Gastown Food and Culture Tour – Be a Tourist in Your Own City

Gassy Jack our tour guide

People I think tended to get a bit jaded about where they live.  One way around it I found is to pretend you are a tourist and do touristy things.  It is amazing how you find out about new restaurants, or visit sites that you may have gone to so many years ago.  This was my mindset when I was invited to attend the “Gastown food & culture tour” by Taste Vancouver Food Tours earlier this week.  The tour costs $39, but I attended for free.

It was a lovely sunny day.  Besides me there was our tour guide, “Gassy Jack”, as well as a couple and a family from Ontario for this experience. We started at the Starbucks in front of the Pan Pacific Hotel downtown, visiting 9 restaurants/cafes, and 1 clothing store.  Between these stops Gassy Jack would tell us information about a particular old building, and it’s significance to Gastown, or some historical fact about Gastown.  It kept the walk interesting.

Which Places Did We Visit?

Our stops in order were:

  1. Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar
  2. Steamworks
  3. Rogers Chocolates
  4. Canadian Maple Delights
  5. Brioche Urban Baking and Catering
  6. Trees Organic Coffee and Roasting House
  7. Water St. Cafe
  8. John Fluevog
  9. Peckinpah BBQ
  10. Gastown Tea Company

Lobster Mac n Cheese from Rogue

The tour kicked off with a fruit drink and slice of muffin at the Starbucks, followed by Gassy Jack introducing us to a brief history of Gastown.  First official stop was the Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar where we enjoyed a serving of Atlantic Lobster in a Four Cheese Mac n Cheese.  Very tasty.  There was actual pieces of lobster in the dish.

Onward we trekked to Steamworks, a place that I visited many times. Down the winding staircase we descended, and sat next to the large copper tanks where the beer micro-brewing takes place.  Our beer was a ginger beer, made with real ginger root.  It was a light pale ale in colour and the ginger was not overpowering.  There were 2 children in tow, and they had soft drinks, so don’t worry if you are bringing your children along.

Rogers Chocolates was next, were we tasted a chocolate covered caramel topped with sea salt.  A bit chewy.  It would have been nice to have something to wash it down with.

Canadian Maple Delights is another sweet stop along the way.  Maple syrup tea, two types of maple syrup, maple syrup covered popcorn, and some maple flavoured ice creams were all available to sample.  I did like the tea and the popcorn.  The children I think in particular liked the ice cream.

3 Cheese Tortellini in Sicilian Salsiccia Sauce from Brioche

Brioche Urban Baking and Catering was one of my favourite stops.  While I thought we would be enjoying some baked goods, I was surprised that besides some home baked bread, drizzled with olive oil, we were also served Sicilian pasta, in particular Three Cheese Tortellini in a Sicilian Salsiccia Sauce.  The sauce was light and bright.  I would go here again to try a full plate of this pasta.

My next surprise was Trees Organic Coffee and Roasting House.  With this name, I was expecting to have some sort of coffee drink.  Instead we were treated to a slice of lemon cheesecake.  Their cheesecakes have been voted as #1 in Vancouver.  It was quite dense and had a genuine lemon flavour.  Another place that I would visit again.

Water St. Cafe was our classiest spot on the tour.  I like this restaurant.  Try it out during Dine Out Vancouver.  We were led to the upstairs seating in the restaurant.  I had never been upstairs and did not know there was private seating.  We were treated to a crab cake with kernel corn.  I liked it, but it was very small.  It would have been nice to have a bit more.  While we waited for our crab cake we were told a few stories about the Cafe.  One was that the Cafe is haunted.  I won’t tell you the whole story.  You have to attend the tour.  The other tidbit was that the Twilight cast had a post movie production party there.  So maybe I was sitting in the same chair as Bella or Jacob!

John Fluevog was our clothing store stop.  J.F. is a designer shoe store, started here in Vancouver.  Wear the shoes that Lady Gaga and Madonna wear!

Pulled pork with Carolina vinegar sauce from Peckinpah

Peckinpah BBQ was my other favourite spot on this tour.  They serve Carolina style BBQ.  What’s the difference with other BBQ?  It’s it sauce.  Instead of a thick tomato based sauce, the Carolina style sauce is vinegar based with chilies added. This sauce was served with pulled pork.  I like to judge a BBQ spot on their pulled pork.  I enjoyed it.  The vinegar sauce was not too spicy.  But I need to come back to try a bigger serving of their pulled pork.

Our last stop was the Gastown Tea Company, where we were served tea! and a chocolate cookie.   The tea was called Green Mystique and was served on ice.  They have a wide range of teas that are in sample cans that you can open and sniff before deciding what type of tea you would like to enjoy.  There are white, green, and black teas.  There was one that I really liked the aroma called A Night in Paris.  I would have liked to try this tea.

There is a wrap up afterward at the Gassy Jack statue.  Overall the 2 hours passed by very fast, I learned a bit about Gastown, and a few new restaurants to try. Enjoy!

Advertisements