What better way to work up an appetite than to hire a bike and cycle vigorously around Stanley Park, admiring the views and the autumn colours?
Then I hopped on the cutest little water bus and chugged across the wonderfully named False Creek to Granville Island, where the public market is a foodie heaven.
The aquabus goes from little jetty to even smaller jetty along the water, picking up passengers, and to give you an idea of how nice Canadians are, when our driver found a couple of people waiting to go in the opposite direction to us, he radioed around to find an aquabus nearby that could pop over and pick them up.
According to our food tour guide, Michael, Granville island is the second most visited place in Canada – now I wish I’d asked him which is the first – and over ten million people visit every year. Not bad for a former mud flat built up and made solid by using material dredged from False Creek in 1916.
We started off by trying some of the local specialities, such as elk salami with juniper, and kazu coppa, which is pork marinated in Granville Island sake and then air dried … delicious! Then there were the local cheeses, including the cheese curds which are used as the basis for poutine, which seems to be the national dish of Canada.
From the traditional, we moved to the unusual and then the totally wacky. Firstly we tried the Vancouver chai, which was good but tasted very similar to Indian chai. The maple roasted salmon was wonderful and one of my favourite things on the tour. We went outside the market to eat it, and saw lots of signs warning of the dive and grab tactics of the local seagulls, so we gathered in a huddle to fend them off. But I saw a woman nearby holding her piece of salmon up in the air and taking photos for her instagram account, while a seagull edged his way towards her. I stood ready with my camera, hoping to film the snatch, but sadly she snapped her pic and scoffed the fish before the seagull got close enough.
Michael was excited because the bubble lady was there – apparently she doesn’t show up every day. She’s a chemist by profession, and she has created little chewy bubbles called Bubble Bombs, filled with alcohol, that you can use to decorate cocktails or ice cream. They’re in bright DayGlo colours with names like pomegranatini or kiwi vodkatini, and are very popular, judging by the queues. They taste very strange – like large, non-fishy fish eggs which pop in your mouth and release the teeny bit of cocktail inside.
Next stop was macarons. But how can they possibly be wacky, you ask; they’re a traditional French almond meringue cake. And yes, the first ones we saw were a delightful local riff on a French classic … maple caramel flavour. And then there was the the slightly more adventurous gin fizz flavour behind them. But then we looked more closely at the other flavours …
Our food tour included a nice, traditional maple macaron each, but our guide told us we could always buy a wacky flavoured one too, if we wanted to try them – but funnily enough, nobody did.