By: Catherine Roscoe Barr
Conscious culinary trends are taking root in British Columbia and the farm-to-table philosophy is flourishing in Surrey, where an abundance of agricultural land provides fresh, seasonal food year round, and an array of multicultural influences provides endless flavour combinations.
Surrey’s new Food with Thought campaign highlights the city’s passionate purveyors of food, from farmers to chefs to artisanal shop owners, and is a comprehensive resource on where to shop, what to eat, where to dine, and upcoming events.
Over 35-percent of Surrey is designated agricultural land, and local farmers proudly offer their seasonal produce and naturally-raised meat directly from the farm, through the city’s farmers markets – like the Surrey Urban Farmers Market and the Cloverdale Market – and/or at select retailers and restaurants.
Buying local is not only good for the environment and your community’s economy, it’s good for your personal and financial health, too. When you purchase local food, you’re reducing your carbon footprint by drastically decreasing transportation emissions from food that’s shipped across the continent and globe, as well as channeling your money into the local economy. Buying local also ensures you’re getting the freshest, tastiest, most nutrient-rich food because it’s harvested in-season. Plus, with an abundance of in-season crops, prices are often lower.
Surrey is quickly becoming a dining destination, with craft brewpubs, scenic seaside eateries, and restaurants that celebrate the international cuisines of Asia, the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India – like celebrity chef Vikram Vij’s latest venture, My Shanti.
“There’s a rich and diverse population in South Surrey, who are well travelled and looking for unique dining experiences,” says Vij, who sources much of his produce and meat locally, “and I’ve had the production facility for my frozen food line, Vij’s At Home, in Surrey for several years now so there is a connection to the community already – it just made sense to open up at our Morgan Crossing location.” The menu reflects his travels throughout India, while the drink list features only BC wine and beer, and Indian-inspired cocktails, like the Badam da Naasha, with vodka, almond milk, saffron water, cardamom and pistachio.
Local beer is also what’s on tap at Big Ridge Brewing Company, Surrey’s original brewpub; Central City Brewing, Canada’s 2012 Brewery of the Year and makers of the Red Racer label; and Hawthorne Beer Market and Bistro, who’s more than 60 different beers on tap and by the bottle favour local labels.
For a meal with an unbeatable view, head to Hooked Fish Bar for classic seaside fare, like fish and chips, fish tacos and seafood “chowdah”, or visit their sister restaurant, Seahorse Grill, just down the street, for internationally-inspired cuisine like paella and linguine with garlicky clams, prepared by executive chef and owner John Kavanagh.
And to satisfy your sweet tooth, head to Mink Chocolates Cafe, where owner and chocolatier Marc Lieberman’s to-die-for Mermaid’s Choice (burnt caramel, fleur de sel and rosemary) won best chocolate bar in the world at the 2014 International Chocolate Salon.
Surrey’s independent specialty shops and family-run retailers not only celebrate local food and culinary products, but foster community through collaborative endeavors to promote each other’s unique offerings.
Fieldstone Artisan Breads, for example, sources ground pork for its savoury pastries and baked goods from neighbouring Beast and Brine Local Provisions, a specialty shop selling charcuterie, cheese and delectable accoutrements, who shares the love right back by using Fieldstone’s bread for their sandwiches.
Nearby Good Day Sunshine Café, a gathering place for good coffee, food, art, music and friends, sources meat from Beast and Brine, and any baked goods not made in-house from Fieldstone.