Granville Island Food Market
I have recently been away in Canada to visit my best friend from school who is living out there for a year…and as soon as I heard she was planning this I knew I wanted to go out there and say hello (thanks for choosing such a fab place Claire)!
I took the opportunity to sample the many, many foodie delights that Canada has to offer and to pick up some inspiration…and I wasn’t disappointed. So I thought I would share with you one of my favourite experiences of the trip - the Granville Island Food Market!
Often touted as one of the best spots to visit in Vancouver; this undercover food market started on an old industrial site way back in 1978 and has been a roaring success. The food market does not allow large chains to operate on it and so it is filled with local food producers, brewers, and artisans. And when I say filled - I really mean it - it was a bustling hive of activity from bakers, suppliers, shopping locals and wandering tourists. So if you are wanting good food with a huge choice this is the place to go to in Vancouver. It might have once been an industrial hub but this does not mean it is ugly either - the views onto the water called False Creek are gorgeous. Here you can watch the world go by with something sticky and delicious from the market, jump on a boat and go whale watching or get squiffy by sampling the islands many famous breweries. As it was only 9.30 in the morning me and my boyfriend opted for the Granville Island Food Market Tour (or an excuse to eat a lot whilst pretending to be very cultured).
The tour recommended ‘no breakfast’…it was good to know we would be filling our boots. However, hangry gremlins appeared in both of us while we waited for our bus (neither me nor my boyfriend fare well when the slightest tummy rumble begins) so this tour needed to work its magic quickly.
On arrival, a group was gathering around a smiley girl in a bright red branded t-shirt near the entrance…and we knew we were in the right place. Our guide Michelle was lovely and started the tour promptly (woohoo!).
Our first stop was to the bakery A Bread Affair for their delicious super soft sourdough…one dotted with walnuts and another slightly sweeter laden with cranberries. We were advised not to chomp it all down straight away as the two types had been specially selected to compliment the meats, cheese and fish we were going to try next. Michelle walked us around the market and explained the story behind each producer which was fascinating. Our samples started to appear…salami, pate, bison, Canadian cheese (including curd which is famously put on top of Canada’s national dish of poutine) and smoked salmon. My favourite from this selection was the maple smoked salmon - sweet and salty heaven.
We moved to the area which dedicated itself to street food. Vancouver has a very diverse population; which makes their food extremely varied and this section of the market really showcased this. We were taken to a noodle stall where the menu was plentiful and overwhelming (if like me; you struggle to make decisions when menu’s are involved). In this instance, having choice taken away from me was a very good thing. Michelle started to hand out steaming pots of Pad See Ew, with a handy description: the dish was very similar to Pad Thai but was made with a soy based sauce rather than a tamarind sauce and uses very thick rice noodles. It was delicious and something I will definitely look out for again!
Next, we were told the savoury part of the tour was complete and dessert beckoned! However, before we got started we were given a palate cleanser of salad dressed in a gorgeous Japanese inspired dressing. Token greenery quickly out of the way…we headed to a gorgeous array of different cake producers, bakers and confectioners. It was exciting not knowing where we would stop next. I spied an amazing looking chocolate stall and was hoping it might be there , and sure enough - it was! We were given a choice of three delicious sounding chocolates and surprisingly I knew which I wanted straight away - the salted caramel (a complete no brainer for me when it comes to chocolate).
Weaving our way to our next destination we were able to gawp at all the lovely stalls and also see the production areas of a lot of them too. The fudge stall had a huge pan of bubbling caramel in the centre of it ready for dipping apples. I have never seen such good looking toffee apples, a far cry away from the bright red coated teeth shattering ‘toffee’ apples from the UK.
Finally we reached our next destination -a brightly coloured macaron stall. We were given a maple syrup flavoured macaron. I was pleased maple featured on the tour - we were in Canada after all! It had a sweet, woody, almost smokey flavour to it and complemented the sugary, chewy almond macaron shell perfectly.
At this point, we moved out of the market and back outside into the sunshine. As it was still quite early there were a lot of deliveries happening , the place had the general buzz of a good day’s work about to be had. I loved the fact that everything in there was being made from scratch right there and then, with such care and attention. I can’t imagine going to that market and eating something that I wouldn’t have liked - the place just oozed with homemade goodness.
Now then, when I booked this tour I noticed a picture on the website of a group all eating big doughnuts. I had also heard of the Granville Island’s famous Lee’s Doughnuts. A business that has been there since the market opened in the 70’s and was renowned for its long queue’s…so I figured they must know what they are doing. Approaching the end of the tour I started to worry this doughnut was not going to appear. However, my fears were long gone when Michelle handed out a hot single origin coffee…accompanied with non other than a whopping, warm, fluffy, sugar glazed, fried to perfection (with no hint of oily grease) doughnut.
It was safe to say; the hangry gremlins had disappeared, we were completely satisfied and feeling rather full at 11.30 in the morning.
Conveniently, Granville Island is also home to a lot of gorgeous filled gift shops…so for the next hour or so with a tummy full of caffeine and sugar we darted in and out of the fabulous little shops.
Huge thanks to Michelle - our fabulous guide from Vancouver Foodie Tours (https://foodietours.ca).