Pane e Formaggio worth looking for
There arent many secret stashes in Whistler any more. With high-speed lifts and 2 million skier visits annually, there are now packed trails and guide books leading people to places that used to be secrets.
But there is still a little-known, under-appreciated stash in the village. Its not full of powder but of some of the sweetest, tastiest delicacies available anywhere.
Pane e Formaggio celebrated its first anniversary in Whistler on Dec. 23. Located at the end of Main Street, beside Bavaria Restaurant and around the corner from Quiznos, its not immediately visible to pedestrian traffic. But its worth a little trip off the beaten track if youre interested in specialty foods.
The concept is similar to Dean and Deluca, but on a smaller scale. Pane e Formaggio has a great selection of cheeses, breads, Italian salamis and prociutto. Theres also a wide variety of olive oils and 10-25 year old balsamic vinegars. Recent additions include hand-made pastries and desserts, as well as Belgian and Italian chocolates.
"Weve got the best selection of cheeses in town, and our prices are the same as stores in Vancouver," says Clark Gatehouse.
Gatehouse runs the Whistler Pane e Formaggio and is one of four partners in what has recently become a four-location enterprise. The original Pane e Formaggio, which opened 18 months ago, is on West 10th in Vancouver. Another opened about three months ago on Dundarave in West Vancouver. And the partnership includes Casa Breads, which supplies all three Pane e Formaggio locations with fresh bread daily.
Gatehouse has been around Whistler for a while, working in Araxis kitchen, as a sous chef at Val dIsere and head chef at the Brewhouse prior to opening Pane e Formaggio. He says the Whistler location has had a good first year, building momentum at the end of last winter when people started to find the location. A liquor licence obtained this past summer also helped bring in some business while the weather was warm and customers could enjoy a panini sandwich on the patio.
Pane e Formaggio also offers catering services.
Araxi welcomes new wine director
Patrick Allan has joined the Araxi crew as wine director, fresh from seven years previously at Whistlers Monks restaurant.
Allan, who takes over from Chris Van Nus, is thrilled to be taking charge of Araxis already established and in-depth wine cellar. There are some 13,000 bottles in house, with 650 different labels on the list and a further 200 ageing in cellar.
"Im like a kid in a candy store," he says, enthusing about some rare verticals that include five vintages of Chateau Mouton Rothschild and four of Antinori Tiganello.
At Araxi, Allan unites with a professional service team that are impressively wine savvy; no less than six of his new colleagues have undertaken the International Sommelier Guild Diploma , a further two hold the Higher Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and a third is currently enrolled in the Platinum Course .
Allan himself became an accredited sommelier in summer 2000. His career in the hospitality industry spans 23 years, starting out as a line cook at Banffs Chateau Lake Louise hotel. Driven by a passion for good food and wine, he has garnered a comprehensive wine knowledge and developed a finely tuned palate. His love of cooking and early training help him recognize how the subtleties and nuances of dishes can influence the taste and enjoyment accompanying wines.
At Araxi he is looking forward to exploring the scope of the menu and depth of the cellar. "The menu is focused on regional specialities, but its spiced with original touches and hints of Pacific Rim influences; there are a multitude of exciting wine pairings," Allan says.