If you don’t mind a light jacket and a slight chance of needing to move inside while a shower passes through, there’s still time to soak up British Columbia’s stunning vistas outside with a cold beer in hand this year. For the sunny days still to come, take note of these five local beer staples – easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing, ultra-refreshing – that you can find almost anywhere.
Let’s say you’re the kind of person who picks beer by the label. You might already be familiar with Fuggles and Warlock for their whimsical illustrated labels and quirky names. The Destiny IPA has the hoppiness that West Coast’ers love, with a bitter kick that comes from seven kinds of hops.
Light and easy drinking, the Red Truck Classic Lager is a quick pick for a backyard barbeque. The grassy aroma, slight malty-slightly sweet notes are kind of what you’d expect from a lager, and that’s kind of the point.
Affectionately known as a “big, bold, pale ale,” Red Racer’s Northwest Pale Ale is malty, light, and hoppier than most in the category. It’s an ideal pairing for pub foods like burgers, pizza, and mac and cheese, so you’ll find it by the pint at many local bars and taprooms.
The quirkiest of this list is Dageraad’s tart table saison. Traditional saisons were brewed in the cooler winter months, stored, and saved for summer. The Bright Side Saison is finished with lemon zest and lemon juice, giving this refreshingly light beer a gentle tartness.
Vancouver Foodie Tours is a locally-owned walking food tour company that believes that eating and drinking is the best way to experience a city. They are Vancouver’s #1 Rated Tour TripAdvisor and a Forbes Top 9 Food Tour in the World. Learn more about Vancouver Foodie Tours at www.foodietours.ca.
With sushi being a long-held staple of the Vancouver diet, it’s a wonder that Hawaiian poke—a cubed raw fish salad served atop rice—hadn’t hit the city’s mainstream earlier. Since 2016, though, it seems a new poke-fusion place is cropping up on every block. So, pescatarians rejoice! Now, the raw fish dish can be found trickling in to communities outside of Vancouver, and Steve Huynh is bringing his authentic poke to the community.
But what is authentic poke, anyway?
“Poke means chopped in Hawaii,” imparts Huynh, owner of Steve’s Poke Bar, “there’s different variations of raw fish. In Japan, you get sasami; if you go to Puerto Rico or Mexico, you’ll get ceviche. Different dishes have different ways to present raw fish,” the restaurateur tells WestCoastFood.
Huynh and his wife, Camy opened the doors to Steve’s Poke Bar at SFU Burnaby in early 2017, serving up an authentic Hawaiian poke experience. Now, the pair has expanded their business to Guildford with more locations possibly in the works.
“The original flavours require that you season it with Hawaiian salt, marinate it for a while so the flavours get into the fish, and there’s a few subtle things that flavour the fish… but I can’t share all the secrets,” Huynh, affectionately known to his friends as Hawaiian Steve or Poi Boy, says with a laugh.
Pop in for one of the spot’s signature poke bowls, like “Shoyu a Good Time” — shoyu ahi tuna, Hawaiian seasoning (furikake), tobiko, corn, edamame, imitation crab, wakame seaweed salad, pickled ginger, sesame seeds and Steve’s shoyu sauce drizzled on top. Another top seller is “A Shore Thing,” topped off with spicy mayo scallops and Steve’s spicy mayo sauce. Alternatively, diners can build their own bowl at the bar, complete with unlimited toppings.
Vietnam-born and raised between Vancouver and Hawaii, Huynh grew up with a dream of bringing his style of poke to British Columbia. As a teen, the restaurateur spent summers pulling up his sleeves and helping out in the kitchens of his aunt’s and uncle’s Hawaii restaurants, and perfecting his own poke recipe to wow his family’s tastebuds at private parties.
“Every family has a way to make their own poke,” Huynh says. The spicy poke is his own variation, marinated with Hawaiian salt and the spicy mayo sauce. The shoyu poke, like all ingredients at Steve’s Poke Bar, is made in house. Fresh and simple. “That’s a recipe that my family and I have been working on for a long time. That’s my own.”
What else will you find unique to Steve’s Poke Bar? Unlimited taste testing. “We call it the ‘Steve’s Poke Bar Experience.’ We give out free samples all day long. [We want you to] try the specials, how we flavour it, what kind of fish it is,” he says. “The reason that is, is in Hawaii in fish markets, you can get poke anywhere, liquor stores, gas stations, and you can test whatever you want. I wanted to bring that experience of my childhood to the community as well.”
Our beloved BC salmon season is here and whether it’s baked, grilled, smoked, or served raw, BCers love their salmon (and preferably, of course, Ocean Wise). As the summer continues to be heated (this BC heat wave sure is intense), cooking in-doors becomes less of an option and outdoor BBQs, waterfront patios, and AC-clad restaurants reign supreme. Check out this helpful list of local Metro Vancouver restaurants and small-scale shops who are serving up fresh BC salmon to enjoy this season.
Vancouver’s North Shore
The Salmon House
A truly stunning and coveted spot serving Indigenous West Coast fare for over 40 years. The Salmon House On The Hill is not for any old dinner, this iconic North Shore haunt is perfect for anniversaries, birthdays, and really, celebrations of any kind. Bonus: the window-wrapped dining room bares the breathtaking view of the Vancouver and Burrard Inlet. As the name might suggest, there are plenty of salmon dishes to enjoy at The Salmon House, but a notable item is the alder grilled salmon trio (Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye Salmon); $41. When dining at The Salmon House, however, one most definitely cannot forget the seafood tower for two, including two price variations ($80 and $100), boasting a grilled, chilled, and bouillabaisse component. Location: 2229 Folkestone Way, West Vancouver
The Salmon Shop
If you’re picking up some fresh fish for home, pop into the Lonsdale Quay for your loot. The Salmon Shop, a finalist for “Best Fresh Seafood in the Best of the North Shore 2012” is a retail fish shop “specializing in a great variety of BC smoked salmon, fresh local fish, prawns and shrimp. Location: Lonsdale Quay Market, 123 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver, open 7 days a week.
Vancouver Aquarium The Vancouver Aquarium launched the Ocean Wise® sustainable seafood conservation program in 2005, and in 2016 welcomed the acclaimed Ned Bell as the executive chef. Bell is at the helm of the Aquarium’s restaurant and cafes, creating unique and exciting dishes with sustainability at the forefront. Try the wild salmon blueberry salad; $13.50, or the wild salmon, kale and spinach salad; $13.50 at the Upstream Cafe. Location: 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, open 7 days a week.
Salmon n’ Bannock
A must for Vancourites, Fraser Valley dwellers, and tourists alike, try Vancouver’s only Indigenous restaurant, Salmon n’ Bannock: specializing in wild fish, free range game meat and of course bannock, freshly baked daily. The folks at Salmon n’ Bannock use traditional ingredients prepared and presented in a modern fashion. “In the spirit of First Nations’ traditions, [their] intention is to provide a gathering place where the focus is on the people and the food.” The menu is abundant but an obvious choice is a family style meal of wild sockeye, including bannock, garden salad (organic greens) and roasted potatoes; $25, and for gluten-free guests, check out their selection of sandwiches on gluten-free bannock: the barbecue salmon salad with tomato and organic greens sandwich, $10, is calling our name! Location: 1128 W Broadway #7, Vancouver; open Monday-Saturday.
It’s common knowledge that Vancouver has an overwhelming number of sushi restaurants and nooks to choose from, but one of our highest recommendations is Shizen Ya. This organic eatery serves their sushi and dishes with brown rice, organic greens and no additives, accompanied by Ocean Wise fish. Score! Their selection of seafood is so fresh (we’re talkin’ decadent, bright coloured sashimi that feels like butter), you’ll be a religious regular after one visit. Try their spicy (or regular) salmon rolls ($2.95/$4.95), the Wild Sockeye Salmon Nigiri Sashimi, or the Ocean Quartet Sashimi Salad also featuring the Wild Sockeye Salmon Nigiri Sashimi, $13.95. Location: 965 Hornby St., Vancouver, or 1102 W.Broadway, Vancouver. Open 7 days a week.
The Fish Counter Whether you’re grabbing some fish n’ chips to go, dining in for a quick bite, or shopping for groceries the Fish Counter–a Main Street staple–has you covered and you better believe their fish is local and abundant in seasonal variety! Head in for pink salmon caught in Dixon Entrance off Haida Gwaii, Humpback Shrimp caught in Prince Rupert, Mussels grown by Sawmill Bay off Read Island, or BC Spot Prawns caught by Gregg Best on Cowichan Bay. What’s even better is that the Fish Counter is entirely Ocean Wise, so you can purchase your goodies in good conscience. Location: 3825 Main Street, Vancouver. Open 5 days a week, closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fresh Ideas Start Here
Helmed by the fabulous Jenice Yu, f.i.s.h. is a beloved fish shop that serves their loyal customers only the finest, local products. Yu’s mission is to elevate and promote the abundance of healthy fish that we have in BC oceans. Her passion came to life when she opened her first f.i.s.h. store in South Burnaby on Market Crossing. She now has a second location in Kitsilano, a thriving wholesale business, and nearly every influential chef in Vancouver on speed dial: everybody wants in on Yu’s fresh, Ocean Wise, beautiful seafood. Check out our feature on Jenice published earlier this year. If you’re in the mood for breakfast foods, Fresh Ideas Starts Here has a mouth-watering recipe for a Shmoked Wild BC Salmon Frittata. Get cookin’! Location: Fresh Ideas Start Here, 2959 W Broadway, Vancouver. Fresh Ideas Start Here, #180 -7515 Market Crossing, Burnaby. Open 7 days a week.
The River Rock Casino: Tramonto and Curve Both restaurants at the River Rock are rockin’ an Ocean Wise menu jam packed with seafood options! At Tramonto, the River Rock’s more upscale dining spot, try the salmon scallop ceviche with strawberry, Compressed rhubarb, fresh mint, citrus oil, baby celery greens; $20, or the grilled ora king salmon with nori arancini wonton, baby bok choy, salmon roe, wasabi emulsion for $38. Location: 8811 River Road, Richmond.
Dublin Crossing Who says pub food can’t be sustainable? Not the Dublin Crossing! This Cloverdale hotspot presents an all Ocean Wise menu! Next time you’re at the Dublin for a pint and some live entertainment, try the gluten sensitive mango chipotle salmon with Vancouver Island Lois Lake steelhead, mild chipotle seasoning, mango avocado salsa, seasonal vegetables and brown rice; $21.95. Location: 18789 Fraser Highway, #101, Surrey,
This first-time festival— hosted by the powerhouse team that also produces the Whistler Village Beer Festival and the Great Okanagan Beer Festival—promises an afternoon of coveted craft beer, food truck favourites, live music, and event support from local sponsorship. Clover Valley’s festival team has also partnered with Twins Cancer Fundraising as their charitable partner, who will receive proceeds from ticket sales to support their efforts on raising money for cancer-fighting charities.
While your sip and sample, the Clover Valley Beer Festival team has arranged a fantastic line-up of local performers. Headlining the festival is rock-band Red Chair (they headlined the Great Okanagan Beer Festival earlier this year), and to follow, R&B ensemble JennaMae & The Groove Section, and rock-alt band Mood Therapy.
“Between bands a DJ from JR FM will be joining us to play some music as well!” adds Myers.
For those interested in attending (and why wouldn’t you be?) the damage is slim. A $45 general admission ticket includes entry to the festival and three beer tokens. An express pass will run you $60 but includes entry and 10 beer tokens and a chance to skip the lines.
“Cloverdale is such a great fit for [our events]. It could potentially become our biggest festival, yet! We also know that there is a ton of craft beer in the Fraser Valley that deserves to be celebrated, and there’s such a large local audience supporting the craft beer industry.”
We all have one: that friend who posts pictures of every meal on Instagram; who hosts immaculate dinner parties and amps up the carefully curated cheese board with homemade sourdough and prosciutto cured in their own garage; who frequently visits farmer’s markets or forages for fiddleheads. They’re a foodie.
But who ever said foodies were exclusively adults? With the ubiquity of cooking shows, YouTube tutorials, and wherever else kids get their information these days, Gen Z is ready to make something delicious. And what responsible parent wants to ignore their child’s desire to be in the kitchen? (So long as they learn to clean, anyways.)
Indulge your kid with one of these top-notch cooking classes whether you live in BC or are just visiting; after all, the best way to experience regional cuisine is to make it yourself. Your kids will learn to appreciate different kinds of food and take home some serious life skills too. And, hey, while the kids are in class, maybe you can sneak off to enjoy some nosh or visit a local brewery.
Celebrity chef Vikram Vij leads a culinary arts workshop for teens ages 15-19 in his Surrey restaurant, My Shanti. Over the course of this three-hour journey into Indian cooking, youth learn about how to prepare food, what it takes to make it in the restaurant industry, and some super handy kitchen skills. Speaking about his journey from India to Vancouver, Vij shares stories from early in his career, reminding young chefs that everyone starts somewhere and that mistakes are part of the game. Workshops are limited. Check with Arts Umbrella for upcoming dates.
Designed with young chefs in mind, camps at the Dirty Apron teach kids about food and how to best prepare it. Using fresh, local ingredients, the chefs show participants how to use BC’s bounty to create dishes from around the world like Filipino chicken adobo, French potato rosti, or Mexican soft shell tacos—from scratch! The Dirty Apron is owned by husband-and-wife team Chef David and Sara Robertson, who, with their team, teach over 10,000 students every year. They’ve forged strong relationships with local farmers, growers and suppliers, knowledge they pass down to every students, youth or adult.
Nourish Café believes that kids who know how to cook know how to eat better, and they might be on to something there. At their five-day summer camps, participants learn all about food facts but still have plenty of fun with hands-on cooking and silly games. Camps include recipes inspired by world cultures, including Italian, Chinese, Canadian, Japanese, and French cuisine. No matter the inspiration, at Nourish Café the chefs always keep Michael Pollan’s words in mind: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” They believe in using whole, organic foods and use a plant-based approach. They also support local farms and use seasonal ingredients, passing along knowledge about BC’s seasonal harvest to their budding chefs.
Kids in the Posh kitchen learn how to bake and cook classic Western dishes, like mac and cheese, pizza balls, and cupcakes. In other workshops, they’ll get a taste of Mexico with enchiladas and churros, or Spain with delicious, fresh paella. They’ll learn how to mix and measure, incorporate ingredients, and how to be safe in the kitchen. These one-off workshops are perfect for a family that’s in town for just a short while, but summer camps are also available. Posh Pantry provides everything, including aprons, so there’s no need to worry about messes!
This non-profit organization is dedicated to the development and cultivation of school garden programs. Founder Barb Koyanagi McMahon teaches not only about kitchen safety, cooking techniques and food preparation, but also about the environmental impacts of choosing local, seasonal ingredients, how healthy food promotes health and wellness, and how to start your own garden. At her five-day summer camps, McMahon incorporates all this and more—like physical activity through foraging, arts and crafts, and team building. All of the recipes are centered on what kids can do at home, with and for their families. Your kid will be doing meal prep in no time!
Sprouting Chefs Vancouver camp: True Nosh Studios, 2200 Ontario St., Vancouver North Vancouver camp: Camp Capilano with Fireside Adventures, Capilano Park Rd., North Vancouver sproutingchefs.com
Suitable for kids 7+
Vancouver’s North Shore
Being able to cook a delicious meal from scratch is an essential life skill according to Well Fed (they’re right!) and they teach kids the hands-on technical skills they’ll need to succeed in the kitchen. But perhaps more important is that they teach kids how to experiment with food to foster a life-long love of cooking. Recipes used in their five-day cooking camps are well-balanced and use whole foods. Well Fed follows what they like to call the lifestyle eating or 80/20 rule: 80 percent of their meals focus on health, using lean proteins and nutrient-rich vegetables. But that other 20 percent is all about decadence. With summer camps offered most weeks in July and August, you have the flexibility to make the most of your time.
Looking for a short foodie workshop or camp? Well Seasoned offers a variety of one- to three-day camps where kids and teens get hands-on with their cooking. From breakfast and breads, to Japanese, Greek and Thai, to Western-style Sunday dinners and vegetarian feasts, there’s something for everyone. Working with Chef Helena, participants will leave these two-and-a-half hour sessions with plenty of new recipes under their belts. And bonus, the Well Seasoned store carries plenty of gourmet condiments, sauces and snacks, so if you want to bring home flavours from a class, you’re in the right place.
In search of the perfect cuppa, coffee connoisseurs generally flock to the many Vancouver cafes pouring quality espresso. Outside the city though, you can find some hidden gems. Black Tiger Coffee Co. a new Cloverdale haunt, is offering the city cafe vibe in Surrey’s burgeoning subdivision. You may have heard of the place: Black Tiger has garnered some significant attention on Instagram, posting frequent photos of their mouth-watering-Voodoo-like donuts, frothy lattes, and decadent sandwiches.
“Black Tiger is a fun, relaxing, open atmosphere. This is a place for friends and young families in the neighbourhood to come, chat, and catch up,” says Black Tiger owner and operator Natasha Multani. “We have a lot of regulars coming in. We’ve been open only eight months and we’ve grown quite a bit since we [opened our doors] and I think we can still grow even more.”
Multani, a chiropractor by trade, fell in love with Vancouver’s prominent coffee and cafe scene after years of working in the city. “When I stopped working Vancouver, every time I would get together with friends or make plans with friends I would want to meet up at a coffee shop in Vancouver. Some of my favourites in the city are 49th Parallel, Revolver, Timbertrain, and Elysian, but I really felt like there was a void here.”
Black Tiger was one of the first businesses to open in the new and expanding Focal Point Complex located at 64th Ave and Fraser Highway. The space is bright, airy, and open; boasting high ceilings with wood harvest tables, a statement (faux) live wall, a comfortable lounge area, and bonus, a stunning view of Mount Baker. It’s the ideal spot for a studying student, a working professional, or a coffee date with friends.
“We pour 49th Parallel coffee because they’re local—they roast in Burnaby—and it’s fresh. If you order an espresso today, the latest that coffee was roasted would be last week,” says Multani. “We worked together with 49th and their coffee educators to show us how to get the perfect espresso shot.”
On the menu there’s truly something for everyone. Black Tiger’s signature donuts are baked fresh daily—the big mini donut is my personal favourite, but for the more adventurous Black Tiger’s fruit loop, cookie crumble peanut butter drizzle, and Smarties* crunch donuts could satisfy any sweet tooth. As for the savoury selection, Black Tiger offers an assortment of sandwiches (vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options are available!), and avocado toasts (of course), all served on the A Bread Affair’s scrumptious bread. Patrons can take advantage of Black Tiger’s five-dollar donut and Americano special, seasonal donut releases, house-made iced teas, and, of course, coffee in all its forms.
*Editor’s note to non-Canadians: In Canada, Smarties are a candy-coated chocolate candy. Those things our friends from the USA call “smarties” – we call them “Rockets.” Yes, really.
With indie breweries becoming almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks’ in Vancouver, you’d have to be wearing blinders to miss a brewpub or tasting room on any given block between Boundary Road and Kits Beach. But Vancouver’s not the only city under the influence, as the craft brewing boom has reached through Burnaby to the Valley, taking root in the communities in between.
This year, brews from outlying towns are making a splash at the ninth annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week, running from May 25 to June 5.
Once again this year, it seems communities outside the big city are unofficially on show. The week-long fete’s feature collaboration beer is a shared effort between three breweries found along the spectacular Sea to Sky Highway: North Vancouver’s Beere Brewing, Backcountry Brewing in Squamish and Whistler’s Coast Mountain Brewing.
In keeping with craft beer trends, this year’s VCBW signature beer is a Double Dry Hopped Pilsner. With 7% alcohol and copious amounts of Citra, Mosaic, Vic Secret and Enigma hops this beer is clean and soft, with a “powerful melange of fruit and dankness.”
Sea to Sky Country is just one area outside Vancouver that’s flourishing in beer flow — there’s a whole bevy of brewers that’ll keep you sipping during this seven-day soiree.
Perhaps an allusion to Fort Langley’s historic trade hub, Trading Post Brewing is all about celebrating community. “It is over a glass of that very creation, a labour of our love, where friendships deepen, family ties strengthen and community unites,” they say.
Beers they’re hawking: Dear James S.M.A.S.H Saison – a single malt, single hop saison with notes of fruit and spice; Hoppy Birthday Bock – inspired by the first beer they ever brewed, the Hop Session Lager, they’ve upped the hops and ABV on this classic style to crate a smooth, easy-drinking Northwest Bock; Raspberry Wheat Ale – sweet, strong and juicy making it seriously crushable during the summer months.
Steel & Oak Brewing Co. is nestled under a passenger bridge near steel and wood train tracks, the most unassuming of places, but one aligned with their brand. “Materials of strength and durability, steel and oak; house, protect and nurture what we stand for most – exceptional tasting craft beer,” as they put it.
Beers they’re hawking: Coorinna – Tasmanian pepper berries and a collection of New Zealand hop varietals create a crisp and dry, oceanic inspired saison with a touch of spice; Simple Things – crisp, clean, with notes of honey, graham cracker, biscuit and a refreshing and lengthy bitterness; Weekend Plans Sour – light, tart and refreshing, just like you’d want your weekend plans to be. And for 2018 they added passionfruit to one batch and peach to the other … weekend plans two ways.
With a motto like “Keeping Beer Weird”, it’s no wonder that the brewers at Fuggles & Warlock like to push traditional styles of beer to the limit, but adding a West Coast flair to each batch.
Beers they’re hawking: Destiny IPA – a light, easy-going malt profile with hop aromas of mandarin oranges, grapefruit and passionfruit that launch your taste buds into the cosmos; Gin & Lime Pilsner – a crisp, refreshing pilsner brewed with fresh limes and infused with Unruly Gin from Wayward Distillation House; Kiwami Plum Sour – a delicately tart wheat kettle sour brewed with fresh plums.
Central City Brewers started out with a single silo in a brewpub and they’ve now “tapped-out” beyond their craft beer limits. Known best by their signature Red Racer beers, the brand has also come to distill high-end spirits as well as break records in beer production. “We approach our spiritual side with the same care and honour as we do with our beer” — or so their mantra goes.
Beers they’re hawking: Red Racer IPA – an iintense aroma and a long lingering finish. A beer for the connoisseur, this is the brewmaster’s choice; Red Racer Pilsner – This light and golden Pilsner has a distinct hop aroma and flavour with a dry, crisp finish; Ruby Sunset Across the Nation – Created in collaboration with Fuggles & Warlock for their Across the Nation Collaboration pack, Ruby Sunset is a delicious sour ale using pomegranate juice that is reminiscent of a west-coast summer sunset.
Mariner Brewing, Coquitlam’s first craft brewery, is driven by a desire to explore territory unknown and push the boundaries of craft beer. Instead of specializing in one or two styles, they love a lot of different types and want to offer it all … done well, of course. Look for beers ranging from eclectic to classic by merging tradition and new-school style.
Beers they’re hawking: Northeast IPA – lush malt and vibrant yeast temper the intense tropical fruit flavour making for an seriously quaffable beer; Tropical Stout – brewed for summer, this tropical stout is full of rich roasted malt, toasted coconut and blonde roast espresso from Coquitlam’s Creekside Coffee; Venture Blueberry – a sour ale brewed with 1000 pounds of local blueberries, lactose and an aromatic extract of mosaic hops that’s fruity, tart and delicious.
This North Vancouver based brewery places an emphasis on providing uniquely distinctive craft beer flavour profiles using only sustainable Canadian ingredients. They provide an array of unconventional pairings that yield seamless, well-balanced beers while paying homage to the creative history of the industry.
What they’re hawking: Method – a dry-hopped pale ale that is being fine-tuned through multiple batches that has a soft and full mouth feel from a healthy dose of oats; Sentinel –an IPA that boasts big, fragrant hop character with a balancing sweetness; Watershed Witbier – pairs the refreshing flavours of a Belgian-style witbier with the lemon-mandarin profile of the Yuzu fruit.
Locally born and raised, Chef Alistair Veen worked his way up from dishwasher to Red Seal chef. To get to where he is now at Tap Restaurant in Surrey, BC, his message is simple and humble: It’s about hard work.
Where were you born? Alistair Veen: I was born in Langley, BC, many, many moons ago. The rest of my family still lives there.
What was food like in your growing up household? Veen: Both my parents worked, so dinner was a lot more function than form. They shared cooking responsibilities, which was pretty unique among my friends. My dad was a make-up-your-own-pasta kind of chef where my mum was more of a cookbook test kitchen. She had recipe cards that were tried tested and true, and she never deviated from them. Once she found a recipe she liked, she stuck with it, and there’s something to be said for consistency! Even now if I go to their place for dinner and I have a chicken cacciatore, I know that it will be the same one I had as a teenager.
Where did you study culinary and when? Veen: I started washing dishes at the local pub when I was 15. I liked that they served me a beer after my shift despite my age. There was a real sense of teamwork and you saw the big picture for how a brigade works. I started cooking full time in 2000 after a failed stint at UBC and finished my culinary Red Seal seven years later. My formal training was through the apprenticeship program at VCC [Vancouver Community College] but the real training came in the trenches of a half dozen restaurants throughout Vancouver.
Most rewarding experience in your earlier days? Any mentors? Veen: The most important figure in my culinary life is Thomas Keller. I used to sleep with a copy of the French Laundry Cookbook under my pillow. Although lots of chefs have contributed to where I am now, he is undoubtedly the most important. I have eaten at his restaurants before but never met the man. It is only a matter of time.
Are you involved with any new projects or collaborations at the restaurant or elsewhere? Veen: I don’t have any new projects currently, but I am open to something where there is a strong partnership. I don’t think I would ever go it alone on a restaurant, and it seems unbelievable to me that my current partner and I have made it as far as we have. Most of the classes I teach, believe it or not, have to do with wine more than food. I am an advanced sommelier with the court of masters, and I am eligible to write the Master Somm Diploma next July. That exam looms heavily over everything I do right now and I don’t think it leaves much time for anything besides family, work and study. There’s no way I could possibly start a new project until that’s finished.
Tell me about your favourite dishes at Tap? Veen: We have a signature style that focuses on skill and simplicity and it is on display with every part of our cuisine. We have some consistent preparations; for instance, we will always serve a roasted rack of lamb, we will always confit a duck leg and there will always be a butter poached lobster. The accompaniments or flavour profiles will change frequently, but the core techniques stay the same. I would confidently put our confit duck leg against the best in the world.
What style of cuisine do you serve at the restaurant? Veen: Contemporary. French fundamentals. And then who knows what we call it from there. Pacific North West? I try not to describe it as anything other than contemporary since once you say something, people often have different expectations. One thing I can tell you we are not is fine dining. I hate it when people say we are a fine dining restaurant. I want to be able to execute at a fine dining level of detail for sure, but there are a lot of unnecessary expectations out there once you label yourself as fine dining. We want to put our efforts into our brand of hospitality, not into ironing tablecloths every day and passing around silver trays with silver gravy boats.
What were your biggest challenges as a chef? Veen: Any chef struggles with their identity. Once you find your style, you are able to decide what interests you and what you can ignore. I know that I continue to learn and that is important to me, but there are a lot of cuisines out there that I am simply not interested in pursuing. I just want to make really great food that may surprise you, but won’t leave anything to the imagination. My current struggle is always hiring. It is difficult to hire people from other restaurants, but that is where the best people already are. We hire out of culinary schools and by word of mouth. Our staff have always been trained at a super-high level of expectations so they are very difficult to replace.
Any advice for young people who aspire to be chefs or restaurateurs? Veen: Stop watching the Food Network and go out there and work. Then go out to great restaurants and eat the food. A lot of people fall in love with this romantic idea of being a cook and that is crazy to me. That’s like falling in love with the idea of being an elevator technician. You aren’t going to get better at something without putting in the hours and figuring out if you like it or not. So forget about getting hired as this brilliant armchair-home-cooking-celebrity-chef, It isn’t going to happen. You are going to have to wash dishes and learn fundamentals, and you are going to have to be really good at it. You can’t build a skyscraper without digging a really big hole first, so you had better be prepared to put in the time. That sounds a bit harsh but I think all the great chefs out there are nodding their heads in agreement. Tap Restaurant
101-15350 34th Avenue, Surrey BC
Cupcakes are little hand-held delights of the baking world. They’re just enough to feel like you’re enjoying a decadent treat, but not so much that you feel like you’ve eaten the entire cake. With as many variations as you can dream up, they come in simple as well as unique flavours, and are topped with everything from frosting and sprinkles to bacon and pickles.
Every February, animal rescue organizations including the BCSPCA are holding their annual National Cupcake Day* to raise money for animals, and what better way to get into the spirit than with a cupcake party?
Bake your own or visit one of these Metro Vancouver bakeshops:
This funky little shop is New West’s go-to spot for cakes and cupcakes. With their newly introduced “flavour of the week” cupcakes like Mountain Dew x Doritos, Nanaimo Bar or Dill Pickle, in addition to their more traditional flavours, you’re guaranteed a flavour explosion.
This cozy, mother-daughter-owned bakeshop & teahouse in Horseshoe Bay has a vanilla cupcake with vanilla bean frosting that will change the way you feel about a “plain” vanilla cupcake. Perfect for settling in for a quiet afternoon with your cupcake and a pot of tea.
Self-proclaimed cupcake lovers, the folks at Cassia Bakeshop know their way around a cupcake. Originally a cupcakery, specializing in all things cupcake (including gluten-free and vegan), Cassia recently expanded to offer cakes, croissants, cookies and a tasty lunch menu, but cupcakes remain their first love.
Is there any dessert happier than a cupcake? The folks at Happy Cakes don’t think so, hence the name of the shop. Choose from filled cupcakes like Caramelicious which is a vanilla cupcake with caramel filling, caramel buttercream and topped with toffee pieces. For a more traditional un-filled cupcake, try their chocolate cupcake topped with their signature blue frosting and sprinkles. At least fifteen different cupcake flavours are offered daily.
Sky-high frosting and mouthwatering flavours are Frosting Cupcakery’s cupcake trademarks. Flavours change daily and seasonal cupcakes like the 100% Canadian Cupcake (all things maple) or the Blueberry Bliss make limited seasonal appearances. Gluten-free cupcakes are also available every day.
Creating an all-natural cupcake with no artificial flavours or colouring, without compromising taste or looks, is the goal of the team at The Clever Cupcakes. And they definitely deliver. Baked daily in a nut-free facility, they offer feature flavours such as raspberry or banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Gluten-free cupcakes are also available, in addition to a wide variety of flavours and sizes. Giant cupcake anyone?
*National Cupcake Day™ is a coordinated Canadian event to support local shelters, SPCAs, and Humane Societies. In 2017, animal lovers across Canada raised over $600,000 in support of their favourite societies. The campaign has raised $2.45 million to date!
Their Heart Shaped Cake for 2, ($16) is a chocolate cake filled with hazelnut mousseline and topped with a chocolate mirror glaze. Available from February 9th –18th at the store, but pre-orders are always recommended.
Valentines High Tea features buttermilk scones with Devonshire cream and jam, cucumber and lemon aioli finger sandwiches, red pepper and cream cheese croissant, three cheese quiche, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate ganache cups, a macaron, and a mini red velvet cupcake. At $22, be sure and call to reserve in advance.
How about his & her Romeo and Juliet cakes? With ingredients like pistachio jaconde, chocolate mousse studded with Kirsch-infused cherries, and pistachio buttercream you can’t go wrong. $22 each and available for in-store pick-up only on February 14th.
As a part of their sensory “I Do Éclair” line, the bakery is presenting a raspberry champagne meringue éclair. While you’re there, grab some cinnamon heart meringues, Valentine’s cookie necklaces and raspberry white chocolate heart Vienna donuts.
It’s February – have you made your Valentine’s Day reservations yet? Celebrate your most beloved loved one with a special evening for two at one of these restaurants across Metro Vancouver. Champagne optional (but not really – bubbly is pretty much essential).
Their interactive pop-up chocolate bar, $40, includes a hand-rolled truffle station, house-made cakes and candies, and even a liquid nitrogen sundae station. Live music and a special cocktail list will make it a fabulous night out.
For $120 per couple, indulge in multi courses including local oysters with caviar, aburi sashimi, beef wellington and dark chocolate fondue. Additional wine pairings are $55 extra and they are so worth it.
Beer can be romanticized in so many ways but the great Charles Bukowski nailed it: “stay with the beer,” he penned “beer is continuous blood. A continuous lover.” The holidays have come and gone, but Metro Vancouver’s mild winter weather is here to stay, at least for a few months. Curl up with these seasonal winter brews found in Surrey, White Rock and Coquitlam.
The name says it all. Available now in 650ml at private liquor stores, Russell Brewing’s Winter Stout is chock-full of chocolate and black malts and roasted barley.
Black Death Porter, 6.5%
Buckle up for this one! The Black Death Porter, part of Russell Brewing’s Brewmaster Seasonal Series, is a heavy porter brewed with Canadian and Scottish malted barley. Find it on tap or on the shelves at private liquor stores but buyer beware: Russell warns that the Black Death Porter may result in some quirky behaviour.
If barley wine is your palate pleaser, try the award-winning Thor’s Hammer -aptly depicted as a big flavoured and big bodied winter sipper. Crafted from fine barley malt, boasting deep and rich notes of dried fruit, plum and candy with a walnut finish. Find it on draught or in 650ml bottles.
White Rock Brewing is an under-the-radar nano brewery that’s passionate about pouring fresh, chemical-free beer brewed onsite. Keeping it hyper-local, White Rock Brewing gets their hops from Chilliwack Hop Farms. Seasonals rotate every week, but we encourage you to head down quick and give the Mountain Ale a try-molasses, roasted barley grain, golding hops and a mild English finish.
It’s no secret that we are big fans of Mariner Brewing over here and we encourage you to pop into their sleek tasting room for a fresh, unique, and quality pint any time of year. This winter season, head into Mariner for the Night Sky Mocha Stout-a bold flavoured stout brewed with Creekside Coffee Factory coffee. Try this one in cans, on draught, or take a growler home with you!
We have Europe to thank for the invention of olive oil and balsamic tasting bars. Now, olive oil specialty shops are popping up around Metro Vancouver and making quite the impression on curious foodies.
Artisanal olive oil shops don’t just have bottles of beautiful oils (and most also have a large selection of vinegars) on display, olive oil tastings bars present an interactive and educational experience. Customers can peruse the lineup of fustis, special stainless-steel jars that store olive oil and balsamics, and learn about the flavours, origins, and make of each oil and vinegar. Tasting olive oils offers a sensory experience for the consumer, bringing the flavour profile we usually read on a label right to your palate.
“Smaller boutique shops get people talking about traceability when it comes to olive oil. Shops like ours educate customers on who you are supporting, and the freshness of the oils; I fell in love with the business concept because of this education. I really enjoy it,” says Vancouver Olive Oil Company owner, Michael-Ann Dodds.
“We started educating the public on extra virgin olive oil and what to look for. When an oil has been made, you should be looking for a harvest date or a crushed date, and consuming the oil within a year of that time.”
Vancouver Olive Oil Company is the first olive oil tasting shop in British Columbia and since, the trend has continued to flourish throughout Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, fueling the farm-to-table food movement right down to the condiment.
Check out the list of artisanal olive oil specialty shops in Metro Vancouver:
The Vancouver Olive Oil Company A family owned business and the first shop of its kind in the province. This Kitsilano staple has a vast selection of artisanal oils and vinegars to sample and purchase. My personal favourite: the wild mushroom and sage olive oil.
2571 West Broadway, Vancouver. Open Tuesday-Sunday. vooc.ca
Coastal Olive Oils A South Delta gem that offers a full tasting room with a bevvy of flavours and varieties to sample and purchase.
1315 56 St Unit 121, Delta (Tsawwassen). Open seven days a week. www.coastaloliveoils.ca
Heringers Meats This Steveston staple is not just a butcher shop. Heringers offers a generous selection of artisanal olive oils to complete your shopping list in our place. No lineup of fustis for sampling here, but premium products available all the same. 190, 12251 No 1 Rd, Richmond. Open Tuesday to Saturday. heringersmeats.com
All of Oils-Wholesome Oils and Vinegars This shop is at the helm of artisanal olive oil shops in the Fraser Valley. Check out their various locations for extra virgin olive oils, flavoured olive oils, speciality oils, balsamic vinegars, and flavoured vinegars. Added bonus: you’ll find many certified organic, gluten free, and kosher products on the shelves. South Surrey location-#160-2940 King George Blvd.
Langley location-20450 Douglas Crescent.
Abbotsford location-#102A-2649 Trethewey St.
All locations open seven days a week.
Olives on Tap
Since opening in 2012, Olives on tap is the North Shores pioneer of artisanal olive oils and tastings, providing guests with a wealth of knowledge on their selection of premium extra virgin oils and vinegars.
928 16th St W, North Vancouver. Open Tuesday to Sunday. olivesontap.com
Rain City Olives Olive oil, like everything in 2017, is now available online. Rain City Olives is an e-commerce shop based in Vancouver that offers naturally fused and infused olive oil from all over the world. Shop online or find Rain City Olives at a local seasonal market. raincityolives.ca
The foodie on your list will love the thought you put into creating your own culinary gift basket, delicious hostess gift, or stocking stuffers for them. Think hot chocolate packs, dips, soups, crackers, sauces, jellies, British biscuits, and preserves from local wineries. Bacon candy canes? Why not. Ornaments with a food theme? How does the burger and fries grab you? And nutcrackers? Imagine an entire section dedicated to a jaw dropping display and variety of options that make fabulous gifts.
Décor inspiration and gift ideas runs the gamut here too, from a frosty winter white palette to traditional red and green, or geared to the gardener, the pet lover and well, just name it.
On weekends, festive live music put everyone in the holiday spirit, plus Santa and Mrs. Claus make appearances at the store from 10 am – 3 pm on Saturdays and from 11 am to 3 pm on Sundays, from December 2 to December 17.
Grinch wouldn’t stand a chance here. This Christmas happy place is a force to be reckoned with.
Tucked away in South Surrey on the near-rural Colebrook Road, a stone’s throw away from Highway 10 (and just 15 minutes from the Canada-USA border), are acres of fertile vineyard. Rows and rows of grape varieties at Vinoscenti Vineyards give Vinoscenti wines their flavour – but they’re also the focal point of the winery’s other offerings: guided winery walks, wine classes, and private events.
I visited the thriving winery to find out more about their 20+ year-old vines and to see how the business’ recent makeover (the winery was formerly known as River’s Bend but re-opened in July 2017 as Vinoscenti under new ownership) is a growing renaissance.
If you’re looking to peel off the road and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the vineyards, complete with a wine tasting and a slice of mango cake in the tasting room, you won’t miss the big oak barrels welcoming you to Vinoscenti Winery.
Vinoscenti also offers an array of options for private parties, and they are able to accommodate up to 80 people for dinner on their patio and outside yard. Smaller gatherings can be accommodated in their private room, and they welcome weddings.
The focal point of the winery is not necessarily the tasting room and amenities however, but the rolling 22-year-old vineyard with several grape varieties. Tasting room supervisor Davide Piccolo says his favourites are the Cabernet Franc grapes.
Cap off your visit to the vineyards with your very own tasting. The winery boasts two whites, six reds and two late harvest wines – not to be confused with ice wine. Tastings range from three one-ounce tasters for $8 or four one-ounce tasters plus the winery’s flagship merlot for $11.
Most recently, the business teamed up with King George aviation to offer a flight over the vineyard and wine tasting package. Contact email@example.com for details.
There’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker on Canada’s West Coast. The region is undergoing a craft brewing renaissance and it seems that there is a new craft brewery popping up every week.
Let WestCoastFood and our transportation partner, Burnaby Tours, be your host as we guide you to some of the best craft breweries in the region.
Enjoy an in-depth look at the art of beer making with a behind-the-scenes tour at one of the breweries, and get a full sampling of the breweries’ finest beers. (If you left beer fans at home, be sure to pick up a growler or two!)
On this tour, you’ll visit:
Central City Brewing and Distillery, Surrey
Known for their line of Red Racer beers, including their signature Red Racer IPA, Central City also produces offer a variety of craft beverages including specialty beers, ciders and both brown and white spirits.
Trading Post Brewery, Langley
Beer connoisseurs will appreciate the variety available at Trading Post. From traditional English-style ales, American IPA’s and stouts, to contemporary sour and barrel-aged beers. There is something to please all palates.
Dead Frog Brewery, Langley
Go behind the scenes with a tour at Dead Frog Brewery and learn about the brewing process and taste samples of unique brews like Classic Nut Brown Ale (the beer that started it all), Seasonal Citrus Wit or the award-winning Nutty Uncle (a peanut-butter stout).
Your ticket includes transportation, a brewery tour, 3 flights or pints of beer (1 at each brewery), and gratuities for the brewery staff. Price does not include tax (5% gst), driver/guide gratuity, or food and additional liquor purchases.
Must be 19 years of age to partake.
If you are interested in booking a group of 10 or more and would like to customize your own Craft Brewery Tour, please contact Burnaby Tours for alternate breweries and pricing.
Best known for the annual Cloverdale Rodeo, Cloverdale is a sub-division of Surrey that’s charming beauty has made it the setting for several fictional TV towns and movie sets. But inside the doors of this quaint setting of potted plants and upkept brick facades is bright modern cuisine and craft beer.
What’s special about Cloverdale is its small-town charm within a rather large city. Dining options are a no brainer: for dinner with your family, celebrating a new job, or maybe just a weekend date night, The Vault is the place to go. If you’re looking for a casual meal and a healthy selection of craft beer, it’s gotta be Hawthorne Beer Market. Both of these popular joints are owned by Aaron Hotell, a local restauranteur who has found the secret recipe to owning and operating lucrative, busy, and quality restaurants in a tight-knit community.
The downtown Cloverdale strip has been used as film sets, featured in commercials, TV shows such as Smallville, and movies. The architecture of the downtown strip has remained committed to its history; even some newly built structures have been designed to blend in with the surrounding older buildings.
The local small businesses are generally proprietor-operated, perpetuating the small-town feel that Cloverdale does so well. Barring the obvious fast-food staples, and a few restaurant chains squeezing their way in, the community has continued to thrive on supporting local, despite the exponential growth in the past few years.
Hotell opened White Rock’s Washington Avenue Grill over 20 years ago before making his way into Cloverdale, opening The Vault 11 years ago, and most recently Hawthorne Beer Market (formerly Golphis Steak & Lobster). The Vault is a sophisticated spot, similar to its sister restaurant the WAG, offering an entree forward menu with premium cut meats, mixed seafood dishes, and a generous martini selection.
With Hawthorne Beer Market, Hotell brings Vancouver’s brewery scene to the ‘burbs: well-equipped with rotating taps, craft brews, and Belgian imports. Serving casual fare, specializing in shellfish and pizzas, in an industrial setting. It’s the perfect spot to catch up with an old friend over a beer and a shareable bite.
I sat down with Hotell over mussels and appetizers to talk about his successful and prominent involvement in the Cloverdale culinary scene.
Brittany Tiplady: Let’s start with the Vault. How did was the idea for that restaurant conceived?
Aaron Hotell: The Vault opened 11 years ago, and at the time that we opened it, we were trying to copy The Washington Avenue Grill that we own in White Rock. It was affordable to move into Cloverdale, and we wanted to invest our money into a building and so we bought the Vault.
The system that we knew and understand was the style that we had been serving at the WAG. But the franchise world of doing everything the same at every location, was not for us.
The idea was to have the same concept as the WAG run at the Vault but not replicate it entirely. We wanted each location to be unique, but from the same creators. The décor is eclectic but it’s classy
BT: What brought on the idea to open Hawthorne Beer Market?
Aaron Hotell: I was eating in downtown Vancouver and liking craft beer and that world during the birth of its popularity. We like Belgian beers and going to Portland to try the craft beer scene growing there. The idea was to bring an idea like the Alibi room, with rotating taps and a large beer selection to [Cloverdale].
BT: Why Cloverdale?
Aaron Hotell: It fits the profile of what we do. There’s a lot of businesses on the street where the owners are working. It works for our model as owners and operators. Instead of contracting [companies to do the design and labor] out we built everything ourselves. When I was building Hawthorne I’d then go to the Vault and work the night shift.
BT: The Hawthorne menu, how would you describe it? What are the stars of the menu?
Aaron Hotell: We are going after a more casual crowd at Hawthorne. Especially being so close to the Vault, I don’t want to mow my own lawn. The driving force here is a casual demographic. They aren’t here to impress, they are here to hang out. Hawthorne is for catching up with friends. The mussels for sure are a popular menu item.
BT: What are the stars of the menu at The Vault? What kind of vibe do we expect at the Vault?
Aaron Hotell: The Vault does a more entrée style service. It’s a higher end spot. So premium cuts of meat and seafood-things that are a bit fancier. It’s eclectic and unique-there are some odd things hanging around. But it’s a place that you bring to impress people, to make them feel important.
Is there anything sweeter than the fruits of your own labour? U-pick berry farms in the Lower Mainland would attest there isn’t.
While abundant rain at the end of a long winter had many farms opening their picking seasons a little late this year, the results are still oh-so-sweet. With a shortened growing season, farmers are seeing strawberries and blueberries as a bounty of fresh-picked treats. We visited a few farms to find out where you can gather a basket of your own before the season’s over.
Please note that availability of berries is subject to weather and crops may end early, or be extended. It’s best to contact the individual farms to determine availability of your favourite berries.
Krause Berry Farms 6179-248th Street, Langley
U-pick, a winery, fresh-made waffles, and a kids’ farm – is there anything this farm doesn’t have? Set on 200 acres of well-groomed farmland, Krause Berry Farms uses all of its berries in farm-to-table (and from field-to-glass) style. There’s always something to pick from late May to mid-October in the fields, from ever-bearing strawberries getting their second-wind starting in late July to pumpkins and autumn harvests. Open every day 8:30am to 5pm.
CanWest Farms 13051 Blundell Road, Richmond
With families in mind, CanWest hosts U-pick blueberries for five weeks between mid-July and late August. At just $1.50 per pound, you can pick a year’s worth of berries to store. Open from 10 am to 6 pm.
Birak Farm 4200 No 6 Road, Richmond
Fruit stands are no longer just a roadside attraction whilst vacationing in BC’s Okanagan Valley – this Richmond-based fruit stand has a legacy of its own. For 30 years, Birak Berry Farms has been growing six different varieties of strawberries: Albion, Totem, Hood, Tillamook, Honey Owe and Pugent. Open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
Surrey Farms 5180 – 152 Street, Surrey
This little Surrey-based farm is famous among locals for its sweet strawberries. “The season is slowing down but the U-pickers seem to be very happy,” they told WestCoast Food. Here, strawberries can last until mid-September, with blueberries usually staying strong into September. U-pick opens mid-June to mid-October from 9 am to 6 pm.
Maan Farms 790 McKenzie Road, Abbotsford
Open from 9 am to 6 pm every day, this 80-acre farm currently boasts late harvest strawberries and seasonal blueberries. A $2 admission fee is refundable when you pick more than 5 lbs of berries.
Willems Berry Farm 33736 Vye Road, Abbotsford
Running since 1983, Willems Berry Farm is a family-run farm with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries abound, when in season. Picking typically opens at 9 am on the weekends, but hours can vary, so it’s best to call ahead at 604-864-1149.
Didar Berry Farm 5580 104th Street, Ladner
Blueberry season for this family-farm is short but sweet. It opened in mid-July for u-picking and its last day of the season is August 19. Owner Aujlay Didar dubs his fruits “nature’s candy” and is happy to drive visiting pickers through his 80+ rows of berries in a golf cart to find the sweetest treasures.
Formosa Nursery Organic Farm 12617 – 203rd Street, Maple Ridge
If you want to save your money, do the dirty work yourself. Formosa Nursery offers blueberries at $5 per pound, ready-picked, or just $3 per pound when you u-pick. There are just 2 weeks left in the u-pick season, so there’s a limited amount of time to collect your bounty and get some exercise in. Open from 8 am to 8 pm daily.
Seriously. Just when I’d given up on finding gluten-free baked goods that were remotely close to the real thing, the skies parted and along came Pikanik Bakery.
I was diagnosed with celiac disease (which is a serious gluten allergy) not long ago, and naturally as a food writer and having eaten gluten all my life, my quest for bread that didn’t have the texture of a dry, sandy sponge was all too real. (You don’t know what you’re missing until you can’t eat it anymore!) And I miss great, chewy-textured bread in a sandwich. And real pizza. And pie crust that isn’t made entirely of nuts – you get the picture.
Pikanik is a dedicated gluten-free and allergen-safe bakery based in South Surrey, that also happen to be nut and dairy free and offers vegan options too. Best part? They deliver.
Order a minimum of $30 online, and they’ll deliver (for an extra $10) right to your hotel, home or office all over Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Since most gluten-free products freeze well, you can stock up and never be out of burger buns for an impromptu BBQ. Or just simple toast for breakfast. Or cupcakes. Because, of course you need cupcakes.
Joanna Schultz is owner of the award-winning Pikanik Bakery, open since 2012, and is clearly dedicated to delicious.
The BC growing season is in full swing, and you can experience the palette of summer with a trip to some of the 145+ BC farmers’ markets. Whether you’re headed here on a weekend with family or friends, or taking the summer to explore Canada’s West Coast, here’s everything you need to build a farmers’ market visit into your summer travels across the province.
Step 1: Know your BC farmers’ markets
With over 145 BC farmers’ markets across the province, you’re sure to discover more than a few that you’ll love to return to year after year. This helpful BC Farmers’ Market Finder tool will help you make the tough choices (popsicles in White Rock, or honey in Richmond?) and you might be surprised to see how easy it is to access more than one farmers’ market closer to home. Here’s a tip: BC farmers’ markets are a smart place to stock up on the freshest summer ingredients. Not only is the food fresh and local, you can get great advice from the farmers who grew it! Ask for tips on produce varieties, preparation, storage, preserving, and recipes.
Step 2: Bring your appetite
High summer is prime time for taste, no matter which region you visit in BC. Nectarines, plums and peaches are all must-buys at farmers’ markets from the Vancouver area to the Thompson-Okanagan, and cherry fans can sample their fill fresh from the Kootenay/Rockies. If you’re looking for blueberries, head to Langley, Richmond, and the Fraser Valley – farmers from Richmond to Agassiz supply 97% of Canada’s highbush blueberries. On Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, look for wild crafted delicacies like seaweed and blackberries, along with delicious cheeses from the Cowichan Valley. And if you need a reminder that farmers’ markets are a perfect place to find locally produced baked goods and handmade treasures, check out the farmers’ markets even further north – Prince George’s award-winning year-round farmers’ market features outstanding baked goods and locally roasted coffee, while markets throughout the Cariboo/Chilcotin area offer locally sourced pasture-raised meat…including interesting products like llama!
Step 3: Put your money where your heart is
BC farmers’ markets are tasty and fun, but they also play a vital role in the local economy. Did you know that for the first time in 20 years, the number of farmers aged 35 and younger in BC is on the rise? But expensive land, and high start-up costs can be challenging for new farmers starting out – choosing to shop at BC farmers’ markets is one way to help these new farmers grow (and keep all farmers productive!) The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets runs the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program , which helps increase access to fresh, local food for lower income families and seniors in BC.
Step 4: Take your time
BC farmers’ markets are the ideal place to connect with “slow food”: investing in local crops and taking the time to prepare food carefully. But while the approach is slow, the market isn’t. It’s no surprise that farmers’ markets are a hive of activity: on any given visit you might find live music, chef demos, family activities, new trends like wild harvested food and products, and artisanal food producers. With more evening farmers’ markets popping up across the province, you can enjoy exploring new foods under the stars.
Ready to tour BC farmers’ markets? Take your camera along for the ride and enter the BC Farmers’ Market Road Trip Contest: just share a photo of your farmers’ market adventures with the hashtag #BCFarmersMarketRoadtrip for a chance to win one of five weekly prize draws for a $50 BC farmers’ market shopping trip! This contest runs from July 17 to August 18, 2017. Follow BC Farmers’ Markets on Facebook and Instagram for details.
Sure. We have salmon, spot prawns and Dungeness crab aplenty here on the west coast, but that doesn’t mean we don’t crave fresh lobster every summer as well, like our neighbours out east who get to feast on it regularly.
Loving fresh lobster is easy right now on Canada’s west coast. Here’s a hot list of restaurants serving it up in a variety of ways. Lobster. The love is real, people.
Lobster Fest is an annual thing at Provence Marinaside, returning every July and on now ‘til month end. Executive Chef Jean-Francis Quaglia created a three-course menu for a sweet deal at $62 with optional wine pairings for an additional charge. Choices of starters like lobster salad with fresh peas and puree or classic lobster Thermidor whet your palate for even more, with main options offered x3. The whole Atlantic lobster done Provençal style is ridiculously delish finished with a splash of brandy. They add the freshest prettiest summer vegetables, making your platter as pretty as a picture. Dessert? A simple shortcake or sorbet sends you on your way home afterward happy as a clam. Book a table pronto, time’s a tickin’.
Surrey: Crescent Beach
We love this charming eatery and it’s no surprise they keep the lobster love year ‘round by offering lobster ravioli on their regular menu. The Cabin serves this signature stuffed pasta dish with an apple brandy cream sauce, topped with asparagus and juicy prawns.
How about an Asian take on lobster? Neptune Seafood Restaurant does dumplings like nobody’s business, and their lobster dumplings are exceptional. Or, go for the fried rice noodle dish with lobster in soy sauce.
Is lobster considered lucky? Well, we think so considering the The Diamond Buffet at Elements Casino is offering an endless Lobster Tail and Prime Rib Buffet on July 17 & 31st.
If you have ever had a lobster roll, you know they’re easy to find on the east coast, but here? Not so much. S + L offers theirs for a mere $5 each, and served an upscale but still classic way on a soft buttery roll with lemon aioli, and pickled red onions. Lobster chowder also is a get-it-while-it’s-hot addition.
We can always count on The Keg to never let us down when it comes to their summer lobster menu. For a limited time get yourself in for a feast, starting with lobster gratinee, and a choice of mains that include a whole 2 lb lobster, and a steak and lobster medallion which is code for bacon-wrapped lobster. Yep, you read that right. Are you the sharesie type? Lobster-stuffed yorkies sound fun too.
Lobster is making a short but delicious appearance over the summer at Onyx Steak & Seafood Bar. Try the Nova Scotia lobster cobb salad, lobster stuffed wild salmon, garlic steamed lobster tail or truffle lobster mac and cheese. Sigh….
FIVE serves their lobster old-school, with a live saltwater tank so you know yours is super fresh.
The Boathouse is a go-to for fresh fish all over the lower mainland with numerous locations. Their summer Atlantic lobster tail dinner is oven roasted and with hot drawn butter, wild rice, and seasonal veg. Yes please.
Bingsoo Korean shaved ice dessert may make you forget about traditional ice cream forever.
Also known as patbingsu or bingsu, this treat traditionally uses water as its icy main ingredient, however Snowy Village Canada uses 100% Canadian milk which is frozen and shaved to create a snowy consistency. Red bean paste is the traditional topping, however fresh fruit like strawberries, jelly, Oreo cookies, roasted grain powder and other toppings give it a modern texture that is suited to Canadian tastes.
With indie breweries becoming almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks’ in Vancouver, you’d have to be wearing blinders to miss a brewpub or tasting room on any given block between Boundary Road and Kits Beach. But Vancouver’s not the only city under the influence, as the craft brewing boom has reached through Burnaby to the Valley, taking root in the communities in between.
This year, brews from outlying towns are making a splash at the eighth annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week, running from May 26 to June 4.
“We keep growing and changing every year because we want to create this beer experience that all of us want to experience ourselves,” says co-founder and events director Leah Heneghan.
This year, it seems communities outside the big city are unofficially on show. The week-long fete’s feature collaboration beer is a shared effort between the four breweries that dot Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row: Yellow Dog, Twin Sails, Moody Ales, and Parkside.
Dubbed “Hazy Pale”, VCBW’s signature beer is a hazy pale ale infused with passionfruit and guava – a perfect tithing to summertime. But Port Moody’s not the only city outside Vancouver flourishing in beer flow — there’s a whole bevy of brewers that’ll keep you sipping during this seven-day soiree.
Perhaps an allusion to Fort Langley’s historic trade hub, Trading Post Brewing is all about celebrating community. “It is over a glass of that very creation, a labour of our love, where friendships deepen, family ties strengthen and community unites,” they say.
Beers they’re hawking: Dear James S.M.A.S.H Saison – a single malt, single hop saison with notes of fruit and spice; Three Bears Breakfast Stout – an oatmeal stout with a strong raspberry flavour will have you feeling just right; West Coast IPA – a traditional West Coast India Pale Ale with tropical fruit fused into Pacific North West pine.
While these brewers started out with a single silo in a brewpub, they’ve now “tapped-out” beyond their craft beer limits. Known best by their signature Red Racer beers, the brand has also come to distill high-end spirits as well as break records in beer production. “We approach our spiritual side with the same care and honour as we do with our beer” — or so their mantra goes.
Beers they’re hawking: Red Racer Amber Ale – From their award-winning line, a blend of Chinook and Centennial hops make a coastal-inspired brew with citrus and pine flavours.
Brewing up small-batch artisan beers reminiscent of the Dageraadplaats, a neighbourhood square on the east side of Antwerp, Belgium, Dageraad Brewing is a traditional throwback to beer culture from its point of inception.
Beers they’re hawking: Dageraad Blonde – a fruity, spicy, and bubbly blonde with a touch of caramelized sugar sweetness and a floral crown. Just like a dame at Coachella; Dageraad White – a creamy, citrusy wheat ale traditionally from the Brabant region of Belgium.
Steel & Oak Brewing Co. is nestled under a passenger bridge near steel and wood train tracks, the most unassuming of places, but one aligned with their brand. “Materials of strength and durability, steel and oak; house, protect and nurture what we stand for most – exceptional tasting craft beer,” as they put it.
What they’re hawking: Roselle – Hibiscus and rose hips create a crisp and refreshing wheat ale packed with floral notes, banana, raspberry and a touch of spice; Shiny Things IPA – Hallertau Blanc, Huell Melon, and Mandarina Bavaria hops add a new age German twist on this juicy IPA. They seem Oktoberfest-ready; Weekend Plans Sour – light, tart and refreshing, just like you’d want your weekend plans to be. Amarillo, Citra, and Centennial hops with an oat malt.
This award-winning craft brewery from the Fraser Valley caught the attention of drinkers with their slogan “Nothing goes down like a cold, dead frog.” While the comparison is questionable, nothing beats this brewery’s creativity.
Beers they’re hawking: Blueberry Blast – a crisp sour wheat ale bursting with flavours of lemon and fresh local blueberries; Green Magic – a coastal-style IPA with citrus and pine for a crisp finish; Tropic Vice – a refreshing golden ale brimming with flavours of mango and passion fruit, and channeling ‘80s TV cop drama vibes.
Located in Abbotsford on a “magical beer lawn with an outdoor stage,” where musicians are invited to perform weekly, Field House Brewing Co. sounds like the stuff of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Their rotating tap is called the Adventure Tap, and we imagine it always tastes like something out of a Celtic folk tale.
What they’re hawking: Dark Brett – a “dark-as-dusk beer” with dank but citrusy flavours; Light Brett – a sunny alternative to the Dark Brett with white wine and stone fruit notes; Sour Wheat Gose – a 16th century-style German salted sour wheat ale with coriander and elderflower, brewed with hand-harvested sea salt by Vancouver Island Salt Co.
When you’re known for producing some of the nation’s best beer, having twice won the title of Canadian Brewery of the Year, you might think you’d stick to the winning formula.
But ambition does not elude the key players at Surrey’s Central City Brewers + Distillers, who released a small batch premium whisky at the end of January. Brewmaster Gary Lohin, along with head distiller Stuart McKinnon, created one of only a handful single-malt whiskies in British Columbia.
Aptly named Lohin McKinnon, the 43 per cent alc. per vol. craft spirit is aged in select oak barrels in small batches. While whisky-making might seem like a misnomer for a company known best for its beers, the duo maintains the process is not so different.
“Brewing and distilling really isn’t that far apart so it’s a natural progression for us to start distilling,” says McKinnon. “The distilling process begins with the same barley mash that you would with beer – just without the hops. We distill our whisky using traditional copper artisan stills from Germany, and age them in bourbon oak barrels.”
Made in the brewery + distillery’s 68,000 square-foot facility, the whisky isn’t the first spirit to show up on Central City’s roster. When the brewery outgrew its Central City brewpub spot and moved to the Bridgeview Drive location in 2013, they launched two other high-end libation lines: the Seraph vodka and gin, and the award-winning Queensborough gin. And, according, to Lohin, its fine spirits are all about fine ingredients.
“We use the same passion and commitment to excellence when brewing our beer as we do when we make our spirits; especially our first whisky,” says Lohin. “We use only the best ingredients and follow traditional world class methods to make our high-end whisky. Lohin McKinnon is truly a labour of love for us, and we’ve been eagerly waiting for three years to launch it.”
With rich, dark-fruit notes such as cherry and grape, the taste is a subtle honey with an oaky depth. Its finish is medium length, fruity and ends off dry. According to its website, LohinMcKinnon.com, the whisky is “best enjoyed with a splash of cold filtered water to release the full flavour of this hand-crafted gem.”
“Lohin McKinnon has excellent aroma with rich, darker fruity notes, subtle vanilla and is pleasantly woody. The liquid is great, with a touch of green apple skins, buttery notes, woody and softly textured mouth feel,” raves Mike Nicolson, Canadian master distiller.
Packaged in 750 ml bottles, Lohin McKinnon is now available in BC and Ontario liquor stores.
When you’re looking to enjoy the finest lagers and ales and superior seasonal and specialty beers down at your friendly neighbourhood pub, Big Ridge Brewing Co. in Surrey is the place to go. Not only do they have an impressive array of beverages to choose from, their menu offers up a fine selection of comfort food and wok-prepared dishes using only the freshest ingredients. And the best part? You don’t have to be a beer snob to enjoy any of it.
Located at 5580 152nd Street, Big Ridge Brewing Co. is Surrey’s original brewpub, serving patrons their time honored, handcrafted lagers, ales, and beers since 1999. Part of the Mark James Group, British Columbia’s premiere collection of craft brewery restaurants, Big Ridge Brewing Co. keeps good company with six other West Coast area breweries and distilleries including Vancouver’s Yaletown Brewing Co. and the Brewhouse Brewing Co. in Whistler.
Unlike a microbrewery which has an annual brewing capacity of less than 17,600 (or 100 litres) and the ability to sell its products in bottles at beer and wine stores and through provincial liquor distribution outlets, a brewpub must operate in concert with a pub and must sell one hundred percent of its production on site. This means that when you’re enjoying a cool one at Big Ridge Brewing Co., it’s a brew that can’t be obtained anywhere else. It also means you’re enjoying a beer that’s made with nothing but the basics: water, hops, malted barley and yeast; Big Ridge Brewing Co. beer is never pasteurized and does not use modifiers.
Big Ridge Brewing Company is open Sunday – Thursday from 11:30 AM – 12 AM and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 AM until late. They can be reached at 604-574-2739.
Need to grab a quick cold one on the go? Big Ridge Brewing Co. has its own 3200 square foot Cold Beer & Wine Store, located at 103 15250 Highway 10, also in Surrey. The store offers customers a large selection of craft beers, spirits, and wine from around the world, including local BC offerings.
Hop-centric IPAs, crisp pilsners, traditional lagers, golden pale ales, brilliant porters, a rich coffee stout – there’s all this and more just waiting for you to enjoy at White Rock Brewing, White Rock and South Surrey’s popular tasting room.
Located at #13 – 3033 King George Blvd in South Surrey, White Rock Brewing is the perfect place to truly experience the art of small batch, chemical and preservative free, unpasteurized hand-crafted beer. You’ll find White Rock Ocean Lager and White Rock Mountain Ale always on tap and seasonal beers while supplies last. Not quite sure what you’re in the mood for? Free samples are available on a daily basis, and then you can buy a bottle or fill your growler with your pick.
Originally opened as a brewery in 1994, White Rock Brewing added a tasting room in the spring of 2014 after repeat requests from customers looking for “the freshest, most delicious beer possible, in a growler, whenever they want it,” according to the website. You can now take the growler bottle home with you or bring in your own clean used bottle.
One of the most environmentally friendly ways to purchase beer, a growler is said to get its unusual moniker from the sound the bottle makes when the C02 build up escapes the lid. It was the bottling method of choice before bottled beer became economical and common, especially after the widespread use of pasteurization in the mid 1800s. Prior to that, if a patron wanted to enjoy their beer outside of a saloon, it would be poured into a galvanized bucket with a closed lid for transport. As it was carried home, the beer would be sloshed around, releasing carbon monoxide.
Why not come listen for yourself?
White Rock Brewing is open Monday – Saturday from 11:30 AM to 7:00 PM, Sunday from 11:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and closed on all statutory holidays.
Need to grab a quick cold one on the go? A selection of White Rock Brewing beers is also available at Hawthorn Beer Market (5633 – 176th Street in Surrey) and Foamers’ Folly Brewing Co. (19221 – 122A Avenue in Pitt Meadows).
Award winning wine with hand-selected grapes from the Okanagan Valley can be found in a tasting room as refreshing and modern as their extensive selection just a ten-minute drive from the USA-Canada border in Surrey, BC.
1st R.O.W. Estate Winery’s delicious and unique dessert wines are a Canadian specialty. Combining a perfect blend of Chardonnay, Muscat, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier, the Winery’s 2013 Late Harvest White “displays [an] excellent balance between sweetness and acidity with fresh and lively flavours” of citrus, honey apricots, and a candy apple finish” (1row.ca). For those craving a warm, tropical touch to contrast the frozen grapes, the 2013 White Gewürztraminer Ice Wine has aromas of ripe pear and lychee paired with tropical fruits. For intense strawberry richness, try 2014 Red Merlot Ice Wine to complement chocolate dessert or fresh fruit.
The winery offers wine aficionados a diverse selection of white and red wines ranging from $15.61 CAD a bottle up to $62.00 CAD in a slick and bright tasting room where you can choose your take-home favorites.
If want to enjoy their amazing line-up of wines from the comfort of your own home, you can also join their Wine Club. Members of the club receive six bottles of wine quarterly (can either be shipped or picked up in person at the winery) for 15% off the normal retail price, advance notification about upcoming wine specials and new vintage releases, 10% off regular priced wines, and industry tips on everything from food pairing and recipes to cellaring.
1st R.O.W. Estate wines are also available for purchase at select restaurants, wine and liquor stores, hotels, and VQA Save-On Foods stores in the Greater Vancouver area as well as in the Interior.
Strawberry wit, boysenberry sour, and of course, a variety of pumpkin beers made with local farm-fresh gourds are just the beginning of the seasonal, inventive, quirky craft beers brewing on Canada’s West Coast.
Discover Asian food on Canada’s West Coast. Celebrity Chef Vikram Vij, who has restaurants in Vancouver and Surrey, BC explains how you can “taste cuisines from each and every region of Asia without leaving the lower mainland.”
Sometimes slowing down during the holiday season is the greatest gift of all. Through all the craziness, the non-stop hustle and bustle, just settling in for a hot cuppa and some delicious treats with family or friends is an ideal time out.
Not only is most of the honey served at Honeybee Centre collected from their own bees, it is a big part of their new Holiday High Tea. Served from December 1st to 31st, choose from a variety of high quality teas (black, green and herbal) that come to your table in a French press, along with a tiered tray (doesn’t everyone love those?) with Christmas-themed cupcakes, macarons, cheesecake, shortbread cookies, cranberry orange scone with clotted cream and honey, plus savoury treats like the brie and roasted chicken panini, artichoke baguette, and a turkey and cranberry roll.
Not a tea drinker? No worries, have a peppermint honey mocha or egg nog latte instead.
Reservations for High Tea are encouraged but not required.
$18 per person, children $12, and even a gluten-free version, $20.
Classic red tractors, fields bound by forests, and bright red beets that radiate nutrition with their sweetness: That’s what you’ll experience at A Rocha farm in Surrey, BC. Their dedication to good taste doesn’t only apply to flavour. It’s their farming philosophy to use organic, sustainable farming methods that support the environment and build community.
Group tours get a chance to wander through fields with the farmers, who point out organic growing techniques and show the benefits of eco-conscious gardens.
“Often conservation and farming seem to be at odds with one another… we want to, in a really small way, demonstrate that a garden can be a really thriving ecosystem that’s diverse and healthy and has a place for animals and insects within it,” says farm manager, Paul Neufield.
Farmers here encourage you to expand your palate and taste test new varieties of your favourite produce, beyond the typical produce available at grocery stores.
“In our gardens we try to grow a lot of diversity, a little bit of everything. We try to rotate our crops around, we grow cover crops and use a lot of compost to build soil. We don’t use any pesticides or herbicides, we just use a lot of hand labour and a lot of love,” says Paul.
A Rocha farm offers retreats for those looking to reconnect with food and the land. Visitors enjoy meals that are harvested right beside the guest house. Those curious about how to source better tasting food, that’s better for the earth, can join a group tour or volunteer in the fields.
As well as guests and local business, over 100 families enjoy seasonal vegetables delivered right to their door as part of the farm’s Community Shared Agriculture Program.
“I feel like food is something that draws people together, that’s a big part of community. Growing your own big garden and going out and harvesting it and then bringing it inside and working with those fresh ingredients brings people together in a really special way,” says Paul.
To taste the authentic flavour of Canada’s West Coast, there’s nothing better than farm fresh produce pulled straight from the land. It’s a great place to see that what’s good for people can be good for the earth, too.
The 8-acre urban farm was founded in the 1920’s by Dragan and Marta Zaklan who immigrated to Canada from Europe.
Continuing his great grandparent’s legacy, Doug Zaklan is leading the farm through a revitalization project along with his partner, Gemma McNeill. The pair met at UBC Farm in Vancouver and share a passion for sustainable and organic farming.
At the farm you’ll find a variety of fruits of vegetables but you won’t find any pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers. “We fertilize with compost,” said Zaklan. “For pests we cover with a Reemay cloth and mostly just make sure things are healthy.”
Pick up fresh seasonal produce from Zaklan Heritage Farm on Saturdays from June to October. They also offer a community supported agriculture program where members get access to the freshest produce available and other specialty items such as eggs.
Zaklan Heritage farm is also home to animals including 95 laying hens. Unlike, free range or free run hens who are restricted to a limited area and rarely, if ever, see the light, the chickens at Zaklan’s are free to roam their large outdoor pen, bask in the sun, and play in the dust. The happy chickens are fed a diet free of corn, soy, and GMO products, which make their eggs delicious and creamy.
A llama affectionately named, Reverend for his unique markings around his neck that resemble the white collar of a minister, protects the chickens from coyotes. Reverend, who is rather fond of the hens never strays too far from them.
If you want to see local farmers in action, know where your food is coming from, and know that your food doesn’t have any chemicals in it, be sure to check out Zaklan Heritage Farm and learn about sustainable and organic farming.
“If you’re willing to eat seasonally and buy from a local farm then it’s going to be tastier, fresher, and more nutritious and you’re going to eat more adventurously and have more of a connection with nature,” explained Zaklan.” All of those things are things that in the past, we’ve taken for granted and traded in for convenience. With that, we lost all the important things so now we are coming back to say being connected to a farm has so much value.”
Located in the agricultural centre of Surrey, 20 minutes from the USA border, the Honeybee Centre is buzzing with things to do and eat. As a commercial honey farm, the Centre produces their own natural honey which you can taste and purchase at their Country Store. They also have a Visitor Centre, where you can learn about the amazing world of the honeybee through a tour or beekeeping course. Their latest creation, Fry’s Corner Beestro, offers a divine dining experience in a modern greenhouse dining room. Whether you are a honey connoisseur, a beekeeping aficionado, or you are looking for an educational activity to bond over with your little ones, The Honeybee Centre has something for you.
Fry’s Corner Beestro
Indulge in a decadent honey inspired menu at the Honeybee Centre’s Fry’s Corner Beestro, a revamped modern greenhouse turned bistro. A favourite on their seasonal menu is the prosciutto fig panini, which features prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, honey balsamic fig jam, roasted red pepper, and spinach. For dessert, try the affogato – a rich vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso and local wildflower honey.
Take a trip to wonderland with high tea featuring a luxurious menu including gourmet sandwiches, honeycomb scones with Devonshire cream and New Zealand rewarewa honey, French macarons, honeybee cupcakes, honey cheesecake, and a wide selection of teas.
Your own brood of little bees will be pleased to find a kid’s menu with kid approved eats like peanut butter and honey sandwiches, homemade chicken noodle soup, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Skip the pasteurized stuff from the supermarket and pick up a jar of pure, natural, and unpasteurized honey at the Country Store instead. The honey is as fresh as it can get, straight from the hive, extracted from honeycombs, and jarred on site. The Honeybee Centre produces and carries a wide range of natural honey from a variety of floral nectar sources like fireweed flowers (with floral and buttery notes), the rewarewa plant (sweet with a hint of caramel), and kamahi flowers (smooth vanilla aroma with a complex floral finish.)
“We carry honeys that are local, as well from around Canada, a variety from California, Australia, and New Zealand,” says Alana Jackson, a beekeeper at the Honeybee Centre.
Natural body care products, pure beeswax candles, honeybee themed gifts, and medicinal honey and hive products are also available at the Country Store.
After you’ve satiated your honey cravings at Fry’s Beestro and The Country Store, head over to the Honeybee Centre’s Visitor Centre where you can take a specialized tour developed for various audiences, take a course on how to start your own urban honeybee farm, or even take an art class and learn how to make your own beeswax candles.
The Honeybee Centre & Fry’s Beestro
7480 176 St, Surrey, BC
Phone: (604) 575-2337 honeybeecentre.com
Anyone who has been Thailand can tell you how significant food is to Thai culture. Particularly in Bangkok, food is a social affair and both locals and tourists alike can be found in the lively city enjoying and sharing food – and you can get a taste of the dishes they share in Surrey.
From the crack of dawn to all hours of the night, the streets of Bangkok are constantly stirring with street vendors. Food is the social glue in Thai culture, and dishes are made to share with friends and family. Whether it’s a steaming pot of joke (Thai rice congee) for breakfast, fresh fruit for a mid-day snack, a bowl of Gang Dang (red curry) for lunch, or heaping plate of pad kee-mao (drunken hot and spicy noodles) after a night out, Thai dishes are a social occasion.
In Surrey, many of these Bangkokian casual favorites are available at Snak Shak restaurant where the Thongprasert family is bringing Thai traditions of socializing and food to the neighborhood.
Before it became a hub of authentic Thai cuisine, the Snak Shak Restaurant has been a community favorite for nearly thirty years. Locals have been making a stop at the Snak Shak Restaurant for their quick and delicious Canadian breakfast and lunch dishes like eggs benedict and roast beef dip au jus since the 1980s.
After emigrating from Bangkok to Surrey, the Thongprasert family saved up their earnings to purchase the Snak Shak restaurant. Many of the classic Canadian diner favorites are still on the menu but the Thongprasert family have also added dishes reminiscent of the food they ate daily back home in Bangkok.
The blend of menu items reflects the dual Canadian and Thai identities of the Thongprasert family. “We wanted to have both Canadian and Thai dishes on our menu because we embrace being both Canadian and Thai,” said Supakan Thongprasert, owner of the restaurant.
Supakan, his wife Jeerya, and their children run the restaurant together. Their daughters Kathy, Dorothy, and Sarah help with maintaining the restaurant website and serving customers while their 20-year-old son and recent culinary school graduate, Ohm helps his parents cook.
Customers who have been going to the Snak Shak for the past thirty years are still coming in for classic Canadian dishes but Snak Shak’s Thai dishes are quickly becoming new favorites among long-time customers. One of the most popular dishes is their Pad Thai. This stir-friend rice noodle dish, commonly served as street food in Bangkok, has become a national Thai dish and the generous portion that Snak Shak serves makes it the perfect meal to share. You can learn how to make it yourself here.
Kathy Thongprasert says her dad’s Pad Thai is her absolute favorite. “It reminds me of home and it’s very flavorful,” she says.
Whether it is Canadian diner classics or Thai casual eats, the Snak Shak restaurant serves up mouth-watering homemade comfort food. If you’re in the neighborhood wondering where to eat at next, the Snak Shak restaurant is a hidden gem definitely worth making a stop at. “From our family to yours, we welcome you to come get together, catch up, and share a bite to eat at the Snak Shak restaurant,” says Kathy.
Protein of your choice (firm tofu, 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, beef, pork, or shrimp, sliced into thin strips)
Garlic (4 cloves, minced)
Coarsely ground roasted peanuts (1 cup)
Bean sprouts (2 cups)
Carrots (1 cup, match sticks)
Cabbage (1 cup, finely chopped)
Fresh chives (1/2 cup, chopped)
Lime (1, cut into wedges)
To soften noodles, place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with several inches of room temperature water; let soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
Whisk oyster sauce, sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, and tamarind paste in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat.
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add protein; cook and stir until protein is cooked through. Remove from heat.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil and minced garlic in a wok over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into hot oil; scramble until eggs are nearly cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add cooked protein and rice noodles; stir to combine.
Stir in tamarind mixture; cook until noodles are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in ground chilli, chives, bean sprouts; mix well. Remove to a platter.
Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts, cabbage, carrots, and lime wedges and serve to friends and family.
When Paul Hanley opens the oven door, the mouthwatering aroma of fresh-baked bread wafts through his South Surrey neighbourhood. Within minutes, locals are lining up for his baguettes and scones, quiches and artisanal country breads.
And not just locals – increasingly, Fieldstone Artisan Breads is drawing customers from all over the Lower Mainland.
“It’s worth the trek,” says Hanley, who co-owns the shop with his wife Nicola Erasmus.
“It’s designed as a destination and not just a location. It’s beautiful to look at and it’s beautiful inside and there’s French music playing. And I can honestly say I use the most local ingredients – I actually have a farm that grows stuff for us.”
Fieldstone was a second act career for Hanley. But he also provided Fieldstone with its own successful second act.
It opened in 1998, one of the trio of bakeries – along with Terra Breads and Ecco Il Pane – to introduce artisan breads to Greater Vancouver. “We started the whole artisan bread movement,” Hanley says.
Back then, though, he wasn’t a baker. Originally from Langley, and the son of a local restaurateur, he was a food and beverage manager at a resort in Japan, which is where he met his wife. But he was becoming more and more unhappy at work. Then he befriended a pastry chef and realized what he was actually meant to do.
The couple returned to Vancouver, and he enrolled at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, graduating in 2000 and apprenticing at Patisserie Bordeaux. Then Fieldstone came calling, looking for a head baker.
It was an exciting challenge because, Hanley says with a laugh, “I was really lousy at bread.” Not for long, though. In 2005, he bought the bakery and says, “We took it to a completely different level.”
Back then, Fieldstone was producing a limited number of baked goods. Today, it produces 350 different items throughout the year and everything, from the croissants to the naturally fermented breads, is made from scratch.
“Every time you come in, there’s something new and something different and the customers just love it,” Hanley says.
The bakery, which has a staff of 20, no longer sells wholesale, except to a handful of friends within the community, but rakes in nearly $1.5 million in retail sales a year.
“I think we’re the busiest retail bakery in Greater Vancouver,” Hanley says. “At Christmas, we have hour-and-a-half lineups just to get to the till.”
In large part, that’s because of the exceptional ingredients he uses: organic flour, natural starters and as much fresh, local produce as possible, including Canadian butter, whenever it’s available. In fact, he uses a whopping $97,000 worth of butter a year.
What he doesn’t use? Treated or bleached flours, emulsifiers, dough improvers, hydrogenated fats, genetically modified ingredients, prepared doughs, mixes, preservatives and artificial flavouring or colouring.
“It all goes back to how we made bread 300 years ago. It’s simple,” he says, pointing out that the flour he uses is low in gluten and the slow overnight rise eats up the proteins that can cause digestive issues. “If you’re sensitive, you can eat our bread. I don’t want to make fluffy bread. It’s not supposed to be like that.”
He also works closely with nearby Hazelmere Organic Farm; indeed, he often helps out on the farm, and brings back farm-fresh goodies for his efforts. “Our customers don’t only get fresh baked goods, but I’ll bring in fresh blueberries and asparagus,” he says. “We use the best quality and it shows.”
People are always asking him if he’d ever expand or open a new location. The answer, at least for now, is no.
“I am happy with the way things are. It’s a pretty nice place to work because the customers are so nice,” he says, adding, “I have seven-year-old twins who are at the bakery all the time and I just don’t want to work that hard. And the products wouldn’t be the same.”
So if you don’t live in South Surrey and you have a craving for dense, chewy 13-grain miller’s bread or the famous raspberry and white chocolate scones, you’ll just have hit the highway to Fieldstone Artisan Breads.
We hear it’s worth the trek.
Fieldstone Artisan Breads is located at 12823 Crescent Rd. in South Surrey, 604-531-7880. For info, visit their website.
Long before they met, Lynn Le and Steven Lee knew they wanted to open a restaurant. But it took a long time – and an even longer journey – before they would see their dream become reality.
Reality it is, though. On Aug. 1, 2012, the couple opened Chopsticks on Pho in Surrey. They’ve since developed a loyal following for their fresh, healthy and flavourful Vietnamese fare. They’ve also become proud members of their community, even though it is a world away from where they started out.
Vietnam is where they started, back in the bad old days that followed the end of the war in 1975. Many Vietnamese, especially in the south, feared retribution from the Communist government of the newly unified country, and rightly so: It is estimated that a million Vietnamese were sent to brutal prison camps after the war and some 65,000 executed. And then, in late 1978, the Indo-Chinese region degenerated into wholesale conflict.
Hundred of thousands of people – some say as many as 1.5 million – fled the country over the next several years. Because it was illegal to do so, they couldn’t very well hop a flight to freedom. Instead, they boarded rickety boats and hoped for the best.
In 1980, Steven Lee was among them. “My family came in May of 1980. I was nine years old,” he recalls. His family left from the southern part of Vietnam, after a stint in a Malaysian refugee camp. “We applied for status and Edmonton accepted us right away,” he says.
Lynn Le’s family left in 1988, when she was 11, from the northern part of Vietnam.
“We were 31 days out in the China Sea. I remember a lot of throwing up. No food. No water,” she recalls. “We got to Hong Kong and I stayed in a refugee camp for about three years. We got status with Holland, but I came over here (to Canada) for school, and met Steve and stayed.”
“I saw this girl and I thought, she’s so small, but she loves to eat!” Steven recalls. Right from the beginning, their love for food was almost as important as their love for each other. Steven says: “When we first dated, we asked each other what we wanted to do, and we both had the same thought, ‘I want to own a restaurant.’”
“When we opened the restaurant, it was solely based on the passion we had, but neither of us had any restaurant experience,” Lynn says.
“When we were building the restaurant, especially the kitchen, we got the equipment in and didn’t know how to work it. We did it all by ourselves,” Steve says. “There were days we literally held each other and cried.”
That was then. Now things are completely different. Now they have a whole community that loves what they are cooking up.
Lynn, the cook, calls her food “fusion-y,” with some French and Thai influences, but in fact, most of the menu is fairly traditional Vietnamese fare adapted to local ingredients. Everything is as fresh as possible, and Lynn hand picks everything from the market herself.
“Everything on the menu is strictly my recipe, but it’s influenced by my mother,” she says. “The soup itself, which is a pho noodle soup, is traditional. What I’ve fusioned is the salad rolls and few other dishes.”
Not surprisingly, the pho is the most popular dish on the menu. “It’s the broth. They love it,” Lynn says. “My favourite dish, I think, is the salad roll, with just the rice paper wrap. You can make anything into the salad roll: chicken, prawn, pork.”
They’re not just feeding the community’s appetite for fresh food, though. Every Aug. 1, on the restaurant’s anniversary, half of everything they make goes to BC Children’s hospital; then on Thanksgiving, $2 or $3 of every bowl of pho they sell goes to the SPCA.
Still, they can’t forget their past, and how far they’ve come to be where they are. As Lynn says, softly, “We remember because it was so horrific.”
“We are so happy now. It took us three years, and we have good customers and loyalty, who have been supporting us since. We have been blessed in that way,” Lynn says.
Any serious food lover knows that not all olive oils are created equal, not by a long shot. As wide in variety and as subtle in nuances for the palette as wine, the Fraser Valley is home to All of Oils,
Wife and husband proprietors Kimm Brickman-Pineau and Glenn Pineau carry only certified, ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils (EVOO), plus a number of flavoured oils and balsamic vinegars.
“Many of our products are also certified organic and our supplier, Veronica Foods Company of Oakland, California is registered on the Non-GMO Project,” says Glenn.
The products are sourced from select, high-quality growers all over the world, some of the Italian balsamic vinegars are aged up to 18 years, and every item sold in the stores, or online, has a complete backstory, referencing when it was made, the country of origin, the crush date, the chemical breakdown, and an outline of its flavour characteristics. Best part? These quality products are reasonably priced.
Each store has a tasting room, much like a good winery, where you can sample before you purchase. With over 50 varieties, including olive oils infused with blood orange, chipotle, and wild mushroom, to speciality oils like pumpkin seed and avocado, choosing which one is the tough part. Clever owners however, the Pineaus sell small containers they fill as you choose, so you can take home a variety, and store at their utmost freshness.
Sign up for tasting events, either as a group or on your own, and make learning about extra virgin olive oil fun – and far beyond the stuff you can buy at the grocery store, especially with the well publicized scams as of late, where some producers claim their EVOO to be 100% – but are not. Here at All of Oils, it is the real deal.
The Pineau’s shared 5 tips about olive oil:
1) Look for a crush date – freshness is king
2) Look for low FFA (free fatty acids) levels – under 0.3 is optimum
3) Cooking with high quality extra virgin olive oil is very healthy
4) Don’t buy olive oil in clear bottles.
5) Olive oil is a fresh fruit juice and does not age. Store it in a cool dark place and use quickly.
You can’t help but feel as if you’ve stumbled across a well-kept secret on a first visit to Tap Restaurant in South Surrey. A few blocks away from busy 152nd Avenue, Tap is nestled in between designer homes in a commercial complex in the Rosemary Heights/Morgan Creek area. The cuisine is distinctly French-inspired with a contemporary West Coast perspective. A refined menu features just a handful of appetizers, soups, salads, and plates principaux from which to select. Chef Alistair Veen partners with farmers to provide customers with the best in local meats and vegetables.
Dining at Tap Restaurant is an intimate experience, with the kitchen fully open and looking out on the small, romantically lit dining room. Veen steps out from behind the counter often to deliver plates and check in on tables, with many patrons addressing him by name. Based on the freshness of ingredients, caliber of food, and friendly service, it comes as no surprise that customers would be repeat ones.
Both the giant scallop and gnocchi starters came highly recommended. The scallop is beautifully seared and covered in rich hazelnut-basil butter. Served in olive oil and made fresh every morning, the herb gnocchi is seared and crispy on the outside, providing a contrast of texture to the soft interior.
Three mains to try are the confit duck leg from Thiessen Farms, the pan-seared pacific halibut, or the butter-basted Pemberton Meadows beef tenderloin. Multiple components come together perfectly on each dish.
The duck leg, featuring perfectly crisped skin, is served atop pickled Swiss chard, radishes, and creamed leeks alongside fondant potato.
Beautifully presented, the beef tenderloin is finished with a generous scoop of Café de Paris butter, which has a nice, mellow, citrus flavor and features over twenty different ingredients! As it melts the butter coats the red meat decadently.
Served with summer squash and tabouli salad, the halibut falls apart with the touch of a fork and melts on the tongue. It features a salty crust and olive tapenade. The salad underneath with mint and cucumber provides a cool, refreshing balance.
As a memorable experience at a buzzing little restaurant in the quietest part of town, Tap won’t be a well-kept secret much longer.
*Main image is Pacific Line Caught Ling Cod with homemade lardons, Hazelmere Organic Farm Wilted Kale & Saffron Potato with Brown Butter Sauce
Way back, when it was still a sleepy little resort, decades before the George Massey Tunnel was opened (in 1959), the best way to reach White Rock from Vancouver was by rail. The reminders are still all there, from the vintage train station (now restored as White Rock Museum & Archives), to the freights that regularly trundle along the tracks that separate the expansive, sandy shore and promenade from the view cafés and patios of the main street.
Cod is God at East Beach (closest to Highway 99 and Peace Arch border crossing), which may well have the highest concentration of fish n’ chip shops anywhere in the land. Take your pick, from ling cod and clam strips at The Fishboat or fresh cod and chips at Coney Island (15487 Marine Dr) to fish and oyster burgers plus specialties like mushy peas at Moby Dick. Or, if you like your fish & chips with a side of nostalgia (or deep-fried pickles), head to Montgomery’s Cottage Lunch, a White Rock mainstay for over 90 years.”
Beyond the pier and over the hill, in West Beach, the fare is more varied and occasionally more upscale. Eclectic Jan’s on the Beach roams from west coast cioppino to sous-vide strip loin and seafood fettucine. Oysters rule at Pearl on the Rock, from raw on the half shell, grilled, deep fried, and rockefeller, with a variety of dressings – plus po’boys. Beyond bivalves, choose from a poutine burger, pan-roasted halibut and more. Long running Giraffe tempts with creative tastes such as fusion tuned crab wontons, pan seared scallops and chorizo, porcini-dusted sablefish and pan-seared Fraser Valley duck breast.
A short drive west of the bustle of the popular promenade, through through ritzy Ocean Park, leads to laid back Crescent Beach. Cross the tracks and meander down to this little beachside backwater, to discover spicy fish tacos and salmon burgers at Hooked. This family run seafooder has a patio almost right on the beach. Next door Pelagos yields a plethora of Greek bites, from calamari to saganaki to shrimp-topped filet of sole and seafood souvlaki.
Just an hour’s drive from Vancouver lies one of the region’s most delicious culinary destinations: from wineries and cheese makers, to one of the country’s most exciting Indian restaurants, the area surrounding Langley and Surrey has it all. Celebrity chef and famed restaurateur, Vikram Vij is one of the region’s most ardent fans, “It’s like being in the countryside without having to go far from the city,” he enthuses. “You can rent a car and drive through the mountains and past the ocean, you don’t have to take a plane or a ferry, it’s right here and the best of the best foods come from this area. We’re so lucky to have everything to make a great culinary destination right in our backyard.”
It’s an area that many visitors might miss out on, but Vikram says they’ll be missing a treat if they do– and he has a few recommendations to make:
“South Surrey has a beautiful beach and White Rock has a gorgeous pier and promenade, but what makes it so special is the incredible food and producers. One of my favourites is the Vista D’Oro Farm and Winery, Lee and Patrick own it, and they make a beautiful walnut wine which is a dessert-style, like a fortified port but made with local Fraser Valley walnuts. Their farm is something quite unique, you can spend an afternoon there, sitting in the vineyard and tasting the food they sell there. Lee makes the most amazing jams too– not just ordinary fruit ones hers have spices such as cloves and cinnamon in. So good!
Another of my favourite places is the Wooden Spoon Co. their chef, Brad Green is great and he’s made a lovely space for lunch, brunch and dinner. It’s simple and family-friendly but the food is not what you’d expect from a little place in White Rock. He uses local produce, sustainable seafood and you can get wonderful hand-pressed coffee and organic juices there. I love visiting him for lunch.”
Vij has taken advantage of the region’s bounty with one of his own newest culinary endeavors:
“I have to recommend my own restaurant in South Surrey at Morgan’s Crossing, My Shanti, which takes our guests on a culinary journey of India through my eyes to show the diversity of the cuisine there. It’s very blingy! Bollywood meets my travels with plenty of colour and fun visuals. I get as many ingredients as possible from local farmers: the bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplants; my workforce is all from the local area and they know the cuisine and ingredients well. On sunny days you can chill out on our beautiful patio and enjoy local wines and cocktails made with BC spirits, and, of course, delicious craft beers.
We get as much produce as possible from Hazlemere Organic Farm who were the first organic farm to open in the area, 26 years ago. I first connected with them when I worked at Bishop’s in Vancouver (legendary fine dining restaurant). Naty King gets all the local farmers together who have something delicious to sell and she’ll connect them with the chefs. She’s such a beautiful person and she’s kept the dream alive of this wonderful organic farm that she and her late husband started all those years ago. You can visit the farm and see their work there.”
Here is how you can find Vij’s favorite spots mentioned in the articles above:
Conscious culinary trends are taking root in British Columbia and the farm-to-table philosophy is flourishing in Surrey, where an abundance of agricultural land provides fresh, seasonal food year round, and an array of multicultural influences provides endless flavour combinations.
Surrey’s new Food with Thought campaign highlights the city’s passionate purveyors of food, from farmers to chefs to artisanal shop owners, and is a comprehensive resource on where to shop, what to eat, where to dine, and upcoming events.
Over 35-percent of Surrey is designated agricultural land, and local farmers proudly offer their seasonal produce and naturally-raised meat directly from the farm, through the city’s farmers markets – like the Surrey Urban Farmers Market and the Cloverdale Market – and/or at select retailers and restaurants.
Buying local is not only good for the environment and your community’s economy, it’s good for your personal and financial health, too. When you purchase local food, you’re reducing your carbon footprint by drastically decreasing transportation emissions from food that’s shipped across the continent and globe, as well as channeling your money into the local economy. Buying local also ensures you’re getting the freshest, tastiest, most nutrient-rich food because it’s harvested in-season. Plus, with an abundance of in-season crops, prices are often lower.
Surrey is quickly becoming a dining destination, with craft brewpubs, scenic seaside eateries, and restaurants that celebrate the international cuisines of Asia, the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India – like celebrity chef Vikram Vij’s latest venture, My Shanti.
“There’s a rich and diverse population in South Surrey, who are well travelled and looking for unique dining experiences,” says Vij, who sources much of his produce and meat locally, “and I’ve had the production facility for my frozen food line, Vij’s At Home, in Surrey for several years now so there is a connection to the community already – it just made sense to open up at our Morgan Crossing location.” The menu reflects his travels throughout India, while the drink list features only BC wine and beer, and Indian-inspired cocktails, like the Badam da Naasha, with vodka, almond milk, saffron water, cardamom and pistachio.
For a meal with an unbeatable view, head to Hooked Fish Bar for classic seaside fare, like fish and chips, fish tacos and seafood “chowdah”, or visit their sister restaurant, Seahorse Grill, just down the street, for internationally-inspired cuisine like paella and linguine with garlicky clams, prepared by executive chef and owner John Kavanagh.
Surrey’s independent specialty shops and family-run retailers not only celebrate local food and culinary products, but foster community through collaborative endeavors to promote each other’s unique offerings.
Fieldstone Artisan Breads, for example, sources ground pork for its savoury pastries and baked goods from neighbouring Beast and Brine Local Provisions, a specialty shop selling charcuterie, cheese and delectable accoutrements, who shares the love right back by using Fieldstone’s bread for their sandwiches.
Nearby Good Day Sunshine Café, a gathering place for good coffee, food, art, music and friends, sources meat from Beast and Brine, and any baked goods not made in-house from Fieldstone.