Photo Essay: Food and Drink Tour of Whistler, British Columbia
By and large, I've never been that impressed with the food and drink offerings of ski destinations. And it's not necessarily any fault of their own. They're called ski resorts, and not "food resorts" or "cocktail resorts" for a reason (but how much fun would a food or cocktail resort be?!). Maybe it's because they're further away from the ocean or because I associate Rocky Mountain oysters with mountain towns (I don't really), but I've never been that impressed with the food and drinks of ski towns.
And then I went to Whistler (where I was hosted by Whistler Tourism). I figured that if a town has their own celebrated food and drink festival, like Whistler does with Cornucopia Whistler, then it must know a little somethin'-somethin' in the way of food and drinks. And as I found out, it does. There are breweries. There are distilleries. There are fancy dinners where you get to open a wine bottle with a saber. And there are not-so-fancy (yet delicious) dinners with something Canadians call poutine (pronounced kind of like the the Russian president's last name). And there are longtable dinners in the very fields that much of the local food comes from.
Needless to say, I was impressed. And while there are a lot of ski towns I haven't visited, of the ones I have, Whistler is a standout in its food and drink offerings. And a lot of that can be credited to how much of it is local, and therefore the cream of the crop, literally. Pemberton Distillery, for example, which is located within a half-hour of Whistler, uses potatoes from just down the road to make their Schramm Organic Potato Vodka, which was Spirit of the Year in 2010 at the World Spirit Awards. In Whistler, Araxi Restaurant + Bar uses ingredients from local farmers in many of their entrees and cocktails, and even hosts longtable dinners during the summer at the very farms where a lot of their food comes from. Many of these local farms, most of which are in nearby Pemberton, help power the food of many British Columbia restaurants in Whistler and beyond, which my friend Annemarie Dooling recently wrote about on Yahoo.
But enough talking. Let's get to the photos.