Friday, August 30
While travel is faster and more affordable these days and it’s easier than ever to learn about different cultures, globalization means that finding something locally made or unique to the area takes some work. It also makes it a little harder to feel like I’ve left my hometown. I’d done my research, though, and compiled a list of Canadian-made foods to bring home. There are also two shops in the area selling British products. Due to various airline restrictions, we’d only been able to bring back so much from the UK. Since we were driving on this trip, the only real limit was trunk space.
One of the things I discovered in England was Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Pressé. Wow, was that good. It’s a delicate, lightly sweetened soda that seems unique to England. Believe me when I tell you I tried to find it in Portland. I’ve found hard cider flavored with elderflower (good but nothing I can drink daily when I have to, you know, show up sober at work) and zinc and elderberry cold lozenges but no soda. I thought for sure I’d be able to find something unusual like elderflower soda in a city like Portland, with it’s artisanal bakers and craft beer makers but so far, no luck.
When I started planning for Vancouver, I thought I might have some luck since there is more of a connection to the old country. Sure enough, I found a few stores that carry it and I was able to buy eight bottles! Unfortunately, it’s not the Belvoir label but Bottle Green, which isn’t as wonderful but still pretty darned good. (I’m willing to admit that since I first tried the soda in a charming little café in England on a wonderful vacation, there is the possibility that the soda wasn’t quite as mind-blowing as I remember.)
Also on the shopping list was some Canada Dry Ginger Ale, tonic water and Rose’s Lime Cordial. They use sugar and fructose rather than corn syrup so I’m looking forward to doing a little taste test to see how much difference that makes. Rose’s also makes a Lemon and Lime Marmalade that sounded good, too.
I bought a small bag of Mackintosh Toffee (made by Nestlé but at least it’s Nestlé Canada), a jar of Maison Orphée Old Fashioned Mustard made in Quebec and some Cocolico Salted Butter Caramel Sauce made by Vancouver chocolatier Wendy Boys. I’m not sure what to do with the caramel sauce but it sounds so good and I might just get a spoon and eat it right out of the jar! (Just to be in the moment and really experience it, you know.)
These Olive Oil and Pepper crackers by Gone Crackers are made in Surrey, a city southeast of Vancouver. I’m sure they’ll be good but I mostly bought for the beautiful label:
Jim bought a few presents for his daughters, too. Japanese Pocky, a Wham! bar (I’m still not sure what that is) and some maple leaf candy.
The first British shop, The Celtic Treasure Chest, had a good selection of groceries. I bought a jar of MacKay’s Three Fruit marmalade and Tiptree Orange Marmalade with Malt Whiskey. (Tiptree made those tiny little jars of jam we had at cafés and B&Bs on our trip). I also couldn’t resist a packet of Hobnobs and a couple of Aero chocolate bars. I try not to eat a lot of chocolate but these bars are aerated and fluffy and are a nice light indulgence.
Our second stop, Sherlock’s The British Store was part grocery and part tea room. In between the royal baby memorabilia, I found a jar of Heinz Ploughman’s Pickle, a can of Ben Shaw Dandelion and Burdock soda (just because it sounded interesting and awfully British, old chap) and a few bags of flavored potato chips. I really don’t need more potato chips but the UK has come up with some interesting flavors like ketchup, sweet chili and worcester sauce. (And those definitely wouldn’t have made it home on the plane!)
Our Canadian and British treats:
After my shopping stops, we headed south. And completely overlooked the fact that it was Labor Day. (Or Labour Day as we were in Canada – they make you surrender the “u” at the border.) Note to self: look at the calendar prior to planning trips. I wouldn’t have cancelled the trip knowing it was a holiday but at least we’d have been prepared for the stop and go. Stop and go. Stop and g-no wait still stopped. We didn’t get home until around 8 pm. Whew. (And then Jim drove down to Albany the next day to visit his daughter on her birthday and got stuck in more traffic from two different football games and holiday sales! On Sunday, we decided it’d be safest if we just didn’t leave the house.)
Not every trip can be perfect, I know. So now that we’ve had a few days to relax and recover, I can look at the city more objectively. It’s a busy town and as always there’s some culture shock for us. We live in a small rural community so going from our pastoral surroundings to downtown Vancouver with 600,000 people in one day is a bit of a shift.
There is some seriously high density housing there:
There is some interesting architecture, more modern that I care for, but it looked cool at night:
It was my first real trip to Canada and I’m glad we had a chance to see the city. I’d like to see more of Canada but maybe some less densely populated areas. And maybe not on holiday.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back soon with more of our Paris and UK trip.
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