Feast like never before from Sept. 25 – Oct. 4 in New West

Featuring 12 tasty events over 10 days, the new Feast On The Fraser festival showcases local arts and culture as well as eateries.
Featuring 12 tasty events over 10 days, the new Feast On The Fraser festival showcases local arts and culture as well as eateries.

Get your stretchy pants ready: you are about to feast like never before. From September 25 – October 4, even the healthiest eaters in New West will want to take at least one “cheat day” to enjoy the mouthwatering delights on offer for Feast On The Fraser, a 10-day long gloriously indulgent foodie festival.

Organized by Tourism New West and presented in partnership with the City of New Westminster and the Brewery District by WesGroup Properties, Feast On The Fraser is designed to show off our city, pairing New Westminster’s top chefs with some of our brightest cultural talent. It’s much more than two weeks of tasty meals: each day of the festival features a one-time-only collaboration between an eatery and one of our other local arts, entertainment, or retail movers-and-shakers to create a one-of-a-kind culinary experience that can be found only in New West.

“New Westminster has long distinguished itself as one of Metro Vancouver’s premier culinary destinations, and it’s time for us to expand our dining scene and pair it with some fun experiences,” said Tej Kainth, Executive Director, Tourism New Westminster in a press release about the event.  “Feast on the Fraser is the perfect opportunity to further showcase the city’s delicious offerings, along with our rich arts, culture and entertainment scene.”

The festival kicks off on September 25 with Boathouse Brews & Bites, a beer-themed menu at the Boathouse Restaurant incorporating Steel & Oak’s delicious local brew. Other events over the 10 days include live music, painting your very own work of art, watching a Monday night football game, geeking out playing the “Rock Band” video game, dancing, cooking demonstrations, a boat cruise, belly dancing, a master chef cookoff, and even a tribute to the famous King Neptune restaurant (New West old-timers still talk about how amazing it was).

Participating businesses include 100 Braid St. Studios, Anvil Centre, The Boathouse, Boston Pizza, Heritage Grill, Longtail Kitchen, Pacific Breeze Winery, Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours, Steel and Oak Brewery, Taverna Greka, Truffles Fine Foods and Catering, Wild Rice, and more.

All events are ticketed, and I would suggest you snap yours up quickly – many are sure to sell out. The cost ranges from just $20 to $94 per person, so there is something to fit every budget.

Here’s the schedule:

Full details about the festival are found on Tourism New Westminster’s website.

Buy local this Christmas: Here’s where to shop in New Westminster

This is a guest post by Sheila Keenan, a local blogger who has committed to shopping only in New Westminster for one year. She is chronicling her experiences on her blog, My Year of Shopping Locally. If you have some local shopping tips for Sheila (and the rest of us!) please share your suggestions in the comments!

Presents around a Christmas tree.
Presents around a Christmas tree.

I like Christmas presents that get used up or used often. My husband just brought up the Christmas decorations from our crawl space and somehow we’ve become the kind of people who have 13 Rubbermaid containers full of them. (13!) Trying to find room for everything made me realize how cluttered our house is getting, so I’m not into giving or receiving gifts that are just going to take up more space.  Since I’ve committed to shopping locally for a year, I’m also interested in finding gifts that are made as locally as possible. Here are some of the places I will be doing my Christmas shopping this year.

Van Dop Gallery 421 Richmond Street

I wasn’t sure how the gallery would fit with my “use it up or use it often” philosophy, but it’s hosting  “Spirit of the Season” open houses every weekend before Christmas, so the gallery is full of lots of extra goodies, like soap and candles. Besides, I think art does get “used” often—if it’s in your home, you get to enjoy it every day.
It was my first time visiting the gallery. I think I have been hesitant to go because I thought art must equal expensive, but I found a wide range of prices.
There’s also a wide range of things to look at, from silver-plated salad servers with a Tsimshian First Nations design to the bright and colourful art of Grant Leier to charming “tinsel” ornaments. I went through each room twice and I’m glad I did because I saw many things I hadn’t spotted on my first go-round. I’m planning to return next Saturday too, when three jewellers, including Joanna Lovett, will be in attendance.

Queen’s Park Florist 619 Carnarvon St.

I was so pleased to find out Queen’s Park Florist is offering workshops this Christmas season. I’d like to do the Christmas garland one. There are also workshops to create a Christmas planter, flower arrangement and wreath centrepiece, which would all make lovely gifts. Cost is $40, which includes materials. Register by Dec. 1.

Black Bond Books at Royal City Centre 610 Sixth St.

Books are always on my Christmas shopping list. Black Bond Books is one of the few remaining independent book stores left in the Lower Mainland. Their New West store has a regional section with some New Westminster titles such as Royal City: A Photographic History of New Westminster, 1858–1960 by Jim Wolf and The Life and Destruction of Saint Mary’s Hospital by New Westminster author and city councillor Jaimie McEvoy. There weren’t any copies of A New Westminster Album: Glimpses of the City as it Was by local historians Gavin Hainsworth and Katherine Freund-Hainsworth in the store when I visited, but it is a title they also usually carry.

Giving an experience is a good way to ensure your gift doesn’t end up collecting dust in a corner.

Pacific Breeze Winery 6-320 Stewardson Way

Pacific Breeze Winery has intriguing sounding “Private Tasting” packages that start at $25 per person for a minimum of four people. Contact Meaghan Spencer at ( 604) 880-0582 or by e-mail at meaghan@pacificbreezewinery.com for information on how to book. The winery also has a wine club and sells gift baskets.

Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours #139 – 810 Quayside Drive (east side of Fraser River Discovery Centre)

I used to work at an office on the Quay and I loved watching the river from my window. There was always something interesting going on—barges going by, tugboats pulling endlessly long log booms, seals splashing around during fish runs. This year, I’m planning to take my family on a river boat tour so we can get a view of the Fraser while actually on the Fraser. There are several Christmas season cruises available and the 2011 schedule is already posted online if you are interested in purchasing a gift certificate for someone to use later.

There are many unique boutiques in New West, which Tenth to the Fraser has explored before , but here are two more worth visiting.

Essence Home Decor Suite 118 – 960 Quayside Drive (next to Inn at the Quay)

Owner Lorna Stewart has stocked her store with many local and Canadian items, including crackers from Gone Crackers and Edible Gardens oils, vinegars and spreads, along with a good selection of Olde World Fudge products. There’s also funky jewellery by Canadian designers like Anne Marie Chagnon of Montreal and Canadian-made handbags.

Fraser River Discovery Centre 788 Quayside Drive

The Fraser River Discovery Centre has a small, but well curated gift shop that includes many local and Canadian-made items including art, jewellery (cool glass rings!), candles and Bramies soft leather baby and toddler shoes. Celina Strachan, FRDC’s Operations Assistant, said her goal is to eventually have most of the items in the store be from artisans who live along the Fraser River.

Stewardson winery produces exceptional wine

Hidden among a collision repair shop, a marine outboard sales and repair place, and an ICBC claims centre is New Westminster’s only winery. When you visit Pacific Breeze Winery, you won’t find grapevines snaking over a landscape of rolling hills, but you will meet some of New Westminster’s most passionate oenophiles, and taste some truly exceptional wine.

Pacific Breeze started five years ago, and today employs about 15 people including the two original partners – Frank Gregus and Maurice Hamilton. Frank and Maurice’s passion for wine was kindled years earlier with the purchase of a basic winemaking kit, and the discovery of a lively local wine community. Today, their wines have won an astonishing 34 awards at some very prestigious international competitions, including three “Best of Class” wines. 

Frank recently invited Will, Jen and I down to the winery for a private tasting and tour, where we not only got to taste Pacific Breeze’s distinctive wines, but also learned something about the business of wine and winemaking.

Inspired by the French Garagiste movement, which prizes bold flavours over less distinctive, more traditional flavours, Pacific Breeze makes “winemakers’ wine.” Garagiste-style vinters coax unique tastes from meticulously selected, high-quality fruit from noted vineyards. This is boutique wine, not your average mass-market liquor store fruitbomb.

You won’t find Pacific Breeze wines at your local BC Liquor Distribution Branch, but you can purchase it from the winery itself, and you can taste it at a few restaurants – notably La Rustica and La Lorraine locally and  Hart Houseand Horizons in Burnaby. It’s also available in New Westminster at Moonraker’s Beer and Wine, River’s Reach Beer and Wine, Queensborough Landing Beer and Wine, and Quayside Wine Cellars. 

Pacific Breeze hosts monthly wine tasting events, as well as private tasting parties at the winery. 

We tasted a variety of Pacific Breeze’s wines, from a sharp Chardonnay with an ambrosial scent to a stunning ‘Rhone Style’ red with hints of butterscotch. We loved the 2006 GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) and the Vins de Garagiste so much that we bought half a case on impulse. A sales model built on first plying customers with wine is rather effective!

Note: Thanks to Jen Arbo for contributing to this post.

Wine appreciation courses at Pacific Breeze Winery

New Westminster has a winery. I had no idea.

Pacific Breeze Winery, on Stewardson, is a small operation run by a couple of passionate oenophiles who began making wine in their basement with the support of a local wine club.

Here’s how Frank Gregus and Maurice Hamilton describe their work in a recent Province article:

We like to call ourselves a garage winery. We produce big, bold and powerful wines in our commercial warehouse in New Westminster. It’s high-end, high value, unique, handcrafted wine we make in small lots.

 – via Garage winery is revving up | The Province.

Pacific Breeze may be small (producing 3,000 cases a year) but they have won more than 30 medals and three “best in class” honours. Forty-five local restaurants have their product on the wine list.

But what’s really exciting to me is that Pacific Breeze also offers wine tastings and special teaching events. The next one is coming up next Wednesday (Jan. 14), about wine and cheese pairings. Only eight seats remain. The next event, Wine for Lovers, is on Feb. 11 – just in time for Valentine’s Day.