British Columbia

Langley's walnut wine, horse carpaccio and classic apple pie

On the Coast food columnist Gail Johnson explores Langley's independent restaurant scene, and shares her unexpected finds, such as horse carpaccio and walnut wine.

Hidden gems include Yaletown-worthy dining hidden in an 'awful orange' strip mall, says food columnist

The bright orange strip mall that houses the Fat Cow and Oyster Bar just doesn't do the food or the atmosphere justice, says On the Coast food columnist Gail Johnson. (Gail Johnson)

From the downtown vibes of the Fat Cow and Oyster Bar to the world-class preserves at Vista D'oro Winery, Langley has some surprising menu items on offer.

CBC Food columnist Gail Johnson recently explored a few local restaurants in both the City and Township of Langley and shared what she found with the host of CBC's On the Coast, Stephen Quinn.

"There are all sorts of chains out that way, but I wanted to focus on small, independent spots," she said.

Fat Cow and Oyster Bar

On the surface, the bright orange strip mall that houses the joint doesn't do much for the eyes.

But as with love and pie, it's what's inside that counts.

"Once you step inside our doors, you will forget you are in Langley," jokes the restaurant's website.

The selection of wine and beer available on tap are all from British Columbia, and the restaurant prides itself on using sustainable ingredients.

Diners will find a mix of French classics and West Coast contemporary on the menu, such as the salmon rillette (like a paté) which is served with a smoked, pickled jalapeno sauce.

The seafood-forward menu also includes a traditional Italian seafood stew, or cioppino. It's a hearty dish, packed with prawns, clams, mussels, Dungeness crab and andouille sausage in a tomato lobster broth.

For an equally indulgent option, try the Fat Cow's gourmet mac n' cheese with poached lobster and prawns.

Some menu items are even more surprising than finding fine dining in a strip mall, like the horse carpaccio.

"It's like a really velvety beef," says Johnson.

Airport Coffee Shop

Previously, a 36-year-mainstay of the Chilliwack airport, this recently relocated cafe can now be found next to the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley.

The classic apple pictured here is allegedly the top seller at Langley's Airport Coffee Shop but diners can enjoy flavours like dark chocolate slated caramel or try a prairie classic known as the "flapper pie." (Gail Johnson)

Its diner-style menu includes the basics like grilled cheese and burgers, but what it's really famous for is the pie.

The shop was taken over by the three Good sisters in 2008, and, since then, they've added their own touches to the menu, including an item from their Manitoba roots, flapper pie.

The prairie classic has a Graham cracker crust, filled with vanilla custard and topped with a meringue.

If you want more than one slice or need to take a pie home, leave a $5 deposit which will be returned when you bring back the empty pie plate.

Vista D'oro Farms and Winery

The Italian namesake of this valley winery refers to the inspiring view of Golden Ears mountain as seen from the orchards.

Vista D'oro's walnut wine is perfectly enjoyed under the vineyard's giant heritage walnut trees. (Gail Johnson)

Vista D'oro does more than wine, they are also known for their preserves which are sold throughout Canada and the United States.

"They're even available at Harrods, in London, U.K," says Johnson.

The top seller is the fig and walnut wine preserve but there are savoury options as well.

Some creative inventions include the green heirloom tomato and garam masala or yellow plum and turmeric blend.

In the summer, the winery offers picnic packages that include products from Farm House Natural Cheeses and Oyama Sausage along with baguettes and baked goods.

"Take it all outside to enjoy, while overlooking their vineyard and enormous heritage walnut trees," suggests Johnson.

Vista D'oro owner Lee Murphy recently released a new cookbook; Preservatory: Seasonally Inspired Recipes for Creating and Cooking With Artisanal Preserves.

With files from On the Coast