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The skinny on coffee

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There are two kinds of coffee house drinkers. Those who follow the big name chains and others who fuel up at java stations off the beaten path.

There are up sides to both.

At a chain coffee shop, you know exactly what you are going to get, right down to the exact temperature of your venti, no foam, upside down, decaf caramel macchiato– coffee menus always speak the same language no matter where you travel.

This experience keeps getting easier to find in Whistler, with Starbucks number four coming on board this month. The newest village addition plants itself between Citta and The Mixx in what used to be the Roots retail space.

So now caffeine aficionados have to take 50 less paces to order their dry cappuccinos when coming from the Whistler Gondola, rather hoofing it all the way to the store located across from Village 8 Cinemas.

At an independently-owned coffee shop, there is a bit more of a gamble for the brand-name gulper who must venture out of their misto comfort zone. Like traveling, venturing into the unknown can often be the most rewarding for a one-of-a-kind, authentic experience.

Behind the Grind is one of those gems often passed over by visitors, being tucked away from the Village Stroll. Longtime local Chris Quinlan’s steamed chai tea has become Whistlerites' fifth food group and the quaint café boasts both full-bodied, mellow-roast Vancouver coffee.

If Moguls were to franchise itself, the logo would have to be the crowd of snowboarders perpetually parked on the patio. In the heart of the village, this locally-owned joint brews up Whistler’s best hot chocolate topped with chocolate whipped cream and strong coffee, along with not-too-sweet, fruit-packed slices of pie and other tasty baked goods.

Getting out of the village, stopping for a locally-roasted, organic Americano decaf at Alpine Bakery and Catering Company, you know exactly where your money is going – to the two local owners, Kevin Wood and Martini Bart, who can usually be found in the kitchen.

Java at Nesters is so local if you are a regular coffee drinker and forget your wallet at home, coffee shop workers have been known to take an I.O.U. for the following day. Don’t miss out on Java’s infamous pizzas.

Great seating also makes a coffee shop worth visiting. Great, deep-roasted, strong coffee and company can be found settling into one of Esquires’ comfy couches – the shop also boasts one of the cheapest places in town to check your e-mail.

There are plenty of other coffee shop giants and hideaways to check out and all of their coffees go extremely well with reading material, obtained by first stopping off at locally-owned Armchair Books for a magazine or book.

Menu announced

Chefs For Life organizers announce an unforgettable menu for the event’s 10 th Anniversary, showcasing 12 Whistler and Vancouver chefs uniting in one kitchen for a cause Saturday, April 8 at the Four Seasons Resort’s Fifty Two 80 Bistro.

The 12-course culinary adventure raises funds for Friends For Life, a wellness centre in Vancouver’s West End that provides services to people with life-threatening illness, including cancer and AIDS.

The reception pairs Moet with a foie gras brulee and organic tiger prawn stuffed with fish mousse.

Dinner menu highlights include asparagus-goat cheese terrine with beet carpaccio; butternut squash ravioli with truffle beurre blanc; halibut wrapped in king crab strips with pickled golden beet and fennel salad; roast elk loin with boar bacon gnocchi and romano braised morels; stuffed veal breast, bacon-wrapped loin and popcorn sweetbreads; and Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates.

Each course is matched perfectly with different wines. Participating wineries include Palandri Boundary Road, Sumac Ridge, Bonterra Vineyards, Barone Ricasoli,Frescobaldi, Benton-Lane Estate, Louis Bernard, Wolf Blass and Quady Elysium

The evening of food and wine also includes a silent auction.

Tickets are $325 for dinner (tax receipts issued). For tickets, contact 604-782-1995 or chefsforlife@telus.net.

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