Still hot from the fryer, and dripping with glaze, I sink my teeth into the donut. The outside is golden and yields with a slight crispness. The inside is like clouds, the texture of cotton candy. In my mouth, it is sweet-soft-warm and slightly gooey. I lick my fingers and go back for another delicious bite.
I am at Lee’s Donuts on Granville Island, the final stop of Vancouver Foodie Tours’ Granville Island Food Tour.
Today, I am playing tourist in my own town. I love Granville Island. It’s a common stop for me, usually by bike and False Creek Ferry. I love wandering the aisles of the market, inhaling the scents of fresh-baked bread, chocolate, and pie. I love to be inspired by what I find there–pasta, cheese, fresh exotic produce.
I am the only local on this Foodie tour. The group is primarily made up of Aussies and Brits, with a couple of Americans thrown in for good measure. Yeah, this tour mostly appeals to tourists, but, as a local, I had a blast, and I learned a few things, too.
Our tour guide today is Nadia Cameron, a private chef. There is little she doesn’t know about food, or the stops on our tour. Or Vancouver history, for that matter. As we walk through the market, she comments on sea asparagus from South China Seas Trading Company, and gives us tips on how to cook it.
Our tour starts at Edible Canada. Here, we’ll have our biggest taste of the day (and a glass of vino to get us through): beautiful fresh fish cakes, with a mesclun salad. Edible adheres to the 70-20-10 rule: 70% of ingredients come from nearby, 20% from the rest of Canada, and 10%, including spices, come from the rest of the world.
Next up: it’s time for coffee. We stop for a brew at JJ Bean–Vancouver’s original location (they now have grown to 16). Another “Vancouver success story” is Terra Breads–who, again, started with just one location on Granville Island, and now have 4 locations throughout the lower mainland. The bread we pick up there will come in handy for our next two stops: Oyama for charcuterie and Benton Brothers for cheese.
After that, there was a bit of a palate cleanser in the form of a white tea lemonade from Granville Island Tea Company.
Our final stop is Lee’s. Long before the current donut craze, 35 years ago, Lee’s opened up in the Granville Island public market. They still make their donuts the same way, and still employ most of the original staff. And you’d be hard pressed to find a better donut in the city.
When you live in a city like Vancouver, where there is so much to see and do at any given time, I often find that it takes having company in from out of town to force you to play tourist in your own town. I think tourists (especially if they are foodies) would love this tour, and I think locals (like me) would love it, too.
Vancouver Foodie Tours also offers a Food Truck Tour and a Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour.