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.
And this year, the Gourmet Food area has been expanded with some fun new items, like popcorn in 10 fun flavours, a staggering 30 flavours of hot chocolate and hot chocolate toppings and SpiritDust, because who doesn’t need colour and glitter in their holiday drinks?
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. This year, the front entrance has been transformed into an English Country Garden, with rock walls, flowers, bunny decorations and adorable felt-mice ornaments.
Grinch wouldn’t stand a chance here. This Christmas happy place is a force to be reckoned with.
Open daily through December 24
Mon – Wed: 9am – 6pm
Thu – Fri: 9am – 7pm
Sat: 9am – 6pm
Sun: 9am – 5:30pm
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the holidays, why not take a stroll through a gorgeous display of lights? Treat your family, your significant other, or maybe just yourself to some Yuletide cheer! Metro Vancouver sure knows how to get into the holiday spirit with a vast selection of holiday light festivals popping up from Vancouver’s North Shore all the way to Langley. The artistry and brilliance of these events are bound to dissolve any Grinch-like feelings.
The holidays are for feasting and you know that here at WestCoastFood we’ve got you covered in the food department. Grab a bite before or after with one of our recommendations below. Happy Holidays to you and yours!
The annual Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Garden is arguable one of the most beloved holiday events in Vancouver proper, boasting over one million lights around the grounds and garden. Lighting up Vancouver from December 1-January 6, VanDusen draws an impressive crowd every year, so grab your tickets early! The City of Vancouver website already predicts that the festival will be sold out from December 15-24. Head on over to Instagram and follow the hashtag #VanDusenFOL
What to eat: Warm up post or pre garden stroll and head on over to the Truffles Kitchen at VanDusen Gardens and take advantage of their late Festival of Lights hours. Located right onsite, Truffles offers a gorgeous view of the surrounding gardens, serving Fair Trade coffees, “lovingly handcrafted hot and cold beverages, locally-inspired epicurean entrees, flavourful lunch and snacks, all freshly prepared onsite from the highest quality ingredients”. The Truffles artisan sandwiches are divine and suitable for carnivores and veggies alike! Try the roast beef and Swiss on ciabatta or the vegan Vietnamese banh mi with marinated tofu, vegan sriracha mayo, pickled carrots and daikon and cilantro.
Truffles Kitchen at VanDusen Gardens is open in December from 9 AM to 3 PM, and then open from 4:30 PM-late for Festival of Lights guests.
Get immersed in Canada’s largest and without a doubt most elaborate winter festivals! The folks behind Aurora Winter Festival have thought of everything: check out the hidden village paired with a beautiful skating rink, go for a ride in the tube park, and marvel at the massive light displays. Shop ‘til you drop at the Christmas market, and enjoy amusement rides, food gardens, magical characters, and so much more.
What to eat: Aurora is packed with some of Vancouver’s most beloved food vendors:Meat and Bread, REEL Mac and Cheese, Fat Duck, and Dim Sum Express to name a few. However, you feel like dining out before or after the festival, consider popping into Juke Fried Chicken. Juke’s acclaimed food and cocktail menu is the perfect place to hunker down after an evening of Christmas-ing. We highly recommend ordering as many pieces of Juke’s glorious (and gluten free!) chicken, a side of the fried brussel sprouts with preserved lemon, and the charred greens with miso sesame vinaigrette.
Check out Juke’s sit down and take out menus for the Chinatown and new Davie Street locations here.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge annual holiday event– Canyon Lights– is most definitely a must for the holiday season. Catering to all ages (but definitely a guaranteed delight for your little ones), Canyon Lights will launch you right into the holiday spirit. The suspension bridge is adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, as well as lights decorating the Treetops Adventure, Cliffwalk and throughout the grounds. Bonus: Canyon Lights guests will also see the world’s tallest living Christmas tree, standing at 153 feet tall and growing.
Your ticket to Canyon Lights includes, “admission to the park, a Snowy Owl Prowl, gingerbread cookie decorating, make your own Christmas card (by donation) in the Winter Pavilion and sing-along carols with the Christmas band.” Grab your tickets for Canyon Lights here; this event runs until January 27, so if you don’t get around to attending before the holidays you can still enjoy it for the month to follow!
What to eat: After your suspension bridge stroll, pop into The Cliff House Restaurant onsite! The Canyon Lights experience doesn’t have to end once you head indoors–The Cliff House boasts an impressive view of the suspension bridge so you can continue to marvel at its beauty with a hot meal in tow. Our menu recommendation: the seafood chowder! Seating is first come first serve; no ressies available!
It’s “a season of old-fashioned fun and spectacular light displays.” Take a stroll through the Burnaby Village streets and take in some good old fashioned holiday decor: wreaths, cedar swags and vintage-themed displays. Making it fun and interactive, visitors can create their holiday show with lights that change colours with sound at the bandstand.
Special entertainment is scheduled throughout the season including: theatre performances, community choirs, street characters and musicians. Bring your littles, as Heritage Christmas is also offering family friendly activities like crafts, baking in the Farmhouse, and visits with Father Christmas!
Heritage Christmas at the Burnaby Village Museum is open daily with free gate admission. Carousel rides are $2.65 each. Check out the Heritage Christmas hours of operation here.
Where to eat: Make it a celebratory occasion and dine at The Hart House at Burnaby Lake. Located only steps away from the Burnaby Village museum (two minutes by foot!) the Hart House is an iconic spot for a fabulous, albeit upscale, meal. Enjoy Sunday brunch, daily lunch and dinner with your loved ones after a holiday stroll through the Heritage Christmas events. If you’re heading into the Hart House for dinner, you must order the rich, decadent, and gorgeous seafood spaghettini; $19, $28 for entrée size: Dungeness crab, clams, mussels, saffron cream, pangrattato.
The Hart House is open Tuesday- Sunday. For hours and menu offerings look here.
Richmond’s idyllic Steveston Village gets some extra pep during the holiday season! Check out the array of Christmas-themed events, activities, and attractions that Steveston has to offer. During the holiday season the village transforms into a one-stop-shop for a things festive: “From caroling and artisan markets to richly decorated National Historic Sites—and even appearances from Santa himself—there’s a glittering array of free or low-cost holiday happenings.” If you’re wanting to shop local this year, The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site will be hosting its sparkling Festival of Trees event and Cannery Farmers Market, so you can snag your Christmas presents, stocking stuffers, and holiday cheer all-in-one!
Where to eat: There are so many wonderful restaurants in Steveston it’s hard to pick just one. However, Britannia Brewing is most definitely one of our favourites. Pop in post or pre-holiday stroll for a bite and a beer. Great for solo dining, and even better for families, Britannia Brewing caters to all palates offering–along with house craft brews–mouth watering juicy burgers, decadent risotto, wild sockeye salmon, and of course, fish and chips.
Check out the hours of operation at Britannia, the craft beer tap list, and abundant menu here.
Located only 140 metres from the Lafarge Lake-Douglas Evergreen line station, the Lights at Lafarge is lauded as the largest free outdoor lights display in the lower mainland. Free, being the magic word. Enjoy the display after dusk while going for a light stroll around the LaFarge Lake-a wonderful outing for families, couples, and dog owners. Learn more about this fantastic community event here!
Where to eat: Well worth the drive from Lafarge lake is Coquitlam’s first and only craft brewery, Mariner Brewing. This nautical themed tasting room is a sweet spot to grab a quality brew, gourmet hotdog, or hot spinach dip after a jaunt around Lafarge Lake. Highly recommended: Order the Northeast IPA, a tropical, juicy IPA with a bold (and not too bitter!) finish.
Mariner Brewing is open Monday-Sunday, get the kitchen and tasting room hours here.
Check out our interview with Mariner Brewing here.
A Christmas festival that quite literally…glows! Glow is the largest indoor Christmas festival in Metro Vancouver and it’s brand new! Running until January 19, enjoy Glow’s impressive selection of light gardens, a Christmas market, food, drinks, and interactive lights! Glow is perfect for families; the “playgrounds and interactive features will entertain the kids for hours, while the adults kick back at the licensed bar and enjoy some seasonal beverages and live music.”
Where to eat: There are plenty of food vendors and food truck onsite at Glow, and we recommend you utilize all that this incredible space has to offer! If you still end up leaving hungry, right next door to Langley and less than 15 minutes by car, is Hugo’s Mexican Kitchen in Cloverdale’s Clayton area. Warm up with a beef barbacoa, pork carnitas, and tofu chorizo taco trio, and wash it down with Hugo’s selection of artisanal cocktails and and craft beer.
Spring, so close yet so far. We recommend hibernating for the remaining winter months with a cold beer and a whole lot of Netflix. Or, hang out in one of the tap rooms listed below and take advantage of the rich, wintery beers they have to offer.
Dageraad is the purveyor of classy and full-bodied craft beer. Recently released on January 19th, is Dageraad’s latest winter sipper called Londen; an English porter that is brewed with Belgian and Canadian influence and the “fruity, spicy mystery of a Belgian fermentation.” Try this on tap or in bottles at the Dageraad tasting room.
Hold onto your hats, this one is not for the faint of heart (or the lightweight)! The new Dageraad 10°, a 2016 bronze medalist at the 2016 BC Beer Awards, is an exotic winter brew quadruple brewed with unrefined sugars. 10° pays homage to the “strong, dark ales brewed by Trappist monks in Belgium,” a true testament to Dageraad’s Belgian roots and inspiration.
This decadent brew is the first release of Steamworks’ illumination series. Find the Salted Chocolate Porter available in 650 ml bottles, boasting rich chocolate and vanilla aromas and flavours, brewed with hand-harvested Pacific Ocean Fleur de Sel from Vancouver Island Salt Co.
Winter Lager, 5.4%
Different than your average golden lager, the Steamworks Winter Lager pours a deep copper colour, with a fine balance of hops and rich malt flavour. Enjoy this easy drinking treat in 473 ml tall cans!
Blitzen, 9% You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen! This daring winter beer is an ode to the beloved Belgian Trippel. Strong citrus aromas, and toasted malt.
Though the holidays have passed, winter doesn’t officially end until well into March, and nor do the city’s seasonal brews. While it may be too late for that craft beer advent calendar, the seasonal suds are still flowing with these Vancouver-based beers. We suggest you run, don’t walk, to find the following beers in the city before they stop flowing (and most definitely, don’t drive after).
Finally, a winter beer that looks beyond December 25th. For when you give up on sober January, grab a hold of Parallel 49’s twist on the classic English Porter. Chocolate, plum, and a bright tart, cherry flavour pop out from a roasted malt base.
Rock The Bells Cranberry Sour
Rock the Bells is a Sour Cranberry Ale that harkens back to your Christmas dinner. A tart, crisp cranberry flavour permeates this brew, which is the perfect accoutrement to any comfort food fare.
“Rich, sweet, and with a hint of Red Twizzler” is how Strange Fellows describes their holiday beer named after a European goat-demon meant to scare “bad children” on Christmas. Warm, malty, and hints of chocolate, cherry, and toffee permeate this pale Canadian brew. Trust us, this tastes a lot more delightful than its semi-evil folkloric title would suggest.
Choqlette Chocolate Porter If chocolate over the holidays is your weakness, this brew is for you. Tons of cocoa with a toasty black malt take over this beer. Find hints of banana with a healthy amount of yeast, harkening back to the most comforting chocolate chip banana bread you’ve ever tasted.
Vanilla, cocoa, and caramel are the spotlight for the city’s most ubiquitous seasonal beer. Year after year, Granville Island’s Lions Winter Ale gives you the cozy comfort of winter that deserves a spot on your Hygge Pinterest board.
Brrr! Winter Radler
For those who love the refreshing citrus of holiday flavours with a little less yeast. This winter radler blends beer, fresh cranberry and mandarin juice. Light, effervescent and easy-to-drink – the perfect beer to transition into spring.
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!
It’s mid-January in Vancouver, and we are ready to stop letting the possibility of a little more winter rain dictate our plans at this point – we are ready to be outside. Street Food City, a part of the Dine Out Vancouver Festival is right on time, with a meeting of over 20 food trucks downtown all in one spot. Grab your coat, have your umbrella in hand, and follow the scent of melting cheeses, searing meats, grilling vegetables and wafts of spices to the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza.
If you’re into more world cuisine, travel around by sampling goodies from one of the many globally-inspired trucks. Aussie pies are made in the Australian style but with with local Canadian meats and veggies. Of the Sicilian risotto balls at Mr. Arancino’s truck, the Salmon Arancini balls are my favourite, and he even has vegetarian and vegan options (yes, vegan risotto balls) on the menu. There are also Indian butter chicken schnitzels by world-renowned and celebrity chef, Vikram Vij; Korean tacos; Thai soup; Jamaican patties, and other flavourful bites for you find on your festival wander.
Vancouver’s own Kafka’s Coffee will be rolling in from Main Street and serving hot espresso drinks, pour-over coffee and teas to warm your hands while you wait.
In case of precipitation and for the added luxury of seated, two-handed chowing, there will be tents set up where you can spread out with friends and share your findings (or keep it all to yourself – your call).
Vancouver’s North Shore winters may be chilly and long, but there is always beer- and Kinky Friedman said it best: “Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.”
We know the holidays are long over (thank goodness!) but if seasonal beers are your jam, you’re in luck! There’s still a bevy of winter-themed brews stocked by beloved craft breweries on Vancouver’s North Shore to keep yourself warm for the winter months to come.
123 Carrie Cates Court, Lonsdale Quay Market, North Vancouver
LoLo Stout 5.5%
Named after Green Leaf’s Lower Lonsdale neighborhood, LoLo is a dark and hearty stout that boasts rich and delicious chocolate and coffee flavours. Perfect for the endless North Shore winters.
Dog Mountain Extra Stout, 7.5% (Cans only)
Deep Cove Brewers lovingly describes the Dog Mountain Extra Stout as a “big wool sweater, but for your tummy,” and boy, is that an accurate description. Bundle up and sip on this stout apres ski and enjoy the rich notes of chocolate and espresso.
The Grinch- Winter Ale, 6.50%
Bridge Brewing is current pouring this winter treat until the supply runs out! This delightful ale has aromas of caramelized malt and dried fruit, but not too overkill on the typical holiday flavours and spices.
Santa’s Sack- Belgian Golden Strong Ale, 10%
This hazy strong ale is not for the faint of heart-you might want to try this one with some food in your belly! Enjoy the classic Belgian yeast flavours of Santa’s Sac with some notes of banana and pear and a dry, floral, and hoppy, finish.
Sleigh booster – Imperial Red, 9%
This bold, bitter, and deep amber beer would be paired well with a hearty feast. Expect flavours of toffee and thick malt, and a delightfully hoppy aroma.
‘Tis the season for ubiquitous social media photos, Instagram stories, and Snapchats of holiday parties, outings, and events. Amongst the many options to get into the festive spirit in Metro Vancouver is the Lights at Lafarge.
Conveniently located only 140 metres from the Lafarge Lake-Douglas Evergreen line station, the Lights at Lafarge the largest free outdoor lights display in the lower mainland. Free, being the operative word. Enjoy the display after dusk while going for a light stroll around the LaFarge Lake-a suitable and lovely outing for families, couples, and dog owners.
As we enter the winter months, and temperatures drop, warming up after your walk through the Lights at Lafarge is essential. Browse through this selection of restaurants, cafes, and watering holes nearby.
Unit 100 – 1196 Pinetree Way
If you haven’t given these fluffy, decadent, Malaysian style buns a chance-now is the time! Warm up with a coffee, and a treat in Pappa Roti’s cozy, and comforting cafe atmosphere.
Open seven days a week.
100-2970 Glen Drive
You can literally never have too many tacos. Pop in to Metro Vancouver’s original Asian fusion taco restaurant, a quick three-minute drive from the Lights at Lafarge. Recommended: The tofu 7” taco: Korean spiced fried tofu, cabbage, guacamole, pickled daikon. Open Tuesday to Sunday.
H-1100 Landsdowne Drive
Well worth the drive is Coquitlam’s first and only craft brewery, Mariner Brewing. This nautical themed tasting room is a sweet spot to grab a quality brew, gourmet hotdog, or hot spinach dip after a jaunt around LaFarge Lake. Highly recommended: Order the Northeast IPA, a tropical, juicy IPA with a bold (and not too bitter!) finish. Food is served Wednesday-Sunday.
1168 The High Street
Walk, no, run, only 20 minutes to La Ruota’s artisan, hand-crafted, Neopolitan style pizzas. Open seven days a week, you can order a La Ruota pie to-go ahead of time and enjoy at home. Recommended: The Capicola a divine marriage of mozzarella, fior di latte, grana padano, capicolla, and mushroom.
NULIFE Living Food Cafe 2957 Glen Dr
Healthy, nourishing, local food, only 900 metres away. Book a table or simply pop in for an organic specialty coffee-NULIFE’s veggie forward menu is truly food for the soul. Open until 8 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and until 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Craving something onsite? The Lights at Lafarge concession stand is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Stop by for the classic concession treats and favourites.
Let’s face it, while cooking a big turkey with all the fixin’s for family and friends can be incredibly rewarding, sometimes it’s much less stressful to go out to eat and let someone else do the work for you.
Many restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but, fortunately, many establishments in Richmond can come to your discerning palate’s rescue. Not only will they be open, but they also offer mouth-watering alternatives to the traditional Christmas meal.
Here are five places where you can dine out on December 24th and 25th:
Christmas often involves a bringing together of loved ones over good food. Hot pot adds an interactive dimension to the get-together that can be very enjoyable–and delicious. Yuan’s Chuan Chuan Xiang (Aberdeen Centre, 2792-4151 Hazelbridge Way) is the Richmond location of a chain that hails from Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province, where they’re known for their spicy take on hot pot.
While there are many hot pot establishments in town, Yuan’s specializes in “chuan chuan,” an iteration that uses bamboo sticks for skewering many of their ingredients before they’re cooked in hot broth. Depending on how fiery you want it, you can opt for a spicy or non-spicy version (or a split pot with both) of the restorative pork broth, which comes with mushrooms, ginger, dried goji berries, dried red dates, green onion, tomato, and cucumber. The restaurant adds a mixture of dried chili peppers, garlic, longan skin, fermented bean paste, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns to transform the base broth into a tongue scalding experience.
The fun of hot pot is the sheer range of ingredients you can choose from, in this case selections such as beef tripe, pork belly, black fungus, quail eggs, and lotus root. You can also choose to partake in the sauce bar (such as mashed garlic, sesame oil) for heightening the flavours of your hot pot items.
Here on the west coast, sushi has become a go-to option for many during the Christmas season. It’s a crowd pleaser, great for group ordering, and a welcome contrast to conventional holiday eating. Fortunately, Richmond’s dining landscape features some of the finest sushi on Canada’s West Coast, spanning traditional restaurants with exactingly crafted nigiri, to more casual establishments that showcase creative rolls and dishes.
Mega Sushi (3131 Chatham Street) in Steveston falls within the latter category, with a menu that is particularly playful when it comes to their specialty rolls. The Blue Ocean roll features red tuna, hamachi, salmon, radish sprouts, and avocado, all in a soy wrap, topped with tobiko. The “Sexy” roll is packed with crowd-pleasing ingredients like avocado, imitation crab, tuna, salmon, ebi, and tamago, wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber. Not just a sushi joint, the rest of the menu includes donburi, udon noodle soups, and various teriyaki options.
Santa himself would probably be craving dumplings at Suhang Restaurant (100-8291 Ackroyd Road) after his long night of delivering toys. This destination for top-notch Shanghainese cuisine offers some of the finest xiao long bao in Richmond. The generously sized dumplings boast fragrantly sweet broth, a thin wrapper, and substantial pork filling. (In short, these are highly satisfying.) Other dumplings on the menu include wontons in chili and peanut sauce, shrimp and chive dumplings, pan-fried pork and shrimp dumplings, and steamed veggie dumplings.
Other Shanghainese specialties are also available, from more rustic dishes like pan-fried rice cakes with pickled vegetables and pork, to more elevated dinner fare such as braised sea cucumber with seafood. One of their show-stoppers, which requires pre-ordering, is their beggar’s chicken, which consists of a whole chicken stuffed with sticky rice, water chestnuts, egg yolks, and edamame before being encased in lotus leaves and bread dough and then baked. The result is tender, juicy, and bursting with flavour. It’s a culinary centerpiece for the holidays.
Focused on Chinese Muslim cooking, Silkway Halal Cuisine (110-8188 Saba Road) offers many dishes that originate from Xinjiang in northwestern China, home to a substantial Turkish Uyghur population. The room itself is elegantly inviting, with dark wood Chinese décor, many traditional framed pictures, and red accents.
The halal menu excels when it comes to their lamb dishes, such as fried diced lamb coated in chili powder and whole and ground cumin; lamb soup; and fried sliced lamb with diced Xianjiang naan.
The bread, iconic of the Uyghur people, can be tried as part of the restaurant’s Chinese beef or lamb burgers. The rest of the offerings are extensive, with items like braised chicken, Xinjiang style; boiled sliced beef in hot chili oil; sautéed shredded potato with green chiles; and handmade fish and chive dumplings.
With all the rich holiday eating that inevitably happens, you may start to crave the classic comforting staples. In Richmond, this includes a cosseting bowl of steaming congee on a wintry December day. Double Double Restaurant (128-4600 Number 3 Road) does a particularly good version, with over a dozen different ingredient combinations. They include watercress and fish balls; fresh oysters; dried scallops and gingko; crispy minced beef; and sweet corn. Preserved egg and salted pork is a classic option, with the saltiness of these add-ins contrasting the more neutral taste of the congee. Double Double’s congee has a creamy texture, with pronounced pork broth flavour. The finishing fried peanuts on top add crunchy nuttiness to your spoonfuls of rice porridge.
The congee comes in individual portions, or in larger bowls if you feel like sharing. Definitely order the youtiao (doughnuts) as well, since they’re a lovely accompaniment, especially when dipped in the congee. The menu features a range of other items, such as BBQ pork and mushroom rice rolls, dried scallop and egg white fried rice, and salt and pepper squid tentacles.
Overall, each of these five Richmond restaurants, with their unique non-turkey creations, will give you a Christmas meal to remember.
Carousel rides, mulled wine, live trees, hand-crafted ornaments, and one-of-a-kind gifts can all be found at the Vancouver Christmas Market. Modelled after the European “Christkindlmarkts” of the old world, this relatively new-to-Vancouver tradition draws hordes of locals to its home at the Jack Poole Plaza every holiday season. And those who frequent the market come for the biggest attraction: the food.
Housed in huts that recall a true Bavarian experience, here are a few treats to try, from traditional German fare to modern Vancouver flare.
Pretzel from Das Pretzel Hut
No trip to a German Christmas Market (or anything German-themed, that is) is complete without a big, doughy pretzel. Twisted, braided, salted: whatever you choose, this wheat-filled treat goes best with spiced mustard and washes down well with a beer.
Hurricane Potatoes from Das Kartoffelhaus
Known sometimes as “tornado potatoes” or “hurricane fries,” this food originated on the streets of South Korea and may recall more of a summer night market than a European winter fete, but it just wouldn’t be Vancouver without them.
Gluhwein and Kinderpunsch in Collector Boots
Sip on this sweet, warm mulled wine (gluhwein) or the kid-friendly alternative while you browse wares in the marketplace from an ever-so-cute and collectible German boot mug. Prost!
Spanish Paella from Arc Iberco
Keep warm with some spice from below the equator with Vancouver Christmas Market’s newest vendor, Arc Iberco. The Spanish-style meaterie serves up cured meats and paella for palate-pleasing variety!
Salmon Burger from Eat F.I.S.H.
Feed your pretzel-bun craving while getting your omega 3s. Eat F.I.S.H. (fresh ideas start here) is the Christmas Market’s newest burger vendor, serving up sustainable, local, wild salmon on pretzel buns with all the fixings.
Cannoli from Cannoli King Vancouver’s Cannoli King serves up hand-rolled, deep-fried and filled sweet treats for those with an appetite for dessert. The family-owned company Cannoli King makes everything from scratch, from the dough to the fillings.
Gulasch, Schnitzel, Spatzle and Pork Knuckle
If you refuse to miss out on the real culture of the Christkindlmarkts, then you won’t leave without grabbing a bite of the most traditional fare. Fill up on warm, gooey gulash, chow down on breaded schnitzel covered in gravy or savour the tenderness of your slow-roasted pork knuckle. Guten Appetit!
Transylvanian Chimney Cakes
Chimney cakes are a festive sweet hailing from the birthplace of Dracula, but you won’t find him around this haunt. This spiral of sweet, flaky dough is coated with sugar while roasting on a spit and is perfectly pairs with your market stroll.
Vancouver’s North Shore boasts some of the most incredible views of the city. Surrounded by lush trees and snow-covered mountains, it’s a great place to enjoy many of winter’s finest things – snowboards, sweaters, and soup. Warm up with some of the tastiest soups in town and try some comforting flavours from around the world.
If you’re a laksa fan, look no further. With delicious noodles, savory vegetables, and the perfect amount of spice – the milky essence of laksa is sure to warm you up from the inside out. Choose from your choice of Assam Seafood, Malaysian, and Singapore laksa. Be sure to pair it with an order of Roti Canai, the sweet fried bread makes a great add-on.
Don’t be fooled by the name – The Neighbourhood Noodle House boasts an eclectic menu that doesn’t always include noodles. As locals know, this restaurant is home to the North Shore’s best wontons (in my opinion) and a curing congee that’ll get rid of all your winter ailments.
The Soup Meister
#103-123 Carrie Cates Court, Lonsdale Quay Market, North Vancouver
Think of a soup place with all of your favourites and more. Chowder, chicken noodle, and decadent daily specials that you can eat right on-the-spot or take home for later. It’s also a local go-to for gravies and a tasty borscht that’ll outdo even your grandmother’s best recipe. Plus, Lonsdale Quay has incredible city views that will make you want to eat outside even if it’s -2.
Known in the neighbourhood for their pizza, “The Raven” also serves a tasty Moroccan Chickpea Soup that goes down deliciously after a chilly day up Seymour Mountain. Great on the side with a salad or their famous poutine. Keep an eye out for live music nights and of course their drink specials. (This place is family friendly as well.)
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.
Winter may seem an unlikely time to visit an outdoor farmers market in Canada, but the milder climate in the Lower Mainland allows the markets and abundance of seasonal products to thrive. Deserving of more recognition, a winter market’s appeal lies not only in the quality and range of offerings, but also in knowing that it’s served by a passionate community of both food artisans/farmers and shopping foodies, all prepared to brave the elements in support of fresh local products. The charm of a winter market is in the smaller and manageable crowds. With shorter line ups, there’s time to sample and chit-chat with merchants. Live entertainment, food trucks and heating stations are also on hand to add some extra warmth.
To visit a winter market is to crave comfy and warming flavours. It’s easy to take inspiration for cozy dishes from the bounty of seasonal products that are locally grown and sourced, from healthy preserves and sturdy root vegetables to hearty ingredients. The vibrant Nat Bailey Winter Market is the largest of the outdoor winter markets in Metro Vancouver, operating on Saturdays from November to April on the perimeter of a popular baseball stadium. Although this market is located in Vancouver, you’ll take pleasure in the sensational range of regional products represented, including Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford.
On this or any Saturday, grab your down jacket and come sample the Valley’s most comforting flavours at the winter market!
Lorne Stapleton worked in the retail meat market industry of Greater Vancouver for over four decades before launching his handcrafted sausage business, now called Stapleton Sausage, based in Surrey. He and his family (daughter Jennifer and son Michael pictured below) are committed to making sausages that are full of goodness and flavours; therefore, they use quality lean cuts (pork, poultry, lamb, beef and bison) and ingredients that are all local, natural, low in sodium, gluten free and contain no MSG, nitrates or other artificial preservatives. Stapleton sausages have been praised for being non-greasy and for their unique range of family inspired recipes. Choose from over sixteen flavours, such as Chipotle Cheddar, Duck Sausage with Blueberry, Sweet & Sour Pork with Pineapple, South African Boerewors, or Bison Andouille. These mouth-watering flavours and more are available at the winter market plus at select grocery stores throughout Metro Vancouver.
The Langley Organic Growers is a collective of organic farmers where Julia Sandor is a member. She creates a range of certified organic sauerkraut products, called Biota, that are made with in-season cabbage, carrots, beets, horseradish, and herbs that are all grown on her farm in Abbottsford. These products are alive and naturally lacto-fermented, providing probiotic properties and other health benefits, as well as preserving many of the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables for use in the winter.
Located in South Burnaby, Urban Digs Farm is the only farm in Metro Vancouver raising pigs in an urban environment. Their heritage breed of Berkshire and Tamworth pigs are nurtured organically in the pasture to be happier, tastier and nutritionally superior. Founded by Julia Smith and Ludo Ferrari, the farm is focused on ethical, sustainable meat products and whole animal butchery with custom cutting/smoking and organic products that include bacon, lard, ribs, steaks, roast, ground pork, chops, hocks to pepperoni. Urban Digs Farm products can be found at the winter markets or online. Visitors are welcome to their farm, opened on Saturdays (10-2) in the winter.
Cook Biota’s sauerkraut, Stapleton’s sausages and Urban Digs Farm’s ham hocks in wine, along with potatoes from Langley Organic Growers, and you’ll have the makings of a hearty Choucroute, a famous Alsatian dish.
Beautifully handcrafted preserves are the specialty and passion of Genevieve Blanchet at Le Meadow’s Pantry, based in Burnaby and Vancouver. Inspired by a lifelong interest in wholesome living and preserving foods for off-season eating, she transforms local fruits into jewel-like jams, jellies and marmalades with French country flare. Her artisan preserves are made in small batches and copper pans to maintain the nutrition and vibrancy of the fruits. Hand-pressed lemon juice, pure cane sugar and honey are added in conservative amounts with no additional preservatives or colouring. Some of the preserves are combined with vodka, gin, vanilla extract, and bitters from local distilleries. The thick-cut marmalades, especially suited for winter enjoyment, include easy-to-love flavours such as Orange Vanilla Dream, Bitter Sweet Morning, Lemon and Vodka, Midnight Candy, and Grapefruit Smoked Sea Salt. Le Meadow’s Pantry preserves are found at the winter markets and variety of retail shops in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia and other parts of Canada.
Did you know that it takes over 500 worker honey bees to gather 1 pound of honey? Liz Graham knows as she has owned a bee farm, Jane’s Honey Bees, for fifteen years. While she is based in Surrey, her bees (700 hives, each with 20-50,000 bees) forage for flowers throughout the Fraser Valley – Blueberries in Surrey, Raspberries in Abbotsford, Cranberries and Blackberries in Richmond, and wildflowers in South Surrey and South Langley. The pure local honey products from Jane’s Honey Bees are sold only at farmers markets.
Baby, it’s cold outside! The best thing you can do is hoist a few wintry beers and cheers to chase the chill away. Winter beers, affectionately called “winter warmers”, are typically stouts and porters that are more robust – richer, bolder, creamier, and hoppier in style with a deeper hue appearance. They also tend to be higher in alcohol by volume (ABV) to keep you warm! Comforting flavours can range from hints of toffee, caramel, chocolate and molasses to smokiness. Some winter beers have spicy or sweet notes, while the more serious brews are barrel-aged. Unlike their summery counterparts, winter beers are sipped, not guzzled, and taste better around 7-10o C instead of icy-cold.
In Vancouver and the valley, microbrewers have been busy crafting some of the most innovative seasonal specialities. Touted as the craft beer mecca of Canada, with over 50 artisanal breweries, there is an abundant of choices to warm and wet your whistle! To get you started, although it’s only the tip of the iceberg, here are five of the buzziest microbreweries that offer tastings and West Coast crafted winter suds…all within easy beer hopping distance of each other in East Vancouver, better known as Yeast Van!
For over 20 years, James Walton (founder and Brewmaster) has been unstoppable in brewing up a storm of unpretentious and innovative craft beers. It’s not unusual to find him experimenting with 6-7 new beers every week! Since 2013 alone, James has masterminded over 90 impressive tasty brews in small batches. All Storm Brewing beers are unfiltered and free of additives. Although they don’t have a formal tasting lounge, visitors are always welcome to drop by and sample beers. Winter warmers include the smooth, rich and roasty Black Plague Stout (8.5% ABV) and the Eye of the Storm Barley Wine (12% ABV), which is fresh and complex with residual sweetness.
For this winter, James has big news! He has launched a one-of-a-kind beer of mammoth proportion, aptly named Glacial Mammoth Extinction (25% ABV). It’s made by freezing sour beer to -30oC in two stages within a month. The sweet alcoholic liquid that separated from the ice was then aged in French oak barrels for two years. The outcome is a sweet, rich, dark, and viscous 100% malt drink that is more Port-like than beer. You’ll be rewarded with a taste profile that is initially sweet, followed by flavours like prunes and muscatel grapes. Glacial Mammoth Extinction is thought to be the first beer of its type in the world and has already been named Canada’s most expensive 1L bottle of beer. The price tag is a cool $1000, because the bottles are hand blown glass and adorned with a pendant of ivory from the tusk of a prehistoric mammoth estimated to be 35,000 years old. Two East Vancouver artists (Brad Turner and Richard Marcus) were responsible for designing and creating the limited edition artisan bottles and ivory pendants. Only 10 are available. The unique beer can be purchased separately in growler fills or in 1oz tasters at the brewery; but available in limited quantities.
This small independent microbrewery, focused on handcrafted beers using all natural ingredients, is owned and operated by husband and wife team – David Bowkett and Nicole Stefanopoulos. After opening in 2012, they stunned the beer world by winning a Beer of the Year award in the Canadian Brewing Awards and the gold medal in the North American Style Pale Ale category (2013) for their Old Jalopy Pale Ale. They quickly expanded to accommodate the demand following their overnight success. Powell Street’s new and larger brewery offers a cozy tasting room with eight fantastic beers for growler fills and on tap for tasting as a sampler, by the glass or in a flight (4). For winter, the Enigma Stout (6% ABV) was released in a single batch and expected to last until February. Liken to an American-style stout, its dark, rich, malty body with firm bitterness and bright roast flavours (espresso and chocolate) make this a truly unique beer.
While the brewery is fairly new, the owner, Steve Forsyth, is no stranger to the beer market. After running the Railway Club (a popular music venue) for 25 years, Steve trained in hop farming and brewing before opening Off The Rail in Feb 2015. In a short period, the microbrewery has established an impressive reputation and range of hand crafted beers, of which some are made from organic hops. Five beers are the backbone of the brewery, but visitors can taste and buy about 15 rotating beer varieties on tap in their tasting lounge.
Bringing comfort in the colder months, their Old Winston Smoked Porter (5.4-5.6% ABV) is like a winter sweater in a glass! It has a balance of mild smoked flavour with smooth rich coffee and chocolate notes. But possibly cozier is the Black Oat Stout (4.2% ABV), a heavier, creamier and nutter winter warmer that gives off a touch of sweetness along with a mild hop bitterness. Then, there’s the new Eastbound and Brown (5.5% ABV), a dark ale with a kick of chocolate malt and a tinge of sweetness.
Bomber Brewing was founded on a shared love of hockey by three close friends. Don Farion, Dean Mallel and Cam Andrews are now at the helm of one of the city’s newest and more notable microbreweries, named after their recreational hockey team. A roster of eight beers is on tap in their inviting tasting room. Within the expanding repertoire of beers, be sure to sample their Gold Medal winning Pilsner and Absolute Horizon CDA. But, in this season of mitts and toques, it is their winter warmers that will charm you, these are – the Choqlette Porter (5.5% ABV) and the Old Fat Heater Winter Ale (8% ABV). Bolder chocolaty flavours and rich roasted malts meet in this porter. The Ale, on the other hand, has notes of caramel, dates and figs shining through. With 8% alcohol content, it will most certainly heat you up from the inside!
Celebrating the strange and creating products that are far from the ordinary are what makes this microbrewery stand out from the others. The co-founding fellows are Iain Hill and Aaron Jonckheere, strangers who became brewing partners with a common love for creating unique and inspiring beer. Their boutique brewery includes a stylish tasting lounge/art gallery with rotating works of art exhibits and eight beers on tap. Once a month they organize a strange or special event.
For their beers, Strange Fellows is known for their sour style of beers and the use of wood in their beer making process (eg oak barrels and tanks) which provides a natural way for micro-oxygenation but can also help to smooth the texture of the beer and add flavour. Two of their winter delights may appeal to cold-weather fans, these are the Blackmail Milk Stout (4.5% ABV) and the Krampusnacht (9% ABV). The former is a dry Irish-style milk stout with added lactose for a creamier beer. It also has touches of dark chocolate and coffee tones. On the much darker side, the Krampusnacht is a Belgium abbey dubbel. It’s a stronger style of beer and its complexity comes from the double brewing. The dubbel is more malty than hoppy in nature because Belgian dark malts and candy sugar are used. Expect rich, dark stone fruit flavours and a slightly sweet finish. As the owners are not afraid to celebrate strangeness in each of us, the name was inspired by a scary folklore figure, Krampus, who kidnaps and punishes naughty children during the Christmas season. With an alcohol content of 9%, and other beer tastings under your belt, you’ll likely be merrier than stranger after this visit!