Apr 11, 2010

Vancouver's Granville Island

Friends who had honeymooned in Vancouver told us before our trip that we must, must, must go to Granville Island to the public market. And they were so right. (Thanks for the tip, J&K!) We spent our first full day there exploring this foodie mecca.

Vancouver's Granville Island has a long and storied history. Sandbars in a tidal flat in False Creek eventually formed Granville Island in the late 1880s. Local First Nation peoples used the sandbar for fishing. Years later, False Creek was dredged to form a island for the mining, construction, forest and shipping industries. The Depression shuttered operations there, turning Granville into a shantytown until World War II, when it had another industrial heydey. But after the war, the industrial output declined again, and False Creek had become polluted. In the late '70s, Granville was reclaimed and cleaned up. The Island is still home to a concrete plant, but otherwise has transformed the industrial spaces into a public food market, artisans shops and galleries, a kids market, performance spaces, the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, a maritime market, and kayak and ferry rentals. (Learn more about Granville's history here.)

Here's a little sample of our explorations at Granville.

We started our exploration at the public market, taking in the overwhelming arrays of produce, seafood, baked goods, any food item you could think of is on offer here.

There are also plenty of shops full of everything you could ever need for the kitchen from cookbooks and tools to specialty ingredients and packaged goods. South China Seas was one of my favorite stops. This little shop was crammed with all kinds of intriguing tidbits and a particularly well-curated collection of cookbooks. I got lost there for quite awhile and came away with several new Donna Hay Essentials cookbooks that I haven't been able to find in the U.S., and also some very tasty ginger-infused sea salt. Can't wait to try it on stir-fry. (See the Donna Hay books here, here, and here.)

Another shop that fascinated me was the Stock Market. They have everything you need to jump start a cooking project. If you're looking for a shortcut - don't have time to make your own lobster stock? – come here. They have everything from soups, broths, dressings, dips, marinades, and ready-to-eat dishes... all homemade. You can watch them chopping the veggies.

We also stopped at Maiwa Handprints. Maiwa Handprints started the Maiwa Foundation as a trust to help practicing and re-emerging artisans develop their skills in emerging nations. The foundation works to end poverty in rural villages by promoting self-sufficiency. Maiwa Handprints sells the works of these artisans from India — the semi-nomadic Banjara produce beautifully embroidered clothing, the Khatri community in Dhamadka and Ajrakpur produce Ajrakh blockprints, the Bagru village near Jaipur also produce blockprints, and the Regar Samaj community of Rhajastan do leatherwork. You can find incredibly beautiful handcrafted treasures here — from clothing to bedding to table linens to jewelry to leather goods. I was seduced by the table linens. You can learn more about the Maiwa Foundation here.

There is also a food court in the back of the public market with all kinds of offerings. There were lots of tasty offerings here, but the star of the show is the view from the patio...

Granville Island Public Market
open 7 days a week: 9am-7pm

South China Seas Trading Company
Granville Island Public Market

The Stock Market
Granville Island Public Market

Maiwa Handprints
Granville Island Net Loft


Jennifer said...

Lauren - you're taking me back! I'm so glad that you two had the chance to hang out at Granville and explore. Remind me to tell you the story of how we accidentally grifted a beer sampler at the Granville Brewery. It looks like you had a blast - we want to hear more (over lunch?).

Dianne Jacob said...

That's my home town! Where were you staying, that you got such a gorgeous view from your patio?

Lauren said...

We stayed in Kitsilano, but the view in the photo is from the patio behind Granville Market. Lots of stunning views in Vancouver!