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Category: Whistler Page 1 of 2

Pangea Pod Hotel

The owners of “Pangea” (a husband and wife duo) met at a hostel, loving the accessibility of them, but wanting a more upscale experience from them. And thus their, and British Columbia’s first pod hotel was born.

The inspiration is taken from the Japanese style of quick and confined accommodations. Pod hotels offer travellers reasonable lodgings for one. The premise is that you only pay for what you need: a place to sleep. Utilities like toilets, showers, and sinks are shared amongst a cluster of stacked pods. You need not pay for the hotel desk you don’t work on, the lounger you never use, or the art work you don’t appreciate.

All guests are required to be 18 years of age or older, this is to maintain a certain environment. These accommodations aren’t designed with families in mind, and with the necessity to keep noise and talking to a minimum, the age restriction makes sense.

Each individual pod is shaped and equipped with practicality as a focus. A double bed gives you extra room; after all just because you are sleeping in a box, it doesn’t mean it should feel like a coffin. Each mattress fits two comfortably, but only 15% of their guests take advantage of this. And speaking from my own experience, even if I visited with my partner, I would want my own pod, for all the leg and arm room.

They are shelves and a cupboard for storage space. Plus, ample room at the carpeted foot of your bed; a place to position your luggage or overnight bag. A cubby allows you to lock up your devices safely with your own pad lock (or you can purchase one at the front desk).
A rail with hangers gives you the option to hang pieces, or you can prevent others from wrinkling, by hanging it off one of the hooks.

You even have your own mirror in your pod for easy make up applications or touch ups. And what many will appreciate, your own outlet that you can charge two separate electronics with. You can also feed your cable through to the above mentioned lockable cabinet, for a more secure charge.

For the security of larger items, they have a “toy box”. A stylish and secure place to store snowboards, skis, and mountain bikes; basically any paraphernalia you would need to get active in Whistler with.

As for the actual stay, check in is self serve, with attendants on stand by, should you need directions verbalized. You follow touch screen prompts that have you conforming your name and email, and swiping your credit card for incidentals. The process if finished with the activation of a chip that you wear as a bracelet. Not only does this identify you as a guest, but it also functions as your hotel key and form of payment.

Like at other hotels, if you don’t use anything, you won’t be charged for it. But here there isn’t a mini bar or pay per view to add on, instead you can use your sensor bracelet to charge any food or drink purchases. Both of which are available at their indoor lounge (fondly referred to as “the living room”), or the roof top bar with a bird’s eye view of the heart of Whistler Village. All and any purchases “tapped” will be reconciled at check out, with a bill emailed to you. Everything is paperless here.

Similarly, there aren’t any hotel phones in which you can call for room service. Instead, “Pangea” utilizes the technology you already own. With extra high speed internet connection, you use your phone for room service or concierge help, in place of a hotel phone. Your check-in is greeted with a text, and a response from you opens the air waves for requests. You can text the number (now in your phone), when you need more towels (though three are waiting for you in your pod: one for your body, another for your face, and a black one for make up removal). You can text for concierge suggestions, and complaints if your bunk mates are too loud. The messages get sent to one of their many employees. The first available responds, and the others get a prompt, knowing some one is on the job.

Of note, you don’t actually get to choose which pod you inhabit. You make a reservation but your pod is assigned based on your desired exit from the back or front, or if you prefer a women’s only space. You get to make this selection during your touch screen self check in and are informed by way of printed receipt. Similarly you get a receipt to place on your dash if you need to park your vehicle underground, overnight.

However if you are going as a large group you do have the ability to rent out an entire suite, like our party of 10 did. This makes a great option for a girls night, pyjama party in. Simply close the door and lock everyone else out. You can also rent out any additional pods to ensure a similar sort of privacy in any of their suites.

As for the rest you get, I have never felt so safe and secure sleeping outside of my own bed; all boxed up and protected by 5.5 walls. For fire safety reasons you cannot be inclosed in your pod, with a fully closed door. However, I found the curtain that you could draw, to shut yourself in, plenty of a barrier. I was tucked in and cozy. And with sound dampening walls, and a white noise fan, you really don’t hear much around you. You can just sink in and relax on the hotel quality mattress. A mattress that doesn’t need a bed frame or a box spring. It was just as comfortable without, and more so with the crisp white linens. The same linens you expect from a 4 star hotel stay. Truly, “Pangea” gave me one of the best sleeps I have ever had at any hotel.

As I mentioned earlier, they do offer food and drink solutions in common spaces. These, they encourage their guests to linger at. The “living room” is kitty corner from their lobby counter with a lounge to brunch feel. Large windows, mirrored walls, mirrors on the ceilings, colourful murals, a portable fireplace, a long banquet table, coffee and cocktail bar, and board games. Basically plenty to make anyone’s stay a little more personalized.

Here, I would enjoy breakfast after my check out at, as they offer a fulsome menu with plenty of healthy options, coupled with those key hangover helpers. I would indulge in the former. More details below, later.

Check in is at 4pm so after we sorted our selves out, we climbed the stairs up to their roof top patio for happy hour. Here, you take in cold drinks and small bites overlooking the hub of Whistler Village. And with a hot sunny day like today, this is definitely the place to be.

Keeping cool with their trademark cocktail, the “Dalmatian”: vodka, peppercorn syrup, grapefruit, lemon, and rosemary. A citrusy mix with the spice of the smashed rosemary.

The “Espresso martini” was a great pick me up with vodka, coffee liqueur, and Pangea espresso.

In contrast is the “Romina Sour” with gin, cassis, lemon, and egg white. A lighter and sweeter cocktail for a sunny day.

I thought the “Smoked Sriracha Caesar” was a little watered down. It could have use more tomato flavour with the vodka, Clamato juice, sriracha, lemon, DescriptionWorcestershire sauce, and pepper.

I liked the “Canadian Whiskey Sour” a lot more with rye, sortilege, lemon, and egg white. It was a stronger cocktail, yet easy to sip with the egg white foam. I especially liked the cherry that top it as a last sip, finishing touch.

For food, we shared a few of their hand held appetizers. Each featuring their flatbread crust, which they do so well. “Caramelized pear and blue cheese flat bread” with a white sauce base, topped with mozzarella, Parmesan, caramelized pear, walnuts, blue cheese, and olive oil. It was my favourite of the three varieties I tried. A sweet and salty combination with the chucks of pear as the highlight.

“Portobello mushroom + bacon flatbread”. Tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, portobello mushroom, asparagus, bacon, red pesto, and olive oil.

“Carbonara flatbread”. White sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, bacon, onion, mushroom, and garlic cream.

The meat and cheese boards were great for grazing. The meat board included prosciutto, chorizo campesino, Genoa salami, grainy mustard, olives, walnuts, balsamic reduction, olive tapenade, and stone baked flatbread. The cheese board had brie, blue cheese, manchego, whipped goat cheese, quince, olives, walnuts, balsamic reduction, olive tapenade, and stone baked flatbread.

When it came time to check out the next morning, it was just a matter of cutting off your bracelet and shedding a tear that you have to leave. Like camping in a tree house with rooms stacked one on top of each other, and one beside another, this was a one of a kind experience.

But before we got into our cars for the 2 hour drive back to Vancouver, we made sure to have breakfast at the “Living room”. “Pangea power smoothie” with mixed berries, banana, Greek yogurt, honey and almond milk. I liked the consistency of this compared to bowl below, however thought the drink could use more fruit flavour.

“Strawberry cheese cake smoothie bowl”. Banana, rolled oats, cream cheese, honey, almond milk; and sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds. It was thick with a graininess to it, much like what would imagine drinking a smoothie out of a bowl would feel. I liked the taste, but not the texture and not enough to finish.

The “Spinach Bennie” was a nice meat-free option. Made with sautéed spinach, red onion, roasted garlic, white wine, poached eggs, and homemade hollandaise, all on an English muffin. It was tasty from the full bodied sauce, and the runny yolk added a nice creaminess to each bite. But I personally would have like it greasier with bacon and tomato.

The “Avocado toast” was smashed avocado dressed in feta, chilli, coriander, red pesto, lime, and sourdough. Ironically, I thought it needed more avocado, or maybe to keep the avocado as sliced, for a 1:1 ratio of avocado and bread.

In short, these pod hotels are worth traveling to for a weekend getaway at, and worth looking in to the next time you are in Whistler. I can see why they are rated the #1 specialty lodging in Whistler by TripAdvisor users. A great solution for solo travellers wanting to save, but not compromise. Or the place to party with a group of friends.

 

For the more interactive recap, check out my latest vlog now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Pangea Pod Hotel
4333 Sunrise Alley, Whistler BC, V8E 1B4
604-962-1011
pangeapod.com

Alta Bistro

Declared the best restaurant in Whistler, at the Van Magazine awards, I found myself at the threshold of “Alta”, as part of a tourism of Whistler organized trip. Truthfully, majority of our group has never heard of this place and I frequent Whistler enough to know all of its drinking holes, or so I thought. Either way, I would get a chance to experience the buzz tonight.

“Alta” hosts an intimate setting, kept romantic in dim lighting. You walk into a lengthy bar that opens up into a more spacious dining area. There, we sat around a long wooden table, under a set of paintings showcasing Whistler’s snow capped mountains.

But what caught my attention was the shelf of jarred perseveres. Mason jars of lemons, beets, carrot, and peas, etc.

We started off with some drinks. I was tempted by all the wine stacked on racks and the wall of bottles separating the bar from the dining room. And more so after learning about their special machine that serves wine, fresh every time. Poured from the bottle, with every glass as good as the first. This specialized machine ensures no air gets in the bottle, resulting in the freshness of it for up to 3 weeks. Many of the others went the wine route, ordering half pours to be able to try more. What a great idea in place of a flight.

I however, wanted to try their cocktails. Like their food, many of their drinks too feature ingredients locally sourced and foraged in their backyard.

I was intrigued by the “Garden party” with its use of spring pea pods, along with Sheringham aquavit, yuzu puree, homegrown mint, and fresh lemon. I got the citrus, but none of the pea. Overall, this was refreshing drink, similar to that of a mojito.

The “Rhubarbarita” was tequila forward and only rhubarb in colouring. Olmeca Altos reposado, Cointreau, spring rhubarb, and fresh lime; served on the rocks with a smear of sweet lime sea salt. I wish I got more of the vegetable that would have been highlighted by the sea salt.

The “Rainforest daiquiri” is a mix of Havana Club 3 years anejo, lillet blanc, Douglas fir and green tea liqueur, fresh lime and a hint of green chartreuse. It was refreshing and you got the piney notes from the Douglas fir sprig.

The “equinox” was today’s special and a pretty cocktail. Bombay gin, flower and luxardo cordial.

As for food, I took advantage of their $29 three course meal. Here, you choose two appetizers and an entree from a list of choices. First course was between soup or oysters, so I went for the latter. Two fresh oysters with horseradish, lemon, apple, and ortega granite. They were of the East Coast PEI variety, but on the smaller side.

 

For my second course, I went for the most unique sounding of four options. This was the “Venison tartare and chicken liver parfait” with a rye and chocolate cracker, egg yolk, thyme, parsley, picked shallot, and malted black barely. This was a very inventive dish, plenty of flavours paired together that I have never had prior. I didn’t get any of the chocolate on the crackers, but plenty from the crust that surrounded the meat. This was a nutty spread that I wish was more salty and meaty, like a pate. A little too rich to finish, but interesting to try.

And for my third course I went for the “Pork shoulder cassoulet” with slow cooked white bean, a soft poached egg, rich pork jus, bacon, frisse salad, and crackling. A stew full of textures and warming flavours. The pork meat was tender, the bacon crunchy, the beans gritty, the greens crispy, and the runny egg bound it all together with its creaminess. I liked the idea and the flavour of the pork rinds, just not how thick and hard they were. It was hard to bite down to size, and therefore hard to enjoy together with the rest of the cassoulet.

Our table also shared a side of “Seasonal veggies”, maple roasted carrots and freshly picked sea asparagus. Some light and refreshing bites to balance out the richness and the gravy soaked flavours above.

As for desserts, the chocolate mousse cake caught my eye, with its candied lichen (Moss) edible decoration. The candied lichen didn’t really taste like much, but it was such a unique way to showcase something else hand picked from Whistler’s back yard.

 

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.
A different way to experience all that Whistler has to offer through its edible nature. This favourite spot of local, is soon to be a popular destination, so be sure to stop by during your next drive up. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ALTA
104-4319 Main Street, Whistler BC, V0N 1B4
604-932-2582
altabistro.com

HandleBar Cafe and Apres

I was invited on a two day trip to Whistler as part of the “HandleBar” experience. A show and tell of what is just slightly North of us. Hosted by “HandleBar” bar, as they go about on their mission to make #MakeApresGreatAgain. Their goal is to show Vancouverites a more local experience of Whistler; with a tour of a brewery where the locals drink, happy hour at a bar where the locals eat, and a hotel to spend the night in when they need a room in the middle of Whistler Village.

So myself and a handful of other bloggers and influencers got into a bus and headed off on our road trip. To watch the video review of this please visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

But for the more detailed account of the event, please continue reading. This recap will be divided into three parts, to give individual highlight to the three stops we visited. “Backcountry”, “Summit Lodge”, and “HandleBar”.

My last post in this trilogy of events hones in on the reason why we were here in the first place. It was the owners of the “HandleBar” that invited us for the day, and now we would get to see what they are all about, and what makes them worth visiting during your next excursion to Whistler.

Located in the Upper Village of Whistler, with a trek through a parking lot, in to a forest, over a river and across a bridge; I can see why they are such a well kept secret. The effort it takes to get here surely dissuades those who don’t know where they are going from trying. Thus making their hidden location the ideal one for locals to rush to. However, after a full year in operation, it is now time to share this gem with the rest of us.

They have been open since last November, with this being their first summer. This season they were busy with mountain bikers, a hit, given the name of the place. During winters they are slammed with skiers and snowboards, preferring a bar off the beaten path. Once again, this is where the locals go, and where they want to make the destination for Vancouverites when we come up for the season. A neighbourhood pub, not in the village, not geared towards the tourists like the many others.

We grabbed a seat on their teal coloured patio, aquas and seafoam on their gate, table top umbrellas, and painted down their heat lamps. It was a great setting with a view of the mountains in the distance.

Here, we tried many of their beers offered on tap, a selection that promised to change up quickly. They also offered bombers and big boy cans across two pages, and a healthy assortment of salty snacks to enjoy them with.

We each began with our own baked to order, perfectly brown, toasty on the outside, and chewy on the inside: pretzel. Each was seasoned with coarse salt, and where you got a selection was between what dipping sauce you wanted with it.

The traditional was the rock salted pretzel with “HotGerman mustard” pairing. The most popular was the “Cajun spice with parm dip” for that cooling tang. And to make your pretzel more of a dessert, you can also have it coated in butter and served with a dish of “Nutella”, hazelnut and chocolate spread to dip into. I went in this direction, but took it one further. I requested my pretzel with melted aged cheddar, then dipped into the sweet chocolate for that salty and sweet pairing that I love so much. Don’t knock it until you try, I liked it so much that I suggested that they put it in their menu as a combo suggestion.

Next it was followed up with a plate of their “Fried pickles”. Thick and juicy pickle spear quarters, beer battered tempura style, sprinkled over with dill, and then presented with the same parm dip above. Salty and tangy, like any pickle lover craves.

My favourite was the “Crispy Brussels sprouts”. Done right you don’t get that waxy chew that is typically associated with the vegetable. And these were done right: amazingly fried to a crisp inside and out. Dressed in a balsamic reduction with melted Parmesan topping it, there was plenty of flavour. I could have eaten a plate-full to myself.

Equally noteworthy is their “Curry wurst”. The menu didn’t lie when it declared this “the best!” At “HandleBar” they describe it as “Germany’s answer to (the) poutine”. Fries and sliced up bratwurst sausages, covered in a homemade sweet curry tomato sauce. This is the best curry wurst I have had to date. The sauce really makes all the difference. It is mild with all the spices you recognize in a curry, but against a comfortable tomato base, with just the right about of heat. So good that we had seconds on it, and I would have loved it over pasta or to have dipped into it with crusty French bread.

The next two are appies that have yet to make their appearance on their menu. Just a couple of small plates they are tinkering with, and thought to give us a sneak peak taste of. As such the names I have listed them under and how I describe them may differ from that of the restaurant, or even change between now and when they are offered on laminated card.

This is their “Toast Hawaiian”. It is basically Hawaiian pizza served on pretzel bread with ham, grilled pineapple, pickled onions and fresh greens. As a fan of Hawaiian pizza I was all over this. I liked the extra salt and chew having it on the pretzel dough gave. Though could have used more tomato sauce and herbs to have it more closely resemble pizza. The greens and ginger gave it a nice elevated touch, offering freshness and another layer of flavour to the bite, other than sweet. But it was the pineapple that stood out with its nice char and grilled sweetness.

I was impressed by their “Pork belly on apple ketchup”. Wonderfully cooked pieces of tender and fatty pork belly served sweet with crispy garlic beans and crunchy fried onions. These were so easy to pop into you mouth.

And if you are in the mood for drinking, make sure you check out their louge shot, which is like no other. It is an actual handlebar that has been specially crafted to extend down the length of their bar. To it you clip on five shot glasses, and as a team take in and drink down your shot of choice in tandem. I was able to give this a go with whiskey, and would have loved the ability to party and do it again. What a fun way to theme their shots, and draw people in with this unique way to start a fun night.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great spot with food and drinks worth trekking out for. One I would recommend, and one I would visit again the next time I am in Whistler. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HANDLEBAR
106-4557 Blackcomb Way, Upper Village, Whistler
604-962-2876
handlebar.beer
HandleBar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gnarlyroots Pizza & Café Restaurant

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We were continuing with our tradition of visiting Whistler Olympic Village on Christmas Day. A little get away to a more festive setting. Snow, lights, and unfortunately the chill front to follow.

And as tradition dedicated we had a casual dinner within view of the Olympic Rings. But a year ago this was a different restaurant. This year they were reincarnated into a pizza parlour and cafe, and no longer the Mexican restaurant it once was.

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To enter it was a little confusing. Two doors, both with the same name, but one specified cafe and the other pizza parlour. Though they both connected to one other, with a wooden fixture separating the two. It resembled the exterior wall of a barn, windows and all.

We entered the pizza parlour. On this side there were only a couple of high top tables facing their drink fridge and hot food counter. This was meant to be a quick stop. Where as the other side had full tables for dining.

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This late at night we were only able to pick from what slices they had left under the heat lamp. More time and a greater hunger could have yielded a full pizza baked to order. Our choices were between a slice of deluxe with green pepper, mushroom, or the popular pepperoni.

We got a slice of Hawaiian and made it a combo with choice of can soft drink. However there was only Pepsi to select from, any other drink came in a bottle and the need to pay the difference. My partner was upset as he doesn’t like Pepsi nor did he want more pop than what a can could hold. Another option would have been nice.

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The pizza was just alright. We have had better and also ones worse. This was a fair middle ground. Not to be avoided, but not the first five choices. The pizza had a thick crust slathered in a sweeter sauce. I prefer a slice with more seasonings, a heavier hand of spice and pepper, and this is despite the visibility of some in the breaded crust. But truth be told, with enough ranch I can find enjoyment in any pizza.

For something a little different they also offer pasta, premade sandwiches, wings, salads, and even an Australian meat pie.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not a destination, but an easy stop when looking for something quick and inexpensive in Whistler. Especially considering that there aren’t that many fast food options in the village, and this is possibly the only one for pizza, or anything later at night. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GNARLYROOTS
127-4338 Main Street, Whistler BC, V0N 1B4
604-962-2255
gnarlyroots.ca
Gnarlyroots Pizza & Café Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

“The Cabin” pop-up at Four Seasons Whistler

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Last year my partner and I started the tradition of going to Whistler on Christmas Day. His family is on the other side of the country and mine doesn’t really celebrate the season. So going out of the city to where there is an abundance of snow and twinkling lights has been a nice little treat for us, something to look forward to on this day of rest. Besides there isn’t much else to do when most of the city is closed on December 25th.

This year I was happy to learn that there would be a pop up lounge running during our visit. A collaboration brought to the ski slopes by the Four Seasons Hotel in Whistler and the Hudson’s Bay Company, the oldest Canadian institution. They opened their doors late December and will remain open until January 2, 2017, with the night of new year eve off. Their goal, to bring a very Canadian experience to all those who visit.

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You roll up to the hotel and it’s valet parking only. A nice perk without a fee, outside tipping. The valet hands you a ticket and you head straight into the hotel’s lobby. “The Cabin” is an event room refurbished on their lower level. A trip down a flight of stairs, past their in house art gallery, dining hall, and kids play area yields your destination.

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The theme begins right as you enter the narrow annex. The staff usher you in, adorned in a Hudson’s Bay striped apron. The iconic pattern tied around their waists. A section of white between blue, green, red, and yellow. The same colouring patterned the backdrop of paintings, found its way across throw pillows, was printed on the coats of the plastic couple walking in a snow globe, and was even loosely represented in the carpet underfoot.

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It all matched the cultivated Canadiana tone and theme, and helped to live up to the “cabin” name and hype. There were ten different tables to sit around, including couches against the windows, high top tables by the front and the bar at the back, and tables with their own inset alcove. Many accommodated larger groups with plenty of space in between each seating area to unload temporarily discarded ski gear.

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There is also outdoor seating situated around roaring fire pits, for those wanting a break from skiing and snowboarding, without the need to disrobe all their gear. Our claimed sofa seat by the window gave us a clear view of this scene, including all the snow covered pine trees that surrounded it.

The rest of the room was decorated with wood, metal, and fur. A rectangular trunk lamp post, a series of chopped branches brought together to form square stools, varnish wood picnic benches, metal antler candle holders on coffee tables, cast iron lamps illuminating the bar, and furry pillows with matching throws resting on the sofas.

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Overlooking the scene was some painted Canadiana. Wild life art set to the back drop of the HBC stripes. Portraits of bears and moose, indigenous people ice fishing and travelling by canoe. And my favourite, a Tim Horton’s cup, framed with broken hockey stick pieces.

My partner found our presence at this food and drink, pop-up, après-ski lounge out of place. We weren’t skiing before, and we didn’t even ski. He found we, without our snow pants or puffy jackets (like the other guests) didn’t belong. But based on our bill, I would beg to differ. We earned the right with our payment, a point I had to push, when he felt guilted to finish up quick, but more on that later.

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I found the staff most helpful. They gave us the treatment you would expect from a restaurant running out of a five star hotel. Our server knew her menu and was able to walk me through it, although she did not make the ordering process any easier, she liked everything. Of note, the menu was bilingual, just like Canada. Printed in both English and French.

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I ordered the “Hot buttered rum” to warm up with. Mount gay xo, spiced buttered rum, boiling water, and nutmeg. It is finished with a cinnamon stir stick and served in a warming HBC striped mug; for $12. Originally I was disappointed to see the mug only half full, but after a sip I could see why the serving was portioned out like this. It is a spiked beverage so thick and so rich that it is like drinking caramelized butter. It even smelled like butter, and left you with that oily slick that wraps your lips after having it. A drink so rich that you can only sip it, and can’t really take in much more than a little every 30 seconds. I found the drink best enjoyed alone than with the food that was to come. Definitely one to try and one I would indulge in again, by any warming fire.

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My less adventurous partner went for a local beer by “Whistler Brewing Company”, the “coastal common lager”. He was sold on it when the server described it as the lightest of all their beers. It was a good beer, but the serving fee for this larger bottle was still steep at $13.

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I was tempted by the “Shaved jamon iberico”, seeing its unique set up by the lounge entrance. This was 30g of Spanish ham, cured for 18 months, and carved right from the leg of the pig. A spectacle you get to enjoy if you grab a front row seat at the unobstructed station. Where a chef with her blade, slices fatty cuts of bold red pork. But at $28 for a tasting portion I was hesitant to commitment. However our Spanish server sold us on its rarity and the fact that it is something special from Spain that you don’t often find in BC.

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It was tasty, a nice buttery finish to compliment the dry herbaceous focaccia side it came with. The pickled vegetables offered a nice tangy break, however I would get more than enough of it from this and its appearance on our second plate.

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Beside the leg of ham was a large round of parmigiano reggiano cheese. It was sourced from BC, and like the ham, carved to order, also at $28. However fun it would have been to see this portion plated, I passed on it for melted cheese instead.

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I assumed the “Raclette cheese” would be cheese served in perpetual warmth of an actual raclette grill. Or at least I would get the pleasure of watching a sheet of melted cheese being sliced off a round of semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, or view a blanket of melted cheese being poured over my plate. But alas, the cheese came already folded in a thick layer over North Arm farm potatoes in purple and their regular pale yellow hue. When severed, it was recommended that I eat it quick as the cheese cools and hardens quite speedily. Though, sadly it’s a lot of cheese and potato to eat all at once, and is best enjoyed when you can take your time with it, along with the side of pickled giardiniera vegetable. Pickled red and green peppers, cauliflower florets, onion, celery, and turnips chunks. Overall it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have any of the pageantry like the last dish did, which I was hoping for when I ordered it. The edam cheese was pungent and salty over the semi boiled, unseasoned potatoes. You can taste the quality of each element, but all together it wasn’t all that exciting to me. As I mentioned, it would have been nice to have an actual raclette grill table side. Something to keep the cheese warm as you dip bread, starchy potato, and regular boiled vegetable into, at our own leisure This I felt would have been worth the $25 that I had to pay for a cold plate of potato and cheese.

Altogether, these were not the best dishes to eat in place of a meal. However I ordered both thinking that my my partner would share them with me, but he would later refuse to even give things a try (as a picky diner, this isn’t his type of food). And at $25 a plate I wasn’t going to let any of go to waste. So I took my time and cleaned my plate, having never had this much pickled anything in one sitting.

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As more people came in wanting to drink and dine we felt the pressure to leave. Especially as these patrons were forced to stand congregating by the bar, and the servers made a few attempts to clear the table of my half picked through plates. But I held my ground. Other tables were staying longer than we were, and many friends joined them to not even order any more. Another family milked an empty bottle of wine in a bucket of melted ice, and even broke a glass with their feet propped up on the coffee table. I would be paying $100 for my stay with marked up drinks and food, so I figured I had earned my right to sit and enjoy my time here. Our bill came out to about $100, as unbeknownst to us, we were charged $9 for water. A bottle of Avian water I apparently ordered thinking it would be free water, as I selected still over sparkling. Looking back, it was no wonder that, despite it looking like we were done eating our server insisted on filling up our water glasses. Had what happened fully sunk in, I would have insisted that she pour the water from the cup, back into the tall neck Avian bottle, and I take my water to go. But instead we paid and left, spending more than we wanted to for what we had, but not regretting the entirety of it, for the experience of 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.
A cozy setting and a unique menu, I just came with the wrong company to fully enjoy it all. Instead I wished I commuted up to Whistler with my fellow food bloggers and foodie friends. To fully enjoy the uniqueness of the offerings in this Canadian cabin, in Whistler, during winter, on Christmas Day. All together hallmarks of something pretty special. When in the area, I definitely recommend checking them out. However do so quick before they close for the season on January 2, 2017. And I suggest dedicating your change to their drinks over the food. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE CABIN
Four Seasons Hotel Whistler
4591 Blackcomb Way, Whistler BC, V0N 1B4
fourseasons.com

Cows ice cream

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We were exploring Whistler Village on a warm summer’s day, and looking to cool down we gravitated towards “Cows” for some ice cream. There are a few other places offering ice cream, out of the village, but this was the only one popular enough to have two locations. This meant neither had a lengthy line up, nor was there a need to wait too long. There was but a bridge separating the two locations, and you can literally spot one from the other. They were identical in wares, offering the same flavours from similar freezers, and same merchandise out of a similar gift shop. “Cows” is also the only ice cream parlour that I know, offering this large of an assortment of apparel, accessories, and toys. You would think that considering all this, you would be in for a treat when it comes to their ice cream. But in reality, we were taken in by hype and the dessert was only average. Here, I actually found ice cream that was too sweet for me, and that I didn’t like, and worst didn’t finish.

Though in hindsight, the ice cream scene in Vancouver has spoiled my palette. With the availability of flavours like lemon poppyseed, whiskey hazelnut, and balsamic blueberry; taste trumps and the actual flavour combinations of ingredients are more sought out than the colourful candy that top them, or the embedded pieces of cake that hide within. Or maybe it’s that as I age, my preferences for my favourite dessert has too. I look for more than just sticky and sweet, when it comes to this cooling treat.

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The location we visited was the one we ran across first. A life size cow statue marked its entrance. The store itself was divided in two, we headed left to the white of the ice cream counter; only taking in the bold yellow, pink, and blues of the shopping side. There, there were stacks of neon tees. Most of which had their cartoon cow mascot impersonating popular animated characters. The “cow’s cow” as Dory with fins and a snout, the “cow” as pikachu in yellow and black splotches claiming to be a “pokemoo”, and the cow as Marvel’s avengers, Nintendo’s Mario, and popular ap turned movie: angry birds. Amongst the shelves of folded shirts and hung up onesies were also stuffed cows, cow themed mugs, and pretty much anything they could put their branding on and sell.

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As for the ice cream, the flavours were spread across three refrigeration units. It was hard to choose one without first starting down at a tub, which also listed what went in to each flavour concoction. The additional list was necessary given their not so descriptive flavour names like “moo crunch”, “wowie cowie”, “fluff and udder”, “Moo Henry”, “Moo York cheesecake, and “messie Bessie”. I was definitely seeing the theme here. But if you are not as excited about cow puns, they also had flavours named after the PEI fruit they used, like PEI blueberry, PEI strawberry, and an PEI apple crisp. This homage made sense considering they were established in Prince Edward Island, and have their home office located there. And naturally they had the classics like Oreo, chocolate, peanut butter cup, bubble gum, and pecans with toffee. Judging by the sign that read “today’s flavours, I gather these were on frequent rotation. 30 different tubs today available as a milkshake in plastic cup, or as a sundae in waffle bowl.

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Given that there a bit of a queue after our party of four, I felt too sheepish to ask for samples. Although I wish I had, if I did maybe I would have gotten a flavour I enjoyed more and could have finished. But no samples were offered and I didn’t notice a bin of discarded tasting spoons on the counter, suggesting it. I guess you read each tag above each bin and hoped for the best.

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One of my guest stuck with the most classic of all the classics: the tried and true vanilla ice cream on a waffle cone. We were all disappointed by waffle cones. Where as we wanted light and crisp, we gone dense and stale.

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My partner when for a little extra with the milk chocolate dipped waffle cone. They also had a white chocolate dipped cone, and rainbow sprinkles or crushed peanuts on milk chocolate. In it he had a scoop of their “Brownie Explosion”. This is vanilla ice cream with a chocolate marble swirl, and chunks of brownie pieces. This not only sounded rich, but it was all to rich for me as well. I found it overkill with the additional chocolate cone. Though it was plenty tasty to my partner, whose only regret was that the ice cream got too melty from the heat, before he could finish.

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I too kept it safe with a vanilla base ice cream. The “Birthday cake” had a cake batter base, with blue swirl, and rainbow sprinkles churned it. It tasted like frosting and sugar, best if you are enjoying it as a five year old.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I have been spoiled with so many small batch gourmet ice cream places in Vancouver this was disappointing. Everything was too sweet and lacked any depth of flavour. I recommend this one for younger children, with less discerning palettes. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

COWS
102-4295 Blackcomb Way, Whistler BC, V0N 1B4
604-938-9822
cows.ca
COWS Whistler Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bearfoot Bistro

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The journey began with the goal to visit the Whistler vodka ice room, but ended up with me re-accessing cost for value and falling back on option two.
I have always wanted to visit the ice room for the novelty of drinking vodka perfectly chilled in a room of ice, something you can’t do just anywhere. A bar of ice, shelves of ice, the nip of the cold kissing your cheek. I hate the cold and being cold, but this experience is one I would love to check off my bucket list. And this new year’s weekend I thought it as good enough of a reason as any to do so. Located in the luxurious barefoot bistro, this experience comes at a cost.

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The “Ketel One Ice Room” is one where you can experience a flight of sub-zero vodkas. The room is set at -32C (-25F), it is the world’s coldest vodka tasting room, and the only permanent sub-zero vodka room in Canada. Within this bar is more than 50 different vodkas gathered from around the world. With fine examples distilled from just about everything from rye, wheat and soya to hemp seeds. With only four tastes per visit, how are you to decide on just four?

They equip you with one of their parkas to keep warm before entry. Wrapped in Canada Goose, Arctic-ready parkas, you feel warm enough to stand still and pay attention as their vodka expert explains how the intricacies of distillation and filtration affect the flavour profile of the finished product.

However my guest had been before, and I trusted her judgement when she said the event was lack lustre. That she didn’t feel it worth the cost. Not only did they rushed her along and only allowed her to take photos on their terms: only after their speech and by their hand. I was also informed that the amount of each taste of vodka you get was not a full shot, but half a tiny cup. For the $50 plus fee after taxes my partner argued we could get a decent bottle at the liquor store to share. My guest seem adamant against spending our time and money here as well. Therefore, for the cost of something I considered extravagant, I decide not to try this experience but instead better funnel the money on the actual restaurant buying food and having drinks.

So instead I looked longly in and contented myself with a photo of the bar that I would never likely visit. It was nice that I could at least get a look at it through either one of their glass entrances. It was wall to wall ice, with blocks of it carved and shaped to form the boxed shelves that the various bottles vodkas sat in, and the counter the various vodkas would be poured at. Though I imagined it larger, this was a walk in closet, or better yet freezer. From our seats I was able to witness group after group taking their turn. Majority of them waited at the bar for their time, warming themselves up with a drink for the cold room before them. We were even approached by the event coordinator if we wanted to attend the tasting. We declined, after already working the above out.

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Besides, given their website description of their champagne bar, this itself was a good experience to try. We took advantage of their Après ski specials, which is essentially happy hour on the slopes. Instead of a hard day’s work, it’s a sweaty and tiring ski session you are recuperating from. And doing so with a bounty of drinks and snack size dishes at a discounted cost.

Entering during their après ski time we were told we wouldn’t be able to get a table, however the bar was open at first come first serve service. We hastily grabbed a stool, thinking that they were so busy that all their reservations were full at 5pm. It later dawned on us that we were in between meal services and they just didn’t seat the dining room then, hence why no tables were available. I wish they told us this, instead of letting us wonder why they couldn’t seat us when literally every table was empty, over 25 of them left unsat.

The stools at the bar were created to look like a patch of animal hide, flattened and tanned for use in the seat’s cushion and its back. It was suspend onto the chairs supportive frame by thick cuts of fabric weaving in and out between metal join and leather hide. It was smooth to sit on and surprisingly supportive.

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Their pewter bar was set with a rail of ice, which was its claim to fame. It’s sole purpose is to keep your glass of Champagne perfectly chilled. Sadly the cost of such an extravagance was one I could not indulge in, but instead would settle for photos of the white powdered troth of ice crystals before us. Besides, no one else was using it, others, like us enjoyed in the more affordable cocktails. Moscow Mules seemed the most popular today.

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My guest got her favourite, the mojito. It was off the menu, but the bartender attending to us was confident he could mix one up for us, it is a classic cocktail after all. However it came to us unbearably sour from the amount of lime juice used and the amount of squeezed rinds still in the cup. Even after a good stir it tasted the same. Given that they taste each cocktail with a lick of a straw, I wonder how this could be so far off. We brought it to his attention by asking for some soda water or syrup to sweeten this very tart beverage. His solution was to shovel out the top chunks of ice, adding more soda and vodka before stirring it all together. Given the reputation of the restaurant I was surprised he didn’t immediately offer to make us a new one and to take the cost of it off the bill. Instead, after his second attempt was declared still too sour, he starter again from scratch. The third one was the charm. He offered us the original with it, we declined.

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I, the one who always has to have something unique went for a more seasonally named and flavoured cocktail: “winter’s white”. Lemon hart Demerara rum, in house made pumpkin liquor, fresh citrus, chai, cream, grated nutmeg, chocolate bitters, cinnamon, and cognac cherry; with a vanilla cayenne sugar rim. Given all the ingredients used I did feel it worth the $16. Though after my guest’s drink I was skeptical of how mine should have tasted versus how it actually came out. After all it did seem like all the bartenders were being trained tonight. It tasted like a fizzy yogurt drink, spiked with alcohol. Homey and warm like eggnog with the use of cinnamon and nutmeg. I was looking for the telltale pumpkin flavour, but missed it along with the chocolate from the bitters. Overall, a great original beverage, best taken on its own by a fire.

When attempting to order of their bar menu, we were bombarded by what felt like a barrage of question. We were undecided and instead of letting us think, one of the bartenders kept asking us questions. And his facial reaction to each of our answers read like he expected more. I felt like I had to defend only getting one dish, then tacked on another out of pressure from him. If that is his sales tactic, it certainly works.

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They are also known for their raw oyster bar with a dedicated oyster shucker on hand, so we wanted to give that a try. They were advertised at half off for après ski. Still pricy due to their proximity to the water, but yet a deal at 50% off. We stuck with a half dozen served on the half shell with fresh horseradish and mignonette. They were fresh and light, a wonderful accompaniment to our more decadent side below.

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A side of “Truffle fries” served with a creamy mayo-like dip. They were your average crispy fry slightly glazed in truffle oil and sprinkled over with some chives. The first few bites were the best, then the closer to the bottom we got, the more tiresome the taste became.

I thought about ordering more food given that everything was 50% off, except the fondue. But given our success rate so far, I didn’t want to chance it, even at the reasonable prices. Though there was many things to be tempted by. Buttermilk chicken and waffles, a braised short rib poutine, and duck confit.

We were most tempted by their “Nitro Ice Cream” coming in. But their website listed it at “$20/person, min. two people” it was $18 less per person than what the restaurant’s bar menu was asking for. $38 per person with a minimum of two people. I couldn’t justify $78 for a sundae we had to share. Though it was scary that we both would have gotten it if the other wanted. It is hard to find someone else so committed to food and the experience of it, so we vowed to come back in summer to enjoy it more, in a more ice cream friendly season, together. Maybe the cost would go down the with supply of people wanting it. I suspect the steep price had to do with the cost of the liquid nitrogen and the price of keeping it in stock during off cold dessert season. For those curious, it would have been bourbon vanilla bean ice cream prepared table side with liquid nitrogen for fast freezing of the cream. Served with your choice of sundae toppings. This is another one on my bucket list, to try here or abroad.

Our experience got frustrating when it came time to pay the bill. I had asked to have it split between two, my partner didn’t eat and only had a beer to drink. However they split the bill in three, sharing my guest’s mojito between us two. A confusing three receipts were produced and left for us to decode. The easy remedy would be to reprint them. However one of the bartenders insisted on getting the manager to explain it to me, instead of trying to figure it out herself. During the wait to meet this manager, only to be told minutes after that she will be here soon, I ended up figuring things out and paying. I would be paying 2/3 instead of 1/2; and the après ski discount was taken off as dollars at the bottom of the list, which was also divided between the receipts in thirds. A jumbled mess.

Overall I was disappointed by my experience here, especially as it is classified as finer dining. I still like the idea and novelty of the ice room, but do not feel the cost satisfies what you are actually getting for it. Though it is clear that the restaurant relied on it for majority of their business. They put more effort into it, even having an employee work the dining area asking diners if they were interested in visiting said room. It felt like they were so occupied with the traffic of the ice room that their service lacked. My guest said it best, “you shouldn’t have happy hour if you can’t make your customers happy”.

Similarly we were disappointed in their washrooms. It was outside of the restaurant in the adjoining hotel’s lobby. Given the decor and the embellishments of the restaurant, you would expect to see this same care transition into their facilities. But these public stall washrooms were nothing to write more about.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I don’t think I would make a trip out to try any of this again: champagne bar or vodka room. After talking it out, I just can’t allow myself to spend that much to get a memory lasting only mere minutes. Where a plate of food could keep me full for hours or a top would keep me warm for months. The exception would be if they reduced the price of their nitrogen ice cream to $20 for a minimum of two. Or if I make it big and have enough excess money to try their champagne sabring in their basement wine cellar. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BAREFOOT BISTRO
4121 Village Green, Whistler BC, V0N 1B4
604-932-3433
bearfootbistro.com.Bearfoot Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Purebread

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With a new location in Gastown, I wanted to see what this bakery had to offer. But decided to visit their original location in Whistler first. Apparently they have been only operating out of here for the longest time, just driving their wares down to Vancouver for sale at local farmer’s market. So they must have gotten enough good feedback for them to invest in a second location in Vancouver.

The one at Whistler is across from the Olympic park, by the rings. A great place to have a bakery and a coffee house. The perfect location for those looking to get out of the cold, for others in lust of a snack; and for parents needing to recharge on caffeine, so they can keep up with their children playing on the jungle gym.

You may miss it with the heavy posts creating a canopy over the pathway to enter. This is to protect a walkway from heavy snow fall. Walking in you can smell the freshness of their baked goods. Their name even sounded delicious. Therefore it is no surprise that what we had tasted it as well.

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Their space was cozy. I liked the choice of having wood partnered with elements of white and red. I can’t be sure if it was just for the winter season, but the colour scheme was effective in helping to set the tone of the place. You definitely got the woodsy Whistler feel with their modern cabin-like decor. This was especially the case with the wooden planked feature wall at the back. It’s shelves that housed little rounds of bread, the red mining lantern that sat in the corner, the tin watering can that decorated the wall behind the counter, and the chalkboard menu listing all their bread varieties for sale. And at the forefront of all the above is their cafe, tables and chairs set up for those looking to snack in.

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The dining table in the centre of the room creates a meridian between bakery bar and coffee counter. On it, an arrangement of local goods and products. Various preserves and edibles perfect for gifting. Dried fruit in bags and nuts in boxes, chocolate made in Whistler for a practical souvenir, and bottled juices and syrups with corker tops.

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However we were in for their baked goods so naturally steered to our left. There, island counters lined with sneeze guard glass laid all they had to offer before you. There was no menu to read from, just note cards by each tray of scones, each cake stand of cookies, and ever baking sheet of cakes. And if you needed clarification the employee behind the counter could further assist.

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Toward the back of the room was their showcase of family-sized goods. Everything we had just looked at, but in multiple servings. Whole rounds of bread, whole pans of pie, and whole loaves of cake. Perfect for a last minute host and hostess gifts, or an occasion dessert or snack.

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Everything looked so good. Chunky scones drizzled in icing sugar, chocolate bars stacked high, and cream puffs delicate in muffin liners. Ginger snaps, coconut macaroons, apple blondies, chocolate chip bars, cheesecake brownies, Rice Krispie treats, raspberry or lemon loaves, etc. there was even something called “crack”. There was no further information on it, but I deduced that based on name it was something that I would want more than one of, over and over again.

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My guest had been before so came in knowing exactly what to get. Their brownies were so popular that they were the closet to where the clerk stood, to provide easy and quick transactions. These were bricks of chewy chocolatey goodness. The edges were a little on the drier side, but the centre was moist, where it counts. It was dense yet not to sweet in chocolate. This was a brownie you could finish in one setting, but would prefer to savoury between two to three.

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The “salted caramel bar” on the other hand was a contrast. A sizeable topping of chocolate, a thick stringy centre of caramel, and a snap cookie base with the butteriness of shortbread. The cookie was unsweetened needing the company of the others to give it more notice. As a whole the bar was too sweet, I had to take breaks in between bites. And after finding it hard to finish in one setting without something to wash it down, I decided to save it for home to have with milk. That is the best way to enjoy something as decadent as this.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t necessary come up here for a craving, but if I was here already I would definitely make an effort to stop by. My regret was not getting more to have now and savouring then. Don’t deny your cravings

 

PURE BREAD
Function Junction Bakery
1-1040 Millar Creek Road, Function Junction, Whistler BC, V0N 1B1
604-938-3013
purebread.ca
Purebread Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mag’s 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina

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The last weekend before the winter vacation season ends and we braved a trip up to Whistler, to celebrate with sun and snow. So of course the drive up saw a stop at our favourite fried chicken and Mexican place. I have written about this one before, but given the changes that was present today from my first trip; and having had something new, I thought it worth an updated review.

They were busy, it seemed like the whole city showed up today, a revolving door of patrons with no time to bus the tables in between. Luckily we came in early enough to avoid the line to order, though was still was caught in need to wait. Wall to wall families and friends sharing this space. Dine in and take outs, everyone knew it was worth the wait. Given how crowded it was our group split up and reserved a booth to ensure a table to eat at.

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The setting as a whole was cozy, nostalgic. It was a repurposed Taco Bell so the plastic seating and the layout was family friendly and familiar to any child growing up on fast food in North America. I qualify for this. But amongst the familiar were elements of culture and ethnicity representative of the Mexican cuisine. Style and design redone to align with more mainstream pop culture. This was in the form of skeletal art on the walls, colour paper streamers hanging from the ceiling, and interpreted Lucha libre graffiti in the washrooms.

You know a place becomes big time when they offer their own branded Merch for sale. Handing above the counter were three different tee shirts with “Mag’s” name and logo for sale. I was tempted as it had my name, but for $20-30 it hardly seemed worth it. One tee had repurposed the Wu Tang Clan symbol on its chest, another supported with a rainbow.

You place your order at the counter right when you enter. A line that weaves through stanchioned bars. One lone till is there to serve the masses. No one is in a hurry, they run on Squamish time, a slow burn. Everyone has their spirits up during this wait, reviewing what they will be getting when they finally reach the front. The menu was a list of chicken and Mexican options framed in red and yellow boarders. In required a look up, above and behind the counter. Chicken snack packs with sides like coleslaw and macaroni salad, a regular poutine or one made with mexi-fries (aka tater tots). Their Mexican covered tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and chimichangas. With your choice of meat filing or veggie option, and salsa-like sides.

Both my partner and I don’t like spicy foods, so never thought to ask. But my guest likes dabbling in the heat, so requested hot sauce. To her dismay it came in a small dish overpriced at $1.25. It is a condiment and would be free elsewhere, and you would think here as well, given the cuisine. Though she was happy to have it and willing to pay. She found it good, but at the same time typical and familiar.

We took a seat and waited for our name to be called to the counter. There, our food was placed on trays to be self transported to our claimed booth. I was surprised to see them being served on regular plates with metal utensils, and not just wrapped in parchment or placed in a plastic basket lined with wax paper. This was a change. We have often eaten in and this was the first time with this dish ware. I suspect they saw the cost saving of washing and reusing dishes, and the decrease in garbage by doing so.

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Being hungry enough, I was in search for something more hearty. So decided to deviate from our usual order. I got the”Chimichanga Loco”. A “chimichanga” by definition is already pretty crazy: a deep fried burrito. This one was made by wrapping a flour tortilla around Spanish corn rice, pico de gallo, Jack cheese, and baja sauce. Then smothering the neatly wrapped bundle in a chipotle cream sauce. It was smart to serve this with knife and fork. There would be no way I could get a bite in and no way to keep this neat.

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I got the meat version and was able to make my choice from a list of six different meat and vegetable fillings, also available for choosing in any of their other Mexican entrees as well. Ground beef taco, rotisserie chicken, pulled pork, shredded beef, refried beans, and their Mexican equivalent of a falafel. I went for the red chilli beef, after confirming it wasn’t actually spicy. This was an inside round of beef dry rubbed then slow cooked in a pepper and habenaro tomato sauce. It did not disappoint, this was well seasoned tender pulls of meat. Though it was the crispy and chewy burrito skin that made all the difference. It was the perfect base for all the flavour it hid. As a whole the chimichanga was filling, but not too heavy with the lighter rice, and the fresh salsas and creams user. A meal so good, that I am salivating just writing this description of it now.

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My guest and my partner shared the order we would typically get. First the “3 piece snack pack with fries and drink”. Trying this for the first time, I knew my guest wouldn’t be satisfied with just one piece of chicken. Crispy skin, juicy meat; flavourful without being greasy like at other chicken fast food places, and the same could be said about the fries that accompanied it. They just needed a good scratch made gravy to round off this platter, and carve them a place amongst the other authorities on fried chicken. Though I did remember the batter on the chicken skin being a lot thicker during our last visit a little over a month ago.

The chicken was good, and as expected my guest wanted another piece. And to our delight our order of three came with a fourth. I suspect this was because aside from the thigh, the wing and drum were on the smaller side. So a fourth piece was included to make up for it, and it was hidden at the bottom for us to discover like a surprise. We didn’t take it, but there is also the option of upgrading your regular fries to mexi fries or a poutine with gravy and cheese.

The chicken was everyone’s favourite. But we wouldn’t have had it in lieu of the tacos. You sort of needed a bit of both to balance one another out. Their taco specials are chargrilled corn tortillas with your choice of meat and mix and match toppings. We went with chicken and pork and one of each flavour. Like a few other things, these were different now. The tortillas were a lot smaller, and more yellow than what I remembered. Though they still allowed two servings with two tortillas and a mound of topping with more than enough to fill three servings, over top. Where they lacked in flavour, they helped to break the grease in the fried chicken and potatoes.

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The free range rotisserie chicken was herb rubbed and cooked slow. It was paired with Jack cheese, pico de gallo, baja sauce, and cilantro. The chicken was too watery paired with the equally juicy tomato chunks. It was a mess on the plate and in your hands. One of those things you have to keep holding until you finish eating.

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The sweet acho pork was pork shoulder slow cooked in their sweet roasted ancho BBQ sauce. It was paired with the taco filled with jack cheese, lime slaw, and mint sour cream. We wished the slaw in this wasn’t so over powering, and that it came with more of a smoky charred flavour instead of one that was too raw, and in a huge contrast when compared to the cooked food.

This is my favourite place for both fried chicken and Mexican cuisine at a great price. Just wished the setting was a little less cafeteria with fluorescent lights and more sit down diner with service. Especially as they seem to be investing on the presentation of their plates. Though this won’t happen until they do away with their cafeteria trays and the need to pay first and bus your own table. Although everything they are doing now seems to be working, so no need to change what isn’t broken.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
They serve some of the best fast food at good prices. Their meat and veggies are always fresh and not frozen. And best of all their cuisine caters to all ages and all walks of life. A family of seven in sweats and a couple of snowboarders dressed bottom down in snow gear. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MAG’S 99
1584 Hwy 99, Squamish BC
604-898-9843
Mag's 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Los Sombreros

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We decided to drive to Whistler in search of snow on this Christmas Day. It was a surprisingly smooth journey. A normal drive ascending to mountains topped with white snow and clear ice. Our journey was done on dry asphalt with every speck of snow plowed to either sides of the road. Although there weren’t any street lights, high beams and moon beams were more than enough to help visibility. The moon was out and full, it illuminated everything under its rays, reflecting off the untouched white mounds of fluffy snow. I don’t like seeing and having snow in Vancouver as it means snow tires, accidents, and the careless driving of others. But I can definitely see myself braving the commute to enjoy this scene before me again. Snow on my terms. Snow only when I want it.

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Within Whistler Village, the snow on the roads were less maintained. The white was compacted, but easy enough to drive over. It appeared to be kept for aesthetics, a way to maintain a seamless winter wonderland theme. After all, this is what the area and the city is known for. Ski slopes and snow board lifts, and visitors staying in wooden chateaus.

After we parked, we were surprised to see that pretty much everything was opened today, at 6pm on Christmas Day; including a furniture store. In general, there was a lot more people and things to do then when we last visited, during Halloween. The walkways were lined with coloured lights, festive music could be heard from inside the warm restaurants, and bundled up bodied were capturing it all in photos.

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With the right wardrobe the cold is only a pinch in the cheeks, but still brisk for those unfamiliar with it. So we ended our exploration by the centre of the village, where the commemorative Olympics rings sat. We knew we were going to be eating in Whistler, but didn’t think much would be opened besides KFC or MCD. So to our delight we had the choice of every restaurant and bar within the Olympic Village to choose from.

Understanding the irony in having Mexican for Christmas we still ended our travel at “Los Sombrero”; having visited the area recently and only just seeing this restaurant now.

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As with most of the other restaurants, peering in, it didn’t look all that busy. But the music paying and host that welcomed us, reassured the restaurant’s authenticity. They played festive and upbeat Spanish music with plenty of Pitbull sprinkled in. The music had the Mexican host and server singing along like they were all classic chart topping hits. However the gentleman that served us was a blonde Australian, which is a typical sight in Whistler. They travel to ski and work to stay. Despite the lackadaisical mood of Christmas evening, he was energetic and on the ball with his service. He was friendly and tried to engage us, even though we might not have reciprocated well. He checked in often and at any gesture was right by our table. I’d like to believe it was not just because we were the only one of four tables sat. Although he was a little eager in asking if we were done and wanting to bring the bill. Though after he deliver it, did encourage us to linger and maybe enjoy a sit on the recliners by the fire place.

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The restaurant wasn’t dressed for Christmas, but the fireplace in the corner and the snow on the other side of the windows was festive enough for me. Our seats even gave us an un obstructive view of the Olympic Rings, when kids weren’t climbing over it and couples were talking a selfie in front of it. Outside, the rest was a scene of illuminated bulbs, red bowed wreaths and the light of the full moon causing the snow to sparking and gleem.

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Inside was less ornate. Concrete floors paired with wooden furniture and leather couches in the corner. The ceiling was strung with bulbs that dripped, hanging loose from cords. They were the only source of lighting as the miniature iron lanterns at each table were left unlit. Just like the bronze hurricanes on the bar that were filled with rocks. I liked the teal blue and orange cooper coloured lamps hanging above the bar the most, but they didn’t really provide a very Mexican theme. The only Mexican artifacts that matched the menu were the colourful wool blankets prominently woven in fushia and navy. They hung folded on wooden crates suspended on the walls.

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The menu was a simple list of tacos, nachos, enchiladas, and all the typical accompanying dips. A printed page secured on a wooden board. For dessert there were sweet nachos and Churros available. With plenty of wine and beers, and Mexican margaritas. It was too cold for iced drinks, but some chilled coronas were perfect and just the right beverage for our meal ahead. Plus it warmed us inside out.

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Nachos are always safe bet, but I passed on the familiar for their “big nacho” instead. This wasn’t your regular several tortilla chips with cheese; but instead one deep fried handmade corn “gordita” filled with beans, garnished with lettuce, sour cream, feta cheese, and your choice of feature filling. A “gordita” is essentially a deep fried thick tortilla round. The flavours available to fill it included pork, chicken, and/or lots of cheese. We had the “tinga”, which was a filling of pulled chicken with spreadable beans and sour cream.

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The hard gordita shell was difficult to cut through with the butter knife provided. More so the bottom layer which only broke after a few repetitive saws back and forth. As a result, this dish didn’t stay as appetizing for long. The chicken was dry and the filling even drier with the mashed refried beans. Given its texture you could tell it was made ahead of time, heated and stuffed to fill. The easy solution to its lack of moisture and taste was some sauce or better yet salsa. Luckily my partner’s plate below, had plenty to spare and share.

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He had the “Enchiladas”. These three small corn tortillas were rolled with chicken then topped with a tomatillo-chipotle sauce, sour cream, and feta cheese. It was more tastier than the dish above, but could have done without the big chunks of onion hidden between meat and sauce; especially as my partner cannot take them and the menu didn’t mention them. Both dishes tasted similar, just differing in texture and sauce. And both became bland towards the end. Given this realization after my first bite of each, I should have gotten the pulled pork in the “big nacho” instead. They were good, but given the $10.99 price tag, you also expected more on the plate: a side of rice and beans, and maybe some sauce in a dish. But then again this was Whistler, a tourist destination, they could charge anything they wanted for food that you can’t find easily elsewhere in the city.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
There aren’t many options when in search of Mexican in Whistler, but I would pass on this one again. It was good, but I prefer the other one I have been too. Our plates lacked flavour and a memorable taste. Though the view is one of a kind. Where as can you drink coronas beside the Olympic Rings? Once again, I don’t like snow in our city, but wouldn’t mind driving up here to enjoy this scene more often. Luckily Whistler is only 1-2 hours away. Providing snow for Vancouverites, on our terms. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LOS SOMBREROS
127-4338 Main Street, Whistler BC, V0N 1B4
604-962-4750
Los Sombreros Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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