What I Ate: Cornucopia Whistler
Inspired by my friend Raj’s blog, where she has a feature called “What I Wore,” I’m starting a new category on my blog called “What I Ate.”
One of the amazing upsides of my job is that I get to travel to cool places sometimes and eat really great food.
This past weekend was one such time…
Cornucopia is Whistler’s annual celebration of everything food and wine (read my preview on Vancity Buzz). Basically, it’s 11 days of amazing meals created by top chefs, wine tastings, and sometimes both of them together at the same time. Now, I was there to attend a series of workshops on health and wellness, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple of food events as well.
First off, a lunch at the Culinary Stage Series. This is where you get to have an intimate meal prepared by a top chef, and there is usually a wine pairing to boot. What’s amazing about these meals is that you don’t normally get to talk to the chef while they are cooking. Normally, they’re sequestered in the kitchen, working like mad. So, being able to talk to the chef and ask him questions about how and why was an amazing treat.
As was the food! This lunch was prepared by Chef Eric Pateman from Edible Canada at the Market. Now, I should say, I love Edible Canada. I support 100% their philosophy of sourcing ingredients as freshly and as locally as possible, and cooking seasonally. Plus, given their location on Granville Island, they have access to some amazing, fresh produce and proteins.
The wine pairing was from Bella Wines in Naramata. They are a newer winery (this is their second year of production) and they do nothing but bubbles. The Rosé was my fave, but they were all very delicious. I also really love their branding and packaging.
Lunch started with Kennebec Potato Chips, seasoned with Amola Truffle Salt. One bite, I was addicted. I love me some salty snacks, but the truffle salt… I’m heading down to GI today to pick up a box. This stuff is pure gold.
The first course was a wild mushroom chowder. The difference between a soup and chowder, Chef Pateman maintains, is that a chowder should be chunky. And this was–chunks of potatoes and oyster and pine mushrooms foraged nearby, in a creamy broth.
The main was a duck breast with a parsnip and chive spaetzle, brussels sprouts, and an Okanagan Cherry demiglaze.
I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I did have to try the duck, which is something I haven’t eaten in years. It was so tender, and the cherry sauce paired so wall. The spaetzle is something I’m new to–but reminded me very much of a gnocchi, which is something I’ve been playing around with a lot lately. Basically, you take the root veg and boil them (he was using parsnips here), and then add flour to make it into a pasta dough. Then you grate the dough into a pot of boiling salted water. When the spaetzle come to the top, they’re done, and you can sauté them off in a pan to give them a bit of crispness. The brussels sprouts were lightly sautéd in duck fat (he believes duck fat makes everything better, and cooks with it extensively).
Dessert was my fave. A deconstructed pear crisp, it incorporated blue cheese, and a marscapone ice cream. I just need to say, I love blue cheese. I know a lot of people don’t, but for me, the bigger and stinkier the cheese, the better. Chef Pateman put small chunks of it into the oat/crumb topping and melted it briefly, so there were melty bits of blue cheese throughout. It was out of this world.
The second event I got to attend was the Taste of Asia. It was set up to look like an asian night market, complete with japanese lanterns, decorations, and silk road music. Stations were set up around the room, where you could go and sample food, wine, beer and sake.
Included in the food offerings were a vegetarian, gluten-free zucchini noodle in a coconut sauce, tikka chicken, naan and a delicious mint chutney from Tandoori Grill, a beautiful bite from Hapa Izakaya (a triangle of deep-fried tortilla topped with a slice of beef and a salad of microgreens), a spicy papaya salad and a delicious, sweet, coconut dish from Bob Likes Thai Food, and sushi from Miku. There was also a pork belly dish, an Okonomiyaki (japanese pancake), and a kind of satay done with rice and mixed seafood on a chopstick.
My favourite two bites, however, came from the chefs at the Whistler Conference Centre, and from Sushi Village. The top is a sesame-crusted bassa on a green pea flan with an orange sweet chili, and the bottom is a quinoa cracker with spicy tuna and shiso.
I’m still full!!
More about Cornucopia later, and the Nourish workshops I attended, but in the mean time, there is still an entire week left of delicousness if you want to head up to Whistler for a day or a couple of nights. You can see the full schedule at whistlercornucopia.com/schedule.