Food + Cooking Festival
Last weekend (Friday, May 24 – Sunday, May 25, 2013) at BC Place
Arriving at Eat! Vancouver with only an appetite to guide me, I took special care to only have a limited idea of what to expect because:
a) I’m a fan of surprises
b) Surprises that involve food might just be my favourite kind of surprise.
But seriously, I wanted to experience the event without pretense to get the full experience and…my mind and tastebuds were blown. It was love at first bite and I would put this on every food lover’s bucket list in Vancouver!
The event itself is a food and cooking festival held in BC Place with over 200 exhibitors showcasing their food and equipment. Setup expo-style, Eat! Vancouver included booths, stations, and stages, and they are all food and drink related! What made it really special were the many local businesses and food enthusiasts who turned out to highlight their passion for Vancouver cuisine, which ranged from frozen yogurt to candied meats, decadent pastries to savoury dips. It was fun and inspiring to see so many people in the city share in the joy of food. This year, Food Network’s Rob Feenie, Chuck Hughes, Anna Olson, Naz Cavallaro, and Bal Arneson were special guests at the event.
Because the event already happened and we have to wait one WHOLE year to enjoy it again, I’m not going to walk you through the nitty gritty, painfully delicious details of Eat! Vancouver, but I’ll leave you with a few key tidbits for you to organize your own culinary tour next year:
Entry tickets are required. This year, they were $14 online or $16 otherwise. This entitled customers to one-day’s entry, giving access to the smorgasbord of free samples and numerous activities.
Do the tastings cost money? NOPE. Only the designated “Bites of Vancouver” section (meal-sized portions) dips into your wallet. What does this imply? Everyone else is dishing out free samples to get you tasting and loving (and hopefully buying) their products! So next year, don’t waste time like me perusing around, get right in there and sample away!
There’s also a “Wine, Beer & Spirits” section for those 19+. Sheets of tickets were $10 for 20 tickets, and could be used both for drink tastings and the Bites of Vancouver area. Drinks were, on average, 2-4 tickets…that’s a whopping $1-$2 for a drink! There was nothing in the area that cost more than 8 tickets.
So you see, foodie friends? It’s a genius win-win for all. Needless to say, I had a fantastic time sipping and tasting my way around the venue. Of the many booths I visited, here are a few of my favourites that you might keep your eyes out for:
1) CheeCha Puffs
CheeCha Puffs are low calorie snacks, sporting only 90 calories per 2 cup serving. I’ve had my fair share of bland, low calorie cracker-style snacks, but I can’t stop eating these! The family business started in Calgary, Alberta, and features 13 flavours, five of which are gluten-free. CheeCha Puffs do not contain any trans-fats, MSG, or GMO’s. Scurry on over to Safeway, Whole Foods, or Save-On Foods to pick them up – you won’t regret it!
2) Soo Singapore Jerky
If you’ve ever been to Singapore, perhaps you and I share a fond memory of the delicious, thick, sweet and salty jerky. I’ve even attempted packing a box in my bag to bring it across the ocean, it’s that good. I was really excited to taste Soo Singapore Jerky – it’s not quite as moist as the jerky I’ve had from Singapore, but they have captured the unique flavour that I’ve so dearly missed! Soo Singapore Jerky is Canadian-made and has been locally manufactured in Richmond, BC since 1985. The website has a full list of where you can buy Soo’s Jerky, but a notable site is T&T Supermarket!
3) Pacific Breeze Winery (New Westminster)
Pacific Breeze, a New Westminster winery, is the first “Garagiste” (Garage Winery) in Canada. They are family owned and operated, and have become an International Award-winning winery through hand-crafted, small lot wines. I tried a crisp chardonnay that had a hint of fruit flavour. They said it pairs well with pasta primavera, halibut, lobster and grilled chicken!
So sit tight and stock up on CheeCha Puffs, Soo Singapore Jerky and local wine; it’s only 360ish more days until Eat! Vancouver comes again. See you then!