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By Wade Kinley

New Westminster has grown out of the early settlement along the banks of the Fraser River into one of the lower mainland’s most charming cities. Now with a newly revamped waterfront showcasing entertainment, shopping, and dining, any time of day is a good time to visit New West, but we know the best time, and that is approximately 3:00 to 6:00 in the afternoon.

Carlos O’Bryan’s

Housed in the old Canadian Pacific Railway Station in downtown New Westminster, Carlos O’Bryan’s Pub is big on tradition. Sports, pool, darts and, of course a great draught list can all be found in the traditional Irish pub upstairs in the building built back in 1899. Luckily for us, they’ve kept the tradition of happy hour as well. From 2 to 5 PM daily, along with drink specials that range from $4.50 to $6, their extensive menu of appetizers are available for $9 each. Traditional fare like prime rib yorkies sit alongside contemporary dishes like the sashimi-style tuna stack, and of course, the legendary “Pachos”. And if you don’t know what we’re talking about here, let’s just say, you owe yourself a visit.

Image courtesy of Carlos O’Bryan’s

River’s Reach Pub

As BC’s original capital city, New Westminster is awash in history. And you can brush up on our province’s story on any visit to the River’s Reach Pub. Photographs of days gone by adorn the walls and 19th century antiques are displayed throughout the room. At happy hour, prices hearken back to a simpler time as well, when from 3 to 6 PM appetizers go for half price. Enjoy pub favourites such as poutine with snappy cheese curds ($4.50), or the smoky, peppery Angus sliders ($5.50), alongside bistro-style brussels sprouts crisped up with parmesan and chili ($4), and the lightly seared tuna tacos that are get their kick from red pepper pesto ($6). Drink specials are also offered, a different selection each day.

Wild Rice Market Bistro

There’s a couple reasons you’ll want to arrive early for dinner at Wild Rice Market Bistro. One, you’ll want to grab one of the coveted seats at the open kitchen where you can watch the modern Chinese menu come to life before your eyes. The other is, of course, the deals to be had at happy hour. The crispy chicken skins ($7) are just as decadent as they sound and pair perfectly with one of their local draughts, on for $5. The duck confit tacos are sweet and crunchy ($8) and the spicy green beans sautéed with pickled onions deliver a welcome tang ($6). Wash it all down with their signature lotus cocktail delicately infused with lychee ($6). Treat yourself Tuesday to Thursday, 5 to 6 PM; Friday to Sunday, 3 to 6 PM; and all day Monday!

The Boathouse Restaurant

With such proximity to the mighty Pacific, dining out in the Vancouver area is never complete without a small taste of the sea. And when it comes to seafood, The Boathouse has been an institution around these parts since 1981. Its New Westminster location sits right beside the Fraser River and is a perfect perch to watch the river boats sail past. From 3 to 6 PM, fresh shucked oysters start at $1.99 a pop, while the rest of the Happy Hour menu comes in at under $8. Standards here are anything but, like the yam fries with their masala curry ketchup ($4.99), or the cauliflower “wings” done up Buffalo style ($5.99).  A true 20oz pint of local draught is $7, as are house cocktails like their signature Caesar and the Boathouse bellini. If a glass of wine is more your speed, you’ll find the house red or white for just $6.

By Kristi Alexandra

When the weather cools and our palate warms up, sending Metro Vancouverites on the search for soups, stews and steaming bowls of noodles. Welcome to ramen season!

Traditionally, ramen is a Japanese noodle dish served up in a meat or fish-based broth, flavoured by shoyu or miso, and topped with accoutrements such as sliced meat, eggs, dried seaweed and more. There’s no one-way to do ramen, as evidenced by the ramen variations that represent different regions of Japan—from the mild-tasting, cloudy ramen of Kagoshima to the miso-style ramen of Sapporo. So, perhaps there’s really no tradition at all.

In fact, a great ramen experience is all about choice and customization. One can choose to have their noodles thick or thin, chewy or soft; their broth with a pork-bone base (tonkotsu), or with fish or miso; then topped off with dressings to their heart’s content. We’ve rounded up a few places in Metro Vancouver that you’ll be able to slurp up a rockin’ bowl of ramen.

Yaguchiya Ramen

4679 Kingsway, Burnaby

Burnaby’s Yaguchiya Ramen restaurant is one of three iekei ramen spots by the franchise. The other two are—you guessed it—in Japan. According to the restaurant, iekei is a type of ramen originating from Yokohama, and is the “perfect balance of the popular Tonkotsu style from Kyushu in the West, and Shoyu style from Tokyo in the East.” The unpretentious eatery boasts big flavours, doling out bowls of Shoyu Ramen (served with spinach, dried seaweed, sliced pork belly, and green onions) and featuring its house bowl, the Yaguchiya special ramen (a boiled egg, spinach, leeks, seaweed and more). The noodle spot offers up grated garlic, grated ginger, vinegar and chili bean paste to add to your broth, creating the perfectly customizable ramen.

Yuu Japanese Tapas

#1118 – 3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond

If you’re looking for innovation with your ramen, look no further. Yuu Japanese Tapas is the home of the beer ramen: a bonito-flake broth served cold and in a beer glass, topped off with an egg-white and gelatin foam. The Richmond tapas spot doesn’t just do it for the novelty, though: Yuu serves up more than 20 other ramen bowls, including the spicy “hell fire” ramen and a new rich black pepper garlic broth topped with grilled beef.

Beer Ramen | Image courtesy of Yuu Japanese Tapas

The Ramen Butcher

233 East Georgia St., Vancouver

Ambiance is key at this trendy Chinatown eatery. The Ramen Butcher doles out popular tonkotsu ramen flavours directly from Japan, but with a twist. From the orange miso ramen (a pork broth with rich miso marinated ground pork) to the black garlic ramen (another tonkotsu broth with roasted garlic oil) to the straight up vegetarian, there’s a ramen here for experienced noodle slurpers and newbies alike. Not sure what you like? Try a “ramen flight” during happy hour, where you can snag a pair of half-portions in any given flavour (red, black, green and orange) for $10.

Ramen Hachi

120 – 88 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster

No bells or whistles are needed at this soup spot. Hachi Ramen is located just underneath New Westminster SkyTrain Station and is the perfect place to sit down (and slurp down) with a simple, traditional bowl of noodles. They serve up the staples: shoyu, tonkotsu, and even a vegan ramen. Sides such as gyozas and chicken karaage round out the humble menu, making this the perfect pit-stop for Japanese comfort food.

Full Ramen

15925 Fraser Hwy #103, Surrey

Get full at Full Ramen. If you’re sitting south of the Fraser but still have a craving for ramen, you’ll find all you need at this Fraser Highway ramenerie. The spot has been pegged as “small and cozy,” and its menu could be charged with the same. No surprises here: this spot serves up a couple variations of tonkotsu-style ramen, with sides such as gyoza to fill the tummy.

Ramen at Kamamarui Ramen & Don | Image by Kartika Wisjnu-Lim via Facebook

Kamamarui Ramen & Don

6514 Royal Oak Ave, Burnaby

A little fusion can be found at this modern-style eatery in South Burnaby. Kamamarui is known for their Korean-style ramen, along with their “bombs” which are rice balls seasoned with seaweed and teriyaki sauce, not unlike risotto balls. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out the spot’s basil ramen, and if you’re looking for a classic fix, the Tonkotsu ramen and bomb combo ($10.50) will keep you satiated.

By Brittany Tiplady

For West Coast Canadian 90s kids, donuts serve up some serious childhood nostalgia. Tim Hortons trips before hockey, Long John’s served with elementary school hot lunches, boxes of Krispy Kreme at a birthday party. You get the jist. Today, donuts are somewhat of a cultural currency. The beloved pastry continues to be elevated and topped with unique, showstopping ingredients that are as delicious in real life as it looks on Instagram. Hungry yet? Browse the list below to find some local favourites to indulge in.

Doppio Zero Pizza

1655 Como Lake, Avenue, Coquitlam

Because, you can never eat too many carbs in our opinion, after dinner try the Graffe. It’s an Italian made-to-order style doughnut drizzled with hot caramel.

Outpost Mini Donut Company

110-12240 Second Avenue, Richmond

Image courtesy of Outpost Mini Donut Company

Located in the heart of Steveston’s idyllic village, Outpost Mini Donut Company lives up to its name, serving up gourmet mini donuts; delightfully fresh and coated in sugar or topped with vanilla bean or maple icing. Classic and seasonal flavours include salted caramel, blueberry, lemon, boston cream, and coconut.

The Victor

Parq Vancouver, 39 Smithe Street, Vancouver

Parq is one of Vancouver’s hottest spots right now for a classy, elegant night out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with your food. At the end of your meal at The Victor, order the Crème Brûlée Doughnuts: a sensationally sweet treat, topped with cotton candy, to cap off the night. 

Cartems

Downtown: 534 West Pender, Vancouver
Mount Pleasant: 2190 Main Street, Vancouver
Kitsilano: 3040 West Broadway, Vancouver

The Earl Grey Donut at Cartems

Oh, Cartems! How you’ve grown. What was once a tiny donut shop in the Downtown Eastside, is now a booming company, pioneering the donut and coffee shop culture in Vancouver. Their inclusive lineup of goodies is stunning: almost all flavours come in a gluten free and/or vegan option so everyone can enjoy! Cartems releases new seasonal donuts or feature donuts regularly but their core lineup is just as exciting! A must try: The Earl Grey Donut (available in a gluten free and vegan option as well); bursting with the classic Earl Grey flavour in an Earl Grey glaze and topped with rose petals.

Lucky’s Donuts

Mount Pleasant: 2902 Main Street, Vancouver
Kitsilano: 2198 W 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Downtown: 689 Thurlow Street, Vancouver

Another Vancouver staple that keeps on expanding! This donut shop, paired alongside 49th Parallel Cafe is always bustling; expect a lineup at any time of day, and one that’s worth the wait. There are many fan favourites at Lucky’s but the Lemon Meringue Bismarck is one of the stars. Bite into a torched meringue, pillowy donut and sweet lemon filling.

Lee’s Doughnuts

1689 Johnston Street, Vancouver

Lee’s has been serving up classic donuts, notably their honey dip recipe, since 1979! Next time you’re exploring Granville Island stop by and try a Vancouver classic.

Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery

1025 Royal Avenue, New Westminster

Hey gluten-free readers, we’ve got you covered! Cloud 9 Bakery is just a 10 minute walk from the New Westminster SkyTrain station. Cloud 9 serves up a vast selection of g-free goodies, but Saturday’s are not to be missed. Donut Saturday’s at Cloud 9 feature cinnamon sugar donut holes, a freshly baked selection of vanilla and chocolate donuts with a variety of icings and glaze. Check out our in-depth feature on Cloud 9 here.

Honey Doughnuts & Goodies

4373 Gallant Avenue, Deep Cove, North Vancouver

Deep Cove’s coveted cafe is the spot for a pre or post hike treat. On your next visit to Quarry Rock, stop into Honey’s for one of their famous donuts (before prepared for a line!) and live like the Deep Cove locals do.

Black Tiger Coffee

110-19255 Fraser Hwy, Surrey

Image courtesy of Black Tiger Coffee

Black Tiger Coffee is new to Cloverdale, but has already garnered quite the Instagram following largely due to to their mouth-watering donut selection! Check out feature on Black Tiger Coffee to learn more about their menu.

 

 

By Kristi Alexandra

It’s no wonder that New Westminster’s downtown hub is warming up to its nickname “Delicious Downtown.” It’s home not only to a handful of hip eateries, but to Canada’s largest-ever food truck festival.

The Royal City’s residents and their neighbours are about to get all trucked up as the annual Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival celebrates its sixth year on July 28, 2018. With more than 150 vendors on the docket for the mouth-watering milestone, there will be no shortage of options to treat the taste buds.

Image Courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival

From newly-scouted trucks such as the Frying Pan (crispy fried chicken) and Taco’N Todo (authentic Mexican fare) to returning favourites like Vij’s Railway Express and Gypsy Trunk Vegan Food Cart, there’s a nosh or nibble for everyone. REEL Mac & Cheese, Japadog, Crab Park Chowdery, and Feastro the Rolling Bistro also feature on the lineup — but food isn’t the only thing on offer during the foodie fete.

C’est si Bon | Image Courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival

Running in conjunction with the food truck festival, is a special artisan market. Tucked in the air-conditioned comfort of The Anvil Centre, the British Columbia Artisan Society is hosting more than 50 local artists. Feasters can take a break from the heat and shop for jewellery, paintings, chocolate, tea, clothing, beauty products and more.

New Westminster-based boutiques such as Mila + Paige will be styling up fashionable feasters, along with Grand Central Consignment, Inner Fire, Lofty Living, and the city’s very own brewery Steel & Oak will be hawking their suds-inspired duds.

For those who would rather lay back and relax, there are four different stages to catch some live music acts, while sipping on a draft under a shaded patio or in one of the eight beer gardens.

Image Courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival

“Like always, we’ll have tons of bands and performers through the Arts Council of New West,” Whitfield assures, “and we’re once again showcasing the Artisan’s Market inside the Anvil Centre, and the Farmer’s Market will be part of the event.”

As if food trucks, live music, arts, and fashion still weren’t enough to entice you to strut Columbia Street during the festival, admission for the event, as always, is free!

#GetTruckedUp at the fifth annual Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival on July 28, 2018 from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m.

By Kristi Alexandra

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

Big Red’s Poutine

Traveling food truck

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

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

The Fat Cow & Oyster Bar

#4 20178 96th Ave, Langley, BC

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

Re-Up Barbecue

810 Quayside Dr, New Westminster, BC

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

Re-Up Barbecue Pulled Pork Poutine

Smoke’s Poutinerie

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

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

Spud Shack

352-800 Carnarvon St, New Westminster, BC

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

Rocko’s 24 Hour Diner

32786 Lougheed Highway, Mission, BC

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

Image via Rocko’s 24 Hour Diner

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

By Kristi Alexandra

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

 

Spud Shack

352-800 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster

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

Spud Shack Poutine

 

Anny’s Dairy Bar

722 6th Street, New Westminster

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

 

Cockney Kings Fish & Chips

6574 East Hastings Street, Burnaby

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

 

Chomp Vegan Eatery

7-201 Morrissey Road, Port Moody

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

 

New York Fries

Various locations

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

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

By Mary Ann Bell

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:

Pink Ribbon Bakery
103-306 6th Street, New Westminster

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.

Image courtesy of Pink Ribbon Bakery

Butter Lane Bakeshop & Tea House
6607 Royal Avenue, Vancouver’s North Shore

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.

Image courtesy of Butter Lane Bakeshop & Tea House

Happy Cakes
101-18640 Fraser Highway, Surrey

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.

Image courtesy of Happy Cakes

Frosting Cupcakery
20411 Fraser Highway, Langley

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.

Image courtesy of Frosting Cupcakery

The Clever Cupcakes
109 – 2985 Northern Avenue, Coquitlam

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?

Image courtesy of The Clever Cupcakes

Prefer to make your own? Try the Screaming Banshee Irish Cream Stout Cupcakes recipe from Old Yale Brewing Company.

 

*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!

By Catherine Dunwoody

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

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

Fieldstone Bakery
Surrey

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

Chez Christophe
Burnaby

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

Chez Christophe
Image courtesy of Chez Christophe

Cakes N Sweets
Coquitlam

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

Thierry
Vancouver

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

Theirry chocolates
Image courtesy of Theirry

Temper Pastry
Vancouver’s North Shore

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

caramel hearts from Temper
Image courtesy of Temper Pastry

Blacksmith Bakery
Langley

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

Blacksmith Bakery eclair
Image courtesy of Blacksmith Bakery

Wild Sweets
Richmond

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

Pink Ribbon Bakery
New Westminster

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

 Pink Ribbon Bakery Babe Cakes
Image courtesy of Pink Ribbon Bakery

By Catherine Dunwoody

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

My Shanti

Surrey

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

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

Wild Rice

New Westminster, in River Market

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

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

Horizons

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

Globe@YVR

Richmond

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

Globe@YVR | Image courtesy of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport

H Tasting Lounge at the Westin Bayshore

Vancouver

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

Image courtesy of H Tasting Lounge

The Lobby Restaurant at the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier

North Shore

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

The Fat Cow

Langley

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

The Fat Cow
Image courtesy of The Fat Cow

Carnivores Rio Brazil Steakhouse

Coquitlam

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

Carnivores Rio Brazil Steakhouse
Image Courtesy of Carnivores Rio Brazil Steakhouse

By Kristi Alexandra

Winter’s far from over, but the Christmas rush has many of our local craft breweries drying up their stores of limited release selections. If you’ve got a hankering to bring back the holiday season with a few sips of the suds just north of the Fraser, here’s where you can still pour some pints in New Westminster and Richmond.

Steel and Oak

1319 3rd Ave, New Westminster

This Third Street brewery is still going strong with its limited release, Windrose. This four-grain porter will bring you back to Christmas morning by the fire with the rich taste of chocolate, caramel and toffee fit for overindulging.

Sadly, you won’t find it on tap but there are still a few cases of the Zusammen Cardamom Fig Stout floating around Metro Vancouver liquor store shelves. This spicy beverage was brewed by the women of Steel and Oak along with Head Brewer Eric. Partial proceeds from this beer goes to support WAVAW (Women Against Violence Against Women)’s Rape Crisis Centre. Cheers to that!

Instead of reminiscing, you could move onto to the future with their latest: Simple Things. This fluffy German Pilsner is “crisp, clean, with notes of honey, graham cracker, biscuit, and a refreshing and lengthy bitterness.”

Brittania Brewing

250-12240 Second Ave, Richmond

This Steveston-based brewery has beer flowing as fast as the river it sits on – so don’t miss a pour of The Sirens Chai Saison. Made up of ingredients one knows to relish in their mulled wine recipe, this farmhouse ale combines a local chai-tea blend including rooibos, orange, star anise, clove and pepper. Bottoms up!

The Sirens Chai Saison | Britannia Brewing
The Sirens Chai Saison | Image courtesy of Britannia Brewing

Fuggles & Warlock

103 – 11220 Horseshoe Way, Richmond

There’s nothing that really ushers in the excitement of spring like a fresh plum blossom, which is perhaps what the Fuggles & Warlock Kiwami Plum Sour aims to do. This tart kettle sour made with fresh plums is light and sweet, with prickles lactic acidity for the tongue. Spring’s not here yet – but a sip of this beer will transport you a few months into the future.

Want more winter craft beer? Check out the seasonal winter beer in Vancouver’s North Shore, Surrey & Coquitlam, and Vancouver.

By Kristi Alexandra

You don’t always need wheat to stay sweet, and Cloud 9 specialty bakery owner Ray Porelatto knows it to be true. His gluten-free company started baking up treats for those with a taste for the toothsome in 2008, becoming a pioneer in wheat-free baking.

Nearly 10 years later, the gluten-free movement is more of a lifestyle than a craze, and the New Westminster bakery and test kitchen’s popularity can attest to that.

The delicious downtown haunt plays storefront to their wildly popular baking brand, serving up cupcakes, scones, buns, breads and more. That’s not to mention the baking mixes and custom-ordered cakes that can be purchased in the shop too.

In the back of the shop is the test kitchen, where you can find your cupcakes being created or any other combination of the mad science of sweets.

And just how has this speciality bakery kept alive after all these years? The bakery’s founder might have a few insights.

“More than 30 per cent of Canadians are said to have gluten intolerance in varying degrees,” Porelatto said in an interview at the 2012 Gluten-Free Expo in Vancouver. “The appetite for the market is big.”

Porelatto bit into the baking industry with his marshmallows: a treat that, by nature, is gluten-free. As more and more people asked him for more and more products, he began to create sweets, treats, and baking mixes beyond those delicious, fluffy morsels.

Today, you can pick up a loaf of bread, treat yourself to a six pack of jalapeno cheese buns, or order a dozen peanut butter and maple cupcakes (with adorable marzipan bees resting on top). Right now, autumn worshippers are in luck – they carry everything from pumpkin spice donuts to pumpkin cheesecake squares. With Christmas on the way, they’ll be hawking everything from classic fruitcakes to mint Nanaimo bars.

All year round, you can snag a bag of the bakery’s gluten-free flour to take home and test for yourself.

“My mom and I, who have a bakery background, went through vigorous testing: Over 2000 combinations over the course of a year down to the single gram to come up with our baking mix, which is a cup-for-cup replacement for wheat flour in any product,” Porelatto divulged.

You can find the bakery’s All Purpose Baking Mix — made of cornstarch, potato starch, rice flour, buckwheat, tapioca flour and xantham gum — at the storefront, online, and at commercial retailers such as Costco.

“One of the major factors in our flour that makes us different from anybody else is that we have buckwheat flour, which has 16 per cent fibre per serving,” Porelatto said, noting his goods’ nutritional value. “In anything that you make with our flour, you’ll get your daily amount of fibre.”

Nutritional, sweet, gluten-free and full of options, there’s one aspect of Cloud 9 specialty bakery that stands out among the rest.

“One of our catch phrases is there’s no compromise in taste and texture,” the owner said. Speaking for the other 70% of the population who doesn’t need to be gluten-free, it’s the mouth-watering goodness that keeps the Royal Avenue spot packed with goodie-loving guests.

Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery
1025 Royal Avenue
New Westminster, BC
cloud9specialtybakery.com

By Catherine Dunwoody

New Westminster’s Wild Rice may well serve some of the best Asian soul food around, and young chef Jericho Garcia can most certainly be credited. He shared his journey with me, and clearly he is a talent to watch.

Where were you born?

Jericho Garcia: I was born in the largest group of islands in Philippines – Luzon, in the town of Pampanga which sits on the northern shore of Manila Bay. It is surrounded by commercial fishponds and rice fields.

What was food like in your growing up household?

 Garcia: I grew up in a culture where food preparation is taken seriously. Authentic traditional recipes are handed down generation after generation and kept as a family treasure. We had access to the best seafood the Pacific Ocean has to offer.

Image courtesy of Wild Rice

Where did you study cooking and when?

Garcia: When I was about 8 years old my parents had a small cantina that served the best pancit (noodles) in town. Though I was too young to get in to the business, I was always fascinated by my parents’ passion for cooking. I’ve been a student of the craft and art of cooking for as long as I can remember even though I have never taken a single culinary class in a formal school environment.

What was your first paying job?

Garcia: At Wendy’s [fast food restaurant] two weeks after my family moved to Canada. I was 17 years old. I was assigned to cook fries, flip burgers and assemble sandwiches.

What was your most rewarding experience in your early days?

Garcia: When you are in the business of cooking for people, every day seems to be rewarding, especially when you see people enjoying your creations. One of the most rewarding milestones of my life took place when I was dishwashing at Earl’s Restaurant. That is where I started to fall in love with what I do. We had the perfect team – I was the best dishwasher around, the nightshift was led by my former Sous Chef Justin Yoon (who is now the Head Chef of Earl’s Victoria) and a very young, up and coming Sous Chef, Levy Johnston. Under them was a group of passionate, hard-working cooks. These two chefs saw great potential in me and I was promoted as 3rd cook after not quite a year in the dish pit. At that moment I found my purpose. I was deeply passionate and I was eager. I had never felt something similar to this in all my life, so at first I didn’t know how to act. My chefs had faith in me and they kept me in line with my goals. Even though I had such great passion for my craft, if it hadn’t been for their mentorship I might not have made it as far as I have.

 Are you involved with any new projects or collaborations?

Garcia: The most recent one was on my 26th birthday. Instead of celebrating it with my family and friends like I usually do, I had this great idea of volunteering for homeless people and sharing love with the part of our society who need it most. So I took a trip to Victoria by myself and stayed at a motel right next to the homeless shelter. I volunteered for two days cooking batches of food and feeding the hungry. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my entire life and the memories of that experience still tears me up inside. On my 27th birthday I’m planning to do the same thing.

Image courtesy of Wild Rice

 Do you have a signature dish?

Garcia: Adobo ramen. I mix adobo sauce with chicken stock to give it a bit of tang but not over-powering. Then I pair this with traditional aspects of a ramen bowl – firm and chewy ramen noodles, soy-marinated soft-boiled eggs (with the yolk that melts in your mouth but firm enough not to mix with the soup) and thick creamy chicken broth with a slight hint of dried kelp and dried shitake mushrooms. That way I can keep the integrity of a traditional ramen and fuse it with the flavour of adobo I grew up with.

Do you plan to become a certified chef?

Garcia: Becoming a certified chef would be a confirmation of my hard work. Although it is nice to see yourself with a diploma and that tiny red circle on your jacket, my plans are far deeper than that. Cooking is my way of generosity. I thought I didn’t have much to give and not much to offer but cooking changed that for me. All of the sudden I can connect to the people I love. I can give happiness, I can give comfort. I create memories that might not last a lifetime but I think if I do it consistently, they just might. I don’t think I cook better than anybody else – I’ve never seen it that way, never will. The only possible difference is that I really love what I’m doing and who am I doing it for. The thrill of knowing what triggers someone’s appetite is the greatest challenge about cooking. It’s not always about the money, it’s not always about the depth of your knowledge. Sometimes it’s simply about the pure love of sharing that makes a chef successful.

Wild Rice
810 Quayside Drive
New Westminster, BC
wildricebc.ca

By Kristi Alexandra

Eighteen months ago, Marwan Kanj revolutionized cuisine on New Westminster’s Twelfth Street. While the street is dotted with eateries that smell of Eastern influence, Kanj’s Wild Thyme brought full, authentic Lebanese meals to diners beyond the grab-and-go.

Wild Thyme is the definition of “homey.” With just 12 seats, diners will want to get chummy with their neighbours or take a peek at the wood-burning stove that warms the entire space (and, of course, cooks the flatbread). Be prepared to get cozy and hunker down for a several-course meal over small, crowded tables — and try not to sweat the line-up that is sometimes out the door.

Upon entering the quaint Lebanese eatery, rows of pickled vegetables catch the eye; they’re lined on ledges near the cash register in repurposed glass jars. Cauliflower, turnips, carrots, and baby eggplant fill the jars, tinted pink by beet juice.

The best part? Everything from the flatbread to the pickled vegetables that complement the kofta bowls and man’oushe is made by hand. At the moment, they’re not for individual sale – but that could all change soon.

“We’re expanding into the next shop,” Kanj reveals as he serves our table humous, roast pepper dip and a garlic dip thickened with egg whites. He points to the east-facing wall, and behind it is a now-closed tattoo parlour. With the expansion will come new developments, like serving alcohol and, hopefully for us, selling jars of pickled vegetables to take home.

Tauk chicken and rice

“I’ve read that some people have said we don’t serve alcohol because it’s not part of our culture,” Kanj reveals. For all its popularity, Wild Thyme doesn’t have a website – but if the culinary haunt’s Yelp page is any indication, they really don’t need one.

“It’s simply not true. Lebanese food and alcohol go together,” he continues, presenting a garlic-rich kofta on flatbread and a fattoush salad. Fattoush salad, full of fresh mint, cucumbers, lettuce and ruby-coloured pomegranate seeds, he claims, is the second-most important vegetable dish in Lebanese cuisine.

“We’re looking forward to showing our customers our Arak, Lebanese wines, and a famous Lebanese beer called Almaza,” Kanj says.

Fattoush salad

Even with the expansion, foodies in New Westminster (and beyond) will be hard-pressed to find an empty seat in the joint. But you can always pop in to ask for takeout, with a side of pickles.

Wild Thyme
705 12th St.
New Westminster, BC
604.276.8010

By Catherine Dunwoody

El Santo, Spanish for “the saint”, was a masked legend of Mexican sports, a famous luchador (wrestler) and it is the two-year-old restaurant founder Alejandro Diaz’s childhood hero.

For Diaz, choosing Vancouver-born Chef Sam Fabbro to helm his New Westminster restaurant’s kitchen made good sense. When it came to creating a menu that focused on the freshest seasonal West Coast ingredients available with a traditional, Mexican slant – Fabbro gets it.

Image courtesy of El Santo

While still in high school, Sam hopped on a work experience opportunity at Cobre in Vancouver’s Gastown, then known for its real-deal Latino cuisine. After landing stints at Raincity in English Bay and Cin Cin; El Santo is where you’ll find him now.

Chilaquiles | Image courtesy of El Santo

Always inspired by Mexican cooking, Fabbro spent time in Jalisco, Mexico to immerse myself in the food and culture, and brought some authentic ideas back to El Santo.

“My dishes are always changing and that is just a characteristic of my cooking. The El Santo huevo is a popular dish,” he says. “We take on the Scotch egg but instead use a lot of Mexican flavours. We wrap our egg in a housemade chorizo and make a batter of masa harina.”

Rajas Con Crema | Image courtesy of El Santo

If that isn’t enough to make you say ‘uno mas por favour’ consider the Pescado Veracruzana. “It combines Spanish influenced Mexican cooking with local BC seafood. It is a dish that incorporates a pan-seared rockfish, chilis, capers, olives and roasted tomatoes, served with our housemade herb-infused rice.”

Image courtesy of El Santo

With a seasonally changing menu using locally sourced ingredients, expect some surprises each time you visit. That, and a great list of tequilas and mezcals, plus a cool room you’ll want to hang out in – muchas gracias Chef Sam and El Santo.

El Santo
680 Columbia St.
New Westminster, BC
elsanto.ca

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

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

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

On this tour, you’ll visit:  

Mariner Brewing, Coquitlam

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

Dageraad Brewing, Burnaby

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

Steel & Oak, New Westminster

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

BOOK HERE

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

Must be 19 years of age to partake.

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

Header image by Jackie Dives

By Catherine Dunwoody

Back for its third year, New Westminster, BC is once again hosting its culinary showcase Feast on the Fraser taking place September 22 to October 1, 2017.

Ten days of delicious tastings, cocktail parties, food tours and long table dinners are yours for the taking, but make special note in your calendars for these themed parties: Mad Men Mixer at Mid-Century Modern Home Store, a Speakeasy Prohibition Gala at 100 Braid Street Studios, a Beauty and the Beast children’s tea party and a Canada 150-themed dinner cruise on a paddleboat on the Fraser River.

Image courtesy of Tourism New Westminster

The entire festival champions local restaurants and local ingredients from the Fraser Valley, withTej Kainth, executive director of Tourism New Westminster, summing it up well: “It’s creating these cool collaborations between chefs and producers and the unique spaces we have in New West. Our events are smaller and more intimate, to give visitors a real taste of what we have to offer here.”

Image courtesy of Tourism New Westminster

Can’t wait? Early birds will want to get in on “Piva on the Pier” on September 14, the opening event for much anticipated modern Italian restaurant Piva, located in downtown New Westminster’s riverfront.

Visit feastonthefraser.com for a complete list of events and tickets.

By Jackie Dives 

Our first stop in New Westminster along the Central Valley Greenway on our bike ride from Vancouver was Old Crow Café for a much-needed caffeine dose, where I ordered a flat white and Dan got an americano.

Old Crow Coffee in New Westminster.
Pour-over coffee in the works.

Snacks and such also available at Old Crow Café.

You can enjoy coffee and breakfast here, watching the trains go by, or grab a croissant to-go and head to the water.

The River Market is a great place to visit, especially on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month during the summer when there are crafters and artisans selling their goods.

There are lots of places to stroll and sit along the river.

Make sure to stop by the Nuevo coffee stand and try these locally roasted, small batch beans.

The Nuevo coffee stand.

When you’re ready for lunch you can check out the variety of eats inside the market, or hit up Wild Rice. Alternatively, if you’re up for a good work out, slightly off the bike path, and up a bit of a hill, there’s a tiny spot, Wild Thyme, which has delicious Lebanese food. The aromas will lure you there. We could literally smell the food from two blocks away.

Cozy outdoor dining at Wild Thyme.
The Lebanese feast arrives…
…complete with fresh-made pita.

The food is cooked in a huge stone oven at Wild Thyme.
Back on the bicycles!

If you’re not up for the ride up the hill, and are planning on taking the easy way back to Vancouver via the New Westminster SkyTrain station, Spud Shack is the way to go for a variety of burgers and a ton of poutine options, both for omnivores and vegetarians.

A Spud Shack stop.

A New West must for refreshment is Steel & Oak. The beers are delicious, and the staff are super friendly. It’s a bright, clean, and welcoming atmosphere.

Steel & Oak is a great spot for a post-ride beer.

I encourage you to sit at the bar and ask the employees about their stories of shot-gunning Guinness. We ordered two flights, which covered all the beers they had on tap. I highly recommend trying their radler option. They mix homemade lemonade with any beer of your choice!

Flights of Steel & Oaks many beers on tap.
And they even have snacks.

The relatively flat path of the Greeway makes it a great two-way tasting tour on your bicycle, or you can take your bike back on the SkyTrain – for information on when bicycles are allowed on the Skytrain, visit the Translink website.

This is the final installment of a 3-part series. 

Part 1: Vancouver Olympic Village
Part 2: Vancouver to Burnaby

By BC Association of Farmers Markets

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

Nat Bailey Stadium Farmers’ Market in Vancouver

Step 1: Know your BC farmers’ markets

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

Step 2: Bring your appetite

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

Step 3: Put your money where your heart is

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

Step 4: Take your time

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

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

By Anna Black

If you’re looking for something fun and different to do in historic Downtown New Westminster, then be sure to check out Fridays on Front, a free family-friendly event.

A brand new weekly community experience that launched July 7th, 2017, Fridays on Front runs every Friday from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm until August 27th along Front Street in New Westminster. The event takes place in the 600-block of Front Street, which has recently been transformed into a modern, pedestrian friendly walkway that still retains a sense of industrial character.

Image courtesy of Tourism New West

The fully licensed event offers visitors artisan, farm, meat, baked goods, and dairy vendors from New West Farmers Market and New West Craft, live music from the New Westminster Arts Council, and food trucks from the fifth annual Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest (happening July 29th from 4 pm – 10 pm). This includes Vancouver’s first bar truck, the Vagabond Bar Truck, which will be serving up Steel & Oak beers on tap.

Image courtesy of Tourism New West

Visitors to past Fridays on Front have been treated to Air Canada En Route People’s Choice award winner, Vij’s Railway Express, the mouthwatering authentic recipes of Thai Box on Truck, and the dessert delicacies of Rocky Point Ice Cream. Cheeses Crust was also on hand with their signature Bacon Bomb and Cheese Steak alongside food truck staples Brazilian Roots and Japadog. So, if you’re in the mood for Butter Chicken Schnitzel, Green Curry, a real fruit smoothie, an amazing grilled cheese, or more, come hungry!

Needing a caffeine pick-up after a long day? Be sure to stop by Old Crow Coffee, a well-loved local coffee house, open until 8 pm during Fridays on Front. Or, if you’re in the area early, and love everything wine, New Westminster’s very own award-winning Wine Factory offers a chance to explore over 250 wines from across the globe. Raincity Juicery, open until 6 pm, offers healthy and tasty cold-pressed organic juices perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot summer night. For a complete list of participating Front Street businesses, please click here.

Fridays on Front is conveniently located near the New Westminster and Columbia Street Skytrain stations with entry via McKenzie Street and Columbia Street.

The friendly Tourism New West info booth | Image courtesy of Tourism New West

Drink tickets can be purchased from the cashier stations along Front Street with cash or credit card only. Don’t forget your ID!

Fridays on Front – ongoing until August 25, 2017
Friday evenings from 5 PM – 8 PM
600-block of Front Street, New Westminster
http://downtownnewwest.ca/Fridays-on-Front

By Catherine Dunwoody

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

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

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

Flavour: Canadian Maple Bacon

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

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

Flavour: Roasted Strawberry

Where to get it: Rain or Shine, Vancouver

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

“Canada 150” | Image courtesy of Spiritual Ingredients

Flavour: Canada 150

Where to get it: Spiritual Ingredients, White Rock

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

Flavour: Birthday Cake

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

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

 Flavour: Melon Bingsoo

Where to get it: Snowy Villages, Richmond

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

Flavour: Creamsicle frozen yogurt

Where to get it: Menchie’s, New Westminster

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

Flavour: Saffron

Where to get it: Urban Gate, Coquitlam

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

Flavour: Moose Tracks

Where to get it: Ritual Ice Cream, Langley

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

Header image by Lenee Son

By Catherine Dunwoody

Chef Angus An’s restaurants go well beyond his flagship eatery, Maenam in Vancouver, and we’re doing a happy (chicken?) dance that his Freebird Chicken Shack in New West has reopened, this time in the River Market.

Yep, after a short move from the previous location, some renos and a revamp of the menu, the new space is now open on the market’s lower level. The 800-square-foot counter-service eatery seats 24, including 4 bar stools. Eat-in or take-out, new deliciousness added to their already famous Asian-style rotisserie birds, includes an 8-piece bucket of fried chicken ($25), and a grilled chicken vermicelli bowl with fermented pork, fresh herbs, and nuoc cham (small for $11 or large for $15). Turmeric fried chicken with curry and roti ($11/$15) sounds amazing, and vegetables? How does fried brussel sprouts or fried cauliflower for $6 sound?

Bonus? All chicken dishes are gluten- and dairy-free (excludes sides, croutons and bread, etc.)

Freebird Chicken Shack
112-810 Quayside Drive, River Market
New Westminster, BC
freebirdchickens.com

By Kristi Alexandra

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

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

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

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

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

Trading Post – Langley

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

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

Trading Post beer | Image by Ashley Lockyer

Central City Brewers + Distillers – Surrey

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

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

Dageraad Brewing – Burnaby

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

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

Steel & Oak – New Westminster

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

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

Image courtesy of the Steel & Oak blog

Dead Frog Brewery – Aldergrove

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

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

Field House Brewing – Abbotsford

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

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

By Anna Black

Tucked just a few blocks from the New Westminster Skytrain station, you’ll find a cozy little Vietnamese eatery on Carnarvon Street called Banh Mi Bar.

Now in its second year of operation, the restaurant has become a popular choice with locals because of their affordably priced and freshly made traditional Vietnamese baguette subs and friendly customer service.  Owners Lily and Tung have been described on Yelp Canada as an “absolutely lovely pair of people” that are “nice and friendly” and always “deliver with a smile”. The restaurant has received numerous five star reviews and as a result was recently named one of the site’s Top 100 Restaurants for 2017.

The menu, although simple, offers a delicious choice for every sub lover complete with delicately flavored grilled meats, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and just a splash of sriracha, all served on crisp freshly toasted baguette. One of Banh Mi Bar’s best sellers is the House Special which features four different types of pork plus meatballs. Other options include meat balls, pork patty, vegan, cold cut, and chicken. Their iced Vietnamese coffees are also always a big hit.

The restaurant offers patrons some inside seating room but because of its location right in the heart of historic downtown New Westminster, it’s also the perfect stop for takeout on your way to New Westminster Quay, Queens Park, or for a stroll by the Fraser River.  While you’re there make sure to grab your stamp card to receive your eleventh sub for free.

Banh Mi Bar is open Monday – Friday from 10 AM – 6 PM and Saturday from 10 AM – 5 PM. They are closed on Sundays.

Banh Mi Bar
722 Carnarvon Street
New Westminster, BC
604-553-9966

By Kristi Alexandra

Global grub can be found all over the Lower Mainland, but where do you go to find a bite of comfort food? A map of some of the best places to find a great sandwich (besides the corporate franchises) in the Royal City of historic New Westminster will put your mother’s brown bags to shame.

Big Star Sandwich Co.

1. Big Star Sandwich Co.

The most obvious haunt to hit when craving a huge hunk of sandwich is downtown New Westminster’s Big Star Sandwich Co. Offering up 27 different sandwiches — like the beef dip with demi-glace gravy or the turkey and stuffing — on a fresh baked filone, this Columbia Street spot pairs subs with vintage sodas that Pop Tate would be proud to serve.

Columbia Street Sandwich Co.

2. Columbia Street Sandwich Co.

Tucked into a narrow shop front along Columbia Street, you’d be forgiven for missing this gem if not for its sandwich board out on the sidewalk. This small shop can be revered for its mom & pop vibe (or, in this case, mom & mom) and incomparably comforting sandwiches. Try the turkey, bacon & avocado sandwich or go with a classic egg salad sandwich that recalls the most impressive high tea you’ve ever been to. With prices starting at $4.50, it’s practically robbery.

Holland Shopping Centre

3. Holland Shopping Centre

Among Dutch curios and groceries, the Holland Shopping Centre’s deli serves up handmade sandwiches on a bun by request. Dutch favourites include broodje kroket (a smashed croquette on a bun with mustard), broodje haring (raw herring on a bun with white onions) or a custom meat-and-cheese bun (blood sausage and edam, anyone?). Starting at $3.50, there’s no reason not to try out a bite while doing a Netherlands-inspired grocery shop.

Re-Up BBQ

4. Re-up BBQ

For a trip to the south via the Fraser River, Re-Up BBQ delivers that smoky, slow-roasted and calorie-rich fare. Known well for their order-and-eat pulled pork sandwiches or their take out BBQ kits complete with coleslaw, one giant bun you can’t miss is the spicy fried chicken sandwich. A few alligator-sized bites into this $9.75 serving,  you’ll be crying Uncle. Trust us.

Bahn Mi Bar

5. Bahn Mi Bar

BBQ chicken bahn mi with beef pho is a common staple at many Vietnamese restaurants, but Bahn Mi Bar flips the tradition on its head. Served up sub-style on French bread, Bahn Mi Bar offers up cold cuts, meatballs and even a vegan sub as an option, with sandwiches starting at just $4.50 (taxes included). Sweetening the deal, the shop even offers a stamp card (as if they could get any more affordable).

6. Greens & Beans Deli Café

For the lunch-timer crew (the shop has limited hours), Greens & Beans Deli Café opens for classic comfort food fare, including soups and sandwiches. Classics appear starting at $3.75, but specialty sandwiches such as the Turkey Elaine (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo on a Kaiser Bun) and the Autumn Bomb (turkey, tomato, lettuce, hot peppers, pickles, mayo & mustard on toasted flax) steal the show. On occasion, Greens & Beans has even welcomed Seinfeld’s “soup nazi” for an appearance or two.

Burger Heaven Restaurant

7. Burger Heaven Restaurant

Known best for their mile high burger and their political burger polls, it might be hard to imagine one would come here for a bite between two slices of toast — but oh, one does. While the sandwiches don’t run cheap, they do get piled high. The grilled Hawaiian Delight and toasted Heavenly Club give even the joint’s exotic meat burgers a run for their money.

Anny’s Dairy Bar

8. Anny’s Dairy Bar

While some French Canadians seem to prefer our West Coast weather, they still do enjoy the taste of their own grub. Poutine, steamies, and stuffed Montreal smoked meat sandwiches reign supreme at Anny’s Dairy Bar in Uptown New Westminster. Rye, corned beef, and a healthy helping of mustard tickle the taste buds. Top it off with some classic maple twist ice cream.

Coming Home Café

9. Coming Home Café

Shameless comfort food without the subtlety — could the name be any more indicative of what they’re all about? Loved most for their bistro-style brunch, Coming Home Café also offers up goods like the sumptuous havarti grilled cheese on two whole-grain slices.

Sandwich Map:

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

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

By Kristi Alexandra

It’s one of New Westminster’s most iconic landmarks — the catch is it isn’t always on land. Returning gourmands will be all aboard the Paddlewheeler, the 100-passenger, authentic replica of a sternwheeler that would have worked the mighty Fraser in British Columbia in the mid-19th century and beyond.

Part-epicurean and part-history, the dinner cruise, held October 1st, 2016, is a highlight for the second-annual Feast on the Fraser event put on by Tourism New Westminster.

Kicking off on Sept. 23, the 10-day Feast on the Fraser festival features locally-inspired menus from participating Royal City restaurants — not the least of which includes the back-by-popular-demand dinner cruise.

New Westminster Quay | image by waferboard via Flickr
New Westminster Quay | image by waferboard via Flickr

“While New Westminster is already well known as a food destination in the Lower Mainland, this is a great way to showcase the city’s diverse restaurants – and flavours of the Fraser Valley – in a tasty and creative way,” says Tej Kainth, executive director of Tourism New Westminster.

“The business community loved Feast on the Fraser [last year], because it gives them a chance to collaborate with each other,” Kainth continues. With local restaurants pairing up with businesses in the arts, culture, and heritage sectors, each event is a nourishing experience for body and mind.

As it promises to be, the scenic Fraser River Dinner cruise, which is run in conjunction with the Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours, is an imaginative affair that incorporates both New Westminster’s cultural heritage and its local flavour palate.

On board, diners can expect Fraser Valley harvested flavours such as Fraser Valley chicken dishes, locally grown butter lettuce salad, along with pumpkin pie topped with Tre Galli gelato for dessert, and wine by Domaine de Chaberton. That’s not to mention the rolling twilight views of New Westminster Pier Park, the 1904 railway bridge, and the tip of Douglas Island.

“We all know the best flavours are fresh flavours,” says Allison Colthorp, executive director of Tourism Chilliwack. “And that is why The Fraser Valley Group is so excited to be the flavour sponsor of this year’s Feast on the Fraser – where better to get fresh, local, in season products than right at home, where they are grown.”

For more information – or to get your tickets – for the dinner cruise or one of the other experiences at this exciting 10-day culinary event, visit the Feast on the Fraser website. For every event ticket purchased or dine-in experience, you get an entry to win the Ultimate Fraser River Experience, with more than $2000 worth of gift certificates or experiences.

by Catherine Dunwoody

New Westminster’s culinary scene is getting more impressive by the day, and the Feast on the Fraser 10-day festival showcases the bounty of great food grown and produced along the mighty Fraser River.

With a different signature event each day, and The Fraser Valley a proud sponsor, Feast on the Fraser ensures that New Westminster local businesses have sourced at least one ingredient from Langley, Abbotsford, or Chilliwack farmers and providers.

Fraser Valley tomatoes | image courtesy of Tourism New Westminster
Fraser Valley tomatoes | image courtesy of Tourism New Westminster

Kicking off on September 23rd in the River Market, $45 will give you a sampling of tastes for the next 9 days with eateries like Wild Rice Bistro, El Santo, Longtail Kitchen, MATCH Eatery, Tre Galli involved, and your choice of beer or wine from Steel & Oak or Pacific Breeze Winery. Noshing, sipping and live entertainment – think of it as a mini Feast on the Fraser under one roof.

If you have time to delve deeper into the line up of events, we highly recommend you do.

Pizza and Beer Night | image courtesy of Tourism New Westminster
Pizza and Beer Night | image courtesy of Tourism New Westminster

Pizza and beer go together like salt and pepper in our book. On Friday, September 30th, Steel & Oak will serve guests four tasters of Royal City’s most popular craft brews matched up with three of Boston Pizza’s mini pizzas. $25 and includes a Steel & Oak glass, for keeps.

Ode to Lulu | image courtesy of Tourism New Westminster
Ode to Lulu | image courtesy of Tourism New Westminster

The final day of Feast on the Fraser, October 2nd, features Match Eatery + Public House hosting an “Ode to Lulu”, an evening of live music and entertainment celebrating the gold-rush days of the Fraser River. Tuck into a three-course dinner in the Smirnoff Lounge, and prepare for some dancing afterward. Tickets are $45

That’s just a sampling of the daily events planned, so do visit

Visit feastonthefraser.com for more information and to buy tickets. Brought to you by Tourism New Westminster and The Fraser Valley.

By Kristi Alexandra

The River Market is thriving with multicultural cuisines, and really is a bon marché of sorts. From Hainanese poultry to European sweet treats, the River Market is a hot bed of gastronomic discovery, so you can live the life of a travelling gourmand without the pricey plane ticket. Bon appetite… or should we say bon voyage?

Italian

Aa a country built on its reputation for personal pleasure, it’s no secret Italians pride themselves on their indulgences. Those “indulgences” include fine cheeses, cured meats and, of course, gelato. Grab a made-to-order Italian sandwich at the La Grotta Del Formaggio’s deli counter inside Donald’s Market, along with some plum olives, and enjoy it as a picnic at the adjacent Pier Park. A scoop of Tre Galli Gelato’s homemade lemon gelato in a waffle cone will transport your tastebuds to Florence.

rivermarket_tregalli_frominstagram

Thai

Fitting that traditional Thai coastal cuisine should be located right on a body of water. The River Market’s Longtail Kitchen serves up steaming bowls of curried seafood, like the geng gati southern turmeric curry of mussels and the dom ka hot & sour coconut soup of clams. For a taste of Bangkok fusion, try fried fish balls with sweet chili sauce or crispy oysters with nam jim sauce. Dig into these dishes with a dream of tropical Thailand at the Pier Park Beach while you watch tugboats and fishermen traverse the Fraser.

Hot and sour soup | image courtesy of Longtable Kitchen / Instagram
Hot and sour soup | image courtesy of Longtable Kitchen / Instagram

Hainanese

Ditch the supermarket rotisserie chicken in favour of some Asian-inspired fare from Freebird Chicken Shack. Order a quarter or a half chicken, complete with its take-out fixings: rice and pickles or rice and papaya salad. Less in favour of the ethnic flavours of Hanoi? Take a bite of Freebird’s Vietnamese-style chicken bahn mi. Grab your pack and head down to Pier Park’s volleyball courts to share with friends. Boom box blasting Lynryd Skynryd optional.

Chinese Fusion

You can get dim sum anywhere from Vancouver to Surrey, but in traditional Chinese custom, you won’t be able to get it past 2 p.m. Enter Wild Rice, where Asian-inspired small dishes come with local flavours (and no time limit). Chef Todd Albright sources BC-raised pork and coastal spot prawns for his Sui Mai dumplings, and goes for Chinatown-style curried steam buns, stuffed with local root vegetables and sitting in coconut curry. These small plates are best enjoyed on Wild Rice’s own patio along the Quay boulevard.

Image courtesy of Wild Rice / Instagram
Image courtesy of Wild Rice / Instagram

Southern American

Flip open the tailgate and watch the river pass in the quay parking lot – The River Market’s Re-Up BBQ is the closest we’ll get to Memphis. Grab a slow-cooked pulled pork sandwich, complete with in-house coleslaw; tack on a side of pit beans and sip on some clear, homemade cola. Alternatively, Re-Up BBQ offers up bring-home combos of pulled pork or smoked brisket and sells their signature buttermilk biscuits in packs of 12. All the fixings needed for a southern feast up north.

 Pulled pork | image courtesy of Re-Up BBQ / Instagram
Pulled pork | image courtesy of Re-Up BBQ / Instagram

Mexican

Perhaps best known for its fresh-baked breads and irresistibly beautiful sweets, Pamola Bakery doles out a little taste of Mexico to those in the know. Bag up some fresh loaves to take home, but snack on Pamola’s tacos or a three-enchiladas combo. Your bag of sweets and Mexican hot chocolate are best enjoyed under the city’s iconic W sculpture at the very end of the Pier Park boulevard.

Enchiladas | image courtesy of Pamola Bakery / Instagram
Enchiladas | image courtesy of Pamola Bakery / Instagram

River Market
810 Quayside Drive
New Westminster, BC
rivermarket.ca

By Kristi Alexandra

Often hailed by locals as the future “little Brooklyn” to Vancouver’s NYC, Downtown New Westminster has undergone significant revitalization in the past few years. Along with it came a new shopping centre, Shops at New West, located right inside the New Westminster Sky Train Station. The transit hub — populated by shops, restaurants and even a movie theatre — has become its own culinary destination, with a plethora of regional cuisines to choose from.

We took a trip to the Shops at New West to bring you five food pairings on offer for under $15.

Four Tacos & Café Mexicano at Originals Restaurante Mexicano

(Pictured above.) For $11.50, Original’s Restaurante Mexicano offers up four traditional-style tacos. You can mix and match your flavours from nine options, including pastor (pineapple marinated pork), Baja Fish (chipotle-crusted tilapia with cilantro and avocado), barbacoa (lamb) and lengua (beef tongue). We washed it down with an authentic Café Mexicano (think Americano brewed with beans from Tapachula Chiapas) for $2.75.

Night Market Poutine & Beer at the Spud Shack

Try a funky place to eat Canada’s national culinary creation. Spud Shack serves up 10 unique styles of poutine, most notably its locally-inspired the “night market”: a veritable tower of kimchi, ginger beef, green onions, and spicy mayo all atop a bed of fries, cheese, and gravy. A small size runs you $8.75. Pair it with a $5 craft beer for the ultimate nationalistic guilty pleasure.

Spud Shack night market poutine
Spud Shack night market poutine

Happy Hour Appies & Wine at the Hub

There’s a whole lot you can get at The Hub (what an apt name) for less than $15 if you time it right. The spot’s happy hour runs daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and from Sundays to Thursdays from 10 p.m. to closing. Mix and match appies such as the wok squid ($6), chicken karaage ($6), or Italian meatballs ($6), while sipping on $5 house wine or $4 craft beer. A straight-from-the-oven pazookie ($8.75) — the signature Hub dessert — is a fabulous shared treat if you’re looking for a fresh-baked sweet.

Happy hour appies at The Hub
Happy hour appies at The Hub

Waffles & Bubble Tea at BobaCabana

If happiness had a taste, you would find it on the menu at BobaCabana. Locally famous for its Belgian waffles, which range from the Parisien ($6.95) with savoury brie and green apple to the sweet Banana Nut-ella, and bubble tea, this sweet shack has seemingly unlimited heavenly pairings. We tried a strawberry slush with pearls ($3.75) and a liege waffle ($2 each).

Waffles and bubble tea at BoboCabana
Waffles and bubble tea at BoboCabana

Won Ton Soup with Noodles & Canned Juice at North Noodle House

Where dim sum joints and places to get won ton soup are a dime a dozen in Greater Vancouver, a rarity is an authentic northern Chinese noodle house. At North Noodle House, all noodles are made in-house and by hand. A six-piece won ton soup with noodles ($8.95), complete with baby shrimp and vegetables, tastes even better knowing each ingredient is hand-sourced. Complement your northern noodle bowl with a can of Chinese peach juice ($2.50).

Hand-making noodles at North Noodle House
Hand-making noodles at North Noodle House

By Kristi Alexandra

Quickly reclaiming its reputation as an epicurean locale, New Westminster is set to host North America’s largest food truck fest.

Hosting 90 food trucks, 24 shaded patios and six beer gardens, the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest promises to dish out a full-day of chow, drinks and entertainment in the heart of New Westminster’s downtown area.

Playing on its tongue-twister of a title and the nature of the foodie affair, the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest is operating under the tagline, “it’s a mouthful,” which will also serve as the event’s social media hashtag #itsamouthful.

Now in its fourth iteration, this year’s event cordons off Columbia Street on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 4 to 10 p.m. — and it’s as big as it can possibly get.

“This year we’re at 90 [trucks], and it’s basically only because that’s as big as the street is. There wasn’t anywhere else to expand this year,” says Angie Whitfield, the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association’s programs and events manager.

Image courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest
Image courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest

Paying a return visit to the street fest are classic mobile eateries such as Tacofino, Vij’s Railway Express, and Johnny’s Pops. Those looking for something new can do some culinary discovery with first-time food trucks Say Hello Sweets and El Cartel.

In addition to the mobile eateries invited to the fest, tents and patios from local businesses will be setting up shop along the street.

“There’s a lot of really great new spots opening [in New Westminster] and it’s slowly becoming quite a foodie destination,” Whitfield says, giving a nod to the award-winning chefs and restaurants that now dot the downtown core.

Image courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest
Image courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest

“We’ve got some great new restaurants that are attracting people to the area.”

Complementing the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival is an independently-running event inside the Anvil Centre, as well as the Saturday Royal City Farmer’s Market at Tipperary Park. The Arts Council of New West will be kicking in entertainment for the day, with performances by local artists and interactive tents.

But the biggest entertainment draw of all may just be the most quintessentially Canadian event of the year: a live-streaming of The Tragically Hip’s final concert.

Image by Andy & Lynn Photography, courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest
Image by Andy & Lynn Photography, courtesy of Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest

“This whole time we’ve been looking for an anchor down at the end of Columbia to try and find something really unique that will draw people to the far end to spread the crowds out,” Whitfield explains, noting the show will air via CBC with national rights from the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Every year, we’re always asking ourselves, ‘What’s the next best thing?’ If there’s beer gardens, food trucks and The Hip, and now the big foodies of the world are noticing, [then] we’re on people’s radar.”

The Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest takes place on Saturday August 20, 2016 from 4 to 10 p.m.

By Kristi Alexandra

When wine connoisseurs in BC want a sip of the perfect cabernet sauvignon or a pinch of pinot, they usually look no further than the Okanagan Valley, Canada’s proclaimed wine country. With rolling country hills and miles and miles of ripening vineyards, anywhere from Kelowna to the Naramata Bench to Osoyoos is the prime destination for a carafe of the best wine on offer to British Columbians — or so we thought.

Enter Pacific Breeze, Canada’s first garagiste winery located in the most unlikely of settings. Owned by Maurice Hamilton and Frank Gregus, Pacific Breeze sits in an industrial sliver of New Westminster located behind the waterfront quay and a busy set of train tracks, with no vineyard to speak of.

“The garagiste concept is very much the idea of being a small, independent operator who doesn’t necessarily own this giant vineyard, but is buying a small portion of it,” communications manager Daniel Simmonds explains.

Image by Kristi Alexandra
Image by Kristi Alexandra

Since the urban winery’s inception in 2005, a handful of other gargistes have popped up across the province prompting its own wine festival. Every April, the wine makers gather at Vancouver’s Heritage Hall for Garagiste North, “the small guys’ wine festival.”

Garagistes are these unconventional spaces,” Simmonds says. “In the ‘90s, the original garagistes [were] working in garages, barns, and basements and it’s really hands-on, labour intensive work. It’s more like the rise of craft brewing, where you have these really small breweries where they produce a handful of different beers and literally about three or four people could run the entire operation.”

So what makes the urban winery unique beyond its unconventional setting? Pacific Breeze separates the viticulture (grape growing) from the oenology (wine making).

“As a wine maker, you might never be able to own a vineyard, so what you do is find out who’s got what for sale and you make it yourself,” Simmonds says, noting that the operation frequently sources fruit and grape from California and small amounts from our own Okanagan.

Image courtesy of the Pacific Breeze Winery blog
Image courtesy of the Pacific Breeze Winery blog

“One of the important things is that what we buy is the most premium fruit you can get your hands on,” he stresses. “There’s a lot of fruit in BC and we get offers to buy, but we’re really selective about which vineyards we actually buy from. If you can’t get the best fruit, then you can’t make the best wine.”

Currently, Pacific Breeze has 17 wines on its roster, with its Killer Cab—a red Bordeaux-Cabernet blend— and AssaZin—a California Zinfandel with aromas of blackberry jam and toasted vanilla—among the best sellers. And though those wines might make a sommelier’s mouth water, don’t expect to be able to pick up a bottle at just any BC Liquor Store.

Any BC-made wine sold in BCL’s are required to be BC VQA, meaning most of the grapes have to be sourced from within the province.

“I don’t know of anyone else who really brings in grapes and does what we do in Canada,” says winemaker Dylan Hamilton. Joined by his partner Devon Stewart, Hamilton is one-half of the winemaking team at Pacific Breeze.

“Why we do what we’re doing is if you’re going to go into the States and buy a bottle of wine and bring it back, for BC, it 127 per cent duty plus sales tax,” he says. “We can make the same product from the same grapes and we can bring it up here and make the same quality product.”

While still a Canadian product, Pacific Breeze wines source enough of their grape from outside the country that they can currently be seen at independent wine merchants and liquor stores — and of course at their own shopfront on Stewardson Way.

Pacific Breeze Winery
6 – 320 Stewardson Way
New Westminster, BC
PacificBreezeWinery.com

By Catherine Dunwoody

Photos by Nicol Spinola Photography

With over 150 types of tea sold, New Westminster’s Great Wall Tea Company, located in the River Market since 2010, has one of the most impressive selections in the lower mainland. With that much choice however, teatime could make your head spin a little. We asked co-owner of the shop, Lauren Bowler, for some tips on what tea can offer, so we can choose what suits us best.

Catherine Dunwoody: First off, how did you get into the tea business?

Lauren Bowler: I work primarily as an actor, but I was very intrigued by the idea of operating a small business. My business partner, Sean Smith, was also very interested in small start-ups and we knew we wanted to operate in a public market environment. I’ve had a passion for tea since high school, so when we brainstormed businesses we thought would both interest us and fit well in a market, tea was at the top of the list.

CD: Is it true that tea is good for you?

LB: Tea is a great source of anti-oxidants. More and more studies are continuing to show that green tea in particular has a positive effect on the brain, in helping memory, and in general well-being and mood.

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CD: Is there a tea that jumpstarts you in the morning, like coffee?

LB: I personally choose matcha or organic cream Earl Grey. Those are my two favourites and I drink them religiously. Matcha is a fantastic stimulant. It’s higher in caffeine because you’re actually ingesting the leaves. It leaves your system slower than coffee so you don’t experience the debilitating “crash”. It’s great for your brain and your skin, and I feel pretty dang motivated to accomplish tasks when I drink it, making it a good pre-cursor to tackling the to-do list. Ha!

CD: Which tea do you suggest in the evening to help with sleep?

LB: Chamomile has a good reputation for a reason. It is a great option for people looking to calm themselves down and prepare their bodies and minds for sleep time. However, if someone finds they need something stronger than chamomile, I recommend visiting an herbalist, or someone that can recommend and oversee the use of herbs with stronger sedative properties.

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CD: Is there a tea that acts like a natural sedative or calm one down during stressful times?  Perhaps during the day that doesn’t make you sleepy but that helps you feel better?

LB: I love blending our organic honeybush with lavender. Lavender is a wonderful stress-reliever, and blended with organic honeybush gives it an earthy, naturally sweet finish. To be clear, these are herbal “teas” and do not come from the tea plant, which contains caffeine. Chamomile is also not technically a tea. Tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine that is known for stress reduction and relaxation, so some people find tea to be calming, this is really specific to each individual though. If someone were highly sensitive to caffeine, these wouldn’t be a recommendation at all. For me, green tea balances and grounds me, but black tea is very stimulating and I can’t drink it at night.

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CD: Is there a tea that helps with curbing appetite or weight loss?

LB: I hesitate to comment on this because I don’t have medical training and I am not a scientist. There are so many beliefs around the health benefits of tea, but science is continuously working on supporting them and many of these benefits remain beliefs and not facts as of yet. However, many cultures around the world have been using tea therapeutically for hundreds and hundreds of years, and it is my belief that they aren’t to be discredited. Some people swear by green tea for appetite suppressing, for example. And pu-erh is often recommended for consuming with a fatty meal to help aid digestion.

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CD: Some people think there’s more caffeine in tea than coffee, can you set this record straight?

LB: Kilo for kilo, there’s likely going to be more caffeine in tea. But that all changes with preparation. The average 8 oz cup uses 2 grams of loose tea, and 10 grams of coffee. There are varying levels of caffeine in different types of teas based on steeping times and water temperature, for example, but it’s a safe assumption that a cup of tea will always have less caffeine than a cup of coffee.

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Great Wall Tea Company
810 Quayside Dr. (River Market)
New Westminster, BC
604-520-3007
www.greatwalltea.com

By Alexis Baran

Meandering up and down the hilly riverside streets of New Westminster is a great way to work up an appetite and a thirst. If you are down to hunt for the perfect local food to pair with locally brewed beer, the walk from restaurants to the neighbourhood brewery with your take-out feast in-hand is a great way to explore the streets on a nice day.

Here are pairing suggestions from the crew at Steel & Oak Brewing:

Restauraunt: Rivers Reach
Food: New West Deli Pizza
Beer: Smoked Hefeweizen

Daniel Johnston, front of house manager, recommends that the “rich, meaty and savoury pizza is balanced perfectly by our smoky and subtle Hefeweizen. Great pizza and great beer, how could you go wrong?” With all of the meat piled on this pizza – salami, pepperoni, ham, ground beef, and Italian sausage, a smoked Hef is both complementary and refreshing.

Walking distance: 15 minutes

Restauraunt: Longtail Kitchen
Food: Pad Thai
Beer: ESB

Sweet, savoury, and spicy fresh Thai food is a great complement to a bit of a bitter sip. “Nothing like fresh and bright Pad Thai to offset with the crisp, understated bitterness of our delicious ESB,” says Steel & Oak owner, Jorden Foss, “always a winner.”

Walking distance: 18 minutes

Pad Thai at Longtail Kitchen
Pad Thai at Longtail Kitchen

Restauraunt: El Santo
Food: Al Pastor Tacos
Beer: Red Pilsner

Tacos and beer, a classic North American love story: “The Al Pastor tacos are sweet and spicy which makes for a great match with the thirst-quenching Red Pilsner,” articulates Jay Schreiber, beer sales guy, “so refreshing!” El Pastor tacos are piled with 12-hour braised Fraser Valley pork, grilled pineapple, onion and cilantro.

Walking distance: 18 minutes

 El Santo launch party, December 2015
El Santo launch party, December 2015

Restauraunt: Old Terminal Pub
Food: Pochachos
Beer: Royal City Ale

Brian Chow, operations manager, is pretty spot on – “who doesn’t like nachos made with waffle fries?! The Royal City Ale is an easy drinking, satisfying pairing for any day of the week.” And yes, waffle fries’ nachos are good any and every day of the week as well.

Walking distance: 5 minutes

Royal City Ale
Royal City Ale

Want to stay planted while you munch? Some of these beers may be featured in these restaurants – call ahead to make sure, bottles and taps have been known to change!

Steel & Oak Brewing Co.
1319 Third Ave.
New Westminster, BC
steelandoak.ca
604-540-6495

Rivers Reach
320 Sixth St.
New Westminster, BC
www.riversreach.com
604-777-0101

Longtail Kitchen
810 Quayside Dr #116
New Westminster, BC
longtailkitchen.com
604-553-3855

El Santo
680 Columbia St.
New Westminster, BC
elsanto.ca
604-553-1849

Old Terminal Pub
115 12th St.
New Westminster, BC
www.theterminalpub.com
604-522-6545

By Tim Pawsey

Only a few minutes from Richmond, YVR or downtown New Westminster, smart and sparkling Starlight Casino blends a range of dining options with everything from Blackjack to Roulette.

Wings at Match Eatery & Public House
Wings at Match Eatery & Public House

If you’re having a tough time leaving your favourite slot spot or roulette table, barely a few paces away, the Buffet at Starlight offers a set price brunch, lunch or dinner, with themed buffets that vary by the day, from Italian to Mediterranean and Mexican. Feeling a need to celebrate those winnings? Cozy in to a booth at the red velvet festooned Redbar Lounge, where you can also cut loose on the dance floor with live entertainment.

Beet salad at Match Eatery & Public House
Beet salad at Match Eatery & Public House

Adjoining the main casino, expansive Match Eatery & Public House offers a friendly welcome, along with an army of taps, featuring a full spectrum of local and imported brews, as well as good pub fare. Pasta, fish ‘n chips, gruyere stuffed meatballs, and nachos are mainstays, along with skillet roasted mussels, beef dip, pizza and plenty more. Moreover, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house if you’re there to watch a game; the restauraunt boasts no less than 27 high definition screens. Outside creature comforts include booths and fire tables, with overhead heaters for winter and misters for when the mercury climbs.

The Caesar at Match Eatery & Public House
The Caesar at Match Eatery & Public House

For a change of pace, all it takes is a short wander next door to Shang Noodle House, with its modern, light-wood trimmed decor and central bar with high stools, perfect for a quick snack. The choices here range from dim sum bites such as Shanghai style, wontons and spring rolls to substantial servings of stir fried ramen with prawn, scallop, chicken and barbecued pork. The house specialty, seven different kinds of nutritious and beneficial Japanese mushrooms are blended into hand pulled noodles and blended into the delicious house broth.

The jewel in the Starlight crown, however, is next door Kirin Restaurant, one of four Kirin across Greater Vancouver, which enjoy a well-deserved reputation for excellent cuisine. The menu is extensive, including a cornucopia of live seafood, and the presentation artfully exquisite. Among the lengthy list of “don’t miss” house specialties: creamy and nutty giant geoduck, sliced and shaved paper-thin; the chilled seafood appetizer platter; salt and pepper spiced Dungeness crab with onion, black bean and chili sauce; roast squab; classic Peking Duck and ‘Love Bird’ fried rice. No wonder, later in the week there’s rarely a spare table in this luxuriously appointed spot with its relaxing mood and polished service.

Starlight Casino
350 Gifford St
New Westminster, BC
www.starlightcasino.ca

By Tim Pawsey

The craft beer revolution has made itself at home along the Fraser River, down from the hills in New Westminster. Steel and Oak Brewing Co. is a delightful discovery, tucked away in a still fairly industrial part of town, cheek by jowl beside automotive repair shops and train tracks – yet a short walk away from the bustling River Market and the rest of Downtown New West.

Steel & Oak arrived with a bit of a bang upon their arrival into the scene in the summer of 2014 by quickly scooping first place in the 2015 BC Beer Awards Amber / Dark Ale category with its gently bitter and quite floral Flagship Royal City Ale.

Step inside and chances are you won’t be alone, as the word is out on S&O, which has already built a strong following. Open for just over a year, this compact, wood-trimmed tasting room sports smart metal chairs, foundry-style tables and a polished long bar. Cozy lighting and co-owner Jorden Foss’s photography complements the very west coast décor. The service is laid-back and friendly, with no shortage of beers to sample, as well as a range of bottles and growlers for sale.

The brewery (right behind the tasting room) makes a wide range of styles using English, American and German techniques. Firm favourites made by brewmaster Peter Schulz range from the easy drinking Red Pilsner, with a subtle sweet note, to a chocolate and malt toned Dark Lager, a Dry Hopped ESB to keep discerning hopheads happy, an extraordinary Smoked Dunkelweizen and more.

Kids are welcome: There’s lemonade on tap, which also means those less inclined to drink straight beer can quaff a radler, which is half lemonade and half beer. It’s the perfect summertime thirst quencher, especially when made with pilsner or weizen. While grounded firmly in the classics, there’s no shortage of modern expression, with everything produced unfiltered and unpasteurized.

bar-snacks

If you’re feeling peckish after a few tasters, there’s excellent jerky and popcorn on hand or, on busier days, an obliging food truck parked outside.

With its solid-to-the-core industrial setting and artful blend of old and new furnishings Steel & Oak revels in having one foot in the past and one in the future. And there’s no better proof of that than the turntable that’s always playing a selection from the truly impressive library of vinyl—within easy reach of the taps.

To discover this mildly hoppy haven, take Skytrain to New Westminster station, cross over to the River Market and walk west for 15 minutes along the shores of the mighty Fraser to the foot of 3rd. Avenue. You’ll be well rewarded.

Steel & Oak Brewing Co.
1319 Third Ave.
New Westminster, BC

by Kathy Mak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Winter Farmers Markets in Metro Vancouver

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

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

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

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

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

By Kathy Mak

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

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

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

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

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

Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery
Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery

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

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

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

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

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

New Westminster is packed with classic dimly-lit brick pubs, bright patios and friendly diners; all perfect places to chow down on a good ol’ burger and fries. Here are some of New West’s best-known burgers:

Match-Burger
Match Eatery & Public House

The Manwich
Match Eatery & Public House

A 7oz flat-iron steak on a garlic French loaf topped with crispy onion strings, roasted grape tomatoes and garlic aioli – served medium rare or to taste.

 

TerminalPub3
The Terminal Pub

Cajun Chicken Sandwich
The Terminal Pub

A Cajun-spiced grilled chicken breast topped with aged cheddar, bacon, crispy onion strings, lettuce, tomato and a chipotle aioli. It is served on a kaiser buns that is freshly baked and delivered to by their neighbour, Pamola Bakery, at the River Market in New Westminster.

 

Breakfast-Burger
Burger Heaven

Breakfast Burger (with an elk patty)
Burger Heaven

Mozzerella, a fried egg (like the Aussies do it) and bacon – try it with an elk patty for an extra kick in your step for the day. Good morning!

 

Greek Style Lamb Burger
The Castle Neighbourhood Grill
A lamb patty smothered in feta cheese, tzatziki sauce and then topped with diced red onion, cucumber and tomatoes.

 

SpudShack1
Spud Shack

Effin’ Good Burger – Spud Shack
Spud Shack

This grilled prime rib patty is brushed with BBQ sauce and piled high with bacon and Monterey Jack cheese on a sesame kaiser with triple smoked onion mayo, 5-hour tomato jam (instead of boring ol’ sliced tomatoes), lettuce and pickles.

 

Mushroom Swiss Burger
River’s Reach

A classic, done right! An all-beef patty toppled with sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese.

 

WhiskeyBeer
The Met Bar & Grill

The Whiskey and Beer Burger
The Met Bar & Grill

A new twist on an classic idea with fresh made burgers, Canadian cheddar, crispy bacon, fried onions, and  our house-made original  Whiskey and Beer BBQ sauce! Deliciously messy as every great burger should be!

 

BurgerHeavean_mex
Burger Heaven

Mexican Meatless Garden Burger
Burger Heaven

For over 30 years Burger heaven has been piling it on for meat lovers, seafood fans, and vegetarians alike. This is one of their vegetarian options; topped with spicy jalapenos, salsa, lettuce, onion, tomato, and a dollop of guacamole.

 

TheHub_1
The Hub

Crack Burger
The Hub

A sky-high burger that is full of peppery crisp. A juicy hand-made cracked peppercorn Canadian Angus beef patty topped with savoury pesto aoili, crunchy onion rings, jalapeño Monterey Jack cheese, fresh lettuce, tomato, and dill pickle on a home-style bun.

 

The Works Burger
Wally’s Burgers

We dare you! This diner burger has it all; a Wally burger patty, mushrooms, bacon strips, melted cheese, a fried egg, melted cheese, and even a wiener makes this burger one for the books.