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Three days of wine-ing, dining glory

Pique's itinerary for your gluttonous Cornucopia weekend

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It's here. Cornucopia: the wine and food event that should have every attendee bulging at the waistband.

If you've taken a casual glance at this year's schedule, chances are you've found it a bit overwhelming. So much food. So much wine. Such precious little time. What to choose! Events lap over others and those unacquainted with the festival's offerings will have no idea whether to spend Saturday night at, CRUSH or Araxi's Big Guns Winemakers Dinner. Heck, you might not even know what those are!

Thankfully, we at Pique have your back, or belly, in mind. We have poured over this year's schedule, nitpicked the pros and cons of each one of these events, rolling around restlessly in bed, unable to sleep, to decide on an itinerary for you, faithful reader (or out-of-town non-reader: welcome!).

Our decisions have come down to a mix of parties and tasting events. The sold out events have not been included here. Several of the events listed here overlap and so it will be up to you to decide which to attend. Given the cost of some of these events, however, it might be your wallet calling the shots.

So, without further adieu, here's Pique's guide to Cornucopia 2011.

Thursday:

Whistler Chef's Challenge (11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Whistler Conference Centre): This is the big kickoff. It's like Iron Chef without the cameras: Whistler's finest chefs go head to head to produce a delicious meal utilizing a themed ingredient. The ingredient will be announced just five minutes before each heat and all they know now is that they'll include duck, apple or chili. There will be two heats, with each team given 45 minutes. Heat 1 includes Whistler Cooks vs. the Shirtless Cooks; Heat 2 includes Araxi vs. Four Seasons. A panel of judges (which includes our very own food columnist John French) will decide the winner.

Tickets: The event is free and open to all, which is another way of saying that food will not be available for tasting.

House Party (6 p.m. - 9 p.m.): This, actually, is the big Cornucopia kickoff - a big ol' tasting session, featuring barbeque from the Four Seasons' Sidecut, home-made vodka, micro-brewed beer, more cheese than humans should even think about eating and, the best feature of any party, live music. It's a teaser for what's to come over the next three days - great food, great drink, rotten hangovers. It will be held at the Whistler Conference Centre.

Tickets: $40.

Friday:

Sushi Village (12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.): As locals know, if you're not a fan of Japanese cuisine, there's very little for you in Whistler. Chefs Keisuke Matsuzaki and Shogo Yonaha of Sushi Village will discuss the ins and outs of Whistler's Japanese cuisine while drumming up dishes of seaweed salad, miso marinated black cod and the ever-popular Superhiro roll. Will there be sake? You'll have to come to find out. (Ed. Note: sake will be available.)

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