By Becky Van Drunen. Ask anyone around and they will tell you why they love living in Beautiful British Columbia. Sure, our cost of living is sky high and the money we pay for our tiny houses would get us acreage in most other cities across Canada, but there are many reasons why we move here and stay here.
I certainly didn’t move to BC for the food but I can tell you after living in the lower mainland for the last five years, it’s become one of my favorite things about being here. There is farmers market full of local produce literally on every corner.
I can name 5 local meat, dairy (read: Ice Cream!) and egg producers within a 15 minute drive of my house. We can visit wineries for lunch on a Sundays. There is a love of local food here like nothing I’ve ever seen, and with good reason. Apples, Broccoli, Garlic, Honey, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Raspberries, Peaches, Peas, Leeks, Blueberries, Carrots…the list goes on, and it’s all local.
I love how easy it is to cook seasonally in BC. Don’t know what’s in season? Take a quick peak at what’s being sold at pop up fruit and veggie stands scattered along the highways or stop into a market and see what’s being sold by the flat. Then, buy a flat of whatever that is and make something delicious. And make a lot of it. The key to really taking advantage of these local seasonal ingredients is this: Buy as much local in season produce as you can, make a few recipes, then freeze, can or preserve whatever is left.
During the last week of August when you literally think you can not eat another blueberry or you’ll have to be rolled away by Oompa Loompa’s in a scene not all that different than the one depicted in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’…. buy one more flat of blueberries. Freeze them. Now sit back and bask in the gratitude of future you who can be found sitting by the fire in the dead of winter eating ice cream with the most delicious blueberry sauce you’ve ever tasted. Yep. That could be you.
If you’re looking for some ways to celebrate the Food of BC this summer, here are a few suggestions.
Seven ‘Foodie’ Things To Do This Summer
If you’re looking for some of the very best local ice cream around, you have to visit Birchwood Dairy this summer. With 50 flavors there is something for everyone. Enjoy your ice cream in fresh waffle cone out in the small park and picnic area and you might catch a glimpse of some of the animals that call the dairy farm their home. Don’t forget to pick up a container of yogurt with fresh fruit puree on your way out; it’s out of this world.Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery
My personal favorite winery in the area, this beautiful setting offers free wine tastings, vineyard tours and one of those delicious meals I’ve ever had. Be sure to plan lunch or dinner at the Baccus Bistro and try the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever tasted.
Salt Spring Island
If you’ve got a weekend, I recommend hoping on a ferry over to Salt Spring Island. This little island is full of culinary gems and many of them can be found on the self-guided Salt Spring Studio Tour. Grab some local fruit, Salt Spring Island Cheese goat cheese and Mistaken Identity Wine and book yourself a Sailing Tour for an unforgettable afternoon on the open ocean.
6th Annual Garlic Festival – Sunday August 24, 2014
Organically grown and artisan garlic is featured in every form you can imagine. (Yes, there will be Garlic Ice Cream Again!) Fun for the whole family, this event features live cooking demonstrations and live music. Just remember, no kissing until everyone has had a taste!
There are numerous options for U-Pick almost anytime during the summer. This is a wonderful way to get connected to your food and a great thing to do with little ones. Bring your buckets and fill them up with everything from Strawberries to Blueberries to Raspberries and more. If you’re looking for an budget friendly way to buy local produce, this is your best bet.
Krause Berry Farms
Food Cart Fest
Every Sunday this summer you can put yourself in foodies paradise at Food Cart Fest. In downtown Vancouver over 20 Food Carts come together to offer you one of the most memorable meals of the summer. Try as many as you can!
Saanich Strawberry Festival
Celebrate the very best of BC strawberries with a trip out to Saanich. This all-ages festival is a traditional picnic setting with on stage entertainment for all.
Becky Van Drunen is a happily married momma to a toddler and owner of the food blog basilandbacon.com. As a healthy living enthusiast, she offers Meal Planning and Culinary Services to clients across Canada.