By Nicole Fitzgerald
Canada Day Sunday: the village was packed and I wanted nothing to do with grocery shopping, ovens or pot scrubbies. But where to go?
My companion and I ticked through the usual casual dinner suspects.
Citta? The patio was too full. Garibaldi Lift Company? Closed for a VIP Red Bull Elevation party. Sushi Village? Sachi Sushi? My companion was agedashi tofu-ed out with two sushi runs under his chopsticks already this week.
Splitz? Too casual. Earls? Too many hot servers to distract.
With an Aries for company, I took the lead.
“I really want a beer.”
After watching Metric at a live outdoor concert at Red Bull Elevation, a beer was a must, and probably a burger, too. If it were this Friday’s Watermelon Slim blues concert, it would be a stop over at Elements for prosciutto wrapped asparagus. If it was Sunday’s Krafty Kuts DJ show, an order of Mogul’s brown rice chicken bowl would be in order — light enough that your Buddha doesn’t crash your hipster jeans party, but with enough protein to keep you dancing until 2 a.m.
So what does an extreme BMX dirt jump contest plus an anti-mainstream Toronto rock band add up to? Think wearing a T-shirt without a bra. Rebellious, feisty, a no-posers allowed club. Irish fare was the perfect fit and it also happened to be staring us right in the face, with the packed patio leaving ample seating inside.
I always think of the Dubh Linn Irish Gate Pub as more of a hangout over a beer and live music with friends joint, rather than a dinner reservation, but the food is always good. Spinach dip with scrabble one night was a bit of a bland experience. What do you expect? It’s like ordering steak at a Chinese restaurant, not really a good idea.
It’s sometimes a bit of a potato famine for table servers at the Gate, so we opted ordering dinner from the bartender — fantastic service and those few steps from stool to bar really helped burn off some of those french fries.
I decided to forgo my original burger craving and instead indulged in fish and chips. My companion argued that my dinner wasn’t really fish and chips. It was fish and salad, but it didn’t sound as much fun when your ordered it.
The dish was a bit of a poser, only this good looking, well put together ensemble of halibut lightly battered and tasty salad bouquet was better than anything I ever had in Ireland.
All I can remember is following a vegetarian trail of grilled cheese sandwiches with iceberg lettuce with thousand-island dressing.
I don’t remember eating anything green on my last trip to Ireland. Green hills, shamrocks, leprechauns, but no green food, just fried. And iceberg lettuce and mushy peas don’t really count because one is just water and the other can’t be considered edible.
So this Ireland at the base of a ski mountain offers edible greens, made even yummier with shredded beets, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. Maybe not totally authentic, but my taste buds felt like they struck gold at the end of the rainbow.
My companion’s burger was also a leprechaun find. Instead of ground beef, ground steak kept the patty moist and rich, topped with a tortoise-shell-patterned Guinness cheese. Portions were big enough to share bites back and forth and we washed everything down with a few pints of Guinness — directly imported from Ireland, not from Guinness factories in North America.
Live music from Murphy’s Lagh sealed the night as one of those perfect easy going evenings full of good food and conversation, and free from dish washing and a ridiculous bill. Prices scale down even further during the weekdays, when the pub offers various two-for-one deals when you purchase a beverage. Just one more reason to visit the Gate.
Cornucopia grows with age
Winers and diners have one more day of food and wine bliss with Cornucopia expanding its lineup of food grazing and tasting events from Nov. 8 to 12 in Whistler Village.
In its 11th year, the festival proves things just get better with age, including the Crush! Gala Grand Tasting expanding to two nights. The two-night jewel in Cornucopia’s crown, which always sells out weeks in advance, gives more people a chance to sip and swirl the fruits of 75-plus wineries and nibble fare from local restaurants.
After parties will also expand to two nights. However, this year, the festival loses its most famous, debaucherous event, the Bearfoot Bistro’s Masquerave. Apparently the liquor Gestapo griped about the naked women and bistro owner Andre St. Jacques must take his 21st century Moulin Rouge romp south of the border.
Learn about other festival events by visiting whistlercornucopia.com.