Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vancouver, British Columbia

I decided to book a trip to the famous Dean River to go fly fishing for King Salmon and Steelhead.  Not only did it require some work on making sure I had the right gear, flies and travel arrangements but I had to plan food for the trip.  To get to the Dean from San Diego meant a layover in San Francisco, a night in Vancouver, another flight to Smithers and then a float plane to the lodge.

But when you fly over British Columbia in one of these you get to see some really beautiful country.

The lodge I booked with Blackwell's thru April Vokey's Flygals service and they let me know that their lodge cook, Julie, could accomodate my gluten free needs.  That was one big hurdle to get over since I would be there for six days in the middle of nowhere.  As any one would food sensitivies would do I still packed a fair amount of GF options to be on the safe side.

I made a section in my luggage for Schar GF bread, Glutino breakfast bars, Kind bars, tunafish packets, chocolates, applesauce packs, nuts, oatmeal packets, tamari sauce packets, and Lotus ramen.

In reaseraching the area I found the gals at Glutenfree Vancouver.  They were helpful and their website has lots of information.  If you are planning a trip to Vancouver make sure you bookmark their site.

I stayed at the Westin Bayshore for the night in Vancouver.  It was located on the water near the convention center and was a cool place to walk around and explore.  The other reason I chose that hotel was the resturant Seawall Bar & Grill.  I was told they were GF friendly and they were.  I sat at the bar and had the local heirloom tomato and barrata salad and for dinner I had the Salmon.  Both were very good.  The guys were well aware of the gluten free issue and told me how serious the kitchen takes all food sensitivities.

That evening I took a stroll to SMAK.  You have to go here if you are in Vancouver.  I want one of these in San Diego.  The place is 100% GF.  Open 5:30am to 10pm daily you have a place to go.  I ate their cookies for dessert and they were very good.  I returned the next morning for breakfast and had their sausage (house made) egg sandwich on GF bread, coffee and a mango smoothie.  I grabbed more cookies and picked up an asian salad to go for when I went to the airport.

I had the chance to walk around a bit, Vancouver is a neat town - a few hours is not enough.  The harbor is cool and along the seawall are lots of things to see.  I made it to Michael and Youngs Flyshop - lots of great fly tying stuff, rods, reels, outerwear, you name it they have it.  But then it was off to the airport for the flight to Smithers.

I landed in Smithers and was picked up and taken to the float plane.  If you spend time in Smithers the gals at Gluten Free Vancouver said that Trackside Cantina, Daddio's, Alpenhorn pub and Boston pizza are options.  The airport is super small but has a great grizzly bear.

At the lake I met Matt Joyce, who was going to be one of our guides for the week while April was off filming for a new movie.  Then we were off to the Dean on the single engine float plane.  Wendell, of Alpine Lakes Air, runs a nice outfit.  Clean, well maintained planes and he is one hell of a pilot.

Justin Blackwell and Steve Morrow met us on the water when the plane landed and shuttled us up the hill to the lodge.  I met Julie, who was our cook extrodinare for the week.  I believe she went to a culinary school somewhere but not sure, I never had the chance to verify the information.  She had breakfast on the table every morning, prepared lunch for us everyday for us to eat on the river and had dinner ready every night at seven.

The food was incredible, she assured me it would not be a problem to cook gluten free and keep my food safe, and she had already made a separate space in the kitchen to prepare my food.  Our table was the meeting place for breakfast and dinner (lunch we ate on the river).

Breakfast was the way to get ready for a day of fishing.  We had eggs many ways - poached, scrambled, eggs benedict (mine without the bread), pop overs (cooked in muffin tins) - and all were delicious.  Meats were sausage or bacon and both were super good.  There was always fresh fruit, orange juice and lots of coffee on the table.  The only thing I missed out on was the muffins and scones (these were not GF) but everyone raved about how good they were.

Lunch was served on the river.  Everyday we had a fresh, hot soup.  There was tomato, parsnip, potato, vegetable and a few others I can't remember.  Each one was delicious.  I remember having seconds on most and I had a third serving of the parsnip soup.  Each one was GF except a mushroom and steak and vegetable soup that was made with soy sauce (she did not have tamari) so she made a separate batch of soup just for me.  The first few days she made sandwiches for me with my GF bread and she would wrap them separately and label them with my name.  After my GF bread ran out I got tubberware full of salads, meats, cheeses, pickles and sometimes leftovers from dinner.  The one day that everyone was jealous was when my leftovers was the seared ahi tuna from dinner the night before.

What is a fishing trip without a few drinks.  They had wine and liquor and beer.  I was on a mission when I was in Vancouver to find some Glutenberg beer.  Unfortunately it was not easy but I did find a liquor store that had the Glutenberg blonde.  It is made with corn and it was very good.  I was hoping to find their other flavors the pale ale, red and IPA; maybe next time, especially their red which is made with chestnuts.  I really like the cans so you don't have to worry about the glass with other bottled GF beers.

Dinner.  Dana would ring the dinner bell at 7 p.m.  This gave us enough time to unwind, shower and relax after the day of fishing.  Appetizers were on the table before dinner.  There were meats, cheeses and other snacks.  The highlight was the fresh prawns that Justin trapped and Julie cooked with some garlic and butter.

For dinner Julie prepared meals that you would expect to find in any nice restaurant.  The first night we had short ribs cooked to perfection.  Other entrees included salmon, ribs, steak and seared ahi tuna.  Each came with multiple sides of vegetables and salads.  The night we had caesar salad she made a separate bowl for me without the croutons.  Some of the tasty salads had spinach and blueberries with a raspberry vinaigrette.

No meal would be complete without dessert.  There were always brownies available and they were GF.  She makes her brownies with quinoa, chocolate, butter and sugar - no flour.  She also always had these lemon bars with coconut that were delicious.  One of my favorites was her chocolate mousse dessert - I could have eaten three.  Julie made an entire lemon meringue pie one night and made me a GF knockoff below with a coconut chocolate crisp.

I had a great time getting to know the other fisherman - Brian, Ron, Peter, Ronnie and John.  Our guides Matt and Steve were incredible.  Dana and Julie were irreplaceable.  Justin was an amazing and interesting guy, its a shame he had to sell the place, I'm hoping the new owners can carry on with what he has created because I can not see how the experience could be any better.  Maybe it would have been better with more fish in the river but thats how it goes sometimes.

I thought I would leave you with a few pictures of the Dean.

Tight lines,

The Un-Gluten Guy


  1. Wow! what a great write up! It was so nice having you at the lodge! I´ve got a few gluten free recipes you´ll have to check out on my blog as well. take care!

  2. What line did you have on that 9140 One? I remember it was quite well matched.

    -Matt the guide