Earlier this week in downtown Vancouver a number of local chefs were chosen to put B.C.'s finest foot forward at an Olympic reception atop Vancouver Art Gallery. None disappointed.
Looking out over a jam-packed Robson Square, chefs Ned Bell from Kelowna's Cabana Bar and Grille, John Bishop of Bishop's, Robert Clark and Quang Dang from C Restaurant, Brian Misko of House of Q Competitive BBQ Team, Pino and Cristiano Posteraro of Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill, Hidekazu Tojo of Tojo's Restaurant and Vikram Vij from Vij's Restaurant did what they do best, wowing the crowds with their inventive use of local products.
By now, even visitors with little or no interest in food and wine will have noted the exceptional quality of both at almost all levels in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler. I've noticed that the wines are sometimes less than what they could be at these events, as if organizers seem more ruthless about which chefs are chosen versus which wines are used. We have no such problem highlighting our best wines in this column today.
If you are visiting Whistler or British Columbia for the first time and you haven't tried any of the locally grown and produced wine yet, let us help you out.
You'll find most of what we are recommending in local wine shops and many more on restaurant wine lists. Just as the wines of southern France, central Spain or northern Italy taste so good in their unique setting beside the classic dishes of the region, B.C. wine alongside West Coast cuisine is a combination that will shock even the toughest critics.
What follows is an insider's look at the very best of British Columbia that includes some of our top producers and many of their best labels. You should consider clipping this article (or printing it out if you are online) and keep it with you throughout the Games for reference.
First things first - we are not homers. Most everyone respects our local wines but they usually only make up a portion of the list because we expect them to compete against the rest of the world (and many of them do) in the same manner our athletes will throughout the Games.
In fact, I suggest you order your favourite wine be it French, Spanish, Italian, Argentine or Australian. Pick what you like, then get the sommelier to pair it up against a B.C. bottle of wine and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
With all the rain, snow and sleet blanketing the venues you could be forgiven for not knowing we have a wine industry. In fact we have been growing some form of grapes for over a century now in the Okanagan, but the real change began in the 1990s and the most significant efforts are less than a decade old.