How do you navigate your way through Cornucopia – Part II.
Last week, I helped usher a friend, visiting from Australia for a year, through the Cornucopia dilemma of what events to attend at Whistler’s biggest food and wine festival on a $300 per person budget.
We last left my Aussie gal agonizing on whether she should opt for the Araxi or Divine Soul after party, leaving her money left over to attend a winemaker dinner — or to throw almost all of her budget, $250, at the infamous Bearfoot Bistro Masquerave, with a few bills left over to attend the ARTrageous after party.
While the Bearfoot’s reputation as Whistler’s biggest, or at least most avant-garde, party weighed heavily on her choice, she decided to opt for the Araxi after party that promised an ocean of seafood and her favourite, a never ending flow of bubbly in an elegant, classic setting wielding a martini bar and live jazz band. Only a handful of $150 tickets are left.
She and her partner preferred the slightly more mature setting in the award-winning fine dining restaurant to the wild antics of the internationally renowned Bearfoot Bistro dining room or the familiar bar setting of Divine Soul at the Garibaldi Lift Company.
Higher Ground Entertainment’s Christian Kessner is at the helm of Divine Soul, the new after party edition that caters to the chocoholic addicts with chocolate fountains and, most importantly, chocolate cakes from none other than the chocolate god himself, Vancouver’s Thomas Haas. Special coffees, wine, more desserts, live music from the Mike Henry Band and roving performers build on the evening, with aerial ballets performed in swaths of coloured silk. Kessner said the evening draws on the timeless elements of the classic Memphis era for an evening of sophistication and decadence. Tickets are $115.
With party chosen, it was time to pick a winemaker dinner, a toss up between the $150 Hy’s dinner or $140 Elements dinner. But, her options could broaden even more with a new addition to the winemaker dinner lineup. I am thinking an unofficial one with Big Smoke Mountain Barbecue proprietor Adam Protter inviting people to his “BBQ Pornuporkia”, and if that isn’t enough, he pokes fun at the Bearfoot with the workingman’s version of the party, the Rib Rave on Friday, Nov. 10 at the Riverside Café.
The Slow Food Whistler member has joined forces with Salt Spring Vineyards and Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Company to host this smokin’ party where kids are welcome and “hoity toity attitudes” are to be checked at the door. While this feast of beef and pork ribs may beckon images of cavemen and trailer parks, don’t underestimate the quality of Protter’s award-winning barbecue fare. He serves up the best barbecue in town. Prices aren’t set as of yet, but Protter promises large portions and egalitarian prices.
While some of the winemaker dinners may seem pricey when weighed with what the dinners actually cost, they are a foodie’s screaming, once in a lifetime deal.
One example, Araxi’s 25 th winemaker’s dinner, aptly crowned Big Guns, will include wines as old as the restaurant itself. Most wines are coming directly from winery cellars, vintages the common public could never dream of accessing. The $350 evening, including wines, reception and eight-course dinner, would normally cost $1,000 to recreate.
So why all this talk about budgets?
People who are serious about their food and wine know what they are looking for and often have budgets to match their passions.
However, some people I have met have dismissed the festival as too costly or (as Protter put it) only for the hoity toity. But the festival is so much more than that. Ditch the stereotypes and find a seminar or party that fits the budget; get out there and try something new. Whistler’s culture and culinary scene is more intoxicating and cheaper than beer jugs on the Citta’ patio. Figure out what all the fuss is about with Australian wines at the by-donation Viking series seminar. Toast a glass of wine to live music, artists and performance art at ARTrageous for $30. Delve into Washington wines and Pacific cuisine at the House Party for $35.
You may discover your inner hoity toity foodie, even if it masquerades in a hoodie and toque. We won’t tell.
Visit www.whistlercorncopia.com to find out more about events.
New Squamish lounge hits television
Squamish’s newest restaurant will be on the air Tuesday, Nov. 7 on the Food Network.
Owners Amy Huddle and Seleena Shourie opened The Burrow Tapas Lounge two months ago.
I haven’t been there myself, but a friend recently had a “mom” party at the trendy hangout and can’t wait to go back.
To find out more about Squamish’s newest culinary adventure, visit ww.theburrow.ca.