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Category: Travel Page 1 of 23

Vancouver Island in the 2021 Nissan Rogue

Covid has set everyone back, from work to play it has changed plans and turned everyone on their axis. Plans I had of travelling internationally, became exploring my local province more intimately this past year. From the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan Valley, and as far as Grand Forks. And pass Whistler and further North to Lillooet. So for my last vacation of 2020, I decided to branch out to the island.

I have been to Vancouver Island a handful of times, so was now excited to visit during a different season. Fall for the changing colour of the wilderness, some fall fungi foraging, storm watching, and late season fishing. The plan was to go with the flow, allowing curiosity and the call of adventure to take us to all corners of the Island. Skipping the metropolis of Victoria, our travel started at the ferry terminal of Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay. (This was before the non-essential lock down mind you).

Our vehicle of choice, the new 2021 Nissan Rogue. This would be our primary mode of transportation and place of rest. So the right vehicle was essential. And the Rogue fit the bill. We would be the first to set her through her paces; from a mere 555km on the odometer to more than quadruple that by week’s end. With the ever changing terrain and we travelled from muddy roads to steep watersides. From gravel paved and pothole filled pathways, to wet highways, and even snowy mountainsides. And for all of the above, the 2021 Nissan Rogue had a mode for that. Off-road, snow, eco, and sport. The ability to adjust with a twist of a knob as needed kept us comfortable and safe.

Upon landing earlier in the day, we swung by to the nearest city, and the closest breakfast spot. This happened to be Mary’s Bleue Moon Cafe in Sydney BC. Across the way from BC’s aviation museum, Mary’s served as the cafe and bar for pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. Decorated with historic newspaper clippings and artifacts, the restaurant doubled as a museum dating all the way back to WWII, in its own right.

Equipped with masks the restaurant sat us at our own socially distant table, within the dining area. Breakfast was a collection of classics egg scrambles and pancakes, sprinkled with more innovative options like breakfast crepes and a build your own omelette.

We shared a full order of their Westcoast Benny with smoked salmon, shrimp and lobster on an English muffin. Topped with a perfectly poached egg and their house made hollandaise sauce, enjoyed with crispy hashbrown potatoes on the side. Sadly, the salmon did overpower the other seafood, leaving me missing the lobster. Heck, I got more cocktail shrimp than lobster. It would have been nice to have lobster stock added to their hollandaise as a fun twist.

And despite being able to make such an assembly myself, I find that I still lean towards such breakfast platters when dining out. But more so today given the name was “breakfast of champions”, and boy did I sure did feel like one. Served on a glass fish plate this was bacon, ham, sausage, with three eggs done your way, hashbrowns, and toast. Definitely a classic for a reason. And maybe it was because I was on carefree vacation mode, but each individual ingredient tasted better: fresher than it would have in the big city.

Then it was off towards Campbell River, the capital of salmon fishing, in the world. With a pit stop in the larger city centre of Nanaimo first. There, I took in some local street art and grabbed a coffee and a treat at local hot spot: The Vault. Given the time, I would have found myself here for a meal.

We spent two days and two nights in Campbell, parked by one of the lakes in Elk Park. Our backdrop: warming clouds, thick greenery, and still waters.

We kept warm in the car thanks to a sleeping bag and multiple blankets piled high. The driver and passenger seat proved comfortable when driving upright with its lumbar support. Although the curvature of the seats less so when fully reclined in slumber. Night two was spent in the tailgate with back seats flattened, this proved more ergonomic.

 

There was so much to see just cruising around in the 2021 Nissan Rogue with its panoramic sun roof. We discovered pockets perfect for mushroom foraging. Mossy fields teeming with chanterelles, chicken of the woods, elm mushrooms, boletes, cremini, and hedgehog mushrooms. All of which we cooked and ate during our trip.

There were many more mushrooms that were just stunning, but not to be consumed.

Most amazing were the ones we found on the roadside. The bounty and their available was amazing. Especially considering how hard we have to hunt within the lower mainland for such treasures.

The most memorable moment for me during our time in Campbell was fishing with a mama bear and her two cubs. You could see them across the river way. She caught multiple chums with her paw and snout in the cold water, and I couldn’t even get a bite with my bait.

At Campbell we found comfort in the historic Ideal Cafe, established in 1940’s. One lunch was a soggy Monte Cristo with house roasted turkey breast, shaved ham, and mozzarella cheese. Sandwiched between two pieces of egg battered French toast. It was heavy and on the bland side. I ordered it confusing it with a French croque-monsieur. I hoped a dip in the side of tomato and turkey soup would help add some tang, but alas was disappointed by how bland this was too. In retrospect, I have gotten a bowl of their thick and tasty seafood chowder instead. The fish and chips proved tastier with the house made tartar sauce and fries that the server suggested we add a side of gravy for dipping to. This did not disappoint.

Another meal was spent at A&W. Chicken sandwiches and onion rings enjoyed across the spacious Nissan Rogue’s cabin and arm rest.

 

One dinner had us travelling to Courtenay to take in island night life. A couple flights of beer and a burger with fries at Gladstone Brewery. I fully enjoyed their garage theme that included the up cycled use of old licence plates to holster a flight of four.

Their unique collection of burgers included the “Chrome Dome” a ground pork burger that came in a “Egg in a Hole” Potato Bun. Fun to look at, but hard to eat. The house blended tannadice ground pork was seasoned sweet. It was the dominat flavour profile, whereas I could have used more saltiness from their Natural Pastures Courtenay cheddar cheese or some tang from the Hazy Pale Ale onion relish. But it was the poutine on the side that stole the show with its tasty gravy and meltEd cheese over chewy fries. I always recommend breweries or distilleries as points of interest to visit when travelling, their unique offerings are worth partaking in.

Although, my favourite meal was the one we prepared our self; dry, under the protective tailgate of the 2021 Nissan Rogue. Using propane and camping cookware we sautéed chanterelles with zucchini, pan fried cubes of spam, and boiled up three packets worth of mi goreng. All served up on a plastic plates along side a bottle of red wine.

The day after, our travels took us from Salmon and Kennedy River, to the Pacific Ocean. With a stop and a two night stay in the “Lazy bear cabin” Airbnb in Ucluelet. This was unfortunately amidst of a blackout, due to strong winds blowing down power lines. Luckily our stay coincided with the tail end of it, and power resumed later in the evening. Having been sleeping in the Rogue, we came equipped with our own torches and flashlights; and even had a lamp to keep us warm. Water ran, but it was cold. Therefore our long awaiting shower comprised of a damp rag and boiled water, much like what we were doing before this night.

Nonetheless we made the best out of the situation, keeping warm with layers and warm beverages. Specifically Tofino Distillery’s old growth cedar gin mixed with earl grey tea and ginger ale, for a warm you inside out sorta cocktail.

Dinner was made possible thanks to the barbecue outside and the town’s only grocery store still open. Without electricity they were unable to keep meat cool and therefore dinner compromised of canned corned beef, grilled vegetables and a mix of the chanterelles we collected, along side chicken of the wood. The latter is a type of mushroom, aptly named for its texture that resembles dried chicken. A little too rough for me, but a first experience worth trying nonetheless.

Eventually the power did come back, and we were able to have a late night snack prepared within the warmth of our Airbnb cabin. Snack was toast made with luncheon meat, cheese, and a chanterelle omelette in between two slices of garlic bread. Served along with French pressed coffee and a salted caramel cheesecake slice.

The next day, fresh off of the excitement of having electricity. I made an elm and chanterelle cream of mushroom soup, served along side a different garlic toast sandwich. This time with a sunny side up egg and sautéed elm mushroom filling.

Well fed, it was then off to explore the city of Ucluelet some. Starting with the first look of the Pacific for the week; and a light hike that included a loop around a light house, where winds carried waves and crashed them angrily against large rocks.

As per the locals we grabbed coffee and the Foggy Bean and snacks at Zoe’s Bakery.

And for our last sheltered night in the Airbnb I upcycled leftover mushroom soup into a Parmesan rich, wild mushroom, Alfredo pasta. The perfect side to medium rare steak, grilled tomato, and sautéed hedgehog mushrooms. To drink: wine, was the very same vintage used to make the soup/pasta.

Breakfast the next day was enjoyed on the damp porch outback. Our cabin included its own forest and redwood tree to take in as we ate what we had leftover from the days before.

After a speedy checkout it was off to Tofino and the tsunami hazard done for the last leg of our trip. Here, gentler waves creeping up sandy shores replaced violent ones. Surfers enjoyed the water under them and we the rain that fell above us.

And what is a visit to Tofino, with a stop at the original tacofino truck? There, I recommend their fish tacos for its freshness and the gringa for its lack of availability anywhere else. The chicken gringa, is a 6 inch flour tortilla stuffed with chicken, cheese, salsa, and sour cream; then grilled until gooey and crispy.

Then it was a safe and easy drive back to Nanaimo to catch the ferry home to Vancouver, safe and sound thanks to the 2021 Nissan Rogue. A solid SUV, with enough room to sleep in, even when you over pack. With plenty of comfort and modern features for extended driving. And an amazing fuel economy to get you further and faster than you expected. In short the 2021 Nissan Rogue is a great travel vehicle in our books, and one to consider if you live a similar lifestyle to the one I described above. Thank you Nissan for the loaner and the memories.

Opus Boutique Hotel & La Pentola Restaurant

During 2019‘s “Dr. Peter Passions” fundraising event (in keeping with tradition), my girl friend and I bid on a auction item. This year we went on a smaller scale and won our silent bid for a night out. A night out in Vancouver that included a ballet show and a stay at Yaletown’s boutique hotel, “Opus”. So this weekend it was time to cash in the ticket for our hotel stay. Our package was for an executive suite, but we decided to upgrade our one night stay to one of their two penthouse suites. All for what we are calling “BFF Christmas”, a staycation for two, before the end of the year.

Located right by Yaletown’s skytrain station it is easiest to take transit down. Although if you are like us, equipped with a fair bit of luggage, it might but easier to drive. But be warned there isn’t parking out back, and you aren’t able to help yourself into any lot either. Your only option is to either park at one of the meters on the street, or request the hotel’s valet service. We opted for the latter and handed over our keys in exchange for a call tag.

After checking in, we helped ourselves to one of their luggage carts, and found our way up to the 7th floor. Speaking with the clerk behind the desk, “Opus” is known for their themes: coloured rooms and suites that are monochromatic in red, green, or teal (to name a few hues). Our penthouse was fuchsia and black, with cheetah print and velvet accents. The scheme felt posh with a fashionable flair, and definitely more geared towards a feminine aesthetic. Right when you enter, a framed photo of thick red lips hangs above the living area’s black suede couch. It is accented with gold and fuchsia throw pillows and a matching lounger. The leopard spotted chair in the corner plays off the heavily patterned, black and white velvet wallpaper on the feature wall. And instead of a coffee table, three wooden blocks are assembled together, to act as a flat surface in front of the television.

But for something more solid, the desk in the corner with its own telephone and iPod charging on a stand is a better solution. This and the living room are separated from the bed room by a mirrored wall. Although they shared the same fire place, thanks to its dual sided glass panes. And in both rooms, above it, hangs a flat screen television. Although the one in the living room is notably larger.

Our suite also boasted two washrooms. The first, by the study/desk was narrow. It only had enough room for a sink and a toilet. But with the same richly patterned, velvet wallpaper as before, it exuded a sense of regality.

The master bathroom had marble tiles that heated underfoot. A toilet, a sink, a Dyson branded hair dryer, and a large shower stall. The latter comes with a rainfall shower head, and apothecary by the pump from “Malin + Goetz”.

But the highlight, and one of the reasons why we choose this suite, was the tub. The master bath was built around this large soaking tub. It had enough girth to fit two comfortably. It was set up against the window, over looking the city below. And here, the suite’s third television screen was mounted, for further indulgence.

For modesty, you could push a button and lower a set of blinds that shielded the large glass window and the view it provided. But honestly I wanted people to see me enjoying this level of extravagance, and soaking in my pulsating jet tub. If I am going to pay for such a suite I am going to make sure I enjoy it and that everyone else knows I did. Although, truth be told we did do the above in swim suits.

Equally impressive was the four post, king sized bed that we shared. There is just something so regal about the extra glossy metal bars that surround you as you sleep. It felt like a cage, but with more accessibility. You slept in this protective bubble, with faux corners and walls. Resting on fresh and crisp, white hotel sheets. A setting that was accented with pillows and a bolster, that matched the same gold and fuchsia floral pattern in the living room.

Here, you had access to the patio, or rather exterior ledge with railings. It was a little too cold to enjoy the limited space that wrapped around our suite. Although we did venture out in our hotel robes, to take in the city’s lights at night. The patio is a little too narrow to linger on. There isn’t much room to pull out a chair, and very little views if you aren’t standing and leaning off the railing.

Once we settled in and freshened up, we decided to head back down to the lobby to take in their bar/lounge. Not to mention our check-in included a welcome glass of sparkling wine. We would retrieve a couple of glasses from the front desk and enjoy it at their cozy bar.

Normally there would be live music playing on a weekend, but the space was reserved for a private function this night. So we were ushered into their hotel restaurant, “La Pentola” for a few more drinks, instead.

My girl friend kept it light with white wine. Whereas I turned my attention to hard liquor with a couple of cocktails.

The “questi giorni” came recommended for its great balance. My own taste test concurred this to be true, noting the smooth citrus finish especially. Lemongrass infused seventh heaven gin, cocchi americano, liquore strega, lemon, cucumber, and rosewater.

The “Hugo” was tanqueray rangpur gin, st germain elderflower, liquore strega, Prosecco, mint, lime, and celery. The green cocktail was savoury, it had that salty food nuance to it. Which is what I like about Caesars; but here, it comes with much more cucumber and celery flavour.

From there we retreated back to our penthouse for more drinking and some room service. If your suite is this nice, you obviously want to spend time enjoying it. So with two bottles in hand and room service called twice we were living the “suite life”.

The in-suite dining menu differs from that of the hotel restaurant’s, although both are prepared out of the same kitchen. Our dinner from “La Pentola” was delivered, served on cloistered plates.

The cheese platter was pretty rudimentary. Three types of hard cheese, one softer blue, some green apple slices, a couple of raspberries, and two types of crostini to eat it all with. The crispy cracker and salty cheese did pair well with our red wine.

The “orecchiette” had lamb ragu, olives, mint, and pecorino. Gooey cup pasta with plenty of good chew. Topped with filling bits of lamb, and hints of mint, this was a satisfying plate. It was also my guest’s favourite of all that we had, and it came with great authenticity.

Another fulsome dish was the “Steak frites”. A 10oz PEI rib eye steak in a red wine jus, served with a side of crispy and salty French fries. The steak was cooked well to medium rare. Fatty and easy to slice in to.

But it was the “Grilled cheese” sandwich that we tacked on to our order as an afterthought, that really stole the show for me. It was exactly as you’d hope it would be. Golden brown toasted white bread, made extra indulgent with plenty of butter on both slices. Even when it cooled down it still crunched on impact. Dare I say, the best grilled cheese I have had to date? My only critique here is the lack of condiments. Given the amount of fries you get, they don’t give you enough ketchup to enjoy with it. A sauce dish filled 1/3 full, we ended up ordering two more to have enough.

And there our night continued, snacking, drinking, and watching TV on demand.

Next morning we headed downstairs for brunch at “La Pentola”. To continue from the night before, my guest had the “Ciao Bella!” A glass of red wine, spiked with soho lychee, peach nectar, fresh orange juice, and lime. It was not unlike a sangria, but with more punch-like notes. A sweet and tangy, easy to drink juice. I personally would have liked more peach and soho to make it stand out more.

For food, I was drawn to the “Breakfast risotto” for name alone. Basically a regular savoury risotto with peas and Parmesan. Made breakfast-like with the addition of smoked bacon, scallions, and a poached egg. Great on the first bite, but it grew bland by the third. One strip of bacon was not enough to endure the whole serving, so I looked to table salt.

I don’t often need salt, or like using it (I fully believe that dishes at restaurants are served as their chefs intended), but here I was sprinkling 3 pinches of coarse salt over the lot. Overall, the risotto would have been better served as a side. Thanks to the fresh peas, it made for a decent palette cleanser in between more dense bites. The egg on the other hand really didn’t add anything to the mix, I would have been just as happy without it.

I would instead recommend the “Shortrib Benedict” with potato rosti, poached eggs, peas, mushrooms, shallots, and hollandaise. The gooey egg yolk and the rich hollandaise engulfed the Benny in a thick creaminess. The fried onion added a nice crunch over the fattier pieces of beef. But instead of English muffins, here they used crispy hash browns as a base to mount the perfectly poached egg. My only critique would be that this came to us closer to room temperature, where it would have been much better hot.

And as a sweet treat to end on, we had an order of “Zeppole”. These are airy, yet cakey Italian doughnuts, sitting in a bourbon apple butter sauce. This was a mild dessert, not sweet, just on the sweeter side. You could make out the egginess of the dough, and the powdered sugar that dusted it. I did wish that the apple purée was sweeter, to give things a kick when you needed more from it.

After breakfast it was back upstairs to pack and drag our feet in checking out. But first, we ended our adventures at “Opus” with a bang; having fully utilized our coveted tub. We drew a bath with a bounty of bubbles, that only doubled when we switched on the pulsating jets for a back massage.

For a more detailed and whimsical account of our time at “Opus”, check out my latest drinking Vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

OPUS VANCOUVER
322 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5Z6
(604) 642-6787
opushotel.com

Cornucopia Whistler at the Pan Pacific Mountainside

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.

“The Corridor” with Yew + Sidecut, Cornucopia 2019

 

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.

Scandinave Spa Bubble Bath, Cornucopia 2019

 

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.

Top Value Wines Seminar, Cornucopia 2019

 

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.

Culinary Stage: Tyax Land and Sea, Cornucopia 2019

 

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.

Cellar Door Grand Tasting, Cornucopia 2019

This weekend we were up in Whistler, which is consistently ranked amongst the world’s top golf, mountain bike, and ski resorts. Although this fall we were not on the slopes, but instead, around tables trying the fabulous culinary offerings of this mountain town. Every November, Whistler hosts Cornucopia: Whistler’s Celebration of food + drink. The event is a unique opportunity to experience the wealth of Whistler’s fine dining establishments, as well as mix with acclaimed chefs, sommeliers, distillers, brewers, and restaurateurs visiting just for the festival.

But if you aren’t able to visit for a weekend or sign up for numerous events, the one(s) you have to attend is a signature tasting. The convention centre hall, (where it is held), is set up with multiple tables, each dedicated to a wine or food vendor. You roam the space, chatting up distributors and chefs, strolling amongst the aisles, at your leisure. Because where else can you try several of the wines participating in various “Cornucopia” events across two weeks, all gathered together for one night?

There are several such grand tastings, but the “Cellar Door”, (which is the one we attended), promised fine wines and champagnes, with the uncorking of top-shelf bottles ($25 and up). “With glass in-hand, step inside to discover a superb range of red, white and sparkling wines, and meet the producers and winemakers who create them. Complement your tastings with sweet and savoury bites by Sea to Sky restaurants and guest chefs.”

Participating wineries included:
BC Wine Studio
Black Hills Estate
Black Sage Vineyard
Blasted Church
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
C.C. Jentsch Cellars
Clos du Soleil
Covert Farms Family Estate
Crescent Hill Winery
Crowsnest Vineyards
Culmina Family Estate Winery
Da Silva Vineyards & Winery
Dark Horse Vineyard
Delegat Canada
Empson Wines
Ex Nihilo Vineyard
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery
Fort Berens Estate Winery
Hope Family Wines
Indigenous World Winery
Inniskillin
Italian Wine Importer
Kismet Estate Winery
Lang Vineyards
Laughing Stock Vineyards
Mark Anthony Wines & Spirits
Massey Wines and Spirits Ltd
Moon Curser Vineyard
Okanagan Villa Vineyards
Phantom Creek Estates
Shannon Ridge
Stags Hollow
Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Sunrock Vineyards
TIME Winery
Whistler Tree Wines

The following will be a highlight reel of the event, with a few notables. Like, meeting the Riedel team. I am a firm believer that glassware makes a difference and was proved it here with their decanter and magnum glasses.

For food there was a table of hams and sausages. And a collection of nibbles that ranged from hot squash soup to pork loin and mashed potato. There was Thai salad and sautéed vegetables, tomato bruschetta, and good old fashion hard cheese and sweet apple to graze on.

In short, these so much to see in do in 3 hours, you definitely get your money’s worth at this event. If you can only attend one, this is that one. To have it to look forward to next year, visit the Cornucopia website for more details.

For the epicurious, Cornucopia is food + drink unleashed

 

For the more animated and detailed recap of this event, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Culinary Stage: Tyax Land and Sea, Cornucopia 2019

This weekend we were at our very first “Cornucopia”, Whistler’s fall food and drink festival, which includes a variety of events to partake in. In order to get the most out of our experience we signed up for a little of everything, like a live cooking class where you get to eat the fruits of your chef/instructor’s labour. This is that recap.

Attendees were gathered at the grand foyer of the Whistler’s Conference Centre. You choose yours seat between several tables clustered around the “Sub Zero & Wolf Culinary Stage”. It was a formal sit down event, which included the visibility of two televised screens. They were helpful in allowing you to follow along with this instructional tasting.

Our instructor was Daniel Crane, Executive Chef at “Tyax Lodge”, and this would be his first foray in teaching on a public stage, in front of a live audience. In order to see him in action, check out my latest drinking vlog, where I recapped this, and a few of the other events I participated in.

 

Chef Daniel used the following 3 courses to highlight his background. He prides himself on working with farmers, sourcing his ingredients from them as much as possible. And this was well reflected in the meal to come, 3 courses inspired by flavours from the land and sea.

As a workshop, it was great to be able to take in his tips and trips. And/or sit back and simply watch things unfold like a cooking show; with the added pleasure of eating it after. I personally really enjoy seeing how my food is put together, to be able to appreciate the workmanship of each dish so much more.

And as he prepared our multi-course meal, we would enjoy wine from “Fort Berens Estate Winery” in Lillooet, BC. Their handcrafted wines reflect the unique qualities of Lillooet’s terroir; and has won them several regional, national, and international awards. The winery is located two hours north, over the coast mountains. This is a small valley, the same size of Burgundy, France. There, it is very dry and arid, with very little snow and rain. The land’s pour soil is great for grapes, the energy to grow them all goes to the fruit and not its leaves.

Our first “Fort Berens” wine was their 2018 Chardonnay, a wine that won in the category of top white at “Cornucopia 2019”

Our second glass was their 2016 Pinot noir made from five different types of grapes, clones of varietals originating from France to California. The result, an deep red with earthy layers and the fruity notes of raspberry.

The last glass was the “Fort Berens’ Late Harvest Muscat”. A sweet wine, that paralleled our dessert to come. Made with a late harvest grape it has exotic notes of ginger, lemon grass, and apricot. A nice cool wine with light acidic tones.

As for the food that went with each, the following will be a notable recap of the demonstration, followed by my honest review of the food. I will not be offering step by step instructions on how to replicate each dish, instead, you will have to attend next year’s “Cornucopia” yourself.

Our first course was an “Albacore Tuna Tataki”. Seared rare tuna served with a cherry tomato ratatouille, warm olives and caper berries. Seasoned with chilli, olive oil, a parmesan crisp, and saffron aioli.

We learned that you start by making sure the pan is nice and hot, so that the albacore tuna cooks up with a lovely crust. You also want to lay the fish away from you, to avoid the oil from splashing on to you. You then season your tuna with olive oil paprika, salt and pepper. Your don’t want to sear it for too long, though do want to get all four sides, and allow the fish to sit.

Next you prepare the ratatouille which involves adding together your vegetables and finishing it with parsley and salt.

For your aioli you blend your mayonnaise in a blender at a lower setting. You then slowly add in oil and turn up the speed: “really high, really quick, and then kill it”. If you blend it too slowly it comes out too thin. You know you have done it right when your finished product is a nice yellow colour.

We then got an inside look at the intricacies of plating. Slicing the tuna thin, dotting your plate with mayonnaise, lining your ratatouille on the side, and finishing the plate off with some deep fried rice paper for added crispiness.

The result, a tasty and light start. Fresh and tangy with tomato, and familiar with the tuna and creamy mayo combination. The white wine’s citrus notes really complimented the seafood here.

The second course was “Pan Seared Brome Lake Duck”, served with a parmesan and sage gnocchi, cherry jus, and quark cheese mousse.

Chef Daniel first began with the gnocchi. He and his team had already pre-boiled the potatoes needed for 35 minutes, just so that they are soft enough to pierce with knife. Once they are peeled, they are pressed down to small bits using a potato ricer, (A new and soothing sight for me). The collection of potato granules are the mixed together with one egg, and one and a half cups of flour, then repeatedly folded in to build gluten. The dough is then rolled into a line a cut down to small pieces. It is then ready to be boiled in water for 1-2 minutes. When they start to float, you remove then from the water. And once they cool down you can sauté it with the asparagus.

Making the chutney involved sautéing chopped red onion, gooseberries, a little bit of sugar, and red wine vinegar. Then letting it cook down with all its liquids cooked off.

The duck breast was prepared in a sous vide bag, seasoned with salt and pepper. It is then seared and plated with its demi glaze and cherries, alongside the chutney and gnocchi.

The meaty piece of duck was perfection, with all its sides balancing out the plate. Fresh and crispy asparagus, sweet and sour chutney, and a rich caramelization from the cooked cherries.

Our third and final course was a “Berries and Cream” dessert, made with fresh berries, a coconut foam, cardamom crumble, and chamomile syrup.

First came the making of the granola based crumble featuring pumpkin seeds, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cardamon. To it Chef Daniel added in a good amount honey, and a little bit of sugar with canola oil. The goal is for it to be sticky before popping it in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The berry compote was mix of blackberry, cherry, and strawberries. More sugar is added to make it a proper dessert. It is finished with lemon juice, and cook down at a low heat for 20 minutes. And lastly a splash of vanilla extract goes into the mix, after the temperature is turned off.

In order to get the camomile syrup, you start by steeping tea bags into water and cooking it.

And for the meringue you remove yolk from egg whites. And the whites get whipped in a blender so they won’t fluff up. More sugar is added again, as well as cream of tartar, to help keep things nice and stiff; so that your meringue does not flop out in the oven. It is baked in the oven at 200 degrees, until it is nice and crispy.

The coconut foam uses a higher fat concentration of coconut milk, mixed with icing sugar. It is piped on to the plate using a foam gun.

Surprisingly the dessert wasn’t too sweet, I found our dessert wine sweeter. The cardomon notes gave the plate a fall feel, the camomile a nice floral essence, and the juicy berries offered a nice contrast to the crispy and chewy meringue curl it was scooped out over.

In conclusion, a great event and a fun way to add a little flare to dinner. I learned a few kitchen tricks and was fully entertained throughout the entire meal. And I honestly think it all tasted better because I witnessed its journey to completion, and respected the time and effort that it took to get it on my plate. For all the food enthusiasts, I highly recommend looking into attending another such class next year. Start planning now by visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

Top Value Wines Seminar, Cornucopia 2019

This weekend I was taking in my very first “Cornucopia”. The two week long food and drink festival hosted in Whistler. It gathers industry professionals and fans together through specialty dinners, parties, cooking demonstrations, and seminars. And in this post we were taking in the latter.

Out of all the possible wine seminars, I was most interested in this one: “Top Value Wines”. This was not just a class on one specific type of grape, or wines from merely one region. This was a collection of information, covering several different types of wine, from all over the world. Information that I could take and apply in my every day life.

I typically visit my local liquor store looking for a bottle; but often don’t know what to get, so simply hope a label compels me. There are so many different types of wine, and we all can’t be sommeliers. Picking one can be overwhelming, especially if it is to be shared with others who may judge you on your selection. Or maybe you don’t want to spend more than $20 on your purchase, because you think, “it’s just for me”. Therefore, I was looking forward to taking in this workshop, to have it help remove future doubt in my wine selection. And now, thanks to this wine seminar? I have a list of what to reach for during my next liquor store visit. So continue reading to see 12 wines worth trying, that won’t break the bank.

The seminar was set up like a lecture room with rows of tables, an overhead projector, and a panel of speakers leading the class. Our three hosts were the ones to choose the 12 wines we would be tasting. And as we did, they would share why they selected this top value wine, plus what they liked about it. Rachel is the owner of “VV tapas”, a new wine bar in East Vancouver. Tyler runs the “Village Taphouse” liquor store in West Vancouver. And Daenna writes for 4 wine magazines all throughout Canada, where she is better known as the “Wine Diva”.

Everything was pre-poured and placed in order on a speciality place mat. Water was self serve at the back of the room, a larger plastic cup gave you the opportunity to taste and spit, and a packet of saltines offered a way to cleanse your palette in between.

The seminar began by explaining value. Just because a bottle is inexpensive, it doesn’t make it worse off than something that costs double that. “Value” was described as something worth more to you than what you would expect to pay for it. We then went one by one through each glass, essentially going through a whole case of wine.

 

First was the “Rivera ‘Marese’ Bombino Castro del Monte D.O.C.” This is a lesser known wine, hailing from a more obscure area, at the “heel of the boot of Italy”. This white is made in a stainless steel vessel, to ensure nothing takes away from the grapes. It is a creamy, full bodied wine with tropical notes. And best enjoyed frosty cold. It isn’t widely distributed, but it is available in 27 stores across the province, that offers it at $22 a bottle.

The “Seven Terraces Sauvignon Blanc” is $18 at any BC liquor store. Described as a “text book” Sauvignon from New Zealand, it is tangy with a crisp finish; and also a little dry yet refreshing. It is available year round with green apple and peach flavours, ideal as a “hot tub wine”.

The “2018 Synchromesh Reisling” is from our own back yard: Naramata and Okanagan Falls. It is available at privately owned liquor stores for $23, but for the best deals, it is recommended that go right to the source. The same can be said for any BC wine, the best prices are right from the winery itself. As for how it drinks, this eas a balanced blend with plenty of acidity, thanks to its natural fermentation. Our hosts highly recommended it with Asian cuisine like Thai food and with a variety of curries. It is also just as good with breakfast because it pairs well with bacon. A great all around white, with a lower alcohol content at 9%.

Then for the rest of our tasters we went red, starting with the “2018 Santa Carolina Pinot Noir Réservé” from Leyda Chile. Available for $14 a bottle at any BC liquor store, this was the best deal out of all the glasses. It comes from a newer region, just off the Pacific Ocean; hilly with a cool climate. This Pinot Noir with its savoury character pairs well with rich earthier foods like risotto, mushrooms, and Wellington.

The “2017 Humberto Canale Estate Noir” is from Patagonia, the very south of Argentina. Also described as the “end of the earth” with barren terrain. The dessert’s cooler nights and higher altitude is great for preserving the acidity of their wine. At $20 a bottle from private liquor stores, you get good “bang for your buck” here.

Next we switched the order and went to glass #9, the “2016 Lupi Reali Montepulciano d’Abruzzo” from Italy. A medium, light bodied wine that sold for $19 a bottle, at private liquor stores. Made from certified organic grapes, it doesn’t have a lot of mechanical bitterness to it, thanks to how it is produced. It is a great acidic wine with plenty of freshness; and good tannins making it a great choice to pair with sausage. It is also the bottle our experts recommended to bring to a party, when you don’t know what they like.

We then went back to our placemat order with glass #6, the “2018 Gran Passione Rosso” from Veneto, Italy. The grapes are left on the vine and dehydrated slowly. The farmers wait for them to shrivel up and loose half their weight before picking them, and making wine with them in oak barrels. The result, a more intense wine at 14% alcohol, with only a tiny amount of residual sugar. You get flavours of oak spice, vanilla, plum and raisins. This is available at privately owned liquor stores for $16 a bottle.

Glass #7 was the “2017 Boraso Garnacha” from Spain. A fruit wine with a “strawberry twizzler” character, a younger wine with no oak contact. At $15 a bottle at any BCL, our hosts joked that this was the perfect wine to crack open when you either don’t want to commit to finishing it, or you have to share with someone else.

The “2017 Protea Cabernet Sauvignon” is from Western Cape South Africa and runs at $15 at BCL. It hits all the classic notes with its time in oak barrels, followed by a year in stainless steel. It is a balanced wine that you can enjoy right as you open the bottle. Peppery with some cassis fruit.

The “2017 La Stella Fortissimo” from the Okanagan Valley was the most expensive bottle of our tasting. $35+ at the winery or private liquor store. It is a blend that is mostly merlot. Another approachable wine that you don’t need to decanter, although letting it rest doesn’t do it any harm either. It pairs well with meat, and for the vegetarians grilled eggplant and bean dishes. It also has enough acidity for tomato sauce.

The “2017 Famille Quiot Les Combes d’Arnevels Ventoux” from Rhone, France is $21+ at private liquor stores. It is a classic Southern Rhone blend with a mix of varietals. The wine has good minerality with flavour of dark fruits, leather and spice.

And glass #12 was the $20 “2016 Gerard Bertrand Terroirs Corbieres” from Languedoc, France. This was a full bodied blend with mostly Syrah.

Here, I wish I took better notes. Although having finished 12, 2oz glasses without using my spit cup, and only nibbling on two salted crackers; I wasn’t as alert or as thorough as I was at the beginning of our seminar.

In conclusion, I am very happy with this workshop. I have discovered 12 great bottles to reach for and impress others with, the next time I am in need of wine. And at these prices I can get a couple to share or one for me and another to gift.

For more on Cornucopia, and how you can attend next year’s occasion, visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

For the vlog version of this event and the recap of our weekend drinking, check out my latest video, now upon my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei.

Scandinave Spa Bubble Bath, Cornucopia 2019

This weekend my girl friend and I were in Whistler, here to celebrate her birthday, as well as attend “Cornucopia” for the very first time. “Cornucopia” is Whistler’s fall food and drink festival. Combining the two made the weekend all the more fun, and topping it with a spa experience at Scandinave spa was the cherry on top.

“Scandinave Spa” was hosting a “Bubble bath”, and we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to be drinking bubbles when being surrounded by them. Although you can’t actually bring your drink to the pools (for safety reasons). However, the ability to visit the infamous spa at night was an experience in itself. But this was a party with guests lounging about the foyer in robes, sipping on unlimited bubbles, snacking on canapés, and bopping along to the jazzy sounds of @lovejennamae singing and playing guitar live.

I know you aren’t supposed to go into the water until 15 minutes after you have eaten, but who can resist this pairing? This it is the stuff goals are made off. The event was a self directed experience, you mixed and mingled either outdoors in the pools or by the fire pits, or indoors at the bar and by the fireplace. There was plenty to do in either arenas, with the ability to socialize. During regular spa sessions there is no talking allowed, tonight guests were more loud and rowdy with the drinks.

The ticket price included access to their exclusive hydrotherapy bath, towels, and robe rentals. At the pools, you are able to carry out your usual spa routine. Following the intermittent hot and cool soaks, plus rest. This is recommend for its traditional Scandinavian healing properties. Here you could gather by the roaring fire pits, swing on one of their hammocks, or get a chill from the stone benches and/or lounge chairs. For something more warmer, there was plenty to lie on indoors, in one of the solariums.

At this temperature and time of day it is easy to identify which are the hot or cold pools. Smokey and mysterious these hot pools was where we flocked to.

Indoors, attendees enjoyed glasses of bubbles from “Haywire Winery”. They were onsite pouring their traditional method sparkling wine, “The Bub” and their “2013 Vintage Bub”. The “Bub” is a bottle fermented and aged using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Grapes grown on cool vineyard sites in Oliver and Summerland. The result, a fresh warming wine with a nice crisp green apple finish. And the “Vintage Bub” was crowned the Winner of Cornucopia 2019’s top bubble award. You were able to try both and enjoy as many refills of either as your heart desired, (just done with moderation and the sake of health and self in mind.)

And as you sipped, you were able to sample from a collection of savoury and sweet canapés that travelled the room. The following were prepared by the “Collective Kitchen” catering team. Everything was delicious. It kept us well fed, yet refreshing and light. Perfect for the pressure to look as thin as possible in your bathing suit. That and it all paired well with our two wine options above.

A curry cashew cream with dukkah. “Dukkah” is combination of nuts, seeds, and ground spices. Together with the cream this morsel was like a little chip, already topped with dip.

The shrimp with salsa verde was a group favourite. Served on a skewer and drizzled with zesty and tangy salsa for an extra refreshing flavour profile.

A slice of cucumber is used as a base for mango salsa, jade radish, and sun choke chips. Another bright bite full of textures to chew through.

I liked the crab with mango cucumber salsa on a potato terrine, and its heartier bite with a caramelized finish.

The Kushi oysters with its persimmon minuet were delicious and memorable.

I also enjoyed the bacon and blue cheese biscuit with avaocado cream and heirloom tomato and radish. The distinct flavour of tangy blue cheese coupled with a sweet salty bacon was noteworthy.

But my favourite canapé was the albacore tuna with leeks on a nori, sesame and squid cracker. Absolutely delicious.

And for dessert, a quarter of a lime tart with huckle berry jam and blackberry garnish was passed around. Luscious and creamy, tangy with citrus and dark berries; it made for a great palate refresher.

So here, we took our time, eating and sipping, all while listening to the live musical stylings of acoustic singer, Jennamae Webb. She took pop hits and top 40’s songs and spun them in her own bluesy soulful sound. She even took on our suggestion/request of hip hop songs done in the same fashion.

In short, this was a whole new way to experience the spa. And I would highly anticipate going back again next year, whist recommending it to everyone else, and anyone already a fan of the property. Scandinave at night, retooled as a pj party with adult beverages was a hit!

But for more on Cornucopia, and how you can attend next year’s occasion, visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

For the vlog version of this event and the recap of our weekend drinking, check out my latest video, now upon my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei.

“The Corridor” with Yew + Sidecut, Cornucopia 2019

We were here for the first weekend of Cornucopia 2019, Whistler’s fall food and drink festival. This is my first time attending the illustrious event. With two week long seminars, tastings, and dinners to attend, it is hard to choose your favourite.

We started the weekend off with a fantastic dinner at the “Four Season Whistler’s” restaurant, “Sidecut”. The restaurant featured several large wooden stumps refurbished into furniture. It gave it a polished rustic feel, alongside the wood floors and stone pillars. We grabbed a seat on one of their high top tables in the lounge. We were early so took the time to take in the bar’s offerings by way of a couple of their custom cocktails. Your drink options are attractively displayed on their elegant menu. High resolution photos of beverages and glasses that told a story through ingredients and presentation; arranged by geographic area.

My guest went “Northeast” for the “Fujisan Highball”. Jonnie Walker Black, yuzu and green apple, Cascade celery bitters, balsam fir and soda. Its glass is decorated with pine and a feather held in place with twine. Inspired by Japan’s flora landscape, the refreshing cocktail is finished with two spurts of pine scent. And with it came the ability to breathe in the drink before tasting it.

I went Southeast with the “Peak me up”, inspired by South Africa’s soil and its ability to grow quality coffee, bananas, and spices. The very crops that found its way into this cocktail, with great depth. Spiced Bulleit bourbon, artichoke amaro and banana, coconut flowers, cold brew Tanzanian coffee, and Moondog Latin bitters. Great for coffee lovers with the smooth bourbon in tow. Spiced with warmth and finished off with a beautifully sweet caramelized banana slice. So easy and enjoyable to drink, that it felt more like dessert.

We followed both up with a shot of their house gin. Made unique with its blue hue derived from butterfly pea flower. Distilled exclusively for the “Four Seasons Whistler’s”, by “Okanagan Spirits”. An easy drinking gin that went from blue to purple with the addition of tonic water or a squeeze of citrus.

When time, we transitioned to a reception in the dining room. Where, we joined all the other diners here for dinner. We greeted one another and spoke to the excitement of things to come. Clinking glasses of “Fort Berens” sparking rose. For each course to come, the perfect bottle of “Fort Berens” wine came with it.

When time, we all took out seats. Nothing is assigned so it’s first come first served. But those who found their way to the centre of the room were treated to a front row view of our hosts of the night. We were introduced to the Chefs of “Yew” and “Sidecut”, each explaining what course they were bringing to this dinner. Executive Chef Eren Guryel from “SIDECUT Modern Steak + Bar”, and Restaurant Chef Evan Morgan from “YEW seafood + bar”. This would be last collaboration between the two properties, seeing as the Vancouver location will be closing down next year.

Named “The Corridor”, the menu was a journey up the Sea to Sky Corridor (the very route that we took to get us to Whistler today); from Vancouver to Lillooet. And it promised to “take you through 163.13kms of taste”.

We began with a Kusshi Oyster from the oceans around BC, topped with Northern Divine Caviar, as our amuse bouche. A single, perfectly shucked raw oyster sitting of a bed of seaweed, smoky from liquid nitrogen. Quite the presentation, it is just a shame that the smoke was lost under the dim lights.

To pair with it we enjoyed the “Fort Berens” Reserve Riesling 2018. This was a dry white with an beautiful intensity. During its production, the temperature is dropped low, giving it a distinct petroleum nose.

For our next course came another Réservé Riesling. The 2017 vintage was very different due to the warmer weather that year, and the little crop that they yielded. The grapes were very ripe, so the wine turned out with much intensity and an increased sweetness.

Our second course was a single “Dungeness Crab Raviolo”, so good that it left you wanting more with its celeriac cream and Golden Ears Neufchatel. A firm round of stuffed pasta, sitting in a sauce that ate like a creamy chowder. Beautifully done.

Our next glass was a Chardonnay Réservé, that they called “White gold”. 100% of it was made in oak barrels through natural fermentation, and not by artificial yeast. The result is oaky with a rich nose, but not in an overwhelming way.

The Chardonnay elevated the “Lightly Smoked BC Salmon”, which brought our food journey to Howe Sound. An enticing plate with White Dashi, Charred Cucumber, Puffed Grains, Ginger Oil, and Winter Greens. It was a deliciously caramelized sashimi-like salmon with a spicy mayo cream and crispy bites to round out the mouth feel.

Next in our glass was the “Fort Berens Red Gold 2014”, the name, a nod to Lillooet and its connection to gold rush. It is made by drying grapes for weeks in a drying shed, where it lose 30% of the moisture, and it begins to slowly ferment. A medium bodied red, perfect with the steak it was paired with.

Taking us to Pemberton/Cache Creek was our fourth course: “Organic Grass Fed Beef Striploin” served with Pemberton potatoes, and a Cabernet Franc Jus. It was a perfectly cooked, medium rare steak. Juicy and lean with a little bit of fat at either ends. The vegetables with it were hearty and buttery, ideal in rounding out the plate.

Our last glass brought us back to white. The “Light Harvest Riesling” had great acidity, well balanced with sweetness. Its honey notes were akin to our final course: a honey themed dessert.

A “Honey tart” with Honey cremeux, peach jam, pistachio-honey financier, chai crust, peach-Hydromel sorbet, and bee Honey tuile. This marked the end of our Corridor journey at Lillooet. Each element of the dessert featured honey from Lillooet, a milder honey that wasn’t too sweet. This was a fresh dessert with gingerbread-like spices and soften peach. It was a well crafted, and engaging to pick though. I especially enjoyed pulling the almond wings from the candy bees.

Our meal took us from “ocean to alpine” and was immensely well executed. Diner’s definitely got their money’s worth from this. Nothing disappointed and I was sad to see it end.

The experience had me wanting to return to taste from their regular menu. And making plans to do so sooner because “Sidecut” will be introducing their winter menu the first week of December, and it will include a savoury apes ski high tea tower. They worked with an local artists to build a special display to showcase the likes of beef sliders and truffle fries, anything comforting you’d want after a great afternoon of skiing. And all well paired with an outlandishly decked out Caesar.

Worth also noting is the hotel property’s court yard. Here, you can gather around their roaring fire pit and toast some marshmallows on sticks. All while make-believing that you are camping with their own camper in tow.

Both only added to my desire to come back to whistler soon, and next time stay at the “Four Seasons”. And apparently if you do so in one of their residents suites, you have the option of ordering their crockpot dinner. You choose between beef, lamb, or chicken which includes all the accompanying vegetables. You simply order it on the hotel’s app, and it will be waiting for you in your suite. The rich smells of a slow cooking stew greeting you, and offering you a unique, homely touch.

In short this was a great event, one that I would recommend, along with a visit, if not stay at “Four Seasons”. But for more on Cornucopia, and how you can attend next year’s occasion, visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

For the vlog version of this event and the recap of our weekend drinking, check out my latest video, now upon my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei.

Full Tilt ice cream

Our last day in Seattle and we capped our trip off with some literal fun and games. Our brunch stop was within walking distance to “Full Tilt”. “Full Tilt” is known for small batch ice cream and arcade games, and we would fully indulge in both.

Three quarters of the shop was old school arcade games. Stand up, joy sticks classics like “Pac-Man”, “Street Fighter vs Capcom”, and pinball. And best of all, priced as they would be when they originally came out: 25 cents to play. You traded your bills for quarters and off you went.

We played “Gauntlet Legends” as a group of 4, then duelled it out in a fighting match, followed by shooting down dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park” with plastic guns. All our button mashing helped to build up our appetites for an ice cream dessert to follow.

Right at the front of the shop is their ice cream counter with 16 classic and creative flavours. We were offered tasters before committing on a full scoop in a sugar cone.

The “Caramel apple” tasted a little too artificial, with plenty of cinnamon in attempts to mask it. The “Huckleberry chip” had a nice nice berry flavour to it, finished with crunchy bits of chocolate to chew through. The vegan “Pineapple rum with chocolate” reminded me of a pina colada with its use of coconut milk. The vegan “Arabic coffee” was a little too strong in spice for my tastes, I expected more coffee flavour and some coconut from the milk used. And the “Ube” ice cream didn’t have enough flavour to taste it and know it was ube.

The ones we did purchase were the “Mexican chocolate”, a dark bitter chocolate with swirls of cinnamon. The “Chocolate raspberry” had subtle hints of the fruit, giving the ice cream some sweetness. The “Thai tea” was mild. The “Orange fruit loop” was another vegan ice cream made with coconut milk, but I didn’t find the coconut flavour complimentary to the orange cereal milk. And I was warned that the “Coffee Oreo” was very melty, after is was scooped and presented to me. Had I known this earlier, I wouldn’t have ordered it.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is definitely a one of a kind place. Where else can you play arcade games for 25 cents anymore? I would come back just for the games and treat myself to a scoop of ice cream on my way out. Don’t deny your cravings.

FULL TILT
5041 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118, United States
+1 206-226-2740
fulltilticecream.com

Super Six

For our last meal in Seattle our group of 5 decided to stop at “Super Six” for a Hawaiian themed brunch. The restaurant was very rustic with a mechanic/garage theme. Dented metal road signs and rusted tool boxes were used as decoration. A worn chain sectioned off the bar that used tool diagrams as its backdrop. All the above, along with the classic 90’s and early ‘00’s hip hop playing helped to set the tone for a very chill dining experience. One as familiar and as comforting as the dishes to come.

We arrived bright and early and were the first ones to grab a seat by the window. Knowing our intention of ordering multiple dishes, we asked for a table large enough to accommodate it all. I often make such attentions known to servers, as it ensures that we are not packed into one table with elbows touching, and no room to move dishes around for sharing family style.

One of us started the morning off with the “Beach Bum daiquiri” with rum, lime, orange, vanilla.

And the following is what we ordered for food, for 5, in a free for all. The “Lumpia” were spring rolls filled with pork, beef or tofu (vegan). We went with pork and found the appetizer highly enjoyable. Crispy and salty with its sauce, it was a nice appetizer to enjoy as is and with cocktails.

The “Aloha fries” were hand-cut fries, kalua pork, kimchi mayo, scallions, and a sunny-up egg. It was like a saucy and well developed rice bowl; but over fries instead. Crispy sticks of potatoes made gooey and moist with a runny egg yolk. The pork was tender, and there was plenty of it to really satisfy.

The “fried chicken wings” were seasoned in a spicy Korean sauce and served with grilled pineapple on the side. These were large wings with a thick breading for extra crouch. They were salty and slightly spicy, a great compliment to the thin slices of pineapple seasoned with dried plum powder. The addition of the powder helped to enhance the fruit’s sweetness.

We all really enjoyed the “Shoyu Ahi poke” with tobiko, ogo, and macadamia nuts; eaten with thinly spiced and fried to order taro chips. The poke had a familiar flavour, one that I liked. It was a well balanced and not overly seasoned. My only compliant is that we were asked if we wanted rice or greens with our order, but weren’t informed that it would be an add on. We would only find out when we saw the $1 fee attached on to our bill. Not to mention we didn’t even finish most of said rice that we had ordered.

We had 2 out of the 3 available musubi: pork belly and spam, by passing on the vegetarian option with soy, nori, and furikake. Essentially each is the listed protein on top of some packed sushi rice. The pork belly was tasty, but dry. And the spam was salty and fatty, just as expected.

“Sichuan pork noodles” are Portuguese sausage ragu over flat rice noodles with bok choy, shimeji mushrooms, serrano, and daikon. I liked the texture of the gummy noodles and the daikon for crunch. Although it was still a little bland for my tastes.

The “Loco Moco” had a lot more flavour. A substantial beef patty, topped with pickled red onions, two sunny-up eggs; all over rice, covered in a dense brown gravy. I liked the crispy bites and the gooey egg, but could have used more pepper for seasoning. This was a comforting bowl light enough for breakfast, and plenty satisfying for dinner.

The “Pulehu spare ribs” were tender and tangy. The signature slaw on the side offered freshness, and the kimchi Mac and cheese a nice spicy base. Although the latter could have used more cheese for my taste.

I prefer the “Mac salad” a lot more. Softened noodles fully coated in creamy mayo. It served as a great palate refresher and a complimentary side to all of the above.

For dessert we had the “Malasada”, described as “Hawai‘i’s favorite donut!” I have never had these Protugease doughnuts before, so was surprised by how large they were. They were $4 each plain, and for $1.50 more you can have them filled with either Nutella cream or coconut cream. We shared one of each. The coconut cream was light like custard, good but I wanted some condense milk over it for sweetness. The Nutella wasn’t pure hazelnut spread, but diluted and as creamy as the coconut. Both fillings were subtle enough to allow you to enjoy the fried dough of the doughnut themselves. They would have been nicer smaller, server as one bite balls for a better ratio of dough to cream.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Our group absolutely enjoyed our brunch. We got the flavours we expected from the menu, and were appreciative of their execution. No complaints, solid food in a nice setting. Don’t deny your cravings.

SUPER SIX
3714 S Hudson St, Seattle, WA 98118, United States
+1 206-420-1201
supersixseattle.com

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