You Gotta Try this in April 2024

From a zero proof Mocktails store on Commercial Drive to an Indigenous Café in Langley and a cut-price multi-course Whistler dining celebration (!) here’s everything you should be eating and drinking for the month ahead; as ever, grab napkins, it’s gonna get messy!

Regular readers will recall I was on a fresh halibut countdown last month and dear lord, is it ever amazing this year! I flung myself at the first of the season and it was just as juicy as I’d hoped. Get some! Now the clock’s ticking for that first asparagus and yeah, call me a cliché but I’m pretty excited about nettles too, I still dream of a farro nettle risotto that I had at Forage in Vancouver years ago that made me a crazy nettles stan! Sorry, to be a downer, but just a reminder that BC wineries desperately need your support over the next couple of years after brutal cold snaps effectively decimated the vines. Join a wine club this year, or maybe two! Gift memberships to friends. Support the little guys, cos if you don’t, they won’t be here for much longer… 

VANCOUVER: Let it rain

Live in a rainforest, gotta expect the rain, and April in Van can really deliver the wet stuff! But get ready to embrace the Rainouver, with one of the coolest cocktails I’ve seen in a long time, from Botanist Bar Creative Beverage Director, Grant Sceney at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. A tribute to what makes the city so beautiful: huge trees, soaring mountains, streams, and all the beautiful wild nature this drink smells as good as it looks and tastes. Essentially a pine and spruce syrup-spiked vodka sour with yuzu and cherry blossom tea to acknowledge the ocean that we share with Japan; the fun comes thanks to a helium tank and some vegan foamer which creates wobbly, edible ‘clouds’ which are captured on a little stand, which then melt into rain in your freaking delicious drink. Joyful, wildly Instagramable, and so good! Quite frankly, it can pour Rainouvers, all day long. 


OKANAGAN: New sustainable seafood pick-up around the lakes!

I wasn’t sure whether to mention Fish For Life because I’ve been working on it with Jon from Codfathers, but it’s a seriously great idea, so please forgive the boast-post, and here we go! Folks in the Okanagan know Jon Croft and the crew at Codfather’s well as they’ve been bringing sustainable seafood to the region for more than 20 years. The idea for Fish for Life was sparked at the Slow Fish International meeting in Genoa, Italy, in 2019. After hearing once again of the struggles of small-scale fishers to maintain their lifestyle and continue to be good stewards of their coasts and watersheds, Jon wanted to do something to highlight fisheries that value everyone in the supply chain: from fish harvesters straight through to the end consumer. So, Fish For Life was born, a new seafood delivery service for the Okanagan and Similkameen with five pick-up points in Kelowna, Oliver, Summerland, Olalla and Naramata. No one should struggle to access sustainable seafood and Fish For Life brings seasonal seafood within easy reach of all. Access beautiful seafood such as hook and line-caught Arctic Char, harvested from the frozen Paali River by Inuit fishers, or seasonal spot prawns caught by small family fishers off the coast of Vancouver Island. No subscriptions, no sign ups, just good, clean, fair seafood which supports small-scale fishers! 


LANGLEY: Meet The Ancesters!

New awesome Indigenous café alert from the fine folks behind the Tradish range of plant medicine jams! Welcome Tradish’s Ancestor’s Café at Fort Langley bringing, ‘…tradishional nourishment for urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous health-conscience people, while supporting Indigenous food sovereignty!’ If you’re just coming to the cafe (rather than visiting the Fort) you can buy a $10 annual pass and The Ancestor Cafe will reimburse you with a free portion of Bannock and Jam (Indigenous people can access the Fort for free.) Slowly, more Indigenous restaurants and cafés are popping up, and I would urge everyone to support them and learn more about traditional foods and Indigenous Cultures. Can’t get to Langley? Then go jam shopping at Tradish’s site and pick up some plant medicine jams, such as Smokey Juniper Cherry which helps relieve chest congestion, or the Chamomile Pear which contains whole chamomile flowers and helps reduce inflammation and aids relaxation. 


VANCOUVER: Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Culinary Garage Sale and Chef Encounters on Granville Island

The famous Les Dames culinary sale is back for another year with a treasure trove of culinary gems ranging from $1 to $1000 with everything from Riedel glasses and copper pans to award-winning cookbooks and donations from chefs, restaurants, cooking schools and private collections. Mark your diary for: Sunday, April 14th, from 10 AM to 1 PM at the Picnic Pavilion on Granville Island. Along with the sale this year there will also be two fun interactive events:‘Chef Speed Dating” from 11 AM to 12 PM, where culinary students and aspiring chefs and cooks can seek advice and share a moment with renowned chefs. Sign up on-site for this rare mentoring opportunity. And, from 12 PM to 1 PM, you can join the conversation at the ‘Green Tables Idea Jam’, focusing on food waste and recovery. This session, open to all, encourages a broader dialogue on sustainability, moderated by Les Dames d’Escoffier.  


UCLULET: Pluvio Party


After the last few appalling years for the hospitality industry, it feels good to see a restaurant planning five year anniversary celebrations! So, raise a glass (and make a booking) with Pluvio in Ucluelet who will celebrate through April with a series of fun dinners with friends. On April 7th, you can find them in Victoria  at The Courtney Room with Chef Brian Tesolin, on April 15th (their ‘actual’ birthday) they are hosting the wonderful Brooke and Oliver from Wild Mountain (Sooke) at Pluvio, and on April 22nd the celebrations continue at Pluvio with a Ukee/Tofino/Korea fun fest with their friends Dylan and Sung from Jeju in Tofino.


LANGLEY: Oh, truck yeah! 

Love food trucks? Get ready for a flavour smackdown at Food Truck Wars at KPU Langley Campus April 19-21 with more than 45 food trucks offering straight-up deliciousness from juicy smash burgers and spicy tacos to ooey-gooey sweet dessert treats. Also on offer, live entertainment, an artisan market and beer garden, so gather your posse and head out for a day of fun and fantastic food! Entry by donation, grab your ticket here.


WHISTLER: Where Shoulder Season = Culinary Magic

Locals know that the very best dining deals in Whistler happen in shoulder season, and this spring looks like it’s gonna be seriously bringing the heat! The Spring Thing dining festival is on throughout April offering specials like three-courses at Caramba for $36, prix-fixe four courses at the multi-award-winning Wild Blue for $39 (a steal!). Don’t forget to go check out the Bearfoot Bistro’s very first Cabane à sucre” (Sugar Shack) experience too, I’ve seen some snake peeks of it and it’s gonna be BONKERS good! 


VICTORIA: Culinaire rides again for the 13th year!

Everyone’s favourite Island food fest is back at the Victoria Conference Centre on April 24th 2024! I adore this festival; more than 60 of the Island’s favourite restaurants are represented along with an array of BC wines, ciders, craft cocktails, speciality coffees and other drinks and you get to have a bite and sip of ‘em all! You also get to meet chefs, restaurateurs, bartenders, brewers and winemakers, and don’t forget, your tiket money goes to support local and regional non-profit organizations such as the Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia, Camosun College and Vancouver Island University. What’s not to love? Tickets are on sale now.


PO CO & VANCOUVER: Just say ‘NO’ (alcohol.)

I love this. Briiing on the normalisation of no-alcohol bars and zero proof nights out. I think we’re all still recovering from the pandemic in many ways and taking a step back from drinkdrinkdrinking all the time can only be a good thing for our poor abused livers. Bevees in PoCo opened in November last year on the Lougheed Highway with more than 300 zero proof drinks, joining the party, Mocktails on Commercial Drive which offers up a one-stop shop for zero proof mocktails, ciders, and beers, mixers and bitters, plus some gorgeous glassware. I love the post owner Angela made on opening: “With the opening of Mocktails, I hope to offer a beautiful space where you want to spend your time, a comfortable place to explore and experience all the thoughtfully selected varieties of non-alcoholic wines, spirits, beers, premixed drinks, bitters, aperitifs, syrups, mixers, and more… as well as our carefully curated selection of unique vintage barware. Whether you’re sober-curious or sober-serious, our doors are wide open where everyone is welcome, and I am always available to answer any questions you may have.” Wishing them every success!