Hello there and welcome to our first issue of 2023. Spring is here, the sun is (usually) shining and there are many superb wines, ciders, beers and distilled beverages out there to discover. Add to that the beginning of the growing season and some imaginative chefs, and you’ve got hundreds of delicacies to savour too!
One of the great things about living in B.C. is we have a plethora of people who love to create delicious adult beverages. With over 451 licensed wineries (335 of them grape), planning your tasting adventures is a good idea. Add to that over 35 cideries, about 200 breweries and 45 distilleries province-wide, and you have a whole lot of tasting to do. Not long ago, these businesses didn’t have the option to serve food. Once that hurdle was overcome, they became a natural addition to B.C.’s culinary landscape.
Today, many B.C. libation creators have their own restaurants. Some also have a retail component where you can buy house-made goodies to take away with you. Whether you are looking for a romantic dinner or just a casual afternoon or evening with friends, these restaurants provide a tasty way to get away from it all.
Several B.C. chefs spend their off time foraging for unique ingredients. Some even take part in reality TV shows like Chefs vs. Wild, to show off their foraging and creative talents. From Vancouver Island to the lower mainland and southern and northern B.C., these chefs find the perfect morsels to make your dining experience memorable.
Have you ever eaten stinging nettles? How about fiddleheads or salmon berries? Most of us have tried seaweed in a processed form, but what about seaweed straight from the ocean? These foraged morsels may not appeal initially; however, once you try them properly prepared by a great chef, you won’t look at wild edible plants the same way. Not all restaurants have chefs that forage; however, you’ll be surprised at how many there are. All you have to do is ask.
These restaurants take full advantage of the abundance and variety of edibles grown or harvested right here in B.C. There are about 40 wineries, cideries and distilleries just on Vancouver Island. Many have tasting rooms that serve food, while others have full-service restaurants. And, you guessed it, seafood is on the menu. Most seafood is harvested daily, so you get the freshest ingredients possible.
The lower mainland and Fraser Valley are well known for their delicious berries. There are dozens of fruit and grape wineries from the west coast to the US/Canada border to the Cascade Mountains. As you enter the B.C. interior, stone fruits become the norm. With a multitude of wines, ciders, beers, liqueurs and liquor to choose from, it can be hard to keep track. The same goes for the Kootenay area, as well as northern B.C. Foods that grow well in their climates pair great with beverages created from the same terroir.
Farm-to-table type restaurants are now the norm. You can be certain you are getting the freshest ingredients in your meals. Many establishments also have their own gardens for herbs and greens. They compost the waste from making wine/beer/cider to grow fresh and delicious herbs and vegetables. Don’t be surprised if what ends up on your plate was in the ground just hours before your arrival.
Urban wineries/breweries/cideries with restaurants are also becoming more popular. The beauty of these restaurants is you can take a tour and see where your wine/beer/cider is made before you sit down and drink it with your meal.
These restaurants are also great for when you want to have an enjoyable meal out but don’t want to drive. Many of them are within walking distance of town and city hotels and motels, or for the locals, your home. You don’t have to go far to get great food and drink in B.C. Just walk down the block and have a seat.
More Variety Than Ever
The beauty of our scenic province is that we have seemingly limitless choices regarding food and drink. If you prefer someone else to do the planning, find a tour company that offers tours that include lunch and dinner stops.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer to eat vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, keto, paleo or everything in between, these restaurants make it a priority to have a little something for everyone.