HOME > Chowhound > B.C. (inc. Vancouver) >


Cross-border shopping: the food/drinks you always bring home to Vancouver

Headed to the Great American Distillers Festival in Portland later this month (with a few stops en route). Presumably, we'll bring back some local craft spirits, Stumptown coffee, seasonal beers...and hit Trader Joe's. Am curious about what those of you who make regular trips to Washington and Oregon like to bring back to Vancouver. Either local specialties, or just daily staples that are way cheaper in America. Is it better to do our shopping in Oregon or Washington? Thanks for any help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: piwakawaka

      I agree! If in Seattle, I always go to Beecher's in Pike Place Market for their Flagship Cheese. It's so tasty! Here's a link: http://www.beechershandmadecheese.com/

    2. I'm just back from Portland. Since it's recently been unavailable in Canada (didn't meet bilingual labelling requirements I'm told), Annie's salad dressing (especially the shitake sesame) is one thing I stocked up on this trip. CB Peanut butter is another (haven't noticed it up here, good stuff).

      This PDX trip also yielded some terrific olive oils from Bennesere, an assortment of finishing salts from The Meadow (huge salt selection, great bitters and chocolate selections there too), great sour beer from Cascade,

      Also Drew's salsa (I get at the co-op in Belligham).

      And Cheese here too!

      A distiller's fest sounds like great fun!

      4 Replies
      1. re: kinnickinnik

        Great suggestions! Especially the sour beer and cheese. (I usually pick up some goose eggs from Pike Place Market too.) If you're interested, here's some info about the distiller's fest: http://www.distillersfestival.com/

        We're also going to hit the mushroom festival in Yachats on Sunday. (Bonus points if anyone wants to share a good place to forage.)

        1. re: bookley

          I don't know if you like Shaggy Mane mushrooms, I've found the motherlode. For years and years I used to forage in the fields in Richmond, but they're all but gone now. After they put in the Canada Line on Cambie they put down new and improved soil - and now Shaggy Mane's are popping up everywhere, namely Cambie and King Ed, and at the food of Cambie at Marine Drive but I've seen small patches all up and down Cambie. It kills me to drive past and not pick them...but last year I put away so many I just don't need anymore.....good luck!

          1. re: Quattrociocchi

            Urban mushrooms! We get Princes and various boletes popping up in Richmond and I've even found morels in the parking lot at Lansdown mall. But I'm kinda wary of actually eating urban mushrooms since I've no idea what sort of weedkillers the city sprays on the grass.

            1. re: Quattrociocchi

              They are all over the boulevards on Pacific in Yaletown.

        2. Fage yogurt - we make a point of picking it up (and asking any friends crossing the border to pick it up) every time we go. And then there's the wine....

          2 Replies
          1. re: clutterer

            I second that! Especially the little honey sidecar ones.

            1. re: bluegoat

              But they gotta be the Fage Total Classic full fat ones to get the true effect :-) and as miss foodie says below, those are getting increasingly hard to find, alas. http://www.fageusa.com/products/fage-... if you want to be scared by the fat content.

          2. This might sound pedestrian, but I've always liked Henry Weinhard's beers, which stopped being imported into BC years ago. I always try to bring some back when I have the chance.

            1. Nutter Butter Wafers. Not the sandwich cookies but the light wafer ones. Yes it is processed sugar and all but I just love it !

              1. Definitely salt and maybe chocolate from the Meadow in Portland, mole salami from Salumi in Seattle, and Tillamook light sour cream.

                1. Whole Foods in downtown Portland (near Powells bookstore) usually has a huge selection of finishing salts for really good prices in bulk containers. (they are located near the produce section) I've stocked up on salish (alderwood smoked salt) for a fraction of the price that Whole Foods charges here in Vancouver.

                  If you go to Trader Joes, you should try the chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. They are hugely addictive. I like them much better than the Brookside version, which I find to be too sweet for my liking.

                  I really like Fage yogurt, especially the ones with the fruit. Trader Joes used to carry the version with fruit back in the summer but there were not available at the TJ that I went to in Seattle last weekend. I couldn't find any Fage at Fred Meyers either. Interestingly enough, I found them (0% and 2% versions) at the Walmart Supercenter at Marysville and that Walmart location never used to carry Fage before when i checked a couple of months back. The full fat Fage are really hard to find. I have not manage to come across them yet.

                  Some of the Walmarts or Costcos in Oregon carry Mexican Coca-Cola by the flat. The Mexican Coke is sweetened with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: miss.foodie

                    +1 on the TJ's pomegranate seeds. I too am addicted, thanks to miss foodie :-).

                  2. Whiskey from the Duty Free. Been going through the one close to Lyndon, way better pricing and much shorter lineup than Peace Arch. I know my whiskeys and local pricing pretty well so I'm always looking for something with the greatest price difference, assuming the style is acceptable. Always look out for Duty Free special offerings, whiskeys only available in the travel shops. Highland Park 1998, Johnny Walker Double Black, etc.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Tinfoilhat

                      Do they have a good Bourbon (or American Whisky) selection? That's what I'm always looking for (at the right prices of course).

                      1. re: eatrustic

                        Hit and miss. There always are the standard offerings, albeit at least 1/3 or more less than at the BCLB. Then there are others that they will have for a while, and then discontinue. I must admit that I don't look at the Bourbons too often, with a one bottle limit I head for the Scotch. Sometimes though there are some nice surprises. I picked up a bottle of Amrut going south last year, and a bottle of Basil Hayden on the way back.

                    2. I like to refill my growler with the Imperial IPA at Boundary Bay Brewing in Bellingham.
                      Likewise with anything from Deschutes Brewery while in Portland.

                      Count me among the Pike Place Beecher's cheese fans as well, but the prices are getting out of control--even by Vancouver standards.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: CoolerbytheLake

                        If you're a Costco member, check the WA stores for Beechers.

                        I was just reminded of another item I buy regularly (as I polished off the last of a package) - Kirkland Marcona almonds. Rarely available here, but regularly stocked in WA Costcos.

                      2. Canned fire-roasted tomatoes by the case; trader joe' s organic Valencia peanut butter; Pyrate Rum (1/4 of the price in Oregon compared to BC)

                        1. Interesting thread. We live in Seattle and when we go to Vancouver, I make a bee line to Meinhardt's to see if they have anything interesting or new. Also go to the Punjabi Market to get dal badis; even though we have a significant subContinent population because of Microsoft, still no dal badis. But at long last, finally have Indian sweets in Seattle area; no longer have to import them from Canada!

                          1. Just got back from Portland. Love it.

                            It really depends what you are in to...but here is a list

                            Salts - The Meadow (Mississipi Ave). This place also has great chocolate and bitters selection from Fee Bros.

                            Cognac/Brandy - Anything from Germain-Robin (waay better than even XO Cognac's from France, and half the price). Loved the XO, and the Shareholders Reserve.

                            Gin - 12 Bridges, No.209, lots of local stuff that is good.

                            Beer - Get a case from Rogue, Descutes, HUB. You really can't go wrong here.

                            Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley - expensive, but really good. Funny enough, the best deals will be at Safeway, where Pinot's are regularly on sale and are always cheaper than buying direct from winery. Example - Erath 2009 Pinot Noir (non-reserve). $35 in BC, $24 at the winery, $13 at Safeway.

                            Bulk 6 yr old Balsamic Vinegar from Cork

                            American Rye - Sazerac, Old Overholt, Bulleit Rye, Ri - all great - and make the best manhattens.

                            Vermouth - Punt e Mes (sweet, slightly bitter), Carpano Antica (sweet), Dolin Dry. Get these from the italian market on Mississippi and 24th (?)....by the food carts.

                            Hope that helps!

                            1. I was in Costco south of the border and observed the man in front of me. He was from Vancouver and after discussion he told me he always buys from Costco, WA a big bottle of kalamata olives (pitted!), a plastic shaker big bottle of crumbled feta, and cheese, lots of cheese. I left the cashout area and ran back into the store to get the above items! Worth getting. If I have a cooler, I also get chicken.

                              On a recent trip I spent $160 in Fred Meyer on chicken and cheese - lots of cheese. Feta, a couple of types of cheddar, parmesan, romano, jalapeno jack. All good. And with teenagers, we can go through a lot of cheese!

                              1. *organic butter - it's about half the price
                                *cheese and MANY, many other things from Trader Joes
                                *grape nut FLAKES cereal - i dont think we get that stuff here in bc any more do we?
                                *snowman peeps - avail only seasonally - they make cute decorations in holiday hot chocolate. Go to Target to find them in the seasonal candy aisle.
                                *flavoured sparkling water - many more flavours than we get up here in BC - at TJ's
                                *trader joes frozen mac and cheese
                                *Annie's instant single-serve mac and cheese (Trader Joes)
                                *Portland specifically - the tea that is from there called Zhenas Gypsy Tea - there are some flavours at London Drugs but not this one - Raspberry Earl Grey

                                so many things, i love shopping in the usa, it's the best.

                                1. I forgot to add that i always stop at New Seasons Markets in PDX area (a local chain) and buy some ORGANIC non-fat milk powder (Organic Valley brand) -- for some reason, perhaps the dairy marketing boards in Canada, we can't get decent similar product up here. It is handy to have on hand on the boat or at the cabin when fresh milk esp for cooking is not always available.

                                  1. See's Candies is a definite must.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: 123

                                      oh - the mincemeat creams from See's. My friend up here always received a box of See's a few times a year from So Cal relatives.
                                      i'm a purdy's fan too - the dairy cream

                                    2. Secret Aardvark hot sauce.

                                      1. For other late readers...

                                        When I go to Oregon, I always bring back Marionberry jam. I know, it seems silly, as we live in a city overrun by blackberry bushes. But that is the best da*n jam. I bought mine at Safeway, but there must be independant producers as well.

                                        Other than that, I mostly get excited about the liquor selection. Sometimes I feel like the provincial liquor boards are run by crazy puritanical nazis.

                                        3 Replies
                                            1. re: melliebean

                                              I'm so silly...I got the jam at Whole Foods, not Safeway.