By Nicole Fitzgerald
I still remember my first sampling of Adam Protter’s Big Smoke Mountain BBQ award-winning meats two years ago. Instead of gaudy, sauce plastered, fat marbled cuts a lot of barbecue-totting restaurants serve up, the meat’s so delicate it didn’t look out of place atop crostinis served at a Whistler Slow Food Convivium event.
I only made it once to the former Mount Currie restaurant location despite the sandwiches and unique Mexican twist on barbecue dishes leaving a wake of sweet dreams for the coming months. The smoke and fire specialist applies the slow-food philosophy to his eats, using as much local product as possible and making everything — from sauces to salt seasonings — from scratch. The only unappetizing experience of the Big Smoke adventure was driving all the way out to Mount Currie.
Big Smoke has since closed its smoker to the restaurant-going public and now offers its prize-winning barbecue through its catering service. And until Protter decides it’s lucrative to cater for one, barbecue fans will have to grab what they can, including a two-night only stint with Big Smoke barbecue coming to Whistler on Friday, Sept. 22 and Friday, Sept. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Riverside Campground Café.
Protter will serve up a rib and chicken barbecue with traditional fixings such as corn on the cob, coleslaw and beans. Barbecue dinners start at $14 per person.
For catering information, visit www.bigsmoke.ca.
Cornucopia tickets on sale
Individual tickets are now on sale for Whistler’s biggest food and wine celebration, Cornucopia, which runs Thursday, Nov. 9 to Sunday, Nov. 12 in Whistler Village.
Hot tickets that sell out every year are the Masquerave, Crush, Chef’s Trip to the Farm, winemaker’s dinners and high-end wine tasting seminars, so don’t dawdle on getting your weekend planned out or you will miss out one of my favourite times of the year.
Festival officials dub Crush the signature event of the festival, with more than 80 wineries and a handful of Whistler’s top restaurants coming together for a celebration of wine and food tasting. Catch up with the townsfolk and discover new wines to grace your kitchen table.
The signature party of the festival is hands down the Masquerave at the Bearfoot Bistro. You never know what Andre St. Jacques’s saucy imagination is going to spin out each year. Last year’s blowout welcomed more than 1,500 people under a circus-inspired, big-tent. This year returns to an intimate soirée of 250 to 300 people for Whistler’s version of the Moulin Rouge. Champagne, wine, body-painted models and live bands, all of the staples will be there. But new this year, the food gets sexed up with chefs from Canada’s best restaurants jumping on board this year (they attended last year’s event and wanted to be a part of this year’s craziness), including two of my favourite Vancouver restaurants, Vij’s and Tojo’s.
In years past, festivalgoers were forced to choose between Masquerave and Araxi’s Bubbles, Jazz and the Sea event. However, this year the two fall on different evenings. For food and wine/champagne aficionados who prefer a more sophisticated, relaxing evening, uncork the Araxi event after the Crush party. The elegant evening flows with silky smooth jazz to accompany the seafood tiers and one-of-a-kind sushi Araxi is famous for. Champagne flows well into the night. The Araxi evening slips on like the perfect black cocktail dress — subtlety sexy with plenty of class.
I’ve never partaken on a Chef’s Trip to the Farm event. However, the draw of getting an intimate tour of a local farm, finishing with a field-to-feast lunch with wine pairing always results in sellouts.
Another seminar sellout is the 5th Annual Rare Wines with David Scholefield, giving participants the opportunity to taste mythical wines salvaged from wine cellars.
Winemakers dinners are my favourite part of the festival. Other than the Bearfoot Bistro — which hosts a dinner paying homage to Jacques Perrin at $400 a head — restaurants haven’t yet officially logged on their dinners to the festival web site. And for the wallet challenged, don’t worry; there are winemaker dinners in the $100 range as well. While the Masquerave and Bubbles events are no longer on the same night, the winemaker’s dinners and Masquerave are. So much to do, only three nights to do it. Good news, the Masquerave runs until 4 a.m. if you’ve got the stamina to do both.
Locally produced events to look out for at the festival include Women, Wine and Books, Slow Food Artisans’ Market and ARTdrenaline. Also new this year, DiVine Soul After Party. The evening dips into chocolate, R & B musicians and circus performers.
Visit www.whistlercornucopia.com or call 1-888-999-4566 for tickets.