Sweet treats in Abbotsford and a perfect picnic at Harrison Lake

The days of summer may be dwindling, but there’s still time for a sweet scoop of ice cream or a perfect picnic by the lake

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Banter Ice Cream

Where: 33660 S Fraser Way, Abbotsford.


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When: Monday-Sunday, noon-10 p.m.

Reservations and info: 604-300-2123, Bantericecream.com

Harrison Corner Cafe

Where: 310 Hot Springs Rd., Harrison Hot Springs.

When: Wednesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Monday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. 

Reservations and info: 604-491-4429, Harrisoncornercafe.com

The days of summer may be dwindling, but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy a sweet scoop of ice cream outside or a perfect picnic by the lake.

With sights set on a day spent outdoors exploring a few destinations in the Fraser Valley, we headed to the much buzzed-about ice creamery Banter in Abbotsford for a few creamy scoops that would make the drive to our planned picnic spot that much sweeter.

The chic shop owned by Laura and Zach Janz is situated in Jubilee Park and offers small-batch ice cream in a variety of unique flavours served in a cup or a house-made waffle cone (on offer for $1 extra).


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Banter Ice Cream in Abbotsford.
Banter Ice Cream in Abbotsford. Photo by Aleesha Harris /PNG
House-made waffle cones at Banter Ice Cream in Abbotsford.
House-made waffle cones at Banter Ice Cream in Abbotsford. Photo by Aleesha Harris /PNG

On a slightly cooler Sunday afternoon, we managed to stop by the green-tiled ice cream shop without having to wait in line. By the looks of things, we’d narrowly missed a small rush on scoops as there was a large party enjoying their cones outside on the grass, while a few more couples were seated around the outdoor patio.

Inside, the shop is bright and modern — read: very Instagrammable — but the star of this dairy destination is, without a doubt, its small-batch ice cream selection. Banter has a curated menu filled with mainstay ice cream flavours, as well as a few vegan-friendly options, each with a twist such as Sea Salt Caramel, Lemon Curd, Marble Malt Chocolate Cookie Dough and Wild Mint Chip.

“Inspiration comes from a lot of places,” Laura Janz explained via email. “Some of our flavours are influenced by nostalgia and things we grew up eating, like mom’s lemon tarts, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch at breakfast.”


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For those hungry for something a little unexpected, Banter also offers an assortment of options that are a little more eyebrow raising such as Blackberry Chèvre, Peach Habanero and Blueberry Basil, many of which are made using ingredients from Fraser Valley and B.C. farmers and artisan growers.

“We churn all of our ice cream in small batches, taste-testing and tweaking them until they’re perfect — sometimes this can take up to 10 attempts to get the right balance of flavour and texture,” Janz said. “Despite launching four new flavours every month, we always seem to have more ideas than time, and we have a running list of flavours we can’t wait to make.”

Be advised: Flavours change throughout the day based on how quickly favourites sell out, so you may not find your first-choice scoop on offer on the first try. Thankfully, our top picks were present, though.


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We opted for the Cold Brew Coffee, a creamy concoction that was perfectly coffee flavoured without being too strong, along with the too-tempting-to-resist Cinnamon Toast Crunch, choosing to enjoy our single scoops served in an aforementioned waffle cone.

“Both the Cold Brew Coffee and the Cinnamon Toast Crunch are part of our everyday ice creams, so you don’t ever have to worry about missing out on these flavours,” Janz said.

The coffee-flavoured ice cream is made using coffee beans from the Calgary-based outfit Phil and Sebastian, according to Janz.

“We steep the beans for 24 hours in our base and then double strain it to make sure there aren’t any grinds left over in the ice cream,” she said.

A scoop of Cinnamon Toast Crunch ice cream at Banter Ice Cream in Abbotsford.
A scoop of Cinnamon Toast Crunch ice cream at Banter Ice Cream in Abbotsford. Photo by Aleesha Harris /PNG

The scoops at Banter are generous, the cones perfectly crunchy without being too crisp or crumbly. We found them to be formidable vessels for the ice cream inside, getting neither leaky nor soggy while we consumed the creamy confections.


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Providing a nice nostalgic take on a beloved cereal treat, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch features large chunks of cinnamon crisp with a generous mix of cinnamon folded into the ice cream, as well.

“Our Cinnamon Toast Crunch ice cream tastes just like the cereal, and that’s the secret — we soak our base overnight with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and strain out the bits, leaving just the cereal milk,” Janz says. “Then we coat pieces of the cereal in white chocolate and fold them into our ice cream, giving the ice cream the perfect crunch.”

For fans of Banter who come from farther afoot in the Fraser Valley, here’s a fresh scoop: The outpost in Abbotsford has proven to be such a big hit that a second location in Chilliwack is planned for 2022.


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It could be said it’s a sign of a delicious ice cream experience when early talk of which flavours will be had next time you stop in commences before you’ve even finished your first scoop.

Admittedly, we were barely out the door of Banter, only a few licks in, when just such a discussion kicked off.

For the record: We settled on Sea Salt Caramel and Wild Mint Chip. Banter, we will be back.

A perfect picnic

Armed with our ice cream cones, we set out toward Harrison Hot Springs for a relaxing late-afternoon picnic on the beach.

Local eatery Harrison Corner Cafe — a go-to for great breakfast — has been offering a picnic package this summer for diners to enjoy, well, wherever they’d like to.

Available by pre-order, the assemblage of eats is priced at $40 and features enough food to sustain two to four people, depending on one’s appetite.


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We picked up our basket at a predetermined time, conveying it from its paper box to a soft-sided cooler for easy transport to the beach. The kit includes a full French baguette, house-made chickpea hummus, tapenade, raspberry jam, sliced fruit, a small selection of meat and cheese and a package of chocolate chip cookies.

The picnic basket spread from Harrison Corner Cafe.
The picnic basket spread from Harrison Corner Cafe. Photo by Aleesha Harris /PNG

A choice of either sparkling water or orange juice are included in the picnic package, with wine or beer available for an additional cost for those who will be enjoying their picnic indoors. The full kit also included paper plates, napkins and cutlery so that, truly, no element of the eating experience was overlooked.

The food was simple and fresh, the selection diverse enough to keep things interesting. For those who are looking for a quick picnic option without the hassle of any picking and packing, this may be the perfect fit.


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With our delightful bites in tow, we found a quiet spot on a favourite stretch of beach and settled down for a few lazy hours of sips, nibbles and a spectacular lake view. With a few wades into the water, too, of course. Long live summer.


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