The cultural and historical diversity of the Fraser Canyon and Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is illustrated in the range of culinary experiences offered here. From traditional First Nations and cowboy campfire cuisine to tastes of the Orient, the culinary offerings of these small communities is somewhat undiscovered. Fueled by a strong agricultural community focused on sustainable growing and heirloom varietals you will uncover new flavours for your palate.
The fresh culinary perspective gained in exploring regional flavours is further honed with visits to agricultural fairs and festivals. At Quesnel’s Fall Fair the ambience is rambunctious (those chili and beer-can chicken competitions are fierce), while August’s South Cariboo Garlic Festival in Lac la Hache sees both serious and casual foodies lining up for garlic poutine, panini and gyoza against a backdrop of family fun, live music and a Master Garlic Chef Cook-O . Lillooet’s popular Apricot Tsaqwen (cho-com) Festival gives a nod to the Saskatoon berry and local culture.
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. For example, don’t be fooled by the name at Fat Jack’s Diner, where underground chef Todd Baiden creates delicious combinations. Fort Berens Estate Winery provides meals prepared from locally grown produce, and of course, paired with their award-winning wines. Kinnikinnik Restaurant on Hwy. 20 in the Chilcotin features Pasture to Plate locally produced beef, humanely processed in the ranch’s abattoir and Nimpo Bakery & Café boasts the best home-made breakfast sandwiches in B.C.
For something further afield 70 Mile House’s Sugar Shack will give you a taste of Quebec, with their poutine fast becoming legendary. A refreshing break at UniTea in Ashcroft provides for an organic experience of the senses, creating a healthier community one cup at a time.
Coastal cuisine is nothing short of succulent with fresh Dungeness crab, enormous spot prawns, fresh Halibut and more. If you aren’t headed west this trip, drop in at Big H’s Fish and Chips in Wells for a taste of the sea gold rush style. Bakeries with ‘secret’ family recipes, home-style café like Grandma used to make, eateries set in historic buildings with their own tales to tell and outfitters that can deliver gourmet flavour on a mountain top are dotted across this region – riches awaiting your discovery. Trip advisor ratings and local tips begin with such starters as ‘what an amazing surprise’ and ‘unbelievable meals and superb service’.
First Nations rodeos and pow wows are a chance to nibble fresh, hot bannock and slurp hooshum, a traditional aboriginal “ice-cream” made from Soopolallie berries. First Nations heritage sites at Tuckkwiowhum (tuck-we-ohm), Xatśūll (hat-sull) and Xwisten (hoysh-ten) offer traditional culinary experiences if booked in advance.