A taste of Abbotsford

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Don’t be fooled by the farmland that stretches for miles across the Sumas border. The City of Abbotsford is experiencing a renaissance, with boutique restaurants and stores opening on its main strip, Montrose Avenue, and lots of great shopping. Moreover, the favorable United States-Canadian exchange rate means the American dollar goes 30 percent further in Canada than it does at home.

We spent a night at Abbotsford’s Brookside Inn, a six-room boutique hotel overlooking Pepin Brook Vineyard, and passed the weekend tasting and enjoying all things quintessentially Canadian. Following are my top picks.

Tracycakes Bakery Café is a feminine space with glassy chandeliers, lace tablecloths, ornate tea cups and home-baked delicacies—all of them a great combination for a high tea experience. Owner Tracy Dueck is a cupcake guru and pastry pro, so if fluffy scones with marmalade, mini-cupcakes with generous swirls of buttercream icing and chocolate eclairs are your cup of tea, don’t miss it. The café is open from 9am-5pm Monday through Saturday and 10-5 Sundays, and reservations are recommended. Info:

One restaurant in high demand is Duft & Co. Brickhouse, a cozy, casual-upscale dinner eatery with an ambient vibe and a down-home neighborhood feel. Chef and owner Tyler Duft specializes in handmade pizzas baked in brick ovens and topped with local farm ingredients, nutrient-rich salads with farm-to-fork ingredients and gourmet desserts that will leave your taste buds in a state of ecstasy. Again, it’s a good idea to make a reservation. Info:

Honey fans, be warned: You’ll be in sweet heaven at Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm, Country Store & Meadery. The family-owned business has amazing honey flavors, including blueberry, alfalfa, fireweed, buckwheat, squash and clover. Campbell’s is also the place to buy mead (honey wine), an ancient alcoholic beverage thought to predate beer and wine. The mead is available in different sizes and flavors—and adults 21 and older can cross the border with one liter each. Info:

High Street is Abbotsford’s equivalent of Bellis Fair—except that it’s an outdoor, pedestrian mall with a few distinctly Canadian retailers you won’t find south of the border. Foodwise, Cupcakes by Heather and Lori will rock and elevate your concept of the humble cupcake, while PopBar will perform the same spin on popsicles. If you’ve a keen shopper in your group, this is a go-to destination worth the one-hour drive for a couple hours of retail therapy. Info:

If you opt to stay the night, Brookside Inn’s suites range in price from $100-$200 (Canadian) and each of the suites is movie-themed. Owners Chris and Sandi Buis complement their carefully furnished accommodations with sumptuous breakfasts on fine China and their three-story Tudor-style hotel is intimate, luxurious and a far cry from your average chain hotel. Info:

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