Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

2015's Best of... And Most of

End of year rolls out the reviewer in us all

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Out with the old. In with the... well, sometimes it's the new, and sometimes not. And sometimes it's so far out there it must be from the frontiers of that best left behind.

Every year at this time, we humans love to pause and reflect as the present year recedes in our collective rearview mirror and we forge ahead into the new one.

Here at Pique, it means time for the annual "Best of" edition, celebrating the best of the best in Whistler, as chosen by readers. (Believe me, while it isn't the Academy Awards, the process is well and truly monitored to ensure no monkey business occurs.)

This year's Best of roundup in the food zone is packed with classic "best-ers" along a few unexpected spins. After all, it's Whistler.

To start, we have Purebread leading the charge for Best Dessert. Ingrid's Village Café for Best Quick Lunch. And Green Moustache for Best Vegetarian. Bravo!

When it comes to Best Chef, it's James, once again, of course! (He's such a force of nature born to do what he does, I barely need to introduce him, but I will: That's the inimitable, creative and eternally early adapter of all things local and sustainable, James Walt of Araxi.)

As for the Best Overall Experience, the locals have spoken. Once again, for the nine millionth year, it's Bob Dawson and Rolf Gunther and their magnificent crew at Rimrock Café, which also earned the Best Service nod.

But I needn't go on. You can explore this fine newsmagazine yourself and learn about all the best of the bests. In the meantime, let me entertain you with a couple of reviews from the 2015 food scene at large — a couple for the Best of pot, and one that's maybe gone to pot.

What's Best Before Will Be Best Again

According to the National Restaurant Association, a survey of nearly 1,600 American Culinary Association chefs showed that the top trends of 2015 will continue next year, with this caveat: Culinary professionals will continue to add their own unique spin on things, including the "the grow-your-own concept of hyper-local items, which in turn drills down to the make-your-own trend of house-made items."

The top two food trends last year and, arguably, the best to come down the pike in a long time, are also predicted to top 2016 — all things locally sourced and environmentally sustainable.

Whistler has been very, very good at both for years, out in the mondo commercial zone as well as on the home scene. We Wet Coasters love our local, sustainably sourced foods, from Ocean Wise fish and seafood to all the goodness coming out of Pemberton, Squamish and beyond — fresh fruits and veggies; herbs farmed and foraged; local honey; delicious beef; buy-your-own piggy; eggs and potatoes to die for.

Even if the prognostications for the same to follow in 2016 don't pan out, my forecast is that, given the values that underpin this fine region, neither "local" nor "environmentally sustainable" will disappear anytime soon from Sea to Sky country.

Healthy And Revisited Classics Ruled In 2015

Besides rethinks on American classics like the ice cream sandwich (think churros and ice cream) a couple of the top food trends for 2015 according to Forbes.com are more things Whistler is and likely always will be very good at.

The first two are healthy and usually overlooked veggies — kale and Brussels sprouts. A couple of unlikely cocktail ideas (more on that later!) also made the list — beer-based and copper mug cocktails — plus customizable fast food, avocado toast and upscale vegan cooking, to mention a few. Another 2015 topper that Whistler has also gotten very good at is restaurants filtering and bottling their own water onsite.

As for another healthy trend in 2015, I was tickled pink to see that the first top trend mentioned by Vogue.com this year came from chef Andrew Whitcomb at Colonie in Brooklyn, home to one of North America's edgiest cultural scenes right now. Cook veggies like you would meats, Andrew suggests. Like slow-roast beets on the grill until they are charred and perfectly tender. Yum.

And The Most 'Something' Award Goes To...

I'm not sure what category to put this next one into, but it happened in 2015 and I just can't sign off without it.

The Weirdest, Creepiest, or Most Something-Or-Other Food Award for 2015 has to go to the growing trend to make stuff from human excretions. Yes, excretions.

According to The Guardian, experimental food artists Bompas and Parr offered but one of many efforts in the 2015 body food movement with their workshops on making cocktails with human tears. Bitter Tears. Get it?

In Oregon, Rogue Brewery has been making beer with yeast harvested from the bushy beard of its chief brewer. Huh. The book Natural Harvest is filled with semen-based recipes. And then there's the ultimate in comfort food: breast milk ice cream.

The list goes on, but before I totally freak you out, what can I say? Except Happy New Year, and don't forget: some things from the past are probably best left back there.

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who wonders what the future will bring.

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