The Bearfoot Bistro never opened its doors last weekend, leaving fine wine diners with one less dinner option, and perhaps more importantly Cornucopia without its signature, late-night, wine and food rave.
Many attendees I spoke with last week lamented the loss of the often risqué, over-the-top Masquerave. It appears “bad-boy” manager Andre St. Jacques couldn’t come to a satisfactory agreement with either liquor licensing or Tourism Whistler both of whom wanted the event reined in and toned down, or as it happened, completely shut down.
St. Jacques was not the only target of liquor licensing inspectors at Cornucopia. Members of the trade who attended the Friday afternoon trade day tasting in search of new wines and a little education were handed 24 paper tasting tickets that were to be exchanged with the wineries for each glass of wine tasted.
When I asked what the reasoning was behind the tickets, sheepish-looking Cornucopia representatives said liquor licensing had imposed the ticket system quota without any consultation or explanation. I ran out of tickets after the first four booths/wineries and actually considered leaving the event. Fortunately, ill-conceived regulations seldom gain traction with sensible citizens and obtaining further samples to complete my work was not a problem.
Memo to liquor licensing: we don’t drink wine; we sip it and spit it. In 25 years of tasting (and spitting) at trade and public events, I have never been so insulted. One can only wonder what other bonehead rules will be in play when the Olympics get underway in Whistler.
That said, there was plenty to celebrate and to discover at the 11 th annual Cornucopia, including several winemaker dinners where fortunately no tasting tickets were issued.
Kendall Jackson winemaker Randy Ullom played to a full house Friday night at Araxi where executive chef James Walt wowed the crowd with a series of stunning dishes. Best food and wine match was Fraser Valley squab served with a trio of Kendall Jackson Highland Estates Cabernet Sauvignons from the 2004 vintage: Hawkeye Mountain Vineyard, Alexander Mountain, Sonoma County; Trace Ridge Vineyard, Knights Valley, Sonoma County; and Napa Mountain Vineyard, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley.
At the newly crowned “Five Diamond” Four Seasons Resort, (the only resort in Canada to obtain the coveted service award) executive chef Scott Thomas Dolbee of Fifty Two 80 Bistro paired Kobe beef and oxtail cannelloni, French green lentils, bone marrow and braised chard with a delicious Doyenne 2003 Syrah from Washington State.