Is there a ski-town left in North America that isn’t touched by mega-corporations, legal red-tape, and million dollar homes? The answer is yes! In a remote part of British Columbia there is one of these places left. Nestled in a tight valley surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains the town of Nelson BC hugs the long, thin Kootenay Lake. From here, every mode of transportation available to go skiing and snowboarding is available. Cat skiing, heli-skiing, chairlift accessed terrain and even backcountry excursions, this place has it all.
The question is, why should you even spend a day in Nelson BC when you have so much to do outside of it? Simple, it has the quirkiness and distinctiveness of a Pacific Northwest municipality, but at the same time the grittiness of a steel mill town in the Appalachians. A place of contrasts. A location filled with more things to see and do in a small parcel of land than in most large cities.
The Yellow Deli – We Serve The Fruit Of The Spirit
If there is only one place you can check out due to time constraints it would have be the Yellow Deli which is owned by a commune called the Twelve Tribes. Originally known as the Preserved Seed, it sits a little bit further down the road away from the main drag. The décor is homey, relaxed and would be like your grandma’s cottage if she were a hippy from the 60’s. Ambient lighting, checkered drapes, ferns in every corner, and calm meditative zen music will put you in a serene state of mind. There is a feel that even a visit to the deli counter might reset your chakras. The employees working were wearing flannel shirts, rolled up jeans, and boots. True Canadians, ready for any type of weather that Nelson BC might throw at them. The ambience and servers helped prepare our minds and soul for our upcoming meal. The Humble Cabbage Soup was a filling tomato-based soup with celery seed and marvelous cabbage that seemed to be pickled. Another item on the menu that was good was the Cheesy Seed & Nut salad that had enough cheese to taste but didn’t overwhelm the salad.
By far the most interesting option on the menu was the spelt sourdough bread. It was dense, moist, slight salty, still warm and with no preservatives. The Yellow Deli was truly an amazing experience and will not be forgotten.
The Oyster Man Cometh!
If you are looking for something a little closer to the center of town or a nice place for a date night, then head over to Pitchfork Eatery. Tucked away on a small hill overlooking the thoroughfare, its located right off of Baker St. at the Hall St. dead end. The joint has a dark wood grain interior with dim lighting and cool ambient house playing. We started the night with one of their interesting cocktails such called the Old Growth Forest.
Old Growth Forest… In A Drink
It’s a mixed drink that is lemon colored and sprinkled with rosemary providing an herby forest look. The cocktail commences slightly sweet and refreshing, but finishes with a touch of tart and spicy. If you’re lucky and in-town on the last Friday of the month be sure to drop by for the famous Oyster-man. Even though Nelson is in the middle of British Columbia, they’re fortunate enough to have fresh oysters delivered from a farm located ten hours away on Victoria Island! Talk about from farm to table! If raw oysters aren’t your thing then the Spanish oysters might float your boat. They are baked oysters with chorizo, melted cheese and speckling of corn. The spiciness of the chorizo with the sweetness of the corn accompanying the oyster pairs very well leading to a fantastic bite.
Homey European Food Like Grandma Used To Make
When we visited Nelson this restaurant was dedicated to all-things Garlic? Hence the name the Outer Clove. Like all great restaurants they change with the times. Now instead of just garlic inspired dishes they now serve up meals that will remind you of the “old country” specifically countries such as Hungary or Poland. Expect to find Eastern European staples like fresh locally made pirogies — a Polish style dumpling that is to die for. A personal favorite my grandma used to make for me – stuffed cabbage. If you’re a garlic lover don’t worry there are some of the most popular items still on the menu like the Chicken Cordon Clove which is a Chicken Cordon Bleu that is garlic infused.
A Night On The Town
After a great meal, what’s next? Sure, you can always go to the Library Lounge inside of the Hume Hotel to hear some live jazz music. If that’s not your thing, head around the corner to Mike’s Pub. It’s the local watering hole and even has a few of Nelson Brewing Company’s beers on tap. The BEST idea though is to go see a Nelson Leaf’s hockey game. For only ten bucks you will have the time of your life. The home games are played at the Nelson and District Community Complex, which is located right in the center of town. As part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League this will give you a chance to see a future hall of famer play. People in Canada take their hockey seriously and this is a great opportunity to see the sport in its purest form.
After a long night of fun what happens if you wake up and it’s nuking? Head over to Oso Negro for an astounding cup of coffee and a quick bite to eat. Instead of the typical “Mc’Ds” food Oso’s breakfast sandwiches will get you fueled from locally sourced ingredients AND be tasty.
The egg plus Canadian ham along with sprouts on a baked spelt bun make this the perfect breakfast sandwich. Conveniently, right when you walk in they have the day’s backcountry report broadcast, to make sure you are ready for what they day brings!
For a town of 10,000 people the choices on food and things to do are astonishing. You might be heading up into the backcountry or going on a week-long cat skiing expedition, but no matter what take time out of your trip to check out Nelson BC. This place is special and worth it.