Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I couldn't eat street food the entire time...

It's true, there were times in my trip out west that I had to give in and eat food that did not come from a cart or mobile truck.  Luckily, I was still able to find some pretty unbelievable dishes, so I thought I might as well add them to the blog as well.

Oh, and there was some awesome local I'll mention them too.  Enjoy!

Coombs Country Market

Coombs was my last stop before I started the long drive across the island to Tofino. I was mostly excited about seeing the goats on the roof (yes, you read that correctly), however figured I might as well stop in at the market to pick up some snacks for the drive.

I was excited to find a large display of candied salmon, and knew I had to pick some up.  Now, I know this isn't the most exciting thing to anybody living on the coast, but to a seafood loving Ontario girl like me, it was like I won the lottery!  I grabbed some of the regular candied salmon, along with some maple candied.  Also snacked on an amazing fresh flatbread.  Also, I think there was chocolate croissant purchased, but I must have inhaled it before I even got a chance to realize what I bought.

When I arrived in Tofino, my first stop was to the Tofino Brewing Company to pick up a "growler" of beer.  A tiny brewery located in a warehouse in the south end of town, they fill the growlers up right from the tap in front of you.  The best part...they are open until 11pm daily for refills!


 A sunset snack of maple candied salmon with my growler!

Gary's Kitchen - Tofino

The only Chinese Restaurant in town, I heard about this place from various food bloggers and possibly something on the Food Network...I can't remember.  Anyway, the most important part is that I remembered about the "secret" Ginger Crab dish!

It is not on the menu and must be ordered one day in advance as they go out and buy the crab fresh the day of your meal.  Also, they usually insist that a minimum of 2 crabs is ordered, however if you travel alone and make sad puppy-dog eyes, they may do it for one!

That night I also tried a couple more BC craft beers.  I have always loved brews with fruity notes, so I jumped on the Whistler Grapefruit as soon as I saw it in the store.  Also grabbed a Phillips Ginger Beer (from Victroia).  Both were very good and the grapefruit definitely did not disappoint!

Next stop Vancouver...sushi, sushi and more sushi!  Besides the food trucks, this was basically the only thing I ate.  I was blown away by the prices, almost 1/3 of the cost in Ottawa.  Not to mention the portion sizes are absolutely gigantic and everything is a lot fresher than in my hometown!

While in Vancouver, I got a chance to meet up with my old college friend Lisa for lunch one day.  We hadn't seen each other for about 8 years, so it was going to be nice to catch up.  We grabbed a bite to eat at the Red Car Sports Bar.  It was recommended by one of Lisa's colleagues and it did not disappoint. Check it out one day if you are looking for a sports bar vibe with a contemporary atmosphere and food.  While there I enjoyed some polenta fries and a salad, along with a Red Racer IPA from Red Racer Beer in Surrey.

Other brews I tried while in Vancouver include the Okanagan Springs 1516 Bavarian Lager and Granville Island False Creek Raspberry Ale.

Took a day trip to Seattle with friends Jess and Matt who happened to be in town at the same time as me.  We had 3 stops to make while in town, two of them, Maximus Minimus and the Pike Place Market can be read about in my earlier post "West Coast Street Food" from July 16th.

The last stop was for dinner at The Crab Pot.  Another friends recommendation, I was won over when I heard that they came to your table with a bucket of seafood and dumped it all in front of you!!

Jess and Matt are all ready with their mallets!

Let the carnage begin...

A few days later, I left for the mountains.  With a stop in Squamish for a couple days of hiking, I stayed at the Howe Sound Brewery and Inn.  A beer lovers dream, my room at the Inn was located about 10 feet from the pub.  While there I sampled a variety of their beers, but by far my favorite was their summer seasonal, the King Heffy.  Upon tasting, I was immediately hit with a surprise of banana!  The bartender explained that it was the type of hops and yeast they use that gives it this distinct flavour. 

The first night I was there, I was lucky enough to meet up with Paul, one of the brewmasters for Howe Sound.  We had been speaking via Twitter earlier that week, so it was nice to meet and share a couple drinks.  Paul also took me on a private midnight tour of the brewery!  Later on we broke into his secret stash of a grapefruit beer.  All in all an amazing couple nights at a great location.  The Howe Sound Brewery quickly became one of my favorite microbreweries, second only to the Mill Street Brewery in Toronto.  Hoping that they will soon get some of their beers into the LCBO, so we can enjoy it on a regular basis in Ontario!

Next, I landed about 45 minutes north in Whistler.  I was able to get there for the Farmer's Market on Sunday, which was a great introduction to the resort town, as I wandered through the market at the base of Blackcomb.

The next day I planned to do usual touristy things including the Peak to Peak.  But, first things first....dinner!!  And couldn't all be glamorous.  One of the joys of hosteling is having access to a kitchen when you really feel like being cheap.  So, I chose to indulge in my guilty pleasure...ramen noodles.  Classy...I know!

As you can see, I also enjoyed a Longboat Chocolate Porter from Phillips Brewery.  They really do produce great beers!  Next one the craft beer list for the night was a Raspberry Porter from The Brewing Company in Kelowna.

After my trip to the top of the mountains, I hit up Roland's Creekside Pub for some BBQ ribs from Bob's BBQ.  I think I ate those too fast and forgot to take a pic.

Next stop was Crepe Montagne for dessert.  I had the "Belle Lili"...a crepe filled with banana, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  It was the perfect ending to a great west coast trip!

My last night, I spent winding down after dinner with a "Wee Angry Scotch Ale" from Russell Beer in Surrey.  I have to be honest, I just bought this beer for the name...but it was pretty good drinking as well!  Finally, I had a White Bark Ale from Driftwood Brewery in Victoria.  This was one of my favorites as I really enjoy wheat ales.

Almost forgot my breakfast the day I left!  The previous week I had been trying to get to  Muira Waffle and Milk for one of their waffle "sando's", but I never got around to it.  Luckily they were open in time for me to grab a bite to eat on my way back through Vancouver en route to the airport.  I was hoping that they would have their full menu available first thing in the morning, because I really wanted to try to the Korean bulgogi waffle sandwich, but only breakfast items are served first thing in the morning. So, I had to "settle" for a bacon, egg and cheese sando.  The bacon was baked right into the fresh waffle which was thick and fluffy.  It was honestly the best breakfast sandwich I have ever eaten in my life.  Please do no hesitate to check this place out for if you are in town.  The only suggestion I have is that they drizzle a little maple syrup on the breakfast items.  They also offer flavoured milks, which I definitely had to try.  I am not usually a big milk drinker, but the mango milk I had was excellent!

So, that was my trip.  I ate some amazing food and enjoyed a beautiful part of this country that I had never visited before.  I will definitely be coming back...hopefully sooner rather than later!

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