THE GOODS FROM WHISTLER CORNUCOPIA
Cornucopia, Whistler’s annual celebration of food and drink, is set to return to the mountain and will run from November 6th to the 16th. The festival attracts countless chefs, restaurateurs, vintners, distillers, and brewers from across BC to the village for a seemingly endless battery of winemaker dinners, special lunches, seminars, soirees, tastings, and all manner of delicious events besides. That it lasts for a full 11 days is not only a testament to the breadth and depth of the festival’s excellent programming, but also evidence that Whistler itself can not be “done” in a day. There’s just too much going on, especially during Cornucopia. You can access the full program here, but you can find our picks for what shouldn’t be missed below…
Thursday, Nov. 6 | HOUSE PARTY | “Now established as one of the hottest events of the year, House Party combines live music with local foods and domestic wines. Featuring the best of ‘local’ talent in music, food and wine, we invite you to Our House; a party of epic proportions. Indulge in a BBQ from SIDECUT, home-grown vodka, micro-brewed beer and much more from our land of plenty.” This always proves to be great way to kick off Cornucopia. | DETAILS
Friday, Nov. 7 | CELLAR DOOR | “Cellar Door is a smaller, more intimate tasting featuring more than 25 wineries and showcasing more than 100 wines priced at $35 and up per bottle.” Held in the Grand Foyer of the Whistler Conference Centre, we imagine this event as a concentrated collection of the best and most exclusive wines that can be had during the festival. | DETAILS
Saturday, Nov. 8 | CRUSH GALA GRAND TASTING | “Mingle with friends and discover your new favourite wine among the many red, white and sparkling glasses at this flagship tasting event, held in the Ballroom of the Whistler Conference Centre.” Crush is always a glamorous blast, and with 70 vendors this year, it’s so many tasty birds with just one stone. | DETAILS
Sunday, Nov. 9 | WITH A TWIST | “Wander With a Twist, enjoy a sophisticated atmosphere and decide what works best for you. Create your own mixed drink from the large variety of options provided, listen to tips from our mixologists or taste something they have prepared, or try something about which you have always been curious. Alternatively, have the fine products featured on the rocks or neat – your choice.” It sounds like a Choose Your Own Adventure story, written with booze. Count us in! | DETAILS
Monday, Nov. 10 | BEARFOOT BISTRO LATE-NIGHT WINE MIXER | This includes “a sampling of different wines and a variety of culinary treats by Chef Melissa Craig and her team while the room beats to the vibe of Whistler’s DJs.” Where else but Bearfoot? | DETAILS
Wednesday, Nov. 12 | DINNER AT ARAXI WITH PAINTED ROCK | “Get to know the glorious wines of the Skaha Lake bench from one of BC’s most spectacular vineyards as we welcome proprietor John Skinner of Painted Rock. If you’ve tried these wines before, you know what all the fuss is about; if you haven’t don’t miss this opportunity to get up close and personal with a BC Icon.” If you can go to just one winemaker supper over Cornucopia, let this be it! | DETAILS
Friday, Nov. 14 | NIGHT MARKET: TASTE THE WORLD | “Demonstrating the wonderful adaptability of wines, beers and liquors, attendees enjoy this fun-filled evening in a casual yet refined environment emulating a food market. Sample different beverages with cuisine to experience the magic in matching with exotic and creative fare. A truly gastronomic experience for the fun and adventurous.” Street food in a refined environment may sound a little odd, but the combo certainly makes for a more memorable evening. Expect variety! | DETAILS
Saturday, Nov. 15 | POURED | This event “encompasses an intimate tasting experience of wine, spirits, cider, beer and food. Ticket prices include your own glass to take home and five tokens that can be used for food or wine sampling.” Sounds like a fun mingler with plenty of food and wine, which is exactly what Cornucopia is all about. | DETAILS
To further wet your whistle, we’ve compiled a gallery from past Cornucopia events below…
The GOODS from Fort Berens Winery
Lillooet, BC | The Fort Berens Estate Winery team is back from their recent adventure to Whistler with some great news. Their 2012 Chardonnay picked up the distinguished title of “White Wine of the Year” at Cornucopia, an annual celebration of food and wine, which was held in Whistler Nov. 7-17th.
Winery co-owner Heleen Pannekoek, who accepted the award on behalf of the Fort Berens team, is absolutely thrilled. Pannekoek explained, “Winning White Wine of the Year at Cornucopia is a huge honour for our team. We founded the winery in 2009, and to win such an important award so early on in our winemaking career shows us we are on the right path. We were so pleased to learn that our Chardonnay won amongst so many other amazing white wines.”
Pannekoek continued, “This award is very special for us for another reason as well. Our 2012 Chardonnay is our first 100% estate grown Chardonnay. This award is confirmation that the terroir in Lillooet is well suited to growing top-quality Chardonnay. Our vineyard team has done a fantastic job of nurturing the vines to maturity and that care is reflected in the 2012 vintage.” For more information on the wine and award, visit here and keep reading after the jump… Read more
The highly anticipated Cornucopia is on the immediate horizon and we can’t wait. It’s the ultimate Fall festival for those who love food, wine, and good times, offering something for everybody with winery dinners, craft beers and spirits, themed food and drink events, interactive seminars, and electric after parties. This year, Cornucopia is even more abundant, running for 11 sumptuous, consecutive days with a diverse range of new events, including the Nourish series focusing on sustainable lifestyle choices. Key events this year include:
House Party: Best of BC – November 7 | Now established as one of the hottest events of the year, House Party combines live music with local foods and domestic wines. Featuring the best of ‘local’ talent in music, food and wine, we invite you to Our House; a party of epic proportions. Indulge in BBQ from our backyard, home-grown vodka, micro-brewed beer and much more from our land of plenty.
CRUSH Gala Grand Tasting – November 8 & 9 | Do you ever look at a wine list and wish you could taste it all? At CRUSH, we help you do just that. The flagship tasting event of Cornucopia, CRUSH creates a vibrant atmosphere to sip, sample and savour your way through dozens of wineries. From New-World to Old-World, Sparkling to Champagne, you may just discover your new favourite gem, or ten! CRUSH is conveniently held over 2 nights – Friday Nov. 8th & Saturday Nov. 9th , in the Sea to Sky Ballroom of the Whistler Conference Centre, and although there is no food included, there will be small tidbits available to complement the wines. Attendees are asked to eat prior to the tasting so as not to over-imbibe, and to be able to appreciate the wines to their fullest extent.
Top 25 Celebratory Reception – November 9 | It takes a lot to be the best. Especially amongst winners. Our panel of expertly trained palates sipped, sampled, savoured and sometimes swallowed a breath-taking number of individually incredible wines to bring you the best of the best. The Top 25 of the Cornucopia line-up will be announced and unveiled at this magnificent tasting gala. Lucky ticket holders will have a chance to sample the wines that made the cut and represent the best of Cornucopia’s offerings paired with the Dairy Farmer’s of Canada’s award winning cheeses.
Cornucopia Night Market: A Taste of Asia – November 10 | Straight from the streets of Shanghai and Shinjuku, Cornucopia presents the second annual Night Market, focusing on incredible Asian cuisine from across the globe. Demonstrating the wonderful adaptability of wines, beers and liquors, we invite you to enjoy this fun-filled evening in a casual yet refined environment emulating an Asian-style night noodle market. Sample different beverages with pan-Asian cuisine to experience the magic in matching with exotic and creative fare. A truly gastronomic experience for the discerning palate.
House Party: Best of Argentina – November 15 | Start the weekend at this rousing party featuring some of the most celebrated wines from Argentina alongside local craft beers and spirits from BC distilleries. Enjoy mouthwatering and meaty bites prepared by the Four Seasons Whistler Resort’s SideCut Restaurant. A DJ will spin tunes and the vibe will be festive, so bring your appetite for good times.
Indulge – November 16 | Hosted in the Emerald Ballroom at the Westin Resort and Spa (host sponsor of the event), the funds raised during the evening support the Whistler Health Care Foundation to enhance the provision of health care in Whistler and neighbouring Sea to Sky communities. The night also celebrates and acknowledges sponsors, donors and volunteers who have supported the Foundation throughout the year. Over the last 6 years, Indulge has raised almost $350,000 for the Foundation. Guests are welcomed on a red carpet to a champagne reception followed by a four course dinner. Each course is carefully paired with selected wines sponsored by some of the most celebrated domestic and international wineries. The experience is enhanced by a silent auction, with items generously donated by the local business and artist community. Sparkling jewelry, local art, restaurant and adventure certificates, and exclusive getaway trips are all up for grabs during the evening. There’s always something for everyone on the auction tables.
There are, of course, dozens upon dozens of other things to do while attending Cornucopia. For a complete listing of all the events, parties, dinners, seminars and courses that celebrate the best of food and drink from Whistler and beyond, click here. Be sure to also follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. See you up there starting November 7th!
The GOODS from Araxi
Whistler, BC | As a greatly anticipated annual event, this year’s Big Guns: Icons of the Wine World dinner will feature a spectacular collection of highly rated, rare and collectible wines. On Friday November 9th, seven stellar wineries from the world’s top wine regions will come together at Araxi for an exclusive one-off dinner event. Each critically acclaimed wine has been thoughtfully hand-selected by Wine Director Samantha Rahn, in order to deliver a truly unforgettable tasting experience.
“This year the wines I have selected represent complexity and finesse,” says Rahn. “We want to open our guests’ eyes and palates to some truly unique expressions of grape varieties and diverse regions in a mix of old world and new, tradition and innovation, rule breakers and trend-setters.”
Araxi Executive Chef James Walt will create a bespoke seven-course menu that showcases the excellence of Canadian produce, with standout dishes including Wild Mushroom and Local Beef Cheek Ravioli topped with generous shavings of White Alba Truffles. Guest will be treated to a parade of striking flavours such as Northern Divine Caviar, White Grace Cheese from Salt Spring Island and a tasting of Pemberton’s six varieties of Famous potatoes from Across the Creek Organics. Each course will be carefully paired to these exceptional wines… Read more
The GOODS from Tinhorn Creek
Oliver, BC | On Friday, November 9th, Whistler’s lauded Aura Restaurant will celebrate the award-winning wines of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in an exclusive winemakers’ dinner during Cornucopia: Whistler’s Celebration of Wine and Food.
With a menu inspired by seasonal organic vegetables, Aura Restaurant at Nita Lake Lodge specializes in modern, Pacific cuisine that is rooted in classical culinary craft. Led by Executive Chef Michael Guy, Aura sources sustainably from local farmers, foragers, ranchers and fisheries to bring the best that the west has to offer for every season. The unforgettable menu will feature BC products from both land and sea, showcasing the region’s transition from fall to winter. Expect rustic flavours and refined technique, paired with award-winning wines from Tinhorn Creek Vineyards.
Hosted by Andrew Moon, Tinhorn’s Viticulturist and Vineyard Manager, guests will get insight into Andrew’s unique view from the vineyard. Executive Chef Michael Guy has created a distinctive five-course menu that highlights the excellence of the Pemberton Valley’s autumn harvest—alongside globally-sourced ingredients—with each plate married to Tinhorn Creek Vineyards’ prized wines.
Learn more and get a taste of the menu after the jump… Read more
What a wild weekend! And to think I almost didn’t feel up to it. Pshaw.
We started on the road to Cornucopia in the afternoon on Friday, which meant I missed my favourite event, the Trade Tasting (always good to have that rush when the doors open and the pouring begins). Once installed at the Four Seasons there was an hour for some beta fixes to this website before it was time for the Big Guns dinner at Araxi. This year the feature winery was Penfolds, and they broke out the superlative ’98 Grange during the 4th course (dry aged Pemberton Meadows beef with veal sweetbreads). The night went late and long, and involved cigars, ports, whiskeys, and I presume a few other things before I found myself in bed, 6 hours later and dying for coffee and a brand new tongue. The next day saw guests and media piled into a chartered bus and whisked to a private home tucked away outside the village for a luncheon showcasing Prospect Winery wines and the talents of Cabana Bar & Grille chef Ned Bell. Five courses later and fully recovered now from the night before, I stole a two hour nap at the hotel, enjoyed a forty minute shower, and then dressed for dinner at Bearfoot Bistro. We began in the cellar, where owner Andre St. Jacques sabred some large format Pommery champers and the gathered guests got giddy in anticipation. I’d spent some time with chef Melissa Craig and Andre in Vancouver a few days previously at the Gold Medal Plates, and they’d mentioned that dinner, paired with dueling Chateau de Beaucastel wines, was going to be a “different” and a “surprise”. And man, was it ever. They’d dreamed up a “diner” theme, playing up comfort foods of yore with high end ingredients and exacting preps, everything from mac & cheese and grilled cheese to eggs benny and banana splits. I heard some bitching from some guests (“I wouldn’t pay $250 for dinner in a diner!”), and even some media, but overall I thought the response was very positive. I certainly loved it. It takes guts to get thematic, and not a little confidence/capability to do it right. The wine pairings were challenging, but I enjoyed how they were structured. For several courses we were poured two glasses of the same wine/vintage, only one had aged in a 750ml bottle and the other in a 3l Jeroboam. Tasting bottle variation based on size wasn’t something I’d done before, and I found it fascinating that the larger format wines, all 20 years old, could do with a lot more cellaring. Once dinner had wrapped (just after midnight), my dining companions and I braved the rain and the drunken Australian teenagers who own the village square for sparkling nightcaps at Araxi’s famous “Bubbles” shindig. One huge improvement this year over previous years: crowd control. One could move relatively easily through the rooms and it was nowhere near as stifling. Perhaps they lost several thousand dollars in ticket sales by lowering their capacity, but the decision made the party that much more enjoyable. Great crowd of usual suspects and a tremendous amount of fun. I struggled somewhat through a long and leisurely brunch over at the Fairmont the next morning (a consequence of two days and nights of going too far), and then it was off down the mountain and back to the always pleasant grind.
In addition to the little home movie above, I’ve put together a gallery of photos below. Many of the pictures in both the gallery and the film were taken by my friend Coleen, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Thanks for reading, watching, and looking. If you have any advil or pepto, I’d appreciate the hook up.
First, I present some delayed optics. Here’s a collection of clips and photographs from our trip up to Penticton, Oliver, and Kelowna during the Fall Wine Festival. Michelle and I had the great pleasure of staying at Apple d’Or; dining very well at Amante Bistro with David and Cynthia Enn of Laughing Stock; fossil hunting at our secret patch; checking out the Penticton Farmer’s Market; hanging and lunching with Ned Bell at Cabana; visiting with Heidi and Michael Noble at Joie; partying at Tinhorn Creek; and checking out Road 13 for the first time since their very cool rebrand. As you will see in the video, I also drank and gawked my way through Grape Stomp, one of the most absurdly debaucherous and “loosely interpreted” competitions I’ve ever been press ganged into judging.
With that out of the way, welcome to the beta version of Scout. There are still several tweaks that we’re trying to fit in, and you’ll likely see a few changes in the coming weeks. I’m sorry it has taken so long, but things took a left turn a few weeks ago and the delay couldn’t be helped.
At school in Africa one of my best friends and fraternity brothers was a brooding Romanian mathematician turned amusing drunk who told very good (if sometimes depressingly solemn) jokes. They always involved the various animals that lived in a dark Carpathian forest near his home, and the protagonist was invariably a rabbit. My favourite – told with a Bucharest accent and in a voice slurred by cheap vodka – went something like this:
The rabbit, he goes to forest supermarket early. When he gets to supermarket, he finds big line. So he start to weave in and out of squirrels, bears, deer, and foxes like so, until he comes to front door. Before he opens door, wolf grabs rabbit and says “Stupid rabbit, get to back of line!” and throws rabbit far. Boom. Like so. The rabbit, he picks himself up, dusts himself off, and starts again through line, all way to front. Again, wolf yells “Stupid rabbit!” and throws rabbit many feet this time. So, the rabbit, hurting plenty much, picks himself up, dusts himself off, and goes through line for third time. The wolf, angry, he waits for rabbit. He grabs rabbit by ears, and throws so far that when rabbit lands on ground he can not get up for long time. So, rabbit, very carefully, picks himself up, dusts himself off, and says “I guess I won’t open supermarket today”.
I don’t know why, but I like that rabbit very much.
I haven’t been all that idle these past three weeks. Scout has been a wonderful bitch to build, Halloween has come and gone (Pip was a ghost, Jack was a storm trooper, Michelle was Cat in the Hat, I was a cowboy), and I’ve been out for several quality meals. Life goes on.
I’ve been trying to track down the last few remaining recipe’s for Vancouver Cooks 2.0, the new cookbook we’re putting together at the Chef’s Table Society with 60 of our best chefs. Just this past week we put pen to paper and signed our contract with our publisher, Douglas & MacIntyre. We also had our first meeting with Pino Posteraro as our new President, which turned out to be very spirited (extra special double plus thanks to Nu for hosting us). Jamie Maw, Sid Cross, and I are now moving into the editorial stage, writing up all the bios and the section intros. Everything appears to be running on schedule for a November 2009 release. Stoked.
The Westender has also kept me busy with my column. A couple weeks back there was a run down of the competing chefs at this week’s Gold Medal Plates, and in circulation right now is my unapologetically gushing review of Voya, the brand new restaurant in the just-opened Loden Vancouver hotel. I’m currently working on next week’s piece, which will preview this year’s Cornucopia gorge fest up in Whistler. It’s really one of my favourite events of the year, and I’m looking forward to a weekend full of the kind of debauchery that I’ll be hard pressed to remember the following week (hence the wisdom of writing about it before rather than after). I’ll be having dinners at Bearfoot and Araxi, plus a couple of killer lunches (one by Ned Bell of Kelowna’s Cabana), and attending some walk-in seminars. Crush and Bubbles will keep me in my cups, and the Four Seasons will help in the bed department. You can expect plenty of video and some wayward reporting once I return down the mountain.
That’s all for now.