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Alfresco Eats

Where to find perfect picnic fare, great groceries and to-go food that’s to die for, all to be enjoyed outdoors

By SHERI RADFORD

A picnic feast, courtesy Giovane Cafe

A picnic feast, courtesy Giovane Cafe

Vancouver is at its most spectacular in the summertime, and the long, hot days are best spent relaxing on a beach or in a park. When it comes time to pack provisions for an outing, the possibilities are endless, ranging from simple do-it-yourself to elaborate meals created with care by someone else.

Grocery stores such as Safeway and Marketplace IGA abound on almost every street. Whole Foods Market and Choices Markets both carry huge selections, including many organic options. Meinhardt Fine Foods and Urban Fare each stock basic grocery fare as well as an abundance of unusual choices imported from around the world. And you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Granville Island Public Market: pick up fresh fruit and veggies from one of the many produce stalls, prosciutto and salami from Oyama Sausage Co., cheese from Benton Brothers Fine Cheese or Dussa’s Ham and Cheese, olives from Duso’s Italian Foods, crusty bread from Terra Breads and authentic Montreal bagels from Siegel’s Bagels. For dessert, choose some locally made chocolates from ChocolaTas or a sweet treat from Lee’s Donuts, Stuart’s Bakery or Olde World Fudge. To add a romantic touch, select a bouquet from Granville Island Florists.

The handy picnic wagon from Picnix makes eating outdoors hassle-free

The handy picnic wagon from Picnix makes eating outdoors hassle-free

If you’d rather have someone else pack a picnic meal for you, Provence Mediterranean Grill and The Dirty Apron are happy to oblige. Giovane Cafe offers two picnics: the Stanley Park Stroll, which includes paninis, salads, beverages and cookies, packed into a thermal tote bag; or the more elaborate Giovane Gourmet, which also includes salumi, formaggi, antipasti, olives and baguette. Picnix offers not just locally sourced charcuterie, cheese, antipasto, bread and dessert but also a blanket, self-inflating pillows, sun umbrella and outdoor games such as bocce ball, all packed into an adorable wagon that converts into a table. The best part? Zero waste.

The cute take-out window at Edible Canada at the Market

The adorable take-out window at Edible Canada at the Market

If that still sounds like too much effort, then the easiest route is to grab a quick meal to go. Each summer Edible Canada on Granville Island chooses a different theme for its take-out window; this year, it’s done up to look like a traditional Canadian chip wagon, complete with duck-fat frites, poutine and fish ’n’ chips on the menu. For even more fish ’n’ chips, as well as fish tacos and an ocean view, head to nearby Go Fish—and don’t be daunted by the line-up, because the food is worth the wait. Another picturesque spot is Cactus Club’s concession at English Bay, right on the beach, which serves burgers, chicken tenders, fish tacos and ice cream. If you’d rather pick from a plethora of to-go options, head to the Food Cart Fest, held every Sunday all summer long; dozens of carts participate, including The Juice Truck, Mom’s Grilled Cheese, Roaming Dragon, Kaboom Box, Mogu and Vij’s Railway Express.

Being outside certainly increases your appetite. Fortunately, there’s no risk of going hungry here.

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