8 food trends you should try in 2017 (and where to find ’em in Vancouver)

by Jessica Napier

Known for its hour-long brunch line-ups, award-winning eateries and Instagram-famous desserts, Vancouver is an ideal city for serious foodies. If you’re all about buzz-worthy restaurants and hot new trends, check out our list of the eight hottest foods to try in 2017 – and where you can enjoy them in Vancouver. [Image courtesy of Heritage Asian Eatery; photo credit: Amy Ho]

8 food trends you should try in 2017 (and where to find ’em in Vancouver)

1. Fermented Foods

Good for the gut and delicious to boot, fermented foods are seriously in-demand for 2017. “Fermentation starts that digestive process, so eating foods that are already fermented makes digestion super easy,” explains Jennifer Brott, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Vancouver-based nutritional consulting firm My Edible Advice. Jennifer recommends incorporating a wide range of fermented veggies into your diet to improve digestion and help your body better absorb vitamins and minerals. “Sauerkraut – a finely cut fermented cabbage – is packed with vitamins C, B and K, and also contains a ton of probiotics, which our digestive tracts love,” she explains. You’ll find sauerkraut on the menu at Bestie and at Ukrainian Village, where Jennifer recommends ordering a veggie cabbage roll with extra sauerkraut on the side. A popular Korean side dish, kimchi is flavour-packed, filled with vitamin C and carotene, and can be eaten on its own or incorporated into a ton of different dishes. “Head to Eternal Abundance on The Drive for their game-changing spicy kimchi roll with turmeric sesame sauce, or try the gorgeous cilantro kimchi salad at Tractor,” Jennifer says. Made from fermented soybeans, miso is a very good source of manganese, zinc and antioxidants. “The infamous miso gravy from The Naam is one of Vancouver’s greatest culinary claims to fame,” says Jennifer. Natto, another fermented soybean product, can be found on the menu at Shizen Ya. The dish has an extremely pungent smell and taste. “It might not be for everyone, but it’s a nutritional powerhouse,” says Jennifer. And if you prefer to drink your probiotics, Jennifer recommends Squamish Water Kefir, which can be found at grocers and cafes throughout Vancouver, white moonlight kombucha from O5 Rare Tea Bar, and Vancouver’s own Moon Brew Tonic, a refreshing jun tonic sweetened with honey.

2. Bubble Waffles

Vancouverites have had a long love affair with Belgian waffles (the best of the bunch can be found at the always bustling Café Medina, of course), but avid Instagrammers and food bloggers have helped put a new type of waffle on the map in recent months: bubble waffles. A popular street food in Hong Kong, these spherical, egg-based pastries are light and puffy, and perhaps more importantly, highly photogenic. Asian dessert bar TMIX Tea and Dessert (with locations in Cambie Village and Kitsilano) serves premium bubble waffles made with B.C. eggs and milk. The waffles themselves are available in six different varieties (original, matcha, Oreo, sesame, chocolate or coffee) and can be customized with your choice of hand-churned ice cream and an array of sweet toppings that range from fresh fruit to chocolate sauce to bite-sized cake pieces.

3. Poke

Island-style poke bowls burst onto the Vancouver food scene in 2016 and the city is now home to about a dozen fast-casual poke-focused eateries that serve healthful bowls of this Hawaiian raw fish salad. Local faves include The Poke Guy, Pacific Poke, Poke Time and West Coast Poke. All serve up customizable bowls featuring a variety of fresh fish options (tuna, salmon, scallop, shrimp), sauces, vegetable mix-ins and crunchy toppings. Downtown, Pokerrito does things a little differently, serving classic poke bowls as well as poke burritos made with white rice and seaweed wraps. Expect a line-up during prime meal times; these sushi-poke-burrito hybrids are in high demand.

4. Dairy-Free Cheese

Cheese fanatics might be hesitant to give up their beloved triple-cream Brie, but you might be surprised by some of the dairy-free alternatives out there. “I am such a big fan of nut based cheese, not only for their incredible rich texture and flavours, but their health benefits are considerable as well,” says Jennifer. “They are often higher in calcium, magnesium and protein than their dairy counterparts.” Blue Heron Creamery specializes in aged, cultured, plant-based cheeses (think apricot Wensleydale or kelp stout almond Beechwood) and offers a monthly cheese subscription service. Blue Heron cheeses are also featured on a plant-based cheese board at Exile Bistro, and their fig and saffron coconut kefir cheese can be found on the menu at Field and Social. If you’d prefer your nut cheese in pizza form (who wouldn’t!) you can order up a plant-based pie from Chinatown’s newest vegan pizza joint, Virtuous Pie. Not just for the veggie-inclined, these healthy (ish) pizzas are topped with made-in-house cashew mozzarella and other virtuous ingredients. And if you want to make your own dairy-free cheese board at home, visit Parthenon Supermarket in Kits to shop for a variety of tasty faux fromage, including Jennifer’s favourite: Ravenwood Artisan Cheese extra sharp cheddar, which she suggests adding to avocado and tomato toast.

5. Craft Cider

Vancouver’s craft beer scene is thriving, with East Van serving as the unofficial hub for the city’s innovative microbreweries. But now it’s time for hops to make way for a new brew, because 2017 is going to be all about apples. In-the-know cider fans will be familiar with Vancouver’s original cidery: Sunday Cider. Made with fresh-pressed B.C. apples from the Similkameen and Okanagan valleys, this fresh, bright and dry cider has developed a cult following among local cider lovers. You’ll find Sunday Cider on tap at Bestie, Strathcona Beer Company, The Alibi Room and Kin Kao, or you can pick it up by the growler-full on Saturdays during the summer at their production facility in East Van. Throughout the year, Gastown café The Birds and the Beets transforms on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights into Orchard and Sea, a seasonal pop-up craft cider house serving a rotating line-up of ciders (available by the glass or tasting flight) from local brewers like Salt Spring Wild, Twisted Hills and Dominion Cider Co. Finally, die-hard cider lovers will definitely want to check out B.C. CiderWeek this spring. Running from April 29 to May 7, the week-long craft cider festival will feature a series of special events and tastings happening across the province.

6. Awesome Breakfast Bowls

Breakfast need not be a boring bowl of cereal in a city where early-morning eats are getting seriously adventurous. Start your day off on a health kick at Main Street’s Radical Juice Co. where tropical acai and pitaya bowls pack a serious punch of antioxidants. The colourful blended bowls are topped with nutrient-rich superfoods like coconut oil, hemp seeds and spirulina for a wholesome breakfast. For something more savoury, head to Coal Harbour to sample Asian-inspired breakfast bowls at Heritage Asian Eatery. “The Cotechino Bowl is the most sought after breakfast bowl on our menu — it’s a crispy rice cake with house made sausage topped with two sous vide eggs. The dish was inspired by the classic and perennial breakfast favourite eggs Benedict, but with sort of an East-meets-West flavour profile,” explains Heritage chef and owner Felix Zhou. “Like all of the food on the menu at Heritage, I like to take inspiration from the familiar, comforting flavours of my childhood and give them a modern twist.”

7. Sardines

Before you turn your nose up at the idea of canned sardines for dinner, take a moment to consider the health benefits of this beautifully briny fish. Rich in protein, vitamin D and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, these slippery suckers are packed with nutrients – as long as you can get over the fishy flavour. If you’d rather leave the preparation to the professionals, there’s no better place to sample gourmet sardines than The Sardine Can. This intimate Spanish tapas bar in the heart of Gastown will transport you to the sunny shores of Malaga; well okay maybe not, but trust us, the inventive small plates here are about as authentic as you can get on this side of the Atlantic. The signature tostas e sardinas – smoked sardines on crunchy grilled toast – are simple, yet oh so delicious.

8. Supercharged Juices

Everyone knows the health benefits of cold-pressed green juice, but 2017 is all about incorporating medicinal ingredients that help take traditional juices to the next level. Think healthful add-ons like chlorophyll, collagen, charcoal, E3 Live and turmeric. Head to Glory Juice Co. to stock up on creamy golden turmeric mylk made with alkaline water, almonds, dates, turmeric juice, cinnamon and cayenne and black pepper. Over at MELU Juice & Health Bar, you’ll find a detoxifying blend of activated bamboo charcoal mixed with cayenne, lemon, Himalayan pink salt and agave in their Black Magic juice. And visit Krokodile Pear to sample the tropical-tasting Lost Lagoon juice made with apple, pineapple, chia seeds and Blue Majik – an all-natural spirulina extract that helps relieve joint pain, promotes antioxidant and cellular protection, and reduces inflammation in the body.

Sweet, savoury and everything in between, there are plenty of tasty new food trends to try in Vancouver for 2017.

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