Travel through the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast for a flavourful trail steeped in history, immersed in local culture and Indigenous influence, and guided by the offerings sustained by the rich and fertile soils, waters teeming with fish and seafood, and forests full of edible plants, berries, and animal life.
Take in a wine tour at Fort Berens Estate Winery in Lillooet, BC, where the vines dig deep into soil enriched by 150 years of melon, tomato and alfalfa production – a factor, perhaps, in why the winery continues to make the headlines. Since 2012 the BC vineyard has won numerous medals at international competitions, including gold medals at the prestigious Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition.
The Lillooet area has also evolved into a hotbed for hop growers who are helping fuel the rise of BC ’s burgeoning craft-beer industry. In 2013, the organic hops grown by Lillooet’s Bitterbine Hop Company were used by Vancouver’s Powell Street Craft Brewery to produce the Canadian Brewing Awards’ Beer of the Year. The presence of local hop farms also enables BC brewers to craft new, trend-setting products such as “fresh-hopped” beer, made by adding hops to brews within 24 hours of harvest.
In the Chilcotin River Valley, guests can overnight on a 1,600hec/3,954ac property serving home-grown organic produce as well as grass-fed meats processed in the ranch’s own abattoir. First Nations rodeos and powwows such as the Tillicum Society’s in Quesnel are a chance to nibble fresh, hot bannock and slurp hooshum, a traditional aboriginal “ice-cream” made from Soopolallie berries. Also in the North Cariboo, organic producers entice with the uniquely sweet taste of birch syrup tapped fresh from the tree, including a novel birch syrup BBQ sauce, and the historic town of Barkerville serves dishes re-created from the 1800s.
The central Cariboo features such delicacies as the Marguerite and Soda Creek areas’ sweet corn on the cob. From July through October, don’t miss the unique experience of the Cariboo Corn Maze at the Australian Ranch on Hwy. 97.
At Quesnel’s Fall Fair take in friendly foodie competition while tasking chili and beer-can chicken, or attend the South Cariboo Garlic Festival in Lac la Hache each August for garlic poutine, panini and gyoza while watching the Master Garlic Chef Cook-Off.
Local restaurants and eateries are similarly diverse, from popular food chains along Gold Rush Trail routes to sophisticated dining options scattered throughout the region, where tempting meals are lovingly made with, of course, fresh, Indigenous ingredients.
Fresh seafood is close at hand in Bella Coola where travellers can
stock up on giant prawns, Dungeness crab and salmon at local markets while gourmands can keep their eyes peeled for farm-gate offerings of sweet Walla Walla onions, Russian red garlic and sun-loving Kentucky wonder yellow beans. Incredible food and drink delights are not far away while visiting throughout the region, whether you’re sitting down at a restaurant, taking an eco-tour, or stopping in at a micro-brewery or winery during your travels.