It can be challenging finding inspiration for a regular food column week after week. Despite our reputation as a resort jam-packed with world-class culinary offerings, the reality is we are still a town of 10,000, give or take, and there are only so many engaging ways to write about the local food scene 52 times a year.
So I'd love to say that the idea for my Epicurious column this week was the result of some good ole' fashioned reportorial shoe leather, so to speak, but the truth is it all started from a donut. A majestic, artery-clogging maple bacon donut.
Seriously, look at that thing. A sight for sore eyes and rumbling tummies if ever there was one.
I found this bad boy at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler's Portobello Market, and, evidently, I'm not the only one.
"Our maple bacon donut is our classic, of course," explained Fairmont's chef de cuisine, Kreg Graham. "It's got a nice glaze and we use bacon cooked in maple syrup.
It's definitely one of our top sellers."
If maple-plus-bacon is not a winning formula for you, then we'll probably never be friends, but I will still point you to another decadent donut the Fairmont has on offer this holiday season: the pumpkin spice. Some may tire of the overabundance of pumpkin-based products around this time of year, but where Starbucks can pump a few squirts of processed, sugary syrup into a latte in the name of your favourite orange gourd, the Fairmont uses only fresh pumpkins for its moist, donut cake drizzled with a sugar glaze.
For those of you without a sweet tooth, the Fairmont has a bounty of other fresh, autumn-inspired fare on its menu to get you through the shoulder-season blues.
As part of the Wildflower Restaurant's fall menu, you'll find everything from a wild mushroom risotto using Arborio rice and locally foraged mushrooms, to a gorgeous green salad with fresh beets picked from the Fairmont's rooftop garden, crumbled over with aged gouda cheese and a drizzle of cherry vinaigrette, or a succulent lamb sirloin served with a traditional cassoulet featuring duck confit and chunks of Merguez sausage. They're the kind of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs type offerings that are typical at this time of year, but refined with the Fairmont's usual elegant touch. Graham explained the hotel's approach when crafting a unique fall menu that incorporates the range of quality ingredients currently in-season.
"The first thing is just to make sure we use the ingredients available right now and working with our suppliers to make sure we have the best products around," he said. "Then it's just about creativity to make sure we don't repeat ourselves. We use a lot of opinions. I like to get a lot of feedback from my chefs to consider when we're trying to come up with the menu together."
Graham also had some tips for the amateur home chefs out there hoping to create their very own fall feast this season. The key? Don't overthink it.
"Definitely the biggest tip I can give anyone is just to keep it simple," he said. "Pick a few different flavours and ingredients that work together and make a dish out of that. Don't complicate it with too many spices or complicated ingredients. A few different ingredients together are going to make the most pleasing dishes."
Visit www.fairmont.com/whistler/dining for more information.