|GF Ham and Swiss sandwich from Hofstede's|
On reaching Chilliwack, I decided to visit Hofstedes Country Barn (hofstedes.ca). Having skipped breakfast I was starving by the time I reached Hofstedes and so I decided to check out their little side cafe, which was bustling with shoppers trying to grab a bite. I had read somewhere that some of their soups are gluten free. I asked the lady at the cashier and she told me the only soup which was gluten free was Split Pea. The other soup was French Onion and she said there might be a chance of some cross contamination with that. I decided to take my chances and ordered the French Onion Soup without croutons and with just the cheese (Most of the time, places can not claim something is gluten free just because its made in a gluten environment, even if it actually contains no gluten, so I decided to take a chance). I also saw a sign saying they make any of their sandwiches on their home-baked gluten free bread, so I decided to try a sandwich as well (I ordered turkey and cheese). For a cup of soup and sandwich, I payed around $10 for my meal.
Well maybe I was famished but the food was delicious! The sandwich was piled high with lettuce and thick slices of tomatoes and sliced turkey. The bread was untoasted and had a nice crumb. The only downside to the bread was that it kept crumbling or breaking as I ate my way through the sandwich, but I felt it was well worth the effort. Even now, my mouth is craving that delicious sandwich. The french onion soup was delicious too...home made ooey gooey cheese...it was lovely and I never did feel sick afterwards :) The best part... it was down to earth, honest, delicious homemade food! It was no wonder their cafe was jam-packed.
After my delicious lunch, I decided to check out the rest of the store. Hofstedes has a fairly good selection of gluten free products albeit at slightly elevated prices than can be found elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. I found the usual brands Tinkyada, Nature's Path, Glutino here. Not extensive variety but a good starting point nevertheless.
I also checked out the Sardis Health Foods store (http://www.sardishealth.com/) in Chilliwack Mall and was pleasantly surprised to find they too carried not just a good supply of gluten free items...but some different brands even I had never seen before. I had a long conversation with one of the ladies working in the store and she told me that the store owners strive to find brands which are different. They were so different that I actually felt I had to note the brands: Gogo Quinoa, Jo-sef's cookies, Namaste, El Peto frozen breads, waffles, pizza shells, Pastato, Pastariso, JK Gourmet's granola mix and Goldbaum's ice cream cones. Enjoy Life, Ener-G, Kinnikinnick, Glutino, and Pamela's mixes were some of the usual brands gluten free brands they carry. The prices were pretty standard. I was so surprised that this little store carried so many gluten free items, although they do not have many items for each brand; however, for El Peto they carried many items. It was so hard to decide what to try first so I decided to purchase the Goldbaum's ice cream cones and the Gogo Quinoa chocolate chip cookies. The Goldbaum's ice cream cones taste like regular ice cream cones and are great for kids! The Gogo Quinoa chocolate chip cookies come individually wrapped and are great on the go and delish! They were not too sweet and had a nice consistency. Besides, you are getting a bit of extra protein because the cookies are made from quinoa - how can you go wrong?!
Anyways, these two stores alone are worth checking out for everyone in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley and what a nice day out too!!
A side note--I did also try to check out Merle's Eatery but they were closed. But I have read this restaurant has its own separate gluten free prep area and would be well worth checking out!