What says autumn more than pumpkins? Their round, orange brightness instills thoughts of harvest moons, delicious pie filled with warm spice, the aroma of melon on Halloween night as the gourd becomes a glowing face, and that old classic scene of Linus awaiting his special reward every year. (Poor Linus.)
Heading out to the pumpkin patch to pick the perfect future Jack O’ Lantern, is one of those special traditions that kids of all ages look forward to. When heading out to a local farm to pick out your family’s pumpkins here are some helpful tips:
Don’t pick your pumpkins too early in the season. If you pick them too soon they will be piles of mush long before you can take a knife to them or they will just be too soft to carve.
Try to head to the pumpkin patch during “non-peak” times like mid-afternoon during the week to avoid crowds if you can.
Don’t always go for the perfectly round. Sometimes the flawed, lopsided or puckered pumpkins make for carved faces with the most character.
Don’t get carried away by picking out the biggest or the most pumpkins you can carry unless you think you can handle carving all of them, or want to use them to cook. Little ones can tire quickly of cleaning pumpkin guts and some of the fun of carving your pumpkins will be lost.
Have fun. Put on your boots and old jeans. Let the kids get dirty as they wander the muddy fields finding that “perfect” one. Bring a bag to carry pumpkins and to protect the trunk of your car. Don’t forget your camera either!
Many communities in Metro Vancouver have patches to pick the perfect pumpkins from. Add a corn maze, a hayride or farm animals, and you have a great outing for the whole family. Here are few locations to get you started:
Rondriso Farms Pumpkin Patch 8390 172nd Street, Surrey
Features: Purchase from the yard, or take a haywagon ride down to the field. 10:00am to 6:00pm on weekends, holidays and professional days, and 3:00pm to 6:00pm on weekdays throughout October.
Bose Farm Pumpkin Patch 64th and 156th street, Surrey
Features: Across the street from the corn maze. Open Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month of October, 12:00pm to 4:00pm. Cash only. From mini gourds to giant pumpkins.
Richmond Country Farms 12900 Steveston Highway, Surrey
Features: Open daily, check website for opening dates. Hay wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, professional entertainment, pumpkin picking music, animal farm, and admission includes a child sized pumpkin and a Spartan apple.
Krause Berry Farm
6179 248 St, Langley
Features: Open Wednesday to Sunday. There’s a market with freshly baked pies, jams and homemade fudge and, while you’re visiting the farm, you can pop into the Estate Winery.
Aldor Acres 8301 252 St, Langley
Features: Open daily mid September through October. Visit the petting zoo, take a tractor-pulled hayride to the pumpkin patch to choose from over 15 different pumpkin varieties.
Hop in your vehicles for a lazy, autumn drive through Langley in BC’s Fraser Valley to discover the prettiest pumpkin patches and most amazing mazes – of corn that is. The fall season in all its colourful glory makes for a lovely road trip, so load up the car with the family and make a day of it.
Your first stop, near the Canadian border, is the city of Langley, where you’ll want to pull over to visit Eagle Acres. For the past 29 years this family owned farm has grown to a whopping 20 acres of pumpkin patches growing 15 varieties, and 5 acres of animal displays in the barns and outside in pens – ideal for inquisitive city kids. The Pumpkin patch is open Tuesday – Sunday until October 31, with tractor-pulled hayrides out to the pumpkin patch to find that perfect Halloween jack-o-lantern, and included in your admission is a self-guided tour of the dairy barn complete with themed displays.
Krause Berry Farm is a must-stop as well. Take note that this farm’s fall and winter opening days are Wednesday to Sunday through; so plan your visit around that. Pick your own pumpkins, squash and gourds, plus a visit to the market is essential to pick up freshly baked pies, jams and homemade fudge to take home and enjoy. While you’re visiting the farm, pop into the Estate Winery to sample their award-winning berry wines, and to KB Corral for a pumpkin-spice waffle.
New this year, and not your typical pumpkin patch is Harvest Glow at the Milner Village Garden Centre. Open daily until October 31, Harvest Glow is a fall-themed light celebration and they promise a magical pumpkin patch experience, with one key difference, this one is indoors. This family-friendly event features a range of fun fall activities, such as a corn maze, pumpkin carving, singing pumpkins, playgrounds, illuminated sculptures, a Pirate Ship, mini-golf, live entertainment and an artisan market.
Wine touring in B.C. isn’t just reserved for the Okanagan. If you’re a wine lover, consider sipping your way through Langley! Located just one hour outside of Vancouver, Langley is booming with lush wineries and tours aplenty. Book a tour and tasting at one of the wineries listed below, or try them all in one go with Vine and Hops or Canadian Craft tours.
Vancouver’s backyard has a blossoming wine industry and Backyard Wines offers tours of their full-production winery. Guests will learn about what goes on in their vineyard, visit the barrel room, and gain some valuable wine knowledge. Of course, the tour is followed by a wine tasting in the Backyard Wine Tasting Room. Reservations are required, so book your “winery tour,” or “premier tour” in advance!
The folks at Chaberton Estate Winery are veterans in the wine biz, making this place one of Langley’s most beloved haunts. They offer daily tastings in their boutique tasting room, winery tours and an acclaimed fine-dining experience with serving french cuisine When visiting the tasting room “enjoy tasting varietal wines from [their] full selection of 100% BC VQA red and white wines made from grapes grown locally in our Fraser Valley vineyard and specially selected vineyards from the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.”
Check this one out locally in Langley, or the next time you’re in Penticton. The Fraser Valley Township 7 winery is set “in a lush agricultural landscape, surrounded by green vistas and the occasional trot by of an equine explorer.” Grape growing? Yes. Explore your inner wine geek without leaving the Lower Mainland and get to know this gem that has bubbly ambitions.
Township 7’s winery has everything for everyone: including food, art, and of course, lots of information about wine culture, history, and production.
This family owned and operated spot, is a local favourite great for families with little ones in tow! Make a day of it, and stop into Krause Berry Farms for U-Pick Berry Fields, a market, bakery, the acclaimed Estate Winery, restaurants and The Farmer’s Table Cooking School. If you’re a group, wine tasting visits at the Estate can be booked by contacting Krause directly.
If you’ve never tried honey wine (mead) see what the buzz is about. This family-run spot uses honey from hives on-site and home-grown herbs to infuse a variety of flavours. Their tasting room is open daily.
If you’re game to try all of the wineries listed above, then why not do them all in one day? Book a public or private tour with one of these local experts:
Vine and Hops
A walk-through of the wine making process as well as tastings and snacks throughout 4-5 locations.
Every October as the air gets cooler, the colours become warmer and brighter and vast lakes of ruby-red cranberries start a colourful patchwork in the farmlands of Richmond and the Fraser Valley. Despite the variety of crops BC cultivates, cranberries are one of just a few that are actually native to the land; when European explorers landed in Canada, they were traded with Indigenous peoples and valued as an effective way to prevent scurvy. Uniquely “wet harvested” by flooding the fields they grow in, cranberries are tart treats packed with vitamin C, vitamin E, and fibre; they are a bright shake-up to many desserts, sweets, and beverages.
Cranberries are BC’s largest crop according to Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, and most of North America can say they’ve delved into a glass of BC cranberries at some point; approximately 60% of our harvests are grown for Ocean Spray, a Massachusetts-based grower cooperative that distributes across the continent.
Cranberries in Richmond
You can experience Richmond cranberries at Maybog Farms, who received the “Minister’s Award of Excellence” from the Government of BC in 2008 for their contribution to the province’s farming industry as a long-established cranberry farming family. The May family sells their cranberries, as well as a variety of their fresh-grown produce, out of their market, The Fowl Farmer, in the autumn. Harvesting cranberries is serious business and requires a large amount of machinery and workers, please respect the farmers and, if you would like to view the harvest, to do so from afar in a safe location.
The Richmond Nature Park is celebrating Thanksgiving with their 26th annual Cranberry Sale and are offering hands-on cranberry cooking and baking. Enjoy a nature walk to search for and learn about these unique bog berries. Proceeds from the sale will enable the Richmond Nature Park Society to continue to offer educational programs that teach children about the Nature Park bog, its unique habitat for plants and animals, and its place in the Richmond community.
Each Thanksgiving weekend, the historic village of Fort Langley holds a cranberry festival. Over 150 years ago local Indigenous peoples used them for food, dyes, and medicine; at the fort cranberries would be traded to the western immigrants for HBC blankets, beads, and other items. In 1858, cranberries were actually worth more in trade than salmon.
The festival hosts a full day of cran-tastic activities; the whole family can begin with a pancake breakfast before exploring cooking demos, live entertainment, and perusing the crafts, foods, and wares of over 70 local vendors.
If you’d prefer your cranberries by the glass, the Fort Wine Co. in Langley can pour you 100% BC-grown fruit wines and dessert wines made with cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and other juicy bushels. For something a little different try their Ghost of the Bogs White Cranberry wine, made from cranberries picked during a small window of time before they turn red.
For the love of garlic! We’re so fortunate to live in a province that is abundant with beautiful fresh produce year round. Gear up for garlic month happening in August with this list of Metro Vancouver restaurants that have added some garlicky features to their menu, as well as a list of Farmer’s Markets so you can support local and grab your garlic to-go.
Richmond Garlic Festival
You won’t want to miss the 10th annual Richmond Garlic Festival happening August 19. Chefs from various restaurants in Richmond and Vancouver will be volunteering to present festival-goers with a grand selection of garlic-based eats including garlic ice cream. Of course the festival’s supporter, The Sharing Farm, will be selling their famous own-grown garlic as well.
Dates: Sunday, August 19 Time: 10 am- 3 pm; visit their website for more details! Location: 2771 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC
Kulinarya Filipino Eatery
It’s never too early to get your garlic fix! Check out the new item on the Kulinarya menu: breakfast items featuring a garlic fried rice called a Silog.
Dubbed as “Langley’s growing little secret” The Fat Cow & Oyster Bar is a lovable contemporary suburban restaurant serving locally sourced and ethically raised product as well as sustainable seafood. Currently on the menu is the fried cauliflower with confit garlic and preserved lemons dressing topped with crispy garlic.
Location: #4 20178 96th Ave, Langley
Chef Romy Prasad’s elegant Fort Langley haunt is producing beautiful, high quality plates with a focus on local produce. Don’t miss the vegetable risotto with asparagus, snow peas, confit peppers, carrots, lemon garlic and the option to add prawns or scallops.
Location: 190, 9220 Glover Road, Fort Langley
Blue Heron Creamery
For our vegan pals, this is for you! Blue Heron Creamery produces beautiful plant-based, cultured, aged “cheeses” that could fool any dairy-lover. Add some Blue Heron locally made vegan products, especially the to your next cheese board we guarantee you’ll be the favourite person at the dinner party. In light of garlic season, we recommend herb & garlic cumulus cheese.
Location: 2410 Main St., Vancouver, note that their store front is only open on Saturdays from 12 PM to 5 PM. You can also find Blue Heron Creamery products on the menu at Heirloom’s new West Vancouver Ambleside location.
Bao Down Gastropub + Raw Bar
It’s “Pacific Rim cuisine with Filipino flair.” If you find Bao’s abundant menu is overwhelming, we suggest ordering the Bao Chicka Bao Bao: garlic and lemongrass fried chicken, daikon, crisp garlic, fish sauce glaze, carrot, garlic scape mayo.
Location: 115 West 2nd, Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver’s contemporary Japanese spot has released a new summer lunch menu that features some garlic goodness! Check out the delightful teppan bistro fillet steak: 50z of tender sliced steak, sous-vide egg, fragrant garlic rice, shiitake mushrooms, corn, and kimchi, finished with sweet soy reduction.
Location: 622 W Pender St, Vancouver
Burdock & Co
This beloved Main Street haunt, boasts a beautiful seasonal menu full of farm to table freshness. This season, check out the spring green risotto with watercress, pickled garlic scapes, peas, and pecorino, and/or the pizzichi farro pasta with dandelion, anchovy, preserved lemon and black garlic.
Location: 2702 Main St, Vancouver
If you’re wanting to experiment with garlic at home, head on over to the nearest farmer’s market to grab fresh, locally grown garlic and garlic scapes.
Here’s Vancouver’s local markets, but you can see more markets here.
Downtown Farmers Market
Thursdays at šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn Square (QET Plaza)
Saturdays at 30th Avenue & Ontario Street
Saturdays at Lakewood Dr. & E 13th Ave.
Saturdays at 1100 Comox St btw. Bute & Thurlow
Kitsilano Sundays at the Kitsilano Community Centre
If you’re looking for seasonal, colourful, Italian cuisine in the Fraser Valley, the heart of Langley has a true hidden gem: The OSSO Lunchroom is a rustic, Italian break to your day, serving up fabulous lunch and dinner plates.
Helmed by the acclaimed executive chef and owner Sean Bone, the chalkboard menu is always budding with options suitable for various palates and preferences. It’s nearly impossible to decide one item: the options for soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and desserts seem to be endless.
The space is warm and inviting; the decor is somewhat reminiscent of a rustic kitchen or dining area that could be found in a Tuscan villa. “Our vision for the restaurant was to have a modest beginning, based on Italian cuisine. Providing food made from scratch using as much local product as we could, from the ground to your plate,” says Chef Bone. “So naturally our design for the space came from the surrounding areas of Langley: a rich history of farming and early settlement. We used local reclaimed wood, metal and stone.”
Lunch at OSSO called for an abundant feast for two. We opted for the kale, butternut squash and feta salad to start ($13.75, option to add rosemary chicken for $4.95); a generous portion accented with fresh radishes, carrots, peppers, and chickpeas. Fulled by robust greens, we moved on to the polenta fries special accompanied by a dollop dilly yogurt ($6.50); perfectly seasoned with a delightful salty crunch and a soft earthy centre. For our main, we shared the favoured prosciutto, arugula, pesto, tomato pizza ($17.50). Served flatbread style in a perfect-for-sharing-portion, with thin crust, fresh greens, and gentle notes of acidity from the tomato and pesto base.
To drink, I had a crisp glass of gamay rosé from the Bordertown Osoyoos Winery. For craft beer lovers, OSSO also has a selection of rotating taps featuring local breweries—Trading Post, Steel & Oak and Four Winds were represented. “Our wines are all from BC with some being organic,” explains Chef Bone. “We have a small variety of local wines that have great value in a restaurant setting but still provide exceptional flavour.”
Although well-hidden, OSSO is a coveted Langley spot often buzzing with hungry (and thirsty!) patrons during lunch hour. Whether you’re heading in for a quick bite to go, or for a more traditional sit-down meal, OSSO hits the spot.
“The community response to [our restaurant] has been so great. We are still in a city where big chain restaurants lead the charge with major food purveyors supplying them their goods. So to get our message across, we continue to use no major food purveyors for our produce, beef, veal, pork, lamb and seafood. We do this to prove that when you source food directly from farmers, small local producers, or when it’s grown yourself, you can truly give back to the community that you’re doing business in.”
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.
Meaty, cheesy, messy, mouthwatering. Depending on who you ask, the most savoury junk food treat to come out of French Canada–maudite poutine–roughly translates to “a damn mess” or “a fine mess.” The hodge-podge of ingredients–meat, gravy and fresh cheese curds atop fries–has been around since the 50s. In its younger days, poutine’s appeal was questionable, but twists on this classic comfort dish have been picking up steam on this side of Canada of late. It’s a damn fine mess that we don’t mind translating to our tastebuds, and here’s a few places you can find it.
Go meat or go home! That’s the way Big Red likes it. This roaming poutine-only food truck serves up 14 meat-based poutines, from “the original” all the way to the spring roll poutine, packed with vegetable spring rolls cut into pieces in a homemade beef gravy and real cheese curds. If you love your poutine to squeal, opt for the bacon poutine: crispy bacon and handmade beef gravy top off real cheese curds and their handmade fries. According to the mobile poutinerie’s website, summer dates and locations will be announced soon.
If upscale comfort food is your jam, find it at Langley The Fat Cow & Oyster Bar. The duck poutine finds a cozy home among the “schnacks” at this eatery, whose menu boasts a bevy of seafood options and game meats. Try their fried with duck confit in a duck gravy, perhaps among a dozen raw oysters on the shell.
Find this southern-style BBQ right on the river at New Westminster’s River Market. The spot is best known for its pulled pork, BBQ ribs, cornbread and homemade sweet tea, but south and northeast meet here in Re-Up BBQ’s Poutine ($6.25). Of course, it just wouldn’t be a BBQ joint without an authentic country gravy. It’s smothered in a pork-based gravy made with cream, or keep it traditional with a beef stock and onion gravy. Dress it up with braised beef or pulled pork for an extra $3.
3700 Willingdon Ave, Burnaby, BC 942 Granville Street Vancouver, BC
What would on-campus food be if not ladened with carbs? Find Smoke’s Poutinerie in the middle of BCIT, fueling exams and soaking up sauce after a campus pub night. Or, find it right in the middle of Vancouver’s bar-and-club-laden Granville street. The most fitting? The hangover poutine, topped with scrambled eggs, double-smoked bacon and a hearty Canadian helping of maple syrup. If that’s not your style, there are still 25 other flavours to burn through before semester’s end.
The Spud Shack creates all ten of their poutine dishes with meat-free gravy, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without protein. Try out the butter chicken, made with marinated chicken thighs simmered in creamy tomato sauce, alongside cucumber raita and cilantro; or stir it up with Uncle Bob, a Jamaican jerk chicken poutine with cilantro slaw and grilled pineapple salsa.
Want to explore a bit further? Chow down on some gravy-smothered chips just like Archie and the gang. Rocko’s 24 Hour Diner, known better to TV lovers as the actual film location of Pop Tate’s (Riverdale, anyone?), serves up the classic poutine–home-style fries covered with melted cheddar and mozza smothered with beef gravy–for $8.99. Three more bucks will earn you one of five “premium” poutines, such as the scrambled breakfast poutine or the Montreal poutine with smoked meat, cheese, gravy, pickles and Dijon mustard. Even Papa Poutine would approve.
If you have ever spent time in BC’s charming Fort Langley then you know that hosting an annual food and beer festival just seems like a natural fit. Be sure and mark your calendars for for May 19th, 2018!
Fort Langley’s old-timey streets are a mix of pleasant restaurants, quaint shops and there is a cozy neighbourhood feel that’s hard to capture unless it just comes about organically.
The Fort Langley Beer & Food Festival returns for it’s second year for a celebration of craft beer, local food and old-fashioned fun. The festival is the dreamchild of Fort Langley’s own Trading Post Brewing Company and local is the name of the game. So local in fact, that of the 24 breweries participating, the farthest is Mission’s Mission Springs Brewery at 34 km (21 m) and the food is grown and produced in the Fraser Valley.
Proceeds will, once again, benefit the Brewing Lab scholarship at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The scholarship was created by Trading Post and named after John Mitchell, who is considered the grandfather of craft beer in Canada.
Admission to the Fort Langley National Historic Site is included in the ticket price and fest-goers will have an opportunity to learn about the lives of the First Nations communities, international fur traders, gold miners, and even Hawaiians who converged on this spot 190 years ago, and where British Columbia was established in 1858.
With the surge of new craft distilleries in BC, it’s not unusual to find an expanding collection of local spirits on the shelves of liquor stores and cocktail bars; but finding craft spirits made by a female distiller and with potatoes and corn grown on a distillery’s own farmland is unusual! Enter Roots and Wings Distillery, opened in early 2017 as the first craft distillery in Langley, BC.
Situated on a 30-acre farm in the idyllic countryside near the village of Fort Langley, Roots and Wings Distillery embraces a true field-to-bottle approach when producing artisan spirits. Back in 2015, the co-founders/owners – Rob Rindt and Rebekah Crowley – were inspired to handcraft their own distilled spirits when they couldn’t find a good locally-made potato or corn vodka for sipping straight. With some research and a big leap of faith, the couple created the distillery from the ground up, literally.
In keeping with Rob’s agricultural roots, but unlike most distilleries, they produce their spirits in-house from scratch with potatoes and corn that they grow (and with natural spring water) in a barn-converted stillhouse at their farm. It’s the art of craft distilling at it’s purest, a meticulous hands-on approach to controlling the highest quality – from planting and harvesting to mashing, fermenting, distilling and bottling – for small-batch spirits. They do it all.
In addition to creating uniquely homegrown and handcrafted spirits, the distillery has the distinction of being one of a few in British Columbia (and possibly a handful in Canada) to have a female distiller. In a male dominated spirits trade, Rebekah is pleased to lead the way for other women interested in distilling.
Although a relatively new entrant in the craft spirits boom, Roots and Wings Distillery is showing no signs of slowing down. Currently, they offer Vital Vodka (potato-corn vodka), Double Vice (coffee infused potato-corn vodka), Rebel (an unaged corn whiskey), and Jackknife Gin (potato-corn gin). Bottles of these spirits can be sampled and purchased at the distillery. They are also available at the distillery’s online shop and in a selection of private BC liquor stores. As for the future, a blackberry liqueur is in the works, an unnamed bourbon is aging, and other liqueurs are on their wish list.
I sat down to learn more about the distillery from Rebekah, the head distiller.
When you started, what was your mission?
To create quality over quantity, so craft was the obvious answer. Rob and I didn’t set out to make mass-produced products, but instead, we wanted to create spirits that stand on their own before mixing. I believe we have accomplished this in our core spirits. However, it turns out the spirits are also amazing in cocktails, so I designed a variety of craft cocktail recipes for everyone’s enjoyment. I’m by no means a master in mixology, and I will leave that to the professionals, but I love a good cocktail!
How did you come up with the name Roots and Wings Distillery?
It comes from the saying that the best thing you can give your kids are roots and wings; roots of responsibility and wings of independence.
Why did you want to become a distiller and how did you get started?
I wasn’t a home brewing hobbyist or a wine kit maker, and I didn’t have any previous experience in distilling; my background is in sales for a technology company. It wasn’t that I wanted to be a distiller but more that I’m just better in the kitchen than Rob and it naturally worked out that way. I also had the free time to take the Canadian Master Distilling program at Urban Distilleries & Winery (Kelowna) and came away with the practical knowledge. We wanted to start a distillery because of our appreciation for fine spirits. It started as an experiment but after investing the money into the equipment and the passion to perfect the spirit, we knew we had to turn it into business.
What makes your flavours unique?
The uniqueness comes in part (to start) from our farm and the soil in which we grow the potatoes and corn to the spring water which we use to proof the spirits down and everything in-between. Is it something that you can pinpoint on your palate? Maybe not, but I do believe it gives an added layer of interest and quality.
How are your artisan products different from others in BC?
Most BC craft distillers use winter wheat and barley for their spirits. These are most common grains in BC. Being designated craft, one must use 100% BC grown products. What makes us different is that we are located on Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) and the regulations state that we must grow 50% of what we want to distill. Not only do we fall under the 100% BC grown products but half of that must be grown on our own farm. We opted to use Kennenbec potatoes and Jubilee corn for our base spirits over wheat or barley because I am a fan of corn vodka and Rob is a fan of potato vodka, so we just combined them.
What is the timeline from planting crops to distilling the finished spirits?
Rob plants the potatoes and corn in the early spring, then they are harvested at the end of September early October … all weather dependent. The raw material is placed in onsite storage. From the storage it will be cleaned in the distillery then ground up before it goes into the mash. Once the mash is done, it will ferment from 4 days to a week then put through the still for the stripping run. We do several of these runs to collect enough spirit for a spirit run and then again for a third time which will then get proofed and polished depending on the type of spirit. If it’s vodka its takes about a month from the first mash to the bottled product. If it is Rebel it takes about 3 months from first mash to bottle. We are currently working on our bourbon which will take much longer.
How much corn and potatoes are used for your distilling?
2/3 potatoes to 1/3 corn for the vodka and for the Rebel and it’s all corn for the bourbon.
Other than your own crops, what other local ingredients do you incorporate into you spirits?
There is a local hop farm called Crooked Stick Hopyard here in Langley that we use as well as local honey, and Fort Langley’s Republica Roasters’ coffee beans for Double Vice. We, of course, use as much as we can from our farm and garden, like the blackberries (for our blackberry liqueur) or cucumbers (for our gin). We are happy to collaborate with local producers when possible.
What is your current capacity?
Our still is 400 litres and we produce about 500 litres per month. We started out with a 30 gallon still from HBS copper from Barlow Kentucky and have now moved into a 100 gallon still from the same manufacturer. We also have an 80-gallon mash tun from Specific Mechanical Systems, in Victoria BC. The other equipment in our stillhouse is from various places throughout BC – bottler, fermentation and blending tanks.
Are your spirits gluten-free or organic?
Since potatoes and corn are naturally gluten-free, which are used for our base spirits, then we are gluten-free. However, the Canadian labeling standards still require us to get it tested for the claim to be on the label; so, we also passed the official gluten-free test! We feel our spirits are organic based on our ingredients, but we are not aiming to be certified organic.
Why did you choose vodka as your first product?
Vodka is the water of life… the base of many great spirits. It’s also the only spirit Rob consumes so that was the deal – to make great quality sipping vodka first and then we will discuss what comes next.
Which spirit is your favourite?
Jackknife Gin! I love the flavor that comes out in the spirit. When it is blended with soda and fresh mint, it’s the most refreshing cocktail.
What is currently the most popular product in your spirit line?
The Rebel seems to be the go-to spirit as its not a whiskey and its not a white spirit either – it has the taste of oak and honey with no age behind it. It’s an interesting spirit that can blend nicely in cocktails or stand on its own greatness.
How did you come up with Double Vice, the coffee infused vodka?
The day before opening I realized we needed a few more options for the tasting bar so I infused a vodka with coffee beans, one with sweet tea and one with cucumber and jalapenos. The coffee was a hit, so we stuck with it and made a label.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Since we are new to this distilling process I would say that being able to put out four different spirits in the first 7 months of opening is a huge accomplishment that should be given its due. There are of course many other accomplishments that got us to where we were able to do that. In the end, our success is mostly the result of hard work.
What is in your bucket list for the distillery in 3-5 years?
That bucket is full of ideas, from new recipe development to larger equipment to hiring full time staff and expanding our presence in other provinces.
Who do you feel is the innovative force behind the local craft distilling industry?
BC Distilled does an excellent job of promoting the local distilleries as well as showcasing new talent and hosting spirit competitions amongst Canadian craft distillers.
Is there a local distillery that inspired you?
When Rob and I started out, Sons of Vancouver were wonderful at sharing their story and helpful insights. Like them, we started as a very small batch distillery. They have made a great name for themselves in the industry and continue to share their knowledge with the industry.
What is one thing you feel people should know about the craft spirits industry in Greater Vancouver?
Its better to buy local from any of us then from the big guys like Absolute, Smirnoff or Stoli because you are personally being part of our journey to build a locally-owned business from the ground up.
Visit Roots and Wings Distillery as part an outing to Fort Langley or while exploring Langley on a self-guided Circle Farm Tour. Weekly classes or pop up shops will begin in early 2018 and tours of the distillery will start in Summer 2018 on a scheduled and pre-booked basis.
From King Arthur’s court to Game of Thrones, the ancient art of mead has always been a tasty one. Festina Lente Estate Winery brings traditional honey wine to the present day with their “modern, sophisticated twist.” This year, they’re introducing two new wines whose names harken back (perhaps) to when mead was a dinnertime staple.
Venus Melomel is aptly named after the Goddess of Love, and the heart of a melomel is adding fruit to honey wine; in this case it’s blackberries right off the bramble. It’s a floral and fruity mead fit to be poured into a goblet or wine glass – drinker’s choice.
Minerva Metheglin is named for the goddess of knowledge and medicine, and this spicy wine is just what the doctor ordered. With a spicy, crisp ginger taste keeping you alert, this metheglin (a spiced variety of mead) is the zingy pick-me-up that’ll wake you out of your winter funk.
This relatively young brewery comes with an old soul. Setting up shop in one of BC’s most historic communities, Trading Post Brewery gives a nod to Fort Langley’s original fur trade post. This year, the brewery celebrates its second birthday and we’re in for a surprise.
At the brewery’s birthday party in February they released Hoppy Birthday Bock to celebrate! You’ll have to visit to find out just what this tastes like, but you bet it’ll be fresh.
After the birthday lines run dry, keep sipping on their Dear James SMASH Saison. In keeping with the town’s roots, this is a farmhouse-style saison that recalls orchards of apricots, and the zingy taste of citrus and spice. It’s a golden straw-coloured refresher fit for taking a break at the farm.
Small batches of top-flight wines are what Township7 is known best for. The family-owned winery creates complex, flavourful and well-balanced wines for the sophisticated palate – and plays host to wine tours, pairings and painting on plein air in the late spring and summertime.
Don’t miss their Seven Stars Sparkling wine, just released.
When this brewery hit the scene in 2007, a few years before the big craft beer boom, they boasted the slogan “nothing goes down like a cold, dead frog.” While it may not have been the most appetizing of slogans, it somehow begged to be challenged. Here are a couple beers from the brewery you can expect in spring that are guaranteed to taste better than your backyard pond or amphibian’s terrarium.
The Obsidian Dagger is an IPA Noire made from tropical hops and a deep, dark roasted malt. Complex and strong, this beer is made for only the most daring of palates and is available in April.
Tropic Vice, on the other hand, is an easygoing tropical fruit ale. Made of golden white wheat and a juicy mango and passionfruit taste, this spring and summer beer hits shelves and taps in March and sticks around until the end of September.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Just off of the Trans-Canada highway, nestled into the heart of Langley, is a little cafe with a big vision. The space is simple and humble: white accents and lofty ceilings with exquisite art adorning the walls. On a Friday afternoon The Water Shed Arts Cafe is buzzing with customers, “it’s a busy day!” I note to Jenn Cornish, chef owner and operator. “Oh, this is nothing!” she says. “It gets really busy here.”
The Water Shed Arts cafe may seem like a typical suburban haunt to the untrained eye, but that’s far from the truth. Cornish has created a safe haven; The Water Shed mandate is “to set the table for humanity where everyone is loved, welcomed, nourished and celebrated,” and that’s exactly what she does. The menu is generous, chock-full of locally sourced ingredients and hearty whole foods that cater to all tastes and dietary needs. There is a vegetarian focus, but the options are not restricted to only herbivores and gluten-free options are available upon request.
The aforementioned art on the Water Shed walls are all for sale, with new work and new artists rotating every few months. This concept drives back to Cornish’s mandate for inclusivity and community involvement. The space is also available for event rentals in the evenings, and Cornish generously offers customizable catering, private dining, open mic nights, and art show openings at Water Shed as well.
I enjoyed lunch with Chef Cornish on that busy Friday afternoon-I devoured the grilled turkey and havarti sandwich (a hearty slice of turkey breast with artichoke spread, red peppers, spinach on cranberry bread) and bowl of the featured pumpkin soup (nourishing and savory), while she munched away on a gluten-free tofu burrito. We got deeper into the ethos behind Water Shed, her concept behind the food, and her inspiration for opening the bustling Langley bistro.
BT: Let’s talk more about your vision and mandate.
Jenn Cornish: We are a place that nourishes people in every possible way. And part of that is seeing people and knowing them, and knowing who they really are. This is a safe place, and a judgement free zone where people can connect and be themselves, and enjoy a place where they are able to connect with other people
Part of that is done with our visual arts display, as well as musicians that come and play here. But we also hold that mandate for every customer that comes through the door. Everyone has something that they offer to the world and we see that.
BT: What gave you the inspiration to open up a spot like this?
Jenn Cornish: My partner is a very creative and artistic person and that was a huge inspiration, and I am too – my palette is just food. I was in health care for over 15 years, so when I decided to get out of that field, I ended up falling into this opportunity of opening a cafe. I realized within the first few months that this cafe brings together every aspect of who I am.
BT: Is there a theme or concept for the food?
Jenn Cornish: There isn’t necessarily a theme, but everything is made with real, whole food, and completely from scratch. We want people to know exactly what is in their food, and that’s something that’s really important to me. I have an autoimmune disease, and how I’ve managed it is through food. So it’s important to me to offer food to people that they can trust.
BT: I know you offer catering services, and open up the space in the evenings for events. What else does Water Shed offer after hours?
Jenn Cornish: We do community feasts as well. So I pick a theme and make a meal, sometimes it’s family style, sometimes it’s plated, and we sell tickets for the night at different price points depending on the courses and the style. It’s a really fun long table feast.
BT: I love how balanced your menu to accommodate everyone.
Jenn Cornish: It’s really important to me to be mindful of being responsible when thinking about the world around us, and being aware of who we share the planet with. We have a lot of gluten-free options and vegan options, and if you look at our menu, it’s definitely veggie centric but we don’t exclude. We just try to make as little negative impact on the environment as possible. There’s been a lot of education, and we want to have a menu that is accessible to everyone, so no matter who you are and where you are in your diet spectrum, you can eat here.
After a morning spent checking out Langley along the Circle Farm Tour or perhaps following a round of golf, the stomach starts to call for lunch, and we’ve got the answer. JD Farms raises specialty turkey, and from their farm comes everything from full roast-ready turkeys to sausages, broth, ready-made entrees, salami and pepperoni (even raw pet foods for your furry family) – and of course, there’s a bistro for when you’re hungry right now.
The JD Farms Bistro serves up turkey in nearly endless forms. But their most popular item is their smoked turkey legs.
These have become so well-known that busses full of people from around the world have been known to make a dedicated stop, just to give the handheld specialty a try.
Also popular is their hot and fresh turkey pot pies, filled with bright vegetables, and of course, turkey! Pour on their homemade gravy and fresh cranberry sauce, served on the side.
Fancy something lighter? Everything in their deli, including the sandwiches and salads are made on-site.
There are a lot of take-home goodies including turkey sausages, bacon-style turkey, jerky, and deli meat.
JD Farms turkeys are raised under a stringent certification program that ensures the turkey are raised in spacious environments with constant access to fresh feed, water, and are as stress-free as a turkey can be. They are part of the Global Animal Partnership, which is a program dedicated to farm animal welfare.
The bistro and shop are open daily – check their website for current hours.
The lush fields accented by mountain views in Langley, BC have nestled within them several days worth of exploring. Just a short drive from Vancouver there are farms, vineyards, meaderies, friendly animals, and more. Langley’s Circle Farm Tour has plenty of places to snack and treat yourself along the drive, and we’ve chosen a few favorites to get you started on a full day of getting to know the area’s hidden gems.
For breakfast, Milsean’s Tea Shoppe is the place to get your morning tea (or coffee) and get the day off to a sweet start.
Prefer something savoury or to-go? Although the waffles come highly recommended, there’s lots more to try.
The sunny atrium is a cozy place to have your morning bite.
Be sure to take home some of their addictive butter crunch! You’d be missing out in a big way if you don’t try these. Go ahead and try and save some as gifts for family and friends, or just hide them away for yourself.
Seven years ago, Teresa Townsley and her husband Bill bought a 5-acre hobby farm in Langley, and got to work on delighting the palettes of wine lovers in BC and any visitor lucky enough to find them. From an unfenced grown-over lot next door to Campbell Valley Regional Park, the two of them have cultivated the land to mind horses; chickens; and best of all (for the rest of us), colonies of honey bees, which happen to help make some of the region’s most delicious varieties of mead.
Festina Lente’s specialty is mead, or honey wine. Although it’s made by fermenting honey, the end result is not necessarily sweet. Varieties are smooth and crisp, some with herbal and fruit infusions.
The unique coffee-infused mead, “Zephyr” and the lavender-infused “Flora” are absolute must-try flavours. Far from novelty, these meads are as sophisticated as their most traditional variety (which is the “Nectaris Deorum” mead, which translates to “nectar of the gods”).
The nectar of the gods that goes into this mead is produced on site by thousands of honey bees.
A visit to Festina Lente can also mean a visit to meet their lively horses and their chickens who are dressed up in black and gold feathers.
Herbs grown on-site are used to infuse the mead, such as the fresh ginger in “Minerva Metheglin” which pairs deliciously with many South Asian dishes, such as pad Thai.
The heart of local food that brings all the greens, grains, produce, cheese and meats to our plate isn’t often in our urban centres – it’s mainly found in the people and animals who work the fields and farms. There are several places within Metro Vancouver where you can bring the kids to meet the producers and see farm animals, and a scenic place to start is Langley along the Circle Farm Tour.
At Milner Valley, a fifth-generation heritage farm, they specialize in a variety of artisan goat cheese.
There is a whole crew of adorable goats to visit on Milner Valley’s farm, who are milked to create the cheese you can buy in their shop.
All of the ogling, petting, and taking photos of the goats can get exhausting, so cool yourself with hand-made goats milk gelato, served up in the warmer months. For those sensitive to dairy, goats’ milk (and cheese) is generally easier to digest than cows’ milk, since the composition is slightly more similar to human milk. If you have a slight sensitivity with the dairy of cows, it might be worth it to give goats’ milk gelato a try.
At Kensington Prairie Farm, the alpacas roam, and if they’re close to the fence you can reach through and give them some pets right on their floofy hairdos.
Although their focus is mainly alpacas, Kensington Prairie farm also raises chickens for farm-fresh eggs, as well as cows.
All that Alpaca wool gets made into socks scarves, sweaters, and other cozy clothing. Alpaca wool is super soft, and great for retaining heat – think of all those people in the Andes who’ve relied on alpaca to keep warm for centuries. They certainly know what they’re doing.
There’s also plenty of yarn for your own knit projects.
Also on a Circle Farm Tour, Taves Family Farms has plenty of animals for the whole family to encounter, including seasonal pony rides.
There’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker on Canada’s West Coast. The region is undergoing a craft brewing renaissance and it seems that there is a new craft brewery popping up every week.
Let WestCoastFood and our transportation partner, Burnaby Tours, be your host as we guide you to some of the best craft breweries in the region.
Enjoy an in-depth look at the art of beer making with a behind-the-scenes tour at one of the breweries, and get a full sampling of the breweries’ finest beers. (If you left beer fans at home, be sure to pick up a growler or two!)
On this tour, you’ll visit:
Central City Brewing and Distillery, Surrey
Known for their line of Red Racer beers, including their signature Red Racer IPA, Central City also produces offer a variety of craft beverages including specialty beers, ciders and both brown and white spirits.
Trading Post Brewery, Langley
Beer connoisseurs will appreciate the variety available at Trading Post. From traditional English-style ales, American IPA’s and stouts, to contemporary sour and barrel-aged beers. There is something to please all palates.
Dead Frog Brewery, Langley
Go behind the scenes with a tour at Dead Frog Brewery and learn about the brewing process and taste samples of unique brews like Classic Nut Brown Ale (the beer that started it all), Seasonal Citrus Wit or the award-winning Nutty Uncle (a peanut-butter stout).
Your ticket includes transportation, a brewery tour, 3 flights or pints of beer (1 at each brewery), and gratuities for the brewery staff. Price does not include tax (5% gst), driver/guide gratuity, or food and additional liquor purchases.
Must be 19 years of age to partake.
If you are interested in booking a group of 10 or more and would like to customize your own Craft Brewery Tour, please contact Burnaby Tours for alternate breweries and pricing.
Entering Fort Langley is like stepping into a page of Canadian history. The idyllic village caters to history buffs, trail walkers, and coffee shop dwellers alike. As for food and drink, the options for casual fares are plentiful. The classic Fort Langley dining staples still stand strong: Wendel’s, Beatniks, and the Fort Pub and Grill to name a few, serving regulars and tourists with a hint of small town charm.
Today, as Vancouver millennials slowly migrate from city life to suburban haven, the energy in Fort Langley has shifted into a more youthful local community, while still managing to keep the beloved, historic charm, intact. City-inspired hot spots like Trading Post Brewing and Little Donkey have moved into the village with much acclaim, but the new kid on the block, Fortitude Restaurant, is creating quite a buzz within the community and abroad.
Fortitude brings a fresh, fine-dining atmosphere to the Fort Langley village. With an intimate team and a humble presence, the restaurant opened its doors in the early summer and has been serving a full dining room of enthusiastic guests ever since.
Chef Romy Prasad and his team have curated a menu that caters to all palates, and more importantly, all cravings. The menu has a healthy selection of appetizers and entrees, and the option for the “Fortitude board” which is the chef’s selection of a few house bites to share.
The wine list is hand selected by partner Marle Simmons and focuses on a vast selection of local BC wines. The menu is complimented by an inventive cocktail list, brimming with new creations and well-loved classics.
The food is no fuss, and all flavour, creating dishes that are bound to please for many years to come.
I sat down with Chef Romy is get the low down on what Fortitude has to offer, and what’s to come.
Brittany Tiplady: Why Fort Langley?
Chef Prasad: I love Fort Langley. Our main idea was to stay as close as we could to the valley and the values of the farms and products in this area. Unfortunately, for now, we are not yet a farm to table restaurant. But we would like to work as closely as we can – and we do.
BT: Are there any themes to the food and the restaurant concept?
CP: That’s the million-dollar question! The theme and the concept of the food is based on what is seasonally available to us. I, myself, personally worked a lot in Europe, as did my sous chefs. There are a lot of influences there. But this restaurant is not an Italian spot, or a French restaurant.
Why I have the menu selections, and why they are all prepared differently is because I would like to expose the restaurant to everybody. You don’t wake up and say, “I feel like having an Italian meal, I’m going to go to Fortitude.” Instead, I want customers to say: “I feel like having a great meal, I’m going to dine at Fortitude.” That is the idea of the restaurant. We try to emphasize what is natural about the food. We don’t hide behind it. The ingredients are always fresh of course, and staying as local as we can.
BT: What are the stars of the menu?
CP: Everything! You can’t ask a chef that! One of the personal favourites from my client’s point of view is definitely the seared albacore tuna. It’s served rare, on a bed of du Puy lentils, smoked bacon, and asparagus.
BT: What has been the community response so far?
CP: We have had an excellent response and support from the community. Absolutely fantastic. The restaurant has been full every night, and we have not done any marketing. We quietly opened the doors, after a soft friends and family opening, and have simply been operating as is. We are now open for brunch on the weekends, and we will be opening for lunch shortly as well.
BT: How is your team?
CP: It’s a small and tight team. We work closely together – it’s very responsive.
BT: I’d love to know more about your career background. Can you tell us what led you to opening Fortitude?
CP: I’ve been working in Vancouver for 15 years. I worked with Umberto Menghi in Whistler at Il Caminetto. I worked at CinCin for a number of years and then I was a chef at a restaurant called Savory Coast for a number of years as well. I was at Federico’s Supper Club on Commercial, and the Richmond Country Club. And after all of that, Fortitude happened.
Fortitude is open seven days a week for dinner and is now offering brunch on weekends and will soon be open for lunch. Call 604-371-1377 for reservations.
Is there anything sweeter than the fruits of your own labour? U-pick berry farms in the Lower Mainland would attest there isn’t.
While abundant rain at the end of a long winter had many farms opening their picking seasons a little late this year, the results are still oh-so-sweet. With a shortened growing season, farmers are seeing strawberries and blueberries as a bounty of fresh-picked treats. We visited a few farms to find out where you can gather a basket of your own before the season’s over.
Please note that availability of berries is subject to weather and crops may end early, or be extended. It’s best to contact the individual farms to determine availability of your favourite berries.
Krause Berry Farms 6179-248th Street, Langley
U-pick, a winery, fresh-made waffles, and a kids’ farm – is there anything this farm doesn’t have? Set on 200 acres of well-groomed farmland, Krause Berry Farms uses all of its berries in farm-to-table (and from field-to-glass) style. There’s always something to pick from late May to mid-October in the fields, from ever-bearing strawberries getting their second-wind starting in late July to pumpkins and autumn harvests. Open every day 8:30am to 5pm.
CanWest Farms 13051 Blundell Road, Richmond
With families in mind, CanWest hosts U-pick blueberries for five weeks between mid-July and late August. At just $1.50 per pound, you can pick a year’s worth of berries to store. Open from 10 am to 6 pm.
Birak Farm 4200 No 6 Road, Richmond
Fruit stands are no longer just a roadside attraction whilst vacationing in BC’s Okanagan Valley – this Richmond-based fruit stand has a legacy of its own. For 30 years, Birak Berry Farms has been growing six different varieties of strawberries: Albion, Totem, Hood, Tillamook, Honey Owe and Pugent. Open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
Surrey Farms 5180 – 152 Street, Surrey
This little Surrey-based farm is famous among locals for its sweet strawberries. “The season is slowing down but the U-pickers seem to be very happy,” they told WestCoast Food. Here, strawberries can last until mid-September, with blueberries usually staying strong into September. U-pick opens mid-June to mid-October from 9 am to 6 pm.
Maan Farms 790 McKenzie Road, Abbotsford
Open from 9 am to 6 pm every day, this 80-acre farm currently boasts late harvest strawberries and seasonal blueberries. A $2 admission fee is refundable when you pick more than 5 lbs of berries.
Willems Berry Farm 33736 Vye Road, Abbotsford
Running since 1983, Willems Berry Farm is a family-run farm with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries abound, when in season. Picking typically opens at 9 am on the weekends, but hours can vary, so it’s best to call ahead at 604-864-1149.
Didar Berry Farm 5580 104th Street, Ladner
Blueberry season for this family-farm is short but sweet. It opened in mid-July for u-picking and its last day of the season is August 19. Owner Aujlay Didar dubs his fruits “nature’s candy” and is happy to drive visiting pickers through his 80+ rows of berries in a golf cart to find the sweetest treasures.
Formosa Nursery Organic Farm 12617 – 203rd Street, Maple Ridge
If you want to save your money, do the dirty work yourself. Formosa Nursery offers blueberries at $5 per pound, ready-picked, or just $3 per pound when you u-pick. There are just 2 weeks left in the u-pick season, so there’s a limited amount of time to collect your bounty and get some exercise in. Open from 8 am to 8 pm daily.
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.
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.
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.
If you have ever spent time in BC’s charming Fort Langley then you know that hosting an annual food and beer festival just seems like a natural fit. Be sure and mark your calendars for May 20tt, 2017!
Fort Langley’s old-timey streets are a mix of pleasant restaurants, quaint shops and there is a cozy neighbourhood feel that’s hard to capture unless it just comes about organically.
The Fort Langley Beer & Food Festival is the dreamchild of Fort Langley’s own Trading Post Brewing Company, and the aptly put slogan, “tap into the local” says it all. This first-time festival will feature fabulous local food and craft beer from the Vancouver area and the Fraser Valley, plus live music and more.
At the Fort Langley National Historic Site, fest-goers will have an opportunity to learn about the lives of the First Nations communities, international fur traders, gold miners, and even Hawaiians who converged on this spot 190 years ago, and where British Columbia was established in 1858.
Some 20 breweries and 20 food vendors are expected to participate, and proceeds will benefit the Brewing Lab scholarship at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The scholarship was created by Trading Post and named after John Mitchell, who is considered the grandfather of craft beer in Canada.
We love shopping in a gourmet food store, and one that offers hard-to-find products, plus cooking classes and seminars just makes our day.
Well Seasoned is a Langley-based culinary mecca, in business since 2004, that sells both international and local BC ingredients, plus spices, cookware and condiments. Weekly in-store cooking classes have top chefs sharing their secrets, and educational seminars give customers the edge in new food trends and products.
Pick up a Best of BC basket that is chock-a-block with gourmet goodies, or a freshly baked homemade pie, or perhaps a bottle of pomegranate champagne vinaigrette for your next salad.
Owner Angie Quaale has a background in menu development and retail food distribution, but her accolades and experience is about as good as it gets – past president of the BC chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, past president of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, past chair of Tourism Langley, and founding board member of the Langley Community Farmer’s Market. Most recently, the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce named her the George Preston Memorial Business Person of the Year. Impressive indeed.
Looking for a cool camp for the kids this spring break? Little omnivores aged 7-16 can learn some basic culinary skills, try out recipes and more March 20-22, visit the website for more information.
Finding time to cook healthy and hearty meals can be a challenge for people with a hectic lifestyle, and that is why Paulette Hawkings created a line of flavourful, nutrient-rich meal options that are fuss-free to make. Her Simply Delish Soup and Salad products are wholesome and tasty meals made easy with blends of dry ingredients for whipping up a delicious soup, chilli, Jambalaya, salad or dessert. All dishes require minimal effort but are maxed on comforting, home-cooked flavours!
Based in Langley, Paulette launched the family-run business in 2010 after diligently sourcing the right balance of quality ingredients, and trialing a variety of unique recipes to shorten the time of meal preparation at home. Nowadays, Brad (Paulette`s son) and his wife, Chelsey are running the company. Their 24+ deliciously handcrafted products use all natural and non-processed ingredients (local and organic when possible). These nourishing and simple-to-cook meals are a great staple in any pantry, particularly for healthy-minded folks with a full schedule.
Simply Delish Soup and Salad focuses on nutritious ingredients, primarily fiber-rich legumes, grains, and quality spices. The current line-up features mixed dry ingredients to make: 12 soups, 5 crock pot dishes, 5 salads, and 2 desserts.
Packaged ingredients, including the soup base, are: all natural, gluten-free, vegan, low or no sodium, and msg-free.
Dry ingredients are simply combined and/or cooked with water as well as suggested fresh ingredients; hot dishes are cooked either on the stovetop or in a crockpot. For each package, prepare to ladle up between 8-10 cups of super-filling food (serves 4-5 people).
The products are the quintessential comfort food for home enjoyment, but they’re also ideal for convenient meals on weekend getaways, boating trips, camping, and RVing.
Suggestions for adding fresh vegetables are included in each recipe, along with other protein options. Feel-good hearty recipes range from Mulligatawny Soup, Smoky Black Bean Quinoa Chili and By the Bayou Jambalaya to Cranberry Almond Quinoa Salad.
Simply Delish Soup and Salad sell their packaged products at their artisan shop (located at Gasoline Alley in Fort Langley), various farmers markets and select shops in the Metro Vancouver, as well as online.
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.
Strawberry wit, boysenberry sour, and of course, a variety of pumpkin beers made with local farm-fresh gourds are just the beginning of the seasonal, inventive, quirky craft beers brewing on Canada’s West Coast.
Explorers and pioneers built Fort Langley, and their adventurous nature lives on at Trading Post Taphouse & Eatery. This Fraser Valley microbrewery honours the local land, tradition, and community. They craft small batch beers with names and flavours that raise a glass to brewmasters past and people present.
What’s the best way to learn history? Perhaps, it’s over a pint. Sip one of their beers and you’ll get your fill of stories from the Fraser Valley’s past.
And, their beers aren’t just available in pints or growlers. You can eat them, too.
“Authentic, honest, and super tasty.” Like their pours, dishes here aren’t typical pub fare. You can taste the genuine care put into the ingredients and preparation.
The Taphouse’s menu is “Chef inspired, farm driven.” It features seasonal produce sourced from local A Rocha farm.
Like Trading Post, A Rocha farm combines their industry’s roots with new techniques. They employ traditional farming methods, modern agricultural science, and educate others on eco-friendly growing practices.
Trading Post has a passion for people and places. Their staff “is excited to build a craft brewery community and thrive on providing exceptional service.” And, it shows. Everyone genuinely cares about your entire experience, from farmer to culinary team to servers.
Trading Post has two locations in the Fraser Valley. Stroll the frontier town streets of Fort Langley and grab a pint and some good eats at the Taphouse & Eatery, or tour their Brewery & Tasting Room in the Greater Langley Area.
Trading Post Taphouse & Eatery
9143 Glover Road
Fort Langley, BC
Throughout history, breweries have been a fundamental part of the communities they serve. Here at Trading Post, we are no different. Our modern day craft brewery was born out of a passion for great beer and from our desire to serve the community we call home. As we grow, we look forward to serving the Langley community and sharing our passion for great beer. It is over a glass of that very creation, a labor of our love, where friendships deepen, family ties strengthen and community unites. At Trading Post, we pledge to embrace our community, engage our customers, brew great beer and offer a friendly and inviting atmosphere for our community to gather.
The Fraser River gold rush only lasted from 1858 to 1865, but riches are still found in BC’s Fraser Valley when it comes to breakfast and baked goods (even some gluten-free gold). At Wendel’s Bookstore & Cafe you can devour a hearty brunch before you conquer the historic Fort Langley itself – a former Hudson’s Bay trading post – or just sip local coffee and adventure into a novel.
You can’t miss the cafe’s saloon-style building in the heart of town. From the sweeping patio bannisters to swinging doors, the cafe is a stronghold for breakfast classics: golden omelettes, pancakes, eggs benedict, and well-seasoned hash browns.
The cafe offers a taste of the area alongside the town’s BC heritage. All plates are made from carefully selected ingredients, using products like cage-free eggs, wild salmon, organic flour, and everything is locally sourced as much as possible.
Every slice of bread, even their tangy lemon-mascarpone topped French toast, is baked each morning. Sweet-tooths may have a hard time choosing between the bakery’s tarts, squares, scones, muffins, and flaky pastries made with seasonal fruits from nearby farms. The only thing that’s canned here are the mason jar pies (including mason jar tiramisu) and homemade jams.
“When the food is made from good ingredients, the flavour speaks for itself,” says owner Diane Morrison.
Each bite you take is into one of Diane’s mother’s recipes, from the breads to the benedicts. Many of the main dishes are internationally inspired by Diane’s days as a travel writer. The café’s namesake, Wendel, was Diane’s grandfather, and family photos line the walls. This cafe has a family business story that truly came out of a book.
While attending bookselling school (yes, it’s real) in Berkeley, California, Diane noticed all bookstores there offered coffee on the side, long before the days of big brand cafes. When she returned to Fort Langley to pursue her passion, Wendel’s Bookstore & Cafe was born. That was nearly 20 years ago.
Even their dedicated gluten-free bakery has a sweet story. One day, Diane’s mom noticed a little boy crying in her cafe. She offered him a cookie to cheer him up and was flabbergasted when told by his mother, “that’s why he’s crying, he’s celiac and can’t eat any of them.” That was that – everyone deserves to enjoy cookies! She set off into the bookstore and dug into the gluten-free baking books. They’ve been pioneering celiac-friendly recipes ever since.
Today from its Fort Langley base, Wendels True Foods has invaded grocery stores across the Lower Mainland, Toronto, and the Pacific Northwest with gluten-free goodness.
Celiac or not, if you just want to stroll with coffee in one hand and a flaky apple strudel in the other, you can walk around the quaint shops that host local foods, great restaurant patios, and bizarre antiques. If you’ve enjoyed a more ambitious brunch, you can walk it off on the scenic Fraser River trail before heading to the fort itself.
Fort Langley is often referred to as the birthplace of BC – before Canada was even a country – as it was on this site in 1858 that British Columbia was proclaimed a Crown Colony by James Douglas.The fort grounds let you get hands on with it’s story, and brunch in Wendel’s Bookstore & Cafe is a first chapter worth devouring.
When it comes to apples, most of us are familiar with the supermarket’s uniform and shiny varieties. Beyond the stores in the Lower Mainland, there’s a range of local apples that are not only celebrated for their flavours but for their historical connection – referred to as heritage apples. For the love of these local apples, the annual Heritage Apple Day (October 1) festivities recently took place at the Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley.
This 12th Apple Day festival was a free event held on the site of the original Fort Langley (1827), which is the current Derby Reach Regional Park. In 1839, a new fort was built 4 km upstream from the original and is the present day historical site of Fort Langley. Today, the 12km Fort-to-Fort bike trail links the two fort sites, including a loop at Brae Island Park and the village of Fort Langley. This trail is also part of the Trans Canada Trail and the Canyon to Coast Trail along the Fraser River.
European settlers of the first Fort Langley planted apple orchards and some of these trees are still standing within the Derby Reach Regional Park.
Heritage Apple Day is hosted by the Derby Reach/Brae Island Park Association and Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. The event is generously supported by volunteers, Tourism Langley and Pacific Parklands Foundation.
At the heart of the festival is the sampling table with 17 different varieties of heritage apples, grown by local orchards. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the origins and uses of each apple, plus taste their unique flavour and texture. There are heritage apples with origins from: British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Netherlands, and England.
Originally from British Columbia, the crisp, juicy and sweet Spartan apple is part of the 1926 Macintosh X Newton family of apples. It’s ideal for cooking and eating.
Grimes Golden apple is originally from West Virginia and the parent of the Golden Delicious apple. Flavour profile: spicy, perfumed, coriander-like flavour, crisp.
At the site of the oldest orchards in British Columbia, where the original Fort Langley was located, a new orchard with young heritage apple trees have been planted near the Houston House (1909).
BC Fruit Testers Association also participated in the festival with a large display of apple varieties from around the world.
Eating apples at the festival was made more fun with a handheld spiralizer that sliced, cored and peeled apples.
The festival was filled with family-friendly activities and displays; but the ‘hay’ play area was the biggest hit with all the kids.
The Langley Community School Fiddlers entertained the crowd.
There were historical re-enactments during the festival, including the importance of the voyageur canoers that transported goods up and down the Fraser River for the Hudson’s Bay Company. These voyageurs typically wore red toques on their head and colourful wool sashes around their waist.
Autumn harvest season is marked by celebrations around the world for a season of sharing with friends, family, and the community. Dig into abundance at one of the many Fraser Valley farms where you can pick your own pumpkins out of a vast field, gather a bushel of crisp apples right from the trees, and take home a feast of local foods to bestow around your own table.
When it comes to fruit wines, it seems those made from grapes get most of the love. But in the Fraser Valley, wines made from fruit beyond grapes, especially berries, are thriving and rising in popularity. There are nearly as many non-grape fruit wineries as there are grape-based fruit wineries, and it’s easy to see why when there’s a plethora of berry farms in the region.
The first berry farm in the Fraser Valley to produce grape-free table and dessert wines was the Fort Wine Co., which started as a cranberry farm. In 2001, their winery opened on the farm and today is one of a dozen wineries, and growing, in the valley dedicated to making berry-driven wines. They are also the only fruit winery in the Fort Langley area. The wine maker, Toby Bowman, takes the lead in producing 10 different fruit wine varieties (5 table wines and 5 dessert wines) from cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples and pears.
The winery continues to grow cranberries on-site (10 acres) with the majority used for their own wine-making process while sourcing other local fruits for the rest of their portfolio wines. It goes without saying that cranberry wines are the winery’s speciality and are increasingly popular. They produce a red and white cranberry table wine, as well as a cranberry dessert wine.
The flagship red cranberry table wine, called the Mighty Fraser, is a tribute of sorts to the original owner, Wade Bauck, who was a tug boat captain and cranberry farmer. The crisp white cranberry table wine is made from cranberries that are harvested before they turn red. Its name, Ghost of the Bogs, reflects the spooky morning fog that often floats over the bogs in the autumn.
Contrary to popular belief, fruit wines are not necessarily sweet. The fruit table wines of the Fort Wine Co. are pleasantly off-dry and can pair well with a range of dishes. On the other spectrum, the fortified dessert wines – Saucy (cranberry), Finger Fruit (Raspberry), Isle Queen (Blackberry), Cold Snap (Apple) and Sweet Nothings (Blueberry) – are deliciously sweet, emulating the style of ice, sherry or port wines. While all the table and dessert wines have won a medal at one point or another, their richly textured cranberry dessert wine, Saucy, has previously won a Double Gold medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships. The Isle Queen, blackberry dessert wine, is also notable as their only oaked wine (using a ‘bag-of-blocks’ process).
The name, Fort Wine Co., was selected to honour the local history of Fort Langley, sometimes referred to as as the birthplace of British Columbia, and cranberries. They chose their present location in the Glen Valley, about 5 minutes east of the Fort Langley village, because of the area’s rich peat bog soil which is ideal for cultivating cranberries. Historically, cranberries grew wild in the area and were traded by the First Nations for supplies at the first Fort Langley trading post, established by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1827. At that time, cranberries were highly valued and referred to as ‘red gold’; one pound of cranberries was equivalent to an ounce of gold. Cranberry-filled barrels were regularly shipped abroad because the berries’ high acidity allowed them to last on long voyages and their high vitamin C content helped to prevent scurvy among sailors and gold prospectors.
The traditional link between cranberries and the Fort is celebrated at an annual harvest festival. This year’s 21st Fort Langley Cranberry Festival will take place on October 8th with a day of family-friendly activities, including a market, entertainment, and much more.
For the Festival, the Fort Wine Co. will have a shuttle running between the Fort Langley National Historic Site and their winery. They are considered the only farm in Langley where visitors can comfortably watch a wet harvest demonstration of the bogs filled with ruby red cranberries. During a harvest, cranberry bogs are flooded with water, and then water reels (affectionately called ‘eggbeaters’) agitate the water to free berries from their vines. As cranberries are naturally buoyant and float on the water’s surface, they can be easily corralled by ‘booms’. Be sure to save the date to join the Festival fun and visit the Fort Wine Co.
Visitors are always welcome to drop by the winery throughout the year to sample and purchase fruit wines. Their spacious and cozy wine tasting facility includes a bistro area and outdoor patio for enjoying a cheese platter with a glass/bottle of wine or their signature Sangria made with their blueberry Valley Girl table wine. And for the foodies, the winery also sells their own collection of four aged Italian balsamic vinegars that have been infused with berry fruit – cranberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries.
Summer (May-December): 11:00am-6:00pm, closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Winter (January-April): 11:00am-4:00pm, closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Fort Langley Cranberry Festival: Oct 8, 2016, 11:00am-5:00pm. To view the harvest of cranberries on other dates, please contact the winery.
Cranberry Fun Fact: British Columbia is currently the largest producer of cranberries in Canada, according to the B.C. Cranberry Growers’ Association. In global terms, B.C. cranberries accounts for 12% of the North American production and 90% of B.C. cranberries are shipped to the USA.
Fruit Wine Fun Fact: For grape-free fruit wines, a higher volume of fruit is required to produce one litre of wine. Generally speaking, a pound of grapes will produce 1L of wine and 1.5 lbs of other fruits will produce 1L of wine. For cranberry wines, 2 lbs of cranberries are needed to produce 1L of fruit wine.
Take a gourmet stroll off the beaten path, spend the afternoon with top chefs, and leave filled with stories of food and the people that bring it to life. Local culinary celebrations don’t get bigger than the annual Feast of Fields festival, held this year at Laurica Farm and Fraser Common Farm in Langley. Once you wander through the gates (and past some goats and pigs), British Columbia’s food and beverage artisans await to offer a complete taste of the region.
Guests meander between tents and sample dishes that highlight local produce, prepared by more than 50 restaurants, farmers, and beverage crafters. Live music, orchards, and the open sky provide ambiance. Whether you’re into craft beers, ciders, or wines, or are looking for a chance to experience the province’s culinary creativity this “wandering gourmet harvest festival” includes items you won’t find on restaurant menus.
And, it’s not just the food that will leave you feeling good. The event is a fundraiser for FarmFolk CityFolk. Every dollar raised supports their mission: to cultivate sustainable food systems in British Columbia and build a market for local produce through celebration.
“It gives you the local flavour, people say, ‘wow, so that’s what it’s really like here. This is what fish from the Fraser River taste like, this is what grapes from local vines create, that’s what food by BCs top restaurants is like.’ And it’s all in one place,” said Nicholas Scapillati, executive director of FarmFolk CityFolk.
Ever try bacon jam? Cornbread made with honey from bees buzzing nearby? How about a glass of Syrah wine produced on BCs Black Sage Bench (a small interior region known for its reds)? Every dish connects you with the full flavour of the people and places that crafted it.
Vancouver’s Forage restaurant is a natural participant. Their chef is a fisherman, forager, hunter, and even keeps bees. They minimize food waste by using every part of the produce served, including repurposing gnocchi peelings to make potato skins. Like Feast of Fields, the restaurant has experts on staff to answer locavore questions, from sourcing organic vegetables to the environmental impacts of mono-cropping and multi-cropping.
“It’s an event where people get to be curious and ask questions about their food. They bring back stories about where it came from and who made it,” said Margot Baloro, restaurant operations manager at Forage. “People who come are keen, they want to learn as much as they can. It’s fun and it’s different and it feels good to do good.”
Where can you find more local produce? What can you cook with seasonal vegetables or pasteurized meats? Guests get answers to their farming and cooking questions right from the source. Chefs, beverage crafters, and farmers are on hand to personally field them.
“Farmers know best. I ask them what they have, what they need me to use. I don’t dictate. For the event, Laurica Farm had some pigs’ heads so I wood-fired them and made tacos,” said chef Adrian Beaty, a participating chef. “I kind of go with the flow. I was just at a farmer’s market and found someone nearby growing (hot) peppers that I’m using in the BBQ sauce. Normally, they are brought in from China or abroad. I was like ‘Whoa! You have this here, great!’”
Beaty first saw that there was so much more to food while watching a cooking show years ago. It featured a chef talking to a farmer about growing and using peppers. There was a clear connection between people, land, and nutrition. Since then, he’s educated others on how to find and cook with produce that’s available locally. His most recent find: a nearby farm that grows spinach, kale and other greens all winter long.
Before the 100 Mile Diet, before farmer’s markets were popular, there was Feast of Fields. Envisioned as a “roving picnic on a working farm” the festival is thriving today. It celebrated 22 years and 50 feasts this year and has attracted hundreds of locavores and culinary curious guests to the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan, and to Vancouver Island.
You’ll leave the festival with fresh ideas for restaurants to try and knowledge about the bounty available in BC. Bring your appetite for learning and a straw hat next year and drop by a Feast of Fields event.
Meet FarmFolk CityFolk and Feast of Fields:
Feast of Fields is a four hour wandering gourmet harvest festival that highlights the connections between farmers and chefs, field and table, and between farm folks and city folks. With a wine glass and linen napkin in hand, guests stroll across a farmer’s field, traveling from tent to tent (sometimes through the barn, past the tractor or around the chicken coup) listening to live music, and tasting gourmet creations from BC top chefs, farmers, fishers, ranchers, food artisans, vintners, brewers, distillers and other beverage producers. www.feastoffields.com
Meet Laurica Farm:
Laurica Farm is a five acre family farm in Aldergrove, BC. “We started our farm in 2013 after feeling disenchanted with the food industry – we wanted to stage a personal food revolution. Since then we have built a ‘farm family’ around us, gathering people who share our values. From foodies, to nutritionists, to locavores, to ethical shoppers, our customers have a shared vision about what their food choices should look (and taste) like.” lauricafarm.com
Meet Fraser Common Farm:
Through a unique balance of food production, habitat conservation, communal and individual housing, and a sincere desire for long term sustainability – this is a social and community experiment, a work in progress, and a dream come true. “The food tastes really great. We grow certified organic food, including pre-cut salads, vegetables, culinary herbs, edible flowers, fruit and market vegetables. We care about the food we grow, and the land upon which we live.” www.frasercommonfarm.com
Every Sunday, when I was younger, my family would take the car for a drive. There was usually a rough idea of where we were going to explore; sometimes it was a new neighborhood with half-finished homes for us to wander through or sometimes it was just a drive through the farm areas of Maple Ridge, Langley or Abbotsford. Now that my children are old enough to be on their own, we’ve also started to take Sunday drives but I like to have a destination, and for this trip I chose Milner Valley Cheese. I’d read about them online and I was intrigued by the idea of goat’s milk gelato. I was also surprised to find out that while goat’s milk contains lactose it doesn’t contain a certain type of protein found in cow’s milk. This protein can be what lactose intolerant people are allergic to and so they can digest the goat’s milk much easier.
After a beautiful drive we turned onto Smith Crescent and were greeted with the serenity of farmland and rolling hills. As we pulled up to the family’s farm house, we could see goats wandering about an open field, watched over by an old donkey and an alpaca, which we were later told are great defenders of the property. We were met by Glenn Smith (he’s the fifth generation to farm the land) who was gracious enough to take some time to chat and show us around the farm.
The Milner Farm has a very long history in Langley. The original 220 acres of land was purchased by Smith’s Great-Grandfather in the 1880’s, from the Hudson Bay Company. In the past, the farm raised chickens and dairy cows but Glenn and his wife Marianne wanted to try something different. As Glenn led us around the outbuildings, he explained how they balance the work on the farm with their two adult sons.
First, we were shown the maternity barn with the female goats and their kids. Glenn believes in keeping the females and bucks (males) separate because the bucks are a dirtier animal but here is where the Smith’s get very scientific with their farm. They try to produce a product which is less “gamey” tasting than the goats cheese you buy in your local grocery store. Glenn believes that the environment he supplies for his goat herd directly impacts the milk or meat produced by the goats. The well ventilated air the goats breathe, the grass and feed they eat, and their clean living environment all contribute to the very blood that courses through the goats, thereby producing a different taste.
Next, Glenn led us over to the milking house. If you’ve seen the milking systems for cows, imagine a mini version. Here they milk 70 goats, twice a week, producing 1500 litres of goat’s milk. Peaking through the windows of the curing room, I could see shelves and shelves full of yellow waxed cheese rounds, reminding me of the curing rooms in Holland.
Glenn then handed us over to Marianne who explained the reason behind the goat farm. A little over five years ago, while they were trying to decide which direction to take the farm, Marianne had an epiphany. While waiting in line at her local grocery store, she noticed an issue of Oprah magazine. Leafing through, she found an article dedicated to the top farmstead cheese areas in the United States. This was the catalyst that started Marianne down the path of cheese making, specifically, goat’s cheese. She’s taken many cheese making courses and the production of the cheese at the farm is all done by her during eleven hour shifts! She concentrates on Colby, Jack and Caerphilly and sources her flavorings like peppercorn and sundried tomatoes from Holland. Although she’s been making the cheese for quite awhile, she still sees her work as, “a learning curve with so much more to learn.” She adds, “I just hope people appreciate what goes into it.”
We followed Marianne into their farm gate shop, built off the back of the farm house. Here you can purchase a cone of gelato, which is rich and creamy with just a small hint of the goat cheese taste you expect, and of course there’s colby, jack, feta, chevre and caerphilly goat cheeses for sale. If you’re lucky you may be able to pick up some eggs as well; the family sells 17 dozens of eggs every week but these are generally snapped up by the locals and neighbours. When I asked Glenn what he hoped his legacy would be he replied that he “want(s) to preserve a heritage which is unique, and to provide a local product on a small scale because we love what we do.”
As I watched my husband gleefully fill a basket with assorted kinds of goat cheese, I could see the Smith’s were accomplishing exactly what they’ve set out to.
Owner Rachel Bolongaro was a chemical engineer for 20 years in Switzerland at a pharmaceutical company, which she claims was “quite useful,” when it comes to running her Fraser Valley Cider business. “I figured that if I could do that I could probably whip up a batch of cider,” she laughs, “I’ve always been a home brewer/winemaker and I decided to take this idea further and start my own cidery.”
“There are cideries in the Okanagan and on the Island but nothing here on the Lower Mainland. My engineering training has been invaluable when it came to project managing the construction of the cidery and navigating the regulations and permitting requirements,” she says. “We’ve also been able to engineer most of our own equipment which has saved us considerable amounts in our set up costs. And of course when something goes wrong its super-fun to roll up my sleeves and figure out how to solve the problem or just streamline our whole production process.”
Bolongaro sells her ciders, made in small batches using traditional techniques and freshly pressed BC apples, from their tasting room, and at the White Rock and Langley farmers markets. “With it being our first year we didn’t really have a good feel for how much cider to produce. We thought we had slightly overdone things but now that we’re into it we’re feeling it might not be quite enough. Sales are brisk at the tasting room so we’re not planning on doing much in the way of off-site sales. We are however supplying to the Orchard and the Sea which is a new cider bar located in Gastown.”
You can see the orchard of 1800 trees with over 25 different varieties of English and French cider apples that were planted by Bolongaro with the help of her friends – swing by Fraser Valley Cider while on the Circle Farm Tour, and make sure to try pick up the new raspberry cider – perfect for summer sipping.
Summer in downtown Langley just got even better, especially for food aficionados.
On August 27 11am-4pm, downtown Langley’s best restaurants gather in McBurney Plaza featuring exciting demonstrations by local chefs and live music performances to set the tone.
Featured culinary on-stage demos like summer grilling, al fresco entertaining, and paella with Chef John Walls are not to be missed.
Here’s how it works: you pick up your Fork & Finger Passport in McBurney Plaza, and then collect Passport stamps by visiting participating restaurants to purchase a $5 Sampler. Return completed passports to McBurney Plaza and be entered to win over $1000 Downtown Dollars.
Some foodie samplers to whet your appetite? How does gelato with your choice of flavoured olive oil and Maldon sea salt from All of Oils sound? Or a crispy rice lettuce wrap with cured pork, shredded coconut from Naka Bistro Lao & Thai Cuisine? Those are merely a couple from a lengthy list of both sweet and savoury delectables on offer. Come hungry.
“Decide on a pie, yet?” A voice sings the question while the coffee is topped up. I’m on my second fork-full of an omelette at Hilltop Cafe in Langley, BC. Pie pushing at 8:30am might seem odd elsewhere but here there’s one for every occasion, including breakfast.
Despite a sign that has read “home of famous pies” since 1950, slices had been going out of style at Hilltop Cafe for decades. When sisters Andrea Zaiser and Sandy Parley took over in 2011, it became their mission to bring back the pies!
It’s been a hit, drawing people far and wide and has even started a food trend for wedding pie instead of cake. These sisters pair pies with meals like sommeliers pair wines with cheese. Andrea offered some advice on what to try when you stop by.
What’s best for breakfast?
After a hearty, savoury breakfast satisfy your sweet tooth with a nice and light selection, like lemon chiffon pie.
What about a coffee stop?
Any of them. But, for a combination that’s “off the hook” try their latest creation: salted caramel peanut butter pretzel cheesecake pie.
Crème pies are the ultimate comfort food, indulge in their banana, coconut, and chocolate varieties.
Make it decadent with a chocolate brownie ganache pie.
Hilltop Cafe has some truly creative tastes to talk about, including chocolate with fried banana or a sour cream and raisin pie.
What’s the best seller?
A Canadian classic: the “flapper” pie. If you’re from the prairie provinces, you’ll know this slice from any social gathering. For everyone else, a flapper pie starts with a crunchy graham cracker crust, is filled with vanilla custard, and then topped off with chewy meringue stacked as high as Vancouver’s North Shore clouds.
What if you want something seasonal?
If farm fresh is your style, their fruit pies are baked by local legend Krause Berry Farms. There’s blueberry, Okanagan peach and cherry, bumbleberry, or strawberry rhubarb slices awaiting a spot on your table. All other pies are baked on site, with love, by Sandie alongside Andrea’s daughter, Jami.
This summer, their seasonal special is a tart and tangy black currant pie. For winter holidays, there’s eggnog pie and in spring you’ll find a chocolate creme egg pie.
The sugar on the crust is that all dishes come served ala mode — with ice cream. Just like home.
Not only are the pies famous, but the location is too. The retro diner has been featured in TV and film productions including Fringe and The Butterfly Effect. Casts featuring Robert Redford and John Travolta have been known to order up pies on set. Movie buffs can speculate which actors tried which pies while scanning the diner’s film memorabilia lined walls.
If the scent of home baked pie doesn’t transport you back in time, the patterned linoleum counters and 1950s diner decor will. After 68 years, the family-owned restaurant has become known for it’s dedication to the classic, from its decor to its dishes.
Owners Andrea and Sandy revived the space to it’s former glory and kept it classic. The diner seeks to bring guests:
“Back to a time when food was made fresh from scratch with local ingredients. A time when you gathered to meet your friends and family and took the time to just sit and enjoy their company and have a home cooked meal.”
Stop off for a slice at your home away from home next time you’re on the highway between Vancouver and the interior or Vancouver and the US border crossings.
Nothing says summertime more than fresh berries, and blueberries are literally the star berry of the season! There’s no better place to enjoy fresh blueberries than in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.
It may be surprising to some, but blueberries are Canada’s largest fruit crop by acreage. According to the British Columbia Blueberry Council, Canada is the world’s third largest national producer of highbush blueberries with the majority grown by 800 blueberry growers in British Columbia. The bulk of the B.C. blueberry farms can be found right here in the fertile Fraser Valley!
Indigenous to North America, wild blueberries were highly regarded by the Aboriginal people who picked them for food and medicine. They were referred to as “star berries” because of the five-pointed star on the blossom side of the berry. Cultivated blueberries, known as the highbush variety, started in the early 1900s. Today, 90% of the world’s blueberries come from North America; but blueberries are also grown in Europe, South America, New Zealand and Australia.
The local blueberry season is in full swing and it’s looking like another bumper crop season. Typically, the blueberry season runs from late June to late August/early September with different varieties (early, mid and late season berries) ripening throughout the summer. However, due to unseasonably warm weather during this winter and spring, blueberries were ready for picking by early June. This year’s production is expected to be on par with the 2015 blueberry harvest which set a record for the largest yield ever in British Columbia.
The only thing better than having fresh blueberries is picking them yourself! There are plenty of U-Pick Farms in the Lower Mainland; however, Weller’s Blueberry Farm in Langley is considered by the locals to be extra special, not only for the delicious sweet, juicy berries but also because of the charming owner, 90-year-old Gert Weller. With 10 acres dedicated to blueberries, Weller’s farm is not necessarily the largest, but one of the oldest. He has been growing blueberries on his farm for over 40 years.
It’s no small feat to run a blueberry farm and the past few years have been particularly challenging for Weller, especially with his wife falling ill. Last season’s overabundance of berries was nearly lost by the lack of picking staff, until his grandson reached out on social media for help. The message of the Weller predicament went viral on WeChat (considered the most important social media network in China), which spread the word to the Greater Vancouver Chinese community. Hundreds of local Chinese residents came out to help u-pick and show support, saving Weller’s blueberry harvest from ruin.
Nowadays, Weller continues to cheerfully welcome all the u-pickers that visit his unassuming and no frills blueberry farm, close to Fort Langley. They are there, and some have been returning for years, including the supportive Chinese community to pick some of the best blueberries (no spray) in the Valley, enjoy the scenery, and meet the ever-cheerful Weller. Many of the visitors take time to talk and snap pictures with him.
Do yourself a favour, add a fun berry picking experience to your summer plans in one of the best blueberry regions in the country. And, make a point of visiting the Weller’s Blueberry Farm in Langley for an authentic and local very berry good time!
The latest point of pride for Peter Breederland is a berry that is virtually unknown in North America but lauded as one of the most nutritionally rich foods on the planet. The ellipsoid, jelly-bean shaped berries are bright orange-red in colour, 1-2 cm long, tart-sweet in flavour, and are most commonly referred to as ‘goji berries’. Breederland, based in the township of Langley, is considered B.C.’s first commercial grower to cultivate and harvest fresh goji berries.
Already a successful horticulturalist in the Fraser Valley for the past 23 years, as owner of Topgro Greenhouses (specializing in mini-bell peppers), Breederland jumped at the challenge of growing goji berries when he was looking for a new and unique crop to expand his farm. With little to no existing information to guide him for goji berry farming, Breederland had to pioneer his own growing practice from scratch. After five years, all his groundbreaking work has paid off. He currently operates 10 acres of BC-grown goji berries, the newest berries in the Fraser Valley, and a product line called Gojoy which launched in 2014.
Goji berries, also referred to as wolfberries, are native to Asia with China being the largest exporter of the dried berry products. For centuries, they’ve been popular in Chinese medicine to promote good health, well-being, and longevity. Today, the goji berries are praised as the ultimate berry and said to be loaded with healthy properties. This little, but mighty superfruit, is thought to be one of the highest rated superfoods, offering a superior concentration of nutrients – vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, beta carotene, potassium and iron. There is a belief that goji berries help to inhibit some diseases, improve a range of ailments, boost energy and even bolster happiness!
Spreading goji berry joy and goodness is the main focus of Gojoy’s signature products, which Breederland hopes will inspire new ways of using goji berries. His Goji Berry Smoothie Booster is ideal for the health conscious smoothie generation. It’s a convenient and tasty frozen purée blend of six locally grown power berries, with the gojis as the main ingredient. His whole goji berries, frozenand fresh (in season only), are also available and can be a healthy addition in a range of savoury to sweet dishes, from cereals, cookies, salads, soups, chutneys and desserts to sauces and curries. Gojoy products are currently available in 40 stores throughout the Lower Mainland and B.C. Starting this summer, visitors can try their hand at picking goji berries at Breederland’s farm in Aldergrove; Upick will be available 2 days per week during the goji berry season of July and August.
Any serious food lover knows that not all olive oils are created equal, not by a long shot. As wide in variety and as subtle in nuances for the palette as wine, the Fraser Valley is home to All of Oils,
Wife and husband proprietors Kimm Brickman-Pineau and Glenn Pineau carry only certified, ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils (EVOO), plus a number of flavoured oils and balsamic vinegars.
“Many of our products are also certified organic and our supplier, Veronica Foods Company of Oakland, California is registered on the Non-GMO Project,” says Glenn.
The products are sourced from select, high-quality growers all over the world, some of the Italian balsamic vinegars are aged up to 18 years, and every item sold in the stores, or online, has a complete backstory, referencing when it was made, the country of origin, the crush date, the chemical breakdown, and an outline of its flavour characteristics. Best part? These quality products are reasonably priced.
Each store has a tasting room, much like a good winery, where you can sample before you purchase. With over 50 varieties, including olive oils infused with blood orange, chipotle, and wild mushroom, to speciality oils like pumpkin seed and avocado, choosing which one is the tough part. Clever owners however, the Pineaus sell small containers they fill as you choose, so you can take home a variety, and store at their utmost freshness.
Sign up for tasting events, either as a group or on your own, and make learning about extra virgin olive oil fun – and far beyond the stuff you can buy at the grocery store, especially with the well publicized scams as of late, where some producers claim their EVOO to be 100% – but are not. Here at All of Oils, it is the real deal.
The Pineau’s shared 5 tips about olive oil:
1) Look for a crush date – freshness is king
2) Look for low FFA (free fatty acids) levels – under 0.3 is optimum
3) Cooking with high quality extra virgin olive oil is very healthy
4) Don’t buy olive oil in clear bottles.
5) Olive oil is a fresh fruit juice and does not age. Store it in a cool dark place and use quickly.
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!
How about some walnut wine, artisan jam and a picnic under a shady tree? There’s plenty to explore in south Langley and the Vista d’Oro farm makes for a fun day out for all the family.
Since taking over an ex-dairy farm in 1997, Lee and Patrick Murphy have created a beautiful 10 acre farm on Campbell Valley Park in the heart of the Fraser Valley, just four blocks from the US border. Growing a mixed bag of orchard fruits such as apples, pears, plums and cherries, there’s a vineyard onsite too, producing their estate-grown Marechal Foch wine. We spoke to co-owner Lee about what’s happening on their farm and why it’s a must-visit for foodies.
“We’re part of the Campbell Valley wine route,” says Lee, “There ‘s a great little micro-climate out here; it’s pretty small, just four of us, but people seem to love it. One of our specialties is the walnut wine we make from our trees which are almost 100 years old, planted by the farm’s original owners. It’s a red wine blend fortified with green walnut brandy. We pick the walnuts in early July when they’re more fruit than nut, then macerate them in brandy for nine months. It’s more of a dessert style wine and very popular.”
Visitors can try before they buy at the farm gate shop where you can also sample Lee’s artisan preserves – all made from fruits from the farm. “We wanted to be sustainable; it makes way more sense to add value to fruit we grow ourselves. We use the fruit when it’s perfectly ripe and that makes a better product. Our best-selling preserve is our fig and walnut wine variety; it goes beautifully with cheeses so we decided to offer picnic items to visitors too.” On sunny days you’ll find happy farm visitors curled up under the leafy walnut trees munching on the fresh made picnic platters, all showcasing delicious local produce such as charcuterie from Granville Island’s Oyama Sausages, farmhouse cheeses from Agassiz and bread from Kitsilano’s Terra Breads. “I think that’s what people like,” says Lee, “it’s the first thing they ask when they come in and it’s great to be able to point at everything when they ask what’s locally made. People want to take a piece of the food culture home, I’m the same myself.”
But it’s not just jam and picnics that visitors can enjoy, every year Vista d’Oro holds a walnut festival where chefs from the lower mainland come together to showcase how delicious those nuts are, “they bring their skills and create something amazing with my walnuts or my walnut butter,” laughs Lee. “If you’ve never tried ‘pizz-am’ you’re missing a treat. Seriously! Pizza-jam with our green walnut and grappa jam with salami, arugula and truffles, mmm!”
Live music and entertainment round off the annual event, and this year, Vista d’Oro will be bringing something new to Langley. “We’re launching the Dairy Barn Sessions; we have a 100-year old barn which we want to resurrect to its former beauty and we’re partnering with the Listel Hotel in Vancouver and their talented chef, Chris Whittaker, to do that. We’ll have a local sustainable three-course family-style feast paired with our wines, and also two musical performances: opera and then Broadway hits. We’re so excited, this promises to be a magical and romantic evening”
Just an hour’s drive from Vancouver lies one of the region’s most delicious culinary destinations: from wineries and cheese makers, to one of the country’s most exciting Indian restaurants, the area surrounding Langley and Surrey has it all. Celebrity chef and famed restaurateur, Vikram Vij is one of the region’s most ardent fans, “It’s like being in the countryside without having to go far from the city,” he enthuses. “You can rent a car and drive through the mountains and past the ocean, you don’t have to take a plane or a ferry, it’s right here and the best of the best foods come from this area. We’re so lucky to have everything to make a great culinary destination right in our backyard.”
It’s an area that many visitors might miss out on, but Vikram says they’ll be missing a treat if they do– and he has a few recommendations to make:
“South Surrey has a beautiful beach and White Rock has a gorgeous pier and promenade, but what makes it so special is the incredible food and producers. One of my favourites is the Vista D’Oro Farm and Winery, Lee and Patrick own it, and they make a beautiful walnut wine which is a dessert-style, like a fortified port but made with local Fraser Valley walnuts. Their farm is something quite unique, you can spend an afternoon there, sitting in the vineyard and tasting the food they sell there. Lee makes the most amazing jams too– not just ordinary fruit ones hers have spices such as cloves and cinnamon in. So good!
Another of my favourite places is the Wooden Spoon Co. their chef, Brad Green is great and he’s made a lovely space for lunch, brunch and dinner. It’s simple and family-friendly but the food is not what you’d expect from a little place in White Rock. He uses local produce, sustainable seafood and you can get wonderful hand-pressed coffee and organic juices there. I love visiting him for lunch.”
Vij has taken advantage of the region’s bounty with one of his own newest culinary endeavors:
“I have to recommend my own restaurant in South Surrey at Morgan’s Crossing, My Shanti, which takes our guests on a culinary journey of India through my eyes to show the diversity of the cuisine there. It’s very blingy! Bollywood meets my travels with plenty of colour and fun visuals. I get as many ingredients as possible from local farmers: the bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplants; my workforce is all from the local area and they know the cuisine and ingredients well. On sunny days you can chill out on our beautiful patio and enjoy local wines and cocktails made with BC spirits, and, of course, delicious craft beers.
We get as much produce as possible from Hazlemere Organic Farm who were the first organic farm to open in the area, 26 years ago. I first connected with them when I worked at Bishop’s in Vancouver (legendary fine dining restaurant). Naty King gets all the local farmers together who have something delicious to sell and she’ll connect them with the chefs. She’s such a beautiful person and she’s kept the dream alive of this wonderful organic farm that she and her late husband started all those years ago. You can visit the farm and see their work there.”
Here is how you can find Vij’s favorite spots mentioned in the articles above: