Guest post by Emilie Sarkissian, French food expert.
One of the first questions that I get when I tell people that I am from France is, “Why would you come to Vancouver when you used to live in France?” It is true that France is a beautiful country and there are lots of things I miss about it, especially the food! Most French expats feel that way and that is probably why we usually know where to find the best French food wherever we go. We’re always searching for these sometimes hidden gems where we can satisfy our French cravings.
There are certain things that you can’t live without when you have been eating them since you were a child. Vancouver has quite a few places operated mostly by French natives (but not only) where you can find some of these essential specialties. Here’s a little sample.
It is not a myth that French people eat baguettes. The best way to eat one is warm, straight out of the oven. In France, some bakeries display a board outside with the time when the bread can be purchased warm. Here’s my pick for this staple of French food:
Baguette & Co
3273 West Broadway, Vancouver
While you’re at it, why not taste one of their very French pastries?
Croissant and Pain au Chocolat
In France we usually eat these for breakfast, but they’re also a great after-school snack for kids. I really recommend opening the croissant and spreading some jam in it. Where’s the best place to get one in Vancouver? I go to:
2668 Arbutus Street, Vancouver, 604-736-0515
They also have very tasty desserts that you can special order for birthdays (try the chocolate cake). This bakery has a nice play area for babies. French food and kid-friendly? It’s a winner!
I understand why it can seem weird for someone not accustomed to French food to think of eating snails. I guess it is cultural. The best way to taste them is with a persillade sauce. Here’s where I get mine:
2232 Marine Drive, West Vancouver
All of the food is fantastic here, and at the same level as any very good restaurant back in France. Some of the meals are even served inside the pan and it makes it really homey.
Fondue can be found in the region of Savoie, but also in Switzerland. It is what we would consider comfort food and is mostly eaten during the winter. It’s the perfect French food to eat after a day spent in the mountains skiing.
843 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
The fondue is great, but the raclette is also very nice along with the charcuterie and cheese plates.
Most French people cannot give up this guilty pleasure. The macaron is a traditional almond and sugar based French patisserie that you can find in lots of different colors and tastes. If you were in Paris, you would have to try out the macarons from La Durée, but since you’re in Vancouver, here’s a macaron worth checking out:
They will be opening a store soon, but for now you can find them at various markets around Vancouver. They also have some other popular French treats such as madeleines and canelés.
Ever seen a kid in the middle of a candy store? Well that’s how a French person feels when surrounded by cheese. In France, we say that the more a cheese smells, the tastier it is. Here’s my choice for this fabulous French food:
Les Amis du Fromage
2 locations in Kitsilano and East Vancouver
If you want to make your own fondue or raclette, you can buy the cheese here and they will loan you a raclette machine or fondue pot for the night.
This sounds like junk food when you think about it, but it is not if the meat is good and the potatoes are fresh. You can find some fabulous steak frites here:
Les Faux Bourgeois
663 E 15th Avenue, Vancouver
They have great steak frites, but everything can be ordered without regret. This is probably one of the busiest French restaurants in Vancouver. You might need to book two weeks in advance.
Crepes are the kind of French food you can eat any time of day. They are really easy to make and is always a crowd pleaser. The salty ones are called “galettes” and are made with buckwheat flour. Eating crepes at home is always a great excuse for a get-together with friends. If you’re headed out, visit:
555 W Hastings Street, Vancouver
You can find them either at this location or around some markets in Vancouver. Check their website and Twitter page for updates.
French Food from the Source
If, after trying out these French specialties you find yourself craving for more, why not plan a trip to France? The best way to discover French food is by experiencing it from the kitchen perspective. France sur Mesure, a French company based in Vancouver, will book some very exciting culinary tours for you, including pastry classes.
If you know of any other great places to taste French food, please share them. I am still looking for a great local place where I can eat French-style frog’s legs.
Emilie Sarkissian owns Apricot Culotte, an online store selling affordable European baby clothing. She carries previously loved baby clothing directly imported from France, and end of season baby clothing at up to 50% off retail value. To keep up-to-date on her latest news and specials, follow Apricot Culotte on Facebook.