I love Australia and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but, if someone held a gun to my head and forced me to chose, I’d opt for Canada and most certainly Vancouver. This is truly one of my most favourite places in the world. It has a population of around 600,000 souls thus is not so large that it is unfriendly, it’s not too hilly, so therefore very walkable, a mild (if slightly wet) climate and, with the glittering harbour on one side and snow-capped peaks on the other, it is breathtakingly beautiful. And they love food.
This is a town that really gets it when it comes to nurturing it’s food culture and the fact that this is such a multicultural city goes a long way towards helping support the diverse range of food options here. It’s not too difficult to find the foodie scene – a lot of it is right there on the street in the form of some amazing food trucks – but if you want the inside word on things, then a food tour is the way to go. On my last visit I checked out two of the most popular – the Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour at Vancouver Foodie Tours and the Edible Canada Granville Island Market Tour.
Vancouver Foodie Tours has been running since 2010 and last year gained the honour of being officially named one of the Canadian Signature Experiences collection by the Canadian Tourism Commission – a collection deemed by the CTC as representing unique and authentic Canadian travel experiences. The Guilty Pleasures tour attempts to offer a glimpse at the multicultural aspect of the local culinary scene and begins at an award-winning Chinese Restaurant before heading off to a specialty grocers then an Italian restaurant (although we were taken to a pretty splendid Japanese restaurant on my tour).
From there we took a stroll down the gourmet restaurant end of town, then popped in to Hubbub Sandwich Bliss, an amazing sandwich and beer bar before finishing at Bella Gelateria whose owner, James Coleridge, had recently been named as the best gelato maker in the world in an international competition in Italy. James is one seriously passionate gelati maker and he generally uses only what he can source locally and fresh to make an astonishing array of delicious and different, hand-made gelati. Because of this, the menu changes daily but will never, ever disappoint. My favourites were the stunning black sesame and the simply blissful saffron and rosewater, but there is always something different on offer.
Granville Island is a market and shopping district tucked under the Granville Street Bridge, a 3 minute ferry ride from Downtown Vancouver across False Creek. It is a popular tourist spot that I had sniffed out on my first trip to Vancouver and one I was keen to explore again with a knowledgeable guide from Edible Canada. The Granville Island Public Market houses a broad range of culinary businesses and our tour guide took us on a leisurely stroll through the markets, talking us through some of the many vendors there.
I was particularly taken with one cleverly named store called The Stock Market. They sell a vast range of fresh and frozen soups, stocks and sauces – all made on the premises and all with a full list of ingredients on the side. I don’t think I’d ever bother making my own if I had this resource handy.
Another favourite for me was the Granville Island Tea Company. They have been around since 1999 and now have over 150 different teas in their range – heaven on a stick for a tea-tragic like me, but choosing just one was hellishly difficult.
As is befitting a foodie town, Vancouver celebrates these pretty little sustainably fished prawns with their annual Spot Prawn Festival. Sadly, I missed the main event, Canada’s largest spot prawn boil. Just the excuse I need to head back to Vancouver yet again one day.