Locavore Love

Food culture isn’t just the stuff of big cities. All over B.C., you can find dedicated, creative culinary artists or locavores seeking to make their spot on the map a little more tantalizing. Here are a few of our favourite province-wide foodie haunts (always check local pandemic requirements and restrictions before visiting).

By Joanne Peters

Perhaps you’ve heard about the goats on the grass-covered roof, but don’t overlook the other attributes of this attraction: it’s a food lovers’ dream. The cheese section alone is worth a stop, from crumbly Red Leicester to Natural Pastures’ creamy Comox Camembert. Snap up hard-to-find goods: salted cod from the Maritimes, Mexican refried mayacoba beans, fresh savoury herb from Newfoundland’s Mount Scio Farm, Cuban Lunch chocolate bars (a post-First World War classic born in Winnipeg) and locally smoked salmon. The joint even has its own Goats on Roof extra-virgin first cold-extraction olive oil from Andalusia! oldcountrymarket.com

You know you’re in good hands when the menu lists its own Pét-Nat sparkling wine by the glass, paired with a triple-decker club made with local grain-fed turkey breast and house-made cranberry mayonnaise. Roost co-owner Sarah Bohl grew up on the 10-acre farm, where her father still raises chickens and grows wheat, berries and other produce. Order the Sweet Ginger, an aperitif of fresh ginger steeped in estate-grown Siegerrebe-grape wine, with a Montreal
smoked-meat sandwich on artisan bread. Melt-in-your-mouth homemade marshmallows round out dessert. Take-out and frozen meals are available, too. roostfarmcentre.com

Wild Poppy Market, Ladysmith.

Vancouver Island-born chef Kate Cram trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York before going on to become a certified Red Seal Baker and a registered holistic nutritionist. During the pandemic, Wild Poppy Bistro became Wild Poppy Market, a food hub specializing in gluten-free grab-and-go meals, baked goods and drinks. The community-minded spot carries thoughtfully sourced products from B.C. makers Tofino Kambucha, Salt Spring Sea Salt, Cowichan Milk Co. and Farmer Ben’s Eggs. Cram and her husband also run Old Town Ice Cream and Old Town Bakery. (home of famous cinnamon buns). wildpoppymarket.ca

Snag a seat at a picnic table in the café’s charming herb and flower garden for one of the best brunches you’ll find in Alberni Valley. Those with a sweet tooth can go for grilled banana bread with creme fraiche, berry compote and pecan crumble; hungry diners will devour smoked beef brisket and fried egg with barbeque sauce and Tabasco butter on a buttermilk, cheddar and herb biscuit. We love the roasted beet salad with greens, Macedonian feta, red onion, pistachio and mint in a pomegranate-sumac dressing. Rustic pan pizzas appear on the recently launched dinner menu, along with baked pastas for two, a spicy tuna bowl or fried chicken. Wine, cider and beer are exclusively from B.C. producers like Averill Creek, Sea Cider and Twin Sails. Check out the whole cakes and pies–carrot, lemon meringue, chocolate “black-out”–plus espresso-based drinks made with Drumroaster Coffee from Cowichan Bay. cafewildflower.ca

Wildflower Bakeshop and Café, Port Alberni.

Soothing aromas of freshly baked bread will draw you in to the Bake Shop, on Windsor Road, where artisan loaves made with natural sourdough starter take centre stage, while the original location, in Guisachan Village, stocks signature breads and gourmet goods. Prep for a picnic with a traditional baguette, house-made jam or chutney, locally produced honey and cheeses from Naramata’s Poplar Grove or Agassiz’s Farmhouse; grab soup or bread pudding from the freezer section to take home. Also, remember these four words: “Triple Chocolate Callebaut Brownie.” okanagangrocery.com