” is great for instance, but our platform is so easy, you click ‘buy a share’ and the meat shows up at your door. If you get something in the box you don’t know how to prepare, you go on the site and I give you recipes and tips on how to cut it etc. For instance, “I braised my meat but its not tender.” Answer? Braise it longer.” Or, “How do I cut my steak against the grain?” And I’ll show you with video tutorial, coming soon.
CD: Where do you see Meatme going?
TB: We are starting with BC raised beef, but we do want to become the AirBnB for well raised animals. This is the start up stage, but we’d like to get it to the point where people can choose which farm, or order meat from dual cows (cows that were used for milking and then for their meat) which lessens our carbon footprint even further. 600 liters of water are required to make one burger patty, so encouraging people to eat less meat in general is important to us. No one needs to eat a 16 oz Porterhouse steak.
CD: Is a share too much for a single person or couple?
TB: We offer a half-share for 1-2 people now as well, and 7.5 lbs of meat doesn’t make take up much space in your freezer. And a full share for a family is ideal.
CD: How are you marketing Meatme?
TB: We’ve met with farmers markets that cannot have a butcher on site for various reasons, but we would like to have a kiosk where people can order Meatme, and pick it up at the farmers market later.
CD: How does Meatme help the local farmer?
TB: It supports that farmer who doesn’t want to put her meat on the conventional board. If we want to make a difference we need to make it accessible, and $99 per month for meat consumption for your family I believe is doable.
CD: What exactly is minute steak? I hope it isn’t that pounded pulverized stuff we grew up with.
TB: We make a minute steak with this big machine that needles it to tenderize, then slices into steaks.
CD: What about other meat in the box?
TB: These are great cuts you can’t find at the grocery store. Our beef is a bit stronger tasting that conventional meat. I get asked, when I make burgers what should I add? Eggs, bread crumbs? And I answer umm, ground beef, some salt. That’s it man. From the braising selection, short ribs, brisket etc – I suggest you cube up all that meat, braise it all in the bone broth, throw some onions, carrots and pop it in the oven at 200 degrees for 6 hours, then freeze in small containers. It’s the great start of stroganoff, pasta, chili, stew – you can turn into 30 different things. Makes meal planning super easy as well.
If you think sake is a boiling hot beverage that tastes like turpentine, well, you clearly haven’t tasted Masa Shiroki’s handcrafted sakes.
Since 2007, when he became Canada’s first producer of premium craft sake, he’s been making rice wines that taste delicately of citrus, apple, pineapple and brioche, with notes of spice and touches of herbaceousness.
Not a hint of turpentine anywhere.
A couple years after he started producing his Osake brand, Shiroki started growing his own rice in the Fraser Valley, making his rice wine a truly local and sustainable product.
Now he’s heading up Vancouver’s first (and, he hopes, annual) Sake Fest. On Sept. 29, 2016, when 21 producers will gather at the Imperial in Chinatown, where they will pour some 100 different types of sake. Kampai!
“It’s been a long time coming,” Shiroki says.
Sake is a fermented beverage made from rice, water and “koji,” or rice malt. It has a distinctive umami or savoury flavour profile, and it can be enjoyed cold, room temperature or hot.
“Chilled is my preference, but it depends on what you’re eating,” says Shiroki.
Becoming a sake master was not exactly Shiroki’s original career choice. Back in Japan, he worked in banking, which is what brought him to Canada in 1974. He later moved on to transportation, then government. In 2000, Shiroki was working with the B.C. government when, he recalls, “We all got pink slips and I said to myself, ‘What can I do at age 50?’”
The answer was: Import sake. In 2001, Shiroki brought in his first sake imports. But the pricy products were a hard sell, especially in a market obsessed with local ingredients.
“I thought if we made it here, people would feel a sense of ownership. It was a bit of a bet,” he says.
In 2007, he opened Artisan Sake Maker in a compact 1,000-square-foot space on Granville Island. It is at once production facility, retail store and tasting bar, a favourite stop for visitors to the island.
Today, Shiroki produces about 1,000 cases of sake each year, and 10 different styles, including three sparkling sakes and the new, award-winning Renaissance, which has a flavour similar to a grape wine.
“This Renaissance is a completely different style of sake,” he says. “We have to produce something that caters to the palate of our market now.”
And, he admits, it’s more appealing to his palate, too, after so many years in North America: “My palate has completely changed and maybe I have a dual palate now.”
Shiroki also has 18 acres of rice growing in soggy bits of the Fraser Valley. “There is always a portion of the land a farmer doesn’t use because it doesn’t drain and everything rots,” he notes. That’s the bit that’s perfect for rice.
Last year, he harvested 15 tonnes of rice, half of it for sake and half for table rice, a short-grain variety perfect for risotto, which he sells for $9 per two-pound bag.
Besides sake and rice, he uses the byproducts from sake making – also known as kasu, fermented rice lees that are high in amino acids – in fruit juices, condiments and a line of skin care products. The kasu itself he describes as “an instant flavour enhancer . . . like natural MSG.” It is a favourite among local chefs, who use it as an umami-rich marinade.
“We do so many things because we have to do so many things,” Shiroki says. “But I’m glad to say it has grown from where we started.”
Three Local Sakes You Must Try
Osake Junmai Nama, $16
Artisan Sake Maker’s signature product is a classic, unfiltered rice wine that is fruity, herbaceous, vegetal and a bit grainy in flavour.
Mirai Traditional Method Sparkling Sake, $42
This crisp, clean bubble was made with the help of Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna. It is pleasantly dry, with notes of brioche and apples and a long, umami finish.
Osake Renaissance, $25
On the nose, this sake has bready notes, but on the palate, it is fruity and tart, surprisingly similar to a grape wine. A new product for Shiroki, it is already winning awards.
Artisan Sake Maker is located at:
1339 Railspur Alley on Granville Island
“Put a bit of class in your glass,” so say the creators of Ascot Beer Cocktail Company – a unique new collection of beer cocktails using fresh, natural ingredients that offer the sophistication of a cocktail – as easy as cracking a cold beer.
Well known in Vancouver’s bar scene, Nick Devine is the creator of the brand; starting out behind the bar in the famous horseracing town of Ascot (hence the name), then on to tend bars in London and San Francisco, until settling in Vancouver. Here he won Vancouver Magazine’s Bartender of the Year.
A partner in Vancouver’s Cascade Company, which owns The Cascade Room, El Camino’s, The Union, Charlie’s Little Italian, as well as Main Street Brewing, Devine, is skilled in designing cocktails for a variety of tastes. “I set out to try bottling liquor-based cocktails years ago, but stalled after encountering logistical problems,” says Devine. “When we opened Main Street Brewing two years ago, my focus shifted to using beer as the base instead of spirits, and was so taken with the results, that I never looked back.”
Ascot Beer Cocktail Co. offers two varieties to kick it off –
No. 1 Mojito has Vancouver’s own fresh mint leaves muddled with cane sugar and fresh lime juice, then blended with premium craft beer. Yep. No rum here. And we’re delighted with this fresh, fizzy alterative.
No. 2 Paloma blends fresh pink grapefruit and lime juice, organic blue agave syrup and a pinch of salt, with premium craft beer. So pleasing to sip on your summer patio.
New flavours are on the horizon? Watch for the No. 3 Dark ‘n’ Stormy soon being added to the mix.
Here’s a tip from Devine: Ascot Beer Cocktails are designed to be enjoyed over ice, with the slight dilution creating the perfect balance.
Currently available exclusively at Main Street Brewing, both in the tasting room and retail store, located at 261 East 7th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.
Fancy infusions, liquid nitrogen and inventive ice… these days, it’s par for the course to find your coupe filled with a (damn delicious) work of art – but let’s not forget from whence they came. Yes, I’m talking about The Classic Cocktail.
As with any historical certainty, no one is certain when and where the cocktail originated. What we can agree on is that these stimulating brews traditionally consisted of spirits, sugar and bitters. By the mid-1800s, liqueur had joined as the fourth horseman. And shortly thereafter, the first genuine “cocktails” were born, including our friends the Sazerac, Old Fashioned and Manhattan. If it weren’t for these forerunners, you’d be sipping on bitter bathtub gin.
But even now, centuries later, it’s surprisingly difficult to find a really good classic cocktail. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t easy to make. And that’s reason #562 Vancouver is the best city in the world: because our bartenders are rock stars, and they know how to craft an old-world drink with as much skill as they can whip up a mind-bending original.
So for just one night, let’s set aside the flames, electric blue hues and decorative garnishes. Tonight we’re drinking the classics: elegant cocktails that are infinitely complex in their utter simplicity. Let’s revisit a few of our favourites.
What makes it a classic cocktail? Conceived at the historic Sazerac Bar in New Orleans circa 1850, the Sazerac is one of the oldest cocktails ever recorded. The drink consists of either cognac or rye (the former is richer and full-bodied; the latter, sharp and spicy), Peychaud’s bitters, sugar and a kiss of lemon oils; the glass is chilled and sprayed with a delicate dusting of absinthe. Elegant, complex and timeless – the very definition of what a classic cocktail should be.
Why is it so hard to find a good classic cocktail? “Because simplicity is essential, and it’s a skill,” says Sabrine. “You have to let the spirit shine, and that’s why classic cocktails are not easy – there are so few ingredients that the slightest shift in balance can completely change the taste. But once you’ve mastered the classics, everything is possible.”
The Drink: Brandy Crusta The Venue:Cascade Room (2616 Main Street) The Bartenders: Rob Scope and Justin Taylor
What makes it a classic cocktail? The inspiration that launched a thousand Sidecars – and even more Margaritas – this subtle yet glamorous drink first appeared in 1850s New Orleans. The Crusta is a sour-style cocktail featuring some variation of brandy (usually cognac), orange liqueur, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters and lemon peel. Cascade Room’s enhanced rendition uses cognac and Cointreau, and replaces the syrup with maraschino liqueur. The goblet is then topped off with a diamond-like sugared rim and thick curl of lemon, all of which combine for a deliciously dry, flavourful drink that dispenses with the froufrou and gets straight to the point.
Why don’t people order Brandy Crustas anymore? “From my perspective, Brandy is out of fashion – it’s what your grandfather used to keep in the garage,” says Justin. “The Crusta is a classic cocktail that really only gets recognition within the bar community. The more recent Sidecar, which only varies in proportions and presentation, is definitely more common. But give the Crusta a chance, at least once!”
The Drink: Daiquiri The Venue:Lobby Lounge (at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, 1038 Canada Place) The Bartender: Grant Sceney
What makes it a classic cocktail? Having surfaced in Cuba in the late 1800s – though some records say British sailors were the first to combine the drink’s base of rum, water and citrus wayyyy back in the mid-1700s – the Daiquiri was one of the world’s first rum cocktails. A punchy, refreshing combination of white rum, sugar and citrus, the drink was a favourite of esteemed drinker Ernest Hemingway (so you’re in good company). Flirty, citrusy and bold, the drink is proof positive that not all classics have to be stern and stormy.
Why do people gravitate to the classics? “Because you know what to expect when you order a classic cocktail, if it’s well-made,” says Grant. “New and original drinks are uncharted territory, and that’s exciting for sure. But it really depends on the day, the mood. Sometimes you just want to fall back on something familiar and known. Sometimes you just want a classic.”
The Drink: Manhattan The Venue: Pourhouse (162 Water Street) The Bartender: Christopher Flett
What makes it a classic cocktail? True to its glamorous origins – it’s rumoured the drink was conceived at the Manhattan Club in the 1870s to honour a presidential candidate – the Manhattan is a staple in the cocktail repertoire and has never really gone out of style. And why should it? Rye, sweet vermouth and bitters: a straight shooter, booze-forward with a maraschino cherry on top. It’s one of few drinks you can’t fake your way through – and that’s why the mark of a skilled bartender can rest largely on his ability to produce a flawless Manhattan.
Why do we still order cocktails that are more than a century old? “Mixed drinks adhere to certain principles and techniques – it’s like cooking,” says Christopher. “Bartenders understood this at the turn of the century, but we have yet to formally determine how those standards can be adapted in contemporary bartending. Also, in a time where everything is mass-produced and designed to be replaced, people are gravitating more towards stories and history. On some level, it’s comforting to order something handcrafted that’s been around for much longer than we have.”
The Drink: Inception Negroni The Venue:Prohibition (801 West Georgia Street) The Bartender: Robyn Gray
What makes it a classic cocktail? Technically it’s not – it’s a play on the Negroni, a three-ingredient classic introduced in Florence in the early 1900s. But Robyn has somehow managed to take the bare-bones combination of gin, Campari and vermouth and enhance it into a mind-blowing rendition that’s at once innovative and Matrix-like while staying true to the original. You see, Robyn’s drink is essentially two Negronis harmonized in one glass: the traditional red Negroni trapped in an ice cube sphere, floating in a white Negroni whose flavour profile is softer, sweeter and more feminine. As the sphere melts, the inner drink bleeds into the outer, melding into a complex multi-cocktail that flashes in turns bittersweet, smooth, sharp, delicate and aggressive. Don’t overthink it – just sit back and savour.
Should classics be adapted, or are they unchangeable? “Classics should absolutely be adapted. The ingredients used a hundred years ago are different from what they are today, so bartenders need to constantly reassess,” explains Robyn. “That said, every bartender should know how to make the classics. Once you’ve learned how to properly balance drinks with so few ingredients, you’ll have mastered the basic equation and can have fun experimenting and crafting originals that are all your own.”
The Drink: Vieux Carré The Venue:Hy’s Cocktail Bar (637 Hornby Street) The Bartender: Ryan Shimozawa
What makes it a classic cocktail? The recipe for this potent drink, named for the French Quarter, or Vieux Carré (“old square”), comes from the Hotel Monteleone’s famed Carousel Bar. Ryan mixes his with 100 percent Canadian rye, Benedictine, cognac, vermouth, and Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters. You can taste each flavour swirling around the other, at once distinct yet beautifully harmonized in this booze-forward cocktail that goes down unexpectedly easy.
What drinks are people ordering these days? “In recent years, I’ve seen a definite shift back to the classics,” says Ryan. “Cocktail culture is so prescient now, and people have become more knowledgeable and educated about what they’re drinking. It’s neat to see a younger generation choosing to drink Manhattans and Old Fashioneds – to know that, after all these years, people still appreciate a solid, consistent and timeless drink.”
Ask anyone, biking Vancouver’s picturesque seawall is an absolute must-do. Stretching 28 kilometres (about 17.5 miles) long, biking the seawall is a fun and leisurely way to take in the beautiful West Coast scenery.
A lesser-known secret? Biking is just half the fun…you’ve got to EAT your way around the seawall for the full Vancouver experience! For a bite here, a craft beer there, there isn’t a stretch of the seawall without something to devour.
So, hop that bike and start your appetite. Here are 17 stops to eat your way around the seawall:
Local Public Eatery
A legendary watering hole for a day at the beach. Nachos, Fish Tacos, Tuna Club sandwiches, craft beers, lucky lemonades and all the usual suspects.
Go Fish at Fisherman’s Wharf
One of Vancouver’s best fish & chips stops. A little blue shack hidden behind a large hedge; you may only notice Go Fish from the line up of eager foodies lining the seawall.
Edible Canada Restaurant
Sit down for a refreshing glass of BC wine and Oxtail Poutine. There’s always a seasonal menu featuring the best of BC fare.
Excellent sourdough bread, pastries, and treats! The fresh flatbread pizzas are unique to this location. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Earnest Ice Cream
A 2-minute walk from the seawall at Olympic Village. The whisky hazelnut, cookies and cream, and vegan mint chip are local favourites. Take a pint for the road or have a cone on the spot.
Red Truck Brewery
A 5-minute walk from the seawall at Olympic Village. Taste the famous Red Truck Lager and indulge in gourmet hot dogs, burgers, and mac and cheese from the “truck stop” menu. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Beta 5 Chocolates
Immaculate cream puffs, unlike any other. Award-winning chocolates and sweet treats. No seating available.
As winners of the largest international gelato competition, Bella Gelateria is no joke. This is their second location in Vancouver, which features gelato, chocolate on tap, and traditional Neopolitan pizzas.
A casual Japanese café with a West Coast twist. Ahi poke bowls and wasabi mayo chicken cubs make for perfect combinations of hearty and healthy.
Waterfront and Convention Centre
Local foodies beeline to the Fairmont Pacific Rim café for their famous sugar buns – freshly baked, cream-filled buns of joy. A wonderful stop for coffee, pastries and knick knacks.
Gourmet salads by the scoop, homemade stews and hearty sandwiches. The summer lemonades are ultra-refreshing.
Yes – again! The original Bella Gelateria, known for some of the the best gelato in the world, will likely have a line wrapping around the block on a hot summer day. One taste of the salted caramel or dark chocolate sorbetto and you’ll know why it’s worth the wait.
Vancouver Foodie Tours runs food tasting and cultural walking tours to explore to one-of-a-kind dishes that define Vancouver’s culinary scene. Find out more at foodietours.ca.
Award-winning Vancouver mixologist, Lauren Mote, and her talented chef husband Jonathan Chovancek, created their retail line of high-quality, small-batch bitters, known as Bittered Sling, back in 2012.
The product line won “Supplier & Producer of the Year” at the 23rd Annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, and has been available for sale at Edible Canada on Granville Island since its launch. The big news? A special edition “Chinook” Bitters has resulted from that partnership, and is available exclusively at Edible Canada’s retail store on Granville Island and through their online shop.
Chinook’ is both the name of a prominent hop variety which Bittered Sling utilizes in their blend, grown in the Pemberton-Lillooet area, and of the warm winds that move down the BC Rockies into Alberta. The Chinook Bitters gets a bright citrus kick from fresh and dried grapefruit peels and botanicals combined with those hops – tasting just as summer should.
“We are huge fans of both Lauren and Jonathan” states Edible Canada President, Eric Pateman. “Their depth of experience and impeccable taste makes their products among the very best available, which is why we are so excited to announce our collaboration on a flavour specific to Edible Canada.”
What exactly does one do with bitters? Mote and Chovancek tell us “these notes would pair well with white spirits, blended scotch & Irish whiskies, dry vermouth and other aromatized wines. Alternatively, it also suits sparkling water, zero-proof cocktails, house made ‘raddlers’ and spices up a cider.” The Chinook bitters are a perfect addition to any cocktail party, or simply as a new pantry staple for vinaigrettes and fish cures.
“Our summer has started off with a bang and the Chinook Bitters by Bittered Sling are the first of many exciting collaborations with Edible Canada moving forward,” says Chovancek. “Eric and I have a great culinary past; we’ve done projects together since 2008, from Edible British Columbia pop-up dinners in the Granville Island Public Market, to Beijing, China, where we collaborated on events at the BC Canada House during the 2008 Summer Olympics.”
“As Edible Canada grows internationally, they are an ideal retail partner for Bittered Sling. It was an honour to create a private label for them, and we look forward to more collaborative initiatives in the future,” he adds.
At Edible Canada Bistro, be sure and order the ‘Chinook’ – a seasonal cocktail featuring these bitters, which will be available for the summer months. Curated by Edible Canada’s Bar Manager Harriet Vianello, the ‘Chinook’ is a refreshing whisky sour inspired concoction featuring Liberty Distillery White Rye and Noble Bourbon-Barrel Maple Syrup.
The special-edition ‘Chinook’ bitters are on sale today in Edible Canada’s artisan retail shop on Granville Island. Or, purchase Online $9.95 (plus shipping & applicable taxes) at www.ediblecanadaretail.com.
Long gone are the days of food carts peddling only hotdogs and pretzels – in Vancouver food trucks showcase multicultural menus and gourmet ingredients. Take Kaboom Box, for example which is a staple in the heart of downtown. Locals swarm Kaboom Box on the daily, hungry for hot smoked salmon sandwiches, Pacific cod fish and chips, and gulf island oyster po’boys. It’s an obvious case for seriously delicious coastal food.
What may come as a surprise to first-timers, is that Kaboom Box is dedicated to certified Ocean Wise seafood and sustainably produced meat. Their greens are organic, and all items are sourced locally, whenever possible. The notes are subtle, and it takes a keen eye to spot the Ocean Wise sticker on the side of the truck. But perhaps that’s the greatest allure of Kaboom is that they’re hardly self-righteous – quality ingredients are just a part of what they do.
Bruce Balino, owner of Kaboom Box, has spent four years in Vancouver’s food truck scene. Before he took over Kaboom Box from founder, Andy Fielding, Balino was a loyal patron. “I don’t know that people come to Kaboom Box specifically because of the Ocean Wise fare & sustainable ingredients, but it’s certainly a bonus. You can taste the difference.”
Balino has observed the evolution of Vancouver’s young food truck culture. Reflecting on today’s state, Balino notes, “Vancouver’s food trucks, they’ve reached a point of stability. Before, things were very exciting and fast-paced. Today, things are a bit more established, there are just a few staple trucks that have managed to stick around. It’s competitive for new guys and you have to be really great to make it.”
“Really great” hardly encompasses Balino’s mouthwatering menu that has appeared on The Food Network and has earned accolades from around the world. As lunch hour hits, a stream of hungry suits and pencil skirts come pointedly to the little red cart, rattling off “the usual” and chatting with Balino and Kaboom’s Chef Brian.
The hot smoked salmon is the clear headliner, and the must-try for a first visit. Smoked on site, the fish is perfectly moist and impeccably fresh. I’m hard-pressed to peel myself away from the seafood favourites, but the number of orders for the mushroom gravy poutine make for a compelling case!
You can catch Bruce Balino and Chef Brian at Kaboom Box, Monday-Thursday on Granville and West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver.
Vancouver Foodie Tours runs food tasting and cultural walking tours to explore to one-of-a-kind dishes that define Vancouver’s culinary scene. Find out more at foodietours.ca.
Chef Alessandro recently visited Haida Gwaii to experience where 100% certified Ocean Wise seafood is sourced first-hand.
Alessandro and the Fairmont Vancouver ARC Restauraunt team went razor clamming with renowned Haida carver Reg Davidson; mushroom foraging with Haida carver Tyson Brown and salmon fishing with Shawn Baybutt and the crew from Haida Wild.
A stroll around Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood will tell you just how much locals love their coffee. Artisan cafes mark every street corner ready to re-fuel shoppers, wanderers and to tide over diners before their reservations are ready. You won’t find coffee like this in every city, let alone the passionate purveyors in Gastown who live and breathe quality beans.
Here’s some places to start:
ConsiderPurebread. The Whistler-born bakery entices patrons with piles (literally) of fresh pastries, cakes, brownies, breads and oversized meringues. Heaven would be envious of how the little bakeshop smells. It’s one of the only places in Vancouver that you’ll find Stumptown coffee – the sweetheart success from Oregon.
In Gastown’s iconic Woodward’s Building, JJ Bean Coffee Roasters is simultaneously perfecting French-pressed single-origin coffee and freshly baked goods. With 18 locations in Vancouver, this family business knows the city inside and out. A hot coffee and a warm cookie makes for a happy traveller.
In Prado Café, Vancouver’s tech-types tend to stop in for a cup of 49th Parallel and a chewy Belgian waffle. Owner, Sammy Piccolo, is the World Latte Art Champion, four-time Canadian Barista Champion, and a partner in his family’s business – 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters.
In the long glass windows of East Van Roasters, coffee beans are roasted before your eyes. Hints of chocolate linger in the air – as they’re also processing cocao to create organic fair trade truffles and chocolate bars. The 16-seater café is a social enterprise that provides training and meaningful employment to recovering women from the Downtown Eastside.
The variety of contraptions that coax the flavours out of the beans could fill a small library. In the dark and dramatic Revolver Coffee, gadgets and gizmos line the counter. The baristas are precise in their movements, happy to educate curious guests who await their order.
And these aren’t the only places in Gastown to choose from – stroll around and you’re sure to find your perfect cup at your perfect table.
Vancouver Foodie Tours runs food tasting and cultural walking tours to explore to one-of-a-kind dishes that define Vancouver’s culinary scene. Find out more at foodietours.ca.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This Valentine’s Day, the only dessert-focused fine dining spot in Gastown is having their one-year anniversary. The stylish dining room of Mosquito is chic, dark, and a delightfully dramatic way to share some bubbly and sweets (or cheese and charcuterie).
It was a beautiful day in Gastown when I met with Mosquito owners, Alice Wu and Johan Friedrich. As I hustled down the lively cobbled streets, I noted the many signs and sandwich boards straining to catch the attention of those passing by. There was nothing to be seen for Mosquito, but I bustled along, knowing their non-descript door would appear somewhere soon and welcome me to a quiet oasis.
As Johan described the inspiration for Mosquito as an “out-of-world experience that heightened all senses,” I could not help but smile, as the idea has completely come to life. The high-ceilings, dark furnishings, sparkling accents, and richly indulgent menu have made a wonderfully abstract combination.
Alice and Johan are business partners who met in Montreal. While travelling in separate cities, they had each experienced an “intimate and unforgettable feeling of getaway” that defines Mosquito.
“I love to travel, but Vancouver is home for me,” Alice remarked, “Johan had always wanted to visit the city, and as we met the right people, Mosquito just happened.”
Neither Alice nor Johan are long-time Vancouverites. With roots in Taiwan, Alice came to Vancouver five years ago to earn her culinary background from Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) on Granville Island. At PICA, Alice honed her sharp-eye for desserts and built a relationship with Dominic Fortin, Executive Pastry Chef of Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, B.C. “It was always a dream of mine to work with Dominic, and when I told him about our idea, he was very excited,” Alice said. Dominic Fortin is the creator behind Mosquito’s impressive line of plated desserts.
I looked to Johan, wondering if a similar culinary flare hides behind his French accent. He laughed, “I just love dessert. I am the biggest sweet tooth and I literally eat dessert every day.” Johan is from a small town in France, close to Bordeaux.
“We wanted to bring dessert to centre stage, as dessert is often an after-thought in the kitchen and in many Vancouver restaurants,” says Johan, “also, drinking champagne is much more commonplace in Europe. It’s not just for special occasions.”
Indeed, the joy of eating dessert while sipping champagne is hard to dispute. Alice and Johan host an array of singles, groups and regulars throughout the week. Desserts are the mainstay, but you won’t go wrong with a savoury pick (cheese plates, truffle popcorn, and charcuterie) from their curated list. Describing Gastown as a “foodie neighbourhood,” Johan and Alice are grateful to be a part of the community.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Street Food City is celebrating its fifth anniversary with Dine Out Vancouver, returning to the Vancouver Art Gallery from January 16-24, 2016. Vancouver has become one of North America’s top street food cities, tempting locals with a full spectrum of multicultural flavours.
Over 25 local food trucks will park in the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza and, if it’s anything like past years, thousands of foodies will meet them there. This year, food trucks will be donating $1 of sales from special menu items to A Loving Spoonful – a volunteer-driven organization that provides meals to those living with HIV/AIDS in Metro Vancouver.
So what’s on the menu? Here are 6 Serious Eats to beeline for at Street Food City:
1. The “Hot Mama” at Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck
This spicy, savoury, sexy sandwich has got its eye on the prize in this year’s Grillled Cheese Challenge. Between two slices of garlic-buttered olive rosemary bread, you’ll find spicy sopressatta, sundried tomato feta spread, provolone, mozzarella, red onion and hot banana peppers. Truck owner “Mom” Cindy, is known for her irresistible combinations – this is certainly one of her finest!
2. The Beer-Braised Beef Sandwich from Feastro the Rolling Bistro
Beer. Braised. Beef. This carnivorous sandwich is slow-cooked in local hops – Persephone Brewing’s award-winning Dry Stout! Served with creamy coleslaw, housemade barbeque sauce and Feastro’s famous Kennebec fries, this flavour-packed mouthful also benefits A Loving Spoonful!
3. Le Tigre’s Kick Ass Rice (with Pork Belly)
Food truck loyalists salute Le Tigre’s Kick Ass Rice – a savoury Asian-fusion combination of rice, protein and perfectly poached egg. With a drizzle of hot sauce, the Kick Ass Rice always hits the spot. Whether you opt for Le Tigre’s classic popcorn chicken or decadent pork belly, don’t forget to add a side of crispy beet fries!
4. The “Splash” at Reel Mac and Cheese Truck
You can never wrong with a hot bowl of home-style ooey-gooey mac and cheese. Known for its movie-themed menu, owner Suzanne, will be serving up “Splash” – tempura-battered cod-on-a-stick (squiggled with Japanese mayo) seated atop her classic mac and cheese!
5. The Chorizo Burrito at Tacofino
Street Food City aside, the fish tacos at Tacofino are always a good idea. But, as Vancouver enters a cold spurt, why not warm up with a hefty chorizo burrito? For a sweet and spicy finish, add Tacofino’s signature dessert – the chocolate diablo cookie!
6. The Hoisin Chicken Wrap at Eat Chicken Wraps
If you’re thinking of a bland tortilla, think again! As one of Vancouver’s most-underrated food trucks, Street Food City may be the perfect opportunity to head for Eat Chicken Wraps. Sweet and salty hoisin chicken is layered with pickled veggies, cucumbers and lettuce, and encased by a crispy-fried Chinese green onion pancake. The result is beautifully crunchy, satisfying and delicious!
Street Food City is at the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza
January 16-24, 2016
Monday – Friday: 11:00am-3:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Vancouver Foodie Tours runs food tasting and cultural walking tours to explore to one-of-a-kind dishes that define Vancouver’s culinary scene. Find out more at foodietours.ca
Baby, it’s cold outside! The best thing you can do is hoist a few wintry beers and cheers to chase the chill away. Winter beers, affectionately called “winter warmers”, are typically stouts and porters that are more robust – richer, bolder, creamier, and hoppier in style with a deeper hue appearance. They also tend to be higher in alcohol by volume (ABV) to keep you warm! Comforting flavours can range from hints of toffee, caramel, chocolate and molasses to smokiness. Some winter beers have spicy or sweet notes, while the more serious brews are barrel-aged. Unlike their summery counterparts, winter beers are sipped, not guzzled, and taste better around 7-10o C instead of icy-cold.
In Vancouver and the valley, microbrewers have been busy crafting some of the most innovative seasonal specialities. Touted as the craft beer mecca of Canada, with over 50 artisanal breweries, there is an abundant of choices to warm and wet your whistle! To get you started, although it’s only the tip of the iceberg, here are five of the buzziest microbreweries that offer tastings and West Coast crafted winter suds…all within easy beer hopping distance of each other in East Vancouver, better known as Yeast Van!
For over 20 years, James Walton (founder and Brewmaster) has been unstoppable in brewing up a storm of unpretentious and innovative craft beers. It’s not unusual to find him experimenting with 6-7 new beers every week! Since 2013 alone, James has masterminded over 90 impressive tasty brews in small batches. All Storm Brewing beers are unfiltered and free of additives. Although they don’t have a formal tasting lounge, visitors are always welcome to drop by and sample beers. Winter warmers include the smooth, rich and roasty Black Plague Stout (8.5% ABV) and the Eye of the Storm Barley Wine (12% ABV), which is fresh and complex with residual sweetness.
For this winter, James has big news! He has launched a one-of-a-kind beer of mammoth proportion, aptly named Glacial Mammoth Extinction (25% ABV). It’s made by freezing sour beer to -30oC in two stages within a month. The sweet alcoholic liquid that separated from the ice was then aged in French oak barrels for two years. The outcome is a sweet, rich, dark, and viscous 100% malt drink that is more Port-like than beer. You’ll be rewarded with a taste profile that is initially sweet, followed by flavours like prunes and muscatel grapes. Glacial Mammoth Extinction is thought to be the first beer of its type in the world and has already been named Canada’s most expensive 1L bottle of beer. The price tag is a cool $1000, because the bottles are hand blown glass and adorned with a pendant of ivory from the tusk of a prehistoric mammoth estimated to be 35,000 years old. Two East Vancouver artists (Brad Turner and Richard Marcus) were responsible for designing and creating the limited edition artisan bottles and ivory pendants. Only 10 are available. The unique beer can be purchased separately in growler fills or in 1oz tasters at the brewery; but available in limited quantities.
This small independent microbrewery, focused on handcrafted beers using all natural ingredients, is owned and operated by husband and wife team – David Bowkett and Nicole Stefanopoulos. After opening in 2012, they stunned the beer world by winning a Beer of the Year award in the Canadian Brewing Awards and the gold medal in the North American Style Pale Ale category (2013) for their Old Jalopy Pale Ale. They quickly expanded to accommodate the demand following their overnight success. Powell Street’s new and larger brewery offers a cozy tasting room with eight fantastic beers for growler fills and on tap for tasting as a sampler, by the glass or in a flight (4). For winter, the Enigma Stout (6% ABV) was released in a single batch and expected to last until February. Liken to an American-style stout, its dark, rich, malty body with firm bitterness and bright roast flavours (espresso and chocolate) make this a truly unique beer.
While the brewery is fairly new, the owner, Steve Forsyth, is no stranger to the beer market. After running the Railway Club (a popular music venue) for 25 years, Steve trained in hop farming and brewing before opening Off The Rail in Feb 2015. In a short period, the microbrewery has established an impressive reputation and range of hand crafted beers, of which some are made from organic hops. Five beers are the backbone of the brewery, but visitors can taste and buy about 15 rotating beer varieties on tap in their tasting lounge.
Bringing comfort in the colder months, their Old Winston Smoked Porter (5.4-5.6% ABV) is like a winter sweater in a glass! It has a balance of mild smoked flavour with smooth rich coffee and chocolate notes. But possibly cozier is the Black Oat Stout (4.2% ABV), a heavier, creamier and nutter winter warmer that gives off a touch of sweetness along with a mild hop bitterness. Then, there’s the new Eastbound and Brown (5.5% ABV), a dark ale with a kick of chocolate malt and a tinge of sweetness.
Bomber Brewing was founded on a shared love of hockey by three close friends. Don Farion, Dean Mallel and Cam Andrews are now at the helm of one of the city’s newest and more notable microbreweries, named after their recreational hockey team. A roster of eight beers is on tap in their inviting tasting room. Within the expanding repertoire of beers, be sure to sample their Gold Medal winning Pilsner and Absolute Horizon CDA. But, in this season of mitts and toques, it is their winter warmers that will charm you, these are – the Choqlette Porter (5.5% ABV) and the Old Fat Heater Winter Ale (8% ABV). Bolder chocolaty flavours and rich roasted malts meet in this porter. The Ale, on the other hand, has notes of caramel, dates and figs shining through. With 8% alcohol content, it will most certainly heat you up from the inside!
Celebrating the strange and creating products that are far from the ordinary are what makes this microbrewery stand out from the others. The co-founding fellows are Iain Hill and Aaron Jonckheere, strangers who became brewing partners with a common love for creating unique and inspiring beer. Their boutique brewery includes a stylish tasting lounge/art gallery with rotating works of art exhibits and eight beers on tap. Once a month they organize a strange or special event.
For their beers, Strange Fellows is known for their sour style of beers and the use of wood in their beer making process (eg oak barrels and tanks) which provides a natural way for micro-oxygenation but can also help to smooth the texture of the beer and add flavour. Two of their winter delights may appeal to cold-weather fans, these are the Blackmail Milk Stout (4.5% ABV) and the Krampusnacht (9% ABV). The former is a dry Irish-style milk stout with added lactose for a creamier beer. It also has touches of dark chocolate and coffee tones. On the much darker side, the Krampusnacht is a Belgium abbey dubbel. It’s a stronger style of beer and its complexity comes from the double brewing. The dubbel is more malty than hoppy in nature because Belgian dark malts and candy sugar are used. Expect rich, dark stone fruit flavours and a slightly sweet finish. As the owners are not afraid to celebrate strangeness in each of us, the name was inspired by a scary folklore figure, Krampus, who kidnaps and punishes naughty children during the Christmas season. With an alcohol content of 9%, and other beer tastings under your belt, you’ll likely be merrier than stranger after this visit!
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.
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!
Coastal and multicultural are the flavours of Vancouver’s most recognized specialties. To get to know the unique bites (and sips) Vancouverites love to munch, start with these eleven favorites:
Vancouver’s original most-talked-about food cart serves Japanese-inspired hotdogs. Bask in the salty, sweet, and spicy tastes of seaweed flakes, teriyaki sauce, miso, wasabi and kimchi. There are multiple locations in downtown Vancouver, including an indoor location at 530 Robson.
British Columbia’s signature sushi roll is done in many ways, but the one consistent ingredient is grilled savoury and chewy salmon skin. Get them at just about any sushi joint in Vancouver.
Busy Vancouverites are often particular about their favorite liquid pick-me-up, and love their pour-overs and flavoured espresso drinks. Some local chains to try are Milano Coffee, 49th Parallel, and JJ Bean. But don’t forget the many cozy independent shops to be found who take their coffee very seriously. Try soy or almond milk to replace traditional milk and cream at almost any place you find – dairy-free options are standard here!
B.C. smoked salmon glazed with maple syrup or local honey is smokey, salty, sweet, and impossible to stop eating once you’ve started. If you want to save some as a gift for family back home, make sure you get a little extra for yourself – more than you thought you needed even, It is seriously addictive! You can find it at Granville Island Public Market and Fish Counter on Main Street.
These beautiful pink creatures are large, sweet shrimp fished in the waters surrounding Vancouver in the month of May. Most fine restaurants in Vancouver serve fresh prawns when available, such as Yew at the Four Seasons Hotel, and the annual Spot Prawn Festival is held every year on Granville Island.
Large meaty crabs are harvested along the west coast, and trapping them yourself for dinner is a local pastime, but you don’t need to get in the water to enjoy them in many local restaurants. Some great places to try Dungeness Crab are Blue Water Café & Raw Bar or Hawksworth.
Salmon, fiddleheads, elk, and other native west coast foods make for a warm and hearty meal. Indigenous foods are proof that the land was rich with delicious ingredients and diverse flavours long before we called it “Vancouver.” One place to try it is Salmon n’Bannock Bistro.
Chinese Cuisine and Dim Sum
Richmond, where the native Chinese languages-speaking population is over 40%, is considered to have some of the best Chinese food outside of China. In Vancouver, you can get a taste in Chinatown. Places such as Floata Seafood Restaurant serve excellent dim sum as well as a variety of traditional and modern dishes.
Japanese Ramen and Izakaya
There are few things cozier than tucking into a steaming bowl of ramen, or gathering with friends and sharing hot sake and a table full of various izakaya dishes. Izakaya is a tradition originating from sake shops in the Edo period (1603-1867) where customers could sit down for drinks and bites. Today in Vancouver, izakaya is a range of diverse Japanese bites with a flourish of Japanese spirit -infused beverages. You can find it all over Vancouver, but particularly in the West End neighbourhood, at places such as Kingyo on Denman.
Famous Cuisine: Vij’s Curry and Tojo’s Sushi
Vikram Vij and Hidekazu Tojo are two of Vancouver’s most iconic chefs, lauded by everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Martha Stewart. Vikram Vij has restaurants in Vancouver and Surrey. Tojo’s is located in West Broadway in Vancouver.
Coffee, served hot or cold, is arguably the world’s most popular beverage. In the ranking of best coffee cities in the world, Vancouver has become one of the undisputed top ten leaders. The obsession with coffee, particularly independent coffee shops/roasters, is a big part of what defines the city’s foodie culture, as much as craft breweries, food trucks, farmers markets, boutique eateries, etc. And, the love affair with java extends throughout the Fraser Valley. To truly appreciate the local coffee scene, grab your travel mug and follow this itinerary to sip on some of the best coffee, and special accompaniments, at a batch of unique micro-roasters in Greater Vancouver.
As the saying goes, “life is too short to drink bad coffee.” If you crave unique coffee flavours that are ethically sourced, then you may be part of a growing trend of coffee connoisseurs that support indie-owned coffee shops focused on craft brewing the finest organic, single origin and fair trade beans. But, not all shops roast their own coffee nor do all coffee roasters have a shop. From an abundance of excellent coffee shops in Vancouver and the Valley, here’s a small round-up of out-of-the-ordinary artisan coffee roasting houses/cafes steeped in local appeal that you can visit in North Vancouver, Fort Langley, White Rock, Richmond and Vancouver.
The road trip for your coffee tasting day begins early in North Vancouver at Moja Coffee (1412 Rupert Street). Doug and Andrew started Moja Coffee in 2003 and have stayed true to supporting single origin coffee from around the world, with the majority being organic. Their roasting operation sits behind their café. Be sure to indulge in a Thomas Haas chocolate croissant with your first caffeine pick-me-up of the day.
Point your coffee mug east, driving on the Trans-Canada highway #1 to Fort Langley, a charming village and home to the popular Fort Langley National Historic Site. Just off the main street in Gasoline Alley, you’ll discover Republica Coffee Roasters (9203 Glover Road). The owners’ (Hiro and Ricardo) mantra is to provide the freshest roast and any unsold coffee 72 hours after roasting is donated to the community. Although they focus on organic single estate coffees, their unique blends are only served at the coffee shop. And, while you’re there, perk up your coffee with a healthier shot of organic blue agave syrup in ten flavour options.
Continue your drive, crossing through Langley along highway 10 to Surrey. Arrive at the eye catching, landmark tepee of Holy Smoke Coffee (3418 King George Highway) before 11 am (closing time, M-F). For thirteen years, Al has been serving coffee with a smile at this extraordinary coffee drive-thru. He is dedicated to everything organic, from coffee beans (from Mexico and Guatemala), sugar, and milk to baked goods, which are sourced from Michael’s Artisan Bakery in South Surrey/White Rock. Don’t miss your chance to get a free 2-minute therapy session which is included with every $2 cup of joe! In the spirit of keeping things small, Al home roasts his organic beans on site in an adapted BBQ! And, if you’re lucky to be around on Saturday in the spring/summer, traditional Berliner Currywurst is cooked up for customers. With your coffee to go, take time to stroll along White Rock’s oceanfront promenade.
Turn north along highway 99 to Richmond and pop by Viva Java Roasting House (2900 Smith Street), a small one-man coffee operation. The owner champions organic coffee that he roasts daily on-site to offer about fourteen single origin coffees and three house blends. While this may not be a coffee shop to hang out, the coffee is well worth the visit along with the chance to meet the owner, Arti, for his larger-than-life personality.
Carry on highway 99 towards Vancouver’s city centre. In Gastown, drop by East Van Roasters (319 Carrall Street), the city’s only artisan bean-to-bar chocolate maker and coffee roaster. Owned and operated by the PHS Community Services Society, East Van Roasters provide training and employment to women recovering from homelessness and addiction. Organic single origin, fair trade cacao and coffee beans are all roasted on site. Along with espresso beverages, you can spoil yourself with hand-crafted chocolate drinks, truffles and bars.
Complete your coffee touring day at Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House (450 Granville Street) in the heart of Downtown Vancouver. For over 20 years, Trees Organic has been sourcing and serving only 100% organic, single origin, naturally shade grown coffee bought at fair trade terms. Their coffee is fresh roasted daily, in small batches, on premise at their flagship Granville Street location. The owner, Doron, takes great pride in maintaining the distinct aromatic and flavour qualities of single origin coffee beans; therefore, coffee blends are not available. And because man does not live on coffee alone, pair your coffee with one of their popular cheesecakes, voted the best in Vancouver! If you’re on location for Thursday or Friday nights, then stick around for their free live music events.
With so many more coffee shops and roasters in and around Vancouver, as a welcome contrast to large coffee chains, there’s no shortage of good coffee options and you’ll soon discover that all roads lead to great coffee!
Cited as one of the key players of the city’s culinary scene, chef Andrea Carlson has been quietly shaping the way that Vancouverites eat for more than a decade. From the (now closed) C Restaurant and the Rain City Grill, to Sooke Harbour House and Bishop’s, Andrea has worked at some of the province’s most important restaurants, whose locavore seasonal menus helped to lay down the foundations of a more sustainable way of eating in B.C. and beyond. Now chef/co-owner at Burdock & Co. on Main Street, and the celebrated local community store/delicious noodle soup bar, Harvest Union, we spoke to Andrea to find out more.
“The driving force behind Burdock & Co is to present farm to table food in a casual environment and bring what used to be a bit elitist to families and the neighbourhood at a more accessible price point. I wanted to use the same producers that I’ve used in the past, the relationship that you have with growers develops over years; you support them and you are conscientious about them, you basically manage your supply chain through loyalty. When you have these relationships with growers you can access this amazing food, support the food economy and give diners the best produce that they can try.”
With such an abundance of fresh produce in the Lower Mainland, what does a chef like Andrea look for when it comes to her suppliers?
“We really want to support urban farmers and social enterprises; people like Sole Food, who transform vacant space in the city into small farms and then provide training and jobs for people in the Downtown East Side community. That benefits everyone in Vancouver so much! Their produce changes seasonally, of course, but they have amazing greens, we use their kale which is really robust and fantastic in our noodle dishes. Their French breakfast radishes are amazing and we use them every spring. There are so many different suppliers – I love the corn from Urban Digs, for example.”
As the year shifts from season to season, there’s always something new and fresh to be excited by. “Corn is huge for me,” beams Andrea. “It’s so tasty and so versatile– you can use it as a dessert, raw, charred, it runs the whole gamut. Then there’s artichoke season, we get ours from Glen Valley in Abbotsford; we throw them over charcoal with wild sumac and serve them with a walnut brown butter sauce. So good. But hands down, the sunchoke is my favourite vegetable, I guess because of its versatility, you can roast it, or caramelize it, it has a wonderful sugar unlike many other root vegs, and an earthy sweetness and nuttiness to it that just sets it apart.”
Of course, anyone who preaches such a root to plate gospel naturally grows their own too; “we have a tiny little food garden next to the restaurant,” explains Andrea, “this year we grew a Japanese myoga ginger plant which we harvested in July which had a phenomenal taste. We grew some corn, but someone stole it! I guess you can’t get too attached. Right now we have begonias which have highly acidic petals that you can use in vinaigrettes and they have crazy bright colours!”
When asked why it’s important to cook this way, Andrea pauses, “you’re contributing to your own food security when you eat this way, but ultimately it’s almost selfish,” she confesses, “it’s so enjoyable. Everything that comes to you is practically pulsing with life energy! You can use the best, freshest produce with the most vitality and that is the most rewarding thing as a chef.“
Circa 1900, “Brewery Creek” was moniker for a stretch of stream in what is today Mount Pleasant. Centered on what’s now known as Main Street, the trickling water supply powered water wheels for area beer and soda producers. Decades of urban development saw the stream closed over and the prohibition years resulted in the breweries closing down – until now. Thanks to the recent change in liquor laws and new crop of breweries are popping up in Mount Pleasant and the area is reclaiming the name Brewery Creek.
Take yourself on a tour, strolling around brewery creek until you can stroll no more.
Head south on Main Street up the hill to 6th Avenue and enter Brassneck – one of Vancouver’s premiere tasting rooms serving up some of the best beer. Make sure to try everything – it’s all good! While you’re there, try one of the locally-made game pepperoni sticks at the growler counter; elk, bison, boar – it’s all local and delicious.
To truly experience an authentic slice of local life, you can’t get more local than the neighbourhood farmers markets. Whether you’re shopping or browsing, each of the numerous markets showcases genuinely local products and proprietors from all over the Valley. Immerse yourself in sampling seasonal and fresh fare, gourmet treats, and artisanal delights that have been prepared or produced with a regional spin. Half the fun is being part of the market’s social scene and friendly atmosphere. Chat with other food enthusiasts and meet small-scale but passionate food artisans. You’re certain to enjoy the stories or inspirations behind their unique products. Without a doubt, you’ll be glad you sampled and supported local flavours!
On any given Wednesday to Sunday (May to October), there are numerous outdoor farmers markets in and around Vancouver communities. With so many choices, you may want to explore a market a day or connect some of the markets open on the same day. One route linking several of the more interesting and scenic communities on a Sunday begins in the charming neighbourhood of Kitsilano (Vancouver’s West Side). With a suggested start of 10 am, explore this neighbourhood market which is pleasantly set up outside the community centre.
Then travel south to the idyllic seaside village of White Rock (Canada-US border), arriving mid-day for their market in the town centre. After a stop to enjoy the views on the oceanfront promenade, travel west, by mid-afternoon, to the historic fishing village of Steveston in southern Richmond to end your day of local markets. The Steveston market, which closes at 4 pm, fills the quaint village streets adjacent to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. While it’s possible and an adventure to connect these three markets by public transport, it is more time efficient and flexible to travel by car. Either way, you’ll enjoy and appreciate the local food scene much more after a fun day of fresh and friendly farmers markets!
Vancouver’s foodie heaven is right in the heart of the city on Granville Island, a hub for all things delicious thanks to the public market, one of the city’s top attractions for visitors and locals alike. A delight for all the senses, walking around the market is guaranteed to get your taste buds working overtime. One of its most popular stalls is ChocolaTas, where you’ll find the seasonally-inspired creations of Belgian Master Chocolate maker, Wim Tas and his wife Veve. Trained at Belgium’s most respected chocolate house, Maison Wittamer, who exclusively supply the Belgian royal family with chocolates, Wim and Veve first came to Vancouver in 2000 and fell in love with Granville Island at first sight.
“From the first time we came to Vancouver to visit and see if it was a possible place to live, I said I wanted a store on the Island,” reminisces Veve. “Granville Island has such beauty and diversity, people come from all around the world to visit and it’s a mecca for quality products. We are honoured to be part of that.” Working in the market, being surrounded by the sights, smells and flavours of each season provides plenty of inspiration for Wim and Veve. “We look through the eyes of chocolate with everything,” she explains. “You see something and wonder how it would work –how can we integrate those unique flavours into a bon bon? Of course, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but you have to keep testing and trying new things.”
One of those new flavour profiles may come as surprise, ChocolaTas has created a hops-infused chocolate using local hops from Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley. “Hops farming is starting again in the Lower Mainland,” enthuses Veve. “In the past there were a lot of hops grown here but it disappeared. Now they are coming back, I saw the first field in March and it was beautiful!”
As the growing seasons shift around the calendar, regular customers have favourite flavours that they look forward to seeing appear –and Wim and Veve look forward to making them. “Right now, I can’t wait for pumpkins, we make a pumpkin-pecan ganache with bourbon finished with cinnamon and I always look forward to making those” confides Veve, “of course, berry season is always wonderful; one of our signature flavours is a raspberry ganache. Then there’s our B.C. blueberries from Chilliwack, hazelnuts from Agassiz – we are surrounded by so many good things!”
Christmas and Easter are special times for chocolatiers and ChocolaTas celebrate the seasons with something rather special, Veve adds, “we make a fresh cream chocolate each December; Wim made these each year for the Belgian royal family and even I have to put an order in because we only make them once a year! At Easter we use plenty of local nuts in our treats, each new season we make something special with the local flavours that you can taste around Granville Island at the Public Market. It’s a very special place to visit.”
151-1689 Johnston St. Granville Island, 1-877-668-8932
UPDATE: In September 2015, ChocolaTas was named Top Artisanal Chocolatier and Most Gifted Chocolatier at the recent International Chocolate Salon in San Francisco! They also took home over 14 awards, with three gold awards; Top Artisanal Chocolatier and Best Bridal Gift Set for their ChocolaTas 4 Piece Wedding Tin with 2 monogrammed bonbons and a Gold Award for their newly designed Elegance Box of Salted Caramel. And the awards don’t stop there; the Green Tea bonbon also garnered 4 different awards in the Best White Chocolate award category. Congratulations, ChocolaTas!
Vancouverites have a sweet tooth and love to dive straight into dessert, after all, life’s too short to wait for the last course! There are dozens of specialty dessert cafes and bars around the city that offer adventurous options when it comes to picking something sweet. From green tea macarons to raspberry and earl grey cream puffs, Vancouver’s got the lot and plenty use ingredients from right here in the lower mainland. Here are seven of our favourite spots to eat dessert in Vancouver.
When it comes to gelato, there can be only one choice in Vancouver and it has to be the multi-award winning Bella Gelateria whose menu of incredibly smooth iced treats changes according to whatever is seasonally available from local farmers. This includes the finest berries from Krause Berry Farm and silky creamy goat cheese from Happy Farms in Abbotsford.
Head across town to West 16th Ave in Kitsilano to visit everyone’s favourite locals-loving dessert spot which has plenty of options for those who are gluten-free as well as gluten fans. Sweet Obsession only use free-run Rabbit River Farm eggs, and their berries come from Krause Berry Farms. In Langley, try the seasonally-changing fruit tart with chocolate mousse made with all-local berries.
Pronounced ‘crack-le-creme’ this bijou specialty crème brûlée and waffle bar makes their must-have desserts from all kinds of exotic ingredients from pandan to Tahitian vanilla, however, you can find a local flavour if you pick the Vietnamese Coffee crème brûlée, which uses East Van Roaster coffee from Gastown. Lavender-infused brûlées use fragrant flowers from nearby Happy Valley farm.
Right in the heart of Gastown you’ll find this year’s dessert sensation, Soft Peaks, who make their gorgeous soft-serve ice cream from Avalon organic milk from Burnaby. You can choose a variety of toppings but their honeycomb, which is their best seller, comes from the Fraser Valley.
Slip down to one of the city’s best kept secrets, delicious Soirette Macarons and Tea where you’ll find crisp and chewy fresh-baked French-style macarons bursting with B.C. blueberries; or maybe try their ‘Vancouver Fog’ macaron that’s made with organic lavender and earl grey tea.
Make a pit stop in the heart of town and visit the award-winning Thierry whose tarts always reflect the best of the season using berries, pears and chestnuts from the Fraser Valley and other local suppliers. Try the delicious all-local strawberry-basil tart.
The cream puffs at Beta-5 have reached cult status, filled fresh to order and always somehow more delicious than you ever dreamed they could be. As international award winners, Beta-5 look close to home for their inspiration, using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Queue up with other dessert fans and try the seasonally-available B.C. blueberry and lavender cream puff.
Head east of Chilliwack and just before you hit the misty Coastal Mountains you’ll run into a little slice of pastoral paradise, where happy cows graze in the meadows and one of North America’s best cheese makers, Debra Amrein-Boyes, is making magic from milk.
Amrein-Boyes herself is a bit of a legend in cheese circles. She is one of only a handful of North American cheese makers to be inducted into the prestigious French Cheese Guild, the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie de Saint-Uguzon. Her 2009 book, 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, was nominated for a World Gourmand Cookbook Award. And her cheeses have scooped up numerous prizes, too, including, most recently, the 2014 Canadian Cheese Awards for Best Aged Cheddar and Best B.C. Cheese for her Clothbound Cheddar.
Not bad for someone who only started making cheese in 2004. Back then, she and her husband George Boyes were running a small family dairy farm in Agassiz and, like so many others, struggling to compete with giant agribusinesses. The solution, she decided, was to offer something of added value. And that something would be cheese.
But it wouldn’t be just any cheese. It would be the best quality cheese possible, made from grass-fed, high-butterfat milk, much of it from heritage Guernsey and Brown Swiss cows, with no additives, preservatives, pesticides, hormones or antibiotics, and as little intervention as possible.
“It’s all old-fashioned, natural methods, which is one of the reasons the flavour is so good,” she says.
Right from the beginning, Amrein-Boyes decided she would produce a big range of cheeses, not just a few like most other artisanal cheese makers. “We wanted to introduce cheeses to the Canadian public that people weren’t familiar with,” she says.
And so she makes cheese from goat’s milk and cow’s milk. She makes fresh cheeses and aged ones, soft cheeses and firm ones, cheeses that are mould ripened, ash ripened and threaded with blue veins. She makes some 20 varieties of cheese, including the luxuriously rich Lady Jane named for her daughter, but also offers butter, yogurt, cheese curds, quark, crème fraîche, milk and buttermilk.
Does she have a favourite? “I love the cheddar,” Amrein-Boyes says, “but sometimes you want a glass of Beaujolais and the camembert.”
Now she’s inspired others farmers, such as Golden Ears Cheesecrafters, to produce artisanal cheese in the Fraser Valley; indeed, one of them is her own daughter, who is planning to take over the business with her husband when Amrein-Boyes eventually retires.
Meanwhile, she has cheese to make, and a hungry clientele to keep deliciously well fed.
B.C. is at the heart of the craft distillery boom in Canada with more distilleries in the province right now than in the rest of Canada put together – and the majority of them are based in the lower mainland, using local ingredients to create craft gins, vodkas, and a dizzying range of fruit-based liqueurs. From the internationally award winning Long Table Distillery’s Cucumber Gin, made with locally-grown ‘cukes to the B.C. black currents in Odd Society Spirits’ Crème de Cassis, the focus is on delicious west coast and valley flavours.
Alex Hamer founded the BC Distilled Festival to showcase and celebrate B.C. distilleries to a wider audience. After launching in 2014, the event throws open the doors each year to hundreds of local distillery fans who can sample spirits from the 22 distillers in attendance, “If you’re at all interested in tasting local spirits, the lower mainland is the place to come,” says Alex. “There is no better place in Canada, distillers are innovating styles of gin and vodka here that have never been done before, and they all push each other to keep going further. This is something that is only going to grow and get better. Now people are aging spirits and we’ll see some good whiskies coming in the next 4-5 years too.”
Thanks to recent changes in the law, distilleries are now able to have tasting rooms and visitors can sample the spirits and often try them in craft cocktails too, usually at handsome bars with the distillery’s still gleaming away behind glass.
“Visitors love it,” laughs Hamer, “you can try out something really interesting, spend the evening there and have a great local cocktail. The tasting rooms at Deep Cove Distillers in North Van, the Odd Society in East Van, the Liberty Distillery on Granville Island and the Long Table Distillery in North False Creek are especially nice. The Yaletown Distillery even has a bar attached so you can try everything they do there. Aside from sampling the spirits, you can learn more about the process on a distillery tour and meet the people who created and distilled the drink in your glass at the end.”
If you’re inspired by what you see and what you taste, you can buy spirits to take home and often pick up beautiful bar equipment too so you can start making craft cocktails too.
Visitors to the city are often amazed by the variety of locally distilled spirits on offer which use West coast ingredients like spruce tips or even local flowers and honey. Hamer is enthusiastic about this break with tradition, “that’s what’s really cool about what’s happening in B.C. and the west coast; we’re not tied down by tradition which gives us free range to experiment and it’s amazing that we’re doing this here.”
Vancouver’s street food scene is known as being one of the best in North America, with more than 100 trucks dotted around the city serving up a dizzying selection of cuisines from around the world. On any given day you could dine on Mexican tortilla stuffed with cactus, a Thai papaya salad, Polish homemade pierogi or even just a hot dog – Japanese-style –dressed with Teriyaki sauce and seaweed.
The delicious twist with many of the trucks you’ll find around town is that they use seasonal ingredients right from the lower mainland, so you can taste something new and local each month as the fresh harvest comes in. You’ll also see Ocean Wise stickers on many of the trucks, which means that the seafood they serve is 100% sustainable so you can chow down guilt free. Find your new favourite truck with the handy StreetFood app.
Start your day right with a super-local and sustainable breakfast from one of the city’s most distinctive trucks; you’ll find Yolk’s baby blue cart at the corner of Burrard and West Pender. Very nearly everything on their menu is organic, local or free-range. All the herbs on the dishes come from the owner’s (Steve’s) garden, and the beef short rib comes from grass-fed, local organically raised cows.
One of Vancouver’s best known trucks is Vij’s Railway Express, which won the En Route Best New Restaurant People’s Choice award back in 2013, the only time it’s ever been won by a food cart. All of their seafood is Ocean Wise and their meats are hormone and antibiotic-free from Two Rivers in North Vancouver. Vij’s Railway Express also uses local organic microgreens from Sky Harvest, Canada’s only certified Urban Organic farm, who grow their delicious produce right in the heart of the city in East Vancouver.
One of the healthiest carts around, Culver City Salads get their ingredients from Inner City Farms, a community initiative which covers some 20 farms across Vancouver, which in aggregate comprise just short of an acre of farm space within city limits. Each week Culver City Salads gets a supply of freshly-harvested produce that shifts with the seasons and packs a powerful organic punch as each of their salads features at least ten ingredients.
Fancy something spicy? Then try Le Tigre’s take on Chinese street food with a west coast edge. Le Tigre use local and organic vegetables from the Vancouver Farmers Market to keep their Miso Awesome Quinoa Salad packed with super seasonal ingredients all year round. Plus their seafood is sustainable and comes from Skipper Otto’s community supported fishery that works directly with local fishermen to support them year-round.
Dessert comes with a seasonal twist from Nice Pops and their adorable bike-driven pushcart packed with artisan popsicles made fresh in East Vancouver from local fruits. Taste your way through the summer with frosty fresh flavours such as yellow plum and black cherry, apricot and home made salt caramel, or blueberry and cream. You’ll find them at food cart festivals and farmers markets throughout the summer.
Vancouver is known as Canada’s cocktail capital, a hotbed of innovative alcoholic creations, shaken and stirred by award-winning bartenders who are making a name for themselves on the international circuit. Tucked away in the city’s West End by Stanley Park on Denman Street, you’ll find Buckstop, owned by Fiona Grieve whose local-first approach to cocktails is making her late night barbecue joint a must-visit for locavore drinkers.
“I’m local,” grins Fiona, “I was raised in the Tri-Cities area and have friends there who still who grow things and are always eager to get them into the restaurant. I love to use produce from Coquitlam to make my cocktail bitters. Bitters help to add layers of complexity to a drink, say you have just a plain tomato, if I add salt and pepper to that it changes it and makes it better. Then say I add balsamic vinegar or basil, that will change it again and it’s the same for a cocktail. It’s about adding those layers in so you don’t get a flat beverage. Every step that you put into it will make it more memorable and enjoyable.”
My family has a huge amount of lavender at home, so I made lavender bitters which we feature in our cocktails and they specifically say ‘tri-cities lavender” on the bottle. It’s a good local product and we’re stoked about it! We’re excited to offer something that came from nearby. People think that lavender is a little exotic so bringing it from somewhere close is fantastic.
Ever since summer began we’ve been making our BC blueberry bourbon lemonade; you smash the blueberries up and they give you this incredible colour. I use Port Moody blackberries, which grow wild, in one of our most popular drinks, the Mule Skinner. My mom goes out and picks them for me. It has blackberry liquer and fresh muddled blackberries in it with with bourbon and it’s fun to say ‘these berries were growing wild in a park in Coquitlam and now you’re drinking them!’ I always make a point about talking about using local fruits in our drinks and so does my bartender. Of course, people are into it! No one’s ever said ‘Oh, I don’t want that local peach, it’s not from Chile!
A really good place to find cocktail ingredients is the Farmer’s Market; I can walk down to the one in Yaletown on Thursdays and it’s exciting because the produce is always changing, we have this short period to enjoy different wonderful local foods, when they come in season. They’re here for a short time and there is absolutely no comparison to anything else; it tastes different. It’s totally awesome, fantastic and delicious to eat and drink local produce!”
Buckstop can be found at 833 Denman St. in Vancouver
Vancouver’s cocktail scene is currently going from strength to strength, with innovative bartenders shaking up delicious drinks in bars and restaurants across the city. Vancouver bartenders love to push their creativity by entering –and often winning –tough cocktail contests, vying to be the best with a unique creations.
Although several bartenders across the city have locked down nationwide titles (for instance Grant Sceney at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Lauren Mote at Uva, and Kevin Brownlee at AnnaLena), two bartenders in the city can make you drinks that are officially world beaters: West Restaurant’s Sabrine Dhaliwal and Cin Cin’s David Wolowidnyk have both placed first at international cocktail competitions, showing up all other competitors from around the world. All you need to do to taste a world class drink is take a seat at their bar.
Sabrine Dhaliwal won the 2015 Belvedere Challenge to Create the Next Legendary Martini in London. She recounts:
“It was amazing; it was a surreal whirlwind experience to be number one in the world. Just incredible. All the other competitors were so friendly and everyone had great cocktails, it was inspiring to be with them. I think that cocktail culture thrives in Vancouver because there are so many high caliber bartenders and we all push each other to be better. Typically, we think out of the box here in Vancouver; behind the bar we do what other people aren’t doing, but it’s always nice to see what other cities are doing and then bring that back home.
My martini is called Pink Skies; I created it from stuff I had at home in the fridge! Some cucumber, grapefruit peel, Belvedere vodka and Lillet Rose; it had to be for the ‘next legendary martini’ so I thought it needed to be easy –yet unique. Just as I poured it out, it looked just like the sky outside, hence the name. It’s all about the timing!”
David Wolowidnyk won Bombay Sapphire’s 2012 “world’s most imaginative bartender” contest in Marrakech, Morocco. Despite that, he remains very humble:
“I don’t think that anyone is ever ‘the best’ but in that one competition in that one moment in time, then you can be recognized for your hard efforts that have been a long time coming. Winning was a very special feeling, finally putting that feather of accomplishment in my hat. The rest of the competition was screaming with talent; I was proud of what I did but it could have been any of us.
I think here in Vancouver, the bartending community thrives because we recognize that if we share ideas we grow faster as a community. We’re lucky in this industry that we do share so much; sure, we’re technically competing bars and restaurants, but I think we see each other as comrades and peers. We’re collaborative because we’re in it together. You can try my award-winning Beldi cocktail, which was inspired by the sights, sounds and flavours of Marrakech at West, where it’s still on the list there. I recently moved to Cin Cin and my new classic is the Sgroppino; it’s festive, fun and refreshing, yet it’s a little something different. It’s rather a classic rustic Italian drink and we’ve refined it. We decided to scoop the sorbet on top, so you can drink through it and you get that experience of frothiness coming through the bubbles, it’s already one of our best selling drinks!
West is at 2881Granville St. Cin Cin is at 1154 Robson St.
Many visitors to the west coast are drawn by its zingingly fresh seafood, famous the world over for being some of the very best that the ocean has to offer. However, overfishing is the greatest threat to all our oceans today and according to Ocean Wise, the Vancouver Aquarium conservation program which launched a decade ago to help consumers make environmentally friendly choices, “…an estimated 90% of all large, predatory fish are already gone from the world’s oceans. A recent scientific study predicted a world-wide fisheries collapse by 2048. The only solution is to turn back from the brink, and to begin consuming seafood in a sustainable manner.”
Robert Clark and Mike McDermid are two men on a mission to change the way that we think about buying and eating seafood. After helping create and launch the Ocean Wise programme, they’ve taken the next step and have opened the west coast’s very first all-sustainable seafood store, The Fish Counter, which also boasts a take-out counter (with one of the city’s only gluten-free fryers) cooking up some of the best fish and chips, oyster po’boys and fish tacos in the city.
Like a farmer’s market, but for fish, Rob and Mike work directly with fishermen so there’s an ever-changing variety of seafood available to try. Each season brings its own seafood treasures, Rob explains:
“At the end of March halibut is the first fresh fish to come out of the ocean, it’s always good at that time of year and it’s a fish that everyone needs to eat. In May you should switch up to spot prawns and gorge on them for the whole short season through to June!
Then the salmon begins to come in, here in BC we have five varieties to pick from and within those varieties there are at least four major rivers that produce them: the Fraser, Skeena, Nass and Barkley Sound. Those four river groups all bring a different taste, a different oil content and different qualities to the salmon.
On June 10th fishermen start fishing the Skeena and the first fresh salmon that comes on the line is spring or chinook salmon. That doesn’t last too long before it switches to sockeye, then pink and then coho, it goes back and forth as the fish head south from the northern rivers. Look out for Nass River Sockeye, the flavour and oil content is wonderful, sockeye can go dry when you cook it but these are moist and succulent. There’s lots of pink salmon coming down from Haida Gwaii, it can be hard to find but it’s worth seeking out. Then in late August or early September watch out for sockeye from the Fraser River and chum salmon. In August we also get our sustainable and delicious ling cod coming through too.
As sablefish and albacore tuna tend to be frozen at sea to capture their quality, they are available year-round, but BC shellfish shines in the fall and winter, we have excellent quality shellfish throughout theyear, but we have more variety of oysters in the cooler months; everyone loves Kuushi oysters, those are BC jewels and I love the Sawmill Bay oysters too. Fall is also a wonderful time for salmon caviar which is harvested from the chum salmon.”
Last year chef Ned Bell launched the Chefs for Oceans Foundation and rode his bike 8,700 km across Canada in a bid to raise awareness of sustainable seafood and healthy lakes, rivers and oceans. Executive chef at Vancouver’s Four Seasons and YEW Seafood + Bar, Ned Bell believes passionately in educating diners on seafood sustainability and introducing them to delicious Ocean Wise alternatives. “People come to BC and they are looking for the west coast experience,” says Ned. “ I’d love them to start looking beyond wild salmon and enjoy some more of our rock-star sustainable seafoods!”
Vancouver is leading the wave of change to a more sustainable diet when it comes to seafood. Explains Bell, “I think it’s because we have that connection to the coast and the extraordinary seafood that we get to pull from our ocean. We’re recognized for our passion for the environment and a healthy lifestyle too.” Visitors to the city can’t help but notice restaurant menus proudly declaring the provenance of the ingredients that go into making their food. Living so close to nature has an effect on how you feel about the food on your plate: Vancouverites want to know what they’re eating won’t harm the natural environment around them, and that includes what comes from the sea.
Everyone can do their part, says Chef Ned, “You can become a member of Chefs for Oceans online which lets you be a part of the larger voice. Start to look out for Ocean Wise and Sea Choice logos which tell you that those fish are a sustainable choice to make. And ask that question: ‘Is it sustainable?’. If they can’t answer, you probably know it’s not. But the real act of support is having the information and then making that sustainable choice.”
Visitors new to the dining scene on the west coast may not be familiar with all our seafood and Ned thinks that along with the delicious wild salmon that we’re famous for, diners should try some of the ocean’s bounty that locals know and love. “I always say eating shellfish is a great way to know you’re eating sustainably; all shell-based fish are great for the ocean’s environment, they help the ocean more than any other seafood because they eat that water and then filter it out. I don’t think many people in the world get to eat our phenomenal clams, geoduck, mussels or oysters– and the ones we have here are some of the best in the world!”
Going beyond the ocean’s superheroes, the shellfish, there are also many other fish to sample, “Our rock-star fish!” smiles Bell, “Try sable fish, it only exists in our part of the Pacific Ocean and it’s a delicious rich oily fish that’s been made famous by one of our chefs, Tojo, who cooked it in a Miso glaze and now every Asian restaurant has that on the menu. If people want to try something lighter, our ling cod is a great alternative. Our albacore tuna is a fantastic example of an Ocean Wise sustainable fish; so many varieties of tuna are not sustainable, because they are a predator fish and we love to overfish those. The red tuna, for instance, is one of the most overfished on the planet, but Albacore being a smaller tuna, and faster growing is sustainable.”
Ever tried jellyfish, sturgeon liver, or smelt? What about gooseneck barnacles, sea cucumber, or whelks? (Perhaps you’re wrinkling your nose right about now and wondering,”What the heck is a whelk?
Blue Water Cafe features these and other under-appreciated sea creatures throughout February during the restaurant’s Unsung Heroes festival. The month-long event promotes sustainable seafood by urging diners to try something a little (or a lot) different from what they’re accustomed to eating.
The idea is to bring awareness to local and unique seafood and to avoid species that are over-fished or harvested in ways that can damage ocean beds. It’s a goal also promoted by the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise conservation program, of which Blue Water Cafe is a founding member.
Don’t worry: you don’t have to finish your plate or forgo the salmon you know you’ll love.
Octopus is an easy place to start. If you’ve tried it before and believe it to be rubbery, that’s because it was probably served overcooked. Blue Water Cafe does it right; in the 2015 festival they served it grilled tender and with a chickpea panisse, smoked olives, marinated eggplant, and tomato sauce with kurobuta pork.
Sea urchin is a bit more challenging for timid tastes, but those who love it adore its creamy texture. On the menu in 2015 was sea urchin mousse with calamari crackers and a citrusy ponzu jelly.
And that whelk that chef Pabst is eyeing in the opening photo? Whelks are sea snails. Think of them as French escargot, and you can probably imagine how good they taste.
Pabst cooks his whelks “escargots-style” in garlic butter with parsley and nori seaweed. This year, he’s also cooking gooseneck barnacles with saffron aioli and a seaweed salad with a soy mirin dressing.
If you can’t imagine what barnacles taste like, well…there’s only one way to find out – every February.
There’s a buzz in the air at Vancouver’s downtown harbour, and it’s coming from the rooftops. Environmentally-conscious Vancouverites are well aware of the global honeybee decline, and the Fairmont Hotel Waterfront has taken initiative to help them thrive by including a “bee hotel” on the roof of the (human) hotel.
The top of the Fairmont Waterfront is a hidden garden you can visit, with 2,400 sq ft of greenspace, which is the perfect neighborhood for approximately 250,000 honeybees. The bees do have to pull their weight for rent in the prestigious waterfront neighborhood; in exchange for their home in the skyline, the bees produce 600-800lbs of honey per year, which is a vital ingredient on the menu items downstairs in cocktails, chocolate, desserts, salad dressing and even their signature Fairmont ‘Stinger’ Lager. Yes, you can drink the beer that the bees helped make.
The bee hotel was built by Hives For Humanity — a local non-profit organization that encourages community connections through beekeeping — and is part of the Burt’s Bees Canada and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Wild For Bees partnership that launched in 2014. The partnership has opened 21 bee hotels across the country. These bee accommodations serve as vital habitats for solitary bees to procreate and in turn contribute to a healthier pollinator population in Canada.