HealthCastle's Favourites from Taste BC

Taste BC - shucking oysters

( The annual Taste BC fundraiser for the BC Children's Hospital Foundation sponsored by Liberty Wine Merchants brings together local BC wineries, restaurants, food producers, and breweries to celebrate local food and drink and allow attendees to literally "taste BC."

We sent our HealthCastle Vancouver team to check out the offerings at this local tasting event. Here are some of our favourite picks.

Best Food Products

Among the many food samples offered at Taste BC, our favourites were oysters and cheese. We also liked the sound of some local vanilla we haven't yet had a chance to try.

  • Oysters: Rodney's Oyster House was serving fresh-shucked oysters from Powell River. If you want to check out what Rodney's has to offer, you can find them at 1228 Hamilton Street.
  • Cheese: We loved the samples from Golden Ears Cheesecrafters. Their flavoured Goudas and Havarti were very tasty, but our favourite was the fresh cheese curds. Golden Ears makes their cheese in Maple Ridge from fresh Jersey milk. You can find a list of retailers that offer their products here. Unfortunately, to ensure freshness, the fresh cheese curds are only available at the farm store in Maple Ridge.
  • Vanilla: Pemberton Distillery makes vodka, gin, and absinthe from organic potatoes grown locally in Pemberton. While they were at it, they decided to make an organic, fair-trade vanilla extract based on that same potato spirit – which means their vanilla is gluten-free. You can't grow vanilla beans in our climate, so the beans themselves are imported from Costa Rica, but this is about as local a vanilla extract as you can get.

Best Non-Wine Drinks

There was a lot of wine at Taste BC – so much that we could never hope to choose a favourite. So, we decided to chose our favourite non-wine drinks instead.

  • Merridale Apple Cider: Located in Cobble Hill, Merridale Ciderworks makes fresh-pressed, undiluted ciders from apples grown on their own farm. Of the three ciders they had on offer at Taste BC, our favourite was the House Cider, which would be perfect for a hot summer day. Because these ciders are not pasteurized, they are not available at government liquor stores, but you can find an interactive map of retailers and restaurants that offer their products here.
  • Victoria Gin: Located, unsurprisingly, in Victoria, Victoria Spirits makes high-end gin using 10 botanicals, including the requisite juniper berries. They reveal nine of the ten ingredients here, keeping one secret. At Taste BC they had the botanicals on display so you could smell them and then try to find the flavours in the gin – you can also do this on a tour of their tasting room in Victoria. Their gin is gluten-free. You can find Victoria Gin at government liquor stores.

What the Experts Said

Those were our top picks, but what did everyone else think? We were on point with the crowd favourites for spirits and food. Here are the People's Choice award winners from the night:

  • Favourite Wine: Black Hills Nota Bene 2010 and NK’Mip Mr’r'iym 2009
  • Favourite Beer/Cider: Howe Sound IPA
  • Favourite Spirit: Victoria Gin
  • Favourite Food: Rodney’s Oyster House – Oyster on the Half Shell

And the best in show, as chosen by a panel of expert judges:

  • Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Pinot Blanc 2011
  • Merridale Ciderworks Traditional Cider

Since it started, Taste BC has raised more than $200,000 for BC Children's Hospital – and given Vancouverites a unique opportunity to enjoy local food, beer, spirits, and wine.

Tell us: Did you attend Taste BC? What were your top picks? Let us know in the comments.

Photo provided by Christina Newberry.

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