A fresh, white blanket of snow lined the streets and peaks of Whistler, marking an early winter and an exceptionally cozy 2017 Cornucopia Food and Wine Festival kick-off.
Over the last 21 years, the ski resort’s 11-day premium food and wine festival (running until Nov. 19, 2017) has been a celebration of culinary masterpieces, bringing together both local and international eateries and chefs under one roof, and of course, highlighting exceptional red and white vintages from within Canada and across borders.
Taste buds and bellies were kept warm for the opening weekend, with Friday evening’s standout event being the Four Seasons Whistler’s collaborative dinner at its alpine steakhouse Sidecut. The multi-course meal was the work of three Four Seasons chefs from mountaintops across North America: Whistler’s own Erin Guryel, Vail’s Ashton Fichtl, and Wyoming’s Topher Strittmatter. A fresh, micro arugula salad with burrata started things off; next, a pan-roasted ginger soy ling cod was laid gently over a warm, fried avocado with wasabi cream; then came a mouthwatering braised beef short rib dish; followed by an apricot compote and thyme sorbet to finish, all paired easily with a series of wines from the Similkameen Valley-based winery Orofino.
Saturday morning included a stop at the live cooking demonstration with Whistler-based restaurant The Venue. Chefs Melissa and Ryan Leitch mixed and blended onsite, showing the audience how to use whole, locally sourced ingredients to create their dense, nutritious pumpkin-bread French toast topped with fresh Avalon cream and Pemberton honey. To follow, farm eggs from the Pemberton Valley on a bed of hash potatoes, skin-on, with a fresh cream Hollandaise. The interactive brunch is just one example of Cornucopia’s Nourish series, a variety of seminars and meals highlighting the importance of sustainable cooking and eating, whipping together ingredients found only from the local and organic farms, gardens, and butchers.
In the evening, comfort-food classics were enjoyed at the third-annual Savour; highlights of the Grill & Vine and FireRock Lounge collaboration included a creamy penne mac-n-cheese, a build-your-own nacho station, zucchini grilled cheese, and crisp craft beer. Later, taste buds were taken around the world at the event’s main feature: Crush Grand Tasting. Notes of blueberry, plumb, chocolate, and caramel could be found in the B.C. and Canadian wine samples from Kelowna’s Kettle Valley, Golden Mile Bench’s Culmina Family Estates Winery, and Naramata’s Hillside Winery. Delving into Vina Ventisquero’s Grey Cabernet (Chile), El Esteco’s Don David Reserve Malbec (Argentina), and Villa Maria’s Single Vineyard (New Zealand) was also enough to satisfy any palate.
Apart from the wine and food, one major attraction for this year’s Cornucopia festival is the inclusion of cocktail master classes and tastings. In particular, Four Seasons award-winning Mexican mixologist, Mica Rousseau, graces Whistler with a VIP Cocktail Master Class and Tasting: premium mezcal tastings paired with innovative tacos. A match made in heaven.
Guests can also get their mixing on at one of several seminars, including the Mix It Up & Chow It Down: Pairing Food and Cocktails, as well as Just Add Bubbles: Carbonated Gin Cocktails.
It’s all fun, games, and indulgence at Cornucopia, and 2017 is no exception. A trip up the mountain is always worth it, but especially so when things are this delicious.