July 2011

Arctic CharAraxi
4222 Whistler Village Square
Whistler, BC
Ph: (604) 932-4540  or Reserve online at OpenTable

Araxi on Urbanspoon

Araxi was the fourth of the major restaurants that are synonymous with fine dining in Whistler, that we could try on this brief five day visit.

A five minute walk from our hotel in the village,  Araxi's patio seating looked inviting with its white table cloths and comfortable-looking chairs.  Despite the lingering sunshine, we opted to eat inside and I liked the ambience of the restaurant interior.

goat cheese frittersLa Rua
4557 Blackcomb Way
Whistler, BC.
Ph: (604) 932-5011   or Reserve Online at OpenTable

La Rua Restaurante on Urbanspoon

For our dinner at La Rua we were joined by our friend, Hilary, a talented chef who had prepared a great brunch for us at her home,on our second day in Whistler.

the view from our tableWe  had a lovely table, looking out onto their flower-filled patio. We enjoyed a breeze through the open door but the winds were a little too icy for anyone to sit outside.

sparkling wine flutesBearfoot Bistro,
4121 Village Green,
Whistler, BC
Ph: (604) 932-3433  or Reserve online at OpenTable

Bearfoot Bistro on Urbanspoon

I thought our Whistler dining experience could not get much better but it did. Bearfoot Bistro was the restaurant for the second night of my Destination Whistler: Five Days of Fine Dining Travelblogue.

  The menu offered a three course option - a selection from the starter, main and dessert course menus but we decided to be adventurous and try the tasting menu with wine pairing. Our server, Quentin, explained that it was a five course tasting menu and we would not know in advance what the chefs were preparing.  We told him about food allergies - I avoid clams and mussels - and he asked how we like red meats prepared - medium rare, and then he whisked off to the kitchen and we sat back to contemplate what would be coming.

amuse boucheThe first interesting touch was the sparkling wine that was served in the most unusual, exquisite champagne flutes. Steve, the sommelier came over to tell us about the Sumac Ridge Tribute - a non-vintage 100% chardonnay-derived sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Apparently Sumac  have made this particular Tribute wine on only two occasions,  one to celebrate the Millennium year and one specially for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

We were given an amuse bouche of cured cellar-aged Wagyu beef short rib with truffle vinaigrette and goat cheese. A delightful mouthful.

Foie Gras TerrineNext Steve appeared to pour a Clos du Soleil Baessler Pinot Blanc from the 2010 Growers Series. The Growers Series are wines made from a single vineyard by this boutique winery in the Similkameen Valley.

This wine paired beautifully with the first dish, a lightly seared piece of salmon served with tiny pieces of pineapple, slivered carrots, grapefruit and a coconut panna cotta.

the Cobb saladFireRock Lounge at  the Whistler Westin Resort and Spa
4090 Whistler Way
Whistler, BC
(604) 935-4345

Firerock Lounge on Urbanspoon

We were quite hungry by the time we had driven up to Whistler after a stop in Caulfield Village, and then checked in for our week at the Westin Resort.

West Coast Crab cakeWe were hoping to try the Aubergine Grill for lunch but it only serves breakfast till 11 and then dinner. It was close to 2:30 PM and the Grill was closed.

charcuterie plateMallard Lounge at Chateau Whistler
4599 Chateau Blvd
Whistler, BC

Ph: (604) 838-8000

Mallard Lounge at Chateau Whistler on Urbanspoon

Wandering through the Chateau Whistler we thought we would have lunch at the Wildflower Restaurant but instead we were directed to the Mallard Lounge, where lunch was being served.

cheese platterWe were seated at a table with large comfortable armchairs, and a lunch menu to peruse.

My friend decided to have a bowl of thick creamy mushroom soup. 

warm mushroom salad Rimrock Cafe
2117  Whistler Road,
Whistler
Ph: (604) 932-5565 or Reserve Online at OpenTable

Rimrock Cafe and Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Rimrock Cafe is the first of the fine dining restaurants that I am visiting for  my Destination Whistler: Five Days of Fine Dining story. We had a reservation for 6 PM and the Shuttle bus from the Westin Resort and Spa dropped us off at the restaurant, shortly before 6 PM.

In the interests of getting the most variety of taste experience we had decided in advance to focus on sharing appetizers and small plates, wherever possible.

Blue sky and sunshine on Georgia StreetIt was a gloriously  sunny day in Vancouver, one of the few we have enjoyed so far this summer. I was stuffed to the gills- or I would have been if I had gills. 

I had just walked back home from the media launch of Michelle Ng's 2011 Foodie Street Cart Tour during which we tasted fare from 5 downtown Vancouver Street Cart vendors. This is very filling fare and although on the tour in most cases we had a half portion of the serving, it was still enough to be the equivalent of at least two lunches for me.

Day Three

The third full day session of the Level II course was held on the weekend following the first 2 sessions. It was on the Sunday, and after the educational component, we were to write the multiple choice examination. Luckily at this level there is no actual tasting component. By this stage in the course I was feeling pretty good about white wines, but probably had no hope of getting through a red wine tasting.

I had planned on spending time during the week and and then all of Saturday studying for the test. At this stage of my life it takes more than once over for me to remember regions and towns, never mind which varietal is grown where.  I had a general concept in my head, though some of the facts had been filtered through a slightly mellowing haze of alcohol from the wines I had not been able to compel myself to pour out rather than swallow. So Saturday I was going to sit down and pull an all-dayer since the days of all-nighters are long gone for me.

But then I was invited to the media outing for Vancouver Foodie Tours of Curbside Kitchens and that knocked out any studying for the day.

The Second Day: Wines by Region and Classic Varietals

Lynn had alerted us that the afternoon of the second day might be a bit challenging as the focus was on red wines. But despite the fact that I spent the previous night enjoying Richard III instead of studying my WSET manual, I hopped off the Canada Line and walked over to BCIT with a definite sense of optimism. After all we were starting the morning  with two of my favorite varietals,  Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, I figured they would be a lot easier for me to write intelligent tasting notes about than red wines.

We started off with a Riesling tasting and a discussion of German wine regions and labeling. This was a familiar area to me because I have been enjoying wines from the Mosel, Rheingau and Pfalz  for ages, through the Opimian Wine Club.

Photo credit. Laura Findlay.I am not a rabble rouser. I don't sign petitions or march in parades to support  or protest against ideologies or political actions.  I don't subscribe to any particular socio-political ideals but make up my mind based on how I see the reality of a specific situation. So why did I, along with a whole lot of people, head off to hear a reading of Homegrown by Catherine Frid, on the same night  in eleven different locations across Canada?

It's simply because I think that the arts are vital in creating an intelligent, thoughtful, curious society, and new works will not be created and performed if financial support for the arts is not there.  SummerWorks is a  Festival of new works or experimental productions by young companies, that has been held in Toronto  since 1991. Originally a Fringe-style format, it evolved into a juried festival, where a panel of theatre professionals evaluate the proposals and select the plays to be performed.

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