Over the weekend John and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. Since we’ve been on the go so much, we decided to have a mini staycation and ended up staying in Richmond (following our attendance at the Sport BC banquet Thursday night). We had the most amazing room at the River Rock Casino Resort complete with big soaker tub, twinkling stars in the ceiling, and a beautiful 180 degree view.
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I had previously linked up with Tourism Richmond regarding our plans for a mini staycation and they arranged a few activities for us. Hopping into a Garden City Cab we headed down to Steveston for the day without knowing what was in store. The first stop was lunch at Tapenade Bistro.
It was a cold and blustery day along the waterfront and walking into Tapenade we were welcomed with warm aromas (especially from the truffle oil that topped the soup of the day, potato leek). That was enough to make me order the soup right off the bat, while John went with an appetizer order of the fish and chips (halibut cheeks with eggplant frites).
The soup was smooth yet textured with tiny bits of pancetta, and small potato cubes. John’s fish was tender, crisp, and the eggplant soaked up delicious flavours yet maintained its crispy shell. Our mains were the mushroom and arugula crepes along with the flatiron steak salad. The crepes were rich and creamy, and the steak was succulent and tender. Without leaving any room for dessert, we enjoyed a glass of wine as we looked out the rustic shuttered windows to watch the fishing boats dance in the wind.
Following our meal, Chef Alex Tung came out and handed me an envelope. Tourism Richmond had planned a secret scavenger hunt for the rest of the day and this envelope contained our first clue and led us over to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. “Built in 1894 in the historic fishing village of Steveston, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery was the largest building of its kind and the leading producer of canned salmon in British Columbia.”
The cannery is an incredible industrial structure that takes you back in time to the smokey, pungent, waterfront cannery operations (minus the disgusting smells and soot, nowadays). It took us at least 30 minutes to make our way through, taking photos and reading placards. Some displays had audio that would play from speakers hidden inside old cans, while black and white news reel footage played from kiosks in the middle of one of the rooms.
The women at the gift shop were very friendly and helpful, and we soon found that to be common theme in Steveston. We had fun exploring and learning about the cannery, and answering a trivia question before receiving our next clue.
The next stop was Pieces Gift Shop located inside Steveston’s oldest building; it was the only building to survive the ‘great fire’ of 1918 in the area. Filled with local, Canadian, and imported trinkets, jewels, furniture, gift items, and toys, we spent quite a bit of time browsing the collections at Pieces. The owner spotted us and asked if we were looking for a clue, which indeed we were. We chatted about the building (and learned its history), about the display cases (made from recycled wood by a local woman), and scooped up our next clue that sent us over to Steveston Coffee Co.
Just across the street and down a few doors, we arrived at Steveston Coffee Co. Fresh baked goods and house-roasted coffee beans were their specialty. We grabbed a drop coffee and a mocha before receiving our next clue.
A Monkey Tree Emporium, another great gift shop, was next on our list. It had clever kitchen gadgets, paintings by local artists, and a very unique and extensive greeting card collection that made me chuckle out loud several times.
The clue we collected her instructed us to head over to The Prickly Pear garden centre next, where I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
The final clue from the garden centre instructed us to end our day at Bell’s Bake Shop, the next street over.
I went with the devil’s food cupcake while John chose the one topped with Reese’s Pieces. Cupakes at Bell’s are delicious, creamy, and sweet without being overpowering in taste. They also have gluten-free and vegan options. While we were there, a woman came in and asked for strawberry but the girl behind the counter said they only use fruits that are in season for their cupcakes.
We waited there for our return trip to the River Rock by taxi and reflected on the day’s activities. History, arts, culture, culinary talents, and local pride were all prevalent in Steveston through cupcakes and coffee, paintings, heritage structures, independent shops, and passionate proprietors.
While we definitely have to come back during the warmer months (to enjoy from fish & chips or an ice cream on the wharf), I found new places to shop, buy coffee, and take my niece and nephews. I also realized how lucky I am to have a husband who enjoys scavenger hunts, photowalks, local history, and all that we discovered in Steveston that day.