Taste Vancouver Food Tours offers two-hour roving food tours through Vancouver’s Gastown. Earlier this week, I was invited to experience one of their tours.
Our tour was led by 16-year theatre veteran Tom Daley, a recent Vancouver Film School graduate (Acting for film and TV degree). With his top hat and burgundy period vest, he transformed within minutes to Gassy Jack, providing us all with laughs and tidbits of Vancouver history as we headed towards Gastown from our Canada Place meeting point.
Gassy Jack was born in Yorskhire, UK, in 1830. He landed in New Westminster, BC. A few years later, he sailed down to Vancouver armed with a bottle of whiskey in hand, determined to build a saloon. Rounding up a hard-working group of Vancouver men, the group managed to build it in one day.
An interesting stop and history lesson was revealed at Waterfront Station. Those paintings that we rarely pay attention to were created by a Canadian Pacific Railway executive’s wife, to show Canadians what their nation looked like.
Back in the day, people couldn’t afford to travel, and this beautiful collection of paintings inside the station became a destination for them. They’d spend hours in awe of the scenic paintings, dreaming of the day that they’d be able to see the varied landscapes for real.
The clock is also one of the first 24 hour clocks to arrive in Vancouver. Something else I hadn’t noticed until now.
The tour stops at 10 points along West Cordova and Water Streets, winding through various buildings, and tasting some very delectable sweets, savouries, tea, and craft beer. While the food samples are very small and not enough to fill up for a meal, there are discounted vouchers from stops on the tour (sent by email at the time of booking) for returning to your favourite Gastown eatery after the tour should you wish.
Steamworks offered a sampling of their seasonal Raspberry Frambözen Ale, a refreshing ruby red fruit beer with Fraser Valley grown raspberries. It’s now on tap for $5.25 per glass.
Steam transmitted throughout the old building is what heats the beer, brewed on-site in Gastown.
Another tasty sample was Rogue Kitchen and Wet Bar’s lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. I plan to be back for a full portion of this delightful blend of cheese, Atlantic lobster, and pasta, not too gooey nor too rich.
At Maple Delights, we sampled maple syrups: light, amber, blueberry, Grand Marnier, plus maple jelly, maple popcorn, and maple black tea. The store carries just about anything you could hope for made with maple syrup, an antioxidant that’s not just for pancakes anymore.
Brioche Urban Baking brought out small dishes of Tortellini Salciccia, a Sicilian speciality from owner Eduardo Bilardelo. By the way, the name Brioche is derived from the owner’s joyous memories of eating brioches with gelato back in Italy. Although gelato is not served here, it would be nice to pick up a few brioche buns and bring them home to taste with a locally-made gelato.
A sea salt caramel with dark chocolate bonbon awaited us at Rogers Chocolates. Charles “Candy” Rogers created the first Rogers chocolates in the back of his Victoria grocery store in the late 1800′s. The chocolate proved so popular that he expanded to a storefront on Government Street, where the chocolates are still sold today. Rogers has a 20,000 square-foot factory that accommodates orders around the world.
We sampled a delicious bite of blueberry cheesecake at Trees Organic Coffee House, considered Vancouver’s #1 cheesecake spot.
Water Street Café served up Dungeness crab cakes, topped with roasted corn salsa and aioli. The building was the only one left standing following the disastrous fire of 1886. At the time, it was Hotel Regina, a cutting-edge hotel with running water in all the rooms, so when the fire broke out, the employees doused the building with every available water source and saved the foundation. While we don’t bat an eye at hotel rooms with running water, this was considered a luxury at the turn of the century.
Water Street Café opened in 1988. It’s a traditional kitchen, proud to showcase homemade sauces and breads on the menu.
Peckinpah BBQ is an Eastern Carolina smoke house. It has the distinction of being located in Gassy Jack’s former saloon.
Their pork is slowly smoked for 18 hours using Tennessee white oak, hickory, and applewood. Delicious taster portions of the pulled pork were brought out to sample amongst our group of 16 (the maximum number of people allowed on each tour).
We ended the tour two hours later at Maple Tree Square on Carrall Street in front of the Gassy Jack statue, where “Gassy” concluded the tour.
Good job Gassy, you’re the best!
Taste Vancouver Food Tours are offered daily from 2 to 4 pm and cost $39. Visit the website for details. My tour was compliments of Taste Vancouver Food Tours.