Adventures in Vancouver

I spent five days in Vancouver this spring and, though I would have to live with 7 roommates to survive there, it’s difficult not to love. You’ve got a vibrant city, friendly people and the most outstanding outdoor living. I’ll see you again, B.C.    

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Restaurants

Fable Kitchen

This was my first meal on the town in Vancouver. We were wandering around Kitsilano, having already walked for a few hours. I did a quick Google search for something in the area and this showed up – about 700 metres from where we were standing. To my delight, this resto belongs to Top Chef Canada alum Trevor Bird. I LOVE Top Chef – even more when it’s the Canadian version. This place is warm, inviting and just beginning to fill with the lunch crowd of very lucky people who look like the work nearby. C. jumped on the daily brunch option – a pulled pork eggs benny that was equal parts silky and smokey. I had a buttery, gooey grilled cheese with white cheddar, spinach and onion jam, accompanied by the “potato of the day,” a totally innovative take on potato skins. They were fried, not greasy, and instead of topped with more potato and cheese, they came with a light chive yogurt sauce. Did I mention the service was truly lovely? I am beyond into this place.  

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The Eatery 

Whenever C. nets a big business win, we go to all you can eat sushi. I’m a delinquent east coast girl who eats nothing “of the sea.” I end up eating a few teriyaki chicken breasts with sad, shaved carrots, while he chows down. This time, I was celebrating a new contract and, on the recommendation of a former Vancouverite, decided to treat him to some sushi. This place is unbelievable. All done up in fluorescent and black, offset by blacklights, it feels like being inside a Lite-Brite. I started with a peach sake margarita, it was sweet and hit me instantly. My meal consisted of a truly awesome veggie udon noodle dish, pepperjack chicken dumplings and sushi. YES. I had sushi. Here, I had The Berkeley (avocado, yam tempura and cream cheese). They even wrapped it in soy paper because I completely despise seaweed. C. ate tuna “sushi shooters,” some tempura sushi and something called the “Japanese Fortress,” which came topped with tons of sweet potato fries. He conquered it. 

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Treats 

Krause Berry Farms

Fresh berries, pastry, ice cream and wine – these are my four food groups. Krause made sure I met my daily sugar requirement. We landed here on the first weekend of BC strawberry season – perfect timing. Krause was a bit of a drive, but it became one of my favourite stops on our trip. We started our visit with an interesting twist on strawberry shortcake, with fresh berries baked directly into the tea biscuit. It paired perfectly with a warm cup of coffee on a chilly May morning. Krause’s market was packed with people enjoying waffles topped with fresh strawberries, the most beautiful strawberry pies I’ve ever seen and walls of preserves. Even though it was certainly not 12 o’clock, we hit up the tasting room for some berry wine. Everyone working there took so much pride in the product and their enthusiasm was infectious. We walked away with a bottle of blueberry wine, paired for a salmon dinner the following evening. My wine buzz was just enough to push me back toward the snack counter, where I finished my morning with a pre-lunch snack of strawberry ice cream, made on site at the farm. 

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Honey’s

As a baker, from a family of bakers, I’m a tough customer when it comes to treats. Honey’s blew me out of the water, into the sky and over the moon. This small bakery/restaurant tucked away in Deep Cove makes the most sensational doughnuts I’ve ever eaten. Immediately after, I declared they may have made it into my Top Three desserts ever consumed. It’s been a few days and it wasn’t just post-dough glow. Honey’s is still on top. I had a honey doughnut, warm from the fryer, with a crisp layer of sweetness coating pillowy, rich dough. If you’re after something upscale (or you don’t like sweet) skip Honey’s. This is the ultimate comfort combination of sugar and grease.  

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Thierry

If you’re after decadence, Thierry is your spot. I couldn’t leave Vancouver without stopping for a sample of some of the city’s best chocolate and pastry. I was not disappointed. Even at 3 PM on a Tuesday, the place was buzzing. I was overwhelmed by the options, confronted by row upon row of French pastry, chocolates and macarons. I owed C. a treat for putting up with my trek through the city (underneath 25lb backpacks) in search of chocolate. So, we split a to-go chocolate eclair. It was topped by a rich layer of bittersweet chocolate and filled with a thick, even more chocolatey cream. Did you know eclair means “flash of lightning?” The French call it that because that’s how fast it’s eaten. We made sure the eclair lived up to it’s name. 

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Tartine 

Has anyone read the Tartine cookbook? Tartine is one of the most famous bakeries in North America, based in San Francisco and decked out with James Beard Awards. This bakery is not that Tartine. But, that’s OK. It was still pretty damn good. This bright, cheerful spot is known around town for their pies. They have an amazing selection, with great prices ($20/pie or $4/slice and a coffee on Pieday Friday). You can have Salted Caramel Apple, Raspberry Lavender or The Elvis, a tall order of bananas, chocolate and cream. I went with a slice of Raspberry Rhubarb. It was tart on tart on a tart, with a buttery crust and just the right amount of sweet to balance it out.  

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Thomas Haas

Colin’s lovely aunt introduced us to one of her favourite local spots on our last morning in the city. We stopped in for coffee and all divided up some double-baked almond croissants. We never determined exactly what “double-baked” meant, but devised that once this buttery, almond paste-stuffed delight has gone one round in the oven, they adorn it with more sliced almonds and glaze for a second bake. Totally worth the extra oven time.  

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The Great Outdoors 

St. Marks Summit

It’s only appropriate the hiking section of this post comes after all that eating. As much as I indulged on this trip, I also seriously hit the trails. St. Marks Summit is located at a point on Cypress Mountain, not too far from our home base in North Vancouver. We set out around 9:30 AM on Saturday morning for this 11 KM hike. It was a bit chilly, but I was fine with a light North Face zip-up. C. was down to his t-shirt within the first few kilometres. If you plan on doing this hike in May, prepare for snow and mud. We ran into a few tricky spots with a balance beam sized stretch of snow, with a slanting drop to one side. I can’t stress enough the importance of good hiking boots. We saw people in trainers, even Converse, and that’s just not smart. 

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Garibaldi Lake

This hike is just north of Squamish, on the way to Whistler. I was a bit nervous before we left, bright and early at 6 AM, because it would be the longest hike I’d done yet. At 19 KM, this was a great long hike for new hikers, with tons of switchbacks and an open, smooth path. Because it was May, the last kilometre or so of our ascent was all snow. Garibaldi Lake is known for it’s beautiful, blue waters at the top of this climb. We got packed snow and ice, with a kind of quiet and still beauty. Everything is a little prettier when you see it through a sweaty, elated, accomplishment-tinted lens. 

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