In our new series of food-focused travel guides, Luxury Defined will focus on the food of a particular city, as told by a local chef or food expert, to inspire your next food-focused vacation, or perhaps even your next property purchase. Revealing some of the most interesting, unexpected, and mouth-watering destinations and experiences to savor, whether you’re a first-time forager, a serious foodie, or craving an indulgent luxury getaway, you’ll find something to sink your teeth into. First up: Vancouver’s Food Scene…
On the Menu in Vancouver
Vancouver has a fantastic aspect; with woodland, mountains, and sea all within a short distance of the city. You can fish for British Colombia Dungeness crab from the city docks and afterwards cook it up West Coast style, on the beach. If you like mushrooms then fall is the best time to visit, when porcini, chanterelle, honey, wild oysters, and many more varieties can be foraged in the forests around the city.
“Vancouver is a city with instant accessibility to the wilderness,” says chef Robin Kort, “it’s really easy to get to untrodden places.”
Today Kort, a chef, sommelier, and founder/owner of Swallow Tail Tours, runs sea and forest foraging tours, crabbing expeditions, and wine tours in the natural landscape that surrounds the city. Kort grew up in Vancouver, went to art school, then worked in video games for a decade before turning her passion for food and wine into a business. Playfulness and creativity is in her DNA.
Why Go Foraging in Vancouver?
“Foraging has been part of humanity forever. It’s only recently that people have started making it ‘fancy’,” Kort, also a qualified mycologist (mushroom expert), observes of the growing trend. “My dad taught me to identify trees when we went on hikes, and identifying edible mushrooms became a natural next step. Foraging provides the opportunity to reconnect with our hunter-gatherer past in a search for forest treasure.”
Kort loves to roast bull kelp on the fire to make a nutritious salty snack (“You can eat the whole thing”) or mix it with sesame and sea salt to make an umami-rich furikake seasoning. Urchins: sea-foraging tours pull these delicacies from the waters by boat. Sea cucumber: versatile, protein-rich, easy to harvest. Oysters, clams, and mussels. Mushrooms: there are more than 10,000 species in British Columbia, and some, such as lobster and blue-green anise varieties, truly “taste of place.”
Explore Vancouver’s Public Market
Public Market on Granville Island has long been a favorite place for visitors and locals to shop for seasonal vegetables, seafood, fruits, meats, and other tasty delights. And if you’re not much of a home cook, reserve a table at Edible Canada, located at the entrance to the market. Everything on the menu here is from Canada, including liquor and wine, and the store at the back of the restaurant is full of delicious souvenirs to take home.
Vancouver’s Top Tables
Vancouver’s farm-to-table restaurant scene is well-developed, and at the top tables you’ll find some truly exciting chefs creating beautiful dishes with the best of the season’s produce. Trevor Bird’s Fable restaurant is a good place to start out, while on Main Street you’ll find award-winning vegetarian restaurant The Acorn. For fine dining with a view, the rooftop of Parq Vancouver in False Place is home to The Victor, where the focus is on Pacific Northwest seafood and specialty steaks.
Where to Have a Drink in Vancouver
Kort loves taking guests to the nearby Fraser Valley for educational tours with a British Columbia wine expert. Five wineries on the tour specialize in Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, rosé, bone-dry to sweet Riesling, and a cool-climate Chardonnay—grapes all perfectly suited to this particular terroir. “There are also a number of natural wine producers here, including the highly regarded Vista D’oro.”
On the Culinary Calendar in Vanouver
Collaborations on the calendar, including some “fun projects” with Bruno Feldeisen, the French-born chef and judge from the Great Canadian Baking Show, and special events with ceramics artists, where “every plate that goes down is different.”