Cornucopia is Whistler’s annual fall festival of food and drink. Two weeks of tastings, culinary demonstrations, wine seminars, chef luncheons, winemaker dinners, and parties. All off which give you the opportunity to explore and enjoy the offerings of BC and Whistler in a whole new way. This November 7th to the 17th marked its 23rd year, and my first experiencing it in person.
My girl friend and I came down for the first weekend, tying the occasion to her birthday celebration! What better way to commemorate a birth than with three days of wine fuelled adventures. A staycation that involves a two hour drive to this mountain town; with no snow and warming sun, this was the perfect weekend getaway.
Our accommodations would be at “Pan Pacific Mountainside”, a resort under the shadow of Blackcomb Mountain. Each room is a suite with full kitchen, living room, washroom, and patio. With the basic suites you don’t have a separate bedroom. You either use the Murphy bed that drops down from the cabinet, or pull a bed out from under the sofa. Space saving, but not as comfortable as having a proper bed, in a separate room. I highly recommend paying the $75 additional to upgrade.
All hotel guests have access to the hotel’s amenities. A gym and sauna indoors, and a full length heated pool and two hot tubs outside. We did find ourselves slipping into our swim suits and robes, and enjoy some time in their pools.
For food, the hotel is home to Irish sports bar “Dubh Linn Gate”. Just be warned, last call for food is 9pm; and that includes ordering room service, as everything comes from the pub’s kitchen.
We did enjoy the space with a couple of drinks one night. Although found it a much difference atmosphere later in to the evening. To our surprise the bar became a club with people standing and drinking, or dancing to the loud music. We would leave that scene, but come back for food the next day.
Seeing a large tray of nachos past by us, I wanted the same thing. Available in 2 sizes the smaller of the two is plenty for two to share. Tri-coloured crunchy nacho chips, melted cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole at an extra cost.
And for those who are in town to ski or board, “Pan Pacific Mountainside” boasts all the equipment to make it possible. With retail sports stores to shop from or the ability to rent for the day.
Now, back to “Cornucopia”. In total we attended 5 events, each one a great example of the variety of offerings available for attendees to partake in. A multi-course dinner, a dip in healing waters with sparkling wine, a wine seminar on value, a cooking demonstrating, and a large scale wine tasting.
First it was a dinner at “Four Season Whistler’s” “Side Cut” restaurant. They have teamed up with the chefs of the “Four Seasons” in Vancouver to bring diners a 5 course meal, paired with “Fort Berens” wine. For the full story of our “Corridor” dinner with “Yew + Sidecut”, as well as a few features of the property, visit in the link below.
We then grabbed a cab to our next event of the night: “Scandinave Spa’s “Bubble bath”. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to be drinking bubbles, when surrounded by bubbles. I know you aren’t suppose to go into the water 15 minutes after you have eaten, but our next stop had us snacking on canapés and sipping on “Haywire’s” bubbles before and after our soak. For the full review of this luxury spa turned lounge with live music, visit the link below.
The next morning we stopped for a healthy brunch at Pangea Pod Hotel’s “living room” and cafe. Here, we had green juice smoothies, and vegetables to balance out the night before and the day to come.
The “CrabApple Hits Smoothie” is kale, cucumber, apple, strawberry, pineapple, apple juice, and lemon juice. A great way to feel good about what you are drinking, and have it taste good.
To eat, my guest had their “Avocado Toast”. She expected it to be done like how she does it, “with a whole avocado”. This rendition was a a thin smear of mashed avocado, over crusty sourdough bread, topped with feta, coriander, red chilli and lime. It was a lot more flavourful than any avocado toast I have ever had. I just wished there was more avocado to really appreciate the creaminess of the fruit.
I had the “Vegetable broken eggs”. This was a skillet of roasted baby potatoes, eggplant, and zucchini; topped with a couple of eggs seasoned with mozzarella cheese, green onion, and truffle oil. Another hearty, tasty dish that didn’t feel like.
This was enough “base” to get us through our 12 glass wine tasting at the Whistler convention centre. I was excited to attend the “Top Value Wine” seminar and put what I learn from it to practice, in the future. I often struggle with what bottle to pick at my local liquor store, so was appreciative that this class would highlight a few good ones. For the detailed list of 12 value wines to get under $20, check out the link below.
From here we had a quick lunch at “Bar Oso”. A couple of cocktails and two smaller plates that we shared.
The “Harvest Sour” features smoked pumpkin rum, lemon, carrot, maple syrup, and egg white. And the “Trophy Wife” came with pink peppercorn infused vodka, apricot, egg white, citrus, and pink peppercorn dust sprinkled overtop top. Plus a Spanish gin and tonic.
With it we grazed on half an order of their assorted cheese board. It was nice to be able to have the option of a smaller serving size. The cheese is on rotation and this board featured manchego in 3 and 12 months old, san simon, drunken goat, and valdeon blue.
For something heartier we turned to their wild smoke salmon sandwich with fresh salmon, boiled eggs and capers, all on house made bread. I would be more than happy to have this for breakfast any day.
Next was a “Cornucopia” cooking class hosted by the Executive Chef of “Tyax Resort”. He would walk us through cooking a three course menu that was inspired by the land and sea. And each round was paired with the perfect “Fort Berens” wine. For some great cooking tips and the recap of our tasty trio, visit the link below.
Then it was time to head back to our hotel, to freshen up for the evening’s main event. A gala-style tasting that had you exploring the convention centre, table to table tasting fine wine and nibbling on savoury bites. For some of the highlights to this not to be missed event, visit the link below.
Having drank our fill we decided to then stop and eat something more solid at the “Harajuku” Japanese tapas place next door.
The chicken karaage were a fried to order dark meat served with a garlic mayo. The dip helped to balance out the grease.
The “Popcorn calamari” was battered and salted with seaweed, and served with a sweet and sour dressing. I would have preferred the garlic mayo dip with the fried squid rings, and the salty dressing here for the chicken above.
And on a lighter note we had the “Rock n roll” sushi. A refreshing veggie roll with yam tempura, avocado, cucumber, carrots, beets, shiitake, inari, and a kabayaki sauce. It had a great mix of textures and was exactly what my body was craving.
Then to round out the night we a couple of drinks with some friends in town, before turning it in; one last sleep in our “Pan Pacific suite”.
The next morning it was packing up after ourselves and checking out. But first one last glass of breakfast bubbles paired with microwaved left overs, as we watched the Food Network.
We would spent the first half of Sunday exploring Whistler. And it started with brunch at “Basalt”. It was 11am, but not too early to enjoy their fall feature, two glasses of wine and a cheese fondue for two. At $59 it sounded like a good deal.
We each choose a glass between the house red or white, and sipped as we dipped. I just wished there was more than just the toasted chunks of baguette to dip into the blend of emmental, gruyere, and aged cheddar. The flavour became monotonous. We did have the option to add vegetables for $10, however a small side of potato, carrot, and Brussel sprouts seemed steep. I wanted fresh fruit, but according to our server, patrons are unable to order anything that isn’t on the menu. So we are as much as we could stomach and left.
Next we visited Whistler’s historic museum by donation. It was a self guided tour that allowed you to explore the history of Whistler through its wildlife and experiences. Here you can “Ride” in one of the first gondolas, or reminisce about the time we hosted the Olympics by playing dress up.
The library is next door, so we took a peak inside, after. Plenty of reading space and board games for those who want something more active to do.
Hot tip for art lovers, a handful of hotels have micro art galleries located at their lobbies. Anyone is welcomed in to take a look around. I personally prefer the modern art ones.
And the village stroll is always pleasant walk. There are plenty of unique stores to meander into, like the one selling semi precious stones and crystals. And “Castros Cuban Cigar Store” that will help you trim any cigar you purchase.
And of course, the most popular landmark, the Olympic Rings are available for a photo op anytime day or lit up at night. There is a playground for kids and a gazebo for catching shade or rain cover under.
In short Whistler is always a great for a quick getaway and even more fun when it coincides with “Cornucopia”. To start planning for next year’s event, visit their website below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/
For the more visual recap of our weekend at “Cornucopia”, check out my latest drinking Vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.