A life consumed by food. A lifetime consuming food.
Living here in B.C. means that I have access to an abundant supply of locally produced food. Recently, I have been trying harder to take advantage of my location so that I can eat foods when they are in season. Reading ‘The 100 Mile Diet’ will probably give me a lot of good ideas and creative ways to take advantage of foods produced here. I don’t think that I could do a 100 mile diet like some people have, but I didn’t let that stop me from exploring the food filled outback of B.C.. My recent excursion to the Fraser Valley on the self-guided Circle Farm Tour, took me and a friend as far as Agassiz, which is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) from Richmond.
The only places I wanted to make sure we stopped at were the ‘Edible Vancouver Garlic Festival‘ and ‘The Abbotsford Farmers Market’. In addition to these two events, we were on a quest for salmon roe, corn, and honey for no reason other than those items being produced and harvested that region.
The first part of the trip was longer than I expected and I started to get hungry, so I had to break into the snack cooler and munch on some ’Seawie’. We arrived at The Abbotsford Farmer’s Market around noon, after driving in the wrong direction for several kilometres.
I kept picturing the market to be a haven for artisan bakers and fresh ingredients. So, I didn’t find it too reassuring when my friend had asked a colleague for dining suggestions and he replied, “If you want good food, go to Vancouver.” But, I knew if I wanted to see the farms I would have to take certain risks along the way.
After surveying the entire market we approached a large yellow trailer filled with shelves of bread and pastries we then bought a German apple strudel baked by Gesundheit Bakery and carefully packaged in a white bakery box. With our strudel in hand, we approached the church ladies who operated the concession booths.
The church ladies didn’t have too many options on the menu, so we opted for the hot dog with fried onions. It wasn’t exactly a Michelin 4-star dining experience sitting on patio furniture in a church parking lot, and we may as well have been foreigners since we were the only Asian people amongst the church-going early bird dinner crowd. But, as the pan flute Abba songs echoed through the market, I felt right at home eating the grilled hot dog, crunching my chips and sinking my teeth into the flaky German Apple strudel.
From the market we headed to our first destination on the Circle Farm Tour, Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm & Meadery. It happened to be Family Fun day, so a farm tour and other activities were being offered for free. We bypassed the free pancakes and headed straight to the gift shop on a quest for honey. We sampled more than a dozen types of honey some mellow and light tasting, others strong and nutty. Needless to say, when we made our way outside to the patio for a brief presentation about honey bees we had a few jars in hand. Unfortunately, we had to tip toe away before the tour portion of the presentation began since we were pressed for time.
I wasn’t sure what time the Edible Vancouver Garlic Festival ended that day, so we wanted to make sure we had ample time to get there. It was getting close to three o’clock and we didn’t arrive at Limbert Mountain Farm until an hour later. Luckily, the festival wasn’t over and there was still bad breath inducing food left to be eaten.
When I sat down at our table I was almost envious of people who live out in the country, picturing myself living on a farm. The table was shaded by the barn overlooking a green valley, with a snow topped mountain staring back at us. As we enjoyed the view, we filled ourselves with grilled corn slathered with garlic butter, veggie pesto pizza made from scratch, garlic flavored popcorn, and a refreshing cup of lavender infused lemonade. The fantasy ended when I remembered the outhouse on the other side of the farm.
I made sure to purchase some garlic at the festival so I could bring a taste of the farm home with me. The Farm House, had a table offering samples of cheese they produced in Agassiz. Garlic scape cheese curds was their feature item that day, after I sampled them I felt like I won the dairy jackpot. It is extremely seldom outside of Quebec to find curds that make that same window cleaning squeaky sound when they’re eaten, so of course I purchased a bag.
While we were out so far, we made as many stops as we could. Our next stop was another destination on the Circle Farm Tour, Canadian Hazelnut. The lady working inside the shop gave us a brief explanation and lots of samples of the products they made. We purchased a chocolate hazelnut spread, which tasted above and beyond the popular brand available in grocery stores.
According to Chef Claude at Limbert Mountain Farm, the best place for corn was Sparkes Corn Barn. It was hard to argue with him after he told us that the corn he served that day was purchased from Sparkes. We drove up to the window at the drive through stand just like you would at Starbucks, and purchased several dozen ears of corn, which strangely made the car smell of uncooked tofu.
Our quest that day ended with only two out of the three items. We asked several people we encountered in our travels where to find salmon roe, and nobody was able to tell us of a place nearby. Although I wasn’t able to find salmon roe that day, I came home with a new understanding of what farm to fork meant.
1. Dissolve salt in 6 cups of water in a large container. Soak corn in salt water mixture for a minimum of 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a pan over medium low heat and set the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter aside. When the garlic becomes fragrant turn off heat and add lemon juice. Combine melted butter mixture with remaining butter.
3. Remove soaked corn from water and cook on a preheated grill until all sides are evenly cooked. The kernels should be lightly charred.
4. Spread butter evenly on cooked corn, then top with salt and pepper to taste.