Remember how I told you a few weeks back that my goal for this summer is to explore my own backyard? Well, I have been!
Today’s backyard destination is the Fraser Valley. Just about an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, the Valley stretches from Langley all the way out to Chillwack, Mission and Abbotsford. It’s very fertile, and full of farmland, where they grow all kinds of fruit, veg, wine…..
It’s amazing to me that we have access to such beautiful, locally-grown food right in our backyards, and I also love meeting the producers, the farmers that grow our food supply. We have to support them! They are a passionate lot; it’s my guess that farming is not a great way to get rich.
Michael and I, inspired by Angie Quaale’s recently published Eating Local in the Fraser Valley, spent a Saturday eating our way through Langley and its environs.
Angie’s book is a true labor of love. If you’ve ever been to her store (Well Seasoned in Langely) you’ll know that Angie is a foodie of the hardest core. She’s a chef, pro BBQ’er, and her store has a fabulous selection of all the best specialty food products. I try to go there every time I’m in the ‘hood.
But Angie is also passionate about the Fraser Valley, where she both lives, and serves as councillor for the Township of Langley. She spent months interviewing the foodie movers and shakers nearby, and her book profiles the food producers of the Fraser Valley, as well as its top chefs. She also marries the two together by creating recipes with the local ingredients. I’ll have one for you later this week, so stay tuned.
But one of my favourite things about the book are her lists in the back. There are several suggested tours: food tours, brewery tours, winery tours, family-friendly tours, and of course where all the good You-Picks are. There’s even a list of where to get what seasonal ingredients.
So, inspired by her book, we took to the road, and here is what we discovered:
I Fly For Pie. (UPDATE: PERMANENTLY CLOSED) This humble cafe, located in the Langley Airport (yes, I was shocked to learn Langley had an airport, too), is famous for its pies. It’s not easy to find, look for the Langley Aviation museum, it’s on the other side of that. They serve up several varieties of homemade pie daily, and the slices are generous. Also generous are the heaps of whipped cream that will bury your pie. Michael had a slice of strawberry rhubarb, while I had coconut cream, and they were both so good. Michael’s was warmed, and mine was light and creamy. The crust though! The crust was almost like a croissant in its extreme flakiness. It’s worth it to seek this hidden gem out.
Wine! Yes, yes, it’s no secret I love wine. There are several wineries in Langley, but you shouldn’t visit them just for the wine. Township 7, known especially for their reds, has been a favourite of mine ever since I was introduced to it by their then winemaker, Bradley Cooper. One thing I love about Township 7 is their support of the local arts scene, often hosting concerts or plays right on their premises. Backyard Vineyards is another local fave of mine. I especially love their blends, like the Nosey Neighbour. Backyard is a lovely place to visit. They have lots of gorgeous outdoor space for picnics, and they do daily wine tastings with cheese pairings that are worth the drive. Vista D’oro specializes in port-style wine, and it is sooooo good. They also make preserves with their wines and other produce grown on the farm, so be sure to not leave without some fig and walnut wine preserve. You’ll need it to pair with the cheese you’re going to buy…
Cheese! I enjoy visiting artisan cheeseries. It’s important to me to know that the animals are well looked after and happy, as happy animals equals a better end product. First off, there’s The Farm House in Agassiz. I like to stop here on my way to Harrison to pet the goats and see the cows and buy some cheese. Milner Valley Cheese is a little closer, in Langley. Michael and I were quite happy that we got to pet the goats, sample the cheese (they also make goat gelato!), and see the facilities where they make the cheese.
Farm-fresh veg. It’s farm country! There are tons of options! On our way home, we hit up Dreidger Farms and filled our boots with blueberries and raspberries. They sell other produce here as well, and many of the locally-made artisan goods (like cheeses and honey). You can also U-Pick your berries, but for $2.50 a pound, I’m happy to let someone else do the hard work. There’s also Krause Berry Farms. And if you’re a fan of the goji, check out the only place in BC where they are locally grown: Gojoy.
So there you have it. Another foodie adventure in the books, along with happy memories, full stomach, and fridge full of locally-produced goods to cook with and snack on.
Where are your favourite haunts in the Fraser Valley? I hope I’m inspiring you to get out and explore your backyard this summer!