TASTE POWELL RIVER
REFLECTIONS ON FOOD IN A COASTAL COMMUNITY
Living next to the ocean defines residents of the Powell River area. Every day we see the ocean that has fed us, supplied jobs and been our connection to other communities on the West Coast. The Salish Sea has provided salmon, herring, clams, oysters and more, while also being the way many have earned their living. We often take this beautiful location for granted, but as a coastal community we are unique in how we source, grow and produce our food. The temperate Powell River climate allows farmers and market gardeners to harvest a diverse variety of vegetables throughout the fall and winter, and the colder water brings beautiful, plump oysters that can be plucked from Okeover Inlet throughout the cooler months. Being a landlocked community also means that producing food has been an important part of Powell River’s history and will be vital to the region’s success in the future.
UNIT F-4493 MARINE AVENUE • POWELL RIVER, BC • 604.485.5313 PRPEAK.COM • PUBLISHER@PRPEAK.COM
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SEAFOOD ON THE COAST In Okeover Inlet, oyster farms harvest one of the area’s most coveted crops Land and water around Powell River have provided for its communities for centuries. North of Powell River, in Okeover Inlet, oyster farmers rely on the environment to make their living. Choosing a life dependent on growing and harvesting this coveted shellfish is not just about career, it is about lifestyle. André Comeau and Chris Roberts have been oyster farmers in Okeover for more than two decades. The couple owns Okeover Organic Oysters and Comeau is president of Active Malaspina Mariculture
Association (AMMA). The organization brings oyster farmers together to keep the waters they rely on clean and help each other in some of the major tasks of their profession. “After studying biology and aquaculture in university I got the chance to work on an oyster farm for summer work and never left,” says Comeau. “I really appreciated the low-impact, sustainability aspect of shellfish farming.” When Comeau first started working in Okeover, Roberts would come and visit on the weekends and holidays. Roberts left life in the city for the Sunshine Coast a year later to be with Comeau. “We love working for ourselves in this spectacular setting,” says Comeau, “growing a sustainable food source with almost zero pollution and with few inputs other than hard work and time.” After more than 20 years living their life by the tides, oyster farming is almost second nature to the couple, but Comeau says there was a steep learning curve
when they started. “The learning curve starts steep and then levels out, but continues forever as the playing field is constantly changing. No two years are alike in terms of the wind or waves, food and water,” he says. “For the first few years, we worked for different farmers and realized we all do things differently. The method is very site »
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dependent.” Even though they are known as oyster farmers, Comeau and Roberts say their industry has only one thing in common with agriculture: seed. “Aquaculture requires none of the inputs that agriculture requires,” says Comeau. “Shellfish take their food from the water. We don’t add anything. No food, no fertilizer or, as in the case of animal farming, no antibiotics.” While being a destination as the gateway for Desolation Sound, Okeover is also a popular spot for those who love oysters. Walking on the beach at Okeover Arm Provincial Park, it might look like you are stepping out onto a rocky shore, but as you get closer you will realize the stones are actually oysters as far as the eye can see. “Okeover is a great oyster growing area for many reasons,” says Comeau. “The inlet has a bottleneck before it spills into and pours from Desolation Sound. This bottleneck, lake effect creates a warmer water situation. That, combined with the fresh water from local rivers and streams, makes a rich soup of plankton,
minuscule plants and animals that are food for oysters.” Roberts adds that because Okeover is sparsely populated, there is very little pollution in the water. “Being filter feeders, oysters are best grown in pristine water, free from pollution and runoff that would be common in more residential areas,” says Roberts. Because the Okeover area is good for growing oysters, Comeau says it is Did you know? In addition to being delicious, oysters also help clean the water. An oyster can filter 30 to 50 gallons of water a day.
important for visitors to understand that many beaches are part of oyster leases. “Unless you are heading out in a kayak, canoe or another watercraft, the easily accessible beaches of Okeover, other than the beachfront at Okeover Arm Provincial Park, are currently being leased from the government and being farmed,” says Comeau. “Visitors need to be respectful of lease boundaries and leave the farmed shellfish to the farmers.”
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The coveted shellfish are harvested and sold by Okeover oyster farmers to markets all over the world, including oyster bars in the Lower Mainland and Asia. Because they need to pass through a federally inspected processing plant before they can be sold to the public, it is challenging for Okeover oysters to be sold in the Powell River area. “There is no local plant available to do this,” says Roberts. “Our shellfish must travel to Vancouver or the island to get rubber stamped. At this time, selling locally is just not feasible.” One of the few opportunities locals have to enjoy Okeover oysters is during Lund Shellfish Festival. At the annual event, AMMA farmers come together to prepare and serve oysters to festival attendees. The bounty of amazing seafood and shellfish in our area is laid out for the community and visitors to enjoy, and one of the many perks of the job for Comeau is sharing oysters with the public. “I love to meet oyster lovers,” he says, “especially when we get to serve our shellfish at events like the Lund Shellfish Festival.”
This recipe is inspired by the flavours of France’s Jura Mountains made with one of Powell River’s favourite natural ingredients: Okeover oysters. INGREDIENTS 12 fresh oysters, shucked 1/2 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup panko-style bread crumbs 1/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated 1/3 cup butter 1 lemon, cut in 4 wedges lengthwise METHOD Shuck and drain the oysters, or just drain if using pre-shucked oysters. Season the flour with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Dredge the oysters lightly in the flour mix, then in the eggs, then in a mixture of the panko and Gruyère. Melt butter in a large sauté pan, fry breaded oysters until browned on all sides.
SAUTEED OYSTERS WITH GRUYÈRE CHEESE From Okeover Organic Oysters
Serve hot with lemon wedges.
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Living on the coast impacts who Powell River area residents are. While Jay Yule is most often interviewed for stories about his role as School District 47’s superintendent of schools, living in Powell River close to the ocean and an abundant amount of seafood, he has a lot of passion for cooking outside, eating local products and spending time soaking up the views of the coast. How long have you lived in Powell River? I’ve been living here for 18 years. How has living in a coastal community impacted the way you eat? The coast is rich in its incredible outdoor surroundings. Being so close to the beach, lakes and mountains has led to a lot more outdoor cooking and dining while enjoying nature. Powell River is lucky to have access to a lot of amazing, fresh seafood. Do you have any favourites? I really like local rock and Dungeness crab.
COASTAL REFLECTIONS Jay Yule
How do you like the crab prepared? Eating them fresh, cooked on an open fire right on the beach. Pulling the meat out of the shell with my fingers and then tossing the shells back into the surf, with my toes in the sand.
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FARMING ON THE COAST Fall and winter in Powell River have farmers harvesting new crops Making the move to the West Coast for better weather and a more temperate climate is not uncommon. For farmers, warmer winters without heavy snow allow them to grow diverse crops and raise different products, which would not be possible in the BC interior or elsewhere in Canada. When fresh tomatoes, corn, peaches and cherries disappear from Powell River Farmers’ Market, local leeks, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, cabbage, carrots, winter greens and various herbs come into season. Spring and summer are two of the busiest seasons for farmers as they plant seed, water, provide nutrients and then harvest. As fall and winter settle in, farmers often appreciate a slower pace around their land as they prepare for the return of the warmer weather. At Windfall Farm in Wildwood, fall and winter brings various kinds of garlic growing underground, and they are still collecting a small number of eggs from their hens. “Farmers also use this time to rest just a bit before gearing up for spring,” says farm co-owner Lisa Daniels. Lisa and her husband Mike have been farming in Powell River for about 20 years, which means they have experienced many coastal falls and winters, and the variety of weather that can come with those seasons. “High rainfall in winter months leaves the soil too wet to work,” says Lisa. “Wet weather can also mean leaching of nutrients and drainage issues. We
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often have to wait late into the spring before we can bring equipment out onto the fields.” In addition to problems with rain, mild weather can mean weeds and pests that usually die off in the cold will linger on the farm. For local farmers raising livestock, fall and winter can Did you know? There is a science to growing our favourite fall fruit. Pomology is the official name for the science of apple growing.
bring various challenges, but because the seasons change every year, farmers have to be ready for anything. “If it’s a mild winter, the grass keeps slowly growing in, which helps us with our feed consumption,” says Myrtle Point Heritage Farm coowner Gosia Carroll. “In cold winters, when the ground is
frozen, we can end up feeding out almost twice the amount. And then don’t forget about frozen water lines, which means a lot of hauling buckets of water.” On the farm, Gosia and her husband Ezra breed and raise heritage chickens, Beltsville small white turkeys, Berkshire pigs and registered Alpine goats. “ We a l s o g r o w a n assortment of produce using predominantly our own seeds we’ve collected over the years, such as kale, lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots and potatoes,” says Gosia. Having a producing farm was not in the plans for Gosia and Ezra, but after falling in love with Powell River and the area’s backcountry, they purchased 30 acres of raw land. “We created the farm very slowly,” says Gosia, “pushing back the bush with the help
of the goats, pigs and a very small tractor.” For Gosia and Ezr a, changing seasons do not necessarily mean things slow down on the farm. They make soap and cheese with milk from their animals, which can be popular Christmas gifts. “As winter sets in, we finish harvesting whatever is in the
garden and slaughter and process the animals we have raised all summer,” says Gosia. It might be hard to believe that you can have fresh products in the fall and winter, but thanks to the climate on the coast, Powell River residents can enjoy a variety of local products all year round.
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As Powell River Farmers’ Market manager, Juhli Jobi is surrounded by the bounty of what is grown and produced on the Upper Sunshine Coast. From fresh-baked sourdough bread to beautiful bunches of chard, it is amazing to see what comes from the area. With so many ingredients available, inspiration for dishes featuring local products is endless. How long have you lived in Powell River? In total, I’ve lived in Powell River for 24 years. I was born and raised here and then went off to university and worked, and now have been back to town for the past five years. How has living in a coastal community impacted the way you eat? I focus on local, in-season foods. I do grow a bit of my own food, as well as forage and barter. In the summer I tend to purchase larger quantities of in-season produce from local farmers. I enjoy what is in season and then freeze the excess for later in the year. While the summer tends to be
the height of abundance for local food, I find the winter market is also a source of local, fresh food. When the bounty of summer is over there is always kale, chard, root vegetables like beets, carrots, onions and even squash varieties to enjoy along with local meats and breads. What’s your favourite seafood? My favourite seafood is locally caught, fresh, wild salmon. How do you prepare it? I really enjoy making jerk salmon. I like to marinate the salmon for a couple of hours to help the flavours saturate and develop before cooking it. Jerk salmon is also excellent cold, so if you’re going to have some leftovers it makes a flavourful sandwich for the next day. My other favourite is to add the leftover salmon Juhli to a salad with a light dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and a dash of salt.
COASTAL REFLECTIONS Jobi
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GROWING FOOD ON THE COAST
Powell River’s strong farming history leads to a promising future The Upper Sunshine Coast has had a long history of successfully growing and producing its own food. Farming and homesteading was essential to the prosperity of Powell River as a growing mill town. Powell River’s location on the coast played, and continues to play, an important role in the community’s identity. When Powe l l River Company established the mill, which became the foundation of the community built around it, it recognized the important role food production would play. Over time, as connections to the outside were developed with the construction of ferry routes and roads, access to resources changed, including food, but
the commitment of the community to grow food has continued. “Powell River was and still is an isolated, ferry-dependent community,” says gardener and homesteader Wendy Devlin. “There are fewer opportunities to shop, drive, be entertained or even find steady work. As a result, there’s a certain resiliency needed for anyone who wants to live here. There’s a need for a can-do, will-do attitude.” Wendy and her husband Bill bought a property less than 10 acres in Wildwood 25 years ago. Even though the old, fivebedroom farmhouse was a teardown, the soil was fertile, with southern exposure and a year-round creek. With a benevolent year-round climate, low population, plenty of water, wood, space and infrastructure such as power and roads, Powell River residents can make opportunities happen with “some old fashion gumption and elbow grease,” says Wendy. It turns out that Wildwood, which has a long history of food production, was the perfect place for the Devlins to start homesteading. “Wildwood was settled by people who homesteaded the land after it was logged in the early 1900s,” says Wendy. “Men walked down to work at the mill and families cleared land, built houses and put in gardens and orchards. At one time, Wildwood had as many as five small dairies.” As a landlocked community many hours and hundreds of kilometres away from the larger cities, Powell River needed to promote farming and gardening as a way to feed people who were moving to the growing town. More people means farmland is developed and subdivided for residential property. “Late in the 1950s, the farmland was subdivided into smaller acreages and most of the farms disappeared,” says Devlin. “However, Wildwood is still thought of as a neighbourhood where most people garden and grow food. Plus, the agricultural zoning permits the keeping of some livestock.” The changing use of the land combined 2 WEDNESDAY.JUNE 11 FALL/WINTER 2017 15.2016 | POWELL | POWELL RIVER RIVER PEAK PEAK
with improved access to global food supply changes, and the evolution of refrigeration, impacted the way Powell River residents secured their food, but City of Powell River manager of economic development Scott Randolph says things are changing. “Powell River has experienced a resurgence in the past decade with a focus on sustainable, organic and local food,” says Randolph. Because of this shift, Randolph and Did you know? In 2016, the agriculture sector of Powell River Regional District consisted of 80 farms, making up 1,563 hectares of farm land.
the city have identified an opportunity to spur economic growth by enabling local farmers to compete with imported food and assist with the startup of other operations, while addressing local food security issues. “Powell River currently doesn’t have the ability to feed its population and relies on the import of food to survive,” says Randolph. “This must change.” Recognizing the importance that farming and agriculture has played in Powell River, and the role it needs to play in its future, Randolph says a lot of work and analysis has been done in past years to set the foundation for growth in the region’s agriculture sector and to increase the amount of food produced locally. The city and community are working on a sustainable agricultural program. The goals of the program include strengthening the local farming economy, securing training and employment opportunities in farming and enhancing local food security. “The city believes there is excellent potential for expansion in the foodproduction sector,” says Randolph. With residents interested in locally produced food paired with support from City of Powell River, the community could see a rejuvenated vibrancy in the farming and agriculture industry in the region, similar to the town’s beginnings.
As Powell River Regional District board chair, many of Patrick Brabazon’s constituents are farmers and food producers. There are orchards, chickens, oyster farmers and more within the regional district, and Patrick himself also grows and produces some of the food that appears on his table. How long have you lived in Powell River? I have lived on the coast for most of my adult life. We moved to Oak Bay in Victoria when I was 13. I have since lived in Alert Bay, Bella Bella, back to Greater Victoria and then came up here, north of Powell River, 20 years ago. How has living in a coastal community impacted the way you eat? With life in small coastal communities, we make adjustments in the way we eat. Locally sourced food becomes a priority and that includes farmers, as well as the sea we live beside. We have a year-round garden and chickens that supply eggs.
COASTAL REFLECTIONS Patrick Brabazon
What’s your favourite seafood? Salmon and prawns, of course, but then there is also the local cod and oysters. How do you like to prepare seafood? Salmon on a cedar board on the barbecue is a favourite, but baked in the oven is a second choice. My father enjoyed eating oysters raw, but I prefer them on the barbecue.
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From Hammil Hill Farm
INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 cup onions, chopped 1 teaspoon garlic, minced 1 tablespoon ginger, grated 2 tablespoons curry powder 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth 3 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin purée 1 1/2 cups cream 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon honey Salt and pepper, to taste Roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds and sour cream
METHOD In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions have begun to soften, about three minutes. Add the ginger, and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir the curry powder and flour into the onion mixture, and continue cooking and stirring until smooth and bubbling. (This recipe also appears in Water and Wood: Recipes from a Coastal Community, a fundraiser cookbook for Powell River Public Library.)
Gradually whisk in the broth and cook until the liquid has thickened.
Nothing says fall like pumpkins. This savoury and creamy soup will carry you through cool months, and you might even find yourself looking for that pumpkin you froze when you are craving a bowl in the spring and summer.
Add the pumpkin and cream, and stir until well combined.
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Season the soup with the soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and serve garnished with pumpkin seeds and sour cream.
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Maggie Hathaway has been a familiar face on City of Powell River council for many years. Like many who have made the move to the Upper Sunshine Coast, Hathaway did not plan to make the area her forever home. The coastal community of Powell River offered beautiful ocean views, delicious seafood and so much more, and it won her over. How long have you lived in Powell River? I moved to Powell River in 1979 with the intent to stay two years. I am still here and have no plan to move elsewhere.
COASTAL REFLECTIONS Maggie Hathaway
How has living in a coastal community impacted the way you eat? I have always lived in a coastal community and grew up in North Vancouver, so my eating hasn’t really changed. If you’ve always lived on the coast, you’ve probably eaten a lot of seafood. Do you have any favourites? My favourite seafood from local waters would be halibut. Another one I enjoy from another coast is lobster. What’s your favourite way to eat halibut? I like it deep-fried as fish and chips, but also pan-seared with butter and lemon.
Proud to be a locally owned and operated grocery store Pacific Point Market is proud to take part in the 100 Mile Challenge, sourcing as much fresh meat, dairy and produce from the area’s local suppliers as possible. Supporting our local growers not only helps boost our local economy, it reduces our carbon footprint by minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions linked to delivery and transportation. Shorter delivery times means a fresher product for our customers. Stop in today and see what Pacific Point Market has to offer. All meat is cut in-house by our full-time butcher All beef is AAA premium meat
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COOKING ON THE COAST Library cookbook showcases Powell River’s food history The diversity of the food cooked and eaten in Powell River is as varied as the people who call it home. As a coastal community founded on the pulp and paper industry, many people from around the world moved to the area and brought their culinary traditions with them. These traditions, along with stories and recipes of life on the Upper Sunshine Coast, are captured in the pages of Water and Wood: Recipes from a Coastal Community, a fundraiser cookbook for Powell River Public Library. Water and Wood is based on the history and landscape of the many communities that call the region home. “There’s never been a cookbook
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like this in Powell River,” says library board trustee Charlotte Gill. “It’s equal parts food, geography, history and the story of us, the people who live here. Because all of these define culinary culture.” Gill helped plant the seed for this project, which will be available in November. With a new library space on the horizon, library board trustees were looking for fundraising possibilities. “A former chief librarian introduced me to the concept of library-sponsored cookbooks; quite a few libraries have published them in the last few years,” says Gill. “In particular, he drew my attention to one that the Nelson Public Library had done.” Seasonings, the first cookbook released by the Nelson library in 2011, had been a successful fundraising campaign, which led to the release of their second book, Pairings, in 2016. »
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“It was a great idea that rolled around in our brains for a couple of years, and then one day, everything just started to line up,” says Gill. The inspiration for the Powell River cookbook would be community and its history. Recipes were submitted by local farmers, restaurant owners, chefs, brewers and food producers. They are dishes passed down from generation to generation that they enjoy at home with their families. In addition to the recipes, there are also stories and photos of food producers and chefs from local businesses such as Coastal Cookery, Fruit and Roots Juice Bar, Base Camp, Boardwalk Restaurant and more. “We wanted to tell the story of Powell River through food; through what people grow, harvest and cook here,” says Gill. “There’s a very long history of local, handmade cuisine in this part of the world. We’re very proud of it, and we wanted to share it.” The library cookbook has mirrored the way each meal served at a local restaurant or vegetable harvested
at a farm is done so as a labour of love. The team who worked on the cookbook did so generously, thinking of the final product and the role it would play in the future of the community. “We clearly have some dedicated staff and board members,” says assistant chief librarian Rebecca Burbank. “The cookbook team has been meeting with local food producers and restaurateurs, then writing, rewriting and testing their way through dozens and dozens of recipes for over a year now.” Burbank says the project has been a labour of love and a difficult task that could have fizzled out at any one of the hurdles the team faced in having the cookbook published. “It was their determination to see something of quality at the end of the journey that kept them working,” says Burbank. “This is a project to be proud of.” Water and Wood: Recipes from a Coastal Community will be available in November from local outlets or at prpl.ca/explore/water-wood.
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KALE SALAD WITH MEYER LEMON DRESSING From Young Adult Community Kitchen
(This recipe also appears in Water and Wood: Recipes from a Coastal Community, a fundraiser cookbook for Powell River Public Library.)
Kale grows so abundantly in Powell River and on the West Coast that it might one day be called a weed. Regardless, this healthy, hearty green grows nearly year-round and stands up well to the bold flavours of this salad. Sweet dried cranberries, tangy citrus dressing and creamy goat cheese subdue the bitterness of the kale, making this salad a delicious accompaniment to any meal.
The Shinglemill Pub & Bistro “where locals bring their guests”
INGREDIENTS 2 medium Meyer lemons, or regular lemons, juiced Zest from 1 lemon, about 1 teaspoon 1 orange, juiced Zest from 1/2 an orange, about 1 teaspoon 2 tablespoons honey, more may be needed if using regular lemons 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar Salt and ground black pepper, to taste 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 large bunches lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale, black kale or Tuscan kale), stems removed and cut into thin strips (approximately 8 cups). 1 cup unsweetened dried cranberries 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped 1 cup chevre or other goat cheese, crumbled METHOD In a jar, or other sealable container, combine citrus juices and zests, honey, vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil. Seal tightly and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Place the kale in a large bowl and add 1 cup of dressing. It should be fairly wet. Gently massage the dressing into the kale with your hands to help it soften a little. Add the cranberries, walnuts and chevre, and gently combine.
LOCAL FOOD VENDORS ALICE’S FRESH PASTA Fresh pasta, frozen soups and sauces featuring local ingredients. Honeyroasted pecans and the world's best mac n’ cheese. Products available at The Nutcracker (201-4741 Marine Avenue), Andtbaka Farms (2240 Lund Highway), Pacific Point Market (select items) or by special order.
Call or text 604.344.1992 • facebook.com/alicesfreshpasta
Lakeside dining on beautiful Powell Lake 6233 Powell Place – take first right off Highway 101 after the Powell River bridge
ANDTBAKA FARMS Next time you find yourself on the Lund Highway, be sure and visit our farm, home of “The Farmer’s Gate” (the sign is on the right-hand side of the road just past Dinner Rock turnoff). Our farm store contains a good selection of meat and produce, including our most recent farm-made Humdinger sausages. Now offering cut and wrap, sausage making and curing services.
2240 Lund Highway • 604.483.9890 COTTAGE CREEK BAKE SHOP & PIZZA Find us at the Winter Market, Saturdays on Joyce Avenue. Already frazzled about your Christmas baking? Contact us to get our holiday menu and reserve your treats today. Hot pizzas to pick up at the bake shop on weekends. Call us!
7886 Gifford Road • 604.414.0616 • Proud member of the Powell River Chamber of Commerce
OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK Shinglemill Express, we’ll take you home. For details, 604.483.3666
PUB 604.483.3545 BISTRO 604.483.2001
FRUITS AND ROOTS JUICE BAR We are excited to be offering our meal-prep program. Fresh menu each month, which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many vegan and gluten-free dishes available. Minimum order of six meals. Order days are Monday and Friday before 2 pm. Pickup days are Tuesday and Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. Delivery options available.
6182 Alberni Street (inside Ecossentials) • 604.485.2346
2 WEDNESDAY.JUNE 18 FALL/WINTER 2017 15.2016 | POWELL | POWELL RIVER RIVER PEAK PEAK
Water & Wood tells the story of the many farmers, restaurateurs, business Water & Wood the story who of thework manyto farmers, business owners and foodtells producers make restauranteurs, the best of Powell Riverâ€™s owners and food producers who work to make the best of Powell Riverâ€™s food. Allow the pages of Water & Wood to transport you to the Powell River food. Allow the pages Water & Wood to transport you to the Powell of today, and also shareofwith you the history and memories of its River past. of today, and also share with you the history and memories of its past.
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Now Serving Enjoy steakhouse quality, Black Angus Beef at home, patiently aged 21 days for tenderness and flavour. Because the key ingredient to a great steak... is beef.
great place to meet
WESTERN CANADIAN - AAA - AGED 21 DAYS
great place to eat